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[casi] Baghdad says prepared for any US military action





                                Publisher: Jordan Times (Amman)
                                By:
                                Posted: 2002-07-29

                                As Iraq said on Sunday it had taken all measures to face a possible 
US military strike, its Foreign
                                Minister Naji Sabri charged that Washington was pressuring UN 
Secretary General Kofi Annan to
                                make the return of weapons inspectors the only issue on the table 
in their dialogue.

                                In London, a minister said British Prime Minister Tony Blair will 
not tie his hands by offering
                                parliament a vote on possible military action against Iraq.

                                Baghdad, meanwhile, challenged Blair to prove it is developing 
weapons of mass destruction,
                                reiterating in a statement Sunday its readiness to allow British 
investigators to search for alleged
                                weapons sites.

                                Meanwhile, a Kuwaiti minister said in comments published on Sunday 
that Gulf Arab states believe
                                that any US military strike against Iraq must topple President 
Saddam Hussein who would otherwise
                                emerge stronger.

                                In Baghdad, Parliament Speaker Saadoun Hammadi said his country had 
taken all measures to face
                                a US attack to topple Saddam.

                                "Our leadership has prepared everything and our people are 
determined to resist all attempts
                                against our country," Hammadi said.

                                "Our people's morale is high, our financial potentials are good and 
we are quite certain we will be
                                able to thwart the US aggression," he told reporters after 
parliament met to discuss preparations for
                                a possible attack.

                                US President George W. Bush said this month Washington would use 
all tools at its disposal to
                                topple Saddam. He has branded Iraq part of an "axis of evil" 
supporting terrorism and developing
                                weapons of mass destruction.

                                Iraq has repeatedly denied the US charges.

                                Saddam said in a speech this month that the United States and its 
allies would not be able to topple
                                his government and the country's parliament has voted to back 
military preparations to repel any
                                attack.

                                "We shall defend our country in our territory," Sabri said in an 
interview with CNN on Saturday night.

                                He said Washington wanted UN weapons inspectors to return to Iraq 
"for a sole purpose of updating
                                their military and intelligence information on Iraq to be used in 
any attack on the Iraqi population.

                                He said Iraq would only allow the return of inspectors if it was 
based on what he called a UN agenda,
                                not a US one.

                                "Their return could be part of a UN agenda to be based on (UN) 
Security Council resolutions," Sabri
                                said.

                                "The US agenda for the return of inspectors is to send inspectors 
here and forget about the killing
                                effects of the regime of sanctions and forget about the continuing 
bombing by Britain and America of
                                Iraqi territories in the north and south."

                                US and British jets patrol "no-fly" zones in northern and southern 
Iraq set up by Western powers
                                after the 1991 Gulf War. Iraq does not recognise the zones.

                                Resuming weapons inspections is key to suspending UN sanctions, 
imposed after Iraq invaded
                                Kuwait in 1990. It could also ward off a US attack on Iraq.

                                Arms experts have been barred from Iraq since December 1998 when 
the United States and Britain
                                launched a bombing campaign to punish Baghdad's alleged failure to 
cooperate with them.

                                Meanwhile, Sabri charged that the US was pressuring Annan to make 
the return of weapons
                                inspectors the only issue on the table in their dialogue.

                                "At our last session of talks in Vienna, the secretary general 
indicated that contacts between the
                                two sides would continue, including technical discussions, but the 
fixing of a date for a new session
                                faces pressure exercised by the United States on the (UN) Security 
Council," Sabri told Iraqi
                                satellite television.

                                "We agreed, Mr Annan and myself, to leave the agenda open, meaning 
the (dialogue) would not be
                                limited to one point alone, but the United States wants it limited 
to the question of a return of the
                                inspectors," he said.

                                Annan expressed pessimism last Tuesday about Iraq's wish to resume 
dialogue on readmitting arms
                                inspectors following talks in Vienna in early July that failed to 
achieve a breakthrough, though it was
                                the third time both sides met since March.

                                But Sabri said the US focus on weapons inspections "indicates the 
inspectors will only come to Iraq
                                to gather information on Iraqi economic, military and security 
installations which they will give to
                                American intelligence services to use in their aggressions which 
continue against our people."

                                Blair will give parliament vote on Iraq  minister

                                Meanwhile, a minister in London said Blair will not tie his hands 
by offering parliament a vote on
                                possible military action against Iraq.

                                Ben Bradshaw, deputy leader of the House of Commons, said Blair 
would consult parliamentarians 
                                many of whom have urged him not to back any US strike against 
President Saddam Hussein  but
                                would not give them a veto.

                                "No prime minister in British history has ever allowed their hands 
to be tied like that and none
                                would," Bradshaw told Sky News television. "It is not realistic 
that a prime minister is going to have
                                to seek a vote before he or she deploys forces."

                                Blair, who has stood staunchly behind Bush since the Sept. 11 
attacks on New York and Washington,
                                has warned that the world must tackle Saddam's refusal to let 
United Nations weapons inspectors
                                back into Iraq.

                                But he faces growing dissent from left-wingers in his centre-left 
Labour government who have
                                demanded a fresh UN resolution and the chance for British 
politicians to have a say before any
                                troops are committed to an attack.

                                At a news conference last week Blair refused to commit to a 
parliamentary vote and said an attack
                                was not imminent.

                                Bradshaw said international efforts should focus on getting the 
inspectors back to Baghdad.

                                But if the attempts failed, the world must respond, he said.

                                "It is simply unrealistic to put our heads in the sand and think 
that if the UN inspectors don't go in
                                that we can simply ignore that threat," he said.

                                Bradshaw was speaking after a poll published on Sunday suggested 
more than half of Britons would
                                oppose the deployment of British troops in a US- led military 
campaign against Iraq.

                                The survey of 1,763 people published in the Sunday Times showed 
that 51 per cent do not want to
                                see British troops used, while 40 per cent would support that.

                                The same number of Britons, 51 per cent, would, however, support in 
principle an American attempt
                                to topple Saddam, while 37 per cent would disapprove. Forty-nine 
per cent believe Blair has become
                                the "puppet" of Bush.

                                Iraq challenged Blair to prove it is developing weapons of mass 
destruction, reiterating its readiness
                                to allow British investigators to search for alleged weapons sites.

                                "If Blair wants to prove that his claims are true, then our 
invitation to Britain is valid and we
                                challenge him to present any evidence that Iraq is producing such 
weapons," said a foreign ministry
                                statement faxed to the Associated Press.

                                The spokesman was commenting on Blair's statements in a recent 
interview with a British magazine
                                that if the time came for action against Iraq, "people will have 
the evidence presented to them" to
                                show that President Saddam "is trying to acquire weapons of mass 
destruction, in particular a
                                nuclear capability."

                                Any US attack on Iraq must topple Saddam  Kuwait

                                In a related development, a Kuwaiti minister said in comments 
published on Sunday that Arab Gulf
                                states believe that any US military strike against Iraq must topple 
President Saddam who would
                                otherwise emerge stronger.

                                Information Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahd Al Sabah told Kuwaiti 
newspapers that a possible US
                                "strike must be a knock out which leads to the downfall of the 
regime."

                                "This is the point of view of Kuwait and the other members of the 
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
                                Falling short of such a target will give the head of that regime 
additional strength which is not
                                appropriate for the stability and security of the region," he added.

                                The GCC states  Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab 
Emirates, Qatar and Oman 
                                have officially signed on to an Arab stand opposed to a US-led 
attack on Iraq.

                                Kuwait has said it was not party to any planning to implement 
Washington's "regime change" policy
                                in Iraq which invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. The US-led Gulf War 
ended Iraq's occupation of
                                Kuwait in 1991.

                                The talk of a possible US strike on Iraq is causing concern in 
Kuwait where residents fear retaliation
                                by Baghdad and an influx by hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees.

                                Several state bodies have in recent days held meetings to review 
measures needed to deal with the
                                impact of a US attack.

                                Kuwaiti concerns include the possible use of Iraqi chemical weapons 
against the nearest
                                concentration of US troops. In addition to warplanes and heavy 
military hardware, the United States
                                has ground troops training close to the border with Iraq as part of 
ongoing exercises since the Gulf
                                War.

                                 2002 [Jordan Times (Amman)].

- - - -
Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed

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