Tariq Ali

In Cairo and Abu Dhabi, the two Arab capitals I have visited this year, street and palace are for once in harmony. A pre-emptive strike against Saddam Hussein on the grounds that he might, at some point in the future, authorise the production of nuclear weapons, would be, for the people of the region, a classic display of imperial double-standards. They know that the only country which possesses both nuclear and chemical weapons is Israel. Arab public opinion has not been so united for decades. And a cable television station, al-Jazeera (‘the Peninsula’), has played a crucial part in both promoting and symbolising this unity. It has raised mass consciousness in the region, by providing a ruthless analysis of what is wrong with the Arab world.

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[*] Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East (Westview, 228 pp., £16.99, 19 July, 0 8133 4017 9).