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From the news

*       Nobel Peace Prize winners speak out in Baghdad (Associated
*       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

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

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


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.

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