U.S. plans military campaign unparalleled in history
Bahrain |By Mohammed Almezel | 24-02-2003
The U.S. administration is looking into a plan to have representatives of several Arab countries in Iraq's post-Saddam Hussain interim administration, a senior American military officer has said.
The planned government will take over Iraq's affairs immediately after the overthrow of the Baath Party regime by an extensive military campaign "the likes of which have never been seen before in history", the naval officer told Gulf News on condition of anonymity.
"The plan is being finalised in Washington," said the officer, adding that the interim administration will be led by a civilian.
However, the commander of U.S. forces in the region, General Tommy Franks, will take over initially "to ensure the stability" of post-Saddam Iraq, he said.
"We are talking to some Arab states to see if we can have some Arab representation in the new administration," said the officer, who seemed convinced that war was just a matter of weeks.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told a press conference in Tokyo yesterday it was "time to take action" on disarming Iraq and he expected the UN Security Council to decide what to do soon after a March 7 report by the UN weapons inspectors.
The naval officer said if the UN fails to disarm the Iraqi regime, the U.S. forces will do 'the job'. "We are ready to respond now," if President George W. Bush orders the strike, the officer said, but declined to give a specific deadline.
He said unlike the 1991 Gulf War in which the U.S. Air Force, shouldered most of the initial aerial campaign, the Navy will probably contribute more in this war.
By the end of this week, the U.S. will have three aircraft carriers in the Arabian Gulf. The USS Constellation and the USS Abraham Lincoln are already sending their 150 aircraft in regular missions over southern Iraq to monitor the no-fly zone.
The USS Kitty Hawk, with its 80 aircraft will join in a few days, the officer said.
In addition, two carriers, the USS Truman and the USS Roosevelt, will operate in the Mediterranean.
"But it will be an orchestrated effort involving the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines Corps; we'll attack from the air and the ground. It will be something the world has never seen before," said the officer, who stressed the U.S. military will eventually get the cooperation of two important regional allies; Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
He said the U.S. military may soon begin moving thousands of troops to Turkey for the invasion. The officer said he also is 'sure' the Saudis will ultimately allow the U.S. to use the air bases in the event of a war.
U.S. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld was quoted last week as saying that Washington had been assured of the cooperation of the six GCC states in its war against Iraq despite the publicly-stated reluctance of some of them, especially Saudi Arabia, which is fervently trying to rally other Arab states to find a peaceful way out of the current impasse.
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