US plots possible 2003 Iraq attack

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Muslim News" <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2002 10:05:20 +0100

NEW YORK: The Bush administration is plotting a potential major air campaign 
and ground invasion early next year to topple the Iraqi government of President 
Saddam Hussein, the New York Times reported in Sunday editions. The use of 
70,000 to 250,000 troops is being considered, the Times said. President George 
W. Bush has not issued any order for the Pentagon to mobilize its forces, and 
there is no official plan for an invasion, the newspaper said. 

For years, official US policy has been to work for a "regime change" in Iraq. 
Since the Sept. 11 strikes, which exposed America's vulnerability to attack, 
the Bush administration has repeatedly said it has to act to prevent the 
possibility of Baghdad using weapons of mass destruction. The statements have 
caused unease among many European and Arab nations. The Times reported the use 
of American or combined allied forces became a possibility after two alternate 
scenarios were rejected. 

The White house concluded a coup in Iraq would be unlikely to succeed and a 
proxy battle using local forces there would be insufficient to bring a change 
in power. "There have been at least six coup attempts in the 1990s, and they 
consistently fail," an administration official told the Times. Dissident Iraqi 
military officers "sent signals to us, We're ready for a coup,' and the next 
thing you know these guys are murdered or it fails or people have cold feet at 
the end and leave the country," he said. 

"It's a horrific police state. Nobody trusts anyone, so how can you pull off a 
coup?" The Times reported the timing of early next year delay resulted from a 
need "to create the right military, economic and diplomatic conditions. These 
include avoiding summer combat in bulky chemical suits, preparing for a global 
oil price shock, and waiting until there is progress toward ending the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Former President George Bush, the current US 
leader's father, launched an attack on Iraq in 1991 to drive its invading 
forces out of Kuwait but he concluded the war without toppling Saddam. One 
question to be answered in the current planning is the extent of expected 
cooperation from Saudi Arabia. 

The Pentagon has been working on the assumption it might have to carry out any 
military action without the use of US bases in the kingdom, the Times reported. 
The planning anticipates the possible use of bases in Turkey and Kuwait for US 
forces while Qatar would be the replacement for the air operations center in 
Saudi Arabia. 

According to the Times, there are conflicting views of the diplomatic impact, 
with Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their 
senior aides feeling that "Arab leaders would publicly protest but secretly 
celebrate Mr. Hussein's downfall." 

The other view, held at the State Department and among some at the White House, 
is that "efforts to topple Mr. Hussein would be viewed by Arabs as a 
confrontation with Islam, destabilizing the entire region and complicating the 
broader campaign against Osama bin Laden and his network, al Qaeda," which 
Washington blames for the September attacks, the newspaper reported. Iraqi 
Foreign Minister Naji Sabri arrived in Moscow Sunday for talks with his Russian 
counterpart Igor Ivanov likely to focus on efforts to secure a lifting of UN 
sanctions against the Baghdad regime. 
Source: The News 

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