Egypt and the division of Iraq
Iraq, Reporter's View, 4/7/1999
The Iraqi government, finally, urged UN secretary general Kofi Annan to halt a low-intensity, high-tech air campaign by the US and Britain.
Analysts say that America and its friend designed this campaign to inflict damage without arousing international opposition also to pave the way for the division of Iraq.
Some Arab states from time to time affirm that they are worried about, and opposed to, the division scheme that is looming over Iraq in view of the daily US-British air strikes against Iraqi defenses in the no-fly zones in the northern and southern parts of the country.
Actually, the problem of dividing Iraq needs an Arab leader to halt it, not to governmentally-appointed leader. The division of Iraq would be the biggest strategic problem in the Arab world. This division, either into three states or in the form of a trilateral federation, would be a blow to the political stability and economic well-being a major Arab states. The division of Iraq would mean that Egypt to its east would not only have Israel to worry about, but also the intentions of the new entities, which would have questionable political affiliations and ambiguous military orientations.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Amr Moussa's statement that we are against any such scenarios, "whether they are executed legally or by virtue of a fait accompli." But what can Egypt do to prevent this division? Egyptian political sources say that the constraints on any Egyptian move are too many. And it is not only the US position, to which Egypt has already shown calculated defiance by voicing criticism of the use of military force against Iraq, but the greater hurdle in the way of any potential Egyptian effort is the attitude of Iraqi government.
Baghdad continues to issue verbal threats against its Gulf neighbors, refuses to accept the required confidence-building measures and, above all, shrugs off the Egyptian role. So the Egyptian position is not going to move forward and seems willing to remain committed to opposing greater instability in Iraq.
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