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US, British strikes on Iraq herald large-scale operation

Here's the story from AFP about the possibility of 'large-scale [military]
operations' against Iraq. I don't think its been posted to the CASI list,
although its been cited by others and feel that its sufficiently important
to be posted to the list on its own. Thanks to Ken Freedland and Alan
Blickley for sending copies.



US, British air strikes on Iraq herald large-scale operation: diplomats

AMMAN, Aug 26 (AFP) - The United States and Britain are gathering steam for
a large scale operation against Iraq, amid almost daily air strikes on that
country, Western diplomats here said.
At the forthcoming meeting in mid-September of foreign ministers of UN
Security Council member states, Britain is expected to submit anew a
US-backed resolution on Iraq for which it failed to win consensus in July,
they said.

"If it is adopted, the resolution will provide the United States and Britain
with a new legal tool to take measures against Iraq," a Western diplomat
well acquainted with Iraqi affairs told AFP.

"Pressure is rising in the United States to impose a deadline on Iraq to
meet conditions set by the United Nations, after which Washington must act,"
the diplomat said.

The US administration is under pressure to act quickly with only six months
left before the start in earnest of the US presidential election campaign,
the diplomat said.

He noted that Washington had already taken steps in various directions to
hurt the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Washington is striving to win UN backing to charge Saddam with war crimes to
accelerate efforts to overthrow him and at the same time harassing top
officials of his regime.

Iraqi number two Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri was forced to curtail a stay at a
Vienna clinic last week and return home amid protests from Washington which
urged Austria not to facilitate his travels.

The British proposal calls for the creation of a so-called "United Nations
Commission on Inspection and Monitoring" (UNCIM) to replace the current
weapons inspection committee, according to a text of the draft obained by

The United States -- along with the Netherlands, Slovenia, Argentina and
Brazil -- back the proposal which would suspend a UN oil embargo on Iraq for
renewable periods of 120 days if it complies with disarmament requirements
for eliminating its weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq has dimissed the proposal as "monstrous", charging that it aimed at
increasing restrictions on the country.

Meanwhile air strikes on Iraq are increasing in pace and depth.

On August 19 the United States admitted that its warplanes for the first
time since December struck positions outside the no-fly zones set up by the
allied forces in northern and southern Iraq.

Iraq has vowed to keep up its resistance to the attacks, which it says
killed 25 civilians in just one week. Washington maintains that it only hits
at military targets when challenged by Iraqi defences.

Meanwhile Arab countries such as Syria -- which started taking steps to
improve relations with Baghdad in 1997 -- Egypt and Jordan appear to have
distanced themselves from Iraq, according to Arab diplomats.

Statements attributed to the son of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar
al-Assad, during a visit to Kuwait in which he described Saddam as a "human
beast" has sparked a controversy.

Although Syrian officials denied the statement was made, diplomats note that
Damascus is unhappy with the Iraqi regime.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is said to have "washed his hands" of Iraq,
and Jordan, too, is ignoring its neighbour after constantly being refused by
the United States any request involving Baghdad, the diplomats said.

Eight months after the brief "Desert Fox" campaign, the Pentagon has to face
up to the fact that its current policy does not seem to have achieved its
desired, though unadmitted objective, to stir up dissent in the Iraqi armed
forces, they said.

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