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War in Iraq

African Press Response to the War in Iraq

Comment and analysis from Accra, Johannesburg, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Lagos, Lusaka, Harare, Addis Ababa, and Cape Town

Kenyans protest the war in Iraq
Kenyans protest the war in Iraq at a Feb. 21, 2003, demonstration in Nairobi (Photo: Simon Maina/AFP).
Accra
Accra Mail (pro-ruling party), March 21: Of course the United States and its coalition will win the war, but what scars will they be leaving? Saddam Hussein will be sacked, perhaps even killed, but that would not bring security to the world. Instead of one big, recognizable Saddam Hussein, whom we can see and handle, now the world will be infected by little “Saddamlets” who will be invisible and, like the AIDS virus, spread in every part of the world, making life most uncomfortable for us all. There is a saying: “You cannot use a gun to kill a germ.” True, you can’t. And that is our fear.

Johannesburg The Mail and Guardian (liberal), March 26: Bush, and the terrifying forces he represents in American society, project this war as a crusade for a safer and freer planet. The reverse is far more probable. Grinding another Arab regime into the dust, with “collateral damage” to millions of ordinary Muslims, can only inflame the hatred and sense of humiliation felt throughout the Islamic world. It is a gross miscalculation to think that a show of overwhelming military force will deter and demoralize—it is much more likely to drive the already aggrieved to more desperate acts of violent extremism. If the United States cannot be opposed by conventional arms, other methods will be sought. The official pretext for this war is to prevent “weapons of mass destruction” falling into terrorist hands. In reality, it enormously increases the risk of biological, chemical, and nuclear attacks on Washington and London.

Kampala The Monitor (independent), March 25: Uganda has now joined Rwanda, Eritrea, and Ethiopia as part of America's so-called “coalition of the willing.” We have nothing to gain from this. It is just as well that civil society has condemned the Cabinet’s irresponsible line. That the leaders of these four countries are either unapologetic military dictators or “benevolent” despots suggests that they have jumped on the American bandwagon for their individual health. It is instructive that Tanzania and Kenya, which both lost many of their nationals in 1998 when anti-American terrorists bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam have taken a more principled stand on America’s purported war on terrorism.

Dar es Salaam An-Nuur (Islamic Kiswahili weekly) March 21: By attacking Iraq, Bush has totally disregarded world opinion, including the opinions of his own countrymen....Initially, President Bush expected to be supported by Christian countries, which he thought were enemies of Islam. He thought that the hate he has planted through his crusade had taken root. But by God’s grace, the opposite has happened. Christian countries like France, Germany, and the Vatican have opposed the war in Iraq....Another thing that Bush was counting on was the support of his fellow whites. The fact that Arabs were going to be attacked made him think that his fellow whites would support him. Here too, he failed. He tried to use the United Nations to justify his oppression. It didn’t work.

Nairobi The East African (independent weekly), March 24: A war this unpopular is going to create more radical extremism than stamping out Saddam Hussein’s particular version of anti-Americanism will remove from the equation. Attacks aimed at softer British and American targets—typically in poorer regions of the world unable to muster the resources for defensive mechanisms required to stop a determined terrorist, such as our own region—may well increase, at great cost to world economic activity.
—P. Gitau Githongo

Lagos Daily News (government-owned) March 21: Both Washington and London have bragged that [the March 20 attacks on Iraq] were a “preliminary operation” to prepare the ground, and that the battle was yet to begin. The bragging is obviously uncalled for. The superiority of U.S. and British military capability over Iraq is absolutely clear, Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction notwithstanding....The blatant, unguided use of force by the world’s only superpower will inflict untold damage to the world economy and tear apart the international security structures. And if Iraq should be so wantonly bombarded with the civilized world doing nothing, no state, least of all those in the developing world, will be safe.

Lusaka Post (Independent) March 21: We have just seen on television images of the brutal way in which the United states and Britain are murdering Iraqis....It must be said that this war, of which no sensitive or sane person can be proud, is a barbaric war. Whatever victory they may claim from this war will be morally pyrrhic, and the war genocide. Why do we say it is genocide? What is genocide? The attempt to exterminate a population. You either surrender or face extermination....The terror of bombings produces lifelong trauma, much more so in a child of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 years old, who remains day after day and every night hearing the noise of sirens and the explosions.

Harare Chronicle (government-controlled), March 21: While we appreciate Bush’s zeal to redeem himself after the disastrous campaign in Afghanistan, where he has failed to track down Osama bin Laden, we feel that by attacking Iraq, he has taken matters too far. The United States, which has since assumed the role of the world’s policeman as Hitler tried to do, has defied the United Nations—thus showing the irrelevance of the body in policing superpowers.…It is sad that the United States, which is fighting to control Iraqi oil, has in the past lied to the world when it said it was concerned about human-rights issues in the Middle Eastern country. The truth is out!… America must not be allowed to bully the world. We are not all American.

Addis Ababa The Addis Tribune (weekly newspaper), March 21: With the attention of the world focusing on the Middle East, Ethiopia’s starved population could receive less consideration. The international donor organizations could be preoccupied with the crisis in Iraq and the task of averting the devastating human crisis that would follow the current war with Iraq. Already, as a result of the crisis in Iraq, donors have been hesitant to provide aid to other emergencies. Their worry is that they are not sure how much they need to give to the people who would be victims of the war. The lives of 20 percent of Ethiopia’s population are at risk because of the drought. And the worst is yet to come….If more food donations are not forthcoming, 11.3 million Ethiopians will die of starvation.

Cape Town Cape Argus (independent), March 20: The majority of the people of the United States are happy that their president is leading them into a war that could open a terrible Pandora’s box. This war could end quickly, rid the Gulf region of a nasty dictator, and restore democracy and stability to Iraq. But going into that war, we do not know that. It is more likely to have nasty, unforeseen consequences that could change our lives forever. It could turn out to be the worst thing America had ever done in terms of its own interest and security. And yet most Americans and their media have rushes of “patriotism” and are egging their soldiers on. Even otherwise sensible news outlets are now referring to the death of innocent Iraqi civilians as “collateral damage.”

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