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Hello all: To avoid causing problem to your mailboxes, I am sending this week's news in three parts. There are many (34) articles to include because they cover an eleven day period. Also, as I check the Associated Press (AP), Reuters, Agence France-Presse (AFP), BBC, CNN, Stratfor, ArabicNews regularly, it would be better if you send me news reports from other sources only. Sorry I could not delete any irrelevant information this time because I got tired from reading. Thanks, Hathal Sources: AP, Reuters, AFP, BBC, CNN, Stratfor, ArabicNews, Iraq action coalition, Jordan Times, Al-Ahram Weekly, World Socialist, World Council of Churches (WCC), Yahoo!, Toronto Daily Star (TDS), New Straits Times Press (NSTP), Bernama . Canadian Foreign Affairs Committee Calls for De-linking Sanctions on Iraq (Iraq action coalition) . Canadian MPs take action (TDS) ˇ UN OKs Iraq Inspection Agency Plan (AP) ˇ Iraq Rejects Weapons Check Plan (AP) ˇ March death toll from embargo over 9,000, says Iraq (AFP) ˇ US-British Bombing Kills 14 (AP) ˇ Cohen Says Air Strikes Keeping Saddam 'Contained' (Reuters) . France Condemns Air Raids in Iraq (AP) ˇ U.S. Bristles at French Criticism of Iraq Raids (Reuters) ˇ China Urges Western Powers to Stop Bombing Iraq (Reuters) ˇ Ohio Congressman Arrives in Jordan (AP) ˇ Cohen Says U.S. Prepared to Defend Gulf Allies (Reuters) ˇ Cohen trip: "'Persuasion' against the wall" (Jordan Times) ˇ Cohen's latest weapon-peddling tour (Al-Ahram Weekly) ˇ Iraq asks UN to intervene to get Turkish soldiers out (AFP) ˇ Mandela Slams Western Action In Kosovo, Iraq (Reuters) ˇ World Council of Churches Appeals to the United Nations to Lift Sanctions on The Civilian Population of Iraq (WCC Press release) (18 February '00) ˇ Meeting on Iraq Sanctions Describes Horrors Inflicted by US and Allies (WSWS) ˇ Former UN official for lifting sanctions from Iraq (AP) ˇ Prosecutor Refers Italian pilot's Case to First Instance Court (Jordan Times) ˇ Iraq Says Iranian Exiles' Bases Came Under Fire (Reuters) ˇ Bahrain, UAE Reopen Baghdad Embassies (Stratfor) (5 April '00) . Iran repatriates nearly 2,000 Iraqi POWs (Reuters) ˇ Iraqi POWs refuse to go home (Reuters) ˇ Iran says Iraq still holding 3,000 prisoners (Reuters) ˇ Poisoned Cigars, Perhaps? Analysis Of US' Iraq Policy (Jane's Defence Weekly) ˇ In-depth Analysis of Iran's Capture of Iraqi Oil Smuggling and its Impact on a Web of Relations Among U.S./Iraq/Iran/Syria/Israel (2 Stratfor reports) ˇ UN Sanctions Destroying Iraqi Civilization (Bernama) ˇ Iraq's Ward of Death (BBC) ˇ The Day the Music Died (NSTP, via IRIS) ˇ Suffer the young (Yahoo!) ˇ Ten Years of Sanctions Leaves Saddam astride a weakened Iraq (AFP) ˇ Saddam Contains Eldest Son's Bid for Power (Stratfor) ________________________________________________________ News for 6 April '00 to 16 April '00 (Part 1 of 3: 6 April to 9 April plus two older reports) ________________________________________________________ ˇ WCC Office of Communication, 18 February '00 150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland WCC appeals to the United Nations to lift sanctions on the civilian population of Iraq. The following letter was sent by Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), to United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, on Friday 18 February: The resignations of Mr. Hans von Sponeck, United Nations Aid Coordinator and of Ms. Jutta Burghardt, World Food Program Chief in Iraq have again drawn attention to the disastrous effects of the Security Council's sanctions on the people of this nation. Explaining his decision, Mr. von Sponeck said that the "Oil for Food" régime failed to meet even the "minimum requirements" of the civilian population, and that "as a UN Official I should not be expected to be silent to that which I recognize as a true human tragedy that needs to be ended". The World Council of Churches has issued statements along similar lines and shared them with you. It is therefore heartening to see that persons of the quality of these two senior UN staff have acted according to their conscience at potential personal sacrifice. They bring credit to the United Nations and to the role of the international civil servant. These international civil servants have now rightly suggested that such sanctions are tantamount to violation by the United Nations itself of the fundamental rights inscribed in international law through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Covenants established to implement its provisions. We believe they are right. We sincerely hope that the international community and especially the Security Council will pay heed to the gruesome situation they have again described. For over a decade the people of Iraq have suffered under a sanctions regime that is unrelentingly punitive