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News, 27/7-3/8/02 (4) BACK IN TURKEY * Turkish non- governmental organizations stand against striking Iraq * Tough political choices lie ahead for Turkey on Iraq * Turkey determined not to be the loser in a possible regime change in Baghdad * Iraqi Turcomen Democratic Party established in London * Iraq waives surcharge on new Turkey supply BACK IN THE REST OF THE WORLD * French Leader Warns on Iraq Attack * Is it possible that Mr Blair will not back President Bush over Iraq? * Australian involvement likely, says Howard * Irish neutrality warning over Iraq * German SPD to Campaign on Opposition to Iraq Attack MIDDLE EAST/ARAB WORLD * Saudis, Gulf Emirs Bitterly Divided over US Iraq War; Mubarak to Stay out * Lebanon: Iraqi readiness to fund development of system for oil refining in Lebanon * Any attack must be a knockout: Kuwait * Souring Relations Between Qatar and Saudi Arabia Threaten U.S. Forces * Hardliners threaten Middle East peace, says Abdullah * Arabic Press Review * Abdullah: Foreign Leaders Oppose Attack * Baghdad, Riyadh, Manama [Bahrain] talk free trade zones * Iraq 's Ibrahim gets a message from Qatar 's crown prince BACK IN TURKEY http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020729/2002072907.html * TURKISH NON- GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS STAND AGAINST STRIKING IRAQ Arabic News, 29th July Turkish non- governmental organizations including the dentists, engineering and lawyers in Antalia city, south Turkey, expressed rejection to any American military strike against Iraq. In a speech, Saljouk Koujlar of the dentists union said during a press conference these organizations held on Sunday that the US seeks behind its military operation against Iraq to control the region's potentials and resources of the region, especially oil. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/29_07_02_c.htm * TOUGH POLITICAL CHOICES LIE AHEAD FOR TURKEY ON IRAQ The Daily Star [Lebanon], 29th July Perhaps the Turks did not want to send the wrong message to Washington. That was why official representation at the reception held by the Iraqi Embassy in Ankara to mark Turkey's National Day was so low key. There were no party leaders or government ministers present, while the army chose to be represented by not more than a naval officer. This certainly was not how it used to be. But it seems that Turkey - which has always been keen to maintain close commercial links with its southern neighbor - is about to reverse its opposition to the imminent US military campaign meant to unseat President Saddam Hussein. Iraq is the hot issue in Turkish politics at the moment, eclipsing even such crucial matters as the early elections slated for Nov. 3 and the future of the country's drive to join the European Union. It has to be said that where Iraq is concerned, Turkish officials are still profoundly ignorant. Confusion reigns among analysts, army generals, journalists, even Foreign Ministry diplomats as to what position Ankara will take vis-a-vis the coming action. "Turkey will definitely take part in the US strike," some say. Others disagree, insisting "Ankara will definitely not participate." Among the other opinions being bandied about are: Turkey will only participate at a later stage of the attack; Turkey will only offer logistical support; Turkey will occupy Kirkuk; and so on. This diversity of opinion mirrors the intricacy of Turkey's relationship with the Iraq issue, and the effect the situation in Iraq has on its own territorial integrity, its relations with Washington and the Arab world and its economic situation. That is why such divergent and confusing messages have been coming out of Ankara. Solmaz Unaydin, head of the Foreign Ministry's political planning bureau and a former chief of its Middle East department, stresses that Turkey opposes any sort of military campaign against Iraq. She says there is no proof that Baghdad is involved in terrorist activity, and the question of who rules the country must be settled by the Iraqi people. Moreover, Unaydin argues, no one knows what will happen to Iraq once Saddam Hussein is overthrown. At any rate, she says, neither Ankara nor Washington has a clear plan about the future of Iraq. Unaydin therefore concludes that a military strike is not imminent and will not take place before winter sets in - if at all. But she believes a federal arrangement is on the cards for Iraq. Unaydin says it is in Turkey's interests that no military operation takes place. Turkey is still suffering from the immense losses (estimated at around $35 billion) it sustained as a result of the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait. That is why Ankara is sparing no effort to avert a new blitz on Iraq. For his part, Posta editor in chief Omer Tarkan says Turkey is obliged to go along with America's strategy, and that it cannot do otherwise. Saddam Hussein poses a threat to Turkey as well, and the Kurdistan Workers Party has bases in Iraq. It is in Turkey's interests, Tarkan contends, that Saddam's regime be overthrown. Yet he admits that Turkey does not yet know what form intervention in Iraq will take. Nor, he says, do the Americans. But the Posta editor denies any connection between the current political crisis in Turkey and the possibility of an attack on Iraq. The political crisis, he says, is strictly a domestic affair. Former Ambassador Guner Ozden, who currently heads the Istanbul-based Center for Middle Eastern and Balkan Studies, says the Americans are insisting that Turkey take part in the upcoming campaign. But that, he says, would require a new UN resolution to provide legal cover, as well as thorough preparation for the post-Saddam phase. Provisions must be made for distributing Iraq's oil wealth among its people, with special arrangements being made for the country's Turcomans. Ozden warns that dividing Iraq would upset everything. But what would Turkey do? He says Turkey would build a 30-40 kilometer buffer zone to prevent a wholesale influx of Kurdish refugees. He believes regime change in Iraq and the advent of a friendly government in Baghdad would greatly benefit Turkey by opening a route for trade with the Gulf. Ozden says whatever course of action Turkey will take would be primarily designed to protect itself. Meanwhile, retired Major-General Armagan Kuloglu, a strategic analyst at the Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies, says that an attack on Iraq is certain, as is Turkish participation in it. He says Turkey's initial position is to oppose this course of action. But if it proves inevitable, then Ankara will take part because it would be more damaging for the country's interests if it chose not to. Kuloglu believes Turkey's participation will be primarily aimed at preventing the Kurds from becoming a major power, preventing a refugee crisis and seizing Kirkuk, not to occupy it but to ensure the Turcomans gain autonomy in that oil-rich Iraqi province. According to Kuloglu's logic, autonomy for the Turcomans would reassure Turkey that Iraq would not be partitioned. He says Turkey is doing what it can to prevent the possibility of a Shiite state arising in southern Iraq in order to prevent Iran from gaining influence in Iraq. This, Kuloglu says, is a crucial element of Turkey's Iraq policy. Ziya Muezzinoglu, a former government minister and head of the Turkish-European Foundation, disagrees with Kuloglu, however. He says Turkey has no interest in taking part in a military strike against Iraq. Moreover, he seems certain that Ankara will stay out of such a war. When he was in Ankara in mid-July, US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz warned the Turks that: "A strike against Iraq is a foregone conclusion whether Turkey decides to take part in it or not." In other words, Turkey can either join the Americans in attacking Iraq, or else pay the price for letting its big ally down. When Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit replied that Turkey wanted to know what precisely the Americans were planning to do, that was a sign that the Turks were ready to bargain - as was Chief of Staff Huseyin Kivrikoglu's query of Wolfowitz about how to prevent the establishment of an independent Kurdish state. At any rate, the following points seem to be clear enough: Turkey will continue to oppose a military strike against Iraq to the end; it fears the fragmentation of its southern neighbor, the possible rise of an independent Kurdistan and the loss of its lucrative trade with Baghdad. If the Americans were determined to go forward with their plans, then it would be in Turkey's interests to join in, because firstly, it is Washington's strategic ally; secondly it wants to have a say in Iraq's future; and thirdly, it needs to ensure the continuation of international financial aid, otherwise Turkey would turn into another Argentina. In exchange for lending a hand to an attack on Iraq, the Turks will insist on the following conditions being met: No Kurdish state; autonomy for the Turcomans; and a major part in future investment in Iraq. To avoid the negative ramifications of its participation in America's war on Iraq in its relations with the Arab world, Ankara wants Washington to ensure that Saudi Arabia will publicly and actively support this course of action. It has to be said, though, that in light of the government crisis and the prospect of early elections, Ankara will need exceptional powers to stay on top of the situation in Iraq as well. Mohammad Noureddine is an expert on Turkish affairs. He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star http://www.turkishdailynews.com/FrTDN/latest/for.htm#f5 * TURKEY DETERMINED NOT TO BE THE LOSER IN A POSSIBLE REGIME CHANGE IN BAGHDAD Turkish Daily News (not dated, Sent through list). Turkish civilian and military leaders have reached a common understanding that Turkey will not allow any fait accompli in Iraq if the United States manages to mastermind a regime change in Baghdad and topples the Saddam Hussein administration. Turkish leaders reached this decision after a series of meetings following the recent visit of high level U.S. officials to Ankara. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime MInister Bulent Ecevit and Chief of Staff General Huseyin Kivrikoglu held a summit meeting about ten days ago soon after the departure of the U.S. delegation and on Thursday the all powerful National Security Council met in Istanbul under the chairmanship of the president and discussed the issue an length. Turkish officials say they do not expect an American military operation against Saddam Hussein before the proposed November 3 elections in Turkey. Turkish military sources say their discussions with their American counterparts show that a military operation against Iraq may take place only after the U.S. congressional elections which is also in early November. They say the reason for this is that the new American attack against Iraq will not be a 48-hour affair like in the Gulf War but may be spread over a certain period. If the attack occurs before November and the operations continue through the elections the American public may accuse the Bush administration with failure and that could have devastating consequences at the congressional elections for the Republicans. Meanwhile, Turkey feels it should have a say in the way the new government in Baghdad is shaped if and when Saddam Hussein is removed from office. Turkey feels a new attack on Iraq would have devastating effects on its economy which was very hard hit by the first Gulf War. Turkey estimates its losses well above the $80 billion dollars mark. So Turkey wants to be properly compensated and also wants a say in how the future administrative system in Iraq is shaped. Turkish government sources say if the U.S. launches an attack on Iraq Turkey could move into Northern Iraq and set up a safety zone for the people of the region. That would protect the local people against possible reprisal attacks from Saddam Hussein's forces and also prevent a mass exodus of refugees to the Turkish areas. Once a new administration is established in Baghdad to the satisfaction of Turkey the Turkish forces would withdraw. Turkey wants a strong and democratic government in Baghdad which represents the Iraqi Arabs as well as the Kurds, Turcomans and other ethnic and religious groups. Turkish military officials are concerned that Iraqi Kurds and the U.S. may be involved in separate deals which leaves out Ankara. Turkish military sources were unhappy when they learnt last May that a U.S. military team visited northern Iraq and made an extensive inventory of the military strength of the Kurdish groups and the feasibility of using the resources of the area in case of an attack against Saddam Hussein. Another such American trip was to have taken place in July but was reportedly blocked by the Turkish side. Turkish officials have reportedly told American officials they want to be properly consulted over such issues. Ankara feels it should also be briefed on the meetings of the Iraqi opposition groups. Sources say that is one of the reasons why the Americans secretly shipped Iraqi National Council chief Ahmed Calabi to Ankara where he met with intelligence officials just at the time when the U.S. officials were here. http://www.turkishdailynews.com/FrTDN/latest/for.htm#f5 * IRAQI TURCOMEN DEMOCRATIC PARTY ESTABLISHED IN LONDON Turkish Daily News (not dated, Sent through list). As the efforts of the United States continue to topple the administration of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the efforts of the Iraqi opposition to organize also go on all over the world. In this framework, the establishment of a new formation, Iraqi Turcomen Democratic Party, was revealed through a statement sent to the media organization in London. The oppression policies were strongly criticised in the statement which was sent with the signature of party leader Ahmet Gunes and it is said that the Turcomen have been the most affected group from the embargo enforced on Iraq. Pointing out that every year thousands of Turcomen have died because of the lack of drugs and nutrition, the statement continued to say, "In this very critical juncture the Iraq Turcomen Democratic Party was established to continue to fight for the Turcomen community to exist, to voice the existence of them to the world public and to end the inhuman implementation and oppression of the Saddam Hussein regime." "The party is against Saddam regime and will give every support to any effort to topple this regime," said in the statement and continued: "We are also against the disintegration of the Iraqi territory. We accept the Kurdish entity in the region, however we oppose the establishment of a Kurdish state in any region of Iraq. We support a federal solution that comprehend all communities in Iraq." It is said in the statement that "Arbil, Kirkuk, Mosul, Talafar and Tushurmali are Turcomen cities and these are the most ancient and greatest cities of Iraq. Remaining as Turcomen cities will be assured." It is also stated that "Turcomen, Arabs, Kurds, Syrians and all other communities in Iraq should agree to live together and peacefully coexist in an integrated Iraq." http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=59201 * IRAQ WAIVES SURCHARGE ON NEW TURKEY SUPPLY Gulf News, Reuters, 30th July Iraq has waived its illicit surcharge on a new crude oil contract with neighbouring Turkey, suggesting Baghdad may be relaxing its controversial fee, industry sources said yesterday. Turkish state Tupras secured a UN-approved contract in early July for six million barrels of Kirkuk crude - the first refiner to take oil directly from Iraq in more than a year and a half, the sources said. Barrels are rolling via pipeline into the Kirikkale refinery in central Turkey. Iraq slapped an illegal 25-30 cent fee on its oil sales in November 2000 in a bid to divert funds from UN supervision and recently cut its request to 10 cents in a bid to boost exports. "One thing is for sure, if Tupras is lifting Iraqi oil they are not paying the surcharge because they are not allowed (by Ankara)," said a European oil executive. "There is a big change in policy under way in Baghdad, but we'll have to wait until more contracts are signed with end-users before we can assess the situation." Tupras - along with European majors such as TotalFinaElf, Repsol, ENI and OMV - have refused to deal directly with Iraqi crude oil marketer Somo since Baghdad imposed the surcharge. A Turkish industry source confirmed the new contract, which does not include any fees over and above the official prices that must be approved by the United Nations. The Turkish company had been one of the biggest direct lifters of Iraqi crude before November 2000, when it stopped buying Iraqi barrels directly. It still receives limited quantities of Iraqi oil by truck over the border. Other European refiners said SOMO officials had invited them to Baghdad to sign up for oil deals. "We are ready to sign a contract, but only without a surcharge," said an oil company source. Although refiners have refused direct involvement with SOMO, they have continued to purchase barrels through obscure companies which have got their hands on Iraqi oil. U.N. oil sales are running at about 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) less than half Iraq's maximum sustainable export level of 2.2 million bpd. And for next month, only a few cargoes have been booked so far, market sources said. BACK IN THE REST OF THE WORLD http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=14906229&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * FRENCH LEADER WARNS ON IRAQ ATTACK The Associated Press, 30th July SCHWERIN, Germany (AP) ‹ The French president warned Iraq Tuesday to ``very, very quickly'' agree to the return of U.N. weapons inspectors as he and the German leader emerged from a summit meeting to insist an attack against Baghdad would require United Nations approval. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Jacques Chirac reaffirmed their long-standing positions as speculation builds that President Bush will order a military offensive to oust Saddam Hussein. Washington accuses the Iraqi leader secretly developing biological and nuclear weapons. ``I do not want to imagine an attack against Iraq, an attack which ‹ were it to happen ‹ could only be justified if it were decided on by the (U.N.) Security Council,'' Chirac said at a joint news conference. ``I also do not want to imagine that the Iraqi authorities will fail to grasp their interest. ... I believe Iraq would be well advised to understand the necessity for it to reach an accord very, very quickly with the U.N. secretary-general.'' A third round of U.N.-Iraq talks on the return of weapons inspectors collapsed in July, with no date set for another round. The inspectors left the country ahead of U.S. and British military strikes in December 1998, and Baghdad has barred them from returning. Schroeder, recalling that German military deployments abroad need parliamentary approval, said that ``there is no majority, on one side or the other, for taking part in military action without approval by the United Nations.'' The German government has said existing U.N. resolutions would not cover a new attack on Iraq. ``The American president has repeatedly promised consultations before any decisions are made and we have absolutely no reason to doubt the word of the president,'' Schroeder said. http://argument.independent.co.uk/regular_columnists/donald_macintyre/story .jsp?story=319674 * IS IT POSSIBLE THAT MR BLAIR WILL NOT BACK PRESIDENT BUSH OVER IRAQ? by Donald Macintyre The Independent, 30th July If there was nothing to talk about at present on Iraq, Tony Blair and King Abdullah II of Jordan would not have discussed it yesterday. That simple fact is part of what fuels the entirely reasonable call for the issue to be debated widely now a call best expressed by Baroness Williams of Crosby last week when she complained with incontestable logic that it was always too early to debate a war until it was too late. Part of the deep anxiety that she reflects concerns precisely the question of whether Mr Blair's reluctance to engage in such a debate means that he will support the United States whatever it eventually decides to do. For the moment, you have to suppose that behind the rhetoric the Prime Minister is elaborating his determined expressions of support by at least drawing attention to a number of concerns that he refuses to share in public. There have certainly been generalised tensions between Washington and London in recent weeks. There was deep alarm throughout the British government over the 11th-hour call for the removal of Yasser Arafat in President Bush's 24 June speech on the Middle East. So far, the most public foreign policy fissure between London and Washington in Mr Blair's time remains, oddly, the one under President Clinton when the British Prime Minister was urging the ground troops option for Kosovo and a strongly resistant US administration made its deep irritation public. But while such a crisis hasn't been reached, it could yet be. King Abdullah might have been speaking more for the street in Amman and beyond than for a British audience when he said in an interview before meeting Mr Blair yesterday that Jordan had no more idea of what it would do in the event of war than Britain and France adding, remarkably: "All of us are saying: 'Hey, United States, we don't think this is a very good idea.'" But that doesn't alter the fact that there are common concerns in the governments of all three countries about the context in which an attack on Saddam might be launched. These include, centrally, the question of whether President Bush is prepared to regard progress towards a Middle East political settlement as a precondition of an attack on Iraq. Or whether he is prepared to bow to the converse notion, fostered by the Washington hawks but held in deep suspicion, to put it mildly, in almost every European capital, that the removal of Saddam comes first because it will somehow unlock peace in the region. They include, too, the question of how much time and diplomatic energy Washington is first prepared to deploy on the UN demand for Saddam to admit its inspectors. And they include the issue of whether a fresh UN mandate would be morally desirable, let alone necessary in international law, as the impressive new Archbishop of Canterbury, who also met Mr Blair yesterday, persuasively maintains. On all these points, it is reasonable to assume, that Britain, like France, has tended to side with the multilateralist, coalition-building approach of the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, whom King Abdullah was at pains this weekend to depict as the man in Washington who "gets it" about the Middle East. Although British officials stoutly maintain that "bolstering Colin Powell" is too simplistic a way to describe British policy, the Secretary of State has certainly invoked London's support more than once in arguments he has been having in Washington with the unilateralist hawks clustered in and around the Department of Defence. Nor is the careful, coalition-building option necessarily a hopeless cause. It's not simply that some of the senior US military have reportedly been expressing doubts about too hasty an incursion into Iraq. It's also, conversely, that the evolving climate in Europe is more complex than it looks at first sight. The common assumption is that Mr Blair cannot support war in Iraq without breaking with the rest of the EU. But there are tentative indications, for example, that President Jacques Chirac, seeking to repair, in the wake of his election triumph, relations with the US, may be prepared to offer support, however qualified. There has even been muttering around the more hawkish elements of the US administration that Mr Blair sometimes seem less gung ho than say the President's other best European buddy, Jose Maria Aznar (whose perceived bellicosity is qualified because Spain's military significance to any war in Iraq is negligible compared to that of the British). More pertinently still, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is actively seeking a deepening entente with America that could embrace a military attempt to remove Saddam. None of this means, however that there won't be deeply painful, and for Mr Blair, politically, as well as militarily, dangerous decisions down the track. Mr Blair often justifies his stance on Iraq by reference to his 14 September Commons statement last year in which he referred to weapons of mass destruction. In fact, this referred rather narrowly to the threat that terrorists would acquire such weapons. That doesn't make military action on Iraq unjustifiable; but it certainly leaves room for further discussion. No, the best justification of the refusal to engage in early parliamentary debate is the fluidity of the decision-making process in Washington, a process to which every other government remains in the end an engaged spectator. The overwhelming probability, of course, is that action will happen. But no one can be sure how the debate on means, timing and context will be resolved. The hugely popular Mr Powell is in a very powerful position; his resignation a prospect dismissed in London would be a body blow to the administration. But how far will he push his multilateralist vision? And will he prevail? He has swallowed a good deal already from the first, more malign, half of the 24 June speech, to the hostile switch of Iran policy away from aiding the reformers under President Mohammad Khatami, to the decision to cut off finance for the UN population fund. In a ringing editorial yesterday The New York Times urged him to stand his ground on a series of foreign policy issues, including Iraq, but without certainty that he will do so. Which brings the issue of British influence, or lack of it, into the sharpest focus. Supposing the President launches an attack without the fresh UN cover that a majority of the Security Council want and could probably provide, without real progress in the Middle East, and with no coalition to speak of? Hope it will not happen. But if it does, that's the point at which Mr Blair could not offer his country's support for the US without creating, at incalculable cost, fissures not only within his own Cabinet but with Europe. British influence on the most important foreign policy issue for a generation would be seen to have failed. The UN, in the age in which it is most urgently needed, would have been abandoned. And it would be up to the British Prime Minister to recognise that without influence there is no point left in being a poodle. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/08/02/1028157844690.html * AUSTRALIAN INVOLVEMENT LIKELY, SAYS HOWARD by Michelle Grattan, Chief Political Correspondent Sydney Morning Herald, 3rd August John Howard expects President George Bush will launch an attack against Iraq - and that Australia will be asked to help. The Prime Minister yesterday described United States action as "more probable than not". But the Americans had not yet made a decision and he did not know when or in what circumstances it might happen. "It's likely if the Americans do decide on military action that they will seek some involvement from Australia," he said. There had been no request "but it's an issue that we have to think about" although at this stage it was "hypothetical". Mr Howard's comments, on Melbourne radio, go beyond his usual line that any request from the US for help in Iraq will be considered. The Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has been more gung-ho, recently warning against appeasement of Iraq and Saddam Hussein, indicating he did not think the situation would be resolved without military intervention and saying Australians were likely to support action. The Opposition leader, Simon Crean, accused Mr Howard of ratcheting up the Government's rhetoric "far in advance of current US thinking". But the Prime Minister's office played down the significance of his comments, saying what Mr Howard had wanted was to encourage debate. Mr Howard said the Government had not made up its mind about its response to any request. "But it is something that is obviously engaging us, it's engaging our American allies," he said. "It is an issue that is beginning to be debated in the United States and it's obviously an issue that's beginning to be debated in this country. "That's a good thing because it's not an easy thing for the United States and for the rest of the world and certainly not for Australia." Mr Howard said "part of the national interest involved in this is the shared commitment we have with the United States to a set of values around the world, and it's always important to keep that in mind." While he rehearsed the for and against cases, Mr Howard's comment about shared values would seem to lean towards Australian help. Those favouring action by the US would argue that without it, Iraq would perhaps acquire nuclear capacity and might act soon against Israel and other neighbours, he said. "In the end, it is always in Australia's national interest to see that the threat posed by people like Saddam is not allowed to go completely unchecked. On the other hand, the country is a long, long way away from Australia and there are some consequences if any military involvement were to take place." http://www.utvinternet.com/news_disp/indepth.asp?id=21460&r=3&pt=n * IRISH NEUTRALITY WARNING OVER IRAQ Ulster Television, 2nd August Cork North Central Workers' Party spokesman, Ted Tynan, said that the ships in question, the USNS Lt. Harry L. Martin and USS Eugene A. Obregon, are carrying military hardware and ammunition which is likely to be used in the widely expected US military attack on Iraq. They are due in Cóbh on August, 29. Ted Tynan said: "These are two huge military cargo ships. Officially they are referred to as Military Sealift Command pre-positioning ships which can supply warships in the field of battle with ammunition, spare parts and other equipment for up to 30 days. "If the government is in the least bit serious about Irish neutrality then it must ban these two ammunition ships from Irish territorial waters and ports. Otherwise Cork will become a supply port for the invasion of a sovereign state." He added that with the overflight and refuelling facilities for US military aircraft at Shannon Airport and the use of Cork Harbour as a military base, Ireland could not be considered neutral by any yardstick. If these facilities continued to be offered, Ireland would become an "active participant in war on Iraq", he said. ttp://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=8/3/02&Cat=4&Num=003 * GERMAN SPD TO CAMPAIGN ON OPPOSITION TO IRAQ ATTACK Tehran Times, 3rd August BERLIN -- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder hopes to boost support for his Social Democrats in a September election by stressing his opposition to a possible U.S. attack on Iraq, party officials said on Friday. SPD General Secretary Franz Muentefering said Schroeder had told a meeting of the party leadership that his government would do everything possible to avoid a conflict with Iraq, by working with its European partners and through the United Nations. Muentefering said even if Germany were not involved in an attack, such a war would further hurt the country's sagging economy, adding that the party's election slogan "We Go Our Own Way" also applied to foreign policy. On Thursday, Baghdad hinted it might let UN inspectors return to investigate its suspected weapons programs for the first time since 1998 as U.S. President George W. Bush reaffirmed his aim of toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. On Tuesday, Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac cautioned that they could not support a U.S. assault on Iraq without a United Nations mandate, which U.S. and British officials argue is not legally necessary, Reuters said. Schroeder, who lags the opposition conservatives in polls ahead of the September election, reiterated in a television interview on Thursday that Germany would not engage itself in "adventures" despite its close ties with the United States. Muentefering noted Schroeder had made clear that Germany expected to be consulted about any possible attack. SPD deputy leader and Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul went further, saying it was "highly dangerous" that Washington was concentrating on military options before exhausting diplomatic efforts to limit weapons development. "I want this highly dangerous policy to be publicly discussed in European countries and the Europeans to signal to the American government a clear 'no'," she told the "* Sueddeutsche Zeitung " in an article due to appear on Saturday. Even if Schroeder loses the election, Bush cannot expect much more support from conservative challenger Edmund Stoiber. Also speaking to the " Sueddeutsche Zeitung", Wolfgang Schaeuble, Stoiber's foreign policy adviser, urged a concerted diplomatic effort to get weapons inspectors readmitted to Iraq and stressed the importance of a UN mandate for any attack. But Schaeuble did not rule out the need for military action, adding: "Where inspection is lacking, force must help. MIDDLE EAST/ARAB WORLD http://www.debka.com/body_index.html * SAUDIS, GULF EMIRS BITTERLY DIVIDED OVER US IRAQ WAR; MUBARAK TO STAY OUT DEBKAfile Special Roundup from Mid East Sources, 28th July Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has decided after much agonizing and consultation to keep Egypt out of the upcoming American campaign against Iraq. This exclusive information reaches DEBKAfilefrom sources in Cairo and Madrid Mubarak's last port of call. He has also decided not to permit the US to use Egyptian military bases for the campaign. The Egyptian ruler thus places himself on the same Middle East square occupied by Saudi crown prince Abdullah since last year. In the last ten days Mubarak, hard pressed to make up his mind, sought advice from friends and allies in Europe. On July 20, he paid an unannounced call on Saudi king Fahd at his holiday palace on the shores of Lake Geneva, followed by a visit to the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Said Nayanan, who is vacationing nearby. Four days later, Mubarak came calling on French president Jacques Chirac in Paris and, on July 26, he held discussions in Madrid with Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar. According to our sources, the Egyptian ruler solicited support for his decision in all those visits. Mubarak's stance has sharpened the divisions in the Arab world and heightened instabilities in at least one capital Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria now lead the opponents of an American military move against Saddam Hussein; Jordan, Kuwait and Qatar head the proponents. A. This realignment drops in the middle of a long festering dispute at the top level of the House of Saud. Fresh rumors picked up by DEBKAfile's Gulf sources speak of a failed attempt on the life of the ailing king Fahd in Jeddah, on or around July 14, shortly before he departed for his summer vacation in Geneva. This incident added fuel to the running feud between the Sudeiri faction of the royal house, led by Fahd and his full brother, defense minister Prince Sultan (the leading contender for the succession against Abdullah and father of the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar), and the group led by their half brother, the regent Abdullah. B. Riyadh now shows an angry face to the Gulf Emirates siding with US action against Baghdad. The Saudis have stopped attending Gulf Security Cooperation Council meetings, refusing to sit at the same table as rulers they look down on as American collaborators. Saudi-Qatari ties have been effectively severed, with Qatari notables no longer welcome in the oil kingdom, while Saudi relations with Kuwait have likewise soured. C. On the flip side of the coin, Jordanian military and businessmen are suddenly welcome in Kuwait for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War when Jordan sided with Iraq. Jordan and Qatar have also struck up a warm friendship. The report of an attempt to murder King Fahd is the talk of the moment in the Gulf. It is claimed that on July 14, the monarch's bodyguard fought off a band of 5 to 7 intruders, who gained entry to the palace courtyard in Jeddah through one of the main gates after setting off a large explosive charge. Three of the would be assassins were killed; the rest fled when armed reinforcements poured in from neighboring princely palaces, together with a contingent of the special Saudi counter-terror force. The bodies were identified as Saudi members of al Qaeda who fought in Afghanistan, escaped through Iran and arrived home last January. The identity of one of the dead assailants seriously heated factional tempers in the royal family; he is said to have been a member of the Wahhabist Uteiba tribe, loyal adherents of crown prince Abdullah. For some months, the Sudeiri princes have warned Abdullah that his permissive policy toward returning al Qaeda fighters - and the lavish living allowances awarded them from religious institutions and charities - would lead to trouble in the kingdom. Some have hired out as bodyguards protecting the princes of Abdullah's faction, religious leaders and tribal chiefs in the Jeddah district. Sudeiri prince Salman, governor of the Riyadh region, was fiercest in his criticism. He warned Abdullah that by making Saudi intelligence and security services grant the returning terrorists clearances as bodyguards for official personalities, he was effectively opening the door to al Qaeda 's penetration of the national security agencies. The nub of the argument, according to DEBKAfile's Saudi experts, is that while the Sudeiris perceive Abdullah's patronage of al Qaeda veterans as a major threat to their own security, the crown prince believes he is taking out insurance for his regime's survival. The differences between the two factions appear to be irreconcilable. They have brought King Fahd out of semi-retirement and induced him to return to political life. Visitors at the palace in Geneva report that, while confined to a wheel chair, the king looks brighter and more alert than he has been for a long time. Among his Arab visitors this week were Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan, both of whom congratulated him on his safe escape. On Saturday, July 27, the Saudi king had two secret visitors from his Sudeiri clan: Prince Salman and deputy defense minister Abdul Rahman, the strongman of the military establishment. This unfolding showdown in the oil kingdom has not been lost on President George W. Bush in Washington. Confronted with crown prince Abdullah's flat refusal to participate in the US offensive against Iraq or allow its use of Saudi bases (as reported repeatedly in DEBKA Net-Weekly in recent issues) , the Bush administration has turned back with a will to America's traditional allies in Riyadh, the Sudeiri princes, favoring them against Abdullah's sternly Islamist camp. The standoff between the two has yet to be resolved. It also has a Palestinian offshoot. Despite the clear anti-American, pro-al Qaeda stance adopted by the Saudi crown prince, some Israeli political circles are echoing the view current in some West European capitals that Abdullah's peace initiative is still alive and the Saudis are working for a ceasefire with the Palestinian Tanzim, the Hamas and the Jihad Islami. Some European publications have even run an upside down picture of the reality in Riyadh, labeling Abdullah as the leader of the pro-American faction in the Saudi royal family, and Sultan and his brothers as the sponsors of al Qaeda. To keep the record straight amid a welter of misinformation, DEBKAfile 's Palestinian sources reiterate that no Saudis are involved in Palestinian issues at the moment certainly not in any attempts to broker a ceasefire. They are far too busy with the trouble in their own house. http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20020728670.2 _87210000aac9e332 * LEBANON: IRAQI READINESS TO FUND DEVELOPMENT OF SYSTEM FOR OIL REFINING IN LEBANON Hoover's (financial Times), 28th July Al-Watan newspaper quoted the Lebanese Energy and Water Minister, Muhammad Abdul Hamid Baydhon, who said in early July 2002 that the Iraqi government announced its readiness to fund development of a refinery and an oil pipeline network in the country. The paper noted that these remarks were made during the debates of the Joint Iraqi-Lebanese Economy and Trade Council held in Baghdad, Iraq, in late June 2002. He added that Iraq is interesting in renewing operations of the oil pipeline from Iraq to Syria, and from Iraq to Lebanon. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=59098 * ANY ATTACK MUST BE A KNOCKOUT: KUWAIT Gulf News (from Reuters), 29th July Gulf states believe that any U.S. military strike against Iraq must topple President Saddam Hussein who would otherwise emerge stronger, a Kuwaiti minister said yesterday. Information Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahd Al Sabah told Kuwaiti newspapers that a possible U.S. "strike must be a knockout 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. 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 talk of a possible U.S. strike on Iraq is causing concern in Kuwait where residents fear retaliation by Baghdad and an influx of Iraqi refugees. Several state bodies have in recent days held meetings to review measures needed to deal with the impact of a U.S. attack. Kuwaiti concerns include the possible use of Iraqi chemical weapons against the nearest concentration of U.S. troops. The United States has troops training close to the border with Iraq. http://www.stratfor.com/fib/topStory_view.php?ID=205490 * SOURING RELATIONS BETWEEN QATAR AND SAUDI ARABIA THREATEN U.S. FORCES Stratfor.com, 29th July Summary It appears Saudi Arabia and Qatar are headed for a quarrel that could affect U.S. forces deployed in Qatar. Doha's willingness to support the U.S. military's buildup for a war with Iraq is making rulers in Riyadh irate, a feeling the Al Jazeera cable network has only compounded by airing criticisms of the Saudi regime. Analysis Saudi daily al Watan called Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al Thani, a "dwarf" July 29 after he met with his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres in Paris. The insult is just the latest in a string of sour notes sounded between Riyadh and Doha. Layers of resentment are contributing to the tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. At the surface, Riyadh is genuinely angry about the negative press coverage by Doha-based Al Jazeera, a satellite TV network that broadcasts relatively uncensored material throughout the Arab world. Beneath this outrage over Qatari press freedoms is the fear that Qatari support for a U.S. military campaign against Iraq could result in Washington's advancing its war plans. Tensions between the two Gulf neighbors could create an unstable environment for U.S. troops deployed in the region in the short- to mid-term. In a worst-case scenario, Saudi Arabia might pressure Qatar to oust the U.S. forces, or it might stir dissidents inside its tiny neighbor to try to destabilize the Doha regime or even launch assaults against American military personnel. Qatar is a key U.S. military asset, and it likely will play a strategic role if America wages war on Iraq. American military forces began earlier this year building up the al Udeid air base to augment the two main bases it already has in Qatar. They reportedly have moved in munitions, communications and other equipment out of neighboring Saudi Arabia. U.S. troops also have upgraded or built runways and hangars at the base, and both U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have visited the tiny Gulf state in recent months, The Associated Press reported June 30. The other two key U.S. bases in Qatar are Camp Al Sayliyah and Camp Snoopy. Camp Al Sayliyah on the outskirts of Doha is stocked with tanks, armored vehicles, ammunition and other U.S. Army equipment. The Army also runs Camp Snoopy, which serves as a logistics hub. It is adjacent to the main airport in Doha. Riyadh has flatly refused to allow Washington to conduct a military campaign against Iraq from U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia. U.S. military planners may be hoping to turn the al Udeid air base into an operations center to replace the Combined Air Operations Center at the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. There are about 3,300 American troops now deployed in Qatar. Saudi Arabia likely feels threatened by the U.S. buildup at al Udeid, which Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks has hinted is intended to replicate the Prince Sultan base's capabilities for communications and command and control. Worse, Riyadh does not want the United States ensconced in Baghdad and therefore is irate with the Qataris for undermining its efforts to stave off the U.S. campaign by offering an alternate base for air operations. Al Jazeera's broadcasts of criticism of the ruling House of Saud only exacerbate Riyadh's strategic concerns. The government in Riyadh -- like most Arab governments -- is not used to being questioned publicly in the Arab media. Most of the region's governments have complained to Doha about Al Jazeera's coverage, which is relatively uncensored when compared to the largely state-owned media in the Arab world. The troubles between the two have heated up since June 25, when Al Jazeera aired a live debate wherein guests, including a London-based Saudi dissident and an Egyptian journalist, discussed and criticized Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's peace initiative for the Middle East. In response, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal failed to stop in Qatar during a regional tour a few weeks later. Coming from Riyadh, the condemnation of Thani's meeting with Peres is ironic: It was Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah who pushed forward a proposal promising Israel peace with the entire Arab world. But the criticisms have little to do with Israel. Instead, Saudi Arabia is warning Qatar of its growing displeasure. It is unclear what Riyadh can or will do to rein in Qatar, but as the recent warnings crystallize into a coherent policy, Doha can expect trouble from its neighbor. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-3-368289,00.html * HARDLINERS THREATEN MIDDLE EAST PEACE, SAYS ABDULLAH by Michael Binyon The Times, 29th July KING ABDULLAH of Jordan leaves London tomorrow for a crucial meeting on Wednesday with President Bush in Washington in an attempt to keep up the momentum of peace initiatives and stop Pentagon hardliners dictating policy in the Middle East. He has already gathered support in Europe for a concerted push to keep America engaged in the run-up to the congressional elections. And he will use his good relations with Mr Bush to plead the case for Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, who many fear is being sidelined in decision-making in the region. On Saturday the King was in Paris for talks with President Chirac. Today he meets Tony Blair in Downing Street. And on Wednesday he will sit in the Oval Office with Mr Bush as the leading voice of Arab moderation and one of the most frequent Arab visitors to Washington. Frankly admitting his confusion at the twists of US policy and the influence of hardliners in the region, the King nonetheless insisted that he trusted Mr Bush to achieve results. He said: "The President is always very articulate and straight to the point. I asked him this the first time I ever met him. I said:'Look, sometimes we've suffered from different people coming out giving different messages in the past, whether it's Iraq or the Israeli-Palestinian problem.' He said:'I'll lay it down right in front of you. I am the one that articulates foreign policy and the one that translates it for me is Colin Powell.' And I said:'That's all I want to hear.' " But the King voiced frustration at the varying agendas in Washington. "People have different ideas. There are splits in the way they look at the Middle East," he said. In the end, however, they all rallied around the President. "It's very important for the President to articulate the vision, because when he says'this is what's going to happen', no matter who the other parties are, what their views are, they're going to conform." Jordan saw General Powell as vital; it would be a "tremendous loss" if he left the Administration. "He is the one man that gets it and understands what needs to be done in the Middle East. He is one of our strongest weapons in bringing peace and security to the area." The King added: "The problem is that there is always the fight of whether the Israeli Palestinian situation is more important, or that of Iraq. The President understands the linkage and so does Colin Powell, and they have the tendency to look at the overall picture. But others in Washington are fixated on Iraq, and Iraq has to be resolved no matter what happens in the rest of the Middle East." If such voices got stronger "that really would destabilise American strategic interest even more in the Middle East". To those "fixated" on Iraq "you can talk till you're blue in the face and they're not going to get it". Jordan has denied firmly reports that it would host US troops preparing for an attack on Iraq. The King tried to dismiss the reports by mocking them. "What amused me about this is that Jordan is not the fulcrum for any future American operations in Iraq," he said. "Ask our friends in China, in Moscow, in England, in Paris: everybody will tell you that we have concerns about military actions against Iraq. The international community is united on this. All of a sudden Jordan has become a sort of make-it-or-break-it. For me this is quite amusing." He said that he had been clear from day one to America: "In the light of the failure to move the Israeli-Palestinian process forward, military action against Iraq would really open a Pandora's Box." America had no articulated policy on what to do after an attack. Jordan had no more idea what it would do in the event of hostilities than Britain or France. "All of us are saying:'Hey, United States, we don't think this is a very good idea.' " The King was also at pains to renounce any dealings with Ahmad Chalabi, a leader of the Iraqi Opposition, who recently organised a meeting in London attended by Prince Hassan. Mr Chalabi is wanted in Jordan for embezzling funds from the Jordanian bank that he headed. The King called his uncle's last-minute decision to attend the meeting unfortunate. "Prince Hassan blundered into something he did not realise he was getting into and we're all picking up the pieces." He was scornful of the calls in Washington for Mr Arafat's removal. "It is unfortunate to target any leadership in any part of the world." Many were suspicious of Mr Arafat, but an equal number or more were suspicious of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister. "At the end of the day they are elected by their people. And in my view we have what we have, and we have to work with what we have," he said. The American call would backfire, he said. "The majority of Palestinians, who feel that America is biased, simply to spite the Americans would probably vote for Arafat to show'this is what we think of what you said'." He suggested that Palestinians who wanted transparency would probably turn against Mr Arafat. But, he said: "Arafat's popularity goes up the minute you point an Israeli tank barrel at him or there is a statement that comes out of Washington." He also said he