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From the news

*       Iraq Assesses Humanitarian Program (Associated Press)
*       Iraq Says Allied Planes Kill 12 (Associated Press): US military
says: "Ultimate responsibility lies with Saddam Hussein." 
*       UN Council Still Far Apart on Iraq (Associated Press)
*       Iraqi troops attack southern Shiite villages (Nando Times)
*       Iraq Raises Gasoline Prices 33 Percent (Associated Press)

Iraq Assesses Humanitarian Program 
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer, Thursday, May 13, 1999;
2:19 a.m. EDT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. humanitarian program in Iraq has failed
to relieve the suffering of the country's people, Iraq says in a report
that calls for sanctions to be lifted. Iraq's foreign minister sent a
12-page assessment of the oil-for-food program Wednesday to U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, saying that ending sanctions was the only
answer since the program, started in 1996, was a failure. 

Iraq ``calls upon you to shoulder your responsibility by frankly
announcing that the program has never, and will never, achieve the
lifting of the great suffering of the Iraqi people,'' Mohammed Saeed
al-Sahhaf wrote to Annan. ``The only logical solution is the lifting of
the blockade without additional conditions,'' he concluded. 

Al-Sahhaf said the process for approving and delivering humanitarian
goods to Iraq takes too long, and that the United States and Britain
continue to block approval for equipment to repair Iraq's oil industry. 

The letter came after the U.N. humanitarian program itself concluded
earlier this month that the program -- while delivering billions of
dollars worth of food and medicine to Iraqis living under U.N. sanctions
-- cannot meet the overwhelming needs of the people. 

The U.N. oil-for-food program allows Iraq to sell $5.26 billion worth of
oil over six months to buy spare parts and food, medicine and other
humanitarian aid for 22 million Iraqis suffering under sanctions imposed
after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The sanctions bar Iraq from
freely selling its oil on the open market, depriving it of its most
valuable commodity. 

U.N. officials have stressed that the program was never intended to take
care of all the needs of the Iraqis, and has faulted the Baghdad
government of failing to implement it effectively. On Wednesday, the
head of the program, Benon Sevan, said government warehouses were
``literally overflowing,'' with medicine that had been purchased through
the program but not delivered. U.N. figures show that about $570 million
worth of medicine and medical supplies had arrived in the past two
years, but that only 48 percent had been distributed to clinics,
hospitals and pharmacies. 

Al-Sahhaf acknowledged that medicines had been held up in warehouses,
but he blamed the delay in distribution on New York. Some medicines can
only be distributed with certain equipment, and when the equipment
doesn't arrive, the medicine has to be stockpiled, he wrote. 

Under U.N. resolutions, the embargo cannot be lifted until U.N. weapons
inspectors report Iraq has destroyed its banned weapons. 

Iraq Says Allied Planes Kill 12 
Wednesday, May 12, 1999; 4:55 p.m. EDT

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. and British warplanes killed 12 civilians and
destroyed livestock in a raid on northern Iraq Wednesday, the Iraqi
armed forces said. The allied planes ``bombed shepherds' tents in the
province of Nineveh,'' 250 miles north of Baghdad, the military said in
a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency. A number of
others were injured, the statement said. Along with the deaths, the
attack killed 200 sheep and wrecked a vehicle and a combine harvester,
it said. 

Earlier, the U.S. military said its planes had bombed Iraqi air-defense
sites north and northwest of Mosul, a city in Nineveh province. In a
statement from the southern Turkish air base of Incirlik, the U.S.
military said its planes had acted in self-defense after being targeted
by Iraqi radar and anti-aircraft artillery. 

In a separate statement, the U.S. military said initial damage
assessment showed that one target was located near livestock. ``Every
effort is taken to avoid any collateral damage to civilians and civilian
property,'' the statement said. ``Ultimate responsibility, however, lies
with (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein.'' The Iraqi agency quoted Nineveh
governor Mohammed Abdel-Qader as saying that allied planes attacked the
shepherds twice, the second time striking farmers who were trying to
help the injured. 

Incirlik is home to U.S. and British fighter jets which enforce the
no-fly zone over Iraq's north to protect the Kurdish minority there.
Another no-fly zone protects the Shiite minority in southern Iraq.
Baghdad does not recognize the zones created after the 1991 Gulf War,
and has been challenging the planes almost daily since December. 

UN Council Still Far Apart on Iraq 
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, May 11, 1999; 3:22
a.m. EDT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Despite weeks of negotiations and warnings that
inaction will only make matters worse, the Security Council appears to
have made little headway in forging an agreement on a new policy towards
Iraq. Since December's U.S.-British airstrikes, sporadic bombing of
targets in Iraq has continued and Baghdad's goal of getting the council
to lift the economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of
Kuwait is still a long way off. While some council members regularly
express concern that Iraq's weapons programs are not being monitored --
and U.N. weapons inspectors are barred from returning to Baghdad --
major differences remain on how to resume oversight of Iraq's

Even a new position paper circulated last week by Canada has been
largely dismissed by the United States and Russia -- the two countries
most at odds over the issue, diplomats said. In an effort to get Iraqi
support for renewed arms oversight, Russia, supported by France and
China, has offered a resolution that would lift the U.N. oil embargo on
Iraq once a system to monitor Iraq's weapons programs is in place.
Washington remains adamant, however, that Iraq must be completely
disarmed before the embargo is lifted. Iraq argues that its banned
weapons have already been eliminated. 

A resolution from Britain and the Netherlands reflects the U.S.
position, but includes improvements to the U.N. humanitarian program to
help Iraqi civilians hurt by eight years of sanctions. U.S. officials
say they still can't agree to that resolution. Both Russia and Britain
have held extensive talks in recent days, and are expected to offer
amended competing resolutions in the near future. 

In a sign of how far apart the two camps remain, the council isn't
expected to formally discuss Iraq until May 21, the day U.N. officials
are scheduled to brief members on the ``oil-for-food'' program that lets
Iraq sell limited amounts of oil to buy humanitarian goods for its
people. Russia's amended proposal is expected to suggest the possible
suspension of sanctions, one diplomat said. 

Canada's position paper follows Russia's resolution by calling for
foreign investment in Iraq once an arms monitoring system is
operational. Canada also endorsed the recommendation of a disarmament
panel set up by the Security Council to create a new U.N. arms
inspection agency, continuing the work of the U.N. Special Commission,
known as UNSCOM. 

UNSCOM has attempted since 1991 to account for and destroy Baghdad's
weapons of mass destruction as a prerequisite for lifting U.N.
sanctions. Diplomats are under pressure to make a decision soon. 

Celso Amorim, Brazil's U.N. ambassador, warned the Security Council last
month that the absence of weapons inspectors ``was seen as substantially
increasing the risk that Iraq might try to reconstitute its proscribed
weapons programs.'' 

Iraqi troops reportedly attack southern Shiite villages 
May 11, 1999 12:14 p.m. EDT

DAMASCUS, Syria  - Government soldiers armed with tanks have attacked
four villages in the marshes of a southern Iraqi province, an opposition
group said Tuesday. The Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq said many people were arrested during the Saturday
offensive in Nasiriya, a predominantly Shiite Muslim city 200 miles
south of Baghdad. It said several houses were destroyed by bombardment
and the firing but the number of people killed or wounded has not been
established yet. The statement was faxed to The Associated Press in

Nasiriya was the scene of heavy clashes between dissident Shiite Muslims
and government troops in March after the Feb. 19 assassination of the
supreme leader of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, Ayatollah Mohammed
Sadiq al-Sader, and his two sons in Najaf. Many Shiites believe the
government was behind the killing. The government has accused its
neighbor, predominantly Shiite Iran, of being behind the deaths in an
effort to destabilize Iraq. 

Shiites are a majority in Iraq but have little political clout. The most
important people in the government and the military - including
President Saddam Hussein - belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. 

Iraq Raises Gas Prices 33 Percent 
By Leon Barkho, Associated Press Writer, Monday, May 10, 1999; 11:48
p.m. EDT

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The Iraqi government has raised gasoline prices by
at least 33 percent, the second increase in less than two months. Oil
Ministry officials declined to say what prompted the latest hike, which
went into effect Sunday. Filling up a car with high quality gasoline
will now cost up to $1.25, half a government employee's average monthly
salary of $2.50. 

The new rates, although considerable by Iraqi standards, are still low
when compared with prices of essential commodities in the country. An
egg in Baghdad costs 7 cents and a liter of bottled water, 75 cents.
Many people survive by holding second jobs, getting money from relatives
overseas and receiving subsidized food. 

Iraq has the second-largest proven oil reserves in the world after Saudi
Arabia. Its refineries now produce 700,000 barrels per day and its
domestic needs are estimated at 500,000 barrels a day, the government
says. U.S. and British diplomats have accused Iraq of smuggling the
excess oil and earning $200 million per month outside its U.N.-approved
oil-for-food deal. Iraqi oil officials deny the charges. 

The last time the government raised gasoline prices was in early March,
when the prices of most products, including lubricants and kerosene,
were more than doubled. Iraq, which has been under U.N. trade sanctions
since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, can sell a limited quantity of oil to
buy humanitarian goods. 

It is nearing a record in U.N.-approved oil sales, exporting 14.4
million barrels of oil last week, the United Nations humanitarian
program said Monday. Exports ran at an average of slightly more than 2
million barrels per day between May 1 and May 7, at an average price of
$14.44 per barrel, said John Mills, spokesman for the U.N. Office of the
Iraq Program. 

In the six months that ended Nov. 15, Iraq generated slightly more than
$3 billion in oil sales, the highest total since the program began but
well under the $5 billion allowed. Revenues have been lifted by an
increase in Iraq's daily exports and a sharp hike in global oil prices
that followed the March agreement by major oil exporting countries to
cut production. 

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