If U.S. warplanes launch a bombing attack against Yugoslavia as part of a NATO offensive this week, as they are expected to do, the United States will find itself fighting wars on two fronts–Kosovo and Iraq. For nearly three months, U.S. and British forces have engaged in a bombing campaign against Iraq. The bombings have strained U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. While the kingdom had at first allowed U.S. and British warplanes to take off from its soil to conduct air raids against Iraq, senior Saudi officials have recently refused to allow U.S. warplanes based there to take part in what it regards as punitive raids.
The Saudi kingdom is the main base for U.S. warplanes in the region, and its stand has forced the United States to tailor its tactics to rely more heavily on Navy aircraft and on warplanes at other bases. The strikes by British and U.S. jets have occurred on average once every other day since Dec. 28, hitting more than 110 targets, mostly air-defense sites, but also causing a number of civilian casualties. Not since the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and, before that, Vietnam, have U.S. forces engaged in such continuous combat over such a prolonged period. Analysts say that the attacks closely parallel Israel’s continuing war in southern Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the Clinton Administration has come under fire from members of the U.S. Senate. Senators from both parties have criticized the Administration’s contradictions in its policy in Iraq: letting Iraq sell oil under a U.N. humanitarian program on the one hand, while bombing the nation to contain its weapons capability.
- Hussein Ibish, Media Director for the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
- Farhan Haq, United Nations correspondent for the Inter-Press Service, a Third World News Agency.