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News Highlights for 11 Oct to 18 Oct, 1999 * NB: FAO's Amir Khalil says that Iraq is suffering its worst drought of the century. Warns that another year of drought will result in "real disaster". He blames sanctions for the deterioration of rural infrastructure. * NB: Carol Bellamy says that Iraq's wars with its neighbours and lack of investment in child health care are contributing to poor conditions. * US/UK planes bomb Southern and Northern Iraq in two separate incidents. Iraqi govt. says that casualties were inflicted. * Kofi Annan recommends that Iraq be allowed to double the amount of money it spends on parts for oil industry. * Two ships with Iraqi oil products intercepted by US Naval ships. * Two Stratfor reports, one on Iraq's relationship with Syria and another on the power struggle between Saddam's sons. Quite a few articles in addition to those mentioned above. Thanks to Colin for his assistance. --------------------------------------------- UN official says drought-hit Iraq faces disaster 09:46 a.m. Oct 18, 1999 Eastern By Hassan Hafidh BAGHDAD, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Iraq, suffering the worst drought this century, faces disaster next year if the situation does not improve, a U.N. official said on Monday. Iraqi and U.N. officials said the country was hit harder than its neighbours by drought because the farm sector and rural infrastructure have struggled under U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. ``If there is another drought in Iraq next year, it is going to be a real disaster,'' said Amir Khalil, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative in Iraq. ``Then urgent action will have to be taken.'' FAO data show water levels of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers have dropped to about 40 percent of average winter flows. The drought has also led to the loss of 70 percent of production of rain-fed areas and very low yields in irrigated areas. Wheat production has dropped by 63 percent below normal levels while barley decreased by 37 percent, the FAO says. Khalil said lack of resources and equipment hampered efforts to soften the impact of the drought. He said funds allocated by Iraq's oil-for-food deal with the United Nations helped ``just to stop the deterioration.'' The oil-for-food programme allows Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil to buy humanitarian goods. Under the sixth phase of the deal, which is renewed every six months, Iraq has allocated $223 million for irrigation. Before the sanctions, Iraq allocated $500 to 600 million per year for the farm and irrigation sectors, Khalil said. Iraq's Agriculture Minister Abdulillah Saleh said only a few items procured under the oil sale scheme had reached Iraq. He blamed the U.N. sanctions committee for delaying contracts. But George Somerwill, the U.N. spokesman in Iraq, said several items had been dispatched. ``The committee allowed a lot of items through and passed them very quickly such as pumps, spare parts for pumps, water tankers and power generators in order to operate artesian wells.'' Khalil said the FAO had urged the sanctions committee to accelerate approval of contracts. Before the sanctions, Iraq imported 70 percent of its food needs. Under the U.N. embargo it launched a big drive for self- sufficiency, rehabilitating rural infrastructure, cultivating more land, digging giant canals and increasing farm prices. A rationing system under the oil deal has so far staved off mass famine, but provides little more than half a family's food needs. Khalil said the drought had also affected the country's livestock and according to FAO estimates, more than 1.5 million animals have died from drought and foot and mouth disease. Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication and redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. ---------------------------------- Monday October 18 12:42 AM ET Defense Secretary Cohen Begins Mideast Tour SIGONELLA NAVAL AIR STATION, Italy (Reuters) - Defense Secretary William Cohen began a trip to the Middle East Monday to talk to allies about long-standing concerns on Iraq and developments in Pakistan since last week's military coup. The purpose of the nine-country visit was to ``reinforce the United States' position that we are here (the Middle East) for the long term and that we value the security relationships we have with the individual countries,'' Cohen told reporters travelling with him. Cohen was also to discuss the Middle East peace process, proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and terrorism, officials said. Continued cooperation related to Iraq was an important agenda item because U.S. warplanes fly from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and aircraft carriers in the region to patrol the no-fly zone in southern Iraq, officials said. American and British aircraft frequently bomb targets in Iraq following incursions by Iraqi planes into the no-fly zone or after being targeted by Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery. The no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq were imposed by the West after the 1991 Gulf War to protect opponents of President Saddam Hussein. Iraq does not recognize the zones. Cohen told reporters the Western bombing of Iraqi military installations was having an impact. ``It continues to keep (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein contained,'' Cohen said. Cohen said Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had not expressed any concerns to him about the Western bombing of Iraqi targets. ``I assume everybody is frustrated with Saddam still remaining in power,'' he said. ``But there is evidence from time to time that