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Middle East

Raining Missiles


Khairi Janbek

Mr. Janbek is a columnist and staff member at the Jordanian weekly: The Star.

This article was published in The Star, 27 August 1998.


JUST AS the title indicates, it was literally raining missiles over Sudan and Afghanistan. The causes belli for the US cruise attack, is the recent terrorist action against USA diplomatic representations in Africa. Just as the terrorists have picked up rather soft targets for their attacks, the USA has also responded in kind. After all, Sudan is in the midst of a devastating civil war, and Afghanistan...well, is in a rather fluid situation. The core of the matter remains to be Osama Bin Laden, who is increasingly making Carlos the Jackal look like a harmless Easter Bunny.

It is worth noting that the US, even at the time of the previous administration, alluded to the alleged presence of Bin Laden terrorist training camps in Sudan, and often spoke about his connections in Afghanistan.

But it was left to the current administration to take action. Obviously there are many difficulties, moral, political, and legal when considering the American action which doesn't seem to be bothering the USA. Some of the combatants in the Sudanese strife have actually welcomed the attack on Khartoum, while in Kabul, the Taliban forces have given clear indications that they will restrain Bin Laden's future activities.

What the USA was seeking is results. And from the recent indications, they seem to have got the results they want. Also the message is clear to other countries in the world, but only those who tend to be without much international sympathy, to be careful of their bedfellows, because terrorism tends to be the poor nations' spur weapon.

Of course, and as expected there was an uproar against the American action in the Islamic world, but most of these countries are either dependent on American goodwill for their future well-being, or are already outcasts in the eyes of the USA. It is not the vocal protests that can be worrying to the USA, but rather the possibility of a new cycle of violence which will end up consuming many victims.

No one doubts the impact of American fire-power, but equally, no one doubts the effect of a zealous and committed terrorist to reek havoc when striking. Clearly, the US aims at hitting any target that may pose as a possible base or infrastructure for terrorism, making the reluctant, or volunteer host to think twice before they give refuge or support to any terrorist organization.

Sanctions do not have the deterrence value anymore but rockets do make a bigger bang. Antipathy towards the US government does not seem to rate very high in the administration's opinion, as recent history demonstrated when Mrs. Albright phoned Mr. Arafat after the missile attack to reflect about the state of peace in the region.

It is Islam and Muslims that we should be talking about and despite the fact that president Clinton emphatically declared that the attack was not against Islam, it is hoped that the Muslim community in the Diaspora-the USA, and the West will not suffer the prejudice that emerges in various societies in times of trouble. The actions of a small minority that interprets faith in its own way does not reflect the views of the majority of Muslims whom are raised on the benevolent and merciful those of Islam. The question remains, whether irrationality can be fought with the same arguments of irrationality. Is it feasible that the only way to combat irrationality is by using the same methods which brought it out in the first place? It is not the freedom fighter or the terrorist definition that matters at the end of the day, but rather what can be constructed as rational, or irrational.



"The Islamic countries representing 1 billion and several million people, should acquire a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council with the same privileges.

(Afghanistan is)... a haven for violence, terrorism and the production and trafficking of narcotics. Terrorism is the product of desperation.

We unequivocally oppose... all forms and manifestations of terrorism, and we Shall combat it vigorously and earnestly. In order to eradicate this menace we shall engage in a serious and transparent international cooperation to combat terrorism (He called for Liberation).. from the nightmare of nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction.

Recent nuclear tests in our region, which have led such a necessity all the more imperative."


President Mohammed Khatani of Iran

Speech-to the 55rd U.N. General Assembly