WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- On his return from a "Peace Initiative Tour" in the Middle East and Africa, Minister Louis Farrakhan Monday blasted U.S. policy in the Middle East for singling out Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat and said a U.S. invasion of Iraq lacked support among Arab leaders.
Farrakhan also said Libyan leader Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was producing a low-cost remedy for AIDS at a facility accused of developing chemical weapons, and that the U.S. military-industrial complex was pushing for war with Iraq.
In a speech at the National Press Club, Farrakhan said U.S. policy in the Middle East predicated on Arafat's removal would only complicate progress by angering the Palestinians unnecessarily.
"After his peace initiative, I was greatly disappointed," Farrakhan said of President George W. Bush's June pronouncement that made clear he wants Arafat to go.
He called on America to concentrate on domestic ills and for Bush to explain why the U.S. might invade Iraq -- over what Farrakhan said was unanimous opposition from Arab leaders regardless of their feelings about Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
A fiery Farrakhan condemned the Bush administration for concentrating on alleged villains abroad and ignoring warning signals, from God, that domestic conditions in the United States are seriously amiss: drought, plunging financial markets and accounting scandals, homelessness, illiteracy, police brutality and racial profiling.
"What is happening to America? Open your eyes, Americans," Farrakhan said. "The government cannot make Saddam Hussein or anybody else a bogeyman and focus America's attention on Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. That is not going to solve the internal problems in America."
He predicted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq could irrevocably hurt relations between the United States and friendly Arab nations. "My appeal to the United States government is that it is very unwise to pursue this course."
Farrakhan said he believes that during his trip he could have convinced the Palestinians to respect a 90-120 day moratorium on suicide bombings, possibly sparking a peace process in the region. But he lamented that the plan was blocked when Israeli officials prevented him from entering Israel.
"I believe that if I was able to go into Israel and the West Bank, that I could have gotten an agreement from the Palestinians ... on a moratorium, for 90-120 days on this suicide bombing," said Farrakhan. "For there can really never be a peace initiative in the face of an ever-increasing cycle of violence."
Farrakhan said U.S. policymakers and the American media have ignored a fundamental question of inequality between whites and blacks in Africa that precipitated violence over land in Zimbabwe. He also called for more help for AIDS victims in Africa, and said that Libyan leader Gadhafi was developing "a low-cost remedy."
"We intend to encourage Moammar Gadhafi to open that facility that he was accused of making chemical and biological weapons. We want to encourage him to open that facility and let the world come and see that he is manufacturing a vaccine. That he is manufacturing a low-cost -- or producing rather, not manufacturing -- producing a low-cost remedy for the AIDS epidemic that is killing our people wholesale in Africa."
Farrakhan also said that during his trip, United Press International had used a quote from an Iraqi News Agency report to try to portray him as unpatriotic.
"That was designed, in this atmosphere of patriotism, to make Farrakhan look like an enemy of the United States of America," Farrakhan said.
"I want the American people and the world to know that the only victory ... is the victory of peace over war. I would never go on a peace mission and pray for victory in a war."
A UPI report on July 6 quoted the Iraqi News Agency, INA, which reported that Farrakhan said "the Muslim American people are praying to the almighty God to grant victory to Iraq."