The Iraq Crisis

INVASION DELAYED?

Canada weighs in with a proposal that could finally end the bitter United Nations dispute

TOM FENNELL March 3 2003
The Iraq Crisis

INVASION DELAYED?

Canada weighs in with a proposal that could finally end the bitter United Nations dispute

TOM FENNELL March 3 2003

INVASION DELAYED?

The Iraq Crisis

Canada weighs in with a proposal that could finally end the bitter United Nations dispute

TOM FENNELL

SOME OF THE WOMEN in flowing black chadors, filling canvas bags with flour and milk powder at a Baghdad grocery store last week, purchased so much they needed wheelbarrows to haul the food home. Saddam Hussein had warned the Iraqi people that war with the “evil aggressor” is near, but such panic buying may be premature. George W. Bush’s plan to drive Saddam from Iraq has bogged down at the United Nations, in the face of massive anti-war demonstrations and opposition from France and Russia, two Security Council members that could use a veto to override any motion authorizing war to remove Saddam.

Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix is expected to deliver a report to the world body on March 7, to be followed by another debate over whether inspectors need more time to determine if Saddam possesses nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. In a bid to speed up the process, the U.S. and Britain are expected to submit a new resolution to the Security Council this week. It will be blunt, stipulating that Iraq is in “further material breach” of Security Council Resolution 1441, which calls on it to disarm or face serious consequences, possibly including the use of military force. But Russia and France notwithstanding, the U.S. has failed to convince the majority of countries on the 15-nation Security Council to support a second resolution. To bridge the deepening divisions within the UN, Canada has put forward a proposal that a firm deadline be established, making it clear that Saddam must comply with UN demands to disarm, possibly by midApril, or Resolution 1441 would take effect. If accepted, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham told Maclean’s, the proposal could lead to a consensus. “Saddam would be forced into recognizing that he can’t fool around if we had clearer guidelines,” Graham said. “Everyone would know where we’re headed.”

In addition to facing stiff opposition in the UN, the U.S. has been slowed by Turkey, which is seeking $US30 billion in financial aid in exchange for allowing more U.S. troops into the country. The two nations are getting closer to an agreement, but without Turkey’s co-operation, any attack against Baghdad from the north would have to be scaled back. The U.S. may still choose to move unilaterally, but the protracted debate in the UN has given Saddam breathing space even as he has been buoyed by worldwide anti-war demonstrations. But with more than 150,000 U.S. and British troops already in the Gulf region, Washington’s intention remains clear— and Bush said protests will not deter him. “Some in the world,” he said, “don’t view Saddam as a risk to peace. I respectfully disagree.”

‘Saddam would be forced into recognizing that he can’t fool around if we had clearer guidelines’