by Ahmad Musa (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 31, No. 16, Sha'ban, 1423)
George W. Bush finally published the resolution he would like the UN Security Council to pass to justify a military attack on Iraq on October 1. The resolution, also supported by Bush’s loyal servant Blair, is clearly designed to provoke an Iraqi rejection, thereby providing the pretext for a US invasion. In the unlikely event of Baghdad’s acquiescence to the US’s demands, the resolution would provide the framework for a US military occupation of the country under the guise of weapons inspections.
The draft was immediately criticised by other members of the Security Council, particularly France and Russia. Since then, the US and Britain have been engaged in strenuous lobbying to get their draft passed, while Iraq has been diplomatically engaged in trying to avoid the US attack which seems inevitable. On October 9 Saddam withdrew his objection to presidential palaces being open to inspection.
Hans Blix, the Chairman of UNMOVIC, the UN inspections commission, had already said that he had reached agreement with Iraqi representatives for the return of inspectors on terms acceptable to UNMOVIC, but was forbidden from beginning the inspections by the US, pending a new resolution.
The US draft sets a deadline of seven days for Iraq to submit to the US proposal, and another 23 days to make a “full and complete declaration of all aspects of its programs to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.”
If Iraq is found to have given “false statements” to the UN, the resolution allows “member states” to immediately use “all necessary means to restore international peace and security in the area.” In other words, if Baghdad denies the US allegations that it has resumed its weapons programmes, Washington is free to declare that it is lying and launch an invasion aimed at “regime change” and the US occupation of the country.
In the unlikely event that this first hurdle is cleared and inspections actually go forward, Washington’s proposal provides for the entry of US troops into Iraq on a scale approximating that of a full-scale invasion. First, the resolution stipulates that any of the five permanent member states on the Security Council may join the inspections, sending their own personnel and enjoying the same rights of unrestricted entry into Iraq and into any site or building in the country.
In practice, this would mean the hijacking of the inspections regime by Washington, which would be able to pour special operations troops and CIA agents into Iraq posing as inspectors. US officials have admitted many of the Americans involved in the inspections in the 1990s were Green Berets out of uniform or military intelligence officers. It was revealed in 1999 that these covert operatives used the inspections as a cover for gathering intelligence on Iraqi defences and on the movements of Saddam in preparation for future US military actions.
The resolution further demands that inspection teams be provided with “bases” throughout Iraq and that both they and their bases be protected by armed troops. These would be supplied by Washington. The document reserves the right for inspectors and the US military forces accompanying them to declare “no fly/no drive zones,” “exclusion zones” and secure “ground and air transit corridors” whenever and wherever they see fit. The result would be the fragmentation of the country into various occupied zones.
Finally, it allows inspectors and the US government, as a member of the Security Council, to take Iraqi scientists and officials together with their entire families out of the country for interrogation.
These demands amount not to international inspection of Iraq’s weapons facilities (or lack thereof), but of the occupation of the country under the pretext of an international peacekeeping operation. The US has a long record of manipulating UN policies and resolutions for its purposes; now it is trying literally to insert its troops into a Muslim country wearing the blue berets of the UN.
Although the resolution may not be passed in its present form, without being somewhat watered down by other members of the Security Council, the draft is an indication of the US’s ambition, and Washington is unlikely to accept any significant constraints on its freedom of action.
Ironically, there are strong signs that Iraq would be ill-equipped to resist even an overt US invasion, if it came to that. Most observers recognise that, contrary to US claims, Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction to deploy, and that its military is severely depleted. Saddam’s elite Republican Guard have reportedly been deployed away from Baghdad, in case they turned on Saddam if there is war. Most Iraqis are likely to keep their heads down, minimise their losses and wait for the dust to settle; few have any reason to fight and die for a man whose name, even without Western propaganda, is a by-word for brutality and repression.