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Most of these are extracts. The Reuters and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article courtesy of a US-based discussion list. * Iraq Flies Pilgrims to Mecca (Associated Press) * U.S. congressmen urge Clinton to curb Iraq oil sales (Reuters) * Tuesday's bombs (Associated Press) * Monday's bombs (BBC Online) * Arab foreign ministers draft statements on Iraq (Arabic News) * El-Baz, advisor to Hosni Mubarak says air-strikes are destabilising the region (Arabic News) * 23 Iraqi army officers executed for conspiracy (Arabic News) * Gulf Cooperation Council statement: Iraq problem cannot be solved by force (Arabic News) * Looking back at Iraq with eyes full of tears (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) ******************** Iraq Flies Pilgrims to Mecca By Waiel Faleh, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, March 16, 1999; 9:42 a.m. EST BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- An Iraqi Airways aircraft flew to Saudi Arabia today carrying 110 Muslim pilgrims, the official Iraqi News Agency reported, making the trip in apparent violation of U.N. sanctions that bar flights to and from Iraq. The Russian-made Il-76 took off from the al-Rashid military base, 10 miles south of Baghdad, with the religious affairs minister on board along with the hajj pilgrims, mostly women and elderly people, INA said. It landed a few hours later in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Iraq apparently did not seek U.N. permission for the flight. ``We have not contacted anybody for approvals,'' Rabi Mohammed Saleh, the director-general of Iraqi Airways, was quoted as saying by INA. He said the same plane would make two more flights to ferry more pilgrims. This would be Iraq's second violation of the air sanctions, which are part of the economic embargo imposed in 1990 following its invasion of Kuwait. The sanctions also prevent the sale of oil, except under a U.N. oil-for-food program. In April 1997, an Iraqi Airways jet carried 104 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, angering the United States, the most vocal advocate of the sanctions. The U.N. Security Council failed to condemn that flight and instead issued a mild statement saying Baghdad should have waited for permission. Saleh said he hoped Saudi authorities will ``cooperate with us by facilitating services needed for the plane'' as it makes its flights back and forth to Iraq with pilgrims. In Jiddah, an airport official said the government had no intention of turning back the plane. Saleh said the plane is the only airworthy commercial aircraft in Iraq. The national carrier's remaining planes are parked in other countries. Iraq argues the sanctions violate its people's religious rights. Islam requires all able-bodied Muslims to make a pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca at least once in a lifetime, if they can afford it. In Iraq, the pilgrims prayed in the airport building before boarding three buses that took them to the aircraft. ``We get into this plane and our message is that the world should listen to us and understand our problem,'' said a passenger, Sheik Hassan Othman, 62. The Security Council has said the sanctions will not be lifted until Iraq complies with U.N. resolutions demanding the elimination of its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's reported defiance mimics similar action by Libya, which is also under a U.N. air embargo. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has regularly sent passenger jets from Libya to Saudi Arabia. The embargo on Libya is aimed at forcing the country to surrender two Libyans wanted in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet that killed 270 people. ******************** Thursday March 11, 9:42 pm Eastern Time Reuters: U.S. congressmen urge Clinton to curb Iraq oil sales WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) - Lawmakers from oil- producing U.S. states urged President Bill Clinton on Thursday to suspend or reduce the amount of oil that Iraq is allowed to export under a special humanitarian deal with the United Nations. ``We acknowledge the good intentions of the program, but growing evidence indicates that it is not serving its intended purpose and may actually be undermining U.S. policy toward Iraq,'' the 40 members of the U.S. House of Representatives said in a letter to the president. The U.S. does not have the power to reverse or amend the deal, whereby Iraq is allowed to sell up to $5.26 billion worth of oil every six months to buy food, medicine and a tightly controlled list of other humanitarian supplies. That would require a decision of the United Nations Security Council, where France, Russia and China, with veto power, have been pushing for an end to Iraqi sanctions altogether. The lawmakers, many from U.S. ``oil patch'' states of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, argued the dollar limit on Iraqi oil sales ``is actually no limit at all.'' At current low oil prices, Iraq is able to sell all that it is capable of producing, ``which is often greater than their production prior to the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991,'' the congressmen said. In its latest report, the U.N. said Iraq exported 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, about a million bpd above its export level just before the Gulf War. There is also ``significant evidence'' that Iraq may be illegally exporting up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day outside of the U.N. sales program, the lawmakers said. Such evidence led the U.S. to bomb parts of a southern refining complex in Iraq last December. Reports also suggest that the Iraqi people are not benefiting from the program because Saddam Hussein's regime is not distributing the humanitarian aid to them, they said. Meanwhile, excess Iraqi oil production appears to be a factor behind ``the excess supply and very low prices which currently exist,'' the lawmakers wrote. ******************** U.S. Warplanes Hit More Iraqi Sites Tuesday, March 16, 1999; 9:27 a.m. EST ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- U.S. Air Force warplanes responded to Iraqi radar threats today by bombing several anti-aircraft artillery sites in the northern no-fly zone, a U.S. military official said. Lt. Col. Jane Rinell, a spokeswoman for the Operation Northern Watch based at Turkey's Incirlik air base, said the planes hit military facilities around the Iraqi city of Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad. She said all U.S. F-15Es left the area safely on the third consecutive day of confrontations. The Iraqi armed forces, in a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency, said civilian installations and some weapons sites were hit. ******************** BBC Online, Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 15:39 GMT US jets strike Iraqi targets (extract) United States planes have again struck Iraqi targets in the northern and southern air exclusion zones. The US military said the latest attack in the north took place at 1215 local time (0915GMT) on Monday during routine patrols. It said the planes struck Iraqi air defence sites in self-defence after Iraqi threats. US warplanes also struck Iraqi radar sites in southern Iraq in response to violations of the no-fly zone by Iraqi aircraft, AFP news agency reported. At about 0945 local time (0645GMT) on Monday, US air force F-16s and navy F/A-18s and F-14s attacked "an Iraq radar relay site 200 miles (320km) northeast of Baghdad and a radar site 290 miles (464km) southeast of Baghdad", the US Central Command said in a statement. Iraq has said one person was injured when US and British warplanes attacked sites in the southern zone, Reuters news agency reported. The Iraqi News Agency quoted an air defence source as saying that the planes "bombed some of our civil facilities and weapon sites leading to injuring a citizen". The latest incidents follow strikes on Sunday and on Friday in the northern no-fly zone. Turkey, which fears reprisals from Baghdad for allowing allied planes to use its bases, has recently expressed concern over the repeated confrontations between Iraqi and US forces in the northern zone. US planes from the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey patrol Iraqi skies north of the 36th parallel. The US Government says two months of air strikes have damaged Iraqi air defences more than the four days of full-scale attacks on the country in December's Operation Desert Fox. ******************** Draft of the concluding statement for the Arab foreign ministers meeting Arabic News, Regional, Politics, 3/15/99 (extract) ArabicNews.com has exclusively obtained the draft of the concluding statement for the Arab foreign ministers, whose works are to begin Wednesday. The two-day session of the AL council will take place at Arab League headquarters at the Arab foreign ministers' level under the chairmanship of Somalia. The foreign ministers are discussing 35 items, topped by the development of the situation in Iraq and the no-fly zone imposed on Iraq. The draft statement obtained by ArabicNews.com shows the Arab states taking a clear stance that asks the United States and Britain not to use force against Iraq in the two no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq, laying the full international responsibility on the two countries' governments, considering the shelling as an internationally illegal aggressive action, confirming that the UN Security Council's resolutions do not have any provision that allows imposing the two so-called "no-fly zones" and that they are aggressive acts that imply the use of military power against Iraq's sovereignty, national safety and political independence. The draft also includes Iraq's demand to the Arab states to exert joint efforts to agree on a practical humanitarian formula for resolving the problem of the Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Saudi citizens who went missing during and after the Gulf War. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait oppose including this item on the agenda, and the draft will include an attached note from the Arab League's secretary general that specifies these states' positions and reasons for objecting to this item. The draft includes the draft treaty for making the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, with a focus on nuclear weapons. The Arab League's secretary general calls for convening a meeting with the AL permanent delegates regarding this issue and for directing the league's missions at United Nations headquarters in New York, Geneva and in the countries of the permanent members of the UN Security Council to explain the Arab position toward this issue and to direct messages to the Arab foreign ministers from the eight countries (Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, Sweden, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia and Egypt) who issued a statement on June ninth 1998 that calls for a world free of nuclear weapons, in order to move to support the Arab efforts in the meeting of the preparatory committee for the parts' conference in the year 2000, which is specified for reviewing the non-proliferation treaty this coming April in New York. ******************** El-Baz: We fear the US air strikes on Iraq would become routine Arabic News, Egypt, Politics, 3/15/99 (extract) Osama El-Baz, the Egyptian president's political advisor, said that Egypt believes that its foreign policy efforts stem from a strong desire to establish and enhance internal stability, which is related to stability in the region. Speaking at a symposium held at the Egyptian Cultural Club, El-Baz said that some situations in the region threaten to destabilize the whole region. Concerning the US-British daily air strikes against Iraq, El-Baz expressed concern that the international public opinion would become accustomed to these strikes, policy and the current situation and fail to react. El-Baz expressed his regret toward the United States pursuing its policy of confrontation in the Iraq crisis and of guaranteeing Israeli military superiority over the region, describing this as a shortcoming in the US policy resulting in promoting the Israeli nuclear program. ******************** Opposition: 23 Iraqi army officers executed for conspiring against the regime Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 3/15/99 The Higher Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq has announced that some 23 high-ranking Iraqi army officers were executed at the beginning of this month under charges of conspiring against the government. AFP quoted the council, which takes London as a headquarters, as saying that among the executed officers was an advisor to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Lt Gen. Kamel Sajed, who led the Iraqi troops in Kuwait before the Gulf War and became a governor before he joined the Iraqi Presidential Palace in 1998. AFP added that also among the executed was Lt. Gen. Ghadban al-Ghariri, whose funeral created disturbances in Karbalaa during which a police officer was killed. On Sunday, the British daily Sunday Times said that Lt. Gen. Sajed got the support of another army officer, Let. Gen. Yalshin Omar, who was positioned in Karkouk, northern Iraq and that the two army officers were able to convince at least five other senior army officers to support them. The paper noted that the conspiracy was discovered at the beginning of this January. ******************** GCC: Iraqi problem cannot be solved by force Arabic News, Gulf, Politics, 3/15/99 (extract) Concerning the situation in Iraq, the UAE foreign minister, whose country is currently presiding over the GCC session, praised the new initiative made by Iraq in contacting the international committee formed recently by the UN Security Council to investigate Iraqi disarmament. Al-Nu'eimi said, "We hope this initiative will be a start for a new dialogue between Iraq and the UN that will be conducive to lifting the sanctions imposed on the "brotherly people of Iraq," who have suffered a lot. Al-Nu'eimi stressed that the GCC member states support the lifting of the sufferings of the Iraqi people as a result of the embargo on humanitarian considerations. He added: "We see that the Iraqi crisis cannot be solved by means of using force, rather through diplomatic and political logic so as to ensure the security and stability of the region and the safety of the Iraqi territories." He continued, "The recent military developments do not serve this very objective, and also escalate tension in the region." ******************** Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Looking back at Iraq with eyes full of tears By Tom Heinen of the Journal Sentinel staff March 12, 1999 Iraq, home of ancient Babylon's ruins and modern warfare's ravages, is several heartbeats from Milwaukee via telephone. And many heartaches. For Milwaukee resident Sabah Fouad, 47, it is the homeland where two young nieces died last year because there was no medicine to treat their illnesses. "Constantly I talk to them," said Fouad, who returned for a visit in 1995 and who telephones his four sisters in Baghdad often. "They tell me they are hungry, they don't have medication. It's very bad. They sold the doors in the houses -- closet doors, bedroom doors, furniture -- so they can have food." For Kuwaiti-born Ahlam Abulughod, 33, of Milwaukee, it is a land of despair to which her Palestinian parents and other family members moved when the government of Kuwait put pressure on longtime foreign residents to leave after the Gulf War. And for Baghdad native Hamid Alwan, 61, owner of an east side jewelry and import store, Baghdad is a surrealistic city where inflation is measured in thousands of percents and mothers hold emaciated children while begging on street corners. "When Clinton talks that we are trying to destroy Saddam's weapons of mass destruction so that we can save our children, aren't the Iraqi children a member of the world community?" asked Alwan. "What the U.S. has done, really, is to dehumanize all of Iraq in the image of one man, Saddam Hussein. (They say), 'We're going to do this to Saddam. We're going to do that to Saddam.' But Saddam is not the only man who lives in Iraq," added Alwan, who was critical of air attacks during the Gulf War on water purification plants and other parts of the Iraqi infrastructure. "When you bomb Baghdad, a city of 4 1/2 million, you are definitely killing civilians. . . . The Iraqi government isn't suffering. The people of Iraq are suffering, are (carrying) the weight of all this embargo against Iraq." Some local immigrants who keep in frequent telephone contact with relatives shared their stories Thursday night during an ecumenical prayer vigil at the Islamic Center, 4707 S. 13th St. They and others also were interviewed earlier in the day. Participants from the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities are fasting each day this week and assembling in the evening to pray for an end to the economic sanctions against Iraq. The effort was organized by a coalition of groups: Peace Action-Milwaukee, Pledge of Resistance, Casa Maria Hospitality House and the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition. Saying the sanctions are not driving Hussein from power, they cite United Nations statistics that more than 6,000 Iraqi children are dying each month because of a lack of food, sanitation and medicine. Abulughod and Alwan have been able to send enough money to their relatives so far to protect them from the worst of the physical suffering. But the mental stress on both sides of the geopolitical divide is another thing. "When the last bombing happened, I couldn't get hold of them for over two months," said Abulughod. "I didn't know if they were dead. There was bombing right close to them, so they had to leave their houses." "I felt that they feel that nothing matters anymore," she added. "It was like feeling hopeless, to the point that you don't care if you are dead or not. . . . It's not the way I want them to live. The circumstances have forced (them) to live in Iraq, and it wasn't our fault that the Gulf War happened in the first place. "It's like the Palestinian people have a curse on them. They never live a peaceful life. And sometimes you give up and say, 'What can I do?' Other times you say, 'What the heck. I have a right to live like a human being.' They wait for my phone calls to cheer them up. Nothing else in Iraq cheers them up. They are just living day by day." Rabbi David Brusin of Congregation Shir Hadash offered a prayer earlier in the week, when the vigils were held at St. Benedict the Moor Church, 924 W. State St. Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba, who visited Baghdad in 1964, spoke Monday. "There may be a legitimate religious fear of the moral contamination of our Western capitalism, but the Iraqi government must face up to its duty to cease internal repression, abandon its effort to develop weapons of mass destruction, to respect the legitimate role of the U.N., and to feed and care for its innocent citizens," Sklba said. "The failure of the Iraqi government to do so does not justify the enormous harm, the enormous human costs and tragic moral consequences for so many innocent people . . . 800,000 innocent children have died." ******************** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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