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News, 15-22/01/03 (5) IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN RELATIONS (2) * Ghost of Lebanon looms over Iraq * Qataris Voice No Fears of Saddam, but Question U.S. Motives * Kuwait says spy arrest shows Iraq has evil intent * Aoun predicts multiple 'regime changes' after Saddam falls * Beirut, excluded from Ankara summit on Iraq, wants to be kept informed * U.N. War Missing Envoy Arrives in Kuwait * Kuwait: Alleged Iraq spy intended to poison U.S. troops * Turkey Hosts Top General For Talks on U.S. Force * Ambush Kills One American, Wounds Another in Kuwait * Abul Ragheb: Jordan will not take part in any military act against Iraq * Washington is making Saddam an offer he can't accept * Pharaohs and liberators * Turkey to Allow U.S. to Use Bases Under a Smaller Plan * Turkey to Allow U.S. to Use Bases IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN RELATIONS (2) http://www.dawn.com/2003/01/18/int13.htm * GHOST OF LEBANON LOOMS OVER IRAQ by Jim Lobe Dawn, 18th January WASHINGTON, Jan 16 (IPS): "What I saw from my perch in the Pentagon, wrote Colin Powell, a major general in 1982, in his memoirs about Washington's brief but disastrous sojourn in Lebanon 20 years ago , "was America sticking its hand into a thousand-year-old hornet's nest". That memory undoubtedly fuels Powell's determination to fight off hard-liners in the administration of President George W. Bush who are equally determined to attack and occupy Iraq, even without United Nations or allied support, if necessary. As pointed out recently by military analyst William Arkin in the Los Angeles Times, what happened in Lebanon 20 years ago may tell us a lot about the hopes, fears and delusions of US policymakers about what could happen in Iraq. Indeed, many of the people who applauded Israel's invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 and deplored the Reagan administration's decision to withdraw US peacekeepers after a series of deadly terrorist attacks are now among the most ardent hawks, and for many of the same reasons. As today with Baghdad, they argued then that the road to peace in the Middle East ran through Beirut, and that, working together, Israeli and US military power could permanently alter the political balance of power in the entire Middle East in favour of the West. The story is straight forward. Seizing on the attempted assassination of its ambassador to London by anti-PLO Abu Nidal gunmen, Israel's Likud government launched an invasion of Lebanon aimed at destroying the Palestine Liberation Organisation presence there once and for all. Prominent US neo-conservatives hailed the invasion, noting in language that is strikingly similar to that used today about Iraq that the end of the PLO and the installation of a pro- western government in Beirut would transform the Middle East by dealing a fatal blow to Arab "rejectionists", like Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. "'Liberation' is a word that has been much abused in recent years," wrote William Safire, a New York Times columnist and today a leading hawk on Iraq. "But liberation, not invasion, is what is taking place in Lebanon today.." Initially, Safire's observation appeared correct. Greeted with flowers and celebration by the largely Shia Muslim population of southern Lebanon, Israeli forces under Defence Minister (now Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon routed PLO and Syrian resistance and swept north in a matter of days to the outskirts of West Beirut. It laid siege to the city until US Marines and other NATO forces evacuated Arafat and thousands of Palestinian guerrillas to Tunis and other destinations scattered around the Arab world. The Reagan administration, already committed to a "strategic alliance" with Israel, winked at the invasion. It believed that the PLO's removal from Lebanon and the establishment of a stable, pro-US government opened up great possibilities, including the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Lebanon, and a final Arab-Israeli peace accord based on the acceptance by non-PLO Palestinians of autonomy "in association with Jordan" in exchange for a permanent freeze on Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. But none of that was to be. US, British, French, and Italian troops returned to Beirut almost immediately after the massacre of hundreds of unarmed Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Israeli-backed Christian militia in mid- September 1982 to keep the peace and help the new president, Amin Gemayel, consolidate and expand the central government's authority. The latter mission provoked hostility and, eventually, violence by religious, political, and ethnic factions opposed to the Maronite-dominated government, proving the wisdom of Lebanese historian Kamal Salih's injunction that, "great powers should not get involved in the politics of small tribes". Anti-government militias began shooting at the Marines, provoking shelling by US battleships off-shore, which in turn only intensified the determination of the opposition to evict the Americans. In April 1983, Hezbollah suicide bombers blew up the US embassy in Beirut. Six months later, 241 Marines died in the truck bombing of the airport barracks. Nonetheless, pro-Likud neo-conservatives called on the Reagan administration to hold on, mocking the growing warnings in Congress that Lebanon was turning into a Vietnam. "There will be no decade-long war of attrition in a tropical jungle against a unified enemy with a long history of successful anti-colonial struggle," argued the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer, a leading attack-Iraq hawk today. "In Lebanon everything is different: the terrain, the players, the tactics, the goals, and the intentions of American leaders." But three months later, the last Marines boarded amphibious craft to sail for home, even as the fleet was still pounding enemy targets in the hills. Left behind were a Lebanese army crippled by factional loyalties and desertions, a moribund peace treaty between Lebanon and Israel, and rising resistance against Israeli troops in southern Lebanon by the same Shia population that had greeted them with such enthusiasm less than two years before. The political post-mortems were predictable. The hawks claimed that there had been a "failure of will" on the part of Congress and the administration, as in Vietnam. The administration was bitterly divided, with the Pentagon complaining about deploying the military in poorly defined, open- ended political missions and the State Department siding with the hawks in a curious reversal of the present debate over Iraq. President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, wrote that the entire enterprise was misconceived, in that the administration, with very little appreciation for local realities, had permitted itself to become "a proxy of Israeli foreign policy" in Lebanon and a patsy for Likud's aim of diverting international attention to Lebanon and away from Israeli's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. "The more militant (Likud) leaders bent on incorporating the West Bank into Israel certainly welcome developments that have the effect of making the United States a direct military antagonist of the Arabs," Brzezinski complained in the Times in an argument that he has made more recently with regard to invading Iraq. Of course, today's hawks reject any notion the challenges faced by the United States in a US-occupied Iraq are anything like those of Lebanon 20 years ago. The size and mandate of the mission in Iraq will be nothing like Lebanon, and, of course, the Soviet Union is not around to act as a possible constraint on US freedom of action. Washington will no longer rely on giant artillery shells to quell resistance either, but will have "smart bombs", helicopter gun ships and special forces, not to mention much more aggressive rules of engagement. And, as the hawks never tire of repeating, US forces are likely to be welcomed with flowers and celebrations by ethnic, political, and religious minorities, that have suffered enormously under Saddam Hussein - just like the Israelis were received by the Shiites in southern Lebanon 21 years ago.-Dawn/InterPress News Service http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=1/18/03&Cat=2&Num=002 * QATARIS VOICE NO FEARS OF SADDAM, BUT QUESTION U.S. MOTIVES Tehran Times, 18th January DOHA -- As the U.S. military Juggernaut gathers steam ahead of a possible onslaught on Iraq, Qataris living within missile range of Baghdad seem not to fear Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as much as Washington thinks they should. On a splendid winter morning, as they strolled in windy sunshine along the Corniche, a carefully landscaped pedestrian thoroughfare running beside the Persian Gulf, a small sample of Qataris and foreign residents voiced no anxiety about a U.S.-led war on Iraq in which Qatar could be a priority Iraqi target. Several among them disputed Washington's contention that Iraq poses a grave threat to the region and questioned the Bush administration's motives in the area, AFP reported. Others attributed their equanimity to Islam and a conviction that whatever happens would be according to the will of God. "It's the Americans who want to make us afraid of Saddam Hussein; they're the ones who are spreading the fear," said Abdullah Mohammed, a Qatari working for the national telephone company. "If there's a real problem in the Middle East, it's Israel." Mohammed said he drew no particular comfort from the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops in the region. That includes more than 4,000 in Qatar, from where U.S. military planners would direct a campaign to strip Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction the United States says Saddam Hussein is harboring. "We don't need the Americans to make us secure. We've lived without them for years. We're always safe thanks to our faith." Added his friend, businessman Youssef Nasr: "Saddam Hussein is nothing. He has nothing. I beg Mr. Mush not to follow the advice of a small band of misguided people who want war." But what about Kuwait? Didn't Saddam Hussein gobble up his smaller and weaker southern neighbor just 12 and a half years ago? "When he invaded Kuwait it was because of a financial and economic dispute," Nasr said. Some analysts see the invasion of Kuwait as reflecting Saddam Hussein's outrage at Kuwaiti demands that Iraq repay loans made to it during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, a conflict in which Baghdad said it was defending the Persian Gulf against Iranian fundamentalism. For Bader Obdaidan, a businessman and information technology specialist, the real aim of the United States is to bolster its economic and military stature in the Persian Gulf, using Iraq as an excuse. "They have to make us think there's no stability in the area. They want to create the fear in order to have more control here." He said he was also uncomfortable about the growing U.S. presence in Qatar. "They're affecting my traditional life, my society. When the Americans come here they will want their own life -- women, alcohol, bars." As he spoke, and is if to demonstrate his point about potential changes in Qatari society, a young foreign woman -- not necessarily American -- walked by in shorts, violating Islamic social codes demanding modesty in dress. Another Qatari, Yussef Mohammed al-Sayegh, a civil servant, insisted that Iraqi oil is driving the U.S. military buildup. "The goal of the Americans is not Saddam Hussein but to get their hands on the oil," he said. Mutawakil Ismail of Sudan, an English professor at the University of Qatar, said he feared the United States more than Iraq, which unlike the United States no longer has the ability to deliver weapons of mass destruction. "I'm nervous about the U.S. bases here. What kinds of weapons do the Americans have? They could have nuclear and chemical weapons -- and something could go wrong." Nabih Abdel-Khader is likewise convinced that Saddam Hussein is harmless. "We don't feel threatened. Iraq has been completely disarmed." But what, in fact, would he do if Iraq did manage to rain down missiles on Doha? "I'm a Palestinian," he said. "Where would I go?" http://biz.yahoo.com/rm/030119/iraq_kuwait_spy_1.html * KUWAIT SAYS SPY ARREST SHOWS IRAQ HAS EVIL INTENT by Ghaida Ghantous Yahoo, 19th January KUWAIT, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Kuwait said on Sunday its arrest of a Kuwaiti soldier suspected of spying for Iraq showed that Baghdad was planning "terrorist attacks" in Kuwait, but Iraq denied the charge. Kuwait announced the arrest of National Guard sergeant Mohammad Hamad Fahd al Juway'id on Friday and accused him of spying for Baghdad, further inflaming tension between the two Gulf War foes. Kuwait is a key regional ally of Washington. More than 15,000 American troops are training on its soil for a possible U.S.-led attack on Iraq, which Washington accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction. A Kuwaiti cabinet statement said the investigation into Juway'id showed that Iraqi intelligence was plotting "terrorist attacks and sabotage operations against vital facilities and interests" on its territory. "The cabinet strongly rejects and condemns these terrorist acts and hostile plots, which prove the Iraqi regime continues to harbour evil intentions towards Kuwait," the statement said, urging citizens to be vigilant. The cabinet statement gave no further details. Local newspapers have said that Juway'id was born in Iraq. Kuwait's Interior Ministry has said Juway'id monitored the movements of senior Kuwaiti officials and gave Iraq secret security information that could aid terror attacks. Iraq denied any link to Juway'id and said the allegation was designed to damage its ties with other states in the Gulf region. "It is also an overt attempt to contribute to the American- Zionist media campaign against the stability of the region, and ...the security of Iraq," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement faxed to Reuters in Baghdad. He said the claim "can be considered as a contribution to provide a cover for the hostile American build up in the region." The United States is massing troops in the Gulf and threatens to attack Iraq if it does not come clean about an alleged arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Iraq says it has no such weapons. Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and occupied it for seven months before being driven out by U.S.-led forces in the 1991 Gulf War. Kuwaiti officials have said they believe Iraqi spies and sleeper cells are active in Kuwait. But Information Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah said he did not believe there were major spying cells, and that Juway'id was an isolated case. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/20_01_03/art26.asp * AOUN PREDICTS MULTIPLE 'REGIME CHANGES' AFTER SADDAM FALLS Daily Star, Lebanon, 20th January Former army commander General Michel Aoun has predicted that all Arab dictatorships will collapse in the wake of the fall of Sadaam Hussein after an expected US attack on Iraq. Speaking to the An-Nahar newspaper from his exile in Paris over the weekend, Aoun also predicted that Hizbullah's military wing would also not survive the expected US-led offensive in the region. He said that the war was not inevitable, but that if the United States does attack Iraq, it will not stop there and allow other autocratic regimes in the region to survive. Aoun also said that Lebanon was heading toward financial bankruptcy. The former army commander said that the way to avoid such a situation was to boost foreign trust in Lebanon and its political and economic system. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/20_01_03/art12.asp * BEIRUT, EXCLUDED FROM ANKARA SUMMIT ON IRAQ, WANTS TO BE KEPT INFORMED by Khalil Fleihan, Daily Star correspondent Daily Star, Lebanon, 20th January Lebanon has expressed interest in negotiations under way between Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iran, to hold a summit on the Iraqi crisis next week, but has apparently been excluded from the possible meet in Ankara because it does not border Iraq. The meeting is reportedly being held to promote a nonmilitary solution to the Iraqi crisis. Although President Emile Lahoud is the current chairman of the Arab League summit, Turkey has expressed a desire to include only those states that border Iraq. Egypt doesn't border Iraq, but that did not seem to affect the position of Turkey, whose Prime Minister Abdullah Gul visited the five countries last week. Ankara has not yet received a formal response from the Arab states. Turkish officials did not inform Lebanon through diplomatic channels about the summit and its goals, forcing Beirut to seek information from Damascus, Riyadh and Cairo. Diplomatic sources here refused to speculate on the results of the regional summit ahead of a possible US-led war on Iraq, or to confirm if it would replace an emergency Arab League summit that would precede the Bahrain meeting in March. Sources did, however, ask how the Ankara summit would be able to seek a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis after Turkey agreed to open its military bases to US troops. Sources said efforts to hold the proposed summit were being met by a number of difficulties. Damascus has reportedly asked for a preliminary meeting of the foreign ministers of each of the countries to agree on a united stand and to discuss whether the summit should seek the participation of heads of state. The sources said there was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm on the part of top leaders to participate in the summit, suggesting that their agendas were booked. Furthermore, the undetermined date and place of the summit has reflected the slow response by Arab states to the Turkish initiative. Sources said Gul informed the concerned countries that he was in contact with Washington and has coordinated efforts with the United States, which reportedly "did not oppose the initiative, but encouraged it." Gul called for secrecy on the ideas to be discussed, while asserting that the move was not an effort to counterbalance US efforts in the region. Sources added that Turkey agreed with the convened countries that any military strike against Iraq would create chaos among the various ethnic and religious populations in the area. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=18073393&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * U.N. WAR MISSING ENVOY ARRIVES IN KUWAIT Associated Press, 20th January KUWAIT CITY: A U.N. special envoy arrived in Kuwait on Monday from Iraq, where he said both countries have made "very good progress" in talks to determine the fate of those missing since the Gulf War. Yuli Vorontsov entered Kuwait by land with an escort of U.N. observers, crossing the border, which has been closed to public traffic since the 1991 war. Vorontsov is to meet Kuwait's deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, and Parliament Speaker Jassem al-Kharafi. Kuwait accuses Baghdad of failing to account for more than 600 of its citizens and other nationals who disappeared during the Gulf crisis. Baghdad insists it is not holding any detainees and accuses Kuwait of not accounting for more than 1,000 Iraqis who disappeared in the same period. Kuwaiti and Iraqi representatives met in Amman, Jordan, Jan. 8 for the first formal face-to face talks on the issue for four years. They will meet again in Amman on Wednesday. While in Baghdad, Vorontsov confirmed that his talks also encompass the case of U.S. Navy pilot Scott Speicher, whose F-18 was shot down over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, the first night of the war. Speicher, of Jacksonville, Fla., was originally listed as killed but later was reclassified as missing. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/2003/01/20/news/world/4987013.htm * KUWAIT: ALLEGED IRAQ SPY INTENDED TO POISON U.S. TROOPS by Drew Brown Miami Herald, from Knight Ridder News Service, 20th January KUWAIT CITY - U.S. military officials in Kuwait were reviewing security procedures Sunday after a man accused of spying for Iraq allegedly told Kuwaiti authorities that he planned to kill American troops by poisoning their food. Military officials would not comment directly on the report, which was first published Saturday in a leading Arabic newspaper. But they said the threat would be scrutinized and appropriate measures taken. "There are threats out there, and we continually assess those threats and take steps to mitigate the risks to our forces in the region," said Col. Rick Thomas, a U.S. military spokesman. The alleged spy, Sgt. Mohammed Hamad Fahd Al-Juwayed, 40, of the Kuwaiti National Guard, also planned to help Iraqi agents assassinate leading political figures and blow up oil and power facilities, said a Kuwaiti government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. John Moran, a U.S. Embassy spokesman, said the arrest "shows that Saddam Hussein continues to harbor aggressive intentions towards Kuwait." The story of the alleged plot was reprinted Sunday in local English language papers. The Kuwaiti official confirmed its accuracy. "They did not catch him with any poison, but he admitted during interrogation that he planned to poison the American troops who are now in Kuwait," the official said. The arrest was announced Friday, but the official said Kuwaiti police actually took Al Juwayed into custody about 10 days ago after watching him for more than a year. The official said the alleged spy met several times in neighboring Jordan with a Yemeni and Syrian who were working for Iraqi intelligence. The official said the Kuwaiti government has asked Jordan for help in arresting the men, whose identities remain unclear. Al-Juwayed's mother is in Iraq, according to the official. It is common for Kuwaiti citizens to have relatives in Iraq, and separated families often meet in Jordan, the only country that maintains an open border with Iraq. The Iraqis allegedly gave the sergeant "$40,000 to $50,000" for his services, the official said. In a statement issued Friday through the Kuwait News Agency, the Interior Ministry said Al Juwayed had "provided the Iraqis with secret security and military information [and] monitored movements of senior state officials, with the aim of facilitating terrorist and sabotage acts against vital installations." The official confirmed the Iraqis also asked Al-Juwayed, an army food supervisor, to provide information about catering companies that supply food to American forces in Kuwait. About 250 American soldiers became sick last month at a camp south of Kuwait City in an incident that the military concluded was an isolated salmonella outbreak caused by poor sanitary conditions. Food supplies and other necessities for U.S. forces are overseen by a private contractor, Combat Support Associates, but company officials contacted Sunday at Camp Doha declined to discuss the new threat, citing security concerns. Kuwaiti officials describe the alleged plot as an isolated case. Few Kuwaitis, they point out, collaborated with Iraqi troops after they invaded in August 1990. The occupation ended in March 1991 after a U.S.-led coalition expelled Iraqi forces from the country. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19052-2003Jan20.html * TURKEY HOSTS TOP GENERAL FOR TALKS ON U.S. FORCE by Karl Vick Washington Post, 21st January ISTANBUL, Jan. 20 -- Turkey continued its zigzagging between private preparations for a possible war in Iraq and high-profile diplomacy aimed at averting it, hosting the United States' top soldier today while laying plans for a summit of regional leaders preaching peace. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with his Turkish counterpart to discuss the size of the force that Turkey would accommodate in a U.S. effort to open a northern front against Iraq and its president, Saddam Hussein. Officials have said that in the face of public opinion against the war, Turkey is willing to discuss hosting a force only about a quarter as large as the 80,000 troops the United States originally requested. Myers declined to discuss specifics at a brief news conference in Ankara, the capital, where he met with Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, Turkey's chief of general staff. But the American visitor denied reports that U.S. war planners have been frustrated by the amount of time Turkey is taking to decide how much help it will be. "Any idea that I'm impatient, or that we made demands here, is not the case," Myers said. "Turkey has been very cooperative in all of this. I'm leaving Ankara, as many Americans have done in the past, very sure of our strategic partnership and very sure of the vision that we both have in terms of what we want for the region, and that is peace and stability." Diplomats and U.S. officials complained privately this month that Turkey's reluctance to make decisions was threatening to undo the Pentagon's hopes of preparing an attack from north of Baghdad to complement a strike by forces massing to the south in Kuwait. Turkey shares a 250-mile border with Iraq's northernmost reaches, where ethnic Kurds have operated with unofficial autonomy thanks to U.S. and British warplanes enforcing a "no-fly" zone north of the 36th parallel. Moments after Myers spoke, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul again raised Turkey's most immediate worry about war. "A possible war with Iraq would be a very great burden for the economy," Gul told reporters. "We want to use whatever resources we have to prevent this war from breaking out." Gul concluded a tour of regional capitals last week by inviting the leaders of Iran, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia -- which all border Iraq -- to join him and the president of Egypt in Istanbul for a summit aimed at averting conflict. Foreign ministers from the six countries made plans to meet on Thursday in Syria or Turkey to discuss the contents of a joint declaration urging Hussein to abide by U.N. resolutions ordering him to surrender all weapons of mass destruction, a Turkish official said. The regional effort also includes private urgings to Hussein to accept an offer of exile abroad. But the idea of a summit is grounded in a pessimism shared even by the Saudis, who have pursued the exile pitch most eagerly, largely in the hope that Hussein would be succeeded by another Sunni Muslim, thus denying power to the country's Shiite majority. "They want the system in Iraq to continue as it is today, without Saddam," said the Turkish official, who asked not to be identified. Analysts said the diplomatic effort will also help prepare the Turkish public for a war that opinion polls show it strongly opposes. "They want to show Turkish public opinion that they don't want to be alone in this," said Ozdem Sanberk, director of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, an Istanbul research organization. "It's a rather desperate last-minute effort to save the peace." Turkey's constitution forces the political question by requiring parliament to approve foreign troop deployments on Turkish soil. Elections in November put the Justice and Development Party in control of almost two-thirds of the Grand National Assembly. "Whatever the decision they want, they can pass it through the parliament," said Derya Sazak, a columnist for the newspaper Milliyet and author of a book on Hussein. Sazak said an attack by Kurdish rebels on Turkish forces in the country's southeast last week might also encourage a vote for military action. Turkey harbors profound worries that a war could end with an independent Kurdish state emerging from the ashes of a dismembered Iraq and that Turkey's own Kurds would want to break away and join it. Last week's clash, which killed one Turkish soldier and 12 rebels, revived memories of a guerrilla war that cost 30,000 Turkish lives before a cease-fire in 1999. "We have to see if this is a small-scale incident or whether it will rise up to something," Sazak said. But senior Turkish officials, including powerful generals, have insisted that a political decision on U.S. forces can come only after a U.N. Security Council vote authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Analysts and officials pointed out that the constitution requires that any use of force be in accordance with international law. A U.S. request to the NATO alliance last week may have been intended as a hedge against that obstacle. Turkey is a NATO member, and the request for missile defense and other aid in the event of an attack from Iraq "obviously would be helpful to the Turks in terms of public issues, legitimacy issues and policy issues," said one Western diplomat. http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20030121_103.html * AMBUSH KILLS ONE AMERICAN, WOUNDS ANOTHER IN KUWAIT by Ghaida Ghantous and Andrew Marshall ABC News, 21st January KUWAIT (Reuters) - Gunmen wielding automatic weapons shot dead an American working for the U.S. military and wounded another in an ambush on their car on Tuesday near a U.S. base in Kuwait where Washington is preparing for a possible war on Iraq. The United States embassy condemned the incident as a terrorist attack. It said the injured man was in critical condition in hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. The two men were attacked while driving on a highway north of Kuwait City near Camp Doha, the main U.S. military base in Kuwait. The U.S. embassy said they were contractors with a firm working for the Defense Department. Kuwaiti police said gunmen opened fire from bushes at the side of the road before escaping by car. Cartridge cases believed to be from rounds fired from a Kalashnikov rifle or rifles were found at the scene. Reuters journalists at the scene said the dead man's body was removed from a tan-colored four-wheel-drive vehicle about two hours after the attack, which happened at around 9:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m. EST). Dozens of police sealed off roads in the area, and Kuwait's interior minister visited the scene. One side of the vehicle was riddled with more than 20 bullets, and the windshield was also fractured. Some of the side windows had been shot out completely. A pool of blood was visible on the road, until police covered it with sand. [.....] http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/030121/2003012105.html * ABUL RAGHEB: JORDAN WILL NOT TAKE PART IN ANY MILITARY ACT AGAINST IRAQ Arabic News, 21st January The Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb underlined the importance of Iraq's unity and its stability. He said that Iraq's stability and its territorial integrity are very important for the Arabs and the region. In a statement issued yesterday by the Saudi daily Okaz, he stressed that Jordan will not take part in any military acts against Iraq even if this came at a UN resolution, nor will Jordan permit the use of its lands or airspace for this purpose. He explained that Arab and international consultations are being made to find out necessary means to avoid the war. He expressed that the UN and the UN Security Council are the two forums for dealing with the Iraqi issue. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/21_01_03_f.htm * WASHINGTON IS MAKING SADDAM AN OFFER HE CAN'T ACCEPT Daily Star, Lebanon, 21st January The latest hints from George W. Bush's administration that it might "allow" the Iraqi leadership to go into exile make headlines in the Arab papers, as Middle Eastern capitals buzz with diplomatic activity ostensibly aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis. But press reports and commentaries reflect considerable confusion about what, if anything, the Americans are actually proposing, and deep doubts that they are seriously entertaining any other course than war. The Saudi-run pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat portrays the US as "tightening the noose" around President Saddam Hussein by "giving him a choice between exile and trial." Lebanon's As-Safir writes that the three top administration officials who suggested that Saddam's banishment might be an alternative to war evidently had conflicting ideas about the Iraqi leader's future and even about the "seriousness" of the suggestion that he might be persuaded to relinquish power. These officials have also been engaged in a "concerted propaganda campaign" ahead of next week's UN Security Council meeting in which they have been accusing Iraq of concealing banned weapons and rejecting calls to delay any military showdown, As-Safir says. Pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi observes that Saddam is himself evidently bracing for a military faceoff, and highlights his latest speech vowing to repulse any invading army. Al-Hayat's Abdel-Wahhab Badrakhan says that "nothing has changed in the scenario" and US decision-makers are as intent on war as ever. Far from being deterred by the wave of anti-war protests in the US and elsewhere in the West, he writes, they hope the Iraqi president will be emboldened by them to act defiantly "and proceed to make some mistake that could be invoked against him." Saddam's bluster about being ready for war and poised to defeat the American invaders suggests he is playing into their hands, he says. "The US is more confident than ever that it will have its war, having wagered from the outset that the Iraqi regime itself will help it." Badrakhan describes the "offer" to refrain from attacking Iraq if Saddam abdicates as a "poisoned gift." The "abdication scenario" would be a recipe for anarchy "that would inevitably result from a vacuum at the pinnacle of power," he says, but in any case it was "offered in a manner ensuring its rejection." Rather, the US seems confident that the UN arms inspections, which are set to become increasingly aggressive and subject to "American 'tip-offs' and guidance," will enable it to cast doubts on Iraq's declared weapons of mass destruction-free status and win waverers over to the war camp. "The spin of war has started to make heads giddy, but that doesn't mean the Americans are going to alter anything in their preconceived timetable," according to Badrakhan. [.....] Jordanian commentator and former information minister Saleh Qallab suggests in the Saudi pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that the regional players do not have the capacity to prevent war, but argues they can and should work together to reduce the negative fallout. Qallab endorses Turkey's "belated" call for a regional summit, noting that war on Iraq is bound to adversely affect the security and economies of all the countries invited, "and they will face regional explosions if they do not agree, from now, on what is possible and acceptable and what is not." "These countries must coordinate their efforts to prevent war and agree a unified stance over this, but they must also define where they stand, individually and collectively, should they fail to resolve the Iraq crisis peacefully," he counsels. "But if war breaks out while the regional situation remains as it is now, the circle of danger will expand to engulf them all to varying degrees." Qallab says one thing the Arab and Iranian participants in the talks want to prevent is Turkish military intervention in the looming conflict. He adds that the Arab states do not want to be seen to be meddling in Iraq's internal affairs, "or to take part in any initiative to persuade the Iraqi president to stand down so as to spare his country the horrors and destruction of this pending war." But while they may be wary of "angering or provoking" the Iraqi leader, they should still accept Turkey's invitation, and work out understandings with each other and the Iranians and Turks "on what can be done should war break out." Jordan is meanwhile reported by Al-Hayat to have succeeded in obtaining "Arab and international guarantees" that the losses it sustains from an attack on Iraq will be kept to a minimum. The paper's sources also say Washington understands the precarious position the Hashemite Kingdom is in, and the only help it wants from it in the event of war is "humanitarian assistance" in coping with a possible refugee influx. The Amman daily Al-Dustour is meanwhile heartened by the huge anti-war protests held in many US, European and Asian cities over the weekend. The paper writes that the growing anti-war movement is asserting itself as "a new player on the stage of the Iraqi drama," and public pressure is making Western governments increasingly loathe to go along with the United States. "If this wave continues and escalates, especially in the United States, the prospects for preventive diplomacy will improve, raising hopes that the disaster may be avoided," Al Dustour comments. In Lebanon, As-Safir publisher Talal Salman laments that while the rest of the world is preoccupied with the prospect of a US war on Iraq, "the Lebanese are busy following the details (insulting to both their intelligence and their dignity) of the latest round in the all-out war between their rulers." Elsewhere, people are taking to the streets to demonstrate against war, but Lebanon's feuding leaders have turned demonstrations into vehicles for pursuing their vendetta against each other, "with each 'raees' occupying the street with his supporters for a while before vacating it for the other 'raees'," he remarks. Salman describes Sunday night's meeting between President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as the "latest bout" in the four-year-old feud between them, "which is tipped to continue intermittently for another two years." It has "gone beyond being a farce" and started posing a threat to people's livelihoods and futures, he warns. Salman says "perhaps the worst thing about this war" is that "some major Arab countries like Saudi Arabia have been brought into it, albeit only indirectly via the 'showdown' that was staged over a TV station, or rather one of that station's discussion programs." Prior to that, the president and prime minister had never appeared to be at odds over relations with other Arab states, especially not Saudi Arabia. Salman adds that the row between the two men is the last thing Syria needs as it tries to rally regional efforts to prevent an American war on Iraq. It is a "deadly political mistake" for either of them to drag Damascus into their war and "try to inundate it once again in an avalanche of Lebanese details." Their quarrel has also brought talk of Syrian "meddling" in Lebanese affairs back to the fore, thanks to their attempts to involve Syria in their "daily disputes." Salman blasts Lahoud and Hariri equally for this state of affairs, accusing both of worrying about their own status while neglecting the country "which is burdened with debt, servicing the debt, and serving those who caused the debt and are incapable of coping with its frightening consequences." Al-Quds al-Arabi turns to the resumed "dialogue" being held in Cairo between different Palestinian factions under the auspices of the Egyptian government, which the paper says is trying to achieve two things: a thorough overhaul of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a one-year suspension of all armed resistance to the Israeli occupation. The paper rates Cairo's chances of success as "very slim," especially while Israel continues its campaign of sowing death and destruction in the Occupied Territories. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dealt a "fatal blow" to Egypt's effort when he refused to allow a Palestinian delegation to travel to the recent London conference aimed at discussing PA reform, Al-Quds al-Arabi argues. That made it impossible for Cairo to persuade the Palestinian factions that there are any political gains to be made from suspending resistance to the occupation, which they are in any case loathe to do. Should the likes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad renounce martyrdom operations "even temporarily, when there are no real alternatives on the ground and no clear political horizon, they would lose their raison d'ętre and be stripped of their political legitimacy and considerable popularity among Palestinians," the paper reasons. What Cairo is offering as a quid pro quo for a unilateral truce by the Palestinian factions is a halt to Israeli assassinations of the leaders and activists of their military wings, Al-Quds al Arabi explains. Even if Cairo could deliver that, it would be a "paltry price." Indeed, "it would demonstrate in practice that the Israeli policy of assassinations has succeeded in terrorizing the Palestinians and their leaders, and forcing them to abandon resistance in exchange for their lives being spared," the paper points out. "Accordingly, it is not surprising that the military cadres of Hamas and Islamic Jihad made certain to step up martyrdom operations during the London conference and the Cairo dialogue, making clear that political discourse is one thing and happenings on the ground another." http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EA21Ak04.html * PHARAOHS AND LIBERATORS by Pepe Escobar Asia Times, 21st January CAIRO - Call it wishful thinking, but there are insistent rumors in Cairo of a 50 percent chance of a peaceful solution to the epic Washington-Baghdad stand-off. Cairo is a key node in a flurry of diplomatic efforts also linking Baghdad, Riyadh and Ankara. Cairo today is pure "Casablanca" - with a difference: the whole gargantuan city, from palace corridors to ahwas (coffeehouses) has been turned into Rick's Bar, cloaks and daggers aplenty. And not only the ghosts of secret diplomacy monopolize the scene: there are other ominous ghosts lurking in the background. President Hosni Mubarak - the Egyptian pharaoh now in his 21st year in power - has admitted on the record "there are suggestions to send envoys to Washington and Baghdad and to hold a regional conference". But he refuses to specifically comment on two top secret envoys who allegedly will be sent to Baghdad to talk to Saddam Hussein about his remaining options. Instead, Saddam himself took the initiative, sending a top envoy - Ali Hasan Al-Majid, a key member of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) - to Cairo last Saturday with a special message to Mubarak. Cairo and Washington remain in close contact. Mubarak still insists that George W Bush promised him in a phone call last October that "he wants to resolve the crisis peacefully". A top Egyptian delegation is going to Washington next week to express the concerns of the whole Middle East about the disastrous consequences of war. Mubarak is involved in a classic tightrope act. After meeting Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, for instance, he declared that "there is no Egyptian-Saudi-Turkish coordination or initiative". But if Washington goes to war "no one can stop it. It is the only superpower in the world." He also had said that there were "no more messages I wanted to convey to Washington or Baghdad. I have sent many messages, I don't want to repeat myself." Then he changed his mind. Inter-Arab contradictions are also reflected in the role of Bahrain. Bahrain currently hosts the US Navy 5th Fleet. And it will host March's summit of the Arab League - maybe a summit held in the middle of a war. Even being so close to American interests in the region, Bahrain's Information Minister, Nabil Al-Hamer, insists that "all Arab leaders are seeking to set aside the specter of war". Based on a comment by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, according to which Arabs should reach an understanding with Baghdad to try to evade war, unsubstantiated rumors keep flying about that the Saudis are trying to foment a coup against Saddam. Diplomats in Cairo dismiss as ludicrous the idea that Riyadh would suggest to the UN a sweeping amnesty to the Iraqi leadership - except maybe to a hundred or so top-rank RCC members - hoping to solidify the idea of a coup. Saddam's possible exile is also dismissed as pure farce. Would-be destinations like Russia, Libya and Mauritania already took pains to deny it publicly. Seywan Barzani, a European based representative of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan, reminds everyone, "Saddam is not the kind of man who relinquishes power. He believes it when he says he is the knight who will liberate Jerusalem. People on the ground in Iraq are very much afraid of revenge exacted by the regime in case Saddam leaves; it would take a missile carrying chemical weapons falling over a village to make thousands of victims." Everyone in Cairo seems to agree that Saddam's exile would be a sort of defeat for America: the State Department might be happy with the arrangement, but the hawks of the Rumsfeld Cheney-Wolfowitz-Perle kind would be left fuming. Muhamad Al Sayyed Said, deputy director of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, is adamant, "I don't think Saddam would even consider the possibility." Walid Kazziha, political science professor at the American University of Cairo, is of the same opinion, "All his life Saddam has been very militant, persistent and persevering." Said, though, advances the possibility of an internal exile for Saddam: he would resign from the presidency and remain backstage as a sort of grand manipulator in the ruling Ba'ath Party, which then could adopt some steps towards a limited kind of democracy. Washington, of course, would never buy such a scheme. Among all the rumors and rhetoric shrapnel from disinformation campaigns, a group of Arab intellectuals and artists - most of them based in Beirut - is about to release an open letter to Arab newspapers asking for Saddam to go into exile. These intellectuals include Chibli Mallat - a Lebanese lawyer who charged Ariel Sharon with war crimes in a court in Belgium - and Kamel Labidi, a Tunisian, former director of Amnesty International's Beirut office. Labidi also does not expect Saddam to make such a move, but he considers this would give post-Saddam Iraq a chance for democracy free from Western interference. Mallat insists that the letter calls for an international, NGO and human-activist monitoring force to manage Iraq while it encourages positive steps towards democracy - and not an occupying foreign army. But the Saddam-in-exile option simply won't go away. Even Egypt is being considered, on the grounds that Cairo has already hosted King Saud of Saudi Arabia when he was forced to abdicate in 1955; Yemeni President Abdullah Al Salal when he was deposed in 1966; Sudanese President Gaafar Numeiri when he was deposed in 1985; and the Shah of Iran after the Iranian Shi'ite revolution in 1979. The shah, by the way, is buried in Cairo. Osama bin Laden, as the world knows, has called George W Bush "the pharaoh of this day and age" (in his audio communique broadcast by Al Jazeera in November last year). It's unlikely that Bush will consider a future as a mummy alongside King Tut in the Egyptian Museum, surrounded by camera-clicking busloads of tourists. But as the pharaoh mulls his next war, his greatest enemy, a mysterious specter who remains in the shadows, has other plans. The greatest enemy, as we know, is not Saddam Hussein, but Osama bin Laden. Asia Times Online has confirmed that Islamist lawyer Montaser Al Zayat received a crucial e-mail in the beginning of January by none other than Ayman al Zawahiri - alias "The Surgeon", the Egyptian who is al-Qaeda's number two. In the e-mail - which was sent to the website of a study center run by Al Zayat - Al Zawahiri praises September 11 as "the blessed September conquest" that "exposed the ugly face of America". Muhamad Salah, Cairo bureau chief of the respected London-based newspaper Al Hayat, and an expert on radical Islam, says that the e-mail is really from "The Surgeon". "The terminology used in the message is his. And Al Zayat is a top Islamist. He would never make up such a story and jeopardize his reputation." It's not the first time that Al Zawahiri and Al Zayat have exchanged correspondence. This e-mail apparently is an answer to a previous one sent by Al Zayat shortly before the first anniversary of September 11, when he asked Al Zawahiri the reason for the attacks and invited him to participate in a conference in Cairo on the future of political Islam. Al Zayat claims that Al Zawahiri is definitely alive and only answered the e-mail now because of the tremendous security risks he faces. Al Zayat also considers that "as the US is preparing for war against Iraq, Al Zawahiri may have found the time was ripe to agitate the masses against the Americans". The instructions to "the masses" are pretty clear. The e-mail says that the Egyptian Islamic Jihad - which was run by Al Zawahiri himself and then merged into al-Qaeda - has decided to suspend any operations inside Egypt. Gamaa Islamiya - Egypt's largest hardcore Islamist group - had already declared a ceasefire in 1997. Incidentally, Al Zayat for years was the unofficial spokesman for Gamaa Islamiya. And he was one of the major sponsors of the ceasefire. Up to now, Islamic Jihad refused to endorse the ceasefire. But the message now from Islamic Jihad - and al-Qaeda, for that matter - is clear: all the efforts are concentrated on fighting the US. So the global script now goes like this: If Bush, the "pharaoh of this day and age", attacks the very visible, not-to-be-exiled, and self-styled liberator of Jerusalem Saddam Hussein, the shadowy and mysterious specters bin Laden and Al Zawahiri will not strike pharaoh minions in Arab regimes, but the interests of the pharaoh himself. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/21/international/middleeast/21TURK.html * TURKEY TO ALLOW U.S. TO USE BASES UNDER A SMALLER PLAN by Dexter Filkins New York Times, 21st January ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 20 ‹ The foreign minister said today that Turkey had decided to allow the United States to use its bases for an attack on Iraq, but that Turkish public opinion would force the government to drastically scale back the American plans. Yasar Yakis, the foreign minister, said in an interview that his government had instructed the Turkish military to draft a plan providing for an American force that would be just large enough to tie up Iraqi troops based in the northern part of the country so a larger American force could attack Baghdad from the south. Mr. Yakis said the Turkish government was constrained by public opinion, which surveys show to be overwhelmingly against a war, from allowing the Americans to base a much larger force on Turkish soil. Any Turkish plan must be approved by the country's Parliament, which is dominated by a party with Islamist roots. A Western diplomat said here last week that American leaders had originally asked Turkey to allow as many as 80,000 air and ground troops onto Turkish bases for a possible attack on Iraq. The diplomat said the Americans had recently agreed to significantly scale back their plans, although he said the operation would still be militarily viable. "What we said for the Americans was, the northern front should not be made meaningless," Mr. Yakis said. "The importance of the northern front is to fix Iraqi military strength, which is positioned in the north. It should be a sufficiently big force to fix them there so that Iraqi soldiers do not leave the northern front and go to the southern front. "We instructed the military authorities to negotiate with the American side and find out what is the figure which is necessary not to make the American northern front meaningless," Mr. Yakis added. He said the American and Turkish military planners had not yet agreed on a final plan. Still, if Mr. Yakis' scenario holds true, it would represent a drastic scaling back of American military plans to confront Saddam Hussein's army outside of the main theater in Kuwait. American military planners regard a northern front as crucial in an Iraqi operation, believing that it would make any war shorter and less bloody than one limited to a force attacking from the south. An American force attacking from Turkey would almost certainly try to seize the oil fields around the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, before they could be destroyed by Iraqi forces. An American presence in northern Iraq is regarded as vital in ensuring that Iraq's Kurds, who predominate in the country's northern areas, do not try to secede from Iraq. Mr. Yakis said one of the options considered for a scaled-down northern front is an American force of about 15,000 troops. Under that plan, Mr. Yakis said, a pair of American brigades of about 5,000 troops each would attack in separate points in northern Iraq, with another brigade standing by in reserve. Tying up the Iraqi forces in the north would inhibit Iraq's ability to defend against the much larger military force expected to drive into Iraq from Kuwait, where tens of thousands of American troops have already assembled. [.....] http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/reuters20030121_160.html * TURKEY TO ALLOW U.S. TO USE BASES ABC News, 21st January [.....] Turkey's foreign minister denied Tuesday a media report that Ankara had decided to give the United States permission to use its bases for an attack on Iraq if war became unavoidable. Asked by reporters in Ankara about the report in the New York Times, Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said: "I only said ... the government had given the General Staff authorization to discuss this issue with their military counterparts at the technical level." _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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