August 10, 1998
BOMBINGS OF U.S. EMBASSIES IN AFRICA:
'SUPERPOWER IN THE CROSS HAIRS'
Media in Kenya, Europe, the Middle East and Asia devoted front-page and editorial coverage to the two terrorist attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania last Friday. A majority of analysts--including many in the Middle East--fingered "radical Islamic organizations" as the perpetrators of the bombing attacks. Pundits across the board were quick to condemn the killing of innocent civilians. But opinion was mixed as to why this attack against the U.S. has taken place, and what the superpower should do about it. A few commentators expressed concern that Washington has lately been distracted from its international responsibilities, with some indicating that the "Lewinsky factor" was to blame. Following are salient themes in regional media:
KENYA: Two papers condemned "this cowardly act" and argued that "no objective, however noble, can justify the senseless orgy of violence." The regional weekly East African said that terrorists "place themselves beyond the reach of mercy." The independent Standard complained that it is an "unjustified condemnation of an otherwise innocent nation" to "declare Kenya an unsafe place."
EUROPE: A majority of commentators expressed alarm at the growing terrorist threat posed mainly, most believed, by "militant Islam." Many observers expressed sympathy for America, noting that in its role as world superpower, it is the target for disaffected forces worldwide. "When push came to shove, the U.S. has never dodged a decision. Attacks such as the ones in Africa are the price for such a policy. And because the U.S. is paying this price, it is a superpower," Berlin's right-of-center Die Welt said. Editorialists stressed that Europe especially must work with the U.S. to help combat the "scourge of terrorism." A few were more critical of the U.S., contending that its policies--particularly with respect to the Middle East--are wrongheaded, and that reactions such as the bombings can be expected.
MIDDLE EAST: Opinion varied widely, ranging from an outright condemnation of terrorism "anywhere and any time" in the Saudi press, to sharply-worded criticisms of the U.S. and calls for the superpower to revise "all its policies" in a UAE daily.
ASIA: Foreign media analysts in Asia focused on tensions in the Middle East and the U.S.' pre-eminent global role in their discussions of the bombings. Papers in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand referred to "Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt," "hatred between the West and the Islamic world," and "U.S. partiality toward Israel" as possible causes. Pundits in Indonesia judged that "U.S. supremacy as the world's police makes it highly vulnerable" and that the "U.S.' choosing to become pre-eminent and swashbuckling" is a "two-edged sword." Hong Kong's mass-circulation, centrist Oriental Daily News said: "Asian governments should denounce the terrorist activities and work together with the U.S. to safeguard the peace."
EDITORS: Diana McCaffrey and Bill Richey
|  MIDDLE EAST  |
BOMBINGS OF U.S. EMBASSIES IN AFRICA:
'SUPERPOWER IN THE CROSS HAIRS'
KENYA: "These Killers Must Be Found"
The regional weekly East African published in Nairobi commented (8/10): "[President Clinton] explained that Americans are targets of terrorism in part because they have unique leadership responsibilities in the world, because they act to advance peace and democracy, and because they stand united against terrorism. These are principles which Kenyan and Tanzanians, although living in fragile and struggling democracies can, and should indeed, support.... No objective, however noble, can justify the senseless orgy of violence.... Aggrieved persons always have channels of justice through which they can seek relief. Those who don't and resort to terrorism place themselves beyond the reach of mercy when justice finally catches up with them, as it inevitably does."
"Cowardly Act By Monsters"
The independent Standard opined (8/10): "This cowardly act by monsters of destruction totally destroyed, in a matter of seconds, what Kenyans and a number of other foreigners had painstakingly built up over decades.... As pointed out by President Moi and Bill Clinton the perpetrators of this heinous and brutal murder of innocent lives and destruction of property must be brought to book at any cost.... It will be imprudent for any nation to declare Kenya an unsafe place. This will be an unjustified condemnation of an otherwise innocent nation.... Kenya is still a safe country to travel and live in."
