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Guardian: "Britain seeks u-turn over Iraq bombing"




I apologize for sending so many articles, but the following seems 
interesting.  According to an article published in The Guardian on 8 
January, 2001, the British administration is considering proposing to the US 
government to cease the bombing of targets in Iraq's southern "no-fly" zone.

http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,419224,00.html

Britain seeks u-turn over Iraq bombing
Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor

The British government, in a policy u-turn, is to propose to the incoming US 
administration that the bombing of targets over southern Iraq should be 
stopped. British and US planes have enforced no-fly zones along Iraq's 
northern and southern borders since 1992. In the past two years alone, they 
have dropped more than 100 bombs, mainly against Iraqi air defences.

The bombing, in what is sometimes called the "forgotten war", has led to an 
unknown number of civilian casualties. Hans von Sponek, the former UN 
humanitarian coordinator, writing in the Guardian last week, said that 144 
civilians had died in the no-fly zones because of the bombing.

The two no-fly zones were imposed by the US and Britain after the Gulf war 
in what was described as a humanitarian effort to protect the Shi'ites in 
the south of Iraq and Kurds in the north.

However, they are not backed by any UN security council resolution and do 
not include flights by Iraqi helicopters. Iraq is now flying civilian 
aircraft over the zones.

The official British line is that there are no plans to change the approach 
to Iraq and that British foreign policy is determined independently of the 
US. In the Guardian last week, Peter Hain, the Foreign Office minister, 
strongly defended the no-fly zone policy.

But in reality, the whole of US-British policy towards Iraq is under review 
as a result of the impending arrival of a new US administration. Among the 
top foreign policy issues the new president, George W Bush, will have to 
contend with is how to deal with the renewed confidence of the Iraqi 
dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Mr Bush is expected to take a tough line, given that his father was 
president at the time of the Gulf war and that his secretary of state, Colin 
Powell, commanded the Allied forces. Gen Powell has spoken of the need to 
"re-energise" US policy towards Iraq.

But only Britain and the US remain enthusiastic about maintaining sanctions 
and France, among others, has criticised the continued bombing of southern 
Iraq.

In an attempt to deflect criticism, the British government has been looking 
behind-the-scenes at the introduction of so-called "smart" sanctions and an 
end to the southern no-fly zone.

The no-fly zone was meant to counter Saddam Hussein's assault on the 
southern Shi'ites by denying him air space. But the Iraqi campaign of 
repression has effectively ended because the anti-Saddam opposition in the 
towns and among the Marsh Arabs has been quelled.

The Ministry of Defence, which has spent more than 800m policing the zones, 
is increasingly uneasy about the possibility of an RAF pilot going down, and 
the bombing has led to public concern, especially after evidence that 
victims have included civilians.

The British government is proposing to retain the no-fly zone in the north 
because it argues the threat remains to the Iraqi Kurds.

Although ready to consider fresh policies, Britain does not intend to let up 
on Saddam, seeing him as a serious threat to world stability.

Downing Street has been increasingly toying with the idea of switching from 
a blanket ban that has exceptions to sanctions that specify a narrow band of 
prohibited goods, mainly weapons.

UN reports have shown that the sanctions have resulted in a high civilian 
death toll, especially among children.

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said 
yesterday a rethink of British and UN policy towards Iraq was "absolutely 
necessary".

"Ten years of inertia is no substitute for effective policy," he said.

Also under consideration will be sanctions that target the regime more 
effectively by trying to limit the ability to travel and hitting overseas 
bank accounts, though such measures have proved difficult to achieve in the 
past.


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