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ARAB-US RELATIONS - Jan. 9 - Saudi Press Hits Clinton.

Al-Riyadh daily's deputy chief editor Abdel Mohsen Daoud writes: "Our (negative) editorial reflects our reading of the effects of eight years of Clinton's administration... (He has become) a hostage surrounded by Israeli advisers, ambassadors and businessmen - that revealed the moral fabric of his leadership. What concerns us is not his scandals or success but the net with which he tried to hunt and strangle every bird in the Arab sky". Clinton has tried to "obliterate the history and culture of (the Arab) nation, and kept quiet on crimes against Islamic sanctities". According to the daily Al-Watan, "Clinton wanted a prize at the end of his term - Let the proposals" in relation to the president's latest peace initiative "leave with those leaving the White House".

(Analysts dismiss the possibility that the unprecedented criticism in Saudi newspapers, which are subject to state censorship and frequently reflect government policy, may have been government-inspired). According to Khaled al-Maeena, editor-in-chief of the daily Arab News, the editorials reflect the "pent-up frustration of the way Clinton has tried to force a deal down the throats of the Arabs to make himself look favourable to the Israelis". Another analyst says: "When something is rumbling under the surface of the Saudi political structure and in the absence of any formalised method of expressing political opinions, the press is the first safety valve". And if the target is not the government, or its bureaucracy, then the US is the next line". (Since the start of the Al Aqsa intifada, on Sept. 28, 2000, teachers in schools and preachers in mosques throughout Saudi Arabia have encouraged the comparatively small but growing boycott of US goods and services as a way of protecting at what they see as the US alliance with Israel. US fast-food and retail franchises, notably in Saudi Arabia, have reported a sharp decline in the number of customers).
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 13, 2001
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