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3 Iraq-related pieces from the Observer

3 Iraq-related pieces from today's (2nd December) Observer:

A. Secret plan for Iraq war
B. The case for tough action against Iraq
C. Will Iraq be next? What the experts say

A.'s title is self-explanatory. B. is a shameful genuflection before Western
state violence. The author notes that 'there is more evidence of contact
between Iraqi intelligence officers and the 19 hijackers than there is of
their personal involvement with al Qaeda', which may well be true but says
more about the war on Afghanistan than it does about Iraq's possible
involvement in September 11.

C. is an opinion round-up from a bunch of 'experts': 'revitalize containment
.. [and] strengthen sanctions' (Ivo H. Daalder); 'a full-scale military
assault on Iraq is unlikely for the time being' (former special adviser to
Robin Cook); 'it is hard to see what more could be done other than a
punitive and probably ineffectual bombing campaign ... I would guess that
the next stage with Iraq will be largely diplomatic, in an effort to get a
consensus on a new sanctions regime, and that any build up to military
action will be gradual.' (Lawrence Freedman);  'the US will build
international pressure using the original UN resolutions of the 1990s as a
basis' (Dan Plesch); 'Iraq is firmly in the sights for much more intensive
military action but not for some time, not least because of a temporary
shortage of munitions' (Paul Rogers); 'there is now a real possibility that
the US will launch ... an attack [against Iraq] - if only to avoid being
seen as weak when an escalating rhetoric from Washington fails to produce
results' (Malcolm Chalmers).

Letters (which should be mailed before Wednesday) can be sent to

voices in the wilderness uk


Secret US plan for Iraq war

Bush orders backing for rebels to topple Saddam

War on Terrorism: Observer special

Peter Beaumont, Ed Vulliamy and Paul Beaver
Sunday December 2, 2001
The Observer

America intends to depose Saddam Hussein by giving armed support to Iraqi
opposition forces across the country, The Observer has learnt.
President George W. Bush has ordered the CIA and his senior military
commanders to draw up detailed plans for a military operation that could
begin within months.

The plan, opposed by Tony Blair and other European Union leaders, threatens
to blow apart the increasingly shaky international consensus behind the
US-led 'war on terrorism'.

It envisages a combined operation with US bombers targeting key military
installations while US forces assist opposition groups in the North and
South of the country in a stage-managed uprising. One version of the plan
would have US forces fighting on the ground.

Despite US suspicions of Iraqi involvement in the 11 September attacks, the
trigger for any attack, sources say, would be the anticipated refusal of
Iraq to resubmit to inspections for weapons of mass destruction under the
United Nations sanctions imposed after the Gulf war.

According to the sources, the planning is being undertaken under the
auspices of a the US Central Command at McDill air force base in Tampa,
Florida, commanded by General Tommy Franks, who is leading the war against

Another key player is understood to be former CIA director James Woolsey.
Sources say Woolsey was sent to London by the hawkish Deputy Defence
Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, soon after 11 September to ask Iraqi opposition
groups if they would participate in an uprising if there was US military

The New York Times yesterday quoted a senior administration official who
admitted that Bush's aides were looking at options that involved
strengthening groups that opposed Saddam. Richard Armitage, the Deputy
Secretary of State, said that action against Iraq was not imminent, but
would come at a 'place and time of our choosing'.

Washington has been told by its allies that evidence it has presented of an
Iraqi link to 11 September is at best circumstantial. However, US proponents
 of extending the war believe they can make the case for hitting Saddam's
regime over its plan to produce weapons of mass destruction.

A European diplomat said last week: 'In the past week the Americans have
shut up about Iraqi links to 11 September and have been talking a lot more
about their weapons programme.'

The US is believed to be planning to exploit existing UN resolutions on
Iraqi weapons programmes to set the action off.

Under the pre-existing 'red lines' for military action against Iraq - set
down by Washington and London after the Gulf War - evidence of any credible
threat from weapons of mass destruction would be regarded as sufficient to
launch military strikes along the lines of Operation Desert Fox in 1998,
when allied planes made large-scale strikes against suspected Iraqi weapons

Opposition by Blair and French President Jacques Chirac may not be enough to
dissuade the Americans. One European military source who recently returned
from General Franks's headquarters in Florida said: 'The Americans are
walking on water. They think they can do anything at the moment and there is
bloody nothing Tony [Blair] can do about it.'

Bush is said to have issued instructions about the proposals, which are now
at a detailed stage, to his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, three weeks
ago. But Pentagon sources say that a plan for attacking Iraq was developed
by the time Bush's order was sent to the Pentagon, drawn up by Rumsfeld,
Paul Wolfowitz, chairman of the joint chiefs General Richard Myers, and

The plan is to work with a combination of three political forces: Kurdish
rebels in the north of Iraq, radical Sunni Muslim groups in and around
Baghdad, and, most controversially, the Shia opposition in the south.

The most adventurous ingredient in the anti-Iraqi proposal is the use of US
ground troops, Pentagon sources say. 'Significant numbers' of ground troops
could also be called on in the early stages of any rebellion to guard oil
fields around the Shia port of Basra in southern Iraq.


The case for tough action against Iraq

David Rose argues that the West is paying the price for mistakes made 10
years ago

Sunday December 2, 2001
The Observer

It makes little difference whether you like your foreign policy driven
mainly by ethics or by cynicism - the decisions made by the Western-led
coalition at the end of the Gulf war in 1991 were a catastrophe.
Now, as the United States and its European allies argue over extending the
'war on terrorism' to Iraq, the doves are using the arguments they deployed
10 years ago. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.

In 1991, the Shia of the South and the Kurds of the North answered George
Bush Snr's call to 'remove the dictator, Saddam Hussein,' by seizing cities
and much of the country with breathtaking ease.

Washington had already allowed Iraq's best troops, the Republican Guard, to
exit the Kuwait battlefront unscathed. Now, far from providing the support
the rebels had expected, the US told Iraq it had 'no objection' if it wished
to fly its gunships. Saddam used these forces to massacre tens of thousands
of civilians, while US planes studded the sky overhead. This was connivance
in mass murder.

The West had decided to stick with the devil it knew, and tried, through UN
nuclear, biological and chemical weapons inspectors, to contain him.

A decade later, the sequel unfolds. There is no evidence of Iraqi
involvement in the atrocities of 11 September, say the doves, and therefore
no legal basis for hostile action. (In fact, as The Observer reported
earlier this month, there is more evidence of contact between Iraqi
intelligence officers and the 19 hijackers than there is of their personal
involvement with al Qaeda.) Iraq, it is claimed, is no longer a threat to
the West or the Middle East. Attacking it would end Arab support for the
anti-terrorist coalition, and risk a fundamentalist firestorm from Islamabad
to the Mediterranean.

These arguments are questionable. Saddam asserts that he no longer has an
interest in developing nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. However, he
made identical claims time and again before 1998, while taking steps to
conceal vast stockpiles of biological agents and nerve gas, and a nuclear
programme which was close to success.

Meanwhile, there is clear evidence that Iraq has trained hundreds of
terrorists in hijacking, sabotage and murder. How are these 'not a threat'?
As for the coalition, while in 1991 several Arab countries deployed troops,
their support this time does seem more tenuous. The public pasting given to
Blair by President Assad of Syria suggests its value is limited.

In an article in Friday's Daily Mail , the academic Mark Almond described
the thinking which underpins the Iraqi quietists' position. For our friends
in Damascus, Riyadh and the Emirates, 'the overriding nightmare is that
America would impose Western-style democracy on the region, starting with
post-Saddam Iraq.'

This classification of democracy as a 'nightmare' has precedents. For most
of the Cold War, Latin America either languished under pro-Western,
murderous fascist autocracies or endured insurgency from murderous
pro-Western guerrillas. Democracy, the Western foreign policy experts
argued, was too good for the Hispanics. Today, most of the continent is
relatively democratic, with an absence of death squads and political

We need to make an analogous paradigm shift in policy towards Iraq and the
Islamic world. Democracy is not too good for Arabs and Muslims, either, and
Iraq, with a long secular tradition, and a big, well-educated middle class,
ought to be an ideal place to establish a bridgehead. Haltingly, step by
step, its neighbour Iran is already moving of its own accord in the same
direction. Making that shift helps to determine what we should do. The
answer is not the military coup pursued with futility by the CIA throughout
the 1990s; nor the replacing of one tyrant with another. Nor is it to pick a
fight over the refusal to allow renewed weapons inspections, to bomb heavily
yet again and then withdraw. It is to support democratic forces which
already exist, in the shape of the Iraqi National Congress.

The foreign policy Arabists have briefed the media that the INC is a
disorganised, divided rabble. In fact, it is supported by the overwhelming
majority of Iraq's liberals and intellectuals, and has become by far the
best source of information on what is actually happening there.

This support must and will include military force. And once committed, it
must, unlike in 1991, be maintained. Last week, in a safe house in the
Middle East, I spoke to a recent defector who had been very high in one of
the organs of repression in Saddam's 'republic of fear'. 'If the Iraqi
people realise that this time the West is seriously targeting the regime,
even the supposedly most loyal security and military units will run away,'
he said. 'No one wants a rerun of 1991. Just drop some bombs on his palaces
so we know you mean business. It will take days.' There are occasions in
history when the use of force is both right and sensible. This is one of


Will Iraq be next? What the experts say

Will the "war on terrorism" extend beyond Afghanistan? The Observer asked
Lawrence Freedman, David Clark, Ivo Daalder and more foreign policy analysts
from Britain and America read the runes

Sunder Katwala
Sunday December 2, 2001
The Observer

"Will Iraq be next? Many inside and out of the Bush administration say: Yes.
But the risks of going to war against Iraq are huge. Unless Saddam Hussein
is linked to Sept. 11 or subsequent terrorism, the U.S. would have to act
alone. Nor would it be easy. Iraq is not Afghanistan - the opposition is
weaker and the regime stronger.

