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Four short articles from today and yesterday about the current Iraq/UNSCOM crisis... ------------------------------------------------------------------ The Guardian leader article [note that under the new policy of "containment" rather than "disarmament" they (and other sources) are suggesting is being considered, the implication is that the sanctions would remain in place, without even the pretence of an on-going process leading to their lifting, i.e. weapons inspections. --SW] Crisis in Iraq - again Try a new way out Leader article in The Guardian Wednesday November 11, 1998 While the world's back was turned, watching the American election's surprise boost for Bill Clinton and Hurricane Mitch's catastrophic onslaught on Central America, a crisis of potentially immense proportions has been slinking up the path. For a few days it went almost unremarked by the media. But now, as the diplomatic briefers speculate about Washington's response, the magnitude of what is looming becomes clearer. Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president, announced a week ago that he had lost patience with the United Nations special commission (Unscom) which is monitoring the dismantling of his weapons programmes and would refuse to co-operate any longer. As a first reaction, the American and British defence secretaries rushed to the Gulf to consult with Arab governments. There they made the usual noises about the villainy of the Iraqi dictator, the intolerability of his behaviour and the robustness of their determination not to let him get away with it. Mr Clinton called his advisers to Camp David. The inspired leaks from these deliberations claim this is the most serious Iraqi-inspired confrontation since the Gulf war. They imply the United States is closer to using force against Saddam than at any time since 1991. They suggest cruise missiles would be launched at Iraqi military systems and weapons development sites. It sounds dramatic, yet as one looks at the small print a different scenario hovers into view. It runs almost directly counter to the imminent use of force. Under this second interpretation of what is being prepared, the United States should propose the abandonment of Unscom and the withdrawal of the weapons inspectors. By keeping them in Iraq, the United Nations merely gives Saddam a lever which he can pull whenever he wants a crisis, as he has done twice this year already. The Iraqi dictator, it is argued, thrives on crises since they tend to raise his profile as well as giving a spurious justification to his hard-line policies. With Unscom withdrawn and thereby having given up the effort to eliminate Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, the outside world - according to this second version of the approaching American decision - should seek to contain him. Sanctions would remain in place, and under the rubric of "containment" rather than "disarmament" force would only be used if Iraq violated its neighbours' sovereignty or launched acts of egregious repression on its own citizens, as it did when it used gas against Iraqi Kurds. Whichever version of the American leaks is true, they appear to indicate that a debate is going on between the hawks and doves. The doves have the better case. The hawks have had the upper hand for the last seven years with little to show for it. To go over the top and use force unilaterally would split the United Nations Security Council, give Saddam unnecessary kudos, and exact an unpredictable cost in civilian casualties. Most of all, it would have no guarantee of success, whether that means the destruction of Iraq's weapons potential or the overthrow of Saddam. The alternative policy, though its opponents will call it a retreat, offers fewer hostages to fortune. Once the West decided after liberating Kuwait not to move up to Baghdad and topple the Iraqi leader, it was always going to be hard to control his internal policies. Sanctions are a blunt instrument which Saddam turned to his own use as a propaganda weapon. By accepting there is little that can be done except keep Saddam's aggressive instincts under some restraint and within Iraq's borders the outside world is doing the best there is. What came up the path the other day may not have been the mother of all crises, but the glimmerings of a better Western policy. -------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Egypt says Arab world united against military strike on Iraq Copyright 1998 by Agence France-Presse Tue, 10 Nov 1998 16:53:25 PST CAIRO, Nov 10 (AFP) - The whole Arab world is united in its opposition to a US-led military strike against Iraq, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told MPs from his ruling National Democratic Party Tuesday. "There is not a single Arab country which backs a recourse to force against Iraq and all are preoccupied by the lot of the Iraqi people," state television quoted him as saying. "Iraq has made requests which deserve consideration," Mubarak said, stressing the importance of "leaving the necessary time for political and diplomatic initiatives." Earlier Mubarak's political advisor, Osama al-Baz, told the Al-Ahram daily that Egypt opposed a US-led military strike against Iraq over its defiance of UN weapons inspections. "Egypt rejects the use of force by the United States, or any other country, each time differences with Iraq emerge because this would mean a policy of double standards," he told the paper. Baz noted that military force "is not used against countries such as Israel which violate all international legislation." Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa told the Qatari newspaper Al-Raya that Baghdad had a legitimate right to call for changes to the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) in charge of its disarmament. It is "necessary to carry out a revision of the work of the Special Commission in the wake of the remarks and criticism levelled at certain (arms) inspectors," Mussa said. He noted that US arms inspector Scott Ritter, who has since retired, passed on information to Israel. "In my opinion, that's the worst thing to have happened to UNSCOM," said Mussa. UNSCOM chief Richard Butler has acknowledged that his inspectors had worked with Israel, after reports in the Washington Post that they shared intelligence with the Jewish state from US spy planes on loan to UNSCOM. But at the same time, Egypt's foreign minister called for Iraq "to respect UN resolutions" and said that "in return, the sanctions will not be eternal." Egypt would be "ready to play any role which would be useful" to resolve the crisis between Iraq and the United Nations over arms inspections, "but the circumstances must be favourable," he said. The United States has threatened military action against Iraq in the wake of Baghdad's decision last month to stop cooperation with UNSCOM. On Tuesday, US President Bill Clinton met with top advisors and military chiefs to weigh US options. ---------------------------------------------------------- Wednesday November 11 4:23 AM ET UNSCOM Orders All Arms Staff Out Of Iraq UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Chief U.N. arms inspector Richard Butler ordered all his staff out of Iraq Wednesday after discussions with U.S. officials, his spokesman said. More than a 100 of the remaining inspectors and support personnel were en route to Bahrain after Butler spoke to U.S. officials, the spokesman said, adding that ``safety of personnel is our utmost consideration.'' The move comes amid reports that Washington was preparing to launch a military strike against Iraq because of its ban on U.N. weapons inspections. Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) in charge of Iraqi disarmament, told Reuters: ``Based upon his discussions with U.S. officials, the executive chairman (Butler) has decided, as a precautionary measure, to withdraw all UNSCOM personnel from Iraq.'' He said this included inspectors from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, which handles nuclear arms. Left behind would be local staff guarding equipment. Buchanan said many of the inspectors, helicopter pilots, communication experts and other staff would be in Bahrain should they be able to resume work again. ``We remain ready to resume our full work in Iraq,'' he said. Baghdad broke ties with the inspectors on August 5 by banning most field surveys and late last month stopped almost all work on a crucial monitoring program of potential weapons facilities. The United Nations said Wednesday it had decided to relocate non-essential staff from its office in Baghdad to Jordan as a precautionary move to ensure their safety in view of the growing crisis. ``The measure is of a precautionary nature and is being instituted solely with the safety of U.N. staff in mind,'' a U.N. statement issued in Baghdad said. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- Forwarded message ---------- U.S. Says Time Running Out For Iraq To Comply 7.06 p.m. ET (007 GMT) November 10, 1998 WASHINGTON Reuters - The United States said Tuesday that time was running out for Iraq to comply with U.N. arms inspections and said the aircraft carrier Enterprise was speeding to the Gulf where another U.S. carrier is now based.=20 Defense Secretary William Cohen told reporters that President Clinton had made no decision on whether to launch U.S. missile and bombing strikes against Iraq, but said impatience with Iraq's President Saddam Hussein was growing.=20 "We have all indicated that time is running out,'' he said when asked if the United States was drawing closer to military action after Iraq abruptly announced on Oct. 31 that it was halting all cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors.=20 "This can't go on forever. Diplomacy always should have every opportunity to dance. But at some point, a dance has a beginning and an end,'' Cohen said at Pentagon press conference with visiting Singapore Defense Minister Tony Tan.=20 "The military option is still on the table,'' said Cohen, adding that he had ordered the carrier Enterprise, which left Norfolk, Virginia, this week to replace the carrier Eisenhower in the Gulf, to speed its Atlantic Ocean transit and arrive on Nov. 23 instead of Nov. 26.=20 Cohen said he did not plan to keep both carriers in the region within striking distance of Iraq. The Eisenhower is winding up a six-months overseas deployment and scheduled to return to Norfolk in early December.=20 The United States already has a major air and naval force in the Gulf and the Pentagon says that force, including more than 300 ship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles, is capable of dealing a powerful blow against Iraq.=20 Clinton met Tuesday for an hour and a half with Cohen, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and Army Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the U.S. military Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss Iraq.=20 He also consulted by phone with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.=20 Albright, meanwhile, also was planning to discuss the crisis on the telephone with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Russia, according to State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin.=20 Rubin told reporters that if Saddam continued to block U.N. arms inspections without any response, "he will be able to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction in a matter of months, not years.''=20 "And if we fail to act, he will feel emboldened to threaten the region further, armed with weapons of mass destruction,'' he added.=20 White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said the United States was engaged in "public and private'' diplomacy but that: "This is not a situation where we're looking for a negotiation. There's nothing to negotiate.''=20 The Marine helicopter carrier Belleau Wood was also heading to the Gulf from Japan Tuesday to replace the helicopter carrier Essex and will arrive on Nov. 26, Cohen told reporters at the pentagon.=20 The United States has about 170 Air Force and Navy warplanes and 23 ships in the Gulf region, including the Eisenhower and eight ships capable of launching long-range Tomahawks.=20 But Defense Department spokesman Ken Bacon said a number of U.S.-based air units had been on 36-hour alert since earlier this year when they were returned from another showdown with Iraq and that the Gulf force could again be quickly built to nearly 400 aircraft if warranted.=20 Washington has seen no sign that Iraq is willing to budge on its refusal to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors and is preparing a military plan in the event no diplomatic solution can be reached.=20 So far no final ultimatum or deadline has been outlined by Clinton, who is scheduled to leave Saturday on a 10-day Asia-Pacific tour.=20 Lockhart said Clinton planned to leave on his foreign trip as scheduled.=20 The New York Times said officials were making contingency plans about how Clinton's trip might be curtailed, or even canceled, if the president launched military strikes on Iraqi targets.=20 "I've got no change in schedule,'' Lockhart said. ''Obviously there are things going on in the world. We are watching the situation in Iraq. But I don't have a change in schedule to pass on to you.''=20 In Baghdad, Iraq said it wanted a peaceful solution. Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said the key to ending the dispute was the lifting of sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait.=20 The United Nations last Thursday condemned Iraq's abrupt ending of cooperation with U.N. inspectors, who must certify to the Security Council that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction before sanctions are lifted.=20 National Security Council spokesman David Leavy described the Iraqi idea as a "nonstarter.''=20 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html