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News for 28 February to 6 March, 2000 (lots of important news this week)



News for 28 February to 6 March, 2000

Sources: Guardian, Associated Press, Reuters,
www.ArabicNews.com

Thanks to Seb Wills for supplying the Guardian
article.

LOTS OF IMPORTANT NEWS THIS WEEK!

Sorry for the delay which was due to my own limitations, internet problems,
an increase in  news and a decrease in my available time!

Headlines

* Foreign office bans plane loaded with medicine from flying to Iraq. (from
the  Guardian)

* Iraqi Hajj pilgrims defy sanctions by flying to Saudi Arabia.

* Devestating report by Red Cross on effects of sanctions in Iraq.

* An interview with Von Sponeck.

* An interview with Hans Blix.

* At least 2 bombing raids by US/UK airforces in the last week.

* Arab League Chief makes concilliatory overtures to Iraq.

* An interesting article on Kuwait's massive increases in military
expenditure.

* Iraq reiterates its stance on UNMOVIC, saying it won't allow inspectors
back in.

* Iraq says it will continue oil sales once $5.26 billion (SCR limit) hit.

* Controversial Canadian Company, Talisman Energy (of Sudan notoriety)
investigating doing  business in Iraq.


---------------------------------
http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/international/s
tory/0,3604,143655,00.html
>From the Gaurdian:
Foreign office bans Galloway's flight to Iraq

Ewen MacAskill, Diplomatic Editor
Monday March 6, 2000

The foreign office unexpectedly stepped in
yesterday to ground a flight carrying medical
supplies to Iraq.
The flight, organised by the Labour MP George
Galloway and scheduled for next Saturday,
would have been the first between London and
Baghdad since the Gulf war in 1991.
The foreign office yesterday dismissed the
mission as a "Saddam Hussein publicity stunt"
and refused to refer the case to the UN
sanctions committee for the approval needed for
the flight to go ahead.
International sanctions have been in place
against Iraq since the war, in spite of
widespread concern that the sanctions are not
achieving any political ends but are causing
suffering among civilians.
The US and Britain are adamant that the
sanctions will not be lifted until the Iraqi
president, Saddam Hussein, allows in weapons
inspectors.
Mr Galloway, who is opposed to the sanctions, is
proposing to take the foreign office to the high
court over the ban, claiming that there are no
legal grounds on which to prevent British
citizens travelling to Iraq.
Relatively amicable discussions between the
foreign office and Mr Galloway had been
continuing for weeks. But a hitch developed at
the end of last week when the foreign office
objected to the fact that there would be 207
passengers on the plane, arguing that this
figure was incompatible with a humanitarian
mission and claiming it would be in breach of
the sanctions.
The foreign office has told Mr Galloway to get
the numbers down to about 20 or 30, an ultimatum
he regards as impossible. He said yesterday: "On
the face of it, it is the most appalling breach
of good faith I have ever encountered in
parliament in 13 years."
Having met with an initially positive response
from the foreign office, Mr Galloway suspects a
hidden hand - either from the US or from another
part of Whitehall - behind the sudden decision.
The Iraqi government wins either way. If the
flight had gone ahead, it would have been a
propaganda coup for President Saddam. A banned
flight provides equally good publicity.
The foreign office says the sanctions are
flexible enough to allow Iraq to sell enough oil
to permit a reasonable standard of living. If
civilians are suffering, the department says
President Saddam's administration is to blame.
Accompanying Mr Galloway on the flight were to
have been Dennis Halliday, a UN official who had
been based in Baghdad and who resigned in
protest at impact of sanctions on the civilian
population, and John Nicol, one of two RAF crew
captured by the Iraqis during the Gulf war, who
also opposes sanctions.
Also on the passenger list were 20 journalists,
30 people from the United Arab Emirates,
including the crown prince of Dubai,
representatives of non-governmental agencies,
Iraqi expatriates and anti-sanctions
campaigners.
The plane, supplied by the UAE, had been due to
fly from Heathrow to Baghdad via Dubai, with
150,000 worth of medical supplies on board.
An acrimonious exchange of letters took place
over the weekend between Mr Galloway and the
foreign office minister, Peter Hain. The two,
both on the left of the party, had been
relatively friendly for years.
A foreign office source said yesterday: "If this
was a genuine mercy mission, as opposed to a
Saddam Hussein publicity stunt, then nine-tenths
of the plane would be filled with medical and
other humanitarian supplies. Instead, we have
the entire cabin filled with hangers-on when all
the space could be used for equipment to help
the people of Iraq."
He added: "We will not put it forward to the
sanctions committee. We would have no
credibility if we did."
In a letter to Mr Galloway, Mr Hain said: "I was
very keen to support a humanitarian mission to
Iraq. I was especially keen that all the medical
supplies you have obtained reach Baghdad. I will
ensure that they do so whether or not your
flight is given the necessary clearance."
The medical supplies could be ferried through
the UN.
Mr Hain added: "A humanitarian flight should be
just that, not an excuse for all sorts of people
to fly into Iraq and breach international
sanctions."
Mr Galloway said that, if he was forced to write
off the flight, he would look at alternatives,
such as taking the medical supplies on a
scheduled flight to Dubai and then continuing by
ferry to Iraq. But in that case the number of
people able to accompany him would fall to
around a dozen. He said yesterday the ban would
be badly received in the Arab world and accused
the government of "pretending to go along with
the project and then attempting to ground it on
spurious grounds".

