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News for 6 April '00 to 16 April '00 (Part 3 of 3: 14 April to 16 April ________________________________________________________ MPs urge lifting sanctions to halt Iraq `tragedy', TDS, 14 April '00 http://www.thestar.com/thestar/editorial/news/20000414NEW01c_NA-IRAQ.html April 14, 2000 MPs urge lifting sanctions to halt Iraq `tragedy' By William Walker Toronto Star Ottawa Bureau Chief OTTAWA - The United Nations' economic sanctions against Iraq should be lifted to stop a continuing ``humanitarian tragedy,'' an all-party House of Commons committee is recommending. And Canada should re-establish diplomatic ties with Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government, the unanimous foreign affairs committee report concludes. Canada supports the U.S. government-led position of full economic sanctions against Iraq in the wake of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Saddam's attacks on Kurdish Iraqi citizens and Iraq's missile attacks on Israel. But Liberal government MPs who control the majority of votes on the foreign affairs committee boldly supported the recommendation for a radical change in policy. Committee chairman Bill Graham (L-Toronto Centre-Rosedale) will be at the United Nations on Monday to discuss the report with Canada's U.N. ambassador Robert Fowler. Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy arrived in New York City last night following a seven-hour flight from Geneva and will attend U.N. meetings there through next Thursday. It is believed Axworthy supports the committee's report and wants to capitalize on Canada's chairmanship of the U.N. Security Council this month to raise the issue of reforming sanctions - not only against Iraq but in Kosovo as well - to avoid making ordinary citizens pay for the actions of their leaders. ``It's an attempt to put pressure on to get these issues of sanctions reviewed while Canada is presiding at the Security Council,'' Graham said in an interview yesterday. The move will put pressure on the Americans. Axworthy has already tried to raise the issue, but was reportedly shot down at a meeting last year in Singapore with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Axworthy had already crossed the Americans on issues such as the land-mine treaty ban, Cuba policy and the International Criminal Court. So sources say he had decided to let the sanctions issue go - until now. Canada's foreign affairs committee heard horrifying testimony from former U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, from church groups and other non-governmental organizations about the plight of Iraqi citizens. Twenty years ago, Iraq was a relatively wealthy and modern country by Mideast standards. The decade-old sanctions imposed by the West, however, have included a ceiling on the amount of oil Baghdad could export to buy food and medicine as well as a yearly limit on the amount of spare parts and equipment it could buy to support its dilapidated oil industry. Iraq now has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, one in four children are chronically malnourished, the education system has collapsed and 60 per cent of Iraq's 22 million citizens don't have access to clean water. The Commons report suggests ``delinking'' economic from military sanctions as well as ensuring that as sanctions are lifted, all measures remain in place to ensure that security and military issues continue to be addressed. A coalition of groups representing Lutheran, Catholic, Mennonite, Presbyterian and United churches' world relief organizations and physicians' groups welcomed the report's call for an end to sanctions against Iraq. The agencies said more than 4,000 children die in Iraq each month due to the conditions caused by sanctions and in total, more than 1 million Iraqi civilians have died. ``This is a very important step toward ending a sanctions regime that is illegal, unconscionable and immoral,'' said Dr. Sheila Zurbrigg of Physicians for Global Survival, part of the coalition. ``We've been very disappointed with the Canadian government's past support for U.S. positions around sanctions. (This report) sends a clear signal that a whole new approach is needed.'' ________________________________________________________ · UN OKs Iraq Inspection Agency Plan , 14 April '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000414/wl/un_iraq_3.html By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix won easy Security Council approval of his organization plans for the new U.N. inspection agency for Iraq. Now he faces the tricky question of whether Iraq will accept new inspectors. Blix said in an interview after Thursday's unanimous council vote that he believes there are strong reasons why Baghdad should consider accepting the new inspection regime. The Security Council resolution which created the new U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission in December opens ``a new chapter,'' he stressed. Most importantly, it offers the possibility of suspending economic sanctions against Iraq if Baghdad cooperates with inspectors, very different criteria than the 1990 council resolution that requires the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before sanctions are lifted, he said. The resolution also gives the new commission, known as UNMOVIC, a stronger U.N. identity because its staff will be paid by U.N. funds and trained by U.N. officials - not loaned from governments as were the employees of its predecessor, the U.N. Special Commission, Blix said. The Security Council created UNMOVIC to replace the U.N. Special Commission, known as UNSCOM, because its credibility was questioned, especially after allegations that its inspectors spied on Iraq on behalf of the United States. U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in December 1998 ahead of U.S. and British airstrikes, launched to punish Iraq for failing to cooperate with the inspectors - and Baghdad barred UNSCOM from returning. Top Iraqi officials have said Baghdad would not accept new U.N. weapons inspectors, but others have left open the possibility of compromise. ``We hope at some stage Iraq will accept inspections,'' Blix said. ``But they will decide for themselves what they'll do,'' he said. ``I do not see it as my function to persuade Iraq. ... Above all, I do not feel that I have any authority on my part to give any discount on the resolution. I'm not negotiating the resolution. I implement it.'' U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said Iraq should now cooperate fully and allow Blix's inspectors to do their job. ``This charade from Baghdad really has gone on much too long,'' he said. Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said there's ``a good chance'' Iraq would cooperate with the new agency if the United States and Britain stopped their airstrikes in the no-fly zones over Iraq and the U.S. ended its efforts to undermine the Iraqi government. ``But if unilateral (actions) continue, then I don't believe the atmospherics would be right for any hope for success,'' he said. Britain's U.N. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said the airstrikes were a ``justified and proportionate'' response to Iraqi action. Meanwhile, Blix said he would now start interviewing for a ``core staff'' of 40-plus full-time professionals in New York as well as part-time experts who can be called on for specific missions. Despite some calls for a completely new staff, Blix said he expects some UNSCOM workers to be kept on, noting that they have valuable ``institutional memory.'' ________________________________________________________ The day the music died, NSTP (via IRIS), 14 April '00 ALI H has a degree in biology from the College of Science in Baghdad, but works as a taxi-driver. Ahmad D holds an electrical engineering degree and is employed at a green grocer's. Ammar Ad has a degree in mechanical engineering but works on a weaver machine. Salah A, a qualified architect, is a signpost writer in a small shop. Laith I, a graduate from the College of Medicine, is jobless. The list goes on - of young Iraqis who are unable to find work in the fields they were trained for, simply because there are none. Compiled by humanitarian group CARE to prove a growing trend towards "deprofessionalisation", it was submitted to Hans von Sponeck, the UN co- ordinator for Iraq who recently resigned in protest against the injustices resulting from the sanctions that have messed people's lives in ways that were unimaginable. One group badly affected is youth. Not only have these young people resigned to a future of unemployment, they have also to contend with hunger, poverty and diseases they never knew before. Only a short while ago, theirs was a thriving country - the richest in the Middle East - where education and living standards were high and life was easy. "We used to live in heaven, now it's hell," says Mohamed Ali Hussein, a student of computer science (pictured above centre, in a jacket). The music has stopped and the parties non-existent these days for him and his friends. No more cinemas or discos. There was a time when holidays in Europe were normal and designer jeans at the mall were within everybody's means. "Clothes and things were cheap compared to Paris because our economy was strong and our government provided subsidies," said Mohamed, who is convinced that the sanctions are part of a plan by the superpowers to destroy Iraq. "The embargo is meant to wipe us out," he said. "Look, there are no medicines and people are dying. Talk to people my age and you'll see they don't laugh anymore." The daily struggle to meet basic needs like enough food, clean water, electricity and fuel for cooking has sapped their spirit. The disappearance of traditional family values like getting together for feasts has made them unhappy. Young people are postponing marriages as they cannot afford the costs. An increasing number has dropped out of school and many have succumbed to depression. Ahmad Diah Fadhil, 26, is one of them. He has been treated for depression for the last 10 years after miraculously escaping death from a bomb attack at the Al-Amiriah shelter where he and his sister took refuge. In the 1991 tragedy 400 children including his sister died. Ahmad said he keeps thinking of her and can't understand why his life was spared. "I can't sleep, I can't concentrate. I don't have a job." At Ibn Rashid Hospital, Baghdad's only clinical teaching psychiatric hospital, the cases of depression and anxiety among young people are alarming. According to the World Health Organisation, the number of young people and adolescents suffering from mental disorders increased by 124 per cent from 1990 and 1998. The number of children below 10 suffering from mental distress rose from 42 per cent in 1996 to 56 per cent in 1997. "Before, we had no anxiety or depressive illnesses like now," said Dr Azar al-Shama, a five years have been miserable for all, high- and low-income families." She estimates that she sees 30-40 per cent more young people than she did before the sanctions, most for depression or anxiety. "Parents are not around as much, so children's personalities suffer," she said. "They watch their parents searching for food, medicine and clothes." Jalil al-Abbas left school at 17 a year ago to work in a bakery. He prefers this to selling cigarettes in the streets. "I was upset at having to do this because I wanted to become an engineer. But my father is ill and I have to help my family," he said. "I want to return to school but this is going to be very difficult, so I will not think about it and just make bread." In March 1999, Unicef cited figures from the Iraqi government that painted a gloomy picture of the impact of the sanctions: a 13.9 per cent drop in primary school enrolment and 14.7 per cent at tertiary level. The problem of street children has also emerged. Some have turned to crime to survive, resulting in a rise in the number of young men in rehabilitation centres. There's also an increase of 77 per cent among female street children sent for rehabilitation sine 1996. Mohamed says he is not surprised that people have dropped out of school. "School used to be fun. Everything was free - books, bags, uniforms, pens, pencils and canteen food. Now, even pencils are forbidden by the embargo. This is ridiculous." "If I speak to President Clinton, I would say you have destroyed our families and our lives," Jalil said. The young man's sentiments confirm the fears of George Somerwill, information officer for the UN office of the Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq. He said: "A whole generation of young people has grown up with absolutely nothing. We are producing a generation of young children who will be violently anti-West and we will have to deal with them." When von Sponeck resigned, he condemned the sanctions as "a true human tragedy that needs to be ended." ..TX: * The writer was part of working group that accompanied Datuk Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali to Iraq from March 25 to 29 to observe the impact of the UN sanctions. ..TX: Note: The United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq in 1990 after its invasion of Kuwait as a punishment. Among others it forbids Iraq from importing goods, neither can she export products. Because of the sufferings resulting from the shortage of basic needs, the UN introduced the Oil for Food programme in 1996. It allowed Iraq to sell US$5.2 billion worth of oil every six months under strict UN monitoring, in exchange for food, medicines and (unspecified) basic requirements. · Iraq's ward of death, 14 April http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_713000/713670.stm By Andrew North in Baghdad (BBC) The leukaemia ward at the Saddam Central Hospital for Children in Baghdad is a depressing sight. Many of the children on the ward have lost their hair because of chemotherapy treatment, others are emaciated and barely register the presence of the people around them. But most depressing of all, the doctors say that none of these children will survive. "We call this ward the ward of death," said Dr Basim Al Abdili, as he inspects a patient's notes at the end of a bed. "Every day we lose one patient, maybe more than one patient, just in this ward. The mortality rate for leukaemia and other cancers here in this ward is 100%." Aid agencies working in Iraq say it is the same story at other hospitals across the country. UN blamed Leukaemia, which affects blood and bone marrow, was relatively rare in Iraq before 1990. But according to the Iraqi Health Ministry, there has been a fourfold increase in the incidence of the disease since then, a figure that is now generally accepted by international agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO). In the West however, many leukaemia patients can be treated for the disease and survive. Not in Iraq. Dr Al Abdali blames the UN embargo, which will be 10 years old in August. It holds up supplies of the chemotherapy drugs, he said, meaning that the hospital does not have the right treatments at the right time. The US and British Governments dispute such claims, arguing that through the UN's oil-for-food programme, under which Iraqi oil sales are used to pay for its humanitarian needs, the country can buy all the drugs it needs. And they accuse the Iraqi Government of failing to distribute drugs and other medical supplies properly around the country. Equipment shortages prove fatal But it is not just drug shortages that are a problem, according to doctors at the Saddam hospital. To have a real chance of tackling many leukaemia cases, they say, they need to carry out bone marrow transplants, but at the moment no hospital in Iraq has the necessary facility. In fact, the Iraqi Health Ministry has just announced plans to set up a bone marrow transplant centre at Baghdad's Mansour hospital. But it will depend on the UN sanctions committee allowing the Ministry to import the necessary equipment. And Khalid Jamil Mohammed Al Hayat, under-secretary at the Health Ministry was not hopeful. "I expect again the Americans will suspend this equipment," because, he claimed, they are likely to say it could have a dual use, in other words that it could have a military use. US officials maintain that they have to be careful, because they do not trust the Iraqi Government. But for the staff on the leukaemia ward at the Saddam Children's hospital, discussions about a bone marrow transplant centre are just that - discussions. Day to day, they are struggling just to provide basic facilities for their patients, because the hospital is so short of funds. The leukaemia ward is run-down, with paint peeling off the walls. Children on the ward are not isolated from each other, which means infections spread easily. And doctors admit that parents sometimes carry out basic nursing tasks, because the wards are so short-staffed. Gulf War link On one bed was nine-year-old Mohanad Adnan, with his mother Hanna beside him. A large blood blister has developed over his right eye and Dr Al Abdali said he was no longer responding to the chemotherapy treatment they had available. "We expect the death of this patient in a few days, because of the continuous bleeding." Speaking through a translator, Hanna said she had no doubt what had caused her son's illness. "The cause is known, by all people inside and outside Iraq. The cause is the contamination of our land during the war." She was referring to the belief among many Iraqis that the increased incidence of leukaemia is due to radioactivity released by the depleted uranium (DU) munitions used by US and British forces during the 1991 Gulf War. DU particles are believed to have got into the food chain and the water supply. In fact, there has yet to be independent confirmation of a definite link between DU munitions and leukaemia. But anecdotal evidence suggests that it is a strong possibility. Study Most leukaemia cases are turning up in southern Iraq, where military activity was most intense. The majority of the patients in the leukaemia ward at Saddam Children's hospital are referred from towns in the south. The WHO's Baghdad representative, Dr Ghulam Popal, said it intends to start work on a detailed study of the issue later this year. But in an interview he said, "I suspect that this depleted uranium is one of the causes of this leukaemia." In Britain and America, there is widespread suspicion that DU munitions may be among the causes of so-called Gulf War syndrome, the debilitating condition that has afflicted so many Gulf veterans. When asked about the possibility of a link between DU and leukaemia among Iraqis, an official at the British Foreign Office said: "We are sceptical about Iraqi claims." But he added: "We would welcome a comprehensive investigation to look into the issue, covering all the possible factors. "There is a genuine concern over the issue of depleted uranium munitions in Iraq." ________________________________________________________ · Prosecutor refers Italian pilot's case to First Instance Court, Jordan Times, 14/15 April '00 By Mohammad Ben Hussein AMMAN - Prosecutor General Ali Masri has referred the file of the Italian pilot, Nicola Trifani, who is charged with violating Jordan's airspace, to the Court of First Instance, judicial sources said on Thursday. "The court will inform Trifani of the lawsuit through the foreign ministry on Sunday," said the source, who requested anonymity. "If Trifani does not appear in court, he will be tried in absentia," he added. The government will be seeking a financial penalty of around $14,000 said the official. The trial will be open to public. "We are claiming the public right by barring the pilot from flying over the Kingdom, and the Civil Aviation Authority will be seeking to impose a fine on the Italian firm which owned the plane," said a senior government official. Saleh Armouti, head of the Jordan Bar Association, said he will form a special team to defend Trifani in court. "He should be treated like a hero, not like a criminal," Armouti told the Jordan Times. "The man fulfilled our aspirations, and we will defend him in court," added Armouti. Trifani had asked for Jordan's permission to fly to Syria, but he changed his course mid-flight, after reaching Syrian airspace, and flew to Iraq. His trip is the first of its kind to Iraq which has suffered from international economic sanctions for the past 10 years, put in place in retribution for its invasion and occupation of Kuwait. On board there were also a businessman and a member of the European parliament, both Italian, as well as a French priest. Trifani was grounded by Jordan's Air Force on his way from Iraq to Marka Airport. He was detained for several days for failing to seek authorisation to pass through the country's airspace and for "causing danger to air traffic." Trifani was allowed to leave Jordan on Sunday but could not fly his plane back home because the Civil Aviation Authority stripped him of his flying licence. According