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Re: [casi] Newsnight 19/11/02 (no fly zones)

I have privately expressed my concern to the List moderator that there may be a few
people on this list who are not really interested in working against sanctions. Indeed
some of them may even want to undermine the campaign.

I felt 'betrayed' that you emailed Newsnight to undermine my letter to them - especially
as I had blind copied to the list.

I may be being unfair to you however.

What I'm writing is focussed on Iraq rather than the Kurds.

On 20 Nov 2002 at 13:16, Mohammed Ali wrote:

>                                   As an Iraqi Kurd, I just like to
>                                   ask:Why are some of you volunteering
>                                   to be the devil's advocate ?

Being British, I have every right to criticise the actions of my government. Why are you
defending their actions?

Of course, nationality doesn't change the argument.

>                       Why not
>                                   ask the Iraqi people or visit
>                                   liberated Kurdistan to see how they
>                                   applaud each and every time one of
>                                   these aircraft flies overhead. As
>                                   the people at the receiving end of
>                                   the Iraqi regime's brutality, it is
>                                   their view that matters more than
>                                   ours

I wouldn't claim to speak for the Iraqi people and I don't think you can either.

>                        and even more than the
>                                   technicalities of international law.

Law is very important. At this moment in time, the US is not only uniquely powerful but it
also wishes not to be subject to any 'legal' constraints. This has implications well beyond

>                                   In coplicated cases such as Iraq,

In my view, Iraq is a relatively straightforward case. I've always felt that Kurdistan (all of
it - not just the Iraqi bit) is however a very complicated case. I remember many years
ago trying to encourage a couple of Iraqi Kurds in London to write to their MP to
complain about the British Government's knowing support of SH whilst he was
repressing the Kurds. The answer I got back was that the Kurds in Iraq were better off
than their cousins in Iran and Turkey!!

The 'Kurdish question' certainly muddies what should be a clear cut issue over the
illegal no fly zones. The US & UK caused the turmoil at the end of the Gulf War and they
unilaterally chose that course. Unfortunately they have not allowed any political
settlement between the Kurds and the Government of Iraq which would have surely
followed the end of the war given the greatly weakened central government. Who have
been the greatest losers? The Kurds as usual (the Turkish ones this time). I remember
making the mistake a few months ago of saying to an Iraqi Kurd how pleased she must
be that they have got protection from the US/UK. I got my head bitten off! She said that
every time she saw an American plane she knew it was coming from Turkey and that
Turkey had been given the green card by the Americans to go into Iraq after Kurdish
separatists. She also berated our press and TV for keeping quet about it. I think that she
must have been PUK.

If there is a new war on Iraq I wouldn't trust the US not to do the dirty on the Kurds or
leave a terrible mess with losers all round. Afghanistan is not a success story.

>                       By contrast, the intentions of the
>                           outside powers that be may not be good,
>                            but the outcome will definitely be to
>                            the advantage of the Iraqi people.

A huge leap of faith this!

>                           Yes, they have suffered enough directly or
>                            indirectly under this regime and will
>                            consequently suffer more during the
>                            transition.

Up until this point the difference between us is not that great but now:

Whatever you may think of Saddam Hussein surely the US/UK have
deliberately brutalised your country and its people to a far, far greater
extent than he has over his whole reign. This is without saying that the
US/UK installed him and supported him (even before, during and after his
use of chemical weapons), I protested at the time about what our
government was doing. It really annoys me that Tony Blair has the cheek
to now use this an excuse to attack Iraq and depose SH.

It looks like 1.5 million Iraqis have died of sanctions and the Gulf War.
These include mainly children. Millions of other Iraqis are permanently
'damaged' eg stunted growth, health problems, mental health problems,
unemployment, poor education etc. The US/UK have prevented any
investigation in southern Iraq of the effects of DU so heaven knows what
is happening there and how long it's going to last. Agriculture has been
devastated, soil ruined by salination, thousands of date trees destroyed,
pollution and environmental damage increased by an oil industry crippled
by US/UK holds.

The damage to Iraq has been immense. I know no Arabs and have no
connections to Iraq but I felt physically ill when the US/UK started the
air war. They were not after freeing Kuwait - that would have been easy to
achieve without a war if they'd wanted to. That would have been better for
Kuwait as well. They were after destroying Iraq and reversing your
development and future capacity to develop with dire consequences for
ordinary civilians. Your military were no obstacle - a far bigger kill
ratio than soldiers shooting indians with machine guns. Our leaders have
been fighting 'just' wars all over the place for years. We're experts.

Do you really think that the US/UK have the interests of the Iraqi people
in mind with their current plans to topple SH? The same countries
enforcing the no fly zones are the same ones who prevent (with veto
power) the UNSC resolving this whole issue through diplomacy and
prevent the 'protected' people having proper power, water, sewage, DU
investigation and cleanup, medical services etc

>                                   Above all, it is the express wish of
>                                   the Iraqi people, generations of
>                                   whom have not witnessed a civil
>                                   society, only wars, internal and
>                                   external. In their name and for
>                                   their sake do not play the role of
>                                   do-gooders, who worry about the
>                                   letter of the law and the rights of
>                                   the culprit at the expense of that
>                                   of the victim.

SH the big baddy is what the US/UK use as their excuse to destroy Iraq and its people.
There is the danger of falling into the trap of not appreciating what advances were made
in Iraq in terms of public health, state education and distribution of income. It is a
repressive regime in an area of repressive regimes but women were better off than in
many other countries. I think that you may also be overstating the opposition to SH
within Iraq. Certainly there appears to be very little support for the Iraqi external
opposition within Iraq. The impression I get is that he is not seen by Iraqis as the culprit
- the blame is directed towards the US. Remember that here in the UK the BBC and the
papers tend to provide us with the 'establishment view' on foreign affairs.

A documentary team from Brazil recently went to do a film on Iraq and they painted a
very different picture of the people and their views on SH and the government.

The culprit in my view is the US and the reason is oil (and world domination). I don't
include Israel as part of the problem. A just peace would have been reached long ago if
the US wasn't supporting Israel with huge arms loans and a veto on the UNSC. This is
done because of oil.

The US encouraged Iraq to invade Iran and supported them. Iraq could not have kept
going otherwise.

SH is not the main problem. He'll die soon anyway. The US could have assassinated
him easily over the last 10 years if they wanted to.

> Any external involvement, political or otherwise, in the
> affairs of another country, currently Iraq, must  comply fully with
> international law.

That isn't happening now so it will be much harder to do now (and you as an Iraqi Kurd
understandably support this on the grounds of expediency).

> Namely, the United Nations must authorise,
> implement and monitor the outcome of its resolutions.

The US is not keen to do this. It ignored the UN in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. The
pickings are now so much greater in Iraq.

> Is this what some " Anti War" campaigners mean? Are they aware of the
> implications of their slogan? If so, I beg to differ.

They will tell us that the war is just against SH. They said the same thing in the Gulf
War. Look at the record? Who'll hold them to account? How many civilians were killed in
Afghanistan? How many civilians have been killed by bombing in the no fly zones?

The campaigners are more realistic about the outcome of a war than you seem to be.
They include pacifists as well as those who think that war is unjustified in this particular

> In the interests
> of unambiguity, in the context of both war and sanctions , we must
> qualify the word "Iraq" each time we use it. Accordingly, No to
> economic sanctions on the Iraqi people Yes to military, political and
> diplomatic sanctions on the Iraqi regime. In the case of Iraq, the
> people and the regime are not synonymous, rather antonymous

There is no ambiguity! My view is no to a war against Iraq and yes to lift the sanctions
on Iraq. The UNSC ought to have these tools available but they ought to get rid of the
veto system. Should the UNSC wish to impose specific sanctions affecting WMD etc
then by all means let member states come with proposed resolutions AFTER the
comprehensive sanctions are lifted otherwise the US will continue to hold the Iraqi
people hostage in order to get their resolutions passed. What I don't want is a gradual
reduction of sanctions or just a suspension of sanctions with the US able to slap the
whole lot back on again whenever they want.

The mess we have is because draconian comprehensive sanctions were imposed on
Iraq to force it out of Kuwait and avoid a war. The US didn't want to wait but then after
the war didn't want to lift them (they have their own agenda - control of oil) so new
conditions were placed and those same sanctions kept. This was literally fatal for the
people of Iraq. What should have happened was the ending of the sanctions and then
voting for new sanctions. The UNSC have leant their lesson - hence the wrangling over
this latest resolution.

> Iraq is not Vietnam, its government is not the democratically elected
> Allende of Chile, nor is Saddam the popular leader like Castro of
> Cuba. Some of you are barking up the wrong tree, in the wrong place at
> the wrong time. Hold your political fire for governments and leaders
> worthy of it.

I think that you're missing the point. It is unacceptable for our governments to use the
Iraqi people as hostages in order to control Iraq's resources and development and now
to keep or get rid of their government. It is not to do with the worth of the people or their
rulers. It is a false charge that to oppose the war or the sanctions is to support SH. The
truth is that one is opposing a far greater evil. Many would be opponents of sanctions
are bullied by this line into not being active. Hence the need of the media to keep
villifying SH.

If the US/UK want to do this sort of thing then they need to play by the rules of the
international community (they are strong enough to) and be accountable to that
community and the electorate in their country. This involves providing us with

> Please do not take this personally. I just took the opportunity to
> make this contribution and I use "you" in the plural rather than
> singular sense. I stand by what I have stated and am prepared to argue
> the case at public forums

I haven't taken this personally and I appreciate that the 'you' is in the plural. I'm happy to
continue the discussion but not on this list please.

Mark Parkinson

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