Kuwait Seeks ‘Serb Model’ to Confront Iraqi President

Published April 12th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Sanctions against Iraq should follow a "Serb model" that targets the country's leadership and not its people, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah was quoted as saying on Wednesday. 

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, Reuters quoted him as saying that the United States had to adopt a "smart strategy" for the Middle East that stopped Iraqi President Saddam Hussein making capital from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Sheikh Sabah spoke to Le Monde after talks in Paris on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine of France, which has been highly critical of United Nations sanctions in place against Baghdad since Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in 1990. 

The US administration has been working on ideas for a new package of "smart sanctions" since taking office in January, in the hope of restoring international solidarity against Iraq acquiring military equipment or materials for weapons of mass destruction. 

Sheikh Sabah said any such package had to "relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people, which is living in an enormous prison" and send a message that the world understood their plight, Reuters quoted him as saying. 

"I'd cite what we call the 'Milosevic model' or the 'Serb model' which identifies who is responsible and targets a political class," he was quoted as saying, referring to sanctions tactics used to encourage the removal from power of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. 

"The Serbian people were allowed to travel and food and medicines could be brought into the country." 

Sheikh Sabah said Iraqi President Saddam was also "making cheap capital" from the suffering of the Palestinian people in the conflict with Israel. 

"We have told the American administration that the absence of serious action on this level is giving the Iraqi regime a formidable burst of political oxygen," he said. 

"The United States must contribute to ending Israel's acts of violence against the Palestinians," he said, cited by the agency. 

Kuwait and Iraq have blamed each other for the failure of an Arab summit in Amman last month to agree on a resolution calling for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq. 

"Arab leaders are now convinced that Iraq doesn't want sanctions lifted, that the status quo suits it, and that the regime is afraid of any change whose consequences it would not be able to master," Sheikh Sabah was quoted as saying. 

His view was echoed by the French foreign ministry, which repeated its standard line that the present sanctions regime hurt the Iraqi people and was counter-productive. 

"We consider that at present there is no particular incentive for Iraq to change the state of its relations with the United Nations, nor any incentive for Iraq to cooperate with the international community and that the maybe suits Iraq," a ministry spokesman said. 




Jordan denied Wednesday a US State Department announcement that Jordanian and US experts would meet to discuss a US initiative to redesign the international sanctions on Iraq, said AFP. 

"There are no scheduled meetings of experts with the United States or with any other party on the question of sanctions on Iraq," Information Minister Taleb Rifai told reporters when asked about comments made last week by US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. 

"If Boucher made these remarks, I am able to tell you that it is not true and Jordan has not approved any such arrangement," Rifai said. 

Rifai stressed that "Jordan is in favor of the lifting of sanctions." 

After a meeting last Wednesday between King Abdullah and US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Boucher announced the two sides had "agreed that there should be some expert discussions in the coming weeks" regarding the US plans to redesign sanctions to restrict the entry of military items to Iraq. 

Rifai also confirmed comments made in Washington Tuesday by Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel Ilah Khatib that Jordan was planning to launch regular commercial flights to Iraq. 

Rifai said Jordan was pursuing the appropriate measures with the United Nations. 

Khatib was quoted by the official Petra news agency as saying that "Royal Jordanian, which has already launched a number of (charter) flights to Baghdad, is on its way to taking measures to ensure the regularity of civilian flights to Iraq." 

Meanwhile, King Abdullah called for a lifting of sanctions on Iraq and for a quick settlement of differences between Iraq and Kuwait in an interview published Wednesday in the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat.  

King Abdullah returns to Jordan Saturday after a 12-day visit abroad to the US and Britain – Albawaba.com 



© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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