#13 - JRL 7066
February 18, 2003
EUROPE IS FIGHTING FOR ITSELF, NOT FOR SADDAM HUSSEIN
Russian experts comment on the situation around Iraq
Author: Andrei Reut, Anton Bilzho
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
SOME RUSSIAN ANALYSTS STILL BELIEVE THE UNITED STATES WILL NOT LAUNCH A WAR AGAINST IRAQ. OTHERS SAY RUSSIA OUGHT TO BE GUIDED BY ITS OWN INTERESTS, AND RUSSIAN COMPANIES WILL BE PUSHED OUT OF A POST- SADDAM IRAQ. MEANWHILE, GERMANY AND FRANCE HAVE THEIR OWN REASONS FOR OPPOSING A MILITARY OPERATION.
NATO saved face and proved its capability, but the disunity was not overcome. The Alliance is facing a situation when its members differ in their views on major international issues. The United States, leader of the war camp, demands aggression against Iraq. France, Germany, and Russia make up the peace camp. We approached some prominent Russian experts for comments.
ANATOLY UTKIN, DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL SURVEYS CENTER OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA INSTITUTE AT THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES: THIS IS A BLUFF. THE AMERICANS ARE NOT READY FOR CASUALTIES.
Question: Should we expect a war?
Anatoly Utkin: I do not think there will be a war. The war might have started last April, right in the wake of Afghanistan and the triumph there, when the whole world rallied against terrorism...
Question: But the allied forces are already in the region.
Anatoly Utkin: I know how many troops and how many aircraft. Firstly, they do not have a place to make a jump from. All bases in the Arab countries are out of bounds. The Arab League does not permit its members to make their territories available for the war on Iraq. This is not an insurmountable obstacle of course. The Americans might launch their guided missiles from aircraft-carriers and destroy some targets, just as they have been doing for months.
Question: Cannot the United States find allies in the East? Turkey, for example, where Americans have military bases.
Anatoly Utkin: NATO split over Turkey. The Turks have had an Islamic government for six months, the first such government in over 70 years. They are conducting negotiations with Iran and participating in all actions of Islamic countries. That is why I do not think all 27 American bases in Turkey will have water or electricity. There is nothing in the world the Turks hate more than a war in Iraq. Just imagine: Iraq disintegrates, 4.5 million Kurds get an independent state, Turkey is split into two halves and faces what it already had in 1991 - a full-scale war on Kurds, with losses and everything else that entails. The Turks have lost 15,000 men. These are real casualties. All of Kurdistan will be go up in flames, in all four countries among which it is now divided.
Question: Do you think protests in the United States have any effect on the position of Washington?
Anatoly Utkin: Let us take a look at the opposition, at democrats in the United States. They are starting to take advantage of the opportunity. The guys under Cheney and Rumsfeld have gone too far. To barter the "gold card" they had after 1989-91 for some godforsaken Iraq... This is an alternative to global consent and global dominance! Does it look realistic? Or are the Americans crazy? A million has gone to the streets! Australia is in turmoil, New York too. That is why I do not think the Americans will go to war.
Question: What will the conflict end in then?
Anatoly Utkin: The Americans will get what they want - monitoring of Iraqi programs of weapons of mass destruction. There will be 1,000, 2,000, or 5,000 new inspectors there, with special settlements the Iraqis will be barred from. Iraq is already in the sphere of influence. Iraq means 10% of the world's oil. From the military point of view, the Americans control Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In other words, they control 75% of the world's oil resources. I do not think they will go to war just to control 85%. As for the United Nations, I do not think the international community should abandon it as a bad idea. This is bluffing. I do not mean that the Americans are playing some childish games, I mean they will display their resolution. If the Americans attack Iraq, they will lose from the moral point of view and find themselves in isolation. History teaches us that Number Two, Number Three, and Number Four unite against Number One.
ALEKSEI MALASHENKO OF THE RESEARCH COUNCIL AT THE MOSCOW CARNEGIE CENTER: OUR COMPANIES WILL BE KICKED OUT OF IRAQ
Question: Do you think Russia made a correct choice when it sided with France, Germany, and Belgium in the peace camp? Perhaps it would have benefited Russia to support the United States?
Aleksei Malashenko: Russia should be guided by its own interests. Our interests in the region are to be encroached on with or without the war in Iraq. Without the war, Iraq will appreciate Russia's support but lean towards the West all the same. I do not think its regime will be in a hurry to pay debts. With the war, Saddam will be toppled, and a pro-American regime will be installed in Baghdad. The United States claim nowadays that Russia will get $6-8 billion of Iraqi debts. I do not see it, I do not know who will handle the problem and how once the first euphoria wears off. In any case, we should not expect the new regime in Iraq to start heeding Russian interests. Our companies will be kicked out.
Question: Can we say that France, Germany, and Russia formed a long-term political alliance or is it a short-term concordance of interests?
Aleksei Malashenko: The existing situation reflects global anti- American tendencies. It is Iraq that triggers these trends nowadays. It will be something else tomorrow. Essentially, the next incidents will be connected with American initiatives. We will see where and how it will occur. Actually, the situation around Iraq reflects economic discord as well, and specifically the dollar-euro rivalry. I do not think, however, that there will be a European consolidation. Everybody is fighting for their own interests.
Question: And what are Russia's interests?
Aleksei Malashenko: Our interests are dual, and controversial. When Putin decided to follow in the steps of Peter the Great and open a door to the West, he found himself facing a choice between America and Europe. Putin has been maneuvering adeptly. He makes some accords with America and others with Europe. Chechnya is a fine example. Europe criticizes Russia for Chechnya and will continue to criticize it. The United States understands Russia, though it prefers not to show this. In this sense, we pursue a policy of double standards here. This policy is usually criticized, but it is all right in my view. Politics is politics.
Question: Germany and France are together now, but each of them promotes its own interests in the crisis around Iraq.
Aleksei Malashenko: I do not know to what extent their objectives agree. The confrontation between Europe and America over Iraq is both rational and emotional. If the United States dares act despite the United Nations, it will declare itself to be the only super power that does not care for others' opinions. These days, Washington disregards France and Germany in the matter of Iraq. Tomorrow it will disregard some other country on some other issue. Germany and France have their own political aspirations and economic interests, and they conflict with those of the US. That is why Europe is so afraid of losing Iraq. It is fighting for itself, not for Saddam Hussein.