The World Condemns US-UK Attacks on Iraq The Pounding Is Over [Archives:1998/51/Front Page]

December 21 1998

For four days, American and British forces pounded Iraq in what has been a one-sided war. As the world watched with shock and dismay, the much superior US military punished Iraq by destroying existing and potential military capabilities as well as basic infrastructure including roads, bridges, refineries, seaports, hospitals, universities, research centers, buildings, etc.
In Yemen, like in many other countries, people spontaneously demonstrated to protest the attacks. There were several thousand of them. Starting on Friday, December 18th, large numbers of Yemenis took to the streets to denounce the senseless attacks. The banners they carried stated: “Stop the Barbarism”, “The People of Iraq Deserve Equal Protection Under International Law”, “We Stand With Our Brethren in Iraq”.
Officially, Yemen condemned the US-UK four-day attacks on Iraq carried out during 17-19 December. The show of power under the pretext of “insufficient cooperation on the part of Iraq with UNscam (UNSCOM)” led to the death of about 100 people and enormous damage to property and infrastructure.
“The attacks are intended to cripple the Iraqi people and undermine their ability to build their nation. It has nothing to do with the UN resolution,” stated a Yemeni Sanaa University professor who participated in the demonstrations.
International diplomats blamed that UNscam personnel who offered justifications to the US-UK actions. The 5 justifications offered by Mr. Butler to conclude that there was no adequate cooperation by Iraq include:
1) two refusals to meet demands that Iraqi officials accompany UNscam ‘consultants’ to do inspections on Friday, a holiday;
2) a delay of 30 minutes before jumping in with UNscam ‘consultants’ to go for inspection as they headed for a guest house, which was carried out anyway;
3) refusal to help with a survey of undergraduate students at Baghdad University;
4) refusal to allow a visit to a branch office of Baath Party.
The silver lining to the bombardment is that it has mobilized the world to stand up to the injustice being inflicted on the people of Iraq. They may also pave the way for concluding the UNscam business.
American politicians may have concluded that there was no cost to killing Iraqis or to destroying their property. But they may have just miscalculated.
The twisting of facts by US officials was driven home by Mr. Sandy Berger, National Security Advisor to President Clinton. Speaking to CNN’s camera, he said that the casualties in Iraq were caused by the Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery which fired at in-coming missiles. “As the residue from the artillery fell back to the ground, it caused the damage.”
Eight years have passed since the penalties on Iraq were put in place. During this time, 6,000 inspections were made, and the UN Security Council resolutions were generally fulfilled.
It is time that Unscam is wrapped up. The first step in this direction could come from Tehran. Iranian President Mr. Mohammad Khatami is working on a meeting of the Conference of Islamic Organizations to address this matter. If the CIO decides to ignore the sanctions and rehabilitate Iraq, it will open the door to end the UNscam.
Meanwhile, the Russian bear has been jolted and awakened by the senseless attacks. Russia has made it clear that it will not stand by and watch American muscle being used on a unilateral basis in international issues. The feeling in Moscow is reminicent of the Cold War, in spite of how much Washington thinks Moscow needs it. The Chinese reaction has also been strong.
In most of Continental Europe, and even in the USA, there was visible disapproval. However, France sat on the fence, which has been a hallmark of French politics in this century, was again on display.
Here in Yemen, many groups are now planning tangible action, beyond the demonstrations and condemnations. Groups outside the regular political parties are toying with ideas, including violence against American interests in the country. The government boosted security around US and UK installations in anticipation of the visibly higher risk.
At the end, let us ask what was achieved. The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff announced the mission successful because it “degraded the capabilities of Iraq”. That is not a good assessment. The attacks would have been successful if they advanced the cause of bringing Iraq back to the fold.