Iraq Woos Its Neighbors. (Comment)

By Hiro, Dilip | The Nation, August 19, 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Iraq Woos Its Neighbors. (Comment)


Hiro, Dilip, The Nation


With the drumbeat for war on Iraq growing louder in Washington by the day, the latest United States-backed Iraqi opposition group--the Iraqi Military Alliance--was established with great fanfare in London in mid-July by some eighty former Iraqi officers. If this was an attempt at priming the Iraqi opposition pump as a prelude to overthrowing the regime of Saddam Hussein, holding a much-hyped press conference seemed an odd way to proceed.

An incisive comment came from an independent-minded Iraqi lawyer. "The American policy-makers believe that if you scare Saddam and threaten him, he will yield," he said. "They think this high profile meeting in London will ruffle his feathers. Also, it gives a military dimension to the predominantly civilian Iraqi National Congress." But Saddam does not scare so easily. In his televised address to the nation on July 17, he asserted that "evil tyrants and oppressors" would not be able to overthrow him and his regime. "You will never defeat me this time," he declared.

Behind this bravado lies Iraq's well-tailored policy of reconciliation with its neighbors, which its foreign minister, Naji Sabri, has been following doggedly for the past several months. A Christian and former professor of English literature at Baghdad University, the smooth and sophisticated Sabri started the year with a groundbreaking trip to Teheran to resolve the prisoners-of-war exchange issue with Iran. The following month he flew to Ankara, where he expressed flexibility on renewed UN inspections. At the Arab summit in Beirut in March, Iraq recognized Kuwait's border and promised to discuss the issue of Kuwaiti POWs. "We have instructed our media to avoid any references which may annoy the State of Kuwait," said Sabri after the summit. Since then he has sought the assistance of his Qatari and Omani counterparts to improve Baghdad's relations with Kuwait.

The strategy seems to be paying off. Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al Sabah, the Kuwaiti defense minister, said in late July that his country would approve a US attack on Iraq only if it is done under the auspices of the United Nations. "Kuwait does not support threats to strike or launch an attack against Iraq." Baghdad's relations with Saudi Arabia have improved, too. Riyadh has reopened its border with Iraq at Arar, and Saudi companies are doing business in Iraq within the framework of the UN oil-for-food scheme. The desert kingdom has refused to allow the Pentagon use of the Prince Sultan air base at Al Kharj in case of war against Iraq.

Hence the US pressure on Jordan to allow its air bases to be used instead--a prospect that sent a tearful King Abdullah rushing to a European leader to complain about the US plan to attack Iraq from his kingdom at a time when Arab frustration with the stalemate on the Israeli-Palestinian front is rising by the day. (That was before Israel's widely condemned dropping of a one-ton bomb in Gaza, killing fifteen and injuring 160.)

King Abdullah's European interlocutor was certainly sympathetic to the monarch's plight. All the European countries except Britain are urging Washington to construct a coalition for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, not for warmaking in Iraq.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Iraq Woos Its Neighbors. (Comment)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?