Gates of Hell Will Open If US Attacks Iraq, Say Arab States
Published on Friday, September 6, 2002 in the Times/UK
Gates of Hell Will Open If US Attacks Iraq, Say Arab States

THE United States was told last night that a war to oust President Saddam Hussein would “open the gates of Hell” in the Middle East.

The chief of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, issued the warning after a meeting in Cairo of the foreign ministers from 20 Arab states. He urged Iraq, however, to readmit weapons inspectors in co- ordination with the United Nations.

The ministers issued a resolution calling for a “complete rejection of threats of aggression against some Arab countries, in particular Iraq”.

Their statement did not specifically refer to weapons inspectors, but Mr Moussa said that the ministers had agreed that they must be allowed back as part of an overall solution.

Mr Moussa was asked by CNN after the two-day meeting whether he believed that Saddam would use weapons of mass destruction against the US. “No, I don’t think Iraq is in a position to reach the US, or any of the interests of the United States,” he said.

“However, if there is a threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq coming back, then the role is for us to bring back the inspectors.”

Mr Moussa said that Arab states were seeking a diplomatic solution and had already helped to bring Iraqi and UN officials together. The resolutions on Iraq also called for the lifting of UN sanctions.

Mr Moussa’s warning came as up to 100 British and American aircraft took part in a routine retaliatory strike on an Iraqi military installation in the south of the country.

Coalition combat aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone had earlier been fired on by Iraqi air defenses. It was decided to respond with a larger than usual strike force.

The Ministry of Defense said that 12 aircraft had dropped bombs on Iraqi targets — nine American F15 Strike Eagles and three RAF Tornado GR4s.

The others were support aircraft including air-refueling tankers, air Defense aircraft and AWACS early warning aircraft. An MoD spokeswoman said: “This was a bigger package of aircraft than usual. It was not exceptional.”

Copyright 2002 Times Newspapers Ltd.