Middle East

The United Nations

The International Press on the New U.N. Ultimatum for Iraq

Iraqi woman
An Iraqi woman holds President Saddam Hussein badges over her eyes in Baghdad Nov. 14, 2002 (Photo: AFP).

Baghdad Babil (government-owned), Nov. 11: The [Bush] Administration says that Iraq is challenging the world, when the whole world knows that Iraq is the most cooperative country with the Security Council. The problem is that it appears as if the Security Council took a long vacation, leaving the United States to occupy the field and play its games. The problem intensified when President Bush [put off] everything to concentrate on Iraq and Iraq only. It is not clear whether Bush has a blind spot for Iraq, or whether he is working hard to satisfy his Zionists sponsors….So we think that the people of the world should unite and challenge the U.S. and U.K. policy, since the United Nations and its Security Council are asleep.
–Abdul Razzaq Muhammad Al-Dulaimi

New Delhi The Times of India (conservative), Nov. 13: Even though he's no stranger to solitude, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein must be feeling particularly lonely right now. With all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council voting unanimously in favor of Resolution 1441... he can either refuse to allow U.N. inspectors into Iraq, and face an armed invasion right away, or he can let them in, then refuse to cooperate—or fail to convince them that he has no weapons of mass destruction—and face an attack in mid-February. It's not an enviable position to be in, but Mr. Hussein at least has one consolation. The unanimous vote does not mean the world has closed ranks behind a U.S. invasion. Indeed, many countries went along with the resolution since it seemed to represent the only hope of preventing, or at least delaying, such an attack.

Cairo Al-Ahram Weekly (semi-official, English-language), Nov. 7-13: So who won? The resolution on Iraq will remain a win-win situation, at least for the time being. For the United States it will place Baghdad on notice, strengthen the hand of inspectors, and in Washington's interpretation, give it a free hand to act unilaterally should efforts to disarm Iraq flounder. For France, Russia, and China the resolution will be seen as successfully confining the United States within the multilateral fold, leaving the matter of war and peace in the hands of the Security Council and sparing Iraq a devastating blow that would also undermine their own strategic and economic interests. It is no secret that both France and Russia are anxious about the repayment of Iraqi debts they are owed. They also want to roll back the threat of U.S. hegemony over the region. Arab countries too will breath a sigh of relief and for some the resolution will be seen as the crowning success of the subtle game of confronting misguided U.S. policies.
–Ayman El-Amir

Hanoi The Voice of Vietnam (government-owned radio station), Nov. 13: The current issue is whether the United States will stop at Iraqi arms inspections or whether the U.S. compromises on the U.N. resolution mean a delay of its planned attack on Iraq. The world public warns that the United States is seeking a means to attack Iraq and control Iraq’s oil reserves, which are the second largest in the world. In addition, in controlling Iraq, the United States will able to expand its role in the Middle East. The American press suggests that the U.S. may launch an attack on Iraq after Dec. 8….Therefore, it is reasonable for the Iraqi Parliament to reject the new U.N. resolution. And if the United States really nurtures a scheme to attack Iraq, implementation of the U.N. resolution in Iraq will be difficult. (U.S. State Department transcription)

Brisbane Courier Mail (conservative), Nov. 11: The current U.N. resolution seeks to close the loopholes that Saddam [Hussein] has exploited for more than 11 years....The Security Council has saved the United Nations' reputation and bought some time. But it won't prevent President Bush executing his plans.

Manila Philippine Daily Inquirer (independent), Nov. 14: Given the rigorous conditions imposed by the United Nations and the risk that Saddam's regime would collapse if he complies, the prospects of war seem high.

Beijing People’s Daily (government-owned), Nov. 11: Frankly speaking, although the ideas and motives of the Arab countries demanding that Iraq accept the new Security Council resolution are not completely the same, they are completely identical on the point of avoiding a disastrous war….[If a war broke out] against Iraq, it would likely whip up a a wave of anti-U.S. sentiment in Arab countries and would adversely affect their good diplomatic ties with the United States….Of course, some Arab countries still have doubts and misgivings about the United States and the already adopted Security Council resolution, particularly about America's real intentions. While they are persuading Iraq to comply, they also maintain sharp vigilance…. Frankly speaking, except for asking Iraq to accept the resolution, the Arab countries, in fact, are unable to prevent the outbreak of war. Therefore, Iraq's acceptance of the resolution is probably the most direct and most effective method for averting war.

Tokyo Mainichi Shimbun (centrist), Nov. 10: The Security Council has achieved the highest level of solidarity, and expressed the international community's bold resolve to face up to Saddam Hussein, who has consistently spurned his international obligations since the Gulf War. We should look upon this resolution as the fruit of international cooperative diplomacy, which aims to prevent the United Nations from becoming irrelevant and [incapable] of maintaining peace and order…. We urge the United States to continue to cooperate with the Security Council if it seeks to back U.N. sanctions with force.

London The Guardian (liberal), Nov. 13: It is dysfunctional democracy of the bowdlerized variety currently practiced in the United States, Britain, the United Nations and elsewhere that has brought the world to the brink….At the United Nations, the United States and Britain sidestepped a massive General Assembly antiwar majority, piling pressure on other Security Council permanent members. Since the perpetually unreformed council is more oligarchic than democratic, the outcome was never really in doubt. The result? Anglo-American XI 15, Rest of the World 0. Now, at least according to the United States and Britain, the United Nations can be ignored for all practical purposes while they (and not Hans Blix) decide whether Iraq has tripped on one of their many, exquisitely adaptable war-triggering hurdles. And when Saddam Hussein stumbles? Gotcha! They will cry.
–Simon Tisdall

Singapore The Straits Times (pro-government), Nov. 13: If Baghdad passes this early test and cooperates with the inspectors, who will begin arriving in the country next week, war may well be avoided. It is thus really up to Saddam Hussein now. As U.S. President George Bush put it, this indeed is his "final opportunity." If he cooperates fully, he will lose his weapons but keep his head; if he does not, he will lose both.

Ruwi Times of Oman (privately-owned), Nov. 13: The question is not whether the resolution will achieve its express purpose of disarming Iraq of any alleged weapons of mass destruction. That would be possible even with the existing resolutions….In several quarters, many are expressing doubts as to whether any amount of global pressure will make the Bush administration see reason if it has already made up its mind to decimate Iraq. They see the United States straining at the leash to attack.….Cutting through the fog, however, the Arabs can see the ominous reality, which is that there is barely a thin line separating war and peace. Bush’s arguments for war are all a load of piffle….The U.S. president took the moral high ground by referring to the treaties Iraq has broken and Iraq's unilateral subversions. But the reality is that the United States is second to none in kicking the United Nations in the teeth.
–Omman Kuruvilla

Manila Manila Bulletin (conservative), Nov. 9: The U.N. resolution's reference to "serious consequences" is an affirmation that force can now be used to disarm Iraq. That resolution also mentions that countries have the right to act in accordance with the U.N. Charter to defend themselves in case they feel threatened….But at the end of the day, who will determine that there has been a breach [of the resolution's requirements]? The United States and its friends? So now Bush has an almost blank check to attack Iraq under the mantle of a U.N. resolution. It would seem... that Iraq has no other choice but to accept what the U.N. inspectors want, when they want it, as they want it.

Damascus Syria Times (government-owned), Nov. 11: It goes without saying that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 on Iraq has prevented a military adventure that could lead to a conflagration with unpredictable, frightening consequences….Following the adoption of Resolution 1441, there must be some time for the reassessment of attitudes. Washington and London should "view matters with both eyes, not with one," as the [Arabic] saying goes....Duplicity is a real problem! They must stop talking about war. Their language must be peaceful and diplomatic because they have the biggest arsenals of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the world. In addition, they must watch the other side [of the conflict]. They must put an end to Israeli war crimes in the Occupied Territories.

Tel Aviv Ha'aretz (liberal), Nov. 14: The question hovering in the air, especially among Arab leaders, concerns the fear of war and whether the Arab street would be set ablaze with anti-American sentiment and would threaten the survival of Arab regimes. That concern is still valid, but now there's a new question in the air: What will happen if Saddam Hussein fulfills all the conditions set down in the U.N. resolution? What will happen if he opens his fortresses, displays his anthrax containers and burns them in front of the television cameras, transfers all the blueprints for the development of nuclear weapons in closed crates to the offices of the United Nations, sends all the prisoners of war [from the invasion of Kuwait] home—either healthy or in coffins—and 60 days after the beginning of the inspection, Hans Blix, the inspection team chief, announces that there was not even one violation or interruption of the inspection operation?
–Zvi Bar'el

Amman The Jordan Times (independent), Nov. 13: Resolution 1441 has left Iraq, and indeed all of us in the region, with only one choice. And that is to accept the resolution as is, focus on what we can see as positive and encourage Iraq by all available means to accept and to implement the resolution in full, to the best satisfaction of the Security Council, in order to deprive the warmongers of any opportunity to resume their arrogant threats of war on the basis of noncompliance. But while we must do this for compelling and practical purposes, we should not naively ignore some significant and depressing realities: ...the conditions Iraq is required to meet are almost impossible, not to mention the fact that they are also cruel, hostile, and crushingly humiliating. No doubt, they were specifically designed to inflict misery and to ensure failure. Yet it would be wise for the Iraqis to suppress their agony and try their best, even if they believe that only a miracle can avert the worst.
–Hasan Abu Nimah