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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 19:20 GMT
Regional papers fear attack on Iraq
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
Hawks in Washington have long wanted to remove Saddam Hussein
The possible shifting of Washington's war on terror beyond Afghanistan has struck fear into editorials - and people - across the Muslim world.

Although Somalia, Sudan and Yemen were viewed as possible next steps, Iraq was seen as the most likely - and dangerous - target.


Any attack on Iraq will wreck the existing anti-terrorism coalition

Pakistan's The Nation
Many newspapers saw a strike against the regime of Saddam Hussein as fatal to the fragile support for US actions that have so far been restricted to Afghanistan.

Others saw it as heralding a return to US unilateralism, and feared that no counsel would dissuade the superpower from its course.

Threat to the coalition

"Any attack on Iraq will wreck the existing anti-terrorism coalition," Pakistan's The Nation declared.

"Irrespective of the importance the US gives to [UN Secretary General] Kofi Annan's advice, he has rightly cautioned against expanding the ongoing war against terrorism to Iraq," the English-language daily said.

The Iran Daily agreed.

"If Washington insists on attacking other countries, it will make a bad situation worse," it warned.


America's reliance on indigenous forces to hit Iraq could well backfire and also trigger the flames of civil war

Iran Daily
In a later editorial, the English-language paper spelt out its fears of an Afghanistan-style engagement in Iraq.

"Using the Kurds as infantry in the attacks could create the unwanted groundwork for renewed instability," it wrote.

Civil war

"America's reliance on indigenous forces to hit Iraq could well backfire and also trigger the flames of civil war," the editorial read.

Tehran's Kayhan International, however, saw great possibilities in the effects on the United States and Israel that fallout from a campaign in Iraq could have.

"Iraq might well turn out to be the long-awaited Armageddon that would eventually drag the Americans and the Zionists to their doom," it speculated.

Egypt's Al-Ahram warned Baghdad that it would not be able to rely on international support this time around.

"Evidently, it imagines it will find support from Russia, China and France - like before," the Arabic paper said.


Does Turkey's uneasiness have sufficient weight to dissuade the United States from such a decision?

Hurriyet
"These countries will not be enthusiastic to support Iraq or oppose the war," it warned.

"At best, they may keep silent or limit themselves to opposition via the media."

The Kurdish issue

Turkey's Hurriyet feared Washington would ignore Ankara's worries that fighting in Iraq could have repercussions across the border.

"Does Turkey's uneasiness have sufficient weight to dissuade the United States from such a decision?" the daily pondered.


Turkey - despite its reluctance - will eventually be unable to avoid participating in an operation against Iraq

Kurdish Ozgur Politika
That question could not be answered, but the paper said that only President Hussein could resolve the situation.

"The party that can contribute most to the removal of the military option is none other than Iraq," it said.

The way to do this was by "opening its doors to the UN inspectors assigned to control its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction."

As with Iran, much of Turkey's concerns over instability in Iraq stem from its difficult relationship with its Kurdish minority.

The Kurdish Ozgur Politika newspaper said that an operation against Saddam Hussein would appeal to Turkey, "if the place named north Iraq were not south Kurdistan and were there not a Kurdish problem in the region".

"Turkey - despite its reluctance - will eventually be unable to avoid participating in an operation against Iraq," the German-based paper predicted.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

20 Oct 01 | Middle East
Saddam's surprise message
10 Dec 01 | South Asia
Q&A: What next in war on terror?
06 Oct 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Testing the mood in Iraq
18 Sep 01 | Media reports
Saddam tells West 'be wise'
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