Bush deliberately misled the U. A quarter of a million troops with heavy armor amassed on the Saudi border certainly seemed like a clear sign of hostile intent. But one reporter — Jean Heller of the St. Her account was a bombshell.
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On Jan. Bush had announced the start of "Operation Desert Storm" — the military drive that Cheney, accompanied by chief of staff Colin Powell, had come to inspect firsthand. For months, a U. The Pentagon chiefs flew from Dhahran in eastern Saudi Arabia, the main launching point for the coalition airstrikes, to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where they conferred with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the American commander and top Saudi officials before holding a televised news conference there.
The Saudi move - which represents a huge groundswell of Arab opinion against a looming war with Iraq - will be a blow for Mr Cheney, who is touring the Middle East to drum up support for an extended "war on terrorism". Western diplomats had expected Arab leaders to be more supportive, at least in private. One predicted that four would give tacit backing to Saddam's removal if the US could guarantee to accomplish it smoothly. Saudi support proved vital in the war to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation and the kingdom has been used as one of several bases for US-British patrols of the southern no-fly zone over Iraq. Saudi Arabia last year refused to let the US use its territory as a base for the war in Afghanistan.