News



DATE=4/23/98
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-40145
TITLE=U-S POLICY IN THE PERSIAN GULF
BYLINE=ED WARNER
DATELINE=WASHINGTON
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  U-S POLICY IN THE PERSIAN GULF WAS DEBATED AT A MEETING 
OF THE MIDDLE EAST POLICY COUNCIL ON CAPITOL HILL.  PARTICIPANTS 
STRESSED THE GROWING DIVISION BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND ITS 
ALLIES AND THE RELEVANCE OF THE NOW STALLED PEACE PROCESS. VOA'S 
ED WARNER REPORTS.

TEXT:  IS U-S POLICY IN THE PERSIAN GULF A SUCCESS OR A MESS? 
BOTH POINTS WERE MADE IN A SPIRITED DISCUSSION ON CAPITOL HILL.

STRESSING SUCCESS, JOSEPH MARTY OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL 
INSISTED SADDAM HUSSEIN'S THREAT HAD BEEN CLEARLY REDUCED, TO THE
BENEFIT OF THE REGION:

                         // MARTY ACT //

         SADDAM'S INSISTENCE ON MAINTAINING SOME WEAPONS OF MASS 
         DESTRUCTION CAPABILITY HAS COST HIS COUNTRY OVER ONE 
         HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS IN 
         LOST OIL REVENUES. THOSE LOST REVENUES, ALONG WITH THE 
         ARMS EMBARGO, HAVE PREVENTED ANY SIGNIFICANT REBUILDING 
         OF HIS CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS' CAPABILITY. THIS HAS 
         OBVIOUSLY LIMITED THE MILITARY THREAT HE CAN POSE TO HIS
         NEIGHBORS, INCLUDING KUWAIT AND SAUDI ARABIA. THAT IS A 
         REAL VICTORY.

                          // END ACT // 

CHARLES FREEMAN, PRESIDENT OF THE MIDDLE EAST COUNCIL, WHICH 
HOSTED THE DISCUSSION, AGREED THE GULF WAR WAS A SUCCESS BUT HAD 
DOUBTS ABOUT THE AFTERMATH: 

                        // FREEMAN ACT //

         IN MANY RESPECTS, HOWEVER, THAT WAR APPEARS NEVER TO 
         HAVE ENDED. AND WHEREAS PRIOR TO THE WAR, IT WAS 
         POSSIBLE TO MAINTAIN PEACE AND STABILITY IN THE PERSIAN 
         GULF WITHOUT A SUBSTANTIAL PERMANENT AMERICAN PRESENCE 
         THERE, SUCH A PRESENCE IS APPARENTLY NOW NECESSARY TO 
         MAINTAIN THE PEACE. IS THIS A TENABLE LONG TERM 
         SITUATION?

                          // END ACT //

NOT VERY TENABLE, SAID SHIBLEY TELHAMI, ANWAR SADAT PROFESSOR AT 
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND. HE THOUGHT THE NEXT TIME SADDAM 
HUSSEIN POSES SOME CHALLENGE, THE UNITED STATES MAY WELL LAUNCH A
MILITARY STRIKE. THIS WOULD FURTHER ALIENATE EUROPEAN AND ARAB 
COUNTRIES THAT THINK SADDAM HAS MADE SIGNIFICANT COMPROMISES.

MR TELHAMI ADDED ARAB OPINION BLAMES NOT SADDAM BUT THE UNITED 
STATES FOR IRAQI SUFFERING UNDER  ECONOMIC SANCTIONS.

ARAB OPINION ALSO HOLDS THE UNITED STATES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE 
BREAKDOWN IN THE PEACE PROCESS, SAID DOV ZAKHEIM, CORPORATE VICE 
PRESIDENT OF SYSTEM PLANNING CORPORATION, A HIGH TECHNOLOGY FIRM:

                        // ZAKHEIM ACT //

         THERE IS ALMOST A UNANIMOUS PERCEPTION IN THE GULF, 
         RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY, THAT INDEED THE PEACE PROCESS, OR 
         THE LACK THEREOF, IS UNDERMINING ARAB SUPPORT FOR 
         AMERICAN POLICY IN THE GULF. YOU CAN SAY THAT 
         OBJECTIVELY THAT IS NOT THE CASE, BUT IF EVERYBODY 
         BELIEVES IT, YOU HAVE GOT A PROBLEM. 

                         // END ACT // 

MR. ZAKHEIM SAID STABILITY IN THE GULF WILL BE HELPED BY 
IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH IRAN.  CHARLES FREEMAN SUGGESTED DIRECT 
TALKS WITH IRAQ AS WELL, NOTING ALL GULF PARTICIPANTS ARE NEEDED 
TO ESTABLISH REGIONAL SECURITY.  (SIGNED)   

NEB/EW/KL

23-Apr-98 5:12 PM EDT (2112 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.