to the CAA, Trifani committed seven international air traffic violations, notably by entering Jordanian airspace without authorisation. Another Italian pilot is expected to arrive in Jordan at an undisclosed time to fly the small twin-engine aircraft back to Italy. ________________________________________________________ · Saddam Contains Eldest Son's Bid for Power, 14 April '00 http://www.stratfor.com/MEAF/commentary/0004140040.htm Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has reportedly prevented his eldest son Odai from becoming speaker of Iraq's National Assembly (parliament) and banned him from attending an important conference in Jordan. This suggests that Odai is attempting to take a bigger role in the government than Saddam is willing to allow. A power struggle between Saddam's sons could escalate unless Odai can be contained. Saddam's sons, the elder Odai and the younger Qusai, are in a power struggle for the succession. Although Odai has recently stepped back into the political scene, the younger son Qusai still appears to be Saddam's heir apparent. Odai was widely believed to be heir apparent until an assassination attempt in 1996 left him partially paralyzed. Although Qusai keeps a low profile, he commands the Republican Guards and the special security agency in charge of protecting the president. He also has significant influence and support in the Iraqi intelligence service, Mukhabarat. According to a London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Zaman, Odai had a "verbal altercation" with Revolutionary Command Council Deputy Chairman Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and Iraqi National Assembly Speaker Saadoun Hammadi. During the altercation Odai accused Hammadi of being incapable of boosting the assembly's activities and claimed that new blood was needed at the helm. The argument reportedly prompted Saddam to order Hammadi to be re-elected as National Assembly speaker and to order Odai to accept a lower position. Saddam also prevented Odai from participating in a parliament delegation to the International Parliamentary Union's conference in Amman later this month. Odai recently won a parliament seat with a victory of 99.9 percent in elections tightly controlled by Saddam's regime. The Iraqi president handed Odai the victory following an agreement made among Saddam and his two sons. According to Jane's Foreign Report, in late November 1999, Saddam called a family summit in Tikrit, the ancestral home. At this meeting, Saddam reportedly promised Odai a more prominent role in the country's affairs if he would desist from further attacks on Qusai. Odai's newspaper, Babel, on more than one occasion has accused Iraq's security services of corruption. Odai has also attempted to reactivate old connections within the security service, possibly to challenge Qusai. Winning a seat in Iraq's weak and chiefly ceremonial parliament is no prize. However, Odai most likely wanted to become parliament speaker, a relatively powerful position, in order to broaden his power base and challenge his younger brother Qusai, who appears to be Saddam's heir apparent. Saddam's recent restriction of Odai clearly dictates the extent of the elder son's more prominent political role. Saddam ensured that Odai could not use the position of parliament speaker to pose a challenge to Qusai. It also appears that Odai has no intention of honoring the supposed agreement of last November, so Saddam must keep him at bay. An easy option - one that Saddam uses often - would be to have Odai executed. However, this is an act of last resort. Odai controls 'Saddam's Fedayeen,' a 40,000-man militia loyal to the elder son. An attempt by Saddam to kill Odai could spark retaliation from the militia. It would also make other senior leaders uneasy, as Saddam hasn't executed core family members and Odai is his eldest son. Since Saddam cannot placate Odai politically and because he will only turn to execution as a last resort, the most viable option is to weaken him militarily to the point where he cannot pose any threat to Saddam or Qusai. Evidence suggests that this may already be occurring. In March, an Iraqi opposition group reported that Saddam's Fedayeen was ambushed while on a mission to crush opposition groups in southern Iraq. The commander, his assistant and nine militiamen were reportedly killed. The Iraqi government does not comment on opposition claims, but if true, the ambush suggests that Odai's militia was sent into a trap, possibly set by Qusai or Saddam. Saddam has contained Odai politically. If the elder son's military forces continue to suffer unfortunate ambushes, Odai will be unable to pose a threat to Qusai or Saddam. ________________________________________________________ · March death toll from embargo over 9,000, says Iraq, 15 April '00 http://www.clarinet.com/hot/wed/bo/Qiraq-embargo.Riqn_AAF.html BAGHDAD, April 15 (AFP) - More than 9,000 Iraqis died in March because of the embargo against Iraq, bringing the total number of victims of the UN sanctions to 1,292,446 since 1990, the health ministry said Saturday. According to a communique published by the official INA news agency, "6,438 childred died in March, mainly following acute diarrhoea, breathing problems and malnutrition". It also said "2,890 adults died of heart conditions, hypertension, diabetes and malignant tumours. The number of deaths blamed on the embargo in March was down on February's figure, which was 9,989, according to the minister. An official Iraqi report presented to the UN Human Rights Commission and published April 13 said nearly half a million children have died because of the embargo. The UN's humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Hans Von Sponeck, and the representative of the World Food Programme, Jutta Burghardt, resigned in February in protest at the continuing embargo and the worsening humanitarian situation in Iraq. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1284 in December, allowing for a renewable 120-day suspension of the embargo if Iraq cooperates with a new organisation for monitoring its disarmament, called UNMOVIC. Iraq has called for the unconditional lifting of the sanctions. ________________________________________________________ · Iraq asks UN to intervene to get Turkish soldiers out, 15 April '00 http://www.clarinet.com/hot/wed/au/Qiraq-turkey.RSXc_AAF.html BAGHDAD, April 15 (AFP) - Baghdad has asked the United Nations to intervene to put an end to Turkish "aggression" and get Ankara to withdraw its troops from Iraqi territory, the official INA news agency said Saturday. It said Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz had put forward the request in a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, asking him to "maximize his efforts to get Turkey to recall its soldiers immediately." "Iraq reserves the right to respond to this hostile act and to choose the moment, and the means, of our response," Aziz said, saying Ankara would bear "the responsibility of the results of its repeated aggression." The Turkish television network NTV reported that Turkey launched an incursion into Iraqi territory on April 1 to flush out rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). It said roughly one thousand troops had entered Iraq through different points to attack PKK positions in an operation aimed at keeping the rebels from regrouping. Turkish troops frequently cross the border into Iraq in pursuit of rebels from the PKK, who have used northern Iraq as a base since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Baghdad also urged Ankara on Saturday to hold talks to bring about a "fair sharing" of the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates between Turkey, Iraq and Syria. "The challenges the region faces when it comes to water require a rapid series of meetings of technical committees to come to an agreement on a fair sharing of the Tigris and Euphrates waters," Irrigation Minister Mahmoud Diab al-Ahmad said in the Nabdh al-Shabab newspaper. Both rivers have their sources in the mountains of Turkey, which Iraq and Syria accuse of monopolising the water after it built 22 dams and expanded its agricultural land. Ankara says the charges are "unjustified" and that fair quantities are allowed to flow to its neighbours. But Turkey has boycotted several meetings of a joint technical commission aimed at resolving the water dispute. ________________________________________________________ · Iraq Rejects Weapons Check Plan, 15 April '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/ap/20000415/wl/iraq_un_3.html By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq on Saturday rejected a new U.N. plan to restart weapons inspections, saying it was a no-go until the Security Council lifts the trade sanctions imposed nearly 10 years ago. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told reporters the government was not impressed by the U.N. Security Council's approval Thursday of the plan drawn up by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix. ``Any resolution which does not meet Iraq's legitimate rights in removing the embargo and denouncing aggression (against Baghdad) is not acceptable,'' he said, referring to the U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and the subsequent U.S. and British airstrikes. While some Iraqi officials have left open the possibility of compromise over the bid to revive weapons inspections, Aziz said he did not know of any member of the Iraqi leadership who would permit them. The council's approval of Blix's plan for a new weapons inspectorate, called the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, showed that world powers remain determined to restart inspections. U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in December 1998 ahead of the airstrikes, launched to punish Iraq for allegedly failing to cooperate with the inspectors. The sanctions can be lifted only when the inspectors inform the Security Council that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction and the means to produce them. Baghdad says it has already done so. ``I would like to reconfirm what we have said before - that U.S. and British efforts to impose a new unfair resolution will never succeed,'' Aziz said. He dismissed as ``trickery'' the December resolution that set up the new inspection commission and offered Iraq the possibility of suspending sanctions in return for its cooperation. ``I have never hinted that Iraq will deal with this resolution. ... It is a treacherous resolution with which we cannot cooperate,'' Aziz said. The plan drawn up by Blix of Sweden addresses some of Iraq's grievances about the former U.N. weapons inspectorate, known as UNSCOM. The plan stresses that arms experts will work for the United Nations rather than any government. Blix made it clear the new inspectors will come from all around the world and will be paid by the United Nations. They will not be volunteers with obligations to member governments. Blix also stressed that intelligence gathered by inspectors must remain with the agency and be used only for its key disarmament work. The chief inspector clearly does not want his team to be tainted by the allegations that stung UNSCOM: that weapons inspectors spied on Iraq on behalf of the United States. ________________________________________________________ · Ohio Congressman Arrives in Jordan, 15 April '00 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20000415/aponline195038_000.ht m AMMAN, Jordan -- U.S. Representative Tony Hall arrived in Jordan on Saturday en route to Iraq, where he is expected to look into the plight of Iraqis after nearly 10 years of U.N. trade sanctions. Hall, an Ohio Democrat and one of very few U.S. congressmen to visit Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait, is scheduled to embark Sunday the 12-hour overland trip to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. He did not speak to reporters in Jordan, but he told The Associated Press before leaving the United States that he hopes to "separate the humanitarian work from the political issues." During his four days in Iraq, Hall said he wanted to investigate reports from relief agencies that a quarter of Iraqi children may be suffering from chronic malnutrition. He said he would pay particular attention to what happens to food and medicine entering the country under the U.N. oil-for-food program. If supplies are not reaching the people who need them, Hall said, he wanted to find out whether the United Nations or relief agencies needed to handle things differently, or whether "Iraq needs to get out of the way and let us do the job." The Iraqi government blames the embargo for the malnutrition, infant mortality and other hardships. The sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction and the means to produce them. Iraq says it has done so and has barred inspectors since late 1998. At least one other congressman has visited Iraq. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson went to Baghdad in 1995 while a representative for New Mexico. ________________________________________________________ 'Persuasion' against the wall, 16 April '00 http://www.accessme.com/jordantimes/Sun/opinion/opinion2.htm 'Persuasion' against the wall Dr. Musa Keilani BY ALL standards and criteria, U.S. Ambassador William Burns has successfully made the visit to Jordan of his country's secretary of defence a resounding success; no wonder, since Ambassador Burns is known as an epitome of diplomacy in many Jordanian circles. William Cohen's visit to Amman was totally different in parameter and objective from the visits to the Gulf states, due to Burns' charisma, wealth of information on the domestic situation and full grasp of persuasion techniques. The U.S. arms industry man, the secretary of defence, has had another swing through the region, but seems to have had little success on any front, except perhaps for convincing the Saudis not to press for a reduction of the American force deployed in the kingdom. The Department of Defence vehemently denied a report carried by the London-based Al Hayat daily, apparently confirmed by an unidentified U.S. official travelling with secretary Cohen, that Washington was moving some 4,000 American soldiers from camps in Saudi Arabia to warships in the Gulf. What indeed happened was that the Saudis were pressing for a cut down in the forces, but Cohen managed to convince them otherwise, at the last minute, and hence the denial of reports. Anyway, the purported move on part of the U.S. force in Saudi Arabia would have been more symbolic than a reduction in effective military might, had the step been confirmed. There is enough American firepower in the Gulf to obliterate the region if Washington chooses to do so. That is a reality the people in the region have to live with, and it is an alarming thought. The U.S. forces are there in line with the declared American objective of offering protection to the Arabs in the Gulf against "threats" from both Iran and Iraq. Isn't it strange, though, that the countries in the region do not feel or sense such threats? Cynics might even assert that the U.S. is maintaining the military presence in the Gulf to intimidate the Arabs there, as a preemptive warning against any of them changing their mind against the "American defence shield" that is tied down their necks. Cohen was consistent on two fronts throughout the trip. He continued to assert that Washington found little change in Iran to warrant a fresh approach to ties with Tehran, despite the resounding victory of the moderate camp led by President Mohammed Khatami in parliamentary elections held in February. Obviously, intelligence information available to Cohen established that Khatami, despite his majority in the Majlis (parliament), does not have effective control of the country. That was indeed proved out later in the week when the Expediency Council supported the hardline Guardian Council's rejection of a Majlis motion to bring key state bodies under parliamentary supervision. However, the apparent stalemate in the Iranian power politics does not point the finger in the direction of Iranian missiles raining down on the Gulf Arab countries. Neither the reform team nor the hardline camp has any vested interest in threatening the stability and security of the region. But only a part of that posture may have to do with the fear of having to confront the U.S. in the bargain. On Iraq, Cohen had nothing new to offer in substance. He continued to expound the theme of Iraq's non-compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions and the threats that Baghdad poses to the area, arguments that the region has had enough of hearing. But then Cohen did have strong reasons to push the theme. He wants to sell military hardware to the countries of the region and unless he shows a bogeyman, two in fact, Iran and Iraq, there could not be much of a starting argument for him with the Gulf leaders. Indeed, he tried, but failed. He found little enthusiasm among the leaders he met to spend a few billions more on equipment which they never might need to use. This argument cannot be brushed away as anti-U.S. rhetoric from Jordanians. That it has found its reverberations in the region itself was clear in the press commentaries throughout the region during Cohen's visit. "Does Cohen really have the interests of the Gulf in mind or is he trying to drum up more business for America's arms industry by putting fear into Arabs?" asked a Gulf newspaper, putting into words the feelings of many in the Gulf. A proposal to share "early warning" data about missile launches was one of the key wares that Cohen carried to the Gulf countries. Others included protective clothing for soldiers, gas masks, decontamination units and detection equipment designed to fight biological and chemical weapons (it will be no surprise if some of the media organisations soon whip up reports attributed to the Central Intelligence Agency findings and "highly reliable" reports of the erstwhile U.N. weapon inspectors in Iraq that thousands of tonnes of biological and chemical weapons are still stored in that country, ready for use any time. And of course, by then it would also be established that Iraq has managed to successfully conceal from the U.N. inspectors since 1991 a secret rich cache of long-range missiles which could hit the Gulf states. After all, the U.S. defence industry needs to sell of its stuff, otherwise Americans will be out of jobs, and isn't simply patriotic for some of U.S. media to step in and help by carrying a report or two carefully leaked to them?). The real pity is that the region's leaders are aware of the U.S. stunts, but seem unable to do anything about them. The reasons could be many, including a genuine sense of need for an ally like the U.S. Of course, U.S. officials are asserting that the GCC countries, notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have responded positively to Cohen's arguments. But then, that appears to be sales talk. However, it cannot be ruled out that the two countries, or maybe one of them Persuasion against the wall might opt to accept the U.S. proposals; but one can bet that the reason for the acceptance would not be a sense of threat from Iran and Iraq, it will be the result of being pressed against the wall. ________________________________________________________ Iran says Iraq still holding 3,000 prisoners, 16 April '00 http://www.abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20000416_448.html TEHRAN, April 16 (Reuters) - Iran said on Sunday that Iraq was still holding around 3,000 Iranian prisoners from the 1980-88 war between the two countries. "Iranian prisoners still remaining in Iraq are around 3,000," General Abdollah Najafi, chairman of Iran's prisoners of war committee, told reporters. Najafi strongly denied recent charges by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that Iran was mistreating Iraqi prisoners. "In our dealings with (Iraqi) POWs, Islamic and humanitarian principles were observed over and above the Geneva Conventions," he said. He said some 9,000 Iraqi PoWs had refused to return to Iraq and had settled in different parts of Iran. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said last week that more than 4,600 Iraqis captured by Iran during the war were unwilling to return home. Beat Schweizer, the ICRC representative in Iraq, told Reuters some Iraqi PoWs had managed to travel outside Iran but had not returned to Iraq. Iran completed the repatriation of 1,999 Iraqi prisoners on Tuesday under ICRC supervision. Baghdad says Iran still holds 9,000 of its soldiers registered by the ICRC. The fate of the PoWs remains an irritant to relations between Iran and Iraq nearly 12 years after the end of the war which cost a million lives. Najafi said Iran had released 57,712 Iraqi prisoners since 1981, in return for 39,417 Iranians released by Iraq. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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