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America Under Attack: Palestine and Arabs Celebrate Attack

Aired September 13, 2001 - 04:46   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN ANCHOR: As Americans grieve, some images from other parts of the world surprise, even shock: Palestinians celebrating the terrorist attacks, other Arabs scolding U.S. policies.

CNN's Cairo bureau chief Ben Wedeman explains where some of the anti U.S. anger comes from.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN KARA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): A group of Palestinians celebrate at the news of the attacks in New York and Washington. Other Palestinians, including those who held a vigil outside the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, say such sentiments do not represent the majority.

But few in the region deny they share a growing sense of anger and frustration with U.S. policy in the Middle East, where over the years the U.S. has managed to gain the bitter enmity of millions.

For decades, Arabs have been critical of America's substantial diplomatic, economic and military support for Israel while many believe the U.S. has turned a blind eye to Palestinian demands that Israel leave Arab land.

ABDEL BARI ATWAN, EDITOR, AL-QUOS NEWSPAPER: You know the anti- American feeling is very high now in the Middle East and the Muslim world, because what's happening on the occupied territories. And many people accuse the United States of actually helping the Israeli and protecting them.

WEDEMAN: Since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising nearly a year ago, anger at the United States has increased dramatically. Alarmed at growing anti-American sentiment, traditional U.S. allies in the region, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, have warned that American interests are at risk if the U.S. doesn't modify its Mid East policy.

Another source of bitterness: Iraq. For more than a decade, Washington has insisted upon maintaining harsh United Nation's economic sanctions, officially intended to target the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Yet many blame the sanctions for causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Iraqis from disease and malnutrition. Elsewhere, Washington has been the most vocal advocate of economic and political sanctions against Libya, Sudan, Iran and Afghanistan, all predominately Muslim countries.

"The day the Muslim countries unite," says this Pakistani, "Russia and the U.S. will flow away like a gust of water. You can't blame Palestine or anyone else, it's a natural destruction. You've asked for it."

Responsibility for Tuesday's massive terror attack has yet to be determined, but few in the Mid East doubt the depth of anger and hatred toward the United States.

Ben Wedeman, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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