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A. Iraq rearming for war, say defectors, Guardian, 29 April B. Happy birthday Mr President. But your party masks a nation living in fear, Guardian, 29 April C. US offensive on Iraq 'postponed until next year', Independent, 29 April D. Bush has blueprint to oust Saddam, Telegraph, 29 April E. Dark clouds hang over Iraq during a time of celebration, FT, 29 April F. U.S. Envisions Blueprint on Iraq Including Big Invasion Next Year, New York Times, 29 April Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org Independent: email@example.com Telegraph: firstname.lastname@example.org Financial Times: email@example.com [Letter writers: remember to include your address and telephone number!] Most of today's broadsheets (in A, C, D and E) report the latest revelations regarding War Plan Iraq that appeared in yesterday's New York Times (reproduced here under F), though in A. this is buried in para. 12. I'm reproducing Gaskill's piece (B), largely for the benefit of those subscribed to the CASI discussion list, since the following passage is reminiscent of comments made by Ragi Omah in a recent piece for the BBC that was discussed on the list: 'The prospect of war comes as the country is beginning to recover from the economic disaster caused in the main by sanctions. In the past two years, the standard of living in Baghdad has greatly improved. The main street, Arasat, sells every available luxury, though in the suburbs life can still be harsh. People are generally better dressed. Brand new and expensive cars are fast replacing the beat-up vehicles that Iraqis so skilfully maintained throughout the sanctions. What is galling for the Iraqis is that just as they see a semblance of normality returning, they face the prospect of a return to economic ruin.' I note here that not much evidence is provided to support the conclusion that Iraq 'is beginning to recover from the economic disaster caused in the main by sanctions' (after all, I should imagine that 'luxury' goods are beyond the means of most folk). Furthermore, whatever the situation in Baghdad I doubt that this is representative of the country as a whole. Best wishes, Gabriel voices uk *********************************************************** A. Iraq rearming for war, say defectors Baghdad buying up east European weapons Julian Borger Monday April 29, 2002 The Guardian Weapons from eastern Europe are being smuggled through Syria into Iraq, as Saddam Hussein builds up his defences in anticipation of a US-led assault, according to Iraqi officers who have recently fled to Europe. The defectors, all members of the dissident Iraqi Officers' Movement (IOM), described an atmosphere of high tension and paranoia bordering on panic within the Baghdad regime. While putting its forces on high alert and establishing new bunkers, it has stepped up executions of officers and civil ians suspected of disloyalty. But the crackdown has only contributed to a downward spiral in military morale, even in the elite units that the defectors are drawn from. Poor and irregular pay, fear of bombing and concern over potential purges have rapidly pushed up the rate of desertions, despite the danger of reprisals, to the extent that well over a quarter of the 400,000-strong army are now missing from their posts. The three defectors, who spoke to the Guardian at the weekend, left Iraq during the past six months. They served in different capacities under Qusay Hussein, the president's son who is responsible for the inner ring of the dictatorship's defences. They were accompanied by a senior IOM official, General Nawaf al-Malki, who defected in 1989. The interviews took place in a European capital, which the officers asked not to be named, for fear of being tracked down. They provided their real names, but asked for pseudonyms to be printed in an effort to protect their families and friends. According to their accounts, together with research done by the IOM - which works undercover inside the regime to recruit defectors and gather information from members still working for President Saddam - the first of three arms consignments bound for Iraq arrived in the Syrian port of Latakia on February 23. "We know that two more shipments are on the way, but we don't know if they have already arrived," General al-Malki said. The first consignment included anti-aircraft missiles, rockets and guidance systems for Iraq's long-range variants of the old Soviet Scud missile, all illegal under the UN embargo. The shipment, which cost Baghdad $800,000 (£550,000), originated from the Czech Republic under export licences for Syria and Yemen. Its unloading at Latakia was overseen by an Iraqi intelligence officer, Lt Col Khaled al-Adhani, who also oversaw its diversion from its official destination by road to Iraq. One of the recent defectors, Colonel Khaled Ayad al-Dilemi, from the 12,000-strong elite Special Republican Guard, said that one of his fellow officers had also been dispatched to Latakia to provide protection for the shipment. The smuggling operation is just one element in Iraq's build-up, said the defectors, who were all adamant that President Saddam had stepped up his development of nuclear, chemical and biological arms since the departure of UN weapons inspectors in 1998. However, they conceded that their evidence for any such build-up was anecdotal and indirect. According to a document provided by the defectors, the regime is attempting to develop a radar system capable of detecting US stealth aircraft. The focus of the work is being carried out at the Salahaddin Enterprise, which makes electronics near the town of al-Daur, about 130km north-west of the capital. According to the document, the military-run enterprise claimed to have achieved a breakthrough on March 25, and had been ordered by President Saddam in person to produce 150 of the prototype radars. The New York Times reported yesterday that the US administration was fine-tun ing plans for an air and ground assault against Iraq involving up to 250,000 troops, although it said the campaign, originally contemplated for this autumn, was likely to postponed until early next year. According to the defectors, the Iraqi regime is already braced for an attack "at any time". In March, the nation's defences were arranged into five zones, centring on Baghdad, and the military commanders were reshuffled. The growth in military preparations has been accompanied by a surge in brutality, marked by mass executions. Before fleeing less than a month ago, the third defector, Mohamed Daham al-Tikriti, was a lieutenant colonel in al-Emen al-Am (general security), Iraq's secret police. Part of his unit's function was to help conceal the mass graves of the regime's victims. Lt Col al-Tikriti, a member of the president's clan, said: "In February, between 150 and 200 civilians were killed because Saddam felt they were dangerous, but as far as I could see it was largely random. They were shot and buried in a mass grave in the desert near Saddam's palace in al-Radhwaniyah", a few kilometres west of Baghdad. He estimated that the rate of executions had nearly doubled since last year, and that 1,500 civilians had been killed in the first two months of the year. Lt Col al-Samarrai reported a similar increase in the executions of suspect officers. He and Col al-Dilemi both escaped because they were tipped off by friends in general security. The campaign of terror has served only to accelerate the rate of desertions. Lt Col al-Tikriti said that about 40% of the general security rank and file were missing from their posts at the time he fled. He said senior officials were "trying to get money to turn it into dollars and euros, to get forged papers under other names so that they can run away when the moment arrives. They will all leave. Since December, they have been moving around staying in different places, on special farms, even in their cars, in fear of an attack." Military desertions have also accelerated as fears grow of a devastating US air campaign. "I would say 15% of the army had left already. Then 10% more in the three months before I left and then probably many more in the past few weeks," Lt Col al-Samarrai said. Col al-Dilemi said the collapse in morale also affected the once loyal special republican guard, because the intense scrutiny they are under make sudden death a constantly increasing likelihood. "If anybody has a question mark over them, they will be taken away and the next day they shoot him," he said. "Officers came to me and said, we'll pay you as much as you need. Just say I'm a bad officer, so they'll discharge me. He added: "Some try to break their own arms to get themselves discharged." *************************************************************** B. Happy birthday Mr President. But your party masks a nation living in fear Ewen MacAskill in Tikrit Monday April 29, 2002 The Guardian A monumental golden horse leaping from a gilded tank stood at the centre of a lavishly executed public display of adoration laid on to mark Saddam Hussein's birthday in his home town of Tikrit last night. He was 65, though there is no retirement age for Iraqi dictators. Provincial officials had struggled to come up with something suitably splendid to mark the celebrations. Not an easy challenge, bearing in mind that the Iraqi leader's personality cult is as strong as ever and he is honoured with a seemingly infinite number of statues and portraits, most of them, it seems, located in Tikrit. Which is why they settled on the monument of President Saddam (containing 76 kilograms of silver) astride a golden steed - itself on top of a tank headed toward the al-Aqsa mosque, the Muslim holy shrine in Jerusalem - as the necessary ostentatious mark of respect. More than 100,000 Iraqis paraded through the streets of his birthplace while army officers and foreign dignitaries crowded into a stadium to hear speeches, listen to martial music and watch traditional dancing. Officials said that about one million people had joined the parades nationwide - many of them shouting anti-American slogans and some burning dollar bills. Attendance at the rallies was practically mandatory. Hundreds of children danced in the Tikrit stadium yesterday, dressed in traditional Iraqi costumes, mainly flowing silks, but a score were dressed in black masks with the green headscarves of Hamas, the Palestinian suicide bombers. It was not a scene designed to dissuade the US from attack. In public, residents expressed love for their president and made a great show of bravado, claiming to be unafraid of war with the US and Britain. In private, the mood was very different - a combination of worry and weary resignation. As the celebrations reached their culmination last night, flashes and explosions filled the sky over Baghdad. The fear of the Iraqis is that in six months or a year's time the same night sky could be filled with flashes and explosions triggered by American and British warplanes. President George Bush and Tony Blair have discussed the prospect of a war to depose the Iraqi dictator, and the Iraqi army is preparing its defences. Many Iraqis watching the celebrations expressed the hope that war would not come, but they tended to be morbidly resigned to the fact that it would. A doctor, reflecting the powerlessness of the population, said: "We cannot change Bush and we cannot change Saddam." Baghdad's population faced allied bombing during the 1991 Gulf conflict, and again by the US and Britain in operation Desert Fox in 1998. In the south of the country, and to a lesser extent in the north, bombing has continued throughout the decade, sometimes daily. Against that background, and after more than 10 years of sanctions, there is little love for Washington in views expressed either in private or public. On arrival at Baghdad airport, every third step down the gangway has been spray-painted in red with "down with the US". Outside what used to be the American embassy in Baghdad, about 150 journalists, all working for government-controlled organisations, demonstrated on Saturday evening. Holding candles to mark President Saddam's birthday and banners denouncing Washington, they chanted: "Bush, Bush, we are not afraid of America." That confidence is not shared in private on the streets. The worry is that the bombing may be fiercer this time and that the Iraqi dictator will not give up Baghdad easily, and it will be the civilians who will suffer most. Official guests at the birthday celebrations came from from a diverse range of countries and organisations, among them Othman Dawlat Mirzo, from Jordan's Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. A regular visitor to Iraq, he shared the assessment of the public mood. "They are worried. The war will not be easy for children, for women, for the old," he said. Such an attack would carry great risk. "The Americans, when they decide to do something, they just do it. They do not think of the consequences." In preparation for a war, President Saddam has ordered the army to begin work on the defence of Baghdad, with stockpiles of fuel and food already being gathered. Even more important, he has told his foreign ministry to work harder to improve relations with the Arab world and elsewhere and to try to delay an attack. The prospect of war comes as the country is beginning to recover from the economic disaster caused in the main by sanctions. In the past two years, the standard of living in Baghdad has greatly improved. The main street, Arasat, sells every available luxury, though in the suburbs life can still be harsh. People are generally better dressed. Brand new and expensive cars are fast replacing the beat-up vehicles that Iraqis so skilfully maintained throughout the sanctions. What is galling for the Iraqis is that just as they see a semblance of normality returning, they face the prospect of a return to economic ruin. Which explains why, despite the outpourings of birthday congratulations that have been running non-stop on Iraqi television for days, President Saddam is increasingly unpopular. It would be a brave person to criticise him in public, but there are hints of the public's real feelings in raised eyebrows and muttered remarks, a sarcastic comment about his new play, a love story, which opened in a Baghdad theatre last night, or criticism of the behaviour of his son Uday. Or a moan about the haves and have-nots. There is admiration for his standing up to the US, but his 22-year-old rule has led the country into two costly wars and,for a time, international isolation. Under him, one of the most advanced Arab states, with the best welfare system in the Middle East, has gone backwards. But Nada, one of the Iraqi women journalists taking part in the demonstration against George Bush, dismissed this, and lavish comfort of the president and his immediate clique. "All the Iraqi presidents had palaces," she said. "Even if Saddam has 900 palaces, that is not a reason to bomb us." *********************************************************** C. US offensive on Iraq 'postponed until next year' By David Usborne in New York Independent 29 April 2002 United States military and policy planners have concluded they cannot rely on internal opposition forces to speed the ejection of Iraq's President, Saddam Hussein, and that Britain is probably the only ally available to help in a huge offensive to end his regime. A consensus has also emerged in Washington that military action against President Saddam, whose 65th birthday yesterday was celebrated with parades in Iraq, will not be viable this autumn and will have to wait until next year. Pentagon officials concede that any campaign against Iraq will be a combination of air power and a large-scale ground assault, using between 100,000 and 250,000 troops. Britain, which faces difficulties mustering political support domestically for such an attack, would be relied upon to contribute to the ground force. Several factors have converged to make an assault this year unviable, including the resistance voiced to the US by several Arab governments and the continuing Middle East violence. Officials insist, however, that George Bush is determined to see President Saddam removed from power. Defence officials say the Afghan model, where indigenous forces assisted the defeat of the Taliban regime will not work in Iraq where opposition forces are too scattered and weak. Nor does Washington envisage a coup. "There have been six coup attempts and theyconsistently fail," a White House official said. "It's a horrific police state. Nobody trusts anyone, so how can you pull off a coup?" ************************************************************ D. Bush has blueprint to oust Saddam By Toby Harnden in Washington Daily Telegraph (Filed: 29/04/2002) PRESIDENT Bush is drawing up plans for a full-scale ground invasion of Iraq to be carried out by American and British troops without using bases in Saudi Arabia. Bush administration officials told the New York Times that military planners had concluded that a force of up to 250,000 troops and a big air campaign would be needed to topple Saddam Hussein. Officials said the invasion would probably be delayed until next year because of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and State Department concern that tackling Iraq would inflame Arab opinion. The talk of invasion plans underlines the reality that Mr Bush has decided to take military action against Saddam. When asked recently whether military action against Iran was desirable, Ryan Crocker, the deputy assistant secretary of state for the Near East, replied that it was better to have "one fight at a time and clearly our primary focus now is on the Iraq situation". The White House appears to have decided that neither a coup nor the "Afghan model", in which Kurdish and Sh'ia fighters would be backed up by US special forces and air power, would be certain to succeed. The Pentagon has drawn up its plans relying on using bases in Turkey and Kuwait because it believes that Saudi Arabia is unreliable and potentially unstable. ******************************************************** E. Dark clouds hang over Iraq during a time of celebration: Robin Allen and Richard Wolffe look at US options in campaign to topple Saddam: Financial Times; Apr 29, 2002 By ROBIN ALLEN, NEWS AGENCIES: AGENCY MATERIAL, PETER SPIEGEL and RICHARD WOLFFE In Tikrit, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's hometown, schoolgirls yesterday marked the climax of nationwide festivities by waving Iraqi and Palestinian flags as part of birthday celebrations for the leader and an aggressive response to what Iraqi state-run media called "US- British-Zionist colonialism". Throughout the country, more than 1m Iraqis were reported to have taken to the streets to celebrate Mr Saddam's 65th birthday. But as the Bush administration continues to draw up plans to topple his regime, Mr Saddam is engaging in a robust display of public defiance and anti-US diplomacy. Naji Sabri, the Iraqi foreign minister, yesterday arrived in Moscow seeking support from one of Iraq's closest allies on the United Nations Security Council as the US stepped up efforts to tighten the sanctions against Iraq and re-introduce UN weapons inspectors. Iraq has sought to persuade Moscow to shift its position on sanctions before a UN vote next month. An it has indicated it is willing to allow weapons inspectors to return on their mission to root out weapons of mass destruction. Within the Arab world, Mr Saddam has intervened repeatedly to court public opinion by suspending oil exports and increasing financial support to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, amid the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Such efforts have met some success. Even Saudi officials have warned the US to back off from plans for military action against Iraq. Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia made clear there was little room for Arab support for any US military action against Iraq in the short-term when he met President George W. Bush in Texas last week. Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said yesterday that Iraq was already complying with US demands by guaranteeing Kuwait's territorial integrity and offering to support the return of UN inspectors. "This is what the United States wanted to be implemented and we think this is what the Iraqis have offered," he told the ABC News programme This Week. This flurry of diplomatic activity has been matched by an increase in military movements in the Gulf, and discussions in Washington. US officials appear to have ruled out the option of the "Afghanistan model" - relying on local opposition leaders to mount a civil war or a coup against Mr Saddam. The Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella group of Iraqi opposition groups, said last month it would only have a political role in any change of regime. Military and diplomatic officials in Washington have long questioned the abilities of the Iraqi opposition to overthrow Mr Saddam, and recent reports suggest the administration has concluded that a coup is unlikely to succeed. At the same time, military movements in the Gulf suggest the build-up to a US attack on Iraq may already be under way. Observers in Kuwait have noted the recent arrival of about 600 German troops specialising in anti-bacteriological warfare. Several hundred Czech germ warfare specialists have also recently landed in Kuwait. At least one US C-130 Galaxy aircraft has been seen arriving daily for the past several months. About 8,000-10,000 US airforce and ground troops are based at Camp Doha, and a further unknown number of US units are at nearby Ali Al Salem airbase. Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf that fully backs a new war against Iraq and is likely to provide the US with full military support. But military analysts say that even with Kuwait on board, a second Gulf base is essential for any US operation, even if Turkey allows full use of its Incirlik airbase in the south of the country near the Iraqi border. Faced with opposition in much of the rest of the Arab world to a new Iraq war, the Pentagon is re-evaluating its deployments across the region. US officials declined to comment but reports of a search for an alternative to Saudi Arabia have intensified since Israel launched its military operation in the West Bank. The US already has an access agreement with Oman, and other facilities in at least two of the city states which comprise the United Arab Emirates: at Min Had airbase near Dubai and Fujairah on the Arabian Sea. But the most important presence is in Saudi Arabia, where US forces are based in Dhahran, and at a key air command-and-control centre near Riyadh. Some analysts say this is the minimum the US needs inside Saudi Arabia in the event of an attack on Iraq. Qatar is emerging as the most likely alternative to Saudi bases. The US already has enough pre-positioned equipment for two full armoured brigades at Al-Udaid outside Doha, the capital. Meanwhile the number of US ground forces there has been increased from several hundred last year to over 2,000. Unlike Bahrain, where anti-US demonstrators attacked the US embassy this month, Qatar has looked a safe option, according to regional analysts. It has also played the regional maverick when it chose to. "Qatar would love to receive US forces," said one Gulf analyst. ************************************************************* F. U.S. Envisions Blueprint on Iraq Including Big Invasion Next Year By THOM SHANKER and DAVID E. SANGER April 28, 2002 New York Times WASHINGTON, — The Bush administration, in developing a potential approach for toppling President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, is concentrating its attention on a major air campaign and ground invasion, with initial estimates contemplating the use of 70,000 to 250,000 troops. The administration is turning to that approach after concluding that a coup in Iraq would be unlikely to succeed and that a proxy battle using local forces there would be insufficient to bring a change in power. But senior officials now acknowledge that any offensive would probably be delayed until early next year, allowing time to create the right military, economic and diplomatic conditions. These include avoiding summer combat in bulky chemical suits, preparing for a global oil price shock, and waiting until there is progress toward ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until recently, the administration had contemplated a possible confrontation with Mr. Hussein this fall, after building a case at the United Nations that the Iraqi leader is unwilling to allow the kind of highly intrusive inspections needed to prove that he has no weapons of mass destruction. Now that schedule seems less realistic. Conflict in the Middle East has widened a rift within the administration over whether military action can be undertaken without inflaming Arab states and prompting anti-American violence throughout the region. In his public speeches, President Bush still sounds as intent as ever about ousting Mr. Hussein, making it clear that he will not let the Middle East crisis obscure his goal. But he has not issued any order for the Pentagon to mobilize its forces, and today there is no official "war plan." Instead, policy makers and operational commanders are trying to sketch out the broad outlines of the confrontation they expect. Among the many questions they must address is where to base air and ground forces in the region. Even before Mr. Bush's tense meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, the Pentagon was working on the assumption that it might have to carry out any military action without the use of bases in the kingdom. The planning now anticipates the possible extensive use of bases for American forces in Turkey and Kuwait, with Qatar as the replacement for the sophisticated air operations center in Saudi Arabia, and with Oman and Bahrain playing important roles. As to any war plan itself, the military expects to be asked for a more traditional approach than the unconventional campaign in Afghanistan. Such an approach would resemble the Persian Gulf war in style if not in size and would be fought with even more modern weapons and more dynamic tactics. "The president has not made any decisions," a senior Defense Department official said. "But any efforts against Iraq will not look like what we did in Afghanistan." Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and their senior aides contend that Arab leaders would publicly protest but secretly celebrate Mr. Hussein's downfall — as long as the operation were decisive — and that ousting him would actually ease the job of calming violence between Israel and the Palestinians. They believe that warnings of uprisings among Arab populations are overblown and compare them to similar warnings before the gulf war, which proved unfounded. "It has been the consistent drumbeat from our friends in the region that if we are serious, they will be with us," said an administration official in this camp. But others at the State Department and the White House argue that efforts to topple Mr. Hussein would be viewed by Arabs as a confrontation with Islam, destabilizing the region and complicating the broader campaign against Osama bin Laden and his network, Al Qaeda. The reaction in Saudi Arabia is already critical. The United States would need permission to use Saudi airspace adjacent to Iraq, if not Saudi air bases, officials said, but it is unclear whether