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News this week (19 to 24 Oct, 1999) ----------------------------------- Interestingly, there is no news of bombings during the last week. * Articles on, US Secretary of Defense, William Cohen's middle-east tour have dominated the news wires this week. Most of them are sprinkled with gung-ho rhetoric from Cohen. * More news on the pope's visit. It seems likely that his trip has been postponed until next year. * Iraq might buy sugar from Cuba. * There is also an interesting story about a group of US senators who are suing the Clinton administration for the bombing campaign of NATO. I have included the story because this MIGHT have repercussions for the bombing campaign against Iraq. Sources: Reuters, AP, UPI, AFN and BBC. It would be useful to print stories from a wider variety of sources. Please send me any interesting articles you find on Iraq that are not from Reuters or AP. Thank you to Moonirah and Colin for assistance. ----------------------------------- U.S. To Keep Up Pressure For Removal Of Saddam 07:53 a.m. Oct 24, 1999 Eastern By Ashraf Fouad KUWAIT (Reuters) - Secretary of Defense William Cohen Sunday called for agreement on a new draft U.N. resolution that would ease sanctions on Iraq, but vowed to keep up pressure for the removal of President Saddam Hussein. Cohen also said the United States would upgrade three Kuwaiti bases housing American forces to improve their ability to conduct military operations against Iraq. ``I spoke with the Emir (Kuwait's Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah) about the current situation at the United Nations. ``We agreed that the current British-Dutch draft resolution offers an effective way to enable the U.N. to resume its inspection program while continuing to expand humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people,'' he added. U.N. arms inspections in Iraq ended in December when the United States and Britain accused Baghdad of failing to comply with the inspections regime and launched air raids. The new resolution would suspend sanctions in exchange for Baghdad's compliance with arms inspections. ``We hope for progress in New York and the Emir and I totally agree there should be no change in our Iraqi policy until Iraq complies with its obligations,'' he added. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have been trying for months to reach an agreement on the draft resolution. Iraq has said it would reject any move to suspend rather than fully lift the sanctions. Western diplomats said some Gulf Arab states and their main ally the United States were hesitant to back a resolution which does not include measures to ``punish'' Iraq if it fails to meet the terms of the new resolution. When asked if Washington was seeking to add to the draft resolution a clear option to use force in case of Iraqi failure to comply, Cohen said: ``We believe that the current proposal... has the best chance for gaining approval. ``But unless that resolution or something very close to that resolution is adopted then we will maintain the existing sanctions and no-fly zone. ``I will not say at this point what we are reserving. We are going to be supporting the proposal.'' Cohen, who later flew to Jordan, discussed with Gulf Arab leaders U.S. support for a coalition of Iraqi opposition groups and the possibility of securing similar financial and other backing from regional states, diplomats said. Cohen vowed to maintain pressure on Iraq to ``continue to contain Saddam Hussein...until such time when the Iraqi people have an opportunity to have new leadership. We hope that will be sooner rather than later.'' The U.S. military bases in Kuwait, which was freed from a seven-month Iraqi occupation by the U.S.-led 1991 Gulf War, are to be upgraded at a cost of $193 million. ``We hope to upgrade the bases here so that they could accommodate aircraft and other elements in the event of a contingency and emergency,'' Cohen said, adding that Kuwait would share part of the cost. U.S. ground forces in Kuwait operate out of Camp Doha which is also a warehouse for pre-positioned heavy military equipment. U.S. warplanes, which fly regular missions over southern Iraq, operate out of two Kuwaiti air bases. 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. ----------------------------------- Baghdad sends 3 mln textbooks to Kurdish region 10:09 a.m. Oct 24, 1999 Eastern BAGHDAD, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Baghdad has sent three million textbooks to the northern Kurdish region, which has been outside Baghdad's control since the 1991 Gulf War, an Iraqi newspaper said on Sunday. ``The Ministry of Education sent on Sunday a fleet of trucks laden with three million copies of textbooks to schools in the Arbil, Duhok, and Suleimaniya provinces in the autonomy region of Kurdistan,'' said the ruling Baath Party's newspaper al-Thawra. The paper said the shipment, which contained books for all school levels, was made upon President Saddam Hussein's instructions. The Kurds rose up against the government in Baghdad after the Gulf War, which forced out Iraqi troops that had been occupying Kuwait. Since then, the Kurds have been protected in their northern enclave by U.S. and British air cover. Iraq has made several overtures to the Kurds to come to Baghdad to hold dialogues in order to settle differences. 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. --------------------------------------------- Cohen Visits Troops Who Do Iraq No-Fly Zone Patrols 04:30 p.m Oct 23, 1999 Eastern By Tabassum Zakaria KUWAIT (Reuters) - Defense Secretary William Cohen who has been discussing U.S. policy of ``containment'' on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein throughout a visit to the Middle East, met Saturday with the American forces that carry it out from the aircraft carrier USS Constellation in the Gulf. ``Like a policeman on a beat, you're doing a job,'' Cohen said. ``You are making sure Saddam Hussein doesn't get too anxious again to invade Kuwait.'' American planes fly from the aircraft carrier and from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to patrol the no-fly zones in southern Iraq created by the Western alliance that ejected Iraqi troops who invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zones over its south and north that were imposed by the West to protect Saddam's domestic opponents. Iraqi state media Friday described U.S. policy as an ''illusory goal of containing and encircling Iraq with the aim of changing its government.'' Cohen Saturday met with Kuwait's Emir Sheikhh Jaber al- Ahmad al-Sabah, Crown Prince Sheikhh Saad al-Abdulla al-Sabah and Defense Minister Sheikhh Salem Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah. ``The Kuwaitis like us to be clear that we are containing Saddam and the secretary (Cohen) had a long discussion where he explained about the containment policy, that we were containing him in the north and in the south,'' a senior U.S. defense official travelling with Cohen said. ``There are a lot of Kuwaitis, I think you can imagine for historical reasons, that would be only too happy to have strong action taken against Saddam,'' the official who spoke on condition of anonymity said. ``And there was some suggestion that they're always happy to have that done, but they are supportive of the current (U.S.) policy and the Emir was very clear that he liked the current policy,'' the official said. Asked whether Kuwait pressed the United States to support Iraqi opposition by providing lethal assistance, the official restated the U.S. stance that it wants the opposition to become a viable ``political voice'' and that Kuwait did not raise that issue this time. There are plans to upgrade the bases where U.S. Air Force and Army forces are located in Kuwait and to establish a permanent Army headquarters for better coordination with U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and in the United States for quick response if conflict flares up in the region, the defense official said. Kuwait approved establishing the Army headquarters in August, viewing it ``as another way of demonstrating that we'll be here in the region on a continuous basis,'' the official said. The upgrades to facilities used by U.S. armed forces would include improved hangars for U.S. warplanes and better maintenance, as well as permanent facilities for the Army, the official said. ``It'll all get done over the next several years. They're (Kuwait) supportive of that.'' The facilities to be upgraded are at Ali Al-Salim Air Base where the United States wants to improve the ability to support more aircraft to allow more planes to move into the region if necessary. At Al-Jaber the focus would be on creating a logistics hub, and at Camp Doha to establish the command, control and communications elements of the Army headquarters. Construction for the three projects was estimated to cost about $193 million, but it was unclear how that would be divided between the United States and Kuwait, U.S. defense officials said. Cohen also spoke to Kuwaiti officials about Chechnya and told them ``we were looking for ways to cooperate with the Russians on that kind of counter-terrorist issue, and that we have had some talks with them but we haven't had any concrete results yet,'' the senior U.S. defense official said. 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. ----------------------------------------------- Saturday, October 23, 1999 Published at 22:59 GMT 23:59 UK (from the BBC) US forces upgraded in Kuwait A United States Defence department official has said that the US is to upgrade its airforce and army bases in Kuwait with the aim of increasing pressure on the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain. The official -- who was accompanying the Defence Secretary, William Cohen, on a tour of the Gulf -- said the bases would be enlarged and modernised to cater for more planes and better maintenance facilities. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the project -- the cost of which is estimated at one-hundred-and-ninety-three-million dollars -- would also include the establishment of a permanent army headquarters. Meanwhile, Mr Cohen told American marines stationed on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf, the USS Constellation, that their job was to make sure Saddam Hussein never dared invade Kuwait again. United States warplanes regularly fly from Kuwait to patrol a no-fly zone in southern Iraq, which was established after the Gulf War in 1991. ---------------------------------------------- Cohen Arab tour part of election drive-Iraqi media 05:14 a.m. Oct 22, 1999 Eastern BAGHDAD, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Iraqi state media on Friday dismissed the current Middle East tour of U.S. Defence Secretary William Cohen as an election-driven junket that could not mask Washington's failure to topple President Saddam Hussein. ``If we take into consideration the atmosphere of the coming U.S. presidential elections, the present administration has built its foreign policy on the illusory goal of containing and encircling Iraq with the aim of changing its government,'' said Al-Thawra, mouthpiece of Iraq's ruling Baath party. Thawra also said Cohen's tour was meant to suck significant new oil revenues out of the Gulf states by persuading them to buy U.S. weapons. ``After the oil price boost.. Gulf oil revenues are supposed to be withdrawn and transferred into American banks once again through new arms bargains,'' Thawra added. The Baath party organ also said Cohen had got assurances from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of continued bases for U.S. and British forces which provide the planes that patrol the no-fly zone in southern Iraq. The zone was imposed by the West after the 1991 Gulf War to help protect Saddam's domestic opponents. Al-Iraq, mouthpiece of the pro-government Kurds, said Cohen's tour was meant to build up Arab support for U.S. policy towards Iraq and help maintain U.S. forces in the Gulf. Cohen arrived in Cairo on Thursday for two days of talks with staunch U.S. ally President Hosni Mubarak and senior officials on the subjects of Iraq, Iran and the U.S. military presence in the region. Those have been the broad themes of Cohen's nine-nation tour of the Middle East that has already taken in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Cohen is also due to visit Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Israel. 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. ------------------------------------ Oct 22 NATO Bombing Critics Seek Lawsuit By BART JANSEN Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court heard arguments Friday that President Clinton exceeded his authority in participating in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Congressional litigants called the case the best chance yet to define the authority to declare war. The 31 lawmakers who brought the case argued that Clinton violated the 1973 War Powers Act because Congress refused to authorize the bombing. The Vietnam War-era legislation, which has been ignored by presidents of both parties, requires congressional approval for ``introduction into hostilities'' of U.S. forces lasting more than 60 days. A judge threw out the case in June without deciding its merits. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman said the lawmakers lacked the standing to sue because they failed to show a genuine impasse between the president and Congress in the matter. Lawmakers led by Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Calif., asked a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reverse Friedman's decision. The military example in Yugoslavia is considered the best chance to clarify congressional power, because the bombing lasted 2 1/2 months and followed two congressional votes that opposed the action. ``Here, they flagrantly ignored it,'' Jules Lobel, a lawyer representing the lawmakers, said of the administration. ``The question here is since Congress stepped up to the plate and performed its duty, will the courts do so.'' But the judges appeared skeptical that courts could rule over whether military actions fit the definition of a war, citing military actions in Korea and Iraq. ``You're putting a lot of pressure on the judiciary,'' Judge Laurence Silberman told the lawmakers. Justice Department lawyers led by William Schultz argued that the courts have no business ruling in disputes between Congress and the president, except in procedural conflicts such as whether a bill was properly vetoed. The case filed April 30 argues that a 213-213 vote two days earlier killed a request to authorize U.S. participation in NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Another vote rejected a declaration of war. The bombing had begun March 24. Friedman said Congress sent ``distinctly mixed messages'' by also defeating a bill that would have removed U.S. troops from Yugoslavia. Several lawmakers who attended the hearing said the case offers the clearest example of whether Congress can rein in a president over military actions. ``I would say you will never have a clearer case,'' Campbell said after the hearing. Others complained that options such as impeachment or withholding funds are impractical in opposing a military action, especially if troops are already deployed. ---------------------------------- Iraq to install first Chinese gas turbine - paper 05:35 a.m. Oct 22, 1999 Eastern BAGHDAD, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Iraq will install next month a Chinese gas turbine, the first of a number to arrive in Iraq under its oil-for-food deal with the United Nations, a newspaper reported on Friday. ``The technical and engineering staff at the Electricity Authority is to install next month the first Chinese gas unit imported within the memorandum of understanding,'' official Al-Thawra said. Iraqis -- hard-hit by U.N. trade sanctions imposed for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 -- are struggling to cope with chronic power cuts caused by lack of spare parts for generators. The United Nations oil-for-food deal allows Iraq to sell specified quantities of oil to buy food, medicine and other necessities, with the aim of offsetting the effects of the stringent sanctions. Thawra said the turbine, to be installed in the northern province of Ta'mim, 255 kilometres (160 miles) north of Baghdad, had a generating capacity of 37 megawatts. The paper said this unit, the first of six bought under a contract signed with China last August, would be operational before the end of the year. On Wednesday, the Al-I'Lam weekly said a Japanese electricity generator, which would help renovate an Iraqi power station, had arrived in Baghdad. It said Japanese experts arrived with the 300-tonne Hitachi-made generator M-V-A 400 and some accessories. Iraq's power stations were heavily bombed by U.S.-led multinational forces which evicted Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991. The country suffered no blackouts in the first three years after the war but cuts have increased recently. Power outages now last up to 10 hours a day, halting air conditioning units in a country where summer temperatures soar above 45 Celsius (115 Fahrenheit). In Baghdad, outages take place according to a timetable announced in advance. Cuts in the capital's various districts are carried out in rotation. Iraqi officials say power-generating systems are working at less than half capacity, and say even that level would be unsustainable if spare parts purchased under the oil-for-food deal do not arrive in time. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the Security Council in May that while the oil deal had helped in improving power output, ``the overall increase at the level of the national grid has been negligible.'' Only $87 million worth of spare parts for power generators had been distributed or installed in the centre and south of Iraq, Annan said. 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. ------------------ Iraq may buy Cuba sugar, medicines under U.N. deal 10:22 a.m. Oct 22, 1999 Eastern HAVANA, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Iraq is exploring the possibility of buying medicines and sugar from Cuba under the Gulf state's oil-for-food deal with the United Nations, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said. ``We think there are major opportunities to begin cooperation between Cuba and Iraq, especially in the field of food and medicines,'' Saleh told reporters late Thursday after talks in Havana with Cuban officials. He added Iraq was particularly interested in purchasing Cuban sugar and Cuban-produced medicines and medical equipment under the U.N. oil-for-food deal. U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait ban Baghdad from freely exporting or importing commodities. But since the end of 1996, the United Nations has allowed Iraq to sell limited quantities of crude oil to buy food and medicines. Saleh said that if Iraq decided to buy from Cuba, payments would be made to the communist-ruled Caribbean island in cash and not oil despite its severe energy shortages. But he said it was too early to estimate what such purchases could be, adding that Cuba would be competing with other countries in terms of the prices and goods offered. Cuban President Fidel Castro's government fiercely condemned the U.S.-led 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. Cuban doctors served in Iraqi hospitals during the war, and a Cuban medical brigade has continued to work there. Saleh blamed Washington for the continuing U.N. sanctions against his country. ``The United States wants to stop us even having air with which to breath,'' he said. The sanctions, he added, were an attempt by what he called the ``imperialist'' West to destroy Iraq's military power and industrial base. 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. ------------------------------------ Friday, October 22, 1999 Published at 02:52 GMT 03:52 UK (From the BBC) Top brass visit war games The United States Defence Secretary, William Cohen, and his British counterpart, Geoffrey Hoon, are attending the climax of military exercises off the coast of Egypt. More than 70,000 troops from some 11 countries have been taking part in the exercise called Bright Star. A BBC correspondent in the area says the exercises, which are held every two years, has consolidated Egypt's position as one of Washington's strategic partners in the region. The exercise is being watched by other defence ministers and senior diplomats. It has been held every other year since 1981 and is the largest multinational exercises in the world. Egypt contributes 36,000 troops, the US 18,000 and Britain 6,500. France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are also involved. Among the big set-pieces will be an amphibious landing involving a joint British-Dutch force. ------------------------------------- VATICAN CITY, Oct 21 (AFP) - Pope John Paul II's visit to Iraq, originally envisaged for early December, may be postponed until next year but will definitely go ahead, Vatican sources said Thursday. "The pope will definitely visit Iraq, even though the date of this pilgrimage has still not been set," the head of the Vatican college for eastern churches Cardinal Achille Silvestrini said Thursday. On Wednesday he met at the Vatican with the Chaldean patriarch Raphael Bidawid, who is playing a key role in arranging the visit. It was Bidawid who announced last month that the pope planned to visit Iraq December 2-5 as part of a regional tour, but the Vatican never confirmed the dates. Vatican sources said it would now be very difficult to make arrangements for a trip at that time. Dates in mid-January, just before the pontiff's planned trip to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, or in March are being considered as alternatives. Father Roberto Tucci, responsible for the pope's travel arrangements, was expected to visit Iraq on November 5-9, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro said. Britain and the United States have both expressed reservations about any visit to Iraq, fearing that President Saddam Hussein might use it for political advantage. Iraqi intellectuals have said that the pope's visit to the sanctions-hit country would not go smoothly if the Catholic church continued to side with the West, the official Iraqi news agency reported. UN economic embargoes have been in force since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, and the United States and Britain carry out almost daily air raids during patrols of no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. The highlight of the pope's visit would be a pilgrimage to Ur, the Biblical home of Abraham, in southern Iraq. ------------------------------------------ BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- An Iraqi weekly newspaper said Thursday more than a million Iraqis died since the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on the Arab country to punish it for the 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait. Al-Zawraa newspaper said official statistics showed that the number of people who died because of the U.N. sanctions reached 1,190,089 from 1990 until July of this year. It said the deaths were caused by illnesses, including tumors, malnutrition, blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and diarrhea as well as pulmonary and respiratory problems. It noted that 102,625 deaths were registered during the first seven months of this year while 8,966 people, including 6,569 children under the age of five, died during the month of September. Iraq, which has been under economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations since 1990, repeatedly demanded the complete lifting of the embargo, arguing that it has implemented all U.N. resolutions and that the U.N. oil-for-food deal was not helping end the suffering of the Iraqi people. A UNICEF survey has recently warned of a ``humanitarian emergency'' in Iraq, saying the mortality rate for children under 5 increased through the 1990s from 56 deaths per 1,000 live births to 131 in government-controlled central and southern regions. --------------------------- Tuesday October 19 11:56 AM ET U.S. Discusses Gulf Regional Deterrent By Tabassum Zakaria RIYADH (Reuters) - Secretary of Defense William Cohen said Tuesday he was discussing with Gulf Arab states the development of a regional deterrent against potential threats from Iraq and Iran. ``We discussed concrete steps on a cooperative defense initiative and military planning for a regional deterrent,'' Cohen told reporters in the Qatar capital, Doha. ``We are here to serve as a deterrent whether it is against Iran or Iraq. Our presence sends a strong signal to them not to attack the Gulf states,'' he added. Cohen arrived in the Gulf Monday as part of a nine-nation regional tour that would also take him to Israel and Egypt. He left Doha for Saudi Arabia after talks with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The U.S. official said the region still faced threats from Iraq and Iran and the proliferation of arms, including chemical and biological weapons. The idea of a cooperative defense initiative was intended to develop a regional deterrent against these dangers, he said without elaborating. Cohen in March offered to share American monitoring of any Iranian and Iraqi missile tests with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Cohen denied reports that the United States was planning to cut the number of its troops in the Gulf but said General Anthony Zinni, commander in chief of U.S. Central Command which overseas the Gulf area, was working on a plan to spread American forces across the region to reduce the burden on host countries. Zinni added that the U.S. might deploy more military equipment to the Gulf area to stand at the ready should a conflict erupt, although the plan had not been finalized. The equipment would be on barges ready for use. The United States already has military equipment propositioned in this way on land in Kuwait and Qatar and on ships. U.S. Troops Operating Equipment If a conflict erupted, the United States could send troops in to operate the tanks, artillery and armored personnel carriers that would already be in the Gulf region. ``If we had a situation that required force, we could use the ground prepositioning and the float prepositioning ... and then the troops come by air and join up with their equipment,'' Zinni said. In Saudi Arabia Cohen had lunch and a meeting with Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan at his farm in the desert. The Defense Secretary said the United States still saw Saudi Arabian dissident Osama bin Laden as a threat and hoped Saudi authorities would exert pressure on Afghan's Taliban movement and others to help turn him over to U.S. authorities.'' The United States blames bin Laden for planning the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa last year. Cohen said the U.S. might show ``some flexibility'' toward expanding the United Nations' oil-for-food program for Iraq, but he reiterated that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was to blame for the sufferings of the Iraqi people. ``Saddam Hussein must take responsibility for the misery of the Iraqi people. He has been controlling all supplies and denying them to his people,'' Cohen said. Cohen said the U.S. was keen to see a change of regime in Baghdad. ``But it has to come from within the Iraqi people,'' he said. --------------------------- __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? 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