DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN December 18-20, 1998 vol. 9, no. 245
NEWS & VIEWS
IRAQI CATHOLIC LEADER REACTS TO AIR STRIKES WITH STRONG CONDEMNATION
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The leader of the 800,000 Chaldean-rite Catholics in Iraq, Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid, was in Rome this week when the US launched air strikes on Iraq. Contacted there by the Fides news agency, the Patriarch-- who was in constant telephone contact with Baghdad-- said that the attack is "immoral, planned by moralists who have no morals."
The Patriarch charged that President Clinton had ordered the strikes in order to forestall Congressional efforts to impeach him, and said it was paradoxical that in a public effort to justify the military strikes, Clinton-- who has been charged with perjury himself-- accused Saddam of lying to international inspectors. And he complained that UN inspectors had pulled out of Baghdad suddenly, without notifying their UN superiors, in order to accommodate Clinton's plans.
The Patriarch also renewed his call for an end to the international embargo on Iraq, saying that it has caused widespread poverty, disease, and death.
The leader of the 800,000 Chaldean-rite Catholics in Iraq, Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid, was in Rome when this week when the US launched air strikes on Iraq. Contacted there by the Fides news agency, the Patriarch-- who was in constant telephone contact with Baghdad-- said that the attack is "immoral, planned by moralists who have no morals."
The following interview, which was done shortly after the Patriarch had heard the first reports of civilian casualties in and around Baghdad, has been made available to CWN through the courtesy of the Fides news agency.
Q: Your Beatitude, were you surprised by the strike?
A: It was not a surprise, knowing the United States and the intentions of Clinton. He wanted the missile strike to avoid impeachment and he ordered it two days before the start of Ramadan and nine before Christmas. It is paradoxical that Clinton, about to be impeached for lying about Monicagate, should bomb Saddam-- accusing him, as he did in the speech last night, of "lying not once but many times."
Q: Do you think the strike is legitimate?
A: The pretext is specious. For eight years they have been searching for weapons, accomplishing nothing except to humiliate the people and starve them by the embargo. Since 1991, poverty has killed more than 1 million children who lack food and basic necessary medicines. The embargo continues to cause the death of about 20,000 children every month, in homes and in hospitals which lack everything. The people are more and more impoverished, the currency has devaluated more than 5000 percent, unemployment is enormous and the cost of living is rocketing.
And then who would have sold these weapons to the Iraqi government, if not the West? Richard Butlerís decision suddenly to withdraw the UN inspectors without telling the UN points to a pre- meditated plan. Butler is an American agent. He obeys the orders of the White House, not the UN.
Q: Is the only motivation for the strike to avoid impeachment?
A; No. The United States want peace between Israel and Palestine, and they know that the only country threatening Israel is Iraq. So Clinton thinks he will save himself by obtaining success in foreign policy and pacifying Palestine: this means he must neutralize Iraq. The strike can be explained also after Clintonís recent visit of scarce success to Israel and the autonomous territories.
Q: What do you think will happen next?
A: If the American goal is to eliminate Saddam, install a new
government and then lift the embargo, Clinton cannot imagine this
will be achieved with missiles. Without an army fighting house-to-
house and a blood bath they will never eliminate Saddam. I donít
think they are moving in this direction. Unfortunately this attack
shows the divisions among the Arab countries, they follow their own
interests and obey the will of the strongest. If the Arab countries
moved together the USA would not have dared to make this attack.
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS