News

DATE=1/7/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-42307 TITLE=SADDAM ACTIONS BYLINE=LAURIE KASSMAN DATELINE=LONDON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: IRAQI PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSSEIN HAS BEGUN LASHING OUT AGAINST U-S AND BRITISH FLIGHTS OVER IRAQ -- AGAINST ARAB NEIGHBORS, AGAINST THE "NO-FLY" ZONES IMPOSED ON IRAQ AFTER THE GULF WAR, AND EVEN AGAINST U-N SPONSORED LANDMINE-CLEARING OPERATIONS. ARE THESE THE ACTIONS OF A LEADER STRENGTHENED OR WEAKENED BY THE U-S AND BRITISH AIRSTRIKES LAST MONTH? LONDON CORRESPONDENT LAURIE KASSMAN SPOKE WITH SOME MIDDLE EAST EXPERTS FOR THEIR VIEWS. TEXT: SADDAM HUSSEIN'S ATTACKS AGAINST U-S AIRCRAFT FLYING OVER IRAQ ARE SEEN BY MANY ANALYSTS AS HIS NEED TO SHOW HE HAS NOT BEEN DEFEATED. MIDEAST EXPERTS LIKE NEIL PARTRICK OF LONDON'S ROYAL INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE STUDIES SAY HIS DENOUNCEMENT OF THE NO-FLY ZONES THEMSELVES ARE ALSO AIMED AT DRIVING A DEEPER WEDGE BETWEEN THE FIVE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE U-N SECURITY COUNCIL. /// PARTRICK ACT /// HE IS ALSO PICKING ON A VERY SENSITIVE ISSUE IN TERMS OF POSSIBLE RE-UNITED WESTERN COOPERATION AND COMMON POLICY TOWARD IRAQ IN TARGETING THE NO-FLY ZONES THEMSELVES, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT BACKED BY ANY U-N RESOLUTION. THEY ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY RUSSIA OR CHINA. THEY HAVE ONLY LIMITED BACKING BY FRANCE. SO IN THE CONTEXT OF THAT WAR IN DECEMBER AND SUBSEQUENT CRITICISM OF U-S AND BRITISH POLICY, IT IS USEFUL FOR SADDAM TO PICK AT THAT SORE POINT AMONG THE FIVE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL AND TARGET THOSE NO-FLY ZONES. /// END ACT /// IRAQI DISSIDENT SHERIF ALI BIN HUSSEIN, WHOSE COUSIN, KING FAISAL THE SECOND, WAS OVERTHROWN IN 1958, NOW HEADS THE CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY MOVEMENT. HE SAYS SADDAM HUSSEIN IS NOW EXTENDING THAT FAMILIAR PATTERN OF CONFRONTATION TO THE ARAB WORLD BY SHARPLY CRITICIZING SOME OF HIS NEIGHBORS FOR NOT SUPPORTING HIM. /// ALI ACT /// HE HAS ALSO MOVED ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT WHERE HE WAS HOPING THAT A SUMMIT OF THE ARAB NATIONS WOULD TAKE PLACE, AND THAT IT WOULD CONDEMN THE AIRSTRIKES AND THE U-S POSITION ON IRAQ. BUT HE IS CLEARLY FAILING ON THAT AND I THINK THAT THIS IS THE ACT OF A DESPERATE MAN, WHERE HE REALIZES HIS TIME IS UP, BUT HE IS TRYING TO FIGHT HIS BATTLES ON HIS OWN TERRITORY AND HIS OWN TIMETABLE. /// END ACT /// MIDEAST EXPERT NEIL PARTRICK ALSO SEES DESPERATION IN SADDAM HUSSEIN'S PLEA TO ARABS TO RALLY AROUND HIM . /// PARTRICK ACT TWO /// I THINK THE STRONG SPEECH BY SADDAM IN ADVANCE OF IRAQI NATIONAL ARMY DAY TO STIR UP THE ARAB STREET, STIR UP POPULAR REVOLT IS NOT SO MUCH A SIGN OF STRENGTH AFTER THE WAR IN DECEMBER. IT IS ACTUALLY A SIGN OF DESPERATION. HE WAS HOPING THE RESPONSE TO THE ACTION WOULD BE A RALLYING TO THE IRAQI SIDE TO SOME EXTENT BY THE ARAB REGIMES OF THE REGION. BUT THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. /// END ACT /// INSTEAD, ARAB NEIGHBORS NOW DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM THE IRAQI LEADERSHIP. /// PARTRICK ACT THREE /// ...WHEN A FEW MONTHS AGO THERE SEEMED TO BE SIGNS IN THE GULF AND EGYPT AND SYRIA THAT THEY WANTED TO COME TO SOME RECKONING WITH SADDAM, THE OPPOSITE HAS PROVEN TO BE THE CASE NOW, ESPECIALLY WITH EGYPT. AND THE GULF IS NOT SHOWING ANY FURTHER SIGNS OF MOVING CLOSER TO IRAQ, DESPITE THE FACT THEY HAVE HEIR OWN FRUSTRATIONS, GIVEN THAT IRAQ IS WEAK AND IRAN HAS EMERGED FROM THE SHADOWS. /// END ACT /// MILITARY ANALYSTS SUGGEST SADDAM HUSSEIN'S SECURITY AT HOME PROBABLY HAS BEEN WEAKENED AFTER THE U-S AND BRITISH AIRSTRIKES AGAINST THE ELITE REPUBLICAN GUARD UNITS. BUT IRAQI DISSIDENTS WARN SADDAM HUSSEIN IS CAPABLE OF DRASTIC ACTIONS INSIDE OR OUTSIDE IRAQ IF HE FEELS HIS POWER AND HIS LIFE ARE THREATENED. ANALYSTS ACKNOWLEDGE THE IRAQI LEADER HAS MANAGED, IN THE PAST, TO TIGHTEN HIS GRIP ON POWER BY PURGING ENEMIES AND CONSOLIDATING THE SMALL BUT LOYAL CIRCLE AROUND HIM. THEY SAY HIS LATEST ACTIONS SHOW SADDAM HUSSEIN MAY BE WEAK, BUT HE IS NOT YET FINISHED. (SIGNED) NEB/LK/RAE/RRM 07-Jan-99 11:57 AM EST (1657 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .