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AP World - General News
Malaysian leader slams West, Israel
Mon Feb 24,12:09 AM ET

By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press Writer

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad slammed Israel and Western nations for causing a global upsurge in terrorism, saying religious extremists were only reacting to "blatant double standards" in the treatment of Palestinians and Iraq.

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In his speech Monday at the opening of the 13th summit of non-aligned nations in Malaysia's largest city, Mahathir warned that the U.S.-led war on terrorism had degenerated into a crusade to dominate nonwhite nations.

"Since Sept. 11 the rich and powerful have become enraged with the poor half of the world," he said. "Their extreme measures to ensure security for themselves have only amplified the anger of the oppressed poor."

Mahathir, one of Asia's most respected and outspoken statesmen, on Monday took over the chairmanship of the 116-member Non-Aligned Movement from South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The grouping accounts for almost two-thirds of the United Nations (news - web sites) and is seeking to revitalize its role as a platform for the Third World, promoting interests of developing nations in dealings with the world's wealthier nations.

Mahathir maintains the group also could regain relevancy through an anti-war stance, linking with peace movements in the United States, Europe and other developed nations.

Although Malaysia has been a close U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, Mahathir has repeatedly stressed that Washington should address root causes of militancy, rather than simply using military force to quash it.

"If we think back, there was no systematic campaign of terror outside Europe until the Europeans and the Jews created a Jewish state out of Palestinian land," Mahathir told delegates in his opening speech.

"The blatant double standards is what infuriates Muslims, infuriates them to the extent of launching their own terror attacks," Mahathir said. "If Iraq is linked to al-Qaida, is it not more logical to link the expropriation of Palestinian land and the persecution and oppression of Palestinians with Sept. 11?"

In an apparent reference to the United States, Mahathir denounced those causing civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites).

"If the innocent people who died in the attack on Afghanistan and those who have been dying from lack of food and medical care in Iraq are considered collaterals, are the 3,000 who died in New York and the 200 in Bali also just collaterals whose deaths are necessary for operations to succeed?" Mahathir asked.

"While the suicidal terrorists die with each attack, the great warriors who press buttons see nothing of the mangled bodies ... the blood and gore of the innocent people," he said. "And because they don't see, the button-pressing warriors and the people who command them go back to enjoy a hearty meal."

"Tomorrow, they make more sorties to carpet-bomb more children, women and old people."

He urged the Non-Aligned Movement to strive to ban war, and proposed that the military budgets of all nations be restricted to 1 percent of their gross domestic product, as was Japan's after World War II.

"War must be outlawed — that will have to be our struggle for now," Mahathir said. "No single nation should be allowed to police the world."

Powerful countries "no longer respect borders, international laws or simple moral values," Mahathir said.

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