Iraqi Resistance, World Leaders Condemn Attack On U.N. HQ
BAGHDAD, August 19 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - The Islamic resistance in Iraq on Tuesday, August 19, condemned the bombing attack that rocked the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, branding it as a "criminal" act, while a barrage of condemnations were heaped from all over the world on the deadliest attack since U.S.-led occupation troops rolled into Baghdad nearly four and half months ago.
In a statement aired by Al-Jazeera TV channel, the group exonerated all Iraqi resistance factions from attacks on the U.N. office, the Jordanian embassy and strategic sites in the occupied country, including oil pipelines.
It asserted that Tuesday’s attack was meant to scare off the world organization to quit Iraq and leave the country to the U.S.-led occupation forces.
The statement also underlined that the above mentioned attacks were plotted with the aim of discrediting the Iraqi resistance.
The deadly attack on the U.N. HQ, which killed 17 people including U.N. top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, also drew fire "in the strongest possible terms" from the four corners of the world, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"The loss of Sergio Vieira de Mello is a bitter blow for the United Nations, and for me personally," U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a statement authorized from Finland where he was cutting short his holiday and preparing to return to New York.
"I can think of no one we could less afford to spare, or who will be more acutely missed throughout the U.N. system than Sergio," he said, describing the Brazilian diplomat as an "outstanding servant of humanity."
De Mello, 55, had already served with honor in Kosovo, East Timor and Rwanda, before he was temporarily moved from his role as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to become Annan’s special representative in Iraq in June.
"He was working day and night to help the Iraqi people regain control of their own destiny and build a future of peace, justice and full independence," Annan said.
"Those who killed him have committed a crime, not only against the United Nations but against Iraq itself," he added.
"Let us strive to be worthy of him, and to complete the work that he began, so that his death will not have been in vain."
At the U.N. headquarters in New York, the flags of all 191 member nations were taken down, leaving only the official U.N. flag flying at half mast.
The world body had earlier said the suspected "suicide" bombing on its Baghdad offices would not "break the will" of the international community to help the people of Iraq.
"Members of the council were shocked to hear of the terrorist, criminal attack," the president of the United Nations Security Council as saying in a statement.
"Such terrorist incidents cannot break the will of the international community to further intensify its efforts to help the people of Iraq."
In Geneva, the acting U.N. high commissioner for human rights Bertrand Ramcharan said the world body was "deeply shocked and outraged" by the attack.
"Such a despicable act directed at people whose only aim is to assist the people of Iraq recover from war and years of oppression is to be condemned by the whole international community."
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing.
U.S. President George W. Bush, for his part, vowed that the "terrorists" behind the devastating car bombing would not shake U.S. resolve.
"The civilized world will not be intimidated, and these killers will not determine the future of Iraq," he said in a hastily arranged public appearance, arguing that "Iraq is on an irreversible course towards self-government and peace."
Speaking from his Texas ranch, Bush said he had instructed Iraq's U.S. administrator Paul Bremer by telephone to provide "all possible assistance to the rescue and recovery effort" at the smoldering U.N. building.
He recalled talking to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan "about the personal loss the U.N. has suffered, about the assistance my country has offered, and about the vital work in Iraq that continues."
Meanwhile, the rotating president of the U.S.-handpicked Iraq's interim Governing Council, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, also denounced the attack.
"These acts show that the saboteurs target human beings," he told a press conference in Bahrain on the latest stop of a multi-leg Gulf tour.
France also condemned the deadly bombing, reiterating its "full support for the actions taken by the United Nations in Iraq, at the side of the Iraqi people and in the service of peace and reconstruction," according to a statement from the foreign ministry.
It added that Paris "in particular hailed the action and courage of the special representative of the (U.N.) secretary general, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who has been struck by this terrible attack."
Russia, which was one of the most vocal opponents of the U.S.-led war, branded as a "barbaric act" the attack, arguing it aimed at undermining the peace process in Iraq.
"This is an unjustified barbaric act aimed at undermining an already difficult stabilization process," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"What prompts special indignation is that the terrorists' target was the U.N. personnel, whose main goal was to help the Iraqi people overcome effects of the military conflict and to restore normal life," it said.
The Russian statement added that the blast proved the world community must become more heavily involved in helping restore order in occupied Iraq.
In Warsaw, visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi deeply regretted the bombing.
"At the same time I would like to express my recognition, my esteem towards all those, who despite a dangerous situation in Iraq, work for reconstruction," he said.
In a related development, the Arab League denounced the deadly attack and urged Iraqi political forces to help prevent such acts from recurring.
"This is a serious, criminal terror act aimed against U.N. presence in Iraq," the pan-Arab organization said in a statement released at its Cairo headquarters.
"The Arab League urges all political forces in Iraq to unite and prevent such acts, which do not serve the interests of the Iraqi people, from taking place," the statement said.
The Arab League paid tribute to the "remarkable efforts made by Vieira de Mello to help Iraq recover its sovereignty and put an end to occupation" and said that Secretary General Amr Moussa was shocked to hear about the attack. http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2003-08/19/article10.shtml
Excerpt from the NY Times "Foes Aim to Stoke Anti-U.S. Ire" By THOM SHANKER (8/19):
One military affairs expert said the attack could backfire on those who had planned it.
"The attacks on the oil pipelines and the water are in some ways stupid, because if the United States plays it right, the government can run that back against these elements pretty effectively as hurting the average person," said Richard H. Shultz, director of the international security studies program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University in Medford, Mass.
He said the bombing today might also quiet some critics of American policy.
"In hitting the United Nations, it could put into a rather tough position those in the U.N. who might have opposed what the United States is doing in Iraq, and even opposed our entry into the war to begin with," Mr. Shultz said.
In other words, by attacking the United Nations the bombers may have made it easier for President Bush to convince European and Arab nations that they have a stake in a peaceful, stable Iraq.
"This will be a loud call to them to get involved," said Rachel Bronson, director of Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/20/international/worldspecial/20ASSE.html?pagewanted=2&hp