The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] News, 6-13/7/02 (2)

News, 6-13/7/02 (2)


*  Saddam's vicious circle
*  Iraq 'seeks Ukraine arms links'
*  Absence of weapons inspectors helps Iraq keep its secrets
*  Iraq talk fuelled by Kosovo pull-out
*  No plans to attack Iraq, says Downing Street


*  Documentary says al Qaeda gunmen in Iraq
*  Officials: 'No evidence' defector saw bin Laden in Iraq
*  We all can see what Saddam is


*  US 'To attack Iraq via Jordan'
*  Jordan to let US troops use bases for war on Iraq
*  Jordan denies US Iraq reports
*  U.S. considers Jordan as a base for staging attacks on Iraq
*  Talk of war puts Arabs on same wavelength


by Roula Khalaf
Financial Times, 9th July

In 1983, Saddam Hussein feared he would lose the disastrous war he had
launched against Iran three years earlier. Iran was sending forces to the
front in far greater numbers than Iraq could muster. Iraqi army morale was
weakening. And he had no riposte to the Iranian missiles raining down on

The pressure on Mr Hussein's regime was building. "The Iranians had the
advantage of a much larger population. They were able to suffer massive
casualties and keep going," recalls a former senior Iraqi officer. "They had
such a large army that soldiers were replaced every two years. We were many
fewer and our soldiers had to keep going for years."

Then, during an attack against the human waves of Iran's Pasdaran
Revolutionary Guards, Mr Hussein ordered his troops to drench the enemy in
chemical agents. It was Iraq's first use of chemical weapons and its success
apparently convinced the Iraqi leader that chemical weapons saved him from

Since then, every attempt to deprive Mr Hussein of weapons of mass
destruction has reinforced his belief that he needs them to keep power. Yet
every report of his activities provides another reason for outsiders to
intervene - and for his neighbours to pursue WMD programmes of their own.
That is the depressing dynamic of proliferation.

The origins of Iraq's programme lie in Israel's emerging regional dominance.
Iraq ordered its first Scud missiles from the Soviet Union and embarked on
nuclear-weapons research after the October 1973 Middle East war and Israel's
nuclear weapons deployment.

The nuclear programme was run by Mr Hussein, then vice-president of a
Ba'athist state whose aim was to dominate the Middle East.

Israel's bombing of Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor in June 1981
set the country's weapons programme back many years. However, it also
strengthened Iraq's resolve - and stimulated the development of chemical
weapons as a way of compensating for Iraq's inferiority to Israel.

"Saddam was trying to make Iraq into a regional power, a great regional
power," says the former senior Iraqi officer. "He wanted to build a strong
military-strategic state."

But it was war with Iran that gave the WMD programmes their biggest boost.

"In mid-1986, the military industrial complex under the supervision of
Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel al-Majid, pushed forward several
competing weapons projects in all fields," says Fouad al-Khatib, a former UN
weapons inspector. In less than 18 months, Iraqi engineers extended the
range of the Scud missile to hit Tehran. When a ceasefire followed, the
al-Hussein missile was hailed as winning the war.

The effectiveness of chemical weapons was less openly acknowledged, but Iraq
had used gas again, in 1988, against the Kurdish population of Halabja,

But Mr Hussein has also responded to deterrence. Since the end of the
Iran-Iraq war, Baghdad appears to have understood that it must not use
deadly weapons against its neighbours.

Before the launch of the allied offensive in the Gulf war, James Baker, then
US secretary of state, travelled to Geneva to hand Mr Hussein's deputy a
letter addressed to the Iraqi leader.

In it he warned that if Iraq used WMD, Mr Hussein would pay "a terrible
price" and the US would demand "the strongest possible response". Iraq
understood that the US would not seek to overthrow the regime if the weapons
were not used.

"For Iraq, weapons of mass destruction are a last resort. Saddam is not a
madman, he didn't use WMD in the Gulf war," says a European diplomat who
knows Iraq. "But I'm afraid that if the US tries to liquidate him or change
his regime, he might have nothing to lose and then resort to their use."

US officials say one consideration in any US-led military action is that Mr
Hussein may counter the threat by using WMD. His most obvious target would
be Israel - if he has a missile that would reach, which is far from certain.
Israel has three new German-built submarines, which defence specialists say
will be capable of providing it with a "second strike" nuclear capability if
is targeted by nuclear attack. More likely, Iraq would attack invading US
troops with chemical or biological weapons.

Mr Hussein may be encouraging this analysis. While denying the existence of
Iraq's WMD programmes, he has been meeting the head of military
manufacturing and the chief of the nuclear power agency, who run programmes
permitted by UN sanctions.

That the meetings are made public by Iraqi television, say opposition
leaders, is meant to send a signal to Washington. Some former Iraqi
officials say that if the US launches a war to unseat Mr Hussein, Iraq may
announce that it has WMD.

Senior US officials say their Iraq policy is twofold: to get UN inspectors,
who left in 1998, back into Iraq, and to change the regime.

"The reason for that is that Saddam's record up to and including the use of
chemical weapons against Iranians and Kurds demonstrates that the possession
of weapons of mass destruction is something he considers central to the
survivability of his regime," says a senior US official. "So you're not
going to cure the Iraq WMD problem while Saddam remains in power."

Yet some argue that the US plan for regime change heightens the importance
of WMD to Mr Hussein. "Saddam now needs weapons of mass destruction more
than ever - they are his last card, the only thing he can use as a threat
against the US," says one opposition leader." Additional reporting by
Stephen Fidler

by Tom Warner in Kiev and Stephen Fidler in London
Financial Times, 9th July

Iraq is exploiting its growing links with Ukraine in an effort to obtain
weapons technologies, arms control experts say.

They say the government of the former Soviet republic has been taking an
increasingly active role in organising direct ties between Ukrainian
companies and Iraq.

Amid concerns in the US and other western countries about Iraq's possession
of weapons of mass destruction, new evidence of links between the two
countries has brought calls for a heightened international scrutiny of their

"For some years there was an intensive defence-technology relationship
between Ukraine and Iraq. This appears to be re-emerging and we don't want
to repeat the mistakes of the past," said Timothy McCarthy, a former United
Nations weapons inspector, now with the Monterey Institute for International

The US government looks increasingly likely to launch an offensive against
Iraq. President George W. Bush is said to be concerned about Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programmes, and
news of Ukraine's relations with Iraq is likely to anger the administration.

In recordings - heard by the Financial Times - of what appears to be a
conversation between Ukraine's president, Leonid Kuchma, and Yuri Alexeyev,
director of Yuzhmash, Ukraine's largest rocket maker, the two men mention
Iraq, Iran and rockets.

The recordings were supplied by Mykola Melnychenko, one of Mr Kuchma's
former bodyguards. Mr Kuchma and Mr Alexeyev denied having supplied missile
technology to Iraq.

In a three-part investigation, which begins today, the FT reveals a
dangerous lack of control over weapons of mass destruction and their
availability to countries such as Iraq - and even terrorists.

An Iraqi delegation led by Hikmat el-Azzawi, deputy prime minister, visited
Ukraine last month.

Local media reports citing Ukrainian government sources said Iraq offered to
buy aircraft, ships and steel pipes. New bilateral agreements were also
reportedly signed.

Ukraine opened an embassy in Baghdad in 2000 and in November of that year
its ministry of foreign affairs accepted the credentials of Yuri Orshansky,
a Ukrainian businessman, as an honorary consul for Iraq.

Mr Orshansky told Ukrainian media he has visited Iraq 40 times since 1992,
but denies ever being involved in breaking international sanctions on Iraq.
In April 2001, Mr Orshansky organised a trade fair in Baghdad advertising
the products of 160 Ukrainian companies. Among the ideas discussed were
supplies of turbines and construction of a turbine manufacturing plant, Mr
Orshansky said. "Even if they want to create a nuclear bomb, we will study
this," he was quoted as saying. "After all, in 50 years, maybe we will offer
our services." He could not be reached for comment.

by Stephen Fidler, Carola Hoyos, Roula Khalaf and Alexander Nicoll
Financial Times, 9th July

Iraq put enormous energy into producing a nuclear bomb. But by the Gulf War
in 1991 it still had much work to do. According to the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), the biggest obstacle was acquiring weapons-grade
nuclear material. Another challenge that eluded scientists was making a
nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop a missile.

International inspectors were sent in after the Gulf war to destroy Iraq's
weapons programmes. By 1998, the IAEA had destroyed facilities and removed
from Iraq weapons grade nuclear material.

But in 1998, the inspectors were expelled and, because they have been unable
to investigate the nuclear programme, uncertainty about its progress grows
with every passing year.

