The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
Global condemnation of US, Britain after Baghdad raid South News: February 17, 2001 The United States and Britain were condemned Saturday from almost every corner of the globe following an air raid over Baghdad, with officials and media accusing Washington and London of overreaching their power and showing disregard for civilians. The strike distanced the United States from nearly all of its Middle East allies, with only Israeli and Kuwaiti officials commenting indirectly on the the operation. But thousands of Palestinians marched in Tulkarm and Hebron in the occupied West Bank to oppose the attack on Iraq, even as at least two more Palestinians were shot dead for protesting continuing Israeli occupation. Some of the toughest criticism came from Russia, whose Middle East envoy Alexander Saltanov said on a visit to Syria that "the strikes will not produce any positive results." In Moscow, defense ministry official General Leonid Ivashov said the attack "leaves Russia in no doubt" that Washington is seeking to "monopolize the role of being a world policeman." "What the American military is in the process of doing, at the beginning of the new US administration, is a threat to international security and the entire international community," Ivashov told the Interfax news agency. Belarus, a close ally of Moscow said in a statement from its foreign ministry that "Such actions should be regarded as an open violation of international law which undermines the U. N. system of maintaining international peace and security. Such actions can only aggravate the situation on the regional and global scales." China, whose embassy in Belgrade was bombed and destroyed in a U.S. attack in 1999 also strongly criticised the Anglo-American action. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said "We condemn the air attacks launched by the United States and Britain against Iraq, and express deep regret over the deaths and injuries of innocent civilians resulting from the action." France, the other permanent member of the UN Security Council, also criticized the air raids, with a foreign ministry spokesman saying Paris has several times expressed "incomprehension and disappointment" at the strikes. France stopped participating in US and British air patrols in southern Iraq in December 1998, citing humanitarian concerns. Middle East condemnation of the raid was led by Iran, where official Radio Tehran denounced "signs of the adventurism of the new administration of George W. Bush, ... (who) is seeking to demonstrate his strength against Saddam Hussein." In Cairo, Arab League secretary general Esmat Abdel Meguid said the attacks had "no justification" and provoked "angry sentiments and discontent in the Arab world." The Egyptian parliament declared its "condemnation of any aggression against the Iraqi people." Anger over the raids fed passions in the Palestinian territories, where thousands of demonstrators held up Saddam portraits and set ablaze the US, British and Israeli flags and pictures of Bush. Some protesters clashed with Israeli troops, although no one was injured. Many Palestinians considered Saddam a hero during the 1991 Gulf War, when Baghdad fired Scud missiles at Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city. Warplanes raiding Baghdad flew out of Kuwait, whose Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah stressed that "the victims of the oppression of the Iraqi regime are the Iraqi and the Kuwaiti peoples." But Kuwait, which Iraq occupied from August 1990 until a US-led coalition drove it out in the Gulf war, tried to keep a low profile, saying it "has never and will never interfere in Iraq's internal or external affairs." There was no immediate reaction from Saudi Arabia, where US and British planes are also stationed. But Turkey, the base for the planes enforcing no-fly zones over northern Iraq, expressed regret "that civilians were affected." "Ten years after the Gulf War, there is still no peace and stability in Iraq. ... Therefore, the new US administration should review with Turkey the Iraq question at first opportunity," Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said. In Jordan the main dailies which usually reflect government thinking strongly condemned the attacks as "cowardly" and featured prominent photos of civilian victims. Jordan, a key US ally which also has close ties to Iraq, more than 200 people demonstrated their support outside the Iraqi embassy, while Foreign Minister Abdel Ilah al-Khatib said Amman "never condones the use of military force against Iraq." "Anything related to Iraq's military capability should be handled within the context of the Security Council resolutions," Khatib said. He was speaking alongside visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorbjoern Jagland, who called the raids "unfortunate" but called on Saddam to "now comply with all UN resolutions so that one could suspend the sanctions against Iraq." Opposition to the Baghdad raid also united India and Pakistan, which both insisted the operation was in violation of international resolutions and caused civilians unjustifiable suffering. Cuba called the raid part of a "long series of criminal and hostile actions which various US administrations have carried out against Iraqi territory." One rare voice in support of the raids was Canada, where a foreign ministry spokesman said Ottawa backs "all means necessary to ensure that the military forces under the regime of Saddam Hussein do not resume their assaults on the Kurds in the north of Iraq and the Shiite population." But in Britain George Galloway, a deputy of the ruling Labour party and a vociferous critic of the government's policy on Iraq, was Saturday flying out to Baghdad to assess the damage done by the attacks. He condemned the bombing raids and said they were neither legally nor morally legitimate. He added: "At a time when around 7,000 Iraqi children a month are dying because of sanctions, this is a cruel and criminal attack on the ordinary people of the country." Deputy Tony Benn, a respected veteran of the Labour party's left-wing, denounced the bombings as illegal and called for their immediate halt. And as The Guardian noted: "Some MPs in all parties, even thoughtful Tories, will agree with him that Blair's Britain is over-eager to prove itself as macho and as loyal to Washington as Margaret Thatcher." The paper concluded the operations would "again remind Britain's EU partners that if forced to choose between Europe and the open sea, the UK will instinctively choose the open sea... and America beyond it." Australian Arabic Council chairman Roland Jabour said in Melbourne that air strikes will not get international support. "It is quite evident now that they have failed to achieve their objective, their aim and all they are doing is causing further suffering by the innocent Iraqi citizens," he said. In New Zealand, Disarmament Minister Matt Robson said the strikes were an arrogant use of power, which the UN should address. He said the bombing was a setback for world peace initiatives and moves to lift UN-imposed sanctions against Iraq. He would raise the issue at Monday's cabinet meeting "so New Zealand diplomats are given a clear set of instructions". Robson said the US was motivated to create a climate in which it is easier to push through its controversial Star Wars missile defence project and undermine growing world opinion that the sanctions against Iraq should be lifted. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk