Iraq vowed Friday to fight to the finish against those opposing its occupation of Kuwait and ordered the expulsions of military attaches and other envoys from the Baghdad embassies of the European Community nations.
Western diplomats said the expulsions were apparently in retaliation for similar moves by the 12-nation European Community earlier this week, which in turn were in response to raids last week by Iraqi troops on Western embassies in occupied Kuwait.The total number of European diplomats being expelled was not clear, but diplomats said it appeared at least two or three envoys from each of the 11 European Community nations with embassies in Baghdad would be sent packing. Portugal is the only EC member without a Baghdad embassy.
The movements of remaining diplomats at the European missions in Baghdad would be restricted to within 25 miles of the capital, the diplomats said. They said the European ambassadors were informed of the expulsions and restrictions on Thursday night.
Daniel Bernard, the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, called the expulsions a new escalation by Iraq, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called them unjustified.
Friday also brought a new outburst of fighting words from Baghdad.
Iraqi television interrupted a comedy film to announce that Baghdad would fight to a "final victory" rather than retreat from Kuwait, which it overran seven weeks ago.
"With deep faith, we think that there will be no wavering or change in our objective on our march toward victory," the statement said.
Meanwhile, the Iraqis said two unidentified warplanes flying from Saudi Arabia penetrated up to six miles into their airspace Thursday before turning back.
A U.S. military spokesman in the gulf, Navy Capt. Michael Sherman, said no U.S. aircraft had violated Iraqi airspace. There was no comment from Saudi Arabian authorities.
It was the third violation of Iraqi airspace reported by Baghdad since the United States began its military buildup in Saudi Arabia.In New Delhi, officials said Iraq will allow Indian air force planes to land in its territory to evacuate some of the tens of thousands of Indians still stranded in Iraq and Kuwait.
About a third of the 190,000 Indians trapped by the invasion have been repatriated, officials said. India hopes to operate four flights daily between New Delhi and the Iraqi town of Basra, the officials said.
War of words intensifies
In another development, the Iraqi information minister was quoted as saying Thursday that Iraq will knock out Persian Gulf oil fields if attacked by the multinational force.
The official, Latif Nassayef Jassim, also said, "Iraq will use all weapons at its disposal to respond to any aggression" intended to force its troops out of Kuwait, which Iraq invaded Aug. 2 in a dispute over oil, land and money.
Iraq, Iran may join pipelines
U.S. officials said Iraq has asked Iran if the two countries can join their oil pipelines, a move that would allow Iraq's Saddam Hussein to partly bypass the U.N.-ordered international embargo against his country.
Iran has not yet responded to the Iraqi request, which would let Iraq export 500,000 barrels of oil a day in return for badly needed cash, food and medicine, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Intelligence experts estimate a link between the two pipelines could be completed within a month.
Iraq `can hold out for years'
Despite signs that Iraq is feeling the international pressure, Saddam was quoted Thursday as saying Iraq could hold out for "five or six" years against the trade embargo.
The Turkish newspaper Milliyet also quoted him as saying Iraq "knows that America is the No. 1 superpower in the world. But we also are confident that we can hurt America."
NATO's secretary-general, Manfred Woerner, urged other Western European nations also to send more forces. "Let me clearly state my personal opinion - that some allies could and should do more," Woerner said at a conference in Brussels, Belgium.
The battle of the tapes
The oratory duel between Saddam and President Bush entered a new round as Iraqi officials offered Washington a tape of their leader making comments for broadcast to the American people. The Iraqis broadcast a message by Bush to their people Sunday, and Saddam's tape is believed to carry a rebuttal.
White House spokesman Roman Popadiuk said if Iraq gave U.S. officials a copy of the Saddam tape, they would take it "out of diplomatic courtesy."
ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC said they had not been contacted directly by Iraq and would not decide whether to air the tape before seeing it.
The White House said it would take no position on whether the networks should air the tape.
"We've made it quite clear to the Iraqi government that there is not a controlled press in the United States as there is in Iraq," Popadiuk said.