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[casi] News, 19-26/02/03 (2)

News, 19-26/02/03 (2)


*  Bahrain peace delegation leaves for Iraq
*  Arab governments 'reserving their places' for after war in Gulf
*  7,500 students demonstrate in Egypt against Iraq war     
*  Fresh doubts cast on US case, but buildup to war continues
*  At the gates of heaven - or hell


*  Morality for sale: Building a coalition against Iraq is costly
*  A trigger for war? New axis of peace throws UN into chaos
*  Text: U.S.-British Draft Resolution Stating Position on Iraq
*  Text: Memorandum Opposing U.S. Iraq Policy
*  France and Germany Call for Long Inspections


by Shereen Bushehri
Gulf News, 20th February

Manama: A Bahraini peace delegation left for Iraq yesterday on a six-day
visit to express "solidarity" with the Iraqi people in the face of the
expected U.S.-led attack.

The 88 people, including lawyers, doctors and political activists,
representing 35 local political, professional and charity groups are
travelling by sea to Basra from where they will continue by bus to Baghdad,
the trip's organising committee head, Dr Hassan Al A'ali, said.

The trip, organised by the National Committee to Support the Iraqi People,
is aimed to "show the Iraqi people the support and the solidarity of the
Bahraini people against any possible aggression," he told Gulf News.

The group will pay a visit to children's hospitals and the Al Amiriya
shelter, bombed by coalition forces during the 1991 Gulf war.

"We will also go to locations where (U.S. Secretary of State) Colin Powell
said Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"The group will also participate in a demonstration at the UN office and
will organise a press conference."

The group also intends to visit religious places like Karbala and Najaf.
Sources in the committee said the delegation will also meet with Iraqi
officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

Dr. Al A'ali said the war against Iraq would bring destruction and havoc to
the whole region and not just Iraq.

Meanwhile, a Bahraini human rights group is collecting signatures to thank
Germany for its anti-war stance on Iraq.

The organisers of the campaign will present the list to the German embassy
here to express the "appreciation of the Bahraini people".

"In this difficult time, you have bravely and steadfastly stood up for what
you believe is right. You have tirelessly attended protest after protest and
your voices ring loud and clear in all parts of the world. You have already
changed the course of this war, and maybe even stopped it," says the letter,
prepared by the Bahrain Centre For Human Rights and addressed to "the people
and politicians of Germany".

"Your support has overwhelmed us," it adds. "As citizens of the world, Arabs
and non Arabs alike we thank you and raise our voices with yours against
this unjust war on the Iraqi people."

Germany and France have strongly expressed their opposition to the campaign
led by the U.S. and Britain to launch military action against Iraq over its
alleged weapons of mass destruction. The two European states argue the UN
weapons inspector currently working in Iraq should be given ample time to
finish their job.

Daily Star, Lebanon, 22nd February

As the US declares its forces ready to invade Iraq when they are given the
presidential order, the New York bureau chief of the Saudi-run pan-Arab
daily Al-Hayat judges that only Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's resignation
or removal from power can now prevent war.

"The war on Iraq will take place no matter how many millions of
demonstrators march on the world's streets, and whatever the outcome of the
standoff between France and the US at the UN Security Council," Raghida
Dergham writes. "This war will begin within four weeks at most and probably
earlier if France and Germany remain categorically opposed to another UN
Security Council resolution," she predicts. "The only remaining way of
sparing Iraq from war is for the Iraqi leadership to step down or President
Saddam Hussein to 'disappear' and his regime to collapse."

Dergham writes that Baghdad could "theoretically" avoid war if it were to
"discover" any remaining proscribed weapons or information about their
production, which may be in its possession, and present it to the UN. But in
practice, it is too late for the Iraqi leadership to do that. Having opted
for "piecemeal" cooperation with the UN arms inspectors, if it comes up with
new revelations now, they will be cited as fresh evidence that it cannot be
trusted. And if it doesn't, it will be accused of noncompliance through

She argues that at an earlier stage in the crisis, the Iraqi leadership
might have been able to save itself by "becoming a partner in regime change"
and overseeing a transition from one man rule to pluralism. "But the Iraqi
leadership proved incapable of transforming its mentality, thinking and
conduct in time, and its only option now if it wants to save Iraq from war
and destruction is that of relinquishing power with immunity, or
disappearing somewhere."

Dergham also says France is likely to give in to the US over Iraq, not least
because it "knows full well that there is no prospect of President George W.
Bush coexisting with Saddam Hussein." A new Security Council resolution
could provide it with a face-saving way of climbing down. It would present
Baghdad with an ultimatum to disarm by a mid-March deadline, thus "giving
Saddam a chance in order to hold him solely to blame" for the military blitz
that follows - which, moreover, would no longer be a unilateral US invasion,
but have the trappings of a UN-sanctioned operation.

If this were to happen, Dergham says, European public opinion might shift
from its anti-war stance, or at least resign itself to conflict "while
hoping that it is swift and clean."

Even if European opinion doesn't change, the Bush administration only really
cares about its American constituency, and it has no major problem winning
it over now. Besides, Americans traditionally line up behind their president
once the shooting starts. "The accounting and protesting comes later, and by
then, to the US administration's mind, the war's success in deposing Saddam
Hussein will earn it accolades. As for what happens the day after, that is
something the administration wants to avoid for now."

Al-Hayat's Waleed Shoucair suggests that uncertainties about the planned
war's aftermath, and not just disputes over what needs to be done to prevent
it, underlie the seemingly irreconcilable split in the Arab world over Iraq.

"The hawks in the Bush administration who planned this war, and are planning
its aftermath, have patent ideas about the Arab regimes and rulers they want
to target next, but they have no clear vision of the means by which they
could achieve their aims," he writes. "They are intent on experimenting,"
and while some of them concede that they don't know what to expect or do in
Iraq and the region "the day after" the war, they place their faith in the
overwhelming military and economic might of the US.

Shoucair writes that all the Arab countries "without exception" are set to
"pay the cost of the war - economically, politically, morally, culturally
and in security terms." Even those who think the war might serve their
interests because of their antipathy to Saddam Hussein's regime are highly
wary of the repercussions, which may well prove "costlier to them than the
status quo."

Yet it remains most unlikely that Arab leaders will be able to reconcile
their differences ahead of their proposed summit conference, according to

One camp - the Arab states that categorically oppose war - does so to enable
its members to resist its consequences, which go beyond Iraq and regime
change in Baghdad. They are seeking to "reserve a place for themselves in
the postwar period."

The rival camp advocates a "pragmatic" approach reflecting their close ties
with America and their concern to avoid angering it. These countries are
trying to "reserve a place for themselves in whatever Washington intends to
do in Iraq," hoping to be able to influence it and lessen the negative
fallout, he argues.

The row between Arab states over convening a summit on Iraq prompts Joseph
Samaha, editor in chief of the Beirut daily As-Safir, to remark that it was
to avoid quarrels like these that it was decided two years ago to make Arab
summits regular annual events rather than ad hoc affairs.

But this has evidently solved nothing. A dispute has arisen over whether to
convene an emergency summit, or stick to the regular summit, "and it may be
resolved by bringing forward the regular summit for emergency reasons," he

"But if it is so resolved, that raises more questions than it answers: Where
do the Arab states stand? How big is the gap between the declared and the
concealed? What commitments have been made to other parties? What steps
should be taken if agreement is reached on speaking in one voice? What would
be the consequences of clashing with one side or the other? What bearing
does last year's Beirut summit have?"

Moreover, given what happened at the Arab foreign ministers' meeting in
Cairo, could a summit produce a joint statement?

"Arab citizens know that their governments are at odds. They hear and read
that the outcome of any war will be anything between 'horrific' and
'catastrophic.' And they have learned by heart the mantra that their rulers
are powerless to block what America ordains," Samaha remarks. Nevertheless,
it would be preferable for a summit to be held than not.

"The coming weeks are fateful, and will place the current 'Arab order' on
the line," Samaha writes. "It seems clear that the 'Arab order' is going to
become even more dysfunctional. It may not hold together if some insist on
the logical call for war to be prevented. But it will certainly collapse if
the advocates of 'accommodating' America to the very end prevail."

In the pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, publisher and editor Abdelbari Atwan
suggests that if Arab leaders finally get round to meeting, "it could prove
to be the last Arab summit ever, or at least the last in which Iraq is not
represented by an American governor."

He says the failure of Egypt's effort to convene an emergency summit was due
to two things. First, the invitation was "not innocent." Second, "the
official Arab order is so confused and politically, militarily and
economically bankrupt, that it has become incapable of doing anything other
than colluding with the impending American aggression - or at best keeping
quiet about it and issuing statements of rejection warning about its dangers
to the region."

Atwan holds the Egyptian government's "abandonment of its Arab leadership
role" primarily responsible for this state of affairs. The Egyptian
government's failure to champion the Palestinians earlier, or to help Iraq
now, has enabled others to ignore and marginalize it. So pathetic has the
"Arab order" become as a result that it has "even made a failure of
surrender," and willingly turned itself into a tool of US - and by extension
Israeli - policies and designs.

The Arab governments, he remarks, are incapable even of the opportunism
shown by Turkey, which is bartering its involvement in the US invasion of
its neighbor for huge political, economic and strategic gains. "As for the
Arabs, great and small, they provide their bases for free, and will even use
their people's money to help cover the costs of destroying Iraq, as they did
in 1991," Atwan writes.

"Some think the Iraqi calf has fallen and are sharpening their knives.
Turkey covets Kirkuk and Mosul, the Kurds want an independent north, and
Iran is cooperating discreetly to secure an Iraq subject to its influence.
But the Arabs are like false witnesses. Some are impatient for war in the
hope of saving themselves in their own way." Others are fully engaged in the
"psychological war" and trying to present exile as a safe way out for the
Iraqi regime. And some Arab governments are behaving "as though the country
targeted for aggression is on another planet."

In Egypt's leading state mouthpiece Al-Ahram, editor in chief Ibrahim Nafie
blasts unnamed Arab leaders for not taking up President Hosni Mubarak's call
for an emergency summit. He stresses that Mubarak's aim was to get the Arabs
to throw their collective weight behind the countries of the world that have
been "affirming that it is not yet too late to resolve the crisis
peacefully," and which "oppose a quick recourse to war."

Nafie writes that "President Mubarak, thanks to his experience and
infallible political vision, appreciated that now is the right time for the
Arab leaders to act and take clear and specific stands with regard to what
is happening in the region, and contribute to the formulation of the major
policies that might result in the region's map being completely changed." He
thus called for an emergency summit to discuss "what can be done to support
efforts to resolve the crisis peacefully, and the future should those
efforts fail."

But while Mubarak was "continuing his intensive efforts" by visiting France
and Germany and consulting with Britain's Tony Blair by telephone, the Arab
foreign ministers who were meant to set a date for the summit engaged in a
debate of the kind that has "led the Arab world to disaster in the past and
caused deep splits," Nafie complains.

Alluding to the statement issued after the meeting urging Arab states to
deny base facilities to US troops, Nafie says that "the discussion and
debate were far removed from addressing the changes and existing realities
on the ground. The language that prevailed sought to address hearts rather
than minds, and the policies that resulted smacked of a misplaced desire for
self-absolution and one-upmanship. The emphasis was on scoring points,
rather than on salvaging whatever can be salvaged. Once again, Arab leaders
demonstrated their inability to rise to the level of the challenges. So
divisions prevailed and disputes emerged that blocked a response to
President Mubarak's invitation, with some saying that the regular summit is
due soon. So what's the hurry?"

It remains to be seen whether the picture will change when the regular
summit, now brought forward from the end of March to the beginning, is
convened. "Will the leaders rise to the responsibility and challenges, or
will impotence persist and divisions prevail, and the Arabs prove once again
that they are no good at participating in action and always suffice with
dealing with the consequences and trying to adapt to new conditions?"

Nafie concludes with a warning that Cairo's frustration with its fellow
Arabs may prompt it to chart a new course of its own over Iraq. "We wait to
see what the Arab leaders will do at their summit, and whether the change of
name from an emergency summit to a rescheduled regular one will lead to a
change in the familiar behavior of the Arab states. The challenges are great
and the dangers are grave, and it is no longer acceptable for Egypt to sit
with folded arms Š If the Arab leaders do not rise to the level of the
challenges, it is Egypt's right to take the decisions it considers fit,
immediately or in the near future, based on its vision, role, and stature,
and the dictates of its people's interests and national security."

Jordan Times, 24th February
CAIRO (AFP) ‹ Some 7,500 students demonstrated Sunday against US plans to
wage a war on Iraq in Cairo and Alexandria, in the largest anti-war rallies
here over the current crisis so far, organisers and police said.

Around 5,000 students demonstrated at their university campus in the
northern Mediterranean city of Alexandria, shouting Islamist-style slogans
such as "America is the enemy of God."

Another 2,500 students gathered at Ain Shams University in eastern Cairo,
shouting "America, we shall defy you," "Iraq we shall sacrifice ourselves
for you," and "Iraqi: resist, resist."

Earlier in the day, police prevented 3,000 Egyptian and Arab lawyers from
venting their anger at the United States in the streets of the capital.

The lawyers, who were holding a conference, had decided to demonstrate in
front of Arab League headquarters in central Cairo, but police did not let
them leave the conference hall for several hours.

Several of them were pushed back into the conference hall in the eastern
suburb of Nasr City, participants said, amid a heavy police presence.

Nearly 5,000 students demonstrated Tuesday at Al Azhar Islamic University in
Cairo and another university in the northeastern city of Ismailiya, and
3,500 students and lecturers demonstrated on four Cairo college campuses on

Public demonstrations are prohibited in Egypt under the emergency laws in
force since 1981, but are generally tolerated on university campuses and
inside mosques.

The Egyptian government asked parliament on Sunday to extend by another
three years the country's emergency laws, which have been denounced by
rights groups as undermining individual freedoms.

Egypt has been living under the measures almost without a break since 1967.

The Arab states are expected to hold their annual summit meeting in Egypt on
March 1 to discuss the showdown over Iraq.

5,000 protest in Lebanon

Also Sunday, some 5,000 people were led by Muslim and Christian dignitaries
in a protest in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre to show support for Iraq
and the Palestinians.

The demonstration, organised by the Cultural Forum, which groups left-wing
intellectuals and officials, denounced the Arab states for not doing more to
prevent war in Iraq.

Nasser Hamdan, a representative of the group, told demonstrators "Arab
regimes are responsible for what is happening in the region because they are
not helping the Palestinian and Iraqi people."

The demonstrators took a similar line: "Where are the Arab armies, where are
the Arab leaders?" they shouted, amid a sea of Iraqi, Lebanese and
Palestinian flags and portraits of Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein.

One banner called for the "formation of an Arab front to defend Iraq and
Palestine," while another warned "Iraq will be a cemetery for the invaders."

An anti-war rally gathering some 10,000 Palestinians and Lebanese was held
in Sidon, another coastal city further north, on Feb. 18.

Daily Star, Lebanon, 25th February

With Iraq dominating the news, pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi leads with the
story that the country's former military industries minister revealed when
he defected in 1995 that Baghdad had destroyed all its stocks of proscribed
weapons after the 1991 Gulf War.

The paper highlights reports in the US media that Hussein Kamel briefed UN
arms inspectors, the CIA and British intelligence separately about the
destruction of the stocks, but his disclosures were hushed up at the time in
the hope of securing further information from Baghdad.

Nevertheless, the revelations reinforcing doubts about the existence of the
arms programs the US and Britain accuse Iraq of possessing are overshadowed
in the press by accounts of the unfolding diplomatic battle over Iraq at the
UN, and the accompanying inter-Arab row.

Newspapers see no end in sight to the dispute between Arab countries over
the impending Arab summit conference, which Egypt hopes to convene on March
1 but Iraq wants deferred until mid-March. Commentaries and editorials echo
the differences between the governments over both the timing and purpose of
the proposed gathering.

Al-Quds al-Arabi says Baghdad is justified in asking for the Arab summit to
be postponed until after the UN Security Council meets on March 14 to hear
the next report to be submitted by the arms inspectors. A summit held before
then would be "meaningless," it argues in its leader.

The paper says the Baghdad government is also right to fear that some Arab
leaders want to use an early summit to strong-arm Iraq into making
concessions. "For it is manifested that what is sought from the impending
summit is a demand for the Iraqi leadership to surrender to US pressure,
relinquish power voluntarily, and hand over Iraq to American occupation
without casualties."

It says that the "vast majority" of Arab citizens "want the summit to
convene for one single reason: to mobilize all Arab energies and resources
in defense of Iraq and against the aggression that targets it." But the Arab
regimes have other ideas. The majority of them are "colluding in the
American aggression" by providing base or transit facilities to US invasion
forces, "and the only difference is that some - like Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain
and the UAE - are open about their guilt, whereas others - like Saudi
Arabia, Egypt and Jordan - prefer to do things on the quiet."

A successful summit in the eyes of the Arab public would be one that takes a
stand against aggression. "But as the Arab regimes will not take a stand
against America - either because they covet its continued financial aid or
because they fear its sword - their summit will facilitate the aggression by
putting the onus of preventing war solely on the Iraqi regime - i.e., it
must relinquish power and go, and if it doesn't it will be to blame for the
devastation of Iraq and the slaughter of its people," Al-Quds al-Arabi says.

The Qatari daily Al-Sharq sees no rationale for deferring the summit, given
the fast-moving pace of developments. The paper agrees with Egypt that the
summit should be held as soon as possible, noting that an Anglo-American
blitz could be imminent and it would be pointless to defer the meeting until
after military action had been initiated. Instead, the Arab leaders should
prepare themselves to "deal with the new realities that will emerge" after
the Security Council's March 14 session, it says.

"The Arab leaders need to meet quickly in order to reinforce international
efforts opposed to war on Iraq," Al-Sharq writes. They need to take
practical steps to try to "replace the Anglo American drive to war with a
further opportunity for fresh international diplomacy aimed at pushing
Baghdad, Washington and London toward a compromise."

In the Saudi-run pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Jordanian journalist Salameh
Nematt writes that the Arab summit "will not be able to change anything
unless it puts forward a bold initiative that offers an alternative to an
American-led military invasion."

He says the "suggestion" meekly made by some Arab governments that Saddam
and his senior lieutenants go into exile in order to spare Iraq war was
unconvincing, "because it was unrealistic and unaccompanied by practical
steps to implement it." The Iraqi regime would be unlikely to accept such an
offer "were it not underpinned by measures to ensure its implementation by
force, the only language Saddam Hussein's regime understands."

Nematt goes on to propose that "if the Arab states are worried about Iraq
and its people, rather than protecting the regime and its leaders, the Arab
summit could regain the reins of the initiative by calling on the Iraqi
regime to relinquish power or else face the prospect of the use of force -
with Arab military participation - in keeping with the will of the
international community as represented by UN Resolution 1441."

He reasons: "If most countries of the region see US military intervention as
a threat to their security and stability, their only option -  given
Washington's insistence on its stand - is to eliminate the reason for that
intervention, even if that entails the formation of a joint Arab military
force to do the job in conjunction with Iraqi opposition forces inside the

Nematt writes that "it may have become too late - if it was not impossible
in the first place - for the member states of the Arab League to agree on a
move aimed at seizing the initiative from Washington. But it is not too late
for the Arab parties to play a role in formulating Iraq's future after the
regime has been overthrown. Yet this requires that they do not suffice today
with opposing a war that is unavoidable, but insist on actually taking part,
if only symbolically, in the process of change."

