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* Nobel Peace Prize winners speak out in Baghdad (Associated Press) * US encounters open opposition from Qatar (Associated Press) * Cohen seeks a plan to partition Iraq (Arabic News) * US officials acknowledge policy shift in the no-fly zones but senior Pentagon official says (anonymously): "It's not about opposition groups at all" (Associated Press). * Second day of attacks in Mosul area (BBC) * Arab League envoy talks with Iraqi government on inter-Arab stance (Arabic News) ******************** Nobel Winners: Give Iraq a Break By Waiel Faleh, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, March 9, 1999; 11:04 a.m. EST BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Two Nobel peace laureates urged President Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday to end the bombing of Iraq and to allow U.N. sanctions to be lifted. The plea was made by Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Ireland and Adolfo Perez-Esquivel of Argentina, who both arrived in Iraq on Sunday as part of a New York-based international peace activist group, Fellowship Of Reconciliation. The activists visited schools and hospitals, including a cancer ward, to see the effects of the economic sanctions imposed in 1990 to punish Iraq for invading Kuwait. The United States and Britain oppose lifting the sanctions, saying Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government remains a threat to his neighbors and to his own people. Iraq says the sanctions have killed tens of thousands of children by creating shortages of medicines and nutritious food. ``This is genocide. Children are dying slowly and painfully,'' said Perez-Esquivel, who opposed a military dictatorship in his native Argentina, and won the Nobel Prize in 1980. Maguire, who shared the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end the violence in Northern Ireland, has long campaigned against using military force against Iraq. ``I have seen children dying with their mothers next to them and not being able to do anything,'' Maguire said. ``They are not soldiers.'' U.S. and British warplanes have bombed Iraq regularly since mid-December in retaliation for being challenged by Iraqi air defenses. The allied planes patrol Iraqi skies to prevent the Iraqi air force from striking opposition groups. Iraq considers the patrol planes intruders. Maguire said Clinton should help bring peace in Iraq just as he helped forge the peace deal in Northern Ireland. ``We, in Ireland, are grateful for what he has accomplished with the help of ... Blair and will be more grateful if they work together again to stop sanctions and bombing of Iraq,'' she said. Clinton, Blair, Saddam and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan should sit together for a dialogue ``in order to end this suffering,'' she said. Perez-Esquivel seconded that in comments made before the activists left Baghdad on Tuesday. He said: ``We call on the president of America, the vice president and the congressmen to come to Iraq and see the little children and Tony Blair, the U.K. government and Kofi Annan to come and to go to the cancer ward and give us an answer ... what was their crime?'' ******************** Qatar Leader Criticizes U.S By John Diamond, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, March 9, 1999; 10:16 a.m. EST DOHA, Qatar (AP) -- Defense Secretary William Cohen encountered the first open opposition to nearly daily U.S. airstrikes over Iraq today as a key U.S. partner in the Persian Gulf region said the strikes should end and the tension over Iraq eased peacefully. Qatar's foreign minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, said Qatar opposed the running air war over Iraq in which the United States has conducted scores of strikes on Iraq air defenses in response to Baghdad challenging U.S. enforcement of the deny-flight zones over northern and southern Iraq. ``We do not wish to see Iraq being bombed daily or these attacks, which are being made in the no-fly zone,'' the foreign minister said. He spoke at a joint news conference with Cohen following an hour-long meeting about a variety of defense issues. ``We understand the position of the United States,'' Hamad said. But he added, ``I cannot say we support the daily (attacks) in the no-fly zone.'' The statements marked the first open opposition coming from any of the U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf to emerge during Cohen's week-long swing through the region. Cohen and senior Pentagon officials had insisted that, up until today, leaders in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates have voiced no explicit opposition to the U.S. actions. During the news conference, Cohen hastily defended the U.S. attacks, saying they are simply self-defense against a newly aggressive Iraqi policy of trying to shoot down U.S. warplanes. ``There would be no daily attacks upon the triple-A (anti-aircraft) batteries or the radars or the surface-to-air missiles if Saddam Hussein were not trying to take down and destroy our aircraft,'' Cohen said. ``So the way for the attacks to stop is for Saddam to simply stop trying to violate the no-fly zones and stop trying to kill our pilots.'' In Washington, meanwhile, Pentagon officials said the attacks and counterattacks continued today over northern Iraq. Army Col. Richard Bridges said U.S. F-15 fighters launched 500-pound bombs at three anti-aircraft sites that fired on patrolling planes. Later Cohen traveled to Al Jaber Air Base in the Kuwaiti desert, where he spoke to some of the pilots conducting the deny-flight missions in southern Iraq and dodging frequent Iraqi antiaircraft fire. ``I want to tell you how important the mission you're doing is,'' Cohen said. He recalled past trips to the Gulf when he heard U.S. combat pilots complain that the patrols over Iraq were boring and that they weren't doing anything other than flying circles in the sky. ``Now you're doing a whole lot more,'' he said. With various Air Force units rotating into the region periodically, there are now a dozen A-10 ground-attack planes and 24 F-16s, some capable of dropping laser-guided bombs, others armed with anti-radar missiles, at Al Jaber. Cohen defended the U.S. military presence in the region as vital to the stability and economic prosperity of the Gulf, and vital to U.S. and world oil supplies. Despite Qatar's concern about the airbattles over Iraq, this peninsula nation in the Persian Gulf is providing storage space for an armored brigade's worth of U.S. tanks and other heavy weapons -- about 200 armored vehicles in all by next year. Qatar is also conducting talks with the United States about building a pier facility that could accommodate U.S. aircraft carriers. No U.S. combat planes involved in the deny-flight mission are flying out of Qatar. But this nation has in the past two years allowed U.S. Air Force expeditionary wings to deploy temporarily in its territory. Hamad said Qatar's main focus is on bringing ``peace and stability to the area. Sometimes we have our differences'' on how best to bring that about. ******************** Cohen seeks a plan to partition Iraq, report says Arabic News, United Arab Emirates, Politics, 3/8/99 The US Defense Secretary William Cohen currently making a tour of the Gulf region is attempting to obtain the support of the Gulf states for a plan to partition Iraq, a report said. AFP said that United Arab Emirates al-Khaleej daily quoted well-informed diplomatic sources in Doha as saying that Cohen is trying to convince countries of the region, especially the Gulf states, of a US plan aimed at perpetuating the independence of northern Iraq by establishing a Kurdish entity, but this entity is not to be split from Iraq but to be linked to it in a confederation that will be a starting point for the opposition against the Iraqi government. The same sources added that this plan will not deal with southern Iraq with the same logic, under the pretext that by doing so it will avail the chance for establishing an entity which would constitute a center point for Iranian influence (in reference to the Shiites of southern Iraq). The well-informed diplomatic sources did not rule out that Cohen will in his Gulf tour repropose his ideas to obtain Gulf support for the US plan aimed at toppling the government of Saddam Hussein through backing the Iraqi opposition groups. However, the Gulf states showed reservations and opposition to such a plan during the previous tour held by US Undersecretary of State Martin Indyk. ******************** U.S.: Iraq Patrols Limit Aggression By John Diamond, Associated Press Writer, Monday, March 8, 1999; 2:06 a.m. EST MUSCAT, Oman (AP) -- The policy underpinning the costly and dangerous mission of patrolling the skies over northern and southern Iraq has shifted since the end of the Persian Gulf War. U.S. officials acknowledge that the deny-flight effort has only partially succeeded at its original mission. Now they describe the policy as primarily designed to constrict Iraq's military against possible aggression toward neighboring countries. Equally important, the flights constantly remind Iraq of its restricted status as a nation. Almost forgotten is the original purpose of the deny-flight missions: protecting ethnic populations in northern and southern Iraq from air attack by Saddam Hussein's forces. Now, according to a report by President Clinton to Congress, Saddam has merely shifted those attacks to the ground, burning villages and assassinating or executing opponents -- all of it taking place under the wings of U.S. warplanes. Defense Secretary William Cohen, touring the Persian Gulf region this week in support of the air campaign over Iraq, says that Iraq's almost daily challenges to U.S. warplanes over northern and southern Iraq must be met with force. In private meetings this weekend in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman, he has encountered little if any criticism of that policy. What has gone largely undiscussed is the reasoning behind the deny-flight effort, and its ultimate goal. That missing element came into clear focus during Cohen's trip when President Clinton sent a report to Congress detailing human rights abuses being carried out in northern and southern Iraq. According to the White House report, Iraqi authorities have conducted wholesale burning of villages, summary executions and political assassinations of ethnic Kurds in the north and Shia ``Marsh Arabs'' in the south. Speaking Sunday to reporters traveling with him, Cohen said the first mission of the U.S. warplanes over Iraq is ``to protect the region from Saddam making any kind of an aggressive assault upon them.'' Second is to protect ethnic Kurds and Shiites in Iraq. On that score, he said, the results are mixed. ``We can't prevent Saddam from carrying out assassinations or the kind of brutal repression that he has been carrying out,'' Cohen said. ``We have been successful in using fixed-wing helicopter attacks, and so to that extent, it's been successful.'' When the Persian Gulf War ended in 1991, U.S. negotiators failed to anticipate that Iraq would use helicopters in suppressing emerging opposition in the north and south. The helicopters became a key weapon in Iraq's ruthless counterinsurgency campaign. By 1992, the deny-flight mission was up and running and Iraqi military air activity in the two zones largely ceased. Two years later, in the face of threatening Iraqi troop movements aimed at Kuwait, the United States established a ``no drive'' zone, barring major military maneuvers in southern Iraq. In 1996, the southern deny-flight zone was enlarged northward toward Baghdad. Today, some 60 percent of Iraqi territory is off limits to Iraq's air forces. >From then on, U.S. warplanes patrolled less to search for Iraqi aircraft than to watch for signs of troop movements, photograph future worthy targets, and do all the things that would go into an air campaign except actually dropping bombs. Now, amid aggressive Iraqi fighter and antiaircraft missile tactics, the bombs are falling. These attacks, according to Cohen, are designed to protect the integrity of the deny-flight mission and the lives of American pilots. Cohen is in a delicate position in his diplomatic rounds on the broader point behind the U.S. air patrols over Iraq. Arab states friendly toward the United States appear willing to accept the deny-flight mission -- and the inevitability of U.S. retaliation against Iraq when the planes are challenged. What they oppose is any overt U.S. policy of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. The United States has said repeatedly it wants a change in government in Baghdad and will work with credible opposition groups to help bring that about. But to the extent there is any open opposition in Iraq, it resides in the northern and southern zones. Are U.S. warplanes providing an umbrella beneath which opposition to Saddam can grow? A senior Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity, emphatically says no. ``It's not about opposition groups at all,'' the official said. ******************** New US strikes on Iraq BBC Online, Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Published at 14:31 GMT (extract) US warplanes have bombed Iraqi air defence sites in the northern no-fly zone after being tracked by Iraqi radar, according to US military officials. A spokesman said the US F-15 warplanes were "acting in self-defence" and had hit several artillery sites around the Iraqi city of Mosul. The warplanes have now returned safely to their base in southern Turkey. The renewed bombing coincides with a visit to the Gulf region by the American defence secretary, William Cohen who has now arrived in Kuwait for a two-day visit. Iraqi newspapers have criticised Gulf Arab states for receiving Mr Cohen, calling American bombings and the no-fly zones illegal. During his tour, Mr Cohen has visited Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. It is now the second day running that US warplanes have been targeting sites near Mosul. On Monday Reuters news agency said that one person was injured in the attacks, although a Pentagon spokesman said he had no such reports. Last week similar strikes damaged a pipeline carrying crude oil from Iraq to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Oil pumping has since resumed. ******************** AL envoy confers with Iraqi president Arabic News, Regional, Politics, 3/8/99 Arab League Assistant Secretary General Ahmad Bin Hali left Baghdad on Sunday following a three-day visit to Iraq, during which he met with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and handed him a message from Arab League Secretary General Esmat Abdul Meguid. An Arab diplomat in Baghdad said that Bin Hali carried back with him a message to Abdul Meguid containing ideas and proposals that would help in continuing contacts and that his visit was not a failure, but it did not achieve the objectives for the sake of which he came to Iraq. Bin Hali said that he left Baghdad "with optimism" over what he had heard from the Iraqis. The Arab diplomat added that the AL envoy expressed during his meeting with the Arab ambassadors accredited in Baghdad his happiness over the results he achieved at the conclusion of his mission. He stressed the possibility of developing a stand in which all various Arab stances can meet to achieve the optimum inter-Arab meeting. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html