- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2002

CAIRO Across Europe, the Middle East and the United States, the exiled officers who once ran Saddam Hussein's army are being recruited by a U.S.-backed Iraqi opposition group that sees signals the United States may soon embark on a concerted effort to topple Saddam.
The Iraqi National Congress (INC) is trying to bring the exiled, dissident soldiers together this month to discuss a future command structure for the army. Though no date or venue has been set, the opposition's planning has reached a feverish stage as Vice President Richard B. Cheney begins a Middle East tour, reportedly seeking support for American action against Iraq.
Mr. Cheney, who arrived in Amman, Jordan, from London yesterday, discussed with King Abdullah II likely U.S. military action against Iraq and the spiraling Israeli-Palestinian violence.
King Abdullah voiced "Jordan's concern from the repercussions of any possible strike on Iraq and the dangers of that on the stability and security of the region," a palace statement said.
It said the king "expressed hope for a solution to all outstanding problems with Iraq through dialogue and peaceful means."
Earlier in London, Mr. Cheney discussed the war on terrorism with British Prime Minister Tony Blair amid speculation Iraq would be the second main target.
[British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw yesterday said Iraq posed a serious threat to global security but ruled out a military attack until compelling evidence showed it was needed, Reuters news agency reported.
["The Iraqi regime represents a severe threat to international and regional security as a result of its continued development of weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Straw told Parliament.
["Military action […] cannot be ruled out in this situation, but no one who is serious should contemplate the prospect of military action unless there is the clearest possible evidence of the necessity of that military action," he said.]
Meanwhile, one potential military leader being touted in Iraqi-opposition circles is Gen. Nizar Khazraji, a former chief of staff and a hero of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war who is now seeking asylum in Denmark.
Gen. Khazraji is from the Sunni sect of Islam that dominates Iraq and is the highest-ranking officer to defect from Saddam's ranks.
Among others floated as possible successors or members of an interim government are Fawzi Shamari, who defected in the mid-1980s and now lives in the United States, and Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.


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