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* Lengthy Power Outages Affect Iraqis (Associated Press) * Turkish army continues invasion of northern Iraq (Arabic News) * Saddam Issues Threat (NewsMax.com)* * Iraq Concedes That Rioting Occurred in March and Blames Iran (New York Times) * Dissidents Say Iraqi Army Shaken Up (Associated Press) [* Harriet's note: The Inside Cover article needs to be held at arm's length. I included it in the hope that its main ingredient is no more than hype...] ******************** Lengthy Power Outages Affect Iraqis By Leon Barkho, Associated Press Writer, Monday, May 17, 1999; 2:56 p.m. EDT BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- When the temperature soars in Iraq, so do power outages -- some that stretch for 20 hours or more and force Iraqis underground during the day and up on rooftops at night. People in Mosul, a northern city of 2 million, have only two hours of electricity each day. After that, they rely on decrepit generators to juice up air coolers -- box fans insulated with straw that cool with the help of dripping tap water -- for another six hours at best. Kadhim Khadban said the Mosul hotel where he works can no longer operate a freezer or refrigerator: ``Two hours is not enough to keep vegetables or even water cool in weather like ours.'' Summer is just starting in Baghdad, with daytime temperatures reaching more than 100 degrees. Iraqis know it will only get worse: 120 degrees in the shade isn't uncommon, and temperatures regularly brush 140 degrees in the south. The United Nations says Iraq had one of the best power grids in the Middle East before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when damage from allied airstrikes cut power-generation capacity by 75 percent. A recent U.N. report said Iraqi engineers had boosted capacity from 25 percent to 42 percent through makeshift repairs. But even that has begun to crumble because of heavy use and a lack of spare parts. Power supply doesn't meet the need in the winter; in summer, air coolers, fans and air conditioners only compound the problem. So Iraqis make do. Many sleep on rooftops at night. The fortunate live in old-style houses made of stone and gypsum with deep cellars where families pass their days. Ice factories sell small blocks of ice for 50 cents, nearly a fifth of the monthly salary of a government employee. Hand fans of woven reeds are popular. Residents in the southern city of Basra, home to 1.5 million people, have power most of the night but almost none during the day. Temperatures top 140 degrees and the humidity is oppressive. In the capital, power generally stays on for six hours, then goes off for three. Families with air-conditioned cars drive around Baghdad during outages. But even the blackout schedule is getting more erratic, with disruptions lasting up to nine hours. Najiba Younis of Baghdad said when her house is without power, she and her husband usually visit friends. ``They come to our house when we have electricity and vice versa,'' she said. To bring the country's electricity system back to normal, Iraq needs at least $8 billion, the United Nations says. The government has spent $105 million from its oil sales to improve the grid, but the U.N. report calls the overall increase in power generation ``negligible.'' Iraq has been under strict U.N. sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but is allowed to sell up to $5.2 billion worth of oil every six months to buy food and humanitarian aid for Iraqis. ******************** Turkish army continues invasion of northern Iraq Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 5/17/99 The Turkish army, since Friday, has continued a new invasion operation against northern Iraq, under the pretext of chasing armed Kurds. The Turkish daily Hurriet reported on Sunday that, "Turkish forces, backed by some 15,000 troops and hundreds of villags guards, sneaked into the Iraqi territories from Olodeidi area in Seirnak province, escorted by Turkish warplanes."The Turkish paper added that the Turkish troops made an incursion of 20 km inside the Iraqi territories. Meanwhile, Iraq has called on the UN Security Council to intervene to halt US - British attacks coming from the Turkish airspace and resulting in killing Iraqi civilians. Iraqi dailies issued on Sunday said that the "US - British air raids are but a daily aggression in which the two countries invest the complete silence of the UN over the daily crimes against the Iraqi citizens in their homes or offices, alike."An Iraqi spokesman said that US and UK warplanes bombarded on Saturday civil establishments outside the no-fly zone area in northern Iraq. Iraq, in addition to the air strikes, suffers from a nine-year siege. On Sunday, Baghdad stressed that its agricultural season faces great problems due to increased agricultural diseases as a result of the imposed embargo. In press statements, the director general of plant protection in Iraq, Jamal Fadel, said, "We suffer great problems resulting from agricultural diseases arising from banning agricultural flights and the delay for approving flights over so-called no-fly zones, besides the fact the flying capacity has been reduced to 20% in comparison with the figures prior to 1990 due to the imposed sanctions and the non-availability of spare parts." He held the US and Britain responsible for the damage inflicted on Iraqi agriculture, saying these two counrties obstruct the arrival of spare parts for agricultural planes. ******************** Inside Cover, Newsmax.com Saturday May 15, 12:37 PM Hussein To Army: Confrontation with U.S. Imminent: NewsMax.com's Inside Cover reports that a British intelligence advisory says that Saddam Hussein recently told his army to prepare for major action against the U.S. Hussein promised the Iraqi action "will be remembered throughout history" -- implying Hussein may use weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence advisory says that Hussein's threat can not be dismissed with U.S. forces tied down in the Europe and the Balkans. Top military commanders are also warning Korea is vulnerable to an attack, and that several crises may erupt simultaneously and soon. http://www.newsmax.com [full text follows] Saddam Issues Threat Earlier this week, Intelligence International LTD, the well regarded Britain-based intelligence advisory, sent an urgent "Private Alert" to its world wide subscribers. Inside Cover has received a copy. "Saddam Warns of Imminent Showdown with the U.S.," headlines the action gram. Intelligence International reports that Iraqi diplomatic sources in Amman, Jordan, have claimed that Hussein recently sent a memorandum to "senior staff in the party, state, and the army." The memo from Hussein asserts that "the showdown with the United States is not far away." Hussein is said to be promising a "crucial confrontation that will end in Iraq's favour." The memo continues, implying Hussein may use weapons of mass destruction, "Iraq will confront -- with determination, vigour, and a devastating response that will be remembered throughout history -- the latest U.S. attempt to inflict harm on it." Intelligence International notes that Hussein has made vain threats before. This time, however, the intelligence advisory suggests Hussein should be taken seriously because President Clinton has entangled America's military in Kosovo. Such an entanglement may have provided Iraq with an "unmissable opportunity," the advisory concludes. Already NewsMax.com and other sources have reported a massive shift of American naval and air power from the Gulf -- leaving the region vulnerable to Saddam. Top military commanders like General Jack Singlaub(ret.) and Admiral Thomas Moorer(ret.) stated at NewsMax.com's "America at Risk" Los Angeles Conference that American naval and air power has also been significantly drawn down in the Pacific. They both stated that South Korea is extremely vulnerable to a North Korean attack in the near future. Affirming those sentiments this week, General Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told Congress that North Korea has engaged in a forward deployment suggesting a possible attack on the South. He said American troops have been on a heightened state of alert. Several defense think tanks, including the Center for Security Policy headed by Frank Gaffney, have warned that America may be faced with several, simultaneous crises, including ones with Iraq and North Korea. Clinton's defense policies have effectively "hollowed out" the American military. Experts say that the American military would be unable to deal with one crisis, let alone several. ******************** Iraq Concedes That Rioting Occurred in March and Blames Iran New York Times, May 15, 1999 BASRA, Iraq -- The Iraqi authorities admitted Friday that anti-Government disturbances erupted two months ago in Basra, an impoverished city in the south, a rare official acknowledgment of such troubles. But the Government sharply denied reports by Iraqi opposition groups abroad that hundreds of rioters had been killed, along with scores of militia members from the ruling Baath Party. Instead, Iraq blamed "infiltrators" from Iran for stirring up trouble. The admission is the first of its kind by the Government since the assassination of the supreme leader of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sader, and his two sons on Feb. 15. Iraqi dissidents have reported clashes since Ayatollah Sader's death in several parts of the country, including Baghdad. Abdulbagi al-Saadun, a senior member of the Baath Party, indicated to reporters that there had been problems in mid-March. But referring to dissidents' reports of widespread killing, he said, "The truth is that we cannot say there were events." Saadun, a deputy to Ali Hassan al-Majid, commander of the southern region, accused Iran of training infiltrators to carry out "acts of sabotage" in southern Iraq, particularly in Basra. Some few agents came from beyond the borders," Saadun said. "They were captured, thanks to help from the Basra people." Reporters on a Government-sponsored trip were allowed to tour the city and interview residents. But even without the presence of official guides, who usually accompany journalists on such tours, few were willing to speak in detail about the nature of the disturbances. "There were problems in March," said Asaad Qassem, a street peddler. "Those stirring trouble have rightly been punished. You see, everything is quiet and peaceful now." Adnan Abdulrazzaq, a grocer, said: "We all stayed at home when the events happened. We closed our doors. We did not want to be part of it." Saadun, the Baath official, did not identify the rioters, but residents said they had included university students secretly recruited by Iran. Saadun spoke of no killings, and residents evaded the question when asked if there had been any. The authorities in Basra captured "communications gear and weapons supplied by Iran to the infiltrators," Saadun said. Some residents spoke of "sad events" that took place on March 17 and 18, or asked why the world did not seem to care about the plight of Basra under the trade sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations. Basra is home to nearly 1.5 million people who live on meager Government rations. Forty percent of residents are without clean water and the rest hardly get enough, said the Governor of Basra Province, Ahmed Hamash. This city once was called the Venice of the East, from which the mythical Sinbad the Sailor embarked on his voyages. Today it is bisected by open sewage canals that have no outlet to discharge their waste, owing to the rising water levels. Haydar Hamid, a perfume seller, said those who rioted in March entertained hopes that the whole of Basra would fill the streets in their support. "That did not happen," he said, adding, "We do not want to repeat the mistake of the past," a reference to the failed uprising that engulfed southern Iraq just after the Persian Gulf war of 1991. The Iraqi Government swiftly and harshly moved in and put it down. ******************** Dissidents Say Iraqi Army Shaken Up Sunday, May 16, 1999; 12:40 p.m. EDT CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Saddam Hussein has reshuffled the army command in the wake of anti-government disturbances in recent months in southern Iraq, dissidents and travelers said Sunday. Changes included replacing deputies to the chief of staff along with commanders of the border guard and air defense units, according to the dissidents and travelers, who spoke on condition they not be further identified. Lt. Gen. Saeed Mohammed Fathi al-Mashhadani, the guard commander, was fired, arrested, and replaced by Lt. Gen. Kanaan Mansour Khalil as a result of March 17-18 disturbances in Basra, they said. Other major changes included the appointment of Lt. Gen Sabah Nouri Alwan and Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Ismael Mohammed as deputies to the chief of staff, the sources told The Associated Press. In a rare admission, Iraqi authorities acknowledged Friday that there were disturbances in the impoverished southern city of Basra in mid-March. They blamed infiltrators from neighboring Iran. Iraqi opposition groups claimed that more than 200 people, including scores of ruling Baath party militiamen, were killed in mid-March rioting in Basra. Abdulbagi al-Saadoun, a senior member of the Baath party and deputy to the commander of the southern region, sharply denied such reports Friday, accusing ``infiltrators'' from Iran of stirring up trouble. Al-Saadoun allowed reporters on a government-organized tour of Basra to speak with residents without official guides. Residents remained reluctant to talk, but spoke of public disturbances; they evaded questions about deaths. The travelers, who said they had witnessed the events, provided the first detailed descriptions. They said nearly 200 members of the Iran-based Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, coming from Iran, attacked Baath party offices and killed their guards. They said the members wore uniforms of Saddam Fedayeen, the commando units headed by Saddam's eldest son Odai. Soldiers, backed by tanks and artillery, quickly moved in, attacking residential areas in Basra and sparking riots and skirmishes with the security forces, they said. ******************** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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