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A. Go on, call Bush's bluff, Guardian, 22 July [comment piece by Hans von Sponeck] B. Wolfowitz trip hints at date of Iraq campaign, Daily Star (Lebanon), 19 July Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org [Letter-writers: remember to include your address and telephone number] A. is an opinion piece by former UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq, Hans von Sponeck, while B. - from Lebanon's Daily Star, speculates that major military action against Iraq 'can take place not earlier than October 2002 and probably not much later than January-February 2003.' **************************************** A. Go on, call Bush's bluff If Iraq lets the arms inspectors back in, America's case for war will be exposed as fiction by Hans von Sponeck Monday July 22, 2002 The Guardian During the 17 months of the Bush administration just about everything has gone wrong for the US government in preparing the public for military strikes against Iraq. Convincing friendly governments and allies has not fared much better. Acts of terrorism against US facilities overseas and the anthrax menace at home could not be linked to Iraq. Evidence of al-Qaida/lraq collaboration does not exist, neither in the training of operatives nor in support to Ansar-al-Islam, a small fundamentalist group which allegedly harbours al-Qaida elements and is trying to destabilise lraqi Kurdistan. In the aftermath of the carnage of September 11, the political landscape in the Middle East has changed dramatically. Years of US double standards in dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have taken a heavy toll. The Arab, Turkish and Kurdish public in the area is wary of facing more turmoil, suffering and uncertainty. The Beirut summit of the Arab League in March signalled that all 22 governments want to see an end to the conflict with Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Iraq have since reopened their border at Arar and Saudi businessmen are selling their wares in Baghdad. Iraq has agreed to return Kuwait's national archives and to discuss the issue of missing Kuwaitis. Iran and Iraq have accelerated the exchange of refugees. Syria has normalised its relations with Iraq. Lebanon has done the same. Hardly a week passes without Turkish and Jordanian officials and business delegations visiting Iraq. Jordan's national airline flies five times a week between Amman and Baghdad. Airlinks exist between Damascus and Baghdad. Iraqi Kurdistan maintains contacts with Baghdad at scientific, cultural and sports levels and tries to make the best out of its present (albeit tenuous) local stability. Iraq's political and economic isolation in the Middle East is all but over. A wave of senior US visitors has tried to dislocate these trends towards normalisation and reconciliation in this troubled region. The US administration has put the UN secretary general on a short leash in his meetings with the Iraqi authorities. The only topic worthy of discussion according to the Americans is the return to Iraq of the UN arms inspectors. This became most apparent during the recently concluded talks with the Iraqis in Vienna. Europe is increasingly uncomfortable with this unilateral insistence on solving the Iraqi conflict militarily. In varying degrees the same applies to countries in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has served notice that the Sultan air base near Riyadh will not be available for a new US offensive against Iraq. Under severe US pressure, Qatar has agreed to permit the transfer of logistics from Saudi Arabia to its territory. A political crisis is looming in Jordan as a result of US demands to use Jordan as a possible staging area in a war against Iraq. A similar debacle will face the Turkish government once the prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, decides to relinquish his post and fresh elections are scheduled. An entire region is being destabilised to suit American preferences for political change in Iraq. Concurrently, a systematic dis- and mis-information campaign, one of the biggest ever undertaken by the US authorities, is intensifying. The US and the international public are being sedated daily with increasing doses of propaganda about the threat Iraq poses to the world in 2002. In the forefront of those advocating war against Iraq has been the US deputy secretary of defence, Paul Wolfowitz, who sees a military solution as the only option. On July 14 he stated in Istanbul: "President Bush has made it clear how dangerous the current Iraqi regime is to the United States and that it represents a danger we cannot live with indefinitely." To make such statements without offering supporting evidence is irresponsible. It promotes government-induced mass hysteria in the US and is meant to garner bipartisan support for military action. A war on Iraq justified by conjecture is politically foolish and morally repugnant. In the words of the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Rowan Williams: "It is deplorable that the world's most powerful nations continue to regard war, and the threat of war, as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy." The US Department of Defence and the CIA know perfectly well that today's Iraq poses no threat to anyone in the region, let alone in the United States. To argue otherwise is dishonest. They know, for example, that al-Dora, formerly a production centre for vaccine against foot and mouth disease on the outskirts of Baghdad, and al-Fallujah, a pesticide and herbicide manufacturing unit in the western desert, are today defunct and beyond repair. The UN concluded the former had been involved in biological agent research and development and the latter in the production of materials for chemical warfare. UN disarmament personnel permanently disabled al-Dora in 1996. During a visit with a German TV crew to al-Dora in mid-July - a site chosen by me and not the Iraqi authorities - I found it in the same destroyed condition in which I had last seen it in 1999. Al-Fallujah was partially destroyed in 1991 during the Gulf war and again in December 1998, during operation desert fox. In between a UN disarmament team disabled all facilities in any way related to weapons of mass destruction there, including the castor oil production unit. My visit this month disclosed beyond any doubt that the castor oil unit was inoperable. Remnants of other production facilities are used to manufacture herbicides and pesticides for plant protection and household use. One does not need to be a specialist in weapons of mass destruction to con clude that these sites had been rendered harmless and have remained in this condition. The truly worrying fact is that the US Department of Defence has all of this information. Why then, one must ask, does the Bush administration want to include Iraq in its fight against terrorism? Is it really too far-fetched to suggest that the US government does not want UN arms inspectors back in Iraq? Do they fear that this would lead to a political drama of the first order since the inspectors would confirm what individuals such as Scott Ritter have argued for some time, that Iraq no longer possesses any capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction? This indeed would be the final blow to the "war against Iraq" policy of the Bush administration, a policy that no one else wants. The Iraqis would be well advised to seize this opportunity and open their doors without delay to time-limited arms inspectors, thereby confirming that they indeed have nothing to hide. This would make a US war against Iraq next to impossible and start the long journey towards the country's return to normality. What was it that Paul Wolfowitz said on the west front of the US Capitol on April 15? "May God bless all the peacemakers in the world." He still has a chance to be among them. · Hans von Sponeck was the UN humanitarian aid coordinator for Iraq from 1998-2000 and has just returned from a two-week stay in Iraq **************************************************** B. Wolfowitz trip hints at date of Iraq campaign Daily Star (Lebanon) July 19 2002 Paul Wolfowitz arrived in Istanbul earlier this week, leaving for Kabul the same night. But the US deputy secretary of defense did return to Ankara on Tuesday for a two-day visit, where he met with Turkey’s weakened, ailing prime minister, Bulent Ecevit. Wolfowitz also met key Turkish figures, including the new Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel, and several of the country’s top generals before heading back to Washington but he skipped another scheduled stop in Istanbul. Wolfowitz wrapped up his trip and returned to the United States to brief President George W. Bush on his trip’s focus a potential US strike against Iraq. Described as one of the Pentagon’s “leading hawks” who is obsessed with toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Wolfowitz left many unanswered questions. I can take the liberty of answering one still hanging in the air: That is, an American military operation against Iraq is not imminent. Yes not imminent, for the time being at least. This, I can argue after a conversation with Wolfowitz when he visited Istanbul, before flying to Afghanistan. However, this does not mean Washington has not decided to carry out an operation against the Iraqi leader. On the contrary, one such decision does exist, and Americans are more than ever committed to undertaking the operation. Two factors are pending: the date of such an operation and its type and the scope. The Bush administration is working on several military scenarios. Wolfowitz gave the impression that a decision on which scenario would be made after consultations with Iraq’s neighbors, first and foremost, Turkey. Of course, any such move would still require consensus within the American administration; thus the intense inter-agency debate raging in Washington. The impression Wolfowitz’s left is that the timing will likely be in January or February 2003, following US congressional elections. One clue is that Turkey’s crumbling government coalition partners Ecevit, and Deputy Prime Ministers Devlet Bahcheli and Mesut Yilmaz decided to hold early elections by November. Their meeting followed the Ecevit-Wolfowitz meeting that had taken place only an hour earlier. Ecevit had no intention of holding elections at that date and his rejection of which had been announced once again only a few hours before his meeting with Wolfowitz and Yilmaz. The Turkish position toward the United States was listed under four main headings to Wolfowitz: First, meet our economic losses from such an operation; second, any new Iraqi regime should be accepted by the Iraqi people; third, Turkey opposes any independent Kurdish entity in northern Iraq; fourth, the rights of Turcomans should be guaranteed, and Kirkuk and Mosul cannot be left to the hands of the Kurds. Wolfowitz had earlier predicted Turkish officials to make these demands, clearly disclosing the aim of his visit to Turkey and trying to demonstrate to the Turks the incentives of removing Saddam regime in Baghdad. “During my meetings with Turkish officials, I look forward to hearing what they have to say concerning the future of Iraq. We value Turkey’s views highly, and my colleagues in Washington will be interested in what I have to report,” he said. “Turkey has large and legitimate interests in Iraq, and it has suffered economically from Iraq’s international isolation since the Gulf War. “Turkey is interested in the fate of Iraq’s Turkoman minority which, like the rest of the Iraqi population, has suffered under tyrannical rule. “And Turkey wants assurances that events in Iraq won’t have a negative impact on its own unity. “President Bush has made clear how dangerous Saddam is to the United States and that he presents a danger we cannot live with indefinitely. But we also understand that Turkey has a vital national interest in the kind of regime that rules in Baghdad. Natural patterns of trade and investment should prevail, not those that Baghdad manipulates today. “It is vital to Turkey that Iraqis govern themselves democratically, with full respect for minorities, including the Turkomans, and to maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq. “A separate Kurdish state in the north would be destabilizing to Turkey and unacceptable to the United States. Fortunately, the Kurds of north Iraq increasingly seem to understand this fact and understand the importance of thinking themselves as Iraqis who will participate fully in the political life of a future democratic Iraq. “A democratic Iraq will stimulate economic growth with neighbors like Turkey and will stabilize the region,” he said. This same message was carried by Wolfowitz to Turkish officials in Ankara. Notably, he described Kemal Darwish, the state minister, as Turkey’s “economy czar.” Darwish said Turkey’s economy may be hurt by an operation against Iraq and he suggested ways to compensate Turkey’s losses. Wolfowitz now knows, how to satisfy Turks economically. Moreover, the military details of his visit remain known to only those taking part in discussions held with military officials in Ankara. In that meeting Wolfowitz was joined by US Air Force Commander General Joseph Ralston, the No. 1 commander of NATO. Ralston commands 65,000 troops from 39 countries and his mission includes Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Wolfowitz, accompanied by Ralston and the State Department’s undersecretary of state, Marc Grossman a former American ambassador to Turkey examined operational plans and various battle scenarios. The Turkish side sought payments for military units, stationed in Afghanistan and the negation of Greek objections to Turkey’s role in Europe’ s security and defense policies a formula that Turkey, the United States and Britain agreed in 2001. Wolfowitz now knows what is needed to persuade the Turks. He also knows Turkish conditions for aiding or joining an American campaign against Iraq. Although it seems he went back to Washington leaving behind some unanswered questions, Wolfowitz has a better understanding of what must be done to garner support for an operation against Saddam. As he told me personally, his will not be the final visit of an American official on the eve of an operation against Iraq. But the main fact-finding mission is over and one could speculate that such an operation can take place not earlier than October 2002 and probably not much later than January-February 2003. Cengiz Candar, a Turkish journalist, wrote this commentary for The Daily Star _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk