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Iraq urges India to protect its sovereignty 

New Delhi: "We are satisfied with India’s policy on the confrontation between Iraq and the US, but it is our belief that India should play more active role in persuading George W Bush to not escalate war against us".

This view was put forthrightly by the Iraq’s ambassador to India Salah Al-Mukhtar, who addressed a press conference on "Iraq and the latest development" here on November 15.

The ambassador invited Indian weapons inspectors to join the UN team in order to prevent the inspectors from provoking Iraqi government. He asserted that India’s presence can neturalise the inspectors and prevent them from wilting under the US pressure and violating Iraq’s sovereignty and national dignity. He added that India should use its good offices to prevail upon the US and its allies to solve this crisis amicably through peaceful means.

The ambassador said, " Iraq has accepted UN resolution 1441 to remove any excuse which could be used by the US to wage comprehensive and destructive war on Iraq, and the possibility of mass killings may be millions of civilians."

In his address, he elaborated the points of this resolution which has created a division in UN Security Council with China, Russia and France interpreting it to state that it "excludes any automaticity in the use of force, while the US considers it has given it the right to use force against Iraq in case of any adverse report by the inspectors.

Lamenting the UN and the US the ambassador said that the resolution is injust and unprecedented in the UN history as it resorted immediately to the war option before exhausting all peaceful means mentioned in chapter V1 of the UN charter. He added, "The resolution is contradictory with International Law and the UN charter, which stress on necessity of respecting the sovereignty of the member states and guarantee justice for each member country." In the same vein he said, "The resolution has given full authority to the inspectors for ‘human rights violation’…"

The ambassador said that the US and Britain have together drafted the resolution with an intention to pursue their "real objective" of waging war against Iraq. He lambasted the US for its double standard policies and said that in the name of complying with UN resolution it is threatening us with a destructive war but has been supporting Israel throughout in its rejection of more than 64 UN resolutions against its occupation of Palestine and Golan heights of Syria and parts of Lebanon.

The ambassador asserted, "Iraq’s acceptance of the resolution should guarantee the removal of the embargo because the only reason for the continuation of embargo have been the alleged mass destruction weapons."

This press conference is seen as the attempt by Iraq to use the press as a means to communicate with the Indian government which has adopted a pooh-pooh approach on this issue. It is to be noted that Saddam Hussain sent Mohammad Saeed Al Sahef, the Iraqi Minister of Information to New Delhi on November 21. Saeed is expected to meet with senior Indian leaders. Saddam is trying to secure support from international community against the Us attack on Iraq, and seeing India’s increasing closeness with the US especially in the past few years, his latest attempt is not surprising. India has also traditional friendship with Iraq and thus it is an obvious stop for Saddam’s envoy.

Indian government’s silence on this issue is seen as its tactical support to the only super power and thus generating an apprehension in Muslim world. General feeling in India is against the US war on this issue.

On the other hand, the opposition in India is also pressurising the government to take a firm stand on this issue. On Thursday, November 14, the opposition carried out a rally in support of Iraq.

Addressing the rally former Prime Minister of India HD Deve Gowda said that Vajpayee should clarify the Indian position on the issue.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) Secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet said despite India’s commitment to peace, its silence on the repeated US threats against Iraq was indeed intriguing. He said that there was a need to stand by Iraq in the hour of its crisis.

Communist Party of India general secretary AB Bardhan highlighted the plight of the Iraqi people especially children who had been victims of the US sanctions which had created scarcity of food and medicine in that country. He said that the US had found it difficult to sell its aggressive line to many of its allies and therefore to delete clauses that had given it power to strike Iraq unilaterally.

¯ Jeelani Khan

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