The International Institute for Inter-Religious, Multiethnic and Middle-East Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana has specially for the September issue of “Obramba” (“Defence Monthly”), a Slovenian professional journal dealing with defence-military issues, prepared the analysis of events going on in Iraq and the region. Since it is a very complex question concerning not only the regions of the Middle East but the whole global community, the experts of the Institute have, together with their co-operators, analysed the present situation in Iraq and in the wider region as well as the factors which have contributed to the dispute between Iraq, i.e. Sadam Husein and the USA.
THE ANALYSIS OF EVENTS IN IRAQ AND THE REGION
A HURRICANE OVER BAGHDAD?
The question which arises at the very beginning is whether present events are the continuation of the conflict between Sadam Husein and George Bush Sr. – which is the opinion of some politicians and analysts – or there is something else in the background – as the experts from the IFIMES Ljubljana Institute believe. Is the reason for the dispute simply the fact, that Iraq does not respect the Resolutions of the Security Council Nos. 687, 688 and 949? Or was it triggered by 11 September last year and the events related to that date, or by the crisis of the American economy and the decay of American corporate giants? Perhaps there are also some indirect factors such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Can it be the crisis in Saudi Arabia, the relationships in the royal family itself? Is it the crisis of the reformation movement lead by Mohamed Khatami, the present Iranian president? Or perhaps the (non)success of American war against terrorism?
Konstantin Spiliots, political researcher at the Dartmuth College, said: "The war against terrorism following 11 September is the focus of the historical mission Mr. Bush has to accomplish during his term of office. At the beginning of his office, Bush did not manage to revive American economy, reduce the budgetary deficit and influence the capital market. If he fails in all that, his political term of office will be weak and his political future vague. A president can always benefit from a war as long as it does not turn into a catastrophe."
In fact, all the above mentioned factors have significantly influenced the present flow of events and the envisaged denouement in the future.
IRAQ FOR THE SECOND TIME WITH THE SECOND BUSH
In 1991, Norman Schwarzkopf, the American general, already reached the shooting range of Baghdad and American forces were making a progress. In 14 provinces (of 18 altogether), the power was assumed by the rebels, i.e. the present opposition. However, President George Bush Sr. decided to end the war so as to prevent Iraq from disintegrating which would not have been acceptable in the context of circumstances in the world then due to the stability in the region. In 1991, the UN Security Council adopted Resolutions Nos. 687 and 688 with the consent of Sadam Husein who therewith approved of the introduction of United Nations control system.
During his residence in the White House, President Clinton followed the policy of sustainment of the existing situation in Iraq. Periodic missile attacks on marginal goals in Iraq and continuous American-British air control of the sky above the 36th parallel and below the 32nd parallel were having only psychological effects.
President Clinton tried ho help the Iraqi opposition and unite it. At first, his influence met a response since the Iraqi National Congress (INC) was established in 1992 in Salahaddin (Iraqi Kurdistan) as the umbrella organisation of all opposition political parties – ranging from the left-wing to Islamic, from nationalist Kurdish and Arabic to liberal. In 1998, President Clinton achieved the adoption of the Law on Liberation of Iraq in the American Congress, which enabled the INC to gain a subsidy amounting to USD 100 million. However, internal disagreements (fracturing) eventually led to a situation where the Iraqi National Congress became only one more party instead of the umbrella congress of all parties.
A serious incident took place during the same year (1998) when Iraqi authorities accused Scott Ridder, the head of a group of UN inspectors, of espionage in behalf of the USA and Israel. Ridder later admitted the act in his memoirs. Consequently, Iraq banished UN inspectors and the Desert Fox operation commenced, although with no effect.
When George Bush Jr. assumed power, great changes occurred in American foreign policy, followed by 11 September which shocked not only the USA but the whole democratic world. That triggered the introduction of the American policy of punishment of terrorists outside the border of the USA and territories of NATO alliance member states. Unilateralism and criticism of the North Atlantic Alliance for losing its role but not importance was even more intensively present in American politics. This was most evident in Afghanistan in providing help to the Afghanistan North Alliance and the opposition, when the USA took over the dominant role in fighting against Al-Kaida and the Talibans.
In American politics, the world has been re-divided into the states which support terrorism on one hand and those which fight against terrorism together with the USA on the other hand. Iraq has been labelled as one of the axes of the evil forces. The evidence against Iraq was provable, but its links and associations with the Al-Kaida terrorist network could not be proven in spite of the rumours that there is evidence of the meeting in Prague between an Iraqi diplomat and Mohamed Atta, one of the terrorists who was in one of the planes which hit the WTC in New York. Due to lack of evidence, the USA are looking for confirmation in the UN Resolutions Nos. 687, 688 and 949. In spite of all evidence and non-evidence, Ms Condolizze Rice, Security Adviser, believes that Sadam Husein is too dangerous which is good enough reason for him to leave the stage.
As the anniversary of 11 September is approaching, the USA are intensifying their expectations regarding the important decision to take away power from Iraqi dictator, Sadam Husein. President Bush made it clear in June 2002 that the USA are not willing to observe indifferently those who posses or even produce weapons of mass destruction.
"We have to attack in order to defend our freedom" Bush said and his words echoed everywhere, not only among the allies. Nevertheless, Pentagon and the State Department have different opinions on how to overthrow Sadam Husein. The influential Republicans Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz are in favour of the classic invasion of Iraq and collapse of the regime. On the other hand, Collin Powell, Secretary of State, shares the opinion of the majority of allies, i.e. that the control of Iraqi armament should be made more severe.
Stephen Walt, the dean at Kennedy School of Management at the Harvard University said: "There are no indicators that Iraq could become more dangerous. We can maintain status quo for a few more years". In his second statement he continues: "As far as the time schedule of the operation is concerned, it all depends on the situation in domestic politics. Those in the Administration who are in favour of the war are in the minority but still very influential. They are neo-conservatives, gathered around Vice President Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz."
Undeniably, the use of force in order to overthrow Sadam Husein would be contrary not only to the provisions of the Treaty of Westphalia but also to the modern international law which permits the use of force in self-defence in case of grounded threats and not in case of merely expressed suspicion.
WHO IS IN FAVOUR AND WHO IS AGAINST
European allies, with the exception of United Kingdom, oppose the attack on Iraq since the intervention can not be grounded on the Resolutions of the UN Security Council. Moreover, the financing of such an operation is also questionable. This was pointed out by the German Chancellor Schroeder who stated on the occasion that Germany is not a bottomless bag.
The Islamic world, especially the Islamic masses, oppose above all the USA believing that they are the traditional enemy of Islam and eventually of the Muslims. This mood of Muslim masses is above all the result of unsuccessful peace negotiations in Wy Plantions in the USA which took place in 2002 (Clinton – Barak – Arafat) and the beginning of the second stage of Intifada.
The Arab regimes will not have a significant influence on the American decision, among other due to their internal problems. For example, Saudi Arabia is facing problems in the royal family and the fight for the succession to the throne of king Fahd who is because of his severe sickness only artificially kept alive. The economic crisis following the drop in oil prices has limited ambitious medium-term economic plans for the country which are being questioned now.
Moreover, the Islam movements which sympathize with and help Al-Kaida are very influential. Loaram Morawic, the analyst at Rand Corporation (which unites some very prominent members such as D. Coel, H. Kissinger, J. Shliessenger, H. Braun, N. Gingrich and T. Folli), believes that Saudi Arabia is hostile to the United States of America and that the Saudis are very active in international terrorism including planning, financing, sympathizing and realization of terrorist acts.
The official politics of Iran are anti-American, although it was neutral in 1991 in the Gulf war. Since the reformers entered the stage, the winds of change have been felt in the relations between Iran and the USA. This could be clearly observed in the role which Iran played in the Afghanistan war as well as in the composing of the new Afghan government and bringing under control the Shiitic leaders under the Karzai government. In the nineties, the Supreme Council of Islam Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is the main Shiitic opposition party in Iraq with its headquarters in Teheran, opposed any kind of American help to Iraqi opposition. Thanks to improved relations between Iran and the USA, SCIRI took part at the meeting of the opposition with the American Administration on 9 and 10 August this year in Washington. Iran has expressed great interest in the period following the regime of Sadam Husein, and SCIRI will assume the appropriate position in the interim government (about 60%).
From the very beginning, Turkey has opposed any kind of intervention against Iraq. Prime Minister Bulend Edževit has written several times to Sadam Husein advising him to allow UN inspectors to enter Iraq, since the whole Turkish economy was suffering great losses due to the isolation of Iraq.
Most of all, Ankara is afraid of the disintegration of Iraq and the proclamation of the Kurdish state in the North of Iraq, as that would encourage Turkish Kurds to take similar actions. The meeting of Peter Gallbright, a former American ambassador to Croatia, who is a recognized expert in the Kurdish issue and professor at the National Security College, with the representatives of the Kurdish power and Iranian Kurdish opposition, which took place in Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2002, has perhaps strengthened the fears of Ankara that the Kurdish and Azerbaijani issues might be actualised and the international community might eventually interfere in internal political matters where those minorities actually live.
We should not forget the fact that the province of Mosul (Iraqi Kurdistan), which is rich in oil, belonged to Turkey until 1924 when it became part of the Kingdom of Iraq. It was agreed then that Turkey would get 10% of oil extracted in that territory, but the agreement was never realised. However, Turkey has its "Trojan horse" at the North of Iraq where there are about 300 to 500 thousand Turkmen. Ankara even states that there is a round million of Turkmen and is doubtlessly ready to use this fact to justify an eventual intervention in this part of Iraq (behind the veil of protection of Turkmen) in order to prevent the establishment of the Kurdish state. This was also discussed in talks between American Vice President Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz and the Turkish military leadership which is has critical influence in the Turkish politics.