believed that recent Palestinian moves to curb suicide bombings were genuine. Jordan did not influence such movements "though we have a tremendous influence in being able to take them apart", he said. But when there was light at the end of the tunnel the political aspect became more important. He believed that Hamas would move from militancy to politics, although last week's "unfortunate" Israeli attack in Gaza would mean a delay "until everybody feels they've gotten their own back". http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/PressReview/30_07_02/PR2.htm * ARABIC PRESS REVIEW The Daily Star [Lebanon], 30th July With Washington-bound King Abdullah of Jordan loudly registering his opposition to any US military action against Iraq, Arab commentators see the Hashemite Kingdom coming under mounting pressure to accommodate the Bush administration's designs on its eastern neighbor. Despite Prime Minister Ali Aburragheb's insistence that Washington has not been pressing Amman directly to participate in any future war, Jordanians are keenly aware of the "indirect pressure" the US is exerting on their country, and the implicit threat of more to come if they stand in its way, Bassam Badareen writes in the pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al Arabi. In the past couple of days, apprehension over this issue has risen to unprecedented heights, both in government circles and among ordinary Jordanians, he reports from Amman. It was fueled, among other things, by reports that the US has threatened to resume its naval interception of ships sailing in and out of Aqaba, the country's only seaport, ostensibly to apprehend cargoes destined for or originating in Iraq in violation of the UN economic sanctions clamped on Baghdad 12 years ago to punish its invasion of Kuwait. While the government has denied claims that US warships have already started harassing Aqaba-bound vessels, Badareen says it is alarmed by the way the issue of alleged sanctions busting by Jordan has suddenly been brought to the fore - purportedly after the "chance interception" by US warships of a tanker carrying Iraqi oil from Aqaba to the Egyptian Red Sea port and health resort of Nuweiba in south Sinai. This is perceived as a "political message" to Jordan that it risks being subjected to a wholesale naval blockade - which would be economically crippling and, given the geography of the Gulf of Aqaba, could be enforced by a "single American frigate" - if it mounts more than verbal opposition to the Americans' schemes for Iraq. And it apparently comes in response to a number of recent high-profile steps taken by Amman to consolidate ties with Baghdad, which were largely aimed at reassuring the skeptical Jordanian public that the government means what it says when it repeatedly insists that it will not cooperate with any US war plans. Moreover, writes Badareen, the threat of a maritime blockade is perceived as a warning to other Arab states whose cooperation the US needs if it is to wage a successful military campaign against Iraq. If it is prepared to subject its closest Arab ally to a maritime blockade for refusing to comply with its war plans, there is no limit to what it might do against other reluctant would-be partners, he remarks. Jordanian commentator Fahed Fanek warns of the prospect of the US reviving the kind of naval blockade of Aqaba it enforced after the 1991 Gulf War, which he says "would warrant wholesale rejection and condemnation." Writing in the Amman daily Al-Rai, he says that if it is true that the US Navy apprehended a shipment of Iraqi oil out of Aqaba, it was probably an "isolated incident" of smuggling of the kind that is commonplace across Iraq's land borders with Turkey, Iran and Syria. But the story is probably false, if only because of the high cost of fuel in Jordan - which encourages the smuggling of oil into the country from its petroleum-producing neighbors, rather than out of it. Resumed searches of Jordan-bound vessels would be a political blow to Jordan, Fanek says. It would signal that the US does not trust Amman, despite the latter's commitment to respect the unfair anti-Iraq sanctions it opposes, and despite the two sides' supposed "special relationship." America's singling out of Jordan, while making no attempt to control sanctions-busting via Iraq's other neighbors, such as Iran, Turkey and Syria, makes it even more serious. A blockade would also be damaging economically, prompting ship owners to avoid Aqaba as a transit destination, and undermining the government's attempts to turn the Red Sea port into a magnet for foreign investment and commerce by turning it into a deregulated free economic zone, he writes. "The interception of commercial shipping on the high seas other than in wartime is considered to be hostile action and a form of piracy contrary to international law," Fanek remarks. "And it seems to us that the issue is intended to harass and intimidate Jordan in response to its refusal to cooperate in, or extend facilities to, America's campaign against Iraq. "Jordan may not have the power to block this attack on its interests and sovereignty. But the world has not yet reverted to the law of the jungle under which might is right, even if America is doing its best to move it in that direction," he writes. Al-Quds al-Arabi sees the announcement that US troops are to stage war games in Jordan next month as one of a number of recent signs "from both sides of the Atlantic" indicating that Washington and London's preparations for a war - either toward the end of this year or in early 2003 - are in full swing. It points also to reports that Britain has been sounding out the Saudis about providing additional port facilities for its naval vessels and intends to dispatch an aircraft carrier to the Gulf. Meanwhile, the Americans are said to be buying up and stockpiling vast quantities of aviation fuel and mineral water in Saudi Arabia - enough to supply their warplanes and troops for a campaign of several months, the paper writes. Al-Quds al-Arabi also highlights the launching in Baghdad at the weekend of a "national campaign of popular mobilization against American threats," which it sees as part of the authorities' efforts to prepare the Iraqis, and Arab public opinion, for an American strike. During a demonstration to kick-start the campaign, calls were made to overthrow Arab governments providing bases to attacking US forces, it writes. Jordanian commentator Tarek Massarwa is dismissive of the numerous "scenarios" published lately in the Western media for a military campaign to overthrow President Saddam Hussein's regime in tandem with Iraqi opposition. In the decade following the 1990-91 crisis over Kuwait, he writes in Amman' s Al-Rai, Baghdad was only concerned about two elements of the opposition: the Kurds and the Shiite Islamists from the south. The other offshore opposition factions consist largely of ex army officers, or "sons of former politicians," who have long lost any real connection to the country. "But the calculations have now changed," Massarwa remarks. The two major Kurdish parties are now convinced that their "rebel enclave" in the north cannot serve either as the nucleus of a future Kurdish state (because that would be blocked by Turkey and Iran), or as a base for toppling Saddam (because "no Iraqi" would accept a regime change effected by Kurdish forces). The "most" the enclave can be is a client of foreign powers whose leaders live off the customs dues they charge on cross-border trade, he says, adding that the Kurdish district still relies on Baghdad for everything from electricity to school textbooks, and that it is from Iraqi government funds that the UN buys food and medicines for the Kurds. As for the Shiite opposition in the south, it has lost its credibility since the Iranian-backed leader of the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic revolution in Iraq, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, and his aides "became regular US State Department customers," while other Shiite Islamist opposition forces have been reduced to espousing a sectarian agenda that disgusts most Iraqis. "As the Iraqi opposition acknowledges, the criteria used in Afghanistan cannot be applied in Iraq. Invading the country would be a dangerous adventure, not because the US lacks expertise in the technology of war, but because it lacks knowledge of peoples," Massarwa writes. Iraqi commentator Adnan Hussein, writing in Saudi Arabia's leading pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, says some opposition groups and neighboring states are behaving like "hyenas," eagerly waiting for the Baghdad regime