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News, 29/01-05/02/03 (6) IMPLICATIONS OF WAR * 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 http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,885075,00.html * THE RECOLONISATION OF IRAQ CANNOT BE SOLD AS LIBERATION 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. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/30_01_03_c.htm * IRAQIS WANT TO BE RID OF SADDAM 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 behalf. 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 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2003%2F01%2F31%2Fwa lly131.xml * BLAIR BACKS KOSOVO-UN MODEL TO RULE AFTER SADDAM 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 War. 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. [.....] http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/31_01_03_b.htm * IMPERIAL AMERICA IS ABOUT TO STRIKE 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 calculations. 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 http://observer.co.uk/comment/story/0,6903,887184,00.html * WHY THE LEFT IS WRONG ON SADDAM 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 nothing. 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 'left-wingers'. 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 people. 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. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=76094 * SADDAM 'PLANS TO USE UN STAFF AS HOSTAGES' 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 government. 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 targets. 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. http://www.washtimes.com/world/20030131-27320419.htm January 31, 2003 * BUSH APPROVES NUCLEAR RESPONSE 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 weapons. "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 "nuclear." "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 destruction]." 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 ally. 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 capabilities. 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." http://www.time.com/time/europe/magazine/article/0,13005,901030210 418550,00.html * GROUNDED BY WAR? 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 Donnelly/Washington http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2717939.stm * UK RESTATES NUCLEAR THREAT 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 conditions". 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." [.....] (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=374839 ) * IRAQI WATER AND SANITATION SYSTEMS COULD BE MILITARY TARGET, SAYS MOD 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 use". 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". http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/02/03/1044122320739.html * US CHOOSES SADDAM'S SUCCESSOR 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. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/03_02_03/art11.asp * ONLY JUSTICE CAN BRING PEACE TO MIDDLE EAST CONFLICTS 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 tried.² 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 added. 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 http://www.dawn.com/2003/02/04/int2.htm * IRAQ'S 'GHOST' TROOPS READY FOR WAR: EXILES 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 underground. 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 weapons. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,888303,00.html * WAGE WAR IN IRAQ FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST 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 years. 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 minorities. 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. http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=137472003 * PEACE WILL COST MORE THAN WAR 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 regime. 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. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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