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ARAB AFFAIRS - March 3 - Splits Over Saddam Exile Plan Grow.

Speaking in Doha after a meeting of the GCC foreign ministers, Qatari FM Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani says the idea of exile for Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein is "a serious initiative that has to be studied further" and should be considered afresh by the 22-member Arab League. Bahrain and Kuwait have both publicly endorsed the proposal put forward on March 1 (see last week's Recorder) by the UAE that Saddam and senior members of his regime should be given two weeks to quit Iraq. Saudi officials are privately strongly supportive. Saudi state-controlled media also support the UAE proposal, with the daily Al Riyadh calling the idea "a bold proposal". Many Saudis, according to Dawood Al Shirian, a columnist for the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, are even more supportive. He says: "This initiative is something unique in Arabia's political experience. And it is being blocked by those Arab states, like Syria, Libya, and Yemen, whose political systems are similar to that of Saddam Hussein". But splits between the GCC states and other members of the Arab World widen over suggestions that Saddam should go into exile. Analysts say any prospect that all 22 members of the Arab League will unanimously urge Saddam to step down appears remote. Egypt has consistently opposed it and Syria is now strongly against what it sees as foreign intervention in Arab affairs. A senior Egyptian official said any meeting of Arab states must first consider the report of a committee set up at the March 1 summit, which is supposed to lobby the members of the UN Security Council against a war in Iraq. The Egyptian official said: "Read the [summit's] final communique. It condemns outside interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries".
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Title Annotation:Saddam Hussein
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Mar 8, 2003
Words:289
Previous Article:TURKEY- March 14 - Gul Becomes Foreign Minister.
Next Article:ARAB AFFAIRS - March 3 - Libya Withdraws Ambassador To Saudi Arabia.
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