Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein appealed to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to resist U.S. pressure and vote to lift economic sanctions that have crippled his country.
Saddam also called for an Arab summit, to include Iraq for the first time since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, that would support the cause of the Palestinians against Israel.
He made the remarks in a 2-1/2-hour, nationally televised speech marking the anniversary of the July 17, 1968, coup that brought his Arab Baath Socialist Party to power.
Abandoning the military uniform he generally wears for public appearances for a dark navy suit, Saddam accused the Security Council of acting at the “whims of the American administration’s representatives.”
“American conduct wants to prolong the embargo in order to continue killing the Iraqis by denying them food and medicine and by preventing whomever needs to travel from doing so,” Saddam charged.
He said that “Iraq has fulfilled its obligations under the Security Council resolutions.”
The country has been banned from selling oil, its primary means of income, and flying its planes since the August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which sparked the 1991 war. Until a U.N. commission certifies that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction, the sanctions are to remain in place.
Since December, Iraq has been allowed to sell limited quantities of oil to buy much-needed food and medicine for its people.
While Iraq has long accused the United States of preventing the sanctions from being fully lifted, Saddam’s statement was his strongest to date about U.S. domination of the council’s decision-making.
Still, abolishing the sanctions would require approval from all 15 members of the Security Council, of which the United States is one.
In his call for an Arab summit, Saddam said it “should convene to discuss one subject only - the question of Palestine.”
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