IRAQ: US warns Russia, Syria and Iran



The White House has claimed that Russian companies are providing assistance to Iraq to help it resist the US-led invasion. The Pentagon has extended this accusation to include Syria, which along with Russia, France and Germany, opposed a UN Security Council resolution approving the US attack.

"The United States has credible evidence that Russian companies have provided assistance and prohibited hardware to the Iraqi regime, things such as night-vision goggles, GPS jammers and anti-tank guided missiles", White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer told reporters on March 24. "These actions are disturbing... We've asked the Russian government that any such ongoing assistance cease immediately."

Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately denied the allegations.

On March 28, US war secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that Syria was sending military equipment to the Iraqi military forces. "We have information that shipments of military supplies have been crossing the border from Syria into Iraq, including night-vision goggles", Rumsfeld said. "We consider such trafficking as hostile acts and will hold the Syrian government accountable for such shipments."

Though Rumsfeld did not identify the source of the goggles, a senior US official told the Associated Press that Syria does not manufacture such military equipment and gets most of it from Russia. "There's no question that to the extent that military supplies or equipment or people are moving across the borders between Iraq and Syria, it vastly complicates our situation", he told AP.

Rumsfeld also said that Iraqi militants opposed to President Saddam Hussein's regime, known as the Badr Brigades, were streaming into the country from Iran, where they had been in exile, and were complicating US war plans. "They are Iraqis... They have been housed in Iran, armed by Iran, sponsored by Iran", Rumsfeld said.

During a Pentagon briefing on April 3, Rumsfeld commented that "Syria is continuing to conduct itself the way it was prior to" his March 28 comments. Syrian officials have denied the accusations.

On April 1, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said that his government's opposition to the war did not mean that it wanted Iraq to defeat the US invasion. "The Americans are not enemies", he declared.

In a similar reversal of his government's opposition to "regime change" in Iraq as a goal of the US-led war, German foreign minister and senior Green Party leader Joschka Fischer said on April 2 he hoped Saddam Hussein's regime "will collapse as soon as possible and we'll have no further loss of life — civilians or soldiers".

From Green Left Weekly, April 9, 2003.
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