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Translated by William Pastille
with help from Scott Mincey and Jerry Lechliter

'Old Europe' plans a Blue-Helmet Invasion in Iraq

Germany and France are working on an alternative to attacking Iraq. UN Soldiers are supposed to occupy the country and back up the work of the inspectors, reports DER SPIEGEL. The Invasion would take place with German participation. At present, the secret plan is being discussed with Russia and China.

Berlin - US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had hardly reckoned with this: While he was stumping with his customary blunt rhetoric for an unyielding line against Saddam Hussein, the 'old Europe' that he had derided as being hesitant was planning the invasion in complete secrecy-an incursion with German participation.

At the eleventh hour, Germany and France are engaging in a difficult diplomatic attempt to maintain peace in the Gulf even at this late date. They are working on a plan for the complete disarmament of Iraq. The secret project called 'Mirage' provides for thousands of armed Blue-Helmet troops of the United Nations to enter into Iraq in order to facilitate the work of the inspectors. Under their protection, the inspectors would be able to mount a massive 'house-to-house' search of the whole country.

The Blue Helmets would actually assume control of the country for years and guarantee a 'robust disarmament regime'-and this with German participation: 'If this idea of a robust disarmament regime succeeds, then Germany is on board,' a government member told DER SPIEGEL.

The German and French governments have been working on the disarmament scheme since the beginning of the year. 'Simply saying No is not enough any more,' Schroeder said in an internal series of meetings. According to the concept, which may be introduced to the UN Security Council as a German-French resolution, the whole of Iraq would be declared a no-fly zone. From the air, French reconnaissance planes of the 'Mirage IV' type would support the work of the inspectors, whose numbers would be tripled.

US Troops Would Safeguard the Peace-Invasion

According to the plan, the Mirage jets, fitted with special surveillance cameras, would receive support from German Luna drones and American U2 spy planes. A permanent central coordinating authority in Iraq, possibly under the order of Chief Inspector Hans Blix, would oversee the inspections. The 200,000 US troops that are stationed near Iraq would remain in place as a threat of force that would safeguard the peaceful invasion.

As a consequence of the plan, Iraq would become, for practical purposes, a protectorate of the UN, with Saddam as the merely titular head of the country. Should this process strengthen the moderate forces in the country and Saddam's regime implode as a result of its hands being tied, this outcome would be considered favorably, although it is not the primary goal of the plan, said an advisor in the Chancellor's office.

A tightly knit network of sanctions would intensify supervision of the regime. Besides sharply curtailed export controls on the industrial nations, there would also be international agreements with Iraq's neighboring states to prevent oil smuggling, one the most important sources of resources for the regime. The plan is being sounded out at present with several critics of the US strategy, among them the Greek prime minister and present EU-Parliament president Kastas Simits, the Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the Chinese president-elect Hu Jintao.