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Iraq news

*       More allied attacks on North Iraq (Associated Press): The US
"accused Baghdad of installing air defense systems in civilian areas"
*       Kofi Annan approves changes to oil-for-food to allow
telecommunications repairs (Arabic News)
*       Qusai Saddam Hussein on diplomatic mission to Iran (Arabic News)
*       Iraq admits Shi'ite unrest in March (CNN)
*       Iraqi paper goes online (BBC Online)
*       Saddam's terror goes on as Allied jets attack missile site
(Sunday Telegraph)

[Harriet's Note: I included the two articles about the activities of
Saddam Hussein's sons because the political control accorded to these
individuals will have a bearing on US/UK policy towards Iraq]

U.S. Jets Hit Iraqi Defense Sites 
Saturday, May 15, 1999; 2:24 p.m. EDT

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- U.S. planes attacked Iraqi air-defense sites with
bombs and missiles Saturday after being targeted by radar during a
patrol of the no-fly zone over northern Iraq, the U.S. military said.
Air Force F-16s launched missiles while F-15s dropped laser-guided bombs
on Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery installations, the military said in a
statement from the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey. All of the
installations were north of the city of Mosul, 250 miles north of
Baghdad, the statement said. U.S. and British fighter planes are
enforcing no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq to protect Kurdish
and Shiite minorities there. Baghdad does not recognize the no-fly
zones, which were set up after the 1991 Gulf War. 

The Iraqi armed forces said U.S. and British warplanes bombed civilian
utilities beyond the 36th Parallel in northern Iraq, inflicting
unspecified damage. The Western allies had set the 36th Parallel as the
limit which Iraqi aircraft cannot cross in the north. Saturday was the
first time since the start of skirmishes over no-fly zones in December
that Iraq has reported allied air raids there. 

The armed forces, in a statement run by the official Iraqi News Agency,
said Iraqi anti-air defenses engaged the allied jets with missiles and
guns in north and south and forced them to flee. 

Iraq has claimed several casualties in the attacks. The U.S. has accused
Baghdad of installing air defense systems in civilian areas.

Annan approves oil-for-food changes
Arabic News, Iraq, Economics, 5/15/99

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan sent a letter to the UN Security Council
yesterday approving a plan to allow Iraq to use a portion of the
revenues from the oil-for-food program to repair Iraq's
telecommunications infrastructure.

The secretary general's deputy spokesman, Manoel de Almeida e Silva,
said that the Office of the Iraq Program has already received contracts
from French and Chinese companies worth $88 million which will be
circulated for consideration.

The spokesman said that the Iraqi government has proposed the
expenditure of $92 million on telecommunications as part of phase five
of the oil-for-food program.

Report: Qusai Saddam Hussein to visit Iran
Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 5/15/99

The Paris-based al-Muharrir News paper said, quoting Iraqi sources in
Paris, that Qusai Saddam Hussein is preparing to visit Tehran, carrying
a message from his father, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, to his
Iranian counterpart in order to draw a joint plan that "fundamentally
abrogates disputes between the two countries."

The paper said that several meetings were held in this framework between
Iraqi and Iranian officials in Arab and East and West European capitals
during the 10 past months and that the Syrian officials are playing a
key role in several of these meetings in order to accelerate the process
of maintaining a tripartite Syrian - Iraqi - Iranian alliance that can
be a natural deterrent for the Israeli-Turkish alliance.


Iraq admits Shi'ite unrest in south in March
May 15, 1999, Web posted at: 5:13 AM EDT (0913 GMT) 

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- Iraq has admitted for the first time that
there was unrest in its mainly Shi'ite Muslim south in March following
the murder of a prominent cleric, and blamed Iran for the trouble. "Some
agents who came from behind the border, from Iran, carried out sabotage
acts in the city of Basra on March 17 in order to harm Iraq and its
people," a local leader of the ruling Baath party, Abdul-Baaqi
al-Sa'doun, told reporters on Friday night. 

"We have evidence that the Persian regime was involved in the unrest
through sending infiltrators (across the border), trained and supplied
with arms by the regime," Sa'doun said during celebrations to mark Basra
city day. "We have found Iranian arms and telecommunications systems
carried by those infiltrators," he added. 

Sa'doun said the unrest was crushed in only "20 to 25 minutes" because
there were only a "handful" of trouble-makers. He said Iraqi authorities
had arrested those responsible but denied that any had been executed. He
said most of them had confessed and said they were sent by the Iranian
government which supplied them with weapons. Sa'doun said among those
who took part in the unrest were Iraqi prisoners from the 1980-1988
Iraq-Iran war who were recruited and forced by the Tehran government to
carry out acts of sabotage inside Iraq. 

Iraqi opposition groups say the killing in February of Iraq's prominent
Shi'ite spiritual leader, Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, sparked widespread
unrest in the country. The Baghdad government denied at the time that
there were riots. The opposition groups and the Iranian government
blamed Baghdad for the murder of Sadr, who was killed along with his two
sons Mustafa and Mua'mal while driving in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf
in southern Iraq. Iraq denied it had killed the cleric and announced in
April that it had executed four men for his murder. 

Shi'ites form 65 percent of Iraq's 22 million people.

BBC Online, Sunday, May 16, 1999 Published at 04:35 GMT 05:35 UK 
Iraqi paper goes online 

The weekly newspaper owned by the eldest son of Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein is launching an Internet site. A statement from the Al-Zawra
newspaper said the move was an attempt to open a breach in the wall of
the "media embargo" imposed on Iraq. Amman Correspondent Richard Downes:
"Iraqi media is tightly controlled"The site is due to be published in
Arabic and English on the Iraq Today site based in Jordan.

It is the first Iraqi newspaper to get a presence on the web. Iraq
itself does not have an official web address. The launch coincides with
Al-Zawra's 100th edition. Only the front page has content at the moment.
It carries a large picture of President Saddam Hussein, with a message
wishing him a happy 62nd birthday. 

His powerful son Uday Hussein, who runs the Al-Zawra newspaper, also
controls a number of other key publications in Iraq. Al-Zawra follows
the official Iraqi News Agency, which launched a site at the end of
April, onto the net.

BBC Amman Correspondent Richard Downes says the Website designers have
avoided anything controversial, at least in the first issue. He says
those close to power in Iraq want to see sanctions lifted and that the
Website launch may prove to be one of the least provocative attempts to
draw attention to Iraq's plight.



Saddam's terror goes on as Allied jets attack missile site
By Philip Sherwell, Foreign Affairs Correspondent 

WHILE the international spotlight focuses on Nato's bombardment of
Slobodan Milosevic's forces, American and British jets are continuing
their aerial confrontation with another pariah state - Saddam Hussein's

In the latest clash, American fighters accompanied by British Jaguar GR1
reconnaissance aircraft last week attacked a surface-to-air missile site
near Mosul after Iraqi radar locked on to the jets and they came under
anti-aircraft fire. Baghdad claimed that 12 "citizens" died in the
incident when their tents were bombed and 200 animals were killed.

Since the end of the four-day Operation Desert Fox in December, Saddam's
jets have flouted the no-fly zones imposed over the north and south of
the country while his land forces have targeted American and British
aircraft on patrol. The Ministry of Defence has recorded 325
"provocations" and said Allied aircraft had responded with bombs and
missiles on more than 150 occasions.

Saddam, whose continued rule in Baghdad eight years after his defeat in
the Gulf war is a timely reminder of the limits of air power, has
ordered the campaign of harassment in an effort to exploit deepening
rifts in international ranks over Iraq. At the United Nations in New
York, Britain and America are in a minority among the five permanent
members of the Security Council as they seek a tough resolution
empowering a new UN body to track down Iraq's arsenal of chemical and
biological weapons.

It was Saddam's refusal to co-operate with arms inspectors from Unscom
that provoked Operation Desert Fox. There have been no Unscom missions
since that showdown and the contract of its Australian head, Richard
Butler, expires next month after he lost the support of the UN Secretary
General, Kofi Annan. There are fears that Saddam's scientists have used
the breathing space since December to restart his programme of weapons
of mass destruction. "He has consistently sought to mislead, elude and
outwit the inspectors," an Unscom chemical weapons expert said.

Washington and London insist that economic sanctions imposed on Iraq can
be lifted only after UN teams conclude that Baghdad no longer has a
store of weapons of mass destruction or the capacity to produce them.
But citing the harsh humanitarian impact, China, Russia and France
favour the removal of sanctions once Iraq accepts a new inspections
mechanism. Moscow and Paris are also motivated by their financial
interests: Russia wants to be re-paid Soviet loans dating from before
the 1991 Gulf war while French companies have lined up lucrative oil

While the Iraqi dictator can take some comfort from the cracks in the
international alliance against him, he is alarmed by domestic opposition
to his reign of fear. His secret service has set up a department to
trace and assassinate defectors after a spate of desertions by senior
overseas operatives. And Saddam has also been conducting one of his
purges of his armed forces and ruling Ba'ath Party, shifting senior
officers and executing several accused of lack of loyalty.

Further unrest is also reported in the Baghdad suburb of Saddam City,
where the majority Shia Muslim population resents the domination of
Saddam and his Sunni cronies. In February, The Sunday Telegraph
disclosed how the security forces shot dozens of demonstrators during
protests after the assassination of the leading Shia cleric in the holy
city of Najaf.

7 April 1999: Iraq executes four men for ayatollah's murder
2 April 1999: Air strikes alone cannot defeat a regime, says Baghdad
23 February 1999: Military on streets after 300 die in Iraqi riot
21 December 1998: 70-hour blitz doubles tally of Desert Storm


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