to expire so they can grab as much of its carcass for themselves. He cites a press conference held in London last week by an opposition group which unveiled plans to form an "interim government" in areas of Iraq that are to be "liberated" by American and British forces, and use them as a base for seizing power in Baghdad. Such a plan is a complete nonstarter, according to Hussein. For any interim government composed of exiles to have any credibility, or command the respect and trust of Iraqis, it would have to meet a number of conditions. It would, for one thing, need to include "first-class dissidents, rather than third- or fourth rate" figures, he says. The idea of setting up an Afghan-style interim administration has already been rejected by the Kurdish parties, and was touted without consulting any of the other significant opposition sides - be they Islamist, leftist or liberal - and independent personalities. What is being proposed, therefore, is a "new dictatorship in Iraq, by a third- or fourth-rate opposition installed by brute force," Hussein says. Moreover, an interim government would have to be proclaimed inside Iraq, and also enjoy the backing of the country's neighbors, any of which could abort such a plan, so as to assure them of the intentions of Saddam's would-be successors and secure their cooperation. Forming a transitional administration for Iraq is a serious matter "and should not - indeed cannot - be treated as casually as it was in London last week," Hussein writes. Another ominous sign of scheming to take advantage of the regime's prospective downfall is the eight-point emergency plan drafted by the Turkish General Staff - "the country's real rulers" - to deal with the possibility of a US attack on Iraq. This goes far beyond contingency planning aimed at protecting Turkey from the negative fallout of a war, Hussein writes. It envisages moves meant to influence the course of developments to the advantage of the Turkish military, rather than the Iraqi people. Specifically, it provides for intervention in northern Iraq, ostensibly to destroy the remnants there of the Kurdistan Workers Party, stop Iraqi civilians from fleeing into Turkey, and prevent the Kurds from establishing an independent state, "a prospect that only exists in the Turks' imagination," or taking control of the oil-rich centers of Kirkuk and Mosul. "In short, the plan smacks of Turkish designs that go beyond the flesh, bones and hide of the carcass," and extend to deploying forces inside Iraq, taking over parts of the country, and riding roughshod over the Iraqi people and their sovereignty, writes Hussein. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28716-2002Jul31.html * ABDULLAH: FOREIGN LEADERS OPPOSE ATTACK by Glenn Kessler and Peter Slevin Washington Post, 1st August Foreign leaders are increasingly concerned that the United States is preparing for war against Iraq, and U.S. officials are making a "tremendous mistake" if they do not heed warnings from abroad against a military campaign, King Abdullah of Jordan said yesterday. Abdullah, who is to meet with President Bush at the White House today to discuss the Middle East conflict, has long opposed military action against Iraq, which borders Jordan. But Abdullah, who arrived in Washington after meetings this week with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, said the possibility of a U.S. military assault on Iraq has begun to deeply worry many of the United States' leading allies. Abdullah, speaking in an interview in his suite at the Four Seasons hotel, said an invasion of Iraq could splinter the country and spread across the Middle East. He commented as the Senate held its first hearings on the wisdom of a military campaign to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Abdullah said a reluctance by allies to confront the Bush administration over Iraq may have left U.S. policymakers falsely believing that there is little opposition to a war. Many also may have believed that the prospect of war was far in the distance, though Abdullah said "all of the sudden this thing is moving to the horizon much closer than we believed." "In all the years I have seen in the international community, everybody is saying this is a bad idea," he said. "If it seems America says we want to hit Baghdad, that's not what Jordanians think, or the British, the French, the Russians, the Chinese and everybody else." While Blair is frequently seen as a close partner of President Bush, Abdullah said, "Blair has tremendous concerns about how this would unravel." Abdullah dismissed the assertion of some U.S. officials that the rise of a democratic Iraq would lead to better prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. "In an ideal world, that could be a possibility," he said. "Life being as it is, and so uncertain, very few people are convinced that that attitude would happen so easily. Our concern is exactly the opposite, that a miscalculation in Iraq would throw the whole area into turmoil." In his meeting with Bush today, Abdullah plans to press the administration to focus first on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in particular by detailing a plan that would guide the president's goal of establishing a Palestinian state in three years. "We have a light at the end of the tunnel, but we have no tunnel," he said. Abdullah said he found "somewhat amusing" reports that U.S. military planners envisioned using Jordan as a staging area for troops fighting Iraq. Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said, "Jordan has made it clear it cannot be used as a launching pad," adding that "we have not been asked." As an alternative to war, Abdullah said that he favored using every effort to get Iraq to agree to new weapons inspectors and that he and other leaders were pressing Iraq to agree to regular weapons inspections. "If we were to get a proper inspection regime, that would give us some room to maneuver," he said. But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said yesterday that "the president's level of skepticism is high" that new inspections would be effective, because Hussein has repeatedly violated previous agreements. [.....] http://www.dailystarnews.com/200208/01/n2080105.htm#BODY4 * BAGHDAD, RIYADH, MANAMA TALK FREE TRADE ZONES Daily Star, Bangladesh, 1st August AFP, Baghdad: Iraq is continuing talks with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on the establishment of free trade zones with the two Gulf countries, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammad Mahdi Saleh said Tuesday. "Discussions on the establishment of free trade zones are continuing with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain," he said, quoted by the weekly paper Al-Rafidain. "An agreement in principle has been reached with Bahrain on this issue, and there have been indirect discussions with Saudi Arabia aimed at reaching a similar accord," Saleh said. Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which severed ties during the 1991 Gulf War, initiated a rapprochement at an Arab summit held in Beirut in March. Bahrain and Iraq did not sever diplomatic ties despite Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but their embassies in each other's capital were headed by charges d'affaires for a decade. Iraq finally upgraded its representation in Manama in October 2001, appointing its first ambassador there since the Gulf War. Last April, Bahrain also decided to upgrade its diplomatic representation in Baghdad to ambassador level. Iraq, in an effort to boost economic relations with Arab states, has signed 10 free trade agreements with Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. On July 22, Jordan's Trade and Industry Minister Salah Bashir told the Al-Dustour newspaper that Jordan and Iraq were close to signing a free trade deal. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020801/2002080101.html * IRAQ 'S IBRAHIM GETS A MESSAGE FROM QATAR 'S CROWN PRINCE Arabic News, 1st August Iraq's Deputy Chairman of Revolution Command Council Izzat Ibrahim on Wednesday received a message from Qatar's Heir Apparent (crown prince) Sheikh Jassem bin Hamad al Thani on means of strengthening and developing fraternal relations between the two countries. Qatar's charge de affairs during the meeting expressed the deep fraternal relations between the two states. Qatar's charge de affairs in Baghdad Sheikh Hamad Bin Muhammad Bin Mubarak al Khaleifa delivered the message to the Iraqi vice president during his meeting with him in Baghdad on Wednesday. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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