Will Saddam Use Chemical And Biological Weapons?
He looked like a monster from space — a U.S. Soldier dressed in his chemical-resistant suit, carrying about one hundred pounds of gear, his assault rifle equipped with grenade launcher protruding above his shoulder — an ungainly, heavy, protective suit designed to fend off whatever lethal cocktail of mustard gas, sarin, ricin, or VX Saddam’s soldiers send at him.
But in only minutes in such a suit, with the blowing sand, high temperatures and humidity, soldiers are quickly exhausted, rendered virtually immobile. It is almost impossible to move except at an ungainly shuffle in such a suit, which must completely cover the soldier, and provide an integral gas mask. It restricts his movement, and his vision.
In other words, should large concentrations of our troops come under chemical or biological attacks as they wage war against the Iraqi military, such attacks may well stall or completely halt their advance.
When Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations recently, he showed an Iraqi jet, a French-built Mirage, which had been equipped with spray nozzles for dispensing such weapons, and also showed pictures of unmanned drones which can do the same. Can such vehicles reach US Aircraft carriers or support ships in the gulf? They have the range, certainly, the only question being whether they could penetrate US defenses.
A long time ago, Saddam and Aziz left no doubt they would once again attempt to widen any war by attacking Israel. As “five minutes to midnight” passes, according to Hans Blix, the Israelis are busily insuring that their anti-scud missiles are in place and operative.
This time, no Israeli leader has assured the United States that, if Saddam launches chemical (gas, for example) or biological weapons against Israel, they will sit on their hands and fail to respond. To the contrary, the Israelis have made it clear that “all options are on the table,” meaning Israel might resort to using nuclear bombs against Saddam’s forces.
The US has likewise sent a clear threat to Saddam that there is no weapon in the US arsenal that would be withheld if its use proved necessary. We could be on the cusp of the first use of nuclear weapons since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Military commanders know the likelihood of Saddam’s using biological and chemical weapons is very high. They know he has already sent orders to forward commanders to do so, and they know he has the means to do so. Should they delude themselves he lacks the will?
This war will be very different from Desert Storm.
Then, Saddam and his army fought to hang on to Kuwait. Now, they will be fighting for their very lives; fighting to hang on to thirty years of entrenched dictatorial power.
Then, they fought behind traditional Russian defensive deployment; huge sand berms, hundreds of tanks bunkered into position as stationary artillery pieces, long-range artillery, and mobile units of the Republican Guard placed in rear areas as rapid reaction reserves. The fighting took place in a sprawling desert region.
This time, Saddam and his cronies hope the US troops can be drawn into urban warfare. Deputy Prime Minister Tarik Aziz said recently Iraqis would fight in the streets of Baghdad, in Mosul, and every other Iraqi city. One high ranking military commander spoke of their thousands of “martyrs,” who will become suicide attackers. And, he said, “Not only in Iraq.”
There is no reason to believe Saddam will not use the lethal weapons he claims he does not have. He has used them several times in the past; during the Iran-Iraq war, and against his own Kurdish citizens during Kurdish uprisings.
Experts point out, however, that perhaps only a select number of officers and non-coms have been trained in the usage of such weapons, and that, unlike US soldiers, the Iraqis have not been vaccinated against such agents as anthrax and smallpox, and must thus face the possibility that their weapons may be as dangerous to themselves as to those against whom they will use them.
The Iraqis favored a “cocktail” of various types of chemical agents, mixed with bio-toxic ones. Early on during the Iraq-Iran war, they used a Soviet-produced form of Mycotoxins called “yellow rain.” It is ridiculous that on the one hand, Saddam and his henchmen continually say they have no such weapons, yet threaten to use them!
When weapons inspectors first descended on Iraq following the Gulf War, they found Iraq had about four tons of VX, one of the most lethal of all nerve agents; that they possessed growth media sufficient to produce 20,000 liters of biological agents, and 15,000 hollow artillery shells (such as those discovered by inspectors recently) to deliver them. They had 6,000 chemical warfare bombs, and substantial materials which are precursors to nuclear weapons, such as aluminum tubes and chlorine. They have never produced evidence that these things were destroyed, or no longer exist.
Will Saddam use chemical and biological weapons? With eighteen large 18-wheel trucks moving about the country (the size of California), containing chemical weapons factories; with bunkers scattered about the western desert; with such stores allegedly hidden 6 or 8 stories beneath his many “palaces” there is simply no doubt he will do so.
Here are the suspected tactics Saddam will use when he is attacked:
(1) Launch SCUDS carrying chemical and biological weapons against Israel.
(2) Set fire to hundreds of oil wells, or salting them with anthrax, thus creating a gigantic world-wide ecological disaster, and attempting to deprive the west of Iraqi oil.
(3) Attempt to attack invading forces with chemical shells, bombs, or spraying aircraft.
(4) Use anti-war demonstrators, foreigners, and his own civilians as human shields around key military installations.
(5) Urge Hizbollah, Hamas, al Qaida and many other terrorist organizations to launch attacks against Israel, U.S. Interests abroad, and the U.S. homeland.
(6) Send suicide attackers in Iraq’s aging jet fleet against US aircraft carriers and troops.
Saddam has an ego the size of his country. He imagines himself as a modern-day Nebudchadnezzar, Cyrus, or Saladin. He attacked Iran because he wanted to form a huge Sunni Islamic empire in the Middle East; because he wanted Iran’s gulf oil ports, and the disputed Shaat al Arab waterway at the terminus of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Saddam came to power through a coup in 1968. He was prominent in the Ba’ath Party Intelligence apparatus at the time. Ahma Hassan al-Bakr served as president and maintained titular power until Saddam deposed him and declared himself president on July 16, 1979.
Only a year after coming to total power in Iraq, Saddam declared war on Iran. The goals of the war were many-faceted: reclaiming Iraqi territory conceded in 1975 border negotiations; ending Iranian support for Kurdish separatists in the north, and overthrowing a regime in Tehran that was openly calling for an Islamic revolution inside Iraq.
It was a horrifying and gruesome war, costing about one and a half million casualties over eight years. This was a war between Islamic countries; Shias in Iran and a Sunni-dominated government in Iraq. After all the dying, destruction and death, prewar borders remained essentially unchanged. The Iran-Iraq war was the first time since the interwar years that chemical weapons were used in combat. Probably beginning in 1984, and almost certainly by 1986, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons in the battlefield against Iranian troops. Such use drew the condemnation of the United Nations in 1986, although such condemnation was muted by international antipathy toward the regime in Tehran.
The United States quietly applauded Saddam’s war against the Ayatolla Khomeini, who had, after all, overthrown the Shah, and taken Americans hostage.
The eight-year-long war allowed Saddam to further consolidate his rule in Iraq. The constant war footing allowed Saddam more time to ruthlessly root out his opponents and more loudly proclaim himself the glorious leader.
When the war finally ground to a halt, Saddam began ruthless suppression of internal dissent. Again, he turned to chemical weapons, using a combination of mustard gas and nerve gas that killed some 5,000 civilians in the town of Halabja in August 1988. As in his war with Iran, Saddam's use of chemical weapons did not produce outrage in the United Nations. The international media took only cursory notice.
Saddam was only beginning to become yet another of the world’s worst mass murderers. The Iran-Iraq war saw the displacement of much of Iraq's Kurdish population. Towards the end of the war, following increasing collaboration between Iran and Kurdish guerrilla forces, the Iraqi regime pursued its genocidal Anfal policy, killing an unknown number of helpless civilians estimated at between 50,000 and 200,000, and destroying about 3000 Kurdish villages and hamlets. Their inhabitants – over half a million people – were deported to new 'collective settlements' away from border or mountain areas, or to detention camps in south and west Iraq. Others fled to Iran. Many fled to Turkey, creating border incidents, and Turkey’s concerns over another mass invasions of unwanted Kurds underlies its reluctance in the current preparations for war.
“Anfal” means “the Spoils.” It is the name of the eighth sura of the Koran. It is also the name given by the Iraqis to a series of military actions.
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