Arab MPs Condemn US Attacks On Iraq

AMMAN: (South News Dec 27) - Arab parliamentarians Sunday condemned the four-day U.S.-led bombardment of Iraq saying it jeopardized regional peace and worsened the hardship of Iraqis reeling under the impact of eight-year U.N. sanctions.

"The aggression on Iraq represents a dangerous policy which is against international law and shakes regional and international security,'' Fathi Sorour, the head of the Arab Parliamentary Union , told an emergency session of the APU.

Participants in an extraordinary meeting here of members of parliament from 16 Arab countries condemned British and US air strikes against Iraq and called on their governments to work for the lifting of UN sanctions.

Jordanian activists stage a pro-Iraqi sit-in 
outside of the Royal Cultural Center in
Amman Sunday, Dec. 27, 1998, where the 
Arab Parliamentary Union  holding an
meeting to discuss the Iraqi situation.

Banner on left reads, "Imperialist criminals lift 
your hands from Iraq," and on right reads,
"Arab parliamentarians, today Iraq,tomorrow
the enemies will strike each country."

The MPs "roundly condemned the unjust British-US aggression against Iraq and demanded that the UN Security Council guarantee that it would not happen again," in a final statement issued after the meeting. 

They also "backed Iraq's legitimate demand for compensation for the human and material damage" caused by the raid. The MPs decided to send an Arab parliamentary delegation to Iraq to "declare its support for the country and assess the impact of the aggression." 

They also called for the ending of the no-fly zones enforced by British and US aircraft in northern and southern Iraq saying they had no basis in UN resolutions and "damage the unity and sovereignty of Iraq." 

The meeting was speedily convened at the request of Jordan's parliament to rally support for Iraq in the wake of widespread popular anger across the Arab world against this month's strikes on Iraq by US and British military. 

Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan, who gave the conference's keynote speech, focused on the suffering of ordinary Iraqis and said the sanctions were not an effective tool to enforce the consensus of the international community on Iraq.

``The Iraqi people who have suffered a great deal should not be left without a program of humanitarian aid which secures their needs and eases their suffering which is free from political objectives,'' the prince said.

But Crown Prince Hassan, called on Arab MPs to make it a "success for Iraq rather than serve to provoke others against it and against us." Jordan rejects "the policy of economic sanctions against any state, in particular our Arab countries," said Prince Hassan, who is serving as regent while King Hussein undergoes cancer treatment in the United States.

"This unfair policy which is directed against the basic rights of man to existence cannot accomplish its objectives. For it is quite unacceptable on humanistic grounds and is futile from a political perspective," he said. But he stressed Jordan's commitment to "international legitimacy and the need to abide by it."

"As for the use of force, we contend that it should be the last resort in accordance with the spirit and principles of the UN Charter, and only after all possible peaceful means have been exhausted," he said.

Iraqi National Assembly Speaker Saadoun Hammadi, also in Amman for the meeting,   called on fellow delegates to "fulfil the desires of the Arab peoples" by urging defiance of the UN sanctions. Jordanian MPs have already adopted a non-binding resolution calling for a unilateral lifting of the embargo.

The meeting, which was boycotted by Kuwait, the target of Iraq's 1990 invasion which led to the 1991 Gulf War, opened with a brief speech by the president of the APU, Ahmed Fathi Srour of Egypt.

Sorour said Arabs were angry with the ``selective implementation'' of U.N. resolutions on Iraq to serve the ''interests of Washington and major powers.''

Sorour, said it was no longer acceptable that Israel be allowed to get away with possessing an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction while Iraq was punished. ``Either the international community deals with the states of the Middle East equally or otherwise it is unacceptable this double standard,'' he said.

Sorour denounced the US-British air strikes and noted that they took place "without the green light of the United Nations." He said that if such raids were repeated "they would endanger the stability of the region and the world."

Outside Amman's Royal Theater where the lawmakers are meeting, the demonstrators shouted anti-American slogans and waved banner saying any aggression on Iraq amounts to an attack on the entire Arab world.

Thousands of demonstrators in Arab capitals like Damascus, Amman, Cairo and Rabat spilled onto the streets to express fury over the strikes.

Protestors also vented frustration at their own governments' failure to strongly censure Washington for worsening the plight of ordinary Iraqis already suffering from U.N. sanctions imposed on Baghdad in 1990.

The MPs "invited Arab governments to work for a lifting of the embargo against Iraq and to put an end to the suffering of the Iraqi people," in their final statement.

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