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* British military involvement again * Iraq rejects results of UN discussions on Iraq * Iraq to reduce program of petroleum exports in February * Football in Baghdad * Games of State: lessons from "regime changes that did not come about the way that we would have liked" There is also an interview today with Kofi Annan about the UN's Iraq posture on the BBC website, but I did not think it worth circulating: reiterations of "compliance", insistence on the integrity and necessity of UNSCOM, and an absence of concern about the effects of sanctions. ********** The Guardian: British planes attack Iraq sites By Ian Black, Diplomatic Editor, Monday February 1, 1999 British warplanes attacked Iraqi ground targets yesterday for the first time since the RAF widened its rules of engagement to counter new challenges by Saddam Hussein. The Ministry of Defence confirmed that two RAF Tornados launched precision-guided bombs at two military communications sites after finding an Iraqi plane violating the southern no-fly zone. Six United States warplanes took part in the attack. It is the first time British aircraft have fired on Iraqi sites since the end of Operation Desert Fox in December and comes just days after the MoD announced that it had given pilots authority to attack Iraqi targets more widely, in line with US rules. The incident coincides with heightened debate about policy towards Iraq as President Saddam tries to defy the northern and southern exclusion zones, which Washington and London insist are fully backed by the United Nations and designed to protect Iraqi Kurds and Shi'ite Muslims. But several Iraqi civilians were reported killed in the southern city of Basra last week when a US missile went astray. 'This action sends the clearest possible message to Saddam Hussein that his provocations will not deflect us from our aim and that our aircraft will take whatever action is necessary to defend themselves,' the Defence Secretary, George Robertson, said last night. US officials said the targets were a communications repeater station at Talil and a radio relay facility at Al Amarah, used in aircraft command and control. In other incidents yesterday a US F-16 launched missiles at a radar system north of the city of Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad*. Saturday, US jets fired missiles at defence sites in six confrontations. The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Invincible has also arrived in the Gulf. Britain, sole military ally of the US in the Gulf, has been trying to build a new consensus about how to handle Iraq since Baghdad insisted after Desert Fox that UN weapons inspectors would not be allowed back. The inspectors have to give a clean bill of health before punitive sanctions can be lifted. ********** Associated Press: Iraq Rejects U.N. Study Panels By Waiel Faleh, Monday, February 1, 1999; 3:52 a.m. EST BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq has criticized the U.N. Security Council's decision to create panels to assess Iraqi disarmament, humanitarian needs and the fate of missing Kuwaitis, saying the move would mean "nothing but procrastination." The Iraqi News Agency quoted a government spokesman as saying that Baghdad was not consulted before the Security Council agreed Saturday to form the panels in a first, modest step to break a diplomatic logjam over Iraq. "The work of the three panels on Iraq will take several months, which means nothing but procrastination and maintaining the unjust blockade on Iraq," the INA quoted the spokesman as saying on Sunday. Iraq wants the Security Council to condemn U.S. and British aggression, including the mid-December airstrikes and the recent conflict over the "no-fly'' zones, the agency said. The government also called on the council to lift economic sanctions"immediately and unconditionally.'' Also Sunday, the INA said that Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf sent a letter to the Security Council complaining of U.S. missiles that struck the southern city of Basra on Jan. 25. "American and British aircraft, based in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait ...targeted many sites, including residential districts in Basra itself and surrounding villages, causing the death and injury of many people,'' the letter said, INA reported. The United States, meanwhile, continued diplomatic efforts to create a united front against Iraq, with a visit to Kuwait by Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk. ********** Arabic News: Iraq to reduce program of petroleum exports in February Iraq, Economics, 1/30/99 ArabicNews.com learned from Iraqi sources in Cairo that the program for exporting Iraqi petroleum of February will witness a severe reduction from its rate in the current month. The sources said that 1.9 million barrels of oil are to be exported daily during February, a reduce from 2.3 million bpd in January. In the meantime the program for February is nearing the formal estimates of Iraq's export capacity, which indicates its success in exporting 2 million barrels daily in recent weeks. ********** Associated Press: Passion for Soccer Survives in Iraq By Vijay Joshi, Friday, January 29, 1999; 4:55 p.m. EST BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Fans had been waiting for weeks, and hours before kickoff Friday they rushed for the best seats in the stadium. The opening of soccer season may be cause for celebration in countries around the world, but it's more than that for Iraqis, ground down under 8 1/2 years of U.N. sanctions. It is a blessed relief. Some 45,000 people packed the People's Stadium seeking a boisterous and inexpensive escape from the daily drudgery blamed on the sanctions, in what is just about the only public entertainment left in their country. ``The soccer stadium is the purgatory for their sorrows. In our victory, the fans see their victory over their troubles,'' Ahmed Radhi, Iraq's most famous soccer hero, told The Associated Press. The match kicked off the five-month season of Iraq's premier League, during which millions of Iraqis will follow the 16 teams as they fight it out every Friday. A standing ovation was given to Radhi, a former national striker deified as Iraq's only scorer of a World Cup goal, against Belgium in 1986. Now aged 34, he plays for Al-Zawra'a sporting club. Salam Khatab, 42, an Al-Zawra'a loyalist since the age of 11, took his front row seat two hours before the start of the match. ``I will go to the end of the earth to see Al-Zawra'a play,'' he said. Khatab had made sure his wife was an Al-Zawra'a supporter before he married her. Soccer has become almost the last leisure activity remaining for Iraqis as U.N. sanctions have made other forms of entertainment unavailable or too expensive. As survival has become the goal for most of Iraq's 22 million people, discos and belly dancing shows have fallen out of style. In keeping with the hard times, the government has banned the sale of liquor in public, putting out of business the bars and night clubs that Baghdad was once famous for. Even soccer has not been spared: training equipment, shoes, track suits and balls are hard to import. Stadium flood lights don't work. Playing tournaments abroad is an unaffordable luxury. Top players and coaches have migrated to other countries. Radhi, the soccer hero, is preparing to join a Qatar club. ``It is OK for big names like me. But there is a lot of talent here, and they are trapped,'' Radhi said. Talent is also being starved, literally. Shortage of food has reduced the nutritional intake of players. ``My boys cannot afford to eat meat and chicken and they are not as strong as before,'' said Abbas Jassim, the assistant coach of Police Club. Recognizing the problem, the Premier League now lets each team play only one match a week to avoid straining the players. Before 1990, a team played twice a week. Sponsorship is nearly nonexistent and the players' salaries are a pittance -- $5 a month. But the love of the game keeps the players and the fans coming back. ``Football (soccer) has never stopped in Iraq. It will never be stopped, God willing,'' Al-Zawra'a coach Amir Jamil said. ********** Agence France-Presse: Rift in Washington on Iraq Overthrow WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (AFP) - While there is a clear consensus in the United States for the ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a major rift lingers here over Washington's plan to encourage it. The debate on the merits of the Iraqi Liberation Act -- which provides 97 million dollars to assist opposition groups in their struggle to topple Saddam -- came to a head again this week when a senior military officer told Congress he doubted its effectiveness. "I will be very honest, I don't see an opposition group that has the viability to overthrow Saddam at this point," General Anthony Zinni, the commander of US forces in the Gulf, told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently. He noted there were 91 fragmented opposition groups and that "their ability is questionable," warning that while he supported Saddam's overthrow, without a united coalition to take his place, his ouster would destabilize the region. "I've seen the effect of regime changes that didn't quite come about the way we would have liked," he said, listing Somalia, Afghanistan and Iran as examples. "And the last thing we need is another rogue state. The last thing we need is a disintegrating, fragmented Iraq because the effects on the region would be greater in my judgement than (those of a) contained Saddam," Zinni said. In a polite but somewhat testy exchange with senators who supported the liberation act, Zinni was asked if he considered to be "a viable piece of legislation." "I think it would be very difficult, and I think if not done properly, could be very dangerous," Zinni responded, drawing a retort from Senator Joseph Lieberman. "I don't think there are any of us who sponsored the act or who support it now or who are pushing the administration are naive about the difficulties involved," Lieberman said. "But unless we try, there's going to be no change." State Department spokesman James Foley: "The administration is determined to redouble its efforts to work closely with the members of the Iraqi opposition in order to promote regime change in Iraq," he said. However, he stopped short of criticizing Zinni, saying he "would fully endorse (the general's) conclusion that we believe that this is not going to be an easy of short-term effort. We have no illusions." But in addition to internal disagreements over the policy, Washington must also contend with the apparent reluctance of Iraq's neighbors to it and perhaps more importantly, the outright refusal of at least three of the designated opposition groups to accept US aid. Foley bristled when asked about the refusals. "We made these designations without having been contacted by any of the groups in terms of whether they would seek such a designation," he said. "It's their right not to take such assistance as we may offer, but we understand though that all of the groups that we designated intend to work together and that they share common aims," Foley said. Zinni, however, appeared less convinced, saying unless the plan was done exactly right, the aftermath of Saddam's regime could be marked by "15, 20, 90 groups competing for power." ********** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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