The following is an archived copy of a message sent to the CASI Analysis List run by Cambridge Solidarity with Iraq.
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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] This is an automated compilation of submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org Articles for inclusion in this daily news mailing should be sent to email@example.com. Please include a full reference to the source of the article. Today's Topics: 1. Why the US is running scared of elections in Iraq (cafe-uni) 2. UN and US in diplomatic dance over Iraq (cafe-uni) 3. Japan PM says troops will take cover if Iraq gets too hot (cafe-uni) 4. More than 500 US soldiers killed in Iraq (cafe-uni) 5. Bombing rocks Shia holy city in Iraq (cafe-uni) 6. Money to rebuild Iraq still lost in the pipeline (cafe-uni) 7. Annan Seeks Clarity on U.N. Role in Iraq (cafe-uni) 8. Daily U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq (cafe-uni) 9. Worley surges on Iraq deal (cafe-uni) 10. We follow Osama, not Saddam, say desert guerillas (cafe-uni) 11. Ex-military doctor decries use of depleted uranium weapons (cafe-uni) 12. UK officials say Iraq elections by June viable (ppg) 13. British say elections are possible (k hanly) 14. Japan's Iraq deployment gets little airtime at home (cafe-uni) 15. UN pressed on sending team to aid Iraq vote (cafe-uni) --__--__-- Message: 1 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Cafe-Uni" <email@example.com> Subject: Why the US is running scared of elections in Iraq Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 10:21:15 -0000 http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1126178,00.html Comment ---- Why the US is running scared of elections in Iraq Washington's plan to transfer power without a direct vote is a fraud Jonathan Steele Monday January 19, 2004 The Guardian The occupation of Iraq continues to get worse for George Bush and Tony Blair. The deaths of at least 20 people in a suicide bomb attack outside the coalition headquarters in Baghdad yesterday morning underlines the spiralling unrest in the country. The toll of US casualties since Saddam Hussein's capture is higher than in the same period before it. Angry protests over unemployment and petrol shortages have erupted in several cities in the south, in areas under British control. Above all, Washington's plans for handing power to an unelected group of Iraqis is being strongly challenged by Iraq's majority Shia community. The occupiers who invaded Iraq in the name (partly) of bringing democracy are being accused of flouting democracy themselves. Oh yes, and then there's the small matter of the weapons of mass destruction on which Saddam increasingly appears to be the man who had truth on his side. When he said he had destroyed them years ago, he, rather than Bush and Blair, was the man not lying. While the Hutton inquiry looms as the main Iraq worry for the prime minister, the primary problem for Bush is the chaos in Iraq. His plans for minimising Iraq as an election issue are in tatters. They relied on three things: the capture of Saddam; a reduction in the toll of US dead and maimed; and the start of a process of handing power to Iraqis. The first was accomplished in December when the former dictator's successful eight-month evasion of massive hunting parties came to an end. But instead of it leading to a collapse of resistance, US casualties have gone on growing. Bush's always dubious argument that Saddam was running the insurgency from various well-hidden quarters has fallen apart. Baathists who did not want to be seen as defending a hated leader were freed from that image. Other branches of the resistance were never Saddam supporters. It also transpires that Saddam rejected part of the resistance. Although he called for jihad against the occupiers in the tapes slipped out to al-Jazeera and other Arab media, he was writing more careful private notes to his friends. He urged them to beware of the fundamentalists - an ironic sign that even in his months of beleaguered clandestinity, he remained faithful to the secular principles which had made him attractive to western governments in the 1980s, when the main enemy was seen as Iran. With casualties stubbornly continuing to remain high, the US is now banking on its project for transferring power to Iraqis this summer. This is an acceleration of Washington's earlier plans. The UN security council resolution it pushed through unanimously last October called on Iraq's governing council to draw up a timetable for drafting a constitution and holding elections. It also called for the UN "to strengthen its vital role in Iraq". But the White House has a habit of ignoring the UN resolutions it sponsors. Just as it went to war without a second resolution, after getting unanimity on one which most member states did not feel contained a trigger, the October 2003 resolution was also ignored. A month after it was passed, the US came up with a plan which made no mention of any role for the UN and cobbled together an extraordinary process of "caucuses" to pick a government. At least in Iowa, the Democratic party caucuses involve elections. Not in the US plan for Iraq. The US is proposing that "notables" in each province attend these caucuses to appoint an assembly which would select a government. Not surprisingly, the Shia leadership smells a rat. After generations of being excluded from power, first by the British occupiers in 1920, and then by successive Sunni governments up to the one led by Saddam, they are angry. Their spiritual head, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has repeatedly denounced the plan. He wants direct elections. His legitimate fear is that the US wants to control the selection of a government because it thinks the wrong people will win, in particular the Shia. Washington is also worried that Sunni fundamentalists and even some Baathists might do well in the poll. The other new element in the US plan was that power would be transferred to the new government at the end of June. This would allow Bush to claim mission accomplished. Barely a year after the invasion, Iraqis would have a legitimate government at last. It would invite US troops to stay, but these could gradually be reduced in number or pulled back to bases in Iraq, as new Iraqi security forces were built up. US casualties would fall, the invasion would have been legitimised, and Messrs Dean and Clark would have to shut up. Now the whole thing is in ruins. Ayatollah Sistani refuses to drop his opposition, and people were out on the street in Basra last week to support his line. Protests may spread to other Shia cities. The latest allegations of US and British torture of detainees will only inflame passions. Worst of all for Washington, Sistani has made it clear that no government which is undemocratically appointed will have the right to ask American troops to stay. Washington is trying to argue that if there are to be direct elections, the transfer of power will have to be delayed. Sistani rejects that. His supporters say the oil-for-food ration-card lists which covered the whole Iraqi population can easily be used in place of the poll cards which Washington says would take at least a year to prepare. Unlike Afghanistan, with its remote villages and months of snow which make polling stations hard to deploy and staff, Iraq's geography is no obstacle to quick elections. The moment of truth for the administration is also one for the United Nations. Having snubbed the UN for so long, the White House is turning to Kofi Annan at a meeting in New York today to bail it out. Like his Shia forebears who refused to meet the British after 1920 for fear of being denounced as stooges and sell-outs, Sistani refuses to talk to Paul Bremer, the top US envoy, or his British colleagues. He meets Iraqis who bring messages from the coalition authorities, and he meets the UN. So Washington is pressing the UN either to go and persuade Sistani that elections are impossible, or to monitor the caucuses and give them its seal of approval. Annan should resist the poisoned chalice. He should support the concept of direct elections. It need not mean a delay in sovereignty for Iraq. Five months are not too long to prepare a vote. Alternatively, the UN should offer to take over responsibility for the entire transition to Iraqi rule, as many member governments originally hoped. Washington's plan for a transfer of power is a facade. The real intent is to get Bush re-elected and continue the occupation by indirect means. The UN should have no part of it. firstname.lastname@example.org --__--__-- Message: 2 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com>, "Cafe-Uni" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: UN and US in diplomatic dance over Iraq Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 10:22:10 -0000 http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=3DtopNews&storyID=3D= 44137 0§ion=3Dnews UN and US in diplomatic dance over Iraq Mon January 19, 2004 02:47 AM ET By Evelyn Leopold UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi officials seek help from a reluctant United Nations today about how to ease the transfer of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government within the next five months. But so far U.N. officials, while ruling out nothing, have given a long list of safety and political reasons why rescuing a U.S.-initiated plan for the hand over of power is fraught with difficulties. The meeting comes a day after at least 20 people died when a suicide bomber detonated half a tonne of explosives outside the top-securit= y civilian and military headquarters of the U.S.-led administration, a vast complex known as the "Green Zone". It was the deadliest attack since the capture of ousted president Saddam Hussein last month and may intensify fears in Washington about the path the country may take after the expected July 1 handover of power to Iraqi authorities. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself called the Monday meeting to, in his own words, get some "clarity" on a future U.N. political role in Iraq. The session includes Paul Bremer, the American administrator in Iraq, his British counterpart, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, and a delegation from the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, led by its current president Adnan Pachachi. Bremer and the Governing Council are likely to press Annan to send a team of experts to Iraq to convince a leading Shi'ite cleric that hi= s call for direct general elections is not feasible now and possibly help fin= d a compromise, diplomats told Reuters. U.N. officials have not ruled out sending the team, in addition to one already planned to look at security. But they have given many reason= s why the world body should not re-engage in Iraq at this time by sending a sizeable complement of foreign political staff back to Baghdad. Annan has said repeatedly that safety conditions in Iraq were too dangerous since he ordered out international staff in October, followin= g two attacks on U.N. offices and humanitarian organisations in Baghdad. An August 19 blast killed 22 people, including the U.N. mission head, Sergio Vieira de Mello. "Whether to go back or not is primarily a security assessment, taken in connection with an assessment of the significance of the role we are being asked to play," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said on Friday. But a more telling reason, that has annoyed the United States and Britain for weeks, is reluctance to intervene and validate a process th= e world body had no role in formulating. The United Nations is also looking for a clear mandate from Iraqis and the country's regional neighbours, Eckhard said. At issue is resistance from Iraq's foremost Shi'ite religious authority, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. He has objected to a November 15 deal between the occupation authorities and the Governing Council that calls for a transitional assembly, selected by caucuses in May. The assembly would elect the provisional government by June 30. General elections would he held in late 2005 after the drafting of a constitution. But Sistani and his followers fear that unless there are direct elections now, they will be deprived of their fair share of power. The United States signalled Friday it was open to modifying plans on the caucuses but said the June 30 deadline would stand. Nevertheless, Sistani has let it be known that Annan, who wrote a letter earlier this month advising against immediate direct elections, still wanted a U.N. delegation to come to Iraq and see the problems first hand. The 15-member U.N. Security Council, which did not approve the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, will hear a report in a closed session late on Monday from Pachachi. Most council members also want the United Nations to return to Iraq, which would give them a role too, although they say it is up to Annan= . "It suits all of them for the United Nations to return, each fo= r their own reasons," said David Malone, a former deputy Canadian U.N. ambassador and head of the International Peace Academy, a think tank close to the United Nations. =A9 Reuters 2004. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content= , including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Reuters group of companies aroun= d the world. Close This Window --__--__-- Message: 3 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com>, "Cafe-Uni" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Japan PM says troops will take cover if Iraq gets too hot Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 10:22:49 -0000 Japan PM says troops will take cover if Iraq gets too hot http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news/ 20040119p2a00m0fp012000c.html Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told the Diet Monday that Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops to be dispatched to support Iraqi reconstruction may temporarily suspend their activities and take shelter if a battle breaks out nearby. "We'll take all possible measures to ensure the safety of the troops engaged in assisting Iraqi reconstruction," Koizumi told both houses of the Diet. "In the case a battle breaks out nearby, the troops will temporarily suspend their operations and take shelter." Koizumi made the comment during the policy speech he made at the plenary sessions of both houses as the regular Diet session opened Monday. The prime minister expressed his condolences for Katsuhiko Oku and Masamori Inoue, diplomats who were slain late November last year, and emphasized that Japan will never give in to terrorism. "It is a duty for the international community to support the reconstruction of Iraq by Iraqi people," Koizumi said. As to the reasons why SDF personnel are being dispatched, he said it is Japan's duty in the international community. "Japan could not fulfill its duty in the international community if it refused to dispatch personnel because of the danger and instead left the task to other countries." The head of the government emphasized that, just like "both wheels of a vehicle," both dispatching SDF troops and providing material assistance are indispensable. He added that SDF troops can extend useful assistance such as medical services and water supply that can be appreciated by the Iraqis. In his policy speech, Koizumi also announced that his government will extend a total of 1.5 billion dollars in grant aid to Iraq to help it secure sufficient electric power, improve its education system and create jobs. Moreover, Prime Minister Koizumi stressed that the government will try its utmost to prevent terrorist attacks on Japan and ensure the safety of Japanese nationals overseas. He also reiterated that Japan will embark on the development of a missile defense system. He emphasized that the economy is steadily recovering from the recession thanks to the implementation of his structural reform policies. The prime minister described as the core of his reform policies the privatization of the Japan Post, a public corporation that operates mail delivery, savings and life insurance businesses. (Mainichi