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[casi] U.N. Bombed for Perceived U.S. Link, Experts Say

--------- Begin forwarded message ----------
From: "Montreal Muslim News" <>
Subject: U.N. Bombed for Perceived U.S. Link, Experts Say
Date: 20 Aug 2003 14:22:03 -0000

U.N. Bombed for Perceived U.S. Link, Experts Say

by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 19 (IPS) - The massive bomb attack on the U.N.
compound in Baghdad on Tuesday was an assault on an institution that is
increasingly perceived as a political mouthpiece of the United States,
suggest Middle East experts and U.S. academics..

The suicide bombing killed Under-Secretary-General Sergio Vieira de
Mello, U.N. chief Kofi Annan's special representative in Iraq and one of
the highest ranking officials in the U.N. hierarchy, along with at least
19 other people -- 14 of them U.N. staff.

''This is yet another indication of the very low esteem by which most
Iraqis -- and indeed many Arabs and Muslims -- hold the United Nations,''
says As'ad AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California
State University.

He pointed out that many Iraqis associate the United Nations with ''the
devasatating sanctions and food rations imposed on their country by the
U.S. government''.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan ”has succeeded in turning this great
organisation into a tool for U.S. foreign policy, and the poor U.N.
workers have paid a dear price,'' AbuKhalil told IPS.

He said that Annan has offered sermons in New York about the ills of
Palestinian violence, ''and yet the Arab world was astonished to see him
silent over U.S. bombing and occupation of one country after another:
Afghanistan, and then Iraq''.

Despite the attack, the United Nations is ''determined to continue its
(humanitarian) work in Iraq'', U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters

More than 100 people were reported injured in the attack on a hotel that
houses U.N. offices. ''The many who were injured were gravely injured,''
Eckhard said, raising the possibility that the final death toll might be
much higher.

''The loss of Sergio Vieira de Mello is a bitter blow for the United
Nations, and for me personally,'' Annan said in a statement released in
Europe, where he was vacationing.

Eckhard said Annan would cut short his vacation and return to U.N.
headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

The United Nations has become a willing tool of the United States, said
Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of

''For these reasons the United Nations has come to be seen as part of the
U.S.-U.K. belligerent occupation regime in Iraq and thus an appropriate
target for indigenous resistance,'' he told IPS.

Annan, added Boyle, ''has basically served as an errand boy for the
United States'', despite the U.N. charter, which establishes the U.N.
Secretariat as one of the six independent organs of the United Nations.

Boyle, author of the forthcoming 'Destroying World Order: U.S.
Imperialism in the Middle East Before and After September 11', said the
last two Security Council resolutions on Iraq have demonstrated ''how
subservient the United Nations itself has become to the imperialist
designs of the United States''.

Last week, the 15-member Security Council adopted a resolution, by a vote
of 14 to nil, virtually recognising the Iraqi Governing Council, a
25-member political body created by the United States and imposed on the
Iraqi people.

The Council also decided to create a new U.N. Mission for Iraq, putting
all U.N. activities under a single umbrella.

''The attack on the U.N. compound seems calculated to undermine the
credibility of U.S. rule in Iraq by trying to demonstrate that the
occupation authorities are not only unable to deliver services to the
public but also unable to preserve law and order,'' says Naseer Aruri,
professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts.

U.N. headquarters was not only a ''soft target'', but it is also seen as
a symbol of an unwelcome external intervention in Iraq, in complicity
with the U.S. military occupation.

The bomb attack might have also been intended ''to discourage any future
dispatch of multilateral forces to Iraq -- peacekeeping or so-called
nation-building -- and let the Americans assume all the burden, get
bogged down in the quagmire and eventually abandon ship,'' Aruri told

Rahul Mahajan, author of 'The New Crusade: America's War on Terrorism',
said the attack on the U.N. compound ''is an unfortunate but predictable
-- and predicted-- consequence of U.S. military strategy in Iraq''.

Last month, Major General Ray Odierno, commander of the U.S. army's
Fourth Infantry Division, warned his troops to prepare for the
possibility of car bombings in Iraq. ''They are going after softer
targets, because they know they're ineffective against military
targets,'' Odierno was quoted as saying.

Mahajan said Tuesday's attack is the latest development in the
predictable logic of the ''war on terrorism''.

Since the 1990s, U.S. military planners have known that ''America's
unrivaled military superiority means that potential enemies that choose
to attack us will be more likely to resort to terror instead of
conventional military assault'', he added.

''Without knowing more about the planners of these attacks, it is
impossible to speculate on what this means for Iraqi attitudes regarding
foreigners and the United Nations.''

But historically, Mahajan said, the Iraqis have been a cosmopolitan
people who are very welcome to foreigners.

Eckhard said that security in Iraq was the primary responsibility of the
occupying powers. ''We have to ask the question: 'how safe is Iraq for
the hundreds of U.N. staffers'? That assessment has yet to be made,'' he

But Guy R. Candusso, a member of the U.N. Staff Council's standing
committee on security and independence, told IPS his committee has
demanded ''a full investigation to determine why adequate security was
not in place to prevent a horrifying act''.

''We have called on the secretary-general to suspend all operations in
Iraq and withdraw his staff until such time as measures are taken to
improve security,'' he added.

According to Eckhard, about 300 international civil servants work for the
world body and its agencies in Iraq, including the World Food Programme,
the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP)
and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Responding to questions, Eckhard said that political neutrality was the
centre piece of the U.N.'s operations everywhere. ''But this is seen as a
target for some.''

He stressed that U.N. staff members are apolitical. ''U.N. policy is
determined by the Security Council,'' he added.

Following a meeting Wednesday, the Council issued a statement condemning
''in the strongest terms this terrorist attack''.

''Such terrorist incidents cannot break the will of the international
community to further intensify its efforts to help the people of Iraq,''
the Council said.
Montreal Muslim News Network -


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