Preparation for the war against Iraq is underway in the USA, however, the Arab nations still linger the anti-Hussein coalition joining. In addition to the Arabian solidarity, each of the countries has its own reasons for this.
Kuwait, which still remembers the Iraqi occupation that caused the previous war of the USA against Saddam Hussein, remains America’s most reliable ally in the Arab world. Kuwait Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said a month ago that as long as Saddam Hussein held Kuwaiti captives and kept on threatening Kuwait, the country would consider the war unfinished. So, if America wages a new war in Iraq, this will mean continuation of that previous war for Kuwait. Kuwait believes that no stability can be expected in the region until Saddam Hussein is overthrown. The country still fears that Iraq can dare attack. In spite of the ideological support which Americans enjoy in Kuwait, the Kuwait defense minister al-Mubarak said, the country would allow the USA deploy the troops on its territory only if the UNO allows. He said in an interview last month, there was no increase of the US troops in the country, just ordinary rotation of the armed forces.
The US contingent in Kuwait makes up over 4,000 soldiers; manoeuvres are held there annually. Last year demonstrative exercise was held in Kuwait, where Desert Storm veterans, George Bush and General Schwarzkopf were present. This November the USA plans to hold joint exercise together with three Arab countries in Jordan. These will be Jordan, Egypt and United Arab Emirates. Jordan minister of information told about the exercise, but didn’t mention the exact time and place at that. He said the exercise would be just regular, having nothing to do with the US’s campaign in Iraq. Until now, Jordan King Abdullah protested against any operations in Iraq. He thinks that the Palestine-Israel conflict should be settled first. At the same time, King Abdullah stresses that if war begins, it is Saddam Hussein who is to be blamed for it. Jordan claims it would keep neutrality in a possible armed conflict between the USA and Iraq. The country is completely dependent upon Iraqi oil supplies. Bahrain, where the 5th fleet of the US Navy is situated, is one of USA’s key allies in its military campaign. The Pentagon is likely to give one of the key roles to it. Bahrain monarch, sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa objected to any ex parte military operation held by the USA in Iraq. The USA wants to involve many countries in the action.
Qatar may become another basis for the US war. Although Qatar is currently speaking in support of diplomatic regulation of the problem, it had allowed the USA to its air force bases during the previous war.
In 1991, the USA used the Saudi territories as a beachhead for its attacks. This time it won’t. However, Saudi Arabia has recently relaxed its opinion and said it would allow the USA to its bases if Americans present the UN mandate. As well as Jordan, Egypt thinks that the USA should settle the Arab-Israeli conflict first. At the same time, Egypt that gets 2 billion dollars per year from the USA, called upon Iraq to use the chance it has got to avoid great problems.
Syria has always been in opposition to Hussein, but will hardly send its troops to the war as it had done in 1991. Syria thinks that this war will favor the USA and Israel, but establish a puppet regime in Iraq. Syria is anxious about quite a different problem, it dreams of restoring Golan Heights. But the USA will hardly help it in this case, even if Syria joins the coalition.
Opinion of Arab leaders concerning an armed conflict in Iraq depends not only upon their sympathies toward their Arab fellows. Kings and sheikhs fear that their countries will also boil up, and that not only the Iraqi regime will be changed after this war.