- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 25 (UPI) — Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan called on Arab countries to stop pumping oil, boycott and close coalition embassies, as well as to prevent U.S. and British warships from passing through canals.

Ramadan said on Tuesday the Arabs still have "big capabilities to confront the U.S.-British aggression on Iraq."

He denounced an Arab Foreign Ministers meeting in Cairo calling for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting that limited themselves to denouncing the war on Iraq.

He said the Cairo resolutions came late as the "aggression is taking place in its ugliest picture" and "they (Arabs) say the joint Defense Agreement is dead."

"Why are they (Arabs) supplying the aggressors with oil? Why they haven't decided to stop pumping oil to the countries of aggression? Why they don't close their air space, territories and canals to the aggressors?" he asked. "Why don't they ask the closure of the U.S. and British embassies instead of preventing demonstrations? They are defending the security of these embassies instead of protecting the security and safety of the Iraqi people."

He said the U.S. Administration asked 60 countries to close Iraqi embassies or expel their diplomats.

He also noted that the majority of these countries rejected the U.S. request, with only a few — including some Arab countries — complying. He specifically cited Jordan which expelled five Iraqi diplomats two days ago.

"Don't you think that stopping the pumping of oil to the U.S. and Britain breaks the back of the aggressors," Ramadan said. Who says that the Arabs have no capability, this is not true.

He advised Arab leaders to adopt an "honorable stand" for the sake of history.

He warned them that if they maintained their present positions, "many treacherous thrones will be shaken."

"The Arab masses are also demanding economic boycott and closing water canals and passageways which are now open to (U.S.) warships," but which he complained were closed to Iraq. Ramadan was referring to trucks of food and medicines stuck at Jordan's Rweished border point.

He reminded that Iraq has been supplying Jordan with oil, half of which came free, in the form of a gift from President Saddam to the Jordanian people for their support of Baghdad and anti-war stand.

He said a Jordanian minister claimed two days ago that Iraq's oil pumping stopped on the first day of the war last Thursday but he did not say who stopped it.

"I say to the Jordanian people that the one who stops the oil is Jordan," Ramadan said.

Ramadan again lashed out at U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan whom he accused of violating all Security Council resolutions.

He said Annan took the decision of freezing the 1996 U.N. oil-for-food program a day before the U.S. war started and asked "who told him that the aggression is set for March 20."

"This is appalling. He (Annan) sided himself with the aggression. He recorder a black page in his history," he added. "This is very clear."

Ramadan confirmed U.S. fears that "this is going to be a long battle" and explained that Washington exclusively counted on information "from agents in Washington and London as well as some Arab intelligence services who know nothing about Iraq."

He said some of the Arab intelligence services handed the CIA information about Iraqi installations which were hit in the past days and confirmed he had proof, but added "we will not mention names" for the time being.

Ramadan refuted as lies U.S. and British reports that coalition forces were advancing fast towards Baghdad and said "but where are these forces? The estimates were that the battle will take 3 days. We are now in day 6 and they haven't entered an Iraqi village."

"They are a bunch of liars. This is disgusting," he said. "We are in a battle facing two big countries and their tails like Australia. For what cause are U.S. soldier killed or captured? Is this for defending the U.S. people, land or independence? Does Iraq threaten the U.S. while it's thousands of miles away? Bush talks provoke sarcasm."

Asked about Arab volunteers, Ramadan said another group of such volunteers arrived in Iraq Monday and joined their camps, emphasizing that: "The door is open to those who want to come to Iraq as a volunteer and he will see how the enemy is being fought."

He also incited Arab masses to hold "revolutionary protests" and not "Swiss-like civilized demonstrations and called on Arab syndicates to close ports and canals to prevent the aggression.

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