In February George Tenet, the CIA director, insisted that Saddam Hussein
"never abandoned his nuclear weapons programme".

US officials say teams have been engaged in weapons design and possibly
making machines to enrich uranium. UK officials say that if Iraq were no
longer subject to UN sanctions, it could produce a nuclear weapon within
five years.

However, these assertions need qualifying. Many of the warnings are, in the
words of one weapons inspector, "extrapolation". Sanctions are not likely to
be lifted. A full-blown nuclear programme would be relatively easy to detect
and no evidence has been presented of a reactor or a large-scale nuclear

What biological weapons was Iraq seeking to produce?

Until the 1995 defection of Hussein Kamel, the Iraqi leader's son-in-law,
and Unscom's discovery of incriminating documents at his chicken farm, the
Iraqi regime had emphatically denied having a biological weapons programme.
In fact, the programme was so extensive that, says one inspector, had its
material been perfected and delivered, it could have killed three to four
times the world's population.

Iraq's bioweapons programme is the least understood of its WMD programmes.
Biological agents can be made in small, unobtrusive mobile plants, and Iraq
exploited this.

Has Iraq resumed production of chemical and biological weapons since
inspectors left in 1998?

Only inspections will reveal the answer. Iraq has the scientists and the
know-how to resume research and possibly production.

The CIA says Iraq could reinstate its chemical weapons programme within a
few weeks to months and that it may again be producing biological agents.
This suspicion is based on intelligence that Iraq has rebuilt dual-use
facilities that were in the past involved in production of chemical and
biological weapons but were destroyed by US warplanes in 1998. As great a
concern as production of weapons is the ability to deliver them. What is the
status of Iraq's ballistic missile programme?

The 300km-range Scuds Iraq bought from the Soviet Union in the 1970s were
stretched to 600km, producing the al-Hussein missile, which could reach Tel
Aviv. Iraqi scientists also sought in the 1980s to develop a 900km range
missile but could not perfect it. Particular attention was placed on
producing a 1,200km range missile, presumed powerful enough to carry a
nuclear warhead. The attempt did not succeed.

Before the Gulf war Iraq had filled 50 warheads with chemical weapons and 25
with biological weapons. Some were deployed. None was used. By the time UN
weapons inspectors left in 1998, the "missiles file" was well advanced in
the sense that Unscom, the UN agency, had uncovered and destroyed most of
Iraq's missile arsenal. All but two Scuds were eliminated, though some
former inspectors suspect more were probably being hidden as a "strategic

Is Iraq still working on missiles?

Under UN resolutions Iraq is allowed to continue developing 150km range
missiles. But the UN restrictions on Iraq have forced it to make at home
many of the components it could previously import. Ironically, this has led
it to develop its skills and its scientists can now produce their own
mini-Scud - a feat that eluded them in 1998. Western intelligence agencies
fear Iraq has extended the range of the liquid-fuelled al-Samoud missile. If
it could import missile guidance systems - and according to some reports it
has tried to purchase such equipment in recent years - Iraq may be able to
develop its own Scud. But western missile experts say there is no evidence
that Iraq has tested any long-range missile since 1991, which makes it
unlikely it has the capability to deliver it successfully.

Moreover, there is no evidence that Iraq has developed anything other than
impact fused missiles which, though ideal for nuclear weapons, destroy
chemical and biological agents when they explode.

Does Iraq have any other means of delivery ?

Iraq could use aircraft to deliver biological or chemical agents.

The al-Baya project, allowed under UN sanctions, is an attempt to turn a
Czech-made aircraft into an unmanned aeroplane. US intelligence fears that
the Iraqis could put bombs or spray mechanisms under the wings. All the
facilities related to the aircraft were bombed in the US-led military
campaign in 1998 but western intelligence believes a few al-Bayas may still
be in existence.

Written by Roula Khalaf. Reporting by Roula Khalaf, Stephen Fidler,
Alexander Nicoll and Carola Hoyos Tomorrow: the dangers from chemical and

by Judy Dempsey in Brussels
Financial Times, 11th July

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.

by Christopher Adams, Political Correspondent
Financial Times, 12th July

The possibility of a military strike against Iraq is an issue that will have
to be dealt with, Downing Street has said. But it emphasised that no
decisions on any such strike had been made.

After reports that British forces in the former Yugoslav province of Kosovo
could be redeployed further east, the government yesterday did not rule out
providing military support for a US assault against Iraq. But it denied
having current plans for an invasion or attack.

The expected withdrawal by Britain of most of its 2,400 troops in Kosovo has
led to speculation that it could be preparing to provide support for a US
strike on Iraq.

Asked whether Britain was preparing for an imminent attack, the prime
minister's official spokesman replied: "No decision has been made. We're
still in the position we were in when the prime minister spoke at Crawford
[in Texas]. Equally, there is an awareness that at some point this issue is
going to have to be dealt with."


In a written answer to parliament last month, Geoff Hoon, the defence
secretary, said Nato defence ministers had agreed at a meeting on June 6 to
a "smaller, lighter and more flexible" force in Bosnia and Kosovo,
reflecting the changed security situation. There was to be a series of
meetings to decide how the reduction would be divided up between the Nato


by David Storey
Swissinfo, 12th July

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Islamic guerrillas with al Qaeda links are fomenting
unrest in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, whose support could be critical
in Washington's efforts to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, according to
a television documentary.

The film, being aired in the United States on the Public Broadcasting System
on Thursday, portrays an intensifying campaign of attacks and assassination
by the group, which it says has taken over nine villages since crossing into
Iraq from Iran three years ago.

In the film, Dr. Barham Salih, a top Kurdish politician who survived an
assassination attempt in April, said 70-80 fighters are in the villages.

"These are non-Kurdish members of al Qaeda," says Salih, prime minister of
the Kurdish Regional Government in an area run by the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, one of the two main factions that dominate in the rugged,
mountainous region.

The film, to be aired on the "Wide Angle" weekly program on PBS, was put
together by British film-maker Gwynne Roberts, who has been reporting on the
region for nearly 20 years.

The al Qaeda-linked group, which calls itself Ansar al Islam -- the
Companions of Islam -- has engaged in several battles with the PUK and "is
spreading terror throughout Kurdistan," Roberts said in the film.

An unidentified Iraqi intelligence agent captured by the PUK said in a
interview in prison in Suleimaniyeh that he had been sent by Baghdad to make
contact with a senior Iraqi secret service member who was operating with
Ansar al Islam.

Advocates of U.S. military action against Iraq are trying to establish
evidence of ties between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's international al Qaeda
movement, which is believed to have carried out the September 11 attacks on
the united States.

President George W. Bush, who has named Iraq a member of an "axis of evil"
with Iran and North Korea for developing weapons of mass destruction and
sponsoring terrorism, said this week he would use all available means to
oust Saddam.

The documentary also quotes Iraqi defectors as alleging that top al Qaeda
officials, including Osama bin Laden, visited Iraq during the 1990s and that
the group's militants were trained to use chemical and biological weapons in
Iraqi camps.

U.S. officials who declined to be identified said despite a welter of
clandestine information gleaned from the region they had not seen evidence
of any visit by bin Laden to Iraq or of any major training program for
foreign militants.

They also have found no evidence linking Iraq with the September 11 attacks.

But they did say it was "quite plausible" that al Qaeda operatives were
working with Ansar al Islam, although there was no definitive evidence.

Such reports, however, have contributed to a deep concern in Washington over
Saddam's intentions and accusations that he is involved with international

James Rubin, a former State Department spokesman now hosting the "Wide
Angle" series, said the film made clear it was not presenting proof but that
"this is a sufficiently compelling allegation that deserves more

If the link between Saddam and training foreigners to use weapons of mass
destruction were proved, he told CNN, then it would highlight the danger
"not so much that (Saddam) would use his weapons of mass destruction
directly against us but that some day, some way they would fall into the
wrong hands."

U.S. analysts say there are sharply differing opinions inside the
administration on how to move against Saddam and that if U.S. military
action were taken it would not be likely before next year.

In Roberts' film, an Iraqi defector who claimed to have worked at a secret
chemical weapons factory and later became a colonel in Saddam's Fedayeen
militia spoke of the training of foreigners at a camp called Unit 999, north
of Baghdad.

"There was training in the use of biological and chemical weapons in camp
999. But they were not Iraqis doing it, they were foreigners," said the
colonel, who spoke in an interview in Turkey and whose identity was

by David Ensor and Barbara Starr
CNN, 11th July

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A PBS program scheduled to air Thursday features an
Iraqi defector saying he saw Osama bin Laden in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad
in 1998, but U.S. officials said they are skeptical of the report.

If a clear link could be established between the government of Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein and the group that attacked the United States on
September 11, it would help the Bush administration justify military action
to overthrow the Iraqi regime.

"We're not dismissing this, but we have no evidence of such a visit" to
Iraq, said a knowledgeable U.S. official.

"We have no evidence that is true," said one official, though he added that
U.S. intelligence has not ruled out the possibility that bin Laden and other
al Qaeda members may have had contacts with Iraqi officials in the past.

The new PBS program "Wide Angle" quotes the Iraqi defector as saying that he
saw bin Laden in Iraq on July 9, 1998 -- shortly before al Qaeda blew up two
U.S. embassies in Africa.

U.S. officials said an Iraqi intelligence official may have traveled to
Afghanistan in the late '90s to meet with bin Laden or other senior al Qaeda
leaders -- though the evidence of that meeting is not conclusive. The
officials said if there is any connection between Hussein and al Qaeda, the
evidence remains weak, and the PBS program "does not add" to it.

Officials have said Iraq ran camps for years providing training in guerrilla
and terrorist techniques. The United States has no evidence members of al
Qaeda ever attended the camps but can't entirely rule it out, officials

U.S. defense officials said that in recent years they have identified about
half a dozen training camps inside Iraq used by the country's intelligence
and internal terrorist groups largely to preserve Hussein's regime. Those
camps do remain under U.S. surveillance.

The PBS program also restates assertions by Czech officials that Mohammed
Atta, the apparent ringleader of the September 11 hijackers met in Prague
with an Iraqi intelligence official named Al-Ani. Czech officials have said
the meeting took place in April 2001. U.S. officials said there is evidence
Atta traveled to the Czech city in 1999 and possibly in 2000 but none he was
there in April last year.

However, U.S. intelligence is keeping a close eye on a Kurdish Islamic
extremist group known as Ansar al-Islam, which may be sheltering al Qaeda
and Taliban members who fled the fighting in Afghanistan. Ansar al-Islam is
believed to have Hussein's support as a means of countering Kurdish
separatists in northern Iraq. Al Qaeda and Taliban members may have been
training and organizing in that area, officials said.

U.S. analysts said it would be surprising if Hussein were to allow al Qaeda
to gain a toehold in central Iraq, where his authority remains absolute, and
he would be opposed to any group that might gain power against him

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been critical of Hussein, noting
that Iraq provides financial support for the families of Palestinian suicide
bombers and the concern that Iraq may be cooperating with terrorist groups
on weapons of mass destruction.

-- David Ensor is CNN's national security correspondent, and Barbara Starr
is CNN's Pentagon correspondent.

by Jim Hoagland
International Herald Tribune [from Washington Post], 12th July

WASHINGTON: For two decades the world has treated the transformation of Iraq
into a giant laboratory for terrorism and crimes against humanity with
silence, forgetfulness and complicity. Now the attacks of Sept. 11 against
the United States have broken through the curtain of indifference.

The debate over Saddam Hussein's murderous regime has escaped the control of
the experts. There is enough information available for citizens to make
reasoned judgments about the unique set of dangers posed to regional and
global stability by that regime.

Much of the information has long been known. But the Baghdad leadership's
unequaled record of contemporary evil is being scrutinized anew or
understood more clearly as President George W. Bush considers military
operations to remove Iraq's capability to spread weapons of mass

Americans who watched the powerful documentary on Iraq that PBS was airing
this Thursday night saw familiar events in a new light. An advance viewing
of the program was deeply unsettling. To watch this disturbing program is to
bear witness to atrocities that the mind can hardly comprehend.

The documentary captures the horrible and lingering effects of Baghdad's use
of poison gas and other chemical/biological weapons against the Kurdish
tribes of northern Iraq 14 years ago. It then examines and brings forward
Iraq's continuing development of instruments of mass terror.

The most horrifying impression that sinks in as the film unwinds is how
little the world understood then, and how little it has done since to help
the Kurds, out of human solidarity. Or to study the effect of chemical and
biological weapons on human beings - out of self interest. Now that fears of
the use of similar weapons in American subways are voiced by the U.S.
government, the plight of the Kurds seems more relevant to mainstream

The United States consciously pursued a closed-eyes policy in the 1980s,
making sure it did not know what Saddam was doing to the Kurds. Iraq's 1990
invasion of Kuwait briefly got attention. But reasons to return to ignoring
the menace were abundantly available to policymakers.

Al Qaeda's attacks on New York and Washington changed that. Washington does
not know for a fact that Iraq either helped mount the Sept. 11 terror
assault or has operational links with Osama bin Laden's organization. U.S.
intelligence has yet to find the "smoking gun." But it does know this:
Saddam has an inventory of the kind of horror weapons Al Qaeda has promised
to use against Americans, and the Iraqi is working to expand his holdings to
include a nuclear bomb. Washington cannot afford to return to seeing too
little evil to act.

This is true whether Iraq's links to Al Qaeda are shown to be strong and
operational or, as I suspect, opportunistic and compartmentalized.

The documentary unfortunately muddies the water on that score by giving
prominence to unsupported statements from an unidentified Iraqi military
defector who says he saw bin Laden in Baghdad in July 1998, shortly before
al Qaeda blew up two U.S. embassies in East Africa. Linking Saddam and bin
Laden provides the United States with an unavoidable casus belli. It is not
to be undertaken lightly. The program should have made more of an effort to
investigate this sensational charge. Unnamed U.S. officials have sought to
discredit a report from the Czech police that the Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed
Atta traveled to Prague in 2001 and met with an Iraqi intelligence agent
there. Two senior U.S. officials who have access to all American
intelligence available on the case tell me independently that they are
certain that the Prague meeting took place. But, each adds, "we do not know
what it involved." We should not miss the forest by looking only at the
trees. The terror networks and terror nations have used each other and
worked together when it advanced their mutual interests. The world stayed
silent when it was just the Kurds. Now similar horror has come to American
shores and cannot be ignored.

CRIME AGAINST JORDAN,6903,750845,00.html

by Jason Burke, Martin Bright and Nicolas Pelham in Amman
The Observer, 7th July

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.,,3-352917,00.html

by Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor and Rana Sabbagh in Amman
The Times, 11th July

JORDAN has agreed to allow US troops to use bases on its soil in preparation
for a possible American military attack against Iraq.

That may be just the first step towards a deeper involvement for Jordan,
which is not only one of America's strongest Arab allies but also
strategically located between Iraq and Israel. Comparisons are being made
with Pakistan, which allowed US special forces to operate from its territory
but denied their existence.

King Abdullah has been assured by Washington that no action will be taken
this year, but Administration officials have hinted heavily that an
offensive could be launched early next year.

Despite stringent denials by the Jordanian authorities that US forces will
be permitted to use their territory for future operations against Baghdad,
Western diplomats have told The Times that King Abdullah has consented to a
limited US presence involved in defensive and humanitarian operations.

"Jordan wants to remain firmly on the fence in any conflict between America
and Iraq," one diplomat said. "But that is looking increasingly difficult.
It has agreed to allow a US-manned radar station and American search and
rescue teams to operate out of the country to pick up US pilots."

The Pentagon has reportedly planned a three-pronged attack on Iraq from
Turkey in the north, Kuwait in the south and Jordan in the west.

Refurbishment of the Muwafaq Salti Air Force Base in Azraq, 40 miles
northeast of the capital Amman, and the nearby Mafraq Air Force Base, has
been going on for months.

The bases would be ideally situated for future special forces operations
against Iraq to eliminate the threat from Scud missiles aimed at Israel.

King Abdullah, who is due to hold talks with President Bush this month, will
have to balance strong anti-American feeling in his country against his
vital links with the West.

The US is an important aid donor to Jordan, and Washington's annual military
and economic assistance is expected to increase by $100 million (64
million) to $325 million this year.

Diplomats said Washington recently approved the sale to Jordan of a
state-of-the-art radar system capable of monitoring all Iraqi military

But any imminent attack on Iraq could have catastrophic economic
consequences for its smaller neighbour. Iraq was Jordan's largest foreign
trade partner last year, importing Jordanian goods worth about 500 million.

Resource-poor Jordan also receives its full daily needs of 90,000 barrels of
Iraqi oil at preferential prices under a deal approved by the United

BBC World Service, 8th July

The uncle of King Abdullah of Jordan has denied reports that the United
States is planning to use Jordan as a base for an assault on Iraq.

Prince Hassan told the BBC that Jordan was opposed to any attack on Iraq,
and that dialogue between America and the Iraq was needed to avoid a
potential catastrophe in the region.

He dismissed reports of a military build-up in Jordan, pointing out that
joint military exercises with the US and Britain were held every year.

