Global Policy Forum

Kuwait Seeks 'Milosevic Model'

April 11, 2001

Sanctions against Iraq should follow a ''Milosevic model'' that targets the country's leadership and not its people, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, he also said the United States had to adopt a ``smart strategy'' for the Middle East that stopped Iraqi President Saddam Hussein making capital from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sheikh Sabah spoke to Le Monde after talks in Paris on Tuesday with Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine of France, which has been highly critical of United sanctions in place against Iraq since Saddam's forces invaded Kuwait in 1990.

The U.S. administration has been working on ideas for a new package of ``smart sanctions'' since taking office in January, in the hope of restoring international solidarity against Iraq acquiring military equipment or materials for weapons of mass destruction. Sheikh Sabah said any such package had to ``relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people, which is living in an enormous prison'' and send a message that the world understood their plight.

``I'd cite what we call the 'Milosevic model' or the 'Serb model' which identifies who is responsible and targets a political class,'' he was quoted as saying, referring to sanctions tactics used to encourage the removal from power of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. ``The Serbian people were allowed to travel and food and medicines could be brought into the country.''

Sheikh Sabah said Saddam was also ``making cheap capital'' from the suffering of the Palestinian people in the conflict with Israel. ``We have told the American administration that the absence of serious action on this level is giving the Iraqi regime a formidable burst of political oxygen,'' he said. ``The United States must contribute to ending Israel's acts of violence against the Palestinians,'' he said.

Kuwait and Iraq have blamed each other for the failure of an Arab summit in Amman last month to agree on a resolution calling for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq. ``Arab leaders are now convinced that Iraq doesn't want sanctions lifted, that the status quo suits it, and that the regime is afraid of any change whose consequences it would not be able to master,'' Sheikh Sabah was quoted as saying.

His view was echoed by the French Foreign Ministry, which repeated its standard line that the present sanctions regime hurt the Iraqi people and was counter-productive. ``We consider that at present there is no particular incentive for Iraq to change the state of its relations with the United Nations, nor any incentive for Iraq to cooperate with the international community and that the maybe suits Iraq,'' a ministry spokesman said.

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