Iraq Slams Annan's ‘Powerlessness’ to Stop US, British Air Raids
Iraq attacked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Saturday for his “powerlessness” to put an end to US-British air raids on the country, said AFP.
"(Annan's) declarations on the so-called air exclusion zones in the north and south of Iraq convey his powerlessness to act in a responsible manner in this serious affair," the official daily, Al Iraq, said.
The "no-fly" zones, which were ostensibly created to protect Iraq's Kurdish and Shiite Muslim minorities, have no UN authorization.
Annan has said on repeated occasions that he does not have the legal competence to take a stand on the raids, saying that is a matter for the Security Council.
"The silence of the United Nations secretary general and the Security Council about the US threats and aggression against Iraq raise doubts about the credibility and impartiality of the organization," the paper said.
There are almost daily clashes between Iraq and US and British planes patrolling northern and southern exclusion zones, which are designed to enforce the military restrictions imposed on the Baghdad regime after the 1991 Gulf War.
Iraq does not recognize the zones, which are not covered by any UN resolution.
Iraq says 353 people have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded in raids by the United States and Britain since 1998, when the two Western powers mounted a heavy punitive air raid on Baghdad.
Meanwhile, Annan said on Friday that Baghdad's collaboration with a UN envoy represented the key to a breakthrough.
"I continue to be firmly convinced that cooperation between the Government of Iraq and Ambassador [Yuli] Vorontsov could constitute the beginning of a dialogue through which it would be possible to resolve the issue of repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains," Annan said in a report to the Security Council, cited by the UN news service.
According to the report, despite Ambassador Vorontsov's extensive contacts, he is currently "not in a position to report more tangible progress on the issue of the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains."
The secretary general expressed regret that the Iraqi government remained “unwilling” to cooperate with Ambassador Vorontsov “on the grounds that it rejects Security Council resolution 1284.”
Adopted in 1999, that text created the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to undertake the responsibilities of the former UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) which was charged with monitoring the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
While operational, UNMOVIC has yet to receive access to Iraq.
The secretary general emphasized that Iraq "should appreciate the fact that the international community is not selective" in its search for a resolution of all cases of missing persons, whether they be Kuwaiti, Saudi, Iraqi or others, said the news service.
"As the Government of Iraq claims to seek a resolution to the issue of its own missing nationals, it is essential that it exercise an appropriate and sensitive understanding of the position held by the Government of Kuwait and other countries concerned," Annan said in his report.
According to the report, the nationals to be repatriated or returned include 570 Kuwaitis, three Lebanese, four Iranians, five Egyptians, four Syrians, one Bahraini, one Omani and 14 Saudi Arabians, while Baghdad claims there are 1,142 missing Iraqis – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)