Firas Al-Atraqchi: Countdown to February 22nd
Countdown to February 22nd
By Firas Al-Atraqchi
Middle East intelligence sources have revealed that a massive aerial assault on Iraq will begin in the early hours of February 22nd, give or take a day.
Since September 2002, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has privately implored the U.S. not to launch an attack on Iraq before the Eid-al-Adha, one of Islam's greatest Feast holidays. The Greater Eid marks the end of Hajj, Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, on February 16th.
It would take a few days after this date for most pilgrims to return to their countries.
U.S. State Department officials, as well as military personnel stationed throughout the Gulf, have supported Saudi Arabia's call fearing a Muslim revolution if military strikes are launched on, or before this date.
Every year, nearly 2.5 million Muslims converge on Mecca from around the world. They carry with them different ideals, but would be united in fervent anti-Americanism should the war begin during these holy days. The likely outcome would be revolt against the ruling Al-Saud family in Saudi Arabia. This would then quickly spread throughout the Gulf region and may threaten the livelihood of the regimes in Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey.
An attack during these days would present a nightmare scenario to U.S. strategic planning and interests in the region as Muslim populations are already enraged by the plight of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. In the days preceding the Israeli elections, 26 Palestinians were killed; 26 in less than 72 hours.
Previous predictions of a war date, including the Sludge Report, did not take into consideration the Eid-al-Adha holidays.
U.S. President George Bush's State of the Union address today seems to confirm that war will begin in February, and will not require approval from the U.N. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is to address the U.N. Security Council on February 5th and outline a comprehensive list of alleged Iraqi violations, material breach, and non-compliance.
Short of a miracle in Iraq, full Iraqi weapons disclosure, a change in U.S. planning, a military coup in the Middle East, or flying pigs, mark your calendars for the end of February.