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Dear CASI member, Below are two articles about likely US (& UK) bombings of Iraq, after they finish off Afghanistan. The first article is from today’s edition of the Daily Star (Lebanon), and the second is from yesterday’s Jordan Times (Jordan!). URL’s are included at the end of each article. I would also like to take this opportunity to ask if anyone can help me with the following. I need to find an impartial organisation which acknowledges that medicines are difficult to get in northern Iraq (in Sulamayna, Kurdistan, to be specific) and even more difficult to store. Some medicines, such as insulin for diabetes patients, need to be kept in refrigerators, but with electricity cuts occurring every now and then, this causes a serious problem to diabetes patients. Thanks, Salwa, Leiden, The Netherlands A case for moving against Saddam after bin Laden’s defeat in Afghanistan Despite the fact that the war in Afghanistan still has a long way to go, the events of the last several weeks have nevertheless changed many strongly-held convictions. These shifts will have a bearing on the way the US will deal with Iraq in future. With strong American backing, the forces of the Afghan Northern Alliance have scored quick and decisive victories. But it seems that while deciding the Taleban’s fate as a political force has been a relatively straightforward task, the political and diplomatic effort aimed at coming up with an acceptable alternative is still in its infancy, and will undoubtedly be seen as the yardstick by which US and Western success is measured. The measure of success in Afghanistan will be the way in which the Afghan nation is rebuilt and not only the killing (or capture) of Osama bin Laden. It is simply not enough to “dry up the Taleban swamp” to get bin Laden, only to leave another “swamp” in its place which might well spawn another Taleban in coming years. Military campaigns in places such as East Timor, Bosnia and Kosovo were only deemed successful because they created conditions conducive to building more secure and stable societies. Success in Afghanistan in which conditions are more complex will consecrate a new US and international course of action which will inevitably be reflected on other trouble spots, of which Iraq might well be the first. Over the last 10 years, many excuses have been cited against direct American intervention to help overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime. Among these is the absence of an alternative acceptable to neighboring states and fears that the country might slide into chaos, affecting Iraq’s neighbors. Conflicting regional interests and suspicions made the continued existence of the Saddam Hussein regime a second-best choice. Iran fears the rise of a pro-Washington regime in Baghdad, while Damascus fears that the overthrow of the Baathist regime might have negative ramifications for its own survival. For its part, Turkey fears rising Kurdish ambitions, while the Gulf Arab states tremble at the prospect of a Shiite-ruled Iraq which they see as enhancing Iran’s influence over their own Shiite minorities. Divisions among the different factions making up the Iraqi opposition, and the lack of a unified leadership are also reasons for Hussein’s survival as well as the fact that his regime no longer poses a credible threat to Iraq’s neighbors, having been contained by sanctions, no-fly zones, and the presence of US forces in the Gulf. American public opinion is unprepared to countenance the use of US forces for the sake of overthrowing the Iraqi regime, especially since Congress only approved of president George W. Bush’s decision to go to war against Iraq by one vote. Arab and Muslim public opinion is opposed to US intervention in Iraq and there is a lack of an international coalition in support of this sort of action. Russia, with its large commercial stake in Iraq, is particularly opposed. Another issue would be Iraq’s unfettered return to the world oil market, which will cause convulsions that will undermine the interests of all major oil producers. America’s ally Saudi Arabia will be the first to suffer. Another point: cessation of Iraqi oil exports as a result of military intervention will cause oil prices to rise to unacceptable levels. Consequently, it is far better to keep things as they are, with Iraq exporting oil but within defined limits. All these “facts” were somewhat altered by what was achieved in Afghanistan. Consider: If the US shows enough determination, it is able to create new facts on the ground. Washington’s relations with Afghanistan’s neighbors have changed out of all recognition. New alliances have been created which were thought unlikely just a short time ago. The most significant of these is the alliance with Pakistan, which was built at the expense of Islamabad’s close relationship with the Taleban. Another is America’s burgeoning relationship with Russia. The Americans even succeeded in creating a working relationship with Iran. Taking these successes into consideration, Washington will have a considerably easier ride with Iraq’s six neighbors, especially since Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are already strategic allies of the United States. Moreover, when it seemed (in early 1991) that Washington was serious about replacing the Baghdad regime, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran expressed willingness to cooperate and coordinate their positions to that end. Thanks to the efforts of these three, it was possible to convene the first ever joint meeting of the Iraqi opposition in Beirut in March 1991. But once it transpired that the Americans were not serious about unseating Saddam Hussein, this cooperation unraveled. The latest American opinion polls show that 80 percent of the American people support military intervention in Iraq. President George W. Bush’s approval rating is at an all-time high, although it has to be said that a conclusive victory in Afghanistan is needed to maintain this level of public approval. Previous US administrations chose containment of Iraq (through sanctions, no-fly zones, limited air strikes) as a means to preserve the status quo exactly like Washington tolerated the Taleban as a means to preserve the status quo in Afghanistan. The devastating attacks of Sept. 11, however, proved to the US that this policy was in fact a precursor for mayhem. If change in Afghanistan became inevitable as a result of the attacks on New York and Washington, then the festering situation in Iraq requires similar measures from Washington, since the tools it has been using to contain Baghdad have become a burden both for the Iraqi people as well as for America’s interests in the Middle East. A moderate regime in Baghdad, on the other hand, will be a better guarantor for the region’s security and stability than the presence of US forces in the Gulf. The advent of such a regime would hasten the departure of these forces whose presence on Gulf soil was the major impetus for the birth of the “bin Laden phenomenon.” The Taleban regime at least enjoyed a measure of support among the Pashtuns the largest ethnic group in the country. By contrast, the Baathist regime in Baghdad is rejected by almost all the population of Iraq save for a tiny minority of beneficiaries that is prepared to abandon it if it feels that its interests are secure with any future regime. Nevertheless, Iraqis are extremely reluctant to move against Saddam unless they receive cast iron guarantees that the Americans are committed to a change in Baghdad. Memories of the uprising of 1991 are still fresh. One of the lessons coming out of Afghanistan has been that a political alternative that saves the country from disintegrating into murderous chaos is possible despite its ethnic and social diversity. In contrast to Afghanistan, Iraq has never witnessed a civil war. The Iraqi regime, unlike the Taleban with its Pashtun background, doesn’t rely for its existence on a certain ethnic or racial power base. Nevertheless, when Taleban terror was destroyed, all the Afghan people came out in favor of change. If it was possible to prevent Afghanistan from sliding into chaos, then it will be even easier to maintain order in Iraq after the Saddam Hussein regime is destroyed. Regional rivalries played a major role in fomenting civil strife in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s. Therefore, one of the major tasks for Iraq’s neighbors Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey, in preventing the possibility of chaos would be to reassure Iraq’s different communities. Uniting the various factions of the Iraqi opposition will be a much simpler task than that of unifying the various Afghan factions. The Iraqi opposition united readily when it was convinced that change was on the way. This happened in Beirut in 1991 and in Irbil in 1992. Once again, neighboring states can play a positive role in this context, particularly with those opposition factions resident on their soil. Arab public opinion is mainly concerned at the possibility of Washington continuing to deal with the issue of Iraq like it has been doing these past 10 years, i.e. by bombing the country and leaving it at the mercy of the regime. A concerted regional and international drive aimed at supporting the Iraqi people’s desire for democratic change, however, will not only be supported by the Arab peoples as a whole, but will also act as a catalyst for democratic transformation throughout the region. America’s visible success in building a new Afghan state and feeding its people will have a profound effect on how Arab public opinion will view Washington’s role in effecting change in Iraq. Arab oil is no longer as crucial as it once was for the United States. The reason for that, as former energy secretary Bill Richardson once said, is that the US has diversified its sources of energy away from the turbulent Middle East. Nevertheless, Bush has already ordered America’s strategic oil reserves increased from 544 million barrels to 700 million barrels which would allow the US to forego oil imports for three months. In addition, investment in Alaskan oil has been increased. Moreover, questions have been raised about the future of Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, which make post-Saddam Hussein Iraq an ideal source of oil for the US should anything happen that might cut off or disrupt Saudi supplies. Much has changed in the world as a result of Sept. 11, not least among which is the relationship between the US and Russia. It would be very difficult to envisage the Russians sacrificing this improving relationship with Washington for the sake of their interests in Iraq which can be compensated for somewhere else anyway. According to the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 15), former British Foreign Secretary David Owen proposed canceling some old Soviet debts to compensate Russia for the loss of its interests in Iraq. Iraq will become America’s next target, once the lessons of Afghanistan are properly assimilated. In this there is no disagreement between Pentagon “hawks” and State Department “doves.” What is left is to look for the proper means and the appropriate timing. This is in sharp contrast to American policy pre-Sept. 11, when Washington was mainly interested in looking for justifications not to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Ghassan al-Atiyyah is the Iraqi editor of the London-based monthly Al-Malaf Al-Iraqi or Iraqi File (firstname.lastname@example.org) http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/23_11_01_c.htm US will use Iraq arms threat as pretext for attack — Baghdad BAGHDAD (AFP) — Baghdad on Wednesday rejected US accusations that it possesses biological weapons, saying the charge was aimed at paving the way for a US attack on Iraq once Washington had wrapped up its war on Afghanistan. “This campaign ... aims at preparing the climate in and outside the United States for an aggression against Iraq after the end (of the war) in Afghanistan,” Salem Al Kubaisi, who heads the Iraqi parliament's Arab and international relations committee, told AFP. Washington's claim was also aimed at setting the stage at the UN Security Council for issuing a resolution hostile to Iraq when the council discusses the renewal of Baghdad's “oil-for-food” programme with the UN later this month, Kubaisi said. The United States this week accused Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria of violating the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which bans the development, stockpiling and use of biological weapons, by developing a germ warfare capability. “The United States strongly suspects Iraq of having profited from an absence of UN inspectors for three years to step up a gear in all the stages of its programme for offensive biological weapons,” US representative John Bolton told the convention's 144-member states in Geneva on Monday. Even the reports drafted by “the spies of the buried Special Commission confirm that Iraq is free of (biological) weapons,” Kubaisi said in a reference to the now-defunct UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) that was in charge of Iraq's disarmament until its inspectors pulled out of the country in December 1998. Iraq consistently accused some of UNSCOM's experts of spying on behalf of the United States. US claims that Iraq is developing a germ warfare capability follow Washington's “failure to establish a link between the anthrax attacks (in the US) and Iraq,” according to Kubaisi. All US statements indicate that “their aggressive acts in Afghanistan are but the first phase that will be followed by other phases,” the Iraqi official said. “They (Americans) are looking for a state ... whose interests clash with those of the US administration” to be their next target, and “it is only normal that Iraq, whose interests clash with the Americans' aggressive schemes, should be among the first countries targeted in future,” he added. Washington has indicated it will pursue its anti-terror campaign after the end of the war in Afghanistan. http://www.jordantimes.com/thu/news/news6.htm -- _______________________________________________ 1 cent a minute calls anywhere in the U.S.! http://www.getpennytalk.com/cgi-bin/adforward.cgi?p_key=RG9853KJ&url=http://www.getpennytalk.com -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.