Middle East plans for aftermath of 'inevitable' war

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002 13:50:25 +0100

IRAQ’S neighbours are convinced that a US-led war against President
Saddam Hussein is inevitable, and have begun secretly planning to ensure
that their interests will be protected by any future Baghdad regime. 
Returning from a four-country Middle East tour yesterday, Jack Straw,
the Foreign Secretary, and senior diplomats were struck by how much of
his talks were focused on “post-Saddam scenarios”. 

Despite public declarations against the use of force, Iran, Jordan and
Kuwait are privately convinced that war is likely and that Saddam’s
removal could be beneficial. President Mubarak of Egypt, one of the Arab
world’s strongest opponents of war, also discussed Iraq’s post-Saddam

“The issue has come up on every stop,” one senior British source said.
The neighbours’ biggest concern was the need to protect Iraq’s
“territorial integrity” and maintain its sovereignty. Iraq, whose
boundaries were created after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire,
comprises three main distinct ethnic groups in three former Turkish
governates. Neighbours fear that the country could break up and that the
Kurds in the north might seek to create a new state and destabilise the

Iran, which has its own large Kurdish population, told Mr Straw that it
wanted a stable Iraq contained within its present borders. The Iranians
have assured the British that they are not seeking a militant Islamic
regime, but would expect Iraq’s majority Shia Muslims — the branch of
Islam practised in Iran — to be properly represented in government. The
Iranians want a previous agreement with Iraq on the demarcation of the
border and rights over the Shatt al-Arab waterway to be respected.
Tehran is also seeking the return of Iranian prisoners of war held by
Iraq. President Khatami emphasised Iran’s dislike for Saddam, saying
that Iranians were still dying from Iraqi chemical weapons used during
the eight-year war that ended in 1988. 

Jordan, which has close economic and social ties with Iraq, is equally
resigned to war. King Abdullah has signalled that he does not want to
make the mistake his father made by supporting Baghdad during the last
Gulf War. 

“We paid a heavy price,” one senior official said. “This time we want to
pursue a policy where Jordan comes first. We are not going to allow
ourselves to be martyrs for either Baghdad or Ramallah (the Palestinian
West Bank city).” 

British sources said that Amman was prepared discreetly to assist a
US-led operation in return for economic and security guarantees. Jordan
receives cheap oil from Iraq and much of its economy depends on Baghdad
trade. Jordanian officials insist that King Abdullah is not seeking to
reinstate the former Hashemite dynasty in Iraq and install his cousin
Sharif bin Ali, heir to the Iraqi throne, who lives in London. 

However, the Jordanians do not rule out a constitutional monarchy. “The
Hashemites of Jordan have no interest in Iraq but if anyone decided to
invite the (royal) family back that is their choice,” a source close to
the King said. 

Kuwait, the likely springboard for any attack on Iraq, was seeking
guarantees that whoever takes over in Iraq would recognise Kuwait’s
sovereignty and be prevented from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
“It is striking how raw the emotions still are (from the 1990 Iraqi
invasion),” a senior British source said. The Kuwaiti leadership was
“traumatised and humiliated” by the occupation. 

Bush backing 

Washington: The House of Representatives voted 296-133 to give President
Bush broad authority to use military force against Iraq (Roland Watson

Last night’s resolution, to be approved by the Senate, authorises Mr
Bush to use force “as he determines necessary and appropriate” in order
to defend the US against the “continuing threat posed by Iraq”, and to
enforce UN demands. He must also pursue diplomacy as far as possible. 

Mr Bush won the backing of four key senators, Tom Daschle, the Democrat
Senate Leader, and his number two, Harry Reid, and the Vietnam veterans
John Kerry, a senior Democrat, and Chuck Hagel, a respected Republican. 
Source: Times 

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