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Sunday, 18 February, 2001, 00:45 GMT
News Online users condemn Baghdad raids
Talking Point graphic
A large majority of users of BBC News Online who expressed an opinion say they disagree with Friday's air strikes on the Iraqi capital by the US and UK.

Many hundreds of e-mails have been received by the site's Talking Point feature Was it right to bomb Baghdad? and more than 80% of them condemned the action.

Of those critics, few give credence to Washington's insistence that this was a routine enforcement of the air exclusion zones or that it was essentially a "self-defence" operation to protect pilots patrolling the skies over Iraq.

An Iraqi contributor now living in London, identified only as Sami, accuses the two Western powers of ignoring the terror such missions cause among the civilian population.

"I was there in 1991 you don't know how it is when your town is bombarded, how the kids feel, what happens to the pregnant women, seniors, infants," he writes.

James Scobbie from Scotland, meanwhile, condemns the whole Western policy towards Iraq, which he says has done little to protect the people from the tyrannical excesses of the Iraq leadership.

"Ten years of starvation and aggression against the Iraqi people have neither protected the Kurds nor the Shi'ite minority of Iraq," he writes, adding:

"If [Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] has no more weapons of mass destruction it's because the West no longer sells them the equipment."

Dubya trouble

There is much criticism directed at the new US president, George W Bush, whose father was commander-in-chief when the US led the coalition which drove Iraq from Kuwait 10 years ago last month.

"When Bill Clinton was deep in Lewinsky lies he ordered the bombing of Baghdad," writes Dron of Helsinki. "This new president ordered another bombing to deflect attention from the fraudulent election."

"The US is an arrogant and aggressive country which insists on imposing its morality on the rest of the world," adds Richard Dorrough of Saratoga, New York.

He says calls the attacks "terrorism" and says the US and Britain should be threatened with military reprisals should they strike Iraq again.

"It's the Bush family business to bomb Iraq it seems," says Girish of USA.

Scant support

"Civilian bombings?" responds Jeff also writing from the US. "If the US and Britain wanted Iraqi civilians dead there would be no civilians."

He is one of a few of Talking Point's correspondents who fully support the action taken by the American and British air forces on Friday night.

He lays the blame for not complying with UN resolutions and starving the Iraqi people on the Iraqi president alone, and he concludes by hoping that the "religious fanatics of the Middle East finally learn to live as humans on our fragile planet".

Another point is made by Pete Whitehead of London, namely that many of the highly critical contributions come from people with Arabic names living in three Western countries in particular.

"They should be more grateful that [the US, UK and Canada] allow them a freedom of expression, which they would not have in most Arab countries, let alone Iraq."

Another Briton, Tim Allen, meanwhile wonders whether people have forgotten the massacres of Iraqis perpetrated by the "brutal regime" of Saddam Hussein.

"Perhaps we should dismantle the [no-fly] zones and watch the public outcry as they watch the evening news featuring the massacre and persecution that would surely follow such an action."

The global phone-in programme "Talking Point on Air" addressing this subject will be broadcast by the BBC World Service and webcast by BBC News Online at 1400 GMT on Sunday.

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See also:

17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Little support for Iraq attack
17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iraqi press calls for revenge
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