BAGHDAD: RUSSIAN INITIATIVE SPARKS OFF CHAIN REACTION - 29 November, 2000

For the second time in a few days, the Portuguese press highlights a successful Russian initiative in the complex and sensitive world of Middle East power politics. While most of the world’s countries preferred to tread softly, afraid of irritating the aggressive stance adopted by the USA and supported vehemently by the UK, Russia was the first country to break sanctions in September by sending an aeroplane to Baghdad. Since this courageous move, more than ten countries have sent planes to Baghdad International Airport, which starts to brush off its cobwebs of ten years of inactivity since the Gulf War. Since this act, other countries are lining up to fly to Baghdad and are calling for an end to the sanctions, including France. Apart from this, the initiative sparked off a chain reaction of diplomatic moves in the region : Jordan’s Abdullah II and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad have stepped up relations with Baghdad, the relationship with Iran is improving strongly, Saudi Arabia now opens its frontier with Iraq to allow lorries to pass and Egypt intends to open an Embassy in Baghdad. Iraq has ceased to trade in dollars and now prefers the Euro, gaining the favour of France, another of the countries supporting an end to the embargo against Iraq. At this moment in time, the USA and Britain have managed to isolate themselves in the international community, something which until now only Slobodan Milosevic had managed. Times are changing and new winds blow more optimistic breezes over the Middle East in the aftermath of Russia’s initiative.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru Lisbon

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Author`s name: Editorial Team