Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

West Refines Strategy to Safeguard Shiites Western Allies Consolidate Support for Military Moves in Iraq Designed to Protect Rebels in the South

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

West Refines Strategy to Safeguard Shiites Western Allies Consolidate Support for Military Moves in Iraq Designed to Protect Rebels in the South

Article excerpt

THE Bush administration is sending Iraqi President Saddam Hussein clear warnings that further defiance of United Nations cease-fire terms will likely meet military resistance.

At the top of the UN coalition agenda is putting a stop to Iraq's harsh treatment of dissident Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq.

The United States, Britain, and France have been conferring with other nations over a plan to bar Iraqi warplanes from flying over Iraq's southern marshlands, where Iraqi attacks on Shiites are reportedly on the increase. Kurds in the north have long been protected from Iraqi planes by a similar ban.

UN Security Council Resolution 688 of April 1991 demands that Iraq stop repressing the Kurds and other civilians, such as the Shiites, and discuss human and political rights.

A new US-led proposal would establish a "no-fly" zone below the 32nd parallel to protect Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq. (US measures, Page 7.) The move coincided with a visit to Baghdad by Jan Eliasson, UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, who wants to renew the memorandum of understanding that governs visa and travel arrangements for UN guards and humanitarian workers in Iraq. Many of the workers still there report increased harassment since it expired June 30.

The allied move to further protect Shiites and others in southern Iraq stems in part from a meeting of the Security Council Aug. 11. The session was requested by the US, Britain, France, and Belgium to hear from Max van der Stoel, a special investigator for the UN Commission on Human Rights.

He warned that Iraqi food blockades affecting minorities in both the north and the south could require a major relief operation and that increasing Iraqi air attacks in the south suggest a military push there to regain control.

Before Mr. Van der Stoel spoke, four Council members argued that human rights was an inappropriate topic for the Council. Zimbabwe's representative said the move could make other UN agencies "redundant" and create an institutional crisis.

Such objections would take on added significance if the US returns to the Council for authorization. Right now, however, the US stance is that no further UN authority is needed.

Austria's Ambassador to the UN, Thomas Hajnoczi, who delivered one of the strongest speeches on behalf of human rights on Aug. 11, says he is "quite sure" that any move to intervene on behalf of the Shiites would not get full Council support. He points to the original vote on Council Resolution 688 as an indicator. Cuba and Yemen (neither are Council members any longer) and Zimbabwe voted against the measure. China and India abstained. Iraq, UN claim victory

Iraq's challenges to UN cease-fire terms range from a refusal to accept Kuwait's borders to turning down the Security Council's offer to let Baghdad sell $1. …

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