What are Turkey’s expectations? Firstly, a "stand-by" arrangement with the International Monetary Fund, secondly, rescheduling of military debt to the United States of America, and thirdly, a firm assurance given by the USA that there would be no disintegration of Iraq. Turkey is striving for a direct cooperation in military operations in Iraq and not only passive participation as was the case in Afghanistan (police units in ISAF).
The reactions of India and Pakistan will represent the greatest and perhaps most dangerous enigma. Namely, they might use the new "rules" of the world policy in their conflict which could lead to a new war (the policy of first strike).
As regards Russia, the majority of analysts believe that it will give its consent to the actions in Iraq in exchange for American consent to nuclear cooperation between Russia and Iran (not only concerning the nuclear reactor in Bushehr, but also five new reactors).This is the subject of negotiations of a mixed American – Russian commission. President Putin has promised President Bush that Russia would not oppose the intervention in Iraq despite the publicly declared policy and opposition in the UN Security Council (however, without exercising the power of veto). Russia strives for cooperation with the USA especially in order to gain support in the International Monetary Fund and to get its peace of the Iraqi cake.
What about Israel? If the Iraqi regime attacks Israel with unconventional weapons, Israel will strike back with a nuclear attack. Israel will respond to attacks on Tel Aviv or Haifa with retaliatory nuclear attack on those Iraqi towns where no American forces are present. The USA promised Israel to inform it of the attack 60 hours prior to the commencement and let it make a free decision on the response.
ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF THE INTERVENTION IN IRAQ
The analysts of our Institute share the opinion that the change of regime in Iraq will lead to a new drawing of maps in the region. As regards the natural resources, Iraq is potentially the richest country in the Middle East today since it is the only country with both oil and water. Iraq has the second largest stocks of oil found in the world. At the moment it extracts the permitted 2.1 million barrels per day (one barrel contains 159 l) but its capacity is 6 million barrels per day, while its intentions are to pump 10 million barrels per day. This will significantly contribute to the collapse of economic plans of the countries in the region. Greatest losses will be suffered by the OPEC states, especially Saudi Arabia which earns 90 - 95 % of revenues from exports and two thirds of all national revenue with the sale of oil. This was confirmed by Brad Portland, head analyst at Saudi-America Bank. The OPEC oil cartel would surely lose some of its present international influence. Less "obedient" states and regimes will definitely have less important influence on the formation of oil prices. The new Iraqi government will most probably have a more liberal attitude to the policy of price formation and supply of oil to the West. Moreover, the new government will not respect the contracts for supply of oil and modernisation of oil industry, signed with the companies from Russia, France and China, which were concluded during the regime of Sadam Husein. The Institute’s analysts believe that those are actually only draft contracts since the existing sanctions against Iraq prevent the conclusion of contracts which would bind both parties.
According to Raad Alkadiry, the leading analyst at Petrolium Finance Company, there is a treasure in Iraq which threatens to cause an oil-rush similar to the real gold-rush which hit the USA in the mid-nineteenth century.
Filip Mareni from the budget committee of the French senate said: "The war against Iraq will collapse all economic forecasts of the government since France as well as other European states are facing budgetary difficulties based on the hypothesis of the 3 % economic growth."
René Defonsée, analyst at CDC Exis, stated: "The business environment in the USA is reserved towards the American intervention in Iraq since the investors and consumers are losing their confidence. During the Gulf war in 1991, investments in the USA fell by 6.9 %."
Iraq may expect high revenues from tourism. The two most important Shiitic holy cities, Kerbela and Naif, are located there, as well as the city of Uruk where Abraham, father of Jews, Christians and Muslims, lived before he moved to Jerusalem. Moreover, Iraq prides itself in one of the Seven Wonders of the World - the Hanging Gardens - and the Ishtar Gate in the ancient city of Babylon.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR THE PRESENT EVENTS?
Iraq has an important geographic position and a significant role in the spiritual life of Muslims. We should not forget that there was the centre of one of the four caliphates, i.e. the headquarters of Abbasids, which was the leading caliphate for centuries and contributed greatly to the formation of Islamic history. As regards its geographic-religious position, Iraq is located between the Turkish (Sunnite) and Iranian (Shiite) state. The former is in the NATO alliance while the latter is one of the evil forces according to the definition of American President Bush. This is the American strategic area stretching from the Balkans and Turkey through the central Asia and Afghanistan and ending in Iraq in the form of a ring.
The success of American policy in Iraq is likely to have positive effects on the peace process in the Middle East. Syria will remain isolated and forced to continue negotiations with Israel to resolve the issue of the Golan plain (water reserves for Israel covering as much as 37 % water reserves for the needs of Israel). The Palestinians will realize that the USA are determined to get rid of compromised and bad regimes. After all, President Bush promised the proclamation of the State of Palestine already during his term of office.
The Arabs believe that the way to Baghdad goes through Jerusalem. The Americans now have to prove that the way to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad, or in other words, that the solution of the Palestine issue will follow the solution to the Iraqi question.
THE OPERATION HURRICANE
The wrong idea might be detected in hints given by several media that the USA have no clear strategy for the intervention in Iraq. As a matter of fact, the USA have rich experience in interventions: Haiti, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan. The American Administration is facing a strategic decision and not a tactical one and the decision is based on staying in Iraq and the region. The Administration will not allow anyone to share the Iraqi cake with it. The USA wants the reconstruction in Iraq to be carried out by American companies.
America has found the best ally for the century following 11 September 2001, since the Iraqi nation is educated and secularised.
At the beginning, the operation Hurricane will be a one-sided military intervention without allies – except United Kingdom and Australia – in the form of air assaults for the protection of the population below the 32nd parallel. The American idea is that the intervention is to be carried out in the form of a snowball. It will gradually progress from Basra to Mandali on one side while combat operations will be performed by the SCIRI armed wing (Badr corps) on the other side. The Kurdish forces (100,000) are near Mandali therefore closing the ring around Baghdad.
American infantry units (75 - 200,000 soldiers) will invade from Jordan and Kuwait – especially from Jordan due to the modern highway link between Aman and Baghdad. Americans will descent on three airports in the North Iraq which is controlled by Kurdish and American forces. Heavy bombing of positions held by Iraqi Republican Guard in the vicinity of Baghdad and Tikrit is expected. Baghdad will not withstand the fierce attack. The operation might become difficult in case of displacement of the Republican Guard units into the city centres and the use of weapons of mass destruction.
American air forces will not use the Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia. The USA are reconstructing the Odedh airport in Qatar (investment value of USD 1.4 billion). Aircraft carriers will be located in the Red Sea and the Gulf. The air bases of Diego Garcia, Turkey (Incirluk, Aski Šeher), Georgia (Tbilisi), Bulgaria, Belgrade, Niš, Podgorica and Fair Forth in Great Britain will be employed.
Military analysts anticipate joint operations of the opposition (KDP, PUK and SCIRI) - with the support of allied air forces and special units for the liberation of Baghdad - to last one week.
THE NEW IRAQI GOVERNMENT
The USA play the role of an assistant in uniting anti-regime political parties on the basis of agreed political starting-points. Americans will act as a surgeon who has to remove a tumour and keep the body alive and healthy. Donald Rumsfeld has warned representatives of the opposition that the military overthrow of Sadam Husein is of American concern and stressed the importance of what the government in Iraq will be like after Sadam Husein and what direction will it strive for.
The USA will have the final say in the formation of the new joint Iraqi government (representatives of Shiites, Sunnites, Christians) of the Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Assyrians. This can be proven by the fact that the USA did not take into consideration different drafts of the constitution proposed by the opposition. The new constitution will suit American wishes. Iraq will be divided into two to three entities with one central government. American representatives Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld presented the above intentions to the representatives of six opposition parties at the meeting in Washington which took place on 9 and 10 August 2002. They discussed the organisation of the opposition conference of broader extent somewhere in Europe during the next weeks with the aim of forming the new Iraqi government, taking into consideration the interests of different ethnic, religious and political groups. At the Washington meeting they also discussed the question of Kurds, the issue of oil-rich Kirkuk, the forms of national institutions and the role and organisation of the army.
The new Iraqi government has to show readiness to cooperate in the settlement of two out of four million Palestinian refugees who represent the heart of the problem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recognition of the state of Israel and active participation in the peace process, even though Iraq does not border on Israel.
It can be concluded from the above that the military intervention in Iraq will be inevitable in the next six months. The regime of Sadam Husein will be eliminated and a new interim Iraqi government appointed. As a result, all these events will influence strongly the political and economic changes in the Middle East.
The Republic of Iraq covers the area of 437,072 sq. km and counts about 23 million inhabitants. The capital is Baghdad with 3.9 million inhabitants, who are by nationality 75 % Arabs, 20 % Kurds, the remaining 5 % are Turkmen and Assyrians. By religious belief there are 60 % Shiites, 35 % Sunnites, 4 % Christians, 1 % Jews and Yeizids and other. The working population counts 4.4 million inhabitants (44 % employed in agriculture, 26 in industry, 30 % in the service sector). Gross domestic product is USD 57 billion, per capita USD 2,500. Inflation is 100 %. Natural resources: oil, phosphates, sulphur. Iraq borders Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria.