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A. MPs press Blair to allow UN vote on Iraq strike, Guardian, 9 April B. Blair warns MPs not to be 'naive', Independent, 9 April C. How Saddam will go, Daily Telegraph, 9 April [leading article] D. Blair will stick to his guns over Iraq, The Times, 9 April E. Defiant Blair attacks critics of his stance on Iraq, The Financial Times, 9 April Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org Independent: email@example.com Telegraph: firstname.lastname@example.org The Times: email@example.com The Financial Times: firstname.lastname@example.org [Letter writers: Remember to include your address and phone number and that all letters to the Times are supposed to be exclusive!] Here's a round-up from today's papers. Note the Telegraph leader-writers conception of 'the good.' Best wishes, Gabriel voices uk ***************************************************** A. MPs press Blair to allow UN vote on Iraq strike Patrick Wintour and Michael White Tuesday April 9, 2002 The Guardian Tony Blair is facing mounting backbench pressure to commit himself to a UN vote on any allied military action against Iraq following his weekend speech in the US suggesting he might at some stage back a US-led military offensive to change the regime in Baghdad. He is also facing Labour backbench calls for an arms embargo on Israel, coupled with economic sanctions, issues already under discussion by the EU. Mr Blair will face down his critics tomorrow at a meeting with Labour MPs and then in a Commons statement nominally confined to the crisis in Israel. Mr Blair, on his way back from the US, described his critics as utterly naive, and remains puzzled by the degree of opposition to his stance. Appealing for calm over Iraq, he told reporters on the plane: "All I say to people is let's not get ahead of ourselves here. We are still in the position of identifying the problem and laying down conditions for Saddam." Unspecified military action, discussed by the prime minister and President George Bush in one-on-one talks, remains the last resort, though Mr Blair has come close to committing himself to supporting it if the US decides to attempt a "regime change". But a phalanx of Labour MPs expressed concern at Mr Blair's proximity to Mr Bush. The former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle said he had "concerns about being seen to be tied in to some of the more adventurous notions of the American administration". He added: "To deal with Iraq, you need to deal with the problems in the UN, not through unilateral or bilateral action." George Galloway accused Mr Blair of "basking in the adulation of the hard-right US Republican administration". Tam Dalyell said Mr Blair would face tough questioning at his meeting with Labour MPs. Downing Street tried to calm the mood by insisting that Mr Blair's speech following his talks with Mr Bush did not signal a hardening of the British position against Iraq. Mr Blair's critics demanded that the British government emphasise that Saddam should be given a full chance to allow UN weapons inspec tors back into his country. The UN alone should then decide if Saddam remains in defiance and military action is justified. Clare Short, the international development secretary, openly argued this case before she was silenced by Mr Blair. In his weekend speech, Mr Blair stressed the need for international coalitions, but was silent on the need for a fresh UN resolution on Iraq, something the US opposes. Downing Street yesterday denied there was a need for a fresh UN mandate since Saddam was already in breach of nine existing UN resolutions. Mr Blair's Commons statement on the Israel crisis will spell out plans for a fresh UN resolution based on ideas set out over the past two months by the Saudi government. He will also also confirm that Britain is willing to send ceasefire monitors to the region, as part of a UN force. The foreign office minister Ben Bradshaw yesterday gave a flavour of British frustration with Israel by warning the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, that he was playing a dangerous game in refusing to comply with the US request to withdraw his forces from the West Bank. However, the commitment to UN resolutions on Israel only served to incense Labour MPs already angry at the possibility of a unilateral military strike against Iraq. Richard Burden, the pro-Palestinian MP on the centre-left of the party, warned Mr Blair: "If we expect our words about human rights or our warnings about Iraq to have any credibility in the Arab world, we must demonstrate by our actions that Israel has an obligation to abide by the decisions of the UN just as much as Iraq or anywhere else." The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell, said Mr Blair's speech "lacked any analysis of the consequences for the region of the break-up of Iraq and the regional instability that would be caused as a result". ************************************************ B. Blair warns MPs not to be 'naive' By Paul Waugh and Colin Brown Independent 09 April 2002 Tony Blair will attempt to silence his Labour critics tomorrow with a Commons statement on the Middle East and an impassioned plea for MPs not to be "naïve" about Saddam Hussein. The twin-track strategy will be deployed by the Prime Minister when he attends a meeting of the full Parliamentary Labour Party to explain his foreign policy goals to restive backbenchers. Mr Blair will stress that Britain and the United States will be backing a new UN-led effort to tackle the Middle East conflict, with a security council resolution embodying Saudi peace plans. The proposals by Crown Prince Abdullah aim to grant Arab recognition of Israel in return for a lasting settlement for the Palestinians. The emphasis on the United Nations involvement is an attempt to address the concerns of many Labour MPs worried by Mr Blair's warning of military action and "regime change" in Iraq. He will make clear no "precipitate action" would be taken against President Saddam, but will also stress the determination to remove the threat posed by