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[casi] News, 05-12/02/03 (7)

News, 05-12/02/03 (7)


*  Iraqi Opposition Says War Is Inevitable
*  Iraqi Exiles Seek U.S. Army Training
*  Envoy's Effort to Recruit Iraqi Exile for Possible Future Government
Sparks Protests
*  Potential Saddam Replacement Owes Money
*  Plan would see U.S. rule postwar Iraq


*  Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical On Mideast Policy
*  Schwarzkopf turns on need for force against Saddam
*  US will aid Iraq 'even if Saddam has fled without fighting'


*  The Saddam branch of Islam


*  Blix Holds Out Hope for Iraq Cooperation
*  U.S. Hits Missile Launcher in S. Iraq


by Scheherezade Faramarzi
Las Vegas Sun, 10th February

LONDON (AP) - European efforts to prevent war in Iraq have upset many Iraqi
exiles anxious for the end of Saddam Hussein's rule. Still, key opposition
figures believe the 11th hour effort will fail and that Saddam's days are

"I cannot understand their position," Ahmad Barmani, a representative of the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Paris, said of French, German and Russian
calls for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. "They want to let Saddam stay
in power."

France, Russia and Germany issued a joint declaration Monday calling for
strengthened U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq to disarm Saddam without
firing a shot.

The proposal has heightened tensions between the European allies, who are
resisting military action, and the United States, which says Saddam is
almost out of time and must be disarmed.

Sabah Mukhtar, an Iraqi lawyer and former legal adviser to the Iraqi
National Oil Company, said the Americans, Saddam and the Europeans are
"playing a political game."

"They are waiting to see who is going to blink first," Mukhtar said.

The French, Germans and others want the inspectors to be given more time to
verify that Iraq has destroyed chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as
it is required to do under resolutions dating from the 1991 Gulf War.

If that approach works, however, it could still leave Saddam in power -
something that the opposition opposes.

"Unfortunately the position of some of the European countries gives the
impression to the Iraqi people that these countries are trying to prevent
Saddam from being overthrown," Barmani said.

Nevertheless, Barmani said he believes that war "is inevitable."

"It's too late for Germany, France and Russia to stop the American machinery
of war," he said.

U.S. officials have rejected the French-German plans and U.S. Secretary of
State Colin Powell called them "a diversion" from efforts to make Iraq
comply with U.N. weapons inspectors.

Barmani and other opposition figures like Nabil Musawi, the spokesman of the
opposition Iraqi National Congress in London, said eliminating Saddam's
weapons of mass destruction was not the Iraqi opposition's top priority.

The Iraqi people, they said, were more concerned with overthrowing Saddam
because of his repressive regime.

Musawi accused French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder of failing to condemn Saddam's human rights record, and said
Saddam should be overthrown and stand trial for crimes against humanity.

"This matter of weapons of mass destruction is not important to the Iraqi
people," said Barmani, a Kurd. Thousands of Kurds were killed in chemical
attacks in 1988 by Saddam's troops.

Six major opposition groups formed a 65-member steering committee during a
conference in London last month to formulate policies and facilitate
communication between Iraqi dissidents and the international community.

The opposition hopes the committee will form the core of a transitional
government if the United States topples the Iraqi regime.

by Scheherezade Faramarzi
Las Vegas Sun, 10th February

LONDON (AP) - Fadhel Kalf has volunteered to receive training by the U.S.
Army so that he can help get rid of Saddam Hussein, who he claims executed
two of his brothers. But he is torn between the urge to avenge his brothers'
deaths and a nagging distrust of the United States.

Kalf, 30, was among thousands of Iraqi Shiite Muslims and Kurds who - after
Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War in 1991 - heeded a call by then President
George Bush to rise up against Saddam. But American forces failed to prevent
Saddam from crushing the rebellion, that led to the death of thousands of

"To be honest, we don't trust the Americans," said Kalf, a Shiite and father
of two who manages a supermarket in London. "They let Saddam use helicopters
against the rebels. Of course we don't trust them."

But then, this might be a chance of a lifetime to have a regime change in

"I feel it's time for revenge against Saddam and all his people. If I had
the opportunity, I would shoot him. There's so much anger built inside me. I
haven't got any forgiveness for him or any of his men," said Kalf, who was
shot in the shoulder in the uprising.

He has applied for the two-session courses - in self defense, the use of
small arms, first aid, land mine detection, the Geneva Conventions, and
other subjects - that the U.S. Army is offering exiled Iraqi opposition
groups around the world.

The Americans began training a few dozen volunteers living  in North America
on Monday in Taszar air base, 120 miles southwest of Budapest, under heavy
security. The call-up of recruits kicked off the largest known U.S. effort
to train Saddam's enemies since passage of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act,
which called for his overthrow and authorized $97 million to train and equip
his opponents.

The Hungarian government has authorized the United States to bring 1,500
trainers and up to 3,000 volunteers for the training sessions, provided it
is not combat.

"I need somebody to trust and make sure they will not stab me in the back
again," said Kalf. "There's still something inside me, anxiety, that the
Americans will let us down, like they did in '91. I want to make sure I am
doing the right thing so I don't regret it later."

Many Iraqi exiles opposed to Saddam are concerned that a war may not be the
best way of removing Saddam. Kalf is worried that a war would result in the
death of many of innocent people - including soldiers who would be forced to
fight - and the destruction of his country.

He says he would be uncomfortable to be helping American troops if U.S.
planes bomb civilian installations, bridges, factories or even military

"I only want them to kill Saddam. I don't want anything to get hurt there,
not even the trees," said Kalf, who said he had not made up his mind whether
to participate in the training courses if he is accepted.

However, he is not worried about America's motives for going to war. He
doesn't believe the aim is to install a democratic regime. "It's only for
oil and because Saddam is a threat," he said.

But that doesn't bother him. "The Americans can have our oil, as long as
they get rid of Saddam. We never benefited from the oil anyway."

In contrast, Raad, 45, has put all his trust in the United States in its
drive to oust Saddam and believes human loss in a U.S.-led war would be

Although he barely speaks English, Raad, who asked that his last name not be
used, said he would act as a translator for American troops in Iraq.

"It's shameful that the Americans would be rescuing my country and I would
be sitting in Edgware Road (in London) doing nothing," Raad said. "I should
be the first one to go in, before the Americans."

"We will be trained on how to enter Iraq, how to organize people to rebel
against Saddam and to change the regime," Raad said, apparently unclear of
what exactly his duties would be.

He said when American troops invade Iraq, thousands of people will
surrender. It will be the volunteers' job to organize the masses. They will
also have to protect government installations and buildings, such as
municipalities, police stations and banks.

Ammar, a 32-year-old computer engineer who did not wish that his surname be
used, has also filled out an application form for training in Hungary -
where applicants are rigorously screened to exclude possible "undesirables."

"My job will be to explain to people that the Americans are there for their
good and that they will not betray them this time," said Ammar.

by Judith Miller
New York Times, 11th February

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10  President Bush's special envoy to the Iraqi opposition
is quietly trying to recruit a former senior Iraqi official to help provide
a transition to democracy in the event that Saddam Hussein is ousted,
administration officials said today.

But the effort by Zalmay Khalilzad, the White House envoy, to woo Adnan
Pachachi, an octogenarian exile who once served as a foreign minister and
ambassador to the United Nations for Iraq, has sparked opposition within the
administration and among other Iraqi exiles.

Mr. Pachachi declared publicly in 1961 that Kuwait was part of Iraq and had
no right to exist independently, a statement he renounced in 1999.

Laith Kubba, another exile and a researcher at the Washington-based National
Endowment for Democracy, defended Mr. Pachachi, calling him a "voice of
authority and wisdom" and saying that "he must be allowed to play a role."

Mr. Khalilzad recently traveled to the United Arab Emirates to recruit Mr.
Pachachi. But officials said that several Pentagon officials and Iraq
experts had warned Mr. Khalilzad that the effort at this late stage would
backfire politically and could alienate Kuwait, an essential base of
operations in any gulf war.

"The outreach to Mr. Pachachi, a once ardent Arab nationalist and Sunni
Muslim, the minority branch of Islam in Iraq, suggests that the United
States is mainly interested in perpetuating the status quo in a post-Saddam
Iraq, and not in promoting democracy," an administration official said.

Danielle Pletka, a vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, a
Washington-based research center, called the effort "very disappointing."

"Pachachi was the first person that the administration tried to cultivate as
an alternative to Ahmad Chalabi and to other Iraqi exiles who have been
working for over a decade to oust Saddam," she said. Mr. Chalabi is the
secular, Shiite leader of the Iraqi National Congress, the opposition
umbrella group that the administration officially supports.

Officials said Mr. Khalilzad was scheduled to meet Mr. Pachachi on Tuesday.
Mr. Khalilzad's office said he could not be reached because he was
traveling, and he did not respond to questions e-mailed to him about the
diplomatic flap.

Several officials said that at the Pentagon in particular, objections had
been raised to the recruitment of Mr. Pachachi in meetings with Mr.
Khalilzad and with State Department officials. The State Department and the
Central Intelligence Agency are known to have strong reservations about Mr.
Chalabi's leadership of the Iraqi National Congress. They complain that he
has little support inside Iraq and doubt that he is a commanding enough
figure to lead a transition to democracy.

Both the State Department and the C.I.A. have sought to broaden the Iraqi
opposition, apparently in the hope of finding someone who could serve the
role that President Hamid Karzai has played in Afghanistan. Mr. Khalilzad
has worked to include what some officials denigrate as "Sunni establishment"
figures in a consultative council that Mr. Khalilzad is trying to create.

Ms. Pletka, other Iraq experts and several Administration officials said
recruiting Mr. Pachachi also raised questions about whether plans for a
post-Hussein leadership were falling behind plans for a war.

Francis Brooke, the Iraqi National Congress's longstanding Washington
adviser, said that the I.N.C. was still barred from spending American money
to foment opposition to the Hussein government inside Iraq, and that a
shortage of funds had forced the umbrella group to shut down its radio and
television stations in northern Iraq. Mr. Brooke said his group had received
no money for such activities since July.

"The lack of planning for a post-Saddam Iraq shows confusion that is very
troubling," he said. "And in some minds it calls into question the U.S.
commitment to a united, democratic opposition."

Mr. Chalabi is in northern Iraq, meeting with Kurdish leaders and other
opposition figures and trying to organize a meeting of dissidents there. The
meeting, which has repeatedly been postponed, is now scheduled for Saturday,
though some dissidents said it could be deferred again.

Meanwhile, Mr. Khalilzad has been trying to organize yet another meeting of
exiles in London this week, leading some Iraqi dissidents to question
whether the administration is trying to prevent the I.N.C. from gathering
because it fears that Mr. Chalabi and the Kurdish leaders might try to form
a government-in-exile at their meeting.

The Bush administration has decided against promoting the formation of such
a government in exile, a decision that some Iraq experts have praised.

"Washington can't anoint a group of exiles and tell the Iraqi people: here
they are, meet your new leaders, and have Iraqis find people they don't know
and don't like," said Ken Pollack, a former White House Middle East expert
in the Clinton administration. "That would make us look like a colonial

But Mr. Chalabi and Kurdish leaders have repeatedly said they did not want
to form a government in exile. They have said they would rather establish a
coordinating committee that would work with other exiles and Iraqis, once
they were liberated, to build a democratic government in Baghdad.

by Borzou Daragahi
Las Vegas Sun, 11th February

SALAHUDDIN, Iraq (AP): Kurds working in this mountaintop town are reluctant
to support the man often mentioned as a successor to Saddam Hussein for one
simple reason: They say he owes them money.

Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, has returned from
exile to Kurdish controlled northern Iraq ahead of a potential U.S.-led
military attack - only to face hundreds of lawsuits for unpaid debts from
the group's last guerrilla campaign in the 1990s.

"He was here for a while and he owes a lot of people a lot of money," said
Khaled Ismail Amad, a former driver for the congress who says he's owed

The absence of a clear, universally accepted alternative to Saddam has
complicated efforts to devise a plan for how to govern Iraq after a regime
change in Baghdad.

Although Chalabi enjoys support in the U.S. Congress, his relations with
successive American administrations have been rockier, reflecting doubts,
especially in the U.S. State Department, about his effectiveness as a
national leader.

Most of the cases against Chalabi are pending at a court in Irbil, 25 miles
southwest of Salahuddin, according to government officials and Govand Baban,
an attorney who filed most of the cases. Baban estimated the total damages
at about $6 million.

Zaab Sethna, a spokesman for Chalabi, rejected the charges and said the
congress has paid all of its debts.

"The cases are without merit, and we have documents to prove it," he said.
"We have signed receipts, and all outstanding bills and invoices are

Those who claim Chalabi owes them money also say they have documents. Salem
Pirma, a gas station owner, says Chalabi's group owes his family $4,625 for
oil and gasoline.

"At first they paid and they were good customers," he said. "Then they
stopped paying."

The Salahuddin court cases are not the first time Chalabi has faced an
accusation of financial impropriety. Both the State Department and the CIA
have questioned the congress' accounting practices.

In Amman, Jordan, Chalabi was sentenced in absentia to 22 years of hard
labor after a bank he ran collapsed in 1990 with about $300 million in
missing deposits. Chalabi left the country before the case went to trial.

Sethna said that case came about on Saddam's orders to the late King
Hussein. "King Hussein ... apologized to Dr. Chalabi," he said. "He said it
was a big mistake."

Sethna says all the financial accusations against Chalabi are politically
inspired. "It's a constant thing that people try to use these allegations of
misconduct rather than argue against someone's political views," he said.

But almost all those making claims against Chalabi say they admired him and
his views.

Baban, a well-to-do lawyer who sports a garish blue-green felt sports jacket
and a bright yellow and blue tie, calls himself an Iraqi and Kurdish
patriot. He's legal consultant for the weekly Hawlati, an independent and
lively newspaper.

Baban suggested Chalabi's conduct was unbecoming of a future leader of Iraq.

"The person who will be the leader of Iraq has to have ethics," he says.
"Ahmad Chalabi's group abused people."

Chalabi crossed the Iranian border last week and came to this city for the
first time since 1996, when the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party permitted
Baghdad's forces to enter the region and drive out their rivals, the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. In the process, Saddam attacked the Iraqi
National Congress, and sent its forces scurrying into exile.

At its peak, the congress had a headquarters, a radio station and a small
army based in northern Iraq, and the CIA poured millions of dollars to
finance its activities. But a March 1995 congress-led offensive to overthrow
Saddam was crushed by the Iraqi army and led to hundreds of deaths.

Chalabi blamed the CIA for pulling air support. Amid the anti-Saddam
activities, a civil war erupted between the two main Kurdish parties.

The United States - which had kept a significant intelligence and military
presence in the autonomous Kurdish area established following the 1991 Gulf
War - pulled up stakes and left.

Chalabi did too. Except for a brief visit in 1998, he stayed off Iraqi soil
for seven years.

"It's not like we could come back and address these issues," said Sethna,
who is traveling with Chalabi and a group of other prominent Iraqi political

But while the rival Kurdish factions appear to have laid aside their
differences ahead of a planned opposition meeting, the drivers, guards,
shopkeepers and gas stations owners who say Chalabi owes them money said his
visit reawakened their bitterness.

"They kept saying not today, tomorrow. Not tomorrow, the day after
tomorrow," said Hadisham Sadine Navkorky, a former guard for the congress
who says he's owed $2,250. "If he were an honorable person, he would pay

Sethna blames the lawsuits partly on the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which
"riled up" sentiment against the congress after the group's departure. When
the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the congress had friendly relations,
there were numerous joint projects. "The KDP passed off the expenses on us
after we left," he said.

Amad, the driver to whom the congress allegedly owes money, concedes his
debt of $6,250 is relatively small. But he said so much money means a lot to
an average Kurd, who makes about $60 a month. He had to sell his truck and
is now relegated to peddling fruit on the street.

"I have gone into debt because of him," he said. "It turned my life inside

by Stephanie Nolen
Globe and Mail, 12th February

Sulaymaniyah, Iraq  The United States intends to rule postwar Iraq through
an American military governor, supported by an Iraqi consultative council
appointed by Washington, Iraqi opposition leaders gathered in this northern
Kurdish city said Tuesday.

They learned of the plan for a post-Saddam Hussein state when delegates from
three key Iraqi opposition groups met with senior U.S. envoy Zalmay
Khalilzad in Ankara over the weekend. In interviews, the leaders said the
provisional plan calls for an American appointed council to draft a new
constitution for Iraq and hold national elections for an assembly that
eventually would assume power.

They believe the U.S. plan is driven by fears of future sectarian and ethnic
fighting in Iraq, and the likelihood of a majority Shia regime emerging from
current opposition forces and unsettling the balance of power in the Middle

"This is a victory for the forces in the U.S. administration that deeply
distrust the Iraqi opposition and who imagine  wrongly, I think  that
there are forces that they can rely on to build a democracy in Saddam
Hussein-controlled Iraq," said Kanan Makiya, one of three opposition members
who met with U.S. President George W. Bush last month.

"They have come to the arrogant conclusion: 'Why piss around with the
opposition? Why not do this in a way the Arab regimes will be much happier

The prime minister of a Kurdish autonomous zone, Barham Salih, also knew of
the plan, and said his group and others would have to accept it because U.S.
forces will be doing the "heavy lifting" in any war against Mr. Hussein's

"We cannot get rid of Saddam ourselves," Mr. Salih, head of the Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan, said in an interview.

Senior U.S. officials confirmed Tuesday that an interim administration is
being planned for Iraq, and could be in place for years.

Marc Grossman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, told the
Senate foreign relations committee that a U.S. military occupation could
last "two years" and would involve American control over civilian ministries
and the Iraqi oil industry. He played down any hope for the Iraqi opposition
playing a major role.

"While we are listening to what the Iraqis are telling us, the United States
government will make its decisions based on what is in the national interest
of the United States," Mr. Grossman said.

"There are enormous uncertainties," said Douglas Feith, U.S. undersecretary
of defence. "The most you can do in planning is develop concepts."

Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the opposition Iraqi National Congress, said in an
interview in northern Iraq that the U.S. plan presented at the Ankara
meeting consists of five points:

 a military governor;

 a consultative council with "unspecified duties, none of them probably
executive, who will work at the pleasure of the governor;"

 a judicial council, which will draft a temporary constitution;

 the replacement of each current minister and deputy minister in Iraq's
government with U.S. military officers;

 an election within a year for a constituent assembly, which would draft
and approve a permanent constitution.

"To be kind, it is unworkable," Mr. Chalabi said.

Security analysts believe there are differing plans for Iraq's future
stemming from a long-time struggle between the Pentagon, U.S. State
Department and Central Intelligence Agency. The Pentagon has pushed for
civilian rule, fearing its troops and officers would be bogged down for
years running the country. The CIA and State Department have tended to
favour military leadership for Iraq, fearing a swift change to democracy
could lead to a breakup of the country and instability across the region.

Opposition leaders inside Iraq believe Washington has crafted a military
plan to placate Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt, whose leaders are known to
fear the idea of a new federal democracy in Iraq. All Sunni-majority states,
they likely want to see the existing power structure in Iraq left in place,
allowing Sunni Muslims to exert control over a country that is an estimated
65-per-cent Shiite.

Another factor is the Turkish military, which fears any surge in Kurdish
influence in Iraq might spill into neighbouring Turkey, where a Kurdish
minority has long felt repressed.

"They see some sort of Shiite/Kurdish cabal," Mr. Makiya said of U.S.

Much of the focus is now turning to Iraq's exiled Shia leader, Ayatollah
Mohammed Baqir Hakim, who is widely seen as a critical figure in any
post-Saddam Iraq. The ayatollah is backed by Iran and would form a
considerable threat to the neighbouring Sunni regimes, as well as to
American interests, if he returned to Iraq.

"He will run in the election on an antioccupation platform," Mr. Makiya
predicted, raising the prospect of other repercussions from the U.S. plan 
especially the risk to American officials installed in any positions in
Iraq's major cities.

"I warned against this time and time again: for the sake of your long-term
relations with Iraq, don't go in there and patrol those cities. Let Iraqis
make these mistakes," he said.

Among many options, the plan presented at Ankara would see U.S. troops
protecting key figures from the ruling Ba'ath party as part of an amnesty
deal that would secure a role for Sunni officials in any future

"Power is being handed essentially on a silver platter to the second echelon
of the Ba'ath party and the officer corps," Mr. Makiya said.

The fractious Iraqi opposition has for more than a month been slated to meet
in northern Iraq to agree on some sort of transitional government. That
meeting has been repeatedly delayed, allegedly for security reasons. Leaders
now say it will take place on Saturday, a day after United Nations weapons
inspectors are scheduled to present a critical report to the UN Security

Opposition groups so far have been careful not to upset U.S. plans. At a
meeting in London in December, 65 key opposition members agreed to pursue a
democratic, federal system that would allow for all minority groups to be
represented. They suggested they would be joined in a provisional government
by an equal number of opposition figures from within Iraq.

Mr. Makiya said there was no hint of American opposition to such plans when
he went to the White House in the first week of January.


by Robert G. Kaiser
Washington Post, 9th February


Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a leading figure in Jewish-Evangelical Christian
relations for two decades, offered a more sympathetic description of Bush's
alignment with Israel and Sharon. "President Bush's policy stems from his
core as a Christian, his perceptions of right and wrong, good and evil, and
of the need to stand up and fight against evil," Eckstein said. "I
personally believe it is very personal, not a political maneuver on his

Politics have played a role, several sources said. Gary Bauer, an
evangelical Christian activist and Republican presidential candidate in
2000, said that he and like-minded evangelicals have campaigned vigorously
in support of Israel and Sharon's tough policies. "I think we've had some
impact," Bauer said.

Another conservative Republican with Christian ties who has made Israel a
cause is House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). Last April, speaking to a
Jewish group in Washington, DeLay called Israel "the lone fountain of
liberty" in the Middle East, and endorsed Israeli retention of the occupied
territories. He referred to West Bank by the biblical names, Judea and
Samaria, which are often used by Israelis who consider them part of Israel.

The Rev. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention said the White
House and its political director, Karl Rove, know "how critical
[evangelical] support is to them and their party," and know how strongly
evangelicals support Israel. "We need to bless Israel more than America
needs Israel's blessing," Land said, "because Israel has a far greater ally
than the United States of America, God Almighty."

"This is not your daddy's Republican Party," said James Zogby, president of
the Arab American Institute in Washington, who argues the administration is
losing its ability to act as an honest broker in the Middle East by lining
up with Israel. "There's a marriage here between the religious right and the
neoconservatives," he said, referring to intellectual hard liners such as
Abrams and Perle, both of whom worked for Democrats before joining the
Reagan administration.


by Ellen Sorokin
Washington Times, 10th February

Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who led U.S. military forces in the 1991
Persian Gulf war, yesterday reversed his reluctance to use military force
against Iraq, saying Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein should be disarmed.

Gen. Schwarzkopf said he changed his mind after hearing Secretary of State
Colin L. Powell's presentation before the United Nations Security Council
last week.

"I found it very compelling, and I found it a very, very good rationale,"
Gen. Schwarzkopf said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Two weeks ago, Gen. Schwarzkopf said in an interview with The Washington
Post that he believed U.N. inspections were the proper course to follow
because he hadn't seen enough evidence to convince him a war was warranted.
He told The Post he was worried about the cockiness of the U.S. war plan and
by the potential human and financial costs of occupying Iraq.

Gen. Schwarzkopf also told The Post he believed Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld and his advisers lack much military experience themselves and
shouldn't disregard the Army's judgments on the issue.

Yesterday, Gen. Schwarzkopf said Mr. Rumsfeld should base military action on
sound military advice.

"It's very, very important that you use your military expertise, your
military planners, people who've been trained for this for years and years
and years; and use all of these capabilities and don't just run off on your
own," he said. "That's what concerned me."

Gen. Schwarzkopf said capturing Saddam would be the bottom line.

"Saddam Hussein is a monster," he said. "The mere thought of Saddam Hussein
with a nuclear, biological, chemical capability is frightening to me because
the difference between him and some of the other nuclear powers is the fact
that he'll use them, and that's what makes it scary."

But Gen. Schwarzkopf said he doesn't believe it's necessary for the U.S. to
use weapons of mass destruction against Saddam, even if the dictator uses
them against U.S. troops.

"I think that we are going to prevail, no matter what he uses," he said.
"Our troops know how to take care of themselves in that kind of chemical
environment. It's not easy ... But they know how to prevail in that

Gen. Schwarzkopf also said it's equally important for the United States to
catch terrorist Osama bin Laden, blamed for plotting the September 11
attacks on the U.S., if he still lives.

"It's necessary to bring him down, one way or the other," he said. "Someone
asked me, 'Can we forgive him?' and I said, 'Forgiveness is up to God. I
just hope we hurry up the meeting.' That's the way I feel about him,

by James Harding in New York
Financial Times, 10th February

The Bush administration yesterday said the US would expect to play a role in
stabilising Iraq and setting it on the path to democracy even if Saddam
Hussein and his entourage fled into exile.

Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said that even if the Iraqi
leader made a last minute decision to abandon Baghdad to save Iraq from war,
the "US has to remain committed" to creating a country that maintains its
territorial integrity, destroys its weapons of mass destruction and ends the
repression of its own people".

The comments from President George W. Bush's closest foreign policy aide
underline US determination to intervene in Iraq.

Adding to the sense in the US that military action is all but inevitable,
former US administration officials and military officers who have criticised
the White House over Iraq have begun to come on board.

Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton administration, said
yesterday she was still concerned the US was getting diverted from the war
on  terrorism, but said she would support the military in the Gulf.

Norman Schwartzkopf, the chief combatant commander in the 1991 Gulf war, who
just last month said the administration had not yet made a convincing case,
said he now supported its argument. The presentation made by Colin Powell,
secretary of state, to the UN Security Council last week was "compelling",
he  said.



by Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times, 8th February

BAGHDAD - Surprisingly, despite all the war talk, the past few years (and
months) have seen a boom in the construction industry in Baghdad. So much so
that the industry has, in fact, served as a significant source of earnings
for poor Iraqis. Most interestingly, perhaps, is the fact that the
construction of new mosques all over Baghdad has been the largest chunk of
this industry.

Over the past two years, in every part of Iraq, one can witness newly
constructed mosques and many more under construction. When this writer tried
to find out how many, he was told (on condition of anonymity by an Iraqi
official) that the phrase "how many" is prohibited in Iraq except on those
occasions when you're buying something in a shop. But even then you are only
permitted to ask the shopkeeper a simple variant: "How much?" A simple
visual inspection of the city, however, results in an estimation that within
the past year or so, about 30 new mosques have been built in every corner of
Baghdad, with at least 10 more under construction.

The anonymous official admitted that Saddam Hussein had started building
mosques after 1991 as part of a new posture in which he tried to add
"spiritual color" to the national fabric. This was the need of the hour,
when Saddam realized that the Cold War was over and that his nation needed a
new uniting ideology. What it got was the new Islamic crusader Saddam. There
were new television programs about Koranic recitations that began
broadcasting day and night. At Baghdad's large Saddam Hussein University,
courses in Islamic sciences were added. Saddam's newest portraits (which
permeate civic life here) now include "Saddam at prayer".

The Islam preached in Iraq today is certainly not the radical, political or
fundamentalist sort of the al-Qaeda variety. It is merely a new "addiction"
to lull the Iraqi people to sleep. In truth, like other Arab rulers, Saddam
also feels threatened by al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (the Muslim Brotherhood). All
publications written by al-Ikhwan are banned, and its leaders are still
discouraged from staying in Baghdad despite the fact that they supported
Iraq in 1991 and still support Iraq against the US.

Still, the Muslim Brotherhood does exist in Iraq, although its presence is
not strong or overt. Because of the threat it poses to the ruling regime, on
Saddam's special instructions mosques remain always closed except for one
hour before and one hour after each prayer time. This is in recognition that
mosques have historically served as the strongest breeding ground and
platform of Islamic fundamentalism.

These observations apart, Iraq has a centuries-old tradition of moderate
Islam and Islamic figures. It is the only land in the Arab world in which
the Muslim Brotherhood could not form an organizational structure. Syed
Ahmed Gillani is the descendant of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gillani, the founder
of the Qadri order of Sufi Islam (the order with the largest following among
Sufis, with about 80 million disciples all over the world).

A clean-shaven man attired in a three-piece Western suit, Gillani welcomed
this correspondent at his office in Baghdad recently. Gillani termed
al-Qaeda wrongdoers to the extent that they attack civilians. But he also
insisted that their stance against America is laudable simply because of US
aggressive designs in the Middle East.

Sufi Islam is divergent of the Salafi branch of Islam (the more radical
branch that includes Wahhabism). After September 11, the two branches
developed sympathies with each other, but they still have not abandoned
their ancient rivalries. "We are sympathetic with Osama [bin Laden] because
he is Muslim, but we do not agree with what he did in Tanzania, or other
places," Gillani said, referring to the 1998 attacks on US embassies in

When this reporter discussed the role of Salafis and al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun
in the Arab world, Gillani said, "They only preach extremism, and they have
only slogans to raise - not any serious program." But he added that "it is
only because of the suppression by the Egyptian government that sympathy has
been allowed to grow among Egyptians for the Muslim Brotherhood".

Similarly, Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab (founder of Wahhabism) was a
sincere Muslim, but he was strict and extremist in his teachings. He refused
even the taking of photographs of Islamic shrines, said Gillani. "However, I
do not say that Sheikh Wahhab preached something that was un-Islamic; I only
say that he was too harsh in his manners and teachings."

Syed Gillani is an ardent believer in Saddam, calling him a real hero of
Islam. "We do not want organizations such as al-Ikhwan in Iraq because our
leader Saddam has fully implemented Islamic rules in letter and spirit."

Unlike some versions of Salafism, the Saddam interpretation of Islam entails
a strict separation of church and state. It allows simple prayers within
mosques only during prayer times and promotes the hajj (pilgrimage to
Mecca), etc, but it leaves decisions regarding economics and politics to the
will of the rulers. It is quite contrary to the teachings of Salafis,
al-Ikhwan and al-Qaeda, which designate the mosque as the center of the
congregation and maintain a defiant posture on the superiority of Sharia
over man-made laws regarding social justice, economics and politics.


by Charles J. Hanley
Las Vegas Sun, 9th February


Meanwhile, coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone in southern Iraq
attacked an Iraqi military mobile command and control center near Al Kut,
about 95 miles southeast of Baghdad, U.S. Central Command said in a
statement. The facility's presence in the no-fly zone was a threat to
coalition aircraft, the statement said.


by Matt Kelley
Las Vegas Sun, 11th February

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. planes bombed a ballistic missile launcher in
southern Iraq on Tuesday, Pentagon officials said, in the first operation
against Iraqi weapons that are meant to hit ground targets instead of
aircraft or ships.

Eight American warplanes dropped a total of 16 bombs on the Iraqi missile
system near Basra at about 11 a.m. EST, Pentagon officials said, speaking on
condition of anonymity. A statement from U.S. Central Command said the
Iraqis had moved the mobile missile launching system into the southern
no-fly zone.

"Saddam Hussein put these systems in range of our troops and the people of
Kuwait, and under U.N. authority, we struck them," said Jim Wilkinson, a
Central Command spokesman.

The U.S. bombs struck an Iraqi Ababil-100 missile launcher, a command van
and resupply vehicles, senior defense officials said.

The Ababil is a solid-fueled missile developed after the 1991 Gulf War. Iraq
says it does not fly farther than the 93-mile limit on Iraqi missiles
imposed by United Nations sanctions. The United States and Britain say the
Ababil probably either has a longer range or could easily be modified to fly
farther. U.S. officials say the Ababil also can be used to carry chemical or
biological warheads.

Even under the U.N. limit, an Ababil missile fired from Basra could easily
reach Kuwait, where thousands of U.S. troops are massing in preparation for
a possible invasion of Iraq.

U.S. warplanes also attacked a mobile surface-to-air missile system near
Basra on Monday. Iraq claimed that strike killed two civilians. American
military officials say they go to great lengths to avoid hitting civilians
and say Iraq often lies about civilian casualties.

Tuesday was the 15th day this year that U.S. or coalition forces have struck
at targets inside Iraq's two no-fly zones. The airstrikes are meant to
retaliate against Iraqi attempts to shoot down coalition warplanes and to
soften up Iraqi defenses before a possible invasion.

Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, is about 245 miles southeast of Baghdad
in the southern no-fly zone set up by the United States to protect Iraq's
Shiite Muslims.

Iraq considers the zones over northern and southern Iraq to be violations of
its sovereignty and repeatedly tries to shoot down the U.S. and British
warplanes patrolling them. Iraq has not succeeded in downing a piloted plane
over either zone.

The United States also has dropped millions of leaflets in the southern
no-fly zone, warning soldiers not to repair damaged facilities and telling
Iraqis how to tune in to American military propaganda radio broadcasts.

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