U.S. may postpone Iraq assault because of Israel-PA crisis

U.S. may postpone Iraq assault because of Israel-PA crisis

Jaap van Wesel / Washington

Spiraling Palestinian-Israeli violence could induce the U.S. to delay its planned offensive against Iraq – but certainly not cancel the administration’s plan to “change the regime” in Baghdad.

Robert Pelletreau, former assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, told The Report that the U.S. might now put off military action against Saddam – in part, also, because of the “reservations of the Arab world.” But he and other Middle East and political experts agree that leaving Saddam in office is no longer an option. “It would be nothing less than a disaster for American leadership and credibility if it would change its mind about toppling Saddam,” says Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Inaction would seriously undermine American credibility and have disastrous consequences for America’s status in the world, the experts agree.

Some Washington observers believe the “reconciliation” between the Saudi and Iraqi delegation heads at the late-March Arab summit in Beirut may work to Israel’s advantage. If the U.S. is not able to get Arab support for action against Iraq, they posit, then the Arabs cannot ask for U.S. pressure on Israel as a price for such participation or acquiescence.

Jaap van Wesel /Washington

Copyright c 2002. The Jerusalem Report

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