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Israeli intelligence: 'no Iraqi angle at this stage'



The following piece appeared in today's (24th September) Independent. It
includes the following important information:

'The chief of Israeli military intelligence said in an interview published
yesterday that there was no evidence that Iraq was involved. "I don't see a
direct link between Iraq and the hijackings and terror attacks in the United
States," Major-General Amos Malka, told Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
"There is no Iraqi angle or infrastructure that we can point to at this
stage." '

The full text of the article is reproduced below.

Best wishes,

Gabriel
voices uk

**********************************************
Divisions emerge among allies over attacking Iraq
By Andrew Marshall

Independent
24 September 2001

America seems intent on hitting Afghanistan in response to the attacks on
its land but there is still disagreement within Washington and between the
US and its allies over the next step in any retaliation.

There is speculation that a wave of attacks might be directed against Iraq.
Pentagon hawks such as Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defence, want
to strike Iraq because they believe it was linked to the terrorist attacks.
But this idea seems to be opposed by the US State Department, which is
seeking to build a diplomatic basis for the present round of assaults.

Senator Jesse Helms, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, said on Saturday he thought the US would hit Iraq. "That depends
on two or three things they [the Iraqis] are trying to work out, and I don't
think they'll work them out. I think [Iraq] will be a target," he said.

The consensus in the White House seems to have settled on assembling a large
force in the region, carrying out a first phase, and then considering what
further action to take next. But right-wingers in Washington continue to
lobby for an attack on Baghdad. They believe there is evidence of Iraqi
involvement, as suspects who died in the hijackings had allegedly met Iraqi
agents, and used identities stolen from men killed when Iraq invaded Kuwait
in 1990.

The chief of Israeli military intelligence said in an interview published
yesterday that there was no evidence that Iraq was involved. "I don't see a
direct link between Iraq and the hijackings and terror attacks in the United
States," Major- General Amos Malka, told Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth
newspaper. "There is no Iraqi angle or infrastructure that we can point to
at this stage."

President Bush gave hints of America's future intentions when he spoke to
the US Congress last week. "From this day forward, any nation that continues
to harbour or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a
hostile regime," he said. "Americans should not expect one battle, but a
lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have seen." Other nations that the US
has accused of harbouring terrorists in the past include Sudan, Yemen, Syria
and Iran.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, regarded as a hawk, said: "What
you will see evolve over the next six, eight, 10, 12 months, probably over a
period of years, is a coalition that will not be exactly the same with
respect to every activity that the United States or another country might
undertake [against] terrorism."

The US Army Secretary, Thomas E White, said the army was ready to conduct
"sustained land combat operations." The fact that the US originally decided
to call the operation "Infinite Reach" is significant. "It's very hard to
draw a finite box around those sets of activities and say, 'We expect it to
be completed by date X'," he said.

The British Government philosophy behind recent interventions, including
those in Sierra Leone and Macedonia, has been that early, heavy intervention
is better than pinprick strikes or trying to make up ground later. But
Britain would be unwilling to see an open-ended conflict that could cause
greater instability in the Middle East. France, Russia and China would also
oppose the US going further; so would regional allies such as Saudi Arabia.

The US will try to strike a balance between a number of objectives. The
immediate aim is to seize or kill suspects. The US also wants to ensure that
terrorist activity is seriously disrupted in the long term. It wants to
punish the Taliban for hosting al-Qa'ida. It wants to show other countries
the likely consequences if they do not fall into line with US policy. And it
wants to sate the desire for revenge in the US.

But it must get things over quickly. The desire for activity in the US is
very strong now, and so is the willingness to accept casualties. That won't
last. The winter will descend on Afghanistan by November, and Ramadan will
start. Financial markets will be upset by a prolonged campaign. All of these
argue for a swift action. Striking Iraq would require a much larger force.
If it were to go further than an air war, it would also require support from
Saudi Arabia  which may not be immediately forthcoming.

Many Republicans believe Mr Bush's father, who was president during the 1991
Gulf War, should have gone into Iraq against Saddam Hussein. "The first
President Bush ought to have gotten rid of him [during the Gulf War]," said
Mr Helms. "I say that with all due respect to the former president, but that
was one of the major mistakes that was made at that time." Israel is also
concerned that Iraq continues to be the biggest threat to security in the
region.

Iraq denies any link to the attacks. But it says it fears the US may take
the opportunity to strike it again. "Everything is possible," Iraqi
Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan told reporters on Saturday night. "Yet
this is not a new matter to Iraq, which faced ... a more stronger campaign
led by the United States 11 years ago."




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