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FW: [Peacewire] U.S. Operation Against Iraq Underway

From: "Peter Coombes" <>
To: "Peacewire" <>
Subject: [Peacewire] U.S. Operation Against Iraq Underway
Date: Wed, Aug 15, 2001, 12:31 am


Another major attack against Iraq may soon be underway according to this
report from Stratfor.

Peter Coombes

U.S. Operation Against Iraq Underway


The United States has embarked on a strategy of knocking out the
air defenses of Iraq one at a time in an effort to pave the way
for a major strike against Baghdad's military at a later date.

U.S. aircraft have struck Iraqi air defenses repeatedly in the
past few days. Although these seem similar to previous tit-for-
tat retaliations after Iraqi air defenses have fired on U.S. air
patrols, these strikes are different. Sources indicate that U.S.
forces are engaged in an open-ended bombing campaign to
systematically destroy Iraq's air defenses, which have been
rebuilt in recent weeks with aid from China.

The American effort is aimed at preparing the battlefield for a
much larger military operation later that likely will target the
rest of the Iraqi military and its weapons of mass destruction
(WMD). But the U.S. effort is limited by regional politics right
now, particularly the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority. The United States is trying to avoid triggering a
backlash in the Arab world at this time.

Destroying air defenses, known inside the military as Suppression
of Enemy Air Defenses, is the classic first step in any air
campaign. The campaign will make it easier for U.S. forces to hit
the Iraqi military, particularly in and around Baghdad. The
larger U.S. operation will probably be similar in size and scope
to Operation Desert Fox in 1998. That operation was believed to
have been capable of knocking back Iraq's WMD program by two and
a half years; that period has now elapsed, and the Iraqi military
is making strides in rebuilding various organizations.

The Bush administration has weighed a major military operation
against Iraq for the past several weeks. The current political
and security situation suggests a strike would aim to cripple air
defenses and then go after Iraq's military infrastructure in
order to interrupt its renewed efforts to develop WMD. An attack
would likely use retaliation for threats to U.S. aircraft as a
pretext. It is unclear when a U.S. attack will take place, but it
is fair to say that a strike can come at any time now that the
United States is suppressing Iraqi air defenses.

Regional politics have apparently forced the Bush administration
to adopt a limited strategy. The situation in Israel and the
territories has complicated reactions in the Arab world. As
Israel's major ally, the United States is deeply involved in
negotiations between Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia would probably have to approve of the use
of their bases to mount a major military campaign and neither are
likely to consent right now. Egypt has opposed a U.S. attack on
Iraq; only Kuwait, which U.S. and British jets use as a base of
operations, has suggested it would back an operation.

A U.S. air campaign is unlikely to alter Iraq's political
leadership. But the United States is running out of options with
which to deal with Baghdad. Recent events have left the United
States in a relatively weak position in the Persian Gulf.
Russia's veto of U.S.-backed "smart sanctions" last month at the
United Nations combined with Washington's continuing attempts to
prevent full-scale war between Israelis and Palestinians undercut
U.S. influence.

A series of recent reports indicate Iraq is attempting to rebuild
its program for making weapons of mass destruction. The program's
infrastructure was heavily bombarded in four days of U.S.-U.K air
strikes in December 1998 after Iraq turned out U.N. weapons
inspectors. Inspectors are not expected to return. Meanwhile, the
Iraqi regime has been able to reconstitute elements of its
nuclear, biological and chemical weapons development programs,
according to intelligence sources.

In addition, Baghdad has recently deployed significant numbers of
troops toward Kurdish enclaves in the north, The London Daily
Telegraph reported on June 26.

(c) 2001 Strategic Forecasting LLC. All rights reserved.

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