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News for 20 to 27 December, 1999 It has been suggested that I reduce the repetition across articles. Therefore, I've truncated many of them. Truncations are indicated with three dots (...). Further suggestions for improving this weekly posting are welcome. -------- Headlines * British MP George Galloway anounces plans to fly a planeload of medicine to Iraq. * UN Orders Iraq to pay Israel's national airline, El Al, $7M for compensation for gulf war. * Iranian troops and opposition fighters clash along Iraqi border. * Al-Thawra, an Iraqi newspaper, has questioned Kofi Annan's neutrality following SCR1284 which gives the UN Secretary General a large say in determining what Iraq may import. * Pentagon indicates that poor weather is behind reduction in bombing raids. It also states that Iraq has shifted its air defences to central Iraq, apparently reducing clashes in "no-fly" zones. * In a tragic story, three Iraqi Kurdish children died during their family's perilous attempt to illegally emigrate to Greece. This story will NOT restore your faith in the good of humanity. * There's also an excerpt regarding Iraq from a Democratic Party presidential debate. * Some condemnations of SCR1284 from the Arab world are printed. Sources: Associated Press, Reuters, www.arabicnews.com ----------------------------- www.arabicnews.com 12/27/99 Baghdad completes maintenance of Karkouk-Banias oil pipeline The London-based al-Hayat daily quoted a high-ranking Arab diplomat who it described as very well-informed on Syrian-Iraqi relations as saying that a team of Iraqi engineers and technicians has carried out for several months the necessary maintenance work on the destroyed parts of the Iraqi-Syrian oil pipeline. Iraq, Economics, 12/27/99 ------------------------------ www.arabicnews.com (Dec 27, 1999) The international union for the Arab laborers in Damascus denounced yesterday the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of a resolution establishing a new organization for monitoring Iraqi disarmament to replace the United Nation's Special Committee (UNSCOM), while keeping the sanctions on Iraq. It said that although this resolution was not unanimously issued, and stirs people's anxiety of tyranny against national sovereignty, which makes this international organization lose its credibility. --------------------------- British MP Plans Planeload of Medicine to Iraq Monday, December 27, 1999 BAGHDAD (Reuters) - British MP George Galloway was hailed in Iraq Monday for his "spirit of knighthood" after disclosing plans to fly in a planeload of medicine. Galloway, a member of the ruling Labor Party, was quoted by official media as saying the British government had prevented him from including some kinds of medicines in the cargo early next year with the excuse that Baghdad might use them to produce chemical weapons. Last month, Galloway wound up a two-month journey across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East including Iraq on a double-decker London bus to drum up support for the lifting of the U.N. embargo on Baghdad. Stringent economic sanctions were imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Iraq says they have caused well over one million deaths. Galloway said that he was collecting donations to build a cancer hospital in Baghdad. The maverick leftwing Scottish politician was also received Monday by Iraq's Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council Izzat Ibrahim. "The journey showed the reality of the British people in rejecting injustice, aggression and domination of peoples," the official news agency INA quoted Ibrahim as telling Galloway. "Your initiative revived the human values, manhood, and knighthood spirit of the British people which we, regretfully scarcely find nowadays," said Ibrahim. ---------------------------------- DECEMBER 27, 11:22 EST U.N. Orders Iraq To Pay El Al $7M JERUSALEM (AP) The United Nations commission on compensation for damage during the 1991 Gulf war has ordered Iraq to pay Israel's national airline nearly $7 million, a Justice Ministry official said Monday. El Al Israel Airlines sued Iraq for damages from the war, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel. Justice Ministry official Benny Rubin said the U.N. commission, meeting in Geneva, awarded El Al $6,977,711. Rubin said most of the award was for the cost of moving El Al's entire fleet out of Israel during the war. El Al has not yet been paid, said airline official Yoram Galon. The money must be deducted from Iraq's limited oil production under U.N. sanctions. ``We will have a second celebration when we actually get the money,'' Galon told Israel radio. He said El Al's total claim was for $70 million, but the commission refused to compensate the airline for the drop in passengers flying to and from Israel because of the war. Rubin said two Israeli families were also awarded damages last week. One family is to receive $135,500 and the other $66,000, he said, to compensate them for property damage from Iraqi missile attacks. Justice Ministry spokesman Ido Baum said that Israel's government, businesses and citizens have sued Iraq for ``billions of dollars.'' So far the commission has approved about $45 million, but only $2.6 million has been paid. --------------------------------- DECEMBER 26, 18:39 EST Iraq Demands Information From Kuwait BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) Iraq demanded Sunday that the international community pressure Kuwait to release information on more than 1,150 Iraqis whom Baghdad claims have been missing in Kuwait since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Iraq has supplied Kuwait with ``strong and material evidence that some of the missing were civilians arrested in their homes in Kuwait in front of their families,'' Abdul Razaq al-Hashimi, head of the war prisoners committee, was quoted as saying in the al-Thawra daily. Al-Hashimi said that Kuwaiti authorities have given little and contradictory information on some of the missing. Kuwait has denied holding any Iraqi prisoners. It claims that more than 600 Kuwaitis went missing after Iraq invaded the oil-rich emirate in 1990. Duaij Anzi, manager of a Kuwaiti committee for war prisoners, told The Associated Press that he will address Iraq's claims at a news conference Tuesday. Iraq has withdrawn from an international committee set up to look into the issue of persons missing since the Gulf War that liberated Kuwait. Baghdad claims the committee has not applied enough pressure on Kuwait to reveal the whereabouts of the missing Iraqis. ------------------------------- DECEMBER 26, 10:38 EST Iranian, Opposition Forces Clash DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Iranian troops and opposition fighters clashed along the Iran-Iraq border, both sides reported Sunday. Members of the opposition group Mujahedeen Khalq crossed from Iraq into Iran on Saturday to launch a mortar attack on a military barracks near Fakkeh, the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted senior army officials as saying. Fakkeh is about 500 miles southwest of Tehran, in the southern province of Khuzestan. Two members of the opposition group were killed in a shootout, but Iranian forces suffered no casualties, the news agency said. In a fax sent to The Associated Press in Cairo, the Mujahedeen said its fighters attacked a Republican Guard barracks in Khuzestan. The group said two of its fighters and many Iranian troops died during the clashes. Neither side's casualty figures could be immediately confirmed. The Iraq-based Mujahedeen Khalq seeks the violent overthrow of Iran's Islamic government. It has more than 30,000 men and women with military training in camps in Iraq near the Iranian border. ------------------------------- DECEMBER 24, 11:11 EST Iraq Paper Claims Annan Favors U.S. BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) Baghdad's ruling party newspaper questioned U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's neutrality Friday, charging him with siding with the United States in the latest U.N. resolution on weapons inspections. The United States has consistently taken a hard line on Iraq in the U.N. Security Council. ``The resolution granted the secretary-general, not Iraq, the right to suggest a list of items Iraq is allowed to import under the new resolution,'' al-Thawra newspaper said. ``The United States would not have given Annan the powers ... if it had not secured his support for its policy.'' ... ----------------------------------------- DECEMBER 24, 01:20 EST 3 Iraqi Kurd Children Die in Greece By ELENA BECATOROS Associated Press Writer ATHENS, Greece (AP) Huddled in the back of a truck, sodden clothes clinging to their frozen bodies, three children struggled to stay conscious. Their parents banged desperately on the truck's walls, hoping the driver would hear them and stop. He did not. Somewhere on the snowy road from the northeastern border city of Alexandroupolis to Athens, 550 miles to the south, the children died of exhaustion and cold. By the time they got to hospitals in the Greek capital on Thursday, there was nothing the doctors could do. Four-year-old Marlin Hana, her brother Marvin, 2, and Roshkal Maouloud, 3, all Kurdish children from Iraq, became the latest victims of the perilous trek westward that illegal immigrants take. Each year, thousands of people are smuggled across the Greek-Turkish border, hoping to make their way to Greece or other European Union countries. Marvin and Marlin's mother, Adeba Korkes, 32, paid a smuggler a total of $4,500 — $1,500 per person — to sneak her and her two children across the border and into Athens, Greek police say. Akram Maouloud, 29, his wife Fatma and their three children — Roshkal and two others, ages 2 and 7 — also paid the smuggler $1,500 per person. The two families began their journey late Monday in Istanbul, Turkey, where they boarded a bus for the Evros River, which separates Greece and Turkey. By the time the bus arrived, it was raining heavily. The two families, along with another group of illegal immigrants, pushed on. It took them two hours to paddle across the swollen river in a rubber dingy, arriving on the Greek side before dawn Tuesday. With the weather deteriorating rapidly, the two families still had a long way to go to reach a designated pickup point and be taken to the capital. Still in their wet clothes, they trudged through driving snow for seven or eight hours, police said, unable to stop or find shelter in the remote border area. They eventually met up with three men, a Turk and two Pakistanis, who were to take them to Athens in a truck. Police said 50 people, including nine children between 2 and 7, were piled into the back of the vehicle, a refrigerated truck that had the cooling mechanism switched off. The journey to Athens took nearly all day Tuesday and most of Wednesday. The children, still in the same sodden clothes, began to grow weaker, and efforts to warm them were futile. The immigrants knew something was seriously wrong, but no amount of banging on the walls of the truck could make the driver stop, the parents told authorities. The driver began dropping off the immigrants after arriving in Athens on Wednesday evening. The two families were left at different points. Mud-splattered and exhausted, not knowing their way around a strange city, they searched desperately for a hospital. But passing drivers refused to stop. They spoke no Greek or English, and could not make drivers understand the emergency. They also feared that if authorities were notified, they could be deported for entering the country illegally. A taxi eventually took Ms. Korkes and her two children to a hospital just after midnight Thursday. But it was too late. Marvin and Marlin were pronounced dead on arrival. Maouloud and his wife arrived at a children's hospital by taxi several hours later, police said. Doctors pronounced Roshkal dead on arrival. His siblings have been hospitalized, suffering from exhaustion and hypothermia. The parents appeared before a public prosecutor Thursday, and were charged with entering the country illegally. But police said they would not be deported for humanitarian reasons. -------------------------------------------- DECEMBER 24, 01:04 EST Pentagon Sees Hussein on Defense By ROBERT BURNS AP Military Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon says Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has shifted the focus of his air defense. His forces now are defending Baghdad and central Iraq rather than trying to shoot down U.S. and British aircraft patrolling ``no fly'' zones over northern and southern Iraq. ... Kenneth Bacon, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary William Cohen, said Thursday it was hard to know the reason for the change of emphasis in Iraqi air defenses. He speculated that Saddam may be ``preparing to provoke another confrontation'' with the United Nations over inspections of Iraqi weapons sites. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution Dec. 17 that would return weapons inspectors to Iraq after a one-year absence and consider suspending sanctions. Iraq rejected the resolution and declared it was ``ready to face all of the consequences.'' The United Nations did not threaten military action against Iraq. Asked about a recent lull in Iraqi firings on U.S. and British aircraft in the ``no fly'' zones, Bacon said Saddam has moved some surface-to-air missiles and other air defense equipment closer to Baghdad and Tikrit, Saddam's birthplace. Saddam has contested the ``no fly'' zones as an unwarranted infringement on Iraqi sovereignty. ``Saddam Hussein in the last few weeks appears to have been somewhat less aggressive in challenging coalition aircraft policing the no-fly zones, both in the North and the South. I don't read a lot into this,'' Bacon said. It may be explained in part by the Ramadan period of Muslim fasting and by the fact that U.S. and British planes have been flying less often this month because of poor weather in the North, Bacon said. Bacon said there have been no Iraqi firings on air patrols since Dec. 12 in the northern region and since Dec. 6 in the South. There have been lulls of similar duration in the past but they have been uncommon. By the Pentagon's tally, there have been more than 400 Iraqi violations of the ``no fly'' zones over the past year. ----------------------------------- Iraq Says Able to Foil UN Resolution on Sanctions Thursday, December 23, 1999 BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said on Thursday it could defeat a new U.N. Security Council resolution that holds out the prospect of relaxed Gulf War sanctions if Baghdad cooperates with a new weapons-inspection regime. "Iraqis are able to foil Resolution 1284 as they did (the previous) poisonous and aggressive resolutions," the official Iraqi News Agency quoted Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan as saying. He said the United Nations should lift sanctions on Iraq entirely since it had fulfilled the obligations imposed on it after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. "The United States and Britain work to issue new resolutions in order that the main subject of lifting sanctions shall not be discussed," Ramadan added. He also said the U.N. resolution of improperly hindering Iraqi foreign trade. "The resolution puts new penalties on Iraq in its heavy restrictions on its imports and exports." ... ------------------------------------------ DECEMBER 20, 01:18 EST Highlights From Democratic Debate By The Associated Press Highlights from the presidential debate between Democrats Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley, as transcribed by the Federal Document Clearing House and shown Sunday on NBC's ``Meet the Press.'' On the option of using of force against Iraq: GORE: Well, we're going to prevent him from acquiring weapons of mass destruction with the sanctions, which will remain in place; with the measures to prevent the flows of technology into Iraq. ... We're enforcing the no-fly zone and we're enforcing all the sanctions. There has been more military action taken from the air against Iraq in the last couple of years than there was during the period of the war. BRADLEY: I would reserve the right to do that, of course. The question is you'd have to read the intelligence reports, you'd have to read where we were at a particular time. You don't commit in a political campaign you're going to use force until you're able to see what the situation is on the ground. ---------------------------------------- Iraq Postpones Trip by U.N. Sanctions Chairman Tuesday, December 21, 1999 & UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iraq has postponed a planned January trip to Baghdad by the chairman of the U.N. Security Council committee that oversees sanctions against Iraq, diplomats said on Tuesday. Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Saeed Hasan, gave no reason for delaying the Jan. 11-18 visit by A. Peter van Walsum, who is the Netherlands' ambassador to the United Nations. Hasan informed van Walsum that Baghdad was calling off the January trip in a letter received by van Walsum on Tuesday, a Dutch envoy said. "The Iraqi side suggests to postpone the visit to a more convenient date to be agreed upon later," Hasan wrote van Walsum, the diplomats said. Van Walsum had helped formulate one version of a critical resolution adopted last Thursday by the Security Council on future Iraqi policy but Saeed did not mention the measure in the letter. Van Walsum had postponed a visit this month because it would have conflicted with Islamic religious observances. Iraq had wanted him to make the trip so he could see first hand the impact of sanctions. The committee van Walsum heads approves shipments of humanitarian goods as well as contracts for oil sales under the U.N. "oil-for-food" program, an exception to the embargoes imposed when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. It includes all 15 members of the Security Council, any one of whom can block or delay a contract. Van Walsum voted for the resolution adopted by the council last week ... ------------------------------------------------- __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! 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