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Robert Fisk article, further AI appeal, more news

to those who've recently joined this list -- a list of addresses and fax
numbers for UK government officials to whom you might like to write and
express your feelings about the bombing of Iraq was sent out a few days
ago. You can find it on our website in the Discussion List Archive.                                --seb

Robert Fisk - Deadly cost of a degrading act

WE ARE now in the endgame, the final bankruptcy of Western policy 
towards Iraq, the very last throw of the dice. We fire 200 cruise 
missiles into Iraq and what do we expect? Is a chastened Saddam Hussein 
going to emerge from his bunker to explain to us how sorry he is? Will 
he tell us how much he wants those nice UN inspectors to return to 
Baghdad to find his "weapons of mass destruction"? Is that what we 
think? Is that what the Anglo-American bombardment is all about? And if 
so, what happens afterwards? What happens when the missile attacks end - 
just before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, because, of course, we 
really are very sensitive about Iraqi religious feelings - and Saddam 
Hussein tells us that the UN inspectors will never be allowed to return? 

As the cruise missiles were launched, President Clinton announced that 
Saddam had "disarmed the [UN] inspectors", and Tony Blair - agonising 
about the lives of the "British forces" involved (all 14 pilots) - told 
us that "we act because we must". In so infantile a manner did we go to 
war on Wednesday night. No policies. No perspective. Not the slightest 
hint as to what happens after the bombardment ends. With no UN 
inspectors back in Iraq, what are we going to do? Declare eternal war 
against Iraq? 

We are "punishing" Saddam - or so Mr Blair would have us believe. And 
all the old cliches are being trundled out. In 1985, just before he 
bombed them, Ronald Reagan told the Libyans that the United States had 
"no quarrel with the Libyan people". In 1991, just before he bombed 
them, George Bush told the Iraqis that he had "no quarrel with the Iraqi 
people". And now we have Tony Blair - as he bombs them - telling Iraqis 
that, yes, he has "no quarrel with the Iraqi people". 

Is there a computer that churns out this stuff? Is there a cliche 
department at Downing Street which also provides Robin Cook with the 
tired phrase of the American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, 
about how Saddam used gas "against his own people"? 

For little did we care when he did use that gas against the Kurds of 
Halabja - because, at the time, those Kurds were allied to Iran and we, 
the West, were supporting Saddam's invasion of Iran. 

The lack of any sane long-term policy towards Iraq is the giveaway. Our 
patience - according to Clinton and Blair - is exhausted. Saddam cannot 
be trusted to keep his word (they've just realised). And so Saddam's 
ability to "threaten his neighbours" - neighbours who don't in fact want 
us to bomb Iraq - has to be "degraded". That word "degraded" is a 
military term, first used by General Schwarzkopf and his boys in the 
1991 Gulf war, and it is now part of the vocabulary of the weak. 
Saddam's weapons of mass destruction have to be "degraded". Our own dear 
Mr Cook was at it again yesterday, informing us of the need to "degrade" 
Saddam's military capability. 

How? The UN weapons inspectors - led for most of the time by Scott 
Ritter (the man who has admitted he kept flying to Israel to liaise with 
Israeli military intelligence), could not find out where Saddam's 
nuclear, biological and chemical weapons were hidden. They had been 
harassed by Iraq's intelligence thugs, and prevented from doing their 
work. Now we are bombing the weapons facilities which the inspectors 
could not find. Or are we? For there is a very serious question that is 
not being asked: if the inspectors couldn't find the weapons, how come 
we know where to fire the cruise missiles? 

And all the while, we continue to impose genocidal sanctions on Iraq, 
sanctions that are killing innocent Iraqis and - by the admission of Mr 
Cook and Mrs Albright - not harming Saddam at all. Mrs Albright rages at 
Saddam's ability to go on building palaces, and Mr Cook is obsessed with 
a report of the regime's purchase of liposuction equipment which, if 
true, merely proves that sanctions are a total failure. 

Mr Cook prattles on about how Iraq can sell more than $10bn (6bn) of 
oil a year to pay for food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. But 
since more than 30 per cent of these oil revenues are diverted to the UN 
compensation fund and UN expenses in Iraq, his statement is totally 

Dennis Halliday, the man who ran the UN oil-for-food programme in 
Baghdad, until he realised that thousands of Iraqi children were dying 
every month because of sanctions, resigned his post with the declaration 
that "we are in the process of destroying an entire society. it is 
illegal and immoral." So either Mr Halliday is a pathological liar - 
which I do not believe - or Mr Cook has a serious problem with the truth 
- which I do believe. 

Now we are bombing the people who are suffering under our sanctions. Not 
to mention the small matter of the explosion of child cancer in southern 
Iraq, most probably as a result of the Allied use of depleted uranium 
shells during the 1991 war. Gulf war veterans may be afflicted with the 
same sickness, although the British Government refuses to contemplate 
the possibility. And what, in this latest strike, are some of our 
warheads made of? Depleted uranium, of course. 

Maybe there really is a plan afoot for a coup d'etat, though hopefully 
more ambitious than our call to the Iraqi people to rise up against 
their dictator in 1991, when they were abandoned by the Allies they 
thought would speed to their rescue. Mr Clinton says he wants a 
democracy in Iraq - as fanciful a suggestion as any made recently. He is 
demanding an Iraqi government that "represents its people" and 
"respects" its citizens. Not a single Arab regime - especially not 
Washington's friends in Saudi Arabia - offers such luxuries to its 
people. We are supposed to believe, it seems, that Washington and London 
are terribly keen to favour the Iraqi people with a fully fledged 
democracy. In reality, what we want in Iraq is another bullying dictator 
- but one who will do as he is told, invade the countries we wish to see 
invaded (Iran), and respect the integrity of those countries we do not 
wish to see invaded (Kuwait). 

Yet no questions are being asked, no lies uncovered. Ritter, the Marine 
Corps inspector who worked with Israeli intelligence, claimed that 
Richard Butler - the man whose report triggered this week's new war - 
was aware of his visits to Israel. Is that true? Has anyone asked Mr 
Butler? He may well have avoided such contacts - but it would be nice to 
have an answer. 

So what to do with Saddam? Well, first, we could abandon the wicked 
sanctions regime against Iraq. We have taken enough innocent lives. We 
have killed enough children. Then we could back the real supporters of 
democracy in Iraq - not the ghouls and spooks who make up the so-called 
Iraqi National Congress, but the genuine dissidents who gathered in 
Beirut in 1991 to demand freedom for their country, but were swiftly 
ignored by the Americans once it became clear that they didn't want a 
pro-Western strongman to lead them. 

And we could stop believing in Washington. Vice-President Al Gore told 
Americans yesterday that it was a time for "national resolve and unity". 
You might have thought that the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor, 
or that General MacArthur had just abandoned Bataan. When President 
Clinton faced the worst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he bombed 
Afghanistan and Sudan. Faced with impeachment, he now bombs Iraq. How 
far can a coincidence go? 

This week, two Christian armies - America's and Britain's - went to war 
with a Muslim nation, Iraq. With no goals, but with an army of 
platitudes, they have abandoned the UN's weapons control system, closed 
the door on arms inspections, and opened the door to an unlimited 
military offensive against Iraq. And nobody has asked the obvious 
question: what happens next? 


Amnesty International Urgent Action update:

+ Paper reprints authorised. Electronic redistributors +
+ must request permission from Amnesty International.  +
+ Contact:                         +

PUBLIC                     AI Index: AMR 51/114/98

       18 December 1998

Further information on EXTRA 101/98 (AMR 51/110/98, 16 December
1998) and follow-up (AMR 51/112/98, 17 December 1998) - Fear of
indiscriminate mass killing of civilians in Iraq


At least two hospitals are reported to have been hit as a result of
US and UK air strikes in Baghdad.  A rice storage house in the town
of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, is also said to have been hit and burnt
down by a missile.

International Humanitarian Law prohibits attacks which, although
aimed at a legitimate military target, have an indiscriminate or
disproportionate impact on civilians.  Amnesty International is
concerned that International Humanitarian Law may be being violated
by the US and UK action.

FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: If possible, please continue to send
telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in English or in your own

- reminding the US government of the general prohibition contained
in International Humanitarian Law standards against attacking
hospitals and other civilian objects indispensable to the survival
of the civilian population.

(Time difference = GMT - 5 hrs / BST - 6 hrs)

Bill Clinton                      [Salutation:        Dear President]
The White House
Office of the President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC 20500
United States of America
Telegrams:          President, Washington DC, United States America
Faxes:        + 1 202 456 2461

Lader, Embassy of United States of America, Grosvenor Square, London
W1A 1AE. Fax: 0171 409 1637


Amnesty International members in the UK and US are requested not to
write appeals to their own governments on this issue.

+ If you have any queries about this Urgent Action or about +
+ the UA scheme in general, please contact:                 +
+   Ray Mitchell / Becky Hess                               +
+   Amnesty International UK Section                        +
+   99 - 119 Rosebery Avenue                                +
+   London EC1R 4RE      email:           +

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 19:10:01 +0000 (GMT)
From: Rania Masri <>

If Iraq really is a threat to the region, then these Arab states would be
supporting the strikes.  If they're not threatened by Iraq, how can
Americans here be threatened?

 Arab states condemn strikes on Iraq, anti-American protests erupt

 9.14 a.m. ET (1414 GMT) December 18, 1998

 By Mae Ghalwash, Associated Press

 CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Arab governments and newspapers fiercely
 criticized the U.S. air strikes on Baghdad today and
 thousands of protesters in Arab capitals shouted angry
 slogans against the United States.

 Throughout the Arab world, the message was that the
 unleashing of missiles at the heart of Baghdad would do more
 harm to the Iraqi people than to President Saddam Hussein.

 On Arab streets, demonstrators condemned the attacks as an
 attempt by President Clinton to squirm out of the scandal
 over his sexual relationship with former White House intern
 Monica Lewinsky.

 "For Monica's sake, Iraqi children are dying,'' read a sign
 waved during a protest at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque, one of
 the most famous in the Arab world.

 Syrian Parliament Speaker Abdul-Kader Qaddoura said the U.S.
 strikes "increased the suffering and pain'' of Iraq's
 people, "particularly its children and civilians.''

 "(We) condemn and denounce this attack and call on the
 international community to condemn and halt it
 immediately,'' he told Parliament.

 Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, president of the United
 Arab Emirates, expressed his "great concern over the
 military action against Iraq and its repercussions on the
 Iraqi people.''

 In the Egyptian capital, hundreds of worshipers gathered at
 Cairo's al-Azhar mosque to shout demands for Arabs to defend
 Iraq against the American onslaught.

 "Leaders of the country, let us go to holy war,'' the
 protesters chanted. The crowd of demonstrators briefly broke
 through a cordon of police surrounding the mosque before
 being shoved back onto the Al-Azhar grounds.

 Sheik Mohamed Tantawi, leader of Al-Azhar, also urged
 solidarity with the Iraqis. "Stand by the Iraqi people or we
 will be hit by God's damnation,'' he preached.

 Inside the mosque, there were shouts urging attacks on
 American interests and belittling comments about Clinton's
 motive for the repeated missile strikes on Iraq.

 "Iraq is suffering because of an American whore and a big
 baby boy,'' said Mohammed Hassan, 20, a medical student.

 Similar protests were staged in the capitals of Lebanon,
 Jordan and Yemen, where 15,000 people people marched through
 the streets of San`a shouting, "America is the enemy of the

 In the West Bank, Palestininans rallied against Clinton for
 the second straight day, shouting "Death to America!''

 In non-Arab Iran, demonstrators at Tehran's Palestine Square
 called for international intervention to stop "the massacre
 of innocent people'' in Iraq - traditionally an enemy of the

 In Lebanon's capital Beirut, about 2,500 people staged a
 sit-in outside U.N. headquarters. The protesters waved Iraqi
 flags and shouted, "Beloved Iraq, strike Tel Aviv,'' the
 Israeli coastal city.

 The Egyptian-based Arab League called an emergency meeting
 Sunday to discuss the situation in Iraq.

 Its secretary-general, Esmat Abdel-Meguid, blamed the attack
 on last week's report by U.N. chief weapons inspector
 Richard Butler, saying he "intended to provoke Iraq and not
 be neutral'' in assessing Iraq's weapons programs.

 In countries closely allied to the United States - such as
 Egypt and Jordan - massive security forces were deployed
 today to prevent demonstrations from turning violent.

 About 300 police ringed a demonstration of 30-40 people at a
 mosque near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. In the Jordanian
 capital of Amman, about 500 demonstrators were surrounded by
 an equal number of police.

 At Amman's University of Jordan mosque, the protesters
 called for an Arab revolt against the United States.

 "Saddam ... if you want commandos we are ready'' and "Syria,
 Jordan, Iraq - revolt and make Clinton go to hell'' were
 among slogans chanted.

 Eight Arab states - including heavyweights Egypt, Saudi
 Arabia and Syria - warned Baghdad mid-November that it would
 be "held responsible for any consequences'' of not
 cooperating with U.N. officials.

 But this time not one Arab government has expressed support
 for the airstrikes - which were also condemned by the
 world's largest Muslim group, the 52-nation Organization of
 the Islamic Conference based in Saudi Arabia.

 In Lebanon, Ghassan Tweini, publisher of the leading daily
 An-Nahar, called the attacks a misguided attempt to oust

 "Leave it to the Iraqis, not the Americans, not the Turks
 nor the Kurds nor the Israelis ... to decide the fate of the
 Iraqi regime and Saddam Hussein,'' Tweini wrote today.

 The main exception to a united Arab front was Kuwait, whose
 invasion by Iraq in 1990 led to the following year's Gulf
 War and eight years of trade sanctions on Iraq.

 Sheik Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti foreign minister
 and deputy prime minister, told the daily Al-Rai Al-Amm that
 "we are not part'' of the crisis between Iraqi and the
 United Nations.

 Fouad al-Hashem, columnist for the Al-Watan daily in Kuwait,
 wrote today that he hoped the bodies of Saddam, his sons and
 wife and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz "will be
 hanging naked from street lights all over Baghdad'' by the
 time the U.S. attacks end.

Developments in Iraq Air Attack

                  Friday, December 18, 1998; 11:47 a.m. EST
                  Key developments today in the airstrikes against Iraq:

                  --Baghdad shakes with explosions, anti-aircraft
                  artillery in a third wave of attacks about 4 a.m.
                  today. Earlier airstrikes came Thursday night and
                  before dawn Thursday.

                  --Iraqi President Saddam Hussein declares he will never
                  ``compromise or kneel'' in the showdown over arms
                  inspections and exhorts his nation to keep resisting
                  American ``injustice.''

                  --Iraqi officials say 25 people killed Thursday, no
                  immediate word on today's casualties.

                  --Damage from the airstrikes in Baghdad was reported at
                  government buildings, factories, a hospital and even a
                  museum, where a missile punched a gaping hole through
                  one wall.

                  --Anti-American protests erupted today in several Arab
                  capitals, with many saying the attacks were President
                  Clinton's way of squirming out of his sex scandal with
                  Monica Lewinsky. Protests took place in Egypt, Lebanon,
                  Yemen, Jordan, Iran and the West Bank.

                  --Russia recalls its ambassador to Britain in protest,
                  after recalling its ambassador to Washington a day

                  --President Clinton writes Russian President Boris
                  Yeltsin to defend the U.S. decision to attack Iraq.
                  Chinese President Jiang Zemin writes Clinton uring him
                  to end the airstrikes.

                         (c) Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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