Saddam Vs. Bill

"I have information that the leadership will respond positively to Annan's letter," the Iraqi official said to a group of Western reporters in Iraq on Saturday, November 14, 98 at 3:30 p.m..   An hour later, a formal  response was transmitted by fax to Annan, U.N. Secretary General.  The two-page short document stated Iraq’s promise to cooperate with U.N. inspectors.  Washington rejected the conditions outlined in the attached annex that resulted in a phone shuttle diplomacy.  Finally, that night Iraq stated that its decision was unconditional.

Russia, China, several European countries and Arab nations had hoped U.S. would restrain his fire.  However, when it became clear that this time Clinton meant business, hard-won unity at the United Nations began to crack in favor of Baghdad.  According to an anonymous Iraqi official, On Friday the 13th, Ambassadors of Russia, China and France met with Iraq’s Foreign Ministry officials and warned Iraq about the seriousness of Washington in carrying out an all out strike.  It is believed that these meetings, a letter from Boris Yeltsin and an appeal by Annan were the reasons for Iraq's last minute policy change.  On Sunday, Clinton announced the United States had accepted the Iraqi's pledge to allow U.N. weapon inspectors back to Iraq to resume their work.  Clinton also listed the following five conditions for judging Iraq's compliance with U.N. weapons inspections: 

  • Iraq must give the inspectors " unfettered access '' to all sites they choose to see, " with no restrictions or qualifications; 
  • It must turn over all documents bearing on the production of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles that could be used to deliver them; 
  • It must not interfere with the inspectors, for example, by challenging their nationalities; 
  • It must resolve "all outstanding issues raised'' by the inspectors; 
  • It must accept all U.N. resolutions relevant to weapons of mass destruction. 

Saddam has given no indication to meet the terms set by Clinton.  His hope is to continue weakening the allies unity and gain more time.  This has been Iraq's policy that has helped Saddam to maintain his grip on power.  On the other hand, Clinton hopes to use these conditions to justify the U.S. strike on Iraq the next time Saddam backs off on his promise of cooperation.  Almost all Middle East observers believe it is just a matter of time for Saddam to break his promise.  This time U.S. was not able to muster enough support to go after Saddam.  However, the consensus is that the U.S. administration feels by outlining the five conditions, they have set the stage up in their favor for the next show down with Saddam.

The U.N. Security Council has also announced that the economic sanction against Iraq will remain in effect until U.N arms inspectors and International Atomic Energy Agency can verify Iraq has eliminated its nuclear and chemical weapon programs.  

On Monday, the U.S.  Secretary of Defense William Cohen said U.S. forces sent to the Gulf in the past week would stay there but other planned deployments to the region would be put on hold.   Clinton has also openly called for Saddam overthrow and has pledged support to the opposition groups in Iraq.  

It appears that as long as Saddam is in power and U.S. foreign policy remains the same, the conflict will remain standing.  Saddam realizes that time is in his favor and U.S. is working to offset that.  Clinton will be out of the office in two years. The new administration will have a chance to review U.S. policy toward Iraq and evaluate its effectiveness, at which time U.S. may decide to revise its policy.


Farham Hezareh 
California, USA 
November 1998