Iraq Pressures Holland to Revise Its Attitude Toward the Arabs

Foreign Minister Max Van Der Stoel has demanded an explanation from Iraq of a statement issued by its Em bassy in The Hague threatening to sever economic ties with Holland unless this country revises its attitude toward the Arabs and the Palestinians in particular. The Iraqi Ambassador to the Benelux countries. Hamid Abbas Al-Saadi, who resides in Brussels, was summoned to The Hague and reportedly told Van Der Stoel that publication of the statement was due to a misunderstanding.

The statement, issued last Wednesday, accused The Netherlands government of an anti-Arab bias and bias against the Palestinians “who for Iraq are a sacred cause.” It urged Dutch businessmen and Dutch firms that do business with Iraq to prevail upon The Netherlands government, Parliament, television and other media to change their allegedly hostile position toward the Arab world.

The statement surprised officials here because The Netherlands government has been stressing its “even-handed” policies toward the Middle East for the past three years. Crown Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus had just returned from a week-long visit to Egypt which was welcomed by President Anwar Sadat as “the beginning of a turning-point in Dutch-Egyptian relations.”

It is significant, however, that the Iraqi threat was issued on the first anniversary of the UN General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. Holland was one of the 29 nations that opposed the resolution. The Iraqi envoy reportedly explained that the statement had been issued by the cultural attache at his embassy who claimed that the Palestinians are threatened with “racialist genocide.” He said it did not reflect Iraq’s desire to promote trade with Holland.

NEXT STORY