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From the news

*       U.N. Report Says 17 Killed in Iraq (Associated Press)
*       UN food program asks for money to feed malnourished Iraqis
(Arabic News)
*       US may be sued for Sudan factory bombing (today's Independent).
[This article isn't to do with Iraq, but may be of interest because of
the potential implications for US foreign ("right country, wrong
building" !!!) policy]
*       Iraq to get Internet Access (Associated Press)

U.N. Report Says 17 Killed in Iraq 
By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer, Friday, February 5, 1999;
2:56 a.m. EST

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Supporting Iraqi casualty reports from two stray
missiles last week, a U.N. report says the missiles killed 17 people,
including 10 children, in southern Iraq. The report, obtained by The
Associated Press on Thursday, did not say who fired the missiles that
landed in the poor al-Jumhuriya neighborhood in the port city of Basra
and in the village of Abu Khasib, 16 miles to the south, on Jan. 25.

The Pentagon acknowledged that a U.S. missile fired at air defense
targets near Basra missed by miles and struck the al-Jumhuriya
residential area. But there has been no claim of responsibility for the
missile strike on Abu Khasib, which is also called Abu Fullous. American
and British planes patrolling the no-fly zones in northern and southern
Iraq have been carrying out almost daily missile strikes on the
country's extensive air defenses since Iraq began targeting allied
aircraft with radar, and sometimes firing on them. Immediately after the
two missile strikes, Iraq said at least 11 people were killed and 59
people were wounded. But according to the report from Hans von Sponeck,
the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad, the toll was higher: 17
deaths, about 100 injuries and 45 houses damaged or destroyed. Von
Sponeck visited the site of both attacks on Jan. 27 and talked to local
government officials and relief agencies. His report was sent to the
Security Council's acting president, Canada's deputy U.N. ambassador
Michel Duval, on Monday by Benon Sevan, the executive director of the
U.N.'s Iraq program. 

Despite some demonstrations against the United States in al-Jumhuriya
during the U.N. team's visit, ``the human climate was one of sadness
rather than aggressiveness,'' the report said.  The same atmosphere
prevailed in Abu Khasib, where Muslim ceremonies were under way during
the team's visit, it said. Eyewitnesses in al-Jumhuriya told Von Sponeck
and other U.N. officials that the missile killed one woman and five
children, according to the report. Von Sponeck was told that 64 people
were injured and 30 were still hospitalized during the U.N. visit, the
report said. 

When the missile struck on a Monday morning, most men were away from the
neighborhood, which the report said was a low-income area where all
streets were covered in garbage and some were flooded with sewage water.
"The U.N. team visiting the area verified that seven houses had been
completely destroyed and a further 27 houses sustained damage. The
damage was caused by both direct impact and the blast effect to the
missile,'' it said.  In Abu Khasib, a village of about 400 houses, five
women and five children died as a result of the missile strike and 30
people were injured, the report said. ``At the time the team was leaving
this rural community, the body of an 11th victim was brought back to the
village from the hospital where the person had died,'' it said. The U.N.
team reported that the physical damage in Abu Khasib was less severe
than in al-Jumhuriya, with one collapsed house and 10 others suffering
varying degrees of damage. 

In another development Thursday, chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard
Butler said he was unlikely to remain at his post beyond June 30 when
his contract expires. The former Australian diplomat, who became a focus
of controversy in the arms inspection dispute with Iraq, also said he
was not seeking a spot on a new panel that will make recommendations on
Iraq's disarmament. Speaking briefly as he left U.N. headquarters,
Butler defended the work of the U.N. Special Commission, known as
UNSCOM, saying it has accurately documented Iraq's efforts to make and
conceal weapons of mass destruction. Russia and China have accused
Butler and the commission of provoking U.S. and British airstrikes
against Iraq in December by reporting that Baghdad had failed to live up
to its pledge to cooperate with weapons inspectors. After the attacks,
Iraq banned UNSCOM from returning.

UN food program asks for money to feed malnourished Iraqis
Arabic News, Iraq, Economics, 2/4/99

The United Nations World Food Program yesterday launched an appeal for
financial aid to help Iraqi citizens who are suffering from shortages of
food and water. The WFP said that $21 million is needed for aid to over
one million Iraqis, including 200,000 "acutely malnourished" children.
The money would fund a program that would last until January 31, 2000,
distributing a blend of wheat, soya and milk to supply nutrition to
50,000 children for three months, then move to another group of
children. The children's relatives will also be included in the program.

 Meanwhile, the United Nations announced on Tuesday the completion of a
$3.28 million UN project in northern Iraq to repair a 249 megawatt
hydroelectric dam. The UN said the Derbendikan Dam on the Diyala river,
a tributary to the Tigris river, presented a danger of flooding because
of non-functional and leaking spillway gates. The gates had been removed
during the early stages of the Iraq - Iran war to prevent deliberate
flooding and later repairs were not finished due to the Gulf War and
subsequent economic sanctions. The repair work was carried out by United
Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations
Development Program, the UN said. Further repair work is necessary for
the structure to function fully, providing it's capacity of electricity
and providing water for irrigation downstream.

Independent, Friday 5th February 1999: US to be sued for Sudan bombing
By Andrew Marshall in Washington 

The United States may be forced to acknowledge that it mistakenly
attacked a factory in Sudan with cruise missiles last year, after the
threat of legal proceedings by the plant's Sudanese owner. The US struck
a pharmaceuticals plant in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and a camp in
Afghanistan last August after bombs at its embassies in Nairobi, Kenya,
and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It said that both targets had links to the
man they blamed for bombs, the renegade Saudi millionaire Osama bin
Laden, and that the plant in Khartoum manufactured chemical weapons. The
strikes caused enormous controversy since they came on the day that
Monica Lewinsky gave evidence on her affair with President Bill Clinton,
raising accusations that the White House was seeking to distract
attention. The owner of the plant, Saleh Idris, has asked the US to
apologise, to unfreeze his assets and to compensate him for damage to
the factory, which he says was a legitimate pharmaceuticals factory.
"We'd like to settle this peacefully," said John Scanlon, who represents
Mr Idris in New York. But a legal action was under preparation, he said.
Mr Idris has retained the Washington law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer
Feld, the same firm which employs Vernon Jordan, who gave evidence in
defence of Mr Clinton in the Senate impeachment trial. A legal case
would be almost unprecedented, and could have major implications for Mr
Clinton and for US foreign policy. 

Mr Idris, who is also an adviser to Saudi Arabia's largest bank, has
retained Kroll Associates, the world's leading firm of private
investigators, to examine the evidence. Mr Scanlon said it proves that
there was no chemical weapons plant in the factory, that it had never
belonged to Mr bin Laden and that there were no links between Mr Idris
and Mr bin Laden or the Iraqi government. The US said it found traces of
chemicals that could be used to make VX nerve gas at the site. Mr
Idris's representatives also conducted their own laboratory tests, said
Mr Scanlon. The US has never provided evidence of links between Mr bin
Laden and Mr Idris. 

Mr Idris's representatives presented their case this week to the
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the US House of
Representatives, said a US government source. Mr Scanlon said they also
asked to meet representatives from other US government agencies, but had
been rebuffed. Mr Idris has millions of dollars of assets in Bank of
America in London, which have been frozen by the US Treasury's Office of
Foreign Assets Control on instructions from the White House. Bank of
America would not comment on Mr Saleh but said that their operations in
London were subject to US jurisdiction. The US Treasury also refused to
comment on Mr Idris, but said that some asset freezes apply outside
America to US financial institutions. The British government has fewer
concerns about Mr Idris than Washington. He is banned from entering the
US, but travels freely to and from London. The British ambassador to
Sudan had also visited the pharmaceuticals plant, and British sources
have been highly sceptical of the US attack.

At the time of last year's strike, there was an argument within the
Administration as to whether the Sudanese plant was a legitimate target.
The US said after the strike that the facility was a Sudanese government
factory, but corrected this when it became clear that it had belonged to
Mr Idris since April. One US government source told The Independent that
it was a case of "right country, wrong building". The US government was
itself divided over the attacks. The factory was reportedly added to the
target list at the last moment. America had wanted to hit the building
for some time, and the embassy bombings provided a rationale, said the
government official.

Iraq to Get Internet Access 
Thursday, February 4, 1999; 5:29 a.m. EST

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Some Iraqi government offices will have access to
the Internet soon, the director of the National Computer Center was
quoted as saying today. However, access will be limited to ensure that
Iraqis ``will not be affected by negative Western thoughts,'' al-Zawra
weekly quoted the director, Hilal al-Bayati as saying. He did not
elaborate. But in the past, Iraq has said the United States uses the
Internet to dominate the world by entering every household. One
government paper declared the Internet ``the end of civilizations,
cultures, interests and ethics.'' Iraqi newspapers often blame
Washington for the country's suffering under a U.N. embargo, which was
imposed in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait, prompting the 1991 Gulf War.
Al-Bayati said his center plans to provide the world with details and
information about Iraq's culture and art through the Internet. It was
not clear if Iraq had obtained permission to install the Internet system
from the United Nations, which has to approve Iraq's commercial
contracts with foreign countries because of the sanctions.


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