- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Upcoming:

— U.N. Security Council vote, possibly by the end of the week, on a resolution introduced by Britain and supported by the United States giving Iraq until March 17 to comply fully with U.N. Resolution 1441 or face war. Russia and France have threatened to veto the draft resolution, and Britain is circulating a compromise version that would offer more time to Iraq and would also establish specific benchmarks of cooperation, including documentation that illegal equipment or stocks have been destroyed and interviews of Iraqi scientists outside the country.

— A delegation of senior Arab representatives is due to meet with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad on Thursday. Arab-language press reports, quoting "well-informed sources," said Tuesday the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, and the foreign ministers of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain and Tunisia will ask the Iraqi leader to resign — a claim Egyptian officials vigorously denied.

Summary:

The United States, with support from allies including Britain and Spain, contends Iraq has failed to disarm in compliance with U.N. Resolution 1441, and that unless Iraqi President Saddam Hussein complies and fully discloses what has happened to all of Iraq's prohibited weapons, the United States and other willing nations will attack Iraq to change the regime and ensure the nation has disarmed. The disarmament first was required by U.N. resolutions passed as part of the armistice that ended the 1991 Gulf War. The war was triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, which led to a U.N.-sanctioned war that pushed Iraqi forces out of Kuwait but left Saddam in power. A new resolution, introduced by Britain, would give Iraq only a short time longer to fully disarm or face war. Of the 15 members of the Security Council, six were said to be undecided on the resolution: Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea and Mexico; Pakistani media reports their government plans to abstain. Spain, Bulgaria and council permanent members the United States and Britain support it; while Syria, Germany and permanent members China, France and Russia oppose it. Permanent members of the Security Council have veto power, and Russia and France have said they would veto the resolution.

The political-diplomatic perspective:

—Britain is circulating a new compromise on Iraq at the United Nations to win over undecided members of the Security Council. The compromise, reported by the Guardian newspaper Tuesday, includes a list of requirements for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to avoid war: that Iraqi scientists be taken out of the country for interviews, that banned weapons be destroyed, and that documents be produced showing what happened to remaining arms. The March 17 deadline for Iraq to disarm would be pushed back a bit. The Guardian report said Washington approved of the plan.

— On Tuesday, Cameroon's ambassador to the United Nations said the undecided six Security Council members favored a 45-day deadline. Too long, U.S. and British representatives reportedly replied.

— On Monday, French President Jacques Chirac said France would veto, if necessary, any U.N. resolution on the Iraq crisis at present — and would not participate in any unilateral action against Iraq.

— On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Russia would veto the draft resolution in its present form.

— U.S. President George W. Bush spent Monday making phone calls to world leaders making his case for the U.N. resolution authorizing force. Calls were made to leaders of China, Japan, South Africa, Oman, Senegal, Nigeria and Spain.

— A report in the Pakistani newspaper, the News, said Pakistan would abstain from voting on a U.S.-sponsored draft resolution that would authorize the use of force to disarm Iraq. But a government spokesman said a final decision had not yet been made. Monday, Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali said Pakistan would not take part in any war against Iraq.

— At The Hague, Netherlands, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday "If the United States and others were to go outside the (Security) council and take military action it would not be in conformity with the (U.N.) charter."

— Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix answered queries Monday from U.N. Security Council members on his Iraq report last week. Blix said there were questions over "the legality" of Iraqi unmanned aircraft, and questions whether the craft could carry chemical or biological weapons. He stressed to reporters that nowhere in his report was there any assertion that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Blix told council members he expected to have his program of work of the key remaining inspection tasks for the council before the end of the month.

The military perspective:

— Pentagon officials said Tuesday that the United States plans to pay the salaries of some 2 million Iraqi government workers, from ministry heads to teachers and nurses, to immediately stabilize the country and begin reconstruction once the probable war is won. In particular the Defense Department is trying to recruit more than 100 Iraqis now in exile to act both as liaisons with the provinces and as advisers to government ministries.

— U.S. military forces carried out a string of attacks on Iraqi military targets in the no-fly zone and blanketed the region with around 2 million propaganda leaflets over the past five days. Military officials said the number of aircraft sorties into the no-fly zones have at least doubled over the past week, both to exercise U.S. pilots for combat runs and to confuse the Iraqi military about the onset of the war.

— The allied buildup in the Persian Gulf region includes these approximate troop figures: 250,000 U.S.; 45,000 British; 2,000 Australian.




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