Malaysian Prime Minister Ma-hathir Mohamad said the US-led war in Iraq appeared to be an attempt to "out-terrorize the terrorists" and had made all weaker nations to fear invasion by world powers.
Mahathir, a strident critic of the US- and British-led Iraq war, said in a speech honoring visiting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that the world was not dealing with a major cause of global terrorism -- the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Instead, we see an attempt to out-terrorize the terrorists to deter them," Mahathir was quoted by Malaysian media as saying in the speech late on Monday.
"Now countries are being threatened and invaded even though there is no proof of their involvement in terrorism," the New Straits Times daily newspaper quoted Mahathir as saying.
The attack on Iraq was seen by Muslims as an attempt to terrify Islamic nations, he was cited as saying.
Mahathir, one of Asia's longest-serving leaders who is also chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement of 116 mostly less-developed nations, said small countries now lived in fear not only of terrorism but of unilateral action by more powerful nations.
"We can expect no protection from international organizations like the UN since powerful countries like the US and Britain can attack Iraq without the sanction of the UN," Mahathir was quoted as saying.
Mahathir made his speech at a dinner function for Schroeder, the first German chancellor to visit this Southeast Asian country.
Earlier on Monday, Schroeder, also an opponent of the Iraq war, held talks with Mahathir and later, in a speech, strongly endorsed the UN as a crucial forum for resolving global problems.
The German chancellor is on a four-nation trip to Southeast Asia. He was due to leave Malaysia yesterday for Singapore, then travel to Indonesia and Vietnam.
Malaysian officials said both leaders agreed during their talks that the UN should play a central postwar role in Iraq, Malaysian officials said. Topics of the talks ranged from trade to terrorism and the war.
Malaysia, a mostly moderate Muslim country of about 24 million people, has loudly criticized the war in Iraq and the marginalization of the UN by US policy.
Germany, along with France, Russia and China, was a key opponent in the UN Security Council of authorizing the US- and British-led invasion.