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-- jax (jax@borg.com), February 16, 2001


Jax- Would you have a URL? Thanks, Swissrose.

-- Swissrose (cellier@azstarnet.com), February 16, 2001.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- srv/aponline/20010216/aponline161427_000.htm

-- jax (jax@borg.com), February 16, 2001.

Iraq vows retaliation for U.S.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq will retaliate for the largest attack by U.S. and British warplanes in months, a state-run newspaper vowed today, as Iraqis returning to classes, jobs and markets a day after the deadly bombing uniformly condemned the United States.

In a front-page editorial, al-Qadissiya daily also dismissed U.S. assertions that the strikes - which killed two people - were ordered to protect pilots patrolling Iraqi skies. Iraq, it said, merely defends its airspace.

``This crime will not go without strong punishment for the aggressive Americans, to teach the American-Zionist new and old administration new lessons,'' the paper said, without being specific.

Sirens started wailing Friday evening, followed by explosions from anti-aircraft weapons from the southern and western outskirts of the city of more than 5 million. About 50 minutes later, more sirens marked the end of the strikes.

The official Iraqi News Agency, citing health ministry officials, said two people died and 20 were injured. It identified the dead as a woman, Ghayda Atshaan Abdullah, and a man, Khalil Hameed Alwash.

``All were innocent children, women and men who do not mean anything to America,'' said Tamader Jassim, a 19-year-old college student heading to class today. ``They expect us to hate our leader by doing this. ... They are wrong, we started to hate everything American because of these strikes.''

In hospitals, children with bandaged legs and feet held their hands out to worried parents. Concerned family members stood by anxiously, waiting for news about their relatives.

``The more they continue their aggression, the stronger the Iraqi people ... will be in facing them,'' President Saddam Hussein and his top leadership figures said in a statement.

``We shall fight them on ground, sky and sea and their aggression will deepen their failure,'' said the statement from a joint meeting of the Revolutionary Command Council and the ruling al-Baath Party chaired by Saddam.

Friday was the first time in nearly two years that air raids sirens have sounded over the Iraqi capital, and while some huddled in fear inside their houses, others ventured out to watch the sky.

``How many times do they destroy what they themselves said they have already destroyed?'' asked Samih Jamal, a 54-year-old retired government worker.

Arab League secretary-general Esmat Abdel Meguid denounced the airstrikes as an ``unwarranted aggression'' that worsens the plight of the Iraqi people. The league would support Iraq, but ``our stance is a political one. We don't have jets or missiles,'' he told The Associated Press.

Two dozen warplanes fired long-range missiles targeting radar systems to the south and north of the capital, according to the U.S. Defense Department, which said Iraq had become increasingly threatening of late toward allied aircraft patrolling.

It was the first strike since December 1998 north of the 33rd parallel, which lies about 30 miles south of Baghdad and marks the edge of the southern ``no-fly'' zone patrolled by U.S. and British planes since 1991. Air raid sirens went off in Baghdad in February 1999 after strikes inside the no-fly zone.

In Baghdad late Friday, the few people out in the streets were defiant. Store owner Ayad Hamid Ali, 52, said the United States and Britain only want to scare the Iraqis. ``But they know we will not bow to the foreigners,'' he said.

Shabab TV showed hundreds of youth demonstrating in the streets of the capital, volunteering to fight the enemy.

The allied warplanes struck their targets Friday without leaving the southern no-fly zone, using ``standoff'' weapons that zero in on targets from a distance, where the pilot is safer, the Pentagon said.

It said the operation appeared to have been successful and no more strikes were needed soon. The planes involved in the strikes came from various locations in the Gulf.

U.S. and British warplanes have been patrolling no-fly zones in northern Iraq since April 1991, shortly after the Gulf War ended. The southern no-fly zone was set up the following year.

Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zones and has been challenging allied aircraft since December 1998. The allies say their planes never target civilians, though missiles have hit residential areas. Iraq says about 300 people have been killed and more than 800 injured.

Star Tribune

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), February 17, 2001.


According to the Associated Press and
other news sources, U.S. planes
bombed south of Baghdad at
approximately 1:55 pm EST today (8:55
pm in Iraq).

While this bombing of Baghdad was
dramatic, catching the world's attention
and demonstrating the aggressive nature
of the Bush administration, the fact is
that since December 1998 (when the
U.S. bombed Iraq for four straight days
in so-called Operation Desert Fox), the
U.S. has dropped nearly 20,000 bombs
and missiles on Iraq. These bombings
are always said to be hitting anti-aircraft,
but have hit a water reservoir, hospitals
and schools.

Hundreds, in not thousands, of Iraqis
died from these bombings. And even
when there's no bombing, 5,000 Iraq
children die each month as a direct result
of the U.S.-led UN sanctions.

This Bush administration is clearly
following in the footsteps of the previous
two administrations, those of Bill Clinton
and George Bush Sr.

This attack has been timed to coincide
with Secretary of State Colin Powell's
visit to several countries in the Middle
East, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait
and the United Arab Emirates. Powell
has stated that he intends to tighten the
now-crumbling sanctions regime.

This bombing is also a message to the
Arab World that the U.S. supports the
election of the right-wing war criminal
Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister of

The combination of the genocidal
sanctions against Iraq, the continuing
U.S.-funded and backed Israeli
repression of the Palestinians and the
massive U.S. military occupation of the
entire Gulf region has greatly heightened
anti-imperialist sentiment throughout the

This attack comes at a time when the
issue of the continuing genocidal
sanctions has developed into a crisis for
the incoming Bush administration. Last
week, the New York Times for the first
time proposed a relaxation of the
sanctions. This unprovoked attack is an
attempt to galvanize public opinion in the
U.S. and around the world to maintain
the murderous sanctions and step up the
war against the Iraqi people.

International Action Center

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), February 17, 2001.

US-British air strikes on Baghdad: Bush draws first blood

By Barry Grey
17 February 2001

In his first foreign policy decision, newly installed President George W. Bush authorized an unprovoked air attack on the outskirts of Baghdad, escalating the ongoing US war against the Persian Gulf country.

Twenty US and four British warplanes, taking off Friday morning (US time) from land bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman in the Persian Gulf, attacked thirty targets at five separate sites near the Iraqi capital. According to American officials, the sites were radar and command and control installations.

The raid was the first attack on targets outside the so-called “no-fly” zones and the first assault on the Baghdad region since the four-day air war carried out by the US and Britain in December of 1998. Since that time American and British planes have carried out hundreds of strikes against Iraqi targets, civilian as well as military, in the southern and northern no-fly zones that were established by the US and its allies in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. These zones, which cover most of the land mass of Iraq, were decreed without even the legal fig leaf of United Nations resolutions.

According to Iraq, some 300 Iraqis have been killed and more than 800 injured since the US and Britain began conducting almost daily air strikes in the no-fly zones. Only last Sunday seven people were killed and seventeen houses destroyed in air strikes in the south, and on Tuesday two children were killed and their mother injured in a bomb explosion in the southern province of Kerbala.

These brutal actions are carried out as part of a sanctions policy that has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from disease and malnutrition since the end of the Gulf War. To this day American diplomats are holding up billions of dollars of imports needed for civilian transportation, electric power generation, the oil industry and medical treatment on the grounds that they could potentially be put to military use.

Friday's strikes typified the lopsided and cowardly character of the US persecution of Iraq. The warplanes fired their high-tech missiles from within the southern no-fly zone, more than thirty miles from their targets and well beyond the reach of Iraqi anti-aircraft fire.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein condemned the attack and said it was part of preparations by the US, in alliance with Israel, to launch a larger assault “against the Arab nations and the Palestinians.” Iraqi TV showed shots of numerous injured civilians and claimed that one woman had died in the bombing raids.

