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News for Period 7 to 15 Feb, 2000, Apologies for the delay this week. Sources: Reuters, AP, www.arabicnews.com Thanks to Colin Rowat and Peter Griffith for the articles they supplied. Some very important events this last week, including demonstrations around the world, Von Sponeck's resignation and James Rubin's callous reply, as well as at least 3 bombing raids. Headlines: * Von Sponeck resigns and calls for an end to sanctions. James Rubin refers to resignation as "good". * Demonstrations in NY against sanctions. Over 80 arrested. * Iraqi newspaper states that over 8000 civillians have been killed since the Gulf War by US/UK air forces. * Protestors at UN trade conference in Thailand call for an end to sanctions. * US/UK forces bomb Iraq at least 3 times in the last 8 days. * Oil prices have risen substantially. * Iraq says that oil exports will be reduced without more spare parts. + some other reports. ------------------------- FEBRUARY 15, 02:50 EST Focus on Impact of Iraq Sanctions By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The resignation of the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq has again focused attention on how sanctions are affecting ordinary Iraqis and renewed questions about the effectiveness of U.N. relief programs in the country. The departure of Hans von Sponeck, who called for an end to U.N. sanctions, came at a time when the U.N. humanitarian program was supposed to be improving following the decision by the Security Council in December to try to get more aid to Iraqis faster. While the United States has supported the new Iraq policy, it is wary of implementing the changes before weapons inspections resume in Iraq. Washington has held up contracts — mostly to rebuild Iraq's oil industry and power plants — fearing such equipment could be used for military purposes. Von Sponeck, a German diplomat, hasn't commented since he announced his resignation Sunday. But diplomats in Baghdad and U.N. officials in New York said the career U.N. civil servant found it too difficult to work under the sanctions. ... Von Sponeck's call for the sanctions to be lifted earned him the wrath of the United States and Britain. He also wanted the Security Council to separate the issues of humanitarian aid and disarmament in Iraq. He is the second humanitarian coordinator to quit. Denis Halliday resigned in 1998 after deciding he didn't want to be associated with the sanctions any longer. Von Sponeck's announcement came as protesters mounted a second day of demonstrations Monday in New York to demand an end to the sanctions. More than 100 people demonstrated on the front steps of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and 86 were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after they refused to leave. ``I think this is the worst case of child abuse today,'' said Bert Sacks, 58, a protester from Seattle who said he had traveled to Iraq a half-dozen times bringing medicine to Iraqis in violation of the sanctions. Such sentiments have caught the attention of lawmakers in Washington, 70 of whom wrote to President Clinton last month urging that sanctions be lifted. Some of the lawmakers scheduled a news conference on Wednesday to highlight the cause. ``They need clean water and sewage treatment. Without that, food and medicine are useless,'' said protester Chris Allen-Doucot as he was being arrested. Iraq's trade minister, Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, warned this weekend that Baghdad will consider cutting back its oil output even further unless the ``holds'' on oil spare parts are lifted. With world oil prices rising and supplies tight, a substantial cut in Iraqi exports could push prices higher if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries continues to restrict its production. --------------------- Victims of the US and British air raids in Iraq Iraq, Politics, 2/14/2000 http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000214/2000021415.html The Iraqi daily al-Thawra reported on Sunday that more than 8,000 Iraqi civilians hvae been killed in the raids carried out by US and British warplanes against Iraq since 1991. Al-Thawra said the bombardment by US and British planes of Iraqi civil targets since the launch of the Gulf War resulted in the deaths of some 8,243 Iraqi civilians, including 420 children under the age of four and 2,010 women. The Iraqi paper published these new statistics in an article issued on the anniversary of the US bombardment of Al-Amereyeh shelter in Baghdad in February 1991. This bombardment resulted in killing 403 civilians. --------------------- U.S. Gasoline Pump Price at Record High Monday, February 14, 2000 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. drivers continued to be hit with sticker shock at the pump as the average price for gasoline increased 3.1 cents over the past week to a record $1.356 a gallon, the U.S. Energy Department said on Monday. This is the highest cost for motor fuel on record since the department began tracking weekly gasoline prices in 1990 after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The national retail price for unleaded gasoline is up almost 44 cents from year-ago levels, based on the department's weekly survey of 800 service stations. Gasoline prices are high due to rising crude oil prices caused by production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and strong U.S. demand for oil. Crude oil for delivery in March settled at $30.25 a barrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday, up 81 cents for the day and the highest price since the Gulf War in 1991. The department predicts gasoline prices will peak at a record $1.43 a gallon during the height of the driving season this spring. When adjusted for inflation, however, the forecast price will be about 20 percent lower than the price spike experienced during the Gulf War in late 1990, the department said. ... --------------------- FEBRUARY 12, 12:39 EST Peaceful Protest at UN Trade Meeting By BUSABA SIVASOMBOON Associated Press Writer BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Hundreds of police braced for a repeat of the violent protests that plunged Seattle into chaos last December were greeted instead by only a few minutes of pushing Saturday at the opening of an international trade conference in Thailand. Most of the 1,000 demonstrators at the first day of the weeklong U.N. Conference on Trade and Development were poor farmers from the Thai countryside who sat down in a major intersection after police blocked them from coming down the street to the convention center. Protests got so out of hand at the World Trade Organization meeting last year that the National Guard was called in and a curfew was imposed. There was more than $2 million in property damage. The brief shoving match was the only disturbance Saturday as a mixed bag of demonstrators came to voice their concerns. From the environment to the economy, from local to international, the diversity of issues was evident on the banners they carried: ``Save the Moon River Watershed,'' ``No Sanction Iraq,'' ``Stop Trade with Dictatorial Regimes.'' But issues of trade and globalization were the main focus, reflected in the banner at the front of the crowd that told the WTO, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to ``Go to hell.'' ``We need no trade liberalization if we — poor people — have to sacrifice so much when the rich become richer and richer,'' said Bamroong Khayotha, a leader of the group Assembly of the Poor. One group of women from a garment factory made a halfhearted attempt to push its way in, but was blocked by a line of unarmed police. Eventually, a few hundred were allowed to proceed to the street opposite the convention center, where a conference official came out to meet them. ``We are all friends — police and the poor,'' said Police Col. Pramote Prathumwong. ``We try our best to avoid violence: when they come in peace, they should be treated in the same manner.'' Among the foreign activists was Patricia Alonso, of Mexico, who came with a network of organizations working to keep agriculture from coming under WTO rules. ``These issues should not be in the hands of the powerful, these are issues that belong to us,'' she told the crowd. Awni Behnem, secretary of the conference, said that UNCTAD shares the concerns of developing countries for a better future and greater opportunities for their people: ``Your cause is our cause.'' ---------------------------- Annan Accepts Resignation in Iraq By ANNA SATHIAH Associated Press Writer SINGAPORE, (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday he had accepted the resignation of the chief of the U.N. humanitarian program in Iraq — who has angered Washington and its allies by making pro-Baghdad statements. The letter of resignation from Hans von Sponeck ``with regret,'' Annan said. He did not specify when the resignation had been tendered. ``Hans von Sponeck has served the U.N. well for about 36 years,'' said Annan, who is in Singapore to meet officials during an Asia tour. ------------ WIRE:02/11/2000 19:26:00 ET UN official in Iraq expected to leave job in April UNITED NATIONS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The senior U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad, who has run afoul of the United States and Britain, is expected to leave his post in early April, sources at the United Nations said on Friday. Hans von Sponeck, a German career U.N. official, has recently spoken out more forcefully against nine year-old sanctions imposed against Iraq and said the U.N. oil-for-food programme he heads was not meeting minimum requirements to ease the impact of the embargoes. He will return to New York for consultations at the end of March and then go back to Baghdad briefly before leaving his post, the sources said. U.N. spokesman John Mills refused to comment but said the New York visit had been scheduled as early as last November. Asked about von Sponeck's expected departure, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said: "Good." "I think an article in the Iraqi press praising his approach to his work is ample evidence of his unsuitability of this post," Rubin said. "His job is to work on behalf of Iraqi people and not the regime and we look forward to an able manager who will maximize the benefits of the oil-for-food programme," he added. On Friday, the Iraqi newspaper, al-Tharwa, said von Sponeck's analysis was based on facts and figures. "He did not publish personal viewpoints irrelevant to his job when he talked about the deterioration of the health or food situation in Iraq," it said. Von Sponeck, was appointed to the post on Oct. 26, 1998, the fifth humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad for the programme that allows Baghdad to sell oil and purchase food, medicine and other goods under tight supervision. In November, Secretary-General Kofi Annan extended his term to April 25 rather than for a year as some expected but he refused to release him immediately as Washington had wanted. Von Sponeck had been told at the time to curb his public statements. But he resumed interviews with German and U.S. media this month, an indication he planned to leave his job. ... U.S. officials last year accused von Sponeck of siding with Iraq in a propaganda battle over who is to blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people: the West, for imposing harsh economic sanctions, or Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, for failing to comply with terms for lifting those sanctions. Von Sponeck had also complained that the oil-for-food programme suffered because of the holds placed on Iraqi imports. The United States has frozen 1,000 contracts, a situation criticised by nearly all U.N. officials and diplomats. Britain runs a low second with about 120 contracts on hold. In November, Fred Eckhard, Annan's chief spokesman, said he believed that anyone serving in such a sensitive job would inevitably offend one country or the other. --------------------------- 02/11/2000 16:02:00 ET Iraq may cut oil again unless parts delivered BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq said Friday it would cut its oil exports under the oil-for-food exchange with the United Nations by at least another 250,000 barrels per day if the United States kept blocking contracts for spare parts. "We might extend further the reduction -- that means easily another quarter million or more if we lose hope of getting holds removed from our contracts," Iraqi Oil Minister General Amir Muhammed Rasheed told CNN television. Latest export figures from the United Nations indicate that Iraq's sales have fluctuated in the past weeks, dropping to 1.4 million barrels per day in the week ending Jan. 28 from 1.86 million barrels per day the week before. Last week Iraqi officials said exports had fallen off because of a lack of spare parts for their dilapidated oil industry and because of poor weather at the Mina-al-Bakr terminal in southern Iraq. With oil prices hitting a peak of $27 a barrel and world supplies tight, any further cut in Iraqi exports could send oil prices even higher. Early last year, when oil prices were low, Baghdad pushed production near to maximum levels, to the point of damaging its installations. "We knew before that we were doing damage, but we consider that was short-term damage and the process could be reversed. But to continue that was really out of the question," Rasheed said. Under the deal with the United Nations, Baghdad is allowed to sell oil to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian goods for its people. Iraqi officials have said Baghdad will observe a six-month $5.26 billion ceiling on exports because it does not accept the terms of a more recent U.N. Security Council resolution that eliminated the limit. The United Nations also allows Iraq to buy $300 million worth of spare parts every six months to repair its oil industry, devastated by U.S.-led bombings during the 1991 Gulf War as well as by the sanctions. But the parts often have been rejected or have not won swift approval at the United Nations. Baghdad often has accused the U.S. envoy at the U.N. sanctions committee of blocking contracts for parts. --------------------------- FEBRUARY 11, 20:25 EST Iraq May Allow Arms Inspectors In By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Even though Iraq's vice president said his country will not allow U.N. arms inspectors back into the country, members of the Security Council think Baghdad may change its mind. Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's foreign affairs deputy, left open the possibility of compromise on Friday — if the council engages Iraq in a discussion of its concerns about the new inspection regime. ``Compromise will only be done when the council itself gets engaged with Iraq in a discussion,'' he told CNN. ``It has not happened yet.'' Under U.N. resolutions, economic sanctions against Iraq cannot be lifted until inspectors report that Baghdad is free of its weapons of mass destruction. Hamdoon said Iraq can live with sanctions ``forever.'' But some council members believe Iraq will eventually accept the return of inspectors. U.N. Ambassador Peter Van Walsum of the Netherlands said Thursday he believes the Iraqis will change their minds. ``They have to say `yes' ... and if they don't react, then we'll just have to wait. But I cannot imagine that that is `no' forever,'' he said. Iraqi leaders have repeatedly said they won't deal with a new Iraq policy adopted by the council on Dec. 17, whose primary aim is to return weapons inspectors for the first time since December 1998. Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan's remarks Thursday were the most negative to date. ``There shall be no return of the so-called inspection teams. We reject the infiltration by spies using such cover,'' the official Iraqi News Agency quoted Ramadan as saying. The Security Council never expected Iraq to roll out the welcome mat for new inspectors, so there was little surprise at the vice president's remarks. ``That's one attempt,'' Malaysia's U.N. ambassador Agam Hasmy said. ``We have to make more attempts. All those who can speak to Iraq will have to speak.'' The Dec. 17 resolution creates a new U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission which will be headed by Hans Blix, former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Blix is expected to assume the post on March 1 and has 45 days to organize and staff the commission and dispatch inspectors to determine Iraq's remaining disarmament tasks. The council will consider suspending sanctions for renewable 120-day periods if inspectors report that Iraq has cooperated ``in all respects'' and shown progress towards answering the outstanding disarmament questions. Malaysia's Hasmy stressed that ``there's no quick solution.'' ``We need patience and need to engage Iraq as we have been saying in the council,'' he said. ``I still believe that the secretary-general can play a role here to try to bridge the gap.'' But Kofi Annan may not be anxious to intervene again in an Iraqi standoff. Iraq reneged on a February 1998 agreement Annan negotiated in Baghdad to allow unfettered weapons inspections. --------------------------- Thursday February 10 2:01 PM ET Western Warplanes Again Bomb Iraq BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Renewed Western air raids in northern Iraq injured two civilians Thursday, the official Iraqi News Agency said. ``The enemy attacked our service and civilian installations, injuring two citizens,'' INA quoted a military spokesman as saying. He said the warplanes flew over the northern provinces of Duhok, Arbil and Nineveh before returning to bases in Turkey after being ``intercepted'' by Iraqi anti-aircraft forces. The spokesman said other foreign warplanes flew over southern regions of the country but he reported no incident. The U.S. military's European Command confirmed that U.S. and British warplanes struck Iraq's air defense system in the north after the Iraqis fired anti-aircraft guns and a surface-to-air missile at patroling jets west of Bashiqah and near Tall Kayf. The aircraft returned safely to base in Turkey following the third successive day of raids in Iraq's northern ``no-fly'' zone, the command said. U.S. and British planes patrol ``no-fly'' zones over southern and northern Iraq set up after the 1991 Gulf War. The zones, which Baghdad does not recognize, were imposed to protect a Kurdish enclave in the north and Shiite Muslim marsh dwellers in the south from possible attacks by the Iraqi army. The Western planes have been bombing targets in the two zones more frequently since Baghdad stepped up its defiance of the Western-imposed restrictions in December 1998. INA also said the death toll from a Western air strike in southern Iraq Wednesday had risen to four from three. On Wednesday, Iraq said three people were killed and eight wounded when Western warplanes attacked sites in southern Iraq. ``The masses in Wassit province paid their final respects today to four of their sons who fell as martyrs yesterday in the bombing by U.S. and British planes of a civil installation in the (provincial city of) Kut,'' INA said. Kut is 110 miles southeast of Baghdad. --------------------------- DUBAI (Reuters) February 10, 2000:- Iraq has agreed in principle to a = plan to recover and identify the remains of a Saudi Arabian air force pilot buried in = Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War, a Saudi official was quoted as saying on Thursday. Prince Turki bin Saud, Saudi foreign ministry director of = international organisations, told the Saudi Okaz daily that the kingdom had agreed to a plan by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to retrieve the body of the pilot. "Iraq has voiced its principle agreement to the plan in an official = memo to the ICRC," he said. He said the plan called for sending international experts to Iraq to = find and identify the body said by Iraq to be buried in a minefield. Prince Turki said implementation of the plan was expected to start = once Iraq gave its final approval when an ICRC team visits Baghdad next week. Iraq had said that in 1997 it informed Saudi Arabia through the ICRC = that it had found the wreckage of the plane and an Iraqi officer who had buried the pilot`s = body in a desert minefield had also come forward. Hundreds of people were reported as taken to Iraq after a U.S.-led = multinational force ended the occupation of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia served as one of the bases for the = international force and some of its pilots participated in the bombing of Iraq during the = Gulf War. Accounting for missing hostages and PoWs is one of several conditions = Iraq must meet before U.N. trade sanctions imposed after its invasion of Kuwait can be = lifted. ----------------- Wednesday February 9 9:22 AM ET Russian Tanker To Unload Cargo By SAEED AL-NAHDI Associated Press Writer MUSCAT, Oman (AP) - A Russian tanker detained by the U.S. Navy for allegedly smuggling Iraqi oil in violation of U.N. sanctions will begin unloading its cargo in an Omani port on Thursday, a Foreign Ministry official said. The oil will be emptied either directly into storage tanks in the Fahl port, or onto another tanker before being transferred for storage in the port, the official said Wednesday on condition of anonymity. ... ----------------- Wednesday February 9 5:35 PM ET High Prices Spur Iraq Oil Smuggling By ANWAR FARUQI Associated Press Writer DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Smugglers evading U.S. destroyers in the Persian Gulf are shipping more and more Iraqi oil in violation of U.N. sanctions, reaping handsome profits and lining the pockets of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the U.S. Navy says. Last week's seizure of a Russian tanker carrying illicit Iraqi fuel highlighted the issue of Iraqi oil smuggling, which the U.S. Navy estimates has nearly doubled in six months. U.N. naval forces seized the tanker off the Emirates' coast. The 4,000 tons of oil - equivalent to 29,320 barrels - seized from the Volga-Neft-147 is only a fraction of what is getting through, said Cmdr. Jeff Gradeck, spokesman for the Bahrain-based U.S. Navy 5th Fleet. In January, when oil prices hit nine-year highs of about $28 a barrel, 367,000 tons - 2.7 million barrels - of Iraqi oil were smuggled out, according to Navy estimates. Last September, when prices were about $19 a barrel, 191,000 tons - 1.4 million barrels - were smuggled out, Gradeck said. ``The amount of oil smuggled out of Iraq has doubled since August last year, when oil prices began to increase,'' Gradeck said in a telephone interview Wednesday from Bahrain. ``That means increased profits for the smugglers and increased profits for the Iraqi regime.'' ----------------- Tuesday February 8 6:54 AM ET Top UN Official Urges End to Iraq Trade Sanctions BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The senior United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad urged an end to U.N. sanctions on Iraq, calling them ``a true human tragedy.'' Hans von Sponeck, a German, told CNN television in an interview monitored in Baghdad late on Monday night that the United Nations' oil-for-food program was not meeting the ''minimum requirements'' of the Iraqi people. The program was set up, with von Sponeck at its head, to ease the hardship of U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq for its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. ``As a U.N. official, I should not be expected to be silent to that which I recognize as a true human tragedy that needs to be ended,'' von Sponeck said. ``How long the civilian population, which is totally innocent on all this, should be exposed to such punishment for something that they have never done?'' he asked. Von Sponeck has drawn harsh criticism from the United States and Britain for similar statements he has made in the past. Press reports have said Washington and London were pushing for his dismissal, but Secretary General Kofi Annan was believed to have resisted and asked him to stay for another year. ``I am...very sorry that two important member governments are questioning my integrity and questioning whether I stay within my bounds,'' he said. ``I Cannot Be Silent'' ``The very title that I hold as a humanitarian coordinator suggests that I cannot be silent over that which we see here ourselves.'' Asked if he thought he could keep the job in the face of U.S. and British opposition, he said: ``If I am leaving for the right reasons then I will not regret it, but the moment I am in this job I will do my work as best as I can.'' The oil-for-food deal allows Baghdad to sell $5.26 billion worth of crude oil over six months to buy food, medicine and other supplies for the Iraqi people. Von Sponeck said the program had ``certainly done some good'' for the Iraqi people but did not ``guarantee the minimum of that a human being requires which is clearly defined in the universal declaration of human rights.'' ... ----------------- Tuesday February 8 11:16 AM ET Western Aircraft Bomb Northern Iraq, U.S. Says BERLIN (Reuters) - The United States European Military Command (Eucom) said Western military aircraft had bombed Iraqi air defense sites Tuesday after coming under anti-aircraft fire. Eucom, based in Stuttgart, Germany, said in a statement that planes patrolling the northern no-fly zone over Iraq, acting in self-defense, dropped bombs on the Iraqi air defenses. The attacks came from a site west of Bashiqah. All coalition aircraft returned safely to their base at Incirlik in southern Turkey, Eucom said. It gave no details of damage caused. Around 40 U.S. and British aircraft have been enforcing the northern no-fly zone since the Gulf War in 1991. ... ------------------------- Wednesday February 9 8:52 AM ET U.S. Fighter Jets Strike Iraq Site ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi air defense system Wednesday in response to artillery fire as they patrolled a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, the U.S. military said. The U.S. planes hit a site near Bashiqah, about 250 miles north of Baghdad, the Germany-based U.S. European Command said in a statement. All of the planes, based at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, left the area safely, the statement said. ... ---------------------- -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi