Friday, December 18, 1998

On the 3d day of its attack on Iraq, the U.S. can confirm that only 18 of its 89 targets have been severely damaged or destroyed, despite having fired more laser-guided missiles in 2 days than during the entire 1991 Gulf War. Only U.S. planes stationed in Kuwait, Oman have flown; Saudi Arabia, Turkey have not permitted their bases to be used as staging grounds. (ATL, ITV 12/18 in WNC 12/22; NYT, WP, WT 12/19; MEI 12/25)

For the 2d day, U.S.-British strikes on Iraq prompt street protests across the Middle East. 15,000 Palestinians demonstrate in Nablus, while 1,000s of others protest in Bethlehem, Gaza City, Hebron, Jinin, Ramallah. PA police break up protest in Gaza City only; the PA closes some television, radio stations, news bureaus for reporting on the demonstrations. Syria's grand mufti denounces the U.S.-led operation. Pro-Iraq demonstrations are held in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen. (MM 12/18; SANA 12/18, al-Ra'i 12/19, JT 12/20 in WNC 12/22; NYT, WT 12/19; MEI 12/25)

Fmr. UNSCOM cheif inspector Scott Ritter claims that UNSCOM head Butler chose sites for inspection that he knew would provoke the Iraqis, then ordered halt to inspections on 12/13 to meet U.S. bombing time table; also says that the White House national security staff helped draft Butler's 12/15 report to ensure it contained sufficiently tough language to justify an attack. Butler denies showing his report to the U.S. in advance of its release, but National Security Adviser (NSA) Sandy Berger admits Butler briefed him personally 12/13. (WT 12/19; WP 12/20; MENA 12/20, al-Akhbar, MA 12/21 in WNC 12/22) (see 12/16)

PA police arrest 4 leading Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) mbrs., 8 journalists at march marking PFLP's 31st anniversary. (NYT, WT 12/19)

Knesset approves additional NIS 20 m. to fund expanding settlements in the West Bank, Golan. (PR 1/1)