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A. Jordan prince touted to succeed Saddam, Guardian, 19 July B. Reservists called up in build-up for Iraq, Daily Telegraph, 19 July C. If Iraqis want a king, Hassan of Jordan could be their man, Daily Telegraph, 19 July [opinion piece by rightwing think-tanker and sanctions-apologist Michael Rubin] Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org Telegraph: email@example.com [Letter writers: remember to include your address and telephone #] ******************************************************** A. Jordan prince touted to succeed Saddam Brian Whitaker Friday July 19, 2002 The Guardian As US officials and Iraqi opposition groups squabble over possible successors to Saddam Hussein, Prince Hassan of neighbouring Jordan is emerging as a surprise contender. The idea, which has support in the Pentagon and among conservative thinkers in the US, envisages the prince rising above Iraqi factionalism as a compromise figurehead, or even as king. Some argue that his involvement could also ease tensions in Washington, where the state department and CIA have been at loggerheads with Congress and the Pentagon over Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial leader of the Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella opposition group funded by US taxpayers. "Prince Hassan is someone who has not been poisoned by the past 40 years of chaos in Iraq and is perhaps the only person who can transcend the ethnic and political complexities," said Michael Rubin of the Washington thinktank the American Enterprise Institute. Hassan, 55, was crown prince of Jordan for many years and effectively ruled the country during the terminal illness of his eldest brother, the late King Hussein. But a few weeks before his death in 1999, King Hussein removed him from the succession and nominated his own son, now King Abdullah. On April 8 this year, Prince Hassan had talks at the Pentagon with Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy secretary of defence. The subject was never disclosed but since then he has begun to assume a higher political profile. This culminated in his dramatic "coming out" last week when - surrounded by TV cameras - he arrived unexpectedly at a conference of exiled Iraqi officers in London. It was the first time that a high-ranking Arab had publicly associated himself with the Iraqi opposition. His move appears to have been well received. Speculation has been heightened by the fact that the Jordanian royal family is related to the Iraqi royal family, whose last king, Faisal II, was deposed and assassinated in 1958. ********************************************************************* B. Reservists called up in build-up for Iraq By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent Daily Telegraph (Filed: 19/07/2002) The Ministry of Defence is planning a mass mobilisation of key reservists beginning in September, heightening expectation that the United States and Britain are stepping up preparations for an attack on Iraq. British troops have also been pulled out of Nato's ACE Mobile Force rapid reaction corps and British involvement in a large number of exercises has been cancelled or scaled down to leave troops ready for the attack on Iraq. The Prime Minister has strongly backed the idea of a pre-emptive strike on Iraq and refused to commit the Government to a vote in the House of Commons on the deployment of British forces. British military planners are working on the basis that Britain will provide a very large force, including an armoured division, a naval task force and substantial numbers of combat aircraft. The decision to pull out of the Nato rapid reaction force was taken at the same time as it was announced that the bulk of British forces were being withdrawn from Afghanistan and Bosnia. It means that the 1,500 British troops previously earmarked for the force will not now be taking part in two major exercises this autumn, in Germany and Ukraine. In another move to free forces for an attack on Iraq, 3,000 members of Britain's main fighting force, 1 (UK) Armoured Division, have been withdrawn from a tank exercise in Poland. The MoD insisted that no decision had been made on Iraq but did not deny that planning was under way. "Any government department has contingency plans," a spokesman said. Defence sources said the reservists who would be called up would cover key shortages such as pilots, medical staff, special forces, intelligence and signals. ********************************************************************* C. If Iraqis want a king, Hassan of Jordan could be their man By Michael Rubin Daily Telegraph (Filed: 19/07/2002) Last weekend, more than 70 exiled Iraqi military officials and Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, met in London to discuss the ousting of Saddam Hussein. American diplomats, Pentagon officials and members of Vice-President Dick Cheney's staff joined British colleagues. The surprise participant was Jordan's Prince Hassan bin Talal. Crown prince for more than three decades, Hassan frequently served as regent while his brother, King Hussein, travelled abroad. As Hussein was, Hassan is known for his moderation, his genuine desire for peace, his humour and his learning. Two weeks before his death, Hussein altered the Jordanian succession to allow his son Abdullah to take the throne. Despite the slight of being passed over, Hassan has painstakingly avoided any action that might undercut his nephew's rule. Pundits rushed to explain Hassan's surprise appearance at the London conference. Some argued that King Abdullah II and Hassan merely sought to replicate Hussein's shrewd diplomacy in the months before the Gulf war, when Jordan masterfully straddled the fence between American friends and Iraqi neighbours. Others speculated that Hassan's presence indicated palace intrigue, with Hassan seeking to prove himself a better friend of Washington than Abdullah. Not likely. Not only are Abdullah and Hassan well liked and respected in Washington, but Hassan has also had far better opportunities to upstage his nephew if that were his goal. In his speech to the exiled Iraqi officers, Hassan avoided politics and focused instead upon his family's relationship with Iraq - his cousins ruled the country until 1958. He insisted his visit was strictly personal, telling reporters: "I'm not carrying any signals." Nevertheless, his address raises intriguing possibilities for Iraq's future. July 14, 1958, is a date most Iraqis wish to forget. Just after dawn, soldiers stormed the palace and murdered the 19-year-old King Faisal II and his family. For a decade after the revolution, there was sporadic street fighting, mass killings, assassination attempts and violent changes in government. On July 30, 1968, the ethnic chauvinist Ba'ath party seized power. A young functionary named Saddam Hussein took charge of purging dissent, and did so with brutal efficiency, quickly ensconcing himself as Iraq's strongman. Within a month of formally assuming the presidency in 1979, 500 top officials lay dead, victims of Saddam's paranoia. One year later, Saddam launched his first war of aggression, targeting Iran and killing or maiming one million people in the process. In 1988, he executed a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign against Iraq's ethnic minorities, killing up to 182,000 Kurds. Local surveys indicate that Saddam's government used unconventional munitions on at least 280 separate occasions. Two years later, he was at it again, pillaging Kuwait and once more bringing death and destruction to Iraq. It is not surprising, then, that a common quip in teahouses and pool halls throughout Iraq is: "Saddam Hussein is God's curse because the communists killed the king." Iraqis did not grieve over the end of the monarchy, but the violent death of the young king engendered great sympathy. "He was just a young boy. He didn't need to die," one retired Iraqi teacher told me. Most Iraqis today no longer remember their monarchy, but many nevertheless consider it to be the golden age of Iraq. After all, Iraqis can readily compare the post-Hashemite decline of resource-rich Iraq with the relative prosperity brought to a barren and resourceless desert nation by the Jordanian branch of the family. As one drives through the hills near Sarsang in northern Iraq, locals point with pride to the former Hashemite palace (now a hospital) perched on the hillside, while they treat with disdain the ruins of Saddam's ostentatious palaces. Iraqis are not alone in looking back fondly on bygone royalty. In April, Zahir Shah returned to Afghanistan after nearly three decades of exile. While he no longer seeks the crown, the former king has played an invaluable role in Afghan reconciliation. His long exile gave Zahir Shah distance to mediate, and put him above the fray of blood feuds, warlordism and ethnic politics. Equally significant is the rise of Reza Pahlavi. In little more than a year, the son of the late Shah of Iran has risen from relative obscurity to become the leading catalyst for democracy in Iran. Iranians old enough to remember the Shah used to visualise their society as European, on a par with Spain, Portugal and Greece, but now see their country plunging into economic chaos. Too young to remember the corruption and brutality of the last Shah, they long for the good life of the past. To many Iranians, such sentiment is not empty glorification. In 1977, Iran's per capita income was equivalent to Spain's; two years ago, it hovered near that of the Gaza Strip. A role for royals in Iraq should therefore come as no surprise. While Sharif Ali, cousin of the 19-year-old murdered king, pretends to the Iraqi throne, Hassan has spent more time in Iraq, is tried and tested, and enjoys respect and legitimacy throughout the Middle East. At the Kensington Town Hall conference, Chalabi lauded Hassan as "a friend of the Iraqi people". For the ruling families of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, a place for royals in Iraq may be more palatable than primacy for republicans. Should he be interested, Hassan's experience and lineage - Hashemites claim direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed - give him the unique ability to usher a post-Saddam Iraq back into the family of nations, with him chairing a future constitutional convention and overseeing the reconciliation process. With Saddam's days numbered, Hassan's appearance in London may signal that Iraqis will have a future far brighter than their past. Michael Rubin is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute ************************************************************* _______________________________________________ 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