Hope for an end to Iraqi crisis
Iraq, Politics, 2/2/1998
Despite the harsh rhetoric being issued by the parties involved in the UN - US - Iraq inspection team crisis, a glimmer of hope seems to exist for a solution to the standoff, despite continued US threats of military action.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad al-Sahaf said, "The Iraqis are now training and in their highest morale ready to defend their country." He continued, "We are a very resilient nation, and will be more resilient in the future."
This tough talk was mirrored by expressions from Secretary of State Albright who is on a regional trip to the Arab states to seek support for military action against Iraq. Albright said, "Saddam has used his chemical arsenal against three of the countries I am visiting," referring to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
Albright said, "We must stop Saddam from using those weapons."
A similar statement was issued by US ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, saying that, "It appears that the use of force may be the only option that Saddam Hussein understands."
Albright, at her stop in Kuwait, seemed satisfied with the support she received. US State Department spokesman James Rubin said, Kuwait has given "100 percent support for the US position."
Jordan has said that it will not allow arracks on Iraq to come through its airspace. And Egypt said that this issue should be resolved through diplomatic means. Albright will be on her way to Egypt shortly.
Albright is currently in Saudi Arabia to garner support. Saudi Arabia plays, and has always played, a pivotal role in the region and early indications are that Saudi Arabia will not grant support for the US position and will also deny the US the use of its military bases for any attacks against Iraq.
This has not discouraged Albright, who said, "We believe that we have the authority for a strike" and that the US does not need any new resolutions to approve military action against Iraq.
Despite the tough talk on both sides, the lack of Saudi support may well soften the US position as US Secretary of Defense William Cohen stated that US strikes may not achieve the goal of either removing Saddam Hussein or the removal of Iraq's capacity to develop chemical and biological weapons.
This statement by Secretary Cohen has prompted many analysts to wonder about the nature of the US objective if those two goals are not achievable and what would be changed as the result of any US strikes.
The intense diplomatic efforts continue with French and Russian envoys putting maximum effort into finding a solution for this crisis. In what may seem like the biggest opening yet for a solution, Iraq's foreign minister Sahaf said, "I would like to emphasize that Iraq did not and does not and would not impede or obscure the work of the UN special commission."
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