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News ::
U.S. TROOPS RAID PALESTINIAN OFFICE IN BAGHDAD (english)
11 Jun 2003
AN EGREGIOUS VIOLATION OF DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY:
U.S. TROOPS RAID PALESTINIAN OFFICE IN BAGHDAD

By Leslie Feinberg
-------------------------
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the June 23, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper
-------------------------

AN EGREGIOUS VIOLATION OF DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY:
U.S. TROOPS RAID PALESTINIAN OFFICE IN BAGHDAD

By Leslie Feinberg

In an outrageously illegal move, U.S. military brass ordered a raid on
the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Baghdad on May 25. No official
excuse was offered in U.S. media accounts.

A convoy of armored vehicles surrounded the mission in the early morning
hours. A Palestinian guard from the mission recalled, "We said this is
the Palestinian Embassy and there is international law and we are not
letting you in. They said, 'We are the international law, you have to
let us in.' "

Troops reportedly burst through the gates and blew open office doors
with shotguns. They seized books, files and computers. They also
confiscated the contents of a safe--$15,000 to $20,000 in payroll cash--
and jewelry belonging to the wife of one of the diplomats, Palestinians
officials stated.

When diplomats arrived at work in the morning, they were arrested.
Eleven people were held, including the chargé d'affaires, Najah Abdul
Rahman, and two other diplomats, all of whom had been accredited by the
former Iraqi government. The Palestinian ambassador, Azzam al-Ahmed, was
not in the country at the time.

U.S. civilian and military authorities "seemed unable to state today
where and on what basis they were continuing to detain the Palestinian
diplomats," a New York Times article datelined May 30 explained. In
Washington, the Palestinian representative, Hassan Abdulrahman, said the
Palestinian Authority had been trying to get information from the State
Department. "It's amazing, but we still don't know what's happening," he
said.

Palestinian Consul Dalil al-Qusous called on U.S. and British
authorities to release the embassy's administrative counselor, Mahmoud
Barakat, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure.

According to an unnamed administration official quoted in the article,
senior U.S. civilian authorities overseeing the occupation of Iraq had
not been informed about the raid before it took place. "As a result,
according to a State Department official in Washington, the State
Department was unaware for at least 24 hours that a military operation
had been conducted against a diplomatic compound here."

"I really can't confirm anything about the events or even that they
occurred," State Department spokesperson Richard A. Boucher said the day
after the raid.

Spokespeople for the United States Central Command in Tampa, Fla., and
in Kuwait said they had no information about the situation of the
diplomats and other detained Palestinian staff.

The Times concluded "Since the raid, several Arab governments that
continue to operate their embassies have sought reassurances from
Washington about the safety of their diplomats."

Some governments are trying to send their diplomats back to Baghdad to
regain properties and to prepare for resumption of relations with a
future Iraqi government. But Boucher urged governments to take their
time.

"We're discouraging foreign diplomats in general from entering Iraq," he
said. "There is no Iraqi government for them to interact with. There's
no Iraqi government to grant the privileges and immunities that
diplomats would normally have inside a country."

And, he concluded, the United States reserves "the right to exclude
people who we don't think belong here."

This extreme and brutal violation of Palestinian sovereignty came at the
same time that the Bush administration was pushing a "road map" that it
claims will lead to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinians' long
struggle with Israel. n

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY,
NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) wwpublish.com. Subscribe wwnews-
on (at) wwpublish.com. Unsubscribe wwnews-off (at) wwpublish.com. Support the
voice of resistance http://www.workers.org/orders/donate.php)
See also:
www.workers.org
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