GERMANY: "Superpower In The Cross Hairs"
Nikolaus Blome had this to say in a front-page story in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/10): "Now the Americans can no longer feel safe...on another continent. We can only help them with moral support. The British, French, Israelis, and Germans can offer some support in the search for the killers, but they will never be able to resolve the real problems. As the world looks right now, the world needs a superpower. Despite justified annoyance about some its views and its selfish advice, the United States is this superpower. The world may shake its head and grin about Bill Clinton and a stain on Monica Lewinsky's dress. But irrespective of whether it is the crisis in Kosovo, the Middle East, or nuclear weapons in India, not too much progress will be made without American intervention. When push came to shove, the United States has never dodged a decision. Attacks such as the ones in Africa are the price for such a policy. And because the United States is paying this price, it is a superpower."
"An Oppressive Effect"
Werner Adam penned the following front-page editorial in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/10): "If terrorist attacks seem to demonstrate the helplessness of the only superpower in the world, then this is very oppressive. However, such vulnerability is not surprising. Since everybody expects the United States to be present and to intervene everywhere in the world wherever there is a trouble spot, it also has to deal with an increasing number of opponents and enemies. The 62 U.S embassies receive more than 30,000 threats per year.. It is impossible to make all of them 'bomb-proof.'
BRITAIN: "Africa Not Immune To Islamic Terrorist Networks"
In an editorial in the conservative Times held (8/10): "But across the world, militant Islam is growing stronger where Muslims feel marginalized. Hence the importance of working to make the benefits of democracy and growth universal. By sustaining its commitment to the continent, Washington can help to deny terrorists the ground in which they thrive."
"The Scourge Of Terrorism"
The independent Financial Times (8/10): "The terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania pose monumental challenges for President Bill Clinton. Not only does he have to explain the failure of the world's most sophisticated security apparatus and intelligence network, he also has to prepare the nation for what could be a long and arduous process of bringing those responsible to justice.... The United States is right to be moving cautiously and hinting that the investigation could take years. It is also right to refrain from public speculation about suspects.... This is all the more important at a time when the United States is feeling its way towards delicate decisions on issues such as relations with Iran. There will no doubt be increased pressure in Congress unilaterally to punish states accused of sponsoring terrorism and companies that work with them. This would not help combat specific actions such as those perpetrated in Africa on Friday. And it would undermine the broader international campaign against terrorism."
"Criticism Of U.S. Efforts"
The independent Financial Times reported (8/10): "'The Americans have behaved like assholes from day one,' snorted the ambulance worker. His scathing comment summarized the feelings of many of those standing in the cold, waiting to see whether microphones and sniffer dogs provided by Israel would yield further signs of life below the concrete and metal.... But despite growing evidence that the collapsed Ufundi House, rather than the legation, would eventually give up the greatest number of bodies, U.S. Marines remained behind their self-appointed perimeter, warning away outsiders attempting to enter the document-strewn premises.... A U.S. embassy spokesman, William Barr, said the criticisms were unfair, given that overwhelmed U.S. officials were still trying to locate scores of missing employees and establish how many had died inside the embassy itself.... For disillusioned residents, the mass arrival of U.S. personnel will smack more of a Washington exercise aimed at reassuring worried voters back home than one aimed at saving Kenyan lives."
FRANCE: "The Cash Register Strategy"
Right-of-center Le Figaro in its page one editorial (8/10): "If it's true that the anti-American attacks in Kenya and Tanzania were commited by Muslim fundamentalists, it would be a terrible irony of history. For a long time, American diplomacy has played a strange game with the fundamentalists, making them gestures, even showing shameful 'understanding,' including the FIS terrorists in Algeria. The tragedies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, after that at the World Trade Center, are proof that it serves no purpose to negotiate with the fundamentalists.... They live in a world that is as infantile as it is paranoid.... The big danger is that the new generation of fundamentalists have just one goal: the conquest of the Middle East. Hence their obsession with Saudi Arabia, which is an economic giant but a political dwarf, and which exists as a sort of American protectorate.... Islamic fundamentalism represents religious senility. The fundamentalists live, historically speaking, in 1398."
ITALY: "A Blocked President"
A front page editorial by Ennio Caretto in leading, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (8/9) opined: "This (terrorism) is a challenge that also involves Europe, which cannot wash its hands, but must side with Clinton: terrorism is a crime against humanity and, in order to neutralize it, spiritual victories, like that of the permanent International Court in Rome, are not enough. The Kenya and Tanzania tragedies include two lessons for the United States. The first is that its role of guardian of the world...lays the Americans open to the most atrocious dangers. The second is that the `Monica factor' must be eliminated before it will be changed from a disturbing element into a paralyzing one."
"The Impotent Omnipotence"
A front-page commentary by Barbara Spinelli in Sunday's centrist, influential La Stampa (8/9): "The terrorist campaign against the Satanic and corrupt West has just resumed and its target...is the impotent omnipotence of its (American) `leadership'.... The Islamic fundamentalists have long reached the conclusion that America is a hostage nation in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf... Whoever may have been the organizers of the massacres in Kenya and Tanzania, one thing is very clear: Terrorism will gain strength if it doesn't find a Western iron will determined to prevent its expansion.... American diplomacy pretends to fuss about the Middle East, and yet remains motionless toward an inflexible Netanyahu."
RUSSIA: "U.S.'s Foes Behind Terrorists"
Maksim Yusin wrote on page one of reformist Izvestiya (8/8): "So far nobody has claimed responsibility for the bombings. Theoretically, anyone of the United States' sworn enemies could be behind the terrorists. Islamist radicals are active both in Kenya and Tanzania. They are certain to include agents of Iraqi, Iranian, Libyan and Sudanese special services."
BELGIUM: "Not In A Vacuum"
Roger Huisman wrote in conservative Catholic Het Belang van Limburg (8/10): "In the Arab world, the resentment against the United States grew (the bombings occurred on the eighth anniversary of the arrival of American troops in Saudi Arabia). After the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, Washington sent troops to the most faithful ally in the region; Saudi Arabia, with the promise to King Fad that the American soldiers would be sent back home after the Gulf war. The American troops (a lot) are still present in the kingdom where the two most important Islamic holy cities are located: Mecca and Medina.... Let's make sure there is no misunderstanding: Terror and killing innocents can never be an extension of any political struggle. Terror is one of the worst violations of human rights. But bombs do not go off in a vacuum, they are weapons of oppressed minorities, of political streams that are often under the hard-handed pressure of hard regimes. When these regimes receive the support of the biggest policeman of the world, they often become the target of terrorist actions."
DENMARK: "Terrorism And Politics"
Moderate Christian Party Kristeligt Dagblad's editorial held (8/10): "Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iraq and Iran are all highly likely to be behind the terrorist attack but the key to understanding the bombing is probably to be found in Saudi Arabia, the most important Arab ally of the United States. Friday was the eighth anniversary of the stationing of U.S. troops on Saudi territory following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The United States is seen as having betrayed the Arab world by not forcing Israel to keep the Oslo Peace Agreement, and distinguished Western observers believe that Saudi Arabia is turning into an extremist anti-American and anti-Western country. Saudi money is supposed to have funded the main part of the Muslim terrorist groups in Egypt just as money go to the Afghan Taleban militia. The Saudi extremist and multi millionaire Osama bin Laden is the only one to have been named in conjunction with the bombings. The unraveling of Friday's bombing is much more complex than just identifying the culprits. But more bombs will probably follow if they are not identified. This is why the investigation of terrorism is a necessary but also an almost hopeless task."
HUNGARY: "The Message Of Terror"
Conservative Magyar Nemzet commented (8/10): "Although there is no final evidence about the origin of terrorists behind the explosions in Africa, most probably they should be found among the Muslim fundamentalists. This act gives a unanimous signal that terrorism in its ruthlessness knows no limits and does not choose methods in the interest of achieving its
aims.... The United States has always been enemy number one for the Muslim fundamentalists. Assassinations have been carried out against American targets in the course of years. A number of countries, Iraq and Iran, Sudan and Somalia, or Libya have always been instrumental in this.... The recent terrorist attack calls the attention to the fact that it is not only the targeted country that has to take preventive measures. The United States, as the only super power of the world, cannot take the responsibility of combating terrorism alone.... It would need the joint efforts of other countries of the world, as well as of the United Nations and NATO to punish and to isolate the countries supporting terrorism. It is a great challenge, but otherwise terrorism can become a permanent threat and a poison of the next century in any part of the world."
SPAIN: "Terror Strikes Embassies"
Independent El Mundo noted (8/8): "No one has claimed responsibility for the two attacks, although everything points towards radical Islamic organizations and, in particular, Islamic Jihad. A threat issued by its leader in a communiqué made public in Cairo [last Thursday] predicted violent reprisals against the U. S. government for the deportation from Albania to Egypt of three of its militants accused of terrorist crimes. Determining who, in fact, was responsible for these brutalities will not be easy, however.... After the attacks on Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 American airmen, and the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma, Clinton approved an action plan against terrorism. But its results have offered little if any encouragement, the doubling of resources dedicated to this initiative notwithstanding."
EGYPT: "Fight Terrorism"
Pro-government Al-Gomhouriya held (8/10): "President Clinton and Secretary Albright confirmed that they will not surrender to terrorism. Trying the perpetrators of these horrible bombings is certainly not enough, but fighting terrorism should rise from the fact that terrorism is a kind of organized crime which needs collective confrontation to eradicate. Egypt warned against terrorism, which has now hit the biggest superpower in the world. Will the American administration adopt the Egyptian initiative to eliminate this threat, so that the United States would regain its credibility?"
"Islamic Fundamentalism Considers U.S. Primary Enemy"
Abdel Azim Hammad wrote in pro-government Al-Ahram (8/10): "Whether it is true or not that Islamic fundamentalists launched the horrible terrorist attack on the American embassies, the conclusion is one: Islamic fundamentalism considers the United States as its primary enemy, and Americans consider political Islam as the biggest foreign threat to their national security. Islamists hold the United States solely responsible for all Western injustice against Muslims. They also feel subdued by the Israeli arrogance, which is derived from the United States' support. Huntington's theory on the clash of civilizations inflamed this hatred toward the United States. Although Presidents Clinton and Bush realized the seriousness of the situation, they sufficed by sending greetings to Muslims on Islamic feasts. The only solution is adopting a balanced policy toward both Arabs and Israel aimed at achieving a just peace."
ISRAEL: "America's Defense Problems"
Senior analyst Zeev Schiff wrote in a front page article in liberal Ha'aretz (8/9): "The United States must get ready for more terror attacks in other parts of the world. It will not do to simply install better defense equipment at U.S. facilities, or collecting more intelligence. An initiative which actively fights the terrorists and their leaders is required. To that end, the United States needs a strong and determined leadership. However, at this point in time, Washington is having difficulty displaying such leadership, as was evident in the U.S. response to the
India-Pakistan nuclear arms race, the latest showdown with Saddam Hussein, or the failure to prevent Iran and North Korea from acquiring and exporting long-range missile capabilities. Nor was U.S. handling of the Saudi refusal to cooperate in the investigation of two serious terror attacks against Americans on Saudi soil resolute enough."
"The Americans Are Doing The Watching"
Analyst Akiva Eldar reported from Nairobi in liberal Ha'aretz (8/10): "It does not take much to tell an Israeli rescue soldier from an American rescue team member. You had only to look at their eyes. If they're red with fatigue and sleeplessness it's an IDF soldier. The Americans arrived Saturday night all dressed up and clean shaven, and went directly to their hotel rooms for a night's sleep. Nothing was too urgent. The bodies could wait until morning .... The job of the elite unit the Americans sent over was to rescue classified documents from the Embassy's compound. Israel soldiers who were called in to rescue bodies from the building came too close to vault area and reported with amazement that guns were cocked .... Not for attribution the Kenyans say that the Americans are caring only about themselves and that they don't appear to mind that peaceful local residents are trapped in a nearby building for no fault of theirs. the Americans flew their casualties to the best hospitals in Pretoria. Their doctors put rubber gloves on when they had to treat wounded Kenyans."
JORDAN: "U.S. Should Expect Such Angry, Resentful Reactions"
Samih Ma'aytah wrote on the op-ed page of independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (8/10): "It is not important which party is responsible for the two bombings of the American embassies in Africa. What is important, though, is that such actions are expected and a natural outcome of the world's status quo, led by the United States. The United States should expect such angry and resentful reactions in all the regions of the world that were affected by U.S. policies and burnt by the double standards and the unjust criteria of these policies. We are not supporters of terrorism, violence and the killing of the innocent. Yet, our rejection of terrorism does not change the facts and the reasons for these phenomena. "
"Hostility Towards America And The Accumulating Resentment"
Nicola Naser wrote on the op-ed page of independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (8/10): "The hostility towards America is a hostility towards U.S. foreign policies. It is found everywhere and in the Arab and Muslim world, it is a common fact... Even when the Arab world managed to program its policies to satisfy, or at least not to contradict with, the U.S. foreign policy in this region, the United States considered this Arab action a surrender to the U.S. power and thus increased its oppression and humiliation of Arabs and Muslims. After eight years of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Arabs resentment of American policies accumulates and builds up and gives wings to the feelings of hostility for America."
SAUDI ARABIA: "We Condemn Terrorism Anywhere And Any Time"
Jeddah-based, conservative Al-Madina carried a commentary by Mohammed Seebeh (8/10): "We condemn and denounce terrorism anywhere and any time. We say woe to any terrorist and cowardly act if it is against America and its Embassies or against the Palestinian people. We support America if it is a country that respects laws, but when America uses the veto in the United Nations for the sake of supporting...Israel, then this will be our own conflict with it."
"Call For International Conference To Combat Terrorism"
Makkah-based, conservative Al-Nadwa opined (8/9): "While we condemn the blasts we call for serious steps to confront the terrorism phenomena, which threatens the security and stability of the world, and to conduct an international conference to combat terrorism with the participation
of the whole world under United Nations sponsorship."
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: "Accusing Arabs"
Semi-official Al-Ittihad held (8/8): "It is Zionism that will benefit from the aftermath because at this point in time, accusing Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular of terrorism, could weaken the latter's position in the on-going peace talks."
"All U.S. Policies Should Be Revised"
Dubai-based, government-owned Al-Bayan (8/9) asserted: "Terrorism became a world phenomenon not related to a certain region or a certain organization. The second indication is that there are highly sophisticated groups that could execute acts like this one. The third and most important indication is the fact that animosity to the United States is now widespread worldwide. Most terrorist attacks are against U.S. interests and this should lead to revising of all U.S. policies, not as a result of the terrorist attacks, but this is an indication that there is something wrong somewhere in the U.S. policy."
JAPAN: "Terrorist Bombings Must Be Stopped"
Liberal Asahi had this editorial (8/9): ""Security at the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam was said to have been less tight because the U.S. had no major problems with these two African countries, where there were no anti-American movements. The bombings, therefore, caught the U.S. off guard. Those responsible for the bombings, must be well organized and experienced enough to launch two simultaneous bombings in the capitals of neighboring countries. We wonder whether Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt were responsible for the latest attacks. Whoever is responsible, it is almost certain that a radical group or groups resorted to force as a challenge to U.S. policies toward the Middle East and Africa. The latest terrorist bombings give rise to the fear that these acts of terrorism will not be limited to the Middle East and U.S., but may occur all over the world. President Clinton vowed to use all possible means to bring those responsible to justice. It appears that the bombings at Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam have diminished the salience of President Clinton's alleged personal relationship with a former White House intern."