and wire reports, Japan, Jan. 19, 2004) --__--__-- Message: 4 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com>, "Cafe-Uni" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: More than 500 US soldiers killed in Iraq Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 11:11:41 -0000 http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2004-01/19/content_1282779.htm More than 500 US soldiers killed in Iraq www.chinaview.cn 2004-01-19 01:46:17 BAGHDAD, Jan. 18 (Xinhuanet, by Musa Ja'far, Laith Salman) -- Three American soldiers were killed Saturday when a bomb was thrown on their vehicle in Al Taji, north of Baghdad. Another US soldier was killed in southern Iraq. The death toll of US soldiers rose up to more than 500 since US President George W. Bush announced the major military actions over in Iraq on May 1. Armed attacks against US-led coalition forces by unknown fighters gradually increased after the Bush announcement, which was described at the time by observers as hasty. The fatal casualties of the US forces in the past nine months surpassed what Washington lost in Vietnam during the first four years of that war three decades ago. The American losses in Iraq caused negative reactions in the US public opinion in the year of the presidential elections, which are to take place in November. The increased losses made the US administration call for help from its allies to send troops to Iraq in order to lessen the burden on the American soldiers. More than 20 countries answered the American call, the last of which is Japan, which sent its first unit of soldiers on Saturday in spite of strong objection from the Japanese public opinion. Acceleration in making the decision of power transfer to Iraqis, which is supposed to take place in June, is just another result of these losses. To the worries of the United States, Iraq's Shiite Muslims have threaten to reject an agreement on power transfer signed in November by Paul Bremer, top US civilian administrator in Iraq, and the Iraqi Interim Governing Council (IGC). Thus Bremer rushed on Friday to Washington and held talks with Bush to find a way to lessen the Shiite religious leaders' objection to the power transfer agreement. The Shiite religious leaders insist that democratic elections be the only way to transfer power and establish a national and democratic government representing all the sectors of the Iraqi society. Bremer and an IGC delegation led by Adnan Al Pachachi, the rotating president of the Council for January, will hold talks with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday. The delegation is expected to ask the UN chief to persuade the Shiite leaders to accept the November agreement on power transfer. It will also urge the United Nations to play an active role in Iraq as soon as possible. The United Nations withdrew from Iraq after suicide bombers attacked its headquarters in Baghdad as well as offices of the International Red Cross headquarters. On Sunday morning, a deadly suicide car bombing took place outside the compound housing IGC offices and the US-led coalition headquarters in central Baghdad, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 60 others. It seemed that the arrest of ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in December near his hometown Tikrit, 170 km north of Baghdad, did not end the armed attacks. The attacks were thought to be conducted by Saddam's loyalists and extremist Muslims, who infiltrated the Iraqi borders from the neighboring countries. Some observers say that the deteriorating security situation in Iraq is a constant headache for Bush, who wants to concentrate on his re-election campaign, as a scary ghost that threatens failure in his political future. Enditem --__--__-- Message: 5 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com>, "Cafe-Uni" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Bombing rocks Shia holy city in Iraq Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 11:12:25 -0000 http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/532AF507-F8C5-47CC-8FED-9BC5F53C2909. htm Bombing rocks Shia holy city in Iraq by Sunday 18 January 2004 9:43 PM GMT Karbala is regarded as a holy city by Iraq's Shia majority Thirteen people have been injured in a bomb blast in the holy Shia city of Karbala in central Iraq. Hospital sources say one of the injured is in a serious condition. Witnesses say the bomb was hidden in a package left on the street in the centre of the city near the Shrine of Abbas, a revered Shia imam. The attack on Sunday is the latest on Iraq's Shia since the US-led invasion of Iraq ousted Saddam Hussein in April last year, and came on the same day as a suicide truck bombing on the occupation headquarters in Baghdad that killed at least 25. "Around 10 pm (1900 GMT), an explosion shook al-Abbas street, just 100 metres (yards) from the shrine," said 30-year-old witness Ibrahim Turki. Local health department director Dr Salah Hasnawi said 13 people were admitted to Karbala hospital, one of whom was seriously hurt. A Shia mosque in Baquba, west of Baghdad, was largely destroyed by a bomb attack on 9 January and left five dead and dozens wounded. Last month 19 people were killed, including five Bulgarian soldiers and two Thai nationals, when suicide bombers targeted occupation force bases in Karbala. AFP By You can find this article at: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/532AF507-F8C5-47CC-8FED-9BC5F53C2909. htm Close --__--__-- Message: 6 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com>, "Cafe-Uni" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Money to rebuild Iraq still lost in the pipeline Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 11:13:02 -0000 http://straitstimes.asia1.com. sg/world/story/0,4386,230822,00.html JAN 19, 2004 Money to rebuild Iraq still lost in the pipeline The US is forced to accept that export revenues from Iraq's dilapidated oil industry will not fund its reconstruction DUBAI - As insurgents target oil installations and Iraqis queue for fuel, the Bush administration has abandoned its pre-war assertions that Iraq's natural resources would largely fund reconstruction. While opinion polls still show a majority of Americans support the war, most do not think they should be paying so much to rebuild Iraq. Before the war, United States officials engaged in a delicate balancing act. They sought to counter the pervasive belief in the Middle East and Europe that the war was all about oil, while vaguely telling the US taxpayer not to worry about the cost. Behind the scenes, however, senior figures in the administration were being advised by former officials, experts and corporate bosses that the dilapidated Iraqi oil industry was in no way a financial lifeline. 'With all the information available, it seems that those in charge chose not to know,' said Mr James Placke, a senior associate at Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Mr Placke took part in Iraq: The Day After, a report produced by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a think-tank, shortly before the war. Mr James Schlesinger, a former secretary of defence and energy who co-chaired the independent task-force set up by the CFR, said: 'Nobody believed oil revenues would support reconstruction costs.' But there was an expectation that the industry could be revived more quickly than has proved the case. He said his advice followed that of the CFR report: that after production costs, the oil industry would provide at most an annual US$10 billion (S$17.1 billion) to US$12 billion, if captured intact with no further deterioration. The CFR study also noted that by late February last year, the Pentagon had still not worked out its plans. Production was then estimated at 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd), with about 1.8 milion available for export. Today, that would be worth about US$20 billion per year. Before the war, there were already those who were sounding the alarm bells. An oil analyst, who asked not to be named, said his company's presentation to the Future of Iraq project, led by the State Department, warned that oil output would be stuck at around 2.5 million bpd for two years. Under the best scenarios, through developing eight major fields with huge foreign investment, output could rise to 6 million bpd by 2011. It warned that oil revenues would not be enough to run the government and cover reconstruction costs. Production has just recently climbed back to 2.2 million bpd - the average in 2002. The President's Office of Management and Budget told Congress last week that oil revenues from Iraq last year were US$3.9 billion and were projected to reach US$13 billion this year, not even enough to cover the Iraqi government's operating costs for this year, which are forecast to reach US$15.6 billion. Export revenues are uncertain because sabotage has prevented significant amounts of oil from being exported through the northern pipeline to Turkey. Iraq's oil ministry aims to increase the country's oil production to more than 2.8 million bpd by the end of March, taking exports to more than 2 million bpd. Its ability to do this hinges on whether or not it can get the pipeline to Ceyhan working again. Keeping it out of trouble, and the northern transit route open, will be even more difficult and just as important. -- AP -------------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright @ 2003 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved. --__--__-- Message: 7 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com>, "Cafe-Uni" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Annan Seeks Clarity on U.N. Role in Iraq Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 11:14:02 -0000 http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/special _packages/iraq/7745579.htm Posted on Mon, Jan. 19, 2004 Annan Seeks Clarity on U.N. Role in Iraq EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Kofi Annan sought "greater clarity" in talks set for Monday with U.S. and Iraqi officials about a possible U.N. role in Iraq as the Bush administration faced a dispute with = a prominent Shiite cleric over choosing a provisional government. While coalition officials are pressing for the speedy return of U.N. staff pulled out of Iraq after two bombings last year, Annan has state= d repeatedly that the security conditions there are still too dangerous. Sunday's suicide bombing at the gates of the U.S.-led coalition headquarter= s in Baghdad that killed about 20 people was likely to reinforce that view. Despite serious differences with the United Nations over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the Bush administration also is reaching out to the world body for help in ensuring a smooth transfer of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government by July 1. The senior U.S. administrator in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, and a= n Iraqi delegation led by Adnan Pachachi, current chairman of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, were to confer with Annan on Monday in New York, although no quick decisions were expected. The U.S.-led coalition that has occupied the country since ousting Saddam Hussein in April has called for provincial caucuses to choos= e an assembly that would form an interim government, according to a blueprint for Iraqi sovereignty adopted Nov. 15. American forces will stay in Iraq after the June 30 transfer of power, but in fewer numbers. They will gradually transfer security responsibilities to the Iraqis, thereby reducing the risk of American casualties as President Bush campaigns for re-election. But the country's most prominent Shiite leader, the 75-year-old Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, has demanded direct elections for the legislature, which he says should then have a voice in whether coalition troops stay in Iraq beyond the transfer of power. Bremer maintains that elections cannot be organized in time to meet the June 30 deadline, given the ongoing violence and lack of voter rolls. That view is backed by Annan, who has called for the process of choosing an interim assembly to be expanded to include all segments of Iraqi society and to be fully transparent. "The U.N. can be helpful in helping to bring all parties together to support the November 15 plan," Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Dutch television network. Bremer has said the mechanics of the plan's election formula could be altered, but he has rejected postponing the June 30 deadline for ending the U.S. civilian administration and handing over power to Iraqis. "The Iraqi people are anxious to get sovereignty back, and we are not anxious to extend our period of occupation," Bremer said Friday after meeting with Bush, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Powell. Annan recommended an early transfer of sovereignty "so he's pleased that they're moving towards this objective and he wants to help the= m in any way he can," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Friday. Pachachi and Bremer want Annan to state clearly that credible elections before July 1 are not possible, a coalition official said in Baghdad on condition of anonymity. The coalition also reportedly wants the United Nations to play some sort of advisory role during the caucuses. U.N. officials say Annan will express a readiness to assist the Iraqis in drafting a constitution and holding general elections, which are called for by the end of 2005 under the Nov. 15 plan. But what meaty role the United Nations could - or would - play before the June 30 transfer of power is unclear. Annan ordered all international staff to leave Iraq in late October following two bombings at U.N. headquarters - including one on Aug. 19 that killed top U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others - and a spate of attacks on humanitarian targets. Although Annan has not ruled out sending some staff back if the= y had important tasks, he has called for "much greater clarity" on what the Iraqis and the coalition expect of the United Nations as he gauges whether the job is worth the risk. "Whether to go back or not is primarily ... a security assessment, taken in connection with an assessment of the significance of the role we are being asked to play," Eckhard said. France, which led the opposition to the war, welcomed the talks= , which were to be followed by a Security Council briefing by Annan and Pachachi. "We can only commend the importance of this meeting, which is a= n acknowledgment of the essential role of the United Nations," French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------= - ---- =A9 2004 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mercurynews.com --__--__-- Message: 8 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com>, "Cafe-Uni" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Daily U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 11:14:55 -0000 http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/special_packages/iraq/774216 2.htm Iraq: The Aftermath Posted on Sun, Jan. 18, 2004 Daily U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq Associated Press As of Sunday, Jan. 18, 500 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, according to the military. U.S. Central Command reported four U.S. soldiers dead Saturday; the Defense Department had reported 496 deaths Friday. Of the 500 dead, 346 died as a result of hostile action and 154 died of non-hostile causes. The British military has reported 55 deaths; Italy, 17; Spain, eight; Bulgaria, five; Thailand, two; Denmark, Ukraine and Poland have reported one each. Since May 1, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 362 U.S. soldiers have died - 231 as a result of hostile action and 131 of non-hostile causes, according to an AP analysis of releases from the Defense Department and U.S. Central Command. Since the start of military operations, 2,497 U.S. service members have been injured as a result of hostile action, according to the Defense Department's figures as of Friday. Non-hostile injured numbered 396. --- The latest casualties reported by the military: _ Three soldiers were wounded Sunday when a suicide driver set off a truck bomb at the gates of the U.S.