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[casi] News, 29/01-05/02/03 (6)

News, 29/01-05/02/03 (6)


*  The recolonisation of Iraq cannot be sold as liberation
*  Iraqis want to be rid of Saddam
*  Blair backs Kosovo-UN model to rule after Saddam
*  Imperial America is about to strike
*  Why the Left is wrong on Saddam
*  Saddam 'plans to use UN staff as hostages'
*  Bush approves nuclear response
*  Grounded by War?
*  UK restates nuclear threat
*  Iraqi water and sanitation systems could be military target, says MoD
*  US chooses Saddam's successor
*  Only justice can bring peace to Middle East conflicts
*  Iraq's 'ghost' troops ready for war: exiles
*  Wage war in Iraq for the sake of peace in the Middle East
*  Peace will cost more than war

IMPLICATIONS OF WAR,3604,885075,00.html

by Seumas Milne
The Guardian, 30th January


What changed after 1991 was that the greatest suffering endured by Iraqis
was no longer at the hands of the regime, but the result of western-enforced
sanctions which, according to Unicef estimates, have killed at least 500,000
children over the past decade.

Nor is there any evidence that most Iraqis, either inside or outside the
country, want their country attacked and occupied by the US and Britain,
however much they would like to see the back of the Iraqi dictator.
Assessing the real state of opinion among Iraqis in exile is difficult
enough, let alone in Iraq itself. But there are telling pointers that the
licensed intellectuals and club-class politicians routinely quoted in the
western media enthusing about US plans for their country are utterly
unrepresentative of the Iraqi people as a whole.

Even the main US-sponsored organisations such as the Iraqi National Congress
and Iraqi National Accord, which are being groomed to be part of a puppet
administration, find it impossible directly to voice support for a US
invasion, suggesting little enthusiasm among their potential constituency.
Laith Hayali - an Iraqi opposition activist who helped found the
British-based solidarity group Cardri in the late 1970s and later fought
against Saddam Hussein's forces in Kurdistan - is one of many independent
voices who insist that a large majority of Iraqi exiles are opposed to war.
Anecdotal evidence from those coming in and out of Iraq itself tell a
similar story, which is perhaps hardly surprising given the expected scale
of casualties and destruction.

The Iraqi regime's human rights record has been grim - though not uniquely
so - over more than 30 years. If and when US and British occupation forces
march down Baghdad's Rashid Street, we will doubtless be treated to footage
of spontaneous celebrations and GIs being embraced as they hand out sweets.
There will be no shortage of people keen to collaborate with the new power;
relief among many Iraqis, not least because occupation will mean an end to
the misery of sanctions; there will be revelations of atrocities and war
crimes trials.

All this will be used to justify what is about to take place. But a foreign
invasion which is endorsed by only a small minority of Iraqis and which
seems certain to lead to long-term occupation, loss of independence and
effective foreign control of the country's oil can scarcely be regarded as
national liberation. It is also difficult to imagine the US accepting
anything but the most "managed" democracy, given the kind of government
genuine elections might well throw up.

The danger of military interventions in the name of human rights is that
they are inevitably selective and used to promote the interests of those
intervening - just as when they were made in the name of "civilisation" and
Christianity. If war goes ahead, the prospect for Iraq must be of a kind of
return to the semi-colonial era before 1958, when the country was the pivot
of western power in the region, Britain maintained military bases and an
"adviser" in every ministry and landowning families like Ahmad Chalabi of
the INC's were a law unto themselves. There were also 10,000 political
prisoners, parties were banned, the press censored and torture commonplace.
As President Bush would say, it looks like the re-run of a bad movie.

by David Hirst
Daily Star, Lebanon, 30th January

In March 1988, I was in the first party of journalists to visit the Iraqi
border town of Halabja, just conquered by the Iranian Army, and report on
the terrible vengeance which Saddam Hussein wrought on its Kurdish
inhabitants: He gassed them all. Shock at this grisly scene was quickly
followed by disbelief at the official American comment on it: It might well,
Washington said, have been Iranian, not Iraqi, handiwork. A few months
later, in eastern Turkey, I saw the thousands who had fled across the
frontier in the wake of Operation Anfal, Saddam's bid to subjugate Iraq's
Kurdish citizens by gassing at least 100,000 of them. The American, indeed
the wider Western, response to this genocidal act was minimal.

It is now known that this was deliberate. In a policy of which Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other neoconservative members of the current
administration were key executives, the US had aligned itself behind Saddam
in his war on Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's fundamentalist Iran, and, in the
aftermath of Halabja, officials were instructed to lie and obfuscate on his

So it will be hard to credit the American-led war on Iraq with any of the
disinterested purposes that the administration ascribes to it, like
"liberating" the Iraqi people and replacing Saddam's despotism with a
"democratic" new order. It is easier to agree with those, primarily but far
from exclusively from whole Arab world, who only discern a self interested
agenda - one which the neoconservatives hardly bother to disguise
themselves. The Middle East stands on the brink of geopolitical upheavals
unlike anything since the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, and the US is
embarking on a quasi-colonial enterprise, involving direct, physical
conquest and occupation, comparable to the one which it strongly opposed
when, 80 years ago, the old colonial powers, Britain and France, were doing
the colonizing. The basic idea is to install a client regime in Iraq, then
turn this potentially rich and strategically pivotal country into the
fulcrum of a wider design that will bring the entire region firmly under
American-Israeli control: for such are the neoconservatives' personal,
professional and ideological ties with Israel, and right-wing Israel at
that, that the agenda is patently Israeli as much as American. The
Palestinians, completely bereft of any Arab support, will be forced to
acquiesce in the formalized apartheid that is Ariel Sharon's idea of a final
settlement. America will secure the high hand over a denationalized Iraqi
oil industry, and, from that position of strength, set production, supply
and pricing policies for the whole region, undermining the traditional
ascendancy of Saudi Arabia, emasculating OPEC, and ushering in an era of
cheaper and more abundant oil.

Such quasi-colonial ambitions are good reasons for the Arabs to oppose the
war. The trouble is that in doing so, they oppose the wishes of those Arabs,
the Iraqis themselves, most directly concerned and with greatest right to
the decisive voice in their own future. The Iraqis want to be rid of Saddam
Hussein: Neither logic, nor the long, enormously costly and savage history
of their unsuccessful resistance to his rule, point to any other conclusion.
"Regime change in Iraq", says Ahmad Partow, an Iraqi former UN human rights
officer, "is a human rights and humanitarian imperative. Asking the Iraqi
people to remain enslaved by the current regime, simply because Saddam can
be deterred or contained, is selfish and unjust." For the Iraqi opposition,
the official American or UN rationale for war - dismantling its weapons of
mass destruction - is the wrong, or at least a subsidiary, one; it is the
uniquely evil regime, with or without those weapons, capable of another
Anfal or not, that counts. That is why, for them, the key UN resolution was
never 687 - the original call for Iraqi disarmament - but 688, which called
for an end to the "repression" of the Iraqi people. For them, too, there is
no other means to fulfil that resolution than an international military
intervention. And if, owing to divisions within the international community,
that turns out to be mainly, or even exclusively, American, then so be it.
They have tried everything down the years: assassination, military putsch,
terrorist insurgency, popular uprising. The 1991 rebellion came closest to
success; it only failed precisely because - in a shameful betrayal - the
administration of Bush the father withheld the international backing which,
with troops in southern Iraq, it could so very easily have furnished. To be
sure, some of the main opposition factions have had misgivings about an
American intervention; not, however, for the reasons that other Arabs do,
but because, after all America has done on the despot's behalf, they needed
to be convinced that it was truly serious at last, first about getting rid
of him, and secondly about installing an acceptable new order in his place.
They must still have misgivings about the second of these things; but at
least they are now sure of the first.

Such is the gulf between Iraqi and Arab positions on the coming war that
some Arab newspapers call Iraqi opposition leaders traitors, because they
are ready to enlist the services of a foreign devil against their own. But
these accusations only dramatize the moral and political confusion into
which, over this momentous question, the Arabs have fallen.

The Iraqi opposition, in its incoherence, bears some responsibility for
this. But, as victims, theirs is the least. The Arabs have more to answer
for. They consider that the coming onslaught will, in effect, be directed
against the entire Arab world, not just Iraq. But they would not be facing
this calamity if, in the past 20 years, they had recognized Saddam for what
he is, the most villainous and destructive of Arab leaders, the worst
manifestation of a sickness that afflicts almost all Arab societies, and,
having recognized this, sympathized with those Arab, the Iraqis, who had to
endure it, and helped them end it. Of course the other Arab rulers
themselves would never have done that; autocrats too, they know that to
conspire against one of their number is ultimately to do so against
themselves. When Saddam gassed the Kurds, he may have earned unconscionably
little reproach from the West; but that little was enough for the Arab
regimes, via the Arab League, to volunteer their "total solidarity" with
him. But the Arab peoples - insofar as, oppressed themselves, they could
express a distinctive opinion at all - were not much better. In his book
Cruelty and Silence, leading Iraqi opposition figure Kanan Makiya reflects
the Iraqi sense of betrayal by an Arab intelligentsia ready to applaud
Saddam as a champion of the higher, pan-Arab, anti-imperialist cause, and to
expect the Iraqi people, prime victims of this catastrophic championship, to
find virtue in him too.

If war turns out to be a calamity for America as well, that will be because
the moral and political confusion it embodies is no less, in its case, than
it is in the Arabs', and certainly greater in its consequences. However
valid the official or semi-official reasons for it, disarming Iraq, or the
bringing about the "regime change" which is probably the only means of
ensuring that on a permanent basis, it will still be seen as the supreme
expression of those double standards which are the single-most important
reason why Arab hostility to the US has reached the intensity it has. It
will be wreaking punishment on an Arab country for its acquisition of
weapons of mass destruction and its violations of UN resolutions even as the
US continues to indulge an Israeli protege which has a far longer, no less
deceitful, illegitimate and ultimately dangerous record of doing the same.
In these conditions, the long overdue enfranchisement of the Arab people
which it might indeed unleash - be it in the form of a relatively orderly
transition to democracy, or, more likely, in the chaotic overthrow of a
rotten existing order - will not help America at all. Indeed, given its
quasi-colonial, ever-more pro-Israeli agenda, it will turn the Arabs even
more strenuously, and probably effectively, against them. The
neoconservatives seem to realize this. In Commentary magazine last October,
Norman Podhoretz, their veteran intellectual luminary, wrote that "regime
change" should extend to no less than half-a-dozen Middle Eastern countries.
However, he warned, the "alternative to (existing) regimes could easily turn
out to be worse, even, or especially, if it comes into power through
democratic elections;" in that case the US would have to summon up "the will
to fight (a world war) against militant Islam - to a successful conclusion."
In other words, America's own policies will generate an ever-growing
hostility which America will have to commit ever-growing material and human
resources to combating. Where does such well-nigh megalomaniac, imperial
logic end?

Probably the only way that the opponents of war can now, in extremis,
pre-empt the worst is to achieve by political means what America want to
achieve by military ones, and persuade Saddam to step down voluntarily.
That, it seems, is what, breaking their sacrosanct, noninterventionist code,
some Arab leaders are desperately trying to contrive. So salvation now
entirely hinges on Saddam himself - or rather, perhaps, on an assassin, from
within the innermost circles of power, who strikes him down. Seemingly proof
against every other form of retribution, that has long been the most likely,
if at the same time most obscurely unpredictable, manner of his going. But,
as all-out war looms, it is at its likeliest now.

David Hirst, a veteran Middle East correspondent, wrote this commentary for
The Daily Star

by George Jones in Madrid and Anton La Guardia
Daily Telegraph, 31st January


Officials said Britain favours a model inspired by the experience in Kosovo
whereby civil affairs in Iraq would be run by the UN while security would
remain in the hands of American-led forces.

"It's much easier to raise money, political support, personnel, police and
all the things needed to run the country if we have some kind of
international chapeau," said one Whitehall source.

That would rule out proposals for an American military administration of the
sort that ruled Japan under Gen Douglas MacArthur after the Second World

It would also exclude the idea of handing over power directly to Iraqi
politicians. The Iraqi opposition, which met in London last month to pledge
itself to a democratic future, is highly fragmented.

Instead, Britain would prefer an interim international authority to oversee
reconstruction while political institutions are built up.

A UN protectorate would help to rebuff criticism the Allies were merely
seeking to take over Iraq's oil.


by Patrick Seale
Daily Star, Lebanon, 31st January

The Middle East is on the brink of war. Compelling evidence pointing to a
coming conflict can no longer be wished away. Hoping to benefit from an
element of surprise, the United States will no doubt keep alive a hint of
doubt about its intentions until the last moment, but all the signs point to
an attack on or about Feb. 15. The US juggernaut has concentrated massive
firepower against Iraq. The strike will be swift, surgical and overwhelming.
The inescapable conclusion is that Saddam Hussein's regime is living its
last days.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, George W. Bush announced
that Secretary of State Colin Powell would, on Feb. 5, present proof of
Iraq's secret weapons and links to terrorism. He will seek to make the case
for war. Washington has already embarked on a propaganda campaign to
convince friends and enemies that Saddam is a menace that must be removed to
'liberate' the Iraqis and make the world a safer place.

Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, has done the Americans' work for
them. His report to the Security Council on Jan. 27 detailing Iraq's failure
to account for its stocks of anthrax and the deadly VX agent, or to reveal
details of its mobile chemical laboratories and missile delivery systems,
has bolstered the American position. It was an even "better" report than the
Americans had hoped for. In the American view, the Security Council can now
discuss the matter but there will be no need for a second resolution.

In the coming war, America's "coalition of the willing" will include
Britain, Australia, Spain, Italy, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Kuwait, Qatar,
and no doubt other more reluctant allies. Attempts to restrain the US have
failed. Hailed as a triumph of anti-war European diplomacy, UN resolution
1441 has in fact provided cover for a US military build up.

France has no appetite to use its veto in the Security Council and will, in
any event, have no opportunity to do so. Turkey is unable to refuse the US
the use of its bases. At their recent conference in Istanbul, Arab foreign
ministers did not dare criticize the US but put all the onus on Iraq to
avoid war. Although anxious about the likely emergence of a pro-American
regime on its borders, the Iranian leadership will undoubtedly welcome the
final demise of Saddam. Russia has already warned Iraq that it cannot count
on its support.

Bush will not be deterred by the swelling anti-war movement around the
world. On the contrary, the hostility of public opinion is driving hawks to
strike sooner rather than later.

It would seem that only the exile or death of Saddam, or an eleventh-hour
decision to reveal all his hidden weapons, might now save Iraq. But none of
this is plausible. Just as Saddam in 1991 remained confident until the very
last moment that the US would not attack, so today he has once again failed
to heed the signals. He is likely to lose his regime, perhaps even his life,
in trying to hide some trivial weapons of little operational use which are,
in any event, dwarfed by US power.

Washington is about to embark on an imperial adventure, not unlike that of
London in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Britain was the dominant
power in Egypt, Iraq, the Gulf, south Arabia and much of the rest of the
Middle East. Bush appears to be convinced that seizing Baghdad, an ancient
pole of Arab civilization, will provide a democratic model for other
oppressed Arabs and "jump-start" the refashioning of the Middle East on pro
Western lines. He seems to believe that it will also deprive terrorist
groups of sponsorship, making America safe from another attack, which could
be even more deadly than Sept. 11, because next time weapons of mass
destruction might be used. The lure of Iraqi oil must also have entered his

Nevertheless, there is a strong streak of naive idealism in Bush's vision.
It allays America's fears of its new vulnerability to terror, while
flattering its pretension that its power is being used for the benefit of
humanity. Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, who in his eagerness to
maintain the "special relationship" has allowed himself to be sucked into
America's war plans, is fond of saying, in the teeth of a great deal of
contrary evidence, that America is a "force for good" in the world!

The truth is that Bush has been sold a load of dangerous rubbish. At the
heart of the Washington decision-making process lies a cabal of Zionist
extremists who have shaped America's political and military agenda. These
are the men who have set America on the path to war. To persuade the US to
destroy Israel's enemies, they have cloaked their war plans in the patriotic
verbiage of America's global destiny. Supported by friends and allies in
right-wing think tanks, in the press, and in lobbying organizations, this
small group of men has a narrow, Israel-centric vision. War against Iraq
marks the triumph of this cabal and of its most prominent strategic thinker,
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who has tirelessly campaigned for
war against Iraq for five years and more.

For such men, Iraq represents the last major strategic threat to Israel. The
aim of the war is to weaken Iraq permanently, by "remaking" it as a loose
federal state without a strong center. Of the other regional threats to
Israel, Egypt was taken out of the Arab military equation by its 1979 peace
treaty with Israel and has been neutralized ever since by a $2
billion-a-year American subsidy. Syria, much diminished since the death of
Hafiz al-Asad and beset by domestic rivalries, offers no real threat. Iran
is a cause of concern to Israel because of its nuclear ambitions and its
support for Hizbullah, but it is a long way from Israel's borders and has
worries on other fronts. In any event, Israel has had close relations with
Iran in the past. It trained the Savak secret police under the Shah and
supplied Iran with arms during its war with Iraq. Somewhere below the
surface is the Israeli hope that these ties will one day be revived.

Iraq then is the prime target. It must be punished for daring to attack
Israel in 1991. It must be disarmed to protect Israel's regional monopoly of
weapons of mass destruction. The overthrow of Saddam would change the
strategic horizon. Under the cover of a war, Israel will be able to defeat
the Palestinians and impose its terms on them.

This is the intoxicating vision of the pro-Israeli camp. It is the fervent
hope of Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister and the champion of a Greater
Israel, now basking in his triumph at this week's elections. The mantra one
hears from his advisers is that after the war everything will be different.
The road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad! The "roadmap" to Palestinian
statehood, already dismissed by Sharon, will fade into history like the
Mitchell and Tenet plans. In the meantime the whole cruel panoply of Israeli
repression, together with the destruction of every vestige of Palestinian
autonomy, will continue unabated until the Palestinians surrender and accept
the crumbs that are thrown to them.

There are many things wrong with this scenario. For one thing, the
Palestinians, in spite of their terrible suffering, show no sign of being
beaten. Sharon is a great tactician but a hopeless strategist. As the last
two years have shown, he is leading Israel to catastrophe. He will need to
find a Palestinian quisling to implement his plan for the parody of
Palestinian "statehood" he envisages - defenseless enclaves living a
half-life at Israel's mercy. But the fate of Bashir Gemayel, Sharon's
protege in Lebanon 20 years ago, is likely to dissuade a potential quisling
from stepping forward. In the meantime, suicide bombings will continue.

The US, in turn, is likely to find that the pacification of Iraq after the
war will be long and expensive. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 it was
welcomed at first before being driven out. US forces are likely to face the
same experience in Iraq. Already at risk throughout the region, Americans
and US interests could face fresh assaults. In seeking to impose its
imperial hegemony, the US could find itself drawn into a new Vietnam, just
when it had recovered from that soul-wrenching experience. The Arab and
Muslim world is not ripe for a new colonial experience.

Al-Qaeda is still out there, attracting new recruits by the day and poised
to strike again.

Patrick Seale, a veteran Middle East analyst, wrote this commentary for The
Daily Star,6903,887184,00.html

by David Aaronovitch
The Observer, 3nd February

If you were to draw a map of the world based on the writings and speeches of
the most fervent anti-war figures in Britain and America, two names would be
found at the far edges of the known world, if at all: Bosnia and Rwanda. In
the mid-1990s, events in these places convinced me that Noam Chomsky's
definition of the sovereignty of nations as 'the right of political entities
to be free from outside interference' had become a millstone around the neck
of the world.

Bosnia and Rwanda made the case for action, because inaction was far worse
and its consequences were morally intolerable. In the former, the West
(rarely acting in concert) took the course of diplomacy backed up by the
incredible threat of mild force. The Yugoslavian situation was deemed to be
too complicated and too dangerous to resolve by firm action. Didn't they all
just enjoy killing each other?

There were sanctions, international mediations, peace brokers shuttled
hither and yon arranging ceasefires that were broken, usually by the Bosnian
Serbs. The United Nations Security Council declared six safe areas for
Bosnian Muslims to be protected by lightly equipped UN troops. One of these
was Srebrenica.

On 11 July 1995, almost in slow motion, we watched the Serbs enter the safe
haven, disarm the Dutch protectors and separate the men and boys from women
and small children. And as I saw General Ratko Mladic pacifying a crying
Muslim woman, I think I knew, as he certainly did, what was going to happen
to her husband or son.

A year earlier, on another continent, we had again looked on while one of
the peoples of a sovereign nation, Rwanda, slaughtered another in their
hundreds of thousands. Once more, a small UN force was brushed aside in the
early stages. Intervention was never seriously considered.

If leaders must take responsibility for these terrible failures, then so
must those who always urge inaction. Over Bosnia, Kosovo and over
Afghanistan, voices on both the Left and Right have been consistently raised
to object to the use of force. Where these voices have belonged to
pacifists, they have my respect, but most often they have belonged to the
purely selfish, the pathologically timid, or to those who somehow believed
that however bad things were in Country X, the Americans were always worse.

In last week's edition of the New Statesman, one of the latter, John Pilger,
takes this newspaper to task for allowing that it might be right to depose
the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, by force. Even suggesting such a thing,
he said, was a betrayal of the great traditions of the newspaper. Pilger, of
course, has a way of turning disagreements with him into betrayals of the
entire human race. But for many of us, this has become the most difficult
and painful judgment to make. It is the kind of issue that divides families
and friends.

Nothing about Iraq is hard for Pilger. He was opposed to using force to get
Iraq out of Kuwait, opposed to the containment of Saddam through the
enforcement of the no-fly zones, dismissive of the threats to the Kurdish
people of the North. Many in his camp were in a favour of sanctions when the
alternative was force, and were against sanctions when the alternative was

It isn't like that here. In the offices of this newspaper, as you turn left
out of the lift, just by the pigeonholes, is a photograph of a dead Observer
journalist, Farzad Bazoft, who was hanged by Saddam Hussein in 1990.
Bazoft's photo always has flowers beneath it, placed there by his family and
friends. As the journalist Robert Fisk subsequently commented, it was
characteristic of Saddam that the first Bazoft knew about his imminent
execution was when a British diplomat turned up at his prison to say
goodbye. Saddam joked that Mrs Thatcher had asked for Bazoft to be returned
and now he was being returned 'in a box'.

Saddam Hussein, who both the West and the Soviet bloc shamefully lionised
during the Cold War and tacitly supported as a counterweight to
fundamentalist Iran, never was just another tyrant. Not only is his regime
exceptionally brutal internally (and I mean exceptionally) and aggressive
externally, but it is not a matter of contention that he made chemical and
biological weapons, that he used some of them, and that he would have, if
left alone, produced nuclear weapons. He should have been deposed by force
in 1991 when, instead, the Iraqi opposition forces were effectively betrayed
by the coalition.

I don't believe that Saddam is a major backer of al-Qaeda (though he gives
support to other groups) and I think it quite likely that he has had no
effective nuclear programme for years. He would if he could, but he can't.
But I want him out, for the sake of the region (and therefore, eventually,
for our sakes), but most particularly for the sake of the Iraqi people who
cannot lift this yoke on their own. If they could, that would be best; if he
would agree to go into exile, that would be just dandy. The argument that
Saddam's removal will of necessity lead to 'chaos' or the democratic
election of an unsuitable Islamist government is worthy of Henry Kissinger
at his most cynical. It is pretty disgusting when heard in the mouths of

The Iraqi people, however, can't shift their tyrant on their own. Again, it
would be preferable if an invasion could be undertaken, not by the
Americans, but by, say, the Nelson Mandela International Peace Force,
spearheaded by the Rowan Williams British Brigade. That's not on offer. It
has to be the Yanks.

I do not believe that George Bush is the manic oil-chimp of caricature. His
administration really does have a view that it is necessary to remove Saddam
pour décourager les autres. It will, they have convinced themselves, show
resolve, deter state terrorism, discourage proliferation and permit the
building of a rare non-tyranny in the Arab world. There is something to be
said for all this.

What some in the White House cannot see (and what I think Tony Blair can) is
why establishing some set of rules for intervention is so important. If
intervention seems arbitrary and depends upon the strategic whims of
particular administrations, then many are bound to interpret it merely as an
expression of short-term American interests. It won't be a new world order,
but simply a Pax Americana. This is a perception that would be bound to
cause massive resentment and - in time - lead to real resistance. So UN
resolutions matter. Like American military power, they're all we have.

If, in a few weeks time, the Security Council agrees to wage war against
Saddam, I shall support it. If there is no resolution but the invasion goes
ahead, I will not oppose it, though most of the people I like best will. I
can't demonstrate against the liberation, however risky, of the Iraqi

As ever, though, war will have been the easy bit. Peace requires far more
effort. There are some encouraging signs here. President Bush's announcement
in the State of the Union speech (an announcement completely overlooked
here) of an extra $10 billion on combating Aids around the world is
simultaneously welcome, insufficient and tardy. But, above all, welcome.
America did not cause the Aids epidemic, but as the world's richest nation
it has a duty and an opportunity (with our help) to address it.

And if international activism is in vogue, and requires support, then it
must deal with the greatest source of instability in the Middle East, if not
in the world - Israel and Palestine. Here again, two peoples are held
captive, not by tyrants, but by men of blood and their own weaknesses. It is
surely time to consider the international imposition of a settlement which
would provide statehood and some justice for the Palestinians and some
security for Israel.

That is another article but not, as they say, another story.

by Julian Coman in Washington and Philip Sherwell
Gulf News, apparently from Daily, or Sunday, Telegraph, 3rd February

London: Iraqi President Saddam Hussain is planning to use United Nations
weapons inspectors in Iraq as hostages, or "human shields", if war with a
United States-led coalition begins, according to leaks from within the Iraqi

Iraq's leader and his vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan also threatened
Saturday to unleash suicide attacks against U.S. nationals across the Middle
East and to wipe out any invading force in a weekend of defiance in Baghdad.

The hostage tactic was discussed by Saddam at recent crisis talks with
high-ranking aides, including Saddam's son Qusay and Tariq Aziz, the deputy
prime minister.

They accepted that UN inspectors would soon declare that Iraq was refusing
to give up its chemical and biological weapons, almost certainly triggering
a military conflict.

Saddam ordered the names of inspectors working in Iraq to be circulated in
preparation for using them as hostages on the eve of war, a senior Iraqi
official told the London-based Arab language newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat.

The official said that the task of rounding up the inspectors would go to
the Special Republican Guard, under Qusay's command. The tactic would be
used only when Iraq was certain it faced imminent attack.

During the 1991 Gulf war, Saddam took hundreds of Western civilians hostage
in an attempt to delay conflict.

Terry Taylor, a senior UN weapons inspector after the Gulf War, told The
Sunday Telegraph that during the 1990s there were detailed evacuation plans
for UN workers.

"The danger of hostage-taking was recognised and planned for," he said.

UN officials said Saddam would be "ill-advised" to attempt to use inspectors
or any of the 1,000 UN workers in Iraq as hostages.

"Like any UN organisation anywhere in the world, we have contingency plans
to effect a withdrawal in the event of a crisis," a spokesman said. He added
that the agency had received no specific information that inspectors were

The leak comes at a time of rising tension between weapons inspectors and
their Iraqi hosts after Hans Blix, the chief inspector, was critical of
Baghdad's co-operation in his report to the Security Council.

In an attempt to plead its case further, Iraq has issued an invitation to
Blix and Mohammed El Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, to return to Baghdad for more talks before their next report to the
UN on February 14.

Iraqi foreign ministry officials believe that among the conditions for a
return visit, the two men are insisting on a meeting with Saddam.

"It's very important that we meet at the highest level of the leadership,"
said El Baradei, "and hear from them a clear commitment that they are ready
to be fully transparent."

Iraq said on Saturday that  Blix had agreed to go to Baghdad on February 8,
but Blix's spokesman indicated that this depended on Iraq accepting demands
the inspectors had set out in a letter to the Iraqi authorities.

Meanwhile, Saddam has established two defensive rings around Baghdad as he
finalises his strategy for fighting off the expected American invasion. The
tactic indicates that Saddam has accepted that he has little chance of
holding areas outside the capital.

The first line of defence, protecting the area around Baghdad features
trenches, tunnels and mortar and tank positions. Regular troops and recruits
forced to join his ill-equipped Jaish Al Quds (Army of Jerusalem) will be
stationed there.

The second encircles the suburbs and will use the Special Republican Guard
and the latest T72 tanks.

Most ominously, the SRG's chemical and biological unit has been ordered to
prepare missiles armed with chemical warheads for deployment in Baghdad.

Saddam is ready to fire the weapons at advancing U.S. troops in a last-ditch
effort to halt the invasion, Iraqi exiles have been told by contacts within
the regime. January 31, 2003

by Nicholas Kralev
Washington Times, 31st January

A classified document signed by President Bush specifically allows for the
use of nuclear weapons in response to biological or chemical attacks,
apparently changing a decades-old U.S. policy of deliberate ambiguity, it
was learned by The Washington Times.     "The United States will continue to
make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force ‹
including potentially nuclear weapons ‹ to the use of [weapons of mass
destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and
allies," the document, National Security Presidential Directive 17, set out
on Sept. 14 last year.

A similar statement is included in the public version of the directive,
which was released Dec. 11 as the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of
Mass Destruction and closely parallels the classified document. However,
instead of the phrase "including potentially nuclear weapons," the public
text says, "including through resort to all of our options."

A White House spokesman declined to comment when asked about the document
last night and neither confirmed nor denied its existence.

A senior administration official said, however, that using the words
"nuclear weapons" in the classified text gives the military and other
officials, who are the document's intended audience, "a little more of an
instruction to prepare all sorts of options for the president," if need be.

The official, nonetheless, insisted that ambiguity remains "the heart and
soul of our nuclear policy."

In the classified version, nuclear forces are designated as the main part of
any U.S. deterrent, and conventional capabilities "complement" the nuclear

"Nuclear forces alone ... cannot ensure deterrence against [weapons of mass
destruction] and missiles," the original paragraph says. "Complementing
nuclear force with an appropriate mix of conventional response and defense
capabilities, coupled with effective intelligence, surveillance,
interdiction and domestic law-enforcement capabilities, reinforces our
overall deterrent posture against [weapons of mass destruction] threats."

Before it released the text publicly, the White House changed that same
paragraph to: "In addition to our conventional and nuclear response and
defense capabilities, our overall deterrent posture against [weapons of mass
destruction] threats is reinforced by effective intelligence, surveillance,
interdiction and domestic law-enforcement capabilities."

The classified document, a copy of which was shown to The Washington Times,
is known better by its abbreviation NSPD 17, as well as Homeland Security
Presidential Directive 4.

The disclosure of the classified text follows newspaper reports that the
planning for a war with Iraq focuses on using nuclear arms not only to
defend U.S. forces but also to "pre-empt" deeply buried Iraqi facilities
that could withstand conventional explosives.

For decades, the U.S. government has maintained a deliberately vague nuclear
policy, expressed in such language as "all options open" and "not ruling
anything in or out." As recently as last weekend, Bush administration
officials used similar statements in public, consciously avoiding the word

"I'm not going to put anything on the table or off the table," White House
Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. said on NBC's "Meet the Press," adding
that the United States will use "whatever means necessary" to protect its
citizens and the world from a "holocaust."

But in the paragraphs marked "S" for "secret," the Sept. 14 directive
clearly states that nuclear weapons are part of the "overwhelming force"
that Washington might use in response to a chemical or biological attack.

Former U.S. officials and arms control experts with knowledge of policies of
the previous administrations declined to say whether such specific language
had been used before, for fear of divulging classified information. But they
conceded that differences exist.

"This shows that there is a somewhat greater willingness in this
administration to use a nuclear response to other [non-nuclear weapons of
mass destruction] attacks, although that's not a wholesale departure from
previous administrations," one former senior official said.

Even a slight change can make a big difference. Because it is now "official
policy, it means that the United States will actively consider the nuclear
option" in a military conflict, said Daryl Kimball, executive director of
the Arms Control Association.

"This document is far more explicit about the use of nuclear weapons to
deter and possibly defeat biological and chemical attacks," he said. "If
someone dismisses it, that would question the entire logic of the
administration's national security strategy against [weapons of mass

Mr. Kimball said U.S. nuclear weapons "should only be used to deter nuclear
attacks by others."

A senior official who served in the Clinton administration said there would
still have to be a new evaluation before any decision was made on the use of
nuclear weapons.

"What this document means is that they have thought through the
consequences, including in the abstract, but it doesn't necessarily prejudge
any specific case."

Baker Spring, a national security fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said
the classified language "does not undermine the basic posture of the
deterrent and does not commit the United States to a nuclear response in
hypothetical circumstances. In a classified document, you are willing to be
more specific what the policy is, because people in the administration have
to understand it for planning purposes."

Both former officials and arms control analysts say that making the
classified text public might raise concerns among Washington's allies but
has little military significance. On the other hand, they note, the nuclear
deterrent has little value if a potential adversary does not know what it
can expect.

They agree that there must have been "good reasons" for the White House to
have "cleaned up" the document before releasing it. They speculated on at
least three:

Although responding to a non-nuclear attack by nuclear weapons is not banned
by international law, existing arms-control treaties call for a
"proportionate response" to biological and chemical attacks. The question
is, one former official said, whether any nuclear response is proportionate
to any non-nuclear attack.

Second, naming nuclear weapons specifically flies in the face of the
"negative security assurances" that U.S. administrations have given for 25
years. Those statements, while somewhat modified under different presidents,
essentially have said the United States will not use nuclear weapons against
a non-nuclear state unless that state attacks it together with a nuclear

Finally, publicly and explicitly articulating a policy of nuclear response
can hurt the international nonproliferation regime, which the United States
firmly supports. That sets a bad example for countries such as India and
Pakistan and gives rogue states an incentive to develop their own nuclear

William M. Arkin, a military analyst, wrote in the Los Angeles Times earlier
this week that the Bush administration's war planning "moves nuclear weapons
out of their long established special category and lumps them in with all
the other military options."

Mr. Arkin quoted "multiple sources" close to the preparations for a war in
Iraq as saying that the focus is on "two possible roles for nuclear weapons:
attacking Iraqi facilities located so deep underground that they might be
impervious to conventional explosives; and thwarting Iraq's use of weapons
of mass destruction."

He cited a Dec. 11 memorandum from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to
Mr. Bush, asking for authority to place Adm. James O. Ellis Jr., chief of
the U.S. Strategic Command, in charge of the full range of "strategic"
warfare options.

NSPD 17 appears to have upgraded nuclear weapons beyond the traditional
function as a nuclear deterrent.

"This is an interesting distinction," Mr. Spring said. "There is an
acknowledgment up front that under the post-Cold War circumstances,
deterrence in the sense we applied it during the Cold War is not as
reliable. I think it's accurate.",13005,901030210

Time, 10th February, Vol. 161, No. 6

Would a war in Iraq deal a crippling blow to America's already limping
airline industry? According to a new study commissioned by a major airline
and obtained by Time, half of America's large airlines could be bankrupt
within months if war ‹ even a brief one ‹ breaks out in Iraq.

The report's author, Mark Gerchick, a former top official at the Department
of Transportation and now a consultant for whom?, notes that during the 1991
Gulf War, airline bookings dropped 10% and drove even perennially profitable
Southwest Airlines into the red. But the industry entered that conflict in
much better shape than it is in now. The 18 months since Sept. 11 have been
a veritable depression for the airlines, says Gerchick, and the jolt of
another Gulf War would keep more travelers grounded and force high fuel
prices even higher.

Gerchick estimates that the industry might lose $9 billion ‹ more than four
times what it lost in all of 1991. No wonder that three major carriers
thought to be in decent shape ‹ American, America West (which has a
government loan) and Continental ‹ have retained bankruptcy lawyers,
according to WHAT reports.

Two weeks ago, American Airlines, the world's largest airline, announced
that it lost a record-setting $3.5 billion in 2002 ‹ a loss even larger than
the one posted by bankrupt United. In a classic airline industry
understatement, American called its losses "unsustainable." ‹ Sally

BBC, 2nd February

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon says Saddam Hussein "can be absolutely
confident" the UK is willing to use nuclear weapons "in the right

Speaking on BBC One's Breakfast with Frost Mr Hoon said the UK reserved the
right to use the weapons "in extreme self defence".

It is widely reported that before the first Gulf War the US and its allies
made it known to the Iraqi leader that nuclear weapons would be the response
to any use of chemical or biological weapons.

On Friday Mr Hoon's Cabinet colleague, International Development Secretary
Clare Short, said she could foresee no scenario in which a retaliatory
nuclear strike would serve any useful purpose.

Mr Hoon contradicted her view, saying nuclear weapons could not be a
deterrent if there was no willingness to use them.

He said: "We have always made it clear that we would reserve the right to
use nuclear weapons in conditions of extreme self defence."


( )

by Jo Dillon
The Independent, 2nd February

The Ministry of Defence yesterday admitted the electricity system that
powers water and sanitation for the Iraqi people could be a military target,
despite warnings that its destruction would cause a humanitarian tragedy.

While military planners insist they have taken into account the humanitarian
threat in the event of hostilities breaking out, a spokesman for the MoD
admitted decisions may have to be made where a potential target had a "dual

But any plan to bomb Iraq's electricity system will anger aid charities,
whose warnings were repeated by the Secretary of State for International
Development, Clare Short, last week.

Ms Short, who is to take up the matter with the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon
later this week, said that "any bombing to take out electronic capacity and
thus disarm anti-aircraft capacity could present a danger to electrics and
damage water and sanitation facilities as a consequence".

"There would be the resultant danger that people would not have access to
water and that sanitation facilities would be even worse than they are now.
Clearly, preparations need to be made against that eventuality so that the
health of the people of Iraq does not suffer."

While the MoD would not be drawn on possible targets they insisted "every
care would be taken in all circumstances at every planning level that all
targets were military targets and there was very little chance of injury to
civilians or non-military targets. However, a spokesman added: "I can
obviously see the difficulty in this because a target seen as a military
target can also have, sadly, implications for civilian populations as well."

Ms Short has warned that on top of the threat to the water and sanitation
system the Oil For Food programme would also be disrupted by military action
at a time when millions of Iraqis were dependent on it.

"It is a massive system and most of the people of Iraq depend on it, not
simply for adequate supplies but in the case of Baghdad-controlled Iraq for
the very basics of human survival," she said.

"Accordingly, any action needs to be very organised and calm, ensuring that
the capacity of the system is maintained or a replacement system is put into
place very quickly."

However, the Government has admitted there has been only limited contingency
planning for the humanitarian effects of military action on Iraq. While the
United States announced last week it would make available $15m (£9m) in aid,
the British Government has yet to announce any additional funding for the
humanitarian effort.

Talks with Iraq's neighbours about the housing of up to a million refugees
have been non existent, the Government has admitted.

And the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said last week that
plans are "in terms of scope ... not really on a large scale".

by Tom Allard
Sydney Morning Herald, 4th February

The United States has chosen a successor to Saddam Hussein from Iraq's
notoriously fractious opposition groups, according to a former Iraqi
diplomat who lives in Sydney.

Mohamed al-Jabiri, who has just returned from in talks with Washington, said
the White House has given its "blessing" to the head of the Iraqi National
Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, to lead a transitional coalition government in Iraq
once Saddam has been deposed.

Dr al-Jabiri, who talked to Mr Chalabi over the phone last month, said: "He
told me that he would take over. He has the blessing of the White House and
the State Department."

He said Mr Chalabi had been in talks with another major Iraqi opposition
group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Iranian
Government while in Tehran.

Mr Chalabi moved to Sala-huddin in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq last
week, ahead of an expected United States-led invasion. Opposition forces
will hold a summit in northern Iraq on February 15.

Mr Chalabi, who is a progressive liberal, is far from universally popular
among Iraqi exiles. However, successful talks in Tehran, and Iranian
assistance in getting him into Iraq, shows he has galvanised considerable
support from the Iraqi opposition.

Analysts believe disunity in the Iraqi opposition would make it near
impossible to form a transitional government from its ranks, leading to
speculation that the US will have to effectively occupy Iraq for a year or
longer to maintain order.

Dr al-Jabiri said the US was keen to avoid such a situation, aware that it
would create resentment among the Iraqi people and in the Middle East.

Mr Chalabi, the 58-year old scion of an Iraqi financial dynasty, left Iraq
aged 11, spending most of his exile in Britain and the US, where he studied
mathematics. In 1996 he led an unsuccessful uprising against Saddam that
resulted in hundreds of deaths. A sentence of 22 years hard labour hangs
over him in Jordan where he was convicted in his absence in 1992 of fraud.

Dr al-Jabiri, who spent two years in solitary confinement before escaping to
the US and then Australia, has been working with the US State Department and
Iraqi exiles to draw up a political blueprint for Iraq after Saddam,
developing plans for health, education, the media and judiciary.

He said a new government would be in place three months after Saddam's
removal and elections for a national parliament after one year.

The aim is to have a new constitution that would adopt a federal structure
to ease power sharing among Iraq's different religious and ethnic groups.

Most Iraqis are Shi'ite Muslims but there is a substantial Kurdish community
to the north. Sunni Muslims, Christians, Assyrians and Turks also make up
the country's 22 million population.

"We all agreed that a federation must be established," Dr al-Jabiri said.

"We have drafted over 1000 pages of new rules and regulations. It's really
quite a work. It's very impressive."

A meeting in Washington on March 7 is scheduled to formally adopt the plan.

Dr al-Jabiri has been most involved in the "transitional justice working
group", which is examining ways to prosecute Saddam and leading figures in
the Iraqi regime.

He said that they would be prosecuted in Iraqi courts, not in the
International Court of Justice in the Hague. "We don't want to give Saddam
the chance like [former Yugoslav leader Slobodan] Milosevic to use it for
propaganda," he said.

International jurists and the media would be invited to attend, he said.

by Maha Al-Azar
Daily Star, Lebanon, 3rd February


Arab silence has not been restricted to lack of involvement in the Sharon
case, but has extended to include the Iraqi crisis. Mallat and a group of
more than 30 Arab writers and lawyers, including renowned scholars Edward
Said of Columbia University and Yazid Sayegh of Cambridge University, have
launched what they call the Iraqi Initiative for Democracy, as an
alternative to war.

³Right now we are asked to choose between Saddam and Bush; between war and
no war,² said Mallat. ³There has to be something better than this. We don¹t
want to be put between the hammer of Bush and the anvil of Saddam.²

³Just getting rid of Saddam is not interesting to us if it means he will be
replaced by someone more cooperative with the West but who still oppresses
and kills his people,² he added.

Mallat believes that ³no one cares about weapons of mass destruction when
Israel¹s nuclear arsenal is more dangerous to the region.²

³And the US government is not thinking seriously about democracy,² he added,
³but we have to force them to. They might ignore us, but we would have

Although Mallat says that a strategy to end the repression should be
discussed, he proposes one way to end it in Iraq.

³We create safe havens, as was done in the case of Kurdistan in northern
Iraq,² he said.

³The international community would tell Saddam: we don¹t want to see a
single apparatus of repression north or west or south of this line,² he

³You don¹t tell a dictator to step down. You force him to,² he said.

Gradually, the growing number of ³safe havens² would zero in on Baghdad and
Saddam until they collapse, said Mallat.

The signatories wish to see the United Nations Security Council adopt their
initiative and implement it by sending human rights monitors, backed by a
military contingent.

³If they really want to free the Iraqi people from 35 years of dictatorship,
you don¹t do it through war,² Mallat said. ³There are other ways that are
far more civilized and far more convincing than war.²

Dawn, from Reuters, 4th February

LONDON, Feb 3: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has decentralized the Iraqi
army in preparation for urban combat and will rely on his son Qusay to
co-ordinate a defensive war in the cities, according to exiled generals
monitoring Iraq.

"The Americans will be fighting ghosts. They will find it very hard to know
were the enemy is. Those who are betting that Saddam will be defeated
quickly are mistaken," Lieutenant General Tawfik al-Yassiri told Reuters.

"Tens of thousands of elite Iraqi forces have spread underground, above
ground, in farms, schools, mosques, churches... everywhere. They are not in
camps or major installations. These units are prepared for city warfare and
have the experience for it," said Yassiri.

Yassiri took part in a 1991 uprising against Saddam and now heads a council
of exiled officers. The officers say they still maintain contact with their
former comrades inside Iraq.

Another exiled officer, who did not want his name published, said some of
the best trained units in house-to-house fighting are not part of the
regular Iraqi army. "They are vicious," the officer said. "They were trained
in Europe and do not even wear uniforms."

He did not elaborate, but European states supplied Iraq with military
equipment and training in the 1980s.

Saddam's former military aides say secondary systems of communications are
in place to help the Iraq army function under US strikes, including simple
long range walkie-talkies and fibre optics cables that are hard to hit

They say the focus of Iraqi defences are Baghdad and that Qusay, Saddam's
younger son and most trusted lieutenant, is pivotal in keeping the Iraqi
leader in command of his army.

In a region ruled by autocratic leaders reluctant to delegate power, Saddam
has placed Qusay fully in charge of units responsible for the security of
the regime, namely the Special Republican Guards and the Special Security
Apparatus, the exiled generals say.

"Qusay still takes orders from Saddam. But Saddam will be trusting few
people to see him or know where he is during the war," said Lieutenant
General Saad al-Obeidi, who was involved in Iraq's psychological warfare in
the 1980's.

"It will be almost exclusively Qusay, although he does not have any military
experience really," Obeidi said.

Saddam, his former aides say, has divided Iraq into three sectors - the
north, centre and south - with commanders for each sector delegated almost
total power during hostilities.

They say they have found out the identity of only the southern commander so
far - Saddam's cousin Ali al-Majeed, known as Ali Chemical for leading Iraqi
troops that smashed a 1988 Kurdish uprising in the north using chemical

by David Owen
The Guardian, 4th February

It is deeply troubling that there is not greater public support for George
Bush and Tony Blair's readiness to enforce the existing UN resolutions which
cover the dismantling of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In part this
is because there are unlikely to be any new discoveries by the UN inspectors
such as we saw after six years of looking in 1998. A deeper reason is the
growing public awareness of the highly manipulative and dubiously covert way
in which western governments have handled Saddam Hussein for the past 22

To win over public opinion there has to be recognition of past errors,
otherwise cynicism will prevail. In truth this war, if it comes, will be
about asserting the authority of the UN charter, as part of the 1991
ceasefire after the Iraqi forces had been pushed out of Kuwait. It was the
UN which ruled that Iraqi chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well
as missiles, had to be destroyed. The sombre alternative to Saddam Hussein
being seen to have triumphed is we ensure there is no chance of peace in the
Middle East.

The fact that the US is ready to mount another military invasion, risk
American lives and incur formidable costs, is solely due to what happened in
New York and Washington on September 11 2001. After Afghanistan, containing
Islamic fundamentalist terrorism requires peace in the Middle East. The
status quo in Iraq is neither stable in geopolitical terms nor acceptable on
humanitarian grounds. We have another chance after 12 years' failed
containment to prevent Iraq becoming a nuclear weapon state and the
opportunity to rethink many of the policies that have kept the Middle East
in a state of permanent tension with frequent wars.

The first example of new wisdom is that the western democracies are no
longer ignoring the Kurdish problem. British foreign policy has a dismal
record since 1923 of believing that Iraq needs to suppress the Kurds to
maintain the stability of the country and the region. This has to change and
there are hopeful signs that the US negotiations are close to a solution
based on full autonomy for the Kurdish people within Iraq and in a way that
helps Turkey and Iran resolve their differences with their own Kurdish

If honestly accepted by all the Kurds, this would be the essential building
block for any post-war settlement in Iraq. It could help if the western
democracies admitted to only feeble protests when Saddam Hussein used gas in
March 1988 to kill over 5,000 Kurds in Halabja.

In dealing with Iran, the western democracies need to acknowledge that by
ignoring Saddam Hussein's flagrant breach of international law in September
1980 when he invaded Iran and then used gas warfare on the Iranians, we fed
his megalomania. Sustaining Iraq through the eight-year Iran-Iraq war with
information and arms was tempting, given that the Iranian revolution under
Ayatollah Khomeini saw the taking of US diplomats as hostages and flagrant
abuses of human rights. We hoped the Iranian revolutionary zeal would be
burned out in a regional war, but it put the west on the wrong side of
international law, it encouraged Saddam Hussein to believe he could invade
Kuwait and it fostered justified bitterness inside Iran.

