Iraq's No. 2 leader issued a stern warning Wednesday in Doha to the United States that Iraq would teach it "an unforgettable lesson" in case of a US-led invasion.
"We shall teach invaders an unforgettable lesson," declared Ezzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of Iraq's Revolution Command Council, in his speech to the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that opened here Wednesday morning.
Fifty-five countries of the 57-member were attending the OIC summit to make a last-ditch effort for the Islamic world to avert a possibly disastrous US-led war on Iraq, also member of the Islamic world.
Ibrahim claimed that Iraq would mobilize 7 million "well-trained" fighters to confront invading troops.
The Iraqi official issued the warning as the country gears up its preparation in all fronts for a possible US-led war. Tuesday night, dozens of Arab and Muslim "suicide attackers" showed up on Iraqi television, vowing to fight a life-or-death battle with aggressors.
Some of the suicide fighters identified themselves as citizens of other Arab or Muslim countries. The United States and Britain have readied 230,000 troops in the Gulf region for a war to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and rid his regime of banned weapons of mass destruction.
OIC summit opens in last-ditch effort to avert war on Iraq
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) opened an emergency summit Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to avert a US-led war on Iraq.
The one-day summit, attended by 55 members of the 57-nation body, is expected to reaffirm the Islamic world's strong opposition to a war on Iraq and urge Iraq to fully comply with the relevant UN resolutions on disarmament.
The OIC summit was held on the heels of the summits of Arab League (AL) and the Non-Aligned Movement to add momentum to the worldwide anti-war movement and call for peaceful solution of the Iraq crisis.
In his opening speech, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said that Islamic nations can "use their weight in favour of a peaceful solution," although Muslims may have "no power to take decisions about Iraq."
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamad Mahathir and Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul are among the eye-catching leaders of the summit, where most of the member states have a low-level representation.
The OIC summit is to discuss three initiatives put forward by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iran and Qatar, with the UAE appeal calling for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's exile drawing most of the attention.
UAE President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan first proposed at the Al summit that President Saddam and his regime step down to spare the region of a disastrous war.
The idea is gaining ground among the Arab world, as Gulf countries including Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have voiced their support publicly.
Other Arab countries fell short of publicly endorsing the UAE proposal, although they privately believe it is laudable.
Before the opening of the summit, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said he views the UAE initiative as "well intentioned." But he added that he was not sure this idea will ever be formally discussed at the summit.
Meanwhile, Iran proposed that the divided Iraqi opposition reconcile with the Iraqi regime and Iraqis hold a referendum on power transfer under the UN supervision.
At the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit later last month, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir suggested that Islamic countries use oil as a weapon to press for a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis.
He may as well bring the "use-oil-as-weapon" proposal to the OIC summit, even if it failed to be adopted by Kuwait and some other countries at the NAM summit.
Notably, Turkish Prime Minister Mohamad Gul is also present at the summit despite the heightened US pressure on his country to approve a massive US troop deployment for a war on neighboring Iraq.
The Turkish parliament on Saturday rejected the government motion on stationing 62,000 US troops on its territory to open a northern front for invasion of Iraq.
Turkey had previously sponsored a regional conference of foreign ministers in Istanbul in efforts to defuse the Iraq crisis. Like many other meetings, the conference ended with a duel position to oppose war and call for Baghdad's full cooperation with UN weapons inspectors.