Tags: U.S. | Tolerates | Iraq's | Latest | Attacks

U.S. Tolerates Iraq's Latest Attacks

Tuesday, 19 November 2002 12:00 AM

Political analysts believe the United States might use them to help establish a pattern of Iraqi defiance and aggression if Iraq violates the accord in another substantive way and a complaint is then taken to the Security Council for a decision on the "serious consequence" Baghdad would face.

"Yes, it's a clear violation," a White House official told United Press International on condition of anonymity. "But we're maintaining it as an option."

In separate attacks Sunday and Monday, Iraqi forces fired on aircraft patrolling no-fly zones, established after the 1991 Gulf War to carry out resolutions protecting Iraqi civilians and minorities from their government's military retaliation for having sided with coalition forces in the conflict.

None of the planes, which included British aircraft in the north, were hit. However, U.S. forces retaliated by dropping precision-guided bombs on Iraqi military facilities.

The attacks brought to six the number of times since Nov. 8 that Iraq had opened fire, the Pentagon said.

Since Sept. 16, Iraqi forces have fired on coalition aircraft 202 times, 148 times in the southern zone, which starts below Baghdad and extends to the country's southern frontier.

Operation Southern Watch, as it is called, protects Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as Iraq's Marsh Arab minority.

Operation Northern Watch is run from Incirlik, Turkey, and protects Iraq's Kurds.

The United States and Britain say the zones are necessary to enforce resolutions 668, 697 and 949 although they may not be specifically mentioned.

"Our interpretation of the resolutions on a cease-fire and to protect civilians and others is that they authorize the no-fly zones since they are the only way to keep the Iraqi army away from the people they would oppress" and kill, the White House official said.

"Iraqi weapons continue to fire on U.S. and U.K. coalition pilots as they enforce these resolutions," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in late September. "With each missile launched at our air crews, Iraq expresses its contempt for the U.N. resolutions, a fact that must be kept in mind as their latest inspection offers are evaluated."

Under the U.S.-proposed Resolution 1441, adopted by the Security Council on Nov. 8, Iraq must allow weapons inspectors unfettered access to the country, disclose its programs for weapons of mass destruction, and abide by all previous U.N. resolutions, in which it is in material breach.

Incidents of deceit, interference or other non-compliance would result in a complaint being taken before the Security Council, which would then decide on what action to take.

The resolution also states: "Iraq shall not take or threaten hostile acts directed against any representative or personnel of the United Nations of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] or of any member state taking action to uphold any council resolution," something that Washington says Baghdad is doing in the no-fly zones, which are forbidden to Iraqi military aircraft.

The resolution came after seven weeks of hard bargaining and diplomatic finessing by Washington to overcome objections by France and Russia, which wanted a softer approach.

The United Nations called the resolution, the 17th on Iraq since the end of the Gulf War, Iraq's last chance.

President Bush, citing the threat posed by Iraq's suspected chemical and biological weapons, its continued defiance of international mandates and what he calls its association with terror, has warned that the United States would militarily disarm Iraq if the United Nations fails to take tough action in the event of non-compliance.

In its acceptance of the mandate earlier this month, Baghdad claimed it had no weapons of mass destruction, a statement the United States disputes.

The advance contingent of U.N. weapons inspectors arrived in Baghdad on Monday after an absence of four years.

Iraq says the zones are a violation of its sovereignty.

France originally joined the United States and Britain in enforcing the no-fly stricture but later dropped out.

Although not explicitly authorized in U.N. resolutions, the Security Council has not challenged them, although a number of nations question their propriety.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Political analysts believe the United States might use them to help establish a pattern of Iraqi defiance and aggression if Iraq violates the accord in another substantive way and a complaint is then taken to the Security Council for a decision on the "serious consequence"...
Tuesday, 19 November 2002 12:00 AM
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