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Articles from the news

*       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 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
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."


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