of the people of Iraq who are hardly to blame for the actions of their government. The comprehensive application of an economic embargo in a manner that ignores the fundamental humanitarian needs and rights of 22 million people to basic health care, food and shelter is unacceptable. This is not new information. It has been amply documented by competent UN Agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international non-governmental organizations that the majority of the Iraqi people are denied the bare level of sustenance necessary to live a life of human dignity. The WCC has consistently received reports over the past decade on the deteriorating conditions of the population, especially of children, from its member churches and the Middle East Council of Churches Ecumenical Relief Service in Iraq. We also sent an expert delegation to Iraq in early 1998 to review the position. The World Council of Churches holds that sanctions can be a legitimate and valuable tool available to the international community to enforce compliance with international law when applied prudently by a responsible international authority. Precisely in order to address situations like that prevailing in the case of Iraq, the WCC Central Committee adopted in 1995 a set of criteria for the just and effective application of sanctions. These were shared with you and the relevant Security Council committee at that time. In the preambular section of the resolution containing these criteria. The Central Committee cautioned that: Even when appropriately applied under the authority of the UN Charter, sanctions have not always been consistent, impartial or effective. ... The absence of a clear, consistent, and effective system of enforcement by the UN further complicates the picture. This, and the ambiguity of international law has allowed individual governments to use the term sanctions to provide a cloak of moral and legal justification for some of their own foreign policy initiatives. Especially since 1990, powerful states have sought UN endorsement of their intention to apply what they have termed sanctions. This practice requires careful scrutiny by the churches and by the international community. The WCC "Criteria for Determining the Applicability and Effectiveness of Sanctions" include, inter alia: Clear and limited purpose. Sanctions should have a clearly defined purpose and explicit criteria should be given for determining the conditions under which that purpose will be seen to be achieved, and the sanctions lifted. Sanctions may not have a punitive purpose beyond compliance, nor may they be used for self-aggrandizement, or applied to further the economic, ideological political, military or other narrow national self-interest of a state or a group of states. Having received the report of the WCC delegation which visited Iraq, the WCC Central Committee in 1998, appealed through you to the UN Security Council to undertake a thorough review of the sanctions regime on Iraq, taking into account its impact on the civilian population, and with a view to defining clear and agreed goals with a specific time frame and benchmarks for the full lifting of sanctions. We believe that economic sanctions can provide a non-violent alternative to war when applied under strict conditions and carefully monitored. Though in its Res. 1284 (1999) the Security Council returned to the question of delivery of humanitarian goods, it has still not appropriately or clearly defined sanctions against Iraq, nor has increasing monitoring diminished the suffering of the Iraqi people. The World Council of Churches therefore believes that the time is overdue for the Security Council to lift with immediate effect all sanctions that have direct and indiscriminate effect on the civilian population of Iraq. I would be grateful if you would bring this concern to the attention of the Security Council. ________________________________________________________ ˇ Bahrain, UAE Reopen Baghdad Embassies, 5 April '00 http://www.stratfor.com/meaf/commentary/0004050136.htm Bahrain announced April 1 plans to reopen its Baghdad embassy soon, citing "humanitarian grounds" as an explanation. Unnamed Arab diplomats told Agence France-Presse April 4 that "an initiative to reopen the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embassy in Baghdad will be taken in the next few weeks." No specific reason was given. The re-openings mark a significant shift in Bahrain and UAE policy, which is driven by the larger strategic relationships in the Persian Gulf. The embassies were shut down on the onset of the 1990-91 Gulf War; the United Nations hit Iraq with heavy sanctions and pressured other Arab nations into curbing their ties to Baghdad. Now, nearly 10 years later, it appears that Bahrain and the UAE, two key U.S. allies, are now reopening their embassies