An official Iraqi newspaper urged neighboring states on Sunday, June 17, to stand firm against British and US efforts to impose "smart" sanctions on Baghdad, warning that their interests were also at stake.
Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, meanwhile, voiced Iraq's growing confidence that the proposals for smart sanctions would be defeated. "We are certain we will manage to foil the British plan backed by the US administration," he said late Saturday, predicting that the project would start to "encounter greater difficulties than in past weeks."
Al-Jumhuriya, an official daily, urged Iraq's neighbors "to oppose with force these 'stupid' sanctions, which would be prejudicial to their interests and damage their policies."
The aim of amendments currently under discussion in the UN Security Council is "to weaken the position of certain member countries ... and of neighboring Arab states which are blocking the project," it said.
Egypt, Syria and Jordan informed touring UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last week of their opposition to the revision of the sanctions regime imposed for Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, according to a senior UN official.
Iraq has warned its neighbors of a cut in trade and oil links if they cooperate with smart sanctions.
Britain has circulated a Security Council draft resolution that would abolish curbs on civilian trade with Iraq but tighten a weapons ban and controls on smuggling outside the UN oil-for-food deal.
Iraq on June 4 suspended more than two million barrels per day of oil exports under the UN humanitarian deal in protest at the sanctions plan, which the Security Council aims to put to the vote by early July.
President Saddam Hussein, in a meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar on Saturday at the end of a solidarity visit to Baghdad, condemned what he called the "stupid" policies of the United States.
"American policies are stupid. America is trying to take over the wealth of other peoples. It has the illusion it can colonize the world because it has become the biggest world power," he said. "The Iraqi leadership does not fear (American) threats," said the president. ― (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)