Letter: Authorisation for Iraqi no-fly zone

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Sir: With the possibility of a fresh escalation of conflict in the Gulf, it is important that history not be rewritten. David Usborne (report, 29 December) commits a gross error in referring to the 'UN-imposed air exclusion zone over southern Iraq'. In fact, the no-fly zone idea was not referred to the United Nations, nor did 'any UN Security Council resolution authorise the actions in the name of the besieged Marsh Arabs and rebel Shias' ('UN was by-passed over no-fly zone', 19 August).

The Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, acknowledged that the no-fly zone was not authorised by the UN, commenting that 'not every action that a British government or a French government takes has to be underwritten by a specific provision in a UN resolution' (ibid). The merits or otherwise of the no-fly zone are not the issue. We should not invent UN authorisation when it has not been given.

Yours sincerely,




29 December