US-led War on Iraq Looming Large

As UN observers in Iraqi-Kuwaiti borders started withdrawal and Kuwait also began dismantling earth walls at the border on Tuesday evening, political observers noted that US-led war on Iraq is looming large.

Al-Arabia TV channel quoted Captain Alex Deraney of the US Army's 130th engineers brigade as saying on Tuesday evening that "on the Kuwaiti side, parts of the berm (earth falls) are being breached at this time by Kuwaiti contractors" in preparation for any US-led assault on Iraq.

Kuwait's First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah confirmed the news,saying Kuwait has the right to have openings in the fence along the Kuwaiti-Iraqi borders, which was built after a US-led coalition ended a seventh-month Iraqi occupation in 1991.

Meanwhile, the Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV channel quoted UN sources as disclosing that UN observers in Iraqi-Kuwaiti borders started withdrawal Tuesday evening.

Although the report did not elaborated, Xinhua learnt earlier that the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) is expected to withdraw from the borders Wednesday morning.

Last Saturday, the UN mission in Kuwait began to move its civilian staff to Kuwait City as a safety measure for a possible US-led war on Iraq.

The move, which was approved by UN chief Kofi Annan, was "a protective measure" for the safety of the civilian UN staff "inview of the situation," UNIKOM spokesman Daljeet Bagga said.

The UNIKOM was set up to monitor the 200-km demilitarized borderzone (DMZ) between Iraq and Kuwait in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, triggered by Iraq's invasion of neighboring Kuwait, to ensure no violations occur in the DMZ.

There are over 1,000 UNIKOM members in Kuwait, including 195 military observers and 230 civilians staff.

After his meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President HosniMubarak, General Tommy Franks, commander of US forces in the Gulf,told Xinhua on Tuesday that the United States is determined to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.

The United States will go all out to achieve the goal for the sake of stability and security in the region, Franks said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

The United States has made continued efforts to fight all forms of terrorism and deal with states and organizations that practice them, said Franks, who will take charge of US forces in war with Iraq.

In face of the looming US-led war, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Tuesday asked his elite Republican Guards to inflict the biggest losses on the enemy with the minimum sacrifices in the war with the United States.

"The most important advice for you is to limit your losses in the battle," the Iraqi News Agency (INA) quoted Saddam as telling officers from the Republican Guards, headed by his younger sonQusay.

Saddam also advised the officers to "exercise utmost efforts to limit sacrifices among the ranks of the fighters and inflict the largest losses among the aggressors."

Meanwhile, Iraq Tuesday night categorically denied US charges that it had threatened the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft flights over Iraqi territories in compliance with UN resolutions.

In Washington, a US official spokesman said earlier in the day Iraq had threatened US surveillance flights, forcing two American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft to return to their base.

Major General Husam Mohammed Amin, chief of the Iraqi National Monitoring Department that charges coordination with UN weapons inspectors, told reporters that the Americans have sent two U-2aircraft to fly over Iraqi territories instead of one, which was agreed upon between Baghdad and the United Nations.

Iraq has already agreed to allow the U-2s, along with French Mirage-4s and Russian Antonovs, to fly over Iraq to Iraqi disarmament activity and to furnish the UN weapons inspectors with necessary information in this respect.

Amin described the US claims as another attempt to justify its plans to launch a military aggression against Iraq.

In another development, visiting Russian Foreign Minister IgorIvanov reiterated in Tehran on Tuesday that Moscow would vote against a UN Security Council resolution which would authorize using force against Iraq.

"Russia is against this resolution, we will vote against it",Ivanov said at a press conference with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi.

"We invite the United States to opt for a political solution, and this is doable," Ivanov said, warning that a war would have adverse consequences for the whole region.

Despite most countries worldwide like to see the Iraqi issue to be solved by peaceful means, the United States is strengthening its preparations for a war on Iraq.

US President George W. Bush called Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leader Tayyip Erdogan in a bid to put pressure on the passage of a motion which would allow US troops deployment on the Turkish soil in a possible war against Iraq.

Congratulating Erdogan on being elected as deputy of parliament in a by-election on Sunday, which guarantees his role in government as Prime Minister, Bush Monday expressed in a telephone talks his disappointment with the issue of US troops deployment in Turkey to open a northern front against Baghdad.

Bush asked Erdogan to submit the government's second motion on US troop deployment to the parliament, stressing that he was expecting a positive response, according to Turkish daily Sabah onTuesday.

But Erdogan blamed the "wrong behavior" of the United States for the failure of a Turkish government motion allowing US troops deployment to open a northern front against Iraq, Turkish daily Turcuman reported Tuesday.

"The permit for US troops to deploy in Turkey did not pass at the parliament because of the wrong behavior of the United States,"he said in an interview with Turcuman.

However, political observers said Erdogan's climb to power is widely expected to facilitate the passing of a new government motion in favor of the US troop deployment.

Turkey's powerful army has also threw weight behind the government in passing a new motion, citing that failure to do so will cost Ankara dearly both economically and diplomatically in the event of a US-led war on Iraq.



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