Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Lewis: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Galloway: No. I have given way to my hon. Friend twice, and I want to make some progress.

25 Nov 1998 : Column 148

Is the Iraqi regime changing its policy as a result of the carnage? No. Even the best friends of this policy do not pretend that it is working. Is not a policy that is both immoral--as Dennis Halliday, the others whom I have quoted and I say--and ineffective overdue for review?

Was the distinguished foreign editor, Victoria Brittain, lying when she said in 1995 that there are

Was the World Health Organisation lying when it said:

    "health conditions are deteriorating at an alarming rate under the sanctions regime . . . the vast majority of Iraqis continue to survive on a semi starvation diet . . . the damaging effects of poor nutrition are being compounded by epidemics and by a precipitous decline in health care, the most visible impact of which is seen in the dramatic rise of mortality rates amongst infants and children"?

Are the WHO, the United Nations officials, the distinguished correspondents and the medical journals all lying when they spell out the catastrophic price that is being paid by ordinary Iraqis as the result of the policy that my right hon. Friend the Minister supports? I beg him not to try to wash his hands of all the suffering by blaming it on others. It is a spot that will not out, and all the perfumes of Arabia will not expunge it. [Interruption.]

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South may think that it is funny, but let him imagine the ocean of blood represented by all the dead people about whom all those eminent authorities have spoken.

Mr. Lewis rose--

Mr. Galloway: My hon. Friend is a good friend of Israel, and I will come to Israel's crimes in a moment. I have no doubt that he will want to intervene at that point, so I advise him to keep his powder dry for that.

Mr. Dalyell: On the subject of the perfumes of Arabia, in Iraq I saw by far the worst pollution that I have ever seen anywhere. Last night, I explained to the Deputy Prime Minister that, for all his good work in Buenos Aires, sanctions create pollution because of the lack of spare parts and the endless streams of leaking, badly maintained oil wagons going from Iraq to Amman. The good work in Buenos Aires is negated by what is going on in Iraq, and indeed Iran.

Mr. Galloway: When Baghdad was sacked by the Mongols in the 11th century, the Tigris ran red with blood. In the 15th century, it ran black after the sacking by Timur's hordes of the world's greatest library at Mustansariya. Let me assure the House that the Tigris and the Euphrates run brown today with raw sewage. People from the villages and hamlets in rural Iraq drink directly from those rivers, because of the breakdown of the water purification systems.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: My hon. Friend talks of rivers of blood. Does he recall the article in The Sunday Telegraph by Mr. Con Coughlin, who debriefed in detail a Mr. Sami Salih, who was a friend of the person in charge of the military industrialisation commission and set out in graphic detail what is going on in Iraq today, referring to the mass executions and the huge loss of life inside and outside Baghdad, the elimination of whole villages, the destruction of houses, and the way in which Saddam Hussein is hoarding munitions and weapons of

25 Nov 1998 : Column 149

mass destruction under swimming pools and in parks throughout the country, to be used against his own people? The west has a responsibility to deal with Saddam in some way. The problem is that people such as my hon. Friend persist in misreading the situation, and they do not come up with solutions. What is his solution?

Mr. Galloway: I am glad to say that I do not rely on Mr. Coughlin of The Sunday Telegraph for my information.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: Why not?

Mr. Galloway: Because it is a rubbish newspaper, and he is a rubbish journalist.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: If you disagree, it is rubbish.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order.

Mr. Galloway: I could debate with my hon. Friend the value of Mr. Conrad Black to the English-speaking world, and the value of his newspapers to the great body of newspapers.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not go down that path, but will remember that this is a time-limited debate to which others want to contribute.

Mr. Galloway: Indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I have been very generous in allowing hon. Members to intervene. Perhaps I should press on.

I am not sure what my hon. Friend's point was supposed to mean. If it means that Saddam is a tyrant, I am the last person who needs to be told about that, but how many executions has he carried out? Has he executed 567,000 children or killed more than 1 million people, which is the number that United Nations officials say have been killed by sanctions? I very much doubt it, but even if he had, is his river of blood an excuse for us to create our own? That is the $64,000 question.

Does my right hon. Friend the Minister know the tears that have been shed over the more than 1 million corpses, dead as a result of the policy over the past eight years? Do not think that Iraqi women do not cry over the deaths of their children, or that Iraqi children do not cry over the suffering of their parents and grandparents. I and my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow are in a position to tell the House that a walk through the vale of tears that is Iraq is almost too much for the ordinary mortal to bear, so searing is the grief, so traumatised the population, and so enraged the people with whom we say that we have no quarrel.

What is all this for? Is it about the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force in the middle east, contrary to international law and in defiance of Security Council resolutions? It cannot be, can it? Iraq withdrew from its illegal occupation of Kuwait seven and a half years ago, while another middle eastern country, Israel, has continued to occupy not one or two but three Arab countries for decades, in absolute defiance of a whole series of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and in flagrant disregard of international law.

25 Nov 1998 : Column 150

Iraq has rescinded its annexation of Kuwait, but has Israel rescinded its illegal annexation of the Golan heights or of east Jerusalem, the holiest of Christian places and one of the most sacred sites of Islam? The answer, of course, is that it has not.

Is it about weapons of mass destruction, then? Well, it cannot be that, either. After all, who were the first to use chemical weapons against Kurdish tribesmen in Iraq? We were, in the 1920s, and the allies used them again in 1991, when we used what are essentially atomic weapons.

Mr. Campbell-Savours: They are not atomic weapons.

Mr. Galloway: The weapons were made of depleted uranium: 900,000 uranium bullets and 30,000 uranium shells were used in the south of Iraq, where radioactive dust has entered the water, the food chain, the bodies, and, ultimately, the children of Iraq, and is responsible for the huge cancer and leukaemia epidemic, with a tenfold increase in the number of cancer cases in the country.

Has my right hon. Friend the Minister read the trail-blazing journalism of Robert Fisk, the doyen of middle east correspondents, on the subject? Does he think that Fisk has got it wrong? What can he tell us about the World Health Organisation investigation? My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) says that the uranium weapons are not essentially atomic weapons, but in The Toronto Star this week Michele Landsberg said:

The article continued:

    "The U.S. Defence Department"


    "that 630,000 pounds of depleted uranium were fired in the gulf in 1991".

We used other weapons as well, such as fuel air bombs which ignite huge volumes of petrol above their human targets, creating, in effect, mini nuclear explosions. We also used napalm and cluster bombs. All those weapons were described by the 49th session of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations as

    "weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction".

Can my right hon. Friend the Minister do any better than his colleagues in answering the following question in a way that will make sense in the Arab world and on the streets of Muslim countries? Why is it that Israel, which illegally occupies the territories of its neighbours, and which has sought to obliterate Palestinian identity for half a century, is allowed to amass a mountain of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons, while no Arab country is allowed to do so?

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Galloway: Later.

When I asked that question in the House recently, a number of Tel Aviv's little echoes in the Chamber chorused that Israel was a democracy. Leaving aside the question of how a country that illegally occupies the territories of others can be so described, and leaving aside

25 Nov 1998 : Column 151

the fact that 1.5 million Palestinians lived under brutal Israeli occupation for more than 30 years without ever being allowed to vote--

Next Section

IndexHome Page