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News for the week ending 31 October

Here is the news for the week ending 31 October.
Thanks to Ben Rempel, Drew Hamre, Colin Rowat and
Chris Cole for their contributions to this week's

Lots of news this week, much of it disturbing.

This week's headlines:
*       Annan criticises holds placed by US on Iraqi
imports. French support Annan. US replies, criticising
Annan's aids.
*       US announces its intentions to fund and arm some
Iraqi opposition groups. Shiite Muslim group expresses
*       At least two US/UK bombings during the last week.
Possible civillian casualties.
*       More news on the Pope's planned visit.
*       Some additional interesting articles, either undated
or old, appear at the bottom of the article. Includes
a  report about a Swedish journalist who narrowly
missed being killed by a US/UK bomb, while visiting

Sources include: Associated Press, Reuters, AFN, New
York Times, Jordan Times, Stratfor, Arab News, VIS,
Kurdish News

Apologies for any formatting errors, but I haven't had
the time to go through these articles as carefully as
I would have liked.

Sunday October 31, 1:03 am Eastern Time 
Iraqi opposition delays talk of military action
By Bernie Woodall 
NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Dozens of loosely
structured Iraqi opposition groups meeting for a
second day on Saturday said they want to form a united
umbrella organization but put off a discussion of
possible military action against Saddam Hussein for a
less public forum. 
A smaller and more select group will discuss military
strategies ``out of the spotlight'' in a safe haven in
Iraq, said Ahmad Chalabi, member of the executive
presidency of the Iraqi National Congress (INC),
itself an umbrella group of Saddam's foes. 
This will likely be held, Chalabi said, in
Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, which is outside
Saddam's control and protected since the 1991 Gulf War
by a U.S.-led coalition. 
No date has been set for such a meeting, Chalabi said.
He added that the new leadership of a united umbrella
organization to be formed and named by Monday in New
York would likely decide where and when to hold any
future meetings. 
About 300 delegates representing Iraqi opposition
groups were brought together for the first time in
seven years for a four-day conference at a midtown
Manhattan hotel by the United States, which hopes the
groups can form a coherent concerted campaign against
Several of the leading delegates downplayed the
absence of 11 opposition groups including the
Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution
in Iraq (SCIRI), which declined to attend on the eve
of the conference. 
Jalal Talabani, president of the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK), said he hopes the SCIRI and other
groups not attending this weekend's session will
attend future meetings held outside the United States.

``This (weekend's) meeting must be successful and then
we must have another step forward for uniting all
other Iraqi opposition forces,'' Talabani said. 
The unnamed umbrella group will eventually have
expanded membership from the INC, which last met seven
years ago, said Salah A. Shaikhly, spokesman for the
Chalabi said a military response is necessary in
overthrowing Saddam, using ``a force under the the
opposition which is credible and well-equipped.'' He
said ``tens of thousands'' of volunteers will be
available once such a force is put together. 
But any opposition force ``is not intended to fight a
war with the Iraqi army,'' the leader of the INC said.
``Rather, it's intended to provide a solid backbone
for an area to which army units can come across.'' 
Such enclaves could be created in northern and
southern Iraq, Chalabi said. 
Skirmishes are already happening about three times a
week between bands of insurgents in southern Iraq and
the Iraqi army, said Sayyed Kadhem al-Battat, who told
reporters through an INC interpreter that he was a
commander of an independent military group in the
southern marshland of Iraq. 
On Sunday, the delegates will attempt to demonstrate
their unity by agreeing on the makeup of the the
proposed new umbrella group. 
Shaikhly said one proposal popular among delegates on
Saturday was to form an ``executive leadership'' of
between five and nine members that will represent the
various opposition groups both outside and inside
Iraq. Such an executive leadership would have the
power to make decisions for the umbrella group when
quick action is necessary. 
Also, he said, a ``central committee'' of between 45
and 50 members would form a policy-making body and a
``watchdog'' of the executive committee. 
On Saturday, the delegates broke into discussion
groups on subjects from financing their efforts to
what type of government -- democratic and federalist
most agree -- should be established if Saddam is
overthrown, but they steered clear of discussing
military options. 


Sunday October 31 12:31 AM ET 
Iraq Condemns Opposition Meeting In United States
BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - A leading Iraqi newspaper
Saturday condemned as ``traitors'' Iraqi opposition
groups meeting in New York in the hope of uniting
against President Saddam Hussein. 
``All the Western propaganda machines and all their
brainwashing laboratories would not able to change the
fact that Iraqis view them as traitors,'' the
state-run al-Iraq newspaper said. 
More than 300 members of different Iraqi opposition
groups, brought together by the U.S. government, began
a four-day conference Friday night. 
``The Americans were unable to do anything (to Saddam)
so what can these monkeys do?'' said Babel, a
newspaper run by Saddam's son. 
The Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq decided not to attend the event,
organized by the Iraqi National Congress and billed as
the first ``national assembly'' in seven years for
opponents of Saddam. 
The conference was told the United States had so far
mainly only offered the opposition aid in the form of
offices and office equipment, but could soon give
military help. 


Thursday October 28 8:06 PM ET 
U.N. Monitors Suggested for Iraq
By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press Writer 
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The United States and Britain
suggested Thursday that, with no weapons inspectors in
Iraq, U.N. monitors instead make sure that equipment
imported for humanitarian programs wasn't being
diverted to military use. 
U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in December as the
United States and Britain launched airstrikes, and the
Iraqi government has barred them from returning. 
Since then no one has been able to monitor the
country's weapons programs or check that materials
with military applications is being used for
humanitarian purposes. 
But there are U.N. monitors in Iraq to check food
distribution in the government-controlled central and
southern regions. 
U.S. deputy ambassador Peter Burleigh said the United
States wanted to discuss with the United Nations how
there could be ``U.N. monitors on the ground in Iraq
who could reassure the Security Council that the
purpose of a particular export has actually been
The United States, and to a lesser extent Britain,
have stalled on approving a number of contracts for
humanitarian programs in Iraq, saying they couldn't be
sure of what Iraq was doing with dual-use materials,
such as chemicals for an oil field. 
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has expressed
concern about holding up contracts that could relieve
some of the hardships Iraqi people suffer as a result
of sanctions. 
Both countries suggested that, if the equipment could
be checked, Iraq could import more spare parts for its
oil industry, as well as equipment for water,
electricity and sanitation projects. 
Security Council members discussed the possibility of
temporarily using U.N. humanitarian workers or
employees of Saybolt International, a Dutch firm
consulting with the United Nations on Iraq, a Western
diplomat said. 
Whether Iraq would accept additional U.N. monitors
remained to be seen. In the past, Baghdad has
expressed reservations over the number of U.N.
employees overseeing the distribution of humanitarian


Notable absences hit Iraqi opposition "unity" meeting
AFP - Oct 27, 1999 DUBAI, Oct 27 (AFP) 
The impact of the Iraqi opposition's meeting in New
York on Friday will be weakened by boycotts, notably
by Shiite Moslems, who are staying away in protest at
what they say is unacceptable US interference. It is
hoped that those attending will "reaffirm their unity,
define their vision of Iraq's future and unveil a new
drive to overthrow Saddam Hussein," say the
organisers, the Iraqi National Congress (INC). But
reaffirming unity is not likely to be an easy matter,
given the large number of opposition groups who have
vowed to stay away from the first large-scale
opposition congress for seven years. "We will not
attend the meeting because we believe there is no
serious project for a change in Iraq," said Hamed
Bayati, the London representative of the the Supreme
Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).
"Furthermore, its staging in the United States
prejudices the opposition and gives justifications to
Saddam Hussein to accuse us of links to the West," the
spokesman said. SCIRI, the largest Shiite Moslem
opposition grouping, has always remained wary of any
US involvement. In January it rejected a US offer of
financial aid saying that all change in Iraq was an
internal matter. Attending a meeting in the United
States might also be difficult to explain to the
group's host, Iran. The original aim was to hold the
meeting in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, but the venue
was switched to New York for security reasons. Other
Shiites have also vowed to stay away, including the
Al-Dawaa grouping and the influential religious
figure, Sayed Mohammad Bahr al-Ulum. "The meeting is
taking part at the behest of the United States, and
they are not serious about their public statements to
overthrow the Iraqi regime," Bahr al-Ulum told AFP.
But the boycott has also spread to other Iraqi
opposition groups with the Iraqi Communist Party, the
Iraqi Islamic Party, the Iraqi Democratic Union and
the Socialist Party in Iraq all urging non-attendance.
Despite these absences, the INC says it expects more
than 300 delegates at the October 29-November 1
congress at a New York hotel. Among those who say they
will attend the meeting are the two largest, but
rival, Kurdish formations in northern Iraq -- the
Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan. Smaller groups such as the Movement for a
Constitutional Monarchy, which wants to restore the
royal family overthrown in 1958, and the Amman-based
Iraqi National Accord (INA) are also expected to
attend. The delegates will "agree on a new strategy
and programme of action to overthrow the regime and
establish political, economic, military and
humanitarian structures," the INC said. They are also
expected to elect a new leadership. The United States
has pledged to disburse 97 million dollars in military
aid to Iraq's fragmented opposition, once the Sunni
and Shiite Arab groups and Kurdish factions have
closed ranks. 


Iraqis work round-the-clock for papal visit AFP - Oct
27 - 1999 UR, Iraq, Oct 27 (AFP) - 
Some 100 Iraqi labourers are working round the clock
to prepare the site of a planned visit by Pope John
Paul II, not even stopping when air raid sirens wail.
Their job is to restore what is said to be the home of
the biblical patriarch Abraham in Ur, some 375
kilometres (225 miles) south of Baghdad, and to build
a heliport for the papal visit. "The work started a
month ago and it should be finished by the end of the
year," said Ali Kazem, a local antiquities official.
The rush is on, even though dates for the pope's
arrival in sanctions-hit Iraq -- with a pilgrimage to
the ancient city of Ur as its highlight -- have yet to
be confirmed. According to the Baghdad-based Chaldean
Catholic patriarch, Raphael I Bidawid, the visit was
initially to take place in early December. But Vatican
sources said last week that it was now more likely in
January or March. While the workers toil, air raid
sirens often warn of US or British sorties over
southern Iraq and are followed by anti-aircraft fire
against the high-altitude flights. "It happens almost
every day. The ziggurat (temple tower) is already
cracked, and if a bomb lands nearby, there'll be
nothing left of Abraham's home but ruins," warned
Latif Abed Hamzeh, a 50-year-old worker. On September
21, a Swedish journalist on a visit to Ur said he was
injured by debris from the blast of an air-to-ground
missile. The US military said allied planes hit
military radar three kilometres (two miles) from the
site. The ziggurat of Ur, built in 2113-2096 B.C., is
a three-tiered pyramid structure, of which only two
tiers are left standing. Stairs used to lead up to the
top level, set aside for worship of the moon god, Sen.
Today, it stands at 17 metres (56 feet), down from an
original height of 26 metres (86 feet). Hamzeh said
"Abraham's house" covers 200 square metres (2,150
square feet) and has several rooms as well as a
kitchen, bathroom, corridors and an area used for
prayers, where the pope is also expected to pray. "We
are rebuilding the house which was originally three
metres (10 feet) tall, to add a roof and to repair the
steps leading up to it, using almost the same
materials," he said. Mohsen Mais, 67, who has worked
as a tour guide in Ur ever since 1961, aired the hopes
of many Iraqis when he said a papal visit could "help
ease the embargo, because the pope has a lot of
influence in the world." Sanctions have been in place
since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Vatican envoy
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who visited Iraq in June
1998 for a religious conference, travelled to Ur and
"took away a handful o= f its sacred earth," Mais
said. The Ur site near the Euphrates river with its
network of temples, palaces and royal tombs covers
nine square kilometres (3.5 square miles). The
Sumerian city in ancient Mesopotamia reached the peak
of its glory around 4,000 B.C. 


Wednesday October 27, 7:50 pm Eastern Time 
U.S. says Annan had bad advice on Iraq sanctions
WASHINGTON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The United States on
Wednesday accused aides to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan of giving him bad advice on the reason for
delays in approving exports to Iraq under the U.N.
sanctions system. 
In an interview with the Washington Post, Annan has
blamed the United States for delaying humanitarian
supplies worth $500 million, requested by Iraq under
the oil-for-food program. 
A sanctions committee at the United Nations has to
approve each contract under the program. Members can
delay shipments by seeking further information about
the goods requested. 
Annan said Washington was disrupting the system. ``I
think one should be transparent and not withhold some
of these items unreasonably because it undermines our
professed desire to help alleviate the suffering of
the Iraqi people,'' he added. 
But State Department spokesman James Rubin said on
Wednesday there were legitimate reasons for the
He said, "We think that Secretary-General Annan has
been badly advised as to the situation in the
sanctions committee. 
``The chairman of the sanctions committee has put
forward a very careful report about the holds that
have been placed for legitimate reasons on entities or
contracts that we believe have questionable potential
to be misused.'' 
The spokesman said 95 percent of the contracts go
through the sanctions committee and that Iraq is at
fault for failing to order as much food and medicine
as it needs. 
``The problem here is that Iraq has not used the
program as it existed and has had to be pressured into
buying the food and medicine that it could buy,'' he
``Those who are advising the secretary-general would
do better to focus their attention on the cause of the
problem, which is Iraq's unwillingness to buy the food
and medicine that would make a difference to their
people, rather than engaging in misplaced blame on the
United States,'' he added. 


Wednesday October 27 6:08 PM ET 
U.S. Cites Iraqi Rights Abuses
By GEORGE GEDDA Associated Press Writer 
WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department cited nine
``major'' instances of severe rights abuses by Iraqi
authorities Wednesday and said individual
responsibility is shared by President Saddam Hussein
and his two sons, among others. The department is
trying to gain support for bringing charges against
Iraq before an international war crimes tribunal. 
``Saddam's internal war against his political
opponents is of a character that begs for description
as crimes against humanity,'' said David Scheffer, the
State Department's ambassador-at-large for war crimes
Speaking to a gathering at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, Scheffer acknowledged that some
key countries seem more interested in broadening
relationships with Baghdad than holding Saddam and his
allies accountable for ``nine major criminal
episodes'' that have occurred under his rule. 
Although Scheffer did not identify any countries by
name, France, Russia and China, all U.N. Security
Council members, have been at odds for years with U.S.
efforts to tame the Iraqi regime. Britain is the only
council member to stand with the United States on the
Iraq issue. 
``Before any government entertains further thoughts
about deeper relations with the Iraqi regime, the
factual record of this criminal enterprise needs to be
fully appreciated,'' Scheffer said. 
Of the activities worthy of an international
tribunal's attention, Scheffer cited the alleged
crimes against the Iraqi Kurd population in the north
and the Iraqi Shiites in the south since 1991. 
He said the atrocities against the Shiites are being
carried out ``with a ferocity that is as widespread,
albeit over a longer period of time, as that waged by
(Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic's goons
against the Kosovar Albanians.'' 
Among the nine alleged abuses, Scheffer cited Iraq's
use of poison gas against Iraqi Kurds in 1988 and
against Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. 
He said a ``small number of associates'' share with
Saddam responsibility for Iraq's criminal activities
for the better part of two decades. He cited Ali
Hassan-al-Majid, who became known as ``Chemical Ali''
for his use of poison gas against Iraqis and Iranians
toward the end of the 1980s, Scheffer said. 
Scheffer also mentioned as accomplices Saddam's sons,
Qusay, head of the Special Security Organization; and
Uday, commander of a paramilitary organization. 
The Reagan administration paid little heed to Iraq's
use of poison gas against Iraqi Kurds living in
Halabja in 1988, an attack that killed an estimated
5,000 people. At the time, the administration was
backing Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War because Iraq was
considered the lesser of two evils. Washington had
full diplomatic relations with Baghdad and also
maintained a food aid program. 
Meanwhile, State Department spokesman James Rubin took
issue with statements by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, who said the United States is blocking delivery
to Iraq of goods that could help ease the suffering of
ordinary Iraqis. 
In a letter to the U.N. Security Council circulated
Monday, he said the number of holds on contracts has
continued to increase in the past two months - to 572
contracts worth about $700 million. 
Rubin said 95 percent of all contracts have been
approved. As for the remainder, Rubin said U.S.
officials had questions about whether the items sought
by the Iraqis were in the category of humanitarian
relief - as is required by the Security Council. 
Rather than criticize Annan directly, Rubin said he
was ``badly advised'' by his staff. 


Wednesday October 27 8:58 AM ET 
U.S. Jets Pound Iraqi Missile Site
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi
surface-to-air missile site on Wednesday, responding
to Iraqi artillery fire in northern Iraq, the U.S.
military said. 
The incident comes two days after Iraq claimed that
two civilians were killed and seven wounded during a
bombing by U.S. and British planes on an Iraqi missile
storage facility in the vicinity of the city of Mosul.

The attack on coalition aircraft Wednesday was opened
from a location northeast of Mosul, 250 miles north of
Baghdad, said a statement from the Germany-based U.S.
European Command. 
The statement said all coalition aircraft, based in
southern Turkish air base, Incirlik, left the area
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 Kurds and Shiites from the forces of Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein. 
Iraq regards the zones as a violation of international
law and has frequently challenged the allied planes
there since December. 


October 27, 1999 --- The New York Times October 28,
U.S. to Aid Iraqi Opposition to Develop a Military


-- The Administration has authorized the first direct
military training for opponents of President Saddam
Hussein of Iraq, senior officials said Wednesday.
Starting next week, four Iraqi rebel leaders,
including two former officers in Iraq's armed forces,
will attend a 10-day training course at the Air
Force's special-operations headquarters in Florida,
where American officials will school them on how to
organize a military in an emerging state. Other
courses are being prepared. The Administration has
also approved its first contribution of surplus
Pentagon equipment intended to help foster the
overthrow of President Hussein, offering the main
Iraqi opposition groups $2 million worth of office
supplies. While the initial assistance is modest --
and, the officials emphasized, "nonlethal" -- it
reflects the sharp shift in policy toward overt
support of what amounts to an insurgency against
Hussein's Government. In that sense, it recalls
American support in the 1980's for the contra rebels
in Nicaragua and for the mujahedeen guerrillas who
resisted the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The
training and equipment, which includes computers, fax
machines and file cabinets, represent the first
portion of $97 million in aid authorized by Congress
last year to bolster the fractious groups intent on
deposing President Hussein. "The notion here is to
help people associated with the opposition to think
about a plan for the country after Saddam Hussein," a
military official who has worked closely with the
Iraqi opposition said Wednesday. Ever since four days
of American and British air strikes against Iraq last
December, the Administration has openly stepped up
contacts with Iraqi opposition leaders. So far, those
efforts appear to have had little impact on dissent
inside Iraq, and officials at the Pentagon, in
particular, remain deeply skeptical of the viability
of Hussein's opponents. The Administration, however,
has been under increasing pressure from Republicans
and even some Democrats in Congress to do more to
support the opposition with equipment and possibly
arms. Representative Benjamin A. Gilman of New York,
the Republican chairman of the House International
Relations Committee, today accused the Administration
of having "a lethargic approach" and called for more
significant assistance. "I can't imagine that Saddam
Hussein would be worried about being overthrown by
Iraqi exiles trained in civil affairs brandishing fax
machines," Gilman said. Iraqi opposition leaders,
however, strongly welcomed the support. Dr. Salah A.
Shaikhly, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress,
a coalition of exiles, said the equipment and training
would be "vital to our work in Iraq." " 'Nonlethal'
doesn't mean not useful inside Iraq," he said in an
interview today in Washington. Administration and
military officials said they hoped this first
installment would strengthen the credibility of the
opposition. The Administration made its decision on
the eve of a large gathering of opposition groups in
New York City this weekend. They are looking to the
gathering as a chance to forge a unified front against
President Hussein, something that has been sorely
lacking because of infighting among his many
opponents. "The United States Government wants to hear
from a unified Iraqi popular leadership just how it
can proceed to support the people of Iraq in promoting
the change of regime, as it is the right of you, the
Iraqi people, to do," the Under Secretary of State for
Political Affairs, Thomas R. Pickering, wrote to the
leaders of seven opposition groups on Monday. The aid
comes during a troubling period in the
Administration's handling of Iraq. There have been no
inspections of Iraq's reported nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons programs since the Government
expelled United Nations inspectors 15 months ago,
leading to the punitive attacks in December. And while
the Administration says Hussein remains isolated,
diplomatic efforts to set up a new inspection system,
as called for under the terms of the cease-fire that
ended the gulf war in 1991, have foundered. Senior
Pentagon officials also fear that Iraq has quietly
rebuilt much of what American and British warplanes
destroyed in December, including missile factories.
And while American and British jets patrolling
no-flight zones over Iraq regularly attack Iraqi
air-defense sites, including a strike today against
missile sites in northern Iraq, those attacks have not
put an end to President Hussein's defiance nor eroded
his grip on power. In the absence of significant
diplomatic progress, the main focus of Administration
policy on Iraq has become fomenting opposition inside
and outside the country. The first military training
will take place at Hurlburt Field, near Pensacola,
where the four Iraqis will attend a regular Air Force
course for officers from Arab and Central Asian
countries. Officials emphasized that the course does
not include combat training. The Administration and
Iraqi opposition groups declined to identify the four
Iraqis. "They are going to go back into Iraq," Dr.
Shaikhly said. "We don't want Saddam Hussein to know
who they are." The four include a former captain and a
former major in the Iraqi armed forces who defected
after the gulf war and took part in the failed
uprisings that followed. The other two also took part
in those uprisings and are now civilian members of
opposition groups. While the Pentagon provides
training to scores of officers from around the world,
it is highly unusual to offer courses to people who
are not backed by sovereign governments. The officials
said they expected to offer space to more Iraqis in
other Pentagon courses. They also said they are
considering additional equipment, including
communications gear. While the Central Intelligence
Agency has provided covert support to Iraqi dissidents
in the past, this is the first overt military
assistance. Administration officials said they had not
ruled out providing weapons, but they said they want
to move slowly to be sure that Hussein's opponents
build a viable foundation before attempting a military
challenge. "We have not ruled out future lethal
assistance," the State Department's spokesman, James
P. Rubin, said today. "But at this time we believe
that providing such assistance would do more harm to
the Iraqi opposition than to the regime." The wariness
reflects the history of infighting among the
opposition groups, which include Kurdish factions in
northern Iraq, Shiite rebels in southern Iraq and
exile groups like the Iraqi National Congress, which
is based in London. While the groups share the
objective of overthrowing Hussein, they have been torn
by their own rivalries. What unity did exist collapsed
completely in 1996, when Iraqi forces pushed into
northern Iraq on behalf of one Kurdish faction, the
Kurdistan Democratic Party, fighting another, the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. That operation also
allowed President Hussein's forces to crush a cell of
dissidents supported by the C.I.A. Administration
officials said they welcomed the groups' progress in
renewing the common cause. "They started near zero," a
senior Administration official said. "A year ago there
were only the remnants of the Iraqi National Congress,
and those remnants could not and would not meet with
each other. They've come a long way from that point."


Letter to Iraqi oposition from United States
Department of State - Oct 26, 1999 

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Washington, D.C. 20520 Dr. Ayad A1lawy Iraqi National
Accord Seyyed Dr. Mohammed Bahr al-Uloom Ahl al-Bayt
Center Mr. Massoud Barzani President, Kurdistan
Democratic Congress Dr. Ahmed al-Chalabi Iraqi
National Congress Seyyed Baqr al-Hakim Supreme Council
for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq Sherif Ali Ibn
al-Hussein Constitutional Monarchist Movement Mr.
Jalal al-Talabani President, Patriotic Union of
I am writing to you as recognized leaders of
significant bodies of free Iraqis and of Iraqi opinion
within the democratic opposition to the current
Baghdad regime. I know that each of you has worked for
the national recovery of Iraq from its current
nightmare. Several of you are wholeheartedly committed
to reunifying the Iraqi people behind an effective
movement to recover your country from within. Several
of you have pledged to demonstrate this commitment by
stepping forward to lea d the Iraqi opposition as both
a national and an international movement, beginning
with the joint conference of all Iraqi opposition
parties in a new Iraqi National Assembly in New York
in a few days. The United States Government wants to
hear from a unified Iraqi popular leadership just how
it can proceed to support the people of Iraq in
promoting the change of regime, as it is the right of
you, the Iraqi people, to do. The United States also
wants to hear from you how, thereafter, it might
support Iraq in a great program of national recovery.
The United States stands ready to cooperate with
friendly governments as equal partners in common
interests. However, the Ira qi people still have no
effective or legitimate government to represent and to
serve them, and to cooperate with neighbors and
friends around the world. That is precisely why we
Americans who wish to support Iraqi aspirations are so
eager to support the rebirth of a strong, unified
liberation movement and organization. We, and most of
all the Iraqi people, need such a partner with which
to cooperate--both to help liberate Iraq from its
current nightmare, and to help rebuild it when Iraqis
reclaim their freedom and national dignity. Until such
a partner comes into being and action, there is little
the United States or United Nations can do to help
free Iraqis from Saddam Hussein's tyranny. We see no
alternative to the renewed and reunified Iraqi
National Congress. It must succeed, and we are
confident that it will succeed, beginning with the
upcoming conference in New York, in supporting the
forces of change within Iraq. It is neither the right
nor the responsibility, nor is it within the power of
the United States, to select or promote Iraqi leaders,
now in the Opposition or for a future liberated Iraq.
No doubt other brave Iraqis will step forward to join
in the task of liberation and recovery, and many more
will continue to pay with their lives. I kn ow you
face complicated calculations as you consider whether
to join forces openly and unconditionally. I hope each
of you will choose t o stand unconditionally. I hope
each of you will choose to stand together on the world
stage in New York in a few days, in the full glare of
the world media and the ongoing United Nations General
Assembly, to inspire your countrymen with a powerful
vision of nationa l unity. I hope likewise to
congratulate you as you stand together in Baghdad soon

Sincerely, Thomas R. Pickering [Signed] 


 UN aid official calls for depoliticised debate on
Iraq AFP - Oct 26, 1999 UNITED NATIONS, Oct 26 (AFP) -

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Hans von
Sponeck, urged members of the Security Council on
Tuesday to stop making political arguments out of the
distribution of food, medicine and other aid. The
Council's sanctions committee had blocked an
increasing number of requests for imports under Iraq's
oil-for-food programme, he said, and this was "a
deterrent for the implementation the humanitarian
programme." Von Sponeck told a news conference that
Iraq had spent "every available dollar" from the
programme on a special nutritional project for
pregnant women, new mothers and young children. While
only 469 million dollars worth of medicine had been
distributed -- equivalent to 68 percent of the 689
million dollars worth delivered since the start of the
oil-for-food programme in December 1996 -- he said
there were valid reasons for keeping the rest in
stock. Von Sponeck had earlier briefed the Security
Council on the consequences of its decision to allow
Iraq to exceed the UN-imposed ceiling of 5.25 billion
dollars on its crude exports for the six months to
November 20. The decision, on October 4, was a
response to sharp rises in oil prices. It did not
alter the ceiling, but allowed Iraq to make good a
shortfall in revenue in the two previous 180-day
periods when oil prices were low. "The extra revenue
allows us to encourage the Iraq government to do more
in areas of concern to us in the UN and well as the
international community," Von Sponeck said. The
government had agreed in "long meetings" with UN
officials to increase the caloric value of daily food
rations to the average Iraqi from 2,150 calories to
2,200, he said. It had also allowed the UN access to
its own food stocks, he said. "We now know that there
is a food stock available to 75 percent of the
population. The government told us -- and we have no
way of verifying this -- that this translates into an
additional 150 calories. So the food basket looks
better." The government had also spent all 27 million
dollars allocated under phases four and five and the
current sixth phase of the programme for
vitamin-reinforced biscuits and therapeutic milk for
pregnant women, mothers and young children, he said.
"There are no more funds available under these three
phases," he added. The programme was put in place in
December 1996 to alleviate the impact of sanctions
imposed on Iraq in August 1990 after it invaded
Kuwait. It allows Iraq to export limited amounts of
crude oil under UN supervision and to use two-thirds
of the revenues to import essential supplies. Each
export and import contract must be approved by the
council's sanctions committee.


Jordan Times: France wants to change controls on Iraqi
imports PARIS (R) - 
France on Tuesday backed U.N. chief Kofi Annan's
criticism of the Iraqi Sanctions Committee and said
control of Iraqi imports under the "oil-for-food"
programme should be technical rather than political.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret said
France wanted Iraqi imports to be tracked by customs
experts who would list motives for them being stopped.
The United Nations secretary-general has complained to
the Security Council that its Iraqi Sanctions
Committee has been increasingly blocking contracts for
goods Baghdad wants to buy under the U.N.
"oil-for-food" programme. Gazeau-Secret told
journalists Annan was right to remind the sanctions
committee of its responsibilities. She said some
countries were questioning the humanitarian programme
that allows Iraq to sell set quantities of oil - $8.3
billion worth in the six-month period ending Nov. 21 -
to pay for humanitarian supplies. Iraq needs these
supplies to help offset the effects of sanctions in
force since it invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Baghdad
frequently complains about delays in approving
contracts for items it wants to import under the
"oil-for-food" programme, blaming in particular the
United States and Britain. The head of the U.N. Iraq
programme, Benon Sevan, has said a growing number of
contracts have been held up despite the committee's
efforts to lift holds on drought-related equipment and
items related to water, sanitation and oil spare
parts. Since Aug. 19, the number of holds placed on
applications for the import of various items had
increased from 475, with a total value of about $500
million, to 572 with a total value of about $700


Monday October 25 9:54 PM ET 
Annan Criticizes U.S. on Iraq Aid
By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press Writer 
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan
took aim at the United States for continuing to hold
up contracts that he said could relieve the suffering
of ordinary Iraqis trying to cope with economic
In a letter to the U.N. Security Council circulated
Monday, he said the number of holds on contracts has
continued to increase in the past two months - to 572
contracts worth about $700 million. 
While Annan didn't specifically mention the United
States, the letter was clearly directed at the United
States, which at the end of August had placed holds on
more than 450 of the 500 contracts that hadn't been
approved. Britain had placed holds on the rest. 
Annan asked the U.N. Sanctions Committee, which
reviews what food, medicine and other aid can be
purchased by Iraq through U.N.-supervised oil sales,
to undertake an early review of all applications now
on hold ``with a view to expediting a decision, as
appropriate, in each case.'' 
U.S. deputy ambassador Peter Burleigh defended the
U.S. holds, expressing concern that Saddam Hussein's
government could direct the equipment towards weapons
``We put contracts on hold for a variety of different
reasons including potential dual use, contracts that
are sponsored by questionable firms, and contracts
which are not justified under the humanitarian
oil-for-food program,'' he said. 
Iraq has been barred from selling its oil on the open
market since the Security Council imposed sanctions
following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Concerned that
ordinary Iraqis were suffering the brunt of the
sanctions, the council in 1996 began allowing Iraq to
sell limited amounts of oil provided the proceeds went
to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. 
The program lets Iraq export $5.26 billion in oil
every six months primarily to buy food and medicine,
but has been expanded to include other sectors
including water, utilities and spare parts for the oil
While still deadlocked on an overall new policy for
Iraq, the Security Council decided earlier this month
to increase Baghdad's export cap by more than $3
billion for the current six-month phase. 
The United Nations reported Monday that last week
Iraqi oil exports surged to a post-Gulf War record of
2.94 million barrels per day. Exports had been
averaging about 2.08 million barrels per day since
Later this week, the Security Council is expected to
debate Annan's recommendation to double the $300
million worth of oil sector spare parts that Iraq is
allowed to import under the oil-for-food program
during the current six-month period. 


KDP condemned Saddam's Arabisastion Program - Kurdish
Media - Oct 25, 1999 ARBIL, Southern Kurdistan
(Kurdish Meida). In the final Statement of its 12th
Congress (Oct 19, 1999), the Kurdistan Democratic
Party (KDP) condemned Saddam's Arabization program for
the Kurdish oil-rich areas, in particular for the city
of Kirkuk. "The 12th Congress condemned the
Arabization and deportation operations in Kirkuk,
Khanagin, Makhmour, Shekhan, Sinjar and other areas to
significantly change the Kurdish national
characteristics," the statement read. The KDP was
established in 1946 and held its 12th Congress in
Arbil, the Capital of Southern Kurdistan, from October
6-14, 1999. 


Iraq said to execute 123 prisoners Kurdish Media - Oct
25, 1999 SHAQLAWA, Southern Kurdistan (Kurdish Media)
- The Iraqi Communist Party reported on Monday that
Iraqi authorities had executed 19 political dissidents
and 104 alleged criminals in an Iraqi prison earlier
this month. The party's human rights centre, based in
the Kurdish self-rule town of Shaqlawa in Southern
Iraq, said in a statement that all the executions had
taken place on October 12 in Abu Ghraib prison. It
named all 19 political dissidents, saying that they
were mainly from Baghdad and the mainly Shi'ite Moslem
southern governorates of Basra and Kerbala. The other
alleged victims were people convicted of crimes such
as murder and robbery. The statement urged
international human rights groups to act to stop
executions of political prisoners. Despite the United
Nation resolution 688 (1991) which is supposed to
prevent human right abuses against the Kurds and Iraqi
people, Saddam's regime has continued executions of
political prisoners. Kurds and Iraqi oppositions have
argued for long that the West and the US have
abandoned them and they are only interested in
disarming of Saddam's regime and not in the protection
of human rights in Kurdisatn and in Iraq. The Iraqi
Communist Party is one of the older political parties
in Iraq which was established in 1934 and Kurds have
been very active in it. 


Iraq opposition head doubts US wants Saddam ousted
Reuters - 03:38 a.m. Oct 25, 1999 Eastern DUBAI, Oct
25 (Reuters) - 
An Iraqi Islamic opposition leader, based in northern
Iraq, said he had doubts about whether the United
States was serious about wanting Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein replaced. Sheikh Ali Abdulaziz, head of
the Islamic movement in Kurdistan, also said in an
interview with the London-based al-Hayat newspaper
published on Monday that United Nations sanctions on
Baghdad were only hurting the Iraqi people. ``I do not
believe that the Americans are serious and I did not
believe so in the past. I have conveyed my opinion to
them several times,'' Abdulaziz said when asked if he
believed the U.S. call to replace Saddam had weight.
He said he had told U.S. officials in Washington
recently that the Iraqi people were growing tired of
the U.S. failure to translate words against Saddam
into action. ``We told them that people are saying
that you are playing with the feelings of the Iraqi
people. Don't you have the power to implement what you
say, and if you don't, why do you claim otherwise?''
he said. However, he said he saw one positive sign in
Washington's refusal to receive a letter from Saddam
which the Iraqi leader wanted to pass on through
Jordan's King Abdullah. ``This means they refused to
negotiate with Saddam and this is one step,'' he said.
Last year, the U.S. Congress passed a law giving the
Clinton administration power to provide supplies worth
$98 million to Iraqi opposition groups as part of
efforts to topple Saddam. Abdulaziz said the Iraqi
people were paying the price of sanctions imposed on
Iraq over its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, saying: ``The
damage is being inflicted on the Iraqi people and not
Saddam.'' ``They did nothing against Saddam, what they
have done was against the Iraqi people, the Iraqi army
and Iraqi resources. We therefore judge the American
position by these indicators.'' Abdulaziz said the
United States and the United Nations must withdraw
recognition of the Iraqi regime, close its embassies
around the world and allow the Iraqi army to join
opposition groups if they were serious about a change
in Iraq. ``This way, it would be possible to get rid
of the regime of Saddam Hussein,'' he said. 


Monday October 25 3:36 PM ET 
Iraq: 2 Die in No-Fly Zone Attack
By LEON BARKHO Associated Press Writer 
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq said Monday that two
civilians were killed and seven others wounded during
U.S. and British attacks on sites in northern Iraq
aimed at enforcing a no-fly zone in the area. 
The U.S. military, in a statement from the
German-based European Command, said jets patrolling
the no-fly zone over northern Iraq bombed an Iraqi
missile storage facility in response to Iraqi
anti-aircraft fire south of Mosul. 
An Iraqi military spokesman said U.S. and British jets
bombed civilian facilities but did not specify their
location, in a statement carried by the official Iraqi
News Agency. 
Residents in Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad, said
in telephone interviews that the allied shelling was
so severe that schools in several parts of the city
were evacuated. 
They said the raid continued for several hours before
the sirens sounded all clear, but refused to comment
on whether the sites hit were civilian or military. 
The Iraqi military statement also said allied planes
entered the country's airspace in the south but
reported no casualties. 
The statement said all coalition aircraft left the
area safely. 
All of the jets - which operate out of Incirlik air
base in southern Turkey - returned safely from the
attack, according to the European Command statement. 
U.S. and British planes have been patrolling no-fly
zones over northern and southern Iraq since the end of
the 1991 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.  


Drought in Iraq Arab News - Oct 22, 1999 
The representative of the international Food and
Agriculture Organization in Iraq, Amir Khalil, has
said that the country, which suffers from its worst
drought in this century, will face a catastrophe
unless the situation is improved next year. In press
statements he made in Baghdad, Khalil added, "If there
will be a new wave of drought next year, there will be
a real catastrophe and then emergency action should be
taken." Khalil added that the absence of resources and
necessary equipment in Iraq obstructs alleviation of
the drought crisis, saying that sums allotted to help
in this regard in the context of the UN food-for-oil
program are hardly enough just to halt the
deterioration of the situation but give no fundamental
treatment. Khalil added that Iraq had allotted a sum
of US $500 - 600 million annually to be spend on
irrigation projects and other projects in the areas of
agriculture before the imposition of the current
sanctions, noting that this sum has been greatly


Britain Backing Down on Iraq? 
2215 GMT, 991022 full article available at 
Britain's new defense secretary, Geoff Hoon, said Oct.
21 that overthrowing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is
not on the British governments agenda. Hoon added
that it would not become a British policy even if such
a change was determined to be in the interest of the
Iraqi people. 
This indicates that Britains policy toward Iraq,
although never clearly defined, may be moving away
from its past alignment with U.S. policy. If the
policy goals of the U.S. and Britain are diverging,
there could be ramifications for the U.S. policy in
Iraq as well as on the Iraqi sanctions debate. 


Iraq asks AL help against uranium used by US, UK
Arab News - Oct 21, 1999 
The Iraqi Health Ministry's secretary, Shawqi Murqos,
has called on the Arab League and the Arab ministers
of the environment as well as concerned regional and
international organizations to preserve the
environment and human hygiene through maintaining
joint cooperation with Iraq to deal with the adverse
health and environmental consequences resulting from
depleted uranium use by the countries of the western
alliance against Iraq during the Gulf War. In a press
conference he held in Cairo on Tuesday in the
framework of his participation in the meetings of the
Arab ministers of the environment, Murqos asserted
that several "unfamiliar diseases" have been spread in
the Iraqi areas where battles took place and uranium
bombs were used according to the Iraqi official. He
added that among the most common of those diseases are
cancer and birth defects. The Iraqi official said the
US will not be able to hide the destructive
environmental consequences in Iraq that resulted from
using bombs containing uranium. He called for banning
the use of these weapons in international conflicts. 


UN News 
Holy See Urges UN to Change its Sanctions Mechanism 
VATICAN CITY, OCT 20, 1999 (VIS) - Archbishop Renato
Martino, Holy See permanent observer to the United
Nations, yesterday addressed the Second Committee of
the General Assembly on Sustainable Development and
International Economic Cooperation. He emphasized one
question in sustainable development, namely, the
negative effects of sanctions. 
He urged the U.N. to consider changing, fine-tuning
and making more just its existing mechanism for
imposing economic sanctions in order to avoid some of
the harsh consequences that sanctions impose on
innocent populations. "The fact that the leadership of
a country has imposed a threat to international peace
and security and put obstacles to restoring peace,
does not require that the entire population of that
particular country should be brought to suffer."
Citing Pope John Paul, he said: "The weak and innocent
cannot pay for mistakes for which they are not


Congresspeople Speak Out 
Congressional Delegation Report 
by J. Daryl Byler, Mennonite Central Committee,
Washington, DC Office 
WASHINGTON A U.S. congressional staff delegation
visited Iraq August 27 to September 4 to assess the
impact of U.N. sanctions on that country. It was the
first official congressional trip to Iraq since 1991.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) contributed $5,000
toward trip expenses and MCC worker Carmen Pauls
accompanied the delegation on many of its meetings
inside Iraq. 
... After returning from Iraq, delegation member Jack
Zylman, an aide to Rep. Earl Hillard (D-AL), told the
MCC Washington Office that he witnessed, "dying
children and low weight babies." According to Zylman,
"sanctions have shut down Iraq's economy" while having
"no effect on arms." Zylman praised MCC's effort to
highlight this issue by sending food boxes to all
members of Congress in August. He urged more people to
contact their representatives about this humanitarian
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) issued a press statement
after her aide, Peter Hickey, returned from Iraq. "Mr.
Hickey has painted a vivid picture for me . . .
desperately malnourished babies, dying of treatable
diseases. . . (and) families living on meager
government rations.".... 
Letter from Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow to Bill
Thompson, Michigan 
Yesterday (11/22/99) Bill Thompson received the
following letter from Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow,
who is running for Spencer Abraham's senate seat in
Michigan. It says in part: 
" punishing Saddam Hussein we must have a policy
which will not hurt the innocent people of Iraq. I
have spoken with Representative Conyers and he has
advised me that he is considering writing a letter or
possibly introducing legislation to end the sanctions
on the innocent people of Iraq. I will continue to
work with him regarrding any actions he may take to
end the economic sanctions on Iraq. It is clear that
these sanctions have not achieved their desired
purpose, and alternative means to address Saddam
Hussein's behavior must be developed." 


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