AUSTRALIA: "Terror Out Of Africa"
Liberal Sydney Morning Herald (8/10) opined: "The masterminds'...real strategy is not so much to drive Americans out as to immerse them more deeply in the murky waters of regional politics.... The hope of those behind the original act of violence is that the effect would be to heighten anti-American feeling in the Middle East and drive more people to their cause. This is why the United States must now proceed with great care."
HONG KONG: "Terrorism Angers The Whole World"
Mass circulation, centrist Oriental Daily News had this editorial (8/9): "The hatred between the West and the Islamic world has a historical background of over a thousand years. They are taking vengeance on one another, and the means used are getting more and more brutal. Nuclear technology is spreading through the Islamic countries. It seems that a world war to conclude the thousand-plus years hatred is inevitable. If a nuclear war started, it would be the end of the world. Asia cannot stay aloof from the affair. Hence, Asian governments should denounce the terrorist activities and work together with the U.S. to safeguard the peace."
INDONESIA: "Bombings At Two U.S. Embassies In Africa"
Independent Suara Pembaruan commented (8/9): "The question remains as to why the
culprits chose Nairobi--the most lavish, cosmopolitan area in Eastern Africa--and the peaceful Dar Es Salaam. There may be numerous answers for this. First, their efforts would have been easily detected in volatile places such as Tel Aviv, Cairo, Dahran, Kuwait or Amman because of tight security facilities. U.S. embassies and their personnel, in particular, must be tightly guarded since the U.S. and its allies' security forces do not want to take risks. Second...the perpetrators [apparently] want to show the U.S. that its personnel are in danger in any country. Third, the bombers... may belong to anti-U.S. groups that operate in such turbulent countries as Sudan, Mozambique, or in Tanzania itself. The sophisticated, difficult-to-detect bombing techniques show that both the attackers and the designers are professionals.... These bombings once again pose a warning to the U.S. and the world that U.S. supremacy as the world's police makes it highly vulnerable. Although this was not the first time, such attacks always take a lot of innocent lives among both U.S. side and the countries in which they occur."
SOUTH KOREA: "Clinton Warns Of Military Action Against Any Nation Hiding Terrorists"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo (8/10) commented: "The international community's basic position toward terrorism is that compromise is not an option. The U.S. view is not an exception, and that was the core of President Clinton's radio broadcast on August 8, in which he stressed that the world should not submit to terrorism. He also vowed to capture the terrorists involved in the recent bombings.... The 96 bombing of the U.S. military complex in Saudi Arabia is proof that dealing with terrorist bombings is an excruciatingly difficult task.... With two of its embassies simultaneously attacked, the U.S. appears to be especially determined to find out who the terrorists are this time.... The United States even warns of possible military action against any country that might be hiding the terrorists involved in the bombings. For President Clinton, these terrorist bombings are certainly a good opportunity to turn around the political situation he faces in connection with the Lewinsky case. Already Madeline Albright, William Cohen, and Sandy Berger, not Monica Lewinsky, are the focus of the U.S. media."
THAILAND: "Bombing Of U.S. Embassies In Africa: Acts To Be Repeated"
The foreign news desk of popular Siam Rath commented (8/10), "That the U.S. interests have been targets of attacks by international terrorist groups, including those in Latin America, the Middle East, and etc., is because of past U.S. support of pro-U.S. movements and regimes. The U.S. partiality toward Israel in virtually all matters, understandably due to the immense Jewish influence over the U.S. business circles, while the U.S. government has constantly claimed to be fair to all sides also attracts wrath onto itself. Therefore, risks of attacks against U.S. embassies worldwide will remain for as long as the U.S. continues to behave like an intrusive world master." Jaroon Seri commented in the same edition: "Being the world's number one is a two-edged sword The terrorists knew all too well they stood no chance of success unless they hit the U.S. below the belt. The best the U.S. can possibly do under this circumstance is to be vigilant and not let its guard down. It could not be helped since it's all the result of the U.S. choosing to become preeminent and swashbuckling."
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