-----------------------------------
Sunday March 5 9:30 AM ET
Iraqi Hajj Pilgrims Defy Sanctions

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - In defiance of U.N.
sanctions, Iraq's only transport plane departed
Sunday - bound for Saudi Arabia with 121 hajj
pilgrims aboard.
It was the fourth such flight in the last five
days and the passengers were all women, sick or
elderly who would not have been able to make the
trip overland, the official Iraqi News Agency
reported.
The Iraqi Airways plane, the single transport
aircraft in its sanctions-crippled fleet, left
Baghdad's al-Rashid military air base Sunday
morning, the news agency said.
The hajj, which begins in mid-March, is a ritual
required of every able-bodied Muslim at least
once in a lifetime. Sanctions imposed on Iraq
after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait ban air travel
to and from the country. A U.N. Security Council
resolution passed in December exempted
pilgrimage flights from the embargo, but said
Iraq must get permission from the U.N. sanctions
committee in New York beforehand. Iraqi Airways
officials have said the government refuses to
request permission for the flights because Iraq
doesn't want to be seen as recognizing the
December resolution.
Most of Iraq's 7,000 pilgrims reach Saudi Arabia
by road after a more than 48-hour drive from
Baghdad. Those who flew will have to find their
own way back, as the official airways has not
flown pilgrims home in the past two years.
Airways officials would not say if more hajj
flights were planned.
-------------------------
Sunday March 5, 6:16 am Eastern Time
Kuwait reported close to $1.2bln arms deal
By Ashraf Fouad
KUWAIT, March 5 (Reuters) - A leading Kuwaiti
opposition politician said on Sunday his country
was close to signing an arms deal defence experts
say is worth $1.2 billion as part of a programme
to re-equip the military after the 1991 Gulf War.
The deal, which has been delayed in recent
months, is for a command and control system
sought mainly by major British and U.S. defence
firms.
Liberal MP Abdullah al-Naibari said he had
presented Defence Minister Sheikh Salem Sabah al-
Salem al-Sabah with an 11point question on the
deal.
``I have learned that the Defence Ministry is in
the contractual process to buy a command and
control system for the Armed Forces,'' Naibari
said in his parliamentary question sent to
Reuters on Sunday.
Similar questions and opposition campaigns in the
elected parliament have in the past led to the
freezing of defence deals with Western states and
long delays.
The latest casualty was a controversial deal for
U.S. Paladin howitzer guns worth about $600
million which was frozen last year after strong
parliamentary objections. Defence experts said
that the latest proposed deal for the command and
control system involved three main bidders: a
British Aerospace PLC (quote from Yahoo! UK &
Ireland: BA.L)Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT - news)
consortium, a Raytheon CO. (NYSE:RTNa - news)-led
consortium and a GEC/Marconi-Litton Data Systems
group.
The latter was apparently disqualified for
failing to meet a deadline on presenting some
documents, Western defence sources said. This was
not officially confirmed.
``I think that now only the first two are the
ones that stand a chance,'' said one Western
source familiar with the talks.
Other Western firms are linked to the consortia.
As part of a wider Gulf Arab plan to form an
integrated region-wide defence shield, Kuwait
has been studying the purchase of the command,
control, communications, computer and
intelligence (C4I) system -- worth about $1.2
billion -over a three phase plan.
Defence experts have told Reuters the first
phase is worth around $350 million.
Naibari asked the defence minister for full
details on bidders, specifications,
recommendations by expert committees on the
equipment on offer, copies of official exchanges
with suppliers, price quotations and if the plan
was presented for review by the independent
watchdog body the Audit Bureau.
Without elaborating, an official Kuwaiti defence
source had told Reuters that the deal could face
yet another delay for ``technical reasons.''
Kuwait launched a 12-billion-dollar arms
purchase programme to rebuild and re-equip its
small military following Iraq's 1990 invasion
and the 1991 Gulf War that drove Iraqi troops
out.
--------------------
Al-Sahaf: Sanctions must be lifted off Baghdad for the Gulf's stability
Iraq, Politics, 3/6/2000

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahaf asserted that there will be
neither security
nor stability in the Gulf without lifting up the sanctions from Iraq,
accusing USA of  practicing a
policy of collective extermination toward the Iraqi people and that it wants
to turn Iraq  into a
US colony, which will never happen.

In press statements today al-Sahaf said Iraq welcomes any efforts to reform
political  relations
among the Arab states on the right basis that will lead to achieving
solidarity and creating  a constructive
atmosphere to overcome the hardships through which it passes.

He added, "We have been suffering since August, 1991 from daily aggression
by the US and the
British forces more specific to what are called 'no-fly zones.'"

--------------------
http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000202/2000020221.html
A message from AL chief to Saddam Hussein
Iraq, Politics, 2/2/2000
Arab League Secretary General Esmat Abdul Meguid has sent a message to Iraqi
President  Saddam Hussein,
delivered to the Iraqi representative at the AL, Sultan al-Shawi, who
refused to disclose  content of the message.
Following the meeting with the AL chief, al-Shawi said his country "is ready
to make a  general
and comprehensive dialogue to deal with suspended issues in the Gulf
region."
He reserved on the set condition that Baghdad has to apologize for its
invasion of Kuwait in  1990 as a
step in preparing for convening a plenary Arab summit. Al-Shawi said that
Iraq has given all  it can on the
Arab and international levels.  He stressed that his country "carried out
all UN security  council resolutions
pertaining to the invasion (of Kuwait)." He said the Arab states "are
presumed to start  taking steps to
dismantle the siege imposed on Iraq."


-----------------------------------------------
Thursday March 2 6:49 PM ET
Iraq Spurns New U.N. Arms Inspector
By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Iraq on Thursday spurned
calls by the chief U.N. weapons inspector to
allow arms searches to
resume after more than a year, saying Baghdad
had no plans to cooperate with a U.N. policy
that doesn't call for sanctions to be lifted.
``The issue is not whether the inspectors go to
Iraq or not,'' Iraqi Ambassador Saeed Hasan said
in an interview. ``The real issue is the
thousands of Iraqis dying every day. The issue
is the aggression Iraq is subject to since
1991.'' Iraq contends that sanctions imposed
after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait have led to
thousands of Iraqi deaths - a claim disputed by
the United States, which blames Iraq's President
Saddam Hussein.
Hasan was responding to the new chief U.N.
weapons inspector for Iraq, Hans Blix, who told
a press conference on Wednesday that Iraq should
allow inspections to prove its contention that
it has destroyed all of its weapons of mass
destruction.
Blix started work Wednesday as executive
chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification
and Inspection Commission. The Security Council
created the agency in December to replace the
U.N. Special Commission, which had been working
since 1991 to oversee the destruction of Iraq's
proscribed weapons.
U.N. arms experts left Iraq in December 1998
ahead of U.S. and British airstrikes, launched
to punish Iraq for failing to cooperate with the
inspectors.
Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan has
said Baghdad would not accept new U.N. weapons
inspectors, but other Iraqi officials have left
open the possibility for compromise if the
Security Council makes some unspecified changes
in its new Iraq policy.
Hasan said Baghdad was ready to talk to the
Security Council if it is willing to take into
account in its resolutions Iraq's concerns about
sanctions and the continued U.S. airstrikes in
the no-fly zones over Iraq - including one on
Thursday.
``If the council wants a dialogue with Iraq, to
listen to Iraq, to deal with Iraq's legitimate
concerns, we are ready to do that,'' Hasan said.
But he said there was currently a stalemate
between the two sides because the U.N.
resolution creating the new inspection agency
didn't address those concerns and Iraq's call
for sanctions to be lifted.
``Why should we cooperate with the resolution
when it doesn't render justice to Iraq?'' he
asked.

--------------------------------------
Thursday March 2, 5:24 pm Eastern Time
Iraq features high on Talisman Energy shopping
list
By Jeffrey Jones
NEW YORK, March 2 (Reuters) - Talisman Energy
Inc.(Toronto:TLM.TO - news), mired in
controversy over its operations in war-torn
Sudan, is scouting for new oil prospects
throughout the Middle East, including Iraq,
target of United Nations sanctions since the end
of the Gulf War, Talisman's chief executive said
Thursday.
Stung by international criticism over the Sudan
project, however, the Canadian oil firm will not
sign any Iraqi oil deal until U.N. sanctions are
lifted, Talisman's Jim Buckee said.
The company is also evaluating potential
projects in Syria, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and even
Iran, a country that is also the target of U.S.
sanctions, Buckee told reporters after giving a
speech to a conference for institutional
investors.
``As the world unfolds, and hopefully becomes a
place of more easy access, we will put our
expertise to work and capital to work in those
countries,'' said the head of
Canada's biggest international oil producer.
``(But) we are very sensitive to keeping on-side
with the U.S. and the United Nations,'' Buckee
said.
Talisman last month dodged a Canadian threat of
sanctions over its 25-percent stake in the huge
oil project in southern Sudan, where a civil war
pitting the Islamist government against
Christian and Animist rebels has raged for 17
years.
Critics of the project, including various human
rights groups as well as the United States, have
charged that the Sudanese government would use
the oil money to fuel the war. Washington has
sanctioned Sudan and Iran, accusing them of
being among countries sponsoring international
terrorism. Buckee has said that wealth generated
by the Sudan project will only help the
situation in the poor African country. Iraq,
under the U.N. sanctions, is allowed to export
limited amounts of oil in exchange for food and
medical supplies. However, industry analysts
have said companies from around the world have
been examining oil projects there, to be ready
with deals once the U.N. lifts economic
sanctions. Another Canadian oil company, Ranger
Oil Ltd. (Toronto:RGO.TO - news), made headlines
two years ago by signing a deal for a $250-
million post-sanctions development in Iraq.
``In terms of resource potential, Iraq is just
in a class of its own -- it's a factor of 10
times the next (country),'' Buckee said. ``So
we're just looking and waiting.''
He cautioned, however, that Iraq was just one
Middle East country on Talisman's expanding
radar screen. Today, it also operates in Canada,
the North Sea, Indonesia and Algeria. Martin
Molyneaux, analyst with FirstEnergy Capital
Corp., the Calgary-based brokerage hosting the
conference in New York this week, said
Talisman's interest in Iraq made sense. ``Every
major oil producer in the world has got
extensive project reviews on Iraq -- you have
to. It's just so big and so overlooked for
decades, you just have to make sure you're
prepared for when, one day, it comes back to
being a politically acceptable area to
venture,'' Molyneaux said. For now, Sudan
remains a political flashpoint for Talisman, and
the uncertainty has weighed on its stock despite
its strong outlook for production growth from
the project and other operating areas amid
surging oil prices.
Last week, Canadian nongovernmental
organizations that had been working with
Talisman on devising a human rights monitoring
mechanism for Sudan, abruptly broke off talks,
charging the company was not offering sufficient
resources. Talisman vice-president Jacqueline
Sheppard said the company would still implement
monitoring with a third party under an
international code of ethics, and challenged the
NGOs, led by the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, to
resume negotiations. Talisman shares on the
Toronto Stock Exchange were off C$1.20 to
C$39.50 on Thursday.
($1=$1.46 Canadian)
----------------------------
Thursday March 2 11:10 AM ET
Western Aircraft Bomb Iraqi Forces
BERLIN (Reuters) - The U.S. military said
Western planes patrolling a no-fly zone over
northern Iraq bombed air defenses Thursday after
coming under fire, continuing a regular series
of exchanges in the area.
The Stuttgart, Germany-based U.S. European
Command said in a statement the incident
happened over an Iraqi defense site northwest of
the town of Mosul. It gave no details of
casualties but said all aircraft involved left
the area safely.
The incident was the 16th such exchange this
year.
...
---------------
Thursday March 2 7:53 AM ET
Iraq Criticizes U.N. Plan to Help Iraqi Pilgrims
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iraq hinted Thursday it might
reject a United Nations plan to provide funds
for poorer Iraqis to perform this month's Muslim
haj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. ``Iraqi pilgrims
have started to leave Iraq...we have settled
this matter and do not accept a guardianship to
be forced on us. The framework proposed by some
members of the Security Council is one which
violates Iraq's sovereignty,'' Iraqi Foreign
Ministry Undersecretary Nabil Najim told
reporters in Dubai.
Council members agreed Wednesday on a plan to
distribute $250 in cash and $1,750 in traveler's
checks drawn out of Baghdad's oil revenue
account to each of up to 22,000 Iraqis. The plan
would ensure that checks be used for the haj and
no other expenses.
Some 7,000 pilgrims are expected to go to Mecca
from Iraq. Baghdad flew 117 Muslim pilgrims to
the Saudi kingdom on Wednesday aboard a
transport plane that violated a U.N. air
embargo. The council has said it will allow Iraq
to fly planes to Saudi Arabia for the haj but
only if they obtain prior permission.
Iraq's U.N. Ambassador, Saeed Hasan, said a
notification was unnecessary because Baghdad did
not recognize a December council resolution that
demands the return of U.N. arms inspectors to
Baghdad in return for an eventual easing of
sanctions imposed when Iraqi troops invaded
Kuwait in 1990. ``We refuse to work with any
decision which does not stipulate, ahead of
time, the lifting of sanctions,'' said Najim,
who is in the United Arab Emirates to open
Iraq's exhibit at a month-long shopping festival
in Dubai.
``Iraq insists that there is no substitute for
lifting sanctions...It is not possible that for
10 years a nation of 23 million is held hostage
according to the will of one permanent member of
the U.N. or another or the will of one inspector
or another,'' he said.
At issue for the bulk of Iraqis who wish to go
to Mecca has been how money from Baghdad's oil
revenues, deposited in a U.N. escrow account,
would reach the pilgrims. Iraq had insisted that
$50 million be transmitted to its central bank,
while council members say this would violate
sanctions.
...
---------------------------
March 2 Extract from AP report on US Democratic
Party Candidates Views on Defense
...
DEFENSE:
Bradley:
...
As senator voted ... for sanctions instead of military
force against Iraq.
...
--------------------------------------
Mar 2
UN Iraq Inspector Wants Arms Access

By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The new chief U.N. weapons
inspector for Iraq is demanding that Baghdad
give his arms experts free access to suspected
weapons sites, but says Iraq shouldn't consider
it an attempt to ``humiliate'' the government.
Inspections by impartial international arms
experts would only help bolster Iraqi claims
that it has eliminated its weapons of mass
destruction and deserves to have sanctions
suspended, Hans Blix said Wednesday.
The longer Baghdad delays cooperation, the
longer it will have to wait for the ``light that
might be at the end of the tunnel'' to arrive,
he said.
Blix spoke on his first day as executive
chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification
and Inspection Commission. The agency was
created in December to replace the U.N. Special
Commission, which had been working with the
International Atomic Energy Agency since 1991 to
oversee the destruction of Iraq's biological,
chemical and nuclear weapons and missile
programs.
Weapons inspectors from both agencies left Iraq
in December 1998 ahead of U.S. and British
airstrikes, launched to punish Iraq for failing
to cooperate with the inspectors. Iraqi Vice
President Taha Yassin Ramadan has said Baghdad
would not accept new U.N. weapons inspectors,
but other Iraqi officials have left open the
possibility for compromise if the Security
Council makes some unspecified changes in its
new Iraq policy.
Blix, director general of the Vienna-based IAEA
from 1981 until 1997, said he was working on the
assumption that Iraq would ``one day'' accept
weapons inspections and was preparing an
organization plan and staffing arrangements to
get the agency up and running.
He countered critics who claimed that based on
his IAEA experience he might be too soft on
Iraq, saying he intended to aggressively pursue
leads about Baghdad's weapons programs.
``Indeed, I think that such inspections are
indispensable in order to get to credible
evidence about the arms,'' Blix said.
But he stressed it was not his role or intention
to ``humiliate'' the Iraqis and added that it
was important to remember that Iraq was not a
country ``under occupation.'' ``It is under the
control of the government and you cannot go on
forever taking the authorities by surprise
there,'' Blix said. ``Inspectors are not an
army. They are not a commando troop that can
leap in and shoot their way to the target.''
Blix's predecessor, Richard Butler, was known
for his outspoken and confrontational attitude
toward Baghdad during his two-year term as
executive chairman of the Special Commission.
Under Butler, the Special Commission was tainted
by allegations that the United States used it to
spy on Iraq allegations Iraq has cited to
bolster its claims that Washington was using the
agency to justify maintaining sanctions.
Iraq has said it has destroyed all of its
prohibited weapons, meeting U.N. requirements to
have sanctions lifted. To guard against further
allegations, Blix said one of his first
decisions would be to require that the bulk of
his staff be on the U.N. payroll and not paid by
individual
governments. The United States had several arms
experts on loan from the State Department and
CIA, arrangements other governments had as well.
There is no way to completely guarantee against
``infiltration,'' Blix said. ``The only thing I
can promise you is that if I discover, if I find
that staff is not loyal, then I will fire
them.''
Despite calls from some Security Council members
for the new commission to start with a clean
slate, Blix said he recognized that Special
Commission staffers had vital experience that he
would want to tap, at least in the shortterm.
------------------------------
Thursday March 2 3:22 AM ET
Iraqis Said Living in Poverty
By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Iraq's people are
living in poverty and a generation of
children is not getting a proper education
despite improvements to the U.N. humanitarian
program, the outgoing head of the program
said.
Hans von Sponeck, who resigned effective March
31 to protest U.N. sanctions, said Wednesday the
deprivations were ``due to internal and external
factors.''
He refused to blame Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein, though he stressed: ``I have never
argued that the difficulties under which the
population exists is only due to external
factors. It is much more complex.''
Von Sponeck would not discuss his earlier calls
for the U.N. Security Council to lift sanctions
and separate Iraq's humanitarian needs from its
disarmament. His comments angered the United
States and Britain and led SecretaryGeneral Kofi
Annan to ask him not to speak on his own behalf
while still on the U.N. payroll.
Instead, von Sponeck cited a British House of
Commons committee report saying comprehensive
economic sanctions cause ``significant
suffering'' and it would be difficult to
conceive of a future case in which the United
Nations would be justified in imposing them.
Asked whether there was pressure to resign from
governments unhappy with his statements, von
Sponeck said he ``got the message'' they were
displeased, but the only pressure to step down
came from himself.
``I'm a person with a mind and a heart ... and I
for myself didn't see that I could be useful to
the United Nations and to myself given my
interpretation of the local situation,'' said
von Sponeck, a German who has worked for the
United Nations for 32 years.
Spelling out his final assessment, he said the
U.N. oil-forfood program, which began in 1996 to
help ordinary Iraqis cope with sanctions imposed
after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, is
``inadequate'' despite an increase in revenue in
recent years.
The program, he said, provides the 23 million
Iraqis with only an average of $252 in
humanitarian aid every year, which ``puts Iraq
in the category of a least developed country.''
Iraqis still are not receiving enough food or
medicine and only a fraction of critical
equipment for the electricity sector has
arrived, he said. The oil industry ``is in a
very precarious state,'' and water, sewage and
garbage collection ``are in very bad shape.''
The education sector receives only a small
percentage of the funds, school enrollments are
down, and one in five children go to bed
malnourished, von Sponeck said.
``To me it is the key concern,'' because the
system is leaving Iraq's youth ill-prepared to
be productive adults, he said.
---------------------------------------------
Wednesday March 1 2:15 AM ET

