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there is some good news and some bad news, on the same day:
a) The United States appears to be in no hurry to make Iraq the next target in the war against terrorism, (AFP)
b) US Prepares to Take on Iraq. The action is tentatively scheduled for mid-January.
I believe the anti-embargo and peace movement has a lot of work to do in the coming weeks to push the balance over to the good-news-side.
WASHINGTON, Dec 16 (AFP) - The United States appears to be in no hurry to make Iraq the next target in the war against terrorism,
according to a published report, but US officials said Sunday they are keeping their options open.
The report by Seymour Hersh, published in the New Yorker magazine's latest issue, said the administration of President George W. Bush is cool to a plan to aid Iraqi opposition forces in unseating President Saddam Hussein with US airpower and special operations ground troops.
The report quotes an unnamed senior administration official as saying the administration had not intention of allowing "a bunch of half-assed people to send foreigners into combat.
"Who among them has ever smelled cordite? They are pissants who can't get the president's ear and have to blame someone else. We're not going to let them lead others down the garden path," the official told Hersh.
However, US officials Sunday emphasized that Iraq remains a threat and said Washington would keep its options open in dealing with Saddam.
"Iraq was a problem before September 11 and it's a problem after September 11," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told CNN.
"It's a problem because that is a regime that is determined to threaten the region, our interests, not to mention its own people.
And it's a regime that we know is determined to get weapons of mass destruction, so that didn't change after September 11."
US President George W. Bush fueled speculation that Iraq would be the next target of Washington's war on terror November 26, when he warned Saddam to allow UN arms inspectors back into the country or face unspecified consequences.
An Iraqi opposition source in Washington told AFP Thursday it was only a matter of time before the United States, buoyed by its success in ousting Afghanistan's Taliban regime, would try to repeat that success against its longtime foe in Baghdad.
"The United States is in the process of compiling evidence about Saddam's support for terrorism and links to the September 11 suicide
hijackers, as well as his development of mass destruction weapons designed for use in terrorist acts," said the senior source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"This is to say that Saddam is a terrorist with a global reach and Washington will inevitably move against him," he said.
But Secretary of State Colin Powell discounted that possibility, while saying the US still would look for opportunities to aid the Iraqi opposition.
"It's quite a different situation. I mean, it's much, much different," he said on the "Fox News Sunday" program. "And I think one has to be careful before you take a cookie cutter from other theater and apply it to another theater."
However, "the United States will do what it believes is necessary and appropriate to defend its national security interests and the interests of its friends and allies," Powell added.
b) American military movements in the last two weeks in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East that radically shift the strategic focus of the
US war on terror westward, bringing Iraq...The action is tentatively scheduled for mid-January.
US Prepares to Take on Iraq
DEBKAfile’s military sources report key American military movements in the last two weeks in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East that radically shift the strategic focus of the US war on terror westward, bringing Iraq, Lebanon and its Syrian-controlled Beqaa Valley into range.
The US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk is heading out of the Arabian Sea, its task in Afghanistan as a floating command center for air and marine forces passing to Kuwait and combining with the Third Army command that is moving out of Atlanta, Georgia.
The 70,000-strong US Third Army is being transferred to Kuwait with several hundred Abrams and Bradley tanks. This relocation of strength ought to be wound up in early January.
Third Army units will be taking up positions at additional points in the Middle East. Elements of its elite 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions will be posted in US bases in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, centering on the giant Sharm el-Sheikh air base at the southern tip of Sinai, with the northern Red Sea, western Saudi Arabia and southern Jordan in its sights. Reserves of those two Third Army divisions are on notice to report after New Year’s Day for duty in Sharm el-Sheikh.
The action is
tentatively scheduled for mid-January.