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Arab League Divided Over Possible US-Led Attack Against Iraq - 2003-02-16

A struggle is under way in the Arab League over what position the league should take regarding a possible U.S.-led attack against Baghdad.

Sources within the Arab League say a rift has developed between Syria on one side and Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on the other, regarding the Arab League's official position concerning Iraq.

The sources say Syria wants the league to adopt a stronger position in favor of continued weapons inspections in Iraq and condemn a possible U.S.-led attack against Baghdad.

However, Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia want the Arab League position to put pressure on Baghdad to more fully comply with the weapons inspectors who are searching for arms of mass destruction.

Foreign ministers of the 22-member Arab League held an emergency meeting Sunday in Cairo to discuss the Iraqi crisis and to set a date for an upcoming Arab summit.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud told the opening session of the emergency meeting that while the Arab states might not be able to stop war against Iraq, he said Arab countries have a responsibility to take a clear stand against those who are "beating drums of war."