‘You cannot bring democracy on the wings of warplanes or on tanks — it won’t work’

The charter of the Arab League provides for collective defense against an external invasion or aggression against Arab countries. Is there any chance it could be implemented in the case of Iraq? Public opinion in Arab countries, and in the overwhelming majority of countries in the world, is against the war; we have had demonstrations. But as you mentioned before, some Arab countries have bases, so how can the Arab world stand together? I am as critical as you are. A hopeless theory What do you think of the statements from Washington about «regime change» and «democratization» in the Arab world? You cannot bring democracy on the wings of warplanes or tanks, so this is a hopeless theory. It will not work. The Western press often writes that the war in Iraq runs the risk of feeding Islamist terrorism in the Arab-Muslim world. There is no Islamist terrorism. There is only terrorism. The current policy will certainly give rise to a lot of bad feeling and it will lead to all forms of confrontation, I’m afraid. What are the possible repercussions of the Iraq crisis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? The situation on Palestinian territory is already at its lowest. It won’t add much. The Israeli government under Ariel Sharon has made the Arab-Israeli conflict a hopeless case. The Palestinian Authority has expressed fears of another Nakba [destruction]. It has already happened, in the reoccupation of the West Bank by Israeli forces. Yes, but it hasn’t become official, as some extremist members of the present Bush government, such as Richard Perle… Who is Richard Perle? The one who is called «the man of darkness?» So, this man and his like are pushing the US-Middle Eastern relations – not only Arab relations, Middle East and Muslim relations – into a serious corner. All of us are going to lose, all of us, because of such people giving bad ideas, poisonous ideas, to destroy a once-healthy relationship that could have helped everyone. Road map What do you think about the new ideas of President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair about the road map for the resolution of the conflict? Is it just hype or something to save Blair’s face? It won’t save anyone’s face. It is just a paper, and we are not impressed, unless that paper is put in the right context with a time line and firm guarantees of implementation by Israel. If this is the case, we are all for it, and if this is the case it would lead indeed to the realization of President Bush’s vision of two viable states. We have also seen the first signs of uprising in the so-called Arab street in many countries. What do you expect of these demonstrations, which in some cases were harshly suppressed by the governments? Why? People went into the streets to oppose the attack on Iraq. Why interpret it in a different way? It is against the American-British invasion of Iraq. Saying it’s against the heads of government is beside the point. Let’s call a spade a spade. Those people are against the invasion of Iraq, point blank. If the Americans win the war, given their overwhelming military superiority, what will be the position of the Arab League toward a new regime imposed by the United States? Before you talk about the general Arab position vis-a-vis such a regime, let us see what the the Iraqis will do to such a government. I don’t think they’ll accept it. And I don’t think there is a place in Iraq for a puppet imposed by foreign forces.