War In 10 Days!

The Sun, UK

by Trevor Kavanagh

3 March 2003

WAR against Saddam Hussein will start as soon
as next Thursday, The Sun can reveal.

A crucial UN Security Council vote for war is now likely a week this Wednesday. Allied commanders could order air strikes against the dictator hours later. A top US intelligence source said last night: “The moment we know we have the nine votes needed, we will go for it. The military won’t hang around after that.”

Allied chiefs expect little resistance from Iraq’s army.

The countdown to war became unstoppable when America spotted the first signs of support from Russia and China — both permanent members of the UN Security Council. Despite publicly warning against war, they are keen not to risk a valuable relationship with the US. Meanwhile allied commanders warned Saddam last night: “It will be soon, it will be swift and it will be short.”

And a top US intelligence source said yesterday: “American forces will go in hard and fast and we expect minimal resistance from the Iraqi military.

“They have no interest in keeping Saddam in power.”

The UN Security Council vote on a war is likely to be held on Wednesday week. It will follow this Friday’s report by UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, who is expected to declare that Saddam has failed to comply fully with orders to disarm. The intelligence source said: “The timing is tactical. The moment we know we have the nine votes needed, we will go for it. “The military won’t hang around — it could be a matter of hours.”

Devastating air strikes will be launched against key Iraqi command and control centres. Pinpoint bombing with awesome new hi-tech missiles will knock out power supplies, computers and communications networks. Saddam’s palaces and other known hiding places will be targeted. And unmanned Predator aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles will hunt down the fleeing dictator.

Ground troops will go in as soon as possible after the bomb blitz.

Intelligence sources, phone taps and satellite surveillance have picked up evidence that demoralised Iraqi commanders will lay down their arms at the first sound of gunfire. A source said: They know defeat is inevitable — and some will welcome it. They have nothing to gain from keeping Saddam in power a moment longer or inflicting further damage on their own country.
We do not expect fighting in the streets of Baghdad.

One of the first casualties of the conflict — apart from Saddam — is likely to be French President Jacques “The Worm” Chirac. Relations between America and France are icy after Chirac’s attempts to sabotage UN moves to disarm Saddam.

In a blistering phone call last week, President George Bush told the posturing Frenchman: “President Chirac, we will not forgive and we will not forget.”

War in the Gulf became inevitable when American officials reported a shift in the previously hardline attitudes of Russia and China. Both are members of P5 — the United Nation’s five-strong Permanent Security Council. Negotiations are delicate, with both countries signalling they are ready to abstain or even veto action. But despite their public stance against unilateral action without UN backing, the two nations are reluctant to put a valuable new relationship with America at risk for the sake of Saddam.

A White House source told The Sun last night: “Russia and China have to make a power choice. On a matter of such significance as war, a country cannot sit on the Security Council and say it does not know what to do.” A vote by Russia and China, along with Britain and America, in favour of a second UN resolution on military action would cut the ground from under Chirac. And it would sweep wobbly African states Guinea, Cameroon and Angola — along with Mexico, Chile and Pakistan — into the pro-war majority.

Leaders are being reminded of the huge sums in US aid which could be at risk if they vote with France. Others who have stashed billions of corruptly-gained dollars in Swiss banks have been warned that American intelligence agencies know their account numbers.

Chirac faces a humiliating climbdown in front of the world — or risks total isolation by using his veto at the UN. If he votes against action, America will sweep his protest aside and go to war immediately. A senior diplomat said: “More sophisticated French politicians are appalled with the way Chirac has gone out on a limb.

“They are desperate to avoid a vote of any sort in the UN. “Chirac is hitting the phones, piling pressure on Russia and the African states to give the weapons inspectors more time.”

The shaming of Chirac would have sweeping global repercussions. The Franco-German alliance which has dominated the European Union for half a century risks being smashed. Britain could move into the driving seat in a new alliance with Italy, Spain, Holland and the ten new states due to join next year." [Emphasis added]