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News Clippings for November 3 to November 8, 1999. Highlights: * Van Sponeck controversy: Kofi Annan extends Hans Van Sponeck's term for another year, despite US/UK objections. * US/UK warplanes bomb Iraq at least twice in the last week. * The "Mariam Convoy", with MP George Galloway, arrived in Baghdad on Saturday night. Greeted with much fanfare. * UK ministers fail to press ahead with legislation to help prevent a recurrence of the arms-to-Iraq scandal. (FT, partially transcribed) * UN human rights investigator, Max van der Stoel, says human rights situation in Iraq is grim. * NB: A Chicago Tribune article (2nd one below) states that the "no-fly zones" are UN-enforced. This probably deserves a rebuttal. Go straight to http://www.chicago.tribune.com/interact/letters/letted.htm to send a letter to the editor. Thanks to Colin, Drew and Moonirah for assistance. -------------- Monday November 8 4:53 PM ET U.S. Planes Over Iraq Fired Upon ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. warplanes attacked an Iraqi air defense system Monday after coming under fire during routine patrols of the northern Iraq no-fly zone, the U.S. military said. The planes dropped bombs on an Iraqi integrated defense system near the town Bashiqah, roughly 250 miles north of Baghdad, the Germany-based U.S. European Command said in a statement. The planes, based at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, left the area safely, the statement said. The European Command did not say what kind of ordnance the warplanes dropped. Lately U.S. forces have been using concrete bombs against Iraqi targets to minimize the risk of harming civilians. 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 to protect Kurds and Shiites from the forces of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iraq says the zones are a violation of international law and has frequently challenged the allied planes there since December. ----------------------------- U.S.-BRITISH AIR RAID REPORTEDLY INJURES 2 (Chicago Tribune) >From Tribune News Services November 7, 1999 BAGHDAD, IRAQ -- U.S. and British warplanes attacked residential areas in southern Iraq and injured two civilians, Iraq claimed Friday. The United States said the attacks hit only military targets. A statement from the Iraqi army, carried by the official Iraqi News Agency, said the planes had flown over several provinces in the south. Iraq has accused the U.S. and Britain of targeting civilian facilities while patrolling the UN-enforced "no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq. The zones were set up after the 1991 Persian Gulf war to protect Kurdish and Shiite Muslim rebels. Iraq has not recognized the zones as legitimate. ----------------------------------- Saturday November 6 5:56 PM ET Iraq Rejects UN Sanctions Talks, Hails British MP By Hassan Hafidh BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq, welcoming the arrival of a convoy led by a British MP campaigning for an end to economic sanctions against Iraq, rejected efforts at the U.N. Security Council to ease the embargo as unacceptable trickery. Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, receiving the convoy led by MP George Galloway who arrived in Baghdad late Saturday, said the embargo must be scrapped entirely. ``The tricks which are being made there are not acceptable,'' Aziz said, referring to the latest consultations in New York by the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. ``There is no change in the proposals which are being made and we are standing firm against these maneuvers,'' he said. ''They are not going to reach a reasonable conclusion to the Iraqi people's tragedy.'' Iraq says the U.N. sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait have claimed well over one million lives. It says it has met all Security Council resolutions governing the cease-fire ending the 1991 Gulf War and therefore all sanctions should be lifted. Ambassadors of the permanent members of the council met at the United Nations Friday to discuss a potential resolution that would ease sanctions against Baghdad in return for Iraqi compliance on arms control. British ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who called for the meeting, said that he expected the five powers to reach a conclusion soon on how to ease sanctions against Iraq following a deadlock for nearly a year. Lifting ``Criminal'' Sanctions The Only Solution ``There is a very very bad, rather criminal, position by the United States and Britain,'' Aziz said. ``Iraqis will continue their struggle no matter how long it takes in order to protect their country and unity.'' ``There is only one solution and that is the lifting of the criminal sanctions,'' he said. Galloway's group, travelling aboard a double-decker London bus, received a red-carpet welcome by hundreds of Iraqis in Baghdad, the final destination of its two-month campaign. The Iraqi News Agency INA said hundreds of school children lined the highway near the city of Ramadi, 65 miles west of Baghdad, to welcome the convoy, which had left Amman Friday on the 600-mile drive to the Iraqi capital. INA said Iraq's parliament issued a statement hailing Galloway, who belongs to Britain's ruling Labour party, for ''raising his voice against the embargo.'' ``This humanitarian tragedy which is continuing against the Iraqi people has moved the conscience of free and just people of the world such as Mr Galloway,'' it said. Galloway's group left London in early September and toured France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Jordan. The campaign is dubbed the ``Mariam Convoy'' after Mariam Hamza, a six-year-old Iraqi girl whom the British MP arranged to be taken to Scotland in 1997 to receive treatment for leukemia. She returned home last year after recovering but suffered a relapse in August. Mariam, blinded and apparently suffering brain damage, was sent to Amman for treatment last month. -------------------------------------------- Saturday November 6 6:23 PM ET Gore Says Iraq Must Change For Sanctions To End By Todd Nissen DEARBORN, Mich. (Reuters) - Vice President Al Gore told a group of Arab-American leaders Saturday that the United States had ``deep sympathy'' for the suffering of Iraq's civilians but would not end sanctions on the country until there was a change of government. Gore, who is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, said the United States ultimately wanted peace with Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein. ``We in the U.S. are willing to look at ways to improve the effectiveness of the humanitarian programs in Iraq, and we look forward to friendly relations between our two countries -- as soon as Iraq has a government worthy of its people,'' the vice president said. Gore, campaigning in New Hampshire, made his remarks via satellite hookup to about 150 people at the Arab American Institute's National Leadership Conference in Dearborn, Michigan. Gore pointed to his contributions to Clinton administration efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and expressed confidence Congress would approve funding for the Wye River peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. He was applauded when he said he opposed racial profiling and after he spoke of Arab-American contributions to U.S. cultural diversity. Listeners Worried About Toll But after Gore's comments, several members of the audience voiced concern about the toll that the administration's tough policy toward Iraq had had on civilians. Andy Amid, a Lebanese-American from Columbus, Ohio, and a registered Democrat, said he wanted to know the administration's plans for putting a halt to bombing and for lifting sanctions on Iraq. ``I need to see a demonstration from this administration for alleviating the suffering of the Iraqi people,'' he said. Eric Gustafson, the founder of Education for Peace in Iraq, a Washington-based nonprofit group, said at least 600,000 Iraqi civilians had died since the sanctions were imposed. Several presidential hopefuls or members of their organizations were scheduled to address the Arab American Institute group this weekend. Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is seeking the Republican nomination, was to speak by satellite later Saturday. The goal of the nonprofit institute, whose headquarters are also in Washington, is to get Arab-Americans more involved in the American political process. The United States is home to 3.5 million Arab-Americans, concentrated largely in the states of New York, Michigan and California. They include about 1 million eligible voters, or 1 percent of the electorate. Political pollster John Zogby, a founding board member of the group, said Arab-Americans had no special tendency to support one political party or another. -------------------------------------------------------November 5, Financial Times page 8. (Manually typed in, so there might be errors in this partial transcript) Ministers ran into heavy criticism yesterday after they decided not to press ahead with legislation to help prevent a repetition of the arms-to-Iraq scandal. Reforms of antiquated arms export controls is now unlikely to become law more than five years after Sir Richard Scott's damning report into the scandal. The legislative programme to be announced by Queen Elizabeth on Nov. 17 will not include measures to replace the 1939 Import, Export and Custom Powers Act. Sir Richard's report badly damaged the standing of the previous Conservative govt. He found that it deliberately misled parliament by not revealing a decision to relax restrictions on arms sales to Iraq. The Labour party, then the main opposition party, called for the resignation of two Conservative ministers. ... Paul Eavis, director of Saferworld, the arms trade research group, said: "It's already seven years since the arms-to-Iraq scandal broke. Any further delay in arms control legislation is outrageous. Angela Brown, the opposition Conservatives' trade spokesman accused the govt. of "hyprocrisy" and said the failure to press ahead with the legislation undermined its "ethical" foreign policy. ---------------------------------------------- Friday November 5 4:27 PM ET Five U.N. Powers Meet On New Iraqi Policy By Evelyn Leopold UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Key U.N. Security Council powers gathered Friday to discuss a suspension of trade sanctions against Iraq in return for compliance on arms control, their first session on the issue in six weeks. The meeting of the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- the permanent council members with veto power -- will be followed by an informal session with the other 10 council members. The session is the first among the five powers at the United Nations on Iraqi policy since their foreign ministers met in New York on September 23. However, Western diplomats cautioned that further negotiations on a ``consensus'' resolution would take several weeks. ``We have reached a certain level of understanding but the text is not fully worked out,'' one envoy said. ``The text, which is being looked at and still under discussion within and between capitals, is not fixed. There is still a lot to negotiate but we are moving forward,'' he said. Another diplomat in the meeting called the process a ``dance of seven veils and this is just the first veil being lifted.'' The Security Council has been divided for several years on stringent sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990. But the 15-member body reached an impasse after last December's U.S.-British bombing raids against Iraq. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein vowed then never to allow U.N. inspectors back into Baghdad until the embargoes were lifted entirely. Accounting for all of Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile programs is a key demand for lifting the sanctions, spelled out in an April 1991 resolution after the Gulf War, in which U.S.-led troops drove Iraq out of Kuwait. The general outline of a proposed resolution would lift any ceiling on how much oil Iraq could sell, now at $5.26 billion every six months, as soon as a new arms commission was set up. Import and export sanctions would be suspended after Iraq answered some key questions on its weapons of mass destruction. The questions would be posed by the new chief arms inspector, whom Secretary-General Kofi Annan would have to appoint within 30 days after the resolution is adopted. The suspension of the sanctions would lapse at periodic intervals unless the council renewed it. Australian Richard Butler, who headed the U.N. Special Commission of arms inspectors (UNSCOM), resigned his post in June and a replacement will not be named until the five nations agree on the shape of the new disarmament body. Iraq's trading practices, however, would still be controlled by Security Council members and a separate escrow account maintained by the United Nations, even though the current humanitarian program is extremely cumbersome. Diplomats said differences remained on precisely what Iraq had to do to get the sanctions suspended and under what conditions they could be reimposed. The five nations have been consulting each other in their respective capitals since the September meeting, with France positioning itself between the United States and Britain on one side and Russia and China, on the other. France was said to have moved closer to the U.S.-British proposals since September. Iraq has denounced the whole process. Its official press Friday said the council should have briefed Iraqi envoys on what was going on. ----------------------------------------------------------- Thursday November 4 6:15 AM ET Iraq Human Rights Situation Grim By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The human rights situation in Iraq is worsening and the repression of civil and political rights continues unabated, a U.N. investigator said in a report to the General Assembly. ``The prevailing regime in Iraq has effectively eliminated the civil rights to life, liberty and physical integrity and the freedoms of thought, expression, association and assembly,'' Max van der Stoel, the special investigator on Iraq for the Commission on Human Rights, said Wednesday. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein exercises executive and legislative power, with judges and courts essentially answerable to him, and ``the mere suggestion that someone is not a supporter of the president carries the prospect of the death penalty,'' he said. Van der Stoel also accused the Iraqi government of failing to fully use a U.N. humanitarian relief program to help ordinary Iraqis. The report paints a grim picture of life in Iraq between April and Sept. 20: indiscriminate bombing of civilian settlements and arbitrary killings, arbitrary arrest and detention of suspected traitors and criminals, and the bulldozing of hundreds of homes of opponents. Van der Stoel, a former Dutch foreign minister, expressed regret that the Iraqi government has refused to allow him to visit the country since January 1992, has not replied to any of his communications, and has refused to accept the stationing of U.N. human rights monitors in the country. In the past, Iraq has accused van der Stoel of being a ``dishonest observer'' who obtained his information from U.S., British and Israeli sources in addition to ``traitors and agents,'' a reference to Iraqi opposition groups in exile. The General Assembly committee that deals with human rights is scheduled to take up the Iraq report today. Van der Stoel said Iraq remains the country with the highest number of disappearances reported to the Commission on Human Rights. Disappearances continue to occur, ``especially among members of minority groups,'' he said. He also said he continued to receive allegations of summary and arbitrary executions, citing the death by firing squad of at least 21 people from the southern city of Basra who had reportedly been arrested in March on suspicion of participating in demonstrations. In Geneva, meanwhile, Iraq's foreign minister said Wednesday that the country cannot accept any move to suspend rather than lift U.N. sanctions against it. ``It's better for all parties concerned to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the Security Council resolutions,'' Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf told a news conference in Geneva. Under the resolutions imposing sanctions after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, sanctions are to be lifted after U.N. weapons inspectors determine that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated. ``Nothing in Iraq has anything to do with prohibited weapons,'' al-Sahhaf said, insisting Iraq has implemented the resolutions. 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. The Security Council has been deeply divided since then about how to address concerns about weapons of mass destruction and the human impact of sanctions. China, Russia and France have sought a more lenient policy than the United States and Britain. ----------------------------------------------------- U.N. Chief Extends Controversial Humanitarian Official's Term in Iraq By Colum Lynch Special to The Washington Post Wednesday, November 3, 1999; Page A28 UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 2óDespite strenuous objections from the United States and Britain, Secretary General Kofi Annan today extended the term of the U.N.'s chief humanitarian relief official in Iraq for another year. U.S. officials have accused the official, Hans von Sponeck, of siding with Iraq in a propaganda battle over who is to blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people: the West, for imposing harsh economic sanctions, or Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, for failing to comply with the terms for lifting those sanctions. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said von Sponeck, a career U.N. official from Germany, has exceeded his authority by publicly criticizing the Security Council's sanctions policy and by investigating civilian casualties from U.S.-British bombing raids in Iraq's "no fly" zones. Rubin also charged that von Sponeck allowed the Iraqi government to fill warehouses with food and medicine that should have been distributed to the Iraqi people under the terms of the U.N.'s "oil for food" program, which allows Iraq to sell $5.2 billion of oil every six months to meet humanitarian needs. "We do not have confidence in his leadership of this effort," Rubin said. "Mr. von Sponeck has undermined the role of the humanitarian coordinator in Iraq." Fred Eckhard, Annan's chief spokesman, said the secretary-general believes that anyone serving in such a sensitive job inevitably will offend the United States, Britain or other countries. Eckhard said von Sponeck's predecessor, Denis J. Halliday of Ireland, ran afoul of the United States and his eventual successor probably will, too. "It kind of comes with the territory," Eckhard said. Annan nevertheless has asked von Sponeck to meet with U.S. and British officials to "clear up any misunderstanding that might have arisen," Eckhard said, adding that the U.N. chief "wants von Sponeck to continue in this job." Rubin's unusually sharp public criticism of von Sponeck comes as the United States and Britain continue to wrestle with Russia, France and other countries that favor lifting the economic sanctions if U.N. weapons inspectors are allowed to return to Iraq. Last week, Washington and London rejected a recommendation by the secretary general to allow Iraq to spend an additional $300 million on repairs to oil production facilities. And on Monday, Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering pledged U.S. support for Iraqi opposition leaders seeking to topple Saddam Hussein. Annan, meanwhile, has criticized the United States and Britain for blocking Iraqi requests to import more than $700 million in various goods under the oil-for-food program. Washington is responsible for holding up the delivery of more than 580 items, while Britain is holding up 82 items. -------------------------------------------------------Wednesday November 3 2:18 AM ET U.S. And U.N. In Second Clash Over Iraqi Policies UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - In the face of strong protests from the United States and Britain, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has renewed for another year the term for the chief U.N. humanitarian relief official in Baghdad. State Department spokesman James Rubin, in unusually sharp criticism, Tuesday accused the official, Hans von Sponeck of Germany, of overstepping his mandate by questioning sanctions imposed on Iraq and said he was not doing his job well. The clash was the second one in just over a week between the Clinton administration and the United Nations over the Iraqi humanitarian program. Annan on Oct. 25 criticized the United States for blocking some $700 million in goods Baghdad wanted under the ``oil-for-food program.'' Washington has held up delivery of some 580 supplies, which it says is necessary to make sure they are not used for military purposes. Britain has put holds on 82 Iraqi requests. Von Sponeck runs the oil-for-food program for the United Nations in Iraq under which Baghdad is allowed to sell $5.2 billion of oil every six months to purchase needed goods. The program is an exception to stringent U.N. sanctions imposed in August 1990 after Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait. In reference to von Sponeck's comments on sanctions, Rubin said, ``We think he has exceeded his mandate by raising his own personal views as to the wisdom of the sanctions regime that has been imposed by the Security Council. And in doing so, he exceeds his competence and authority.'' Rubin said the United States had lost confidence in von Sponeck's ability to supervise goods Iraq has put in warehouses that should have been distributed. Von Sponeck last week told reporters in New York he had made careful lists of the supplies and that 88 percent of them had been distributed properly. Rubin also said von Sponeck had overstepped his authority by putting out Iraq-initiated reports on civilian casualties after U.S. bombing raids over Iraqi no-flight zones. U.S. and British envoys previously privately criticized von Sponeck, who has once openly spoken against the sanctions. His predecessor, Denis Halliday of Ireland who resigned, did this on frequent occasions. Chief U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters the humanitarian coordinator's job was a sensitive one, noting that Halliday too was criticized. ``I think the secretary-general feels that there will be complaints about his successor as well. It kind of comes with the territory of his job,'' he said. But Eckhard said Annan had discussions with von Sponeck about concerns raised by the U.S. and British envoys and encouraged von Sponeck to speak to them to ``try to clear up any misunderstandings that may have arisen.'' Diplomatic sources said von Sponeck had been told not to give his opinion in public about the sanctions. The 15-member U.N. Security Council is currently deadlocked on requirements Iraq has to fulfill in accounting for its weapons of mass destruction programs in order to get the embargoes eased. U.S. ambassador Richard Holbrooke said an agreement was close among key council members but differences had not yet been resolved. --------------------------------------- Seven killed in attack on Iranian opposition base in Iraq: Baghdad BAGHDAD, Nov 3 (AFP) - An Iraqi soldier and six members of the main armed Iranian opposition group were killed Tuesday when a missile struck the latter's base in southern Iraq, an official Iraqi spokesman said Wednesday. In addition, 24 Iraqi soldiers and 54 members of the Iranian group, People's Mujahedeen, were wounded, the official was quoted by the official INA news agency as saying. Earlier, the Mujahedeen said five of its people were killed and several group members and Iraqis were injured in an Iranian missile attack on the group's base. But the Iraqi spokesman did not mention Iran. "A strong explosion occurred Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. (0430 GMT) near a military position of the People's Mujahedeen organization in southern Iraq, killing one and wounding 24 members of the Iraqi military," he said. "This cowardly terrorist act, ordered by a foreign state, confirms that those who carried it out are determined to continue their aggressive policy and to harm Iraq, under various pretexts." "Iraq, which condemns this attack on its territorial integrity and sovereignty, reserves the right to respond at the opportune moment," he said. The attack "is a dangerous escalation and a threat to the security and stability of the entire region," he said and urged "the international community to condemn these stupid acts." In a statement issued earlier Wednesday, the Mujahedeen said an Iranian missile crashed late Tuesday into its Habib base, 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the port city of Basra and about 35 kilometers (20 miles) from the Iranian border. The statement added that "the explosion left a crater 12 meters (40 feet) wide and six meters (20 feet) deep next to the base camp." The deaths and injuries were caused by "shrapnel and the wave of the explosion." Mujahedeen spokesman Farid Soleimani had previously told AFP that several Scud missiles had crashed into the base, but the written statement suggested there was only one. The Mujahedeen, which mounts cross-border attacks from Iraqi territory and reports frequent Iranian strikes on its own positions, has been based in Iraq since 1986. It said this was the 80th attack against its camps since 1993. The Mujahedeen said the last attack came in late September when a car bomb exploded near the same base, wounding two. Led by Massud Rajavi, the Mujahedeen in 1986 set up an Iranian National Liberation Army (INLA) which it claims has some 50,000 fighters. Rajavi Wednesday "underscored the inalienable right of the Iranian resistance to respond" to this latest attack, the statement said. --------------------------------- __________________________________________________ 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 ***