Everybody is speaking now about the coming US operation directed against Saddam Hussein’s regime. Despite the loud criticism, the USA continues the preparation for an operation against Iraq. Being a part of the “axis of evil," Iraq is to be punished for the purpose of "educating" of other doubting and irresolute countries. Washington made other “partners” understand that they will regret not having joined forces with the USA.
The consequences of the US activity in the Persian Gulf will be catastrophic. First of all, oil prices will soar and affect the US and world economies. We should keep it in mind that before the events of 1990, Iraq was the sixth largest supplier of oil for the USA. After the war in 1990, Iraq suspended oil supplies and the price of oil price increased to $40 per barrel (it is twice as much as now). Second, an intrusion into Iraq will destabilize the situation in the Middle East, which, in its turn, will affect the situation in the Near East. Third, the USA relies so much on the opposition in Iraq that is expects the opposition to be the power that will throw out Hussein’s regime. This seems to be a rather naive opinion of Iraq’s political situation. The opposition on which Washington relies so actively consists of currupt military and civil officials, who, being close to Saddam Hussein, made fortunes with money obtained from the national budget. However, after disclosure, they left Iraq. Now, the people call themselves fighters against Hussein’s tyranny.
A conference with the participation of about 200 servicemen and representatives of the opposition groups from the Iraqi National Congress is scheduled for end of March in the USA. The organization’s headquarters is situated in London, but it is financed by the US government.
The financing of the Iraqi National Congress caused a large scandal at the end of 2001. The White House froze the organization’s accounts because it considered that money was spent on an ineffective group. In other words, Washington grew tired of financing the organization’s virtual projects. As we see, the situation has changed: the US administration has control over the preparation for the operation against Saddam Hussein, and the disgraced congress is in favor again.
The Iraqi opposition has faced a complicated task. The top-priority task is to unite the people inside the organization, as it consists of different social and ethnic groups. They have got only one thing in common: a hatred of Saddam Hussein. That is why the organization is to be consolidated first of all; it will be very difficult, even with the support of the USA and Great Britain. Second, propaganda inside Iraq needs to be organized, among military men first of all. This is to win them to the opposition’s side. Several transmission stations will be constructed soon near Iraqi borders for propaganda aimed at the population of Iraq. Third, the opposition and the USA lay great hopes on the Kurds.
There are very few countries that wish to assist the USA in the liberation of the Iraqi population from Hussein’s dictatorship. In first place is Great Britain, the US’s traditional ally in Europe. The country is so afraid of lagging behind other countries that it is ready to do anything, even despite the protests of the conservatives and the majority of the labourites against the offensive against Iraq. One more ally is Turkey, which can hardly avoid participation in the offensive. The Turkish leadership understands perfectly well that a war in the neighboring state may inflame the problem with the Kurds, which is still very pressing for the country. However, Turkey is bound with commitments to its allies.
Saudi Arabia will certainly take part in the operation, as it wants to distance itself from the “axis of evil” and show the world its attitude toward terrorism. It is very important to demonstrate its "correct" attitude toward terrorism, as, in fact, the Saudi Kingdom actively supports terrorist organizations all over the world. In addition, Washington sometimes declares that the USA may reject Saudi oil, which would be very unprofitable for the sheikhs. That is why Saudi Arabia will do everything it can to recover the USA’s favor.
At the same time, events are developing in Iraq as well. The country understands perfectly well to what extent the situation is vulnerable. However, it still insists that the return of UN monitors to Iraq is to entail lifting the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq.
The Babil, an Iraqi newspaper, informed that Baghdad objects to the return of the special commission to the country because the USA establishes no terms for the commission’s presence in the country. The newspaper supposes that this will be a never ending economic blockade of Iraq. It is also said in the newspaper that if the USA and Great Britain intend to lift the economic sanctions, they are to determine the terms for the commission’s presence in the country. It was said that “under different conditions, we would have quite a different position." “Unfortunately, we are sure that the USA plans to organize an offensive against Iraq irregardless of our position regarding return of the special commission. The only thing that is left for Iraq is to resist the aggression," informs The Babil.
The position of Iraqi Vice-premier Tariq Aziz is even more straightforward. He says that if Washington starts an offensive against Iraq, the USA will find a war similar to the one it had in Vietnam. Le Figaro published Aziz’s interview today. The Iraqi vice-premier promises that “every Iraqi town will turn into new Vietnamese jungles for the USA.” In his words, the US aggression will be a failure. In the words of Tariq Aziz, if the people were displeased with the regime, they would hardly stand the two wars and eleven years of sanctions. That is why he thinks that no dictatorship in Iraq can be spoken of.
No date for the launching of the offensive has yet been announced. According to the experts’ estimates, it may take place within the period of May-September. Several international actions related to Iraq are scheduled for May as well. Diplomatic sources inform that Washington officials consider that a new sanctions regime against Iraq, including recommencement of the UN mission’s work, is to be considered in May. A meeting of US President George Bush and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who objects to any offensive against Iraq, is to be scheduled for May as well. The events are on the agenda of all negotiations held between Washington and other capitals of the world.
The above mentioned facts demonstrate the attitude of the Bush administration to international law and the UN. Such problems arose during the preparation for the operation against Afghanistan as well. The UN Security Council finally gave its consent to the operation. However, at least there were quite evident reasons for that war: the terrorist attacks in the USA. During this winter, Washington used the anti-terrorism war as a heavily loaded donkey (the geopolitical profit in Central and South Asia is meant here), and the donkey itself can hardly be seen. However, regarding the situation with Iraq , there is no evident reason an offensive. President Bush ordered his aids to develop variants of “activity” in Iraq even before the Sept. 11 attacks, then the order was suspended, and now the work has been recommenced.
Washington demonstrates a rather strange attitude toward Iraq. On the one hand, it is putting pressure on Iraq for the admission of UN monitors. On the other hand, it plans to invade the country. The facts seem to be rather contradictory. Most likely, this is just a bluff and the USA is not in reality going to attack Iraq.
Compared with the line of the ex-president of the USA concerning Iraq, little has changed with the coming of the new president. The way Washington treats its allies, friends, and partners (Russia is among them now as well) seems to have changed. Does not it seem that the allies are often first informed of some fact (for example, the ”axis of evil”) and only afterwords the problem is discussed with them?
Almost all US allies in NATO want Washington now to give explanations for their further connection with the offensive against Iraq. The allies are apprehensive that they will have to finance the reconstruction of one more country after a war, not to speak about participation in the war itself. None of the Mideast countries has supported the so far, although many Mideast leaders want Saddam Hussein to quit the political scene.
What about Russia? It dislikes the settlement of the Iraqi problem with force. Will it bargain with the USA? I hope that it will not. It would be unprofitable from an economic as well as from a geopolitical points of view. Russia’s image in the Arab world will be marred if it surrenders Iraq to the USA because of momentary preferences.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/03/04/37811.html