the dictator's weapons of mass destruction. The Prime Minister's message will be backed by John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, who may speak in his support at the meeting. ************************************************ C. How Saddam will go Daily Telegraph (Filed: 09/04/2002) FOLLOWING the weekend summit in Texas between Tony Blair and George Bush, it is now the agreed policy of the one superpower and its closest ally that Saddam Hussein be overthrown. Although the method and timing have yet to be decided, it is already clear that his removal is militarily feasible. The American-led coalition drove the Iraqis from Kuwait in 1991 with minimal allied casualties, and could have rolled north to Baghdad had it so wished. Since then, the balance of power has shifted in Washington's favour. Although the Iraqi armed forces have increased in size, they have been weakened by United Nations sanctions. It is thought that all army divisions other than the Republican Guard are at 50 per cent combat effectiveness, and that half the equipment lacks spare parts. In the air force, serviceability of both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters is poor. In the same period, American weaponry has made huge advances, particularly in precision bombing with satellite-guided Joint Directed Attack Munitions, in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles as missile platforms, and in special forces operations. Its power was felt by Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo and Serbia in 1999, and by the Taliban and al-Qa'eda in Afghanistan last year. Added to this, September 11 has helped to dispel the American fear of taking casualties engendered by failure in Vietnam and revived by the deaths of 18 servicemen in Mogadishu in 1993. The coalition to oust Saddam will not be as large and wide as it was to drive him out of Kuwait, but it will pack far more punch. As to how it will be done, the options range from a coup d'etat engineered by the CIA to a full-scale ground invasion. The most likely is to use American air power in support of a local uprising by the Shi'ites and Kurds, who make up well over half the population, with ground forces standing by to assist them if necessary. Whatever method is used, it must be clear to Saddam's opponents within Iraq that Washington is determined to see the job through; it is that resolve which will encourage the many victims of his brutality to revolt. Unleashing the air power seen over the Balkans and Afghanistan will almost certainly be the opening phase of any action. Ground forces will almost certainly have to go in in support. But it seems improbable that as many as 250,000, a figure often quoted, will be necessary. As to timing, that must depend on allied preparedness, not on external factors such as the state of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. The absence of weapons inspectors in Iraq is a direct challenge to the authority of the UN and a grave threat to stability in the Middle East. Finishing business left undone by George Bush Sr and Bill Clinton is an imperative in its own right, whatever may be happening on the West Bank. To link one issue with the other is to tempt Palestinian terrorists to bomb Israel in the hope of postponing or even preventing an attack on Iraq. As to the political outcome, it would be gratifying to see in Baghdad a democratic government which respected human rights, rather than a clan-dominated totalitarian state. But the best must not be the enemy of the good. What might follow the collapse of the Takritis is very difficult to predict. The allies need not be committed to a particular successor regime, although they should certainly encourage popular groups seeking Saddam's replacement, such as the Iraqi National Congress. Their primary job is to remove a man whose long rule has been founded on violence. At Crawford over the weekend Messrs Blair and Bush cast the die: sooner or later, Saddam will go. What is now required in Britain, which will play a subsidiary but important role in any operation, is a debate as to how we can best contribute to this goal. Its swift achievement promises to enhance Western prestige in the Middle East, whether in dealing with the terrorist threat posed by Iran and Syria or in persuading the Palestinians that suicide-bombing is self-defeating. The tools for the task are to hand. Its completion could turn the Middle East round. ************************************************ D. Blair will stick to his guns over Iraq By Philip Webster and David Charter The Times April 09, 2002 TONY BLAIR has vowed to quell a growing rebellion by Labour MPs over Iraq tomorrow by promising that action to stop President Saddam Hussein’s production of weapons of mass destruction would be taken “for the right reasons in the right way”. The Prime Minister has no intention of retreating from his statement in Texas on Sunday that he is ready, if necessary, to back military action aimed at toppling Saddam. With any campaign believed to be at least a year away, Mr Blair will try to defuse the revolt by insisting that that there will be no rushed action. He will say that he intends to follow the United Nations’ route of trying to force Saddam to comply with resolutions demanding the admission of weapons inspectors. Mr Blair believes he can win over Labour MPs to the need for military action, but he will face tough questioning at a private meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party tomorrow. In the afternoon he is to give a formal statement to MPs on his weekend summit with President Bush and their proposals for a political process in the Middle East. He has offered British monitors to verify that the Palestinian Authority is apprehending alleged terrorists and that Israel keeps to the terms of any ceasefire by stopping its incursions into the occupied territories. But in the morning Mr Blair will see for himself whether the scale of Labour opposition to war against Iraq has increased. A total of 125 Labour MPs have signed a Commons motion expressing unease over potential military involvement