Report: Iraq to replace Saudis as U.S. headquarters in region

Monday, February 17, 2003

ABU DHABI The United States plans to move troops from Saudi Arabia to Iraq as part of a realignment of interests in the Gulf, a new study says.

The study published under the auspices of the government in the United Arab Emirates, reports on the drafting of an emerging U.S. national security policy that will vigorously promote democracy in the Middle East and launch an offensive against groups deemed as terrorists as well as their state sponsors.

"The Sept. 11 events have changed the U.S. attitude not only towards Iraq but the entire region, with which the U.S. has maintained friendly relations for a long period of time," the UAE study said. "The U.S. troops are expected to transfer all their military bases from Saudi Arabia to Iraq and control all oil fields so that it no longer needs Saudi crude oil. It is evident that some of the U.S. conservatives see Saudi Arabia as a threat similar to Iraq which must be faced."

The UAE study said the United States envisions regime changes in Iran and Syria in wake of the toppling of the Saddam regime, Middle East Newsline reported. The study also warned that Egypt could be affected by a new U.S. policy.

The study was published in the publication "Public Affairs," issued by the Research Section at the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court. The study was authored by Edward Ghareeb, a lecturer at Washington-based International Peace Center.

In his study, published in UAE newspapers, Ghareeb said the administration wants to revise its relations with a range of Middle East states, particularly Saudi Arabia. The relations would be based on a friendly and pro-U.S. Iraqi regime, which could produce enough oil to eliminate Saudi Arabia's influence.

The UAE study reported that the administration has drafted a document that envisioned military attacks on organizations deemed as terrorists, the control of global oil resources and fostering regional leaders such as Israel and Turkey. He said the document was drafted soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by Al Qaida on New York.

"Although such an approach does not exactly reflect the official American policy, it has become an excuse to launch a military strike against Iraq," the study said. "Statements by the U.S. officials indicate clearly that Iraq will just be the beginning. This means the offensive against Iraq will be the start of a large-scale military and diplomatic operation with the aim of bringing about radical changes to the region, where Iraq will have the first constitutional government in the Arab world, to be the first democratic system in a series of democratic changes."

U.S. officials in Washington said a range of government-sponsored panels are studying policy options in the Middle East after the fall of the Saddam regime. The officials said many of the studies envision a new U.S. relationship with such countries as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

"The new U.S. conservatives believe the occupation of Iraq will prompt changes in Iran, Syria and even Egypt," the study said. "The Egyptians will be required to demonstrate their commitment to human rights issues, change their attitudes and stop campaigns against the U.S. and Israel."

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