MUSLIM NATIONS WARNED US NOT TO ATTACK ANY ARAB OR MUSLIM STATE

From an IPS Correspondent in the Qatari Capital

DOHA 10 Oct. (IPS) The 57-members Islamic Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) warned Wednesday the United States from Doha "not to attack any Arab or Muslim", but at the same time avoided to condemn Washington and London for their attacks on the ruling Afghan Taleban.

Analysts in the capital of the oil-rich Persian Gulf Emirate of Qatar, where the emergency meeting of the Organisationís foreign ministers was held to review the situation in the war-shattered Afghanistan told an Iran Press Correspondent the statement issued Wednesday at the end of the one day meeting was "the maximum" the participants could produce "at this time and under present conditions".

"A good number of the governments represented here have, at various degrees, good relations with Washington but at the same time, with the exception of few countries, like Iran, the streets are strongly against the United States, therefore, the ministers were walking on a tight rope and what they produced was the maximum they could have done", the Arab analyst said, asking for anonymity.

"Members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, that represents more than 1.2 billion Muslims world-wide, condemn the 11 September operations on New York and in Washington, but at the same time, it rejects the targeting of any Arab or Muslim state under the pretext of combating terrorism", the statement said.

Analysts said by Arab or Muslim country, the Conference might mean Iraq, Syria or Iran, this latter one being a Muslim but none Arab country.

All three above-mentioned nations have condemned the joint Anglo-American air strikes over Afghanistan and, plus North Korea, Cuba, Libya and Sudan, are on the American black list of "rogue states" protecting terrorists and supporting terrorism.

This is a direct warning to the US Defence Minister, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, who, in a letter to the United States, had said that Washington, in its fight against terrorism, might also expand it to some other nations.

Arab concerns were heightened Monday by the letter the United States addressed to the United Nations saying: "We may find that our self-defence may require further actions with respect to other organizations and other states".

Since the September 11 terror attacks against the United States, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II, fearing internal or regional unrest, have both strived to obtain a guarantee from their US ally that Arab regimes, including Iraq, will be spared in the war against terrorism, analysts pointed out.

"The conference also expressed its concern that confronting terrorism could lead to casualties among innocent civilians in Afghanistan and asserted the importance of assuring the territorial integrity of Afghanistan and its Islamic character," the communiquť added.

The ministers, while condemning the 11 September suicide operations in the United States as being "against the spirit of Islam", called on the world public opinion not to "amalgamate terrorism with Islam".

In his inaugural address to the Conference was, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the ruler of Qatar, who is the current president of the OIC, indirectly regretted that the US had not provided any convincing document for the inculpation of Mr. Osama Ben Laden, the prime suspect in the horrific 11 September operations, saying "military action should be based on solid evidence and must not harm civilians.

The meeting was held on Iranian demand for adopting a unified stand by the OIC members about the American air attacks on Afghanistan.

[On his return to Tehran, Mr. Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian Foreign Minister expressed mild satisfaction with the result of the meeting, telling briefly reporters that the world of Islam does not approve of "rogue, individual initiatives" in combating terrorism and is of the opinion that its solution depends to close co-operation through the United Nations".

He also announced the creation of a OIC special fund for the Afghan people.]

"We assert our utter rejection of these attacks and assert that confronting them must not touch innocent civilians and must not extend beyond those who carried out those attacks", the Emir said.

"This requires the existence of irrefutable evidence against the perpetrators and that military operations, after announcing the evidence, be limited to them alone", he added.

The Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad ben Jassem al-Thani said his country had not seen all the evidence against bin Laden. What had been provided did not constitute solid proof. "But we believe that the United States would not do something like this without proof," he said.

"We don't have to blame the United States because what happened in the United States is a big tragedy; 6,000 people were killed in one day and they were killed by terrorist action", he told a news conference at the end of the meeting.

"We don't generally support military action, but then again we don't support terrorism either, and we also have to identify terrorism and see its causes, which is why we asked for it to be discussed...at the United Nations in future," he said.

The Taliban have stirred strong criticism from many Muslim nations for their hard-line ideology. Only one country, OIC member Pakistan, recognizes them as Afghanistan's government.

"We would have liked to see an internationally led (anti-terrorism) campaign", said Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, when asked about the U.S.-led strikes.

"Terrorism is a global phenomenon and any action against it is best addressed through the United Nations", he said, repeating his earlier warnings that no Arab state should be harmed in the US-led operation.

"If there are accusations against anyone or any organisation, there must be consultations and necessary diplomatic and legal measures must be taken," Mussa said, hinting that Washington did have plans to hit countries other.

The meeting strongly condemned Israelís "terrorist" operations against the Palestinian people and reiterated calls on the United Nations for the creation of an international force for the protection of Palestinians from Israeli attacks.

The statement said the ministers also urged the end to the occupation of Arab lands by Israel in the 1976 war, in reference to the Syrian Golan Heights that Israel has annexed them to its territories. ENDS OIC AFQANESTAN 101001