 War, Sanctions Said Hurting Iraqis

 By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer

 UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Two wars and nearly a decade of sanctions on Iraq
have led to the  collapse of the country's health system and threaten the
very
 survival of the Iraqi people, a new report from the International Committee
of the Red  Cross says.

 Even if the sweeping trade sanctions were lifted tomorrow, ``it would take
years for the  country to return to the same standards as before the Gulf
War,'' because
 of the utter devastation, said the report, which was obtained Tuesday by
The Associated  Press.

 ``Iraq: A decade of sanctions,'' outlines ICRC work in Iraq following the
1980-88 Iran-Iraq  war and the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and was intended to
justify to
 donors why the relief organization has had to increase its budget and
operations in the  country, ICRC officials said.

 But it also has added some fuel to the increasingly volatile debate over
the sanctions and  their impact on Iraq's 22 million people, offering
details of the desperate
 state of the nation's hospitals and the population as a whole.

 ``Deteriorating living conditions, inflation and low salaries make people's
everyday lives  a continuing struggle, while food shortages and lack of
medicines and clean
 drinking water threaten their very survival,'' the report said.

 Iraq's collapsed health system and badly damaged water sanitation system
pose the ``gravest  threat,'' it said.

 U.N. Security Council resolutions say Iraq must be declared free of its
weapons of mass  destruction before sweeping trade sanctions, imposed after
Baghdad's
 1990 invasion of Kuwait, can be lifted.

 The United States has blamed Iraq for the suffering of its people, saying
President Saddam  Hussein has prolonged sanctions by refusing to cooperate
with arms
 inspectors and has failed to implement a U.N. aid program that allows Iraq
to buy  humanitarian goods through U.N.-supervised oil sales.

 Washington, however, also has come under fire internationally and at home
for its hard line  on sanctions and for blocking Baghdad from receiving
badly needed
 equipment through the U.N. program. The United States says it wants to make
sure the goods,  which include equipment to repair Iraq's bombed-out power
grid,
 oil industry and water sanitation system, aren't used for military
purposes.

 The Security Council has pledged to try to improve the efficiency of the
U.N. humanitarian  program in Iraq, but the ICRC report said that neither
the oil-for-food
 program nor any other aid program can meet all of Iraq's basic needs.

 The report paints a bleak profile of the effect that the dilapidated
infrastructure has had  on Iraq's health system, profiling four hospitals
and a health center that
 ICRC members visited as part of an in-depth survey last year.

 Basic rules of hygiene are not followed at the Al Karama Teaching Hospital
in Baghdad  because of a lack of disinfectants and water, the report says.
Syringes,
 intravenous lines and fluids are in short supply. The sewage treatment
plant has not worked  for years and electricity is erratic.

 At the Basra Teaching Hospital, waste water seeps through the piping - and
in one case,  dripped from the ceiling into the abdomen of a patient, the
ICRC report
 quoted the hospital director as saying. The patient survived. But the
entire basement is  inundated under water, making it home to rats and stray
dogs.

 Doctors at the Al-Rashad Psychiatric Hospital, meanwhile, have no access to
anti-psychotic  drugs and must administer electric shock treatment to
patients when
 they are awake because there is no anesthesia.

 The report notes that the problems are compounded by the fact that most of
the equipment  and technology that made Iraq's health system among the best
in the
 Middle East before the Gulf War was imported - meaning its upkeep was
particularly  vulnerable to sanctions.

 ``The population, in particular doctors, technicians and teachers, are now
exposed to Third  World problems which they had never been prepared to deal
with,'' the
 report said.
---------------------------------------------
Wednesday March 1, 5:51 pm Eastern Time

Iraq to continue oil sales once $5.26 billion hit

By Peg Mackey

BAGHDAD, March 1 (Reuters) - Iraq will keep exporting oil after it reaches
revenue sales of  $5.26 billion during the current
phase of United Nations oil sales, Iraqi Oil Minster Amir Muhammad Rasheed
told Reuters on  Wednesday.

``It's a simple computation -- at present prices we have already signed
contracts for more  than $6.5 billion,'' Rasheed said.``We
do not recognise the ($5.26 billion) ceiling. It is clear we do not take
this into  consideration.''

Baghdad spurned a U.N. resolution agreed last December which aims to ease
sanctions provided  weapons inspectors return to Iraq.

Iraq also refused to accept that part of the resolution which did away with
the oil-for-food  deal's $5.26 billion revenue ceiling.

That decision has kept oil markets guessing about Iraq's course of action
once U.N. oil  sales revenues reached $5.26 billion. That point looked
likely to be hit by the
end of this month.

But Rasheed made clear that Iraq was not even tacitly accepting the
sanctions-easing  resolution by opting to pump through $5.26 billion.

Since the fifth and sixth phases of the oil-for-food deal, ``we have not
limited our exports  by any ceiling -- we have exported as much as we can,''
he said. ``We only
have technical limitations.''

TECHNICAL RESTRICTIONS REDUCE EXPORT SALES

Those technical restrictions have reduced Iraq's export sales from 2.3
million barrels per  day (bpd) last year to current rates of about 1.8
million bpd.

Iraq decided to decrease its production and export programme after seeing
more than 80  percent of U.N.-authorised spare parts contracts put on hold
during the
sixth phase of the oil-for-food exchange, Rasheed said.

As a result, pumping rates during the current seventh phase -- which expires
on June 8 --  have been decreased by about 300,000 bpd, Rasheed said.

``We must be responsible and preserve the wealth of the Iraqi people,''
Rasheed said. ``We  have already done short and medium term damage and we
could easily
embark on long-term damage to our reservoirs which is irreversible.''

Rasheed said the decrease was an initial step. ``It doesn't mean we intend
to reduce  further,'' he said.

``We cannot prejudge the situation. It is really the U.N. Security Council
which will decide  our action.''

Of utmost importance is reaction to a report by U.N. oil experts on Iraq's
oil sector which  is due to be presented on March 10, he added.

``The U.N. experts supported us fully,'' Rasheed said. ``If the Secretary
General definitely  supports our requirements...and if the American position
changes, we will
review our position.''

About 1,000 contracts in total are now being held by the Security Council,
many of them  blocked by the United States, diplomats said.

Under growing international and domestic pressure for its sanctions stance,
Washington has  promised to review its policy of holding up contracts for
oil sector
equipment, chemicals and spare parts.

``We have to see a good percentage of vital items released,'' the minister
said. ``Then we  will definitely review our policy and we might increase
exports.''

But Iraq is keeping its options open. ``We could easily go back to exports
of 2.3 million  bpd, stay at 1.8 million bpd to 1.9 million bpd or go
further down,''
Rasheed said.
-----------------------
Tuesday February 29 12:35 PM ET

 U.S. Jets Bomb Iraqi Sites

 ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - U.S. warplanes bombed Iraq's air-defense system
Tuesday after the  jets were fired upon by Iraqi forces in the northern
no-fly zone,
 the U.S. military said. It was the second such incident in as many days.

 Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery at the allied planes near
Bashiqah, 250 miles  north of Baghdad, according to a statement from the
U.S. European Command
 in Germany.

 All planes left the area safely, the statement said.
...
-------------------------

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