Q&A: The View from the Arab League

Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League, is known for his feistiness. Moussa, 66, was tapped for the job last year after 10 years as Egypt's Foreign Minister. He shared his views with London Bureau Chief Stanley Reed when they met at the Arab League's headquarters on the Nile in Cairo. Here are excerpts.

Q: Do you think a change of regime in Iraq might benefit the Middle East?

A: The Middle East is becoming so agitated, so angry. I don't think anything positive can come from military confrontation and the humiliation of Muslims.

Q: So what would be your prescription for change in the region?

A: The road to change is very different. It involves economic development, education. But the situation in the occupied territories and the talk about Iraq distracts us.

Q: The U.S. would claim that Afghanistan is a positive example.

A: The experience of Afghanistan cannot just be copied in Iraq. Whoever comes to rule Iraq will be looked on with major suspicion [in the Arab world].

Q: How should the U.S. change its approach?

A: I am among those who believe U.S.-Arab relations should be promoted. But the priority given to everything Israel wants very much affects U.S. credibility in the region. The only solution is for the U.S. to be an honest broker by helping the Israelis and Arabs to compromise.

Q: What about your other priorities?

A: The Palestinian agenda should not be the only concern. There are [broader] social and cultural issues. But people in the West must understand--and many do--that the Palestinian issue is a question of history, honor, and conscience. Iraq can enjoy the headlines for a time, but the Palestinian question will make or break us.

Q: You don't sound optimistic about the direction the region is going in.

A: I see no reason for optimism--none at all.

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