Statement on the Gulf Crisis

Palestine Solidarity Committee

THE MIDDLE EAST drift toward war has suddenly arrived at a rapidly escalating military conflict In response t Iraq’s August 2nd invasion of Kuwait, the United States has sent air and ground forces to the region in a massive display of force and threatened intervention that can only serve to further escalate the conflict The danger of open conflict is now grave.

Iraq’s use of military force, across an international border, to resolve what was fundamentally an economic dispute over oil and oil prices, is indefensible. The dangerous consequence of Saddam Hussein’s action is to open the door wide for both U.S. intervention and Israeli aggression.

In addition to the overt danger posed by the prospects of U.S. military intervention in the Gulf, the United States is already whipping up a war hysteria, which obscures many of the underlying issues not only in the Middle East but here at home.

U.S. actions have already led to the stationing of U.S. military forces on Arab soil in Saudi Arabia. For decades, the lJnited States has sought bases in Saudi Arabia, but these were denied because of grassroots Arab opposition to foreign intervention. Now the U.S. military has a lock on the petroleum—which many Americans have come to view as “our” oil—which maintains the world economy, especially in Europe, Japan and North America.

The hypocrisy of U.S. outrage over the Iraqi invasion is clear in comparison to recent U.S. invasions of Grenada and Panama. The U.S. response to the Iraqi attack has also provided a convenient excuse for renewed opposition to cuts in U.S. defense spending and for price gouging by the oil companies. The recession which has already hit the U.S. economy is now being blamed on the Gulf crisis.

Perhaps even more significantly, in the space of a few days world attention has been turned from the central regional issue—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—to inter-Arab conflict and U.S. economic interests in the Middle East.

While the U.S. condemns the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, the continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights goes unchallenged. While the U.S. pressures the world community to impose sanctions against Iraq, U.S. aid to the Israeli government continues.

While the U.S. calls on the United Nations to impose economic and diplomatic measures to end the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. the U.S. vetoes United Nations actions which could bring about an end to Israeli occupation and provide protection to the Palestinian people. While pressuring the world community to act, the United States ignores the international consensus which favors the convening of an international peace conference under U.N. auspices to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The tasks of the movement for Palestinian rights and of the broader peace movement have suddenly become more complicated. In an atmosphere of war hysteria and of heightened anti-Arab racism, Israel may seize the opportunity to further repress the Palestinian Intifada. Many Israeli leaders have advocated using the next war as a cover for the mass expulsion of Palestinians to Jordan.

The U.S. has already suspended its “dialogue” with the PLO. Now it has the perfect pretext for putting the entire Israeli/Palestinian conflict on the back burner, ceasing any pressure on Israel to implement a serious peace process, negotiate with the PLO, end the occupation and agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

The guiding principles for resolving the Gulf conflict are the same as those for any other area of conflict in the world—self-determination and democracy. Unilateral U.S. military intervention and Iraqi aggression must be replaced by withdrawal of Iraqi and U.S. forces coupled with free and democratic elections in Kuwait under United Nations supervision.

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the threat of U.S. military intervention in the region cannot distract us from the real issue at hand. Peace in the Middle East will only be achieved on the basis of justice and self-determination, for the Palestinians and for the Arab people as well.

This statement was issued August 8 by the Palestine Solidarity Committee. For further information contact: PSC, 11 John Street, Suite 806, New York NY 10038. Tel. (212) 222-1435.

November-December 1990, ATC 29