United States Recruits Iraqi Army Officers
On Sunday, further light on the upcoming convention of exiled Iraqi army officers which is due to be held in Washington shortly, was shed. The Bush administration is funding the conference in the framework of the build up to a widely anticipated military operation against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to the British Independent newspaper. It is expected that both U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will address the conference.
United States military planners are eager to obtain as much information as possible from the exiled officers with regards to Saddam's capabilities, the weekly added. It is believed that by hosting the gathering, Washington also wishes to send a message "to the Iraqi dictator that it is serious about getting rid of him".
The paper quoted a State Department source as saying "we are conveying our seriousness about the new Iraq". "It shows that we have the support of more than one group".
The meeting of an estimated 200 high-ranking officers from various branches of the Iraqi military is scheduled to take place in Washington later this spring. It has been organized by the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC), the so-called umbrella organization committed to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Meanwhile, INC Spokesman Sharif Ali bin al Hussein told the paper "we have received a very enthusiastic response from officers inside and outside Iraq". "This will be the largest conference of officers in opposition to Saddam ever held".
"The objective of the conference is to mobilize Iraqi officers and unite them with democratic Iraqi opposition to develop a plan of action to confront Saddam's regime", Sharif Ali made clear.
In a related development, British Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed in Australia, while attending the Commonwealth Summit, that he plans on visiting Washington in the near future to discuss Iraq with U.S. President George W. Bush. Blair said it was important to stop Iraq using chemical or nuclear weapons. "The world had to deal quickly with Saddam", he said. (Albawaba.com)
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