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[casi] FW: Jordan: Don't bomb Iraq

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Los Angeles Times

Jordan's King Sees Pitfalls in a Strike on Iraq

By Robin Wright
Times Staff Writer

March 17 2002

WASHINGTON -- Jordan's King Abdullah II is urging the Bush
administration to abandon ideas of taking on the regime of Saddam
Hussein, predicting that any U.S. military action against Iraq could
produce an "Armageddon" in the Middle East.

In a telephone interview as he arrived in California for a visit that
began this weekend, Abdullah warned that a U.S.-led operation could too
easily go "completely awry" and even backfire, producing a civil war in
Iraq that could involve neighboring countries--and even have a ripple
effect in the United States and Europe.

"It's the potential Armageddon of Iraq that worries all of us, and
that's where common sense would say, 'Look, this is a tremendously
dangerous road to go down,' " Abdullah said in his first interview since
Vice President Dick Cheney visited him last week to discuss Iraq and the
Israeli-Palestinian crisis. "If our aim is to win against terrorism, we
can't afford more instability in the area."

The king's words were blunter than a Jordanian government statement
after the Cheney meeting. And coming from one of the closest U.S. allies
in the Arab world, his warnings are particularly ominous as the Bush
administration begins sorting through the options in its pledge to
confront Hussein as part of the next stage in the war on terrorism.

Abdullah, 40, the symbol of the region's new generation of leaders, is a
pragmatist who has sought to bridge cultures and push for political
reform in the region. But on Iraq, he sees no room for compromise,
reflecting the now clear-cut position of the majority of Arab leaders.

"A strike against Iraq, the potential fragmentation of Iraq, the
potential nightmare of a civil war as a result of an American strike, is
something that I don't think the region can handle," he said.

As Cheney is finding on his continuing tour of the region, the potential
aftermath of a change at the top in Iraq--after a U.S. departure--is
what most worries Arab regimes, a fear based in part on the long history
of coups and counter-coups in Baghdad before Hussein came to power.
Iraq's neighbors are particularly worried about a new period of massive
instability, Abdullah says.

"Once you go down the road of violence, it is very, very difficult to
control it," he said. "If the region explodes, Europe and the West are
going to have to get involved."

The king disputed comments from some U.S. officials that Arab leaders,
while resisting U.S. proposals to act against Iraq in public, were
acquiescing in private discussions.

On CNN on Saturday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz said
that Mideast leaders have a long history of saying one thing in public
but doing another.

But Abdullah said that on the Iraq issue, the majority of leaders had
been "transparent and honest" about their deep concern over what could
be the consequences of a U.S. strike against Baghdad.

"I really wouldn't make that assumption that there are different
policies behind closed doors--it's unfair to say that," he said. "Most
of us strongly believe that dialogue is the way to go to try to solve
the problem."

As a result, Abdullah and other Arab leaders have been pressing Iraq in
recent days to comply with the United Nations and allow inspectors into
the country to resume their mission of searching for and destroying
weapons of mass destruction.

The king met last Sunday with Izzat Ibrahim, deputy chairman of Iraq's
ruling Revolutionary Command Council, to press Baghdad to end its
stonewalling on the inspections.

Arab leaders, as well as European, Russian and Chinese officials, had
been "very blunt, very straightforward" in delivering this message, he
added. After his meeting with Ibrahim, he said, he believed that the
Iraqi leadership is "beginning to get the message."

Abdullah also said the United States would be making a mistake to think
that its military success in Afghanistan could be a blueprint for action
against Iraq. The vastness of Iraq, its strategic location and oil
wealth, its mix of ethnic and religious groups and, in particular, the
regional dynamics presented far more complex challenges than those in
Afghanistan, he said.

During the rule of his father, King Hussein, Jordan sat out the 1991 war
with Iraq to liberate Kuwait, in large part because of pressure from its
own population. But in the mid-1990s, King Hussein lashed out at Baghdad
and allowed Iraqi dissidents to be based in the Jordanian capital,

Jordan is now home to about 250,000 Iraqi refugees, Abdullah said.

Jordan, which is trying to open up both politically and economically to
provide a new model for the region, remains dependent on Iraq for
discounted oil. Being cut off would cost Amman about $500 million a
year, according to Jordan's foreign minister.

In his wide-ranging comments, Abdullah struck a more optimistic note on
the Arab-Israeli conflict. Based on intense behind-the-scenes
discussions, he predicted that an Arab League summit next week would
give across-the-board support to the Saudi Arabian proposal to offer
Israel full recognition from the 22-member bloc in exchange for
withdrawal from territories it has occupied since the 1967 Middle East
War. The king said Ibrahim told him that even Iraq would not oppose the
Saudi effort.

But Abdullah said that any attempt by Israel to prevent Palestinian
Authority President Yasser Arafat from going to the summit in Beirut
would make it difficult for the Arab world "to do what's positive and

"There could be nothing worse for us moderates but that [Arafat] is
still held hostage in the West Bank when the moderates are really trying
to say that peace with Israel is in our strategic future," he said.

On Islamic extremism, Abdullah warned that the struggle to contain the
threat would take at least the next two decades.
The Sept. 11 attacks on the United States were a wake-up call in the
Islamic world about the scope of the problem, he said.

The major dangers ahead, he predicted, would come not from the Arab
world but from Asia, where Osama bin Laden has been promoting radical
and erroneous interpretations of Islam among people who do not speak the
language of the

"In the Middle East, the battle will be easier won because Arabic is the
first language. Where it will be much harder to do this is in Asia,
where the majority of Muslims don't speak Arabic as a first language and
the Osama bin Ladens have had a head start on us. That's where the heart
of the battle is," he said.
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+ ..... ROCK THE WARMONGERS ..... +
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Col. Walter E. Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now"

See & the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear
Power in Space

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"SPACE WAR LINKS" on U.S. military plans for world war, global control
or, in their words, "full spectrum dominance":

(1) U.S. Space Command's LONG RANGE PLAN:
(5) Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security
Space Management and Organization
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Please help the Plowshares, Catholic Worker & anti-Trident movements &
similar peace-justice-faith-spirit groups.

The blessings of love, peace & justice from Kevin, 47; U.S. Navy veteran
(Vietnam evacuation-pull-out, 1975), former law school student &
newspaper reporter. Pacifist, cyber-info-warrior, gardener, stay-home
father-of-4, in Fla. (Tampa Bay) USA.

A prayer:
"Blessed are the nonviolent peacemakers. Lord, open and soften our
hearts, make us instruments of Your peace. Help us speak truth to power
yet love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to forgive
those who've hurt us, to feed, clothe and house the poor and infirm. Oh
gentle, Merciful Jesus Christ, in Your Grace and Glory come quickly.
Come dear beloved Son of God, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace. Amen.

Gratitude to Daniel and Philip Berrigan (& Liz), and to  Thich Nhat
Hanh, plus the countless, nameless, faceless others. Prayers to Leonard

+ In honor & memory of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Therese of Lisieux
(the Little Flower), Mahatma Gandhi, Peter Maurin, Thomas Merton, Martin
Luther King Jr. & Dorothy Day. +

+ Deo Gratias +
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