Monday 24 February 2003

War a pretext to dominate world

Western leaders were accused by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of being callous killers using the war on terrorism and Iraq as a pretext to dominate the world, as the 116-nation Non-Aligned Movement summit opened in Malaysia today.

The charge was laid as he took over from South Africa as chairman of the organisation, before a record number of more than 50 heads of state or government.

"It is no longer just a war against terrorism," the veteran South-East Asian leader told the opening session. "It is in fact a war to dominate the world."

In a vitriolic attack over the threat to invade Iraq, which is a member of the movement, Mahathir compared the political and military leaders of the world's great powers unflatteringly with suicide terrorists.

While the terrorists died as they attacked, "the great warriors who press the buttons see nothing of the mangled bodies, the heads and limbs which are torn from disembowelled bodies, the blood and the gore of the innocent people.

"And because they don't see, the button-pressing warriors and the people who commanded them go back to enjoy a hearty meal, watch TV shows or morale boosting troop entertainers and then retire to their cosy beds for a good sleep."

Even for a man known for his outspoken views, it was an astonishing performance and obviously designed to set the tone for a summit expected to condemn any attack on Iraq without the support of the United Nations Security Council.

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