Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

British Prepare Planes to Enforce `No-Fly' Zone Negotiating with Arab Partners for Runways to Fly Them from Creates Problems for Allies

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

British Prepare Planes to Enforce `No-Fly' Zone Negotiating with Arab Partners for Runways to Fly Them from Creates Problems for Allies

Article excerpt

THE United States, Britain, and France are ready and eager to enforce a "no fly" zone over southern Iraq as soon as possible, but Arab states in the Gulf region have been raising objections.

Officials in Britain said yesterday that the three Gulf-war allies had already agreed to rules of engagement allowing their pilots to shoot down Iraqi planes and helicopter gunships south of the 32nd parallel.

Defense ministry sources confirmed, however, that there had been problems getting support from some of Iraq's Arab neighbors for the air-exclusion policy. The sources said governments approached to allow allied planes to use air bases on their territory reacted cautiously.

An agreement, hammered out in consultations among Washington, London, and Paris, provides for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to be given a 24-hour deadline to cease all air operations south of the 32nd parallel. After that Iraqi planes straying into the no-fly zone will be regarded as valid targets for allied aircraft.

Last weekend London officials had expected the ultimatum to be delivered to Iraq's ambassador at the United Nations yesterday or today.

But the cagey reaction of unnamed Gulf states to the idea of pressuring President Saddam to stop attacks on Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq appeared to have created problems for the allies.

British officials said they would not be unduly worried by a delay. However they confirmed reports that Iraq had been engaged in fierce lobbying of its neighbors to question the viability of the no-fly policy.

Gulf-based diplomats reportedly said yesterday that more time was needed for the chief players in the policy to reassure Arab states they had no intention of partitioning Iraq.

The no-fly policy is aimed at forcing Saddam to stop air attacks on Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq's marshlands, and is to be pursued in accordance with UN resolutions. …

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