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19 March 2003

The Coalition Against War in Iraq was initiated by student members of the DSM and involves, among others, NANS Zone D and Muslim Rights Concern. This statement was issued on March 19.

PRESS RELEASE

NO TO WAR ON IRAQ

The Coalition Against War in Iraq, CAWI, is a coalition of some human rights organisations, religious groups, socialist movements, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D and individuals in Nigeria who are opposed to the planned US led war on Iraq.

The Coalition hereby categorically condemns the resolve of the United States ruling class to go to war with Iraq. And we call on the workers, the youth, the students, the Muslims, the Christians, the civil society and the working people in general to join forces with the current global mega movement against the imperialist war.

 

It will be recalled the US hawks led by George Bush on Tuesday, March 18, gave 48 hour ultimatum to Saddam, sons and close associates to leave Iraq otherwise the monstrous American war machine will strike the country at what they called "the time of our choosing"

 

If this military action is carried out, it is the working and ordinary people of Iraq that will surely be the worst hit, not the Saddam and company. It shall aggravate the excruciating suffering of these people who have been living under terrible dehumanising conditions since the end of the last Gulf War as a result of the US inspired United Nations sanction imposed on the country. Between 1991 and ’98 over 500,000 children of less than 5 years of age died, according to the UNICEF. Today in the country about 6,000 children die monthly of starvation and illness and one-third of the surviving ones are malnourished. This is as a result of acute lack of food and drug caused by the sanction. Under the oil for food rationing system put in place to cope with the sanctions, an average Iraqi lives on paltry 47cent about N65 per day! More so, at least half of male adults are unemployed and the middle class is almost wiped off. The country’s pre-Gulf War 95% level of literacy has dropped to mere 20% as many children of school age are out of the schools.

 

Moreover, the US warmongers do not rule out the use of nuclear weapons in the course of the war. Thus the depleted uranium will not only result in the massacre of people but also causing horrific physical deformation to the untold number of persons and the yet unborn. Already as a result of the last Gulf War, there has been incidence of defective births, with babies born without eyes or brain for instance, and of cancer and leukaemia. The effect of this together with that of biological and chemical weapons they may be unleashed by Saddam in retaliation may not be limited to the Iraq and the Middle East but assuming a global dimension particularly in relation to the ecological and biological implications.

 

Saddam Hussein has equally threatened to attack any country of his choice, if Bush strikes. The country he would most likely attack is Israel like he did during the Gulf War. The Israel government in anticipation of this has vowed to unleash its nuclear arsenal if the country is attacked. This shall throw the Middle East into terrible turmoil with working people among the Arabs and Israelis at the receiving end. We cannot rule out the grievous implication of such on the world economy, which has been manifesting already in the energy sector in particular.

 

We, in no uncertain term, disagree with the much flaunted claim of the US ruling elite and their allies in Britain and Spain that they are going to the war in order to dispossess Saddam Hussein of Weapon of Mass Destruction, WMD, and to take freedom and democracy to the doorsteps of the Iraqi people. The reality is that the planned war is an imperialist war for prestige and oil super profit. The US is going to war, which has been estimated to cost nothing less than $200 billion, in order to reaffirm its overwhelming military supremacy in the world after the September 11 humiliation and to take the control of the Middle East massive oil reserve, the 60 % of the world crude oil, right from Iraq, the second largest reserve after Saudi Arabia. To actualise this objective Saddam must be removed and be replaced by a pro-US government. This is why the US is committed to the war, in spite of the global antiwar movements which have witnessed more than 50 million people marching on the streets of the major cities of the world including Washington and New York in the US.

 

As against the so-called clamour for democracy, many of the US allies are anti-democratic and despotic regimes. For instance, the people of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, who are governed by reactionary, feudalistic royal families and sheiks, do not have voting right or any saying in the affairs of the countries. The people of Pakistan and Egypt wallow under fierce dictatorship of Musharaf and Mubarak respectively. .

 

It is pertinent to state categorically here that Saddam is a ruthless dictator who deserves to be removed. But this is the task of the Iraqi people, not of the US ruling class who can only usher similar parasitic, predatory, anti-democratic, thieving and tyrannical regime like that of Saddam. The Afghanistan experience comes handy in this regard to buttress this view of ours. Hamid Karzai government installed by the US after forcefully ousting the Talibans in a war that claimed thousands of lives is not fundamentally different from the later. It is equally undemocratic, dictatorial, primitive, brutish and highhanded.

 

On the allegation of WMD as basis for the war, the allegation is not only baseless, it also smacks of hypocrisy on the part of the US. The US possesses the largest possible quantities of the WMD. Equally, some of the US allies, who include Israel, Pakistan and India have WMD. Moreover, the UN commissioned weapon inspectors are yet to report the finding of any WMD in Iraq after over 3 months of intensive inspection. It must be noted that whatever Saddam had once amassed as weapon of mass destruction as well as the chemical and biological weapons were secured by the virtue of the then cordial working alliance with the ruling class of the west particularly of the US. They used to feign ignorance of the use of chemical weapons by Saddam against the Iranians and the internal enemies like Iraqi Kurds.

 

Already the effect of the war on the world economy, particularly the energy sector, has taken its toll on Nigeria, with the current acute scarcity of fuel in the country as a result of the skyrocketed increase in the price of crude oil. Although, Nigeria is the 6th largest producer of the crude oil, the country still import oil due to the conscious neglect and under utilisation our refineries by the governments. The importation of oil is one of the means of providing fortune and contracts for the financiers of the major moneybag parties in the country. The on going poignant agony of fuel crisis will last with us until the end of the war and its spectre. Otherwise, there may have to be astronomical increase in the pump price of petroleum products up to N90, as it has, at present, been canvassed for by the importers. The attendant implication of this increase shall worsen the level of poverty and socio-economic crises in the country.

 

Moreover, although the war on Iraq has nothing to do with religion but as stated earlier it is an imperialist war of prestige and oil super profit, it is not impossible that there may be misconception among some Muslim communities who would see it as an attack on Islam. Thus there may be possibility of religious crisis in Nigeria, particularly the northern part, which may however be politically motivated. This will endanger the on going transition exercise and make the much-expected 2003 elections a mirage. This is because experience has shown that religion is an instrument for actualisation of political ends.

 

As a result of the foregoing, we reiterate our call on the workers, students, the youth and the old, Christians and Muslims, the civil society to mobilise against the war in the spirit of solidarity to the suffering people of Iraq and to save ourselves from the current and in coming untold hardship arising from the war and its spectre.

 

 

Peluola Adewale

For the Coalition

08034084084 PELAD

08035505658 ALAYANDE

08034534499 OJ DENNIS