Iraq begins courting neutral Arabs, Muslims WAR IN THE GULF

February 11, 1991|By Dan Fesperman | Dan Fesperman,Sun Staff Correspondent

AMMAN, Jordan -- Desperate for support, Iraq began a whirlwind courtship of neutral Arab and Islamic states yesterday as Deputy Prime Minister Saddoun Hammadi called for those nations to break all ties to the allied combatants.

"Neutrality in this conflict means indifference, particularly when the battle is between right and wrong," Mr. Hammadi said here at a midmorning news conference.

"We are calling on the Arab states to boycott the allied states diplomatically and politically, to not communicate with them. . . . Imperialism, Zionism and colonialism has been united in one front, so the faith of Muslims should be united in one front against them."

Drumming up popular support for Iraq is as good as done in such countries, especially in Jordan, where Mr. Hammadi met Saturday with King Hussein, and on his next stops in Arab-Islamic nations of North Africa.

Jordan's population has already displayed overwhelming support for the Iraqi cause. But translating that fervor into diplomatic action is not likely to be easy.

Although King Hussein last Wednesday lambasted the allied war effort for what he called indiscriminate attacks on civilians, the king has also expressed a strong desire to maintain relations with the United States and its allies.

Jordan has also continued to officially stick with the United Nations economic sanctions against iraq, except for imports of Iraqi oil. Iraq is Jordan's only source of oil.

When Mr. Hammadi was asked whether he had persuaded Jordan to heed his call, he said: "This question is still at its beginning. It will take some time for things to materialize."

Although Jordanian officials said privately yesterday that it was unlikely that their country would go along with Mr. Hammadi's proposal, they said the invitation could put worrisome pressure on the king from his pro-Iraqi public.

Mr. Hammadi said Iraq would play to such sentiment all it can: "The Arab masses will be able to pressure their governments."

At times, Mr. Hammadi's frequent references to the devastation of his country seemed to strike a defeatist tone.

But when asked about that impression, he said defiantly, "In the final analysis, it is justice that will win and freedom that will win."

Mr. Hammadi also offered a cool reaction to the peace proposal offered by Iran, which opposes Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

"What is taking place is not related to Kuwait," he said. "The question now is related to American aggression, and Zionist and imperialist aggression. . . . The issue of Kuwait has been used as a cover for aggression."

[Meanwhile, in Baghdad, President Saddam Hussein addressed his people for the first time in three weeks, praising their steadfastness.

["Iraq is not ready to relinquish the role given to it by God," the Iraqi president said on Baghdad radio, according to the official Iraqi News Agency. "The resistance of our heroes to the warplanes and rockets of aggression and shame is the strongest indication of the steadfastness, faith and light in the hearts of the Iraqis." The last time Mr. Hussein addressed his people was Jan. 20.]

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