News

The Iraqi Press on the Confrontation Coming

Iraq NewsMAY 11,, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .



I.   SAHHAF, OUR NEXT STEP IS PLANNED, AL SHARQ AL AWSAT, MAY 1
II.  AL THAWRA WARNS OF DIRE CONSEQUENSES, APR 30
III. BABIL, IRAQ'S DISSATISFACTION WITH ITS UNSC SUPPORTERS, MAY 2
IV.  AL THAWRAH, ONLY IRAQ KNOWS WHEN AND HOW IT WILL ACT, INA, MAY 7

     One reader, retired from the Pentagon, commented on the "bizarre 
nature" of events.  On Apr 30, Iraq sent the UNSC a letter, demanding a 
lifting of sanctions, threatening "dire consequences," and speaking 
openly of war; six days later the US announced it would probably reduce 
its carrier presence in the Gulf [see "Iraq News," May 5 & 7]. 
   Another reader, formerly of the State Dept, commented on how the US 
had ignored Iraq's ultimatum and opted instead to squeeze Israel for 
more concessions to Yasir Arafat, even as that violates a US commitment 
made only last year in the context of Israel's withdrawal from Hebron, 
that the extent of Israel's next withdrawal would be up to Israel.  The 
reader remarked, "Absolutely chilling."  
   An Iraqi reader commented on the Koranic verse that began Iraq's 
letter to the UNSC, "Go both of you, unto Pharaoh, for he has indeed 
transgressed all bounds," explaining that Saddam increasingly speaks as 
if he saw himself as a new prophet.  The Iraqi letter is posted on the 
website of Iraq's UN mission: http://www.undp.org/missions/Iraq/  It 
identifies the verse as Taha XX, 43.  The next verse is, "And speak to 
him a gentle word, that peradventure, he may heed or fear."

   Yet the administration, it seems, has embarked on the course of 
retreat, first described by Jim Hoagland, in the Wash Post, Apr  23, and 
most recently criticized by Fred Hiatt, in the Wash Post, May 3.  It 
appears that the administration intends to play down the kinds of Iraqi 
challenges that precipitated the previous two rounds of confrontation 
hoping, thereby, to avoid the next confrontation.
   The change in US policy was also described in the Forward, Apr 24.   
And as the Forward explained, "The new policy's most vocal advocate is a 
former Bush administration official who is now the director of foreign 
policy studies at the Brookings Institute, Richard Haas."  Haas told the 
Forward, "I don't think right now we have domestic, much less 
international support for a policy dedicated to removing [Saddam's] 
regime. . . The message I would send is if he ever uses unconventional 
weapons, that would become the declared total purpose of our policy." 
   In contrast, AEI's Richard Perle told the Forward that the new 
Clinton policy was "a complete surrender . . . It's a catastrophe.  
We've always had the option of retaliating.  What they're really saying 
is our policy with regard to Iraq will consist of retaliation if they 
attack."  And the executive director of the Jewish Institute for 
National Security Affairs, Tom Neumann, "blasted the new policy. 'The 
administration is about to move from the concept of containment to the 
concept of deterrence.  What it really means is not to have to have a 
short-term confrontation with Iraq.  It's really a retreat.'"

    On Sun, Iraq launched a new diplomatic campaign.  The Foreign 
Minister, Muammad al Sahhaf, is to tour a number of African states.  
Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, who just arrived in France, is to go 
on to Belgium and Italy.  The Iraqi efforts aim at strengthening 
Baghdad's position in advance of its next challenge.   
    An experienced and knowledgeable reader cautioned that the next 
challenge could even include military action in the Gulf, perhaps 
seizing strategic oil facilities, particularly if Iraq were prepared to 
use its unconventional weapons.
   
  Some two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Sahhaf in Jordan, on his way back 
to Baghdad after his meetings with the UNSC in NYC, told the Saudi-owned 
Al Sharq Al Awsat, in comments published May 1, that "the Iraqi 
leadership's decision to take certain steps if the blockade is not 
lifted or eased was taken before the recent Security Council decision 
that recommended the continuation of the blockade."  Thus, Saddam's next 
step was planned well in advance.  Sahhaf also "emphasized that 
continuing the blockade as it stands is a mistake that does not promote 
a stable relationship between Iraq and the United Nations Special 
Commission."  That's another possibility—-dramatic action against 
UNSCOM, perhaps even expelling it from Iraq. 
    "Asked what decisions Iraq could take in retaliation for the 
continuation of the blockade, [Sahhaf] said: Every child who dies as a 
result of shortages of medicine or food, every student who is unable to 
get his educational needs met in full, the suffering of all Iraqi 
citizens . . . all this is the basis for any future Iraqi decision or 
measure to prevent the US and British administrations from continuing 
the war of annihilation against the Iraqi people. . . . We will take the 
steps and measures that protect our people and nation, the steps that 
will awaken those who are asleep and or are remaining silent. "

   The Iraqi press is sometimes used to elaborate on major government 
decisions.  On Apr 30, three days after the UNSC sanctions review, Al 
Thawrah wrote, "The rash and irresponsible conduct of the US 
administration at the UN Security Council shows ignorance of basic facts 
which impose themselves on the Iraqi, Arab, and international arenas and 
an underestimation of the possible reactions that might arise.  . . . 
The statement issued at the end of the joint meeting of the 
Revolutionary Command Council and Iraq Command of the Arab Socialist 
Baath Party on 16 April 1998 stressed that there is no more time for 
procrastination and maneuvering. . .  The Iraqi cabinet in its 12th 
session [Apr 23] clearly summed up the Iraqi stand when it said that the 
world faces two options: either to lift the sanctions on Iraq or to 
perpetuate them.  The first option requires a particular kind of 
relationship based on understanding and cooperation.  The second leads 
us to a new state of affairs. . . When Iraq finds that its relationship 
with the UN Security Council is unbalanced, particularly that there are 
those who prevent the UN Security Council from lifting the sanctions on 
Iraq for political reasons that have nothing to do with UN Security 
Council resolutions, Iraq then will have the right to do what it finds 
appropriate to protect its rights and avert harm and to forcefully and 
firmly resort to the necessary measures that will shatter what remains 
of the US illusions and block its conspiracies against Iraq and the Arab 
nation.  The US threats to veto a demand by the majority of permanent 
and non-permanent UN Security Council member states to implement 
Paragraph 22 will have dire consequences on Iraq's relationship with 
UNSCOM in addition to many other negative effects.  These will be 
followed by crises and tension which will endanger the basic US 
interests in the Arab world, at least.  Those who unjustly treated 
others will likewise be treated."   
    Terrorism may also be part of Iraq's next move, particularly 
terrorism which the US would not recognize as Iraqi-sponsored, but 
others would.  That would contribute to weakening the coalition, even as 
"Iraq News" believes that that has already occurred, as it has explained 
to several Muslim readers.  
   The Clinton administration has become accustomed to, and has gotten 
away with, relegating almost every major act of Middle East terrorism to 
Iran and/or Militant Muslims, who float around the world, ghost-like, in 
loose networks, like spaghetti.  Intellectually, that is not a very 
satisfactory explanation, even as it addresses a deep and understandable 
emotional antipathy that Americans bear toward Muslim extremists, 
including in Iran, who constantly affirm their own hatred for the US and 
Israel.  Yet to misunderstand the source of a terrorist threat is to 
invite more and it is worth noting the observation of Prof. Emmanuel 
Sivan, of Hebrew University, in "The Holy War Tradition in Islam," 
Orbis, Spr, 98, that the antagonism between Sunni and Shi'a radicals is 
so extreme that "the notion of a Tehran-based Islamic comintern is, 
consequently, a chimera."

  Iraq's dissatisfaction with its supporters on the UNSC was a prominent 
theme in its letter to the UNSC.  On May 2, Babil expanded, "At the last 
Security Council meeting on Iraq, the voice of Kofi Annan was absent; 
the recent government crisis in Russia dominated the meeting. . . . The 
promises made by some big powers to seek to implement paragraph 22 of 
Resolution 687 were also absent.  They were replaced with the call to 
transfer the nuclear file to the monitoring and verification system, 
whereas what should have happened was the closing of all the files.  The 
voice of China was the strongest alongside Iraq and the impotent members 
of the Security Council justified their impotence by citing fears of a 
US veto.  However, a veto would have been better than a political 
cat-and-mouse discussion because it would have increased America's 
isolation and solidified international solidarity with Iraq."  
   Yet the result of the UNSC review was not unanticipated.  On May 7, 
INA summarized Al Thawrah, "The Security Council's submission to an 
appeasement of the United States, without any due consideration for the 
gross harm that is being done to Iraq, can no longer be tolerated or 
endured, unless the council lifts the embargo, beginning with the 
economic embargo, in response to Iraq's open letter.  Otherwise, Iraq 
will have the right to adopt the position it deems suitable . . .   
Whoever thinks that he can imprison Iraq in the embargo tunnel for an 
indefinite period under different, futile excuses must remember that 
there is more than one way to get out of this tunnel. . .  Iraq's open 
letter to the president and members of the Security Council is clear.  
Unless justice is done by lifting the economic embargo at the minimum, 
there will be some other action.  This action is a private matter, which 
only Iraq knows and will decide when and how to take." 

I. SAHHAF, OUR NEXT STEP IS PLANNED
FBIS-NES-98-121
London Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic 1 May 98 p 2
Subslug: Unattributed report:  "Al-Sahhaf Tells Al-Sharq al-Awsat:  We 
Will Intentionally Break and Fragment Blockade, Since We Have Lost 1 
Million Iraqis as a Result of It"
Amman, Al-Sharq al-Awsat -- Iraqi Foreign Minister Muhammad Sa'id 
al-Sahhaf has said:  "We will intentionally break and fragment the 
blockade imposed on Iraq."  In an exclusive statement to Al-Sharq 
al-Awsat during his stopover in Amman while en route for Baghdad from 
New York, al-Sahhaf said that the Iraqi leadership's decision to take 
certain steps if the blockade is not lifted or eased was taken before 
the recent Security Council session that recommended the continuation of 
the blockade imposed on Iraq.
  He added: "U.S. and British endeavors focused on maintaining the 
blockade in order to kill more of the Iraqi people ensure that the 
region remains weak under U.S. hegemony and [these endeavors] blackmail 
the states of the region."
  Al-Sahhaf emphasized that continuing the blockade as it stands is a 
mistake that does not promote a stable relationship between Iraq and the 
United Nations Special Commission in charge of the scrapping of
mass-destruction weapons [UNSCOM].  He said:  It seems that this is the 
U.S. aim, embodied by UNSCOM Chairman Richard Butler's report, which was 
prepared and written with one objective -- to maintain the blockade. 
   Al-Sahhaf pointed out that Butler is adopting this method for 
political reasons; it has nothing to do with any technical view or 
assessment of the issue.  However, despite all this, the U.S. 
Administration has not been able to conceal the full truth.  There is-- 
despite everything--recognition on the part of major states of the 
necessity to close the nuclear file, ease the sanctions, and recognize 
the progress made with regard to the weapons.
   Asked what decisions Iraq could take in retaliation for the 
continuation of the blockade, he said:  Every child who dies as a result 
of shortages of medicine or food, every student who is unable to get his
educational needs met in full, the suffering of all Iraqi citizens... 
all this is the basis for any future Iraqi decision or measure to 
prevent the U.S. and British administrations from continuing the war of 
annihilation against the Iraqi people.
  He added: "It really is a tragedy that the Iraqis should be killed by 
continuing the blockade merely because the United States told Butler:  
Write your report in a manner that ensures the continuation of the
blockade.  But it is we who will intentionally break and fragment this 
blockade.  We will find that Arab and world support is going to be a 
factor in helping to end the suffering of the Iraqi people, who have 
lost more than 1 million people as a result of this blockade.  But this 
support should be stronger; it also should take place at the right place 
and the right time."
  Concluding, al-Sahhaf said:  "We will take the steps and measures that 
protect our people and nation, the steps that will awaken those who are 
asleep and or are remaining silent.  And we will take on our side the 
brothers who are fair and all those who believe in God and human 
values."

II. AL THAWRAH WARNS OF DIRE CONSEQUENCES
FBIS-NES-98-125
Baghdad al-Thawrah in Arabic 30 Apr 98 p 3
Subslug: Article by Malik Mansur:  "The Black US Resolution"
  The UN Security Council discussions on Iraq and the black resolution 
to perpetuate the sanctions on our people and country, in view of the 
failure of UN Security Council members to reach a consensus on the 
implementation of Paragraph 22 of Resolution 687, are an indication that 
the US Administration still clings to its illusions which the Iraqi 
people have buried with their steadfastness, resistance, struggle, and 
rallying around leader and struggler Saddam Husayn.  Washington believes 
that it can still play the game of maneuvering, deception, and 
procrastination to prolong the sanctions on Iraq.
   In fact, the rash and irresponsible conduct of the US Administration 
at the UN Security Council shows ignorance of basic facts which impose 
themselves on the Iraqi, Arab, and international arenas and an
underestimation of the possible reactions that might arise as a result 
of the opposition of Washington and those who support it to implement 
Paragraph 22 of UN Resolution 687 though almost eight years have passed 
since the sanctions were imposed on Iraq and despite the fact that Iraq 
has complied with all requirements of Paragraph C of UN Resolution 687 
and has shown that it effectively cooperates with the UN Special 
Commission [UNSCOM]. This was substantiated by the implementation of the 
memorandum of understanding Iraq signed with UN Secretary General Kofi 
Annan on the visits to the presidential sites.
  Although the US stand in the UN Security Council led to a resolution 
to prolong the sanctions which in fact does not add anything new to the 
facts on the ground, the issue now is in the hands of the Iraqis and it 
is up to them to make their decision which is backed by legitimacy, 
justice, steadfastness, and willingness to defend their will, and 
protect Iraq's sovereignty and national independence no matter how great 
the sacrifices.
  This was tangibly confirmed by the Day of Chivalry when more than 3 
million volunteers responded to great struggler Saddam Husayn's call for 
military training.  They wait unwaveringly for the call of duty, 
reassured about the present and the future at the same time.
  The statement issued at the end of  the joint meeting of the 
Revolution Command Council and Iraq Command of the Arab Socialist Ba'th 
Party on 16 April 1998 stressed that there is no more time for
procrastination and maneuvering, and that the time has come for the 
discussions on the sanctions issue at the end of April 1998 to lead to 
the immediate implementation of Paragraph 22 of UN Resolution 687 as an 
introduction to a comprehensive and complete lifting of all types of 
sanctions.
  The Iraqi cabinet in its 12th session clearly summed up the Iraqi 
stand when it said that the world faces two options: either to lift the 
sanctions on Iraq or to perpetuate them.  The first option requires a
particular kind of relationship based on understanding and cooperation. 
   The second leads us to a new state of affairs because this 
practically means that any attempt to make the UN Security Council 
prolong the sanctions, continue the procrastination, and exploit the 
UNSCOM to misinterpret and confuse facts only aims at stopping the UN 
Security Council from fulfilling its reciprocal commitments under UN 
Resolution No. 687 and which begins with the implementation of Paragraph 
22.
  Therefore, the United States is directly and fully responsible for any 
crisis that might arise as a result of the UN Security Council's 
noncompliance with the reciprocal provisions regarding Iraq, 
particularly that Iraq implemented all its obligations under Paragraph C 
of UN Resolution 687.  When Iraq finds that its relationship with the UN 
Security Council is unbalanced, particularly that there are those who 
prevent the UN Security Council from lifting the sanctions on Iraq for 
political reasons that have nothing to do with UN Security Council 
resolutions, Iraq then will have the right to do what it finds 
appropriate to protect its rights and avert harm, and to forcefully and 
firmly resort to the necessary measures that will shatter what remains 
of the US illusions and block its conspiracies against Iraq and the Arab 
nation.
   The US threats to veto a demand by the majority of the permanent and 
non-permanent UN Security Council member states to implement Paragraph 
22 will have dire consequences on Iraq's relationship with the UNSCOM in 
addition to many other negative effects. These will be followed by 
crises and tension which will endanger the basic US interests in the 
Arab world, at least.
   Those who unjustly treated others will likewise be treated. 

III. IRAQ'S DISSATISFACTION WITH ITS UNSC SUPPORTERS
FBIS-NES-98-127
Baghdad Babil in Arabic 2 May 98 p 1
Subslug: Article by Mazhar 'Arif: "We Will Cross That Bridge When We 
Come to It"
   The open letter sent by the Revolution Command Council [RCC] and the 
regional command of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party to the UN Security 
Council [UNSC] expresses Iraq's human, pan-Arab, and national
responsibilities in a world of US evil, treachery, and aggression, and 
in a world of sheep based on injustice and silence toward the crime 
being committed for political considerations with America.  Iraq had its 
say and it is now the turn of the Security Council to have its serious 
say.  More than two months after Baghdad had its say, the Security 
Council failed again in justifying its existence as an international 
organization that indeed cares for protecting peoples and achieving 
regional and international peace.  Despite all that was said and despite 
all the official statements made in the capitals of several big powers 
on multipolarism, the unipolar US force continues to be absolutely 
sovereign in the workings of the UN Security Council.
  The wager on the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the 
self-deception regarding what is sometimes termed differences in 
viewpoints among the big powers in the Security Council are the 
strongest causes for the Arab nation's losses.  The Arab nation has 
often been the victim of those with varying opinions who describe 
international politics as being sometimes idealistic and sometimes 
realistic and rational.  The Arabs have often been the victim of alleged 
changes and transformations in international political life.  This 
situation has made some Arabs pawn pan-Arabism and nationalism to others 
and sell homelands to Tel Aviv and Washington as well as to all the 
resolutions accepted by the Arabs from the Partition Resolution [in 
1948] to the latest meeting between some Arabs, Israelis, and Americans, 
and to all past and future agreements.
   At this point, we should emphasize that at the last Security Council 
meeting on Iraq, the voice of Kofi Annan was absent; the recent 
government crisis in Russia dominated the meeting.  At the periodic 
meeting to review the sanctions imposed on Iraq, the promises made by 
some big powers to seek to implement Paragraph 22 of Resolution 687 were 
also absent.  They were replaced with the call to transfer the nuclear 
file to the monitoring and verification system whereas what should have 
happened was the closing of all the files.  The voice of China was the 
strongest alongside Iraq and the impotent [members of the Security 
Council] justified their impotence by citing fears of a US veto.  
However, a veto would have been better than a political cat-and-mouse 
discussion because it would have increased America's isolation and 
solidified international solidarity with Iraq.
   The Iraqi people paid for the visits of the diplomats and others to 
the presidential sites out of their own pocket but everything went 
backward because the Security Council stuck to the report of Butler and 
the Special Commission and ignored the reports of other international 
quarters as if these came from another planet.  The Arabs forgot about 
the issue of Iraq and busied themselves with the game of the conditional 
Zionist withdrawal from southern Lebanon. This is what America planned 
and wanted in order not to have another case of official and popular 
Arab solidarity with Iraq.

IV. AL THAWRAH,  ONLY IRAQ KNOWS WHEN AND HOW IT WILL ACT
FBIS-NES-98-127
Baghdad INA in Arabic 0625 GMT 7 May 98
Baghdad, 7 May (INA)--The newspaper al- Thawrah affirms that what Iraq 
has accomplished in disarmament, the application of the long-term 
monitoring regime, the inspection of sites, and the submission of data 
and reports should prompt the Security Council to take a reciprocal 
measure, which is not less than the implementation of Paragraph 22 of 
Resolution 687.
   The paper, which speaks for the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party, says, in 
an article today, that the Security Council's submission to and 
appeasement of the United States, without any due consideration for the 
gross harm that is being done to Iraq, can no longer be tolerated or 
endured unless the council lifts the embargo, beginning with the 
economic embargo, in response to Iraq's open letter. Otherwise, Iraq 
will have the right to adopt the position it deems suitable.
   Al-Thawrah says that whoever thinks that he can imprison Iraq in the 
embargo tunnel for an indefinite period under different, futile excuses 
must remember that there is more than one way to get out of this tunnel. 
   The paper says: Iraq's open letter to the president and members of 
the Security Council is clear.  Unless justice is done by lifting the 
economic embargo at the minimum, there will be some other action.  This 
action is a private matter, which only Iraq knows and will decide when 
and how to take. The paper continues:  As far as Iraq is concerned, this 
is not a political game, but the question of a people who have been 
exposed for eight years to the most severe and inhumane embargo in 
history. They have suffered more from this embargo than the 
international community can know precisely. This suffering is increasing 
with the continuation of the embargo without any legal or moral reasons.
   Al-Thawrah wonders:  Why is the Security Council submitting to US 
influence and appeasing the United States at the expense of Iraq and its 
people's suffering?  Why don't the council members exercise their rights 
by stopping the United States from causing further injustice to this 
country, which has served humanity, and continuing to annihilate its 
people?
   Concluding, the paper says:  The removal of the embargo is a legal 
Iraqi right under Paragraph 22 of Resolution 687.  Moreover, it is a 
human right of this ancient people, who have served humanity and 
elevated its cause.  The UN committees have admitted before anyone else 
that economic sanctions are a blind and inhumane weapon that exposes 
people, especially the poor and weak, to unjustifiable suffering.  
Sanctions are useless and conflict with human rights and UN aims for 
economic and social development.