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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 email@example.com Gabriel voices in the wilderness uk ************************************************** A. 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 Afghanistan. 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 support. 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 complexes. 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 Franks. 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. *********************************************************** B. 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 prisons. 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 them. ************************************************************************ C. 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. ************************************************************************* -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.