Iraq - will they?

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    Some sound reasons for timing of an attack


    The Mirror August 9, 2002
    By Tom Newton Dunn And Ben Taylor

    AMERICA will attack Iraq on November 6, US defence experts believe.

    They are so sure of the date that they have posted an Iraq Countdown clock on the internet to show the minutes ticking away.

    Five of the US Navy's aircraft carriers will be close to the Gulf region. Weather and political factors also favour the date picked by international think tank for the start of the campaign to topple Saddam Hussein. Respected commentator John Pike, director of the Washington-based organisation, told the Daily Mirror: "Iraq is going to happen a lot sooner than most people think."

    The eight key pointers are:

    -President Bush must have resolved the Iraq situation when his re-election campaign begins in under 18 months, and a war and clean-up will take at least a year;

    -Delaying an attack will give Saddam more time to prepare his defences;

    -A war in the desert would be almost impossible before October because it is too hot for troops to wear protective bio-chemical suits;

    -In December and January, temperatures are low enough to freeze diesel oil, cloud hinders air visibility, and desert snow can hamper tanks;

    -Elections to the US Congress finish on November 5. President Bush cannot fight a war in the month-long run-up;

    -Media speculation and government leaks had all predicted an invasion in February or March 2003, so early November might have given the US an element of surprise;

    -The military will have time to replenish stocks of smart bombs that were depleted by the Afghanistan campaign;

    -Five US aircraft carriers will be close by, together with Royal Navy carrier Ark Royal, providing an invasion base under the cover of routine deployment.

    Aircraft carriers are expected to play a key role in any assault on Iraq.

    Several allies, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, that gave facilities in the 1991 Gulf War have ruled out the same support for America's drive to oust the Iraqi dictator. Each American carrier will have a full complement of F18 Hornet fighter-bombers and a strike force of up to 1,000 Marines. All five will be battle ready and within five days sailing from the region on manoeuvres by the beginning of November.

    Ark Royal's war games mission in the Mediterranean, announced this week, is due to finish on November 5.

    Mr Pike said: "The opportunity to attack without having to announce new deployments to the world beforehand is likely to be far too good for Pentagon war-planners to ignore.

    "You can go to war within three weeks of making a decision about it, and within one week of the world finding out.

    "The President is under a lot of political pressure for results and his window is pretty tight.

    "If I was a betting man, November 6 is where all my money would be."


    © Copyright 2002 MGN Ltd.

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