Different tactics same strategy: Helping the Shias does not alter the aim of undermining Saddam, says Charles Richards, Middle East Editor
Tuesday 18 August 1992
A 180-degree shift in policy? No. The grand strategy is the same: to overthrow the Iraqi leader. So, too, are the constraints. The US administration does not wish to cause a break-up of the country along ethnic or religious lines into Kurdish (north), Sunni (centre) and Shia (south).
And the favoured method, too, is the same: through a palace coup of discontented military men rather than a popular uprising that could divide the country. One difference is that for six months after the end of the Gulf war, the US administration and its various parts did not devise a carefully thought out policy towards Iraq.
Since March 1991 helicopter gunships have been used to suppress rebellions in both the north and the south. Then, after Iranian aircraft raided a base on Iraqi territory used by anti-Iranian dissidents in April this year, the coalition decided to turn a blind eye to the flight of Iraqi aircraft to defend against any other attacks.
Thus have the Iraqis managed to push forward the bounds of the permissible. According to a Ministry of Defence briefing last month, some 150 of the Iraqi air force's fighters and warplanes are flying.
However Pete Williams, the US Defense Department spokesman, has in the past said that the ceasefire arrangements have been superseded by UN Security Council resolutions.
Evidence of brutal repression comes not only from the Iraqi opposition and the Iranians, but also from the UN's own report.
At the end of July, the then US secretary of state, James Baker, and the National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft, met Iraqi dissident leaders for the first time to tell them they would protect the populations in the south and north. The US and its coalition partners insist they have the legal mandate for action, although the resolution does not of itself authorise clobbering the Iraqi air force. They also have the political will, both at home and abroad. And in military terms, the knocking-out of the Iraqi air force provides the kind of target that armed forces chiefs like. It would weaken Iraq's armed forces and serve Washington's aim of seeking to turn more senior officers against President Saddam.
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...