South News Iraq Crisis updates

Bahrain out of US strike
South News Feb 17
MANAMA: Bahrain said today it will not allow the United States to use the island as a staging area for any military strike on Iraq.

An Information Ministry statement said Bahrain would not allow ``the use of its territories for any military action against Iraq.''

``The first priority should be given to the diplomatic effort and a peaceful solution to the crisis, no matter what it takes, because we fear the other alternative in this confrontation will be no less than a catastrophe to this region, the Arab world and the Middle East,'' Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said.

He said in comments carried by the official Gulf News Agency that the dangerous consequences of a military showdown ``could not be accepted on the Gulf, regional or international levels.''

``No Arab would accept a military strike against another Arab country...If it is not itself the happened in the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The current situation between Iraq and the United Nations is different to that,'' he added.

Thirty-six U.S. warplanes, including F-15 and F-16 strike fighters, are based on the Gulf island, which is headquarters for the U.S. 5th Fleet.

Bahrain joins Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in denying the use of its territory for any attack on Iraq.

Hopes fade for Annan in hot seat
South News Feb 17
United Nations: Secretary-General Kofi Annan will try again Tuesday to get US endorsement for a conciliatory mission to Iraq that could avert a US military strike.

Annan is in the hot seat with the US rushing to war with Iraq said the five permanent Security Council members needed "a little more time" to complete their deliberations, following a third meeting Monday among officials from the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

But Washington does not appear to want an 11th hour solution to the Iraqi crisis as the Clinton administration sought to prepare the American people for war with Iraq.

Defense Secretary William Cohen, using unusually harsh language, warned Annan if he did anything inconsistent with UN resolutions he would call "into question the credibility of the United Nations and ultimately, its viability as an institution that has any respect."

Iraq's UN ambassador Nizar Hamdoon said US officials at Monday's meeting submitted a paper and wanted Annan to go to Iraq "and just deliver it as a messenger" rather than attempt to find a solution.

Iraqi Papers on Tuesday accused the United States of hampering the UN Secretary-General to negotiate a solution to the crisis over weapons inspections said Washington was ``beating the drums of war'' by blocking the trip.

The al-Qadissiya newspaper blasted Cohen and said Annan, at the helm of the world body, should not be a messenger ``carrying a letter from the Pentagon to Iraq.''

``His excellency (Cohen) likes Annan to be a mere official at the Pentagon ... This shows how impudent, immoral and arrogant (Cohen) is,'' said the newspaper

Representatives of the five nations -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- was expected to meet again Tuesday. Annan planned to address the full 15-member council Wednesday before deciding on the trip, which many believe, could be the last chance to avert a military confrontation in the Gulf.

Iraqi officials welcomed a visit from Annan, hoping he could negotiate a breakthrough in the standoff. But upping the stakes Cohen told CNN he was sending 5,000 to 6,000 more American troops to Kuwait to ensure Iraq did not threaten the emirate or neighboring Saudi Arabia.

This would bring to between 9,700 and 10,000 the number of U.S. ground troops in the Gulf region. President Clinton and his top advisers prepared to sell the need for military strikes to the American people. Cohen, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Adviser Samuel Berger will all appear at Ohio State University on Wednesday to explain US policy.

Former UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, a Peruvian, made a similar visit shortly before the 1991 Gulf War, presenting demands without negotiating power