- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

Latest development:

U.S. President George W. Bush gave Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, his sons and top aides 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war. Bush urged journalists and others to evacuate Iraq. Bush said in his nationally televised address that previous U.N. resolutions 678 and 687 still in effect gave the United States the authority to attack, and Res. 1441 had found Iraq in material breach of its obligations to disarm.

Summary:

The United States, supported by Britain and Spain, contends Iraq over 12 years repeatedly has refused to comply with resolutions demanding disarmament and accounting of Iran's weapons of mass destruction. The disarmament first was required by U.N. resolutions passed after the Gulf War in 1991. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 led to the U.N.-sanctioned 1991 war that pushed Iraqi forces out of Kuwait but left Saddam in power.

Key points of Bush's address:

— Bush said a translation of his address was being broadcast into Iraq, and he told Iraqis "the day of your liberation is near." He promised as the coalition takes away Saddam's power, "we will deliver the food and medicine you need." He said the United States "will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free."

— He called on the Iraqi military to act with honor to protect Iraq by allowing peaceful entry of coalition forces to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.

— Bush urged Iraqi military and civilian officials to avoid destruction of oil wells, and to disobey any order to use weapons of mass destruction. He said war crimes would be prosecuted.

— The United States on Monday raised the national terror threat alert from "yellow," or "elevated risk," to "orange," or "high risk." Bush said measures to protect the homeland included recent expulsion of individuals with ties to Iraqi intelligence services, heightened airport security and increased Coast Guard patrols of major seaports. He also said the Department of Homeland Security was working with governors to increase armed security at critical facilities.

— Bush said the United States is acting now because in one to five years, the power of Iraq to harm free nations would be multiplied many times. "We choose to meet that threat now, where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies and cities."

— Bush said the Iraqi people "are deserving and capable of human liberty. And when the dictator has departed, they can set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation."

Other developments:

—U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council on Monday that weapons inspectors and humanitarian aid workers would be withdrawn from Iraq.

—The 15-member U.N. Security Council planned to meet Wednesday to discuss the progress of weapons inspectors and their program for Iraq, though Annan said he had ordered the inspectors withdrawn from Iraq.

— Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, speaking before Bush's speech, ruled out the possibility of Saddam relinquishing power. Sabri suggested Bush step down.

— Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United Nations would survive the Iraqi crisis and the United States would remain an important member of the world body. Powell said U.N. would play a key role in the reconstruction of Iraq.

— The U.S. government is relying on anti-Saddam Iraqis in the United States to help prevent domestic terror attacks in case of war. The FBI has completed thousands of voluntary interviews with exiled Iraqis, asking for help in uncovering possible terrorism.

— Turkey's Cabinet on Tuesday planned to discuss a proposal to let the United States base troops in Turkey for use against Iraq, and planned to present the issue to Parliament for a vote Wednesday. On March 1, a measure to allow basing of 62,000 U.S. troops in Turkey failed.

— About 150 people rallied Monday in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington to protest a potential war with Iraq. One-third of them were arrested for acts of civil disobedience.

— A prolonged war in Iraq could dampen Europe's growth prospects and even lead to recession, the Unice group said Monday. But a quick victory against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein could bolster the European economy. Business federations from the 15 European Union member nations represented by the group forecast gross domestic product growth of 1.4 percent this year.

— British Prime Minister Tony Blair was hit Monday by his first Cabinet resignation over his pro-war stance on Iraq with the resignation of Robin Cook as the government's leader in the House of Commons.

— French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin criticized Monday's decision by the United States, Britain and Spain not to seek a U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution authorizing force if Iraq failed to disarm. "Despite the will clearly expressed by the international community, the United States, Britain and Spain underlined today their determination to resort to force." He said the decision was not justified and risked "serious consequences" for the region.

— Bearish reassurances from Saudi Arabia and Capitol Hill prompted oil traders to send the price of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange lower Monday in heavy trading. Traders appeared confident that a war would be short and that there would be enough oil on the market to avoid shortages.

— Germany closed its embassy in Baghdad Monday, and U.N. observers withdrew from the Kuwait-Iraq border.

— An UNMOVIC spokesman said five helicopters leased by arms inspectors had been moved to neighboring Syria at the request of their owners because the craft had lost insurance coverage with the threat of war. Their departure left three large Russian-built troop transport-size helicopters as the only ones for UNMOVIC inspectors.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide