Europe Exults in Peace; Arabs Call for Healing
America’s European allies and supporters Thursday expressed satisfaction, some even a sense of triumph, over the suspension of combat in the Persian Gulf, while in several Arab nations, relief was coupled with a call for healing.
In London, British Prime Minister John Major told the House of Commons that the “magnificent” allied victory in the Gulf was “one of the most remarkable military campaigns of all time.”
To a packed Parliament, Major declared: “The war has been won. Now we have to set about establishing a durable peace. . . .
“It must provide for the security of Kuwait and of other countries of the Gulf,” he said. “It must also deal with the other problems of the region--above all, that of the Palestinians.”
Queen Elizabeth II congratulated Defense Secretary Tom King and Britain’s commander in the Gulf, Lt. Gen. Peter de la Billiere, in a message that said in part: “The armed forces have done us proud.”
De la Billiere pointed out that the Iraqis had possessed a sizable military machine when the campaign started.
“Let us remember they were the fourth-largest army in the world and they were defeated in 100 hours, which is not bad going,” he said.
The general paid tribute to the U.S. commander, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, whom he described in a British sporting phrase as “the man of the match.”
“It is his brilliance, his leadership, his drive, his determination and, I have to say it, his rudeness at times that has got things done and got them done so damned efficiently and enabled us to win this war.”
In Germany, Chancellor Helmut Kohl hailed the liberation of Kuwait as a “triumph of justice over injustice, and the triumph of freedom over violence.”
“With the now known atrocities against helpless Kuwaiti citizens, with the destruction of Kuwait’s foundation of life, Saddam Hussein has once more shown his true face,” Kohl told journalists in Bonn.
Germany, which became a united nation just four months ago, provided financial and materiel support but no troops to the allied forces. The German constitution forbids deployment of troops outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization theater.
In an attempt to counter perceived anti-Americanism by some of Germany’s peace demonstrators, a handful of towns are offering free gifts to Gulf War veterans of any nationality.
The mayor of Oberammergau, famed for its Passion play, said Thursday that the Bavarian resort will offer free vacations to the veterans.
In Italy, satisfaction over the outcome was tempered by outrage against Iraqi President Hussein and a call to Iraqis to hold their leaders responsible for the tragedy that has befallen their nation.
Defeat means that Hussein’s regime must now “renounce forever its hegemonic aims,” an Italian Foreign Ministry statement said, adding that it is now up to the Iraqi nation “to make a decision in view of the consequences and crimes committed by its leaders.”
Foreign Minister Gianni De Michelis told reporters that “winning the peace will be more difficult” than winning the war. He reiterated Italy’s call for a Helsinki-style regional conference to chart future agreements on security and cooperation for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern nations.
Italy contributed a squadron of fighter-bombers and a handful of ships to the multinational deployment in the Gulf.
At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II received the news of suspension of fighting in a dawn phone call from his secretary of state. Spokesman Joaquin Navarro said the Pope, who had repeatedly but fruitlessly called for peace in the Gulf since the crisis began in August, was “greatly satisfied and relieved at the much-awaited news.”
“The Holy Father’s thoughts, and his prayers, are with those--on all sides--who have suffered most in this war,” Navarro said. “Now it is a question of winning the peace.”
Seeking a postwar curing role for his church in the region, the Pope will convene an unprecedented meeting of Western bishops and Eastern patriarchs representing countries directly involved in the war on Monday and Tuesday at the Vatican.
In Turkey, where American bombers were based during the air war over Iraq, both President Turgut Ozal and his Foreign Ministry expressed delight over the quiet in the Gulf.
The conflict “has finished in an entirely satisfactory way, as we have predicted over and over again,” Ozal said, taking a swipe at fierce domestic criticism of his staunchly pro-American, anti-Hussein stance.
Ozal is predicting a postwar boom for Turkey, which says it has suffered serious economic losses from the war. He told Turks, “I am sure of much better days for our country.” Turkish officials and companies have expressed interest in taking part in the rebuilding of Kuwait and Iraq.
Egypt, one of the main Arab nations providing troops for the multinational force, did not rejoice openly at the apparent defeat of a fellow Arab nation. Information Minister Safwat Sherif told reporters after a Cabinet meeting that foreign troops should leave the region “as soon as possible.”
Egypt has agreed along with Syria to provide troops as the mainstay of an all-Arab peacekeeping force in the region in exchange for billions of dollars in economic development aid.
In addition, Sherif said, “Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty must be maintained.”
Influential government-controlled Egyptian newspapers demanded again that Hussein be forced from power.
Said Sonbol, chief editor of Al Akbar, Egypt’s largest daily newspaper, wrote Thursday that the Iraqi president is solely responsible for the destruction of his nation and that “he must go.”
In Jordan, whose government was officially neutral but whose people were overwhelmingly pro-Iraqi in the conflict, Information Minister Ibrahim Izzeddine said: “We are interested now in getting a cease-fire that will hold and give the Iraqis their basic needs. At this particular moment, the most important thing is to move into the diplomatic process, end this ugly war and move into the postwar era.”
A Moroccan government statement said the Iraqi people must not be humiliated and their territorial integrity should be respected.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, which had supported Iraq, welcomed the suspension of the fighting but said the U.N. Security Council must now “apply all the United Nations resolutions on the Palestinian question.”
In a statement from its headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, the PLO said Security Council resolutions rejecting Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem and of the Golan Heights and those calling for the international protection of the Palestinians living under Israeli rule must now be applied.
In non-Arab Iran, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati defended his country’s neutrality in the war and stressed its “opposition to Iraq’s partition and foreign meddling in determining the Iraqi people’s destiny,” Tehran Radio said.
“It is true that Iraq’s aggression on Kuwait had to be reversed, but not by people who have never had regard for Muslims and their interests,” Velayati said.
Hugh Pope in Istanbul, Turkey, and Times staff writers William Tuohy in London, Tamara Jones in Bonn, William D. Montalbano in Rome and Kenneth Freed in Cairo contributed to this article.