- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Tuesday the followers of Islam would be victorious against "aggression," a day after U.N. Security Council members discussed a Canadian plan that calls for military action if he does not cooperate with the world body and rid himself of proscribed weapons of mass destruction.

"The faithful will be victorious against aggression," said the letter from Saddam read on Iraqi television to mark the beginning of the Islamic New Year. The letter was addressed to Iraqis and Palestinians.

At present, U.N. inspectors are in Iraq in line with Security Council Res. 1441 that authorized their return and that warned Baghdad of "serious consequence" if it did not comply with the world body. The U.N. Security Council is split on how to disarm Saddam.

Among the permanent five, Britain and the United States say Saddam has a history of lying to the world body and must be disarmed by force if necessary. They say if the United Nations does not act, they will do so with a "coalition of the willing."

The others permanent, veto-wielding members of the council - Russia, France and China - are against the use of force and favor more time for inspections.

On Monday, the 10 elected members of the council invited Ambassador Paul Heinbecker of Canada to discuss Ottawa's ideas on the deadlock. He came away saying the divisions among the permanent five were reflected among his hosts.

However, he said, he did not hear anybody say a negative word about the Canadian proposal secretly put forward last week. The proposal, details of which were leaked last week, called for the 15-member council to authorize war against Iraq on March 31 if U.N. weapons inspectors still faced resistance from Baghdad.

It set out a timeline for beyond that date if the inspectors were to report by March 28 "substantial Iraqi compliance." It called for briefings, beginning, as delivered on schedule last Friday, by Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and again every Friday until the last one in the month, the 28th.

Depending on that report being negative, foreign ministers of the 15 council nations would gather then to authorize the war measure. If substantial progress in the inspection regime is reported, then "a robust ongoing verification and monitoring system including increased numbers of inspectors" would be put into place.

The divisions among the council add to U.S. woes. Washington's plans for war, for which it has amassed 250,000 troops in and around the Persian Gulf region, has also been dealt a blow by the weekend's rejection by Turkish parliament of a proposal that would give the United States access to military bases in the country in the event of a war with Iraq. Although Turkish parliament was due to reconvene Tuesday, there was no indication the measure would be reintroduced.

Washington said Monday its plans were being reshaped in the event Turkey does not agree.

"We always have a backup plan," a senior defense official told United Press International. "At some point, soon, we've got to start making changes."

The official told said though victory is still assured over Iraq, without Turkey's cooperation it may take longer and cost more in terms of casualties.

Plan B, Pentagon sources said, would likely envision either the same troops swinging west in Iraq and racing to the northwest near Mosul, or flying airborne troops to the area, deploying them by parachute or landing on rough air strips in protected Kurdish territory. Supporting that scenario, the full 101st Airborne Division has received deployment orders, a Pentagon source said.

The 1st Calvary Division on Monday received deployment orders for all 17,000 of its soldiers and their heavy tanks and armored personnel carriers. They are destined for the "Central Command region," said spokesman Dan Hassett.

Although how long a possible war will last is not know, the White House said Monday it military action would stop only when Saddam was ousted.

"Nobody should think — not even for a second — that military action could be possibly taken to disarm Saddam Hussein that would leave Saddam Hussein at the helm for him to re-arm up later. No, that's not an option," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

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