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News for 28 December, 1999 to 2 January, 2000 ---------------------------------------------- Headlines Sources: www.arabicnews.com, Reuters, AP, Stratfor * Bombings resume. * Iraq to hold general elections in the last week of March. * Iraqi Health Ministry blames sanctions for 1.25M deaths. * 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 (www.arabicnews.com) 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 Tuesday. 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 pluralism. 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 country. "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 Dilemma (Stratfor) 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 Gulf. 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 (www.arabicnews.com) 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 saying. 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 writing. 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 Kuwait. 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 By WAIEL FALEH 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 By WAIEL FALEH 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. ... ------------------------- __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger. http://messenger.yahoo.com -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi