Iranians 'oppose a US attack on Iraq but would remain neutral'

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 04:18:19 +0100

Iran is strongly opposed to any US-led attack on Iraq but would probably
remain neutral in the event of an attempt to remove President Saddam
Hussein by force, according to a leading Iranian official. Although Iran
has made clear it opposes US ambitions to impose a change of regime in
Baghdad, the statement by Mohsen Rezaei was the clearest indication to
date that Iran would not seek actively to oppose a US military campaign.
Mr Rezaei, who commanded the Revolutionary Guards for 16 years, told the

FT: "The US will definitely attack Iraq. Even if Saddam lets the weapons
inspectors in, the US will attack. Iran opposes such a move as we
opposed the attack on Afghanistan, but I believe Iran would be neutral
and keep its impartiality." Analysts said Mr Rezaei's comments should
not be seen as a green light for the US to intervene in Iraq, but rather
as an indication that Iran would not lend tacit support as it did last
year during the US campaign in Afghanistan through its backing of the
anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Mr Rezaei spoke of the deep
disappointment within the Iranian establishment over the conduct of the
US campaign in Afghanistan and its aftermath. For this reason, he said,
it was impossible to predict how Iran would respond to a US assault on
Iraq. "Our government is very dissatisfied with the behaviour of the US
in Afghanistan, which had a very negative impact on Iran. In Afghanistan
we really co-operated within the framework of the United Nations, but
the US did not show correct behaviour towards Iran." European diplomats
in Tehran said his comments reflected how the more pragmatic among
Iran's leaders were frustrated that their response to the September 11
terror attacks and co-operation in supporting the interim administration
in Afghanistan had not led to a serious dialogue between Tehran and

President George W. Bush's bracketing of Iran in an "axis of evil"
alongside Iraq and North Korea came as a shock to the reformist
administration led by President Mohammad Khatami and strengthened
hardline clerics opposed to re-establishing ties with the US. Mr Bush's
attack on Iran, reinforced by signs that the US intends to tighten its
unilateral economic sanctions, was based on concern over Iran's alleged
pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and its support for militant
Palestinian groups. European diplomats think the "axis of evil" speech,
made in late January, was a tactical mistake from the point of view of
engaging Iran's co-operation in bringing about "regime change" in
Baghdad. Although Iran, which fought a 1980-88 war against US-backed
Iraq, supports Iraqi opposition groups, the ayatollahs in Tehran are
more convinced than ever that the fall of Mr Saddam is seen in
Washington as a prelude to removing their clerical regime. The US
military presence in Afghanistan and the opening of bases in several
central Asian countries to the north has heightened their fears of

Source: FT 

Bush in Secret Iraq Attack Meeting 

President Bush had a previously undisclosed meeting last week with Gen.
Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, to discuss what
was described on Sunday as "concrete" military plans to attack Iraq. 
"One of the meetings that wasn't reported this week was a briefing by
Gen. Franks in the Oval Office of the president on Wednesday," revealed
"Fox News Sunday" panelist Bill Kristol, citing an unnamed
administration source. 
"They talked concretely about war plans for Iraq," he reported. 

Kristol said the Bush-Franks meeting indicates that the administration
had decided to take action against Iraq regardless of the status of
Mideast peace talks, adding, "Bush may be moving faster than we think in
preparing to get rid of Saddam." 


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