The Iranian people may well over the next few years assert more forcibly
their support for modernisation in their own country. They are more likely
to challenge the rule of the ayatollahs if they are confident that any
consequential instability in their own country will not be exploited by the
western democracies. It is true that Iran is supporting international
terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction, but even the US cannot
take on both Iraq and Iran simultaneously.

Saudi Arabia would have no need for American troops on its territory once
there is a new government in Baghdad and this would remove al-Qaida's main
propaganda weapon.

As for Israel, the removal of Iraqi missiles which landed on their territory
during the Gulf war would make it easier to reach a permanent settlement. It
is essential that President Bush promises to follow in his father's
footsteps and reinvigorate the Middle East peace process as happened in
Madrid in 1991. It was never credible that Bush would do this before having
dealt with Iraq for he needs to be able to restrain Ariel Sharon. But after
any intervention there has to be pressure on Sharon to withdraw from most
settlements in the West Bank.

It would help negotiations if we all admitted to Israel that we were wrong
to have condemned its government for the bombing of Iraq's French-built
nuclear reactor in June 1981.

Had that action not been taken it is virtually certain that Iraq by now
would be a nuclear weapon state and quite possibly before their 1990
invasion of Kuwait. France was within weeks of supplying uranium to the
reactor. If the reactor had gone critical, any future bombing would have
risked radiation clouds over Baghdad.

Jordan also holds the key to creating stabilising links to Palestine on the
West Bank. A country in which over 80% are Palestinians is being skilfully
led by King Abdullah. Indeed, Jordan could become the first truly democratic
Arab state with the king becoming a constitutional monarch while perhaps
holding special powers over the army. Iraq and Palestine could follow.

While there are grave risks involved in once more going to war with Iraq,
they weigh less heavily in the balance against the enormous opportunities
for peace and stability which the aftermath of any successful war offers in
the Middle East. To maximise those opportunities, George Bush and Tony Blair
must not seek to profit at the expense of France and Russia, either
politically or commercially over Iraqi oil, simply because they have not
been prepared to fully participate either in the containment of Saddam
Hussein or his defeat. Probably neither country will veto another security
council resolution.

President Putin is pragmatically moving towards the US position but is
unlikely to participate militarily. President Chirac will keep his options
open. As for Chancellor Schröder, he has locked Germany into not
participating even if the UN supports action. We will need the help of the
EU as well as Islamic countries in the post-war period and fortunately many
are privately supportive.

Iraq has demonstrated to the UK what we should have learned over the
premature recognition of Croatia: that we cannot accept in the EU any system
where we can be outvoted in the common foreign and security policy. Issues
of peace and war are for each individual nation to debate and decide.

by Tim Ripley
The Scotsman, 4th February

THE scale of the operation will tax military planners to the limit of their
abilities; how can the UK sustain up to 20,000 troops in Iraq for three
years, or perhaps even longer?

The Scotsman learned yesterday that this is the task at hand, and that
British experts are already drawing up proposals for a long stay in Iraq as
part of a US-led peacekeeping force after the fall of Saddam Hussein¹s

A Ministry of Defence source put it bluntly: "We¹ve been told to work on the
assumption that we will have to keep troops there for at least three years
and possibly longer."

The news comes in the wake of the Prime Minister¹s visit to Washington to
confirm the US UK war plan with President George Bush.

Sources in the Prime Minister¹s entourage suggested that Tony Blair was
pushing for a "Kosovo-style" solution in which Iraq would be run by a United
Nations civil administration, under the protection of an international
military force.

The tasks of the US and UK troops would be to help with an international aid
effort, and to stop rival Iraqi factions starting a civil war or trying to
form breakaway states in Kurdistan or the predominately Shiite south.

As the largest contributor of troops, the US is expected to take the lead
and British forces would be assigned specific "sectors" or "operational
areas" to patrol.

"The Americans are keen not to repeat the mistakes of Afghanistan where the
peacekeeping force was only based in Kabul," said a military source. "They
want to put troops in every major city and town from the very start to keep
a lid on things."

The composition of the peacekeeping force is still being decided, as well as
the command control arrangements. It is likely to be based on the invasion
force currently being assembled in Kuwait under US-leadership.

At first it was thought General Tommy Franks, the leading US commander in
the Middle East, would be in charge. Now it seems likely that Lieutenant
General David McKiernan, the commander of the US Third Army, will be in
overall charge.

The occupation force and the British armoured division, led by Major General
Robin Brims, is expected to be given control of a sector of Baghdad. It is
top-heavy with infantry units to allow it to mount intensive patrols in
urban areas.

The Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade, under Brigadier James Dutton, will
work with the US marine corps sector in the south of Iraq, centred on the
port city of Basra. Here, the US marine corps¹ Lieutenant General James
Conway will have the job of securing Iraq¹s major oil fields and containing
the predominately pro-Iranian Shiite population.

A key factor in the size of the British force will be the willingness of
other NATO countries to contribute troops. The scale of the operation could
require between 10,000 and 20,000 troops to remain in Iraq for three years
and this is taxing Ministry of Defence planners.

The ministry is looking for the first wave of troops being deployed to stay
for eight months and then, if the operation progresses successfully, the 4th
Armoured Brigade from Germany and another UK-based brigade will take over,
but it is unclear how long they will have to stay. "In the past we¹ve
rotated troops on peacekeeping missions on six-month tours," said a source.
"We just don¹t have the troops to do that in Iraq, so we could have to look
to permanently base them in the Middle East for long periods."

The Ministry of Defence has dramatically scaled back its deployments in the
Balkans and Africa over the past year, with the British Army due to pull its
2,000-strong contingent out of Kosovo by the end of April. There are also
plans to dramatically slim down the number of troops in Northern Ireland.
Even with these troops the pressure on the 100,000-strong regular army is
likely to be immense and more Territorial Army members could be called up.
Some 6,000 army reservists have been issued call-up papers and the army is
ordering them to don uniform for a full year.

For previous peacekeeping missions, they have only been asked to serve for a
few months at a time, providing a further indication that the Ministry of
Defence is looking to sustain forces in Iraq in the long term.

Keith Hartley, professor of economics at York University and an expert in
the cost of military operations, has estimated the cost of any war with Iraq
at £3.5 billion - but the cost of any long-term peacekeeping missions would
be on top of this, pushing the figure up dramatically.

At the height of the Balkan peacekeeping mission, it cost some £100 million
a year to keep 5,000 troops in Kosovo, meaning any Iraqi operation would be
considerably more expensive. The US has been working on plans for the
military occupation of Iraq since last summer, when the Bush administration
started talking about appointing a military governor to rule Iraq after the
fall of Saddam.

Dubbed the MacArthur model, after the US general who ruled Japan after the
Second World War, the idea was adopted after the White House became
exasperated over whether feuding rebels would ever move against Saddam.

The hawkish US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has ordered detailed
planning for the occupation and set up an office in the Pentagon to oversee
the sensitive task.

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