Peace Activists Chained to Tanks As British Army Set for Iraq Invasion
Green peace anti-war protestors paint the words "No War" onto the British
supply ship Magdalena Green
LONDON, February 4 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) - As several activists
of the Green Peace organization chained themselves Tuesday, February 4,
to tanks in the southern British city of Southampton, protesting the
looming U.S.-led war on Iraq, the British army received orders to be on
standby for a forthcoming invasion of Iraq.
The demonstrators went to a military harbor in the city and chained
themselves to the tanks in a bid to impede the transit of U.K. weaponry
to the Gulf, BBC news online reported.
"It is worth taking such a risk if we are to succeed in heading off war
on Iraq. I stand ready to stay here to that end," said one Green Peace
Over the past six days, the Green Peace's Rainbow ship blocked up the way
of the British warships heading to the Gulf, however, the British police
embarked on the ship and forced its captain to steer it away.
This came as senior British army officers were told to prepare for an
occupation of Iraq lasting up to three years in the event of war and the
ousting of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, said the BBC.
"The Army had been told to prepare for a very long presence indeed in
Iraq," BBC quoted a top army brass as saying.
About 31,000 British troops have already been sent to the Gulf, including
26,000 soldiers, drawn from 1 UK Armored Division, 7 Armored Brigade -
the main British army formation going to the Gulf (The Desert Rats) - 16
Air Assault Brigade, and 102 Logistics Brigade.
About 4,000 marines are being sent, from 40 and 42 Commando of 3 Commando
The British army, in addition, plans to deploy 60 Royal Air Force fighter
jets and support aircraft to the Gulf region.
Many British troops being sent to Kuwait would probably be used for
peacekeeping and "rearguard" duties rather than in combat at the front
lines, the BBC quoted British defense officials as saying.
And some units in 7 Armored Brigade said they have been asked to protect
the Americans' rear during any invasion, and to deal with prisoners.
Other units, however, would be closer to the front line.
More than 3,000 Royal Marine commandos are, meanwhile, traveling with the
naval task force, which comprises about 15 ships.
It would be "more politically acceptable" for the international community
to have British forces leading an occupation, Agence France-Presse (AFP)
quoted Alex Ashbourne, a director of London-based defense consultants, as
"Because there are quite strong anti-American tensions among some of the
Arab states, it would be seen as much more acceptable for the British to
lead such a force," Ashbourne argued.
"One of the things that many Arab states are very worried about is an
American-led peacekeeping force after the conflict is over.
"There are great concerns that the Americans want to impose their type of
democracy on Iraq," she said.
In the House of Commons on Monday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair
appealed for strength in what he called the "final phase" of a 12-year
showdown with Iraq over its alleged development of chemical, biological
and nuclear weapons.
"We are entering the final phase of a 12-year history of disarmament of
Iraq. Show weakness now and no one will ever believe us when we try to
show strength in the future."
On Sunday, February 2, U.K. and U.S. defense officials unearthed details
of their plans to topple Saddam Hussein.
They said that the invasion of Iraq will start with a devastating bombing
campaign ahead of a massive ground attack by thousands of troops from
They have drawn up a list of targets, including Saddam's home town of
Tikrit, as well as key ministries and properties owned by members of
Saddam's family and senior Iraqi officials.
As part of the air campaign, these sites will be razed to the ground as
well as other targets such as formations of Saddam's Republican Guard,
Special Republican Guard, police and intelligence services.
Ireland to Protect U.S. Planes at Shannon Airport
The Irish government, meanwhile, approved Tuesday the deployment of
soldiers at Shannon airport to protect planes carrying U.S. troops and
equipment to the Gulf for a possible war on Iraq on a round-the-clock
"The government has a very clear duty to ensure the law of the country is
upheld. Nobody has the right to damage property and to use the threat of
violence or engage in mindless vandalism," AFP quoted Irish Defense
Minister Michael Smith as saying.
Anti-war protestors set up a peace camp at the airport as part of a
campaign against the use of Shannon to transit and refuel U.S. military
planes and civilian aircraft chartered to carry troops to the Gulf.
The Irish move follows two breaches of security in a week at the airport
in Ireland's southwest that resulted in attacks by anti-war activists on
the same U.S. Navy Boeing 737 transport aircraft.
Six people have been charged in connection with the attacks on the U.S.
plane that suffered an estimated 500,000 euros ($542,500) worth of damage
after being struck with hatchets and hammers.