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February 01, 1991 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-02-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

PERSIAN GULF CRISIS

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Saddam's Strategy
And Israel's Response

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Foreign Correspondent

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22

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1991

addam Hussein has a
method to his
madness. And that's
what is so disturbing to
Western analysts.
Based on conversations
with several experts, what
emerges is a uniquely Arab
strategy in fighting the Gulf
war. The goal is not to win
the war, in the conventional
sense, but to endure and
survive it, and thus achieve
victory in the eyes of the
Arab masses.
"Saddam knew the war
was coming and he welcom-
ed it with open arms," said
one source. "He made no at-
tempt to defend his capital
or his population. He even
left the lights of Baghdad
on."
This act of apparent folly
was, said the analyst, a
deliberate, calculated move
that was intended to
dramatize the message he
wanted to reverberate
throughout the Arab and
Islamic world.
"It doesn't make much
military sense, but it makes
enormous political sense in
the Islamic world.
"No one seriously expects
him to defeat America, but
what he has done is, in one
sense, far more important:
he has sent the most potent
possible message that he,
alone among Arab leaders, is
willing to defy the United
States, most powerful sym-
bol of the hated West."
The other essential, and
equally important, element
in his grand design is to drag
Israel into the conflict: "This..
will be his masterstroke,"
said an analyst. "Once he
has achieved that his posi-
tion will be unassailable.
"Never mind whether it
breaks up the military coali-
tion —he will be so firmly
entrenched as the un-
disputed champion of the
Arab and Islamic worlds
that not a single Arab
regime will be safe from the
passions of its own people."
So far, Israel has resisted
his open invitation to a fight.
Reluctant to serve Saddam's
interests, the Israeli
government has exercised
almost super-human re-
straint, insisting that it will

respond to the waves of mis-
siles at a time, at a place and
in a manner of its own choos-
ing.
Having failed to elicit the
desired response from Israel,
Saddam may escalate his at-
tacks. In the field, he has a
number of options and he
can be expected to:
• Abandon the high-
explosive warheads he has
deployed on his Scud mis-
siles in favor of chemical
payloads;
• Attempt to penetrate
Israeli skies with his
Sukhoi-24 bombers to
deliver chemical and
biological attacks with
greater accuracy;
• Provoke an Israeli re-
sponse by introducing Iraqi
ground forces into King
Hussein's troubled Kingdom
of Jordan, which he already
regards as an extension of
his own country;
• Mount a terror campaign
against Israeli targets —po-
litical, diplomatic, military
and economic — throughout
the world through an inter-
national terrorist network
that is already in place.
If, under these cir-
cumstances, Israel does re-
spond, the form of retalia-

tion is unlikely to involve
the sort of aerial bombard-
ment that would only serve
to duplicate the efforts of the
allied powers.
More likely, it will resort
to the form of action for
which it is already univer-
sally acclaimed and, justly,
feared: a meticulously
planned commando action.
This could involve deploy-
ing ground forces in western
Iraq to seek out and destroy
the fixed and mobile missile
launchers that have menac-
ed Israel's cities and ter-
rorized its population.
Such an action, however,
would be hazardous.
It would also almost cer-
tainly lead to an unwelcome,
full- scale confrontation with
the Jordanian army and air
force, whether King Hussein
liked it or not.
An alternative, and more
likely, course of action would
be to target the Iraqi presi-
dent himself.
"The Americans might be
putting down thousands of
tons of explosives on hun-
dreds of targets," one analy-
st noted. "But realistically,
there is only one target:
Saddam Hussein." ❑

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