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News for November 3 to November 8, 1999



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. 
---------------------------------



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