Iraq gives Washington a soap box
Wednesday 12 August 1992
In a well-coordinated effort by Washington's allies, the Security Council set the scene for President Bush to humiliate publicly the Iraqi leader with a warning that further human rights abuses against the Kurds, and in particular the Shia, will not be tolerated.
By switching attention from the confusion of Bosnia to the relatively uncomplicated issue of Iraqi human rights abuses, the Council provided the US with a convenient and timely soap box, to articulate a forceful policy abroad.
The choice on offer to President Saddam is a stark one of readmitting the hundreds of humanitarian aid workers and UN guards who have been forced to abandon their work and leave the country because of threats to their lives and government obstructiveness, or to face the prospect of allied military action to protect the Marsh Arabs.
There are only 225 UN guards left in Iraq, and 120 of them are due to be rotated out next week as their tour of duty ends. But because Iraq has refused to conclude a new agreement with the UN for new guards to be deployed, they are expected to remain, helping to prevent human rights abuses by their very presence.
The UN human rights rapporteur on Iraq, Max van der Stoel, the former Dutch foreign minister, said in an interview yesterday that alarming human rights abuses were taking place in the country and that action was needed. 'I find it really very difficult to swallow the idea that the world would remain passive while there would be some kind of repetition of the 'Anfal Operations' in the north against the Kurds,' he said. These operations, in the late 1980s, saw entire Kurdish villages relocated to barren desert areas.
Mr van der Stoel's findings of grave human rights abuses against the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds have provided the US and its allies with sufficient reason to renew military action against Iraq, diplomatic sources said. The US and Britain are consulting on a new UN resolution to draw attention to the human rights abuses, but diplomats believe that military action can already be justified on the grounds that Iraq has broken the terms of the ceasefire.
Mr van der Stoel gave the Security Council details of what he said was a deliberate policy of targeting the Marsh Arabs who for centuries have made their home under tall reeds in the marshes formed by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers north of Basra.
Mr van der Stoel said that there was documentary evidence that Iraq was intent on wiping out the Shia Marsh Arab culture. The Baghdad regime considered the Marsh Arabs to be 'inferior and 'un-Iraqi people',' he said.
'The most blatant violations of human rights being perpetrated by the government are constituted by the military attacks against the civilian population,' he said, with 'indiscriminate bombardments of civilian settlements'.
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean: Pope Francis joins calls for EU action on boat refugees
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Isis in Afghanistan: Group claims responsibility for Jalalabad suicide bombing that killed 35
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...