GENEVA (Feb. 4)
At least 11 Swiss firms have violated the arms embargo on Iraq, selling that country substances with which it could build chemical weapons, according to charges last week leveled in the Swiss Senate.
The charges reflect growing dissatisfaction with what is perceived by much of the public and the news media to be a pro-Iraqi tilt by the government, which has invoked Switzerland’s traditional neutrality in the Persian Gulf war.
The Foreign Ministry in particular has come under criticism.
Two Swiss newspapers, Tribune de Geneve and Le Journal de I’Emploit, observed that Foreign Minister Rene Felber exercised Swiss neutrality by closing its air space to allied aircraft.
At the same time, Felber, a Socialist not known to be friendly toward Israel, has called for an international peace conference to settle all Middle East issues, which was one of Saddam Hussein’s conditions to pull out of Kuwait.
Switzerland also is rumored to have given permission to Hussein’s wife and three children to take refuge from the war somewhere near Geneva, though there has been no official confirmation.
Meanwhile, Switzerland announced it is sending $10 million in humanitarian aid to Egypt, Turkey and Jordan. It is not sending aid to Israel.