The Prince called on the United Nations to discourage any military action,
and said Washington should consult all parties in the region before making
any further plans.

King Abudullah is expected in Moscow on Monday for talks about the situation
in the Middle East.

by Eric Schmitt
International Herald tribune (from The New York Times), 11th July

WASHINGTON: American military planners are considering using bases in Jordan
to stage air and commando operations against Iraq in the event the United
States decides to attack Iraq, senior defense officials said.

Using Jordanian bases would enable the Pentagon to attack Iraq from three
directions - from the west, as well as from the north via Turkey and the
south via several Persian Gulf states.

Such an arrangement would also introduce American forces between Iraq and
Israel who could help detect, track and destroy Scud missiles that Baghdad
might shoot at Israeli targets, as it did during the Gulf War in 1991, the
officials said.

A final military plan for attacking Iraq has not yet been prepared, but
"every country in the region, from Turkey to Jordan to the Gulf states, was
being considered when you're talking about mounting an operation," a senior
military official said. President George W. Bush has discussed with King
Abdullah of Jordan the administration's goal to topple President Saddam
Hussein of Iraq and create a political landscape without Saddam, officials
said. But Jordan has not yet been consulted specifically about the possible
use of its bases, and Jordanian officials in recent days have publicly
criticized such a plan.

In a telephone interview from Amman, Jordan's foreign minister, Marwan
Muasher, said: "Our public position is the same as our private position.
Jordan will not be used as a launching pad, and we do not have any U.S.
forces in Jordan."

The reason for Jordan's anxiety is clear. Abdullah, who presides over a poor
country in need of aid and good will from the United States, is trying to be
a friend to Washington.

He has met with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House four
times in the past two years, most recently on May 8. The king is to meet
privately with Bush here later this month, officials said.

At the same time, most of Jordan's population is of Palestinian descent, and
Palestinians have been ardent supporters of Saddam.

Jordanian sensitivities regarding Iraq have a long history. During the Gulf
War, the current king's father, King Hussein, essentially sat on the fence
as Palestinians in the West Bank and in Jordan repeatedly held boisterous
and sometimes violent demonstrations in support of Iraq.

Now Iraq sends large payments to families of Palestinian suicide bombers,
cementing the Iraqi leader's popularity among Palestinians.

Abdullah would risk alienating many Palestinians in his kingdom,
destabilizing the fragile balance that maintains Jordan as a viable state,
if he allowed American troops to mount an attack from Jordanian territory.

Indeed, when Cheney visited the king in Amman in March, the Jordanian
authorities issued a statement expressing the monarch's concern about "the
repercussions of any possible strike on Iraq and the dangers of that on the
stability and security of the region."

American military planners, operating without the political filters that
their superiors would impose if an attack were imminent, say Jordan's role
could be similar to that of Pakistan in the war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has allowed American Special Operations forces and
search-and-rescue crews to work out of bases in the country, but neither
nation publicly acknowledges the arrangement.

A spokesman for the National Security Council, Sean McCormack, said the
administration would not comment on war planning, but noted that "Jordan is
a close friend and ally."

Indeed, there are several signs that military cooperation between Washington
and Jordan is increasing. The administration has requested $25 million from
Congress as part of a larger emergency spending bill to provide Jordan with
military equipment and "upgrades for land and air base defense," as well as
border security, said a congressional aide. House and Senate negotiators are
working to put the finishing touches on the package.

The military's Central Command, which is responsible for planning military
operations in 25 countries from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, has rated
the construction projects in Jordan among its highest priorities, one
official said. Some of the American aid could go toward lengthening runways
at two Jordanian air bases, Al Jafr and Al Azraq, to accommodate larger
planes, the official said.

Two weeks ago, General Tommy Franks, the head of American forces in the
Middle East, met in Amman with Abdullah and with the defense minister and
the senior military officer. Colonel Ray Shepherd, a spokesman for Franks,
said the meeting was a "routine" visit.

American forces have conducted joint operations in Jordan. A year ago, 2,200
marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton,
California, participated in an exercise in Aqaba.

In the late 1990s, American warplanes flew missions to enforce the no-flight
zone over southern Iraq from Jordanian air bases. Air Force officials
declined to say if American or other allied forces are still using the

by Suzanne Goldenberg in Amman
The Guardian, 13th July

The men from Iraq began lining up at 6am yesterday, labourers and pedlars
waiting their turn for the 12-hour bone-shaking ride across the desert to

Hundreds of Jordanian cars and lorries and orange and white taxis from Iraq
do the run every day. Four fully booked flights a week from Amman to Baghdad
serve a merchant class grown prosperous by swapping cheap oil for Jordanian
goods during the long years of the embargo on Iraq.

None of the travellers or the businessmen sees Saddam Hussein's Iraq as part
of the "axis of evil" as President George Bush puts it, but as a Jordan's
valued neighbour.

Reports this week that Jordan could serve as a staging post for the war
America wants to wage on Iraq caused consternation in government circles -
where they were strenuously denied - and led to popular rumblings of anger.

"This is completely unacceptable. We are a part of the Arab world and the
Iraqis are our brothers," says Munir Nabulsi, the Jordanian proprietor of a
fleet of cars which take documents and small parcels to Iraq.

For the moment most Jordanians find it unimaginable that King Abdullah would
approve an American request to use Jordanian air bases for a strike on Iraq,
because public opposition runs so deep.

"It is inconceivable even to speak of such a thing," says Hashem Gharaybeh,
who heads the Council of Professional Associations, representing doctors,
dentists, engineers and others. "It will never happen."

Two weeks ago, Mr Gharaybe met Jordan's prime minister, Ali Abu Ragheb, and
other senior officials. He says he received their assurance that the country
would not allow itself to be used as a staging post for a war on Iraq.

But that puts the king in a quandary when he visits Washington later this
month. It will be his sixth meeting with President Bush, and the frequency
underlines a relationship forged through Jordan's support for America's war
on Afghanistan.

In return, America doubled its military and economic aid to Jordan to $500m,
and there is a request before Congress for a further $100m.

But the US largesse could require some return, especially these days when
American military planners are scouting out potential bases for use in
commando and search-and-rescue operations in a potential war on Iraq: in
Qatar, Turkey, and reportedly Jordan.

The Muafa Salti air base in Azraq, which is familiar to the US military from
the joint exercises they have held with Jordan since the mid-80s, reportedly
fits the bill.

But not to ordinary Jordanians: and that underlines the king's predicament
when he meets President Bush and is briefed on the latest battle plans.

"Simply put, the Jordanian government does not want to be identified as 'an
accomplice'," says Adnan Abu-Odeh, who was the political adviser to the late
King Hussein when America first went to war to topple Saddam Hussein after
the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Jordan sat out that war, and King Abdullah faces immense popular pressure to
do the same this time around.

On Thursday Mr Ragheb called a press conference to quash reports that Jordan
would allow US ground troops on its soil or US military flights through its

The forcefulness of the denial seems to have brought a measure of calm.
Yesterday Mr Gharaybeh argued that the US would not ask Jordan to undertake
a role that could prove so destabilising to the country.

"American aid to Jordan is to promote economic stability and to strengthen
its role in the region, so if they ask Jordan to do such a thing it will
wipe out all the value of that aid," he said.

Even without a direct Jordanian role, there is increasing anger here about
the prospect of a military strike on Iraq, particularly when America has
been seen as reluctant to exert its power to end the Israeli-Palestinian

"The whole atmosphere is different now from in 1990," Mr Abu-Odeh said
yesterday. "In 1990 blood was on the ground. The Iraqi army was in Kuwait,
and the whole world wanted to do something. Now only one country wants to
try to do something about Iraq."

"Iraq has been under siege for 12 years, and Arabs are also much more
disaffected with America than they were in 1990 because of the Palestinian

More than 60% of Jordan's five million citizens are of Palestinian origin.
The government has moved carefully in the past two years to subdue protests,
banning demonstrations and keeping watch on Palestinian refugee camps with
secret police.

But tempers have been flaring against since April, when Israeli forces
invaded and re occupied the West Bank.

The country's powerful Islamist movement declared a boycott of US businesses
in Jordan. In Amman, local branches of McDonald's and Burger King were
forced to lay off staff; highly westernised families gave up Coca Cola.

"If the government succumbs to the US and accepts US troops here, it is
letting down the Arab people as a whole, and it is going to find strong
opposition from the people," says Hamza Mansour, the secretary-general of
the Islamic Action Front.

"If this is a decision taken by the Jordanian government it will be very
dangerous, and no one can predict what the outcome will be. Such an immoral
decision will definitely stir strong reactions."

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]