Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Bid to Contain Iraq Strains Patience, Resources on All Sides Some Critics Say Saddam Hussein Holds the Initiative in the Struggle

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Bid to Contain Iraq Strains Patience, Resources on All Sides Some Critics Say Saddam Hussein Holds the Initiative in the Struggle

Article excerpt

SADDAM HUSSEIN just keeps on ticking.

Many of his Western foes have lost power - witness the political falls of George Bush and Margaret Thatcher. But the Iraqi leader, defeated in war, continues to test the resolve of foes with deadly, high-stakes mischief, ranging from his alleged Bush assassination plot to his current defiance of United Nations weapons inspectors.

So far Saddam's poke-and-prod policy has availed him little. There has been grumbling among Gulf war coalition members about United States retaliatory strikes, but no open break. UN inspection teams have probably uncovered far more about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction than Iraqi officials predicted. (View from Baghdad, Page 20.)

The challenge for the Clinton administration will be to continue its policy of "containment" of Saddam indefinitely without losing patience, energy, or focus. Clinton officials reject any suggestion that they are softer on Iraq than their predecessors.

"The current regime in Iraq is a criminal regime, beyond the pale of international society and, in our judgment, irredeemable," said Martin Indyk, National Security Council senior director for Near East, in a May speech on US interests in the Gulf region.

In the latest Saddam-created standoff, the US is for the moment deferring to the UN. On July 12, President Clinton said he would not intervene in the UN's attempts to convince Iraq to allow installation of monitoring cameras at two disputed missile sites.

UN inspectors July 11 left Iraq abruptly after they were refused permission to seal off the sites until the camera issue is resolved.

Rolf Ekeus, chief of the UN Special Commission on Iraqi weapon inspections, will personally carry the UN's message to Baghdad soon. If Iraq does not allow long-term monitoring at the missile sites, UN officials warned, they are likely to be destroyed by coalition military action.

"The Iraqi government is playing with fire," said British ambassador to the UN and current Security Council president David Hannay.

Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's UN ambassador, said July 12 that the world does not appreciate all Iraq has already done to comply with UN resolutions - and that Iraq still wants better relations with the new Clinton administration than it had with its old archenemy, George Bush. …

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