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Various news which may be of interest: * Chinese power contract for Iraq * 1.8 million dead from war and sanctions - Iraqi Ministry of Health * Eid al-Fitr in Baghdad * Pentagon and Scott Ritter's forthcoming book on US Iraq policy ********************* Chinese power contract for Iraq (BBC World Service, Wednesday 20 January 1999) The United Nations has announced that Iraq is to receive power generators and other equipment from China to help boost its power network, which has fallen into disrepair after more than eight years of sanctions. The UN Sanctions Committee, which examines all imports to Iraq, has approved seventeen contracts worth more than eighty-million dollars. The biggest is for six gas turbine generators from China. They will be installed at a power plant Mullah Abdullah fifty kilometres south of Baghdad. ********************** More than 1.8 million Iraqis died since 1990 because of the embargo (Arabic News, 1/18/99) More than 1.8 million Iraqis have died since 1990 because of the gulf war and the embargo imposed on Iraq, said Iraqi minister of health, Oumid Medhat Mubarak. In a statement to the Iraqi news agency INA, the official said 1,873,464 Iraqis died in view of the armed conflict, the embargo and the military strikes against Iraq. The casualties among children below five are of 428,920, he said. Infant mortality rate had been multiplied by almost four fold, going up from 24 per one thousand in 1990 to 98 per one thousand at present. Currently, he said, some 8,600 children above five die every month while the number did not exceed 1,600 before the gulf crisis. *********************** Iraqis Celebrate Post-Ramadan Feast (Vijay Joshi, Associated Press, Monday, January 18, 1999) BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- With money saved from months of scrimping and saving as a rag-picker, Ra'eid Jaber took his first-ever ride on a roller coaster Monday at Baghdad's dilapidated amusement park. For the 14-year-old boy, the carefree five hours spent at Games City provided a dream start to the Eid al-Fitr, the three-day Muslim holiday of feasting that follows the dawn-to-dusk fasting of the holy month of Ramadan. While most Muslim countries celebrated the Eid with lavish lunches, dollops of sweets and new clothes, the festivities were understandably low-key in Iraq. After more than eight years of U.N. sanctions, sugar is precious and meat and chicken are luxuries. Still, the Eid al-Fitr is one of Islam's biggest holidays, and Iraqis spared no efforts to celebrate it as best as they could. For months, Ra'eid had stashed away part of his daily earnings of roughly 40 cents from selling rags, old shoes and other items foraged from garbage dumps. On Sunday, he bought $7.70 worth of clothes for himself and his 12-year-old brother. Then, he had enough money left for the roller coaster ride with his cousins and a bus ride back home from Games City. Ra'eid's father died in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. He and his mother now run the family. Asked if he understood what is meant by sanctions, he said: ``Of course I know. It means we can't buy food ... we can't find jobs. We can't go to school.'' Elsewhere at Games City, Ashty Ali Kader said he has sold portions of his wife's jewelry every year to buy goodies for the Eid: chicken, meat, cake and new clothes for his three sons. The eldest, Rasty, was born 11 days before President Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. The event provoked the U.N. Security Council to impose the sweeping trade sanctions. ``None of my children has seen the good life,'' Kader said. An engineer in the Industries Ministry, he earns $16.70 a month, a handsome salary by Iraqi standards. ``Rasty doesn't know what embargo is, but he knows he shouldn't ask for new toys too often,'' Kader said after collecting his youngest son, 1-year-old Goran, from a merry-go-round. The 128-acre Games City was the grandest in the Middle East when it opened in 1963. It still boasts 35 attractions, most of them imported from Europe, but sanctions have taken their toll. Manager Muslim Mohsin said Games City hasn't installed any new rides since the sanctions began. Repairs are carried out with locally fashioned parts. The gondolas of the cable car have been repainted shabbily by hand, and the tracks of the four-tiered roller coaster are rusting and creaky. But with nowhere else to go, an estimated 300,000 children had packed Games City by noon Monday. Many of them were born after the sanctions were imposed. To them, shortages and hardships are part of life. So are the protest slogans that were embedded in the Iraqi vocabulary as the sanctions came to be seen as an act of U.S. vindictiveness. While a reporter interviewed Ra'eid, a group of kids gathered around and chanted ``Down, down America!'' and ``Saddam, your name shook America!'' Ra'eid joined in. ******************************* Pentagon Drops Bid to Review Book, Robert Burns, Associated Press, Sunday, January 17, 1999) WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon dropped a demand that a former U.N. weapons inspector critical of U.S. policy in Iraq submit advance manuscripts of a book he is writing on his experiences as a member of the inspection team working to disarm Iraq. David Rigby, chief of public affairs at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, said Sunday a contracting officer wrote to Scott Ritter last month that he was obligated to submit his planned work for a pre-publication security review. Ritter resigned as a U.N. inspector last summer and has complained in Congress and elsewhere that the Clinton administration's policy to disarm President Saddam Hussein's Iraqi military is ineffectual and wrong-headed. In response to a New York Times report Sunday in which Ritter's attorney, Matthew L. Lifflander, objected to the Pentagon agency's letter, Rigby said officials determined that since Ritter no longer is under contract to the Pentagon, he has no legal obligation to submit writings for review. ``We would work with him to ensure that there is no release of classified material,'' Rigby said. ``But that is an offer, not a demand.'' Rigby said the Dec. 23 letter was sent in good faith, because of fear that Ritter might inadvertently disclose classified information in his book, to be published this spring by Simon & Schuster. It was a mistake to indicate that Ritter was legally obliged to submit his writings in advance, Rigby said. The Times report quoted Lifflander as saying Ritter was unlikely to agree to a prepublication security review and if the Pentagon pressed the matter it could end up in court. Lifflander also was quoted as accusing the Pentagon of trying to intimidate Ritter into silence. Rigby rejected any suggestion of attempting to intimidate Ritter. ``We are not trying to hassle him,'' Rigby said. If Ritter refuses the Pentagon's offer to check his book for classified material in advance of its publication, the matter will be dropped, the spokesman said. The Times quoted Lifflander as saying Ritter's book would focus mainly on his views about Saddam and how the United States and the United Nations should deal with him. In frequent public statements, Ritter has been critical of American policy toward Iraq, in some cases saying U.S. policy has undermined the work of the U.N. Special Commission inspectors. **************************** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html