- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

U.S. allies and rivals alike yesterday weighed in against a military strike on Iraq despite Bush administration assurances that international backing for a move against Saddam Hussein will be there when the bullets start to fly.
German conservative Edmond Stoiber, the favorite to win next month's election for chancellor, abruptly overruled his party's foreign policy spokes-man yesterday in demanding that any action against Iraq be handled through the United Nations.
"A country cannot go it alone, without consultation, a decision or a mandate from the international community," said Mr. Stoiber, who had previously refrained from discussing his position on U.S. policy toward Iraq.
Turkey, a front-line state and critical U.S. ally in the region, dispatched Foreign Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal to Washington this week to register Ankara's strong opposition to a new war on its border.
"We have used every opportunity to tell our friends in the U.S. administration we are opposed to military action against Iraq," Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit told reporters in Ankara yesterday.
The chorus of international remarks followed strong statements from Vice President Richard B. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this week outlining the danger posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and the need to act quickly to deal with the threat. Top Iraqi diplomats, who visited China and Syria yesterday, have also tried to rally international opposition to an invasion.
Mr. Stoiber said in a statement that he spoke out against unilateral American action after listening to Mr. Cheney's remarks.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in a visit to Tokyo yesterday, echoed Mr. Rumsfeld's argument that, if and when the United States decides to act, it will be able to persuade a broad coalition of allies to sign up.
"I don't think I'd care to give a laundry list [of allies] because I don't think we've chosen sides yet on the question of who does what," Mr. Armitage said.
"When the U.S. lays out a public case against Iraq, we expect a fair amount of international support," he added.
Still, the diplomatic selling job appears to grow by the day.
Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, who met with both Mr. Armitage and Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri this week, told Chinese state television yesterday that "threatening to resort to force will not solve the problem."
India, despite warming ties with Washington, said it remained opposed to a war with Iraq.
"We are very clear that there should be no armed action against any country, more particularly with the avowed purpose of changing a regime," External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha told reporters this week.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called military action against Iraq "unwise." He told reporters during a visit to Botswana on Tuesday that the United Nations "is not agitating for military action" against Iraq.
No Arab nation has officially voiced support for a military strike, despite a history of conflicts with Saddam.
A day after President Bush hosted Saudi Arabia's U.S. ambassador at his Texas ranch, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in an interview with the BBC yesterday that any effort by outside force to oust Saddam was doomed to fail.
"Whether Saddam Hussein remains or is removed from power is up to the Iraqi people," said Prince Faisal, arguing that an invasion would only cause ordinary Iraqis to rally around the existing regime.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Tuesday that a U.S. invasion could produce chaos in the region and undermine other Arab governments.
"Striking Iraq is something that could have repercussions and post-strike developments," he said. "Not one Arab leader will be able to control the angry outburst of the masses."
Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Khalifa, on a visit to Syria yesterday, said Iraq should meet existing U.N. mandates on weapons inspections but said his country continued to oppose a military strike to force Baghdad to comply.
Turkey's Mr. Ziyal, who addressed a Washington think-tank luncheon yesterday, said his country has its own concerns about the fallout from a military invasion, in particular the prospect of renewed tensions with ethnic Kurds who straddle the borders between Iran, Iraq and Turkey.
"On Iraq, we would prefer long-term therapy to invasive surgery," Mr. Ziyal said.
In one measure of the administration's determination to sell its hard line on Iraq, the deputy Turkish foreign minister met with an A-list of U.S. officials during his trip here, holding talks by video hook-up with Mr. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Mr. Cheney, among others.
In Britain, where Prime Minister Tony Blair has been one of the few international leaders to back Mr. Bush's contention that force may be needed against Iraq, domestic opinion appears to be swinging against the strong U.S. stand.
Some 160 members of Mr. Blair's Labor Party in Parliament out of 411 have signed a motion opposing an attack on Iraq.

This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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