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A. Blair under renewed pressure over US plans to oust Saddam, Independent on Sunday, 7th July B. US 'to attack Iraq via Jordan', Observer, 7th July C. UK to send 30,000 to help oust Saddam, Sunday Telegraph, 7th July Independent on Sunday: email@example.com Observer: firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday Telegraph: email@example.com Letters writers: please remember to include your address and telephone number. Letters should be posted by Tuesday afternoon for next Sunday's papers. **************************************** A. Blair under renewed pressure over US plans to oust Saddam By Rupert Cornwell, in Washington and Colin Brown, in London Independent on Sunday 07 July 2002 The disclosure of American plans for a massive military assault on Iraq was this weekend putting further pressure on Tony Blair's unquestioning support for the Bush administration – already severely stretched by disagreements over Yasser Arafat, the new International Criminal Court (ICC) and a string of protectionist trade moves from Washington. The blueprint, calling for a force of some 250,000 men to carry out a three-pronged offensive to oust Saddam Hussein, has yet to be approved by George Bush. But he has already reportedly been briefed on them in two White House meetings with General Tommy Franks, who as the head of US Central Command, would be in military charge of the operation. The leak to The New York Times – this sort of document never surfaces by accident – seems to be a clear attempt to raise the stakes after a new round of talks in Geneva between Iraq and the United Nations failed to produce agreement on the return of UN weapons inspectors to the country for the first time since December 1998. It also signifies that the Bush administration no longer believes – if it ever did – that Iraq's internal opposition, including the Kurds, could do the job itself with a little help from the CIA and US special forces. The hawks who dominate the policy debate in Washington insist that Iraq's suspected nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes must be the next priority target in the "war against terrorism". They have never hidden their view that President Saddam is using the inspections issue as a pretext for delay, and that even if some tortuous agreement were secured for them to go back, he would never permit them to see anything worth seeing. Mr Blair is probably the only European leader who comes close to agreeing with the hawks. But even he believes the inspectors should be given a chance. He is also under fierce domestic pressure to secure some form of UN mandate for an operation in which Britain would be expected by the US to take part. The alternative would be the most serious backbench rebellion of his five years in power. Around 150 Labour MPs have already signed a Commons motion opposing action against Iraq without a UN mandate. Although Downing Street believes it can overcome this opposition, the GB-Iraq society is organising a meeting next week between Labour MPs and the former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, at which he will say that there is no evidence President Saddam has secured weapons of mass destruction. "We are hoping to double the number who have signed the Commons motion," said Stuart Halford, secretary of the society. To do so would require the entire Labour backbench to line up against an attack on Iraq. America's determination to foist "regime change" on both Iraqis and Palestinians, its visceral hostility to the ICC and its controversial protectionist measures on agriculture and steel, are making the Prime Minister's balancing act harder by the day as he attempts to be a "bridge" between Europe and the US. Mr Blair's discomfort with Washington's stance on trade and the ICC in particular is palpable. But in every case, Britain soft-pedals its criticism, faithful to the time-honoured "special relationship" argument that Britain has more chance of being listened to by the administration if it keeps disagreements private and does not get involved in a public slanging match. But this approach is increasingly hard to sell to more vocal critics of the US within the European Union, where Mr Blair aspires to be a driving force. It is also somewhat at odds with his own Foreign Office. Only last week Jack Straw acknowledged that the world would have to deal with Mr Arafat if he is re-elected as Palestinian leader, telling colleagues that "we have to deal with many leaders who are not trustworthy". The Foreign Secretary's order to Mike O'Brien, the new junior Foreign Office minister, to meet the Palestinian leader reflects a similar realism – that a British government official could not credibly visit the Middle East without meeting the man whom Palestinians have elected as their leader. ************************************************************************* B. US 'to attack Iraq via Jordan' Military planners prepare to use British forces in an allied assault within months Jason Burke, Martin Bright and Nicolas Pelham in Amman Sunday July 7, 2002 The Observer American military planners are preparing to use Jordan as a base for an assault on Iraq later this year or early in 2003, The Observer can reveal. Although leaked Pentagon documents appear to show that Turkey, Kuwait and the small Gulf state of Qatar would play key roles, it is believed that Jordan will be the 'jumping-off' point for an attack that could involve up to 250,000 American troops and forces from Britain and other key US allies. Jordan, with good roads and communications, would be perfect for the launch of an American armoured force, military analysts say. Its capital, Amman, is linked to Baghdad by a 600-mile motorway that cuts through a virtually featureless desert - perfect terrain for US tanks and high-precision air-launched munitions. Iraqi dissidents in Amman have told The Observer that hundreds of American advisers have arrived in Jordan in the past few months. The Amman-based Iraqi National Accord (INA), which contains many of the key military dissidents, has held talks in Washington about plans for a strike on Iraq. They expect the US to begin with intensive bombing and missile raids launched from the Gulf and Turkey, leading to a military rebellion within Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard. The INA, they say, could play a military role from Jordan. They envisage a military coup, leading to transitional military rule. Eye-witnesses claim preparations are under way at the Muafaq Salti air base in Azraq, 50 miles east of Amman on the road to Baghdad. Ten days ago the Jordanian news agency, Petra, reported that the head of the US Central Command, General Tommy Franks, met Jordan's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lieutenant-General Khalid Jamil Surayrih. The agency said 'the two sides reviewed the general situation in the region and areas of co-operation between Jordanian and US armed forces...' Officially, Jordan is opposed to a war on Iraq, but informed sources said that there is a tacit agreement on the issue between the Jordanian government and Washington. The US has apparently given Jordan and other Arab states the freedom to pay lip-service to support for Iraq. News of a military build-up coincides with a US attempt to wean Jordan from its deep economic ties with Iraq, and some observers see a growing military role for Jordan in the country once ruled by its Hashemite royal family. 'Jordan's role will be that of Pakistan in the US-Taliban war,' said a prominent Jordanian analyst. Jordan's economy is inter-woven into Iraq's, and the kingdom shares a close military and economic alliance with the US. Others say Jordan will pay a heavy price for co-operating with an attack. 'A US strike against Iraq will increase the influence of radicals [in Jordan],' said former Prime Minister Taher al-Masri. 'The feeling that the US is an enemy will be enhanced.' Although Marwan Moasher, the Jordanian Foreign Minister, denied the presence of any American troops in his country, government sources confirmed that major manoeuvres involving the American and Jordanian forces took place in March. Moasher issued denials after the Lebanese daily Al Safir reported that 2,000 American forces in Jordan are preparing to carry out military operations against Iraq. Observers point out that President George Bush has met King Abdullah of Jordan at least five times since taking office. The US is expected to double its aid to Jordan to $500m next year, and Congress is now considering a request by the administration to increase it by another $100m. The American planners now believe only military force can remove Saddam from power. Earlier this year American intelligence operatives were sent to northern Iraq to gather information on Iraqi defences and gauge the fighting capability of the Kurdish militias. The Americans reconnoitred Iraqi frontline positions and requested maps of minefields from demining agencies working in the area. They decided the Kurds would be no match for the Republican Guard. Some elements in the US administration still hope that disaffected military officers in Iraq can stage a coup. Next week about 70 former Iraqi officers will gather in London for the biggest dissidents' meeting yet to discuss the overthrow of the Iraqi President. The US hopes some of them retain links with brother officers still in Iraq. The conference is being organised by a former brigadier, Tawfiq al-Yassiri, who took part in an uprising in the Babylon region south of Baghdad at the end of the Gulf war. The co-organiser of the conference is a former general, Saad Ubeidi, who was the Iraqi army's head of psychological operations. The three-day conference will discuss ways of mobilising military efforts in support of political opposition to Saddam. ***************************************************** C. UK to send 30,000 to help oust Saddam By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent Sunday Telegraph 07/07/2002 Britain is preparing to join America in a full-scale invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein from power early next year. The British armed forces are to commit at least 30,000 troops from all three services to an overwhelming air, land and sea campaign commanded by the US. In the past six months British troops' commitments in Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Sierra Leone have all been reduced in preparation for the attack. It is understood that President Bush has accepted that the US will not be able to replicate the size or make-up of the allied coalition that invaded Iraq in 1991 and is relying on Britain for moral and military support. American military chiefs believe that the mission to remove Saddam can be achieved with a force of about 250,000 troops, aided by an uprising of Iraqi dissidents inside the country. The Telegraph has been told by a senior Ministry of Defence official that Britain will contribute a division of 20,000 men composed of armoured and infantry brigades to fight alongside the US. The force would also be supported by up to 50 combat jets, an aircraft carrier group composed of frigates, destroyers and a submarine from the Royal Navy. The early spring is regarded as the "next best option" for an attack because the weather is still cool enough to conduct military operations in the Iraqi desert. It also allows both the British and Americans to build up forces and munitions depleted by the war in Afghanistan. A senior MoD official said: "Troops have been pulled back from the Balkans and Afghanistan in preparation for a spring attack against Iraq. The Army would contribute a division, similar to what we contributed in the Gulf War. "There would be casualties but soldiers join the Army to take part in military operations not to sit on their beds in barracks. I believe that the fighting would be relatively straightforward until we got to Baghdad. That's when it could get messy." Tony Blair and George Bush are known to have discussed in detail how Iraq should be governed once Saddam's Ba'ath regime has been toppled. The preferred option is to allow the Iraqi people to decide for themselves in a referendum. The British and US governments are concerned that any attack would meet with international opposition. The Telegraph, however, understands that Britain has "ample classified evidence" that proves Saddam has manufactured and stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. An MoD official said: "Justifying any attack would not be a problem because the evidence exists that he has weapons of mass destruction. It will not be made public yet because it would compromise the means by which it was acquired." ************************************************** _______________________________________________ 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