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A. Magnificent Seventy gun for Saddam, Guardian, 12 July B. British spies in Iraq to incite revolt, Daily Telegraph, 12 July C. SAS plan to blow up Saddam's germ sites, The Times, 12 July D.Iraq talk fuelled by Kosovo pull-out, FT Guardian: email@example.com Telegraph: firstname.lastname@example.org Times: email@example.com Letter writers: please remember to include your address and telephone #. Note: The FT (www.ft.com) are also running some sort of poll as to whether or not an attack on Iraq would be justified. ******************************************* A. Magnificent Seventy gun for Saddam Eyeing each other and their US friends, exiled officers gather in London to clear the path for democracy in Iraq Brian Whitaker Friday July 12, 2002 The Guardian Exiled Iraqi officers are gathering in London today for the most public plot ever hatched against Saddam Hussein, but without their most senior member. General Nizar al-Khazraji, the highest ranking defector from President Saddam's army, is staying away, for reasons that some believe are to do with his own political ambitions. Nevertheless, about 70 officers are expected, the organisers say. After an open meeting tonight, which the many Iraqi opposition parties will attend or boycott according to their inclinations, the Magnificent Seventy will spend the weekend gunning for Saddam Hussein behind closed doors. The White House, the Pentagon and the state department, which do not always see eye to eye on Iraq, are sending representatives to watch the proceedings, and possibly each other. Although all the participants want to rid the world of President Saddam, there is a wariness about the intentions of the US and their fellow officers to overcome. But the organisers, Major-General Tawfiq al-Yasiri and Brigadier Saad al-Obaidy, are encouraged by the response. "Our aim is to collect many officers and discuss strategy," said Brig Obaidy, who was formerly in charge of Saddam's psychological warfare. "We'll discuss how to change the regime, and the role of the army and democracy in the future of Iraq." The key purpose of the meeting, according to opposition sources, is to secure the officers' agreement to step back and allow democratic government to develop if President Saddam is overthrown. But Gen Khazraji has already shown his eagerness to take over the leadership. In a newspaper interview earlier this year he described it as an honour and "a sacred duty" - a remark that has left many in the opposition suspicious of his ambitions. More recently he has been linked in the Arab press to an alternative plan for a ruling military council of between seven and 10 senior officers. GenKhazraji, who was chief of staff and led the army through the Iran-Iraq war and the invasion of Kuwait, now lives in Denmark, where a Kurdish group has sought to have him prosecuted for war crimes. This relates to his alleged role in the use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. Gen Khazraji says the allegation was invented by Iraqi intelligence, and the London meeting organisers say they have no dispute with him. "He is our friend, we have good relations with him," said Brig Obaidy. But Gen Khazraji said by telephone "I don't attend such conferences," and declined to discuss it further. Major-General Wafiq al-Samara'i, former head of an Iraqi military intelligence unit, who now lives in London, is also understood to have reservations about the meeting, though it is unclear whether he will attend. He is close to GenKhazraji and both are regarded as politically close to Saudi Arabia. "It's a very small minority who are not happy with this meeting," an expert on the Iraqi opposition said, asking not to be identified. "It will send a very strong message that the army should not fill the vacuum or have any role in the government after Saddam Hussein." About 1,500 Iraqi officers are believed to be living in exile, but not all are politically active. The identity of some who plan to attend the meeting is being kept secret but observers say the composition leans heavily towards the Sunnis, who account for about a third of Iraq's population. The organisers, known as the Iraqi Military Alliance, are anxious to play down links with the US, which could damage their credibility in the eyes of other Iraqis. They insist that the meeting is entirely financed by Iraqis. Among those confirmed as attending is Brigadier-General Najib al-Salihi, 50, who defected from Iraq in 1995 and runs a group in the US called the Free Officers Movement. He avoids giving the impression of being hungry for power, but earlier this year he was front-runner in an aborted internet poll organised by Iraq.net to find whom Iraqis would most like to lead a transitional government. Parties waiting in the wings *Constitutional Monarchy Movement Favours monarchy within democratic system. Leader Sharif Ali bin al-Hussein *Democratic Centrist Tendency US-backed rival to the INC *Free Iraqi Council Offshoot of the Iraqi National Accord, claims involvement in several failed coups. Led by Saad Jabr *Iraqi Communist Party Established 1934, well organised, thought to have support in Iraq *Iraqi National Accord Mainly armed forces and intelligence service defectors. Created by Saudi intelligence in 1990, reorganised by the CIA in 1996, infiltrated and smashed by Saddam Hussein *Iraqi National Congress Umbrella organisation plagued by internal divisions. Has received millions of dollars from the US. Disliked by the state department and CIA, liked by the Pentagon and parts of Congress. Led by Ahmad Chalabi *Islamic Dawa Party An old Shi'a Islamist organisation Kurdistan Democratic Party Kurdish party with a military presence in northern Iraq. In 1996 it collaborated with the Iraqi army in an attempt to destroy its rival the *PUK, but the two groups now cohabit. Leader Mas'ud Barzani *Patriotic Union of Kurdistan broke away from the KDP in 1975. Present in northern Iraq. Led by Jalal Talabani Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq Main vehicle for Shi'a opposition, operates secretly in southern Iraq. Iranian funding. Led by Mohammed Baqr Hakim ************************************************* B. British spies in Iraq to incite revolt By Toby Harnden in Washington Daily Telegraph (Filed: 12/07/2002) British and American agents are on the ground in Iraq fomenting revolt among opposition groups and potential traitors in Saddam Hussein's inner circle as part of a covert campaign to topple him, senior officials disclosed last night. The admission, on the eve of a conference of Iraqi opposition figures in London, is powerful evidence of a renewed determination in Washington and London to overthrow the Iraqi dictator. Although the officials conceded that the CIA and MI6 operations were unlikely to succeed without direct military action, a senior source in the Bush administration said that the world should not be misled by the lack of overt military activity. "American personnel are supporting the Iraqi opposition and working with dissatisfied elements within Saddam's regime, even though he has killed quite a few of these people. Britain is involved too," the official told The Telegraph. "We could wake up one morning and find regime change in Baghdad has happened completely unexpectedly. It would be hard to do but it's not impossible." British officials sought to play down the significance of the operations, saying they were no different in character from what had been happening in Iraq since 1991. One diplomat said: "We could get lucky and Saddam could be killed or overthrown. But do I think it will happen? No." Military plans to overthrow Saddam are being drawn up by US central command in Florida and should be on President George W Bush's desk this summer. A full-scale invasion could take place as early as the end of the year. Senior aides have said that the outside time limit for removing Saddam is 2004, the end of Mr Bush's first term of office, but action is likely to be taken much earlier. One said that next January or February was the optimum time to strike. The plan gaining most support within the Bush administration involves the use of 250,000 troops invading Iraq from Turkey in the north and Kuwait and Qatar in the south. Such an operation could comprise two US Marine Corps divisions and 15 wings of US fighters and bombers in addition to as many as 25,000 British troops. But the Bush administration official said: "The thing people need to remember is in addition to the possibility of another Desert Storm there are less visible things we can do." He said that there were grave fears about how Saddam would react to a major attack. "Saddam could well respond with a Hitler's bunker type of mentality and hit Israel and Turkey with chemical or biological weapons. "That is one reason why planning for this has to take fundamental account of the prospect of Saddam doing something completely irrational. It's also another reason to see if we can do it in a way other than conventional military operation." Saddam did not use weapons of mass destruction during the 1991 Gulf war because he was explicitly told that if he did so he would be removed from power. "This time it's different as regime change is the only aim. He already has strategic warning so he's not going to just sit there." The danger of large numbers of casualties was a primary factor in the military planning, which was going on "24 hours a day", he said. "If the choice is between doing it too quickly and losing troops and allies and taking the time to do it right then the question answers itself." The official said there was "no disagreement" between the US and Britain over the war on terrorism despite festering disputes over other areas of policy such as steel tariffs, the Middle East and the International Criminal Court. "On weapons of mass destruction, we share the same data therefore we share common assessment of threat. "The debate is only over tactics. A lot of other European countries don't see the same threat because we don't share intelligence with them." He rejected the idea that the Palestinian issue should be dealt with before Saddam was tackled, stating that the Iraqis and some Arab states were trying to aggravate the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel as a deliberate tactic. "That's always their alternative - getting people diverted and saying you can't do anything about Iraq until you've sorted out the Palestinian question. But we could be waiting 30 years. The answer is you have to do both at the same time." Tony Blair has urged Mr Bush to wait for calm in the Middle East before acting against Iraq. Britain has also stressed that European and Arab allies will be needed, although a coalition on the scale of 1991 is not envisaged. The Bush administration has agreed that all diplomatic avenues should be seen to have been explored and is awaiting the outcome of talks with Iraq about the return of United Nations weapons inspectors. But one senior British diplomat conceded that it was extremely unlikely that Saddam could satisfy the Americans. "The bar is somewhere between extremely high and impossibly high," he said. Talks about inspectors ended without agreement last week but Naji Sabri, the Iraqi foreign minister, said yesterday that his country was ready to resume discussions with the UN. Mr Bush hinted last week that military action against Iraq could be drawing nearer. "I'm involved in the military planning, diplomatic planning, financial planning . . . reviewing all the tools at my disposal," he said. After a summit at Mr Bush's ranch in Texas in April, Mr Blair, in a passage of a speech he had drafted himself, said: "We must be prepared to act where terrorism or weapons of mass destruction threaten us. "If necessary, the action should be military and again, if necessary and justified, it should involve regime change." *************************************************** C. SAS plan to blow up Saddam's germ sites By Michael Evans, Defence Editor The Times July 12, 2002 BRITAIN’S special forces are to be used to sabotage Saddam Hussein’s plants making weapons of mass destruction in the planned invasion of Iraq next year. The Army will also train special units of a new breed of “shock troops” to serve alongside the SAS and the Royal Marines’ Special Boat Service to meet the extra demands on British special forces. The idea is to train a selected infantry regiment alongside the SAS at Hereford to perform the role for six months or a year and then to hand over to another regiment. Leaked Pentagon plans indicate that US military chiefs are plotting an invasion of Iraq early next year, using five infantry and armoured divisions and two US Marine Corps divisions. Britain’s special forces would also be key players, alongside the CIA and other intelligence agencies, in helping to create a coup against the Iraqi leader. Both the SAS and the Special Boat Service, both of which operated with considerable success in the 1991 Gulf War, are likely to start training for a possible return to the region. A senior British military source said that while there was still no formal request for troops for an Iraqi campaign from Washington “there is a general expectation that we are going to be involved in a big event next year”. As part of prudent preparations, the Service chiefs are all engaged in making sure that units, warships and combat aircraft which might be needed for the second Iraqi campaign in 12 years are not going to be tied up elsewhere in the world during the first months of next year. Traditionally, the role of supporting the SAS and SBS in joint offensive operations has fallen to The Parachute Regiment, as it did in the hostage rescue mission in Sierra Leone in September 2000. More than 100 soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment provided back-up firepower, as special forces troops rescued six British soldiers from the clutches of a local rebel militia called the West Side Boys. The Parachute Regiment has always been the first choice for supporting the SAS in dangerous missions because so many SAS members come from the Paras. However, Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, has indicated his personal desire to include other regiments in the Army for this type of rapid-reaction role, and the results of a review into availability of troops for high-intensity missions are to be published by the Ministry of Defence in about two weeks. The review, which has examined the new demands put upon the three Armed Forces since September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, also took into account the type of operations in which Britain will be expected to play a part in the next few years, such as Iraq. British military sources said that despite the heavy commitments already faced, the intention was to be ready to offer the US a “militarily significant” force subject to Tony Blair winning parliamentary and Cabinet approval for attacking Iraq. Leaks in Washington indicate that the US expects Britain to provide 25,000 troops for a total land force of about 250,000 soldiers. British special forces, as well as armoured and infantry units, would operate from Kuwait. ******************************************************** D.Iraq talk fuelled by Kosovo pull-out By Judy Dempsey in Brussels Financial Times Published: July 11 2002 21:52 (London Time) Britain is to withdraw most of its 2,400 troops from Kosovo, fuelling talk it is preparing to provide support to any US military attack against Iraq. A senior Nato official in Brussels said the Ministry of Defence in London "was mentally preparing for new challenges". When asked if this would involve Iraq, he retorted: "Well what do you think?" suggesting that the British Army was readying itself for a possible war in the Middle East. A British diplomat agreed that there would be speculation about future deployments - "plans further east - but not too far east", indicating that he himself was surprised by the suddenness and scale of the withdrawal. British officials insisted, however, that London was withdrawing troops from Kosovo for purely practical reasons. Rumours of US plans for a possible attack on Iraq have been building in Washington for several weeks but the Bush administration has given no information about deployment of troops in the region. "We are reviewing our troops deployed abroad," said a British official. "We are simply overstretched at the moment. We have troops serving in over 80 countries." The extent of the phased withdrawal, expected to begin in a few weeks, has also surprised some of Britain's European allies, particularly France and the Netherlands. Only a few hundred British troops will remain in Kosovo. "The US does not hide the fact that it may well need its troops serving in the Balkans to be reduced in number and deployed in the fight against terrorism further afield," said a Nato diplomat. "What are we to make of the British reductions?" he asked rhetorically. _______________________________________________ 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