Tracking Number:  480132

Title:  "Iran, 'Public Enemy Number One'." The international media focused on the ongoing US effort to isolate Iran and Tehran's perceived ability to promote terrorism and thwart Middle East peace. (970205)

Date:  19970205


Wednesday, February 5, 1997


With the continued quest for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the release of this year's State Department report on Human Rights, and renewed attention on the international treaty to ban chemical weapons scheduled to go into effect on April 29, Middle East media watchers focused on the ongoing saga of U.S. attempts to isolate Iran and Tehran's perceived ability to promote terrorism and thwart Middle East peace. These were major themes:

The official English-language Tehran Times disputed Defense Secretary William Cohen's allegations that Iran possesses chemical weapons, offering as evidence that the use of chemical weapons is against the principles of Islam and that "almost all relevant international agencies have announced that Iran never used chemical weapons" even during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. U.S. officials were excoriated for indulging the "whims of the Zionist lobby."

Noting Hezbollah's recent ground attacks on Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement that any transfer of arms from Iran to Hezbollah via Damascus constitutes an action against Israel, the independent Jerusalem Post endorsed Mr. Netanyahu's strategy of discussing Israel's peace with Lebanon first and separately before engaging Syria in dialogue. "If Syria has decided it is time to negotiate in earnest, then it should understand that the only way talks can proceed productively is if Syrian support for the killing of IDF soldiers in South Lebanon stops," the paper said. Meanwhile in Lebanon, Hezbollah's pro-Iran, pro-Syria radio mouthpiece launched another diatribe against the "Zionist entity," gloating over Israeli casualties on the battlefield and in the fatal collision yesterday of two Israeli helicopters ferrying soldiers to southern Lebanon.

Manama's semiofficial Akhbar Al-Khalij criticized the remarks by FBI Director Freeh that Saudi Arabia had not fully cooperated in the investigation of the Al Khobar bombing in June 1996 and charged that speculation of Iranian involvement in the attack has been manufactured by U.S. policymakers to justify an impending "military attack against Iran."

In Europe, centrist Tribune de Geneve highlighted U.S.-European differences over NATO member Turkey's full membership in the EU, saying that U.S. eagerness for Turkey to develop stronger ties with Europe is a U.S. attempt to "cut short" the "Turkish-Iranian honeymoon" which has so far yielded agreements to build tanks and helicopters and to allow Iranian gas to be piped via Turkey starting this year. The United States and Turkey will have a tough time wearing down European resistance on the issue, the paper said, since "Europe...will do all within its means to keep Turkey out of the 'Christian club.'" In Africa, Cotonou's independent Le Matin criticized its government's agreement with Iran to train the country's civil servants, declaring that the accord with non-democratic Iran--"America's public enemy number one"--is "not compatible with Beninese democracy."

This survey is based on 9 reports from 7 countries, January 23-February 5.

EDITOR: Gail Hamer Burke


IRAN: "Slamming Iran Not To Benefit Clinton Administration"

The official English-language Tehran Times opined (1/29), "Hitting out at Iran is not only an everyday occurrence in the United States but it is now part and parcel of the empty rhetoric of any U.S. politician who intends to woo the influential Zionists.

In an interview with Cable News Network (CNN), the new U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, responding to a question on his top concern with regard to chemical weapons, mentioned Iran among other countries allegedly possessing chemical weapons. The whole world is well aware of the fact that Iran is the chief victim of chemical weapons deployed by Iraq at the war fronts against the Iranian troops during the eight-year war. Almost all relevant international agencies have confirmed Iraq's chemical warfare while unanimously announcing that Iran never used chemical weapons during the war....

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory to the international conventions banning the use of chemical weapons. Moreover, Islam firmly opposes inflicting harm and injuries on the civilians.... The noxious fumes emitting from chemical weapons will harm soldiers and civilians living in the nearby residential areas alike.... What is worse, the harmful chemicals have also adverse genetic consequences, causing abnormalities and deformities in the offspring of those chemical weapons victims who stay alive, which is also unlawful and against human and moral principles. The fact is that the American officials are not logic-oriented: They blindly reflect the views and indulge the whims of the Zionist lobby, which is bossing the U.S. politicians and pulling the strings of the White House officials. But, to the desperate awakening of U.S. officials, Iran-bashing policy has not benefited any previous U.S. cabinets which have taken office since the victory of the Islamic revolution, nor will it do in the future. Thus, instead of holding a futile hostile attitude toward Iran, Washington had better adopt a realistic approach, which will at least prevent the isolation of the United States from its own allies. Let us hope that other members of the U.S. administration will not follow the example of Cohen and Albright and give priority to their national interests over those of the Zionist regime."


BAHRAIN: "Al Khobar Bombing"

Sayed Zuhrah wrote in semiofficial Akhbar Al-Khalij (1/29), "The FBI director two days ago complained that Saudi Arabia is not providing America with information on the investigation into the Al Khobar bombing. Even though U.S. officials have denied they had authorized such statements, it is an unacceptable U.S. position.... America wants to confiscate the results of the investigation to make it serve its interests alone. More specifically, it wants to adjust the results to make Iran responsible for the explosion.... The Americans have made clear that they are preparing a...military attack against Iran."

LEBANON: "Hezbollah Radio Reports 'Joy, Happiness' At Air Crash"

Hezbollah mouthpiece, pro-Iran, pro-Syria radio Balabakk Voice of the Oppressed served this notice (2/5) about the tragic collision of two Israeli helicopters ferrying soldiers to southern Lebanon: "'And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and God too planned, and the best of planners is God.' (Koranic verse). They were on their way to South Lebanon to take part in killing innocent women and children and to destroy their homes without having the right to do so. But God's care and protection of the oppressed and the poor awaited them and made them shatter in the air. Seventy-three Zionist military personnel, en route to serve in the South, were killed yesterday when two Zionist helicopters smashed into each other in the biggest incident since the inception of the Zionist entity.... As for local reaction, AFP said that all Lebanon rejoiced at the announcement of the death of the Zionist military personnel. The agency noted that the news of the incident was announced in the villages near the occupied area by the muezzins in the mosques, believing that God had answered the wish of the Muslims on Laylat Al-Qadr (revelation night). They said: We called on God to let them crash and destroy their planes and God answered our wishes. In some villages sweets were distributed as a sign of joy and happiness."

"Islamic Resistance Attacks"

Hezbollah mouthpiece, pro-Iran, pro-Syria radio Ba'labakk Voice of the Oppressed reported (2/4) concerning Hezbollah attacks on southern Lebanon: "The Islamic resistance has stormed 16 posts and killed Zionist soldiers and agents, despite the fact that the enemy announced a state of extreme preparedness to confront Hezbollah's operations. Initial reports regarding the Islamic resistance's operations state that the resistance groups carried out a large-scale attack on enemy positions under extensive and concentrated fire.... The mujahideen used in their attack machine guns and artillery shells. These large-scale attacks killed and injured several men who were manning the posts and destroyed the fortifications around the targets. This war the Islamic resistance is waging against the Zionist army is increasingly having an impact on the internal Zionist front, creating differences of opinion, and increasing the debate among the enemy officials regarding the usefulness of sustaining losses in southern Lebanon."

ISRAEL: "U.S Re-Insertion In The New Talks"

Analyst Akiva Eldar wrote in independent Haaretz (2/4): "New information from the Middle East increased the U.S. suspicion that Syria colluded with Iran in last year's terrorist attack at...Dhahran.... In these conditions, it is hard to envision a visit to Damascus by Secretary Albright.... In the case of Israel-Syria, the needs of both parties are increasingly perceived in Washington as being greater than their abilities.... Ross was already able to smell the buds of the agreement between Assad and Rabin/Peres. He will find it hard to cure his addiction to the sweet scent. He certainly won't let (EU envoy) Moratinos enjoy it on his own."

"Talks At Gunpoint"

The independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (2/3): "So far Netanyahu, despite his previous stance, has basically continued the refusal to link terrorism or violence against Israel to a cessation of the peace process.... How does Netanyahu face a similar dilemma regarding the fighting in Lebanon and potential talks with Syria? Should Israel sit down at the negotiating table with an adversary which is, at the same time, responsible for killing Israelis?... In reality...neither the current nor the previous government has been willing to tightly link or completely delink continuation of the peace process with cessation of violence against Israel.... The Netanyahu government is willing to talk with Syria despite the planeloads of weapons flowing from Iran through Damascus to Hezbollah's forces in south Lebanon--but so long as Syria fails to rein in Hezbollah, Lebanon will be the only item on the agenda. This is the right stance to take..... It is far from clear that Syria has really decided that peace with Israel, even on terms that no Israeli government could agree to, is in its interest. If Syria has decided it is time to negotiate in earnest, then it should understand that the only way talks can proceed productively is if Syrian support for the killing of IDF soldiers in South Lebanon stops."

KUWAIT: "Assessing American Policy In The Gulf"

Independent Al-Rai Al-Aam published this commentary (1/28) by Dr. Mohammed Al-Rumaihi: "Time magazine recently published an article about American foreign policy veteran former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. What drew my that he spoke on American foreign policy as if the Gulf was the focal point. Kissinger wants, and he is not the only say that the American administration is facing a dilemma with respect to its interests in the Gulf.... Kissinger states that there are structural and serious political problems in the Gulf. Although he sees Iraq and Iran as the source of a direct threat, still he admits that the American boycott of Iran and the international blockade against Iraq is not necessarily the appropriate solution in the medium- and long-run.... This policy, Kissinger believes, carries a political risk and the way out will not be easy....

"We...expect that the United States cannot tolerate paying the price of stability in the Gulf for long.... Therefore, rehabilitating the Iraqi regime in the medium- and long-term is not realistic and impractical. Saddam and his regime are no more acceptable.... Against that, there are trends in the American foreign policy which call for a different and new strategy toward Baghdad, including taking the risk of toppling the regime.... The whole picture will depend on the will of the other side, the Gulf countries, in setting their priorities."


SWITZERLAND: "Washington Pushes Ankara Into Europe's Arms"

Philippe Dumartheray commented (1/31) in centrist Tribune de Geneve, "The United States fears the warming of relations between Iran and Turkey.... Wednesday evening in Washington, Madeleine Albright--mincing no words, as usual--met with EU leaders and confided: 'We ought to bring Turkey into the main Western institutions, not just NATO, and strengthen its ties with the European Union.'...

These same EU officials don't even bother reminding Albright of Europe's warm feelings toward Turkey. They are well aware that such words ooze hypocrisy and that the Americans wouldn't be fooled. Neither would the Turks. In short, Europe dreads Turkey's candidacy and will do all within its means to keep Turkey out of the 'Christian club.'"

"Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Ciller possesses some qualities that could break down European resistance. If Ankara doesn't get full EU membership, for instance, Ciller could veto certain big projects such as NATO's growth into Eastern Europe--an option the controversial foreign affairs minister has brazenly brandished in the past. No problem figuring that one out, and the Europeans are taking pains not to respond for the time being.

"In the meantime the Americans are having a harder time biting their tongues. Washington is wooing Turkey as part of its plan to isolate Iran. But during Rafsanjani's recent trip to Ankara, in December, the two nations decided to build tanks and helicopters together. Furthermore, Iranian gas will be piped via Turkey starting this year. No surprise, then, that Americans are eager to cut short this Turkish-Iranian honeymoon by pushing Turkey into the arms of a Europe which, without daring to admit it, is not exactly thrilled by the prospect of an Eastern bride."


BENIN: "Beware Of Americans"

According to an article in independent Le Matin (1/23) about the recent signing of an accord for the strenghtening of bilateral relations between Benin and Iran, "The government has just taken a step which only serves its own narrow interests and that the promises made by Iran (training of the Beninese civil servants and experts) were not compatible with Beninese democracy."

Noting that Iran is not a democratic country, a country where the violation of human rights is flagrant, the editorialist wondered if "the government made a profound analysis of the accord, and if the government knows that a country under structural adjustment cannot afford to cooperate with America's public enemy number one."


Product Name:  Foreign Media Reaction
Product Code:  FM
Document Type:  EXC; RPT
Thematic Codes:  1NE; 2TE
PDQ Text Link:  480132