Cheney, Iraq, and Israeli Brutality

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By Hassan El-Najjar 



        The U.S. Vice President, Dick Cheney, started a ten-day trip, during which he will visit 9 Middle Eastern countries. He will try to rally support for attacking Iraq because of the alleged Iraqi attempts to possess weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, the entire Middle East is living in very tense times. The Israelis are waging a real but brutal war against the Palestinian people. They have been committing massacres and war crimes in Palestinian cities and refugee camps. Arab streets are boiling in anger, and Arab leaders scramble traveling from one capital to another, in preparation for the Arab Summit Conference that will be held on March 27, with nothing in mind except the brutality of Israelis and the suffering of the Palestinians.

        With all of this going on, the Vice President is going to talk to Arab leaders about the importance of attacking another Arab country, Iraq. For Arabs, probably except Kuwaitis, attacking Iraq is unwarranted for several reasons. First, Iraq has not been linked to the September attacks on the U.S. Second, Iraq has been under embargo and sanctions for the past 11 years, which not only degraded its military power, but its economy, and even its manpower. About a million and a half Iraqis have died as a result of the embargo and the sanctions. Isn't that enough? Third, while Iraq does not possess weapons of mass destruction, Israel does. However, the U.S. does not mention anything about Israel concerning that matter. Finally, and most important, the Iraqi Foreign Minister is holding talks in New York, right now, with the UN Secretary-General in order to allow UN inspectors to go back to Iraq.

        With all this said, the Vice President's trip could have been an enormous U.S. diplomatic success, if it had focused on ending the bloodshed in Palestine and Israel. Everyone in the Middle East expects the U.S. to intervene because of its leverage on Israelis. However, focusing on Iraq and ignoring the Palestinian-Israeli conflict makes the trip out of touch and makes one wonder who in the world advises the Vice President about the Middle East? 

Dr. Hassan A. El-Najjar is the Editor of and author of  "The Gulf War: Overreaction & Excessiveness." (2001).