In the hours following the strikes reports surfaced of massive demonstrations by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip denouncing the US-British aggression. A leading official from the Russian Defense Ministry called the attack “an affront to international security and the world community,” and a French Foreign Ministry spokesman disassociated Paris from the bombings, saying, “We were neither told nor consulted on these raids.”

Bush authorized the air strikes on Thursday, prior to leaving for a one-day meeting in Mexico with newly elected President Vicente Fox. At a press conference at Fox's ranch on Friday, following the raids, Bush said he had authorized the attack, which he characterized as a “routine” implementation of US policy toward Iraq. While denying that the raids marked a shift in US tactics, he issued a thinly veiled warning that further large-scale attacks would come if the regime in Baghdad continued to challenge US war planes patrolling the no-fly zones.

In an example of the “newspeak” that has become the hallmark of US foreign policy, Bush said, “Our intention is to make sure the world is as peaceful as possible.”

This posture of pacifism by means of long-range, precision-guided missiles was reiterated by Pentagon spokesman Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, who told a press conference that the air strikes were a “self-defense measure.”

Newbold's claim is based on the tortured logic that is routinely used to justify Washington's vendetta against a defenseless nation. Starting from the premise that the United States has the right to trample on Iraqi sovereignty and keep the country in a state of constant terror and semi-starvation, Washington concludes that any measures taken by the Iraqi regime to defend itself against US bombers are aggressive actions that threaten the lives of American airmen. Accordingly, recent efforts by Iraq to strengthen its anti-aircraft defenses are portrayed as further evidence of Saddam Hussein's demonic role in the Middle East.

This absurd position is accepted uncritically by virtually the entire political establishment and retailed to the public by the mass media. Democratic Party support for Friday's raids on Baghdad was signaled by Samuel Berger, former national security adviser to former President Clinton, who told CNN, “This is a completely appropriate action. This has been done before.”

The assertion by US officials that Friday's air strikes were “routine” actions, far from indicating a policy of moderation, betokens a more aggressively militaristic posture. A signal is being sent both to Baghdad and to America's recalcitrant allies—in particular France and Russia—that Washington reserves the right, under the cover of enforcing the no-fly zones, to strike any Iraqi targets, at any time and with as much forces as it deems fit, and feels no compunction to consult with fellow members of the UN Security Council, let alone obtain their consent.

Thus Bush's first foreign policy initiative is an announcement of a unilateralist stance more extreme than that exhibited by the Clinton administration.

The aggressive foreign policy significance of the air strikes is underscored by their coming on the eve of next week's tour of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf by Secretary of State Colin Powell. Washington wants to whip the Arab regimes into line behind its sanctions policy, increasingly unpopular in the region, and reaffirm its position of dominance over the peoples of the Middle East.

Notwithstanding the pacifist phrase-mongering of Bush and the misinformation from the US media, it is impossible to obscure the fact that the current assault on Iraq is being conducted by the very people who presided over the 1991 invasion of the country. Powell, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in overall military command, and the new vice president, Richard Cheney, was the secretary of defense. The father of the current president occupied the White House. The real economic and geo-strategic motives that underlie Washington's aggressive policy in the oil-rich region are underscored by the personal and financial ties that link both George Herbert Walker Bush and his son George W., as well as Cheney, to the US oil industry.

The escalation of military action against Iraq has, as well, a definite domestic political significance. As the World Socialist Web Site has warned more than once since the Republicans gained control of the White House by fraudulent means, the Bush administration is bound to carry out military adventures overseas, sooner rather than later. A highly unstable government, resting on an extremely narrow base of support and viewed by millions as illegitimate, one, moreover, that is committed to a policy of social reaction under conditions of mounting economic crisis and distress—such a government will inevitably turn to military actions abroad as a means of offsetting its crisis at home.


-- spider (spider0@usa.net), February 17, 2001.

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