14 - 20 November 2002
Issue No. 612
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Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Recommend this page

A necessary pragmatism

It took American officials less than 24 hours after UN Security Council Resolution 1441 was issued to announce that Washington could embark on unilateral military action if it deemed it necessary. In fact it was US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the presumed dove in an overwhelmingly hawkish administration, who was making the threats. Which means that if Resolution 1441 has delayed any war for a few more weeks, efforts are still needed to close the door to any US military action against Iraq.

In September Baghdad wisely agreed to the unconditional return of UN inspectors. That led the US to work with the UN. In an extraordinary meeting this week, Arab foreign ministers pleaded with Iraq to cooperate with the UN and deny the US administration any pretext to start a war. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa voiced realism when he said that Resolution 1441 "is harsh but we have to deal with it".

Closing the door to any military action on Iraq can only serve the interests of the Iraqi people. It will also be of benefit to the Palestinians who are sure to suffer if the Sharon-Netanyahu-Mofaz government uses the opportunity of war against Iraq to further escalate military aggression against the beleaguered Palestinians. It will, too, undoubtedly serve the interests of other Arab countries. They, after all, will, should war occur, have to face its economic consequences. With national economies already struggling in the face of international recession, any further economic deterioration could well be the straw that breaks the camel's back. What is needed, then, is yet more pragmatism, particularly on the part of the Iraqis.

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