Iraq calls for attacking US, UK interests, widespread reactions rolling in
Iraq, Politics, 12/18/1998
An Iraqi official has called upon Arabs to attack the interests of the US and Britain, who on early Thursday morning started intensive air raids against Iraq.
In a statement he made in Baghdad on Thursday, a member of the Ruling Baath Party leadership, Abdul Ghani Abdul Ghafour, asserted that it is the responsibility of the Arab nation and its vocational trade union to unmask the attacks and carry out activities against "the countries of the aggression and their interests everywhere" as countries hostile to Arabs and Muslims. Worth noting is that the US Secretary of State told CNN today that "there are some specific embassy threats" and "we are taking some precautions" for the very real threats.
Abdul Ghafour stressed that the Iraqi people and army will defend the country's sovereignty and security and deter this aggression.
However, British Defense Minister George Robertson asserted that Operation Desert Fox is neither intended to kill Iraqi President Saddam Hussein nor to topple or arrest him.
In a press conference Robertson held in London yesterday he said the current military action "is not designed to kill, capture or remove Saddam Hussein." He added, "It is not designed to punish the people of Iraq, we have no quarrel with them, we have sympathy with them."
Meanwhile, condemnations of the attacks came from many quarters. The Palestinian Hamas movement has condemned the US - British air strikes against Iraq. In a statement released on Thursday, Hamas said that US President Bill Clinton has failed to exercise a minimum pressure to force Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to implement the Wye River accord. The statement alleged that Clinton rushed to cover his failure and his fear of impeachment by striking Iraq. Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad movement has called for boycotting US commodities and US interests in the region.
In a speech he delivered during the seventh legislative term of the People's Assembly in Syria, the PA's speaker-elect, Abdul Qader Qaddoura, following the inauguration ceremony, described the US - British attack on Iraqi as "an unjustifiable and a violation of UN resolutions."
Qaddoura said, "The attack hit the people of Iraq, particularly children and civilians. It also increased people's sufferings." The Syrian PA, he stressed, "denounces, condemns and convicts the attacks. The PA urged the international community to denounce it and stop the conflict at once.
Demonstrators on Thursday gathered outside the residence of British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London to protest the British-US attack against Iraq. The demonstrators chanted slogans of death to Blair.
In Stockholm, the Swedish Foreign Minister expressed her country's regret for the joint British, US assault against Iraq. In New Zealand the chairperson of the of the country's opposition, Helen Clark, said that the use of force by the US and Britain against Iraq is not the way to settle dispute with Baghdad. In Jakarta, Indonesia called for self-control and for settling the disputes through diplomatic means.
Despite the widespread condemnations, an Arab diplomat in Cairo on Thursday expressed doubts that the Arab League will convene a summit to discuss the US-British attacks against Iraq. The diplomat who resides in Cairo and asked not to be identified told Reuters, "I doubt an Arab summit will be held for this matter because relations between the Arab Leaders and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein are not good," adding that those Arab leaders "cannot change their stances so swiftly." He expected that there may be only verbal condemnation for the attacks against Iraq.
However, not all responses opposed the attacks. Saudi Arabia yesterday said in a statement it watches with "deep regret and concern" the current situation in Iraq, including "the ongoing aerial bombardment that is the consequence of Iraq's lack of cooperation with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and Iraq's placement of obstacles in the Special Commission's attempts to conduct its work," Saudi Press Agency reported, recalling the statement last month by the Damascus Declaration states that placed the responsibility for the consequences of the Iraqi government's actions toward UNSCOM upon Iraq.
Iraqi opposition leader Wafiq al-Samarrai stressed that several meetings were held during the few past days until Wednesday between figures representing the Iraqi opposition and US and British officials to discuss the situation in Iraq.
Al-Samarrai, who formerly occupied a position with military intelligence in the Iraqi Army added in an interview with the BBC on Thursday that the "Iraqi street wants to get rid of the regime" and that, "The Iraqis are with everyone who supports them to reach such an objective."
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