Arabs ready to divide along Gulf war lines: Charles Richards, Middle East Editor, discusses reactions of the region to the latest Gulf crisis

The political fall-out in the Middle East from the latest confrontation between Iraq and the US-led forces in the Gulf is likely to come down broadly along the same lines as during the Gulf war.

There will always be those who look on any military success Iraq might have, however limited, as evidence that Saddam Hussein is the one, strong and determined leader the Arabs have. This at a time when the impotence of the Arab nation and the world at large has been displayed over Israel's refusal to implement UN security council Resolution 799 demanding that it accept back the 413 Palestinians it expelled to southern Lebanon.

Even the most anti-Iraqi Arab states have always had misgivings about the allied no-fly zones, in the north and the south. They are dubious of the legality of the southern no-fly zone, declared by decision of the three Western powers which are permanent members of the UN Security Council. And they are wary of any attempt to dismember Iraq.

Syria, where the historic rivalry with Baghdad has reached a peak in the personal antagonism between Presidents Saddam Hussein and Hafez al-Assad, is determined that Iraq be kept intact, whatever the fate of the current regime. 'We cannot agree on the partition or dismemberment of Iraq,' Vice- President Abdel Halim Khaddam said in an interview last month. 'We will fiercely oppose any such move because it would threaten the security and stability of the entire region.'

Two members of the Gulf war coalition - Turkey and Syria - together with Iran, met in mid- November to determine that no independent Kurdish state be set up in northern Iraq. All of these countries are very sensitive about any Kurdish nationalist aspirations because of their own Kurdish minorities.

The Saudis, who have given both moral and physical support to the US, Britain and France over the no-fly zone in the south, are characteristically reticent about making any substantial public statement of policy. The Saudi ambassador in London, Ghazi Algosaibi, released a statement that declared: 'Saudi Arabia is committed to the full implementation of the Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq. It will support all actions endorsed by the Security Council in the future - as it supported past resolutions. Only total compliance with the will of the international community, as expressed through the Security Council, can ensure peace and stability in the area.'

The Saudis do not even officially acknowledge the presence of coalition forces at their airfields: Stealth bombers based at the south-western air base of Khamis Mushayt, and British, French and US aircraft at Dhahran in the eastern province.

The Saudis are still keen to see the removal of Saddam Hussein (but whisper it not). Only the Kuwaitis are full-bloodedly behind the US military effort.

Dissident elements within Egypt and Saudi Arabia, however small, are opposed to the West's continued threat of the use of military force against Iraq. In Egypt, leaflets circulated outside mosques after Friday prayers yesterday by the Muslim Brothers accused the United States of 'plotting to divide Iraq' and to divert attention from Israeli 'oppression of the Palestinian people'.

In the closing days of the Gulf Co-operation Council summit in Abu Dhabi last month, the powerful lobby of conservative clergy in Saudi Arabia issued a warning to the Saud ruling family not to side with 'the infidels' against their Muslim brothers in Iraq.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching