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Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Iraq pushes to isolate Bush
Saddam Hussein
Saddam hopes to get Arab nations on side
Iraq is to launch a diplomatic offensive to persuade Arab leaders that an American strike against Baghdad would represent an attack on their countries too.


American threats against Iraq are against the whole Arab nation

Taha Yassin Ramadan
Iraqi vice president
Baghdad intends to seize the moment as international reservations about a military campaign against Iraq grow and relationships between the US and some of its traditional Arab allies enter a rocky phase.

"In a few days, emissaries of President Saddam Hussein will be sent to all Arab countries to update their leaders on the real situation," Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan told the al-Ittihad weekly.

"We are confident that they understand the American threats against Iraq are against the whole Arab nation, and confirm the intentions of the US-Zionist administration to attack the capacities of the nation, be it in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, or elsewhere."

Mr Ramadan also said the opposition of several European countries to an attack on Baghdad could also give new impetus to Iraq's relations with the European Union.

Unease

Shortly after the interview was published, Iraq's ambassador to Pakistan told a news conference that all countries needed to stand up to US "aggression".

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
Straw: Chances of an attack should recede if there are inspections
"It is the duty of all nations, especially Arab and Muslim countries," said KA Rawi. "We will emerge victorious if ever we are attacked."

US President George W Bush has made clear he wants Saddam Hussein removed from power. Senior US administration officials have also indicated that even a return of weapons inspectors to Iraq will not placate them.

But Mr Bush is facing increasing opposition to any military campaign, a development keenly watched by Baghdad.

Germany has spoken out clearly against a military campaign. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said he would neither commit troops not contribute financially to any such operation.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said this week that the resumption of weapons inspections in Iraq was the best way of reducing the threat posed by President Hussein, although spokesmen insisted this did not represent a deviation from the American line.

However, Mr Straw made clear that the possibility of an attack should "recede" if such options could be pursued.

Tensions

Meanwhile, America's relations with its traditional Arab allies - Saudi Arabia and Egypt - have deteriorated.

Egypt is angry at Mr Bush's decision to oppose any increase in aid to President Hosni Mubarak's government after an Egyptian democracy campaigner who also holds US citizenship was jailed.

Saudi Arabia meanwhile has publicly stated that it will not allow Saudi bases to be used in an attack against Iraq.

Correspondents say Iraq will be looking to build on these resentments and sympathies as it develops its drive to isolate Mr Bush.


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22 Aug 02 | Americas
22 Aug 02 | Politics
21 Aug 02 | Americas
20 Aug 02 | Americas
17 Aug 02 | Middle East
16 Aug 02 | Americas
16 Jun 02 | Americas
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