The Guardian February 21, 2001


US-British bombing: Danger of wider war

The US-British bombing of Iraq last Friday has provoked outrage around 
the world. The Iraqi Minister for Foreign Affairs has appealed to the UN 
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the UN Security Council to condemn the 
bombing.

France, an ally of the US in the Gulf War was critical of the bombing: 
"These operations maintain a tension that is damaging the implementation of 
a mutually agreed solution to the Iraq problem", said the French Foreign 
Ministry.

Middle East countries saw the attacks as "signs of adventurism". The Arab 
League stated that there was "no justification" for the attack.

Russia, China and Syria condemned the attacks. "It is necessary to reach a 
political solution", said the Russian envoy.

The air strikes took place at a time of growing demands for the lifting of 
the devastating sanctions against Iraq, the election of the "Butcher of 
Lebanon" Ariel Sharon as Israel's Prime Minister and a new US 
administration which is pushing on with the National Missile Defence system 
and is keen to achieve world supremacy.

"The air strikes against Iraq cover the coming war, which will take place 
with the arrival in power of Ariel Sharon", pointed out the Lebanese daily 
As-Safir.

It is not the first bombing of Iraq since 1998 as many papers claim. The US 
has dropped nearly 20,000 bombs and missiles on Iraq since then. Claims 
that the bombs are aimed only at anti-aircraft installations are false  a 
water reservoir, hospitals and schools have been hit.

Even when there is no bombing, 5,000 Iraqi children die each month as a 
direct result of the US-led sanctions. At the end of February Iraq and the 
UN are to discuss these issues. The UN must stop acting as a US pawn and 
start acting as a responsible international body.

The latest attack has been timed to coincide with Secretary of State Colin 
Powell's visit to several countries in the Middle East, including Saudi 
Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Powell stated that he intended 
to tighten the crumbling sanctions regime.

This bombing is also a message to the Arab world that the US supports the 
election of the right-wing Ariel Sharon regime in Israel.

The flammable cocktail of genocidal sanctions against Iraq, the continuing 
US-funded and backed Israeli aggression against the Palestinians, and the 
massive US military occupation of the entire Gulf region has strengthened 
anti-imperialist sentiment in the region. It is an extremely dangerous 
situation that could lead to a wider military confrontation.

Australia's official reaction to the strikes against Iraq was predictably 
shameful and spineless. Prime Minister John Howard said that the air 
strikes were understandable and that he supported the bombing.

"I understand why the Americans and the British have done that. Apart from 
protecting oppressed minorities, the no-fly zone is part of a continuing 
effort to get Iraq to abandon its weapons of mass destruction project", 
said Mr Howard.

The so-called "no-fly zone" was imposed by and is enforced by Britain and 
the US.

Protest actions are being held across the world against the new and 
dangerous war drive.

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