Former US Gulf war ally pleads for Saddam to be readmitted to the fold

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The Independent Online
The President of the United Arab Emirates yesterday made a move for Arab states to readmit Iraq to their ranks. It is another indication that the solidity of the coalition which opposed Baghdad in the 1991 Gulf war is weakening.

Sheikh Zaid bin Sultan al-Nahayan said President Saddam Hussein had committed mistakes out of greed and should be forgiven. "Saddam Hussein is not stronger than others and what emanated from him was a result of greed not only in Kuwait but in the whole Gulf," he told Egyptian editors at the end of a two-day visit to Cairo.

"But greed is part of the nature of humans young and old, and if greed had dominated the Iraqi president's mind, the Gulf is now well and it is Saddam and his people who are suffering. Let's tell this man that you have erred towards us ... but we now tell you `welcome back as a faithful brother'."

Sheikh Zaid's comments were the most explicit call yet to rehabilitate the Iraqi leader. In the past, he has called for Iraq to be forgiven without mentioning President Saddam by name.

The UAE was part of the US-led coalition that drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in 1991. But the Gulf state has since led a campaign to bring Iraq back into the Arab fold. "The Iraqi people were not at fault. The one at fault is Saddam and I believe that we should be forgiving with the Iraqi president so he could return to the Arab family," Sheikh Zaid added.

He also accused Iran of "trickery", saying Tehran was offering nothing in its bid to improve ties with Gulf Arabs. He said the UAE was not ready to give up an inch of territory on three disputed Gulf islands controlled by Iran. Asked about Iran's attempts at rapprochement with Gulf Arab states, the UAE leader said: "Iran talks without offering anything. - Reuters

r The trial opened in Qatar of 110 people charged with trying to overthrow the ruler of the Gulf Arab state, which has accused Egypt of being behind the plot.

Seventy defendants, all Qatari nationals except for a Sri Lankan, a Saudi and a Bahraini, were brought under heavy guard to a packed courtroom in Doha, the capital. Of the 110 people on trial, 40 are at large, including two Egyptians and one Tanzanian. They will be tried in absentia.