there continues to be unrest in the south (of Iraq), that he does not have the iron-fisted a grip on things that he had before.'' Saddam vowed Sunday to keep challenging U.S. and British aircraft flying over Iraq after another reported raid in which Iraqi authorities said civilian targets had been bombed. The United States and Britain have denied repeated Iraqi charges that their planes have targeted civilians, saying they have fired only on military forces threatening their enforcement of the no-fly zones. Cohen said there were no plans to reduce the size of U.S. forces in the Middle East. ``We will keep the same level of forces in the region for the indefinite future,'' he said. On Pakistan, Cohen said he would ask all of the countries he visited during his trip ``what their perception is and what steps they might be able to take as well to help stabilize the situation between Pakistan and India.'' Cohen planned to meet Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Jordan's King Abdullah and Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah. He was also to meet with officials in Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. ---------------------------------- Saturday October 16 7:34 PM ET Iraq Children's Plight Worsens By LEON BARKHO Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.N. trade sanctions are not the only reason for the increase in malnourishment among Iraqi children, the chief of the U.N. Children's Fund said Saturday. Iraq's wars with its neighbors and against its opponents, as well as a lack of investment in children's health care, also have helped worsen conditions for children living in the state-controlled regions of central and southern Iraq, Carol Bellamy said at a news conference in Baghdad. ``It is very important not to just say that everything rests on sanctions,'' Bellamy said, referring to the U.N. embargo imposed in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Iraq has demanded the sanctions be lifted, saying a U.N. humanitarian program, effectively an exemption from the sanctions, had failed to improve conditions for the country's impoverished millions. The program allows Iraq to sell $5.2 billion in oil every six months, and to use the income to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. Bellamy's weeklong fact-finding mission follows an August report by UNICEF, which said that, in state-controlled areas, the mortality rate among children under 5 had more than doubled in 10 years. The report sparked a U.N. debate, with some officials accusing Iraq of taking advantage of the children's plight to demand that sanctions be lifted. Bellamy said she had seen ``a real sign of movement'' by Iraq in meeting children's' nutrition needs. But she said she failed to persuade officials to stop including infant formula in the rations given to Iraqis each month under the U.N. aid program. A dramatic increase in bottle-feeding has contributed to the increase in malnutrition and child mortality, UNICEF said. ``We believe that the formula in food baskets send the wrong signal,'' Bellamy said. UNICEF has urged women to breast feed instead. In the autonomous northern region, where private charities are free to work, conditions for children have improved, UNICEF said. ----------------------------------------------- Saturday October 16 7:20 PM ET Iraq Says One Killed in Bombing BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An Iraqi civilian was killed and two others were injured Saturday when U.S. and British warplanes patrolling a no-fly zone bombed southern Iraq, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. The U.S. Central Command said six U.S. Air Force F-16 Falcons and two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets enforcing the southern no-fly zone used precision-guided weapons to strike a surface-to-air missile battery near Kut. It said the ``strikes came in response to the recent Iraqi movement of the SAM battery into a position threatening coalition aircraft,'' and added that the planes have sought to avoid injuring civilians. The Iraqi New Agency said Iraqi anti-air defenses fired at the planes and forced them to flee to bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It also said allied planes also flew over northern Iraq, but it did not report any bombing there. U.S. and British planes have been patrolling no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The zones were set up to protect Kurdish and Shiite Muslim minorities from the forces of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iraq calls the zones a violation of international law and has frequently challenged the allied planes since December. Following Iraqi allegations that the bombings were killing civilians, U.S. jets have been dropping bombs filled with concrete instead of explosives to minimize casualties in raids on Iraqi installations. ------------------------------------------------------- Saturday, October 16, 1999 Published at 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK World: Middle East 'Increase in Iraqi oil smuggling' The US Navy monitors shipping movements in the Gulf By Gulf correspondent Frank Gardner in Dubai US naval forces in the Gulf say they are intercepting an increasing number of ships trying to smuggle goods out of Iraq in contravention of UN sanctions. A spokesman for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain has attributed the increase in sanctions busting to the recent recovery in the oil price. The maritime smuggling business is booming in the Gulf, making millions of dollars by illegally exporting Iraqi fuel oil and other goods southwards down the Gulf. Under the UN's oil-for-food programme, begun in 1996, Iraq is allowed to export limited amounts of its oil under international monitoring. But the recent recovery in the oil price from historic lows has tempted some Gulf shippers to resume smuggling cargoes of Iraqi's fuel oil which are not covered by the oil-for-food deal. Impounded US, British and other warships regularly patrol the Gulf in an attempt to enforce UN sanctions. The US Navy's defence attache in Abu Dhabi, Commander Hasset, told the BBC that US warships have recently been intercepting an increasing number of illegal cargoes. He said two ships were impounded last week and were handed over to the United Arab Emirates coastguard. Rising oil prices have boosted illegal exports Their cargoes are due to be sold with the proceeds going to the UN while the ships will be auctioned off. But despite US Navy commanders' optimism about their operations in the Gulf, there remains one loophole for smugglers which is apparently hard to close. Western naval officers maintain that Iran is allowing smugglers to use its coastline to evade UN patrols. They say that the business is so lucrative that smugglers can afford to pay off local coastguards in return for sheltering inside Iranian territorial waters beyond the reach of western navies. Agricultural contracts Meanwhile Iraq has accused the United States and the UK of delaying contracts signed under the oil-for-food programme to buy agricultural equipment. Iraqi Agriculture Minister Abdulillah Hameed Mahmoud Saleh said the agriculture sector, hit by the worst drought this century, was suffering from lack of revenues, machinery, pesticides and veterinary supplies. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's representative in Iraq, Amir Khalil, said purchases made under the oil-for-food programme had helped to improve the nutrition situation, but he also mentioned "difficulties in approving some of the agriculture items" bought by Baghdad under the deal. Mr Khalil said delays in approving some equipment related to concerns that they could be used for other purposes, such as producing weapons. --------------------------------------------------------- Friday October 15 8:33 PM ET Iraq Said To Have Torture Center CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - A six-story underground detention and torture center has been built on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital, a human rights group affiliated with an Iraqi opposition party said Friday. The Center for Human Rights said the underground complex is run by military intelligence and was built under the supervision of Qusai, President Saddam Hussein's son. In a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo, the group said the complex was built under the general military hospital building close to the al-Rashid military camp on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. ``The complex ... includes torture and execution chambers reserved for officers and other military personnel,'' the Center for Human Rights said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo. Other floors reportedly contain wards reserved for detainees who are being held for interrogation before being moved to the dungeons. One floor houses detainees who are described as being in a frozen state, where no one is allowed to mention their names or ask about their fate, the statement said. The largest part of the complex, the Justice Detention Center, is on the sixth floor underground and has dungeons on both sides and execution chambers equipped with 52 gallows, according to the statement. ``The dictatorial regime has transformed Iraq into a big prison, spreading its detention centers and instruments of repression throughout the country,'' said the Center for Human Rights, based in Shaqlawa in northern Iraq. Iraqi prisons, including the notorious Abu Ghraib, are overcrowded with detainees and prisoners. The former minister of labor and social affairs, Abdel-Aziz Mohammed Saleh al-Sayegh, was fired last June for saying that prison conditions were appalling and the number of prisoners was five times capacity. The Center for Human Rights is affiliated with the Iraqi Communist Party. -------------------------------------------------------- Thursday October 14 9:59 AM ET U.S. Planes Bomb Iraq Installations ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. jets patrolling the no-fly zone over northern Iraq bombed installations Thursday after being targeted by Iraqi missiles, the U.S. military said. The planes bombed a number of Iraqi targets near the city of Mosul, the Germany-based U.S. European Command said in a statement, without specifying what kind of installations had been targeted. Mosul is 250 miles north of Baghdad. The attack came after the Iraqi forces fired surface-to-air missiles on the jets from launchers east of Mosul, the statement said. All of the planes, based in Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, left the no-fly zone safely. U.S. and British planes have been patrolling no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The zones were set up to protect Kurdish and Shiite minorities from the forces of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iraq calls the zones a violation of international law and has frequently challenged the allied planes there since December. Recently, U.S. jets have been dropping bombs filled with concrete instead of explosives in raids on Iraqi installations to minimize casualties, following Iraqi allegations that bombings were killing civilians. -------------------------------------------------------- >From Stratfor 2241 GMT, 991013 Iraq Senses Regional Opening Iraq is offering itself as a regional partner to Syria, attempting to fit into what appears to be an opening between Syria and Iran. On Oct. 11, Iraqi Assistant Foreign Minister Nabil Najm met with Syrian officials to discuss developing ties between the two countries, which have not had diplomatic relations since 1982. Although re-establishing the Iraqi diplomatic mission in Damascus was not discussed, Najm did inspect the site of the former mission and hinted at improved relations. Iraq and Syria are increasingly finding that their strategic interests coincide. Syria, an ally of Iran since the early 1980s, has become concerned about how its relationship with Iran is affecting its negotiations with Israel. ’Iraqs rumored warming toward the Arab-Israeli peace process coincides with Syria’s strategic goals. Additionally, ’Iraq and Syria are wary of Turkeys intentions <http://www.stratfor.com/meaf/commentary/m9908030230.htm> in the region regarding water rights and the Kurdish problem. Both see the need for a strategic realignment to oppose increasing ties between Turkey and Iran. On the economic front, Syria agreed in Feb. 1999, to reopen the Kirkuk-Barias pipeline, closed since 1982. With no signs that the Iraq-Saudi Arabia IPSA pipeline will open any time soon – for both political and economic reasons – the Syrian pipeline would be key to any Iraqi efforts to significantly increase oil exports. It also represents a potential moneymaker for the Syrians. The visit by Najm signals that political moves may be next on the Iraqi-Syrian agenda. While a great deal of suspicion still remains between the two, strategic imperatives may force them to reassess their long-standing animosities. With Iran potentially making an end-run around Syria with Hezbollah, both Iraq – a traditional enemy of Iran – and Syria are beginning to see more similarities than differences in their foreign policies. Iraq definitely sees a win-win situation in improving relations with Syria. Depending on the outcome of the power struggle to succeed Hafez Assad, Syria may eventually come to the same conclusion. -------------------------------------- Wednesday October 13 8:19 PM ET U.N.:Iraq May Spend Double on Parts By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended Wednesday that Iraq be allowed to double the amount it can spend on oil industry spare parts and equipment from money earned through oil exports. Endorsing Iraq's own request, Annan urged the Security Council to allow spending of the extra $300 million on equipment to help improve what he called the ``lamentable state'' of Baghdad's oil industry. U.S. and British officials, however, have already said they favor spending any surplus proceeds from U.N.-supervised oil sales on food and medicine for Iraqis, indicating council approval may not be forthcoming. Britain and the United States were studying the recommendation, officials said. Iraq has been barred from selling oil on the open market since U.N. sanctions were imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The U.N. oil-for-food program, however, lets Iraq sell up to $5.26 billion in oil every six months to buy food and medicine for Iraqis. The Security Council also has allowed Iraq to spend $300 million from those proceeds to buy parts and machinery to repair its oil infrastructure, still damaged from the Gulf War and dilapidated from years of neglect from sanctions. Because of high oil prices, Iraq will have surpassed the United Nations' limit on oil sales before the end of the current six-month phase, Nov. 20. Earlier this month, the Security Council authorized Baghdad to keep exporting oil beyond that target, to make up for shortfalls from previous phases. In a letter to the Security Council, Annan said $300 million of the extra money should go to buy more spare parts during the current six-month phase - a doubling of what has currently been authorized by the council. The head of the U.N. humanitarian program, Benon Sevan, noted in a letter to Iraqi Ambassador Saeed Hasan that Annan also has recommended that excess money be used to improve nutrition, water and sanitation for the country's people. -------------------------------------- Wednesday October 13 10:06 AM ET U.S. Navy: Two Ships With Iraqi Oil Products Diverted DUBAI (Reuters) - Multinational forces have diverted two ships, allegedly carrying petroleum products illegally out of Iraq, to the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. navy official said Wednesday. U.S. Coast Guard Commander Don Bunn told Reuters Navy Seals boarded the vessels Jinan and Milad 1 in the Gulf Tuesday and diverted them to the Abu Dhabi emirate in the UAE. He said the ships had refused to follow directions issued to facilitate inspections ensuring compliance with U.N. sanctions. ``Petroleum products were on both of them, illegally taken out of Iraq,'' Bunn said. Tuesday, Iraq accused United States forces of piracy and said U.S. marines dropped onto the ships by helicopter and attacked the crew. U.S. and allied forces, which launched the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq, patrol the Gulf to ensure U.N. trade sanctions imposed on Baghdad for the invasion of Kuwait are implemented. The stringent sanctions ban Iraq from exporting its oil and other commodities and prevent imports of non-humanitarian goods. Since 1996 the United Nations has allowed Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil to buy food and medicine for its population. Bunn said there had been a recent increase in violations of trade sanctions by vessels, mostly carrying oil. ``Economics would certainly be one consideration,'' Bunn said. ``If you look at (the rise in) oil prices...there is an incentive to sell oil, cover expenses and still make a profit.'' He said that, so far this year, multinational forces had queried 2,022 ships, boarded 590 and diverted seven including the Jinan and Milad 1. -------------------------------------- >From Stratfor: 2310 GMT, 991011 – Iraqi Succession Conflict: A Situation Report An internal power struggle seems to be underway between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s two sons – Odai and the younger Qusai. Recent Iraqi opposition reports indicate that Odai may not be willing to sit back and watch his younger brother take power. Despite the threat of sibling rivalry over ascension, <http://www.stratfor.com/meaf/commentary/m9908062000.htm> it appears that Qusai retains the upper hand. Iraq’s main Shiite opposition group, the Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), said in an Oct. 11 statement, "Saddam has unleashed a conflict at the heart of the family. Eldest son Odai and his mother, Saddam’s first wife Sajida, are demanding a fairer division of power." SAIRI has historically been a highly reliable source. The report corresponds with past indications that Saddam is grooming Qusai for succession <http://www.stratfor.com/meaf/commentary/m9908112100.htm> and this is causing tension between the brothers. Odai, 35, has played a very public role in Iraq’s sporting scene and is editor and publisher of the Iraqi daily Babel, which ran reports of his outrage at his younger brother’s new-found position of power. Odai also heads Iraq’s Olympic committee and runs numerous media outlets. He was widely regarded as the country’s heir apparent until a December 1996 assassination attempt left him partially paralyzed. He still has a highly visible role but holds little effective power. In July 1999, Odai made comments suggesting that he was ready to return to the state’s security and political apparatus. Qusai opposed this effort, launching a campaign to significantly reduce Odai’s influence by removing many officers, whose relatives worked with Odai, from sensitive institutions. Qusai, 33, has worked covertly for years gaining loyalty and power in Iraq’s security services. His appointment to deputy commander of the army and commander of the northern military region gave him considerable power. In addition, he heads the elite Republican Guards and the special security agency charged with protecting the president, as well as being powerful in the Iraqi intelligence service, Mukhabarat. Holding such key security and military positions, Qusai stands a much better chance of taking over – and of remaining in office – than does Odai. Saddam relies on highly efficient security agencies, commanded by Qusai, to keep him in power. Saddam’s regime is a Sunni minority clan-like clique. The Shiite majority reluctantly accept Sunni rule, since any opposition is brutally crushed through these agencies. Odai may be older and more widely known than Qusai, but his health and marginal power put him at a significant disadvantage. Odai may have a more prominent public role, but Qusai is the real heir apparent. Odai’s public outrage may be more indicative of his weakness than his ability to threaten. ---------------------------------------- Monday October 11 8:50 PM ET U.N. Experts Note Absence From Iraq By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Nearly a year after their last inspections in Iraq, U.N. weapons experts reported Monday that they spent much of the past six months preparing to return to Baghdad on short notice - and waiting for the Security Council to adopt a new policy to get them there. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N. Special Commission both said they had been unable to adequately do their jobs since they withdrew from Iraq ahead of December's U.S. and British airstrikes. But both organizations said they had used the time to either maintain or develop new plans for a weapons monitoring system to be put in place as soon as the council gives them the green light to go ahead. The 15-member Security Council has been deadlocked on charting a new policy for Iraq ever since inspections ground to a halt with the airstrikes. The United States and Britain say they were punishing Iraq for failing to cooperate with inspectors, who must verify Iraq has been disarmed before sanctions can be lifted. Iraq, which claims to be completely disarmed, has said inspectors from the commission may not return. It has demanded that sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait be lifted immediately. Iraq's closest allies on the council - Russia, China and France - have proposed a resolution that would suspend all sanctions if Iraq cooperates with a new commission to monitor its banned weapons programs. A rival resolution by Britain and the Netherlands, which the United States and the other eight council members support, would suspend only the oil embargo against Iraq if Baghdad answers key questions about its weapons programs. While council members tried to narrow their differences, the Special Commission, known as UNSCOM, said in its two-page report that it spent the past few months analyzing data, planning for a ``renewed and strengthened'' monitoring system and collecting information about imports of items that could be used to make weapons of mass destruction. The atomic agency, meanwhile, reported that it has maintained its plan for resuming monitoring of Iraq's weapons programs ``and would be able to respond, on short notice, to a request from the Security Council to resume those activities in Iraq.'' As a result of their absence from Iraq, inspectors are ``unable to provide any measure of assurance of Iraq's compliance with its obligations,'' to rid itself of its nuclear weapons, the atomic agency said in its one-page document. ======================================== __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Bid and sell for free at http://auctions.yahoo.com -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Please do not send emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***