The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 23, 2002 - 5A
Several Arab nations will support war on Iraq
DOHA, Qatar - A few weeks ago, the sec-
retary general of the 22-member Arab League,
Amr Moussa, declared that war with Iraq "will
open the gates of Hell in the Middle East." But
the reality is that some Arab nations are coop-
erating with preparations for a U.S. military
campaign, while others remain on the sidelines.
Interviews with officials and observers from
Qatar, Jordan and Saudi Arabia reveal a com-
mon basis for Arab calculations. It boils down
to a wish to maintain good relations with Wash-
ington, even at the expense of criticism and
possible unrest within their borders.
President Bush's address to the United
Nations this month, seeking support from the
Security Council for any action against Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein, drew support from
some Arab leaders who said they could not
support a unilateral U.S. strike.
Bush will not be able to recruit Arab states
into a coalition against Hussein as his father
did in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when Arab
leaders supplied the alliance with soldiers,
bases and cash. But this time, the Arabs are
bending to the will of U.S. superpower domi-
Jordan's foreign minister, Marwan Muasher,
said in an interview in Washington that despite
strong misgivings about war, "Jordan has a
strategic, political and economic relationship
with the United States, and certainly, Jordan
will not jeopardize this relationship." That is a
contrast from a decade ago, when King Hus-
sein came out against international intervention
after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
In Qatar, a wealthy sheikdom in the Persian
Gulf, the foreign minister, Hamad Bin Jasim al-
Thani, recently signaled his country's priorities:
"We always consider requests from our friends.
We consider the United States our ally."
A wild card for all the Arab states is what
Israel would do in the event of war. In 1991, the
Israelis refrained from retaliating when Iraq
fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel. But this time,
Israeli military and political leaders say they
will not be restrained if attacked. If Israel
joined the United States in a U.S. military cam-
paign against Iraq, it could provoke a harsh
reaction in the Arab world.
For now, the evidence of key Arab states'
support for the United States is not found so
much in public statements as in events on the
ground. Arms and equipment are pouring
into Kuwait, where the United States main-
tains an Army headquarters post - a forward
base to supply three battalions with tanks,
armored vehicles, assault helicopters and
Troops from Britain, the Bush administra-
tion's prime partner in the campaign to oust
Hussein, are holding maneuvers in Oman,
where the United States is building a new air-
field. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet
and its two carrier-led battle groups, and has
beefed up security at the base for fear of a
backlash against a U.S. assault on Iraq.
Ten days ago, Saudi Arabia reversed itself
and said it would permit military installations
there to be used in a war endorsed by the Unit-
ed Nations. Jordan has taken no such public
stand, but Western diplomats in Amman, the
capital, say there is an "understanding" that
Jordan will permit the Americans to use its ter-
ritory for "search and rescue missions" to sup-
port U.S. troops inside Iraq.
Influential Egypt and Syria have chosen eva-
sion as the best course, speaking only of their
desire for U.N. decision-making. Cairo and
Damascus have steered the debate away from
the question of U.S. plans to overthrow Hussein
to the issue of getting arms inspectors into Iraq.
Vatar has established a no-holds-barred
alliance with the United States, which main-
tains the large Al Udeid Air Base in the south
of the country. Transport planes, usually escort-
ed by fighter jets, land at the base almost daily.
The United States began using the base in the
late 1990s, and it has undergone substantial
enlargement. A hangar can house 40 planes,
and bunkered shelters for jets line its 15,000-
foot runway, the longest in the Persian Gulf.
Although Qatari officials say they have
received no request for use of the base against
Iraq, the U.S. Central Command will move
command and control facilities from Florida to
Qatar in November. The move is officially
billed as a biennial exercise, but equipment and
personnel will remain afterward, according to a
U.S. official. There appears to be no doubt here
that Qatar will be used as a launching pad if the
United States attacks Iraq.
Qatar, a wealthy oil and natural gas emirate
jutting from the Arabian Peninsula into the
Gulf, would seem an unlikely U.S. ally in at
least one way. Qataris belong to the Wahhabi
sect of Islam, the same as Osama bin Laden
and many Saudis. Yet, Wahhabism here is a
relaxed variety. Women can work and drive,
alcohol is served in hotels, and foreigners seem
Iraq resolution to
be scaled down,
Iranian soldiers carry the coffins of 88 Iraninan army soldiers who were killed in the Iraq-Iran 1980-1988 war near a painting of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
border, 450 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, last Tuesday. Iraq and Iran exchanged the remains of 120 soldiers captured during their 1980-1988 war, in a furl
toward normalizing relation between the two neighboring countries.
Hussein reying on treats o violence
stiflee ges entent aong Ira(
WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawmak-
ers predicted yesterday that President
Bush's request for a mandate to restore
regional security in the Mideast would
be scaled down to address just Iraq,
allowing congressional authorization
to take on Saddam Hussein.
There were also bipartisan pleas for
Israeli restraint in the face of Iraqi
provocation, although members of Con-
gress said they would understand if
Israel felt the need to respond to attacks.
The White House has proposed a reso-
lution that would authorize the president
"to use all means that he determines to
be appropriate, including force, in order
to ...defend the national security inter-
ests of the United States against the
threat posed by Iraq, and restore interna-
tional peace and security in the region."
"It's much too broad, there's no limit
at all on presidential powers," said Sen.
Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate
Armed Services Committee.
AP PHOTO "There needs to be some changes ...
at Fakka it's not even limited to Iraq," Levin (D-
ther step Mich.) said on "Fox News Sunday."
Bush wants the U.N. Security Council
tO to enforce bans on weapons of mass
destruction against Iraq. The United
States believes Iraq is stockpiling deadly
chemical and biological weapons, and is
" rebuilding its nuclear weapons program.
Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
said keeping "region" in would set too
broad a precedent.
But "I predict that won't be the lan-
guage," Biden told CNN's Late Edi-
tion, adding that the White House was
amenable to change.
"They've made it clear to me that
they understand they want to talk about
-- Ahmed it. ...We can clean this up in a way that
m Hussein we don't set a precedent for future
presidents," said Biden (D-Del).
Some Republicans sympathized
e military," with the need to contain the language.
ior intelli- "These are very, very important defini-
tions, because it will guide the presi-
ficer found dent and this nation probably into war,"
ckoning is Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said on
res.'" ABC's "This Week."
d a different Even those comfortable with the
an said. The proposed language said they would
accommodate change to speed it
through. The White House wants the
legislation to pass before Congress
recesses before elections Nov. 5.
"We can correct that, it don't think
that's fatal to the heart of the resolu-
tion," said Rep. Henry Hyde, chairman
of the House International Relations
Still, Hyde (R-IlJ.) called the objec-
tions "specious" and said the proposed
resolution was standard
Hagel and Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.)
predicted the resolution would easily
pass before the elections, but Biden
warned that Bush needed to work hard-
er to explain his plans.
"The American people are grown
up," he said. "You tell them what we
need to do, tell them the threat, and
they will back the president. But we
haven't told them all of the story yet."
He and Levin also urged Bush to
work closely with the Security Coun-
cil, saying it would bolster domestic
backing for any war.
"There is a degree of confidence
that increases in direct proportion to
the notion that we are not going to be
going alone with this,' Biden said.
Levin said the Iraqi president was
more likely to fold before joint action
than if he were threatened by the Unit-
ed States alone. "I want him to look
down the barrel of a gun with the
world behind it."
Whatever the stakes, lawmakers
urged Israel to avoid retaliating against
any Iraqi provocation.
"The Israelis going into it could just
be a widespread war in the Middle
East," Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
said on CBS' Face the Nation.
Biden agreed. "You would find
probably every embassy in the Middle
East burned to the ground before it
went too far," he said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres said Israel would heed U.S.
appeals for restraint, but reserved the
right to respond if it were attacked.
"We understand there is not going to
be two wars and there are not going to
be two supreme commands," Peres
said on CNN.
AMMAN, Jordan - One evening last week, a
group of Iraqi men sat smoking cigarettes in a living
room in Amman, discussing what appears to be the
imminent end of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
What was remarkable about the gathering was the
presence of one of Hussein's close friends.
Hussein does not know it yet, but his friend has
"He was scared to death," said an Iraqi who was at
the meeting and gave his name only as Ahmed. "He
expects people would drag him through the streets (if
Hussein's regime fell). He knows people have a real
grudge against him."
The reported defection of the man - described by
Iraqis here as an official involved in the public rela-
tions side of the Hussein regime - is a sign of grow-
ing anxiety in Iraq among Hussein loyalists who are
realizing that they are likely to be targeted by the
long-resentful populace should Hussein fall.
All over Iraq, say Iraqi exiles in Jordan, there are
indications that both elements of the regime and
ordinary people feel that the end is nigh for Hussein.
Intelligence agents have received threatening letters,
anti-Hussein graffiti has appeared with increasing
regularity, Hussein has ordered executions of those
he suspects of disloyalty, and more men like Hus-
sein's friend are looking for a way out.
"If it was easy to leave, many people would do it,"
Ahmed said. "But Saddam makes it almost impossi-
ble by refusing to allow their families to leave with
them. This person I met this week left on his own.
Very few people would do that."
The accounts of what is going on in Iraq came
from several Iraqis in Amman who are unfriendly to
the Hussein regime. But they are in constant contact
with friends and relatives inside the country, some of
whom are officials in the regime. It is common for
Iraqi extended families to include both quiet dis-
senters and officials of the government or of Hus-
sein's ruling Baath Party.
All those who were interviewed last week insisted
that their names not be published because of danger
to themselves or relatives from Hussein's secret
"If it was easy to leave, many people would do it.
Saddam makes it almOst impossible by refusing to
allow their families to leave with them."
Defected friend of Iraqi President Saddai
police agents, both here and in Iraq.
In Iraq, foreign reporters can rarely hear dissenting
voices because the government forces them to use
official minders as translators. But those interviewed
here say dissent is growing in the shadows.
The organs of Hussein's control reportedly are tak-
ing steps to protect themselves from the kind of
rebellion that followed the U.S.-led attack in 1991.
Then, in southern Iraq, people overthrew local Baath
Party officials and killed many before Hussein's
forces crushed the uprising.
Millions of Iraqis work for or have collaborated
with the regime, and Jordanian analysts and Iraqis in
Jordan say that should the Hussein regime fall, there
will likely be a bloody repeat of the revenge killings
seen in 1991 - but on a nationwide scale.
"Every Baathist in the eyes of a non-Baathist is
going to be a target," said a former senior Jordanian
government official. "This is why it's going to be a
In the past few weeks, said Ahmed, who participat-
ed in the 1991 rebellion, the Baath Party has been
distributing weapons to members. "Before the mem-
ber gets a gun he must take an oath of loyalty to Sad-
dam," Ahmed said. "These are weapons not to resist
planes but people."
Hussein also has been moving families of his air
force pilots to their air bases as a way of making sure
that the pilots do not change sides and bomb the
bases, the Iraqis said.
The government appears to have reason to worry.
"Last week a lot of threatening letters were sent to
officers of the intelligence service and th
Ahmed said. One of his relatives, a sen
gence officer, received a letter, he said.
"It came to his house," he said. "This of
it under his door. It said, 'The time of re
almost here and we will soon settle our sco
An Iraqi official close to Hussein received
form of message this month, Iraqis in Amm
official's German shepherd was found dead,
head - and the threat was underscored by t
the dog was killed near the official's home
neighborhood of Baghdad that is usually ver
the many officials who live there.
Reports of warnings to the regime have
other parts of Baghdad and the country. In
borhood of the capital, residents reportedi
here in Amman that people have been writ
on the walls. "Leave the country," the mes
"Let us live."
This kind of graffiti has appeared bef
but it is becoming more common, Iraqis
weeks ago, in one neighborhood, someon
portrait of Hussein.
"The authorities went into the area an
houses and anyone who owned crayons or
taken in," one Iraqi said.
In most streets in Iraq, one or two houses.
Baath Party officials, whose job it is to keel
their neighbors. Iraqi exiles hear from their
relatives that it is becoming common to hea
the night-and in the morning to hear whisj
local Baathist has been killed or has disappee
shot in the
[he fact that
in an elite
y secure for
ore in Iraq
e defaced a
are home to
p an eye on
r gunfire in
pers that the
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