-led coalition headquarters. --- The latest identifications reported by the military: _ No identifications reported. --__--__-- Message: 9 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com>, "Cafe-Uni" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Worley surges on Iraq deal Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 11:15:44 -0000 http://finance.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,8430736%255E14334,00.htm l Worley surges on Iraq deal 19Jan04 SHARES in engineering services provider Worley Group surged nearly 15 per cent in early trade today after the company said it had won a contract to rebuild oil infrastructure in Iraq. Worley shares increased 45c to $3.40 shortly after the market opened. By 10.45am (AEDT) shares were trading up 28c, or 9.5 per cent, at $3.33. Worley submitted a bid in late July in partnership with US engineering firm Parsons Group Ltd. Yesterday the group said the joint venture had won an $US800 million ($1.04 billion) contract for two years, with three one-year options to extend. The contract includes a range of services including extinguishing oil well fires, cleaning up oil sites, designing and constructing oil infrastructure and conducting oilfield, pipeline and refinery maintenance. Iraq has the world's second largest proven oil reserves with about 30 per cent of the country explored for oil production. Worley has a 35 per cent stake in WorleyParsons Energy Services, which won the contract, while California's Parsons Corp has 20 per cent and Parsons E&C has 45 per cent. Worley reported a net profit of $25.9 million in 2002/03 its first full year as a listed company, exceeding its prospectus forecast. The company is established in 17 countries and in 2003 entered a joint venture with Macdonald Engineering Group in Canada, giving it access to a new market in heavy oil. Last month Worley entered into an alliance with CH4 Gas Ltd to develop its $55 million gas project at Moranbah, in central Queensland. This report appears on NEWS.com.au. --__--__-- Message: 10 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com> Subject: We follow Osama, not Saddam, say desert guerillas Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 13:37:41 -0000 > source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-943868,00.html > > > We follow Osama, not Saddam, say desert guerillas > > By James Hider, timesonline.co.uk > > Every coalition soldier will be driven from Iraq, a Sunni resistance leader tells our correspondent at a secret meeting > > THE young Iraqi with a red-checked headscarf wrapped over his face is bad news for the US Army. > > Darting through the darkened, pitted streets of Rutba, a small town in Iraq's western desert, Muhammad and his Sunni guerrilla cell say that they have no intention of ending their fight against American forces until every last occupying soldier has left Iraq. > > The United States-led coalition celebrated the capture of Saddam Hussein as a pivotal point in breaking the resistance, led by the former President's Baath party loyalists, but in Rutba the arrest has made no impact. That is because, Muhammad explains, none of the 95 guerrillas in Rutba is a Baathist. > > "It's all lies that the resistance is led by Baathists. The resistance is Islamic, we are ordered by God, we have no relation to that party," he said, driving around Rutba at midnight after being picked up at a safe house in the town, five hours' drive from Baghdad. > > He and a similarly masked guerrilla comrade refused to divulge their real names, and insisted on crawling the rutted, muddy streets after dark for security reasons. Driven by a go-between to their safe house in a nondescript back street, The Times was given five minutes to photograph three fighters with Kalashnikovs, grenades and copies of the Koran. > > The men were jumpy: they had just learnt that seven of their comrades had been killed the night before in Fallujah, a town on the road to Baghdad where some of the worst fighting of the insurgency has taken place. > > For them, the rationale of the struggle is simple, a credo of God and country that leaves no room for foreign troops on their Islamic soil. Far from the secular Baath party "dead- enders" being rounded up every day by American forces, they idolise Osama bin Laden, and they are well-organised. > > Within two months of the US-led invasion, small disparate groups began to coalesce. Muhammad said that they communicate by specialist couriers and hope soon to form a national resistance army. > > He said that he had been among the first to join the resistance. Serving in the Iraqi Army in the war, he saw heavy fighting in the town of al-Hillah south of Baghdad. When the capital fell, he shed his uniform, but kept his gun, before quickly locating his hometown cell. Since then he has seen his group expand from five people to almost 100, subdividing into specialist teams supervised by planners and three commanders for the vast western desert province of al-Anbar, which covers much of the so-called Sunni Triangle, the bloody heartland of the Iraqi resistance. > > All are former soldiers from Saddam's huge conscript army. Muhammad and his cell specialise in building roadside bombs from looted TNT mixed with the artillery shells that littered the country when the army melted away in April.Other cells focus on using mortars and rocket-propelled grenades to hit American bases. > > "We want the Americans to get out of Iraq, they came here against Islam and they stole all of Iraq's fortune," Muhammad, in his early 20s, said. "The Americans persecuted us and humiliated us and treated us very badly. Even Saddam Hussein was not this bad." > > But Muhammad and his fellow fighters have no love either for Saddam, who "oppressed us and persecuted us". He draws his inspiration from bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, with which the guerrillas have no contact, although they would love to work with it. > > "Al-Qaeda is an Islamic group and we've learnt from them, and we learnt much from Osama bin Laden. He is our sheikh also," said Muhammad, swathed in a thick coat against the freezing desert night. > > He would be willing to work with Baathists if they fought in an "Islamic way" he said, quoting the many "Hadiths", or collected sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, calling for resistance against occupiers, but forbidding attacks on civilians. "But we don't know of any Baathists fighting. They are all at home," he said. > > Muhammad claimed to have been involved in more than 30 attacks on US convoys. Guerrilla cells tend to operate away from their home towns and many of the attacks in which he has participated were in Fallujah. But he has been active across al-Anbar province and as far away as Baghdad, travelling by car and taxi to look like a migrants seeking work in a country rife with unemployment. > > He claims that he has killed as many as 25 American soldiers with his homemade bombs, hiding the explosives in the desert and modifying television or stereo remote controls as detonators. His preferred tactic is to lie in wait about 200 metres from a target, selected by a separate planner who has briefed the cell. Then they select the vehicle with the most soldiers in it, and blow it up. > > He said that in smaller convoys survivors tend to speed away from an attack to seek reinforcements, making the guerrillas' escape easier. > > Fifteen of his comrades have been killed, almost all in raids by US troops tipped off by informers. He said that the resistance killed those who betrayed them and burnt the cars or houses of anyone who had business dealings with the American forces. > > On the walls of Rutba's squat houses, anti-US graffiti testifies to the depth of hatred. Local people said that they were ready to provide fighters with money, cars or guns. > > It appears that Saddam's capture this month has only stiffened the guerrillas' resolve. "Saddam was our President. Even if he persecuted us, he represented Muslims and Iraq, so we don't accept him being humiliated like this," Muhammad said. > > His fight may not end with Iraq's scheduled independence next summer: any government left in place by the coalition will be a legitimate target, he said, as will US troops expected to stay behind to provide stability. "We don't accept that the US should put any government in place, even one made up of Iraqis. They will be ruled by the devil Bush. We will fight until we are martyrs," he said, before stepping out of the car and melting back into the streets of Rutba. > > > > > > > > > > > --__--__-- Message: 11 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Ex-military doctor decries use of depleted uranium weapons Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 19:17:55 -0000 http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20031122b3.htm Ex-military doctor decries use of depleted uranium weapons By NAO SHIMOYACHI Staff writer The depleted uranium rounds the U.S. and British forces were believed to have used in the war on Iraq may have subjected parts of the country to heavy radioactive contamination, a visiting U.S.