"The Arab League didn't object to Syria's (1976) military intervention in
Lebanon to save it from a ruinous civil war, and it should not object to the
participation of Arab parties today in the process of change aimed at saving
Iraq and the Iraqis from a regime that relishes contriving crises and wars,"
he writes.

In Egypt's semi-official Al-Ahram, Mohammed Assayed Saeed suggests the best
hope for a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis lies in a process of
political change in Baghdad initiated by the regime itself. Discussing the
prospects of averting war, Saeed says many regional and international
players see a military coup that deposes President Saddam Hussein but keeps
the Iraqi state intact as the "best alternative." But this is most unlikely
to happen, he judges.

So on the assumption that Saddam's regime is not going to be deposed from
within, it has three options, Saeed figures. The first is to prepare to
defend itself and the country in a protracted war. Saddam may want to go
down in history as a man who resisted the much feared superpower to the
finish. But, in reality, the Iraqi Army is unlikely to put up any fight in
the face of a US invasion. Those urging Baghdad to brace for a showdown are
thus courting both the devastation of Iraq and the humiliation of the

Saeed suggests that an alternative option is for the Iraqi president to hand
over power to a military commander or junta, which would then offer the US
whatever it wants in terms of disarmament and political reform. Washington
has hinted it would favor such a course, and it would also please key
regional players because it would "largely preserve the prevalent political
and demographic equation." The new people in charge in Baghdad would have to
open talks with the opposition and make reforms, initiating a process of
gradual political change.

Saeed writes that this would not necessarily spare Iraq war. The US might
not consider any political change in Baghdad sufficient - unless it provides
it with near-total control over Iraq. But it would make it much harder for
the US to justify military action.

A third option, which Saddam Hussein might choose, would be to inaugurate a
sweeping political process that "generates a political dynamic that blocks
war." This would entail Saddam and many of his top aides stepping down, but
handing power to an interim civilian administration rather than the
military. It would then convene a constitutional convention to draw up a new
constitution followed by free, internationally supervised pluralist

Saeed says he has no illusions about how difficult it would be to persuade
the Iraqi president to relinquish power voluntarily, either to the army or
to a civilian administration. "But we must not suffice with saying that it
is the last hope. We must work quickly toward it. For it is the only hope of
saving Iraq from destruction and possible humiliation too," he remarks.

Iraqi Kurdish commentator Sami Shourosh meanwhile raises the prospect of a
US invasion of Iraq triggering a new war between Turkey and the Kurds on
both sides of the border. He warns in Al-Hayat that it would be an
"exorbitantly costly error" for Washington to allow the Turkish Army to
deploy in northern Iraq, like Ankara has been demanding as part of the
"price" for allowing US troops to invade Iraq from Turkish territory.

Shourosh writes that although the Americans have been trying for months to
involve Turkey in their impending campaign, they want it to assume a
"limited" facilitating role like that played by Pakistan in the Afghanistan

But Turkey, "which is yet to be rid of the burden of its Kemalist legacy,"
is more ambitious. "It is looking to seize on the war in Iraq as an
opportunity to transform itself into an effective and principal regional
power in the Middle East, and to emerge with as many spoils as possible," he
says. Convinced that the US is only going to war because of Iraq's oil,
Ankara sees nothing wrong in demanding its share from Iraqi Kurdistan
especially especially the Kirkuk and Mosul oil fields.

Ankara also believes the difficulty the US has had recruiting other allies
for its war "redoubles both Turkey's importance and the price it can demand
for its cooperation - which includes deploying its military in northern
Iraq, and trying to secure an important stake in government in Baghdad to
offset Iran's anticipated future role."

But Shourosh cautions that Turkish military intervention in northern Iraq
would ultimately prove very costly to the Turks themselves.

The local (Iraqi Kurdish) population is not well disposed to Ankara, and
would view its forces as an occupying army. Anarchy and armed clashes would
ensue, as well as proxy warfare between local Turkmen groups sponsored by
Ankara and the local Kurds.

Moreover, a Turkish thrust into Iraq would backfire at home. The military
establishment, whose political wings have been clipped in recent months,
would regain the ascendancy. That would jeopardize the Justice and
Development Party (AKP) government's reform program, and also inflame
tensions with Turkey's own Kurdish population (estimated at 12 million).
Indeed, says Shourosh, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) insurgency in
Turkey could reignite the moment Turkish forces march into Iraq.

Shourosh adds that Turkish intervention would also invite similar action by
Iran. Tehran has indicated its willingness to sit on the sidelines "if
intervention in Iraq is confined to American forces," but if the Turks wade
in, the Iranians could well feel compelled to do likewise. Even if they
decided against direct intervention, the Iranians would be certain to
provide every help and assistance to all opponents of Turkish involvement in
Iraq, be they Islamists or others.

Al-Quds al-Arabi publisher/editor Abdelbari Atwan says the way the US has
apparently deferred to Turkey over the future of northern Iraq should come
as a wake-up call to the Iraqi opposition groups that have aligned
themselves with Washington.

"America won't respect either its promises or its allies," he warns them.
"What it wants are not allies but clients, which it can quickly discard once
it has used them, just like paper tissues (not to use a more fitting
metaphor). Thus it has abandoned the Kurds and sold them out to Turkey,
agreeing to disarm them and end their current special status, and shattering
their dreams of a federal or independent state.

"And it has forsaken the Iraqi opposition groups which it used for years as
a propaganda smokescreen, openly announcing that it will install a US Army
general as governor of Iraq and then an American civilian administration,"
Atwan writes.

by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 26th February

CAIRO - George W Bush may have never read Dante Alighieri. But Bush's three
ultimatums - to Iraq, to the United Nations and to the European Union - seem
to come straight from one of old Europe's greatest creative artists.
"Abandon all hope ye who enter," says Dante in The Divine Comedy at the
gates of hell. "Abandon all hope ye who engage in irrelevant talk," says
Bush at the gates of heaven as he prepares for the first installment in a
long round of engagement in the Middle East.

As we approach the final countdown at the Security Council, it's the United
States and the United Kingdom, backed by Spain, against France and Germany,
backed by Russia and China: a one-page second resolution stating that Iraq
is in material breach against a memorandum setting deadlines for Iraqi
disarmament. The Syrian ambassador to the United Nations has dubbed the
deceivingly bland semantics of the second resolution "a declaration of war".

The immediate reaction of the Arab League to total war has been total panic.
Secretary general Amr Moussa said, "You can never belittle the consequences
of war, especially in a Middle East already frustrated with the Israeli
occupation and the bias towards Israel. So adding insult to injury is too
much for us."

Insult has been added to injury long before the tabled second resolution. As
Asia Times Online has reported (The great Arab face-saving theater, February
19), the Arab League has no cohesive, independent, forcefully argued
position vis-a-vis the US: it has only managed to attach most - but not all
- of its camels to the Franco-German-Russian "more time for the inspectors"
position. Half of Kuwait, a league member, has been turned into a US boot
camp. Qatar and Bahrain will also help in the invasion of Iraq. The Arab
League is a sad exercise in schizophrenia - trying to appease Washington and
engage it in dialogue while at the same time performing full-time
contortionism to calm its angry and restless populations.

While the world grapples with extraordinary events, the Arab League couldn't
do more than settle for an ordinary summit to be held in Cairo early next
month. Syria has been lobbying hard for a meaningful summit. Syria knows
very well that it is next on the list of the Washington hawks. In fact,
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - who is the top dog running US foreign
policy in the Middle East - just last week offered American congressmen his
own list of who's next: Syria, Iran and Libya.

Syria has been fighting hard at the UN to remind anyone who will listen that
peace in the Middle East will only be achieved with a comprehensive solution
of the Palestinian tragedy. At the UN, Syria - as a non-permanent member of
the Security Council - is staunchly aligned with the Franco-German-Russian
front. At the Arab League, Lebanon - according to diplomats instigated by
Syria - made sure to remind of the 2002 Beirut declaration, which
establishes that an attack on one individual Arab nation would be regarded
as an attack on the whole Arab nation. Kuwait was furious - and that's the
main reason there cannot possibly be a consensus in the Arab League.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah may be sincere in his current efforts to
introduce democratic reforms in the kingdom, but Saudi Arabia is living in
dreamland hoping that Saddam Hussein will accept free elections under the
supervision of the UN. Egyptian political scientist Wahid Abdel-Meguid
laments that "the Americans always impose discussions about post-Saddam
[Iraq] while Arab countries try to maximize the chances of a peaceful

Walid Kazziha, professor of political science at the American University in
Cairo (AUC), tries to be more optimistic: "The Arab and European stances are
mutually dependent. The Arabs will make a firmer stand with the
encouragement of Europe." But he also warns that "the Arabs are not in a
position to risk everything for someone like Saddam Hussein". Professor
Bahgat Korany from AUC agrees, and adds that with the Saudis not exactly
enjoying Washington's good graces, most other key Arab nations are resigned
that "even the Europeans can't stop the American war machine".

But the whole world keeps trying anyway. That is the message coming from the
Kuala Lumpur meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) - 116 countries
representing more than 50 percent of the world population, two-thirds of the
UN, and including six non permanent members of the Security Council: Syria,
Pakistan, Chile, Angola, Guinea and Cameroon. These last three African
nations have already stated their anti-war position at the Franco-African
summit in Paris last week. Even under serious carrot-and-stick approaches in
New York for these next few days, they won't be easily swayed to vote for a
second resolution that in fact will be a green light for war. For the
absolute majority of the 186 UN member states that are not part of the
Security Council P5 (as the five permanent members are known), this second
resolution now tabled means nothing else than a UN authorization for
preemptive war.

At the NAM meeting, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad repeated what
Prince Saud al Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, has been saying these
past few days in the Arab world: the war will inevitably be perceived as

Hassan Nafaa, professor of political science at Cairo University, agrees:
"Washington's actions suggest it has targeted Islam and that it plans to
reshape the region in a manner that will obviate the emergence of an Arab
nationalist or Islamic ideology of unification or resistance. Towards this
end, it most likely intends to redraw the map of the region on the basis of
ethnic or sectarian rivalries." Nafaa paints an alarming picture: "If what
appears to be American designs see the light of day, Arabs and Muslims
realize that the only nation to benefit will be Israel, and Washington will
have paved the way for it to become an unrivaled regional power virtually
overnight." A stroll through the campus of the liberal American University
in Cairo is always instructive, and one hears fiercely anti-US and
anti-Israel comments.

There's absolutely no love lost for Israel in Egypt. Diplomats in Cairo
comment that Israel, in partnership with the US, is actively involved in the
partition of Sudan, which Egypt considers its back yard. It is all about
water. Herodotus rightly pointed out that Egypt was a gift from the Nile,
but the possibility of the gift being wrapped by Israeli control of the
nascent waters of the Nile makes for endless sleepless nights. It's a
situation parallel to the future of the River Jordan - a key in the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict. With Israel controlling the flow of the river,
a Palestine state could be starved in a few days.

The Egyptian economy is bound to suffer badly with a war in Iraq. The
figures are gloomy. There will be heavy losses in many crucial fronts:
tourism (the main source of foreign exchange revenue), exports, revenue from
the Suez Canal and the stock market. According to official data, tourism
employs 2.2 million people in Egypt, directly and indirectly. Independent
sources say that there could be as many as 10 million.

According to a study by the Federation of Egyptian Industries, Suez revenues
are expected to fall by almost half, to US$1 billion. Assuming a short war
ending within three months, tourism revenues will also fall by half, to $1.7
billion. Egyptian expatriates' remittances will also be halved, to $2
billion. The import bill will rise 30 percent. Exports will decrease by 5
percent, to $5.9 billion. Foreign direct investment will be non-existent.
According to economist Hamdi Abdel-Azzem, at least 200,000 Egyptian workers
could be forced to return from Iraq: a social as well as an economic crisis.
About 4 million to 6 million Egyptians work in the Persian Gulf region - and
the absolute majority fear that they could lose their jobs. And to top it
all, trade between Egyptian businesses and Iraq under the UN oil-for-food
program ($1.5 billion last year) will also suffer: Egypt is one of the top
five countries benefiting from the program. The US has given signals that it
might be willing to "compensate" Egypt for some of these tremendous
troubles, but the mood in Cairo couldn't be more pessimistic.

Thus, appalled by the prospect of imminent war, Egyptians keep searching for
alternative solutions. Mahmoud Abaza, vice president of the opposition Wafd
Party, advances that "the pressure could have been more efficient and useful
for all if it was geared to force the Iraqi regime to organize free
elections, after a period of transition, under the surveillance of the
international community. This would have been more acceptable for the Iraqi
people, the Arab nation, the immediate neighbors and the international
community." Abaza's dream would be "a coalition to save the Iraqi people
instead of exterminating them". He is devastated by the fact that the Bush
administration, "the most reactionary in American history", is using the
September 11 tragedy to "build an empire devoid of all moral values that
America has incarnated since its independence".

Gamil Mattar, director of the Arab Center for Development and Futuristic
Research, makes a point of referring to the secret 1916 Sykes-Picot
agreement, when the British and the French carved up the Middle East for
themselves after the Ottoman defeat in World War I: "That map has continued
largely unchanged, even in the face of attempts by some - in the name of
Arab unity or the unity of greater Syria - to change it. The map lasted
because the Arabs have refused to change it." But Mattar has a very clear
warning that could only be directed to Washington: "Would-be reformers will
face many difficulties. The Middle Eastern state is autocratic, leaving
nothing out of its orbit of influence, and at the same time it is
underdeveloped. While nation-states have been established in the Middle East
and even institutionalized, they have not yet succeeded in the process of
nation-building. This will be a heavy burden on anyone seeking to implement
far-reaching changes in political and social institutions."

The Bush administration may be aware that Iraq is a supreme prize - the
crucial frontier separating Arabs, Persians and Turks, the key bridge
between the Mediterranean and Central Asia from a historic, religious,
ethnic and geographic perspective. But the invading superpower may be less
aware of the extreme complexity of most political, religious and ethnic
problems lying ahead. For instance, Iraq - not Iran - is the country
harboring the Shi'ite holy places: Kufa, Najaf and Kerbala. Even though they
are a majority in Iraq, the Shi'ites have been consistently oppressed by
successive Sunni empires. Ethnically they are Arabs, but religiously they
are Shi'ites (see The Shi'ite factor, April 25, 2002). They are not only the
most important community in the Arab world, but also a very important link
with Shi'ite minorities living in the eastern Arabian Peninsula and in
Lebanon. Sunni Arabs in central and eastern Iraq since the fall of the
Ottoman empire have constituted the political and military elite - but they
also have a common tribal origin with people from southeastern Syria, the
Jordan region and northern Saudi Arabia.

The majority of soldiers in the Iraqi regular army are Shi'ite. As war
breaks out, they will either flee, surrender or, most likely, engage in
widespread rebellion. Washington's plans of a clean occupation of Iraq will
turn to dust. A preview of what might happen was offered early this month.
In a meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara, US officials totally dismissed
the Iraqi opposition - the bulk of which is Shi'ite and Kurdish. They said
that post-Saddam Iraq will be under a military government, and - insult to
injury - run by the same Sunni establishment put in place by Saddam Hussein.

Shi'ites are silently furious. They will revolt. Insistent rumors coming
from Iraq about a massive Shi'ite revolt immediately after war breaks out
don't mention any kind of rallying organization - except for the Supreme
Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, backed by Iran. The council has a
small army of a maximum of 10,000 men, based in Iran, although they say that
many are based in Iraq as well. There are no Shi'ite leaders inside Iraq
because Saddam has killed them all.

So it looks as if the United States will be confronted by a replay inside a
replay of the Gulf War of 1991. At the end of that "Mother of All Battles",
Saddam lost no fewer than 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces to Shi'ites and Kurds.
Washington under Bush Senior at the time already wanted regime change, but
it did not want a popular revolution. That's why Saddam was de facto
authorized by Washington, even in defeat, to smash both the Kurdish and
Shi'ite revolts violently. There's every indication a Shi'ite revolution may
happen this time - along with a Kurdish revolution in the event of Turkish
troops taking over Kurdistan. But unlike 1991, Washington won't be able to
count on a Saddam to smash them. The liberators will have to do it


The Guardian (Leader), 22nd February

When Tony Blair and Pope John Paul sit down in the Vatican to discuss the
morality of a war against Iraq today, the talk will inevitably be dignified
and high flown. The prime minister and the pontiff will argue about whether
war must always be an action of last resort and whether military action can
ever be justified in view of the humanitarian harm that it causes. The Pope
will surely give his views on the "just war" teaching of St Thomas Aquinas,
while Mr Blair will expound at length his view that the iniquitous nature of
Saddam Hussein's regime legitimates efforts by the international community
to overthrow it.

Out in the real world, however, things are much muddier. If the war against
Iraq is to be presented as a moral war, then morality is coming at an
extremely high price. As they struggle to put together a majority on the
United Nations security council, and also to assemble the fabled "coalition
of the willing" to confront Saddam, the US and Britain are having to offer
ever greater material inducements to join their new moral army. Of all these
trades, none is as great as the astounding $26bn in grants, loans and loan
guarantees that Washington has dangled before Turkey in an attempt to win
Ankara's agreement to the stationing of thousands of US troops on Iraq's
northern borders over the coming weeks. It is a sum which eclipses even the
the US's largest aid donations to Israel, Egypt and Colombia, until now its
most favoured recipients. Turkey, historically hostile to any possibility of
the emergence of a Kurdish state on its borders, and under a new radical
government with a powerful election mandate, has a fistful of extremely
worldly reasons for playing hard to get. All week Turkey has attempted to
bid up its agreement by a further $6bn, a move that has caused immense anger
in the US. Turkey well knows it is in the same position in the build-up to
an Iraq war that Pakistan was in in the build-up to the attacks on
Afghanistan's Taliban regime a year and a half ago. Talk about cash for

But Turkey is not the only one to have put a price on its cooperation or
acquiescence in America's plans. As the pressure mounts for a second
security council resolution on Iraq, the votes of the council members have
also gone on sale. Here the bartering is open and shameless. For countries
like Guinea, Angola and Cameroon, votes are for sale in return for increased
US aid promises. For Mexico, the price is further easement of US immigration
regulations. For Bulgaria, a probable pro-US vote comes in return for
pledges on EU entry and cooperation with Nato. But the bidding war embraces
the council's permanent members too. Russia and China are putting their
power of veto up for sale in the form of debt write offs and promises of a
share of the action in post-war Iraqi oil contracts. The nations of the
Middle East are not being left out either. Israel, facing a severe economic
crisis on top of its other problems, is pressing for $12bn extra US
assistance in return for its agreement to follow a policy of restraint in
the face of Iraqi provocation, as it did in 1991. Front-line Arab nations
such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria are asking for billions of aid of their own
too, in exchange for varying forms of cooperation.

A moral war? Well, yes, there are moral issues at stake. But do not let the
Vatican incense blur them. The rights and wrongs of attacking Saddam are not
the whole story. This is a bidding war too, and morality is for sale at
prices that America and Britain - as so often in the past - have few qualms
of conscience about paying.,2763,902510,00.html

by Ewen MacAskill, Gary Younge in New York, Ian Black in Brussels, and John
Hooper in Berlin
The Guardian, 25th February

The United Nations was in the throes of the biggest diplomatic confrontation
for decades last night after the US and Britain tabled a new resolution
paving the way for an assault on Iraq next month.

The resolution declares that Iraq has failed to grasp "the final
opportunity" to avoid war.

But France and Germany, the leading opponents of war, immediately produced a
powerful riposte by revealing that they had secured the support of Russia
and China for an alternative, peaceful plan that would allow Iraq more time.

This formidable opposition alliance throws into doubt whether the resolution
will be adopted, and threatens to wreck the US-British timetable for

The Franco-German proposal sets Iraq deadlines for disarmament "programme by

Speaking after dining with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in Berlin, the French
president, Jacques Chirac, said that the majority of the members of the UN
security council were in favour of their proposal.

In a response to the US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld's dismissal of
France and Germany as "old Europe", Mr Schröder said the proposals
represented the views of "good old Europe".

He said: "An awareness of what war means and what it represents is deeply
scored into the collective consciousness of the peoples of Europe. That
perhaps allows us to understand better why Germany and France hope for and
want a peaceful disarmament of Iraq."

President George Bush said the US and British resolution would test the
relevance of the UN, but made it clear that if the UN did not support it the
US would go ahead anyway.

"Is it going to be a body that means what it says?" he said. "We certainly
hope it does. But one way or the other, Saddam Hussein, for the sake of
peace and the security of the American people, will be disarmed."

As he was speaking, the tide of US public opinion was flowing against him. A
poll commissioned by the Washington Post and ABC found that a majority of
Americans believed that the US should work to gain the support of the
security council, even if it meant delaying a war with Iraq. Only 39% said
the administration should "move quickly" without security council backing.

The stand-off may mean that the US and Britain will go to war without a UN
mandate, imposing an enormous political price on Tony Blair.

The resolution is co-sponsored by the US, Britain and Spain, and backed by
Bulgaria. The other 11 members of the security council are, at present,

In an attempt to win over the waverers, the US and Britain have abandoned
hope of a resolution explicitly authorising war and opted for a watered-down
version that reiterates much of the last UN resolution on Iraq, 1441.

It accuses Iraq of submitting a weapons statement in December that was
false, contained omissions and "failed to take the final opportunity
afforded in resolution 1441".

The plan is to put the resolution to a vote soon after the UN chief weapons
inspector, Hans Blix, reports on March 7 on any Iraqi progress towards
disarmament. War could begin soon afterwards.

The White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Mr Bush had made it clear that
he expected the draft to be considered "in short order". The foreign
secretary, Jack Straw, said he expected a vote in a "fortnight or so".

The junior Foreign Office minister, Mike O'Brien, said Britain would examine
the French memorandum, but he was sceptical about its contents.

The French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, said a second resolution
was premature while the arms inspections were making progress.

"There are some countries that think that today it's important to table a
second resolution," he said.

"We think for our part it isn't necessary or useful, since we are resolutely
in a time of inspections. That is why we have said we could not accept this
second resolution."

The German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, who is due in London today for
further discussion, also said the resolution was unnecessary and did not
correspond to the consensus reached by EU leaders last week.

Arab officials urged the EU meeting to avoid a war, which they said could
deepen frus tration and militancy in the Middle East.

The Arab League's secretary general, Amr Moussa, told reporters: "You can
never belittle the consequences of any war, especially in an area like the
Middle East, already frustrated with the Israeli occupation and the bias
towards Israel. So adding insult to injury is too much for us."

New York Times, 25th February

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 24 ‹ Following is the text of a draft United Nations
Security Council resolution on Iraq presented to the Council today. It was
proposed by the United States and Britain and co-sponsored by Spain.

The Security Council,

RECALLING all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular its
resolutions 661 (1990) of 6 August 1990, 678 (1990) of 29 November 1990, 686
(1991) of 2 March 1991, 687 (1991) of 3 April 1991, 688 (1991) of 5 April
1991, 707 (1991) of 15 August 1991, 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991, 986
(1995) of 14 April 1995, 1284 (1999) of 17 December 1999 and 1441 (2002) of
8 November 2002, and all the relevant statements of its president,

RECALLING that in its Resolution 687 (1991) the Council declared that a
cease-fire would be based on acceptance by Iraq of the provisions of that
resolution, including the obligations on Iraq contained therein,

RECALLING that its Resolution 1441 (2002), while acknowledging that Iraq has
been and remains in material breach of its obligations, afforded Iraq a
final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant

RECALLING that in its Resolution 1441 (2002) the Council decided that false
statements or omissions in the declaration submitted by Iraq pursuant to
that resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and
cooperate fully in the implementation of, that resolution, would constitute
a further material breach,

NOTING, in that context, that in its Resolution 1441 (2002), the Council
recalled that it has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious
consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations,

NOTING that Iraq has submitted a declaration pursuant to its Resolution 1441
(2002) containing false statements and omissions and has failed to comply
with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, that resolution,

REAFFIRMING the commitment of all member states to the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Iraq, Kuwait, and the neighboring states,

MINDFUL of its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United
Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security,

RECOGNIZING the threat Iraq's noncompliance with Council resolutions and
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses
to international peace and security,

DETERMINED to secure full compliance with its decisions and to restore
international peace and security in the area,

ACTING under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

DECIDES that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded it in
Resolution 1441 (2002);

DECIDES to remain seized of the matter.

New York Times, 25th February

PARIS, Feb. 24 ‹ Following is the text of a memorandum provided to The New
York Times today by French officials expressing the position of France,
Germany and Russia about a possible war against Iraq:


1. Full and effective disarmament in accordance with the relevant U.N.S.C.
resolutions remains the imperative objective of the international community.
Our priority should be to achieve this peacefully through the inspection
regime. The military option should only be a last resort. So far, the
conditions for using force against Iraq are not fulfilled:

‹ While suspicions remain, no evidence has been given that Iraq still
possesses weapons of mass destruction or capabilities in this field;

‹ Inspections have just reached their full pace; they are functioning
without hindrance; they have already produced results;

‹ While not yet fully satisfactory, Iraqi cooperation is improving, as
mentioned by the chief inspectors in their last report.

2. The Security Council must step up its efforts to give a real chance to
the peaceful settlement of the crisis. In this context, the following
conditions are of paramount importance:

‹ The unity of the Security Council must be preserved;

‹ The pressure that is put on Iraq must be increased.

3. These conditions can be met, and our common objective ‹ the verifiable
disarmament of Iraq ‹ can be reached through the implementation of the
following proposals:

A) Clear program of action for the inspections:

According to Resolution 1284, Unmovic and I.A.E.A. have to submit their
program of work for approval of the Council. The presentation of this
program of work should be speeded up, in particular the key remaining
disarmament tasks to be completed by Iraq pursuant to its obligations to
comply with the disarmament requirements of Resolution 687 (1991) and other
related resolutions.

The key remaining tasks shall be defined according to their degree of
priority. What is required of Iraq for implementation of each task shall be
clearly defined and precise.

Such a clear identification of tasks to be completed will oblige Iraq to
cooperate more actively. It will also provide a clear means for the Council
to assess the cooperation of Iraq.

B) Reinforced inspections:

Resolution 1441 established an intrusive and reinforced system of
inspections. In this regard, all possibilities have not yet been explored.
Further measures to strengthen inspections could include , as exemplified in
the French non-paper previously communicated to the chief inspectors, the
following: increase and diversification of staff and expertise;
establishment of mobile units designed in particular to check on trucks;
completion of the new system of aerial surveillance; systematic processing
of data provided by the newly established system of aerial surveillance.

C) Timelines for inspections and assessment:

Within the framework of Resolution 1284 and 1441, the implementation of the
program of work shall be sequenced according to a realistic and rigorous

‹ The inspectors should be asked to submit the program of work outlining the
key substantive tasks for Iraq to accomplish, including missiles/delivery
systems, chemical weapons/precursors, biological weapons/material and
nuclear weapons in the context of the report due March 1;

‹ The chief inspectors shall report to the Council on implementation of the
program of work on a regular basis (every three weeks);

‹ A report of Unmovic and I.A.E.A. assessing the progress made in completing
the tasks shall be submitted by the inspectors 120 days after the adoption
of the program of work according to Resolution 1284;

‹ At any time, according to paragraph 11 of Resolution 1441, the executive
chairman of Unmovic and the Director General of the I.A.E.A. shall report
immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspections
activities as well as failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament

‹ At any time, additional meetings of the Security Council could be decided,
including at high level.

To render possible a peaceful solution, inspections should be given the
necessary time and resources. However, they cannot continue indefinitely.
Iraq must disarm. Its full and active cooperation is necessary. This must
include the provision of all the additional and specific information on
issues raised by the inspectors as well as compliance with their requests,
as expressed in particular in Mr. Blix's letter of Feb. 21, 2003. The
combination of a clear program of action, reinforced inspections, a clear
timeline and the military buildup provide a realistic means to reunite the
Security Council and to exert maximum pressure on Iraq.

by Elaine Sciolino
New York Times, 25th February

PARIS, Feb. 24 ‹ The rift between the United States and Europe deepened even
further today as France, Germany and Russia issued an informal "memorandum"
calling for at least four more months of weapons inspections in Iraq. The
document was released as the United States, Britain and Spain introduced a
United Nations Security Council resolution declaring that Baghdad has failed
to disarm as required and must face "serious consequences," diplomatic code
for war.

The memorandum, drafted by the French and circulated at the United Nations
today, was supported by the Chinese, French officials said. Senior French
officials said Paris did not intend for the document to be treated as a
draft Security Council resolution.

Besides calling for more inspections, the memorandum stated that nothing so
far justified war to force President Saddam Hussein to rid his country of
the remnants of his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

"The military option should only be a last resort," it read. "So far, the
conditions for using force against Iraq are not fulfilled."

The memorandum added that there was "no evidence" that Iraq still had
weapons of mass destruction or the ability to make them, although it
conceded that "suspicions remain." As for the United Nations inspections,
they have "just reached their full pace," are "functioning without
hindrance" and "have already produced results," it said.

The memorandum calls for tougher inspections, including precise deadlines
for Iraq to disarm, an increase in the number of inspectors, the creation of
mobile units to inspect movable targets like trucks, better aerial spying on
Iraqi sites and better processing of the spy data. Under this proposal, the
chief inspectors would report on Iraq's progress every three weeks.

Apparently in an effort to head off criticism that the three-nation
initiative is a tactic to avoid a decision on going to war, the declaration
stated that inspections "cannot continue indefinitely," adding: "Iraq must
disarm. Its full and active cooperation is necessary."

Both President Jacques Chirac of France and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of
Germany, who dined together tonight at a tavern in Berlin named The Last
Appeal, stressed the need for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. "Of
course we want Iraq to disarm because it represents a danger for the region
and maybe the world," Mr. Chirac said to reporters outside the tavern. "But
we believe this disarmament must happen peacefully."

Mr. Chirac also denounced the call for a new Security Council resolution.
"We see nothing in the current situation that justifies a new resolution,"
he said. "I'm of the opinion that a majority in the Security Council is also
not for a new resolution."

Mr. Schröder said the French-German opposition to war was rooted in two
world wars and a decade of Balkan conflict. "What distinguishes good, old
Europe is the deeply embedded consciousness of what war really means," Mr.
Schröder said.

Despite the two leaders' solidarity, severe fissures were evident in a
meeting today in Brussels of the foreign ministers of the European Union.
They came only a week after the Union's leaders patched up their differences
with a statement telling Iraq it had a final chance to resolve the crisis

Today, the French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, urged the United
Nations to give Baghdad a timetable to disarm. But the British foreign
secretary, Jack Straw, said that Mr. Hussein's guilt had already been proven
and that Britain wanted the Security Council to vote on a resolution in "up
to two weeks, maybe a little more" in support of war.

Mr. de Villepin called a second resolution "a mistake" while arms
inspections were making progress.

In a sharp critique of the American-British-Spanish initiative, he said a
new resolution would not win enough support in the Council. "There is not,
clearly, a majority for a second resolution," Mr. de Villepin said. He
praised his own diplomacy, saying the new French drafted memorandum was
aimed at "making the work of the inspectors concrete and credible."

Mr. Straw rejected the idea of reinforcing the inspections and setting
detailed deadlines for Mr. Hussein to comply with United Nations weapons
inspections. "You don't need to treat him like a child ‹ he is not a child,"
Mr. Straw said. "He does not need to be provided with a list of things he
knows he's got to do in any event."

Some diplomats have questioned France's opposition to a second resolution in
the Security Council, since it was Mr. Chirac who first proposed a two-stage
plan that could lead to United Nations authorization of military force
against Iraq.

Mr. de Villepin underscored his country's opposition to a new Security
Council resolution in an interview in today's issue of Le Figaro.

He cited the inspectors' order for the destruction of the Samoud 2 missiles
‹ deemed to be in breach of the United Nations' 92-mile limit on the range
of Iraqi missiles ‹ as a good example of how the inspections were forcing
Iraq to disarm.

Asked if France would use its veto to block a new American-British
resolution, Mr. de Villepin said the question was not important because
Washington was unlikely to win the nine votes on the Security Council needed
for passage.

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