Red Sea Shipping and Ports as WMD Targets

Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon informed the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee on Monday, October 28, that Iraq has airplanes capable of delivering biological and chemical weapons over Israel. The official “there’s nothing to worry about” campaign run from Jerusalem until now is gradually making way for a more realistic assessment.
Saddam Hussein’s retaliation tactic was generally presumed by most military experts to be based on sending a hail of missiles fitted with chemical, biological – or even nuclear – warheads against main cities in Israel and the Gulf region, as well as such oil targets as Kuwait’s oilfields and Saudi oil depots at Ras al Tanura.
However, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and intelligence sources, the Iraqi ruler and his generals have a surprise up their sleeve.
They do not mean to exhaust Iraq’s sparse missile supply on hitting Riyadh or Tel Aviv or even oil targets. Instead, they plan to wait until the Americans start invading Iraq from Kuwait in the south and from Jordan in the West, and then strike hard with unconventional weapons delivered from the air over the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba ports of Eilat and Agaba.
Iraqi L-29 and F-1 planes fitted with spray canisters laden with chemical and biological agents are to head for the Red Sea, striking the US warships firing up to send cruise missiles against Baghdad and Tikrit, as well as Israeli Eilat’s population of 50,000 population and the 75,000 inhabitants of Jordanian Aqaba. Within range of those aircraft too are the small localities of southern Israel as well as the southern Negev military bases.
To keep them safe for these missions, Iraq has concentrated its fleet of L-29 and F-1 aircraft far from potential American front lines, relocating them to Jal al Batn, in southwest Iraq, on the 30th latitude opposite the Saudi frontier. They were tucked into specially built underground sheds, to each of which a short runway is attached.
One of Saddam’s surprises is the flight path he has chosen for those deadly airborne carriers. They will cross Saudi Arabia by night, bringing the distance to target down to roughly 450 miles. He counts on the Saudis not permitting American and Israeli aircraft to come in and intercept the Iraqi planes in mid-flight. Once they are out of Saudi airspace, scant minutes will be left to catch them short of target. Iraqi military leaders also calculate that at the onset of the war, the American and Israeli air forces will be too heavily committed in other sectors, such as intensive operations to disarm mobile surface-to-surface missile batteries before they are deployed, to spare craft for concentrated action over the Red Sea.
Aside from the human loss, the tactical damage from such action would be substantial. Iraq’s military leaders estimate that the toxic clouds they sent over the Gulf of Aqaba, the eastern mouth of the Suez Canal and the northern exit of the Red Sea would force American warships to back out of the contaminated areas in the crucial early days of the US assault on Iraq. Pollution of the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba would moreover cut off the American supply route by sea to the Western and central fronts and force the Americans to fall back, willy-nilly, on Israeli ports. He meanwhile would save his long-range missiles for the last stage of the war
Upon receipt of this intelligence information, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report American fighter and surveillance craft units sped to the Sinai air base at Sharm al Sheikh, from which to provide the American Red Sea fleet with air cover. Anti-air missile batteries, including improved Patriots, were deployed at Aqaba, while the Israelis next door, provided the resort town of Eilat and neighboring communities with a protective air defense screen made up of missiles of various types and self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery. More Israeli air force fighter squadrons were deployed at air bases near Eilat.
Last week, American and Jordanian forces staged a large-scale exercise in southern Jordan to prepare for a possible unconventional weapons attack.
At the moment, the Red Sea ports of Aqaba and Eilat at the southernmost tips of both Jordan and Israel, which are normally reserved for sun-lovers, deep sea divers and pleasure seekers, have become the most heavily protected holiday resorts in the world.

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