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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 13:17 GMT
Analysis: Washington dilemma with second front
US F 16 fighter planes
Will US planes soon be seeking new targets?
Paul Reynolds

The speed of the military campaign in Afghanistan has suddenly brought into focus the next phase of the "war on terrorism".

Phase One is Afghanistan, what is to be in Phase Two? Will there be an attack on Iraq, or Yemen, or Somalia, or Sudan?


We should be particularly careful about a discussion about new targets ... More could blow up in our faces there than any of us realise

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
For make no mistake - there will be a Phase Two. The issue is really what form it will take.

Will there be a military operation or will action be confined to diplomatic, financial and other pressure?

No decisions have yet been taken. But President Bush has started to warn Saddam Hussein that Iraq must allow weapons inspectors in or he would "find out" what action the United States would take.

Some of America's allies are already worried and are warning Washington not to strike.

Allies reticent

The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, said on Wednesday: "We should be particularly careful about a discussion about new targets in the Middle East. More could blow up in our faces there than any of us realise."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
Gerhard Schroeder is urging caution

The French Defence Minister, Alain Richard, added, duing a visit to Bulgaria, that France did not believe that it was necessary to take military action against countries other than Afghanistan.

America's closest ally, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on the other hand, carefully articulated the formal policy in the House of Commons.

Phase two, he said, would be to take action in a "deliberative and considered way" against international terrorism in all its forms.

This form of words hints at the British position - which is that military action against Iraq, or any other country, would be justifed only if there was clear evidence linking it to terrorism and that other methods of bringing it into line have failed.

'Dangerous consequences'

So three major allies of the United States are either opposed to or reluctant to consider military action.

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein remains defiant

Arab allies are also firmly against. Jordan said that the consequences would be "extremely dangerous".

President Bush himself rejected a strike against Iraq soon after the 11 September attacks.

He did so at a meeting in Camp David on the following Sunday, partly at the urging of the Secretary of State Colin Powell, who felt that one war was enough for now.

Mr Bush agreed to defer consideration of Iraq and others until after Afghanistan. Iraq remained a crisis in waiting. It still is.

Pressure from hawks

But the pressure in Washington from some of the hawks has been maintained and Mr Bush will at some stage be forced to take a decision. The Pentagon has prepared bombing targets.

The argument for an attack centre on the claim that Iraq is involved in international terrorism and that it might be developing weapons of mass destruction.

The justification would be UN Security Council resolution 687, passed after the Gulf War on 3 April 1991. This linked the ceasefire to Iraq complying with measures to destroy its chemcial and biological weapons.

Mr Bush himself has one added potential motive to remove Saddam Hussein. His father failed to do so.

See also:

26 Nov 01 | Americas
Bush warns Iraq over UN inspectors
07 Nov 01 | Middle East
Iraq 'smart sanctions' postponed
03 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iraq escapes 'smart sanctions'
26 Jun 01 | Middle East
Russia resists new Iraq sanctions
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