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S P E C I A L: The Standoff with Iraq

Overthrow Hussein, U.S. group advises

February 20, 1998
Web posted at: 4:04 p.m. EST (2104 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A bipartisan group whose members are prominent in U.S. international policy circles called on President Clinton Friday to go beyond a military strike on Iraq and to help overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and replace his regime with a provisional government.

But U.S. law and international opposition to such a plan would make it unlikely.

The 39-member group, organized as the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, includes former U.S. Rep. Stephen Solarz of New York, who was a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Richard Perle, a former assistant defense secretary for international security policy.

Solarz announces his group's plan
icon 17 min. 2 sec. VXtreme video

"In view of Saddam Hussein's refusal to grant U.N. inspectors the right to conduct unfettered inspections of those sites where he is suspected of storing his still significant arsenal of chemical and biological munitions and his apparent determination never to relinquish his weapons of mass destruction, we call upon President Clinton to adopt and implement a plan of action designed to finally and fully resolve this utterly unacceptable threat to our most vital national interests," Solarz said in a letter read at a Washington news conference.

He said that if the force used against Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the punishing U.N. economic sanctions that have been in place for seven years haven't persuaded Hussein to cooperate with U.N. inspectors, it's unlikely that a new and "much more limited" military strike will change the Iraqi leader's mind. (icon 697K/31 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

To remove Hussein from power, the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf advocates a political and military strategy that calls for:

  • Backing an opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, as a provisional government and trying to secure for it Iraq's seat in the United Nations.

  • Funding the opposition group with seized Iraqi assets and lifting sanctions in areas it controls.

  • Protecting the opposition group with U.S. air power.

  • Providing U.S. ground troops as reinforcements if necessary.

  • Bringing Hussein before an international tribunal on war crimes charges.

Richard Perle   

Solarz said these steps would not "marginally diminish" but completely eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction held by Iraq.

While it's no secret the Clinton administration would welcome the removal of Hussein from power, it is against federal law for the U.S. government to assassinate a head of state.

In addition, the administration considers the proposal announced Friday as too expensive -- in military commitment and overall cost -- and too difficult to justify in international forums such as the United Nations.

Correspondent John King contributed to this report.
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