The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
* International criticism of Iraq air strikes (New York Times) * British Government forced to defend new rules for the strikes (The Guardian) * The Daily Telegraph on international criticism and opacity of long-term UK policy goals: Britain making "increasingly unconvincing denials that the aim was to destabilise Saddam Hussein..." * US attempts to shore up support among "friendly Gulf States" by listing the Iraqi regime's persistent violations of human rights (Associated Press) * Saudi Arabia (most influential of the "friendly Gulf States") expresses strong opposition to intervention (Arabic News) * Various articles from the BBC: (1) Arab League seeks Iraqi cooperation; (2) Iraq alleges US and Saudi oil conspiracy; (3) extracts from an interview on the subject of the damamge of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline between a Turkish TV interviewer and Nadir Biyikoglu, the acting director of the Turkish Pipeline and Petroleum Transport Corporation; (4) details of yesterday's (Thursday's) air strike The Guardian article is well worth reading. British Defence Secretary George Robertson stresses that "Britain was not at war with Saddam Hussein or the Iraqi regime". Robertson also furnishes a contender for Quote Of The Month: "What kind of government is it, what kind of leader is it that watches his children die, watches his hospitals operate without drugs but keeps millions of pounds worth of medicines and medical supplies locked up in a warehouse?" ******************** The Guardian, Friday March 5, 1999 Government forced to defend new rules for Iraqi air strikes By Ian Black, Diplomatic Editor Concern about the United States and British bombing of Iraq forced the Government on to the defensive yesterday, bringing confirmation that allied pilots have had their rules of engagement changed to cope with frequent attacks by Saddam Hussein's men. George Robertson, the Defence Secretary, said in response to an emergency Commons question that air crews were facing daily attempts to kill them and that there had been more than 100 Iraqi violations of the 'no-fly' zones since Operation Desert Fox ended before Christmas. But Mr Robertson insisted that the rules of engagement had changed in a purely 'defensive manner'. He said the only other option would be to give up patrolling the zones, set up to protect rebellious Kurds and Shi'ites from Iraqi forces after the 1991 Gulf war. Later the Ministry of Defence confirmed that RAF planes had attacked an air defence site near the southern port of Basra. In Moscow Robin Cook, the British Foreign Secretary, told his Russian hosts - who oppose the use of force against Iraq - that the exclusion zones are to 'prevent Saddam Hussein from bombing his own people'. US officials have suggested the attacks are being stepped up to lower morale in the Iraqi armed forces and encourage a coup attempt. Meanwhile, pumping was resumed through the Iraq-Turkish oil pipeline yesterday, less than a week after US warplanes attacked communications centres that controlled the flow of oil. The resumption eased fears about the disruption of a United Nations humanitarian programme that depends on oil exports. Mr Robertson rebuffed suggestions from Labour leftwingers that Britain was at war with Iraq without the backing of UN resolutions. Tam Dalyell - a staunch opponent of eight years of punitive UN sanctions, had asked the Defence Secretary to outline the change in the rules of engagement. Mr Robertson insisted that all allied targets had been 'legitimate military ones'. Veteran leftwinger Tony Benn said Mr Robertson's statement had, in effect, 'announced a state of war against Iraq'. He protested that there was 'absolutely no United Nations authority' for this. The US and Britain argue that defence of the no-fly zones is allowed by the 'overwhelming humanitarian necessity' mentioned in UN resolutions. Mr Robertson stressed that Britain was not at war with Saddam Hussein or the Iraqi regime. Robert Key, for the Conservatives, asked Mr Robertson to explain why there appeared to be 'a divergence' between US and British objectives. 'The US has made it clear that its policy objective is the removal of Saddam Hussein from office - that is also the Conservative position,' he said. 'We've heard nothing of the long-term objectives of our Government.' Mr Robertson countered that there was no such divergence and that the strategy was to make sure President Saddam was not a threat to his neighbours or his own people. Returning to the offensive, he drew on a recent UN report, pointing out that the Iraqi leader has £170 million worth of medical supplies in warehouses which he refuses to distribute. The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs and defence spokesman, Menzies Campbell, said he supported the use of force as a last resort, but added: 'There is a substantial distinction to be drawn between a defensive response to the threat of attack and what is taking place now, namely the systematic destruction of the air defence system of Iraq.' Mr Robertson replied: 'What kind of government is it, what kind of leader is it that watches his children die, watches his hospitals operate without drugs but keeps millions of pounds worth of medicines and medical supplies locked up in a warehouse?' He added: 'It is not a part of our policy to remove him from office. That will be something done by the Iraqi people in their own good time. What we can do is point out to them through every channel that we have got that he is a butchering dictator.' ******************** >From the New York Times, March 4 Turks Assail Strike on Iraq that Disabled Oil Pipeline By ELIZABETH BECKER WASHINGTON -- Turkey on Wednesday criticized the air war over Iraq and declared that the American strike that disrupted a pipeline to Turkey this week was unacceptable. At the United Nations, China told a closed session of the Security Council that all bombardments over Iraq must end, according to diplomats. And over the weekend, the Arab League reversed its policy enunciated in January and called on the United States and Britain to stop the bombing immediately. Flow from the pipeline resumed on Wednesday, the United Nations said. But with the souring of the international mood, it was no accident that the skies over Iraq were quiet on Wednesday, one allied diplomat said. While many of those countries, as well as France and Russia, have raised sharp questions about the air war, they seem to have become more outspoken in their criticism since the American bombing of a communications station for the Kirkuk to Ceyhan pipeline on Sunday. That pipeline carries oil to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, where it is then sold as part of the United Nations oil for food program for Iraq. Turkey is a close ally of the United States and lets American planes carry out raids from bases in Turkey. But the Pentagon said that the furor would not lead to any changes in its rules of engagement that were widened at the end of January to allow American pilots to hit anything that threatened their ability to patrol the no-flight zones in northern and southern Iraq. The United States created those zones after the Persian Gulf war ended in 1991 to protect the Kurds and Shiite Muslims. President Saddam Hussein of Iraq began challenging British and American jets patrolling those zones in December. "It's our view that nothing has changed except that Saddam Hussein has repeatedly been challenging our enforcement of the no-flight zone," said James Foley, deputy State Department spokesman. "We targeted these facilities because we believe that they serve a function in the operation of Iraq's air defense system." While Britain remains a solid ally in patrolling the zones, Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday did call the bombing that disrupted the pipeline a mistake. But Foley said the United States does not intentionally target the pipeline and other systems associated with the oil for food program. On Wednesday, the Security Council was given the damage assessment done by the United Nations independent inspection agents who visited the pipeline station on Monday. The damages temporarily disrupted the pipeline from Kirkuk to Ceyhan that carries half the oil Iraq is permitted to export under the oil for food program. British and American officials say that Saddam has been moving antiaircraft artillery pieces and surface-to-air missiles near population centers, antiquities and other sensitive locations, making it difficult for pilots to protect themselves. "Saddam is playing games and becoming more sophisticated at how to play these angles," said a Pentagon official. "That repeater station was relaying radar data for the Iraqi air-defense system and the strike against it was done in pure self-defense." The Arab League on Sunday called for an immediate halt of the allied bombing because of "great disquiet" over the "loss of life, destruction of infrastructure and an increase in tension in region." The Chinese request for a halt in the bombing was made at a private session at the United Nations. Diplomats said that Russia and other member countries agreed with China, citing humanitarian grounds. One allied diplomat said on Wednesday: "There has been a pile-on effect these last few days. There has to be a balance between protecting pilots and not falling into one of Saddam's traps. But given the number of bombs dropped over the last five days, it's surprising things have gone bad only once." ******************** The Daily Telegraph, 5 March 1999 Allies take the flak over air raids on Iraq By Philip Sherwell in Baghdad, Patrick Bishop and Tim Butcher INTERNATIONAL disquiet was mounting yesterday at the broadening of the air campaign against Iraqi targets, as Britain made increasingly unconvincing denials that the aim was to destabilise Saddam Hussein. As British aircraft struck again, attacking a hostile Iraqi radar site south of the port of Basra, the Government came under pressure in the Commons to disclose its long-term strategy. Left-wing critics accused the Government of joining America in an"undeclared war" against Iraq while the Tories said the British public was being kept in the dark about the real motives of the bombing campaign.Analysts believe that the coalition aim is to grind away at Saddam's military capacity and encourage an army revolt. However, critics say that Washington still lacks a coherent plan for managing the dictator's downfall or shaping the post-Saddam landscape of Iraq. China, Russia, France and Turkey have criticised a spate of air strikes which culminated on Sunday in raids that, according to Iraqi claims, damaged a key export pipeline carrying oil due to be sold to buy food and medical supplies for the country's sanctions-hit civilians. Washington was sufficiently embarrassed by the attack to issue statements defending it, claiming Iraq had more than £150 million worth of food and medicine in warehouses hidden from the public. Iraqi opposition figures have also condemned the attacks, saying they do little to weaken Saddam and reveal a vacuum at the heart of America's strategic thinking. American and British warplanes have launched almost daily strikes since mid-December when the three-day operation Desert Fox was launched to punish Saddam for withdrawing co-operation with UN inspectors hunting down his weapons of mass destruction. Since the New Year the attacks have been aimed at Iraqi air defences after Baghdad decided to violate the "no-fly" zones in the north and south of the country set up after the Gulf War to protect the Kurdish and Shia populations from Saddam's airforce, and target allied aircraft. On Wednesday George Robertson, the Defence Secretary, admitted that the range of targets had been extended to cover communications centres directing the air defences. "The rules of engagement have been expanded to make sure that the command and control of the air defence systems will become the targets because they are the systems that endanger the lives of our pilots," he told the BBC. The new strategy was revealed this week when American jets destroyed two communication centres on the million-barrel-a-day Iraqi-Turkish pipeline carrying more than half the crude that the United Nations allows Iraq to export to pay for humanitarian supplies. The flow of oil resumed yesterday after drying up for 84 hours, depriving Baghdad of £23 million of revenue. Tony Blair denied that the pipeline was deliberately targeted and American sources said the sites that were bombed were being used to transmit military information. The raids deepened international disquiet at the ongoing air campaign, which critics say is only delaying a solution to the problem posed by Saddam and Iraq. China said yesterday that the air strikes escalated tensions and Russia's ambassador to the UN said Moscow was "very seriously concerned" at the damage. Of more concern to America was the angry reaction of Turkey, from whose Incirlik air base the attacks were launched. Turkey's co-operation has been vital to Washington's regional policy, but exasperation has been mounting as the almost perpetual Iraqi crisis drifts further from a conclusion. "The continuation of the tension has caused serious damage to Turkey and with every passing day the damage is growing," said Sermet Atacanli, of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. "A solution has to be found to this wound that has been bleeding since 1990." The pipeline bombing seemed certain to add to the dismay of UN agencies lobbying the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to ease the sanctions regime which they say is causing increased infant mortality and malnutrition. Mr Annan himself is sceptical about the tough military stance struck by Washington and Britain. Saddam appears to be doing his best to exploit differences, and the decision to challenge the "no-fly" zones by incursions and the targeting of coalition patrols seems to have been designed to invite reprisals that could generate sympathy for Iraq. According to the Pentagon it has been a costly strategy, with a fifth of Iraq's air defences destroyed by allied bombing. The Ministry of Defence said yesterday that there had been 150 serious provocations in the "no-fly" zones by the Iraqis since the end of December and coalition aircraft had struck back 80 times. Opposition groups and their supporters say America lacks a coherent plan for dealing with Saddam. Richard Perle, a former senior American defence official, said: "The current policy combining economic sanctions that affect the people more than the regime, and intermittent bombing by the US and such allies as it can persuade on an ad hoc basis, won't achieve the elimination of the threat of Saddam's relentless drive for weapons of mass destruction." In the Commons, Mr Robertson said the "tailoring" of the rules of engagement for pilots to attack any part of Iraq's integrated defence system was based purely on self-defence. "Saddam's latest campaign against coalition air crew is sustained and direct and leaves us with a stark choice: to give up and let him do his worst to the Iraqi Kurds in the north and the Shias in the south, or to act to protect those flying these legitimate humanitarian patrols. We cannot simply ignore these attacks." He faced criticism from Tam Dalyell, the Left-wing Labour MP, who said the change in the rules of engagement amounted to a declaration of war. From the Right, Mr Robertson was criticised for not sharing the Tories' clearly stated policy goal of the removal of Saddam. Robert Key, the Tory defence spokesman, asked: "We've heard nothing of the long-term objectives of our Government today. Do you understand that if you are to retain public support and support of the whole House you must develop and share with us a long-term strategy on Iraq?" Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, wanted the Government to acknowledge that a significant change had taken place. "There is a substantial distinction to be drawn between a defensive response to the threat of attack and what is taking place now, namely the systematic destruction of the air defence system of Iraq," he said. The MoD confirmed that four RAF Tornado GR1s attacked an Iraqi air-defence radar near Basra in the southern "no-fly" zone. It was too early to tell whether their laser-guided bombs had destroyed the target. ******************** Cohen to Build Mideast Coalition By John Diamond, Associated Press Writer, Friday, March 5, 1999; 3:52 a.m. EST NAPLES, Italy (AP) -- Intensifying its efforts to secure Arab support, the Clinton administration is accusing Iraq of a broad array of human rights violations, from political assassinations to the wholesale destruction of minority communities. Defense Secretary William Cohen began a five-day tour of allied states in the Persian Gulf region today seeking to shore up support for the almost constant battles between U.S. aircraft and Iraqi air defense batteries in northern and southern Iraq. Cohen is the latest senior administration official to travel to the Gulf seeking to avert any softening of allied support from countries that host much of the U.S. military force in the region. On a broader front, the administration released the text of a letter from President Clinton to House and Senate leaders explaining U.S. policy toward Iraq and including an intelligence summary of alleged Iraqi human rights violations. ``The human rights situation throughout Iraq continues to be a cause for grave concern,'' Clinton said in the letter, addressed to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Sen. Strom Thurmond, president pro-tem of the Senate. ``The Iraqi army has stepped up repressive operations against the (ethnic) Shia in the south. ... In the north, outside the Kurdish controlled areas, the government continues the forced expulsion of ethnic Kurds and Turkomen from Kirkuk and other cities.'' Clinton said most of the reports come from the repressed ethnic minorities and that some could not be independently confirmed. The minority groups have consistently portrayed the Iraqi regime in a harsh light and Saddam Hussein's government has dismissed many of the charges as exaggerations or fabrications. The administration and Congress are trying to funnel support to the strongest of these opposition groups. ``We will work toward the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people,'' Clinton said. While Clinton said some of these groups, particularly in northern Iraq, are demonstrating greater unity, outside experts in Washington and U.S. intelligence officials say there is no sign that any group is in a position to oust Saddam. What is clear is that these groups are operating under intensifying pressure from the Baghdad regime. Specifically, the administration reported: --In mid-November the administration received unconfirmed reports that 150 people had been executed in Amara in northern Iraq, with three bodies left hanging from the city's main bridge over the Tigris River as a warning to opponents of the regime. --An additional 172 people, some detained since 1991 in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, were reported executed at two Iraqi prisons. Bodies returned to families showed clear signs of torture. --In December the administration learned that a mass grave containing at least 25 bodies was found near the Khoraisan River east of Baghdad. --Saddam's regime ``continues to work toward the destruction of the (southern Iraqi) Marsh Arabs' way of life and the unique ecology of the southern marshes. In the past two months, seven more villages were reportedly destroyed on the margins of the marshes, with irrigation cut off.'' --On Feb. 19, the Shia Grand Ayatollah Mohammed al-Sadr was assassinated in Iraq along with several relatives. ``Opposition sources indicate this murder was the work of the Saddam regime,'' Clinton said. The costly maintenance of the no-flight zones over northern and southern Iraq began following the Gulf War to prevent Iraq from using air power against ethnic minorities. In an interview with reporters en route to Naples, where Cohen's plane refueled before going on to the Middle East, Cohen said Iraq has launched about 20 surface-to-air missiles at U.S. warplanes since the stikes on Iraq resumed in December. Recently, U.S. spy satellites and spy planes have found evidence that Saddam has ordered a withdrawal of SAM batteries from the no-flight zones because of the pounding they were taking from U.S. warplanes. U.S. officials insist that the almost daily battles over Iraq have not weakened U.S. ties with Gulf allies. But Cohen made clear that a key part of his mission is preventing any erosion in support from friendly Gulf states. ``They want to make sure that we are acting appropriately and I think we can demonstrate very clearly that Saddam has been consistently violating the no-fly zone,'' Cohen said. ``Part of my mission is to talk with them, tell them what we've done, show them how we're conducting ourselves.'' ******************** On eve of Cohen tour, Saudi Arabia says opposes intervention in Iraqi affairs Arabic News, Saudi Arabia, Politics, 3/4/99 With the beginning of a tour by US Defense Secretary William Cohen to the region, Saudi Arabia has expressed its strong opposition to any intervention in the internal affairs of Iraq. Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz on Wednesday expressed his country's opposition to schemes aiming to destabilize Iraq, in reference to US support for the Iraqi opposition. The Saudi minister said: "We confront any intervention in the internal affairs of Iraq." The statements made by the Saudi minister came on the eve of the visit Cohen will hold to several countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Cohen will visit during his tour which he will start today until March 12 Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Cohen's visit comes amid continued tension in the region as a result of the continued US - British strikes on Iraq. Gulf sources in Cairo said Cohen will discuss with high-ranking officials in the Middle East the developments of the peace process, the status in the Gulf region and the US policy toward Iraq in the light of the continued confrontations in the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. The sources added that there are pressures on the Gulf by the U.S. to declare support for the no-fly zones imposed by the US and Britain. The sources added that Cohen will try to show that the situation is unstable in the Gulf and that the U.S. will do its best to support the Gulf states against Iraq. Cohen will also meet with the US forces in Kuwait. ******************** BBC Online, 5 March 1999 Arab League seeks Iraqi cooperation A senior official from the Arab League Ahmed Ben Helli is in Baghdad to try to persuade Iraq to cooperate with a committee set up to discuss ways of ending international sanctions. Iraq rejects the committee because it says it includes countries which were hostile to it during the Gulf War. The committee is due to hold its first meeting in Damascus this weekend. ******************** BBC Online, 5 March 1999 Iraq alleges US and Saudi oil conspiracy The Iraqi oil minister, Amer Rasheed, has accused the United States and Saudia Arabia of conspiring to degrade his country's oil production capacity so that Saudi Arabia can pump more oil on to the market. In an interview with the BBC's Arabic service, Mr Rasheed also said that the United States and Britain were trying to destroy Iraq's civilian infrastructure. He said there were no military installations or forces anywhere near the pumping station or the residential quarters which were attacked by American military aircraft last weekend. ******************** BBC Online, 5 March 1999 Serious damage to Iraqi pipeline The damage inflicted on the Iraq-Turkish oil export pipeline by Allied bombing raids was the subject of a Turkish television interview with Nadir Biyikoglu, the acting director of the Turkish Pipeline and Petroleum Transport Corporation. The following are extracts from the interview: Interviewer - I believe that the solution to the damage caused to the oil pipeline is only temporary and that the oil pipeline has not been repaired fully. Nadir Biyikoglu - The two attacks on the oil pipeline on 28 February and 1 March caused damage to the relay stations, the communication stations on the Iraqi side. The Ain Zalah station, which is close to our border, was completely bypassed because the damage could not be fully repaired. The communication between , the Iraq-Turkey 2A pumping station, and the Silopi pumping station, was restored after the antennas were adjusted. - Will the repair work take long? - According to the information we received from the Iraqi side, considerable damage has been caused to the Ain Zalah station. They said that the station was razed to the ground. Therefore, the repairs may take a long time. The repair period will not affect the pumping, however, as we have bypassed the station. The pumping of oil was resumed as of 2355 (2155 GMT) on 3 March by restoring the communications. - Are there any problems in sight? Is the oil being pumped normally? - At present, the oil flow is normal. The pumping is continuing at a speed of 7,000 cubic metres per hour. - Oil has not flowed through the pipeline for the past four days. Did this cause any problems for us? - We suffered no losses, because we have continued to load oil from our stocks to the tankers at the Ceyhan terminal [a Turkish Mediterranean port]. Our stocks would have been depleted, however, if the pumping had not been resumed by tonight. We are now continuing with the loading work without any problems whatsoever since the flow was resumed. ******************* BBC Online, 4 March 1999 UK plane hits Iraqi target Tornado jets have hit an Iraqi radar site A British warplane attacked a Iraqi military radar site in the southern no-fly zone on Thursday, according to American and British defence officials. A UK Defence Ministry spokesman said its planes had attacked a site near the city of Basra and US officials said that a British Tornado jet carried out the attack. Both countries confirmed that none of their planes were damaged in the attack. Damage to the Iraqi side is being assessed. The attack was in response to two Iraqi violations of the US-imposed air exclusion zone, according to US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, which oversees US forces in the Gulf. Their statement said the British jet struck a radar site some 15 miles (22 km) south of the town of Al-Basrah, near Ash Shuaybah in southern Iraq at about 1315 GMT. " The strikes were in response to two Iraqi violations of the southern no-fly zone and aircraft illuminations by Iraqi surface-to-air missiles," the statement said. It said there had been more than 95 Iraqi violations in the Western-enforced southern no-fly zone. There had also been 35 incidents of Iraqi surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery and target-tracking radar being fixed on US and British aircraft patrolling the zone, the statement continued. On Monday, US jets dropped more than 30 bombs on radio relay sites, communications targets and air defence guns in Iraq's northern no-fly zone in one of the heaviest bombardments in two months. Earlier on Thursday, Defence Secretary George Robertson told the Commons that British and US pilots patrolling over Iraq were now coming under fire from heavy rocket systems as Saddam Hussein escalated his attacks against coalition planes. ******************** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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