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Iraq news

*       Lengthy Power Outages Affect Iraqis (Associated Press)
*       Turkish army continues invasion of northern Iraq (Arabic News)
*       Saddam Issues Threat (*
*       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.

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

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

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

Inside Cover,
Saturday May 15, 12:37 PM

Hussein To Army: Confrontation with U.S. Imminent:'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.

[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 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'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

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

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.


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