Protests in the Middle East

"Arab Governments Struggle to Control Protests against US" (Andrew Gumbel in The Independent, 3/26/03):

Popular fury over the war and continuing noisy street protests are threatening the stability of many autocratic governments in the Gulf region that rely on US support.

Protests also swept across Muslim countries in Asia yesterday. Bangladesh postponed its annual independence celebrations because of the war, while in Indonesia a small Islamist political party with admittedly limited means was deluged with volunteers after it advertised for fighters to go to Iraq to join the anti-American resistance.

Amid rising tensions in Saudi Arabia, the authorities floated a proposal to bring an early end to the war, saying it was in both sides' interests to stop the fighting and try to find another solution to their problems.

The initiative, being co-ordinated by the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Egyptians and the Bahrainis, comes at a time when anti-American and anti-government sentiment has been simmering for years. It risks reaching boiling point if the war becomes protracted.