KUALA LUMPUR, 19 March 2003 — Malaysia, current chairman of the 116-nation Non-Aligned Movement, yesterday strongly condemned the planned US-led attack on Iraq as “an illegal act of aggression.”
“Malaysia deeply regrets the statement by the president of the US announcing the end of diplomatic efforts and the imminent use of unilateral force to disarm Iraq,” Acting Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in a statement.
“The unilateral use of force, undertaken without the support and authorization of the United Nations Security Council and not in self-defense against any armed attack, is clearly in violation of the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter.”
Malaysia “underscores that unilateral military action aimed at effecting a regime change is also an illegal act of aggression, constituting an invasion of a sovereign state.” Abdullah said Malaysia, in its capacity as the Non-Aligned Movement chairman, “will be consulting member countries of NAM on the appropriate course of action.”
The acting prime minister, standing in for Mahathir Mohamad while he is on two months’ leave, reiterated Malaysia’s concerns that an invasion of Iraq “would set back the common efforts in the campaign against terrorism.”
Malaysia has been hailed by Washington for its support in the war on terrorism, but has repeatedly warned that an attack on Baghdad would inflame extremists and increase recruits to the ranks of terrorist organizations.
Abdullah also said war on Iraq “betrays selectivity on the part of the US and its allies in enforcing compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, particularly in light of the non-compliance by Israel of relevant UNSC resolutions pertaining to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories.”
Expressing concern over the “grave threat” to international peace and stability, “Malaysia urges that, even at this eleventh hour, serious efforts be made by all concerned to avert war and to return to peaceful but firm methods in bringing about Iraq’s compliance with relevant UNSC resolutions.”
The statement said the possibility of a peaceful settlement had not been fully exhausted as UN weapons inspectors had reported that Iraq was actively cooperating and the inspections were producing results.
In Jakarta, an Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that any US attack on Iraq would be illegal without the consent of the United Nations.
“We are concerned that the US is creating the impression that diplomatic efforts have failed and the only sure thing is war,” spokesman Marty Natalegawa said after President George W. Bush gave Saddam Hussein a 48-hour ultimatum to leave Iraq or face attack.