Instead, Washington must revitalize containment. To avoid war, Europeans
must agree to strengthen sanctions, back the return of inspectors (by
threatening or using force), and support clear red lines for Saddam: no
force against his people or neighbors; no support for terrorism of any kind;
no possession, transfer or use of mass destruction weapons."
Ivo H. Daalder
Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

"A full-scale military assault on Iraq is unlikely for the time being. In
Afghanistan, the US had allies, the legal authority of self-defence and a
proxy army in the form of the Northern Alliance. Against Iraq, they will
have none of those things. A limited campaign to enforce UN resolutions
combined with covert action to destabalise the regime is more plausible. If
Bush is wise, he will seek to offset moves against Iraq with decisive action
to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. This will be difficult as
long as Ariel Sharon remains in power."
David Clark
Former special adviser to Robin Cook at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

"The United States has made it clear that it expects to take its 'war on
terrorism' to other countries, but it has not committed itself to any course
of action and it has yet to finish off the current campaign in a definitive
way. Of the countries mentioned as possibly knowingly harbouring terrorists,
Yemen and Sudan are working quite hard on their relationship with the US,
and so any action in those countries may be with consent. Somalia is more
problematic, especially given the history of US intervention in that
country, and it is not obvious that the Americans have decent enough
intelligence. That leaves Iraq where it is hard to see what more could be
done other than a punitive and probably ineffectual bombing campaign. There
is no Northern Alliance or KLA to support in a position to overthrow Saddam.
The allies are all lukewarm about further action, especially without evident
movement on the Arab-Palestinian front to counter the inevitable criticism
of an anti-Arab bias. I would guess that the next stage with Iraq will be
largely diplomatic, in an effort to get a consensus on a new sanctions
regime, and that any build up to military action will be gradual."
Lawrence Freedman
Professor of War Studies, King's College, London

"US ground operations in Afghanistan will last well into next year. At the
same time the US will apply pressure to all states of concern. Some, such as
Somalia will be asked to allow intrusive US activity to check on terrorist
activity. In the major case of Iraq, the US will build international
pressure using the original UN resolutions of the 1990s as a basis. European
and Arab opposition may be countered by possible strong support from Russia.
US - Russian action on Iraq may produce the desired changes in Iraqi policy
without necessarily changing the regime. Fear of Russian support in Iraq
will persuade Europeans to be more supportive of the US."
Dan Plesch
Royal United Services Institute

"The war may go on through the winter, but an extension to other countries
such as Somalia is likely, mainly in the form of raids on presumed
paramilitary centres. Iraq is firmly in the sights for much more intensive
military action but not for some time, not least because of a temporary
shortage of munitions. The "war on terrorism" is likely to last several
years, into a (presumed) Bush second term. US unilateralism has been
re-inforced by recent events and European influence on future US actions
will be weak.
Paul Rogers
Professor of Peace Studies, Bradford University

"It now seems probable that some sort of military action will be taken
against Al-Qaeda facilities in other countries. Somalia is beginning to
emerge as the most obvious candidate. Action might well involve special
forces as well as bombing raids. European governments support military
action directed against the groups that are linked to the 11 September
atrocities. If bases in other countries are also connected to groups linked
to the September 11 atrocities, European governments are also likely, in the
end, to support action against them.

But - in the absence of new information - an attempt to overthrow the Iraqi
regime by force could not be justified on this basis - and further bombings
without such an attempt would simply be gesture warfare. Demands for the
return of UN inspectors have nothing to do with the war against the
terrorists responsible for the WTC. Despite this, there is now a real
possibility that the US will launch such an attack - if only to avoid being
seen as weak when an escalating rhetoric from Washington fails to produce
results. If the attack on Iraq involves a protracted ground campaign - with
all the buildup in neighbouring countries this would involve - the political
fallout in Europe and the Middle East would be very serious indeed.

The UK has a real opportunity to support the moderates in Washington - but
only if Blair draws his own 'line in the sand' - making it clear that
Britain would join other European governments in publicly opposing a major
military campaign against Iraq if the Americans ignored his advice. If there
is clear evidence of an Iraqi hand in September 11 - evidence which has not
so far been produced - things would be different."
Professor Malcolm Chalmers
Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford.


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