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U.S. and Israel Now Have Iraq In Their Sights
December 31, 2001
GETTING READY FOR IRAQ
A Little Cruise Missiles Shortage at the Moment
MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 12/31/2001: Britain's Telegraph Newspaper is well-plugged in with both the Americans and the Israelis, and is helping fan the flames of the likelier than not upcoming collision with Iraq. At the moment the U.S. is short of cruise missiles. At about $1.5 million a piece and using the latest sophisticated technology, these are the weapons of choice needed to take out what's left of Iraq's important military assets, and to go after the Iraqi leadership, Saddam himself at the top of the list of course. America's war to restructure the Middle East, a key element of which is to replace the government in Baghdad as has now been done in Kabul, will have to wait for Boeing to rush produce many more hundreds of these superweapons. The following articles, most from the Telegraph, help explain what does in fact seem to be going on in Washington in preparation for taking on the Iraqi regime, regardless of what anyone else in the world thinks about it.
U.S. MISSILE SHORTAGE DELAYS IRAQ STRIKE
By Sean Rayment
[Telegraph, UK, 30 December]: A SHORTAGE of cruise missiles has thrown plans for a full-scale strike on Iraq into disarray.
America's supply of the air launched version, one of the US air force's most sophisticated and deadly weapons, has become so depleted that military chiefs are pressing Boeing, the manufacturers, to speed up their production.
Even so, the first of the new batch of missiles ordered last year is not expected for months, and it may take longer to rebuild stocks to a level that would make such an attack viable.
Strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998 and Kosovo two years ago virtually exhausted the US supply. The number of conventional [non-nuclear] air launched cruise missiles left within the inventory is believed to be fewer than 30.
The £900,000 missiles are a vital tactical weapon because of their ability to destroy targets from up to 800 miles without warning.
The news came as President Bush pledged to maintain the war on terrorism in 2002. "Above all, this coming year will require our sustained commitment to the war against terrorism," he said in his weekly radio address. "We cannot know how long this struggle will last. But it can end only one way: in victory for America and the cause of freedom."
The US joint chiefs are known to be considering a number of plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime. The military is thought to be pushing for a full-scale invasion of the country in a campaign similar to Operation Desert Storm, but this would require months of planning and the movement of hundreds of thousand of troops.
Fundamental to any plan is the use of overwhelming air power. Unless Iraq's air defence system was destroyed by cruise missiles, as in the Gulf war, the chances of heavy US casualties would be high.
Other options open to America include the use of Tomahawk cruise missiles, 85 of which have been fired against Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. The Tomahawks can be launched from ships or submarines but lack the range for every target in Iraq, a fact that Saddam recognises.
It is also likely that the US Navy would not want its stock of Tomahawks diminished, potentially creating the nightmare scenario of the world's only military superpower being without a viable long-range missile force.
Rob Hewson, the editor of Jane's Air Launched Weapons, said American bombers would not be sent in until hostile air defence and communications systems had been all but destroyed by cruise missiles.
He said: "The Pentagon will not want to be in a position to launch another full-scale attack against Iraq without a full armoury of cruise missiles.
Iraq has one of the largest armed forces in the world. It has a very capable air defence system and the US wouldn't want to launch an attack against it without destroying most of its air defence first.
"The only real option as far as Iraq is concerned is to sit tight and replenish stocks." A Pentagon spokesman admitted that cruise missile stocks had been virtually exhausted after the strikes on Afghanistan, Sudan and Kosovo.
When asked whether the shortfall would delay any future large-scale military operation, he said: "The military chiefs are aware of the situation and measures are in place to fix it."
The Pentagon has also given the go-ahead for a more sophisticated version of the "Daisy Cutter" bomb which has been used in Afghanistan. The BLU118/B was first dropped on December 14 in the Nevada desert. The devices creates a pressure wave capable of destroying caves and killing troops in the open.
SADDAM'S RIVALS HAVE PLAN FOR OUSTER
By George Gedda
WASHINGTON (AP - 30 December) - To hear officials from Iraq's main resistance group describe it, opposition to Saddam Hussein inside the country is such that not much will be needed to dislodge him.
They believe it could be done with 3,000 U.S.-trained Iraqi rebels, an Afghanistan-style bombing campaign, the insertion of several thousand U.S. special forces and a big assist from Iran. A show of American resolve would cause mass defections, they say, crumbling Saddam's regime.
The plan is being circulated by the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based confederation of Iraqi opposition groups that enjoys considerable backing on Capitol Hill but is seen as largely ineffectual by many in the administration.
The Bush administration hasn't said what military options, if any, it has in mind for Iraq.
``What happened in Afghanistan is basically what we want to do in Iraq,'' says Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the INC.
Its officials say the Bush administration has its own plan for removing Saddam. In response, U.S. officials that isn't unusual, since driving Saddam from office has been a longtime goal.
Richard Perle, a former Pentagon aide who maintains close ties with administration officials, says he is unaware of any serious new U.S. military plan to get rid of Saddam.
Says Secretary of State Colin Powell: ``With respect to what is sometimes characterized as taking out Saddam, I never saw a plan that was going to take him out.''
Officials also are concerned about unintended consequences from a U.S.-backed attempt to oust Saddam. One is the possible fragmentation and disintegration of Iraq.
President Bush recently suggested his concerns about Iraq would be eased if Saddam were to allow the return of U.N. weapons inspectors, whom the Iraqi leader expelled three years ago.
Asked what would happen if Saddam refuses, Bush said, ``He'll find out.''
One of the more controversial aspects of the INC plan involves Iran, Iraq's eastern neighbor and longtime enemy of Saddam. The two countries fought a devastating war from 1980-1988.
Chalabi says the Iranians are prepared to help the United States remove Saddam.
``They will do nothing without U.S. support,'' he said.
Specifically, INC officials say Iran will provide transit, staging and logistical support for Iraqi rebel troops if the United States commits fully to the operation's success.
Perle says any role for Iran would be a mistake. ``We should be encouraging the collapse of the Iranian regime,'' he says. ``If the U.S. were to step in and cooperate with Iran in going after Iraq, this would undermine the mounting opposition to the regime.''
David Mack, a former Iraqi officer at the State Department now with the private Middle East Institute, says the United States should seek other Iraqi neighbors - Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia - for support roles.
Whether Turkey would allow the United States to use bases in that country in an operation against Iraq is unclear. Of particular concern to Turkey is that upheaval in Iraq could lead to the creation of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq. This, in turn, could energize Kurds in neighboring Turkey to seek independence as well.
Alluding to this concern, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said that during a mid-January visit to Washington ``we will make it clear that we are opposed to any developments that threaten Turkey's integrity.''
The INC has been lobbying official Washington for years. Its success in Congress is largely attributed to the efforts of Chalabi, born 56 years ago into a wealthy Iraqi Shiite family.
In 1997, Congress allocated $97 million to the INC for military training and equipment. That rankled Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, who commanded U.S. forces in the Middle East.
Before retiring from the military last year, Zinni, now the U.S. envoy to the Middle East, criticized Congress' efforts to ``let some silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London gin up an expedition.''
He said equipping a thousand fighters with $97 million worth of AK-47's and sending them into Iraq could end in failure like the 1961 attempt to overthrow Cuba's Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs.
``What will we have? A Bay of Goats, most likely,'' Zinni wrote in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.
The INC has received no training or equipment, which upsets members of Congress, some of whom recently implored Bush to start military training for the INC and provide money for other activities.
Perle believes action against Iraq must be taken sooner, not later.
``Do we wait and hope that he doesn't do what we know he is capable of, which is distributing weapons of mass destruction to anonymous terrorists, or do we take pre-emptive action?'' he asked.
``What is essential here is not to look at the opposition to Saddam as it is today, without any external support, without any realistic hope of removing that awful regime, but to look at what could be created.''
BUSH HANDED 3 ATTACK PLANS FOR SADDAM
By David Wastell in Washington
[Telegraph, UK, 23 December] A SHORTLIST of three options for attacking Iraq will be presented to President George W. Bush next month.
The plans are being prepared by the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency in a fresh sign that Mr Bush is considering strong action against President Saddam Hussein's regime.
With only isolated pockets of al-Qaeda resistance remaining to be tackled in Afghanistan, the time is fast approaching for Mr Bush to make a decision on the next phase of the war on global terrorism.
First will come smaller-scale action against al-Qaeda's cells in other countries. However, Mr Bush will consider plans for a campaign against Saddam soon, to allow military and diplomatic preparations to begin.
He has made clear that he sees the Iraqi dictator as a menace because of his aggressive stance and his reported stocks of chemical and biological weapons. His view is likely to have hardened after a new Iraqi defector's reports last week of secret weapons caches.
"You'll see the pace of administration decisions pick up in January," said an observer familiar with CIA and Pentagon thinking.
Senior Pentagon officials, led by Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, want to adapt the strategy that has just delivered victory in Afghanistan and apply it to Iraq.
A Pentagon study group set up by Mr Wolfowitz is examining a detailed war plan put forward by Ahmad Chalibi, the leader of the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC).
Under these proposals, Washington would spend several months arming and training the Iraqi opposition - then send in special forces to direct air strikes.
The chiefs of staff, however, are thought to be arguing for a much bigger commitment of US ground troops, capable of taking on Saddam without help from the INC, which they see as far weaker than the Afghan Northern Alliance.
The CIA, meanwhile, is pushing for covert action to destabilise the Saddam regime - perhaps culminating in a coup. CIA officials have begun putting out renewed feelers to Iraqi military defectors who may have influence and contacts within Saddam's forces.
Defence officials, however, point out that previous coup attempts have all failed, or been detected before they began, resulting in the execution of scores of officers.
Colin Powell, the secretary of state, is among a number of Bush officials with reservations about the wisdom of tackling Saddam head-on but who acknowledge the need to do something.
Last month, the State Department flew at least a dozen exiled Iraqi officers to Washington to discuss Iraq's future after Saddam - a sign that Gen Powell may now favour the CIA option.
Both he and the intelligence agency believe that a campaign against Saddam is more likely to succeed if the opposition can be expanded beyond Kurds in the north and Shia Muslims in the south to embrace Iraq's Sunni Muslim majority.
Mr Bush has made clear that his desire to topple Saddam is not driven by the Iraqi regime's involvement - or otherwise - in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
He believes that US success in Afghanistan has made Middle East opinion more receptive to a move against Saddam - provided it was overwhelming and decisive.
Last week, the New York Times quoted an unnamed Arab envoy in Washington as arguing that an attack on Saddam was now "do-able" without destabilising governments in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
He was quoted as saying: "How many people will cry for Saddam if he goes?"
Some officials believe that it may be both possible, and desirable, to combine elements of all three options, putting maximum military pressure on Saddam while speeding his collapse from within. "The more lines of attack, the more effective we will be," said one strategist.
GULF ARABS TELL IRAQ TO ALLOW U.N. ARMS INSPECTIONS
MUSCAT, Dec 31 (Reuters) - A Saudi-led Gulf Arab alliance urged Iraq to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country or risk more tension in the Middle East.
Jameel al-Hujailan, secretary-general of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), also criticised Baghdad for continuing antagonism towards its pro-Western neighbours Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
"We hope Iraq's obstinacy towards some (U.N.) Security Council resolutions will not lead to more tension in the region and cause more sufferings to the brotherly Iraqi people," he said in a report to a GCC summit which opened on Sunday.
Iraq was placed under U.N. sanctions following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The U.N says sanctions cannot be lifted unless Baghdad allows international weapons inspectors back into the country to check for weapons of mass destruction.
"Iraq still refuses the return of (weapons) inspectors, denies holding Kuwaiti prisoners and ignores demands for the return of Kuwaiti state property," Hujailan added in the report, which Reuters obtained a copy of on Monday.
"Moreover, its political speeches are marked by hostility and provocation towards Kuwait and Saudi Arabia."
U.S. President George W. Bush has warned Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein he will "find out" the consequences if he does not re-admit the inspectors, triggering speculation Iraq might be the next target of Washington's anti-terror war after Afghanistan.
Baghdad, which is on a U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism, has denied any link to Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, who Washington accuses of planning the September 11 attacks.
Hujailan said on Saturday the GCC would oppose any attack against an Arab country.
The GCC groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain in a loose political and economic alliance set up in 1981.
The U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in December 1998, on the eve of a U.S.-British bombing raid, after the two Western powers accused Baghdad of not cooperating with the arms experts. They have not been allowed to return since.
Iraq insists it does not have any weapons of mass destruction and the U.N. Security Council should lift sanctions.
The U.N. has also told Baghdad it must disclose the fate of Kuwaitis missing since the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis.
Kuwait says Iraq is holding more than 600 people, mostly Kuwaitis. Baghdad denies this and says Kuwait has withheld information on missing Iraqis.
Tension has flared periodically between Saudi Arabia and Baghdad since 1990.
BUSH POINTS TO IRAQ AS HIS NEXT TARGET
By Toby Harnden in Washington
[The Telegraph - 12 December] PRESIDENT BUSH gave warning yesterday that "rogue states" with weapons of mass destruction would be his next priority in the war against terrorism, in a signal that Iraq could soon be targeted.
His speech came as a US team arrived in northern Iraq to help to unify opposition groups, a first step towards creating a springboard for any offensive against President Saddam Hussein.
Mr Bush said: "America's next priority in the war on terrorism is to protect against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them."
"Every nation now knows that we cannot accept and we will not accept states that harbour, finance, train or equip the agents of terror.
"Those nations that violate this principle will be regarded as hostile regimes," he added. "They have been warned. They are being watched, and they will be held to account."
In Afghanistan, America used local opposition groups to bring down the Taliban. The State Department delegation at present in northern Iraq will seek to foster co-operation between Kurdish and other anti-Saddam forces. Headed by Ryan Crocker, a senior State Department official, it is the first mission to northern Iraq for almost a year.
Northern Iraq has been outside Saddam's control for a decade and is a likely base for any assault against him.
At the weekend, Vice-President Dick Cheney, who had previously said there was nothing to link Iraq to September 11, outlined the case against Saddam. Mr Bush has said that Saddam had to let UN inspectors into Iraq and would "find out" the consequences if he did not.
Mr Cheney said: "The evidence is conclusive that the Iraqis have harboured terrorists. Saddam has had a robust biological and chemical weapons programme."
American opinion hardened after it emerged that Mohammed Atta, the leader of the September 11 hijackers, had previously met Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague.
Gen Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State who, as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in 1991 was instrumental in halting American forces before Saddam had been ousted, still favours a cautious approach.
He has been strongly supported by Tony Blair and British diplomats, who want sanctions rather than aggressive military action.
One British official said: "Every time Iraq is mentioned to one of our people, they go almost apoplectic."
DANGERS IN ATTACK ON IRAQ, SAYS POWELL
By Toby Harnden in Washington
[Telegraph, UK, 22 December]: GEN Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, has cautioned against launching a military campaign to topple Saddam Hussein, arguing that American success in Afghanistan might not be repeated in Iraq.
"They're two different countries with two different regimes, two different military capabilities," he told the Washington Post. "They are so significantly different that you can't take the Afghan model and immediately apply it to Iraq."
But Gen Powell now finds himself in a minority. Other senior figures in the Bush administration have begun to argue for a concerted attempt to oust Saddam.
Their case has been boosted by the increasing flow of information about Saddam's terrorist capabilities from Iraqi defectors aligned to the Iraqi National Congress, the main opposition group.
In an interview to be published in next month's Vanity Fair, Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy, a former brigadier general in Iraq's intelligence service, revealed how he put together a team of 30 specially trained fighters who were given new identities and dispatched abroad for a secret mission.
Al-Qurairy said: "When I saw the World Trade Centre attack on television I turned to a friend and said, 'That's ours'."
He also argued that Saddam's regime could collapse quickly if the US attacked. "There is a lot of anger inside many people. If there is a US strike on Baghdad and it's clear the regime is being targeted, for example by bombing the presidential palace, no one will stand and fight."
President Bush is said to be unconcerned about whether Iraq had a direct role in the September 11 attacks, pointing out that he has vowed to tackle all terrorism.
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