ADC Press Release: Arab Americens Condemn Clinton’s Statement on Iraq
ADC Issues Open Letter Responding to the President’s “Ramadan Message”
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has issued an open
letter to President Clinton responding to his “Ramadan message” to Arabs
and Muslims regarding the United States attack against Iraq.
In the open letter, ADC President Hala Maksoud writes that “To have again
bombed the Iraqi people is an extraordinarily cruel action, all the more so because it will advance no policy goals.”
Dr. Maksoud explains that the bombing of Iraq will not advance United States policy goals or interests in the Middle East. “Instead, all that is being accomplished is the killing of large numbers of Iraqi civilians and the terrorizing of the entire Iraqi population,” she writes.
ADC President Maksoud describes the President’s “Ramadan message” to the
Arab and Muslim peoples, issued this morning, as “cynical.” She informs
President Clinton that ADC considers “the invocation of the coming of Ramadan as the motivation and justification for the urgency and haste in
attacking Iraq on last Wednesday degrading and disrespectful to Islam in the extreme.”
Open Letter to President Clinton follows below:
Dear President Clinton:
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) demands an immediate
halt to the ongoing bombing campaign against Iraq. Furthermore, we wish
to express our dismay at the tone and substance of the “Ramadan message”
issued this morning .
We are astonished that you would choose to inflict further suffering and
death on the people of Iraq after all they have been subjected to over the
past 8 years. We refer here especially to the economic sanctions which
have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent
Iraqis, many of them children, without weakening the hold on power of the
Iraqi regime. To have again bombed the Iraqi people is an extraordinarily
cruel action, all the more so because it will advance no policy goals.
These attacks are unlikely to promote Iraqi cooperation with UN weapons
inspectors or produce any of the disputed documents they seek. Far from
destabilizing the Iraqi government, the history of bombing indicates that such actions are more likely to strengthen the authority of even unpopular
governments. Instead, all that is being accomplished is the killing of large numbers of Iraqi civilians and the terrorizing of the entire Iraqi population.
Clearly it is high time to reevaluate your policy towards Iraq, which achieves nothing except the agonizing deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents via the sanctions and the violent deaths of scores more through bombings. Moreover, these policies are systematically destroying the very fabric of Iraqi civil society, which is the only viable source for the emergence of a genuine opposition to the current government. This approach is therefore as short-sighted and self-defeating as it is cruel.
As for the “Ramadan message” to the Arab and Muslim peoples, we consider
it cynical. To claim that the Iraqi people are actually benefited by being bombed is mindboggling. Another shockingly Orwellian assertion is that lifting the economic sanctions on Iraq, which have forced millions of Iraqis onto near-starvation diets, would result in less food for the Iraqi people, especially at a time when the Office of Foreign Assets Control is leveling hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines against Voices in the Wilderness for daring to take medical supplies and toys to the children of Iraq. Moreover, the claim that Iraq could have easily ended the economic sanctions by fulfilling simple obligations flies in the face of statements made by your own most senior foreign policy officials, who have flatly asserted that there can be no lifting of the sanctions while Iraq remains under its current government or even that the sanctions will last “in perpetuity.”
Mr. President, we fear that your recent actions have squandered the significant progress in America’s standing in the Arab world made during your recent trip to Gaza. Sadly, your image as a “peace-maker” in the Middle East lasted for only two days. It has been damaged, perhaps beyond repair, by this unjustifiable attack on Iraq.
Finally, Mr. President, we find the invocation of the coming of Ramadan as the motivation and justification for the urgency and haste in attacking Iraq on last Wednesday degrading and disrespectful to Islam in the extreme. Using Ramadan as an excuse for the need to attack an Arab nation at a specific time adds deep insult to serious injury.
Hala Maksoud, Ph.D.