Arab leaders: US policy on Iran has no credibility
Regional-Iran, Politics, 5/22/2006
The World Economic Forum on the Middle East ended on Monday with the Arab leaders calling on the United States to moderate its involvement in the Middle East.
The Conference host President Hosni Mubarak said it was time for the United States to realize that the Arab states wanted reform but wanted it at their own pace, on their own terms and without American pressure.
Mubarak's former foreign minister and now leader of the Arab League was more blunt. He said US allegations about Iran's attempts to build nuclear weapons, for example, carried no credibility in the Arab states and demanded proof from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Amr Mousa, said Arabs looked to the US claims against Saddam Hussein before invading Iraq and responded with deep doubts about American honesty.
"It has been proven in the Iraq war that there was information that was deliberately or inadvertently false. Information must come from an international organization that is credible and responsible," he said.
He said that the Arab states want the whole region to be free of nuclear weapons, including the arsenal Israel is believed to possess.
"The Middle East does not need a military nuclear program, be it Iranian, Israeli or other," Moussa told reporters.
Iran, which chose not to attend the conference, stated that national nuclear program is designed purely to generate electricity.
Moussa's words on Israel, which is said by some to have a stockpile of nuclear weapons, reflected the grievances of most Arab leaders when he asked why the West overlooks Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal but presses Iran to drop its civilian program.
"Why should Israel be special?" Mousa asked. "We're all scared of a nuclear weapon, whether it is with country A or country B." The perceived double standard, he said, means that US policy toward Iran 'does not enjoy credibility and comprehensive support in the Middle East'.
Syria and Hamas, Palestinian political group which won elections in January, joined Iran in staying away from the Sharm el-Sheik.
Iran's nuclear program, Syria and its troubles with the United Nations, and Hamas with its aid boycott by the United States and European Union are among some of the most contentious issues in the region and the absence of the three shunted those important questions to the sidelines.
Iran has been a regular participant at the main World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, but skipped the regional session at Sharm el-Sheik.
A Syrian Foreign Ministry official said Syria was invited but did not attend 'because Israel was participating, especially because the forum was taking place in an Arab country'.
The Palestinian invitation to the first of the forum's Middle East conferences to be hosted by Egypt went to moderate President Mahmoud Abbas.
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