against Iraq, but the dissent goes wider. One of those who has not signed, Denzil Davies, a former Labour Shadow Defence Secretary, added his voice to those calling for restraint. Mr Davies said: “We need to see evidence that there is a very real danger to peace and security from Saddam Hussein having or acquiring weapons of mass destruction. “My own feeling is that, if this has to be done, it needs a strong UN mandate. I know there are certain resolutions which go back to the Gulf War, but they would need to be underpinned by something new. Certainly many of us in the Parliamentary Labour Party would look for an underpinning in terms of a fresh UN resolution.” Peter Kilfoyle, the former Labour Defence Minister, spoke of his concerns about being seen to be “tied to some of the more adventurous notions of the American Administration”. He said: “People in breach of UN security council resolutions should be called to account before the UN. It is not a question of one or two countries acting in a gung-ho way.” Expecting trouble, Mr Blair took the unusual step of ensuring that his speech in College Station, Texas, on Sunday was seen in advance not only by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, but John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is closely in touch with backbench opinion. On his flight back yesterday, Mr Blair tackled the issue of the mood of Labour MPs when he said: “A lot of the anxieties people have is because they think we will act precipitately. But we are not at the point of decision. We are at the point of saying that this is a real issue which we cannot duck. Saddam Hussein must let the inspectors in without conditions.” Mr Blair added: “What you will find is that most people want us to act for the right reasons in the right way. Very few people in the PLP — how could they — defend Saddam Hussein or do not agree that weapons of mass destruction are an issue and that it is important we stop them developing them.” However, he added: “Let us not get ahead of ourselves. We are still in the process of identifying the problems, and laying down clear demands to Saddam Hussein. People do not want us to act precipitately for the wrong reasons in the wrong way. I hope people realise that we will not do that. But this is an issue that will not go away.” Mr Blair is believed to have told Mr Bush that when the time comes Britain will back action against Iraq. But they agreed at the weekend that a long process of convincing Iraq’s neighbours that Saddam could be successfully ousted, and making sure that there was a viable successor regime, would be needed. In the meantime Mr Blair will continue to press the UN route, trying to build the widest possible coalition. He said yesterday that if Saddam refused to grant access to inspectors, he would be clearly wrong in the eyes of the UN. Advisers say that Mr Blair believes the coalition can be recreated if Saddam continues to flout UN resolutions. In the end the credibility of the organisation may depend on action being taken. Glenda Jackson, another former minister, said: “I think it is very irresponsible to be upping the rhetoric with regard to any possible action on Iraq without the relevant evidence that Saddam is engaged in the creation of weapons of mass destruction and has the ability to deliver them.” Michael Ancram, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, backed the line taken by Mr Blair and Mr Bush. “They made clear the objective, which is the removal of these weapons, and they made clear they will pursue whatever means are necessary to achieve that objective.” ********************************************************* E. Defiant Blair attacks critics of his stance on Iraq Financial Times; Apr 9, 2002 By BRIAN GROOM Tony Blair accused his critics of "getting ahead of themselves" on Iraq as he prepared to face hostile questioning at a meeting of Labour MPs tomorrow. "People will make their judgments when we make our judgments," the prime minister said as he returned from weekend talks at US President George W. Bush's ranch in Texas. "(The media) can go to members of the parliamentary Labour party and they will tell you what frankly they would have told you at the time of the Gulf war. Let's just wait and see. Most people will make their judgments when we explain why we had come to the judgment that we have," he said. However, with more than 100 Labour MPs having signed a motion voicing "deep unease" at future military action, backbenchers say opposition within the party goes beyond the usual small band of leftwing critics. Glenda Jackson, one of the signatories and a former minister, called Mr Blair's comments "irresponsible". She said: "I think it is very irresponsible to be upping the rhetoric with regard to any possible action on Iraq without the relevant evidence that Saddam is engaged in the creation of weapons of mass destruction and has the ability to deliver them. Until that potential has been verified, the international community should be concentrating on what is already happening in the Middle East." Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow and the longest-serving MP, said opposition to Mr Blair's stance on Iraq could not be so easily dismissed. "This is not just the usual suspects. There will have to be a very serious meeting of the PLP on Wednesday." Mr Blair has assured the US people he will stand by them if it comes to military action to oust Saddam Hussein, while telling his UK audience that decisions are a long way off. British officials believe any attack could be a year or more away. "A lot of the anxieties people have are because they think we are going to act precipitately. We're not. What we are at is the point of saying this is a real issue. We can't duck it," he said. Iraq has rejected Mr Blair's demand to allow United Nations weapons inspectors to return to the country "any time, any place". He said: "If Iraq is rejecting weapons inspectors, if they are rejecting the UN resolutions, then they are putting themselves very clearly in the wrong." _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk