The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .
APRIL 24, 1998 I. IRAQI CABINET STATEMENT CALLING FOR LIFTING SANCTIONS, INA, APR 23 II. FREE IRAQ CAMPAIGN, ITINERARY AND CONTACT PEOPLE, APR 22 The text of Thursday's Iraqi cabinet statement, as reported by the Iraqi News Agency, was tougher than it appeared from Friday's NYT and wire service reports [even as it was not reported at all by the Wash Post]. The seriousness of the Iraqi regime when it speaks formally and officially--as in that statement--cannot be overemphasized. Not since the end of the Gulf war has the cabinet [or any superior Iraqi authority] so clearly demanded the lifting of sanctions, while threatening that something serious, if undefined, would occur if that did not happen. There is another crisis coming, but Saddam seems to have something more significant in mind than the two rounds of confrontation that have occurred since Oct 29 97, when the RCC ordered the expulsion of US members of UNSCOM from Iraq. On Apr 23, the Iraqi cabinet said, "The world now has two options-—either to lift the embargo or maintain it. The first will lead to some sort of relationship, understanding, and cooperation, while the second will lead to a new state of affairs." Never before has the cabinet [or any superior Iraqi authority] so clearly defined a specific event as a turning point, after which the situation will be different in such a way that it is properly called "a new state of affairs." And that event is Monday's UNSC sanctions review. The US will prevail on Monday. Sanctions will not be lifted, because Iraq retains such fantastic quantities of proscribed unconventional weapons that there is no ambiguity. No honest person can say that Iraq is in compliance with UNSCR 687. Indeed, that was the judgment of the recently concluded, supra-UNSCOM TEM's. But Saddam has probably anticipated this outcome. He is not one to judge the outside world, particularly the US, more benign than it is. Rather, he judges it to be weak. Thus, Saddam most probably plans to do something at some point after the sanctions review that will create a "new state of affairs." Probably, he has been planning to do this-—and probably he has something specific in mind--since the confrontation erupted in the open last October and perhaps even since March 97, when the first public hints of the confrontation can be seen [see "Iraq News" Oct 30]. In its statement, the Iraqi cabinet also "reaffirmed that Iraq has offered all it has and even offered things that were impossible for the Iraqi mind to accept. However, Iraq accepted all of that in order to give its partners and the fair-minded ones in the world an additional chance to bolster the just position on the embargo imposed on Iraq." That language echoes the Oct 29 RCC statement, "Regardless of the bitterness and anger embedded in our psyches, hearts and consciences, and for the purposes of knowing the results that could be yielded by the efforts of the countries that have recently taken balanced and fair positions inside and outside the Security Council, we deem it wise to give these countries another chance to act upon the dictates of justice and fairness to lift the blockade. Meanwhile, we will keep the recommendations of the National Assembly under the consideration of the [?key] responsible state and party leaders, each according to his constitutional responsibility and in light of the ensuing developments and the realities of international and Arab relations." The Nat'l Assembly, in a statement broadcast on Iraqi TV Oct 27, recommended that "the RCC, the various state organs, and the Foreign Ministry shall make a decision on freezing relations with the UNSCOM in particular and the other related resolutions, particularly the activities that threaten national security and that the United States stands behind until it becomes clear to Iraq in an unequivocal manner and based on a specific, not long time frame that the blockade would be lifted, beginning with the implementation of Paragraph 22 of Resolution 687." That may be the most relevant language in all this. In any case, we will see soon enough. The Iraqi cabinet also said in its Apr 13 statement "Iraq has the willpower and ability to defend this willpower." It concluded by denouncing the embargo and the US, affirming, "We have no alternative but to make our enemy feel that it has to pay a heavy price if it decides to maintain the embargo on our people."