- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2002

LONDON National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice told Britons yesterday that Saddam Hussein is "an evil man" who will use weapons of mass destruction if he gets a chance, and said Western nations "do not have the luxury" of leaving him in power.
An Iraqi opposition leader, meanwhile, was quoted today saying Vice President Richard B. Cheney promised at a weekend meeting that President Bush will complete the job that was left undone in the 1991 Persian Gulf war by overthrowing Saddam.
Miss Rice, in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., indicated in some of the strongest language yet heard from the Bush administration that the time for action is nearing.
"We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing," she said. "If Saddam Hussein is left in power, doing the things that he's doing now, this is a threat that will emerge and emerge in a very big way."
The interview is to be broadcast as a part of the BBC's September 11 anniversary radio series "The Diplomatic Jigsaw," a year after the terrorist attacks that brought down New York City's World Trade Center towers and a wing of the Pentagon. The network released quotes from the interview yesterday.
Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization have been the priority "because we did not know how many World Trade Centers were already planned and ready to go," Miss Rice said, but the focus now has shifted to Saddam.
"He has invaded his neighbors," she said. "He has killed thousands of his own people. This is an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbors, and if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, on us all."
In a separate interview with the London Daily Telegraph published today, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani said U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was very explicit about American goals during a meeting with Iraqi opposition figures in Washington late last week.
"Rumsfeld, when he talked to us, said, 'We will not leave the job a middle way as we did in 1991 when we start we will finish it and will reach the final stages and the end of dictatorship,'" said Mr. Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
Mr. Talabani and leaders of five other opposition groups held talks with Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Cheney, and State Department and Pentagon officials.
"All of them assured us that there is an American final decision and commitment to change the regime to a free, democratic Iraq," Mr. Talabani told the Telegraph.
The tough language comes amid strong indications that the United States is planning to use an invasion force of perhaps 250,000 troops to try to overthrow the Iraqi strongman.
Miss Rice's comments were seen also as an attempt to bolster support in Britain, where Prime Minister Tony Blair is under heavy fire for backing Washington's plans and where a major opinion poll just days ago showed that more than two-thirds of Britons surveyed opposed an attack on Iraq "in present circumstances."
More than 160 members of Parliament, most of them from Mr. Blair's ruling Labor Party, have signed a motion opposing military action in Iraq, and the prime minister faces the possibility of three and perhaps more resignations from his Cabinet if he goes ahead.
Still, Miss Rice was clear that Saddam must go.
"History," she said, "is littered with cases of inaction that led to very grave consequences for the world. We just have to look back and ask how many dictators who end up being a tremendous global threat, and killing thousands, and indeed millions of people, should have been stopped in their tracks."
The Iraqi leader is of the same ilk, she suggested, saying he has "developed biological weapons, lied to the [United Nations] repeatedly about the stockpiles and has used chemical weapons against his own people."
"He shoots at our planes fl in the no-fly zone [over north and south Iraq] where we're trying to enforce U.N. security resolutions," Miss Rice said. "And he, despite the fact that he lost this war a war which he started negotiates with the U.N. as if he won the war.
"I think it's a very stunning indictment," she said.
While Washington's determination becomes ever more apparent, international support of the kind that backed the 1991 Gulf war seems increasingly unlikely.
In addition to a lack of enthusiasm in Britain, France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe, Jordan's King Abdullah II told his nation in a televised address yesterday that Iraq has "a right to live in security and peace" and insisted that Baghdad's sovereignty and unity must be respected.
The king reiterated his insistence for moves "to settle the Iraqi issue through a dialogue with the U.N., instead of threats and the use of force."
Hundreds of angry Palestinians demonstrated in the Gaza Strip yesterday, setting fire to American and Israeli flags and chanting, "Dear Saddam, bomb Tel Aviv" and "We are marching to Iraq, giving millions of martyrs on the way."

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