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(Courtesy Jang news updates – July 20th 2005)

LONDON: Western foreign policy in the Middle East has created the conditions for terrorist attacks such as the London bombings in which at least 56 people died, the city’s mayor said Wednesday.

Ken Livingstone, renowned for his outspoken criticism of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s overseas agenda, blamed attempts by the West to maintain control of oil supplies in Arab countries for producing the Islamist terrorism of extremists including Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.

Asked what he blamed for the rise of Islamic radicalism and terrorism, Livingstone did not specifically mention Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War, which he opposed.

Livingstone blamed the United States for recruiting and blaming bin Laden without considering that he might turn on them.

The mayor also said if Western governments had allowed the Arab world in the aftermath of World War I to run their own governments without interference then the terrorist problems experienced now would probably not have occurred.

“I have watched Western governments, so terrified of losing control of their fuel supplies, that all my life there have been interventions in the Middle East by Western governments,” he said.

“It is the double standards that flow from that,” he said, noting that many young people in Britain were also outraged by the double standards in Western foreign policy, reflected in America’s support for Israel and detentions without trial in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

The mayor said he condemned all suicide bombings, but indicated that he understood why Palestinians may resort to the tactic in Israel. “Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations, I suspect that if it had happened here in England, we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves,” he said.