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Viewpoints: Inspecting Iraq

Views from Baghdad, London, Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, Vienna, Amman, Tehran, Prague, and Lahore

Satellite photo of one of Saddam Hussein's palaces.
Baghdad: On Dec. 3, U.N. weapons inspectors searched Saddam Hussein's Al-Sijood Palace (shown here from space in an Oct. 7 photo) for evidence it is being used to produce weapons of mass destruction (Photo: AFP).
Baghdad Al-Thawrah (ruling Baath Party organ), Nov. 27: Perhaps the question that begs an answer is why did Iraq accept [Security Council Resolution 1441]? … Iraq wants to spare its people and the region the woes of war. Iraq respects “international legitimacy.” This time, the United States hid behind the veil of the Security Council. As a founding member of the United Nations, Iraq wants to give this world organization a chance to implement its resolutions in accordance with its charter and international law despite the harshness and unfairness of these resolutions.... Simple logic says that it is not in Iraq's interest to create a crisis in the middle of the process [of U.N. weapons inspections] because of two factors: First, Iraq accepted a resolution that it knows to be a bad, unjust, and loaded resolution. Therefore, it is in Iraq's interest to act in accordance with the principle, “Ward off evil before it happens.” Second, Iraq is well aware of the evil and wicked designs that are harbored against it and against the whole region. Therefore, Iraq will proceed and act based on this fact.... Last, those who will carry out the inspections are ordinary human beings made of flesh and blood. I am saying that you know their biases as well as we do. I am saying that these inspectors are not infallible.
—Hamzah Mustafa

Baghdad Al-Jumhuriyah (government-controlled), Nov. 27: Iraq decided to deal with this unjust resolution [Security Council Resolution 1441] to ward off harm to its people after it had decided to allow the inspection teams to return. Iraq's principled and comprehensive stand is to deal with the Security Council resolutions despite their unfairness and injustice, and Iraq has fulfilled its obligations. But many Arab and international parties… continue to ask Iraq to cooperate fully with the inspection teams, claiming that this is the only way to avert the aggression. But these parties decline to ask the Security Council to implement its obligations toward Iraq in return…. The obligations of the Security Council toward Iraq can be summarized briefly as follows: lifting the unjust siege, stopping the unjust aggression on Iraq, implementing Paragraph 14 of Resolution 687 [outlining “the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery”], and stripping the Zionist entity of its huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, none of these parties have asked the United States to stop its constant and hysterical aggressive threats against Iraq.
—Hani Wuhayyib

London The Times (conservative), Dec. 3: As matters stand, the British and American governments have chosen to put a discredited means above a valuable end. Seeking the approval of the United Nations for any action to deal with Iraq is the equivalent of asking a Mafia conclave for permission to tackle the Corleone family. Many of those who speak at the United Nations are representative of no one save the kleptocratic or autocratic cliques who hold power by force in their respective states. Deferring to their judgment does not lend sanctity to a course of action; it may even tarnish it. Those on the left who argue that action against Iraq is justified only with United Nations backing are subcontracting their moral judgment to the butchers of Tiananmen Square, the Baathist dictatorship of Syria, and Africa’s choicest murderers.
—Michael Gove

Tokyo Yomiuri Shimbun (centrist), Nov. 27: Iraq must not underestimate the general consensus of the international community. Before the inspections were suspended in 1998, Iraq repeatedly concealed evidence and made various excuses. However, Baghdad must be fully aware that such maneuvers will no longer work. The Iraqi government has claimed that the inspections are aimed at creating a pretext for a military attack against Iraq. But it is Iraq itself that has made the situation as bad as it is today through its repeated deceptions…. Iraq has no option other than to cooperate with the U.N. inspections.

Beijing Renmin Wang /People’s Net (Communist Party), Nov. 27: NATO members issued a statement of support for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 at the NATO summit in Prague. But the language was not as hard-line as the United States expected…. Like a husband and a wife, the United States and Europe will continue to bicker on very many serious issues. They will repeatedly damage their common values and interests, but their foundation will not be shaken, since the two sides have many points in common—democratic systems, ideology, economic and trade relations, and so on.... But at the same time, the era of “newlywed bliss” between the United States and Europe during the Cold War will never return. And while cooperating with the United States, Europe will not again “blindly” follow it, but will dare to argue strongly on just grounds. It can be said that the phrase “struggle without breakup, and cooperation without subservience” will encapsulate the future trend of transatlantic relations.
—Lu Hong

Hong Kong Ta Kung Pao (government-controlled), Nov. 25: It seems that the Iraqi government has adopted a posture of giving complete cooperation to the U.N. staff at the outset. People naturally hope to avoid war. But such things are usually independent of man's will…. It is fair to say that Iraq accepted the new Security Council resolution only under the United States’ threat of force and the strong pressure of the “international community.” According to previous records of interaction between Iraq and the United Nations, Iraq would definitely not unconditionally accept U.N. weapons inspectors. Whether Iraq violates U.N. resolutions or owns weapons of mass destruction, it will not be willing to let weapons inspectors, including Americans, enter sensitive and important places, such as Saddam's presidential palace[s]. To do so would be to lose dignity and to lose face. It will always come up with little tricks and various excuses to obstruct inspection.... On the other hand, tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers are quietly waiting for such a situation. The United States will find some excuse by every possible means to start the war.... This is the last chance for Iraq. War or peace.
—Shih Chun-yu

Vienna Die Presse (independent, centrist), Nov. 27: Bush was wise to go through the United Nations, because the compromise resolution will provide a certain legitimacy for a military strike, even without a new resolution. This makes it easier for European and Arab allies to participate. Today, only two possible scenarios might avert war. One option would be an overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime from within as a result of strong international pressure. Only high-ranking military officers from the Hussein’s inner circle could bring this about. Many people are pinning their hopes on such a development, because this would spare the United States a costly war, and the United Nations as well as the Arab states the foreseeable conflict with Washington. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that such a revolt is imminent in Baghdad. The second possibility would be a growing antiwar movement in the United States. Support for a military strike might dwindle… if the inspections take a positive course, Saddam Hussein is cooperative, and there are no more terrorist attacks against U.S. targets....
—Albert Rohan

Amman Jordan Times (independent), Nov. 25: One of the most important pretexts the United States is using to wage war on Iraq is—as Bush said in his Sept. 12 address to the U.N. General Assembly—to uphold the authority of the world body by compelling Baghdad to implement Security Council resolutions. This is a noble objective, and we Arabs would only be too happy to back the United States if it were determined to apply this principle to all countries, and not only to Iraq.
—Fahed Fanek

Tehran Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio 1 (government-owned), Nov. 28: The Iraqi authorities, through their cooperation with the U.N. weapons inspectors on the first day, demonstrated that they are committed to their undertakings in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. This is a good start toward resolving the Iraqi crisis by peaceful means.... In the coming few days, the Iraqis must seize the opportunity properly and avoid risks. Any risk taken by the Iraqis in this respect could ignite the flames of war in future. This is because the Americans, the British, and many other states may have some information they might present to the U.N. inspectors after the deadline. If that were to happen, the Iraqis would be charged with blatant violation of the resolution and insincere treatment of the U.N. inspectors. The Iraqis should therefore take this opportunity and investigate everything they claim does not exist in their arsenal.
(U.S. State Department Transcription)

Prague Mlada Fronta Dnes (centrist), Nov. 23: Opposing a military solution to the crisis does not mean support for Saddam Hussein’s regime. Most European countries are of the opinion that war is a bad solution and that it would aggravate the horrendous humanitarian catastrophe that exists in Iraq. Sanctions helped create that catastrophe. According to the findings of a UNICEF mission, current child mortality in Iraq is eight times higher than in Africa, which is in the throes of an AIDS pandemic. Every month, 6,000-7,000 children are dying. But until the end of 1980s, child mortality in Iraq was comparatively low.

London Al-Hayat (pan-Arab), Dec. 1: The Kurds have raised the limits of their demands, and now seek an independent Kurdish state. This is a source of danger. Why? Because the ambitions of the Kurds contradict the prevailing regional situation. The Kurds should recall how they had been deceived all too often by the American forces. Yet now it is obvious that the Kurdish leadership has again placed its trust in the Americans, ignoring how it has been deceived twice by them. The first deception came in 1991, when the United States let the Kurds down after encouraging them to rebel. But the first time was more bitter. It was in 1975, when the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi turned his back on them after concluding an agreement with Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Only one year earlier, the Shah and Henry Kissinger had encouraged the Kurds to rebel against the Iraqi regime and gave them weapons to support the rebellion. The Iraqi leadership should be aware that what is taking place now is similar to the era of the 1970s, which means that the American support will be limited to using the Kurds as a weapon against Saddam Hussein. And while it is true that the Bush administration has provided guarantees that "no neighboring state will threaten the Kurds," it is also true that it has given assurances to Turkey, Iran, and Syria that no Kurdish state will be created, and that Iraq's territorial integrity will be maintained.

Lahore Dawn (centrist), Dec. 2: Perhaps we have to do our part and support Washington. Of course we can still see the weaknesses. We can see that the whole Iraq confrontation might be an unnecessary distraction from hunting down Al-Qaeda. This requires, as it did with the pursuit of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi exterminator-in-chief of the Jews, long-term police work, not massive bombing…. The United States has at last realized it may be the world's only superpower but that it can only wield that strength if the world at large supports it. And countries such as Russia, China, and France have likewise realized that the only way they can any longer bring influence to bear in Washington is to make it feasible for the United States to work through the United Nations. This is momentous progress, the most significant development since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Perhaps, after all, we will soon be saying, “We are all Americans now.”
—Jonathan Power (syndicated British columnist)

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