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Archive for Monday, January 15, 2001

Clinton submits plan to aid Iraqi opposition

January 15, 2001

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— President Clinton, operating on instructions from Congress, has developed a plan to help opposition groups spread $12 million in humanitarian relief inside Iraq, The Washington Post reported.

The paper said the plan submitted Wednesday calls for distribution of food, medicine and other forms of humanitarian relief inside government-controlled areas of Iraq by the Iraqi National Congress, the main umbrella group for forces opposing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Congress appropriated funds for the program last fall and gave the administration until this month to develop a plan for carrying it out.

The Post said that under the plan, developed in close consultation with the Iraqi National Congress, opposition members will make clandestine forays into government-controlled areas to distribute relief supplies and propaganda.

The paper said that INC leaders view the operation as a precursor to an armed insurrection, which they hope to mount one day with the help of U.S. weapons and air support.

Congress passed, and Clinton reluctantly signed, the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 authorizing the Pentagon to provide the opposition as much as $97 million in arms and military training.

However, the Pentagon has spent barely $2 million of that amount.

Some in Congress have criticized the administration for moving too slowly in attempts to destabilize the Iraqi government.

President-elect George W. Bush pledged strong support for the Iraq Liberation Act during his campaign and several of his top advisers have been vocal in the criticism of Clinton's policy, including Secretary of Defense-designate Donald H. Rumsfeld.

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