Mr. Bush took up that subject with Crown Prince Abdullah when the topic of Iraq came up. Mr. Rumsfeld, who met with the Saudi leader a day ahead of Mr. Bush, said access to bases "was not a topic at all" of his discussions. Turkish officials, for their part, said that no negotiations on basing American troops for a new campaign against Iraq had yet taken place; American officials confirmed that, calling such talks premature. Kuwait's position, too, is uncertain. At an Arab League summit meeting in March, Iraq agreed to recognize Kuwait and pledged not to invade again in exchange for a declaration that an attack on Iraq would be considered an attack against all Arab states. But American officials said they could rely on Kuwait, whose very survival is owed to American military power after Iraq invaded the country in 1990. Senior administration, Pentagon and military officials say that consensus has emerged that there is little chance for a military coup to unseat Mr. Hussein from within, even with the United States exerting economic and military pressure and providing covert assistance. "There have been at least six coup attempts in the 1990's, and they consistently fail," an administration official said. In each instance, this official said, dissident Iraqi military officers "sent signals to us, `We're ready for a coup,' and the next thing you know these guys are murdered or it fails or people have cold feet at the end and leave the country." "It's a horrific police state," the official said. "Nobody trusts anyone, so how can you pull off a coup?" Similarly, officials say they do not believe that even an expanded version of the strategy used to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan would work. In that model, precision airstrikes combined with indigenous armed opposition under the leadership of American Special Operations forces and C.I.A. officers did the job. The parallel strategy in Iraq would involve the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south. But Mr. Hussein's military, while only one-third its strength from before the gulf war, is strong enough to defeat any confrontation by proxy, officials said. Officials said the nascent plans for a heavy air campaign and land assault already included rough numbers of troops, ranging from a minimum of about 70,000 to 100,000 — one Army corps or a reinforced corps — to a top of 250,000 troops, which still would be only half the number used in the gulf war. Other than troops from Britain, no significant contribution of allied forces is anticipated. The military requirements for changing the government in Baghdad would be vastly different than the gulf war mission, which was to drive an entrenched enemy from a large occupied area, senior military officers said. "We would not need to hold territory and protect our flanks to the same extent," one officer said. "You would see a higher level of maneuver and airborne assault, dropping in vertically and enveloping targets — less slogging mile by mile through the desert." Even so, officers said, moving tens of thousands of troops to a region with access more limited than in the gulf war could be a logistical challenge. The modern American military has never fought the kind of dangerous and complicated urban battles that might be needed to oust the Hussein government. Dealing with Mr. Hussein's suspected chemical and biological weapons would require pre-emptive strikes by precision weapons, as well as an element of heavy deterrence. "One of the things we would want to do is say that any Iraqi officer or soldier who throws chemical or biological weapons at us will be held personally responsible," said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who directed the Air Force's definitive study of the Persian Gulf war. "You say, `You guys operating the missile batteries: we will find you, and you will pay.' Saddam's people have no desire to go down in a blaze of glory with him." While the Pentagon has focused on how to remove Mr. Hussein, the White House is also mindful of the effects of a war on oil supplies — either because the fighting itself would disrupt the flow of oil, or because Saudi Arabia and other Arab producers would feel obliged because of political pressure at home to cut exports to the United States. R. Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, said the administration had examined the possible effects of a spike in oil prices caused by spreading unrest in the Middle East or an invasion of Iraq. He said a surge in oil prices would probably not by itself have a large effect on the American economy. But he said it was more difficult to assess the possible effects on consumer and business confidence. One of the lessons of the gulf war, he said, was that consumer confidence recovered once the United States made clear that it intended to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait and guarantee the security of the Saudi oilfields. In November, Mr. Bush ordered that the government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve be filled to capacity. A review of the reserve's delivery schedule shows that many of the largest monthly deliveries are between September and January, another reason to put off any offensive against Iraq to early next year. "We want to be in a position to go into the markets if speculators begin bidding up the price of oil, and settle them down fast," one official said. _______________________________________________ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk