Friday, March 1, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Arab-Americans Fear War's End Will Lead To A `Blinded' America

Some Arab-Americans in Seattle are worried that the quick and relatively painless victory in the Persian Gulf will leave Americans blinded by euphoria.

``This puts an awful responsibility on the United States to be even-handed and generous in victory,'' said Dr. Farhat Ziadeh, a professor emeritus in the department of Near Eastern languages and civilization at the University of Washington.

``I think we have to see to it that food and medicine is sent to the Iraqis, because they've been suffering, and that the sanctions be terminated as soon as possible,'' he said.

``I know that our government is trying to get rid of Saddam (Hussein). I personally do not care for Saddam, and I do not shed a tear if he should be removed,'' Ziadeh, a Palestinian-American, said of the Iraqi president.

``But we should remember that Iraq is one of the great countries of the Arab nation, and Baghdad was the seat of Arab civilizations for hundreds of years, and we should not humiliate these people,'' he said. ``I was encouraged by (President) Bush's statement that we are not against the people of Iraq, and I think this positive note should be followed by many more practical steps.''

The U.S., now in the flush of victory, must be especially careful to adhere to the principles of justice, Ziadeh said. Otherwise, ``we will sow the seeds of a future confrontation.''

That means finding a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian

conflict, Ziadeh and other Arab-Americans noted.

``The whole war is based on a couple of principles that are adopted by the U.N. as a body: No country can acquire land from another by force and keep it, and if they do, they have to withdraw and pay reparations and damages that they caused. That is the basic principle upon which the administration pursued the war,'' said Riad Kayyali, a former president of local American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Although the war, in his opinion, was not necessary, the U.S. has an opportunity to prove to the people of the Middle East that it is truly a defender of those principles, Kayyali said. This can be done by enforcing the other U.N. resolutions demanding that Israel withdraw from occupied territories.

``If they don't do this, it will reinforce the already established impression in the Arab masses that really, truly, the U.S. has no desire in solving the Arab-Palestinian problems to help the people of the area, but is out for its own interests and to become the dominant colonial power in the area.''

Already, it is very difficult for those in Arab countries who support the U.S., he said. ``People say: How can you expect us to believe that the U.S. is an honest broker when all the records show it isn't so?''

Now that this war is over, Kayyali said, this is a chance for the U.S. to prove it supports justice.

``If they miss this chance, I think the damage is irreparable. And the U.S. will emerge, not only in the Arab world, but in the rest of the Third World, as the new colonial power of the world.''

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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