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News for 6 April '00 to 16 April '00 (Part 3 of 3: 14 April to 16 April)

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

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

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

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

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

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

"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

"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

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

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

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

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

"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 -

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

 "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

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.


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

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

 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

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

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

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

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

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

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,

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

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

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

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

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

"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

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

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

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

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

'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

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

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

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

"Iranian prisoners still remaining in Iraq are around 3,000," General
Abdollah Najafi, chairman of Iran's prisoners of war committee, told

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

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.

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