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On this day in history: Desert Fox

One year ago today, U.S. and British forces began a sustained series of
airstrikes against Iraq.  The Desert Fox campaign was launched to punish
Iraq for what the Western powers said was its failure to cooperate with
UNSCOM, and to "degrade" its military capabilities.  Intermittent strikes
have continued during the past 12 months. 

AFP estimates 156 people have been killed by these airstrikes, a toll
comparable to the Oklahoma City bombing (168 deaths).  Both tragedies pale
next to ongoing toll from sanctions which - according to most estimates -
contribute to the death of 150-200 people per day.

Following are a pair of reports on the anniversary of Desert Fox.

Wednesday, December 15 7:53 PM SGT 

Iraq battles UN draft 12 months after pullout of arms inspectors
BAGHDAD, Dec 15 (AFP) - 
A year after UN weapons inspectors were evacuated on the eve of the Desert
Fox air war, Iraq is battling a UN draft resolution which restores arms
control as a trigger for a suspension of sanctions.

Iraq has vowed to reject the resolution drafted by Britain and backed by the
United States, the two Western allies whose four-day air war in December
1998 left the Security Council divided on its Iraq policy.

The split has lingered and led to three postponements on a vote within the
15-member Security Council since last week, including the latest on Tuesday.

Iraq insists on an unconditional lifting of the embargo which has been in
force ever since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, fearing that the new so-called
omnibus resolution will leave a sanctions regime in place indefinitely.

"The US and British proposals are unacceptable, whatever modifications are
made," warned Khaled Shihab al-Douri, chairman of the Iraqi parliament's
committee on Arab and international relations.

"This project aims to keep the embargo in place for an indefinite period,
and Iraq has already said it rejects any resolution which does not put an
end to the sanctions," he told AFP.

The draft calls for a suspension of economic sanctions for renewable periods
of 120 days if Iraq cooperates "in all respects" with a new United Nations
Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).

Iraq would also be expected to make some progress towards completing "key
remaining disarmament tasks" to be defined by UNMOVIC.

But France and Russia -- who along with Britain, China and the United States
have veto rights in the Security Council -- are seeking a more clearly
defined trigger for the nine-year-old sanctions to be suspended.

To underline Baghdad's opposition, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said
last week that Iraq would prefer to undergo new air strikes rather than
accept the resolution.

And Ezzat Ibrahim, No. 2 to President Saddam Hussein in the decision-making
Revolutionary Command Council, urged Iraqis on Monday "to stand ready to
defend their country."

Iraq has ruled out a return of arms inspectors, accusing them of spying for
the United States, a charge which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said
was partly justified.

Russia, meanwhile, joined Iraq in accusing former chief inspector Richard
Butler of provoking the Desert Fox strikes of December 16-19, 1998 with
false reports of a lack of Iraqi cooperation with his arms panel.

Butler pulled out his UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) from Iraq on December
15, 1998, without consulting the major powers in the Security Council.

Since the air campaign, US and British warplanes have carried out dozens of
limited strikes in contested no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq as
part of Washington's campaign "to keep Saddam in his box."

The air strikes over the past 12 months have left 156 dead and wounded
another 371, according to an AFP casualty toll compiled from Iraqi military


Year after bombing, Iraq still defiant
December 15, 1999 
Web posted at: 11:15 PM EST (0415 GMT) 

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A year later, scars from Operation Desert Fox are
still visible in Baghdad, a reminder of the massive damage U.S. and British
air and missile strikes inflicted on Iraq. 

But also still in place is Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein -- perhaps more
entrenched than ever because his survival has been fuel for propaganda. 

Because of its "steadfastness, Iraq has become an example for (the Arab)
nation," Saddam declared this week as he decorated members of his ruling
Baath Party and Revolutionary Command Council for bravery shown during the
bombing a year ago. 

The Desert Fox bombing crusade was launched on the night of December 16-17,
1998 to punish Iraq for what the United States and Britain said was its
failure to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. 

The scars from the attack are still obvious: Cranes and scaffolds, heaps of
crumbling bricks, damaged telecommunications capacity. 

But U.N. weapons inspectors still have not returned to monitor whether Iraq
is destroying its mass destruction capabilities, as it is required to do
under the agreement that ended the 1991 Gulf War. Iraq has vowed that
inspectors will be allowed back only when the United Nations scraps trade
sanctions against the country. 

The United Nations, meanwhile, is still struggling to frame a new policy
toward Baghdad. U.N. Security Council permanent members Russia, China and
France have expressed concern that the standoff with the Iraqi government is
endangering and impoverishing ordinary Iraqis. Even in the United States,
voices have been raised against the sanctions. 

Iraq is defiant, but far from unscathed. The Pentagon said 524 cruise
missiles were fired during the 70-hour offensive, hitting nearly 100
targets. President Bill Clinton said last year the attacks inflicted
"significant damage" on Iraqi weapons programs and military infrastructure. 

Iraqi officials say they have rebuilt most of what was bombed. Some
construction continues, and some targets remain off-limits to journalists. 

Badly damaged were telecommunications centers, particularly in southern
Iraq. It is still difficult to call the southern city of Basra from Baghdad,
and local television and radio transmission is not as clear and powerful as
it was before. 

Collateral damage to hospitals, schools and residential areas was swiftly
mended. The high-rise building of the Military Industrialization Commission,
where U.S. cruise missiles were said to have gouged a huge hole down to the
ground floor, has been meticulously rebuilt. 

Missiles and bombs also hit weapons factories and presidential palaces,
including the house of Saddam's daughter, Hala. Reports said her house was
destroyed, but no one was home. 

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 
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