- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2002

BAGHDAD Iraqi lawmakers denounced a tough, new U.N. resolution on weapons inspections yesterday as dishonest, provocative and worthy of rejection, despite the risk of war. But parliament said it will trust whatever President Saddam Hussein decides.

One after the other, senior lawmakers rejected the resolution, the latest in a long effort to ensure Iraq scraps its weapons of mass destruction. This time, however, the United States and Britain have made clear they will attack Iraq if it does not fully comply.

Saadoun Hamadi, speaker of Iraq's parliament, said the resolution was stacked with "ill intentions," "falsehood," "lies" and "dishonesty." Salim al-Koubaisi, head of parliament's foreign relations committee, recommended rejecting the resolution but also advised deferring to the "wise Iraqi leadership" to act as it sees fit to defend Iraq's people and dignity.

"The committee advises the rejection of Security Council Resolution 1441 and to not agree to it in response to the opinions of our people, who put their trust in us," Mr. al-Koubaisi told fellow lawmakers.

Saddam has used parliament's action as cover for difficult decisions in the past, and harsh rhetoric does not necessarily mean parliament will reject the proposal. Saddam ordered parliament to recommend a formal response, and lawmakers were expected to vote on recommendations for the Iraqi leadership today.

Iraq has until Friday to accept or reject the resolution, approved unanimously last week by the U.N. Security Council. Exactly when on Friday was left intentionally vague in the resolution, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

There are numerous interpretations for the deadline: one week from the minute the resolution was adopted, the minute Iraq was notified, the end of business Friday or midnight Friday. It is up to the Security Council to interpret its own resolution, Mr. Eckhard said.

If Saddam does not follow through, a Pentagon plan calls for more than 200,000 troops to invade Iraq.

Parliament's advice on the new U.N. resolution, which demands that Iraq cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors or face "serious consequences," will go to the Revolutionary Command Council, Iraq's ruling body, led by Saddam.

Should parliament recommend acceptance, it would allow Saddam to say the decision was the will of the Iraqi people and more smoothly retreat from previous objections to any new resolution governing weapons inspections.

In Washington, President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, rejected the legitimacy of the parliament debate.

"One has to be a bit skeptical of the independence of the Iraqi parliament from Saddam Hussein," she said. "I don't think anyone believes this is anything but an absolute dictatorship and this decision is up to Saddam Hussein."

She also said Iraq has no right to accept or reject the resolution. "They are obligated to accept, but the U.N. thought it best to ask for return-receipt requested," Miss Rice said.

On Sunday, Arab League foreign ministers ended meetings in Cairo with a final communique urging cooperation between Iraq and the United Nations. The Arab ministers also called on the United States to commit to pledges Syria said it received that the resolution could not be used to justify military action. They also put forward a united position of "absolute rejection" of military action.

The Iraqi parliament is stacked with Saddam's allies. During opening speeches aired live on Iraqi television, lawmakers applauded every mention of Saddam's name in speeches praising "His Excellency Mr. President, the holy warrior leader Saddam Hussein."

Wafa Samir, a 30-year-old teacher, watched the speeches on television at a Baghdad shopping center. "For how long will they keep issuing resolutions and expect Iraq to implement them?" she asked. "They have to stop sometime for the Iraqis' sake."

On convening the session, Mr. Hamadi, the parliament speaker, told lawmakers that the resolution "does not have the minimum of fairness, objectivity and balance" and violates international law.

"The ill intentions in this resolution are flagrant and loud in ignoring all the work that has been achieved in past years and takes the issue back to square one," Mr. Hamadi said. "This resolution includes many impossible demands that can't be executed."

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