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Sunday, December 27, 1998 Published at 19:06 GMT


Arab deputies condemn air strikes

Jordanian women protest against the strikes on Iraq

Parliamentarians from 16 Arab countries have condemned the air raids against Iraq by the United States and United Kingdom, and called for sanctions against Baghdad to be lifted.


Barbara Plett: Meeting was a gauge of public opinion
At a meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, the Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker, Saadoun Hammadi, submitted a draft resolution asking Arab countries to ignore the UN embargo on Iraq.


[ image: Saadoun Hammadi: Urged Arab countries to ignore sanctions]
Saadoun Hammadi: Urged Arab countries to ignore sanctions
The head of the Arab Parliamentary Union, Fathi Sorour, accused the international community of double standards in tolerating Israel's weapons of mass destruction while punishing Iraq.

However, in a sign of the divisions over Iraq, an opening speech to the meeting by Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan was criticised by an Iraqi delegate for not mentioning the US-led airstrikes.

"We were expecting at least words of condemnation of the barbaric assault. Not even that was mentioned," the angry delegate said.


[ image: Delegates are to be briefed on Iraqi war casualties]
Delegates are to be briefed on Iraqi war casualties
Iraq was expected to use the meeting to call for punishment of the United States and Britain for the air strikes, and will demand compensation for the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi delegation was also reportedly preparing to brief the assembled MPs on the number of civilian casualties caused by the four days of bombing.

Summit planned


Rageh Omaar: Lifting sanctions is the priority for Iraq
Arab foreign ministers are set to meet this week to discuss the possibility of holding a summit in response to the air strikes.

But Baghdad says there is no use in holding the summit if delegates are not prepared to defy sanctions. Observers say that is unlikely, because too many powerful Arab countries are US allies.

Official Iraqi newspapers have recently claimed that one of the most important results of the air strikes is the ushering in of a new era of Arab solidarity.

Three-pronged attack

On Saturday, an influential Iraqi newspaper launched a scathing condemnation of Russia, China and France, accusing them of not doing enough to stop the bombing.

While Russia and China strongly opposed the four-day offensive this month by the US and the UK, France was less vocal in its criticism.

But the three countries - seen as Baghdad's traditional friends on the United Nations Security Council - were individually condemned in Iraq's Babel newspaper.

Babel - controlled by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's son Uday - attacked China for responding to the Gulf crisis by simply handing out statements from its foreign ministry.

It said the French position was so hesitant and unclear that Iraqis could not decide where France stood.

And Russia was accused of extracting concessions from Iraq in the past without giving anything in return.





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