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* Britain Proposes Iraq Weapons Plan (Associated Press) * Secret negotiations between Baghdad and Washington? (Paris' Al-Watan Al-Arabi) [this article thanks to a US discussion list) * Former arms inspector urges U.S.-Iraq dialogue; about-face draws critics (CNN) * Iraq accuses US of blocking spare-parts contracts for electricity (Agence France-Presse) * UN okays Iraqi deals for oil spare parts worth 237 million dollars (Agence France-Presse) * No improvement in Iraqi human rights record (Arabic News) New British proposal for Iraq weapons monitoring acknowledges that "Iraq's record suggests it won't meet the council's original conditions of complete disarmament before sanctions can be lifted". According to Al-Watan Al-Arabi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq 'Aziz was in Ankara last month to seek Turkish help in arriving at "a [US-Iraq] solution based on keeping Saddam Husayn and his regime in power". The article also states that after negotiations in Turkey two years ago, "the United States stopped demanding the change of the whole regime and began publicizing an idea suggesting that they may accept Qusay as a successor to his father"... From a different angle, the unpopular but admirable Scott Ritter is calling for dialogue with Baghdad. However, Ritter's not hopeful, and US sources state that "any development in the direction of a dialogue between Baghdad and Washington is unlikely". ******************** Britain Proposes Iraq Weapons Plan By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer, Thursday, March 25, 1999; 11:10 p.m. EST UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Britain has submitted proposals to monitor Iraq's weapons, saying it would consider a ``new approach'' but stressing that U.N. inspections must be intrusive to prevent a revival of Baghdad's banned arms programs. A British outline was circulated this week to members of the Security Council, which heard other proposals from Russia, France and the United States in January. The British proposal echoes some Russian and French suggestions, indicating some consensus might have emerged within the council for a new Iraq policy after months of paralysis. U.N. weapons inspections -- mandated by U.N. resolutions that ended the Gulf War -- ground to a halt when the United States and Britain bombed Iraq in mid-December. Baghdad was accused of having failed to cooperate with the U.N. Special Commission, which has overseen the destruction of Iraq's biological, chemical and long-range missiles since 1991. While Baghdad has given no indication it will ever resume cooperation, the council has convened three panels to try to forge a new relationship with Saddam Hussein. Those recommendations are due April 15, after which the council is expected to begin negotiations in earnest on a new Iraq policy. The United States and Britain have taken the hardest line with Iraq, while Russia, France and China have been more sympathetic to the Iraqi cause after eight years of sanctions that crippled Baghdad's economy. The British outline acknowledges that Iraq's record suggests it won't meet the council's original conditions of complete disarmament before sanctions can be lifted. Therefore, Britain was ``interested in examining new approaches'' to Iraq that would still be based on a technical assessment of its disarmament status. Like French and Russian calls, it suggests an ongoing monitoring and verification regime be established to ensure that Iraq cannot develop or reconstitute weapons of mass destruction. The Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency should remain the designated organizations to check Baghdad's weapons programs, the British paper said. That contrasted slightly with Russia's recommendation that outside experts take on a role. Provisions for intrusive inspections and the right to revert to investigation of past Iraqi programs would need to be clear,'' the British say. But addressing recent allegations that the United States used the Special Commission for espionage, Britain echoes the French call for a more independent organization that isn't so reliant on any single country's personnel or money. On the sanctions issue, Britain supports French, Russian and U.S. calls for improving the humanitarian situation for Iraqis. But the paper indicates the oil embargo cannot be lifted because Iraq hasn't been fully disarmed. ******************** Paris' AL-WATAN AL-ARABI 3/19/99 What is going on between Baghdad and Washington? Is there a secret deal being worked out between the two countries? A number of well-informed experts raised these questions last week because there were new sudden developments that could arouse a great deal of controversy concerning the covert, not the overt, aspect of the conflict taking place between the United States and Iraq. Overtly, US F-15 aircraft and the British Tornado aircraft were as usual bombing Iraqi defensive targets in northern Iraq almost daily. It is war of attrition which the United States and Britain have been launching against Iraq ever since the launching of Operation "Desert Fox." The clear aim of these daily sorties is to destroy Iraq's military infrastructure. While US Defense Secretary William Cohen was making his Gulf tour to mobilize Arab Gulf ranks behind a plan to topple Iraqi President Saddam Husayn, Frank Ricciardone, the US diplomat in charge with the affairs of Iraq's liberation, was intensifying his contacts and consultations to unify the Iraqi opposition and to draw up a list of the Iraqi opposition factions which are eligible for US financial and military aid. Amid this clear escalation of the situation, the Iraqi official newspaper Al-Jumhuriyah surprised its readers with an article which was not threatening the United States or Iraq's neighbors, nor was it warning those who were attacking Iraq with the gravest consequences. The article called on Washington to change its policy toward Iraq and to stop the air raids. Moreover, the paper called on the US Administration to adopt another policy in dealing with Iraq by gradually retreating from its aggressive line which proved its failure every time and exercising a more civilized and a more rational approach showing respect for the other side. Only those who know what goes on behind the scenes paused at this Iraqi offer three weeks ago and handled it with complete secrecy. In fact, the Iraqi offer is exactly the antithesis of official thinking in Washington, which has said that the countdown for toppling Saddam Husayn has already begun and that the United States is paving the way for an armed popular uprising in northern and southern Iraq or a military coup from within the regime itself. By making the offer, the official newspaper Al-Jumhuriyah even dared to oppose the newspapers run by 'Udday Saddam Husayn and the statements made by Iraqi officials that hostile aircraft should be shot down, that the no-fly zones should be challenged, and that neighboring countries should be threatened. It seems that the most important thing is that the Al-Jumhuriyah article has been interpreted by well-informed people in terms of reflecting progress on what has been happening secretly since last month. But what was exactly happening? Al-Watan al-'Arabi has learned from well-informed US sources that the United States and Iraq held secret negotiations in the last few weeks with the aim of making a breakthrough in the deadlock. The two countries have reached and overcome this deadlock by a face-saving solution. The sources have pointed out that the talks have indirectly been initiated through Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. As far as the details are concerned, the visit which Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq 'Aziz made to Ankara last month focused in particular on conveying a verbal message from President Saddam Husayn asking the Turks to mediate between Iraq and the United States in order to find a way out of the present predicament; to gradually reduce tension and open the way for a serious dialogue that could lead to a solution based on keeping Saddam Husayn and his regime in power; and opening a new, unprecedented page in US-Iraqi relations at the various levels. Al-Watan al-'Arabi has also learned that the Iraqi deputy prime minister anticipated in advance that the Turkish prime minister and officials would be taken by surprise at the Iraqi mediation request, particularly that US military and political escalation against Baghdad has reached its peak and that the Americans have officially announced for the first time that they were seeking to topple Iraqi President Saddam Husayn. They have even disclosed part of their plan to liberate Iraq. Meanwhile, it seemed as if Saddam Husayn has blown up all bridges of communication with Washington and made statements to the effect that there was no longer any room for reconciliation. The informed sources said that 'Aziz came to Ankara carrying a comprehensive plan that would facilitate the Turkish mediation. It seemed that the plan was prepared by the most senior Iraqi officials following a series of meetings which Qusay Saddam Husayn held with Nizar Hamdun, former Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, who is well informed about all the US terms and demands and is regarded as the top Iraqi expert on how to deal with the Americans. Together with Qusay, he supervises a committee which seeks to initiate a dialogue with Washington. A report on the details of the meeting between the Iraqi deputy prime minister and the Turkish prime minister said that the latter was surprised at the elaborate presentation made by the Iraqi official to pave the way for requesting Turkish mediation. Ecevit was also surprised at the rational Iraqi assessment of the situation. The report asserts that Tariq 'Aziz has focused on the dangerous game being played between Baghdad and Washington, not only for the two countries, but also for its repercussion on the neighboring countries where the situation could explode and the current status quo could be overturned in the entire region. The Iraqi official pointed out that the continued implementation of the US plan will not prompt Saddam Husayn to capitulate. On the contrary, it will corner him and make him feel that he no longer has anything to lose. Consequently, Iraq will act in its own way, in the way of "on me and on my enemies." You know that Iraq still has enough weapons to put the whole region on fire, to rekindle the Arab-Israeli conflict and to turn the table over everybody's head. >From a threat of an all-out explosion, 'Aziz moved on to a lesser degree of escalation. He cautioned Turkey against involvement in the US-British plan to topple the Iraqi regime. 