Saturday, April 28th, marked the 64th birthday of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The occasion was celebrated with singing, dancing, and colorful parades. According to reports by the Iraqi News Agency (INA), scores of young men, women, and children sang songs of praise for Saddam, who graced the festivities with his dictatorial presence by “cutting a giant cake to tune of Happy Birthday”. Iraqi generals lined up in full uniform in a grand display of honor. However, the biggest birthday surprise came on Monday, when U.S. and U.K. “coalition” aircraft presented Saddam with a birthday “message”, by conducting air raids over Iraq. Messages of this sort have lost the element of surprise to anybody familiar with the American style of diplomacy.
Actually, reports of raids by allied aircraft were received as early as Saturday evening, during Saddam’s birthday festivities. The INA reported that one Iraqi was killed and that two more were injured. U.S and U.K. aircraft were said to have bombed civilian targets in the province of Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad. An Iraqi military spokesperson claimed that the allied warplanes were driven back by Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery. U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson, Susan Hansen, immediately denied the claims. In London, the Ministry of Defense also denied that U.S. and British planes attacked Iraqi targets.
However, just two days later, the U.S. military issued a statement from Germany saying that U.S. aircraft had attacked Iraqi air defense targets in the northern “no-fly zone” on Monday. According to the German-based U.S. European command, the raids were conducted northwest of the city of Mosul, 250 miles northwest of Baghdad. As usual, the U.S. military offered a contradictory explanation by maintaining that the raids were conducted in response to Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery and at the same time as a “routine patrol” measure. No response has been given by Iraqi officials regarding Monday’s bombing.
The blatantly conspicuous timing of these air raids, coinciding with the outdoor birthday celebrations of Saddam Hussein, should not fail to be of significance. They are remarkably similar in their pointlessness and illegitimacy to the previous round of air raids back in February, shortly after George W. Bush scandalously assumed the seat of the U.S. presidency. Following the February raids, the U.S. military offered the same contradictory explanation: the strikes were in retaliation to Iraqi anti-aircraft fire and yet also a “routine mission”. Considering the American tact for delivering “messages”, it was striking that these raids and their pathetic explanations received no criticism in the American press. Monday’s bombings were hardly even reported.
U.S and U.K. warplanes continue its unqualified aggression against Iraq on the pretense that Iraqi planes continue to violate the so-called “no fly zones”. It should be pointed out that these “no fly zones” have absolutely no basis in international law. They are not officially recognized by the United Nations or any other nation on earth.