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Iraq prepares for American Blitz

Interview with Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz 

by Hala Jaber and David Wastell 

Sunday Telegraph, 28 October 2001 
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca   5 November 2001

Tariq Aziz: we are ready for war Exclusive: Saddam's deputy says West faces 'grave' consequences Iraq prepares for American blitz as anthrax postal campaign escalates US defence minister warns Britain 'The terrorists will attack you next'

Iraq said yesterday that it expects to be attacked by America and Britain, and warned of the "grave" consequences if any attempt was made to topple Saddam Hussein from power.

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi deputy prime minister, alleged that the Baghdad regime had learned of plans by the West to strike "300 targets with 1,000 missiles".

He accused America and Britain of trying to remove Saddam under the pretext of waging war against terrorism. "We know that they are preparing for such an attack," he said. "We are watching what is being said and what is being done in the United States and in Britain and we know that it is just a matter of time before such an attack.

"That is going to be a very grave mistake. The Arab world is not going to tolerate that. Many countries are not going to tolerate that because they know that this is unjust and is sheer aggression."

He said that while he did not expect an attack against Iraq to result in Arab military retaliation, it would cause the painstakingly assembled coalition against terrorism to fall apart, isolating Britain and America.

Mr Aziz was speaking as America and Britain completed their third week of bombing attacks on Afghanistan with the heaviest assault yet on the capital, Kabul. US warplanes also pounded Taliban positions across Afghanistan in an assault lasting more than 11 hours, reportedly killing nine people.

Meanwhile, Paul Wolfowitz, America's deputy defence secretary, told The Sunday Telegraph that Britons should brace themselves for biological weapons attacks. He said that the West - and Britain and America in particular - should expect a large-scale chemical or biological weapons assault. He believes that al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's terrorist group, will target civilians, hoping for tens of thousands of casualties.

"It would be prudent to anticipate that these murderers will attack the UK as well, and more so because you are so closely identified with us." Mr Wolfowitz's remarks are a sharp contrast to the British Government's repeated claim that such an attack is unlikely.

Mr Wolfowitz suspects that Iraq could have been involved in the current anthrax attacks. "We know they have worked on weapons of mass destruction, as have a number of other states that support terror," he said. Mr Aziz dismissed such allegations. "This is not only baseless, it is also ridiculous," he said, adding that while Iraq developed anthrax in the 1980s, the programme was destroyed in the 1990s during the United Nations inspections. "When they decide to attack Iraq it will be for their own agenda because they want to replace this government because it is independent and will not bow. It will not be because of what is happening in the US."

Mr Aziz was sceptical of Tony Blair's reassurances that Britain would not participate in any attacks against Iraq without absolute proof of its direct involvement in the September 11 attacks. "I hope they will make a wise judgment, but I cannot be sure that they will not follow suit with the Americans," he said.

In an attempt to help the Americans with their presentation of the Afghan campaign, Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's chief media adviser, flew to Washington secretly last week for talks with Karen Hughes, his opposite number.

Mr Wolfowitz said the Pentagon assumed that Kabul would not be captured from the Taliban before winter. "Don't build a plan that depends on getting something done by Christmas," he said. With only three weeks until the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and with snow already arriving in the higher mountains, American officials are increasingly pessimistic about creating a large Taliban-free zone this year.


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