'Aziz asserted that before the plan could succeed in toppling the regime, Iraq would have to undergo a process of partition and popular disturbances. He pointed out that Turkey has no interest in the establishment of an independent Kurdish entity, that it would pay a high price for this, and that no one knows how far he fire which would burn and Afghanize Iraq could reach. After making his explicit threat to Ankara, 'Aziz went on to brief the Turkish prime minister on US-Iraqi relations and the political and military conflict between the two countries ever since Operation "Desert Fox." The presentation which 'Aziz made was impressive... 'Aziz called on the Turkish prime minister to mediate between Washington and Baghdad so as to pull the region out of the dark tunnel and save it by dialogue, not by war. After the Turkish prime minister listened at length to the Iraqi deputy prime minister and understood the message, he asked: But what can Iraq offer the United States in case it agrees to open dialogue with Iraq? 'Aziz replied: "We depend on your political cleverness and shrewdness and knowledge of the issue to convince them with the importance of the dialogue. I am sure that there is a significant group within the US Administration, including perhaps President Clinton, which is thinking in terms of profit and loss and would rather find a way out of this dangerous deadlock which we have all reached." 'Aziz continued: "You can probably recall that we have entered into a dialogue with the Americans two years ago. The meetings were held here in your country, in Ankara. To indicate that we were taking the matter seriously, our negotiating team was headed by Qusay, son of President Saddam and the official in charge of the security services and the Special Guard. You undoubtedly know that the Americans made numerous political, security and military conditions and demands. Most important of these was to establish a military base in southern Iraq. Specifically speaking, they wanted to deploy US forces in the al-Kut, which is overlooking the Gulf and Iran. They demanded that US military advisers be deployed at the office of the Chief of the General Staff in Baghdad. Furthermore, they demanded the political and economic openness of the regime and party and political pluralism in Iraq." Ecevit replied by saying: "I have information to this effect. I will not keep it a secret from you that we were surprised at the dialogue and the demands and the change in the US position that followed. In fact, the United States stopped demanding the change of the whole regime and began publicizing an idea suggesting that they may accept Qusay as a successor to his father. However, in the months that followed, the situation went back to what it was, because you have turned down the US conditions." 'Aziz replied that "There have been many new developments ever since. I believe that the present situation is opportune for initiating the dialogue again. If an atmosphere of confidence is restored, we could discuss all issues. The information I have is that there are US circles that are willing to bet on a strong and unified Iraq with good relations with the United States, an Iraq that has its position in the new regional arrangements and that can participate in making these arrangements. We are now prepared for any step, even irrational steps, if no US-Iraqi understanding is reached to lift the sanctions. We are no longer capable of putting up with this situation." The sources said that Ecevit was cautious in his reply to 'Aziz and committed himself only to conveying the Iraqi offer to Washington and to seeking to carry out the requested mediation. In fact, the Turkish prime minister requested three of his close advisors to convey the Iraqi proposal to Washington and sound out Washington's reaction as to whether it was prepared to consider a solution to the Iraq problem other than the military solution... However, informed US sources have told the Al-Watan al-'Arabi that any development in the direction of a dialogue between Baghdad and Washington is unlikely. These sources, however, admit that the real US goals and policies toward Iraq are ambiguous and that there is a large group within the US Administration which is still not yet convinced that the Iraqi opposition factions can be depended on, nor can Washington depend on the plan it has drawn up for toppling Saddam Husayn. The sources explain that the plan, nevertheless, has been adopted officially and declared publicly. In fact, instructions were issued to carry out the plan. Therefore, it would be very difficult for President Clinton to make a 180 degree turn regardless of the price, which the Iraqis are offering. The main reason is not that Washington wants to turn down the Iraqi offer as much as it rests in Clinton's inability to bear the consequences of such a shift in policy and establish a new relationship with Saddam Husayn, who has been portrayed as "enemy number one" of the United States, all the more so because the date of the new US presidential elections is drawing close." ******************** Former arms inspector urges U.S.-Iraq dialogue; about-face draws critics March 24, 1999, Web posted at: 10:46 a.m. EST (1546 GMT) In this story: 'I had his gun in my face' 'We do business with bad people' NEW YORK (CNN) -- Scott Ritter, a former chief U.N. weapons inspector who once advocated military force against Iraq, now says dialogue is the best way for Washington to avoid further conflict with that country. Ritter, who resigned to protest what he considered failed U.S. policy on Iraq, said he still considers Saddam Hussein a "monster." His call for dialogue has taken some people by surprise. "(Diplomatic) engagement, I believe, should be focused on the issue of economic reconstruction of the Iraqi economy, what I call ... the new Marshall Plan for Iraq," Ritter said in New York during a promotion tour for a book he has written on his experiences in Iraq. Speaking at a U.S. policy forum on the Middle East, Ritter called the appearance his first public defense of the book. Once critical of the Clinton administration, accusing it of interfering with his weapons inspection efforts and putting too much faith in Hussein's eventual removal through Iraqi internal opposition, Ritter resigned last year. Ritter describes Saddam Hussein as a "monster," but still advocates dialogue with the Iraqi leader. 'I had his gun in my face' Meanwhile, since mid-December, U.S. and British warplanes have bombarded Iraqi sites regularly to punish what the allies say are Iraqi violations of the southern and northern "no-fly" zones. The continued aerial assaults, Ritter now says, have led to a new situation. But his call for establishing better relations led to the first of many challenges from puzzled members of the policy forum audience. "I interviewed Saddam Hussein a long time ago and I don't know anyone who agrees with your analysis," said Washington Post columnist Lally Weymouth. "You may have interviewed Saddam," Ritter shot back, "but I had his gun in my face, the gun held by his bodyguards. It was my brain that was being threatened to be splattered on the road. I pursued him harder than anybody. The world let me down." 'We do business with bad people' Failure to pursue a diplomatic solution with Hussein will result in a wider war in the next century, the former Marine insists. "It's easy to sit here and say you can't engage with the demon. He is a demon. He's a bad man. But we do business with bad people. That's called life," he argued. "What's your counterproposal?" David Kay, another former U.N. weapons inspector, praises Ritter's field work in Iraq but not his attempts at diplomacy. "My criticism of Scott since his resignation is ... he started doing policy as opposed to inspections, which he knows very well." Ritter says he expects his controversial idea of diplomatic engagement with Iraq to "die on the vine" due to lack of support. What he really wants is to provoke a debate. And if his book tour reception in New York is any indication, he'll get one. Correspondent Richard Roth contributed to this report. ******************** Iraq accuses US of blocking spare-parts contracts for electricity 20:04 GMT, 24 March 1999 BAGHDAD, March 24 (AFP) -Iraq on Wednesday accused the US representative to the UN sanctions committee of blocking spare-parts contracts to help rebuild the sanctions-wracked nation's elctricity and power network. "Knowing the importance of these parts, the US representative has persevered in his hostile attitude aimed at wiping out the Iraqi people and depriving them of the most basic human rights," a spokesman for the industry ministry said. The US representative to the committee has recently blocked some 15 spare-parts contracts, said the spokesman, cited by the official INA news agency. He said the action brings the number of contracts put on hold by the committee to 21 in Phase IV of the UN-supervised "oil-for-food" programme, which expired in February. ******************** UN okays Iraqi deals for oil spare parts worth 237 million dollars 13:41 GMT, 23 March 1999 BAGHDAD, March 23 (AFP) -The UN sanctions committee has approved contracts for spare parts for Iraq's battered oil industry worth 237 million dollars, a UN spokesman said Tuesday. John Mills, spokesman for the UN oil-for-food programme, said 395 contracts had been approved and 94 other deals worth 28 million dollars put on hold, out of a total of 564 contracts worth 295.5 million dollars submitted by Iraq. Various spare parts from France and Turkey worth 895,000 dollars have arrived in Iraq over the past week, the spokesman said in a statement from his New York office. But Iraq has yet to receive a major consignment. ******************** No improvement in Iraqi human rights record Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 3/25/99 A report released by the UN rapporteur Max Van der Stoel on the occasion of convening the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva that the situation of human rights in Iraqi has not improved. In his report for 1998, Van der Stoel said, "Human rights conditions in Iraq have not recorded any improvement, a matter which constitutes a threat to peace and security in the region." He added that the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who he introduced as a dictator, but without using this word directly, "oppresses civil rights in life, freedom, and the freedoms to thinking, self-expression, meeting and rallying." -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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