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Sunday, October 19, 2003

Playing hard-to-get

Reuters is running a story that follows up on my blog from yesterday.

The Bush administration hopes that last week's UN Security Council resolution opens the doors for friendly states to send some troops to Iraq. Essentially, UN legitimacy provides political cover for what would likely be an unpopular decision.

It now seems that neither Pakistan nor Saudi Arabia is going to follow through. They've framed their remarks in terms that sound an awful lot like popular sovereignty, ironic given the military and monarchical roots of those governments:
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, two key allies in the U.S.-led war on terror, ruled out on Sunday sending troops to Iraq without the consent of the Iraqi people.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Iraqis had shown no desire to have foreign peacekeepers in their country.

"This express opinion from the Iraqi people has not been shown to us," he said at a joint news conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri in Islamabad.

"Up till that time at least for Saudi Arabia....we will not send any troops."

Kasuri said Pakistan would also wait for an invitation from Iraq before making any decision on contributing troops to a multinational peacekeeping force authorised by a unanimously passed U.N. resolution on Thursday.

"If the people of Iraq ask for help, Pakistan as a brotherly country will do what it can," he said.

"But we will wait for that to happen and when that happens, I am sure the public opinion in Pakistan will also change."
This is not going to please Washington, where Congress has been heatedly debating Bush's $87 billion request.

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