Letter: Iraq's unsafe havens

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Sir: The concern of Faisal al-Sabah of the Kuwait Information Centre regarding the plight of the Kurds in northern Iraq (letter, 1 September) and the Shi'ites in the south is commendable and the endorsement of the UK/US patrolled and enforced no-fly zones no doubt comes from the heart.

As he points out, the 1991 uprisings were suppressed ruthlessly. His memory, however, is somewhat selective. The US and Britain encouraged these uprisings and dropped thousands of leaflets pledging that those who rose up would never be abandoned.

Iraq, already suffering from shortage of everything, benefited from the paper, which the Marsh Arabs, many of whom are illiterate but never stupid, collected and sold to the government for pulping. Sadly, others, trusting in Western integrity, took them at their word, only to be abandoned.

Mr Sabah has admirable faith in the "safe havens" the no-fly zones provide. It has to be wondered when he last visited one - since it is impossible to even telephone between Iraq and Kuwait, yet alone travel. I travelled extensively in both northern and southern "safe havens" as recently as May and, in common with everyone I met felt anything but safe.

Air raid sirens continually sound, children shake, and regrets are expressed by Britain and America when lives, homes, flocks of sheep, Christian places of worship are decimated day and night, in an illegal and undeclared war.


London E9