Tags: Arabs | Jeer | Marine | Band

Arabs Jeer Marine Band

Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM

A smattering of jeers and catcalls punctuated the U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps' rendition of "Amazing Grace," in its performance at a large open-air stadium for Oman leader Sultan Qaboos at the celebration of his 30th year of rule.

Westerners who live in Muscat told United Press International that the boos were a response to the United States' perceived favoritism of Israel in its battle with Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. At least 239 have died - most of them Palestinians - since the uprising began Sept. 28.

"They are unhappy with the Palestinian situation," said a British woman in native Omani dress. She would not give her name.

While polite applause rewarded the characteristically flawless performance of the Marine band, large sections of the crowd hooted and yelled.

The noise came from the areas reserved for ordinary Omani citizens rather than government officials and the diplomatic corps.

A native Omani who works at the U.S. embassy here expressed embarrassment at the episode, saying the group was made up of "school flunk outs." Their disdain for the U.S. representatives in the show was particularly notable because the crowd was well behaved and enthusiastic throughout the three-hour spectacle of music, acrobatics, fireworks and martial arts.

Cohen was seated with Qaboos in his private box at the massive military review. Neither man's reaction could be seen from the viewing stands.

A military band from Jordan also participated in the review. When it marched onto the sandy playing field, Jordan's flag was projected on massive screens on either side of the stadium, while scenes from Jordan flickered on a back wall. But when the Marine Corps band marched out, it was in front of a projected backdrop of desert vistas - no flag, no pictures of American monuments.

Leaders of the Persian Gulf countries tell Cohen they appreciate U.S. efforts to bring Arabs and Israelis back to the bargaining table, but they stress that both sides must be treated fairly.

Of particular concern is the U.S. abstention, rather than support, for a U.N. resolution last month condemning the violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories because it tagged Israel as the main culprit.

That tension is played out every day of Cohen's eight-day trip through the region, where he moves under tight security because of fears of terrorism brought on by the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and the clashes in Israel.

Cohen acknowledges the heightened tensions but insists they are temporary.

"I would say based on the countries I've been to to date and those that I will visit the next several days, that our standing in the Gulf region is still very high," Cohen said Sunday at a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi defense chief Prince Sultan bin Abdullah Al-Aziz sidestepped a question from U.S. journalists at the same press event on whether he thought the United States was being even-handed in its approach.

"I think the United States under the leadership of President Clinton is seeking world peace, especially in the Middle East. The question of who is biased or not biased is not a useful question. It has no use to anybody," he said.

Cohen has repeatedly called for an end to the fighting on this trip, warning that the violence could spill over into other areas of the Middle East.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.

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A smattering of jeers and catcalls punctuated the U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps' rendition of Amazing Grace, in its performance at a large open-air stadium for Oman leader Sultan Qaboos at the celebration of his 30th year of rule. Westerners who live in Muscat...
Arabs,Jeer,Marine,Band
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2000-00-20
Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM
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