- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000

Iraq's war crimes

A U.S. diplomat yesterday detailed the abuse committed by Iraqi troops on Kuwaiti civilians during Iraq's occupation of its Persian Gulf neighbor 10 years ago.

"Terms such as 'brutal,' 'aggression' and 'war crimes' barely begin to describe the reality of what Saddam Hussein's forces did during 6 and 1/2 months of occupation of Kuwait," said David Scheffer, ambassador at large for war-crimes issues.

Mr. Scheffer, who released declassified documents on Iraqi abuses, told reporters that the Iraqi dictator is responsible for the murder and torture of thousands of Kuwaiti civilians from Aug. 2, 1990, until a U.S.-led multinational force liberated Kuwait in March 1991.

"Investigators documented at least two dozen torture sites in Kuwait City," he said.

"Photographic evidence confirms torture by amputation or injury to various body parts, including eyes, ears, tongues, noses, lips and genitals. Electric shocks were applied to every sensitive body part. Electric drills were used to penetrate chests, legs, or arms of victims. Some victims were killed in acid baths.

"Women were sexually assaulted, members of families were sometimes forced to watch as other family members were dragged from their homes and shot dead by Iraqi forces."

Before Iraqi forces retreated, Saddam ordered vast environmental destruction. They dumped up to 9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf and destroyed 590 oil wells, setting most of them on fire.

"If ever there was a case of a gross violation of military necessity and wanton destruction, the oil fields of Kuwait were such a case," Mr. Scheffer said.

"There is also clear evidence that Iraqi forces engaged in systematic looting, which is a war crime."

C. David Welch, assistant secretary of state for international organizations, added that the "tide of history is flowing against Saddam Hussein and others like him."

He said the Clinton administration supports a "change of regime" and is working for the Iraqi opposition.

The documents released to the media yesterday have also been posted on the Web site of the nongovernmental Iraq Foundation (www.iraqfoundation.org).

Denouncing Indonesia

The U.S. ambassador to Indonesia has denounced the Indonesian government for failing to disarm a militia that is attacking U.N. peacekeepers in East Timor.

"It is lamentable and inexcusable that they do not take measures to enforce the territorial integrity and sovereignty of East Timor, since they have taken insufficient action to disband and disarm the militia," Ambassador Robert Gelbard told the Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald.

He cited the attacks in June on Australian troops and the murder last week of a New Zealand soldier, whose ears were cut off, apparently so the killer could collect a bounty.

"What that demonstrates to my government is that the Indonesian government is still not prepared to take control of the situation," Mr. Gelbard said in the interview published Monday.

"That is something Indonesia must do if it is to achieve the necessary long-term support for its own situation."

He also called on Indonesia to respect the results of a U.N. referendum last year when East Timor voters endorsed independence.

Pro-Indonesian militias went on a rampage through East Timor after the referendum and fled to West Timor, still part of Indonesia, as peacekeepers arrived.

Jordan expresses doubt

Jordan yesterday criticized President Clinton for suggesting he may approve the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Such a move "will not serve the efforts being made to solve such a complicated question as Jerusalem," said Jordanian government spokesman Taleb Rifai.

Mr. Rifai told reporters Jordan wants Israel and the Palestinians "to continue to work to find a solution" to the final status of the city.

Mr. Clinton suggested relocating the embassy after the Camp David summit broke down over the issue of Jerusalem. Israel has declared the city its "eternal and undivided" capital, while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

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