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* US Changing Sanctions Policy on Iran, Libya and Sudan [NOT Iraq] (Associated Press): "Sales of food, medicine and other humanitarian necessities do not generally enhance a nation's military capacity or support terrorism. Our purpose in applying sanctions is to influence the behavior of regimes, not to deny people their basic humanitarian needs." * Civic and religious groups announce protest movements to request lifting of anti-Iraq embargo (Arabic News) * Nuns send humanitarian message to Mrs Clinton to lift sanctions on Iraq (Arabic News) * Iraq Claims Four Civilians Killed (Associated Press) * Syria Sneaks Iraq's Oil Out as Old Foes Become Friends (New York Times) * Russia confers with Iraq on lifting the sanctions and Russia's role in developing Iraq's oil industry (Arabic News) * High expectations of future Iraqi petroleum production (Arabic News): according to a study by the Council of Arab Economic Unity, Iraq is expected to be one of the five most effective oil-producing states in the world market during the next 20 years * Saddam Hometown Holds Birthday Gala (Associated Press) Harriet's Note: I had strong reservations about the article on the birthday celebrations of Saddam Hussein, but I decided in the end to include it because it shows once again how the leadership feeds off the sanctions policy, and because it exposes the unspeakable internal political situation. Read between the lines of statements such as that of Nadher Ibrahim, a Tikriti official ("No force on earth can dictate these multitudes to be so uniform in their love of one man,") and the unquestioning tone of the AP's "reportage". ******************** U.S. Changing Sanctions Policy By George Gedda, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, April 28, 1999; 5:13 p.m. EDT WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration opened the way Wednesday for the sale of food and medical items to three countries listed as terrorist states -- Iran, Libya and Sudan -- arguing that economic sanctions often do more harm than good. "Sales of food, medicine and other humanitarian necessities do not generally enhance a nation's military capacity or support terrorism,'' Under Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat told reporters. "On the contrary, funds spent on agricultural commodities and products are not available for other, less desirable uses. Our purpose in applying sanctions is to influence the behavior of regimes, not to deny people their basic humanitarian needs,'' he said. Barring such sales usually fails to hurt targeted regimes while depriving American companies of export opportunities, officials said. The new policy is part of a broader attempt at comprehensive sanctions reform. The goal is to resort to unilateral sanctions only after all other options, including diplomacy and multilateral sanctions, have been exhausted. Under the changed approach, humanitarian items will be exempted from future sanctions. Wednesday's announcement will not affect Iraq, North Korea and Cuba, all sanctioned countries to which sales of certain items are already permitted. U.S. officials said it was unclear whether the changed policy meant a pending Iranian request for more than $500 million worth of American grain and sugar will be approved. A number of farm state senators and House members have been seeking approval of the request. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., welcomed the policy shift, saying in a telephone interview that the administration has, in effect, been telling farmers, "You pay the cost of our foreign policy.''' He added: "Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein have never missed a meal because of our sanctions policy.'' He noted that large grain stocks have led to depressed prices. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., a strong advocate of sanctions reform, also was supportive. "I do not believe that food and medicine should be used as a tool of foreign policy,'' said Lugar, the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman. "Doing so typically injures innocent civilians in the sanctioned country, imposes little hardship on recalcitrant leaders whose behavior we wish to change and opens the door for other exporting countries to replace the U.S. as a food supplier.'' Government experts predict the policy change could increase wheat and corn exports by 1 million tons, said Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman. Eizenstat said the new policy is not directed at any particular country. Among the countries subject to curbs on food and medicine, only Iran has been a target of a U.S. effort for improved relations. The administration has called for resumption of an official dialogue with Iran but thus far has been rebuffed. Iran was one of America's most important allies in the Middle East until the pro-American monarchy was toppled two decades ago and replaced by a regime led largely by Islamic fundamentalists. As for Cuba, Eizenstat noted that sales of medicine and medical supplies are allowed with certain limitations under legislation approved in 1992, and the regulated sales of food, pesticides and related items were permitted under a policy shift announced in January. And while Iraq is subject to unilateral U.S. sanctions as well as U.N.-mandated sanctions, it has been authorized to sell oil on the international market so long as the proceeds are earmarked for purchases of humanitarian goods. In addition, despite unilateral sanctions against North Korea, the administration approved the donation of tens of thousands of tons of food assistance to that country in recent years through the U.N. World Food Program. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C., offered conditional support for the policy. Marc Thiessen, a Helms spokesman, said: "Every dollar Iran or Sudan or Libya wants to spend on American grain instead of on terrorism or weapons of mass destruction is fine with us.'' ******************** U.S. civic and religious groups announce protest movements to request lifting of anti-Iraq embargo Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 4/28/99 A coalition of U.S. civic and religious groups launched on Tuesday an appeal for the immediate lifting of the economic sanctions enforced against Iraq for eight years now entailing more than 1.2 million civilian victims. In a joint press conference held at the "National Press Club," the organizations condemned as "cruel and illegal" economic sanctions decided by the U.N. security council and called US president, Bill Clinton, to endeavor for the immediate lifting of the embargo that is punishing only the Iraqi people. They also stressed the need to promote the US public opinion awareness on the unfair sufferings experienced by the Iraqi people who have been denied most basic rights. They considered as a total failure the sanctions, and particularly the oil-for-food program which, they said, failed to meet the Iraqis' needs. According to UNICEF, More than 50,000 children, aged below 5, have died in 1997 as a result of the lack of medical care and basic food. Every 12 minutes, one children dies due to sanctions, which is a daily toll of 250 children. Reverend John Dear, from the "Fellowship of Reconciliation" called the American public to send letters, faxes and electronic messages to the senate and the White House, asking for the sanctions lifting. He also called all peace-loving people to join in the "campaign to save a generation." Hassan Ibrahim, from the Muslim Society Committee" and Hussein Ibish, from the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) explained that thousands of activists from all over the USA will defy the federal government by sending by post vitamins, aspirin, soap and other commodities to Iraq. He went on that returned packages will be deposited at the office of senators and representatives. "Iraq Action Coalition Student Committee" announced that demonstrations will be held in about 100 university campuses to show solidarity with the Iraqi people. On her part, Kathy Kelly who represents "Voices of Wilderness," a Chicago-based group, and who has just returned from Baghdad said her organization will continue to send "medicine and toys" to Iraq despite the sanctions. Early this month, doctors from two U.S.-based groups traveled to Iraq on Monday and donated $50,000 worth of medicines and books, risking as much as 12 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. The physicians' group, composed of nurses, medical students and human rights activists, also donated $28,000 worth of antibiotics to the hospitals. ******************** US nuns send humanitarian message to Mrs Clinton to lift sanctions on Iraq Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 4/28/99 A group of US nuns who often visit Baghdad have called on US first lady Hillary Clinton to back their efforts to lift the sanctions imposed on Iraq. In a message nine nuns sent to Mrs Clinton, they stated that the "Americans do not realize the destructive effect resulting from the shortage in foodstuffs and medical elements on this country and its innocent people." The nuns described the sanctions in their message as "inhuman and immoral." They asked Mrs Clinton to intervene with the US president to work for lifting the sanctions. The nine nuns, who visited hospitals and schools in various Iraqi areas from al-Musol in the north to al-Bosra in the south, said that Iraq is in a drastic catastrophic condition. The nuns, who visited Iraq at the invitation of some 160 Dominican nuns who live in Iraq, carried medical instruments, educational materials and toys for the Iraqi children as a cost of US $30,000. ******************** Iraq Claims Four Civilians Killed Tuesday, April 27, 1999; 4:28 p.m. EDT BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Allied warplanes killed four civilians Tuesday in an airstrike on northern Iraq, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. The planes struck public utilities and weapons sites in the Mosul region, leading "to the martyrdom of four citizens and the wounding of others,'' the agency said, quoting a statement from the Iraqi armed forces. A U.S. military official in Germany said U.S. warplanes attacked anti-aircraft and radar sites after being fired on while patrolling the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. "Operation Northern Watch planes detected Iraqi radar and observed Iraqi anti-aircraft fire posing a threat to coalition aircraft,'' said U.S. Air Force Maj. Linda Hutchins, a spokeswoman for the U.S. European Command. A U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter and a F-16C fighter bombed anti-aircraft sites and a U.S. Marine EA-6B attack plane fired a missile at a radar site. The positions were south and northeast of Mosul, which is 250 miles north of Baghdad, Hutchins said. All planes returned safely to Incirlik Air Base, in southern Turkey, she said. There was no immediate comment on the reports of civilian deaths. ******************** Syria Sneaks Iraq's Oil Out as Old Foes Become Friends New York Times, April 26, 1999, By DOUGLAS JEHL TADMOR, Syria -- In a brazen violation of United Nations sanctions, scores of Syrian trucks laden with Iraqi oil now shuttle past this desert oasis every day, reflecting the ties that have turned the former foes into friends. Until October 1997, the border between the two countries was closed, and sniping between top Syrian and Iraqi officials took place regularly. But now trade between the two countries has blossomed. Some of it is authorized by the United Nations, under arrangements that allow Iraq to import limited quantities of goods. Some of it, like the oil-tanker traffic, is quite certainly not authorized. The unauthorized deliveries have angered the United States and British Governments, which have asked the Syrian authorities to stop them, said diplomats based in Damascus, the Syrian capital. But the Syrians appear in no mood to do so, and some diplomats say they believe that the Syrian Government may play a role in distributing the oil once it reaches Damascus. The scope of the operation could be plainly seen on a recent visit here, northeast of Damascus. The town lies on a desert highway that has become a main thoroughfare for the illicit deliveries. The smuggling is so open that drivers regularly pull off the road at the Roman ruins of Palmyra here, in full view of the Syrian police. Syria and Iraq have long been bitter enemies, with their ruling Baath parties divided by internecine rivalry. In the early 1980's, when Iraq and Iran went to war, Syria sided with the Government of Iran and closed its border with Iraq. In the Persian Gulf war of 1991, Syrian troops and tanks were part of the American-led coalition that drove Iraqi forces from Kuwait. But there has been an abrupt realignment in the last two years, with Syrian trade delegations visiting Iraq, and then with the reopening of the border. Along with economic rewards, the warmer ties appear to have provided the two countries with important mutual political support. Syria, feeling slighted by the West for the hard line it has taken toward peace with Israel, has become a loud critic of recent American-led efforts to isolate Iraq. As far as oil smuggling is concerned, the diplomats say, the operation clearly benefits both countries. It provides Iraq with a market to export oil beyond what the United Nations allows, and it gives Syria access to oil that it might otherwise have to import. Like Iraq, Syria is also an exporter of oil. But it must import some oil products, most notably fuel oil and diesel. The diplomats say they do not know exactly what is being carried in the oil tankers, but a leading theory is that it is fuel oil, perhaps in a barter arrangement in exchange for Syrian goods. The smuggling operation became apparent several months ago, when the tankers began to appear on Syrian highways, the Damascus-based diplomats say. They say that its volume appears to have increased in the last month and that hundreds of tankers each week now deliver oil to Syria from Iraq. Of the three border crossings between the two countries, only one is monitored by United Nations inspectors, and their mandate allows them to search only shipments entering Iraq. Each crossing is staffed by Syrian military and intelligence personnel, but the diplomats say there is no evidence that they have tried to obstruct the oil shipments. "When we raise the issue, the Syrians say, 'Well, it's a long border and we can't patrol every inch,'" a Western diplomat said. "But they clearly know what's going on, and some of us believe they're facilitating it." In a prelude to the current operation, other diplomats said, large quantities of Iraqi fuel were being smuggled by way of Syria to buyers in Turkey shortly after the Iraqi-Syrian border was reopened. But that trade was halted when the Turkish Government began to intercept the deliveries at the Turkish border. This time, the diplomats say, it appears that the Iraqi oil either is ending up in Syria, where it is sold or bartered to buyers who may include the Government, or is driven on to Lebanon, where Syria is the main power broker. The diplomats say it is clear that the operation is more than profiteering and is being coordinated on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border. As part of its warmer ties with Baghdad, Syria has said publicly that it intends to open a long-closed pipeline that would allow Iraq to ship its oil to Syrian ports on the Mediterranean, in addition to the pipeline that Iraq uses through Turkey. But Syria has said it would do so only if the United Nations approved such a step. ******************** Russian FM confers with Iraqi oil minister Arabic News, Iraq, Economics, 4/28/99 Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov held a meeting on Tuesday in Moscow with Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Muhammad Rashid on the possibility of lifting the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq and Russian plans to revive the Iraqi oil industry. A statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said Ivanov explained to the Iraqi official the Russian proposals submitted to the UN Security Council providing for appointing a new group of UN observers in Iraq and terminating the economic sanctions imposed on it. The statement added that Ivanov told the Iraqi minister that his country will continue exerting efforts to lift the embargo, which has been imposed on Iraq since 1990. The Iraqi minister is visiting Moscow to discuss a project for oil exploration at a cost estimated at billions of US dollars with Russia. ******************** Expectations of increasing the Gulf petroleum production Arabic News, Gulf, Economics, 4/28/99 A study issued by the council of Arab economic unity in Cairo today expected an increasing share of the Arab Gulf states in the world's petroleum production from the current 18.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to 43.8 million bpd in 2010, an increase from a 26% to a 47.6% share. The same study also expected increases in the investment costs that must be provided to develop production sources using advanced technology. According to the study's estimates, five gulf states -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq -- own more than 60% of the world's petroleum reserves, and these states are expected to be the most effective in the petroleum markets during the coming 20 years. ******************** Saddam Hometown Holds Birthday Gala By Leon Barkho, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, April 28, 1999; 9:49 a.m. EDT TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq marked President Saddam Hussein's 62nd birthday today with dancing girls, a military parade and a procession in which more than 100,000 people took part. The parade grounds on the eastern outskirts of Tikrit, the agricultural town where Saddam was born, were festooned with ribbons and, like elsewhere in Iraq, decorated with portraits of the president in all shapes and sizes. Authorities began busing people to Tikrit in the early morning. They were quickly organized into groups, each carrying a banner indicating their home region and expressing wishes for a long and happy life for the president. "No force on earth can dictate these multitudes to be so uniform in their love of one man,'' said Nadher Ibrahim, who helped organize the Tikrit party. Musician Hameed Hassan praised Saddam as "the only Arab leader who had the courage to strike Israel with missiles.'' Iraq fired volleys of Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait. Saddam, however, was not in Tikrit, site of the most elaborate of public birthday celebrations in Iraq. The security-conscious leader has never attended any of the public birthday celebrations that have been staged since 1985. Instead, he attends a private party with Iraqi children held at one of the presidential palaces. In Tikrit, dancers performed in front of Izzat Ibrahim, Saddam's deputy on the all-powerful Revolutionary Command Council. "Happy birthday our beloved Saddam,'' they sang in Kurdish and Arabic. Loudspeakers blared songs in praise of Saddam. Armed members of the ruling Baath party brandished automatic rifles as Iraqi leaders in military fatigues looked on from a marble balcony. Tens of thousands of Iraqis shouted pro-Saddam slogans, some so fervently that they had to be dragged away by bodyguards so that others could pass before Ibrahim. Saddam's birthday also cast a festive mood on Baghdad. Government buildings and schools, dressed up with colorful posters and banners, hosted a parade of singers and poets trumpeting the achievement of the Iraqi leader. Iraqis singing birthday songs cruised in cars flying the national flag. ******************** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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