First Published: 2003-04-01

Mussa warns of Iraq war spilling over

'The day Baghdad falls, is the beginning of the real war... with a lot of violence,' says Arab league chief.


Middle East Online

They are going to let the genie out of the jar

ATHENS - Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa expressed concern here Monday that the Iraq war could spill over and destabilise the entire Middle East.

"The day Baghdad falls, is the beginning of the real war... with a lot of violence and confrontation," Mussa said in an interview on Greek state television estimating that extremist groups will find fertile ground throughout the region.

"They (the United States and Britain) have miscalculated... they are going to let the genie out of the jar," he said, adding that the war against Iraq will be long.

"The perception we see on television every day with Baghdad being hit around the clock is hard for any Arab to swallow," Mussa explained after meeting Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country holds the EU presidency.

But Mussa also said the Arab League has no concrete plans to back Syria, accused by the United States of supporting terrorist groups and Saddam Hussein. Mussa said the case was already covered by the Arab league's existing anti-war resolutions.

"We are consulting. We cannot talk about a certain, concrete initiative at this moment. The position of the Arab League was very clear against war in Iraq. It will be the same in case there is any attack against any Arab country".

Mussa also aired his distrust regarding a US-backed proposal for a roadmap to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. "We've heard all that before," he said in the interview, adding that there will be no stability in the region without a settlement.

Papandreou said the European Union has focused efforts on humanitarian assistance for Iraq rather than finding a political solution at this moment. "We all see a real human drama unfolding in Iraq," Papandreou said.

Earlier in the day Mussa met Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.


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