-based doctor of nuclear medicine has warned. Asaf Durakovic Asaf Durakovic, director of the Uranium Medical Research Center, an independent organization with offices in the United States and Canada, said his research team conducted a three-week field trip to Iraq last month. It collected about 100 samples of substances such as soil, civilian urine and the tissue from the corpses of Iraqi soldiers in 10 cities, including Baghdad, Basra and Najaf. Durakovic said preliminary tests show that the air, soil and water samples contained "hundreds to thousands of times" the normal levels of radiation. But he must wait another three months before getting the final results, he said. Durakovic spent 19 years as a military doctor for the U.S. Defense Department, and studied the health of veterans after the 1991 Gulf War. "This high level of contamination is because much more depleted uranium was used this year than in (the Gulf War of) 1991," Durakovic told The Japan Times. The Pentagon has admitted using some 300 tons of depleted uranium during the Gulf War. Durakovic puts the amount used in the latest war on Iraq at 1,700 tons. Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the uranium-enrichment process in nuclear reactors. Due to its extreme density, it is used on armor-piercing rounds, and is also used to enhance tank armor. Depleted uranium rounds release fine radioactive particles upon impact, Durakovic said. If the particles are inhaled, they enter the lymph nodes and bones and can remain within the body for years. "We analyzed the urine of American war veterans" of the 1991 Gulf War, he said. "Nine years after (my initial tests), they are still positive." Depleted uranium was first used during the Gulf War by U.S. and British forces. It is believed to have also been used in NATO airstrikes on Kosovo in 1999 and the U.S-led antiterror campaign in Afghanistan that began in 2001. Critics say the number of Iraqi cancer patients and children born with birth defects is rising, and they blame depleted uranium weapons. The weapons are also suspected of being a contributing cause of "Gulf War Syndrome," which is reportedly suffered by tens of thousands of U.S., British, Canadian and French veterans who participated in Operation Desert Shield. Their ills include leukemia, chronic fatigue, swollen joints and depression. Durakovic said he was forced to resign from his position at the Pentagon in 1996 because of his studies. The U.S. and British governments deny that depleted uranium can be harmful to human health, he said. "They are hampering efforts to prove the connection between depleted uranium and the illness," Durakovic said. "They do not want to admit that they committed war crimes" by using weapons that kill indiscriminately, which are banned under international law. He said he suspects that such factors as the huge cost of conducting thorough research into the effects of depleted uranium, which he said would take "billions of dollars," and the need to dispose of huge stockpiles of radioactive waste produced through nuclear power generation are contributing to the governments' unwillingness. But Durakovic remains optimistic. "We will soon know more (about depleted uranium's effects) because the world is learning more and more about the hiding of the truth," he said. The Japan Times: Nov. 22, 2003 (C) All rights reserved --__--__-- Message: 12 From: "ppg" <ppg@DELETETHISnyc.rr.com> To: <email@example.com> Subject: UK officials say Iraq elections by June viable Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 02:23:26 -0500 UK officials say Iraq elections by June viable By Nicolas Pelham in Basra Financial Times January 19 2004 http://tinyurl.com/2zgso British officials in Basra no longer oppose early elections in Iraq, saying security and procedural obstacles to polls could be surmounted before the transfer to civilian control on June 30. "We have a working hypothesis that you could manage an electoral process within the timeframe and the security available," said Dominic D'Angelo, British spokesman for the UK-led southern zone of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Basra. The volte face comes after demonstrators packed Basra's streets on Thursday in response to a call from Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's senior Shia cleric, to back his demand for an elected assembly. British officials estimated there were between 100,000 and 300,000 protestors. Coalition officials fear Ayatollah Sistani could issue a fatwa, or religious edict, to his followers to suspend co-operation with the coalition authorities if polls do not go ahead. Paul Bremer, US administrator in Iraq, has said he will examine amendments to his November 15 agreement with the Governing Council on selecting a national assembly. But British officials said their discussions involved a plan whereby voters in municipal and provincial polls would elect two-thirds of the Electoral College that will nominate delegates for a national assembly. The remaining third would be selected by the Governing Council. The officials said that, while Ayatollah Sistani's proposal to base an electoral roll on ration cards was "flawed", an electoral roll drawn up from a mixture of ration, health and identity cards could prove acceptable. British officials said any election procedure would require the backing of "the broad mass of Iraqis", not just the majority Shia, if the process was to carry legitimacy. Until now Kurdish leaders and former Iraqi exiles have cautioned against early elections, which they fear would diminish their now considerable influence. But British officials also suggested that southern provinces, where Ayatollah Sistani commands greatest support, might opt for their own mechanism for electing national assembly delegates. They said Baghdad had yet to provide details of how the Electoral College system would work, but said that "the November 15 agreement did not dictate a single [nationwide] model". The Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad has had an unofficial policy banning even local elections since the end of the war, according to US military officials interviewed at locations throughout Iraq. This is despite the assessment of the military that elections are feasible within very short periods of time. At the end of May, for example, a US Marine unit in the city of Najaf had prepared to hold an election for a local assembly, which was cancelled by Mr Bremer days before it was to take place. In a matter of a few weeks, US marines in Najaf had built ballot boxes, a US army civil affairs unit had arranged for voter registration and polling stations throughout the city, and candidates had campaigned. A US army civil affairs officer interviewed at the time clearly felt that the election was feasible, but declined to comment on the CPA's decision. --__--__-- Message: 13 From: "k hanly" <khanly@DELETETHISmb.sympatico.ca> To: "newsclippings" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: British say elections are possible Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 11:28:09 -0600 http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1073281137552 UK officials say Iraq elections by June viable By Nicolas Pelham in Basra Published: January 19 2004 17:58 | Last Updated: January 19 2004 17:58 British officials in Basra no longer oppose early elections in Iraq, saying security and procedural obstacles to polls could be surmounted before the transfer to civilian control on June 30. "We have a working hypothesis that you could manage an electoral process within the timeframe and the security available," said Dominic D'Angelo, British spokesman for the UK-led southern zone of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Basra. The volte face comes after demonstrators packed Basra's streets on Thursday in response to a call from Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's senior Shia cleric, to back his demand for an elected assembly. British officials estimated there were between 100,000 and 300,000 protestors. Coalition officials fear Ayatollah Sistani could issue a fatwa, or religious edict, to his followers to suspend co-operation with the coalition authorities if polls do not go ahead. Paul Bremer, US administrator in Iraq, has said he will examine amendments to his November 15 agreement with the Governing Council on selecting a national assembly. But British officials said their discussions involved a plan whereby voters in municipal and provincial polls would elect two-thirds of the Electoral College that will nominate delegates for a national assembly. The remaining third would be selected by the Governing Council. The officials said that, while Ayatollah Sistani's proposal to base an electoral roll on ration cards was "flawed", an electoral roll drawn up from a mixture of ration, health and identity cards could prove acceptable. British officials said any election procedure would require the backing of "the broad mass of Iraqis", not just the majority Shia, if the process was to carry legitimacy. Until now Kurdish leaders and former Iraqi exiles have cautioned against early elections, which they fear would diminish their now considerable influence. But British officials also suggested that southern provinces, where Ayatollah Sistani commands greatest support, might opt for their own mechanism for electing national assembly delegates. They said Baghdad had yet to provide details of how the Electoral College system would work, but said that "the November 15 agreement did not dictate a single [nationwide] model". The Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad has had an unofficial policy banning even local elections since the end of the war, according to US military officials interviewed at locations throughout Iraq. This is despite the assessment of the military that elections are feasible within very short periods of time. At the end of May, for example, a US Marine unit in the city of Najaf had prepared to hold an election for a local assembly, which was cancelled by Mr Bremer days before it was to take place. In a matter of a few weeks, US marines in Najaf had built ballot boxes, a US army civil affairs unit had arranged for voter registration and polling stations throughout the city, and candidates had campaigned. A US army civil affairs officer interviewed at the time clearly felt that the election was feasible, but declined to comment on the CPA's decision. --__--__-- Message: 14 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com> Subject: Japan's Iraq deployment gets little airtime at home Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 22:46:43 -0000 http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0120/p08s01-woap.htm from the January 20, 2004 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0120/p08s01-woap.html Japan's Iraq deployment gets little airtime at home In bid to limit coverage, Tokyo told Japanese media to leave Iraq. By Bennett Richardson | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor TOKYO - When Japanese soldiers crossed over into Iraq Monday, it marked the first time the nation's troops entered a combat zone since World War II. But the send-off for this 40-person advance team was not the splashy news event one might have expected. Television coverage was mostly limited to file footage and bland announcements of equipment details by officials. The initial low-key coverage partly reflects the Japanese public's ambivalence over the deployment, which the government has linked to larger goals of moving the nation from pacifism toward an embrace of military commitments. Alluding to stinging international criticism of "checkbook diplomacy" during the first Gulf War, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday, "We won't have fulfilled our responsibility as a member of the international community if we contribute materially and leave the manpower contribution up to other countries." But while Mr. Koizumi presses his Iraq case, the Defense Agency is working to mute media coverage of the deployment by asking Japanese journalists to leave Iraq. The Japan Defense Agency last week asked that all Japanese media "depart immediately from Iraq and give serious consideration whether or not to travel to Kuwait." Analysts see the clampdown as a threat to recent reform efforts by a press corps hampered by tight controls on information. The government's request would force the Japanese media to rely on foreign news sources - a habit that Japanese journalists are striving to break, says Susan Kreifels, a media expert at the East-West Center in Hawaii. Japanese journalists are growing increasingly committed to sourcing their own work and recognizing the right to freedom of speech, she says. So far, the Japanese press in Iraq appear to be staying. Reuters reported that about 100 Japanese journalists arrived in Samawah in advance of the soldiers. "As a focus point of international developments, Japanese are extremely interested in events in Iraq, and we plan to continue reporting from there," said a spokesman for the Asahi Shimbun, a major daily with a half dozen journalists in the war-torn country. Another major daily, the Mainichi Shimbun, said "we plan to keep our two correspondents in Iraq" regardless of the agency's request. The Defense Agency had backed up its request by threatening a total blackout if any problems arise. "If the media are deemed an obstacle to the smooth implementation of the mission's tasks... we will refuse all coverage," the agency said in a statement. Last year, the government was forced by pressure from local media organizations to amend a series of bills concerning personal information that, if passed in their original form, could have infringed press freedoms= . "There has always been concern that Japanese journalists rely too muc= h on government sources - but that goes for journalists everywhere," says Kreifels. Worried about possible negative publicity about the mission from family of SDF personnel, the Defense Agency has also declared them off-limits to the press on grounds of possible violations of privacy. "We need to consider the feelings of the families," said Takeya Takahashi, a Defense Agency spokesman. "We won't allow family members to speak with the media, be they foreign or local," he said. The agency has cited security concerns as the major reason for the strict measures. A threat of terrorist attacks against Japan by the Al Qaed= a network came as Tokyo late last year deliberated the timing of the troop dispatch. But the strict controls contrast sharply with the US decision to embed reporters with troops in the field. Indications suggest the crackdown won't ease anytime soon. The agency also announced a plan to halt regular press conferences of the top commanders of the air, sea, and land forces. When reporters assigned to the Defense Agency objected to the plan, a top official on Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba's staff offered to discuss the issue, but added he only aime= d to resolve it by the end of the month. Japan already has a spotty record concerning press freedoms. The system of exclusive press clubs in Japan has been criticized by foreign governments as hampering the free flow of information by allowing local and national officials to suppress news unfavorable to them. In addition, Japanese press clubs don't admit foreign journalists. The media rights advocacy group Reporters Without Borders ranked Japa= n 44th in its world press freedom survey last year. Mr. Koizumi last year pushed hard for the troop dispatch as part of his campaign to raise Japan's military profile internationally, despite a limited mandate for the move and questions over whether it involves Japan i= n an illegal occupation that breaches the country's war-renouncing constitution. The advance team will set up camp in the relatively peaceful southern town of Samawah, in anticipation of the arrival of the main force of up to 600 soldiers. The full contingent, expected to arrive by March, will carry out reconstruction tasks. Before Koizumi announced his decision in December to send the SDF to Iraq, polls showed public opposition to a dispatch as high as 88 percent. But a survey last week by a major satellite TV broadcaster showed for the first time that the number of people who support sending troops had surpassed those who oppose the dispatch - 49 percent agreed with the move while 46 percent disagreed. Other polls over the weekend showed opponents still outnumbering supporters by a slight margin. Exactly what kind of information beyond government-endorsed releases will emerge remains an open question. As the Iraq issue is clearly of such importance to Japan and the world, "I think most Japanese would want their own news sources," Ms. Kreifels says. Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links -------------------------------------------------------------------------- www.csmonitor.com | Copyright =A9 2004 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint/republish this article, please email firstname.lastname@example.org --__--__-- Message: 15 From: "cafe-uni" <cafe-uni@DELETETHISfreeuk.com> To: "Casi News" <email@example.com>, "Cafe-Uni" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: UN pressed on sending team to aid Iraq vote Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 22:47:19 -0000 Copyright =A9 2002 The International Herald Tribune | www.iht.c= om UN pressed on sending team to aid Iraq vote Warren Hoge/NYT Tuesday, January 20, 2004 Annan indicates he would like to help but puts off decision UNITED NATIONS, New York Secretary General Kofi Annan was asked Monday by the American, British and Iraqi overseers of Iraq to send a Unite= d Nations team to Baghdad to advise on the feasibility of speedy elections or suggest refinements in the process that now calls for indirect elections an= d a transfer of power to Iraq by June 30. Striking a stance that was at once cooperative but cautious, Annan indicated he would like to help but that further meetings were necessary before he decided how to respond. "Both the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority have expressed a strong wish that the United Nations should send = a technical mission to Iraq to advise on feasibility of elections or, if not, what alternative would be possible," Annan said at a news conference after the meeting at UN headquarters. He said, "We have agreed that further discussions should take place at the technical level." The American-designed political transition, a complex process involving caucuses in all 18 Iraqi provinces and the naming of an interim assembly to choose the new government, has been challenged by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shiite Muslim cleric in Iraq. He has insisted on direct elections, and tens of thousands of his followers have staged demonstrations, including one Monday in Baghdad, backing his plea. Last month, Annan sent a letter to an associate of his saying that he thought direct elections were not feasible in the short time before the June 30 transfer date. Sistani is reported to have dismissed that letter as one writte= n under pressure from the Americans but to have said that he might change his mind if a UN team came to Iraq and verified the judgment that holding direc= t elections was unreasonable in the time frame. Annan said he personally had had no direct contact with Ayatollah Sistani, but he said, "We do have a way to get in contact with hi= m through his entourage." Attending the meeting with Annan were L. Paul Bremer 3rd, the American administrator in Iraq; Britain's Jeremy Greenstock, the No. 2 official at the Coalition Provisional Authority; John Negroponte, the American ambassador to the United Nations, and three other American officials - William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, Kim Holmes, assistant secretary of state for international organizations, and Robert Blackwell, director of the National Security Council. In addition, eight members of the Iraqi Governing Council also attended the session. The request for assistance posed a dilemma for Annan, a vocal opponent of the war, and for the United Nations, which has been disparaged by the Bush administration as dated, meddlesome and out of touch with the threat that terror poses. The Security Council refused to approve military action last year, and the United Nations has been excluded by the United States from th= e political transition in Iraq that is now in trouble. Annan is consequently wary of appearing to validate a process h= e had no role in formulating. Annan removed international staff from Iraq this fall after attacks on relief workers and the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22 people, and sending them back in now would require greatly heightened security. The suicide bomb blast Sunday at the gates of the U.S. administrators' compound in Baghdad that killed at least 24 people underscored the instability on the ground and reminded officials in New Yor= k that their people would be likely be targets if they went back and associated themselves with the occupying forces. In meetings with Negroponte in recent weeks, Annan has stuck to his claim that Iraq is still too unsafe for his people and their potential role is too ill-defined for him to take the chance on recommitting. He is said by aides to be unforgiving with himself for having sent the original UN mission to Baghdad without better preparation for its security. Among the 15 workers killed was the mission chief, Sergio Vieira de Mello. The date of the bombing, Aug. 19, is still a fresh one for people in the East River headquarters in New York, many of whom counted the victims in Baghdad among their friends. As for what duties they would have in Iraq, Annan is concerned that they be assigned to specific areas where they could have impact and no= t be used just to bring a degree of international legitimacy to the occupation. Annan has set three broad conditions for the United Nations' return: "clarity" on the scope of the organization's role, security assurances, and guarantees that the responsibility would be commensurate with the risk. He first called the meeting Monday to take up those subjects on Dec. 18. Last week he took a further step, announcing that a four-man security team was going to Baghdad to study the conditions for existing national staff members and those from the international staff who are currently working out of Iraq mission offices in Cyprus and Jordan and migh= t be re-entering the country. Later Monday, the Security Council was to hear a report from Adnan Pachachi, this month's chairman of the Iraqi Governing Council, on th= e situation in Iraq. The closed session will include questioning from ambassadors from some of the Security Council countries that blocked UN authorization o= f military action. Jean-Marc de la Sabli=E8re of France, a prinicipal opponent, sa= id that even the once critical members of the council were now united in their desire to see peace and stability in Iraq, and he predicted constructive questioning. "Our differences were one of principle, but the past is the past," he said. The New York Times Copyright =A9 2002 The International Herald Tribune End of casi-news Digest _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk