WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- To complicate the U.S. military action, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will use the longstanding Iraqi-Palestinian axis to continue to fan the flames of Middle East tensions. Hussein must be denied this weapon.
When, on Sept. 12, President George W. Bush called for United Nation enforcement action against Iraq, Iraq immediately invoked the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said, "We shall never let those Zionists invade our country."
Tapping into the hatred of the Jews endemic in the Arab world and into anti-Semitism around the world is a common Iraqi ploy.
Syria's military chief of staff, Gen. Hassan Turkmani, joined the it's-all-about-Israel-not-Iraq chorus by complaining that Washington's threats against Iraq are a "pretext for the illegal acts of the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon that is violating the human rights" of Palestinians.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher warned, "The Arab peoples are angry at what is happening in Palestine. ... A strike on Iraq will exacerbate this anger." Translation: solve the Palestinian problem first.
Saddam, never misses an opportunity to hide behind Yasser Arafat's skirts. At the same time, Arafat, the Palestinian Authority President, and his own paramilitary forces never miss an opportunity to be Saddam's puppets.
To accurately assess the Iraqi threat, the world must understand that while Saddam has a military, he also has a terrorist network to do his bidding. The Palestinians serve as Hussein's proxies for terror and their operations will not be confined to the murder of Israelis.
This spring Hussein told visiting Palestinian National Council Chairman Salim Za-Nuni that Iraqi "support for the Palestinian people is infinite because Iraq and Palestine are one, and we decided to offer financial support and ourselves to the Palestinian people and its blessed Intifada [uprising]."
"Whenever a [homicide] attack occurs against the enemy, I feel as if I carried it out myself and every Arab should look at these acts this way," Hussein said.
As Hussein declared, "Iraq and Palestine are one," that is, one people, Iraqi defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed went further, saying Iraq and "Palestine", by which he also means Israel, are "one land." Ahmed said: "The armed forces will be the cutting swords in the liberation of our territories in Palestine, including Jerusalem, usurped by the Zionists."
Last week, the terror group Hamas led about 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza to march in support of Hussein. Marchers screamed for Hussein to wipe out Israel with biological and chemical weapons.
Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin declared, "We, the Palestinian people, are standing with Iraq and its people in front of the American offensive. We are one body."
In April 2002, the Iraqi News Agency announced that Hussein would donate an additional $9.6 million in cash to support Palestinian attacks on Israel. According to a Feb. 12 UPI report, Iraq has donated $1 billion total to Arafat's war against Israeli civilians, making Iraq the primary financier of Middle East terror.
This summer Iraq increased payments to families of Palestinian homicide bombers from $10,000 to $25,000.
This spring Abbas Zaki, a member of Arafat's political party, Fatah, and the Palestinian Legislative Council, received guarantees from Hussein that "Palestinian martyrs...will have the same entitlements as Iraqi martyrs."
Hussein asked Zaki to "convey our greetings to Arafat and tell him that he can use Iraq's resources as if they were Palestinian resources." Iraq's "resources" include weapons of mass murder and destruction.
On Sept. 13, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Iraq is attempting to smuggle Iraqi weapons into the West Bank and Gaza through Jordan.
On Oct. 10, 2000, Babil, an Iraqi newspaper published by Hussein's son, reported on Saddam's speech before the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council. "The conference made a number of resolutions to support the heroic Intifada and to provide the necessities of the Palestinian jihad warriors, so that they are able to continue their heroic jihad to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea," Hussein said.
"It was decided to open camps for volunteers for the jihad to liberate Palestine, to complete their military training, and the ministry of defense was instructed to give priority to those who entered weapons-training courses," he said.
Last fall Israeli security services captured a 15-man terrorist cell in the West Bank belonging to the Iraqi-based Palestinian Liberation Front.
That unit was trained by Iraqi officers at the al-Quds military camp outside of Baghdad, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
In addition to operating terrorist training camps, the Aug. 3 London Times reports that Hussein may arm Palestinian terrorist groups with biological weapons to attack Israeli targets, a move Hamas screamed for at its recent rally for Saddam. On-going Israeli efforts to immunize emergency workers against smallpox indicate the seriousness of the threat.
Worse, on Sept. 12, former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned a U.S. Congressional committee that Hussein might arm terrorist groups, including his Palestinian proxies, with nuclear weapons. "Once Saddam has nuclear weapons, the terror network will have nuclear weapons. And once the terror network has nuclear weapons, it is only a matter of time before those weapons will be used," Netanyahu said.
Those people who claim that the U.S. must solve the Mideast "peace" crisis before it resolves the Iraqi threat miss the point. The crisis in the Middle East is part and parcel of the Iraqi threat.
Saddam facilitates the violence. Saddam enables the murder. Saddam trains and will arm his proxy army. The world must understand that Saddam will use the Palestinians, in the worst sense of that word, to do anything he thinks might save his regime or his life.
-- Robert L. Maginnis is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who is a frequent analyst for television and radio networks. He is also a vice president for the Washington-based Family Research Council.
-- "Outside View" commentaries are written for UPI by outside writers who specialize in a variety of important global issues.