Pause for thought

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 August, 2002, 12:00am

The world is witnessing an almost unparalleled display of Arab unity. This week a succession of leaders from this fragmented and most troubled region has stood up to be counted in their opposition to the US's increasingly bellicose comments about Iraq.

There is little historic foundation for believing this display will endure the present crisis. However, the strength of their opposition is giving the hawks in Washington reason to pause and is bolstering the case of those in and around the administration who favour a squeeze rather than a strike on Saddam Hussein.

The Arab world feels the Bush administration has embarked on a march to war and that they have only limited time and leverage to force a change of course.

The reasons for sharing their urgency and opposition to this dangerous US plan of action are growing. The threat to world stability will be far greater by attacking this murderous despot than by leaving him isolated and vulnerable to the wrath of his own opposition.

This is the essence of the comments from the Arab leaders. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar have each this week robustly expressed their opposition to Saddam. But they are acutely aware that an assault on Baghdad threatens to destabilise their countries and ravage the region.

With the first anniversary of the attack on New York looming, Washington should stop and consider whether its actions will have the reverse effect of swelling the ranks of terrorists capable of equally horrendous acts.