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World Leaders Warn of Widening War

The international community has warned the United States against targeting Iraq in the war on terrorism. Military force could be counterproductive, Egypt and Germany say.


Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher urged President George Bush not to use military force against Iraq

Speaking on behalf of a concerned international community, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher urged President George Bush not to use military force against Iraq in its campaign against terrorism. The appeal to caution comes amidst discussions on renewing weapons inspections in Iraq and extending the United Nations sanctions regulations.

In a question-and-answer session on Wednesday at the Brookings Institution, a private American research group, Maher expressed Egypt's support for the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan. But he stressed that a distinction should be drawn between Afghanistan and Iraq, which has frequently been mentioned as the next possible target in the fight against terrorism.

"While Afghanistan may require the use of force, it should not become the rule," Maher said. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan is not an Arab country. And the US should not group the two countries together in the war on terrorism, Maher said.

The Egyptian minister said that Iraq should comply with the UN resolutions and allow weapons inspectors into the country. But he also emphasized that UN resolutions do not authorize a military attack for non-compliance.

Applying force against Iraq would only "have a negative impact" on Arabs and the US, Maher warned.

Any punishment against Iraq for defying the UN and preventing the renewal of weapons inspections should be dealt with in ways other than by military force, Maher said in an appeal to President Bush and the hawks in the Washington administration who advocate bombing Iraq.

International caution

Maher's words of caution echo those of many other Arab and world leaders. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, and many of the Gulf states have openly said they would not support a widening of the war to include Iraq.

In Europe, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder issued warnings on the dangers of extending the war on terrorism to countries like Iraq and Somalia, saying that "more could blow up in our faces there than any of us realize."

"All European nations would view a broadening [of the conflict] to include Iraq highly sceptically -- and that is putting it diplomatically," German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said.

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