Iraqi diplomat accuses Israel of pushing U.S. to invade Iraq
By The Associated Press
CAIRO - 8 April: Israel pushed America to wage war on Iraq and provided equipment and training to U.S. soldiers, Iraq's ambassador to the Arab League said Monday.
"Iraq will not be defeated" in the war, Ambassador Mohsen Khalil told a news conference in Egypt. "Iraq has now already achieved victory - apart from some technicalities."
Khalil said Israel forced America to attack Iraq because the Jewish state "regards Iraq as a major power in the Arab world."
Khalil accused Israel of manufacturing some rockets used by U.S. troops in southern Iraq and providing satellite cameras and night-vision goggles.
"Israeli units trained American soldiers for occupying Baghdad," he added.
Israeli Embassy spokesman Israel Tikochinski dismissed the charges, saying: "Israel is not, in any way, part of this war."
Israel's government has strongly endorsed the U.S.-led offensive against President Saddam Hussein, but America wants to avoid creating the impression of close military cooperation with Israel because of already heightened Arab sensitivities over the U.S.-led offensive on Iraq.
Khalil accused U.S. forces of choosing Iraqi targets with secondary military importance, but public significance, such as Saddam Hussein International Airport in Baghdad.
The American troops "parachute in" with their journalists, get chased away by Iraqi troops, and the Western media publish pictures and stories, Khalil said.
Asked what had happened to the elite Republican Guard divisions around Baghdad, who have offered much less resistance than expected, Khalil said they "are everywhere, not only in Baghdad but in many other places."
Khalil denied a report last week that Egypt had told Iraq's consul in Cairo, Riyad al-Ani, to leave in seven days.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Baghdad had reported the decision to expel al-Ani. Egypt's Foreign Ministry declined comment.
"The Egyptian Foreign Ministry did not ask us to expel any of our staff," Khalil said.
Khalil also rejected Western media suggestions that a double of Saddam was filmed meeting people on a Baghdad street Friday.
"There is not one double for Saddam Hussein and there never was one," he said.