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From the news: the US and the Iraqi opposition



Hi all,

Harriet's main e-mail account is dead so these items are being routed via
my address.

Colin Rowat
Coordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/casi

King's College                                                 
Cambridge CB2 1ST                       tel: +44 (0)468 056 984
England                                 fax: +44 (0)1223 335 219

********************

 U.S. Will Aid Iraqi Opposition (Associated Press): 'The objective is to 
have plans ready for the day when Saddam goes.'
 U.S. Won't Aid Anti-Saddam Iraqis (Associated Press). Rubin: "We're not 
prepared to take action that is premature or that puts people's lives 
needlessly at risk." [subject of this article as previous, but the US' 
distinction between 'lethal' and 'non-lethal' aid appears to be adding to 
the confusion]
 Iraqi opposition delegation starts program in Washington (Arabic News)
 Albright Says Hussein's Foes Are Building Unified Front (New York Times). 
Rubin: "This kind of broad-based political regime change is a new policy."
 Allies resume attack on Baghdad (Arabic News): attacks on Sunday
 Iraqi government formally renews Oil For Food (Associated Press)
 Iraq stops medicine transactions with Jordanians that deal with Israel 
(Arabic News)
 Pope hopes to visit Iraq in autumn (Daily Telegraph)
 Report: 80 government troops killed in fighting between Islamic Resistance 
and Republican Guard last week (Associated Press)

********************
U.S. Will Aid Iraqi Opposition
By Harry Dunphy, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, May 25, 1999; 2:01 a.m. 
EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States wants to see a new government 
established in Iraq and will help bring it about, Secretary of State 
Madeleine Albright told Iraqi opposition leaders. The Clinton 
administration, which has made toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a 
major objective, will provide material and training for the Iraqi opposition 
but no military help for now, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said 
after Albright met with the leaders Monday. Rubin told reporters the 
opposition groups were not ready for military help. "We're not prepared to 
take action that is premature or that puts people's lives needlessly at 
risk,'' he said. "There are a number of steps that have to be taken before 
we're in a position to provide lethal assistance.''

Rubin said the administration would assist in establishing offices to help 
the opposition groups work together. He said the groups also would get 
computers, training in civil administration and advice on distributing 
anti-Saddam information. The opposition leaders, newly united under the 
Iraqi National Congress, had said they planned to seek U.S. military 
protection for their efforts to overthrow Saddam. Six representatives of the 
INC, which had disintegrated in squabbling among opposition groups until it 
agreed to reunify in April, were joined at the meeting by members of Iraq's 
Kurdish minority and other Arabs. But senior administration officials said 
Hamid Bayati, a representative of the Iran-based Supreme Council for the 
Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a member of the INC, did not take part. The 
largest Shiite opposition group, it apparently did not want to be seen as 
cooperating with the United States.

The opposition leaders plan to visit members of Congress on Wednesday and 
see President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, on 
Thursday. Rubin said aid would begin flowing after opposition leaders meet 
in northern Iraq in early July. Last year Congress endorsed a plan to 
provide $95 million to Iraqi opposition groups and $2 million for 
anti-Saddam radio broadcasts into Iraq.

********************
U.S. Won't Aid Anti-Saddam Iraqis
By Harry Dunphy, Associated Press Writer, Monday, May 24, 1999; 6:16 p.m. 
EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration will help Iraqi opposition 
leaders organize themselves but won't provide military help now for action 
against President Saddam Hussein, the State Department said Monday. To help 
the opposition groups work together, State Department spokesman James P. 
Rubin said the administration would assist in establishing offices in New 
York and London and possibly a satellite office in the Middle East. He said 
the groups also would get computers, training in civil administration and 
advice on distributing anti-Saddam information. The objective is to have 
plans ready for the day when Saddam goes.

The opposition leaders, newly united under the re-formed Iraqi National 
Congress, had said they planned also to seek in a meeting with Secretary of 
State Madeleine Albright U.S. military protection for their efforts to 
overthrow Saddam. Six representatives of the INC, which had disintegrated 
amid squabbling among various opposition groups until it agreed to reunify 
in April, were joined at the meeting by members of Iraq's Kurdish minority 
and other Arab groups or individuals not part of the Iraqi National 
Congress. They included Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi oil minister; Sharif 
Ali bin Al Hussein, representing the monarchy deposed in 1958; and Hatem J. 
Mukhless, whose father helped establish the Iraqi army. But Hamid Bayati, a 
representative of the Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution 
in Iraq who also is a leader of the Iraqi National Congress, did not take 
part. His group, the largest representing Iraq's Shiites, does not want to 
be seen cooperating with the United States.

The U.S. officials said Albright told the gathering wants to see a new 
government in Iraq that is responsive to the needs of all the country's 
people. ``She welcomed the fact that this group representing the mosaic of 
Iraq had come together to manifest their unity and pledged'' U.S. support 
for their efforts, an official said, briefing reporters on condition of 
anonymity.  The opposition leaders will visit Congress on Wednesday and see 
President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, on Thursday. 
Briefing reporters before the meeting, Rubin said the opposition groups were 
not ready for military help at this time. ``We're not prepared to take 
action that is premature or that puts people's lives needlessly at risk,'' 
Rubin said. ``There are a number of steps that have to be taken before we're 
in a position to provide lethal assistance.''

Rubin said Albright wants to learn the opposition leaders' plans and see how 
the United States can help, and aid would begin flowing after a general 
assembly of opposition leaders in northern Iraq in early July. Egypt 
rebuffed efforts to establish an anti-Saddam government-in-exile in Cairo. 
Last year Congress endorsed a plan to provide $95 million to Iraqi 
opposition groups and $2 million for anti-Saddam radio broadcasts into Iraq.

President Clinton has proclaimed that Saddam's ouster is a major U.S. 
objective. U.S. and British planes patrol the skies over dissident 
strongholds in northern and southern Iraq, but the two countries have no 
military presence on the ground. As the United States promotes the Iraqi 
opposition, it continues to strike military sites in flight-interdiction 
zones in northern Iraq set up to protect Iraqi Kurds. The trip by the 
opposition group comes at a time when members of the U.N. Security Council 
are trying to work out a new policy to deal with Baghdad. The council has 
not agreed on a resolution that would allow resumption of U.N. arms 
inspections in Iraq that were halted last December, when the United States 
and Britain carried out four days of air raids against Iraq.

********************
Iraqi opposition delegation starts program in Washington
Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 5/24/99

A united delegation representing the Iraqi opposition, including members of 
the provisional leadership of the Iraqi National Congress and 
representatives for the Democratic Center Party, left London on Sunday for 
Washington. Today, the delegation will start its political program which 
includes meetings with officials in the Congress and the US administration. 
Sources in the "Free Iraqi Council" stated on Monday that the meeting, which 
was held last Thursday between the "provisional leadership" and the "Center 
Trend," resulted in reaching a cooperation agreement between the two sides 
"in order to unify forces of the Iraqi opposition with the participation of 
all parties and activities." A statement released following the meeting 
between the two sides stressed "continued dialogue and means of revitalizing 
the role played by the opposition" as well as taking part in the follow-up 
committee. The statement also stressed that a joint delegation representing 
the two sides is to visit the US in response to an invitation extended by 
the US Congress and administration in order to exchange views and 
discussions on latest developments relating to Iraq. The delegation to 
Washington includes members of the provisional leadership Eyad Allaei, Kamal 
Fuad, Latif Rashid, Ahmad al-Jalabi, Riyadh al-Yawar, Muhammad Abdul Jabbar 
and Nouri Badran as well as the representatives of the "Center Trend," Adnan 
al-Baja Je and al-Sharif Ali Bin Hussein.

********************
New York Times, May 25, 1999, By JANE PERLEZ
Albright Says Hussein's Foes Are Building Unified Front

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with the leaders of 
Iraqi opposition groups Monday, the first encounter the secretary has had 
with such leaders and an indication of the Clinton administration's efforts 
to build a more cohesive opposition against Saddam Hussein. The meeting 
between Albright and nearly a dozen Iraqi opposition leaders came as the 
State Department announced moves to supply the opposition with non-lethal 
assistance such as offices and communication equipment. Under the Iraqi 
Liberation Act passed by Congress last year, $97 million was made available 
for lethal and non-lethal aid to seven opposition groups intent on 
overthrowing the Iraqi president.

In January, the administration appointed Frank Ricciardone, a Foreign 
Service officer, as special representative for transition in Iraq and the 
official responsible for overseeing administration policy toward the Iraqi 
opposition groups. The administration decided to move ahead with supporting 
the opposition groups, including Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi 
National Congress, despite skepticism at the Pentagon. In 1996, the 
operations in northern Iraq of the Iraqi National Congress were decimated by 
the Iraqi army and Chalabi was out of favor with the administration after 
that debacle. But Chalabi lobbied Congress to pass the $97 million plan and 
hoped to get his group designated as the main recipient.

The top American commander in the Middle East, Gen. Anthony C. Zinni of the 
Marine Corps, warned last year that none of the existing groups was strong 
enough to either unify the opposition or topple Saddam Hussein. After 
Albright met with the opposition leaders, the assistant secretary for Near 
East affairs, Martin Indyk, said the support for the groups was one facet of 
the overall policy to change the regime in Iraq. "This is a political effort 
from the outside to delegitimize Saddam," Indyk said. The broader policy 
embraced the continuing bombing by the United States of Iraq, economic 
sanctions and diplomatic isolation, Indyk said.

The first funds from the $97 million would be spent on training the 
opposition groups in civil administration that would help them "move into" 
Iraq should Saddam be toppled, a senior administration official said. "We're 
not talking about lethal assistance at this time," the State Department 
spokesman, James P. Rubin, said Monday. There were funds for a broadcasting 
system that would enable the opposition groups to get their anti-Saddam 
message into Iraq. As well, the opposition would most likely open offices in 
London, New York and in the Middle East.

In announcing the activities Monday, Rubin, said that the administration was 
embarking on a new policy. "This kind of broad-based political regime 
change, overt policy, is a new policy," he said. He described the membership 
of the opposition that the administration is backing as being a "variety" 
that stretched beyond the interests of Chalabi. Among those groups at the 
State Department Monday were the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Latif 
Rashid, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Hoshyar Zebari. State 
Department officials said they were pleased a centrist Sunni leader in 
exile, Riyad al Yawir, was present Monday. Part of the meeting with Albright 
Monday was intended to show to the administration that the frequently 
squabbling opposition factions had patched up their differences and were 
reuniting in the goal of overthrowing Saddam, a senior State Department 
official said.

********************
Allies resume attack on Baghdad
Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 5/24/99

US and British aircraft made raids yesterday on Iraq, coming from the 
Turkish Incirlik air base and attacked Iraqi anti-aircraft sites near Mosoul 
in northern Iraq, due to which Iraqi citizens were injured. A spokesman from 
the Iraqi air defense leadership stated that 19 formations for the allies 
implemented 23 air raids above Mosoul city, and the Kurdish cities of Dahouk 
and Arbil and the anti-aircraft sites in the area, due to which citizens 
were injured. The spokesman stated that the Iraqi ground forces confronted 
the assault aircraft and forced it to leave Iraq's airspace, returning to 
their bases in Turkey after spending more than two hours above Iraq.

********************
Iraq Renews Oil-for-Food Deal
By Leon Barkho, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, May 25, 1999; 5:05 a.m. 
EDT

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The Iraqi government has formally renewed its 
oil-for-food deal with the United Nations that provides food and medicine 
for its people, a senior official said today. The official also said Iraq's 
SOMO, the state oil marketing arm, was now working on new contracts for the 
sixth phase of the deal, which started Tuesday. ``The contracts could be 
ready in a matter of days,'' the official said, speaking on condition of 
anonymity. Sources at SOMO said there should be no interruption in oil 
exports.

Iraq is now producing 2.65 million barrels of oil a day with about 2 million 
earmarked for exports. The official said any production and export increase 
would be impossible without spare parts. However, he said, $14 million of 
equipment and spare parts have already arrived in the country and if the 
current pace of arrivals continues they will be able ``to add another 
250,000 barrels a day to output before the end of this year.''

The oil-for-food program allows Iraq to bypass U.N. trade sanctions imposed 
after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and sell limited amounts of oil on 
condition the proceeds are used to buy food, medicine and humanitarian goods 
for its people. The program, which is approved in six-month phases, began in 
December 1996. State-run newspapers, which reflect government thinking, have 
been very critical of the program recently, with some even advising the 
government to abandon the deal. The newspaper Babil, which is owned by 
President Saddam Hussein's eldest son Odai, speculated Monday that the 
United States and Britain would turn the oil program into a permanent 
measure that would substitute for any eventual lifting of sanctions. But 
Iraq desperately needs the program, particularly as it is facing its worst 
drought in almost fifty years. Iraq has so far received up to 10 million 
tons of food through the program.

********************
Iraq stops medicine transactions with Jordanians that deal with Israel
Arabic News, Jordan, Politics, 5/24/99

Iraqi sources told ArabicNews.com that Iraq stopped dealing with some 
Jordanian medicine companies because of their dealings with Israel and that 
Iraq refused to complete some transactions for purchasing Jordanian 
medicines after learning it had a part in the economic normalization process 
with Israel. The sources added, "Iraq considered itself free of any 
commitment ratified with Jordanian medicine companies and stopped these 
transactions." Meanwhile, the public union for vocational syndicates in 
Jordan started a campaign against the Jordanian companies that deal with 
Israel, referring to them as normalized companies with the Zionist enemy. 
The Iraqi Ministry of Health informed the union of Jordanian pharmacists of 
the suspension of transactions, adding that the union started an expanded 
initiative aimed at collecting information about the concerned companies as 
soon as it is informed.

********************
Daily Telegraph, ISSUE 1460, Tuesday 25 May 1999, By Bruce Johnston in Rome
Pope hopes to visit Iraq in autumn

THE Pope is hoping to travel to Iraq "in the footsteps of Abraham" later 
this year, probably in the autumn, it emerged yesterday. The trip, which has 
still to be confirmed, would be mainly to Ur, where Abraham, the Patriarch 
of the Jews, was born, and to other Biblical sites. The Pope is said to be 
very keen on the visit, although President Saddam Hussein is certain to try 
to use it for his own propaganda purposes.

Sources said that the decision concerning the general outlines of the visit 
followed meetings last week between members of the Curia and a delegation 
from Baghdad of Chaldean Catholic and Muslim leaders, led by the Patriarch 
Raphael Bidawid. Christians account for about one million of Iraq's 17 
million population. Most of the Christians are Chaldeans, or indigenous 
Catholics.

Thanks to his stand against the Gulf war and the United Nations embargo 
against Iraq, the Pope is now a popular figure in Baghdad. He is convinced 
that such sanctions hurt only civilians, especially children, and the weak 
and poor. The Vatican has full diplomatic ties with Baghdad, with whose 
regime Mgr Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the papal nuncio, is said to be on the 
friendliest of terms. To America and Britain's dismay, Saddam will probably 
seek a joint "photo opportunity" with the Pope to try to use his visit to 
end the UN embargo.

********************
Report: Iraq Battles Kill 80 Troops
Monday, May 24, 1999; 12:16 p.m. EDT

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Armed Iraqi opposition groups fought a nine-hour battle 
with the elite Republican Guard in southern Iraq last week, killing 80 
government soldiers, an opposition report said Monday. The Iran-based 
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, said an 
armored unit of President Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard attacked the 
dissidents Wednesday near Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad. The opposition 
forced the government soldiers to retreat, ``leaving behind their dead and 
destroyed weapons,'' SCIRI said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press 
in Cairo. Seven dissidents were wounded, two of them seriously, it said. The 
fighting took place in the Jazeera area, close to the marshes that extend to 
the Iranian border. Tens of thousands of army deserters and civilians, 
mostly Shiites, took refuge in the marshes after soldiers crushed a Shiite 
rebellion in the south following Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

In another statement, SCIRI said Islamic resistance fighters launched 
rockets on government and army headquarters Friday in the Diyala province, 
40 miles north of Baghdad. The offices of the governor, military security 
and two army headquarters buildings sustained heavy losses of men, equipment 
and buildings, it said. The reports could not be independently confirmed.

********************




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