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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?