Opposition grows to U.S. attack on Iraq

As the Bush administration steps up its threats against Iraq, other governments, especially in the Middle East, are raising strenuous objections.

Last week Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko reiterated his country’s opposition to any military operation against Iraq. “It is our firm belief that the groundless use of force against Iraq would have disastrous consequences for the entire Middle East region,” Yakovenko said in a statement.

His comments came a day after President Bush vowed to “use all the tools at our disposal” to bring down the government of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Russia has urged a return of international weapons inspectors to Iraq, but also supported the lifting of U.S.-inspired United Nations economic sanctions imposed after the 1990 Gulf War.

While there has been speculation the Pentagon might stage an attack from Jordanian military bases, Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb last week declared that use of force would further aggravate the crisis in the Middle East and result in political and economic backlash in the region. He told journalists that Jordan has repeatedly rejected any military action against Iraq, and believes pending issues should be resolved through positive dialogue with the United Nations in order to spare the Iraqi people further suffering.

Abu Ragheb categorically denied that U.S. troops have been stationed in Jordan in preparation for an attack, and said Jordan will not allow its territory or airspace to be used against any other country. While Jordan is an ally of the U.S., Iraq is Jordan’s biggest trading partner and only supplier of crude oil.

During a visit to Jordan, Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa Sunday affirmed that Arab countries generally reject and will not participate in any military coalition against any Arab country, including Iraq.

Also, this week, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said a U.S. attack would be “a catastrophe and it will create a really difficult situation.” Mubarak said, “The region cannot bear the burden of more crises and we do not want more tension when our main concern is the well-being of the Iraqi people.”

Even Kuwait opposes the U.S. plan. Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah said last week that his country would not serve as a launchpad for future U.S. attacks on its former occupier, Iraq.

Speculation about the Bush administration’s plans was further fueled by a New York Times story last week, revealing advanced plans for an air, sea and land-based attack. U.S. commentators have noted that the Bush administration has been unable to link Iraq to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, or to demonstrate that Iraq has nuclear, chemical or biological weapon capabilities. They point out that a ground invasion, almost certainly necessary for a successful assault, would take up to a quarter million troops, who would probably suffer heavy casualties.

Action against Iraq would also violate the U.N. Charter. Under that document and U.N. Resolution 687, only the Security Council can authorize use of force against Iraq. Besides Russia, Security Council members China and France oppose and could veto military action against Iraq.