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[casi] from today's papers 12-07-02

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


Letter writers: please remember to include your address and telephone #.

Note: The FT ( 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
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

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

"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
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

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.

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