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latest Iraq crisis news

Four short articles from today and yesterday about the current Iraq/UNSCOM

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

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

   "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

 "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

 "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

 He also consulted by phone with British Prime Minister Tony

 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

 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

 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

 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

 "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

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