British Prime Minister Tony Blair has issued a clear warning to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that he could face the wrath of the West but quickly ran into heightened fire from members of his own Labor Party.
"(Saddam) should not underestimate the determination of the international community to prevent him developing and using weapons of mass destruction," Blair wrote in Wednesday's Daily Express.
However, Blair faces opposition, not just from European allies, but from his own rank-and-file. On Wednesday, a parliamentary debate was suspended after politicians bitterly debated over Iraq with a Foreign Office minister.
In the U.S, hawkish members of President George W. Bush's administration have suggested some sort of military operation against Saddam Hussein was possible given Iraq's continual refusal to let U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country.
In Britain too, the rhetoric has hardened in the past month.
"If we fail to continue to restrain Saddam Hussein, what is already a volatile situation in the region could easily become a world crisis," Blair wrote. "Saddam is continuing his chemical and biological weapons programs and is developing the long-range missiles to deliver them."
Fifty-two members of the British parliament have signed a motion expressing "deep unease" at the prospect of Britain supporting military action in Iraq.
Blair, who noted international weapons inspectors found anthrax and other biological weapons in Iraq after the Gulf War in 1991, said Saddam would have no compunction in using them.
However, he conveyed no decision on a military strike against Iraq had yet been taken and Bush was consulting widely with allies.
"Though Iraq seems far away and Saddam, for the moment, is on the defensive, it is in the interests of us all to face up to these threats with determination and resolve," Blair further expressed.
"President Bush will consult widely with his allies. Saddam Hussein would be wise not to mistake this for weakness." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )