The Secretary-General was successful in his efforts to avert a catastrophe that could have affected the whole world because he spoke on behalf of the Security Council and also because he listened to the “pain and the hurt” of the Iraqi people, Minister Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam, said today at a Headquarters press conference sponsored by Libya.
Mr. Farrakhan said the Secretary-General went to Iraq to listen, as well as to speak, to warn and to be guided by facts and reason. He was, therefore, able to work out a solution that, hopefully, would keep bombs from falling, in time end the sanctions, and welcome Iraq back into the family of nations.
Speaking about his recently completed 37-nation “world friendship tour”, Mr. Farrakhan said he had spoken to Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, communists, socialists and many different tribes and nationalities. If the United Nations and the United States followed certain guiding principles, the world could emerge from a century of war and destruction into a new century and millennium based on truth and justice. And that would produce a lasting peace.
The United States was the economic, cultural, political and spiritual leader of the world, he continued. It was an enormous Power, struggling for balance at the top of a pyramid. However, if those at the bottom of the pyramid were pushed down, then those at the top would be toppled by internal strife, anger, revolution and even war by the “have-nots” of the world. As a Judaeo-Christian nation, and the greatest Power in the world, the United States had to see itself as a servant to the poor, the homeless and the destitute. There were those in the United States who believed it would only remain at the top if it forced its will on the weak and smaller nations.
On his tour, Mr. Farrakhan said, he had met with the countries at the bottom of the pyramid and had spoken with many heads of State and government, religious leaders, scholars and scientists. He had also spoken to common people and they were afraid. They were feeling “lightning and thunderbolts” from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, the United States Federal Reserve and the Treasury. That was not the way for the only remaining super-Power to behave.
He said he was disturbed by what he had seen in Africa, the Middle East and in the failing economies of Asia. Globalization held a significant threat to world peace. A small group of persons was seeking to gain total control over the wealth of nations, without exhibiting the moral character that should go along with the acquisition of wealth. Many people who appeared to be free were now slaves because of economic policies and foreign debt. Weaker countries wanted economic development. Globalization was not a bad concept.
But peace would be threatened if the world’s wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few and the poor had no hope of improving their lives.
He said the peace process in the Middle East was “just about dead” because those committed to the process, particularly the stronger nations, were weak in their demands for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to live up to the Oslo accords. The characterization of nations as “rogue States” and the destabilization of their borders because they resisted dominance by the super-Powers was not the way to peace. The sanctions on Iraq must be lifted in a given time, if there was unrestricted access to all sites. Should the Iraqi people continue to suffer under sanctions, if all of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were disposed of? he asked.
The ruling of the International Court of Justice that it had jurisdiction over the Lockerbie case was a courageous one, he said. There must be closure to the Pan Am flight 103 bombing incident, and the sanctions against Libya should be lifted because a “man was innocent until proven guilty”. The two Libyan nationals should be tried by the Court so the world could find out the truth about what happened over Lockerbie, Scotland. Sanctioning a nation and causing it tremendous suffering before the facts were known should not have happened. Only the United Nations could correct the situation.
The United Nations should also encourage the lifting of the United States blockade against Cuba, he continued. Cuba was not threatening any of its neighbours with weapons of mass destruction. To deny the country the right of trade and the right to get food and medicine was a denial of human rights. To trouble the borders of the Sudan and encourage warfare against the Sudanese regime because it was an Islamic country was not good United States policy.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the members of the Security Council who had “stood fast” against the bombing of Iraq should be praised, he said. The idea that the United States and the United Kingdom could interpret the relevant Council resolutions as giving them the right to unilaterally bomb Iraq should be condemned in the “strongest terms”.
Mr. Farrakhan praised President Clinton and the Council for accepting the terms worked out by the Secretary-General in the Memorandum of Understanding he signed with Iraq. He said he had written to the President to thank him for trying to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of Iraq, but had also encouraged him to show that same resolve in trying to disarm Israel. Since America had the greatest stockpile of biological and chemical weapons, it should set an example for the rest of the world and destroy its arsenal. Perhaps then, dialogue and reason would replace weapons of war.
Libya Press Conference – 3 – 4 March 1998
The United Nations could only be an instrument of peace if it refused to bow to the dictates of great Powers, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. He was pleased that President Clinton had said last night that the United States should pay its dues to the United Nations.
A correspondent asked how Mr. Farrakhan had chosen the countries he visited on his world tour. Mr. Farrakhan said he had visited those countries where he would be well received. He knew he would be welcome in Muslim countries, non-Muslim African nations and other non-Muslim parts of the world. He had received very favourable responses from heads of State and government because of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., in 1995. Foreign leaders had seen its themes of atonement and reconciliation as a good thing which would resonate well in their countries.
Asked about his visit to the Russian Federation and the situation of Muslim people there, Mr. Farrakhan said he had been well received by Russia’s Muslims — a fact which never appeared in the United States press. In America, he was called a black Muslim, a racist and anti-White, but in the Russian Federation, he had been received by the Great Mufti and greeted with love and respect by White Muslims. The Russian Government had not been as friendly as the Muslims there. In Siberia, he had met with Muslims who were Tartars, Mongolians and Caucasians. However, he had been prevented from travelling to Chechnya.
The Russian Federation still had a great role to play in world affairs and Muslims had a prominent role to play in the country’s re-emergence as a super-Power, he continued. He hoped to return to the Russian Federation. Perhaps next time the authorities would be “kinder” and not inconvenience his party as they had done during his recent visit by refusing to extend his visa so he could visit Chechnya.
Was he shifting his priorities to foreign affairs, even though recent studies pointed to the emergence of two unequal Americas based on race? a correspondent asked. Mr. Farrakhan said he was not changing his priorities. The Million Man March had shown the world that there was a potential political, spiritual and economic force in the United States — a moral counterbalance to the inordinate misuse of power and influence, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. There were two Americas, one white, one black, separate and unequal, just as there was 30 years ago. That unequal status could be ended by marshalling the economic power of Black Americans to begin to close the gap and ease tensions between people. People of African descent living in the United States should be partners in Africa’s development, and its Muslims should be partners in the development of Islam. He now had three focuses: one for United States; one for Africa and the black world; and one for the world and Islam.
Libya Press Conference – 4 – 4 March 1998
How could the conflict between the Security Council and countries like Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya and others be solved? a correspondent asked. Mr. Farrakhan said there was a fear in the United States of countries that “stand on the principles of Islam”. Many believed Islamic fundamentalism was the enemy of democracy and that there was a clash of civilizations. Policy makers held that Islamic regimes which would not bow to the dictates of the United States or the United Kingdom must be destroyed or weakened or embargoed or classified as rogue nations.
Statements about Iraq by the American Administration and the Government of the United Kingdom were almost insane, he continued. There was talk of bombing Iraq, even though it had less potential for using weapons of mass destruction in 1998 than it had in 1991, when it never used them. Iraq was not threatening Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or Israel, so why were American leaders and policy makers so adamant and bent on bombing Iraq? What was behind American efforts to sanction Libya, Sudan and Iran? “Why bring millions of dollars of war materials to Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea to create problems on the border of the Sudan simply because you do not like the Sudanese Government?” he asked.
It was insanity for American leaders to boldly say, “this man should be assassinated” and overtly or covertly threaten to destabilize the Governments of Iran or Iraq, he said. Such policies would never lead to peace. Islam was not the enemy, but the best friend of the world.
On his visit to Gaza and the West Bank, Mr. Farrakhan said he had been disturbed to see Palestinian people living in a form of apartheid in their own land. Settlements were going up all over the West Bank, and the United States was timid in pushing Prime Minister Netanyahu to live up to his commitments under the peace agreements. Israel’s desire for security was legitimate, but its security lay in giving to the Palestinians what it wanted for itself — security, sovereignty and respect as a nation. The Palestinians deserved those rights and a State of their own. It was within Israel’s power to help the Palestinians, and that, more than any instruments of war, would help secure Israel’s security. The United States should help revive the peace process in the interests of world peace.
What was the status of the donations to the “exodus fund” that he had proposed at the Million Man March to help black institutions, African American and other people of colour? a correspondent asked. Mr. Farrakhan said there were forces within the United States which were afraid of the potential of Muslim, Christian, nationalist, pan-Africanist unity. Almost immediately after the success of the Million Man March, there had been an effort to break the unity of its organizers. Eighty per cent of those attending the March were Christians, and there was a movement to make sure that they never stood that way again with Muslims.
Libya Press Conference – 5 – 4 March 1998
Respected black certified public accounting firms had conducted an audit of the money collected at the March, he continued. The media had suggested that he was enriching himself at the expense of the marchers, but had not reported the results of the audit which were announced at press conference. So, suspicions were raised, because “our people have been duped by so many, lied to by so many, taken advantage of by so many”. They were now a “little wary” of donating money and, although several hundreds of thousands of dollars had been raised, there was not enough to begin the serious work intended. “But we intend to keep plugging away because it was the right thing to do”, he added.
On his world tour, had Mr. Farrakhan discussed with the Libyan Government or others, claims by opium farmers from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, that they worked with Libyans to distribute drugs? a correspondent asked. Mr. Farrakhan said he had not heard about such claims. It was appalling that any Muslim country or government could be involved in the drug trade. Muslim countries were the most drug- and crime-free societies in the world. He did not see how Libya could involve itself in something as ugly as the drug trade.
Was the Nation of Islam supporting another march called “Jericho 98”, scheduled to take place at the end of March in Washington, D.C., to draw intention to political prisoners? another correspondent asked. Mr. Farrakhan said his organization would be aligning itself with the leaders of the march. There were political prisoners in the United States who must be set free or granted amnesty. Those out of the country should be allowed to come home.
In response to another question, he said there were movements among some Blacks, Hispanics, native Americans and others to bring the United States before the World Court on various issues. The Court had no power to enforce any decrees against the only remaining super-Power. A force had to rise within America to correct it and give it moral balance. The Nation of Islam could contribute to that force. Politicians loved passive religions because they did not demand that they live up to moral dictates. His organization wanted to promote an active religion that was revolutionary in nature. True religion transformed the individual, who,in turn, could transform society. Christians, Muslims and Jews in the United States must become as active as their prophets and messiahs. America could return to sane policies, if the people demanded that their political leaders act in accordance with what they professed.