February 28, 2003


US for Abu Mazin as Palestinian leader (Anwar Iqbal, 2/28/2003, UPI)
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Friday that senior Palestinian official Mahmud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazin, would be
acceptable to the United States as a replacement for Yasser Arafat. [...]

Armitage did not say whether the Israelis would also accept Abu Mazin, but he was a key figure in the Oslo negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians that led to the peace agreement. The Israelis regard him as a moderate member of the Palestinian leadership.

He remains secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive council and one of Arafat's close aides, but he is no longer active having distanced himself from the Palestinian leader in July last year when it became obvious that Arafat was no longer acceptable to Israel and the United States. [...]

Armitage said that if a change in Iraq brings about a Shiite government, the United States would have no objection.

"If the majority of the people of Iraq elect a Shia as a leader than so be it." said Armitage, adding: "If you have a representative government, then all the people of Iraq will decide who they want to rule ... no matter their ethnic or religious identity."

He said, "The Shia population is a prominent population of Iraq, which has been very badly treated by Saddam Hussein."

Armitage said the United States was not afraid of the possibility of a Shiite-run Iraqi making an alliance with Iran, which is so far the only Shiite majority country in the world.

Asked if the United States was worried about such a possibility, he said: "No we are not. I don't think you can make those fine adjustments. If you are going to have a representative government, that's what it means."

Odd how we already think of the current configuration of the Middle East in the past tense--no wonder Syria and Libya are scared. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 28, 2003 8:46 PM
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