[R-G] SURPRISE: "Oil is key"
DavidMcR at aol.com
DavidMcR at aol.com
Sun Jan 26 17:36:48 MST 2003
In a message dated 1/26/03 2:12:12 AM Eastern Standard Time,
geese4peace at yahoo.com writes:
The Sunday Herald
Sun, Jan 26, 2003
Oil is key as Bush agrees month delay
France demands Iraqi oil rights to drop veto
By James Cusick in London,
Marion McKeone in New York,
and David Pratt, Foreign Editor
TONY Blair and George Bush have privately agreed on a joint strategy
that will delay any possible war against Iraq for four weeks during
which time they will work tirelessly to achieve three key objectives:
Firstly, they seek to persuade France, one of the five permanent
members of the UN Security Council, not to carry out its threatened
veto of a second UN resolution to allow the US to intervene in Iraq.
The French, along with Russia and China, also permanent members of the
UN but not expected to vote, have extensive oil rights in Iraq and want
those guaranteed before agreeing to any UN resolution.
Secondly, to ensure that all military personnel and hardware is in
place for a likely attack at the start of March.
Finally, to utilise every possible moment to win the hearts and minds
of the American and British public and persuade them that war is
justified in order to disarm Saddam Hussein.
In what will be a crucial five days for the two leaders, culminating in
their meeting at Camp David on Friday, the Prime Minister and the US
president agreed during a lengthy telephone conversations last week
that the 'United Nations route', however difficult, remained their
According to sources at the United Nations in New York, the White House
has now confirmed to senior UN officials that weapons inspectors in
Iraq will be given more time and that tomorrow's report to the Security
Council by the chief weapons inspector, Dr Hans Blix, will not be
regarded as a trigger for unilateral action by the US and Britain.
However, the softening of Washington's hardline rhetoric comes at a
price. Weapons inspection teams will be given only a matter of weeks,
not months, to complete their report.
The US is also understood to be ready to compromise its plans to
monopolise the post-war oil industry in Iraq using only US oil firms.
The US government's promise to hold Iraqi oilfields 'in trust' for the
people of Iraq is now looking like an international, US-led promise to
spread the spoils between US, French, Chinese and Russian oil
What remains unclear diplomatically is the position the anti-war German
government will take if the French are seen to roll over in a covert
oil deal. However new diplomatic noises from Berlin appeared positive,
with Germany's foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, insisting that his
country maintained 'close ties' with Washington. Fischer also said Iraq
had to disarm, indicating even Germany would be forced into a
Blix's report to the security council tomorrow, in his own words, will
state that Iraq's co-operation with weapons inspectors has been 'a
mixed bag'. His report will also state that Iraq has not been proactive
in assisting the inspectors. For the US Secretary of State, Colin
Powell -- speaking in Davos, Switzerland, today at the gathering of
international political and business leaders -- Iraq has not done
And in a hint of what is to come in the coming month, he said the
international community could not shrink from its responsibility to
disarm Iraq by force just because 'the going is getting tough'.
Just how tough will probably be evident within a matter of weeks.
Bush's State of the Union address to the US Congress on Tuesday,
followed by discussions inside the security council on Wednesday and
the Camp David meeting two days later, will be the foundation of an
offensive by the US government to convince a still doubt-ridden US
public that war against Saddam is both justified and clear cut.
Powell has previously admitted that the US administration has not done
enough to convince the hearts and minds of American and international
The additional breathing space will also be crucial for Blair. A new
opinion poll in today's Sunday Times states that the Prime Minister
still has his work cut out: only 26% said he had convinced them that
Saddam was sufficiently dangerous to justify military action. Though
72% said they would support a war that had the backing of the UN, only
20% gave Blair the backing for a war in which British troops would join
a US-led force.
All diplomatic, political and military considerations now point to war
being timetabled for the first week of March. March 3 is likely to be
the first date of any sustained bombing campaign, with US
meteorologists forecasting ideal weather conditions.
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