World waits as deadline passes:
US plans unknown
By Reuven M. Lerner
The United Nations deadline for Iraq to pull out of Kuwait has passed. But it remains to be seen how President George Bush and the multinational forces assembled in the Persian Gulf will try to force Iraqi troops to withdraw. White House Spokesman Marlin L. Fitzwater described Bush as "reflective and resolute" as the deadline drew closer, but would not reveal whether the president had decided to launch an attack on Iraqi forces.
UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar made a personal appeal last night, assuring Iraq that it would not be attacked if it withdrew unconditionally and immediately from Kuwait. He promised Iraq that the international community would concentrate on solving the Arab-Israeli conflict if they withdraw from Iraq.
Earlier, a French proposal, which included a promise for a Middle East peace conference to address Palestinian demands for an independent state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, was laid to rest after Iraq failed to respond. The measure had been rejected by the United States and Great Britain, mostly because of the linkage between the Gulf crisis and Kuwait.
Bush refuses to
Bush took a walk around the White House grounds by himself at dawn and later prayed by telephone with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the Chaplain of the Senate. White House correspondents were told it was quite likely that Bush would be asleep when the deadline passed.
Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III have previously said that an attack on Iraq would come sooner rather than later, but have otherwise declined to comment on how or when they would attack. Two possible scenarios have been proposed in the absence of any hard evidence:
In the first scenario, the allies launch an attack to liberate Kuwait. In the second, Hussein strikes either the coalition in the Saudi Desert or Israel. Analysts believe Hussein has nothing to gain by firing on the allied forces. But an attack on Israel could split the coalition -- Arab states now aligned against Baghdad would have little choice but to stand by Iraq.
As for a coalition strike, analyst Mike Gaines of Flight International magazine said the multinational forces' "mix and match possibilities" are endless. He called them a "tactical planner's dream and a defender's nightmare."
Analysts believe it will start with a couple of days of round-the-clock air strikes by the allies' two thousand combat aircraft. The first strikes would probably come at night.
Allied air power outnumbers Iraq's by three to one, and some analysts believe the Iraqi air force will be knocked out after just a few waves of air strikes.
Iraqi tone defiant
Despite the large number of American and allied troops assembled on the Kuwaiti and Iraqi borders with Saudi Arabia, Hussein showed no signs of backing down. Iraqi television reported yesterday that he visited the troops on the front lines, apparently trying to boost morale. He promised them that Iraq will not back down, and told them to be vigilant and ready to fight.
Iraqi civilians seem to be divided in their responses to the passing of the UN deadline. Thousands of cars, trucks and buses have been streaming out of Baghdad, many of them headed for border towns. Meanwhile, thousands of others have been showing their support for Hussein. One man at a rally in the capital brandished a rifle as he declared, "The holy war is about to begin."
One aspect of Iraqi strategy which Hussein has repeatedly stressed is that of terrorism, and the federal government is taking that threat seriously. Sections of the Pentagon were closed briefly yesterday because of at least three bomb threats. A Pentagon spokesman said that nothing suspicious was found. But the Justice Department said yesterday that more than five planned or potential terrorist actions have been foiled since Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait.
Other sections of the country have also stepped up their security. All nuclear power plants have been ordered by the government to increase security. The New York Stock Exchange has begun double-checking ID's and no longer permits couriers to deliver lunches to the building. In Los Angeles, anti-terrorism plans developed for the 1984 Olympics have been revived.
(Editor's note: Parts of this article were based on information provided by The Associated Press.)