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* US Lawmakers consider Iraq policy [oil-for-food] (Associated Press) * MI6 "proposed Iraqi coup" to topple Saddam (The Times) * Iraq cancels third pilgrim flight because plane not fit to fly (Associated Press) * Increasing exports of Iraqi petroleum (Arabic News) * Meeting of Arab follow-up committee (for lifting sanctions) tomorrow (Arabic News) ******************** Lawmakers Consider Iraq Policy By David Briscoe, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, March 17, 1999 WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration wants to stick with a U.N. program that lets Iraq sell oil for food, despite congressional objections, arguing that it does not affect oil prices significantly or help Saddam Hussein remain in power. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson told senators Wednesday that Iraq's 2.5 million barrel-a-day production under the program has a negligible impact on U.S. oil prices. But Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, countered that when oil-producing nations cut production by about the same amount, worldwide crude prices rose nearly $2 a barrel. ``I'm not sure how you get to be an enemy of the United States anymore, because clearly we are propping up this regime,'' said Murkowski, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Richardson and Thomas Pickering, undersecretary of state for political affairs, had a tough time selling senators on the U.N. program at a joint hearing of the Energy and Foreign Relations committees. "Iraq's ability to increase its production is limited and is not expected to go up measurably this year,'' Richardson said. Even some Democrats expressed dismay at a policy that bombs oil facilities and then sends aid to help increase oil production. In addition to buying food and medical supplies, the oil money pays for some spare parts for Iraq's dilapidated oil production facilities. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said that unless the administration can show that Saddam is hurt by the oil-for-food program, Congress is not likely to accept it. ``I happen to be Democrat who thinks the whole thing is lousy,'' Biden said. The U.N. program allowed Iraq to earn up to $5.2 billion from oil sales over six months and use the proceeds for humanitarian purposes. However, Richardson said Iraq will earn only about $3 billion for the current period because of depressed oil prices. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C., said that while he does not believe oil-for-food money is going to Saddam, the program does not work now that Iraq has kicked out weapons inspectors. ``There is a real peril that the United Nations may well be helping Saddam reconstitute his weapons programs,'' Helms said. The oil-for-food program comes up for U.N. Security Council review in May. Congress has no direct say in whether it continues. Richardson and Pickering, both former U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations, defended oil-for-food as the best way of maintaining U.N. support for sanctions against Saddam and of keeping Iraqis from starving. ``Our policy is not to go to war with the people of Iraq,'' Pickering said."There's no program Saddam dislikes more than the oil-for-food program,'' he said, adding that it denies him revenue since the United Nations controls how the proceeds are used. Although the program was recently expanded to let Iraq replace parts for its ailing oil industry, Pickering insisted none of the assistance will be used to make repairs on oil-related facilities bombed by U.S. planes. ******************** March 18 1999, The Times MI6 'proposed Iraqi coup' to topple Saddam FROM JAMES BONE IN NEW YORK BRITISH intelligence encouraged the United States to seek a "quick, simple coup" in Iraq through an opposition group that Britain had created and which later mounted a failed effort to overthrow President Saddam Hussein, a former senior United Nations inspector claims. Scott Ritter, writing in his new book, Endgame, says that in the mid-1990s MI6 pushed the CIA to shift its support from the Iraqi National Congress (INC), which was recruiting an army in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, to the rival Iraqi National Accord (INA), which was based in Jordan. "More and more, the CIA was being wooed by the British secret intelligence service, or MI6, which proposed a quick, simple coup, orchestrated from within by military officers close to Saddam," he writes. "Such was the offer being presented by the rival opposition group, the INA. The CIA began supporting both factions, but putting the bulk of its effort behind the INA." Mr Ritter describes the INA as a "creation of the British MI6" and says it consists of "former military personnel who had defected from Iraq and who were hoping to take advantage of their old contacts at home". Although the INC had amassed 10,000 men to stage a ground war from northern Iraq, the CIA changed policy on the eve of the planned battle in March 1995 and told the group's London-based leader, Ahmed Chalabi, that it would not provide military assistance. Mr Chalabi launched the attack anyway, but his Kurdish allies split and an Iraqi counter-offensive routed his forces. In early 1996, the CIA was ordered to develop a "quick-fix" solution to get rid of Saddam before the American presidential elections the following November and "the only option was the INA". The book records the INA's failed attempt to get members of the Republican Guards to stage a coup - a plot that was foiled in June 1996 when the Iraqis intercepted CIA-supplied communications gear. Mr Ritter says he suspects that a UN inspections mission at the time, known as Unscom 150, might have been used as cover by the CIA to help to execute the planned coup. Unknowingly, he led his team against the same Special Republican Guard facilities involved in the plot. The team included nine "CIA paramilitary covert operators", including an operative he calls "Moe Dobbs", a US Army Special Forces veteran who had played a critical role in supporting the rebel Contras in Nicaragua and had spent the Gulf War in Syria directing Arab agents inside Iraq. "There is virtually no chance that opposition groups could overthrow Saddam," Mr Ritter writes. "Attempts by the CIA and the British MI6 to orchestrate a coup from within all met with disaster." ******************** Iraq Cancels Pilgrim Flight By Leon Barkho, Associated Press Writer, Thursday, March 18, 1999; 3:52 a.m. EST BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq canceled a flight to carry a third group of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the holy trip to Mecca, with an air force pilot saying today that the plane was not fit to fly. The Russian-made Il-76 cargo plane made two journeys to Saudi Arabia -- one Tuesday and the other Wednesday -- transporting 221 pilgrims. On Tuesday, the plane returned to Baghdad immediately after landing in Jiddah in Saudi Arabia, a main drop-off point for Muslims participating in the annual pilgrimage, or hajj. On Wednesday, its return was delayed more than 12 hours for what the official Iraqi News Agency said were ``unknown reasons.'' It was not clear who had held up the plane or whether it remained in Jiddah during the delay. The Pentagon on Wednesday said it knew nothing about the plane's failure to return as expected. The flights apparently were in violation of U.N. trade sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990. An air force pilot from the Rasheed Air Base, where the plane had been departing Iraq, told The Associated Press that the plane arrived early today. It needed maintenance, he said, adding that he doubted there would be more flights for this year's pilgrimage. The pilot spoke on condition of anonymity and did not provide further details. The head of Iraqi Airways, Rabee' Mohammed, told reporters Wednesday that the cargo plane was the only operational civilian aircraft under Iraq's disposal. Apart from those ferried by air, Iraq is sending 18,000 pilgrims by land. They are camped at the border post of Arrar, waiting to be allowed to proceed to the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina, Islamic holy cities where millions of Muslims gather each year for the hajj. A deal between Iraq and the United Nations to provide each pilgrim with $2,000 from the country's oil-for-food money fell through on Tuesday because of a disagreement over distribution. Iraq, a predominantly Muslim nation, says the 8 1/2-year sanctions infringe on its people's religious rights. Islam requires every able-bodied person who can afford it to travel at least once to Mecca to perform the hajj. The hajj season this year culminates at the end of March. ******************** Increasing exports of Iraqi petroleum Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 3/17/99 The United Nations in Baghdad released a statement announcing that Iraqi petroleum exports have recorded an increase amounts to 1.9 million barrels daily today after it was 1.7 million barrels in mid-1998. The statement , distributed in Baghdad by John Mills, spokesman of the oil-for-food program, added that Iraqi petroleum exports were sold the price of $9.7 per barrel. The program allows Iraq to export limited quantities of its petroleum at a value of $5.2 billion every six months to buy basic supplies, but Iraq was not able to achieve this amount due to the reduction of petroleum prices. The agreement with the United Nations dictates specifying $300 million every six months to buy parts for petroleum establishments aimed at increasing their production. Moreover Mills said that the group of Iraqi requirements from the spare parts ratified by the sanctions committee amounted to $282.6 million and the committee suspended requests worth $28 million. ********************* Meeting of Arab follow-up committee to meet tomorrow Arabic News, Regional, Politics, 3/17/99 The Arab follow-up committee for lifting the sanctions off Iraq is convening tomorrow morning, in which Arab League Secretary General Esmat Abdul Meguid is participating. The committee includes the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria and Yemen. Arab diplomatic sources told ArabicNews.com that the efforts exerted by Abdul Meguid and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa succeeded in easing the tension that prevailed at the consultative meeting of the Arab foreign ministers held on January 24, from which the Iraqi delegation withdrew. The sources added that al-Sharaa and Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdul Qader Bajamal as well as Abdul Meguid support issuing a decision that urges the U.S.A and Britain to stop using force against Iraq. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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