Call on Mahathir to propose an anti-terrorism international coalition for justice at the APEC summit based on a five-point global consensus, including immediate halt to military operations in Afghanistan

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): There is no doubt that the September 11 terrorist attacks and  the US-led military operations in Afghanistan will dominate the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit in Shanghai this weekend although terrorism is not officially on the APEC agenda.

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should propose an anti-terrorism international coalition for justice at the APEC summit based on a five-point global consensus, including an immediate halt to military operations in Afghanistan, namely:

At  the APEC Summit, United States President Bush must be made to understand that if the conflict in Afghanistan gets prolonged and bloody, then other Muslim countries could become destabilised, with pro-Western governments replaced by anti-American ones - and the ultimate nightmare of the US taking military action against Muslim countries and in the process breeding many more Osama bin Ladens and al-Qaedas.

The United States and the United Kingdom have repeatedly declared that the war is against terrorism and not a war against Islam and the Arabs. What is important, however,  is not the statements  by the US and UK governments but the perceptions of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world from the conduct of the US-led airstrikes and military operations in Afghanistan.

Two latest Afghan developments which will inflame the Muslim world that what is happening is not a war against terrorism but against Islam are:  the US bombing and destruction of two International Committee of the Red Cross food depots in Kabul to stave off Afghanistan from a humanitarian catastrophe with seven million people facing starvation and the heaviest bombing raids yet  by US warplanes  since the start of the airstrikes on October 7, including the use of one of the  most devastating attack planes, the four-engine turbo-prop aircraft AC-130 -  equipped with a 150mm cannon and two rapid-fire machine guns capable of firing 2,500 bullets a minute.

The American airstrikes may have  made the task of winning wavering Taliban commanders over far harder by turning the hardline Islamic militia from villains into victims. Furthermore,  a decision by the allies to use ground troops would mean a coalition’s war was no longer against terrorism but against Afghanistan, which could force  the disparate factions of the country to unite to  fight the invader.

In his recent trip to the Mid-East, when Saudi Arabia refused to welcome him for a visit,  British Prime Minister Tony Blair made the extraordinary admission that the US-led coalition was in danger of losing the propaganda war in Muslim states.

Mahathir should ask Bush to  consider whether the United States had lost the moral high ground; blundered into an ugly war whose worst impact is on people who have done the United States no harm - as not a single Afghan citizen took part in the World Trade Centre bombings when 12 of the 19 US suicide hijackers were Saudi-born - and creating a dangerous schism between Arab leaders and governments who are appalled by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and sections of their people who see him as the Che Quavera  of Arabia or modern-day Saladin.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman