98-114 F - Iraq: International Support For U.S. Policy
98-114 F Iraq: International Support For U.S. Policy
CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
NUMBER: 98-114 F
TITLE: Iraq: International Support For U.S. Policy
AUTHOR: Kenneth Katzman
DIVISION: Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division
DATE: Updated February 19, 1998
Although there is a worldwide consensus that Iraq must
comply with all applicable U.N. resolutions, international
attitudes differ sharply on how to compel Iraq to comply
with the U.N. program of eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction programs. Some countries support U.S. threats
to use force against Iraq as a necessary step to ensure
that Iraq does not reconstitute banned weapons programs.
Other countries believe that force would kill Iraqi
civilians already chafing under seven years of
international sanctions and could prompt Iraq to expel U.N.
weapons inspectors. Meanwhile, during the week of February
23, the Senate is scheduled to consider S.Con.Res. 71,
calling on the President to take all necessary and
appropriate actions in response to the threat posed by
Iraq's refusal to end its lethal weapons program.
The United States is attempting to line up international backing
for and participation in the use of force against Iraq, should
diplomacy fail to obtain from Iraq a pledge to allow U.N. weapons
inspectors (U.N. Special Commission on Iraq, UNSCOM) unfettered
access to sites they need to inspect. In some cases, such as the
Persian Gulf states, the United States seeks important operational
as well as political support for airstrikes against Iraqi targets.
As shown in the analysis below, some countries are ambivalent
in their support for the U.S. position in the current crisis. (See
Endnote 1.) Their ambivalence reflects the conflicting goals of
supporting the United States while trying to respond to public
opinion that does not necessarily favor airstrikes on Iraq.
Several countries that are opposed to military action have economic
interests in Iraq that might be acting as a factor in their
positions on the crisis. It is possible that, as the crisis
continues to develop, some countries might shift their positions
depending on the degree to which Iraq is willing to compromise on
the question of UNSCOM access to restricted sites. (For further
background on the crisis, the weapons inspection program, U.S.
military deployments, and Iraqi capabilities, see CRS Issue Brief
92117, Iraqi Compliance With Cease-fire Agreements, updated
regularly; Issue Brief 94049, Iraq-U.S. Confrontations, updated
regularly; and CRS Report 97-808 F, Iraq: Erosion of International
Isolation?, August 29, 1997.)
Russia. Strongest opponent of the use of force among the five
permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Actively attempting
to mediate a solution to the crisis. Has longstanding political and
economic ties to Saddam Husayn; Iraq owes Russia $8 billion or more
in debts. President Yeltsin has warned that U.S. military action
against Iraq could set off a "world war," although his spokespeople
subsequently softened his statements.
France. Opposes use of force, except possibly as a last resort,
and says it will not join any military operation against Iraq in
this crisis. Also attempting to mediate, in concert with Russia.
Has longstanding ties to Iraq, and interest in developing Iraq's
large untapped oil reserves. Iraq owes $4 billion to France.
Believes the United States has not given Iraq incentives to comply
with applicable U.N. resolutions.
United Kingdom. Strongest supporter of U.S. position. Has sent
aircraft carrier and other forces to the Gulf to join U.S. Despite
support, prefers airstrikes should be authorized by U.N. Security
Council declaration of Iraq in "material breach" of the cease-fire.
Canada. Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced February 10 that
Canada will send a frigate, transport aircraft, and 300 to 400
troops to support U.S. forces in the Gulf.
Netherlands. The Foreign Ministry said February 13 the
Netherlands would send a frigate to join U.S. forces in the Gulf,
but it would only participate in military action if all diplomatic
options are exhausted.
Germany. After February meeting with Secretary of Defense
Cohen, Chancellor Helmut Kohl said Germany will allow U.S. use of
bases in Germany for strike on Iraq. Offer is considered more
significant politically than operationally. German leaders appear
to want all possible diplomatic options exhausted before any strike.
Italy. Believes military action could have unintended adverse
consequences for Middle East stability. Has not yet taken a
position on U.S. use of bases in Italy for strikes.
Belgium. Announced (February 18) deployment of a frigate to
support U.S. forces in the Gulf, but would need a further
government decision to engage it in hostilities if they occur.
Spain. Position somewhat unclear. Spanish press report says
government will authorize U.S. to station 30 aerial refueling
tankers at a southern base. Also offering to send technicians to
Portugal. Favors diplomacy backed by threat of force.
Authorizes U.S. use of base in Azores islands group. Currently
sits on the U.N. Security Council.
Greece. Will not participate in military action without
Security Council backing. Non-committal on U.S. use of bases in
Greece for a strike.
Denmark. Government asked parliament on February 16 to support
sending a C-130 transport aircraft to the Gulf.
Ireland. Wants to give diplomacy every chance, according to
Ireland's Ambassador to the United Nations. Considered unlikely to
participate in military action or provide logistical help. Not a
Sweden. Currently sits on U.N. Security Council and a new
member of the European Union. Tends to oppose use of force in most
international situations but reportedly might support force against
Iraq if Baghdad remains uncooperative.
Poland/Hungary/Czech Republic. The foreign ministers of the
three prospective NATO members told Secretary of State Albright
February 9 they would support use of force against Iraq if it
becomes necessary. Poland says it will send an anti-chemical and
biological warfare unit to the Gulf in the event of military action.
Hungarian parliament voted February 17 to allow U.S. aircraft to use
Hungarian airspace and airfields, and to send a medical team to the
Australia. Backs use of force, and will send 250 troops to the
Gulf, including specialists in covert search and rescue operations.
Home country of UNSCOM Chairman Richard Butler.
New Zealand. Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said February 16 New
Zealand will send two surveillance aircraft and up to 20 special
Romania. Foreign Ministry said February 15 Romania would join
military action if authorized by U.N. Sent chemical warfare
specialists in 1991 Gulf war. Iraq owes Romania $1.7 billion dating
to Ceausescu era.
Norway. Plans to send about 30 personnel to support the
Middle East/Persian Gulf
Turkey. Generally opposes use of force, and Foreign Minister
Ismail Cem is attempting to intercede with Baghdad to avoid a U.S.
strike. Does not want U.S. to ask for use of bases in Turkey for
strikes on Iraq, but continues to allow U.S./British patrols of
northern Iraq no fly zone from Incirlik air base. Fears safehaven
in Iraq for Turkish Kurdish opponents and has sent troops into
northern Iraq to prevent a Kurdish refugee surge into Turkey that
might result from a U.S. airstrike. Key outlet for Iraqi oil
exports under Resolution 986 "oil-for-food" program and tacitly
permits some illicit imports of Iraqi oil products by Turkish truck
Egypt. Generally opposed to use of force against Iraq, and
Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is attempting to organize other Arab
opinion in support of a diplomatic solution. A major U.S. ally,
Egypt is also unwilling to oppose the U.S. position forcefully or
publicly. Like many other Arab states, Egyptian public opinion is
sympathetic to the plight of the Iraqi people; some pro-Iraqi
demonstrations have been held. Egypt and other Arabs also believe
the United States insists on a higher standard of Iraqi compliance
with U.N. resolutions than it demands of Israel.
Jordan. King Hussein opposes military action on the grounds
that airstrikes would hurt the Iraqi people, and will not allow U.S.
overflights for any airstrike or Israeli retaliatory airstrikes.
However, the King supports efforts to obtain full Iraqi compliance
with U.N. resolutions and says Iraq will pay dearly for defying the
United Nations. Has long had close political and economic
relations with Iraq and did not support allied coalition in Desert
Storm. Dependent on subsidized shipments of Iraqi oil. Despite a
ban, capital Amman has been the scene of large pro-Iraqi
demonstrations February 13, 18.
Israel. Strongly supportive of the U.S. position and Prime
Minister Netanyahu says Israel reserves the right to retaliate if
attacked by Iraq. Nervous about possible remaining Iraqi
capability to attack Israel with chemical or biological warheads.
Palestinian Authority/PLO. Generally supportive of Iraq, as
the PLO was in Desert Storm, but Arafat said February 16 he does not
want Israelis hurt. Despite a ban, pro-Iraqi demonstrations have
been held repeatedly in February. Radical wing of Islamist
Palestinian organization Hamas vowed February 17 to attack Israelis
if the U.S. strikes Iraq.
Syria. Says a military strike against Iraq would be
unjustified. Has been improving relations with Iraq over the past
few years, and reopened border with Iraq in June 1997. Supports
Iraqi demands to alter the composition of UNSCOM.
Lebanon. Opposes military action against Iraq, according to
Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Politically and economically close to
Syria, and tends to follow Syrian lead on foreign policy issues.
Iran. Opposes military action against Iraq, despite eight year
war with that country (1980-88) in which Iraq used chemical weapons
and Scud missiles. Stood neutral in the 1991 Gulf war. Defense
Minister Ali Shamkhani urging Persian Gulf states not to host U.S.
forces or allow strikes on Iraq from their territories. Relations
with Iraq have improved over the past two years although deep
differences remain. Relations with the United States appear to be
set to improve as well.
Saudi Arabia. Largest and most important of the Gulf states,
has indicated it will not allow U.S. to strike Iraq from bases in
Saudi Arabia. Is allowing continuation of U.S. overflights of
southern Iraq (Southern Watch operation) from Saudi airfields, and
reportedly has assured Secretary of Defense Cohen privately that it
will allow U.S. overflights and operations of U.S. support aircraft.
However, Aviation Week reported February 17 that Saudi Arabia will
not allow the U.S. to redeploy combat aircraft from Saudi Arabia to
carry out strikes on Iraq.
Kuwait. Most supportive of the Gulf states, has allowed
emplacement of additional U.S. aircraft and troops. Will allow U.S.
airstrikes from Kuwait.
United Arab Emirates. Least supportive of the Gulf states for
strikes against Iraq. Leader, Shaykh Zayid bin Zayid Al Nuhayyan,
has repeatedly called for forgiving Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and
reintegration into the Arab fold. However, UAE leaders are
reported to have privately assured Secretary of Defense Cohen that
U.S. aerial refueling tankers could continue to operate out of UAE,
and that they will allow overflights in the event of an airstrike.
Oman. Agreed to allow U.S. to station five KC-10 tankers in
Oman. Secretary Cohen asserts Oman will support a U.S. strike on
Iraq, but Omani leaders have not said that publicly.
Qatar. Generally opposed to military action against Iraq. Has
not offered to host additional forces for a possible strike, but
will permit U.S. access to equipment prepositioned in Qatar.
Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim Al Thani met Saddam February 16 to
attempt mediation; highest ranking Gulf official to visit Iraq since
Bahrain. Has allowed U.S. to station additional combat
aircraft, including B-1 bombers, during the crisis. However,
Information Minister Muhammad al-Mutawa said February 17 Bahrain has
not allowed strikes on Iraq from Bahrain. Has hosted U.S. naval
headquarters in the Gulf since the 1940s.
Yemen. President Ali Abdullah Salih opposes military force in
the current crisis. Generally supported Iraq during the 1991 Gulf
war; favored an Arab-led diplomatic solution to the Iraqi invasion
of Kuwait. Arrested pro-Iraqi demonstrators February 14.
China. Strongly opposed to military action, and would likely
oppose a U.N. Security Council resolution declaring Iraq in material
breach of the Gulf war cease-fire. Foreign Minister Qian Qichen
said in December 1997 that it is possible Iraq no longer has or is
producing banned weapons of mass destruction.
Japan. Generally opposed to military action, but will likely
support the U.S. publicly if it decides to strike Iraq. Currently
a member of the U.N. Security Council.
India. Opposed to military force against Iraq in the current
crisis, according to a letter from Prime Minister Inder Gujral to
the U.N. Secretary General.
Pakistan. "Advising" against use of force, according to the
Malaysia. Foreign Minister Abdullah Badawi says Malaysia
opposes the use of force.
South Africa. Opposes military action against Iraq, according
to Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo.
Argentina. Defense Minister Jorge Dominguez said February 13
that Argentina will contribute 100 noncombat support troops
(medical, transport) to the Gulf.
U.N. Secretary General. Secretary General Kofi Annan said
February 10 that both Iraq and the U.S. should back down from
maximalist positions. Says that any solution should not "humiliate"
Baghdad. Comments widely perceived as opposing U.S. military
action. Annan is visiting Baghdad (February 20-22) in a diplomatic
bid to resolve the crisis.
Arab League. Secretary General of the organization, Egyptian
diplomat Ismat Abd al-Magid, opposes the use of force against Iraq
and is attempting to mediate a diplomatic solution.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Groups Saudi Arabia, Bahrain,
Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and UAE in loose political, economic, and
military alliance. GCC Foreign Ministers issued a statement on
February 11 that Saddam Husayn would be responsible if the current
crisis results in airstrikes against Iraq. The statement called
the crisis a direct result of Baghdad's "reluctance to cooperate."
The Vatican. Pope John Paul urging a diplomatic solution.
Refused to declare 1991 war a "just war."
European Union. European Commission (executive body of the EU)
President Jacques Santer calling for a diplomatic solution.
1. The information in the report is taken from press reports and
public statements by world leaders.
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