Saddam meets top aides as Mubarak urges Iraq to disarm
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein met his top aides and military commanders Thursday to prepare for a possible war with the United States and to discuss how to "inflict defeat on the evil aggressors."
The Iraqi leader met with his deputy Izzat Ibrahim, his son Qusai, commander of the elite Republican Guards, Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Sultan Hashim Ahmed and a group of "fighters and researchers."
"They discussed subjects relating to the preparations of our courageous armed forces and of the Iraqi people to confront the U.S. threats of aggression against Iraq," radio stations and the Iraqi News Agency reported.
"They also discussed ways to enhance Iraqis' capabilities and steadfastness, in a way that provides all Iraqis with the chance to gain the honor of defending Iraq ... and enabling them to inflict defeat on the evil aggressors and achieve victory over them," the agency said.
Meanwhile, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak warned that a war against Iraq would ignite "a gigantic fire" of revenge attacks by terrorists. The Egyptian leader said war is now inevitable unless Saddam Hussein agrees to give up weapons of mass destruction.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro published Thursday, Mubarak said US-led military action against Iraq could now only be prevented if Saddam Hussein was encouraged to disarm.
"No one can stop the United States ... To stop a war it is necessary to help Saddam to disarm," Mubarak said.
But he added that he was convinced US President George W. Bush would prefer a peaceful solution to the stand-off, to prevent the loss of US forces in battle and the deaths of innocent Iraqi civilians.
"Every time, he (Bush) has told me: 'I would like to sort out this problem without resorting to force.' I am convinced by the sincerity of the US president," Mubarak said.
He also rejected proposals from France to increase the number of UN weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq as an alternative to war, saying what was needed was full cooperation with the UN arms inspectors.
He warned, though, that a war could have potentially catastrophic consequences for global security. "A war in Iraq will set off a great fire of terrorism," cautioned Mubarak. "The dead of a war against Iraq and its destructions will form the ground for the next terrorist generation." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)