US rattles its sabres at Iraq

JOHN CARLIN

Washington

The United States is engaging in gunboat diplomacy to discourage any notions Saddam Hussein might be entertaining of attacking Jordan in retaliation for King Hussein's decision to give sanctuary to two high-level Iraqi defectors.

William Perry, the Secretary of Defense, said an American aircraft-carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, had docked in the Israeli port of Haifa, putting its planes within striking distance of Iraq, and that the US was prepared to launch a Tomahawk cruise-missile strike in the event of Iraqi aggression against Jordan. "We have a sizeable number of Tomahawks within range of Iraq," Mr Perry said in an interview published in yesterday's Washington Times.

"All in all, we have a powerful military force which we could bring to bear on that situation immediately if we needed to."

Israeli press reports yesterday said that the Rabin government had given its blessing to a US request to fly the warplanes on the Roosevelt over Israel in case it became necessary to launch a strike against Iraq.

In a further measure of American military preparedness, and of President Bill Clinton's capacity to make good a promise last week to support King Hussein's decision to harbour the Iraqi defectors, US troops arrived yesterday in the Jordanian port of Aqaba for amphibious exercises with the Jordanian military.

Operation Infinite Moonlight 95, will involve a helicopter-carrier and 2,000 US Marines, and will continue until 30 August. They were planned before the defections, but were brought forward to make a salutary impression on President Saddam.

Just in case the Iraqi leader failed to get the message, US officials made it known yesterday that another aircraft-carrier, the Lincoln, was in the Gulf at the head of a flotilla of 18 US warships. As if that were not enough to concentrate President Saddam's mind, Mr Perry said he had talked to the commander of US forces in the region, General Binford Peay, who had assured him that 200 US aircraft deployed in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were "adequate" to aid Jordan.

The question remained however whether this extravagant muscle-flexing - described by an Iraqi government official yesterday as "the barking of dogs" - was warranted. State Department officials said on Monday that they were not aware of any unusual signs of military activity in Iraq. Mr Perry conceded in his interview that while the US understood that Iraqi military forces were on the move, no evidence existed that they planned to attack Jordan.

"We see some redeployment of forces, but the pattern does not necessarily suggest an attack," said Mr Perry, adding that additional "intelligence resources" had been deployed to watch the situation in Iraq "very, very closely".

The dangers to Jordan were real, he insisted, and gave "every reason" for concern, not least because, in Mr Perry's view, the defection of Lieutenant- General Hussein Kamel Hussan and his brother, Lt-Colonel Saddam Kamel Hassan, offered "a very clear indication of how shaky, how unstable the regime in Iraq is". He added: "There's evidently a sizeable purge going on in the Iraqi government, particularly in the Iraqi military today. That can only lead to more instability, more weakness in the Iraqi government."

The view from Baghdad, as expressed by Lt-General Abdul Jawad Dhanoun, the deputy head of the presidential office, was that the defections had rid Iraq of a "cancerous tumour". Suggesting some anxiety that the tumour might reappear, however, Gen Dhanoun added that Gen Hussein Kamel had "condemned himself to death".

Suggested Topics
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWe have created an infogaphic that looks back over the previous incarnations of the Doctor
News
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea was left red faced but, thankfully, unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards, sending her tumbling off the stage.
peopleIggy Azalea was left red faced but apparently unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
Sport
Romelu Lukaku scores during Everton's 3-0 win over Arsenal last season
LIVEFollow all the action as Everton take on Arsenal in the final Premier League game of the day
Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition