As the rhetoric increases from the US administration, orders for military aircraft fuel increase.
Despite the claims by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US Vice-President Richard Cheney that there are no plans under way for an assault on Iraq, the signs are that such is being planned behind the scenes.
US National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice declared recently that the Iraqi regime poses not only a threat to its neighbours and to its people, but also to peace and stability in the world. These, after the “axis of evil” speech by President Bush, are strong words, particularly in the context of current world politics, in which substantiated suspicion is deemed to be a free pass for military action.
The orders for aircraft fuel by the US authorities in March/April have increased considerably, pointing towards a storage process in preparation for a strike. While 150,000 barrels each are to be delivered to the bases at Jacobabad in Pakistan and Bagram and Kandahar in Afghanistan, for the operations currently taking place, 1.2 million barrels are ordered for the base in the United Arab Emirates, Star Jebel.
Meanwhile, the journey undertaken by Richard Cheney around the Middle East, ostensibly to discuss the question of Palestine, is said to be an attempt by Washington to prepare a coalition for attack similar to the one which saw 32 armies fight against the Iraqi administration in the Gulf War in 1991.
However, such an idea, if posed, if likely to fall on deaf ears this time. On meeting Mr. Cheney, King Abdullah II of Jordan declared that he rejects “any use of force against Iraq”, while public opinion in Saudi Arabia is strongly against any military action against its northern neighbour and other Arab nations consider the Palestinian question to be of more immediate importance.
Antoine Basbous, director of the Observatory of Arab Countries in France, declared in an interview quoted by AFP, “Cheney is preparing the attack against Iraq while Zinni tries to defuse the crisis in the Middle East”.
The notion that the US administration has decided to topple the Ba’ath regime of Saddam Hussein sends political ripples through the world of international diplomacy. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov reiterated Moscow’s hostility to such an attack on Tuesday, claiming that “Russia strongly favours a political solution to the Iraqi situation, based on the UN Security Council resolutions and in agreement with international law”.
The European Union is preparing to send an envoy to Baghdad to convince Saddam Hussein to allow the weapons inspectors back into Iraq, an action which would take away any grounds for a military strike. The British Ambassador at the UNO, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, questions “whether Iraq poses such a serious threat and whether there are no alternatives to military action, something which has not yet been considered”.
Iran threatens that if the USA attacks Iraq, “they will be drawn into a swamp which will be worse than Vietnam”, as Ayatollah Ali Mechkini, President of the Assembly of Wise Men, stated.
Like any action, the horrendous attacks on New York and Washington merited a reaction, which came swiftly and firmly, deposing the evil and warped Taleban regime, imposing something near to normality in Afghanistan. On this, the world is united in agreement. However, to use the September 11th attacks as an excuse to go globe-trotting in the name of a campaign against terror, has to be justified case by case.
Groups like Abu Sayyaf, the Aceh liberation army and other radical Islamist factions need to be combated, along with the more visible but conveniently forgotten (by the West) Chechnya terrorist groups, equally fanatical in their Islamist philosophy, which disguises the real issue: criminal activity and banditism. Such was also the case with the KLA, wined and dined in Washington and armed to the teeth by Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda working side by side with the CIA.
Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime, on the other hand, has no proven links to any terrorist activity. If the fact that Saddam Hussein is still in power rankles Washington, military action is not an option to solve political disputes between sovereign states in the 21st Century. For this, there is an organism called the United Nations Organisation, not very far from the White House, down the road in New York.
Riding roughshod over the rest of the world and adopting the position of a bully will do nothing to further the image that the USA deserves any sympathy after the September 11th attacks. Instead, it gives fuel to the terrorists to try again, on a wave of growing hostility among world public opinion against George Bush’s United States of America.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
In a weary world of endless US military interventions, sanctions, trade tariffs and chaos, let’s pause and take stock of the shining house on the hill