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News for week ending 14 November, 1999

News highlights this week:

* US/UK bombs Iraq on Tuesday, Thursday and today --
possible civilian casualties.

* A very moving article from the Progressive (14
October) by Zachary Fink who visited some bombed
civilian villages. Fink's eyewitness account offers
further evidence of civilian casualties.

* Max van der Stoel resigns as the special
investigator on Iraq for the UN Commission on Human

* Iraq calls for an end to sanctions, but will
probably renew the UN Oil-for-Food program.

* I've included a link to Stratfor, at the bottom of
this posting, which has some interesting articles on
Iraq this week.

Sources: Reuters, Arabic News, Assoc. Press, The


Baghdad says Western planes bomb north and south 
10:32 a.m. Nov 14, 1999 Eastern 
BAGHDAD, Nov 14 (Reuters) - An Iraqi military
spokesman said U.S. and British aircraft bombed
civilian targets in southern and northern Iraq on
Sunday before being driven off by Iraqi forces. 
The spokesman, quoted by the official Iraqi News
Agency, said the planes flew 58 sorties over southern
Iraq and 18 over the north, bombing civilian targets.
He did not mention casualties. 
``Eighteen hostile formations of enemy planes...flew
over the provinces of Basra, Dhi Qar, Muthanna, Najaf
and Wasit and attacked our service and civilian
installations,'' he said. 
``Nine hostile formations... flew over provinces of
Duhok, Arbil, Nineveh and attacked our civilian and
service installations. 
``Our brave ground defences intercepted these
formations and forced them to leave Iraqi airspace,''
the spokesman said. 
U.S. and British planes patrol no-fly zones over
Iraq's north and south virtually daily. The zones were
declared by the West after the 1991 Gulf War, to
protect groups opposed to Iraqi President Saddam
There was no immediate confirmation from London or
Washington of bombing on Sunday. Western military
officials insist such attacks are aimed only at
military targets. 
On Thursday, Iraq said U.S. and British aircraft
bombed civilian targets in southern Iraq but gave no
details of casualties. 


Friday November 12, 7:56 am Eastern Time 
Iraq seen set to renew UN oil sales-Iraqi official
By Peg Mackey 
LONDON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Iraq looks certain to
accept another six-month renewal of the United Nations
humanitarian oil sales deal after the current tranche
expires on November 20, a senior Iraqi government
official said on Friday. 
The Iraqi official said Baghdad ``eventually will
accept'' a rollover of the oil-for-food deal,
especially since Iraq's long running demand for a full
lifting of international trade sanctions looks
unlikely to be met at this time. 
Whether Iraq might first make a political stand before
accepting another 180-day phase of oil sales remained
to be seen, he said. 
Only a minor gap is expected in Iraq's 2.3 million
barrel per day (bpd) oil export programme when the
current sixth phase ends, but oil traders still have
not completely ruled out the possiblity that Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein might pull the plug on oil
The U.N. at the end of next week is expected to craft
a technical resolution renewing the $5.26 billion
humanitarian package in the final hours of the
oil-for-food deal's current sixth phase. 
Diplomats and oil traders alike are anticipating a
fairly fluid transition between phases, as was the
case last spring when the fifth phase expired. 
Baghdad moved quickly then to endorse the U.N.'s
rollover and state oil marketer SOMO did its utmost to
ensure only minor logistical and operational hiccups
interfered with its sales. 
Western diplomats do not expect the Iraqi government
to interrupt oil sales by making an issue of the
scheme's humanitarian aid distribution plan. That had
been the case when the first few phases of the
programme, introduced in December 1996, drew to a
``Given the information at hand, we're building in
about a week's gap in loadings, which was about the
case last time,'' said a trader. 
Shipping for the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan
should be fairly easy to secure while vessels for the
Iraqi Gulf port of Mina al Bakr could be trickier to
arrange, they said. 
SOMO has assembled an export loading programme which
extends well beyond the current phase's November 20
expiry, market sources said. 
The sources reckon the Iraqi marketer could have at
least 10 million barrels worth of oil left on its
books when the sixth phase ends. The U.N. has approved
roughly 392 million barrels worth of Iraqi oil
contracts and as of Friday, customers had loaded about
360 million barrels of that volume, said traders. 
Some major lifters of Iraqi barrels already have
nominated cargoes for dates between November 20-30. At
least one big buyer is believed to have a ship secured
to load Basrah Blend from the Iraqi Gulf port of Mina
al-Bakr in that date range, they said. 
Customers are now keen to learn whether Iraq's current
November official selling prices will be extended to
cover the remainder of the month during the seventh
Kirkuk loading from the Turkish Mediterranean port of
Ceyhan is priced at Dated Brent -$1.35 per barrel for
November, Basrah for the U.S. at second line WTI
-$3.55 per barrel and Basrah to the Far East at
Oman/Dubai +30 cents. 
The United Nations Security Council this week has been
attempting to cobble together a text for a resolution
easing sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990
invasion of Kuwait. 
But an agreement is unlikely before the current phase
of the oil-for-food deal expires next week. 


Thursday November 11 4:42 PM ET 
Iraq Human Rights Official Resigns
By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press Writer 
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A U.N. special investigator who
reported on human rights abuses in Iraq has resigned,
a U.N. spokesman confirmed Thursday. 
Max van der Stoel left his post as the special
investigator on Iraq for the U.N. Commission on Human
Rights last Friday, spokesman Fred Eckhard said. 
Since 1991, the former Dutch foreign minister has
documented executions, kidnappings and repression by
Saddam Hussein's government. Last week, he reported to
the General Assembly that the human rights situation
in Iraq is worsening and the repression of civil and
political rights continues unabated. 
The Hague-based special investigator submitted his
resignation to Ann Anderson, president of the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, the body that
monitors human rights abuses around the world. 
Commission officials are scheduled to meet Nov. 17 to
discuss van der Stoel's replacement, Eckhard said. 
``He gave no reason for the resignation to my
knowledge, but I understand that he's 76 years old,''
Eckhard said. ``He must be tired after nine years on
that job.'' 
On his first visit to Iraq in 1992, van der Stoel
issued a scathing account of the brutal tactics
employed by the Iraqi leadership to stifle political
opposition. The report so angered Iraqi leaders that
he was not permitted to return to the country. 
He subsequently prepared reports based on evidence
from a variety of sources, including Iraqi exiles and
opposition groups. 
Iraq's Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Nizar Hamdoon
on Monday dismissed van der Stoel's latest report as a
propaganda ploy to further the ``political
objectives'' of certain parties. 
U.N. Security Council resolutions require Iraq to
improve its human rights record as one of several
conditions to lift economic sanctions imposed in 1990
after Saddam's army invaded Kuwait. 
Van der Stoel is also High Commissioner for Minorities
for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in


Iraq calls for breaking the sanctions
Iraq, Politics, 11/11/99 (Arabic News)
Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan has called
for breaking the sanctions imposed on Iraq and not to
wait for a decision to be taken to this end by the UN
Security Council.
In an interview with the Iraqi paper al-Joumhoureyah,
Ramadan said, "What is required today is to break the
oppressive siege and not to wait for the UN Security
Council resolutions."
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council's five permanent
members on Wednesday decided to intensify their
discussions in the coming weeks with the objective of
reaching an agreement to suspend sanctions on Iraq.
The discussions are concentrated on a British project
that proposes the suspension of sanctions for a
renewable period, while Iraq is asked to cooperate in
dismantling any banned weapons.
Meanwhile, a demonstration was carried out in Baghdad
on Wednesday in protest of the embargo imposed on
Iraq. The demonstrators burned Israeli, American and
British flags.
The demonstrators, mostly representatives of Arab
trade unionists, gathered in front of the headquarters
of the UNDP, burned the flags and chanted slogans
"down the US." The handed over a message to the UNDP
representative addressed to UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan condemning the continued US and British
imposition of "no-fly zones" in Iraq and continued air
strikes on the Iraqi civilian areas.
The demonstrators called on Annan to intervene to put
an end to the embargo.
The demonstration was organized in line with the
beginning of deliberations of the 12th conference of
the general federation of the Iraqi workers, currently
being held in Baghdad with the participation of Arab
and foreign trade union delegations.


Thursday November 11 1:33 PM ET 
Baghdad Says US, British Planes Bomb Southern Iraq
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi military spokesman said
U.S. and British aircraft bombed civilian targets in
southern Iraq Thursday before being driven off by
Iraqi forces. 
The spokesman, quoted by the official Iraqi News
Agency, said the planes flew 75 sorties over southern
Iraq and bombed civilian targets. He did not mention
``Twenty hostile formations of enemy crows (planes)
... flew over the provinces of Basra, Dhi Qar,
Muthanna, Qadissiya, Najaf and Meisan and the enemy
attacked our service and civilian installations,'' the
spokesman said. 
U.S. and British planes patrol no-fly zones over
Iraq's north and south virtually daily. The exclusion
zones were imposed by the West after the 1991 Gulf War
over Kuwait, to protect groups opposed to Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein. 
There was no immediate confirmation from London or
Washington of bombing Thursday. Western military
officials insist such attacks are aimed only at
military targets 
Tuesday, Iraq said U.S. and British aircraft bombed
civilian targets in northern Iraq. 


Tuesday November 9 2:45 PM ET 
U.S. Planes Bomb Iraq Defense Site
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi
air defense system Tuesday after drawing artillery
fire during routine patrols of the northern Iraq
no-fly zone, the U.S. military said. 
The U.S. attack targeted an Iraqi integrated air
defense system near the town of Bashiqah, about 250
miles north of Baghdad, the Germany-based U.S.
European Command said in a statement. 
U.S. jets bombed the same area on Monday after coming
under Iraqi fire. 
The planes, based in Incirlik air base in southern
Turkey, left the area safely, the statement said. 
The Iraqi News Agency charged that ``evil U.S. and
British warplanes'' struck ``residential areas and
service installations'' in Tuesday's attack. It was
not clear if there were any casualties or damage. 
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. 


A Visit to a Bombed  Village
What the US War in Iraq Look Like Up Close
In July, I traveled to Iraq with members of Voices in
The Wilderness, a nonprofit anti-war group. The group
has been to the country twenty-five times since 1996
to deliver food and medicine to the Iraqi people,
though this was my first time. Whenever Voices in The
Wilderness goes to Iraq, it is openly violating U.S.
law, which prohibits unauthorized transactions in
Iraq. I was part of an eight-person delegation. I
carried a small digital camera but did not identify
myself as a journalist to the Iraqi government.
While we were there, several towns in the southern
part of the country were attacked by U.S. warplanes.
According to the Pentagon, U.S. and British warplanes
have struck Iraq more than 130 times since the first
of the year. In each strike, many bombs are dropped.
We arrived in Najaf just a few days after a July 19
bombing raid. Najaf is a city of approximately 300,000
people and is two hours south of Baghdad. The official
Iraqi news agency claimed that seventeen people were
killed. The people we spoke to on the ground said
fourteen people had been killed and eighteen injured.
The first bomb landed in the middle of a small village
outside the city, they told us. On one side of the
road were houses and stores; on the other side were
garages and repair shops for automobiles. The bomb had
left a crater in the road, and bulldozers were
preparing to pave over it when we arrived.
Eyewitnesses described the attack as a large explosion
followed by several smaller ones. 
The people in the village were poor. Many wore ragged
clothes. When we left our air-conditioned van and
walked out into the oppressive heat, villagers swarmed
around us. They tugged on our sleeves and spoke
frantically in Arabic. They pointed to the crater,
then pointed to the sky. They tried to pull us toward
some of the houses away from the road, but our group
leader told us to proceed with caution. People formed
tight circles around me as I took pictures with my
camera. Witnesses showed us marks on a garage wall
where bomb fragments had landed. Pieces of shrapnel
with razor-sharp edges were strewn about the ground.
Our guide from the humanitarian organization Red
Crescent was eager to move on.
A second bomb had struck about fifty yards away from a
grain processing plant. We were taken inside a
dormitory for the factory workers.
Every window we saw in the building had been shattered
from the explosion. Broken glass crunched under our
feet as we made our way through bedrooms and the
living room. A ceiling fan lay on the floor where it
had fallen just days earlier. A tricycle was parked
Outside the house, workers showed us pieces of the
bomb. A serial number--30003-318, 96214-4215,
21562-32490--was etched into one of the pieces of
plastic that was torn and twisted from the impact.
Shell casings for bomblets were also handed to us as
evidence that this was no precision-guided munition,
but possibly a cluster bomb intended to kill human
Each container was empty of its explosives. The
workers took some members of our delegation into the
back of the factory to show them that grain was indeed
processed here. Through a translator, we were told
that there was no radar at that location and no
military machinery.
Our group was then taken to the area hospital where
many of the victims were recovering. Mohammed Nadar, a
thirty-one-year-old cab driver, was wounded in the
attack. He pointed to shrapnel in his back and told us
that he was driving his taxi when the bomb struck.
Three of his passengers were killed instantly and
another was wounded, he said. 
His wife and son sat next to his bed. They watched us
come in and ask questions, but they said nothing.
Nadar stared at us with deep black eyes. He spoke
quietly in Arabic. "It's hatred," he said. "Why kill
civilians? Why drop a bomb at 6:00 p.m. when children
are playing?"
He lay sideways on the bed, wearing only shorts. The
bottoms of his feet were burned. Behind him, a window
was wide open; a light breeze offered a bit of relief
from the heat and humidity. The window allowed the
only light inside the room. Doctors explained that the
electricity shuts off for several hours each day.
Without power, many medications that need to be
refrigerated go bad, and the lack of air conditioning
makes the patients even more uncomfortable.
In the next room, we saw a six-year-old boy with his
right arm missing. According to doctors, his arm had
to be amputated because his tissue was severely
burned. The boy did not move his body while we were in
the room. His eyes darted past us, but he did not
speak. He had a bewildered look on his face. A fly
landed on his lip, and he made no attempt to shoo it
away. The boy's mother sat at the end of the bed. She
also said nothing, staring blankly at us as I took
more pictures.
In another room, doctors used a bloody cotton ball to
dab a ten-inch wound on the stomach of Abdullah
Shakur, a thirty-one-year-old mechanic. Shakur's arm
was in a sling, and his wounds looked fresh. Crude
stitchwork prevented his insides from spilling out.
Flies landed in and around the open sores. Despite the
seriousness of his injuries, Shakur was speaking in an
animated tone. One of the doctors translated for us.
"I'm not very educated," Shakur said, "but I ask
Clinton why does he kill the people of Iraq?" Shakur
pointed to his son Ahmed. He said that Ahmed is too
young to go and work and provide for the family. "Now
that I am crippled, I'm worried about what I will do,"
Shakur said.
You could feel the desperation in every hospital room.
Twenty-seven-year-old Ahmed Abid Zaid was lying in a
stiff position in one of the other rooms we entered.
He had bandages on his head. He wore gray pants and a
gray shirt. His eyes followed us as we walked into the
room, but his body did not move. We were told that
bomb fragments were still lodged in his head and his
body was paralyzed as a result. Doctors were planning
on operating in the next few days, but medicines are
in short supply because of the economic sanctions.
Zaid was supposed to be married in three days. But
because of the injuries, he could no longer speak.
Our delegation did not see any dead bodies because
Muslim tradition requires burial within twenty-four
hours of death. But people told us some bodies had
been torn to shreds by shrapnel.
The United States did not acknowledge any civilian
casualties in its raid on Najaf. According to a
military spokesman, U.S. planes dropped bombs in
response to an Iraqi missile threat while they were
patrolling the southern "No Fly Zone." When asked
about the bombing on July 20, Defense Secretary
William Cohen said: "We have no evidence any civilians
were killed by this particular operation."
Such denials have become routine. And the military is
reluctant to share information about what kinds of
weapons are used in the raids. According to the
Pentagon, any time U.S. pilots drop bombs, it is in
response to an Iraqi challenge. Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein has offered a reward to any soldier who can
shoot down a U.S. or British plane, but so far none
have been hit. After seeing some of the cannons that
the Iraqi military uses, this does not surprise me. I
saw what appeared to be a military camp about three
miles up the road from the area in Najaf where the
U.S. bombs landed. But the weaponry looked as though
it were left over from the set of a bad World War I
movie. I'm no expert, but these guns were not about to
shoot down an F-16.
Iraqis say the bombing raids come almost daily.
Sometimes villages are hit; other times the bombs fall
in more remote areas. The Pentagon acknowledges there
have been more bombs dropped on Iraq since January
than during Operation Desert Fox last December, when
U.S. jets began pounding Iraqi targets the day before
the House of Representatives was set to impeach
President Clinton.
U.S. military officials say the raids will continue as
long as Iraqi radar continues to lock onto jets
patrolling the "No Fly Zones." But the United Nations
never authorized these "No Fly Zones." After the Gulf
War, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 688,
which ordered Saddam Hussein to stop repressing Iraq's
civilian population. The allies set up the northern
"No Fly Zone" ostensibly to enforce that resolution
and to protect the Kurdish population. A year later,
the Bush Administration set up the southern "No Fly
Zone" ostensibly to protect Shi'ite Muslims.
But Iraqis we spoke with said they were much more
afraid of U.S. bombers than they were of their own
government. Ikbal Fartous, a thirty-eight-year-old
English teacher, lives in Jamariya, a neighborhood in
Basra that was hit by U.S. cruise missiles in January.
Her three-year-old son was killed in the attack. Her
other son, Mustafa, was severely injured. Fartous
peeled the shirt off of Mustafa's back to reveal scars
and indentations covering almost every inch of his
body. She explained that some of the shrapnel is still
lodged underneath his skin.
"Mustafa comes to me when he hears the planes. He
buries his head," Fartous said. "Every day they come,
in the middle of the night . . . even yesterday
Zachary Fink is a reporter at New Jersey Network News,
a PBS station. Before that, he was the morning news
anchor at WBAI-FM Pacifica Radio in New York City. 


Link to Iraqi information on Stratfor website:

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