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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Attack Proving a Tough Sell for Cheney

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt -- U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney began the most difficult phase of his 12-day mission to elicit allied support for a possible military campaign against Iraq, and immediately encountered open opposition from one of Washington's closest allies in the region, King Abdullah II of Jordan.

After Cheney and Abdullah met Tuesday evening, Jordanian authorities said in a statement that the monarch had expressed concern about "the repercussions of any possible strike on Iraq and the dangers of that on the stability and security of the region.''

Officials in other countries on Cheney's itinerary are equally wary. In Egypt, where the vice president arrived Wednesday, President Hosni Mubarak has taken his usual role of Mideast mediator -- trying to dissuade Washington from attacking any Arab country as part of the war on terrorism and trying to persuade Iraq to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors.

In a visit to Washington last month, Mubarak added any attack on Iraq that killed civilians would harm the United States' already shaky standing among many Arabs.

Arab wariness at hitting Iraq has become the main theme of Cheney's tour, which began with a weekend stop in Britain. Cheney, who is expected to leave Egypt on Thursday, plans to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates before winding up in Turkey.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two other close American allies on Cheney's itinerary, have also raised objections about a possible attack on Baghdad, warning this could fuel turmoil across the region.

U.S. President George W. Bush labeled Iraq part of an "axis of evil" and warned Baghdad it would face unspecified consequences if it did not allow UN weapons inspectors to resume their task of ensuring Iraq is not stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

The administration has been calculating that however much Arab nations publicly assail the U.S. effort to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime, privately they would welcome the move or at least acquiesce in an U.S. military campaign.

The key, American officials have said, is to tell Arab leaders that if military action is taken against Iraq it will be decisive and relatively short. The United States would not leave a wounded Saddam Hussein in power, nor would the presence of American forces in the region be prolonged.

Kuwait, Iraq's tiny neighbor whose invasion by Saddam's forces in 1990 set off the Gulf War, has also said it fears a new U.S. attack on Iraq would destabilize its security.

Speaking to a group of American troops stationed in Egypt on Wednesday, Cheney said that fighting by their comrades in Afghanistan was only the beginning of a long and unrelenting war against terrorism. (NYT, AP)