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Iraq News for March 27 to April 5, 2000 --------------------------------------- Sources: AP, Reuters Thanks to all those who supplied articles. Headlines * Mandela accuses the US/UK of creating chaos because of unilateral decisions to bomb Kosovo and Iraq. * UN allows Iraq to double spare parts purchases. * Three increases in Iraqi oil price approved this week. * Van Sponeck leaves Iraq -- states that his work in Iraq is not over. * Jordan impounds Italian plane for breaking Iraqi air embargo. * At least two US/UK bombing raids. Iraqi news agency claims civillian casualties. * A number of Turkish invasions into Northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels. Cohen praises Turkey and suggests closer ties with US. (2 articles) * Article in very prestigous Medical journal, The Lancet, examines effects of sanctions. * A doctor calls for international medical aid to Halabja, site of Iraqi chemical attack in 1988. * Saddam's son wins Iraqi parliamentary election. ---------------------- Wednesday April 5 11:31 AM ET R. Cross: Iran To Free 2,000 Iraqis By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iran will soon release up to 2,000 Iraqi prisoners who had been reported missing during the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war, the head of the Red Cross in Iraq said Wednesday. Beat Schweizer said he expected the release to take place Saturday at the Iran-Iraq border. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been negotiating the release with the Iranian government, which earlier this year allowed a delegation to visit Iraqi POWs the Red Cross had not seen before. A Tehran daily, Iran, quoted Iranian Brig. Gen. Mohammad Balar on Wednesday as saying the prisoners were being freed as a humanitarian gesture to mark last month's Eid Al-Adha, one of the most important holidays on the Islamic calendar. Balar is the spokesman for Iran's POW commission. In Iraq, the state-run weekly al-Ialam quoted Fahmi al-Qeisi, head of the Foreign Ministry's legal department, as saying the release confirms Iraqi claims that ``there are thousands of Iraqi prisoners held in Iranian jails.'' Several families in Baghdad were preparing to head for the border even though the authorities have not yet said who will be released. ``I haven't lost hope of his return. He is in my heart. I feel his presence every hour, every day,'' said Suad Abbas whose son Mahmoud Abdulkarim has been missing since 1982. Suad still cleans Mahmoud's room every day, wipes his picture and makes sure that his personal belongings are in place. Sabah Hassoun was 22 and pregnant when she lost her husband in 1981. Her daughter is now in medical school. ``Shayma knows about her father through the family album only,'' she said. ``Inside I have faith I am going to see him. I am 41 now. He may not recognize me,'' she said. Iraq, relying on ICRC records, says at least 13,000 of its POWs still languish in Iranian jails. But Schweizer said several thousand Iraqis have chosen to live in Iran and many want to be resettled in third countries. For both political and personal reasons these prisoners do not want the ICRC to inform their government or families, he said. Several thousand have also died, he said. Through ICRC auspices more than 100,000 POWs have been repatriated to both sides. The remaining cases ``are the complicated cases,'' Schweizer said. Iran accuses Iraq of keeping 2,806 Iranian POWs in its jails. ---------------- Tuesday April 4 10:40 PM ET Mandela: US, Britain Creating Chaos LONDON (AP) - Former South African President Nelson Mandela criticized the United States and Britain for their handling of conflicts in Iraq and Kosovo, saying they are creating chaos by ignoring the views of other nations. In an interview published Wednesday by The Guardian newspaper, Mandela said the United States and Britain were wrong not to seek explicit permission for military action from the U.N. Security Council. ``The message they're sending is that any country which fears a (U.N.) veto can take unilateral action,'' Mandela was quoted as saying. ``That means they're introducing chaos into international affairs: that any country can take a decision which it wants.'' U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan along with Russia and China criticized NATO for not seeking approval from the U.N. Security Council before its 78-day air campaign against Belgrade. While there was also a wide consensus that the swift NATO action was necessary to avert a humanitarian disaster, Mandela said such actions set a dangerous precedent. ``It's a totally wrong attitude,'' he said, noting that U.S. and British officials ``must persuade those countries like China or Russia who threaten to veto their decisions at the U.N.. They must sit down and talk to them. They can't just ignore them and start their own actions.'' The issue also came up when the United States and Britain were accused of unilaterally going ahead with bombing Iraq in 1998 after the failure of U.N. arms inspections. ... -------------------------------- Wednesday April 5 11:35 AM ET Jordan Won't Let Italian Plane Land By WAIEL FALEH, Associated Press Writer AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Jordanian authorities impounded a small Italian plane and detained its pilot Wednesday for violating U.N. sanctions by flying in and out of Baghdad. Two Europeans activists on board were allowed to leave Jordan. Information Minister Saleh Qallab said the Italian-made P68 landed at an air force base in Azraq, 75 miles northeast of the Jordanian capital Amman. The Azraq base is off-limits to journalists. ``The crew and the plane were grounded'' for violating U.N. sanctions that ban flights in and out of Iraq, Qallab told The Associated Press. Later, Qallab said two passengers who were on board when the small plane reached Jordan left aboard a commercial Austrian airline bound for Vienna. Qallab identified the two as Italian businessman Nicola Grauso and European Parliament member Vittori Sgarbi. He said a third person, French Catholic priest Jean-Marie Benjamin, remained in Baghdad. He said the pilot, Claudio Castonia, was taken in for interrogation and may be tried in Jordan for violating aviation regulations. International flights to and from Iraq are banned under U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the Persian Gulf War. Qallab earlier had said Jordan would refuse the plane stopover permission because its crew had ``cheated'' Jordanian aviation authorities on Monday by asking permission to fly to Syria but changing course in Syrian airspace and flying to Iraq. In Italy, Grauso's spokesman, Mario Cardona, said Jordanian air force jets had forced the plane to land at Azraq. Iraqi officials saw off the plane at Rasheed air base earlier Wednesday, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. It had arrived at the base Monday. While in the capital, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and other officials received the visitors, who had said their journey was meant to highlight Iraqi suffering caused by the sanctions. They also visited Baghdad hospitals. Sanctions can be lifted only once U.N. inspectors verify Iraq no longer has weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles or the ability to produce them. ---------------------------- Wednesday April 5 10:15 AM ET U.S. Jets Bomb Iraqi Defense System ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - (AP) - U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi air-defense system Wednesday after Iraqi forces fired artillery during their regular patrol of the northern no-fly zone, the U.S military said. Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery from a site west of Bashiqah, some 250 miles north of Baghdad, according to a statement from the Germany-based U.S. European Command. All aircraft, based in the southern Turkish base of Incirlik, left the area safely, it said. On Tuesday, U.S. and British warplanes bombed four sites in southern Iraq. The official Iraqi News Agency reported two civilians were killed and two were wounded. ... ----------------------------------- Tuesday April 4, 8:06 pm Eastern Time U.N. approves adjustment of Iraqi Apr prices for U.S. NEW YORK, April 4 (Reuters) - Iraq for the first time since the oil-for-food program began in December 1996 has adjusted its oil prices three times for the same month, U.N. officials said on Tuesday. Iraq on Monday afternoon received approval from the U.N. Sanctions Committee for its request to lower April prices for oil shipments to the United States by 60 cents per barrel. The new prices for April shipments of Basrah Light crude to the United States is second-month West Texas Intermediate -$4.55. Kirkuk crude shipments were adjusted to first-month WTI -$3.70. It was the third Monday in a row that the sanctions commitee approved Iraqi April oil prices. On March 20, it approved the April oil prices submitted by Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO). Then, on March 27, after the market judged the prices too high, the sanctions committee approved lower prices for Iraqi crude shipments to the the Far East, Europe and the United States. The additional decrease approved on Monday for U.S.-bound shipments was caused partly by higher trans-Atlantic transportations costs, a U.S. crude trader said. On Monday and Tuesday, SOMO told Reuters in London that it had also requested an additional 10-cent decrease for the price of Kirkuk crude shipments to Europe. But such a request was not made to the U.N. sanctions committee, U.N. diplomats said. ... ------------- Tuesday April 4 7:57 AM ET Turkish Troops Hunt Kurd Rebels in North Iraq DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Thousands of Turkish troops backed by air power pushed deeper into north Iraq on Tuesday to hunt out Kurdish rebels in the first offensive of the year. F-16 fighter jets based at the southeast regional capital Diyarbakir flew reconnaissance for up to 7,000 troops who have massed with artillery and armoured vehicles in north Iraq since the weekend. The offensive into the Kurdish-held enclave is designed to prevent rebels loyal to condemned leader Abdullah Ocalan from regrouping with the onset of spring, security officials said. Operations were concentrated on the northern Iraqi regions of Khwakurk and Haftanin. There were no reports of casualties from the remote region which has been run by two Iraqi Kurd parties since it slipped from Baghdad's rule at the end of the 1991 Gulf War. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Ankara's unofficial ally in the region, denied that its fighters were aiding the Turks in the offensive. The troops were guided by so-called village guards, local residents recruited and armed by the army and paid wages to prevent villages harboring Kurdish rebels or supplying them. Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast has been racked by 15 years of fighting between Turkish troops and Ocalan's rebels seeking Kurdish self-rule. But apart from minor skirmishes, the fighting has all but stopped since Ocalan was captured and sentenced to death last year. He subsequently ordered his Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to withdraw from Turkey and end the armed struggle. Turkey has dismissed Ocalan's peace overtures as a cynical bid to save his neck and vows never to talk to ``terrorists.'' Military observers say about two thirds of the PKK's forces complied with the order, leaving some 1,000 rebels inside Turkey. Most rebels are thought to have joined forces with other PKK units already in Iraq, bringing guerrilla numbers there to roughly 3,000. More than 30,000 rebels, soldiers and civilians have been killed since Ocalan's PKK began its struggle. Ocalan now says all he wants is cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey. Saturday April 1 3:46 PM ET Turks Fight Kurd Rebels in Iraq -Sources By Ferit Demir TUNCELI, Turkey (Reuters) - About 5,000-7,000 Turkish troops backed by helicopter gunships crossed into northern Iraq early on Saturday in the first offensive against Kurdish guerrillas of the spring, military sources said. The sources, based in the southeastern town of Tunceli, said the troops pushed six miles into northern Iraq and clashed with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels in several places. He gave no details. The attack, a clear signal of military determination not to allow any regrouping of guerrillas on Turkish territory, had been widely expected. ``It is observed that many PKK groups have been moving toward the Turkish border. Hence, security forces launched the operation this morning,'' the military source said. The operation ran in parallel with an action by some 10,000 Turkish troops sweeping mountains near the Turkish towns of Tunceli and Bingol. Guerrilla Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, held in an island prison near Istanbul, called on his forces after his trial and death sentence last year to observe a unilateral cease-fire and withdraw from Turkish territory. The call, however, coincided with the onset of winter when PKK guerrillas would in any case pull back to hideouts. The bleak mountains of southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq, a territory run independently of Baghdad since the 1991 Gulf War, provide good cover for Kurdish rebels. But the Turkish military has scored devastating victories in recent years, culminating last year in the capture, in Kenya, of Ocalan. Cease-Fire Call Caused Perplexity Ocalan's call for a cease-fire has caused some perplexity among allies and enemies alike. Some former PKK comrades have accused him of betraying their cause and trying to save his own neck in seeking peace negotiations. The government has refused to deal with Ocalan, saying he is trying to achieve by political maneuvers what he has patently failed to achieve on the battlefield -- an independent Kurdish state in eastern Turkey. The spring provides a test of whether the PKK intends to or can mount a renewed offensive in the 15-year-old campaign that has cost over 30,000 lives. The military, which has launched many similar operations in northern Iraq, has said it will continue to hunt down any PKK guerrillas who refuse to surrender. Ocalan, who had spent little time in northern Iraq, preferring to run his operations from a hideout in Syria, is awaiting a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on his death sentence. That could save him from the noose for another 18 months and staves off an emotional debate on whether hanging the PKK chief would serve Turkish interests. The European Union, which accepted Turkey as a candidate last December, opposes capital punishment on principle and has cautioned Ankara against going through with an execution. ----------------------------- Iraq Welcomes U.N. Oil Spare Parts Move By Hassan Hafidh BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has given a guarded welcome to a United Nations decision doubling the amount of money Baghdad may spend on equipment and spare parts for its dilapidated oil industry. Iraq's Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed said that for the decision to work, it must be accompanied by a steady release by the U.N.'s sanctions committee of spare parts that Baghdad wants to buy. Rasheed also confirmed that Iraq as from this week increased its oil production by 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) and would steadily increase it up to a total of 3.1 million barrels per day by the end of May. ``If these holds are removed plus the doubling of the allocations, we could say, as a temporary measure, this is a good support for the Iraqi oil industry,'' Rasheed told Cable News Network (CNN) television late on Friday night. ``We started this week increasing about 150,000 barrels a day, next week another 150,000 barrels a day, and few more weeks that brings us to the beginning of May, for sure we'll be at 3 (million bpd) and we hope to be at 3.1 (million bpd),'' he said. At the start of the year, Iraq took the precautionary step of reducing production by about 300,000 bpd, saying that holds on some spare parts contracts by the U.N. were depriving the oil industry of urgently needed equipment. The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved on Friday increasing the amount of money Iraq may spend on oil industry equipment and spare parts from $600 million to $1.2 billion over a 12-month period ending in June. The council's action will enable Iraq to step up its output of oil under a U.N. ``oil-for-food'' program that allows it to sell crude to buy basic needs for civilians. ... Washington recently lifted objections to $111 million worth of contracts for Iraq but is still holding up $1.67 billion in supplies for Baghdad, the U.N. said. Among those released were 26 contracts worth $15 million for oil industry spare parts and equipment. ------------- Friday March 31 5:23 PM ET U.S. Praises Key NATO Ally Turkey By Charles Aldinger WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary William Cohen on Friday praised Turkey as a key NATO ally and bridge between East and West, urging even closer ties between Washington and Ankara. He also said in a speech that Turkey had agreed to take part with several other alliance countries in U.S. development of a planned new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a $200 billion program to build 3,000 new attack jets for 21st century warfare. ``Turkey is located at a crossroads, an important one from the front line of history,'' Cohen said in a speech to the American-Turkish Council even as the Ankara government faced a looming political crisis at home. Cohen did not mention the crisis, but praised Turkey for supporting Washington against Iraq, moving to stabilize ties with Greece, taking part in the 1999 NATO air war on Serbia and bridging differences between Muslim and Western worlds. ``What we need to do is build and strengthen the partnerships with those countries like Turkey, who are regionally strategic to the security of the entire Middle East area,'' the secretary told a meeting of the council, which supports close ties between Washington and Ankara. His speech came as Turkey on Friday weighed the consequences of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's defeat in parliament this week. Ecevit's left-right coalition failed on Wednesday to gain the necessary support for a constitutional amendment to allow President Suleyman Demirel to serve a second term. Leading businessmen in Turkey expressed concern over possible instability in the Muslim country's secular, pro-Western government. U.S. officials said Cohen's speech had been planned for some time and was not pointed at the crisis, but that the secretary had long felt NATO-member Turkey was a major partner with the West in a number of areas. Cohen announced in his luncheon speech that Turkey had joined Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and several other allies in agreeing to take part in U.S. development of the Joint Strike Fighter. He did not detail what part Turkey would play in the program, in which Lockheed-Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. are competing. The contract has not been awarded, but different versions of the plane would be built for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and for the British Royal Navy. ``Turkey has agreed to participate in the development of the Joint Strike Fighter. This is going to be one of the most superior aircraft that we have ever built,'' Cohen said. The participation of Turkey, where U.S.-designed F-16 jets have been built, would be a boost for the program. The JSF has raised questions from key members of the U.S. Congress because the United States is also moving to build other expensive fighter jets such as the F-22 ``stealth'' jet. A State Department official said U.S. Defense Undersecretary Jacques Gansler was sending a letter to the Turkish Defense Ministry formally inviting participation in the engineering, maintenance and design phase of the JSF program. Britain, which like the U.S. Marines would use ``jump-jet vertical takeoff and landing versions of the JSF for the Royal Navy, has about a 10 percent stake in the costly program. That is the largest investment outside of the United States. ``I want to say that by Turkey participating in this program, it will put Turkey in the forefront of building a secure and stable Middle East,'' Cohen said. He did not explain how Turkey's participation in the program would affect the Middle East, but praised the predominately Muslim country for reaching out a hand of friendship to Israel. ------------------- Wednesday March 29 11:12 PM ET Iraq's Top U.N. Official Leaves By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A former U.N. official left Iraq Wednesday vowing to continue his fight against U.N. trade sanctions which he accused of depriving the Iraqi population of its basic supplies. Several U.N.-employed Iraqis wept when Hans Von Sponeck shook their hands for the last time. Signs of grief were evident on the faces of his international staff. But Von Sponeck, who resigned last month over the impact of sanctions on ordinary Iraqis, said his mission was not over. He said he would work to persuade ``governments that enough is enough.'' ... Annan has named Tun Myat of Myanmar, a World Food Program official, as the new humanitarian coordinator to replace Von Sponeck. Von Sponeck said he could not continue watching a population that is ``deprived of everything ... the right proper life, the right to work, the right to shelter, good services and most of all the right to education.'' A recent UNICEF report said at least 20 percent of Iraqi children have dropped out of school and are now engaged in petty trade in major urban centers. ------------------------------- Wednesday March 29 5:07 PM ET Iraq medical system struggles under war sanctions By Alan Mozes NEW YORK, Mar 29 (Reuters Health) -- The embargo on Iraq imposed by the US and European nations since the Gulf War has had a devastating impact on the quality of healthcare in that country, according to an editorial published in the March 25th issue of The Lancet. The authors of the article, Drs. Leila Richards and Stephen Wall, point out that the embargo has an ``intellectual'' component barring the exchange and import into Iraq of printed educational and scientific materials. They note that Iraqi doctors, hospitals, medical scientists and researchers lack up-to-date textbooks and medical journals. Having traveled as part of a public health delegation throughout Iraq in May 1999 to examine the effects of the intellectual embargo, the authors note that a ban on access for Iraqi doctors to medical conferences both inside and outside Iraq, exists side-by-side with an almost total breakdown of the technical infrastructure -- a collapse which has resulted in a current widespread shortage of medical supplies and equipment, as well as inadequate access to both Internet and basic phone service. After visiting 6 of Iraq's 10 medical colleges -- and having met with over 30 physicians and teachers, Richards and Wall note the long-term issue surrounding the flight of Iraqi medical professionals from the country due to an inability to cope with the poor working conditions and their exclusion from the world medical community. The authors suggest that this exodus will compound the problem by leaving a vacuum of educated professionals who might otherwise be able to rebuild the medical system in the future. In an interview with Reuters Health, Richards described the situation as very disturbing. ``The impact of this embargo should be very clear to the US government,'' she noted. ``The US government is saying that our quarrel is with Saddam Hussein and his regime and not the Iraqi people, so it seems that to promote professional ties and encourage opportunities for doctors to get together makes sense.'' Richards contends that ``this is the professional class we're trying to save and work with to promote a democracy and build a stable democracy, and instead we are watching and very much aware that tens of thousands of physicians and other professionals have left Iraq.'' She added that when such overall sanctions had been imposed on Iran after the US embassy take-over in the late-1970s, there had been recognition of the need to allow a continuing flow of medical information and exchange. ``But (for Iraq) there are no exemptions made and no consideration (regarding) the impact this is having on doctors (there) and the level of healthcare they are going to be able give with the sanctions imposed on them,'' Richards said. Acknowledging that the situation is ``complex,'' Richards nonetheless said it was an urgent situation that must be addressed if medical care in Iraq is to be improved. ``We would like to encourage American non-governmental (organizations) to work in Iraq -- since there are already European non-governmental organizations there,'' she said. ``We would like there to be an opportunity for Iraqi social scientists to be able to get together with American and European social science work groups to organize research concerning the effect of the sanctions and figure out the best way to rebuild their institutions.'' Richards noted that the world can either help remedy the problems now or face an even more difficult situation down the road. Cautioning that the 'brain drain' is real and growing, she noted that ``eventually, government people and aid agencies are going to be going in and say 'all right let's fix everything', and the people that know the most about what has to be fixed and how to do it are the Iraqi professionals themselves.'' SOURCE: The Lancet 2000;355:1093-1094. ---------------------- Wednesday March 29 5:42 PM ET Doctor: Aid Needed for Iraqi Victims By CLAR NI CHONGHAILE, Associated Press Writer PARIS (AP) - A British doctor called for international medical aid Wednesday for thousands of Iraqi Kurds suffering from a cancers and congenital diseases 12 years after Iraq dropped chemical weapons on the city of Halabja. Christine Gosden, head of medical genetics at Liverpool University, said medical aid was desperately needed in the remote northern Iraqi city where clouds of mustard and sarin gas killed 4,500 to 8,000 people in 1988. ``There is no palliative care and they suffer agonizing deaths. Potential parents are dying before they can have children,'' said Godsen, who has been campaigning for international help since visiting Halabja in 1998. She cited a range of diseases afflicting the town's population, including cancers, spina bifida and Downs Syndrome. ``This is only 12 years after the attack and the number of cancers and congenital defects are increasing. It does not seem to have reached a plateau,'' she told a news conference. She said she had no firm figures on how many people have died since the attack. ``We would like to get the exact figures. We would like to do a systematic survey,'' she added. The doctor accused the Iraqis of using the Kurds as guinea pigs in the bombings, which were part of a campaign of repression against Kurds who had supported Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. Gosden also said there were many cases of mental illness and an increase in suicide attempts, even among the group judged least prone to suicide - young women with children. Around 250,000 people were exposed to chemical and biological weapons during Iraqi bombardment of the region in 1988, and many more were indirectly exposed through drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food, Gosden said. ------------------------------ MARCH 28, 14:19 EST Saddam's Son Wins Assembly Race By DONNA BRYSON Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's elder son won an overwhelming victory Tuesday in parliamentary elections in which every winner — and every loser — supported the president. Odai Hussein, a possible heir to his father, won ``the highest number of votes among all candidates,'' Justice Minister Shabib Lazem al-Maliki told reporters. The vote in his Baghdad constituency sets Odai up for a run at the powerful post of speaker. Voters in Iraqi parliamentary elections each pick a slate of candidates on their ballot. The justice minister did not give figures on Odai's vote total, but the state-run weekly newspaper, al-Ittihad, said Odai was named on 99.99 percent of ballots cast Monday. Odai's victory was a foregone conclusion, as was that of the ruling Baath party. Al-Maliki said all 165 candidates who contested for Baath won seats in the 250-member parliament, the National Assembly. Fifty-five other winners are nominal independents ``who have expressed allegiance to the Baath Party,'' al-Maliki said. The remaining 30 members will be appointed by Saddam to represent the three autonomous Kurdish provinces, where elections were not held since they are out of Baghdad's control. With the landslide victory, Odai could make the National Assembly — at present only a rubber stamp to the all-powerful Revolutionary Command Council — a base of power for a new generation. Odai owns several newspapers, including Iraq's most influential daily, Babil, and the popular television channel al-Shebab. Both have displayed an unusual willingness to criticize senior government officials. Odai's entry into parliament will also give him a chance at the speaker's post in the new assembly, which convenes April 7. The position of parliamentary speaker is viewed in Iraq as nearly equal to that of prime minister, a post held by Saddam. The speaker usually attends Revolutionary Command Council meetings. Asked who could be elected speaker, al-Maliki, the justice minister, said: ``The popularity of a candidate should be a good indicator.'' For all that is known about him — and Odai has an unusually high public profile for an Iraqi politician — much remains in shadow. In a 1994 book, an Iraqi dissident living in exile in Europe said he once served as a double in Odai's security squad and painted a brutal portrait of the president's son. Latif Yahia's book is banned in Iraq, and no one here would dare even discuss Yahia's tales — Odai imprisoning men in order to rape their wives, torturing subordinates, even killing an aide to his father. The 35-year-old Odai, who survived a 1996 assassination attempt, has built a platform around reaching out to young Iraqis. He has shown himself open to new ideas, saying Monday he would work for the multiparty system his father had pledged to put in place nearly a decade ago. Eighteen-year-old Latif Safaa, old enough to vote for the first time Monday, said he was inspired by Odai's calls for young Iraqis to dedicate themselves to the country. ``If I were in parliament, I would build new sports clubs and fix the old ones, for the youth,'' said Safaa, a soccer fan. ``I would give priority to the young people, because young people are the future.'' Rallies and election manifestos were banned and candidates had very limited access to the media. But Odai has his own media holdings, and a series of populist editorials that appeared in his papers in recent days could be read as campaign literature. ----------------- -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi