- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

Insider notes from United Press International for Feb. 24 …

-0-

A meeting in Paris Saturday between French President Jacques Chirac, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal has revived talk in Arab circles of a Saddam Hussein endgame that has him resigning at the last minute, when U.S. forces are at Iraq's door. A well-informed Arab source says: "Saddam is not the 'leave the last bullet for me' type. He'd rather take his money and run." This source says the weekend visit to Baghdad of former Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov — a Middle East expert with close ties to Saddam — is part of the same campaign to persuade Saddam to step down and avoid a conflict. The question of where he will go remains unresolved, according to this source. It is unlikely to be an Arab country, because "sooner or later an Arab government would sell him out and he'd be assassinated," the source said.

-0-

The message that President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is anxious to put across on his two-day visit to Washington this week is that the Iraq crisis shouldn't put his country's needs on the back burner. So, besides meetings with President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, Karzai wanted to make a direct appeal to the U.S. Congress. But when the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations took the hint and issued an invitation Kabul balked at the venue. In the committee's usual meeting place, Room 419 in the Dirksen Senate Building, the senators sit on a raised platform. They would be looking down at Karzai, as if he were testifying. Committee officials proposed installing a platform so that Karzai would be on the same level with the senators. Then someone came up with a simpler solution that was more acceptable to the Afghans. Change the venue and have the senators sit at a round table. Now all they have to do is find a round table large enough to seat 10 senators and the Afghan president.

-0-

Meanwhile, the process of filling in the void left by departing U.S. forces continues in Afghanistan. Norway is quietly sending some of its special forces for a three-month stint this week to reinforce the U.S.-led "Operation Enduring Freedom," as U.S., British and Australian special forces depart, presumably for Kuwait, staging point of allied forces for the Iraq offensive. Oslo's main contribution to the Iraq crisis is not troops but what they wear: 10,000 suits designed to protect troops against chemical and biological agents are being sent to NATO ally Turkey, with military personnel to train the Turks in their use.

-0-

The blossoming military alliance between Israel and India has hit a temporary rough patch, with the Indian Army claiming that Israeli radars designed to detect militant infiltration into Kashmir are performing poorly. The recently acquired 1,022 radar systems are manufactured by El-Op Electro-Optics Industries, which beat out other contenders for the $70 million contract, including the French companies Thales and Sagem. But Jammu Paramilitary Border Security Force chief Dilip Trivedi said: "We are not getting the desired results from these sensors because we have different ground conditions from those of Israel." India's purchases of Israeli arms have soared in the past few years. Recent buys include naval jets, Green Pine anti-missile radars, unmanned drone aircraft, and communications systems. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. is jointly developing with Israeli companies the HAL Advanced Light Helicopter, and India is also interested in buying Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile system.

-0-

As the United States increases its presence in the Philippines to help Manila combat the Abu Sayyaf Group guerrillas in the south of the country, Filipino intelligence is worried that the increased U.S. role could escalate the violence, particularly in the form of ASG suicide bombers in Mindanao. According to an anonymous Filipino intelligence officer, at least 50 ASG suicide bombers have been deployed in Mindanao since September. According to the officer, the would-be martyrs are "fresh recruits whose ages range from 18 to 35 years." The guerrillas also have the wherewithal to support and train others. Another intelligence officer said the military had been following up reports that a "large amount" of financial assistance has been transferred from the Middle East.

-0-


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide