BAGHDAD, January 1 (XinhuaNET) -- As U.S. President
George W. Bush
takes the lead in the United States in pressing for the
arms inspectors to Iraq and the enforcement of the so-called
sanctions," the new year is set to be tough for Iraq.
With Iraqi President Saddam Hussein still being as adamant as
ever amid the
beat of U.S. war drums, crises, or even a war, seem
likely between the two
long-time sworn enemies in 2002.
U.S. May Target Iraq After
Even with the U.S.-led anti-terror war on
raging, there has been widespread speculation that the
zero in on Iraq since Bush demanded last November that the Saddam
regime allow international arms inspectors back into the country or
On November 26, Bush strongly hinted that Iraq
might become the
next target after Afghanistan by delivering a chilly
"As for Mr. Saddam Hussein, he needs to
let inspectors back in
his country to show us that he is not developing
weapons of mass
destruction," Bush said.
When asked about
the consequences if Iraq rejects, Bush replied:
"He (Saddam) will find
The U.S. House of Representatives also fired warning shots
month by passing a non-binding resolution that called on Saddam to
allow an unrestricted return of U.N. weapons inspectors.
vote was just the latest in a string of U.S. calls for
against Iraq as the U.S. military campaign in
Afghanistan has succeeded in
overthrowing the ruling Taliban
militia and inched closer to destroy the
al-Qaeda terrorist network
congressmen have recently sent a letter to Bush, asking
him to target Iraq in
the next phase of the anti-terror war and
claiming that Iraq had been
reconstituting its weapons of mass
destruction program in the absence of the
U.N. arms inspectors withdrew from Iraq on the
eve of a four-
day U.S.-British air war against the country in December
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has also said that the
of the Taliban regime should serve as a warning to Saddam.
"If I were Saddam Hussein, I would be thinking very carefully
about the future, and I would be looking very closely to see what
happened to the Taliban in Afghanistan," Cheney said in a
interview in December.
U.S. National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice was even more
blunt when she said "the world and
Iraq will live better" without
Saddam in power.
to possible U.S. military attacks under the pretext
of arms inspections,
another thorny issue -- the "smart sanctions"
proposed by the U.S. and
Britain -- lies ahead for the Iraqi
government this year.
a revised version of the "smart sanctions," a goods review
list, is set to
be adopted by the U.N. Security Council by May 30,
2002 at the end of the
current phase of the U.N. oil-for-food
program, crises might arise because
Iraq's intransigence on the
issue might incur possible U.S. military
The U.N. humanitarian program, launched since December
allows Iraq to bypass the sanctions, imposed for its 1990 invasion
of Kuwait, to sell oil and use part of the proceeds to buy food,
medicine and other essentials to offset the impact of the
Iraq Defiant in Face of U.S. Threats
While accepting the rollover of the U.N. oil-for-food program,
nonetheless vowed to reject the goods review list, which will
new restrictions on Baghdad as items on the list will
have to be approved by
the U.N. before their shipment to Iraq.
Iraqi officials and
official media have slammed the list by
claiming that it is intended by the
U.S. and Britain to tighten
rather than ease the increasingly unpopular
Moreover, Iraq has also firmly rejected the
resumption of U.N.
arms inspections and vowed to defend itself in case of
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Ahmed said
in early December
that his country would continue to reject the return of
The "spies" of the now-defunct U.N. Special
(UNSCOM) "did not have a single proof" that Baghdad had failed to
comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant U.N.
Council resolutions, he said.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq
Aziz said on December 1 that
the threats of U.S. military action would not
adding that "Iraq will not be terrified by such threats."
Aziz also expressed confidence that the "deep-rooted" Iraqi
leadership would stay on "despite all threats from the
Meanwhile, Saddam, who has remained as a constant
the U.S. more than 10 years after the Gulf War, told his
not to pay attention to the U.S. threats, reiterating that Iraq
would be capable of defending itself if it came under fresh U.S.
All these suggest that the recalcitrant Saddam
regime is set to
run into fresh confrontations, or even military conflicts,
Bush administration, which is likely to toughen its aggressive
policy toward Iraq in 2002.
Saddam, galvanized by his
country's improving relations with
fellow Arab countries as well as military
breakthroughs of shooting
down three U.S. reconnaissance planes in the past
year, is seen
being fully prepared to pick up the gauntlet.
By Li Xuejun