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 By Amin Tarzi

Published in Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal

Volume 4, No. 1

March 2000


Abstract: U.S. policy toward Iraq is both confusing, and confused. From his secure perch in Baghdad, Saddam Husayn is winning the propaganda war against the United States as Western allies withdraw their support for unremitting bombings and sanctions. With no way of monitoring Iraq’s development of weapons of mass destruction, Washington needs to take strong, decisive, and immediate action to either provide real, material support for Saddam’s ouster or renew weapons inspections.

It should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace the regime.” *1 – Iraq Liberation Act signed into law by the U.S. President Bill Clinton on October 31, 1998.

Let me say, our position on Iraq is that we favor the proposal before the United Nations advanced by the British and the Dutch.  It would provide for more money to Iraq to help the people there, with their human needs.  But it would maintain a vigorous arms control regime, because we do not believe that Saddam Hussein should be permitted to develop again weapons of mass destruction.” *2 – President Clinton, July 1, 1999.

On December 16, 1998, the United States, supported by only the United Kingdom, launched a massive aerial bombardment of Iraq. Although Operation Desert Fox officially lasted only three days, sporadic but continuous military strikes against Iraqi targets continue with no end in sight. However, the full consequences of this undeclared war may not be realized until the regime of President Saddam Husayn lashes out with fury against one of Iraq’s neighbors or, in the most likely scenario, against Israel.

This article will analyze the United States’ declared policy (or policies) on Iraq, immediately before and since Desert Fox and will highlight the contradictions in these policies. These contradictions, a result of U.S. indecisiveness, may have dire consequences for several key states in the Middle East and the future of international arms control mechanisms.


Operation Desert Fox (December 1998) and subsequent operations have been rooted in the behavior of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Husayn. The atrocities committed by Baghdad are well documented and need no elaboration. Herewith, a recounting of the principal incidents that led to the U.S. decision to open a military campaign against Iraq in December 1998.

On August 5, 1998, Iraq suspended cooperation with the United Nations (UN) Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding weapons inspections and ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) activities at declared sites. Iraq indicated that it would resume cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA only if the UN Security Council lifted sanctions on Iraqi oil exports and reorganized the structure of UNSCOM, including moving its headquarters from New York to either Geneva or Vienna. This would, Iraq claimed, make the commission less susceptible to manipulation by the United States. *3

As had been the case since the end of the Gulf War in 1991, the Iraqi regime balked at the Security Council’s demands. This time, sensing the deep divisions among the five permanent members of the Security Council (P-5) and calculating that the true aim of the United States was the overthrow of Saddam Husayn, Baghdad effectively ceased cooperation with both UNSCOM and the IAEA on October 31, 1998. Nizar Hamdun, Iraq’s permanent representative to the United Nations, announced that the UN inspectors were expected to leave Iraq, *4 a move condemned by the Security Council, which demanded that Iraq “rescind immediately and unconditionally” its decisions of August 5 and October 31. *5

In November, the Iraqis unsuccessfully tried to drive a wedge between the IAEA and UNSCOM by allowing the former agency access to the country, but not the latter. Meanwhile, the United States began to deploy more military equipment and personnel in the Persian Gulf region. *6 Washington, however, failed to create a broad coalition for a possible strike against Iraq to force it to readmit the UN weapons inspectors. Other than the United Kingdom, no other state, including close U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia, expressed its willingness to join in a military campaign against Iraq.

In an about-face, on November 14, Iraq’s deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz forwarded a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announcing his government’s intention to cooperate unconditionally with both UNSCOM and the IAEA. The Security Council, noting Aziz’s letter, decided to resume weapons inspections in Iraq. *7 While P-5 members China and the Russian Federation welcomed Baghdad’s pledge to cooperate fully and unconditionally with UN weapons inspectors, thus avoiding military conflict, the United States initially rejected the Iraqi offer. U.S. national security adviser Sandy Berger referred to Aziz’s letter as having “more holes than Swiss cheese.” *8 However, following consultations between Washington and the United Nations and after clarifications were presented by the Iraqis, the United States decided to postpone the impending air strikes against Iraq.

On December 15, Kofi Annan forwarded to the president of the Security Council reports on the work of the IAEA and UNSCOM in Iraq covering the period from November 17. The director-general of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, indicated in his report that Iraq “has provided the necessary level of cooperation” in order for the agency’s work to be “completed efficiently and effectively.” *9 However, UNSCOM  executive chairman Richard Butler reported that his commission did not receive Iraq’s full cooperation. Butler concluded that under the circumstances, UNSCOM would “not able to conduct the substantive disarmament work mandated to it by the Security Council.” *10

On December 16, U.S. president Bill Clinton announced that he had ordered strikes against military and security targets in Iraq. Operation Desert Fox began. Clinton presented Saddam Husayn’s refusal to cooperate with the UN weapons inspectors, whom he called “highly professional experts from dozens of countries,” as the principal reason behind his decision to order strikes. *11 Further elaborating on the need for American military action, Clinton said that while other states possessed weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, Iraq had repeatedly used these weapons. Clinton added that he had “no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein [sic] will use these terrible weapons again.” *12 Clinton noted that in the absence of a strong weapons inspection system, Iraq “would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons program in months, not years.” *13

Declaring the end to Operation Desert Fox three days later, Clinton announced his resolve not to allow Iraq to defy the international community by avoiding full cooperation with UNSCOM. He also praised the UN weapons inspectors for destroying weapons and missiles, which Saddam Husayn had insisted he did not possess. The U.S. president also stated that as long as Husayn’s regime remained in Baghdad, American policy on Iraq would consist of three main points: *15

First, the United States would maintain a strong military presence in the region which it would use should Iraq try to rebuild its WMD capabilities, attack its neighbors, challenge American or British aircraft patrolling the skies over northern or southern no-fly zones, or threaten the Kurdish population in northern Iraq.*15

Second, the United States would ensure that economic sanctions against Baghdad would remain in place and would support the oil-for-food program designed to allow Iraq to purchase food and medicine.*16

However, only the last point in Clinton’s stated policy touched on the return of the UN weapons inspectors to Iraq. Should Baghdad prevent UNSCOM from resuming its work, the United States would “remain vigilant and prepared to use force” if Iraq attempts to reconstitute its WMD programs.*17

Before moving into the domestic side of the American policy on Iraq, it is significant to review the fact that the main stated reason for launching Operation Desert Fox was to force Saddam Husayn to cooperate fully and unconditionally with UNSCOM. Moreover, in a letter to U.S. congressional leaders on March 3, 1999, Clinton reiterated his reason to take military action against Iraq in December 1998 as being based on the report of Richard Butler to the UN secretary-general in which he stated that “Iraq was not cooperating fully with the Commission.”*18

However, the U.S.’ post-Desert Fox policy focused on the removal of the Iraqi regime from power, and until then, containing Saddam--a policy that has come be known as “containment plus regime change.” In fact, the United States officially adopted the policy of attempting of ousting Saddam Husayn when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act into law on October 31, 1998--the same day Baghdad ceased cooperation with UNSCOM.


On September 29, 1998, a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators introduced a bill entitled the Iraq Liberation Act (ILA) to “establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq.”*19 The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously without amendment, outlines Iraq’s transgressions from its invasion of neighboring Iran in 1980 to its unilateral suspension of cooperation with UNSCOM the previous August. The act stipulates that U.S. policy should seek the removal of Saddam Husayn and assist in replacing his regime with a democratic form of government. The U.S. is also to provide military assistance to the Iraqi opposition in the amount not to exceed $97 million, in addition to funding the United States Information Agency effort to publicize the opposition’s struggle.

Concurrent with the signing of the ILA into law by President Clinton, Radio Free Iraq began broadcasting to Iraq. Then, in November 1998, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, Martin Indyk, met with a delegation of 17 representatives from Iraqi opposition parties, urging them to work jointly towards the goal of forming a new government in Baghdad. The Iraqi group identified by the United States to spearhead opposition is the London-based Iraqi National Congress (INC). Early in 1999, the United States appointed Frank Ricciardone as Special Representative for Transition in Iraq (SRTI) and charged him with uniting the INC’s political platform and facilitating Washington’s contacts with the various Iraqi groups.*20

On August 11, 1999, eight senators and congressmen who were the principal proponents of the ILA sent a letter to President Clinton expressing their “dismay over the continued drift in U.S. policy toward Iraq.”*21 They pointed to four areas to which they believe the Clinton administration had not given proper attention. The first area addresses the absence of international weapons inspections in Iraq the letter and argues that the “whole point of Operation Desert Fox was” that the world could not afford to allow Saddam Husayn to reconstitute his WMD capabilities. However, following Desert Fox the administration is still unsure of what is taking place inside Iraq.*22 Other countries have also raised this criticism. In a commentary representative of his country’s views, French journalist Alain Gresh wrote that the United States launched Operation Desert Fox to restore UNSCOM’s right to conduct its weapons inspection and OMV in Iraq. However, many months have passed without UN inspectors in Iraq and the United States seems to be very relaxed about this state of affairs.*23

The other three points in the letter to Clinton are all directed at the administration’s lack of political and material support to the Iraqi opposition outside Iraq and its unwillingness to deliver assistance to opposition inside the country.

Perhaps in response to this letter, the Clinton administration has been more visibly active in pursuing Saddam’s removal since late October 1999. Recent activities are centered on Washington’s desire to forge a unified Iraqi opposition under the umbrella of the INC that would create a broad coalition of Iraq’s main three population groups: Shi’a Arabs, Sunni Arabs, and the Kurds.

In its official declarations, the INC claims to present “a credible political alternative for all the Iraqi people without prejudice or differentiation and with full representation of all groups and communities” in the country.*24 The INC is known to Washington as a group with no anti-U.S. sentiments--as is the case with most of the Shi’a groups operating in Iran--and its leaders are not hesitant to be identified with the United States.

To this end, with direct American support and encouragement, the INC opened its first session in seven years in New York on October 29, 1999. The meeting, in which 300 delegates participated, ended four days later with an elected 65-member Central Council and a leadership team comprising seven Iraqis.*25 Incidentally, in a letter from U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs Thomas Pickering addressed to the seven leaders of the INC, only the names of three individuals match those of the group’s elected leaders.*26 The four others named by Pickering who were not listed among the seven elected INC leaders include two Shi’a Iraqi leaders. This indicates that perhaps Washington had a different INC leadership in mind--one that included Shi’as--from the elected leadership. Or, it might point to confusion among U.S. policymakers.

Hamid Bayat, a representative of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the main Iran-based Iraqi opposition Shi’a group, stated that his group’s decision not to attend the New York meeting was based on the belief that the INC gathering was not a “serious project for change in Iraq.”*27 Similar sentiments were echoed by the secular Awfaq movement, which deemed the INC’s New York meeting ill-prepared to hold discussions on the future of an organized opposition against Saddam’s regime.*28 Earlier this year, Shaykh ‘Ali ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, leader of the United Islamic Movement, a Kurdish group based in Halabja, stated the while his party was ready to attend the meeting in New York, it challenged the United States to action rather than talk.*29

According to the August 1999 congressional letter, the Kurds in northern Iraq asked for American protection to hold an opposition National Assembly inside Iraq in July, but U.S. deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott rejected their request.*30 Regarding this point, Patrick Clawson, the director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote that Iran would most likely provide the Kurds the protection promised but not delivered to them by the United States.*31

Not only is the INC’s leadership largely comprised of Kurds, but so is its fighting forces--hardly representative of Iraqi society. Since their 1996 defeat by forces loyal to the Iraqi regime, the Kurds have been engaged in internal conflicts and some of their groups are “competing for Baghdad’s favor.”*32 Even with a fighting force on the ground, the chances for an opposition military attack without American ground support, are, in the words of one Iraqi opposition leader, like buying a lottery ticket.*33  

So far, no one in U.S. policymaking circles has spoken about committing American troops to help the Iraqi opposition. Both the White House and the Pentagon have ruled out direct American military involvement in support of the internal Iraqi opposition. General Anthony Zinni, commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), who would be responsible for any American military activity against Iraq, has stated that not a single leader or person he has met in the region supports arming external opposition groups.*34 He has also ruled out American ground intervention to support the Iraqi opposition. As part of the current American diplomatic activity to bolster the INC and to signal that the administration is staying true to the ILA’s provisions, the United States has announced that a group of four Iraqis will be receiving military training at Hurlburt Field in Florida. The trainees reportedly include two former Iraqi military officers, but their training will be limited to non-combat subjects such as leadership and management of the post-Husayn military in Iraq.*35 The ILA does authorize military training for the Iraqi opposition and proponents of the move have criticized the Clinton administration for not moving toward that end. In response, Clinton has reportedly assured members of the U.S. Congress that military training will become part of the package. However, a date has yet to be set for training and U.S. Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon has stated that organizational training is a necessary step towards the formation of a fighting force.*36 Also, the INC in its New York meeting failed to discuss the military matters on its agenda, postponing the matter for future discussions in a safe haven inside Iraq.*37

Whereas the ILA represents the main vehicle for implementing the latter element in the “containment plus regime change” policy, Saddam Husayn’s moves are contained by U.S. military aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones and by continued economic sanctions.


The termination of Operation Desert Fox signaled the beginning of what one observer has appropriately termed “Operation Desert Yawn.”*38 The United States, supported only by Britain, conducted more than 150 air strikes in 1999, mostly targeting Iraqi military installations, especially radars and anti-aircraft batteries that menace American and British planes patrolling the no-fly zones. The air campaign has been so successful that recently an American official admitted that few military targets remain in the area covered by the no-fly zones and that the U.S. Air Force has sought permission to bomb targets outside of the no-fly zones.*39 The often unnoticed bombing represents the “longest continuous U.S. combat action since the Vietnam War.”*40 Yet American officials have admitted that they have no clear idea about activities inside Iraq so far as the reconstitution of WMD programs are concerned. Ironically, the bombings might have a negative effect on the OMV mechanisms installed in Iraq because many of the electronic systems installed by UNSCOM have either been damaged by the strikes or been wrecked by the Iraqis who then blame the American and British attacks.

On July 15, 1999, the Washington Post quoted an administration official who closely monitors intelligence on Iraq as saying that “we have seen no evidence of reconstruction of weapons of mass destruction.”*41 U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin stated that “with respect to our ability to monitor outside inspections, let me say that is limited; that the only really effective way is to have inspections. Having said that, I think it’s fair to say that we have no reason to believe there have been significant efforts [on the part of the Iraqi regime] to reconstitute their weapons of mass destruction program.”*42 The same uncertainty was echoed two weeks later by U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Kenneth Bacon who, when asked whether Iraq was planning to reconstitute its WMD capabilities, replied: “I don’t have good information on that now.”*43

On August 25, 1999, the White House reported to the U.S. Congress that “we are concerned by activity at Iraqi sites known to be capable of producing (weapons of mass destruction) and long-range ballistic missiles, as well as Iraq’s long-established covert procurement activity that could include dual-use items with (weapons) application.”*44 On September 2, during a press briefing in the State Department, a reporter noted the inconsistency between the White House’s alarmist view and the July statement by James Rubin in which he had claimed that no information on such activity was available. A State Department spokesman, Philip Reeker, responding to this question, stated that the White House report outlines what is known about Iraq’s WMD-related activities but, “in the absence of UN inspectors on the ground carrying out the existing Security Council mandate, the uncertainties about the meaning of the Iraqi WMD activities will persist, and as time passes, the concerns of the U.S. will increase.”*45 To that end, Reeker confirmed that the United States supports part of the on-going political efforts at the United Nations to re-establish an inspection regime in Iraq.


Since the end of Operation Desert Fox, various UN Security Council member states have tried to re-establish dialogue and cooperation between the United Nations and Iraq. Several of these states have attempted to present draft proposals to reintroduce weapons inspections and OMV into Iraq--in other words, replace UNSCOM.

On January 30, 1999, the UN Security Council called for the establishment of three panels to examine the issues regarding the situation in Iraq and make recommendations to the Security Council. These panels were: disarmament and current and future ongoing monitoring and verification issues; humanitarian issues; and prisoners of war and Kuwaiti property.*46 In March 1999, the final reports of the three panels were submitted to the Security Council for consideration.*47

The previous January, competing proposals circulated at the Security Council aimed at reconstituting inspections.*48 One draft, proposed by France and supported by China and the Russian Federation, would abolish UNSCOM, create an even more intrusive verification program, and--most importantly--suspend the economic sanctions that have been in place since the 1990-1991 Gulf War if Iraq allows UN inspections to function for a period of 60 days. The rival draft, sponsored by the Netherlands and Britain and supported by the United States, would also replace UNSCOM with a stricter United Nations Commission on Inspection and Monitoring (UNCIM)*49 but would offer only a limited suspension of sanctions after Iraq complies with the remaining conditions contained in relevant Security Council documents. However, the proposal fails to list those conditions, and without a timetable some sanctions could stay for an indefinite period of time. Malaysia is the only Security Council member that refuses to support either of the two resolutions.

The United States has stated that it will not entertain any discussion on removing sanctions until Iraq meets its obligations under Security Council resolutions 661 (1991) and 687 (1991), and other relevant resolutions. However, several officials representing the American administration have presented conflicting statements.

On June 23, 1999, Elizabeth Jones, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “As long as the current Baghdad regime is in defiance of the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) resolutions, we will never allow it to regain control of Iraq’s oil revenue,” she added that the United States supports “the British-Dutch draft because it meets our bottom line [emphasis added] criteria: real arms control; expansion of oil-for-food program on the basis of humanitarian need, insistence on a standard of full Iraqi compliance for action on sanctions.”*50 In her last point, Jones said that the United States would take action on sanctions after full Iraqi compliance. However, only a few days before Jones’ testimony, the National Security Council’s senior director of Near East and South Asian affairs, Bruce Riedel, stated that the United States will continue to ensure that Saddam Husayn never gets “his hands on Iraq’s oil wealth. That is our bottom line [emphasis added] on the UN sanctions regime. Simply put, this tyrant can never be again trusted.”*51 Reidel went on to say that Iraqi finances must be under United Nations control until “we’re all satisfied that there is a government [in Iraq that is] at peace with its neighbors and its own people.”*52

The “bottom line” in the current American policy on Iraq seems to shift according to the domestic and international circumstances to which the Clinton administration wants to respond. Dangerously, one element that ought determine United States policy vis-à-vis Iraq remains unknown: whether Saddam Husayn is planning or is actually reconstituting his WMD programs.


According to State Department spokesman James Rubin, the United States remains prepared to use military force if Saddam Husayn rebuilds his WMD programs. This, Rubin stated, is the best tool that the United States has to contain the Iraqi regime at this point.*53

The only problem is that Washington is sending conflicting messages about Iraq’s WMD plans. Obviously, without onsite inspections and a very intrusive OMV program, it is close to impossible to ascertain what Saddam Husayn is trying to do. Based on his record, he can be extremely unpredictable. Should the United States discover that Saddam has indeed reconstituted one or more elements of his WMD programs, it may be too late for preventive action, perhaps not for the United States itself, but for Iran and Israel, the two most likely targets of an Iraqi attack.

Moreover, it is not certain whether American policy currently favors following UN Security Council resolutions that the United States has not only voted for, but also encouraged other states to endorse. Sanctions are not an end in and of themselves. They represent a means to an end, and that end is not the overthrow of Husayn’s regime.  Rather, it is compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions. If the United States can gather sufficient international backing to indict Saddam Husayn and senior members of his regime for war crimes, then it would be legally acceptable to pursue the removal of the Iraqi leadership as part of the international discussions on Iraq.*54 Otherwise, “the bottom line” referred to by Riedel becomes a nonstarter in the Security Council. Also, as long as the United States insists that the removal of Saddam Husayn is a prerequisite for the easing of economic sanctions against Iraq, there is no incentive for Saddam to accept a new UN inspection and monitoring system.

The removal of Saddam from power represents the best-case scenario not only for the United States but for most countries in the region. But to remove Saddam’s regime, major efforts by a unified internal opposition backed by substantial military and economic assistance from abroad are needed. Currently, neither is forthcoming. There is no serious internal military threat nor is there a commitment from neighboring states to become the staging ground for military operations against Iraq. Comparing the situation in Iraq to that of Afghanistan in the 1980s, there is no country, not even Kuwait, which is willing to become what Pakistan became for the Afghan Mujahidin.

The Arab states, with the possible exception of Kuwait, are openly frustrated with the current stalemate over Iraq. Most Arabs are displeased with the human effects of the economic sanctions on the Iraqi population. This sentiment was amplified by the Arab League in its January 1999 communiqué which calls for international efforts to lift the sanctions as soon as possible.*55 The concern for Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait goes beyond their uneasiness about the suffering of the Iraqis. These regimes believe that a backlash from their own populations might blame them for complicity in the suffering of the Iraqi people. Other Arab states such as Egypt link the issue of sanctions against Iraq to the larger problems in the Middle East. The decision by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to boycott the November 1, 1999 summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, and President Clinton in Oslo is partly related to Egypt’s disapproval of U.S. policy on Iraq.*56

It is clear that Saddam Husayn is winning the propaganda war. Not only are the Arabs raising their voices about the suffering of the Iraqi people, but the UN secretary-general has accused the United States of using its muscle to force the UN committee in charge of sanctions to withhold humanitarian aid to Iraq.*57 Talking to ABC News, Fabrice von Sponeck, the embattled UN humanitarian aid coordinator for Iraq, stated that while the Baghdad regime blames the death of Iraqi children on the sanctions and others blame the suffering on Saddam Husayn, the reality which has to be confronted is how to avoid the “unnecessary death of children.”*58 Even staunch opponents of the Iraqi regime, such as former UNSCOM chief Richard Butler, have gone on record as being against sanctions. Butler has stated that sanctions “seem to hurt the wrong people and don’t necessarily bring about compliance.”*59

The current stalemate over weapons inspection in Iraq has also damaged the prospects for any future international safeguard system against a belligerent state with WMD capabilities. The split among P-5 members of the Security Council can only encourage proliferation. Most importantly, the contradictions now apparent in U.S. policy are themselves becoming a threat to the resolve of other states to abide by their commitment regarding Iraq.

There is no question that the best case scenario for both the Iraqi people and  Middle East states would be the end of Saddam Husayn’s regime. However, to achieve this aim, the international community, and in particular the United States, must be prepared to absorb some of the damage. U.S. congressman Benjamin Gilman, speaking before the INC assembly in New York, compared the ruthlessness of the current Iraqi regime to Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. Then he stated that “America made great sacrifices to end those regimes, and we owe it to the people of Iraq to help you free your country as well.”*60 If the United States is serious about helping the Iraqis remove Saddam’s brutal regime, then it must be ready to make sacrifices. By prolonging the agony of ordinary Iraqis who not only have to bear the burden of living under Husayn’s rule but are also bearing the brunt of the sanctions, the United States is neither achieving the policies stipulated under the ILA nor living up to its international obligations.

Until the United States decides to take firm action to remove Saddam Husayn from power--a very unlikely scenario given the upcoming American presidential election in 2000--Washington ought to lead the charge in the UN Security Council to re-establish on inspection and monitoring system in Iraq.



*1 - Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, United States Senate, document S.2525, September 29, 1998.

*2 - Remarks made by the U.S. president, William Clinton, “Press Conference by President Clinton and President Mubarak of Egypt” The White House, July 1, 1999, Office of the Press Secretary

*3 - The UN Security Council in its resolution 1194 of September 9, 1998 condemned this act by Iraq.  For a chronology of main events leading to Operation Desert Fox and beyond, see.  Also see Anthony H. Cordesman, Iraq and the War of Sanctions, (Westport: Praeger, 1999), pp. 175-393.

*4 - Cordesman, Iraq and the War of Sanctions, p. 351.

*5 - See UN Security Council Resolution 1205 of November 5, 1998, adopted unanimously with no abstentions.

*6 - By November 3, 1998, United States forces in the Persian Gulf region included 21 warships and 174 aircraft, see Cordesman, Iraq and the War of Sanctions, p. 354.

*7 - See UN Security Council press release SC/6596 of November 15, 1998.

*8 - Quoted in Cordesman, Iraq and the War of Sanctions, p. 363.

*9 - UN Security Council document S/1998/1172 of December 15, 1998.

*10 -  Ibid.

*11 -  Statement by the President, The White House, December 16, 1998, Office of the Press Secretary.

*12 - Ibid.

*13 - Ibid.

*14 - Remarks by the President on Iraq, The White House, December 19, 1998, Office of the Press Secretary.

*15 - Ibid.

*16 - Ibid.

*17 - Ibid.

*18 -  “Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on Iraq’s Compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions” Public Papers of the Presidents, March 3, 1999

*19 -  “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998” United States Senate, document S.2525, September 29, 1998.  The ILA was introduced by six Republican senators (Lott, McCain, Helms, Shelby, Brownback and Kyl) and two Democratic senators (Kerrey and Lieberman).

*20 - For an official U.S. account of the steps taken towards the implementation of the ILA see “Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on Iraq’s Compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions” Public Papers of the Presidents, March 3, 1999

*21 - The letter is signed by U.S. Senators Lott, Leiberman, Helms, Kerrey, Shelby and Brownback and US House of Representative members Gilman and Berman. 

*22 - Ibid.

*23 - Le Monde diplomatique “Iraq’ silent agony” Alain Gresh, July 1999.

*24 - From the official webpage of the INC.

*25 - According to the official press statement of the INC, the leadership team of the congress elected on November 1, 1999, comprises of the following individuals: Dr. Ayad Allawi (Iraqi National Accord), Mr. Riyad al-Yawir (Independent), Sharif ‘Ali bin al-Husayn (Constitutional Monarchy Movement), Dr. Ahmad Chababi (Independent), Shaykh Muhammad Muhammad ‘Ali (Independent, Islamic), Dr. Latif Rashid (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) and Mr. Hoshyar Zibari (Kurdistan Democratic Party).

*26 - Thomas Pickering’s letter to the INC leadership, dated November 1, 1999 is addressed to the following individuals: Dr. Ayad Allawi (Iraqi National Accord), Sayyid Dr. Muhammad Bahr al-‘Ulum (Ahl al-Bayt Center), Mr. Mas’ud Barzani (Kurdistan Democratic Congress), Dr. Ahmad al-Chalabi (Iraqi National Congress), Sayyid Baqr al-Hakim (Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq), Sharif ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn (Constitutional Monarchist Movement) and Mr. Jalal al-Talabani (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan).

*27 - Jordan Times, “Iraqi opposition begins strategy debate in NY,” November 1, 1999.

*28 - Middle East Newsline, “Iraqi Opposition Meeting in Danger,” October 24, 1999

*29 - Al-Hayat, “Nurid af’alan min al-Amirikiin la aqwalan,” October 25, 1999, p. 10.

*30 - For a text of this letter see

*31 - Patrick Clawson, “Stealth Bombing: Our Silent War in Iraq,” September 6, 1999

*32 - Daniel L. Byman and Kenneth M. Pollack “Supporting the Iraqi Opposition” in Iraq Strategy Review: Options for U.S. Policy, edited by Patrick L. Clawson (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1998), p 64.

*33 - Comments by Ghassan Atiyyah, quoted in Jon B. Alterman and Andrew Parasiliti “U.S. Policy on Iraq: A Dangerous Drift,” Middle East Economic Survery, October 18, 1999

*34 - General Zinni is quoted in Le Monde diplomatique “Iraq’ silent agony” Alain Gresh, July 1999

*35 - BBC “US military to train Iraqi opposition,” October 29, 1999

*36 - Middle East Newsline “Iraqi Dissidents Will Begin U.S. Training,” October 29, 1999; also see BBC “US military to train Iraqi opposition,” October 29, 1999

*37 - Jordan Times, “Iraqi opposition meeting skips military discussions,” November 1, 1999

*38 - The term “Desert Yawn” is quoted from Patrick Clawson, “Stealth Bombing: Our Silent War in Iraq,” September 6, 1999

*39 - The Wall Street Journal “Iraq-Attack Dilemma” by Ronald G. Shafer, October 22, 1999, p. 1.

*40 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch “Our Un-War With Iraq Drags On, No End In Sight” by David Wood, September 23, 1999.

*41 - The Washington Post “Baghdad Weapons Program Dormant” Karen De Young, July 15, 1999, p. A19.

*42 - U.S. Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, July 15, 1999

*43 - U.S. Department of Defense, Pentagon Regular Briefing, August 3, 1999

*44 - Reported in Washington Times “Saddam Secretly Making Weapons” Bill Gertz, September 2, 1999, p. 1.

*45 - U.S. Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, September 2, 1999

*46 - UN Security Council document S/1999/100 of January 30, 1999.

*47 - UN Security Council document S/1999/356 of March 30, 1999.

*48 - For an examination of the UK-Dutch and the French draft resolutions on Iraq see Douglas Scott “Iraq: Highlights of the Two Draft Resolutions Now Under Discussion in the Security Council” (to be published in Arms Control Today)

*49 - As this paper was being prepared for publication, reports from the UN indicated that a new version of the UK-Dutch draft has been in circulated among member states of the UN.  This resolution calls for the establishment of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to replace UNSCOM.  The new proposal was designed to secure the French vote in the Security Council; it has been assumed that Russia and perhaps China would abstain from voting on this draft resolution.  However, in an unexpected turn of events, hours before the UN Security Council was to have began voting on the revised UK-Dutch draft proposal on December 14, 1999, France asked for a delay.  The French decision likely is based on consideration that if Paris supports the draft resolution, Iraq would retaliate keeping France out of future economic deals.  For more on UNMOVIC, see David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, “Reestablishing UN Security Council Weapons Inspections in Iraq: Piecing Together a Coherent Picture of Progress” in Institute for Science and International Security Issue Brief, November 24, 1999

*50 - State Department’s Jones On Iraq Policy at Senate Hearing, June 23, 1999

*51 - NSC Director Outlines U.S. Policy Toward Iraq, June 18, 1999

*52 - Ibid.

*53 - U.S. Department of State, Press Briefing by Spokesman James Rubin, September 27, 1999

*54 - For the transcript of Scheffer’s speech laying out the US case for prosecuting Saddam Husayn for war crimes, see “Scheffer remarks at Iraqi National Assembly,” October 29, 1999; Also see “Prosecution of Iraqi Regime,” October 27, 1999

*55 - BBC “Arab League foreign ministers’ final communiqué,” January 25, 1999. The call for lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq was reemphasized by most Arab states in their addressed before the UN General Assembly in September 1999.

*56 - Middle East Newsline “Egypt, U.S. Tension Could Effect Strategic Talks,” October 27, 1999  

*57 - The Washington Post “Annan Confronts U.S. on Iraq,” Colum Lynch, October 25, 1999, p. A22.

*58 - ABC News “Iraqis Confident That Sanctions Will Soon Weaken,” October 27, 1999

*59 - Arms Control Today, “The Lessons and Legacy of UNSCOM: An Interview With Ambassador Richard Butler,” June 1999, p. 7.

*60 -   “Remarks of Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, Chairman, Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives,” October 31, 1999    


From Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, (March 2000). Copyright MERIA, republication only with permission.
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