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WAR CLOUDS OVER WEST ASIA

Contrary to what the United States of America says, the crisis in west Asia is not about whether Iraq has been developing weapons of mass destruction or if the US will attempt to replace the Saddam Hussein regime in that country as part of its “war against terrorism”. The debate on west Asia should, instead, centre around the Israeli siege of Palestinians, the lifting of the United Nations sanctions on Iraq and the threat to the lives of Iraqi and Palestinian leaders.

The intifada against Israel since September 2000 is aimed at ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. In retaliation to the suicide attacks by Palestinian youths, the Israeli government and Jewish settlers have attacked the Palestinian National Authority, its leadership and the civilian population with M-16 machine guns, sophisticated tanks, F-16 bomber jets and Apache helicopters.

Israel has also tried to justify the captivity of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, earlier this year, the invasion of Palestinian areas and the massacres in Nablus and Jenin in April by calling them part of the fight against terrorism.

Double standards

Although the UN team sent to investigate the Jenin massacre was approved by the security council, it was withdrawn in May under pressure from Israel and the US. Israel’s allegations of terrorism against the Palestinians is just a blind; in reality, all it cares about is continuing to illegally occupy the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

But why are the UN and the US condoning Israel' Is the “war on terrorism”, this time against the Palestinians, sufficient cover for ignorance and neglect' Besides, the US-Israeli insistence on removing Arafat is absolutely illegal. Also illegal is the invasion of Iraq by the US and its allies. Hence, the international community should pressure the US to take steps to end the Israeli occupation in west Asia. Efforts should also be taken to lift the UN sanctions against Iraq as well as the no-fly zones in the north and south of the country.

The UN inspection team, called UNSCOM, left Iraq on its own after complaining of the latter’s lack of cooperation. This provided the US and Britain with the excuse to bomb Iraq in December 1998, in order to destroy Iraq’s supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The attack was declared to be successful, so why raise the issue of these weapons again'

Inexplicably, the US has said that it will attack Iraq even if the latter allows the weapons’ inspectors to return. In fact, Iraq’s offer to allow its territory to be inspected by representatives from the British and US governments was turned down.

Selfish agenda

In other words, the US is determined to bring down Hussein even if there is no reason for doing so. This suggests that Iraq’s compliance with the UN resolutions a decade ago was a futile exercise. Despite the global pressure on the US not to attack Iraq, the world’s sole superpower seems determined to establish a link between Iraq and al Qaida in order to oust Hussein.

Clearly, the US and Britain have no grounds for attacking Iraq and it should be up to the UN to deal with the country. But throughout the last decade, both these countries have continued to infringe upon Iraq’s sovereignity either on the pretext of the liberation of Kuwait, or that of the Kurds, the Iraqi Shias and so on.

The US’s only interest thus seems to be in controlling the oil fields in Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Its earlier attacks on Belgrade and Afghanistan were also intended to attract business for oil companies and consolidate its economic interests in the region.

The US attack on Iraq is thus motivated by its own needs and interests and not any consideration about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. It seems to have taken upon itself the sole prerogative to define terrorism and identify a terrorist state. As a result, the real issues at hand — like the illegal occupation of Palestine since 1967 and the UN sanctions on Iraq — are being overshadowed by the politics of Zionism. All this could have a disastrous effect on peace and stability in the region.

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