US Policy on Iraq
Iraq News, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1999By Laurie Mylroie
The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .
X-URL: http://www.erols.com/ I. SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE HEARING, EXCERPTS, JAN 28 II. INDYK, GULF STATES WANT LESS TALK, MORE ACTION ON SADDAM, AP, JAN 30 III. FRANCK RICCIARDONE BIO, USIS, JAN 21 IV. AL HAYAT, RICCIARDONE: IRAQ LIBERATION ACT A BAD MISTAKE, JAN 31 V. PITTSBURGH POST, JUDITH YAPHE, IRAQI OPPOSITION INCOMPETENT, JAN 29 A. M. Rosenthal, Jan 29, wrote, "All Democrats and many Republicans decided long in advance of the [impeachment] trial that although they thought Mr. Clinton terribly naughty, his lying and obstructing justice are not grounds serious enough to be convicted. . . [But] Bill Clinton gambled the moral, political and historic reputation of the Presidency-showing what he thought of the office and himself. He lied. He lied in private and in public, with or without oath. He lied to friends, enemies, subordinates. He proved what the Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska once said about him--'Clinton is an unusually good liar, unusually good.'" Lying, particularly when authority lies, has implications. And Clinton's lies have had national security implications. Yet the couch potatoes that constitute the bulk of the US public do not seem to understand that. They are, after all, not much interested in foreign affairs. As William Safire, Jan 14, wrote, "Knock yourself loose calling all over the world to produce a column about the Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad sending hoodlums to trash our Damascus embassy, and nobody cares. But suck your thumb, stare at the wall and wonder in print what holds Bill Clinton's popularity up despite a year running Shame Inc. and--hoo-hah!-=more mail comes pouring in than from any Essay in years." The Clinton administration will NOT be implementing the Iraq Liberation Act, although it will be paying lip service to it and claiming it is implementing the legislation. But before addressing that, "Iraq News" thought to note that the Jan 28 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing was more contentious than generally reported. Committee chairman, Sen. John Warner, [R Va] noted that since the end of the Gulf war, the US "has spent over $6.6 billion, not including the cost of Operation Desert Fox. We put at risk the lives of thousands of US and Allied military personnel in an effort to contain Saddam Hussein and force his compliance with UN Security Council resolutions that ended the '91 war. We must address publicly what have we to show for this tremendous investment . . ." Following Gen. Zinni's widely-reported deprecatory comments about the Iraqi opposition, Sen McCain [R Az] responded, "Of course, it might have given us a greater opportunity if we had not allowed the last opposition group to be wiped out without responding," referring to Saddam's Aug 31 96 assault on the Iraqi Nat'l Congress in Irbil. It will be recalled that following that attack, Clinton proclaimed that US interests lay in the South, rather than the North, hit some air defense sites with cruise-missiles, extended the no-fly zone, and proclaimed, "This has changed the strategic situation. [Saddam] is strategically worse off than he was before these strikes began." That is just one of the many lies Clinton has told about Iraq over the years and which have led to the present perilous situation. Too bad that kind of lying doesn't make it into the impeachment hearings. Sen. McCain also had a sharp exchange with Zinni over why the US did not shoot down Iraqi airplanes or attack the airfields from which they took off and landed, saying, "If you want to sit and insult my intelligence and that of other members of the committee, that's fine with me. But the reality is a reality." Sen. Warner seconded McCain, "I say I join you on this, because it ties in to my opening question of the cost-benefit of these continued high intensity air operations versus insignificant, in my research-- perhaps in closed we can get into it--ground operations by Saddam against his people. And we are at risk, as Senator McCain says, of losing an aviator. Even if an engine malfunctions, and that would complicate the situation enormously." Sen. Robb [D Va] suggested, "We appear to be continuing a policy of maintaining the status quo without significantly degrading Saddam's ability to threaten our pilots, among other things, and to wage war against his own people and his neighbors. Why have we not ratcheted up . . . the proportionality of our response against Saddam?" Sen. McCain also pressed Zinni as to what Operation Desert Fox had achieved, asking about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programs, "How much has that been set back?" Zinni replied, "We didn't attack that. That's very difficult because many of the plants that could produce that are pharmaceutical plants or agricultural chemical production plants. It's easy in dual-use facilities like that, to produce it. Biological it's even less difficult in labs." McCain asked, "So conceivably they could continue their development of biological and chemical weapons, put it on a Scud missile and attack Israel?" Zinni replied, "That's possible, yes, sir." Sen. Lieberman [D, Conn] said, "The report that Mr. Butler of UNSCOM submitted to the Security Council earlier this week just confirms all of our fears that Saddam and Iraq remain a threat, that they have weapons of mass destruction and capability to deliver them, and it gives--it should give all of us a sense of real urgency about trying to deal with this problem and him, particularly." In response to Zinni's negative attitude toward the Iraqi Liberation Act, Lieberman said, "I understand the negatives that come with destabilizing the regime, but there are such negatives about him staying there. I continue to have this sense that he's a time bomb that's already exploded, but it's going to explode again and this time, the next time, a lot of people are going to be hurt because of the capacity that he has. And therefore, I think a lot of us here feel that the risks of moving him out of power are less than the risks of keeping him in power. And the question then becomes, how do we break through this policy gridlock, this roadblock and do what you've said, which is to get rid of Saddam." Indeed, the answer that the administration has come up with is essentially the same answer it produced following the defection of Hussein Kamil, which precipitated the revelation that Saddam retained enormous, proscribed unconventional capabilities. Then, when members of the anti-Iraq coalition expressed concern about Saddam's retained capabilities, the administration assured them that it was taking care of the problem. By that, it meant that it was going to overthrow Saddam in a coup. The fate of that effort is brilliantly described by David Wurmser, in a book just published by AEI, "Tyranny's Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein." As Wurmser wrote, "The CIA's efforts climaxed in spectacular failure in July 1996, when an Iraqi intelligence officer located in Baghdad contacted the CIA's station chief--over captured CIA communications equipment--and informed him that the Iraqis knew the detailed plans of the coup plot. The Iraqi informed the American that all the Iraqi officers and agents who had been involved in the plot had been rounded up and executed. Gloating to the CIA station chief in Amman, the Iraqi told the Americans to pack their bags and go home." [p. 25] The Iraqi assault on the INC a month later destroyed the only other US option for overthrowing Saddam, although, as Wurmser noted, the US continued to deal with and support the coup-plotters, the Iraqi Nat'l Accord, even as it turned against the INC. In mid-Jan, Sec State Albright and Sec Def Cohen briefed the congressional leadership on the administration's new plan to overthrow Saddam, as mandated by the Iraq Liberation Act. It has four components: 1) military containment 2) diplomatic isolation; 3) a covert operation; and 4) the Iraq Liberation Act. But, as Jim Hoagland, Jan 28, wrote, "Some were skeptical about the depth of the administration's conversion. Sen. Bob Kerrey (D Neb) noted that the Clintonites had avoided committing themselves to creating a democratic regime in Iraq . . . Kerrey argued that it would probably take US ground troops to promote that essential outcome. Others worried that the administration was moving far too slowly." On Jan 19, the White House designated seven groups that would be eligible for military aid under the Iraq Liberation Act: the Iraqi National Congress; the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Talabani); the Kurdistan Democratic Party (Barzani); the Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan; the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Bakr al Hakim); the Movement for a Constitutional Monarchy; and the Iraqi National Accord. The Movement for a Constitutional Monarchy refers to the Iraqi Hashemites, who had not previously been involved in opposition politics and which, "Iraq News" understands is a creation of UK intelligence, while the Iraqi Nat'l Accord is the group which has been promising that it could carry out a coup in Iraq since the fall of 1990; failed miserably in 1991; 1992; and 1996; and, about which, there is every reason to believe is thoroughly penetrated by Iraqi intelligence [see L. Mylroie, "The Future of Iraq," TWI, 1991; and L. Mylroie, "Iraq's Real "Coup," Wash Post, Jun 28, 1992] On Jan 21, Albright announced the appointment of Frank Ricciardone to deal with the Iraqi opposition, with the title of "Special Representative for Transition in Iraq." Then, on Jan 27 and 28, following a trip to Russia, Albright visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia to explain the new US policy and introduce Ricciardone. The Arab leaders have said little publicly about the US plan and what has been reported--they believe that change should come from within Iraq--can easily be attributed to their wanting not to be unduly provocative toward Saddam. Indeed, as one US official told Reuters, Jan 28, "It surprised me the extent to which they see Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as a threat and believe that something has to be done about it. . . . What we've heard from very high levels is that the only solution is a change of regime." Or, as AP, Jan 30, explained, Indyk told reporters that the Gulf states wanted to "talk less and do more" to remove Saddam. But, it seems, talk is what they are going to get. Ricciardone looked to be a good choice as representative for the Iraqi opposition. He has long experience working on Iraq-related issues and was known as someone sympathetic to them. But as al Hayat, Jan 31, reported, when he spoke to Iraqis in London, following his trip with the Sec State to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, he told them that "the Iraq Liberation Act was a disastrous mistake committed by President Clinton under pressure by the Congress." He also "opened the door to expanding the list of designated groups to be awarded military and logistical assistance or to work alone, since he stressed that time constraints and political pressures were behind keeping the designation to seven groups only." That is not how to unify the Iraqi opposition. Rather, as Helle Bering warned Dec 23 [see "Iraq News, Jan 4], that approach fails to "sort out those with a real following from those who can best be described as 'three men and a fax machine.'" It encourages competition for US funding and favor. And as there is no real US commitment, it will be most attractive to the worst people, those willing to play poodle to the US, and, in the end, vindicate the administration's claim that the opposition is worthless. And, if all this were not enough, Judith Yaphe, formerly a CIA Iraq analyst, presently Middle East Team Chief for the Institute for National Strategic Studies at NDU "poured cold water on the idea that the United States can create an effective Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan 29. Yaphe said, "Congress wants to spend this money to create an overt opposition to Saddam. That makes my palms sweat." She said that "when change comes to Iraq, 'It will be swift and unexpected. . . . The most likely successor is going to be probably a military guy whose shooter can get at Saddam.'" In the first days of Mar 91, just after the Gulf war cease-fire, "Iraq News" met with Yaphe, when she was at the CIA. "Iraq News" asked whether she saw any signs of internal unrest in Iraq. Yaphe said no. Of course, only a few days passed before 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces were in revolt. Finally, Ellen Laipson, Vice Chairman of the CIA's Nat'l Intelligence Council, addressing the Middle East Policy Council, Jan 29, said, "Will Iraq after Saddam be democratic? Almost certainly not, at least for many years. . . . If Iraq were to move on the path of greater democracy and greater representative form of government, Iraqis would have to learn to be citizens in ways that some of their neighbors, Jordan and Kuwait in particular, have learned over the past decade. It's a slow process. . . . Secondly, I think there's a legitimate argument to be made that there is probably a residual longing among many Iraqis for an authoritarian leader who will be able to solve problems, who will be able to make decision and get things done in a period after Saddam." A senior INC official issued a statement, responding both to Zinni and Laipson, "General Zinni's public statement and private comments from other officials indicate that the US Government continues to focus on covert attempts to organise a military coup against Saddam. We believe such a strategy attacks Saddam at his strongest point rather than his weakest and is doomed to failure." Regarding Laipson's comments, he said, "For her to say that Iraqis 'long' for an authoritarian leader is not only wrong but immoral" and he concluded, "We hope that the Clinton Administration will disavow the comments of these two officials and move swiftly to implement the Iraqi Liberation Act." I. SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE HEARING January 28, 1999, Senate Armed Services Committee SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA) In my view the United States is at a turning point in our policy towards Iraq. Over the last few months we have seen Saddam Hussein terminate UNSCOM operations, we've seen an aborted US response in November, followed by an operation Desert Fox in December. And now we're seeing an ever-increasing Iraqi aggression against US and British aircraft patrolling the two no-fly zones, and Iraqi verbal aggression against Arab nations in the region, including a threat to rescind Iraqi recognition of Kuwait. As these events are unfolding the United States and the international community appear to be in search of a policy. The French and the Russians have both presented proposals to the Security Council to weaken, in my judgement, the UN oversight of Iraq's activities and give the Iraqis what they have been seeking for years, an end to international sanctions. In response to these proposals, the Administration has offered its own plan, largely to alleviate the ever- present suffering from lack of food and medicine to the people of Iraq. And as the debate over formulation of a new international policy rages, Iraq is left free to rebuild its military capabilities and perhaps even the WMD capabilities, which the world fears so much. We're all troubled by these contradictions and I see the current US policy, one day we're bombing; the next we're proposing some economic forms of relief, and the question of course, are these proposals consistent? Since the end of the Persian Gulf War in '91, the United States has spent over $6.6 billion, not including the cost of Operation Desert Fox. We put at risk the lives of thousands of US and Allied military personnel in an effort to contain Saddam Hussein and force his compliance with UN Security Council resolutions that ended the '91 war. We must address publicly what have we to show for this tremendous investment, not only of dollars, but more significantly the risk of our people. There's no disarmament effort in place. UNSCOM is gone. Saddam continues to repress his people and threaten his neighbors in the region. His WMD capability, although degraded, in some form remains. We have to ask these tough questions and others and we'll do that today. . . . SEN. MCCAIN: Now, when the Iraqi Liberation Act was passed general you said, quote, "I don't think these questions have been thought through or answered. If they have, no one asked me about it. I'll be honest with you, I don't see the parts of this act that make it sensible". Yours were the most vociferous of official statements condemning the Iraqi Liberation Act, which by the way, happened to be a law that was passed and signed by the President of the United States. Do you still believe that the act represents an expensive pipe dream? GEN. ZINNI: Sir, there are 91 opposition groups, 91. We follow every one of those opposition groups in great detail. I will be honest. I don't see an opposition group that has the viability to overthrow Saddam at this point. SEN. MCCAIN: So, you do not believe that the Iraqi Liberation Act is a viable piece of legislation? GEN. ZINNI: I think it would be very difficult and I think if not done properly, could be very dangerous. SEN. MCCAIN: Of course, it might have given us a greater opportunity if we had not allowed the last opposition group to be wiped out without responding. . . . . GEN. ZINNI: They cross the line a few nautical miles. Anytime our planes appear, our interceptors, they run away. We've even had them crash and run out of fuel - SEN. MCCAIN: What you've described, this exercise that they were trying to draw our pilots into the missile zone so that they could be shot down. GEN. ZINNI: That's the threat, senator. The threat of the surface to air missiles. And if I had to be very specific, it's the radar. SEN. MCCAIN: So, they are part of that threat. GEN. ZINNI: A part of an entire system. And we have attacked the part of the system that's most dangerous to us, the communication, the radars, and the missiles. SEN. MCCAIN: General, the fact remains, those planes are flying and compose part of the threat. If you want to sit and insult my intelligence and that of other members of the committee, that's fine with me. But the reality is a reality. . . . SEN. WARNER: Senator, I say I join you on this, because it ties in to my opening question of the cost-benefit of these continued high intensity air operations versus insignificant, in my research -- perhaps in closed we can get into it --ground operations by Saddam against his people. And we are at risk, as Senator McCain says, of losing an aviator. Even if an engine malfunction, and that would complicate the situation enormously to solve it diplomatically. . . . SEN ROBB But, to the extent, we appear to be continuing a policy of maintaining the status quo without significantly degrading Saddam's ability to threaten our pilots, among other things, and to wage war against his own people and his neighbors. Why have we not ratcheted up, if you will, the proportionality of our response against Saddam, particularly when he continues to engage in the type of activity he's been engaging in, in recent weeks? Is it a matter of lack of resources, lack of assets? I hesitate to say lack of will, because I certainly would not accuse either a CENTCOM commander, or the deputy secretary of defense [Walt Slocombe], of lacking of will in this area. But there's an element missing it seems to me with respect to our military response to provocations that continue by Saddam without any definitive change or significant downgrading in his ability to threaten us under those circumstances, particularly in challenging on the no-fly zone. . . . SEN. MCCAIN: General Zinni, have you requested a change in the policy or an increase in assets in order to stop or prevent this scenario which is taking place almost on a daily basis? GEN. ZINNI: No sir, if you mean to go after the airfields as you mentioned before. SEN. MCCAIN: Command and control from which the orders to launch the missiles disseminates? So you are requesting no change in policy? GEN. ZINNI: No, sir. We obviously have plans and those commands come out of Baghdad directly. SEN. MCCAIN: I'm aware of that and you're not doing anything to stop those commands from being transmitted. You said in your statement due to the destruction of key facilities and specialized equipment, we assure that Iraq's ballistic missile program has been set back one to two years. What about their biological and chemical weapons development? How much has that been set back? GEN. ZINNI: Sir, we didn't attack that. That's very difficult because many of the plants that could produce that are pharmaceutical plants or agricultural chemical production plants. It's easy, in dual- use facilities like that, to produce it. Biological it's even less difficult in labs. SEN. MCCAIN: So Mr. Ritter's assessment is correct that their development of biological and chemical weapons continues unimpeded. They still have a Scud missile capability, isn't that true? GEN. ZINNI: We believe they may have, sir. We don't have any definite proof. SEN. MCCAIN: So conceivably they could continue their development of biological and chemical weapons, put it on a Scud missile and attack Israel? GEN. ZINNI: That's possible, yes, sir. . . . . SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Secretary Slocombe, General Zinni, thanks for being here. I wanted to ask you just a few questions about Iraq. I was proud to be a cosponsor of the Iraqi Liberation Act, and I appreciate very much that the administration has moved toward the policy embraced there, which is after eight, nine years now that we have to focus, not just on containment, but on a change in the regime in Iraq. And that as long as Saddam Hussein is there, we and the region are going to be in danger. The report that Mr. Butler of UNSCOM submitted to the Security Council earlier this week just confirms all of our fears that Saddam and Iraq remain a threat, that they have weapons of mass destruction and capability to deliver them, and it gives --it should give all of us a sense of real urgency about trying to deal with this problem and him, particularly. I don't think any of us who sponsored the act or who support it now, or who is pushing the administration are naive about the difficulties involved, but unless we try, there's going to be no change. And I must say, on this committee and elsewhere in the Congress, there is, I think, justified confidence in the ability of the American military to carry out, you know, very difficult missions. The fact is, that as the situation has changed in Iraq recently and the conflict politically that seems to be going on between Saddam and his Arab neighbors, what we hear is instability within Iraq, is the result of the affective employment of force by the United States with that round of attacks. But obviously there's a lot more to do. Let me go now to my questions. Secretary Slocombe, I wanted to as you whether the Defense Department is participating with the Department of State in discussion with Iraqi opposition groups concerning implementation of the Iraqi Liberation Act? And then, have you identified the other -- has the department identified the material for drawdown, as authorized by the act, and has there been any planning for the training and use of some of those opposition groups? MR SLOCOMBE: We are involved. The lead responsibility rests with the State Department. And I'd like to discuss this issue in more detail in the closed session. SEN. LIEBERMAN: Fine, including the question of whether you have identified drawdown -- material for drawdown pursuant to the act? MR. SLOCOMBE: I'd like to defer that until the closed session. SEN. LIEBERMAN: Okay. General Zinni, let me ask you this question. I know -- I have great respect for you -- I know you have some skepticism about, which has been expressed here earlier, about the capacity of these opposition groups, because they're so many of them, to get together and represent a viable force. Sometimes, when we have these discussions, we hear that Saddam is going to be overthrown; it has to come from within -- come from within his military, but we also know that that's difficult because of the circumstances. And we're left with a policy that leads to a series of blocked doors. So, I wanted to give you an open question to help us open the doors, which is, how would you begin to work with some of these opposition groups? Or, how would you counsel us to pursue the goal of trying to change the regime, which is now American policy? Or, would you not? GEN. ZINNI: Senator, I had the unfortunate experience of spending a lot of time, three tours of duty in Somalia and I have Afghanistan and Iran in my area of responsibility. . . . SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, okay. I would pursue this perhaps further in the closed session. I understand the negatives that come with destabilizing the regime, but there are such negatives about him staying there. I continue to have this sense that he's a time bomb that's already exploded, but it's going to explode again and this time, the next time, a lot people are going to be hurt because of the capacity that he has. And therefore, I think a lot of us here feel that the risks of moving him out of power are less than the risks of keeping him in power. And the question then becomes, how do we break through this policy gridlock, this roadblock and do what you've said, which is to get rid of Saddam. . . . .
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