- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2003

With Europe deeply divided over U.S. policy in Iraq, a group of 17 prominent leaders and intellectuals has come forward to express its support for the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime.
The group, which was established as the Advisory Board to the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), includes former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, Polish editor and civil rights fighter Adam Michnik, British author Christopher Hitchens and a former president of Bulgaria, Petar Stoyanov.
"These are some of the most distinguished freedom fighters of the last two generations," said CLI Chairman Bruce Jackson, an American and Republican Party activist, in a telephone interview this week.
The group also includes Baroness Emma Nicholson, a British member of the European Parliament and an envoy of the World Health Organization who has frequently visited Iraq and the region.
"I do have knowledge that I'm very willing to share on the genocide committed by Saddam Hussein against southern Iraqis, particularly, those called the Marsh people," Mrs. Nicholson said after she participated in a heated debate on Iraq in the European Parliament on Wednesday.
"We don't seek war," Mrs. Nicholson said, "but we do place the highest value on the rule of international law, on democracy and on human rights. We want those benefits to be brought to Iraqi people as soon as possible."
Asla Aydintasbas, a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Sabah, said she joined the CLI because she had visited Iraq and witnessed the government's abuses of its own people.
"Unfortunately, this war is not perceived [in Turkey] as a war for liberation," she said by telephone yesterday. The United States "was not very successful in countering the Iraqi propaganda machine."
Many members of the CLI support group are from Central and Eastern Europe: Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Baltic states.
According to Mr. Jackson, these countries have been recent victims of tyranny and understand what it means. "They are quite quick to see that there is evil in the world, and that evil probably should be resisted by the alliance of democracy," he said.
Mr. Jackson said he had a chance to contact many Eastern European leaders during a NATO summit that took place in Prague in November.
The CLI was founded in November 2002 to promote the liberation of Iraq and the replacement of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Jackson, a former U.S. army intelligence officer, chaired the Foreign Policy Subcommittee of the Republican Platform Committee during the 2000 presidential campaign.
According to Mr. Jackson, the depth of support in Europe for policies articulated by President Bush is significant, and it is often underreported.
He said people from all over Europe, including France and Germany, continue to voice their support for the liberation of Iraq.
"There are more coming in, even as we speak," he said.

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