Preparation for the war against Iraq is underway in the USA; however, the Arab nations refuse to join the anti-Hussein coalition. In addition to the Arab solidarity, each of the countries has its own reasons for this. Kuwait, which still remembers the Iraqi occupation that caused the previous war against Saddam Hussein, remains America’s most reliable ally in the Arab world. Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said a month ago that as long as Saddam Hussein held Kuwaiti captives and kept on threatening Kuwait, the country would consider the war unfinished. Therefore, if America wages a new war in Iraq, this will mean the continuation of that previous war for Kuwait. Kuwait believes that no stability can be expected in the region until Saddam Hussein is overthrown. The country still fears that Iraq might attack. In spite of the ideological support that Americans enjoy in Kuwait, the Kuwaiti defense minister, al-Mubarak, said that the country would allow the USA to deploy troops on its territory only if the UNO agrees. He said in an interview last month that there was no increase of US troops in the country, just an ordinary rotation of the armed forces. The US contingent in Kuwait makes up over 4,000 soldiers; training missions are held there annually. Last year, a demonstrative exercise was held in Kuwait, where Desert Storm veterans George Bush and General Schwarzkopf were present. This November, the USA plans to hold a joint exercise together with three Arab countries in Jordan. These will be Jordan, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates. The Jordanian information minister talked about the exercise, but he didn’t mention the exact time and place. He said that the exercise would be ordinary, having nothing to do with the US’s campaign against Iraq. Until now, Jordanian King Abdullah protested against any operations against Iraq. He thinks that the Palestine-Israel conflict should be settled first. At the same time, King Abdullah stresses that if war begins, it is Saddam Hussein who is to be blamed for it. Jordan claims it would keep its neutrality in a possible armed conflict between the USA and Iraq. The country is completely dependent upon Iraqi oil supplies. Bahrain, where the 5th fleet of the US Navy is situated, is one of USA’s key allies in its military campaign. The Pentagon is likely to give a key role to this country. Bahrain monarch sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa objected to any military operation by the USA in Iraq. The USA wants to involve many countries in the action.
Qatar may become another basis for the US war. Although Qatar is currently speaking in support of diplomatic regulation of the problem, it allowed the USA to use its air force bases during the previous war.
In 1991, the USA used the Saudi territories as a beachhead for its attacks. This time, it won’t. However, Saudi Arabia has recently relaxed its opinion and said it would allow the USA to use its bases if the Americans have an UN mandate. As well as Jordan, Egypt thinks that the USA should settle the Arab-Israeli conflict first. At the same time, Egypt, which receives gets 2 billion dollars per year from the USA, called upon Iraq to use the chance it has to avoid great problems. Syria has always been in opposition to Hussein, but will hardly send its troops to war as it had done in 1991. Syria thinks that this war will favor the USA and Israel, as well as establish a puppet regime in Iraq. Syria is worried about quite a different problem; it dreams of regaining the Golan Heights. However, the USA will hardly help it in this case, even if Syria joins the coalition.
The opinion of Arab leaders concerning an armed conflict against Iraq depends not only upon their sympathies toward their Arab neighbors. Kings and sheikhs fear that their countries will also boil over and that not only the Iraqi regime will be changed after this war.
Sergey Borisov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/10/04/47977.html
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