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Arabs Won't Join a War on Iraq, Official Says

Head of a key grouping in the region warns of depth of feeling there against America.

October 16, 2002|From Reuters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said in remarks published Tuesday that Arab states would not take part in any U.S.-led attack on Iraq and warned that it is dangerous to underestimate anti-U.S. sentiments in the region.

President Bush accuses Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of developing weapons of mass destruction and is seeking a tough U.N. resolution on arms inspections authorizing a military strike against Iraq.

Washington is also trying to build an international coalition, including Arab states, to support a possible strike.

"As for using the military option or any force against Iraq, what is certain is that no one in the Arab world accepts or sanctions such a move," Moussa told the United Arab Emirates' Arabic-language Al Khaleej newspaper.

"Arab states cannot be part of or join an alliance directed against an Arab nation without justification. And if, as some suggest, the justification is weapons of mass destruction, then the logical solution lies in the return of inspectors to Iraq to see for themselves," he said.

Baghdad denies it has nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and has agreed to readmit U.N. arms inspectors.

Moussa said any attack on Iraq would fuel strong anti-U.S. feeling in the Arab world over what is seen as Washington's blind support for Israel.

"Military action will certainly be a precursor to events that may be dangerous in the region, particularly in light of the extreme and unprecedented Arab anger, which has been underestimated ... and it should not be underestimated," he said.

Asked if Gulf Arab states that have defense pacts with the United States would allow Washington to use their bases to attack Iraq, Moussa said, "I don't think that any military agreement with the United States contains articles on helping to attack Iraq."

Saudi Arabia, a key regional U.S. ally and a launch pad for the 1991 Persian Gulf War to oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait, said Monday it opposed war on Iraq and would not participate in any strike on its neighbor.

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