without regard to their relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran and even the United States. The moves come at a critical time when viewed in the context of the incongruous relations between Iran and certain members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Also, the move appears to contradict U.S. policy toward Iraq. Actually, the intricacies of GCC-Iranian relations, coupled with a shift in U.S. strategic policy toward Iraq, may explain why Bahrain and the UAE have decided to reopen their Baghdad embassies. The GCC, which rarely acts as a cohesive group, is split on a collective Iran policy. Iran has tried to establish a strategic partnership with the GCC that could guarantee security in the Persian Gulf, eliminating the need for foreign military in the region. Saudi Arabia, which would like to see a decreased U.S. military presence in the Gulf, has warmed to the proposal and improved its relations with Iran. Kuwait, which has close military ties to the United States, has no problem with a continued U.S. military presence and thus tries to remain neutral. Oman and Qatar have approached the issue of Iran rapprochement with reluctance but do not oppose it. Bahrain and the UAE are against Iranian rapprochement because of a dispute over islands in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran occupies three strategic islands in the Strait, although both Tehran and Abu Dhabi lay claim to them. The UAE wants the GCC countries to insist that Iran resolve the islands issue before the GCC improves ties with Tehran. Bahrain publicly backs the UAE position, yet Saudi Arabia has failed to support it. This has led UAE to distance itself from GCC policy, and UAE-Saudi relations have been cool as well. The UAE, by itself too small to pressure Iran, may be using the threat of cooperation with Iraq to pressure Tehran into making concessions on the islands issue. The UAE recently made a similar move with Syria. Along these same lines, there have been reports that Iraq is using UAE companies to purchase Russian weapons platforms. Initially, it seems that the United States would oppose the UAE and Bahrain opening embassies in Baghdad. But, the recent shift in U.S. policy toward Iraq may have weighed on their decision. Washington recently doubled the amount of money Iraq can spend on spare parts for its oil infrastructure in an effort to ensure that high oil prices begin to fall. At the same time Washington wants oil price relief, it also wants to keep the crippling U.N. sanctions in place. The United States will now have the opportunity to utilize allied observers inside Baghdad to supply Washington with information that is currently inaccessible. Because the United States is eager to have allies in Baghdad, it is quietly assenting to the UAE and Bahrain's desire to play power politics against Iran. According to the U.S. State Department, Washington does not encourage nor discourage its allies in the region from maintaining diplomatic ties with Iraq as long as they continue to maintain the U.N. policy on Iraq. Rather than oppose the move by the UAE and Bahrain, the United States has actually given it a tacit nod. At the same time, the United States fuels the discord among the GCC states and Iran in order to maintain its military presence in the Gulf. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, during his visit to Abu Dhabi's presidential palace last year, mentioned "the threat Iran poses in terms of its foreign policy." Also, Washington is nearing the finishing stages of approving a plan to sell 80 F-16s to the UAE. The United States is pursuing simultaneous and sometimes conflicting strategies. It is trying to maintain traditional allies, open ties with Iran and contain Iraq, while also using Baghdad for domestic economic reasons. Knowing this, it is unlikely that the United States will object to the UAE and Bahrain re-opening embassies in Iraq. As the larger powers in the Persian Gulf - Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States - maneuver, the smaller nations, such as Bahrain and the UAE, will continue to base their politics on these larger relationships, as evidenced by the reopening of Baghdad embassies. ________________________________________________________ ˇ Iran Captures Iraqi Oil and U.S. Attention (Stratfor analysis report), 6 April '00 http://www.stratfor.com Summary The recent Iranian seizure of an Iraqi oil tanker and the Iranian government's subsequent comments indicate a significant shift in its policy toward the United States. Tehran appears to be cooperating with Washington to strangle Baghdad. Iran would do this for two reasons - to keep the price of oil stable in the short term and to help solidify what is now a fluid U.S. policy in the region. Iran's first goal is slightly at odds with short-term U.S. policy - lowering oil prices - but Washington will be willing to accept that price in order to lock down a long-term goal, a positive relationship with Iran and contain Iraq. Analysis The marine patrol of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized an Iraqi oil tanker on April 1, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi told Agence France Presse that the ship was seized because "it is our policy to forbid and prevent all smuggling." Asefi added, "it is also a sign of Iran's respect for the resolutions of the United Nations." The vessel, registered under a Honduran flag, was smuggling 2,500 tons of Iraqi crude oil when it was intercepted and impounded. Honduras is a common flag of convenience for older and smaller vessels, because the country has one of the most liberal open Ship Registries in the world. According to the Energy Information Administration, Iraq smuggles about 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil via several routes. One common smuggling route out of the Persian Gulf follows the Iranian coast until entering international waters near the Strait of Hormuz. By utilizing Iranian waters, ships illegally carrying Iraqi crude can avoid detection by the U.S. and British Maritime Interception Force (MIF), which enforces U.N. sanctions against Iraq. Iran is certainly not known for policing smugglers of Iraqi oil, and the tanker seizure could simply have been an isolated incident involving money. According to the BBC, the Iranian navy reportedly charges a toll of $50 per ton of smuggled Iraqi oil, a sum that secures right of passage and buys smugglers false papers hiding the origin of their cargo. This is the least plausible explanation, though, since the Iranian Foreign Ministry used the incident to publicly state its policy of being anti-smuggling and pro-United Nations. A more probable explanation is that Iran is pursuing its own multi- faceted agenda of keeping oil prices high and pressuring Iraq, while giving a nod to the United States. Iran saw that U.S. overtures toward Tehran had diminished because the two were at odds over short-term oil price concerns. This threatened Iran in two ways. First, it risked the United States opening more to Iraq - evidenced by the UAE and Bahrain re-opening embassies in Baghdad - to the detriment of Iran. Second, a U.S. easing of sanctions on Iraq threatened to lower oil prices too much for Iran's long-term interests. Iran's crackdown on Iraqi smuggling cleverly forwarded the country's dual agenda. It enforced U.S. imposed sanctions, thus undermining U.S. short-term oil policy in favor of U.S. long-term Iraq policy. And it aided the attempt to keep oil prices up. At the recent OPEC meeting, Iran refused to agree with its fellow members on how far to raise the production quotas. Iran's oil infrastructure is running at near full capacity. Thus, the country gains little from an increase in production, which will ultimately drive the price of oil downward. By cracking down on Iraqi smuggling, Iran can potentially take a reasonable amount of oil off the world market - or at least delay it - by forcing Iraq to look for new smuggling routes. At the same time, Iran is giving a political nod toward the United States following Washington's recent relaxation of Iranian import restrictions and its lenience on Iraqi sanctions. In mid-February, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff "approached" Iran about the growing amount of illegal Iraqi oil being smuggled through the Gulf. Iran appears to be cooperating, and Washington's response is clear. U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said on April 5 that if the reports are true, "we are pleased to see that Iran is taking measures against this illegal traffic." Iran's move also comes amid increased tension between Iran and Iraq. Last month, Iraq accused Iran of staging a mortar attack in Baghdad that killed four people. Iraq also claimed to have shot down two Iranian unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. Baghdad also harbors the armed Iranian opposition group, the People's Mujahadeen Khalq (MKO), which claimed responsibility for a recent mortar attack in Tehran. But, Iran can threaten Iraq's oil smuggling routes without an increased Iraqi military threat since Iraq's military has been largely kept at bay by U.N. sanctions and enforcement of no-fly zones. The seizure also gains significance in light of the history of Iran-Iraq tanker wars during the 1980-88 war. Iran would not have made the move if it were not confident that the United States would keep the Iraqis from retaliating against its ships. Tehran either gambled that the United States would be forced by its own sanctions to condone the move, or it had back-channel assurances of U.S. cooperation. The first possibility suggests an opening for better relations, and the latter would indicate that there has already been a major breakthrough in U.S.-Iranian relations. Either way, Iran just made a major move to shake the United States out of its political daze. The real test will be whether or not Iran continues its tacit cooperation with the United States. If so, it will be a big step forward for U.S.-Iranian relations. Strategically, Iran has everything to gain. ________________________________________________________ ˇ Iraq: US-British Bombing Kills 14, 6 April '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000406/wl/iraq_us_2.html By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. and British warplanes struck targets in southern Iraq on Thursday, and the Iraqi military said they hit residential areas, killing 14 civilians and injuring 19. The U.S. military confirmed that planes carried out strikes, but said they were against military targets in response to attacks by Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery. A spokesman said there was no immediate indication of Iraqi casualties. The official Iraqi news agency's report, which cited an unidentified Iraqi Air Defense spokesman, did not specify the nature of targets hit or their exact location, but said the jets flew over six provinces in the southern no-fly zone. ``The American and British criminals added another crime to their barbaric acts ... when their ravens bombed residential areas and civil installations,'' the agency said. At U.S. Center Command in Tampa, Fla., spokesman Lt. Col. Rick Thomas said the strikes were aimed at Iraqi military targets. ``They fired at us today. We struck in response to that,'' Thomas said, adding that U.S. pilots attempt as a rule to minimize the risk of civilian casualties. The number of deaths reported in the strikes was the highest since Aug. 17, when Iraq said 19 civilians were killed and 11 were injured during attacks in northern and southern Iraq. On Tuesday, authorities reported that strikes had killed two people and injured two in the south. Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zones set up after the 1991 Gulf War to provide aerial protection from government forces for Shiite Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north. It began challenging the patrols in December 1998, and allied forces often have responded by firing on Iraqi anti-aircraft and radar installations. At a news conference Thursday, Iraqi Air Defense Chief Lt. Gen. Shaheen Yassin vowed there will be no letup to Iraq's defiance of the U.S. and British jets policing the zones. ``We shall use our defenses, our weapons and whatever means we have until they give up,'' he said. Thursday's casualty figure raises the death toll reported by Iraq to 97 since December 1998. More than 300 Iraqi civilians have been injured in strikes since then, Shaheen said. ________________________________________________________ ˇ Cohen Says Air Strikes Keeping Saddam 'Contained', 7 April '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000407/pl/iraq_usa_1.html MANAMA (Reuters) - Defense Secretary William Cohen on Friday told troops aboard an aircraft carrier they were helping to keep Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ``contained'' with air strikes. Planes from the USS Stennis stationed in the Gulf took part in strikes on targets in southern Iraq on Thursday. U.S. and British planes regularly patrol no-fly zones that Western powers established in northern and southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to protect dissidents. Cohen, who is visiting the Gulf region partly to maintain support for U.S. policy on Iraq, told about 1,500 U.S. military members on the aircraft carrier they were ``helping to keep Saddam Hussein contained.'' He added: ``I just learned that once again while they're (Iraqis) out there firing triple A's (anti-aircraft artillery) at our pilots, that we are responding accordingly.'' Iraq said 14 people were killed and 19 injured in the Western strikes on Thursday. ``Yesterday there was heavy anti-aircraft artillery fire against our air crew and aircraft in the no-fly zone,'' Vice Admiral Charles Moore, commander of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet headquartered here, said. ``The targets were all military targets and they were not near any residential areas or any other areas where civilians could possibly be located,'' Moore said. ``The damage assessment is comprehensive and indicates we did significant damage to the targets, but I don't have any indications about casualties,'' he said. ``If there were casualties it would be unlikely they would be civilian casualties.'' ________________________________________________________ ˇ France Condemns Air Raids in Iraq, 7 April '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000407/wl/france_iraq_bombings_1.html PARIS (AP) - France on Friday strongly condemned recent U.S.-British air raids in Iraq, calling them ``pointless and deadly.'' U.S. and British warplanes struck targets in southern Iraq on Thursday, and the Iraqi military said they hit residential areas, killing 14 civilians and injuring 19. ``The bombings, pointless and deadly, which have caused, according to our information, around 20 civilian victims over the past few days in southern Iraq, are disquieting,'' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret said at a news conference. ``We reaffirm our incomprehension, our profound unease in relation to the pursuit and intensification of the air strikes against Iraq, in which the people are the principal victims,'' Gazeau-Secret said. Asked if she condemned the bombings, Gazeau-Secret said: ``We greatly deplore them.'' France - along with Britain and the United States - helped establish no-fly zones in the north and south of Iraq in 1991, at the end of the Persian Gulf War. However, since 1998, France has not actively taken part in patrolling the zones. Iraq does not recognize the zones, which the allies say are meant to provide aerial protection from government forces for Shiite Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north. It began challenging the patrols in December 1998, and NATO forces often have responded by firing on Iraqi anti-aircraft and radar installations. The U.S. military confirmed that planes carried out strikes, but said they were against military targets in response to attacks by Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery. A spokesman said there was no immediate indication of Iraqi casualties. In Washington, State Department Spokesman James Rubin said Thursday that France ought to direct its remarks to Iraq. ``If there's no point to these raids by us, the French government would be well-advised to inform the Iraqi government ... to stop threatening American pilots, then there won't be any need for the raids,'' he told reporters. Rubin said the no-fly zone was designed to prevent Iraq from using its air space ``to maul its own citizens.'' ``And as a result of the no-fly zone, they haven't been able to do that. In order to keep that no-fly zone in place, we have to have protection for our pilots,'' he said. The number of deaths reported in the strikes was the highest since Aug. 17, when Iraq said 19 civilians were killed and 11 were injured during attacks in northern and southern Iraq. France's sharp criticism comes after the United States came under fire at the United Nations Security Council for its policy toward Baghdad, with accusations it is undermining U.N. relief efforts by blocking over $1 billion in goods bound for Iraq. Iraq's friends on the council - Russia, France and China - held out the toughest criticism during an open meeting of the council on Mar. 24. Russia on Friday also protested the most recent U.S.-British airstrikes on Iraq. ________________________________________________________ ˇ China Urges Western Powers to Stop Iraq Bombing, 7 April '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000407/wl/china_iraq_1.html BEIJING (Reuters) - China urged the United States and Britain to halt military action against Iraq and cancel the ''no-fly'' zones, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday. ``China is really concerned over the recent developments in Iraq and feels deeply uneasy for the civilian casualties caused by the bombing,'' Xinhua quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi as saying. Sun said China had consistently advocated that Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence should be fully respected. The Iraqi news agency said 14 people were killed and 19 injured by Western air strikes in southern Iraq on Thursday. The U.S. military's Central Command confirmed that U.S. attack jets and British Royal Air Force Tornadoes struck anti-aircraft artillery targets in southern Iraq on Thursday in response to ``repeated anti-aircraft fire'' against warplanes patrolling the no-fly zone in the region earlier in the day. U.S. and British planes patrolling northern and southern Iraq frequently clash with Iraqi air defenses. No-fly zones were declared in the two regions after the 1991 Gulf War by the Western powers, who said they were needed to protect dissidents from Iraqi air power. ________________________________________________________ ˇ U.S. Bristles at French Criticism of Iraq Raids, 7 April '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20000407/pl/iraq_france_1.html WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States bristled on Friday at French criticism of the latest U.S. and British air raids on Iraqi air defenses, in which Iraq says 14 people were killed and 19 injured on Thursday. The French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Anne Gazeau-Secret, said on Friday that the Western air raids were pointless, deadly and alarming. State Department spokesman James Rubin said in response that Iraq was responsible because it was threatening U.S. and British pilots enforcing no-fly zones in Iraq. ``The French government, to the extent they regard these raids as pointless, ought to direct ... these comments to Iraq to stop Iraq from threatening American and British forces that are doing a job to protect the people of Iraq,'' he said. ``We certainly agree that they are pointless in the sense that there would be no point to them if Iraq wasn't threatening American pilots,'' he added. The United States said U.S. and British planes responded on Thursday to heavy anti-aircraft artillery fire in the southern no-fly zone, declared by Washington after the Gulf War to deter Iraqi ground attacks on Shi'ite Muslim civilians. Rubin said, ``It (the no-fly zone) is to prevent Iraq from using its airspace to maul its own citizens and as a result of the no-fly zone they haven't been able to do that.'' ________________________________________________________ ˇ Cohen Says U.S. Prepared to Defend Gulf Allies, 8 April '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20000408/ts/iraq_usa_2.html By Tabassum Zakaria KUWAIT (Reuters) - Defense Secretary William Cohen observed a live-fire exercise by U.S. Marines in the Kuwaiti desert about 30 miles from the Iraqi border on Saturday. Cohen watched marines lob grenades and fire machine guns and shoulder-launched assault weapons known as ``bunker busters'' and said the exercise showed the United States was prepared to defend its allies in the region. Cohen is on a visit of the Gulf partly aimed at maintaining support for U.S. policy on Iraq. ``This is the kind of training that is required to make sure that we always have a strong deterrent,'' Cohen said. ``It's not directed specifically against (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein. ``We remain prepared to defend should he ever try once again to attack Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or to launch any attack against his neighbors, but this is preparation for all contingencies,'' he said. At another stop to talk to Marines training in the desert, Cohen said he hoped television coverage of the live-fire training exercise would be shown in Iraq and Iran. ``Hopefully they will show it in Iran and Iraq as well, and other countries who might take a look and see just how good you really are,'' he said. French criticism of Western air strikes on Iraq's southern no-fly zone Thursday did not imply any weakening of the resolve of Western allies to force Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions requiring Baghdad to allow weapons inspectors to return, Cohen said. ``All of the countries are united in supporting the resolutions which insist upon full Iraqi compliance,'' Cohen said. ``The fact that a French minister made these comments does not in anyway indicate that there's any lessening of commitment to see to it that Saddam fully complies with his obligations to let the inspectors back in and to make sure that he has dismantled, discontinued his weapons of mass destruction program,'' he said. U.S. and British planes regularly patrol no-fly zones that Western powers established in northern and southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to protect dissidents. The war followed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Iraq said 14 people were killed and 19 injured in Thursday's air strikes. Earlier on Saturday in Bahrain, Cohen said films of Thursday's air strikes showed ``these were not civilians who were firing anti-aircraft (artillery) at our airplanes.'' He added: ``They should understand that if they are going to fire upon U.S. or British aircraft that are enforcing the no-fly zones, they can expect to be hit. ``We are very careful in looking at military targets and we do everything in our power to avoid civilian casualties.'' Cohen planned to talk to Kuwaiti officials about the Cooperative Defense Initiative that is aimed at having a regional system to protect allies and U.S. troops from a chemical or biological attack. It involves detection of missile launches, protective clothing, and equipment that can identify the type of chemical or biological agent involved. ``The intelligence would indicate the spread of chemical and biological weapons has not abated in any way and we have to be prepared for the worst type of an attack. And that's why we are engaged in the preparation that we are,'' he said. Cohen in Qatar earlier this week discussed using an air base there for U.S. planes at times of crisis, but he said there were no plans to expand the U.S. military's presence in the region. ``We have not talked about any expansion in the region,'' he said. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi