EXILE ARMY ORGANIZES AGAINST SADDAM
International News Analysis Today Special Report
By Toby Westerman
September 1, 2002
The Iraqi Military Council has plans to recruit up "thousands of volunteers" to fight alongside American troops in any coming invasion of Iraq, according to Deutsche Welle, Germany's official broadcasting service.
Major General Tawfiq al-Yassiri, spokesman and organizer of the Council, has claimed that as many as 200,000 men could eventually join his force, adding that "as a first step, not more than five thousand" would be needed.
Al-Yassiri stated that he is looking for specialists in "infantry, armament, anti-tank, and control of the operations of weapons of mass destruction," Deutsche Welle reported.
The center of the Council's organizing and recruiting efforts is in London. The group was founded in the British capital July 2002 by "scores of exiled Iraqi officers," and led by a group of 15 senior commanders. The Council also coordinates its recruitment efforts from its London headquarters.
Satellite offices are in the United States, Australia, and Scandinavia.
The Council has advertised for recruits in a popular London-based Arabic newspaper in opposition to Saddam Hussein, and, according to al-Yassiri, the new organization has been "inundated" with messages of support from Iraqis in exile, Deutsche Welle reported.
Officially, the British government claims to be "unaware" of the Council's recruitment drive, and has left any question of illegality to local police, Deutsche Welle noted.
When asked if he believed that the Council's recruitment drive was legal, and if he would encounter problems with the British authorities, al-Yassiri stated that, "we hope it will be okay," reported Deutsche Welle.
The Council is encouraging defections from the Iraqi army, and is dedicated to the establishment of a democratic government following the ouster of Saddam's government, al-Yassiri stated, according to a recent report from the BBC.
The Council is not a rival to any existing exile political group, but is "at the service of the Iraqi opposition," al-Yassiri declared.
The Council is comprised of all of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups. "We made sure that the military council will represent all the different factions" of the present Iraqi army stated al-Yassiri, the BBC reported.
Al-Yassiri, wounded in an uprising against the Saddam Hussein regime in 1991, asserted that morale is low in the Iraqi army, and that defections from the military would deal a mortal wound to Saddam's rule, according to the BBC.
The choice of London for the headquarters of the Council's efforts to aid the U.S. in ousting Saddam stands in sharp contrast with Britain's growing antipathy toward the prospect of an American attack on Iraq.
Not only is there heated debate within British Prime Minister Tony Blair's ruling coalition over an attack on Iraq, but the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has unhesitatingly condemned U.S. attempt to oust Saddam Hussein.
Williams, a theological liberal, has labeled any U.S. attack on the Saddam Hussein regime "illegal" and "immoral," and believes that public opinion is turning his way.
Williams asserts that, "it is plain that public opinion in Britain and in America can turn, is turning, and can turn further," Deutsche Welle reported.
While opponents of the Saddam Hussein regime are either beginning to organize or are divided over how to deal the Iraqi dictator, Baghdad's friends are standing firm.
The clearest example of international support for Saddam comes from Russia, one of America's closest partners in the war on terror.
According to recent press reports, Moscow is about to sign a 40 billion-dollar economic cooperation agreement with Baghdad, continuing a history of support for Saddam's regime, which extends well back into the Soviet era.
© 2002 International News Analysis Today
Toby Westerman - All Rights Reserved
Toby Westerman is editor/publisher of International News Analysis Today - http"//www.inatoday.com - and its sister print report, International News Analysis. Westerman's sources include a wide variety of foreign language periodicals and short wave radio broadcasts, and he concentrates on topics ignored or suppressed by the dominant media. Westerman's work is independent of the media pundits and conventional wisdom - either from the right or the left.