"Eventually There Can Only Be an Arab Solution"

An Interview with 'Abdallah al-Ashtal

by James Paul
published in MER169

Amb. ‘Abdallah al-Ashtal is Yemen’s representative to the United Nations. He served as ambassador for the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen from 1971 until May 1990, when he became the representative of the newly unified Republic of Yemen. In March and December 1990, he chaired the UN Security Council. James Paul interviewed him in New York City on December 26, 1990.

How would you assess the role of the United Nations in the Gulf crisis?

Even before the crisis, the UN had begun to work differently. One could sense a spirit of accommodation between the superpowers. The Security Council was no longer a forum for rhetoric but a place to lay out possibilities and try to come to a common position.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

The Use and Abuse of the UN in the Gulf Crisis

by Erskine Childers
published in MER169

Is the United Nations at “a new threshold” in its history as a result of the Security Council actions in the Gulf crisis? This needs careful assessment. There has long been a tendency to veer from indifference to short-term exploitation of the UN and then, if this does not turn out well for the United States, to fall back to UN bashing.

There is one basic fact. The government of Iraq committed an act of aggression under international law and the UN Charter’s Article 2.4: It used force against the territorial integrity and the political independence of a state recognized in the community of nations.

Calculating "Collateral Damage"

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER169

Early reports of casualties in Iraq provided only a scattershot picture of damage to residential areas and loss of civilian life, not a clear sense of scope or scale. Only on February 11, after four weeks of intense bombing, did Iraqi officials acknowledge that civilian deaths were in the range of 5,000-7,000. Then, on February 13, two US “smart bombs” smashed into a Baghdad bomb shelter, incinerating hundreds of women and children gathered there.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

The Gulf War and India

by Sumit Sarkar
published in MER170

From the beginning, the Gulf crisis aroused a level of interest and concern in India unusual for an international issue not directly involving this country. Much of our oil comes from the Gulf region, and “Gulf money” in the form of remittances from Indians working in Iraq and the Gulf states has become a significant source of upward mobility in recent years. Then there was the major problem of evacuation of Indians from Kuwait and Iraq, which the government of V. P. Singh managed fairly efficiently.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Yemen: Unification and the Gulf War

by Sheila Carapico
published in MER170

On May 22, 1990, the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (the PDRY, or South Yemen) and the Yemen Arab Republic (the YAR, or North Yemen) joined to become the Republic of Yemen. “A Tale of Two Families” reflects the malaise in North Yemen on the eve of unification; the situation in the south, since the 1986 street battles in Aden, was even worse. [1]

Unity offered beneficial economies of scale in oil, power, administrative apparatus and tourism. It made political sense, too, reflecting the view of most Yemenis that the division into separate countries was artificial and imposed.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Report of the UN Mission to Assess Humanitarian Needs in Iraq

by
published in MER170

Conditions in Iraq in the aftermath of the US military assault have been difficult to ascertain. The most authoritative report to date is that of the UN mission led by Undersecretary-General Martti Ahtisaari, which spent March 10-17 in Iraq. The mission, which included representatives of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other UN programs, had intended to examine conditions first in Kuwait and then Iraq, but the Kuwaiti authorities requested it delay its arrival there until a UN Environment Program mission had completed its work.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Arab Economics After the Gulf War

by Yahya Sadowski
published in MER170

On February 6, 1991, Secretary of State James Baker admitted before the House of Foreign Affairs Committee that economic factors, particularly widespread Arab resentment that oil wealth was not more equitably distributed, had played a role in the dynamics leading to the Gulf war and would remain one of the primary “sources of conflict” in the region. To ease these tensions, he proposed the creation of an economic organization through which oil-rich states could fund the reconstruction and development of their poorer neighbors. [1] The following day, Baker advocated the creation of a multinational “Middle East Development Bank” to attain these objectives. [2]

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

The More You Watch, the Less You Know

by
published in MER171

The Persian Gulf crisis received massive and sustained coverage in the American media. As numerous critics have pointed out, television network news in particular largely parroted the Bush administration’s line, accepting and passing on its version of reality as the truth. A study released in March by the Center for the Study of Communication at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst adds a new dimension to our understanding of television’s role in shaping public perceptions of the Gulf crisis and enhancing support for the war.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

War and State Power

by Charles Tilly
published in MER171

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Harvest of War

by Fawwaz Traboulsi
published in MER171

It takes two to make a war, and there were indeed two protagonists in making this war. On the one hand, there was the United States, which wanted the war for a number of reasons, primarily global: to consecrate its world hegemony, to liquidate any sequels to bipolarism, to marginalize Europe and Japan, to control Arab oil at the start of the coming millennium. On the other hand, there was Saddam Hussein who, even as victim, agreed to play the role of criminal, providing George Bush the opportunity to make an example of a Third World country.