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News for period 28 December, 1999 to 2 January, 2000

News for 28 December, 1999 to 2 January, 2000

Sources:, Reuters, AP, Stratfor

*       Bombings resume.

*       Iraq to hold general elections in the last week of

*       Iraqi Health Ministry blames sanctions for 1.25M

*       Iraq accuses US of piracy for detaining vessel
carrying foodstuffs.

*       Voices in the Wilderness visit Iraq.

*       Iraq unaffected by Y2K bugs thus far.

*       Kuwait to renew defense pacts with UK/US.

Mideast Glides Into 2000 Without a Y2K Hitch
Saturday, January 01, 2000 
By Tova Cohen 
TEL AVIV (Reuters) - The Middle East sailed smoothly
into the new millennium, reporting no glitches on
Saturday that could be attributed to the Y2K bug. 
Oil, the life-blood of many Middle East economies,
flowed normally through wells, pipelines, shipping
lanes and refineries. 
After midnight, Husyin Kilavuz, deputy general manager
at the state pipeline concern Botas, said the oil
pipeline from Iraq and the gas pipeline from Russia
were working normally. 
Iraqi parliamentary elections in March, 2000 
Iraq, Politics, 12/31/99
An Iraqi parliamentary source said on Wednesday that
general elections will be held in the last week of
next March to elect members of the Iraqi National
Council, which ended its fourth legislative session on

The source added that the elections will be held to
elect 250 members in the Iraqi National Council
(Parliament), marking the beginning of a new
parliamentary course which will last for four years.

However, the legislative elections are coinciding with
the current preparations to enact a new constitution
in Iraq as the authorities study legalization of party

Meanwhile, an official at the Iraqi Ministry of the
Interior said the government informed two political
groups that it will not permit them to form parties
unless they have the minimum number of members as
stated in the law.


Kuwait to Renew Defense Pacts With U.S, Britain
Friday, December 31, 1999 
KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwaiti Defense Minister Sheikh
Salem Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah was quoted as saying on
Friday that his country planned to renew defense pacts
signed in 1991 with the United States and Britain when
they expired. 
The official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) quoted the
defense minister as telling Kuwait's Al-Rai al-Aam
newspaper in an interview that "Kuwait wishes to renew
the defense agreements" with both countries. 
Kuwait signed a 10-year defense pact with the United
States in 1991 after a U.S.-led international alliance
drove Iraqi troops out of the oil-rich Gulf Arab state
they had invaded in August 1990. 
The agreement, which expires in 2001, allows U.S.
forces to use Kuwaiti facilities and pre-position
military hardware in the emirate, which Iraq invaded
in August 1990. 
Kuwait then signed a similar pact with Britain. 
Sheikh Salem said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
continued to harbor hostile intentions toward his
"This is a regime that does not leave any chance
without issuing threats. It is a regime that does not
recognize international covenants and does not honor
agreements and if the security pacts expired, we must
renew them to shield ourselves against the danger of a
new aggression," KUNA quoted the minister as saying. 


2347 GMT, 991230 – The United States’ Persian Gulf


A report in the Jan. 3, 2000 issue of Defense Week
alleged Iraq is using companies located in the United
Arab Emirates (UAE) to purchase weapons platforms and
systems from Russian companies. Relations have soured
between the UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
concerning the UAE’s dispute with Iran over three
Persian Gulf islands. The report points toward the
possibility that the UAE may plan to use Iraq as a
negotiating tool against the GCC and Iran in the
future. The UAE, however, has served as a regional
stronghold of the United States, which faces a dilemma
if the UAE is helping acquire weapon parts for Iraq. 
According to Defense Week, an anonymous official from
Rosvooruzheniye, a Russian arms export agency, said
companies from the UAE have ordered nonessential spare
parts. Following the acquisition of the spares, some
of the parts were then ferried to Iraq. According to
the official, Rosvooruzheniye delivered in May 1999
T-72 tank spares in an AN-32 plane to Al Khaled
Import/Export company of Ajman, UAE. Furthermore, the
agency delivered parts of Russian Mi-8, Mi-24 and
Mi-17 helicopters. Iraq owns all of those classes of
helicopters; the UAE owns none. 
In the article, however, an Iraqi officer denied Iraq
had purchased any spare parts, and spokesman Valentin
Zapevalov said Rosvooruzheniye had not received any
orders to provide spare parts to Iraq. 
Despite the lack of evidence that the UAE is overtly
facilitating the armament of Iraq, according to
Defense Week, it is at least turning a blind eye. The
idea that the UAE plays a larger role is not so
farfetched considering the UAE and Iran’s disagreement
over islands in the Persian Gulf. The GCC has also
abandoned its traditional support for the UAE in favor
of Iran. 
The rapprochement between the GCC and Iran poses a
severe threat to the UAE position regarding three
islands off its coast: Abu Masa, Greater Tunbs and
Lesser Tunbs With Saudi Arabia spearheading the
rapprochement, resolution between the GCC and Iran may
undermine the influence of the UAE in the region. 
In order to maintain independence and strength in
international politics, the UAE may utilize the
friendship of Iraq as a bargaining chip.
The aiding of Iraq by the UAE, however, would
certainly be detrimental to its relations with the
United States. The United States supported the UAE on
the issue of the three islands. The countries are also
in the midst of an arms deal worth $8 billion over the
sale of 80 F-16s to the UAE. By arming the UAE,
Washington further strengthens its relations with Abu
Dhabi and helps the United States maintain a strong
presence in the Persian Gulf region. 
Should the Defense Week report prove true, the United
States must decide how it will handle the development
of relations between the UAE and Iraq. An overt action
in favor of Iraq by the UAE could cause the United
States to halt support and protection of the UAE. Such
a response would weaken U.S. efficacy in the Persian
The claim by Defense Week that companies in the UAE
are aiding Iraq in the purchase of spare weapon parts
from Russia seems likely enough. The UAE may feel left
out of the regional politics and, to protect itself,
may turn to Iraq for power. The question remains,
however, over the nature of a U.S. response to the UAE
if Defense Week’s article is correct.


Iraq Says Western Aircraft Bomb Civilians in North
Thursday, December 30, 1999 
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. and British warplanes bombed
civilian targets in northern Iraq Thursday, the
official Iraqi News Agency quoted a military spokesman
as saying. 
He said the planes flew 16 sorties over the north of
the country but did not mention any damage or
casualties on the ground. 
"Eight hostile formations...flew over the provinces of
Duhok, Arbil and Nineveh and attacked our service and
civil installations," he said. "Our brave ground
defenses intercepted these formations and forced them
to leave our airspace for their base of evil and
aggression in Turkey," he added. 
There was no immediate confirmation of the reported
attacks from Washington or London. 


Iraqi opposition leader visits Kuwait
Iraq, Politics, 12/29/99
Mohammed Baker El-Hakim, the head of the Iraqi
opposition Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution,
is currently visiting Kuwait, where he denied having
discussed with Kuwaiti officials the status of the
Iraqi refugees.
This came in answer to press reports that the head of
the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
will ask the Kuwaiti government to allow the
employment and settlement of Iraqi refugees in Kuwait.
In statements to reporters yesterday after his meeting
with head of the Kuwaiti Parliament, Jasem El-Korafi
El-Hakim, he urged that the Iraqi people receive all
the humanitarian aid provided by UN for the Iraqi
refugees as with the Kurds in northern Iraq.


Iraq Sanctions Kill Over 1.25 Mln People -Paper
Wednesday, December 29, 1999 
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.N. economic sanctions imposed on
Iraq since 1990 have killed more than 1.25 million
people, newspapers published Wednesday quoted a Health
Ministry source as saying. 
"The death rate for all ages from August 1990, the
date when the unjust sanctions were imposed, totaled
1,250,901 cases (until now)," the source was reported
as saying. 
The source said the number included 502,492 below the
age of five. He said the infant mortality rate
amounted to 108 cases for every 1,000 deliveries. 
He also said 296 pregnant women had died out of every
100,000 births and that such incidents are attributed
to diseases such as respiratory inflammation,
diarrhea, intestine inflammation, malnutrition, heart
disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. 


Iraq Accuses U.S. Forces in Gulf of Piracy
Wednesday, December 29, 1999 
BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - 

Iraq has accused United States forces of "piracy" for
detaining a vessel loaded with foodstuffs bought by
Baghdad under its oil-for-food deal with the United
Nations, Iraqi newspapers said Wednesday. 
"Armed American marines in the Arabian Gulf have
committed yet another act of piracy against a vessel
laden with 14,538 tons of Vietnamese rice imported
under the oil-for-food and medicine program," the
papers quoted an Iraqi Trade Ministry source as
He said the ship had been banned from sailing to the
Iraqi southern port of Umm Qasr and detained at a
check point since Dec. 19. 
U.S. and allied forces patrol the Gulf to ensure U.N.
trade sanctions imposed on Iraq for the 1990 invasion
of Kuwait are fully implemented. 
"Such inhumane and unjustifiable behavior reflects the
aggressive policy of the U.S. Administration against
the people of Iraq," the source said. 

1736 GMT, 991228 Iraq/Syria – (Stratfor)
Iraqi state-run weekly Al-Ittehad Dec. 28 cited an
unnamed Foreign Ministry official as saying Iraq would
rent buildings in Syria to open an interest section,
one step below opening an embassy. The report follows
an earlier comment by Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed
Saeed al-Sahhaf, who told parliament that Syria and
Iraq had agreed to reopen diplomatic relations. 


Iraq Criticizes Russia Over U.N. Resolution
Tuesday, December 28, 1999 
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A senior member of Iraq's ruling
Baath party criticised Russia Tuesday for failing to
use its veto to block a U.N. Security Council
resolution linking any easing of Gulf War sanctions to
a new weapons inspection regime. 
The Security Council narrowly adopted the resolution
on December 17, with abstentions by permanent council
members Russia, China and France. 
"With our due respect to the abstention of Russia,
China, France and Malaysia, Russia's use of the veto
was necessary to confront this resolution," the
official Iraqi News Agency quoted Abdul-Ghani Abdul
Ghafour as saying. 
Ghafour was speaking at the start of talks with
Russian ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

INA quoted Zhirinovsky as saying that the United
Nations' resolution was a poor one and evidence of
Washington's failure to get a consensus at the
Security Council on Iraq. 
The resolution, sponsored by Britain and adopted after
months of contentious negotiations, could send U.N.
weapons inspectors back to Iraq and ease Gulf War
sanctions if Baghdad cooperates with a new U.N.
disarmament agency. 
Iraq has interpreted the close vote as proof of
divisions in the council. Baghdad, which has said it
no longer has any weapons of mass destruction, has
already stated its rejection of the resolution,
presenting the council with a new problem. 
Zhirinovsky has made several visits to Baghdad to
voice his party's solidarity with Iraq in demanding
the lifting of sanctions imposed for Baghdad's 1990
invasion of Kuwait. 


Iraqi Archaeologists Discover Ancient Artifacts
Tuesday, December 28, 1999 
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi archaeologists have
discovered 397 artifacts which date back to about 2500
BC at an ancient site in southern Iraq, the Iraqi News
Agency INA reported Tuesday. 
The artifacts, which were found in Basmyiah 100 miles
south of Baghdad, ranged from spectacular pots to
fired clay tablets, INA quoted the head of the
excavation team, Riyadh al-Douri, as saying. 
Douri said that among the antiquities discovered were
cylindrical seals which included a tall person
possibly representing Gilgamesh who was king of Warka
in ancient Mesopotamia. Others bear Sumerian language
He said there were also toys in human and animal
shapes, and ancient weapons made of pottery or stone. 
Douri said that excavation work in the site had begun
in November and would continue until the year 2002. 
The antiquities will be brought to the Iraqi Museum in
Baghdad which has one of the best archaeological
collections in the world. 
The museum has been closed to the public since the
Gulf War in 1991 which evicted Iraqi troops from
Before the Gulf crisis over the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait in 1990, the museum had more than 250,000
objects, but it packed them in crates and hid them
across the country shortly before the start of the war
for fear they might be damaged by the United States
and its allies. 
The museum holds occasional exhibitions to show newly
discovered artifacts. 


DECEMBER 28, 11:35 EST 
Iraq's Saddam Honors Half Brother 
Associated Press Writer 
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — President Saddam Hussein's half
brother, who Iraqi dissidents had said was living in
exile, appeared on state television being honored by
the Iraqi leader. 
Barzan al-Tikriti was shown Sunday being presented a
medal by Saddam, who also bestowed awards on other
loyal allies in his government and the ruling Baath
Party. They included the president's son Qusai, who is
supervisor of the elite Republican Guards; and two
other half brothers — Watban and Sab'awi Ibrahim
al-Hassan al-Tikriti. 
It was the first time Barzan al-Tikriti had appeared
in public since an Iraqi opposition report in
September that he had gone to the United Arab Emirates
and requested asylum. A statement from the
London-based Iraqi National Accord, received in Cairo,
said al-Tikriti feared his life was in danger in Iraq.

An Emirates official denied the report at the time, as
had the head of the official Iraqi News Agency, Odai
al-Ta'i. Attempts to reach Barzan al-Tikriti then were
unsuccessful, but days later the news agency quoted
him as dismissing the report. 
Al-Tikriti served as Iraq's intelligence head and
later as ambassador to the United Nations in
Switzerland for a decade. He was recalled from
Switzerland last summer. His return to Baghdad was
delayed for months; he denied rumors that he had been
reluctant to come back because he wanted to defect. 
His wife was undergoing treatment for breast cancer in
Switzerland and died in November 1998. 
In March, al-Tikriti was interrogated by Iraqi
security forces after one of his assistants fled the
country and joined an opposition group. 


DECEMBER 28, 09:10 EST 
U.S. Opposition Group Visits Iraq 
Associated Press Writer 
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Americans who oppose the U.S.
government's policy on Iraq ended a Christmas visit
Tuesday meant to focus attention on the suffering of
Iraqi children. 
During their weeklong visit, the group spent Christmas
among the Iraqi Christian community in Basra, a city
some 335 miles south of Baghdad. 
``We spent Christmas morning in one of the hospitals
where we saw for ourselves infants dying because there
is never enough medicine,'' said Chuck Quilty of Rock
Island, Ill., one of eight American Catholics in the
Voices in the Wilderness delegation. 
Voices in the Wilderness is a U.S. group that has been
among the most vocal organizations calling for an end
to U.N. trade and travel sanctions against Iraq. The
U.S. government has insisted that sanctions remain
until Iraq convinces the United Nations it has
surrendered its weapons of mass destruction and its
capability to produce them. 
Critics argue the sanctions hurt ordinary Iraqis,
denying them basics such as food and medicine. 
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