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Perle: U.S. also seeks regime change in Iran, Libya, Syria

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Friday, February 28, 2003

ABU DHABI The United States will not be satisfied with toppling Saddam Hussein, but also seeks to change other regimes throughout the Arab world.

Richard Perle, chairman of the U.S. Defense Advisory Board, said the regimes include those in Iran, Libya and Syria. Perle told Arab journalists during a trip to London last week that the U.S. tactic would differ for each country.

Perle
Richard N. Perle, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board and an advisor to the Pentagon on Feb. 23. AP Photo/NBC Meet the Press, Alex Wong
Perle, who is close to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is said to be one of the architects in the Bush administration on the policy of the toppling of the Saddam regime, Middle East Newsline reported. He has played a leading, if behind-the-scenes role in diplomatic, political and military aspects of the current Iraqi-U.S. confrontation as well as the war against terrorism.

Change is needed in all those three countries [Iran, Libya and Syria], and a few others besides," Perle told the London-based author and analyst Amir Taheri.

But Perle said the regimes in Iran and Syria could be changed without direct U.S. intervention. He said the United States would help democratic reform movements in those countries.

"I think Iran can be changed by the action of the Iranian people," Perle told Taheri, an Iranian exile. "I believe that Syria, too, can organize change from within."

In a separate interview with the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat, Perle listed what Washington would demand from Damascus. The key demand is the expulsion of groups deemed by the State Department as terrorist groups.

"A lot will be required from Syrian President Bashar Assad not only in terms of reform, but also the closure of the offices of terrorist organizations and the return of Lebanon to the Lebanese.

Perle told Taheri that Washington would be tougher with Libya, which has been accused of developing medium-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction. But Perle would not elaborate.

"As for Libya, it is a weird case," Perle said. "For the time being it is out of world reality. But the colonel knows that we have our eyes on him."

Perle said he does not expect significant Arab opposition to U.S. policy in the Middle East. He said the U.S. effort against the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has garnered the support of at least 12 Arab countries. He did not name them.

"Not a single Arab state is making the slightest move against our policy on this issue," Perle said. "And at least a dozen are actively cooperating with us in whatever field we require. What interests me is that almost all Arab states are showing a sense of realism and an understanding of their own interests on this issue."

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