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.