Bombing 'wrong way to topple Saddam'

December 25, 1998

Academics have criticised the bombing of Iraq by Britain and the United States. They say that the action could escalate, it will fail to destroy Saddam Hussein's regime and that there are better alternatives.

Paul Rogers, head of the department of peace studies at the University of Bradford, said: "This is still a very dangerous situation. Saddam Hussein will use extreme measures to survive. There is a real risk that the regime will escalate its activities in the face of future threats."

Patricia Chilton, a Nato fellow and director of the centre for research into international security at Manchester Metropolitan University, said:

"This action won't help any democratisation process in Iraq. The situation will not be comfortable for the rest of the world until there is a functioning democracy in Iraq."

Ms Chilton worked with Iraqi opposition groups based in London during and after the Gulf war. These groups lose credibility when Iraq is bombed as they are seen as being in the pockets of the aggressors, she said. "They are devastated by this latest attack - it has set the cause back immensely," she said.

Instead of bombing, Ms Chilton advocates the cold war tactic of supporting opposition groups while isolating the present Iraqi regime politically.

"We must give constant support and legitimacy to opposition groups," she said. "We must fit them into our international frameworks so that they can gain confidence and legitimacy within their country. The Iraqis know that Saddam is a monster better than anyone else."

Professor Rogers said: "What has been wrong so far is that the sanctions have been too general. The elite are doing well from the revenues of smuggling while the majority suffers. Sanctions should target the elite."

Ms Chilton also criticised the West's failure to prevent the suppression of an uprising following the Gulf war in 1991.

"If any popular uprising was going to come near (to toppling Saddam Hussein), the one in southern Iraq would have done it," she said. "The US was aware of the helicopter flights over the area and they did not put a ban on helicopters. It could have been made very much harder for Saddam to suppress his people."

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