The Irish Times
Monday, February 19, 2001
Allies voice concern about air strikes

IRAQ: NATO allies have joined a chorus of international concern led by Russia and China about the US-British air raids, seen as threatening Middle East stability.

The Foreign Ministry in Moscow issued a statement denouncing the "unprovoked action", which ran counter to the UN Charter and other international legal norms.

France, a member of the Gulf War coalition that ended Iraq's 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait, said it wanted an explanation for the air strike. Turkey, from which US-led warplanes take off to patrol a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, rebuked Washington for failing to inform it before the assault was launched.

In Madrid a Foreign Affairs spokesman said Spain and other European allies had not been informed of the raid, while an Italian source said the Foreign Minister, Mr Lamberto Dini, would question the US Secretary of State, Gen Colin Powell, when they meet in Washington this week. Several political leaders in Germany's centre-left government have criticised the US and Britain. Mr Gert Weisskirchen, a foreign policy expert from Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats, said in the Frankfurter Rundschau: "We have to send the United States a signal that this is not acceptable." Another SPD foreign policy expert, Ms Uta Zapf, told Bild: "I am horrified that there were bomb attacks directed at targets near Baghdad. I doubt that there is any legal justification for it."

Ms Angelika Beer, defence policy expert for the Greens, who share power with the SPD, said: "What is now happening cannot be justified in any way." However, Mr Tony Blair said Britain was ready to authorise further action against Iraq if Baghdad continued to attack British aircraft patrolling no-fly zones.

At Labour's spring conference in Glasgow, intended as a springboard for the British general election, the TGWU general secretary, Mr Bill Morris, became the latest senior party figure to call for a review of the policy on Iraq: "You can't bomb a country out of existence. Any military action which kills people and fails to bring about peace and security and stability after 10 years has got to be reappraised." Ms Glenys Kinnock MEP described the latest bombing raids as "worrying". But the Foreign Secretary, Mr Robin Cook, said the Iraqi dictator had not abandoned his ambitions for military expansion in the region and said it was essential that he was not allowed to acquire the missile technology to launch weapons of mass destruction. Iraq sent a letter to the Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, urging the UN to condemn Friday's attack, while President Saddam Hussein and his top aides discussed plans for military retaliation in the event of further air strikes. - (Reuters, PA, AFP)