Iraq: Strike US, Israeli interests

Aug. 24, 2002 at 6:05 PM
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BAGHDAD, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- A top Iraqi official urged Arabs Saturday to "strike American, Israeli and British interests" if the United States makes good on its threats to launch a military operation against Iraq, a report said.

The official Iraqi Ittihad weekly quoted Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan as saying the Arab people "have a role in confronting the aggressors when there is aggression."

"The American, Zionist and British governments have material and human interests everywhere in the word, and they will be considered as hostile arenas" if there is an attack against his country, he added.

Regarding the ongoing joint Jordanian-U.S. military exercises in southern Jordan, the Iraqi official said "any cooperation with the American Zionist administration aimed against Iraq can only be described as treason."

Jordan has repeatedly denied press reports its territories will be used by U.S. forces to launch military operations against Iraq, but said the joint exercises were routine and planned years in advance. Jordan has also expressed opposition to attacks against its eastern neighbor, and urged Washington against such a move.

Ramadan said his government plans on launching a wide-scale diplomatic offensive in the next few days, during which Iraqi envoys will visit Arab capitals with a message from President Saddam Hussein "to brief the brotherly presidents and kings on the real situation."

He added Baghdad was "confident that the Arab leaders fully recognize that the American threats against Iraq pose a threat to the entire Arab nation."

He said the "capabilities in the entire nation, whether in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Syria or anywhere else, cannot be ignorant of the evil intentions of the U.S. administration has against the Arabs and Islam."

Ramadan also welcomed some European countries' positions regarding the threats against his country, saying these countries "are now convinced that the American administration has a particular and personal objective for planning aggression against Iraq and continuing its hostility against its people, territory and sovereignty."

In another development Saturday, an Iraqi military dissident said he doubted the Iraqi opposition will form an interim government-in-exile, according to the official Saudi al-Watan.

The daily quoted Iraqi defector Gen. Tawfiq al-Yasseri, spokesman for the Military Iraqi Council, as saying this option was "the last and most dangerous card in the hand of any opposition in the world."

He said an interim exiled government "calls for protecting it and announcing it after it is achieved for fear of its destruction upon its conception."

Al-Yasseri said an exiled government "needs all the active requirements and success, as well as international and regional support, blessing and recognition. That is now lacking, and that's why we tried our best to delay this initiative, which has received acceptance and understanding."

He denied that the Military Council, which was recently formed in London in a conference of opposition Iraqi officers, received funds from the United States as other exiled opposition parties have.

Al-Yasseri said the Americans "never provide support without something in return, for they also have interests and work toward gaining and protect these interests. In return, they want stability in Iraq, and ensure security on the second largest oil wells without problems."

He added the idea of forming the council was conceived more than a year ago, but had faced some obstacles, including financial difficulties and obtaining entry visas.

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