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Articles from the Independent (16th June).

Three articles [reproduced below] about Iraq in todays (16th June)
There is some conflict here: Cockburn's piece is titled "Iraq sees hope
for end to sanctions" and talks of a "sudden amity between Mr  
Butler and Mr Aziz" while Winfield writes that 
"The United States had hoped to transform the [oil-for-food] deal, which
must be renewed by the Security Council every six months, into a programme
that would continue as long as economic sanctions remain in place." 



Baghdad warning on oil-for-food deal.

             By Nicole Winfield in New York 

             Iraq warned the United Nations Security Council yesterday
             that it would withdraw from the oil-for-food programme if
             council members approved a resolution stipulating the
             programme was an ongoing operation. 

             "We told all council members that this would mean
             disengaging Iraq from the programme," Iraq's UN
             ambassador, Nizar Hamdoon, said yesterday after
             delivering the warning to the council president, Antonio
             Monteiro of Portugal. 

             Iraq was barred from freely exporting oil in 1990 following
             its invasion of Kuwait. In 1996, the council approved the
             oil-for-food programme, which allows limited exports of
             Iraqi oil to fund humanitarian supplies and to compensate
             Gulf War victims. 

             The United States had hoped to transform the deal, which
             must be renewed by the Security Council every six months,
             into a programme that would continue as long as economic
             sanctions remain in place. 

             Late last month, the US tried in a draft resolution to link
             that proposal to the approval of a $300m (185m) shipment
             of spare parts for Iraq's oil industry. But the proposal ran
             into resistance from Britain and other council members. 


Iraq sees hope for end to sanctions

             By Patrick Cockburn 

             RICHARD BUTLER, head of the United Nations team
             monitoring the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass
             destruction, has said in Baghdad that he hopes outstanding
             issues will be resolved in the next two months. He said
             agreement has been reached with the Iraqi government on
             the inspection process. 

             It is all very different in tone from Mr Butler's previous
             visits. Standing next to Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi deputy prime
             minister, Mr Butler said: "Mr Aziz and I will take stock on
             9 August, and it is my earnest hope that when we do that
             we will be looking at a slate which has been pretty well
             ticked off." 

             Previously, Iraq routinely denounced Mr Butler, the former
             Australian ambassador to the UN, as no more than an
             American agent, determined to prevent economic sanctions
             on Iraq being lifted by always demanding fresh information
             on its biological, chemical, nuclear and missile

             Only last week, the Iraqi newspaper Babal, controlled by
             Uday, the elder son of the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein,
             said, in reference to Mr Butler that it was time to "stop
             courting this mad dog". 

             It even suggested, continuing the analogy, that, abandoning
             Iraqi traditions of tolerance and courtesy, "the time has
             come to chop off the tongue of this dog". 

             The sudden amity between Mr Butler and Mr Aziz is hard
             to explain. But both sides are on their best behaviour. The
             critical moment for Iraq will be Mr Butler's next report in
             October on Iraq's compliance with UN resolutions on
             eliminating weapons of mass destruction. 

             Baghdad wants to show to sympathetic members of the
             Security Council that it has done all in its power to meet
             the demands of the UN Special Committee (Unscom) on
             weapons of mass destruction, which Mr Butler heads. 

             Mr Butler, for his part, was criticised by Russia and France
             during the last crisis between Iraq and the UN in February
             for his belligerent rhetoric towards Iraq. At one moment he
             even implied that Baghdad might attack Israel and raze Tel

             His more moderate approach during his present visit to Iraq
             may not necessarily lead to a clean bill of health for Iraq

             After the UN envoy delivered his last, very negative, report
             on Iraq's compliance with UN resolutions in April, General
             Amr al-Saadi, adviser to President Saddam on Unscom,
             told The Independent: "The role played by Butler to serve
             American policy against Iraq is worse than any role played
             by an ordinary spy." He said the April report implied that
             Iraq had done nothing to eliminate its weapons since 1991. 

             General Saadi said one of the problems for Iraq was that in
             1995 it handed over relevant documents on its weapons
             programmes secreted to the UN by General Hussein
             Kamel, who defected to Jordan. 

             "We don't have a copy," Saadi said. "We don't know what
             the documents say. They (Unscom) come up with selective
             quotes from them, which we haven't seen before. The
             papers provide a gold mine for procrastination." 

             The US and Britain are eager to maintain sanctions on Iraq,
             but not to repeat the confrontation of February. The US is
             scaling down its task force in the Gulf, which was
             dispatched with much fanfare at the beginning of the year.
             One aircraft carrier and Stealth bombers have been

             Officials in Washington say they are prepared to be more
             flexible in allowing Iraq to spend money for humanitarian
             and development purposes, so long as they can prevent
             Saddam Hussein from gaining control of cash inflows from
             Iraq's oil revenues. These are limited to $4bn every six
             months by the lack of spare parts for the Iraqi oil industry. 


US will fund opposition to Saddam

             By Andrew Marshall in Washington 

             the uniteD STATES will announce a new strategy for
             boosting the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein this week.

             Propelled by Congress and anxious to fill the vacuum left
             by the disintegration of previous policies, the US will
             announce a programme of $5m (3.1m) to assist the
             opposition. The plan is likely to include some support for
             Shia opposition groups based in Iran for the first time. 

             The US established the Iraq National Congress (INC) as
             the main channel for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
             support after the 1991 invasion of Kuwait. But relations
             with the INC deteriorated and support was switched to the
             London-based Iraqi National Accord. Both were
             effectively wiped out on the ground when Saddam's forces
             moved into Iraqi Kurdistan in 1996. 

             Since then, the opposition has fragmented with infighting
             and lack of resources and presence on the ground
             apparently dooming it to impotence. 

             But pressure has built up for a new policy. Congress has
             pushed for a more active stance to overthrow President
             Saddam and the existing policy of containment through
             weapons inspections and sanctions is starting to look

             Last month, Congress approved the $5m along with plans
             for a new radio station broadcasting to Iraq, and this week
             the administration is expected to announce how the cash
             will be spent. 

             The money will be overt rather than secret, and is likely to
             be put towards boosting the democratic credentials of the
             opposition. One possibility would be to support moves by
             the opposition to create a council of national unity, drawing
             together all the different factions. A meeting was held in
             London last February organised by the INA to enable the
             organisations to speak with one voice, and there have also
             been suggestions that something approximating a
             government in exile might be formed in London. 

             The US is anxious to demonstrate that it does not regard
             the current Iraqi regime as salvageable, as do many of its
             erstwhile allies in the Gulf War coalition. Instead, it will
             underline that it is working towards a new regime, formed
             from the democratic opposition. But with the evaporation of
             the opposition it has found it hard to claim that there is an

             The US's discussions with the opposition have included for
             the first time a Tehran-based group, the Supreme Council
             for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri). As the name might
             suggest, it has little in common with the US and has been
             working very closely with the Islamic regime in Iran. But
             alone of the opposition groups, it has ground forces in Iraq
             which harass Iraqi troops in the south of the country. It
             represents elements within Iraq's substantial Shia

             Contacts between the US and the Sciri have accelerated
             this year, with frequent trips by the movement's leader,
             Mohammed Bakir al-Hakim, to Kuwait, where US forces
             and aircraft are based. Hamid Bayati, the organisation's
             London representative, visited Washington last week and
             met representatives of the US government. 

             Relations between the US and Iran have warmed
             noticeably since the election of the moderate Mohammad
             Khatami as Iran's President last year. Iran and the US
             have few interests in common, but they do share a desire to
             limit Iraq's aggression. 


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