27 February 2003, Volume
IRAQI PRESIDENT GIVES RARE INTERVIEW TO U.S. BROADCASTER.
President Saddam Husayn said in a CBS News interview whose contents were released by cbsnews.com on 24 February that "Iraq does not have missiles that go beyond the proscribed range." Husayn was referring to the recent UN ruling that Iraq's Al-Sumud 2 missile exceeds the 150-kilometer limit set by the UN (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 20 February 2003). The rare interview was aired on CBS Television on 25 and 26 February. Husayn also told interviewer Dan Rather that he wants a televised debate with U.S. President George W. Bush over the issue of war, saying, "I am ready...to conduct a direct dialogue with your president." The Iraqi president added, "As leaders,... why don't we use this opportunity?" White House spokesman Ari Fleischer called the invitation "not a serious statement," telling CBS News: "This is not about a debate.... This is about disarmament and complying with the world's instructions to disarm." (Kathleen Ridolfo)BAGHDAD TO JOIN INVESTMENT AGREEMENT.
Iraq's Revolution Command Council and the National Assembly approved a law to join the Arab Economic Unity Council's "agreement on encouraging and protecting investments and the movement of capital among Arab states," Iraq News Agency reported on 20 February. The agreement, which was designed to "consolidate the principles of economic unity and the common Arab market," was signed in Cairo on 7 June 2000. The 11-member Arab Economic Unity Council was established in 1964 to promote the free movement of people, capital, and products within the Arab world. (Sarah Horton)IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTRY TAKES E-MAIL QUESTIONS.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry ran a ticker on its website (http://www.uruklink.net/mofa) on 22 February stating, "The Foreign Ministry site announces that it is ready to receive your questions on the relationship between Iraq and the UN inspectors." Queries can be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI DEFECTOR SAYS IRAQ HAS NEW POISON BOMBS.
An Iraqi officer who defected to Jordan one year ago told London's "Sunday Telegraph" that Iraq has developed new binary-system chemical bombs in contravention of UN resolutions prohibiting it from doing so, the newspaper reported on 23 February. The officer, identified only as "Ali," said that the bombs were divided in two by an internal partition that was loaded with chemicals on each side. As pilots approached a target, they were to hit a switch to open the partition, allowing the chemicals to mix. The outer doors on the bottom of the weapon would then open, releasing the mixture, the "Sunday Telegraph" reported. Another bomb was designed to explode after its release in mid-air. The bombs were designed for use in helicopters, Sukhoi-25 planes, and jets, Ali told the paper. He said that he was trained at Habbaniyah and Al-Qa'qa, and that his former colleagues have confirmed to him that the program is still operating. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
KUWAIT ANNOUNCES ARREST OF IRAQI 'SPY.'
The Kuwaiti Interior Ministry announced on 22 February that it arrested an Iraqi on suspicion of spying on Kuwait, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported the same day. The Iraqi, Zuhair Faqira Muhammad Nader, was born in Iraq and has lived in Kuwait since 1980 "with valid residency papers," the Interior Ministry reportedly stated, adding that Nader is an officer at the Iraqi Defense Ministry and has met with Iraqi intelligence officers in Bahrain. Nader reportedly confessed to supplying Iraqi officers with military and security information on Kuwait, according to KUNA. Kuwaiti authorities found military fatigues and an Iraqi Defense Ministry ID card listing him as an officer, as well as "various currencies" in Nader's home, KUNA reported. In other news, Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Shaykh Muhammad al-Khalid al-Sabah ordered Kuwait on a heightened state of alert effective 24 February, KUNA reported on 23 February. (Kathleen Ridolfo)TURKISH PARLIAMENT MEETS TO DISCUSS U.S. DEAL.
The Turkish government announced on 24 February that it will allow parliament to vote on a decision to allow U.S. troops to deploy to Turkey to prepare for a possible attack on Iraq, Reuters reported the same day. A final deal on the financial terms of an agreement with the United States is also expected to be reached shortly, the news agency said. Another outstanding issue is what role, if any, Turkish troops would play in a U.S.-led war against Iraq. Ankara has repeatedly noted its intention of intervening in northern Iraq to protect the rights of Turkomans living there and to prevent any attempts by Kurds to establish an independent state in the area. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
UNMOVIC CHIEF ORDERS IRAQ TO DESTROY MISSILES.
Hans Blix, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), sent a letter on 21 February to Iraqi presidential adviser Lieutenant General Amr al-Sa'di demanding that Iraq destroy its stockpiled Al-Sumud 2 missiles, AFP reported on 22 February. The Al-Sumud missiles were deemed proscribed weapons by missile experts from UN Security Council member states in early February (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 14 February 2003). Blix states that Iraq must present to UNMOVIC "for verifiable destruction" all Al-Sumud 2 missiles and "associated items," including warheads, missile engines, guidance and control systems, gas generators, software and documentation "concerning conception, research and development," and production, and reconstituted casting chambers, AFP reported. The letter further notes that Iraq must destroy the missiles and related items under UNMOVIC supervision and that UNMOVIC will choose the method of destruction. Blix demands that the destruction process begin by 1 March.
Iraqi Major General Husam Muhammad Amin, head of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate, told a Baghdad press conference on 23 February that Iraq is seriously studying UNMOVIC chief Blix's request that Iraq destroy its Al-Sumud 2 stockpile, Iraq Satellite Television reported. He added that Iraq sent a letter to UNMOVIC on 19 February requesting a meeting to discuss the missile's capabilities, but has not received a response. Asked whether destruction of the missiles would affect Iraq's capabilities in the event of war, Amin stated: "Certainly, destruction of these missiles will affect our combat capability, but will not end it. We hope that this issue will be settled through cooperation between the two sides and through scientific and technical understanding between the two sides," Iraq Satellite Television reported. Amin added that Iraq will not challenge the assessment made by missile experts from UN member states, but he contended that the missile was tested without a guidance and control system, adding, "When there is no guidance and control system, the missile will go a little farther than the planned range." The Iraqis have yet to give a formal response to the UN demands. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UN INSPECTORS SAY IRAQ BROKE PROMISES.
Iraq has broken several of its promises to cooperate with UN inspectors "on issues of substance," London's "The Daily Telegraph" reported on its website (http://www.dailytelegraph.co.uk) on 21 February. "We [UN inspectors] have seen more signs of cooperation, but not to the extent that we can report to the Security Council that they are providing full cooperation," UN spokesman Hiro Ueki said. UN inspectors have noted "a pattern of defiance" over the past two weeks, including the refusal of Iraqi scientists to give private interviews and Iraq's failure to explain the location of large quantities of biological and chemical weapons that have remained unaccounted for since 1998, according to the daily. Iraq's increasingly antagonistic stance toward UN inspections could provide the legal basis for a U.S.-led war against Iraq, Reuters reported on 20 February. (Sarah Horton)MEXICAN PRESIDENT DECLARES OPPOSITION TO WAR WITH IRAQ.
Mexican President Vincente Fox on 20 February expressed his opposition to war with Iraq and any unilateral action aimed at that country, AFP reported. Fox said he is "certain there are still many alternatives, before a war, alternatives for disarming Iraq and disarming [Iraqi President] Saddam Husayn." Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar arrived in Mexico City on 20 February to meet with Fox and discuss the situation in Iraq. Spain, which along with Mexico is a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council, is a strong supporter of the U.S. position on Iraq. Aznar's visit to Mexico City was presumed to be an attempt to sway Mexico, a member of the Security Council's pivotal, wavering "middle six," to the U.S. position vis-a-vis Iraq, according to "The New York Times" of 20 February. Aznar will meet with U.S. President Bush this weekend and is expected to review a draft of the UN Security Council resolution that the United States will present next week. (Sarah Horton)
U.S., U.K., AND SPAIN PRESENT DRAFT RESOLUTION TO UN SECURITY COUNCIL.
The United States, United Kingdom, and Spain on 24 February presented a draft resolution on Iraqi disarmament to the UN Security Council, the U.S. State Department website announced the same day (http://usinfo.state.gov/). The resolution states, "Iraq has submitted a declaration pursuant to its resolution 1441 (2002) containing false statements and omissions and has failed to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, that resolution." Under UN Security Council Resolution 1441, Iraq was obligated to fully comply with the terms of the resolution and to give a full and comprehensive declaration of its weapons of mass destruction, or risk being found in further material breach of the resolution. The draft resolution also states that pursuant to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, "Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in resolution 1441 (2002)." Chapter VII refers to UN Security Council responsibilities with respect to threats to peace, breaches of peace, and acts of aggression (see http://www.un.org/Overview/Charter/chapter7.html). (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UN DISCUSSES DRAFT RESOLUTION...
U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte told the UN Security Council during informal consultations on 24 February: "We [the United States] now believe that it is abundantly clear that Iraq has refused to disarm and has no intention of doing so. We believe, therefore, that because of the failures that I have outlined here, Iraq has failed to comply with the tests of truthfulness, cooperation, and disarmament set by Resolution 1441." His statement can be viewed at the State Department website. Negroponte said Iraq has failed to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1441 by not releasing a full, accurate, or complete declaration of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on 7 December. It has also failed to allow Iraqis to be interviewed "in the mode of UNMOVIC or the IAEA's [International Atomic Energy Agency's] choice," Negroponte said, and has failed to provide complete lists of personnel associated with Iraq's WMD programs. (Kathleen Ridolfo)...AS FRANCE, GERMANY, AND RUSSIA PRESENT JOINT MEMORANDUM...
France, Germany, and Russia on 24 February presented a memorandum to the UN Security Council calling for increased weapons inspections, AFP reported the same day. "The combination of a clear program of action, reinforced inspections, a clear timeline, and the military build-up provide a realistic means to reunite the Security Council and to exert maximum pressure on Iraq," the memorandum states, according to AFP. It goes on to say, "While suspicions remain, no evidence has been given that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction or capabilities in this field." It further notes that "inspections have just reached their full pace; they are functioning without hindrance; they have already produced results." The memorandum adds that Iraqi cooperation is "not yet fully satisfactory" and calls on Iraq to provide greater assistance to UN inspectors. Under the memorandum, the inspectors' work program would be accelerated, staff diversified and increased, mobile units and a new aerial-surveillance system established, and inspection reports given every three weeks. (Kathleen Ridolfo)...AND EXPLAIN THEIR OBJECTIVES.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin addressed the objectives of the new memorandum in Brussels on 24 February, Radio France Internationale reported. Villepin said the memorandum calls for a schedule to be set "program by program" in order to make the work of the inspectors "more concrete." Meanwhile, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder spoke with reporters in Berlin during a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac on 24 February, ARD Television reported. "Both of us take the view that we want to achieve Iraq's disarmament peacefully. This is and will continue to be the substance of our joint policy," Schroeder said. "We take the view that at the moment we have enough possibilities within the framework of Resolution 1441 to support and further define the progress made by the inspectors. It is our joint position with our partners that a new [UN Security Council] resolution is not necessary." (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.K., JORDAN RELEASE JOINT STATEMENT ON IRAQ.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and King Abdullah II of Jordan have issued a joint statement calling on Iraqi President Husayn's regime to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1441, the Downing Street website announced on 25 February (http://www.number-10.gov.uk/). The statement followed a meeting by the two leaders in London. The statement said that Iraq must comply "actively, fully and completely" with the resolution, noting that "time is running out." The statement added, "Both the U.K. and Jordan favor a peaceful solution through full Iraqi disarmament." (Kathleen Ridolfo)GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTRY SAYS IRAQI MISSILE DEPLOYMENT VIOLATES UN RESOLUTION...
Germany's "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" reported on 23 February that the German Defense Ministry has confirmed that Iraq violated UN resolutions in early February by deploying Ababil-100-type missiles near Kuwait. The Ababil-100 missile is better-known as the Al-Sumud missile, and is deemed a proscribed weapon by UNMOVIC (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 20 February 2003). The deployment is also a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 949, which prohibits the deployment of weapons near the Kuwaiti border, according to the paper. The Ababil-100 is a mobile missile system capable of carrying chemical and biological warheads that could reach U.S., British, and German forces stationed along the Kuwait border, "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" reported. U.S. forces attacked the missile positions on 11 February. (Kathleen Ridolfo)...AND SWITZERLAND DECLARES INTENT TO BACK IRAQ WAR ONLY IF SANCTIONED BY UN.
Switzerland is "deeply attached to the primacy of international law...[and] would morally back an armed intervention in Iraq only if it were founded on a clear United Nations resolution," Swiss President Pascal Couchepin stated on 20 February, AFP reported. Following talks with French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Couchepin reiterated that Switzerland "cannot deliver such an open-ended authorization because we do not yet know if a possible war will be based on a UN resolution," referring to Switzerland's refusal on 19 February to grant an open-ended U.S. request to use Swiss airspace in the event of a war with Iraq. Couchepin stated that if a UN-sanctioned war against Iraq occurs, Switzerland will reconsider whether to allow U.S. military aircraft to use Swiss airspace. (Sarah Horton)FRANCE PROVIDES PLANES FOR UN INSPECTIONS.
The commander of France's Istres air base, Colonel Bruno Clermont, said on 20 February that two French Mirage IV planes will leave for the Persian Gulf on 21 February, AFP reported. UN weapons inspectors in Iraq will use the Mirage IV reconnaissance planes, which will be stationed in Saudi Arabia, according to Defense Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 18 February 2003 and "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 14 and 20 February 2003). Saudi authorities only granted permission to base the reconnaissance planes in Saudi Arabia on the afternoon of 20 February, Bureau added. Eight French Mirage aircraft are already stationed at Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan air base. Meanwhile, the second U-2 reconnaissance flight over Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction occurred on 20 February, according to Reuters. (Sarah Horton)U.S. SANCTIONS ANSAR AL-ISLAM.
U.S. President Bush signed Executive Order 13224 imposing financial sanctions against the terrorist group Ansar Al-Islam on 20 February, the State Department announced. "The United States also today asked the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee to add Ansar Al-Islam's name to its consolidated list of entities and individuals associated with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or Usama bin Laden, whose assets UN member states are obligated to freeze under UN Security Council resolutions 1267, 1390, and 1455," the statement added.
The U.S. contends that the group, which operates in a northeastern Iraq enclave, has provided safe haven to members of Al-Qaeda. The Bank of England ordered all financial institutions to freeze any funds held by the group in a 20 February press release (http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/pressreleases/2003/024.htm). (Kathleen Ridolfo)WILL THE U.S. HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN TURKEY OR THE KURDS?
While Turkey has proven to put a snag in just about everyone's planning efforts for a U.S.-led war with Iraq in recent weeks, the U.S. faces a greater challenge: comply with Turkish demands to occupy northern Iraq in the event of war with Iraq, or continue its support of Kurdish sovereignty in the area. Now, after more than a week of stalling on a decision to put the parliament to a vote over allowing U.S. troops on Turkish soil to begin preparations for a possible war with Iraq, it appears that the Turkish parliament will finally vote on the agreement, but not before securing a significant aid package from the U.S.
Meanwhile, Turkey plans to occupy northern Iraq in the event of war, under the pretense of quelling any Kurdish attempts to unilaterally separate from Iraq and form an independent state, even as Kurds vociferously deny such a plan. Turkey fears that an independent Kurdish state would spark unrest among the 12 million Kurds living on Turkish soil. It also claims it has a duty to protect the minority rights of the Turkomans living in northern Iraq. The Turkomans are related ethnically to the Turks. Part of the proposal being sent to the parliament this week calls for an unspecified number of Turkish troops to be sent to Iraq. Turkish officials estimate the number of troops to equal or exceed the U.S. deployment, "The Washington Post" reported on 26 February.
As Iraqi opposition members gathered in northern Iraq last week, Kurdish leaders were quick to comment on Turkish intentions to intervene in northern Iraq. Hoshyar Zebari, foreign relations head for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) told a news conference on 23 February that Kurds will oppose any Turkish military intervention, adding, "Any intervention under whatever pretext will lead to clashes," AP reported. Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) spokesman Latif Rashid told reporters "All the Iraqi parties were dismayed" by the Turkish plan, AP reported.
Kurdish officials have also expressed apprehension about the continued presence of the Peace Monitoring Force, which is a Turkish-led contingent that has been enforcing a cease-fire agreement between the PUK and KDP in Kurdistan for the last five years, "The New York Times" reported on 23 February. Apparently, the Kurds fear that the peacekeepers might act as guides or provide logistical support for Turkish soldiers entering Kurdistan. Moreover, some Kurdish leaders argue that the peacekeeping force, which is largely composed of Turkomans, also serves as a training ground for Turkoman forces, who may be planning to make land grabs in Mosul and Kirkuk, "The New York Times" reported.
Jawdar Najar, a senior representative from The Turkoman National Association told a press conference in Irbil last week that the Turkomans are not in favor of Turkish intervention, Reuters reported on 22 February. "We don't think circumstances are conducive to intervention, as the Turkoman people have no fears living here, and have enjoyed democracy since 1991," he said, adding, "We the Turkoman people are not in need of asking an army from a neighboring country [for help]�this would be baseless."
But the Iraqi Turkmen Front representative to Washington, Orhan Ketene, told the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations in Washington on 25 February that Turkish troops were needed to prevent Shi'ite Kurdish civilians from occupying Mosul and Kirkuk following a war. "If Turkey does not enter there, the situation functions against Turkey, and a Kurdish state is founded. Then Turkey loses southeastern Anatolia in 15 years," Anatolia news agency quoted Ketene as saying. He added that Turkomans constitute a "factor of balance" between Kurds and Arabs, Anatolia reported.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) parliament held an extraordinary session on 25 February to vote on a declaration stating that the region would close its doors to all foreigners who want to send troops to northern Iraq, NTV online reported (http://www.ntv.com.tr). The parliament also urged all political parties, groups, and organizations to take a clear stance against foreign interference, Kurdistan Satellite TV reported the same day.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Yusuf Buluc responded to the KRG vote by stating on 25 February, "Nobody should feel doubt about Turkey's principles regarding protection of Iraq's territorial integrity and national unity and basing its future on those principles," Anatolia news agency reported. Buluc further warned, "Nobody should try to create a provocative atmosphere and gain a prior position by showing inappropriate reactions to the open policy of Turkey," adding that "people" should be careful about their words and actions in the coming days. Finally, "RFE/RL Iraq Report" readers will recall the Turkish campaign to look into Turkish historical claims to Mosul and Kirkuk, which began in early January (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 13 January 2003).
ARAB OFFICIALS FEAR DANGEROUS CONSEQUENCES OF WAR
By Kathleen Ridolfo
Several Arab officials have expressed concern in recent days over the consequences of a U.S.-led military strike against Iraq. While these sentiments are not new, they come on the eve of an emergency Arab League Summit meeting scheduled for 1 March. Several Arab foreign ministers had met earlier this month for a mini-summit to discuss the crisis in Iraq, but initially seemed unable to agree on whether an emergency summit of the 22-member state organization should meet ahead of an annual meeting scheduled for late March. "RFE/RL Iraq Report" noted last week that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faysal bin Abd al-Aziz al-Saud told "Okaz" newspaper on 19 February that there was no need for an emergency Arab League summit, saying, "If that summit does not emerge with a decision concerning the Iraq crisis agreed upon by all Arab states, then it could make matters worse," alluding to the growing perception that the Arab states lack cohesion and credibility on the world stage (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 20 February 2003). In addition, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faysal bin Abd al-Aziz warned the United States that unilateral action against Iraq would be seen as an act of aggression, rather than an act of enforcement of UN resolutions (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report" 20 February 2003). The Arab states are thus at a crossroads, seemingly unable to exert pressure on the global stage, and weary of the long-term political, economic, and social reverberations that a U.S.-led military strike against Iraq might bring.
The secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abd al-Rahman al-Atiyah, told London-based "Al-Hayat" on 22 February that any military action against Iraq will have serious consequences "and cause catastrophes the effects of which will be felt not only in the Gulf but also in the world as a whole," the daily reported on 23 February. Al-Atiyah also stressed that any threat to Kuwait's security would be considered a threat to all Persian Gulf states.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expressed similar concerns in a Cairo interview with "Der Spiegel" published on 24 February. Mubarak told the weekly that all Arab states are against a war in Iraq, not because they support Iraqi President Saddam Husayn, but because they have compassion for the Iraqi people, who are expected to bear the brunt of a war. Mubarak also said that a war would unleash terror throughout the world. "Perhaps this will not happen immediately, but terrorism will take horrible forms," Mubarak told "Der Spiegel." Mubarak added that the U.S. must address the Palestinian issue, which he referred to as the "central problem" in the region, saying, "It touches the psychological nature of our peoples." "The people see deaths, displacement, inhuman things on the television every day. This has a strong effect on the Arab peoples, [and] leads to outrage and hatred. The people get the feeling that Israel is given a free rein in the region," Mubarak said, adding, "This is irresponsible and also dangerous." A day earlier, Mubarak told a gathering of Egyptian newspapers' editors in chief that the 1 March emergency Arab summit to be held in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm Al-Shaykh would seek to "come up with a unified stance to avert war," MENA news agency reported.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shar'a told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in a 23 February telephone call that the Arabs and the international community reject war "on popular and official levels," Syrian Radio reported on the same day. Al-Shar'a reportedly indicated that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 did not set a timeline for inspections to be completed, and thus, they should continue. Al-Shar'a also told Powell that Syria did not support a new Security Council resolution at this time, as it could be interpreted by some to invalidate UN Security Council Resolution 1441. The government-owned Syrian daily "Tishrin" echoed Al-Shar'a's sentiments in an editorial posted to its website on 25 February (http://www.teshreen.com/daily). The editorial stated that an American-led war against Iraq would "go beyond Iraq and the Gulf region." The editorial added that Resolution 1441 "serves the purpose" adding that any U.S. decision to forgo the international route and act unilaterally would be "classified by international standards as a direct aggression."
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa told Vienna's Radio Oesterreich 1 on 24 February that there will be no Arab support for war in Iraq, adding that it would be an "unpopular war." "I believe there is a common [Arab] position on a war. We are all against a war, and I do not believe that there is a single Arab who would support a war against an Arab country," Musa stated. The secretary-general went on to say that Arab states held varying opinions on "some details" concerning Iraq, likening the situation to the differing opinions of European nations.
In Bahrain, the Shura Council approved a draft statement condemning military action against Iraq, the "Gulf Daily News" website reported on 25 February (http://www.gulf-daily-news.com). The statement reportedly said that any action against Iraq should be based on international laws, adding that no country should "exert its will" on others because it has the might, the website reported. Referring to the upcoming emergency Arab summit, the statement added, "We hope that the decision made by Arab leaders will take into consideration the feelings and aspirations of the Arab nation and will protect their honor during this dangerous time." It also called on Iraq to obey international laws, adding, "A peaceful solution to this conflict will be much more effective than war."
It is clear that there is no love lost between Arab leaders and President Husayn. And, many statements are made to merely appease the Arab "street." But, Iraq's neighbors do face legitimate concerns of varying degrees: regime stability, economic pressures, public pressure, and a bit of uncertainty and fear over what might replace Husayn -- be it democratic, as the U.S. asserts, or worse, chaos and civil war. Each state has its own degree of concern that must be reconciled, as Musa posited, for the common good of the league. It is not the first time these states have faced a difficult juncture. When the Arab League meets on 1 March, it will not only be seeking a unified stance on Iraq, it will also be seeking international recognition, particularly U.S. recognition in terms of legitimacy and influence. Even if they don't succeed in averting a war, Arab leaders want to feel they made a "good-faith effort."
Nevertheless, it is unlikely that any Arab state would outwardly oppose a U.S.-led war on Iraq in the end. For example, despite Saudi statements in recent weeks that it would not allow U.S. troops to launch military operations against Iraq from its bases, "The Washington Post" reported on 26 February that an agreement has been reached between the U.S. and the kingdom which, according to sources, provides tacit approval for U.S. forces to conduct bombing missions from Saudi Arabia "in the days after an initial wave of U.S. air attacks as long as no public announcement was made," "The Washington Post" reported. It is likely that other Arab states will follow their lead.