Sunday, May 28, 2006

When US turned a blind eye to poison gas

America knew Baghdad was using chemical weapons against the Kurds in 1988. So why, asks Dilip Hiro , has it taken 14 years to muster its outrage?

When it comes to demonising Saddam Hussein, nothing captures the popular imagination in America better than the statement that 'he gassed his own people'. This is an allusion to the deployment of chemical weapons by Iraq's military in the Iraqi Kurdistan town of Halabja in March 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war, and then in the territory administered by the Tehran-backed Kurdish rebels after the ceasefire five months later.

As Iraq's use of poison gases in war and in peace was public knowledge, the question arises: what did the United States administration do about it then? Absolutely nothing. Indeed, so powerful was the grip of the pro-Baghdad lobby on the administration of Republican President Ronald Reagan that it got the White House to foil the Senate's attempt to penalise Iraq for its violation of the Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons to which it was a signatory. This made Saddam believe that the US was his firm ally - a deduction that paved the way for his brutal invasion and occupation of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf war, the outcomes of which have not yet fully played themselves out.

Nothing new and plenty missing but a most interesting read nonetheless.

Continue reading Here.


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