JERUSALEM (Jul. 21)
The new Iraqi military regime headed by Maj. Gen. Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, is expected to maintain a hard line in its position toward Israel, informed Israeli sources said today. The sources pointed out that anti-Israel statements. Including calls for renewed warfare against Israel, were prominent in the communiques issued by the new regime after its coup d’etat last Wednesday.
The old regime headed by ousted President Abdel Rahman Aref, they noted, had been charged with slackening in the ‘struggle against Israel” and with failure to strengthen Iraqi forces which were hence unable to help avert the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War.
The Israeli press, commenting on the bloodless Iraqi revolution, stressed the anti-Israel line of the new Government and pointed out that the only stable Government in the Middle East was Israel’s. The press said Arab regimes were constantly shaky as a result of personal intrigues which periodically resulted in coups which had severe internal and inter-Arab repercussions.
“Iraq’s bark is worse than its bite,” one source here said. Even though Iraqi troops are still stationed on Jordanian soil, they are some distance from the cease-fire line and have not been involved in any direct confrontation with Israeli units since the Six-Day War, the source said. Even current rumors about withdrawal of the Iraqis from Jordan had little bearing on Israel since they were never stationed along Israel’s borders except during the June, 1967 war.
Israeli officials said that the Iraqi Army was now beset by internal troubles and mutual suspicions among its commanders and was not considered much of an adversary for a modern army. Its main purpose, they point out, had been to serve as a kind of augmented police forced used principally against the Kurds in the north whom they had been unable to subdue for more than a decade.
Iraq’s politics had been somewhat closer to the hard line of Egypt and Syria than to the softer one taken by Lebanon, but since there is no direct frontier between Israel and Iraq, negotiations with Iraq, one of the belligerents in the Six-Day War, was considered to be a second magnitude problem, officials pointed out.
During the war, an Iraqi brigade attempted to cross the Jordan River but was severely hit by the Israel Air Force and retreated. An Iraqi plane was shot down over Israel and the Israel Air Force later bombed an airfield in Iraq.
Israeli sources said that the troops stationed in Jordan had been used to help anti-regime elements from overthrowing King Hussein and expected that this role would remain unchanged.
Of all the Arab states that had troops in Israel fighting during the 1948 War of Independence. Iraq was the only one that refused to sign the armistice agreement with Israel but later agreed that it would abide by the Israeli-Jordanian agreement. A clause holding Jordan responsible for the Iraqi troops stationed on her soil had been inserted into that agreement.