Foreign policy experts said last night that the Iraqi radio announcement of a withdrawal from Kuwait was probably a move for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to retain political power. Baghdad Radio interrupted normal broadcasting at 5:35 p.m. local time to announce the immediate withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait under a Soviet peace initiative, reportedly telling them not to fight even if they are attacked. And although the Bush administration brushed off the proposal, claiming they had no direct confirmation of Saddam's intentions, Daniel Pipes, director of the campus-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, said he believes the announcement from Baghdad is legitimate because it undermines his previous efforts to bolster the morale of his troops. "What Saddam has been doing is telling the troops it has been doing wonderfully and 'keep up the good work,' " Pipes said last night. "To [make this announcement] completely undermines it." However, Political Science Professor Alvin Rubinstein said the American-led coalition will not quit fighting in the Middle East until a "formal, authentic announcement" from the Iraqi government saying it will withdraw from Kuwait. "In a sense, the political outcome is being decided on the battlefield," Rubinstein added. Pipes added, however, that the U.S. may have an interest in making sure that Saddam does not fall from power too rapidly, adding that this could be achieved by accepting an Iraqi pullout. He said that the situation may turn into a "nightmare" if Iraq becomes leaderless too fast. "[If Saddam] falls too quickly, there's chaos and we -- the allies -- find ourselves responsible for maintaining order in Iraq and maintaining Iraqi territorial integrity," Pipes said. Pipes, a nationally renowned Middle East expert, added that although he does not in any way approve of Saddam, his fall from power would further destabilize the Middle East. However, Rubinstein said there is no way to determine whether or not Saddam will remain in power after the the fighting is settled. But he stressed the Saddam may be more prone to side with the Soviets after their diplomatic assistance to him in the war and because of a "long-standing" relationship between them. Both said that the Soviet move was a play for political advantage in the region, but disagreed over specific aims from the Soviet involvement. Pipes asserted that the Soviets were brought into the crisis by the Iraqis, who were looking for a power sympathetic to their side. "The Iraqis are saying . . .'Who is sympathetic? Who would argue our case? Who would say it with some strength?' " Pipes said. "That's the Soviets." Pipes added the Soviet involvement is an effort by President Mikhail Gorbachev to divert attention from unrest in the Soviet Union's Baltic states. Rubinstein said, however, the Soviet Union is more motivated by the events in the Gulf, adding their aim is to continue to hold power in the Gulf region after the war ends. Rubinstein said Soviet goals include enhancing prestige in the Arab world and retaining Iraq as a customer of Soviet-made armaments.Comments powered by Disqus
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