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Articles from the news

*       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
*       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
*       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

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
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

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

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

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

"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.


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