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News for 8 May '00 to 14 May '00

Hello all:

Please note that the Inter-Parliamentary Union passed a resolution on the
sanctions on 5 May '00. You can find a link to their press release on CASI's
home page at:



News for 8 May '00 to 14 May '00

Sources: AFP, AP, ArabicNews, BBC, CNN, In These Times, The New Zealand
Herald, Stratfor, Times of India, Reuters, UPI

 Rocket Attack Kills 3-year-old Girl in Baghdad (CNN)
 Blast Rocks Iranian Town (BBC)
 Iraq, U.N. work to Ensure No Oil Export Gap (Reuters)
 Qatar Urges Gulf Move to End Iraq Crisis, Embargo (Reuters)
 Iraq Military Cut in Half Since Gulf War (UPI)
 Gulf War Battle Report Disputed (AP)
 Belgrade -- Baghdad Military Ties May Be Paying Off in Air Defense
 Trade Sanctions Hit Iraqi Intellectual, Creative Life (AP)
 Innocents Suffer for Saddam's Sins (The New Zealand Herald)
 Collateral Damage, 10 Years of Sanctions in Iraq (In These Times)
 International Forum Calls for Unconditional Lifting of Sanctions on Iraq
 Arab MPs Urge U.N. to Lift Iraq Sanctions (Reuters)
 Iraqi National Congress to Convene in London on June 1 (ArabicNews)

Only links provided for the following reports:

 Iraq Says it Foils U.S. Missiles (Reuters)
 Yugoslavia, Iraq Slam Sanctions as War on Progress (Reuters)
 Malaysia Pledges to Help Rebuild Iraq's Economy (Times of India)
 Turkey Says 53 Kurd Rebels Killed During Raid Into North Iraq (Reuters)

 Innocents Suffer for Saddam's Sins, The New Zealand Herald, 23 April '00

Imagine you lived in a country where sewage flowed in the streets. Where the
power came on for three or four hours a day. Where the land was rich in
exportable oil, but money was worth nothing, and you traded basic foods for
shoes and clothing. Where, if children died before they reached school age -
and one in seven were doing just that, many in hospitals lacking the most
basic drugs - you didn't let the authorities know because the dead child's
ration book was a lifeline for those who lived on. And all because the
leaders of what we call the "Free World" don't like your head of state.

Denis Halliday doesn't have to imagine. He remembers Iraq, the land once
called Mesopotamia, where Saladin fought the Crusaders. Where ziggurats like
the Tower of Babel dotted the fertile landscape. Where the Hanging Gardens
of Babylon scented the air.

He lived in Iraq for a year after his boss, the United Nations
Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, sent him to coordinate UN humanitarian
relief. In September 1998 he resigned and quit the UN altogether. The
reason: his heartfelt view that the trade sanctions against Iraq, designed
to break the will of President Saddam Hussein, are destroying a nation and
killing innocent civilians and not reaching into the dictator's gilded

They are, he says, "both illegal and immoral and they fit the definition of

His resignation uncorked a fizz of discontent. On February 13, his
successor, Hans von Sponeck, quit too, lamenting that the civilian
population of Iraq was being "exposed to such punishment for something they
have never done." Two days later, Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food
Programme in Iraq, threw it in as well.

For much of the 18 months since he ended a "fantastic" 34-year career, Mr
Halliday has travelled the world, knocking on doors throughout Europe,
Britain and North America, trying to drum up support.

As luck would have it, he was in Wellington this week when our Government
became the first in the world publicly to denounce the sanctions. Foreign
Minister Phil Goff said blanket trade sanctions were "a blunt instrument"
harming ordinary Iraqis and not the ruling elite.

"They could cause devastating suffering and long-term degradation to
civilian populations."

Mr Halliday might have wanted to amend that "could cause" to "are causing,"
but he was too gracious to say so. New Zealand's stance, though largely
symbolic (we are bound by the UN Charter to adhere to the sanctions regime),
meant a lot to him.

"New Zealand has a reputation in the UN which is out of proportion to its
size," he says. "It has the capacity to lead others in a coalition of member
states who know this ain't working."

A tall and elegant Irishman whose lilting burr has been smoothed somewhat by
35 years in Asia, the Pacific and New York, Mr Halliday speaks of what is
happening more in sorrow than in anger - although you can sense the anger
simmering beneath the surface.

In October, he went back to Iraq with the crusading journalist John Pilger
and a television crew. The physical decay made his blood run cold.

Because Iraq was a rich - and energy-rich - country, its infrastructure is
highly electrified, he explains. "They had money and they went first class.
Irrigation systems, hospitals, clinics, food processing, incubators, the
whole gamut. But even when I was living in Baghdad - and I was living in a
good part of town - I was invariably driving through sewage.

"They're still getting about three or four hours' electricity a day where
the temperature routinely goes above 50 degrees."

The official death rate of children under 5 is 131 per 1000 live births -
almost one in seven. That adds up to 4000 a month officially - remember,
that doesn't count 6-year-olds and above - but, as Mr Halliday points out,
the figure is almost certainly far higher. Particularly in country areas,
babies die before being registered as born, so their deaths are not

Give or take a few tiny lives, it means that a couple of hundred Iraqi
children will die by this time tomorrow. Half a million in eight years.
These deaths, Mr Halliday is keen to remind us, are not occurring because of
some cruel accident of climate, a biblical plague, a civil insurrection.
They are the direct and demonstrable result of a sanctions policy hammered
out at the UN.

Mr Halliday wrestled for six months with the idea that he might have to quit
a job where the need was so great. But in his time in Iraq he did make a
difference. The doubling to $US8 billion of the "oil for food" programme by
which Iraq was allowed to sell oil and spend the proceeds on food and
medical supplies occurred largely at his instigation. He also expanded the
food supplies to add animal protein - cheeses and full-cream milk - to the
diet of a malnourished people who once lived in luxury.

And sometimes he was able to focus on the little picture, too. Inspecting a
Baghdad Hospital with the head of the World Health Organisation, he came
across four children with leukaemia, certain to die for lack of basic drugs.

"I told him to get me the drugs and I'd pay for them," he recalls. "He got
the drugs, imported them directly, illegally, outside the sanctions
framework. Of course by the time we got them, two of the kids were dead

When he went back in October, only one was alive. Saffa Majid her name is.
She's 12, and she smiles tentatively from a photograph her saviour always
carries in his briefcase.

Denis Halliday smiles wistfully, perhaps at the naivety of the question,
when asked why the sanctions persist when their failure is so widely

"Those who are in charge understand very well that they are on the wrong
track. But that's not what rules the decisions of states. The politics of
oil, the need to control Iraq, the need to suppress Saddam Hussein because
he had regional leadership potential.

"There is no democracy in the Security Council. It is totally manipulated by
the United States. The problem when you have one superpower is that nobody's
going to stand up against it. The Russians aren't going to stand up too high
because they don't want to be embarrassed about Chechnya, the Chinese are
sensitive because they want to get into the World Trade Organisation and
they are embarrassed about Tibet."

John Pilger, writing in the Guardian of his October trip to Iraq, recalled a
man shouting at him from behind his bookstall: "'Why are you bombing us?
What have we done to you?'

"Passersby moved quickly to calm him and ... a teacher materialised at my
side. 'We do not connect the people of Britain with the actions of their
Government,' he said."

Mr Halliday: "The Iraqis are more sophisticated than we are. They can come
up to you and me and say: 'I like you as an individual; your Government is
the problem.' We don't do that. We blacklist every Arab in town, they're all

A one-time Quaker (he describes himself as "lapsed"), Mr Halliday says
conscience, not faith, drives him now.

"I couldn't sleep with myself if I didn't do what I am doing. I've got to
stick with it until something changes."

 Trade Sanctions Hit Iraqi Intellectual, Creative Life, AP, 7 May '00

BAGHDAD -- Professor Nahdim Jassour finds treasure in a sidewalk vendor's
pile of used books: an Arab literary journal that is just two years old and
another only a year old.

"Pas mal," the French-educated European studies specialist says with
understated triumph, using the French words for "not bad" to describe his

A friend, a prominent writer, asks for a look. The writer holds the
paperbacks tenderly, then returns them to Jassour with a reluctance that
speaks volumes about the effect on
Iraqi intellectual and creative life of the U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq
after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

"There's no money to buy new books. It's hard for professors and students to
travel to go to conferences, to go in search of books, to go in search of
ideas," says Jassour, a professor at Baghdad University.

The sanctions and war have weakened the Iraqi dinar, while salaries,
especially those paid by the government, have stagnated.

That has put new books out of reach for many teachers and students -- and
turned the sidewalk sale every Friday on al-Mutanabi Street into a popular
spot for Jassour and his colleagues. Some come to sell their old books to
buy others; some sell to buy more basic needs.

The sanctions and the politics behind them also have cooled universities and
other academic institutions around the world to contacts with their Iraqi
counterparts. Even if Iraqi academics could get invitations to international
conferences and visas to go, a ban on air travel makes trips impractical for

Without new books and journals, poet Fatima al-Laithi says she feels
isolated from the latest literary trends. But "the Iraqi cultural person is
still creating, he has ideas," she says fiercely.

Al-Laithi's poems have a musical quality, and her reading is expressive.
That style has helped her succeed in a second career on state television,
where she interviews other artists.

Her husband, Ganim Hameed, is a well-known actor and producer who also has
developed a second career in recent years. He buys and resells furniture and
other valuables that Iraqis sell as the sanctions push them from the middle
class into poverty. The couple's home in one of Baghdad's concrete apartment
complexes is decorated with modern ceramics, the entrance hall crowded with
chairs awaiting sale.

"The embargo has affected every Iraqi person, but the effect on each one is
different, and their resistance is different," al-Laithi says.

"For me, I started with poetry. But when I saw the reach of poetry was very
limited, I turned to television, and I worked with my husband writing plays.
The point is not to surrender, not to get depressed."

Not everyone succeeds, her husband says.

"Some very famous and creative people have gotten depressed. Then they are
paralyzed. Ten years is a long time," he says.

Hameed was just graduating from Baghdad University's Academy of Fine Arts
when Iraq invaded Kuwait. He says he has never known the freedom to travel
that some of his older colleagues have experienced. But he recently returned
from a theater festival in neighboring Jordan, one of the few nations that
maintain ties with Iraq.

For a return trip to Jordan, Hameed and a dozen other Iraqi actors have
volunteered to perform a Russian tragicomedy directed by Fadl Khalil, dean
of the acting department at Baghdad University.

The hero of the play dreams of setting fire to a temple to grab the
attention of the gods and a place in history.

"We may feel we need to do something like burn a temple to make people pay
attention," says Hameed, who plays a king seduced by the arsonist's
destructive vision. But "we want not to burn anything, but to do something
to make people pay attention to the Iraqi issue."

"We think that Iraq is like that temple, destroyed by primitive power,"
Khalil adds.

Resting after a late-night rehearsal, the actors, who hold day jobs as
salesmen, teachers and civil servants, talk about visiting Jordan. All say
they'll spend some of their time there looking for books that friends and
colleagues have asked they bring back for the university library.

On al-Mutanabi Street, political scientist Kahtan el-Hamdani sifts through
stacks of medical texts, accounting references, romances and thrillers in a
yellowing Babel of Arabic, Turkish, English, French, German, Russian. He
says the sanctions have had at least one beneficial effect.

"As the saying goes, what is forbidden is most desired," he says. "When we
hear about a new book, everyone talks about it, everyone looks for it. There
wasn't so much excitement when everything was freely available."

 Arab MPs Urge U.N. to Lift Iraq Sanctions, Reuters, 8 May '00

BAGHDAD -- Members of nine Arab parliaments appealed to U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday to seek the immediate lifting of
sanctions on Iraq which they said had amounted to genocide.

Around 20 MPs representing the assemblies of Morocco, Yemen, Jordan, Syria,
Algiers, Libya, Egypt, Tunisian and Palestinian areas, on a solidarity visit
to Iraq, joined Iraqi deputies at a a protest outside the U.N. offices in

The Arab MPs handed over a written appeal to Annan to United Nations
Development Programme representative Francis Dubois, demanding the
intervention of the secretary-general to end the "big power hegemony" over
the international body.

"The common international interest of the members of the United Nations
confirms the need for the immediate lifting of the embargo imposed upon the
people of Iraq," the letter said.

Lifting the sanctions "is the only manner in which international legitimacy
may be restored and the United Nations spared being party to what has
already amounted to genocide," it added.

The head of the Arab delegation, Secretary of the Libyan People's General
Conference (parliament speaker) Sheikh Zenati Mohamed Zenati, said that
Arabs wanted their voices to be heard.

"We have expressed the opinion of the peoples on the injustice...Things have
reached a level that we can't remain silent any more," he told reporters.

. . . . .

 Collateral Damage, 10 Years of Sanctions in Iraq, In These Times, 10 May

By John Pilger
The memories of my journey to Iraq last fall are almost surreal. Beside the
road to Baghdad from Jordan lay two bodies: old men in suits, their arms
stiffly beside them. A taxi rested upside-down beside them. The men had been
walking along the road, each with his meager belongings, which were now
scattered among the thornbushes. The taxi's brakes had apparently failed,
and it had cut them down. Local people came out of the swirling dust and
stood beside the bodies: for them, on this, the only road in and out of
Iraq, it was a common event.

The road on the Jordan side of the border is one of the most dangerous on
earth. It was never meant as an artery, yet it now carries most of Iraq's
permissible trade and traffic to the outside world. Two narrow single lanes
are dominated by oil tankers, moving in an endless convoy; cars and
overladen buses and vans dart in and out in a kind of danse macabre. The
inevitable carnage provides a gruesome roadside tableau of burnt-out
tankers, a bus crushed like a tin can, an official U.N. Mercedes on its
side, its once-privileged occupants dead.

Of course, brakes fail on rickety taxis everywhere, but the odds against
survival here are shortened to zero. Parts for the older models are now
nonexistent, and drivers go through the night and day with little sleep.
With the Iraqi dinar worth virtually nothing, they must go back and forth,
from Baghdad to Amman, Amman to Baghdad, as frequently and as quickly as
possible, just to make enough to live. And when they and their passengers
are killed or maimed, they, too, become victims of the most ruthless
economic embargo of our time.

John Pilger is a documentary filmmaker, journalist and author. A regular
contributor to the Guardian and the New Statesman, he is the author of
Hidden Agendas (New Press), A Secret Country (Knopf) and Distant Voices
(Vintage). This article is taken from Iraq Under Siege: The Deadly Impact of
Sanctions and War (South End Press).

 International Forum Calls for Unconditional Lifting of Sanctions on Iraq,
AFP, 10 May '00

BAGHDAD -- An international conference in the Iraqi capital on Wednesday
called for an unconditional lifting of the decade-old sanctions, as a top
Iraqi official urged foreign countries to resume trade under the UN charter.

"We call for the (UN) Security Council to meet its commitments towards Iraq
by lifting the embargo without any further conditions," said 57 delegates
from 22 Arab, European and Latin American countries in a final statement.

The two-day conference also backed Iraq's rejection of the latest Security
Council resolution, charging its only aim was to prolong sanctions.

Resolution 1284 offers a renewable suspension of the sanctions in force
against Iraq since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait in return for Iraq's full
cooperation with UN arms inspectors.

The delegates also condemned "US and British military aggressions in
northern and southern Iraq", calling for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to
stop granting facilities to the Western warplanes.

They also backed a proposal from Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz to
resume economic and commercial links with Baghdad under article 50 of the UN
charter rather than wait in vain for a lifting of sanctions.

"So long as the embargo continues and there is no hope for its lifting, why
should concerned countries continue to bear the consequences?" he told the

Aziz called for Iraq's friends to follow the example of Jordan, which under
article 50 had secured authorisation to import oil from Iraq despite the
embargo on Baghdad.

Under the article, Jordan, which depends on Iraq for its fuel, argued its
case on the grounds of economic difficulties caused by the sanctions.

"If preventive or enforcement measures against any state are taken by the
Security Council, any other state ... , which finds itself confronted with
special economic problems arising from the carrying out of those measures,
shall have the right to consult the Security Council with regard to a
solution of those problems," the article states.

Aziz also urged countries to restore air links with Iraq, arguing that
passenger flights were not specifically banned under the sanctions.

"There is no article in the Security Council resolutions banning civilian
planes from taking passengers to or from Iraq," he said, taking a stand
which is supported by France.

British MP and anti-sanctions campaigner George Galloway said at the
conference that he would organise a London-Baghdad flight at the end of this
month or in early June, after a similar plan in mid-March fell through.

 Iraqi National Congress to Convene in London on June 1, ArabicNews, 10 May

Iraqi sources said the central council of the opposition Iraqi National
Congress will convene in London on June 10 with the participation of all the
powers that attended the New York conference last year.

Other sources said that a secret meeting was held in Soleimania in March
with the participation of 15 factions, among which is the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan headed by Jalal Talibani and the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq headed by Mohammed Baker El-Hakim, as well as some
non-participating powers in the New York conference.

In the secret meeting that was held on March 2 and 3 in attendance of the
Islamic, Kurdish, democratic, and national powers the participants said the
meeting's aim was to merge the national project and not create an
alternative to the existing pivots in the Iraqi opposition arena.

The urgent secret meeting established the good neighborhood relations with
other countries on the basis of not interfering in Iraq's internal affairs.

 Iraq Military Cut in Half Since Gulf War, UPI, 11 May '00

By PAMELA HESS WASHINGTON -- After almost 10 years of sanctions and two
major wars, the Iraqi military is just half the size it was in 1990 when it
invaded Kuwait, and Saddam Hussein would need to spend up to $20 billion to
rebuild his force, according to a new report from the Center for Strategic
and International Studies.

Nevertheless, Iraq still has the second largest military in the Middle East,
and boasts the most tanks and second most combat aircraft in the region.

Its forces include 2,700 tanks, down from 5,500 in 1990; 3,800 pieces of
armor, down from 9,000; 2,100 pieces of major artillery, down from 3,700,
and 353 combat aircraft, down from 689 in 1990.

Anthony Cordesman, the study's author, says that even with major infusions
of cash and weapons into Iraq's military it is unlikely the military would
dramatically improve.

"Past experience indicates that Iraq will be highly inefficient in dealing
with the management of the recapitalization and technological restructuring
of its forces," Cordesman writes in "The Military Balance in the Gulf:

"No accurate data are available on Iraqi military spending and arms imports
since 1991, but estimates...strongly indicate that Iraq would need to spend
sums approaching $20 billion to recapitalize its force structure," Cordesman

If Iraq wanted to approach U.S. capabilities in key areas like air defense,
air and missile strike capabilities, armored modernization and
reconstitution of the Iraqi navy, it would have to spend $10 billion in each
area. To approach Saudi military levels would take about $5 billion in each

 Iraq, U.N. work to Ensure No Oil Export Gap, Reuters, 12 May '00

LONDON -- Iraq and the United Nations are both working to ensure there is no
disruption in oil exports in June between six-month phases of the U.N.
oil-for-food deal, industry sources and diplomats said on Friday.

Leading Iraqi customers said state oil marketer SOMO told them on Friday it
was planning to extend sales under the current oil-for-food tranche which
expires on June 8 to the end of next month in order to avoid any
interruptions. It will need U.N. permission to do so.

"They've told us they don't want any interruptions between phases," one
customer said. "To avoid any disruptions, SOMO is allocating further volume
under the seventh phase to be lifted before the end of June."

In any case, the U.N. already is playing its part in making sure there is no
break in Iraqi deliveries, running higher in recent weeks at some 2.2
million barrels daily.

A western diplomat said on Friday the U.N. could start drafting as early as
next week a draft resolution for the next 180-day oil-for-food package. That
would leave ample time ahead of the current phase's June 8 expiry, the
diplomat told Reuters.

"We hope to have an eighth phase in place by June 9," the diplomat said.

Baghdad between previous phases often has suspended exports for a matter of
weeks, halting sales for just over three weeks last November.

SOMO has told its favoured customers to gear up for exports to run
seamlessly between the two phases.

"They are doing everything possible to prevent shutting in production," a
major lifter said.

Another lifter said SOMO had given assurance that any seventh phase cargoes
delayed beyond June 8 would be lifted as quickly as possible after that

Iraq is struggling to meet total contract volume, now in excess of 350
million barrels, by the June 8 deadline.

 Gulf War Battle Report Disputed, AP, 12 May '00

By Connie Cass
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -- Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey says an Army investigation just
after the Gulf War refutes recently revived allegations that his troops
violated a cease-fire and killed Iraqi prisoners.

Newly released documents show that in 1991 the Army's criminal investigators
interviewed dozens of soldiers and officers, reviewed maps and logs, and
didn't find evidence to substantiate allegations of wrongdoing under
McCaffrey's command of the 24th Infantry Division.

McCaffrey, now the White House director of drug control, has waged a
pre-emptive strike against an upcoming New Yorker magazine article by
Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has done new research
on the charges.

McCaffrey complained to the New Yorker and writers and editors elsewhere
that Hersh is spreading false allegations and engaging in "journalistic
stalking." Hersh responded that he was simply "asking questions, listening
to answers and trying to verify and assess what I've been told."

New Yorker spokeswoman Perri Dorset said today there would be no comment
from the magazine before the story was published, and Hersh didn't return a
message seeking comment.

At the heart of the dispute are events the Army Criminal Investigation
Command probed in August and September of 1991, in response to an anonymous
letter alleging war crimes.

Hundreds of pages of Army records released to The Associated Press under the
Freedom of Information Act provide new details about the fiery attack on a
division of Iraq's elite Republican Guard on March 2, 1991 - two days after
President Bush declared a cease-fire.

"Although the engagement occurred after the cease-fire, this inquiry has
substantiated that the engagement was clearly provoked by the Iraqis," said
a Sept. 9, 1991, memo from the Criminal Investigation Command. The fight
"was within the cease-fire rules of engagement."

Some investigative documents were withheld by the Army, citing privacy
concerns, and some were missing from files. Among records released are
interviews with soldiers and officers, whose names were blocked out,
describing what became known as the "Battle at Rumaylah."

A battalion of the 24th Infantry Division was surprised in the early morning
darkness of March 2 by the appearance of a convoy of several hundred
vehicles, including tanks, artillery, rocket launchers and trucks. The
Iraqis apparently were leaving Kuwait and looking for a way to cross U.S.
lines to the safety of home.

Soldiers of the 24th Division reported taking fire from an Iraqi tank and a
missile and saw other weapons among the convoy pointed toward them. As a
result, commanders ordered the Americans to open fire.

One officer at McCaffrey's command post told investigators that while the
attack was under way, "I thought it was a slaughter. But the bottom line was
he (McCaffrey) was doing what was necessary to protect the force because
they had been fired on and nobody knew what these guys were liable to do."

McCaffrey, who flew to the front lines to lead the attack, later told a
Senate panel that his forces destroyed at least 630 vehicles and pieces of
equipment. He didn't estimate the number of Iraqi soldiers killed but said
many fled their vehicles and escaped unharmed.

"While it is easy after the fact to say the Iraqis were beaten or unable to
fight, our troops were under fire," McCaffrey wrote to the New Yorker on
Monday in response to Hersh's questions. "This was a huge dangerous enemy
force that posed a major threat to the integrity of my main battle area."

The Army investigators' memo also said that "after extensive interviews with
personnel from brigade and battalion commanders to privates, there was no
evidence" that soldiers at Jalibah Airfield "killed or mistreated" prisoners
of war.

Investigators did find that one Iraqi prisoner was "accidentally shot" two
days before the U.S. attack at the airfield, and the incident was reported
up the chain of command.

The allegations surfaced in August 1991 in an anonymous letter alleging the
attack after the cease-fire was "a war crime" covered up by military leaders
and that soldiers "slaughtered some prisoners after the Jaliba Airfield

In his response, provided to the AP, McCaffrey said, "Across this enormous
confusing battlefield, thousands of Iraqi soldiers were treated with
enormous compassion."

McCaffrey, who was awarded a fourth star before retiring to become President
Clinton's drug policy adviser, points out that the Army investigation found
"no wrongdoing" by any 24th Infantry Division soldier.

Hersh, who won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the My Lai massacre in
Vietnam, also wrote "Against All Enemies," a book about the Gulf War and the
unexplained illnesses reported by its veterans.

 Belgrade -- Baghdad Military Ties May Be Paying Off in Air Defense,
Stratfor, 12 May '00

Gen. Shahin Yassin Mohammed, commander of Iraq's air defense forces,
announced May 11 that Iraq had successfully developed and deployed a means
of neutralizing the U.S.HARM anti-radar missile. According to Gen. Mohammed,
none of the HARM missiles fired at Iraqi air defense targets since Operation
Desert Fox in December 1998 have hit their targets, instead wandering "like
mules looking for water in the desert," reported Agence France Presse.

Gen. Mohammed warned Kuwait and Saudi Arabia that the United States and
Britain were deceiving them, both as to the threat posed by Iraq and as to
their true capabilities in defending the region. While the exact details and
extent of Gen. Mohammed's claims are questionable, Iraq's cooperation with
Yugoslavia on air defense suggests there may be a grain of truth to his
basic assertion.

The AGM-88 HARM is a medium-range, air-to-surface anti-radiation missile. It
is designed to home in on the electronic emissions from the target
acquisition and guidance radars of anti-aircraft artillery and
surface-to-air missile sites and destroy them. More than 2,000 were used
against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and the missiles were used heavily
during Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia.

The U.S. and NATO air forces place a top priority on suppression of enemy
air defenses (SEAD) in the early stages of combat to allow allied aircraft
to target enemy ground forces and strategic targets with relative impunity.
The HARM is critical to that mission.

Because of the Yugoslav Army's (JA) careful husbanding of its air defense
assets and its use of decoys, NATO forces were never confident that they had
succeeded in their SEAD mission over Yugoslavia. Because of this, NATO
aircrafts were forced to remain at high altitudes, seriously diminishing the
effectiveness of their bombing campaign and contributing to several
incidents of the mistaken targeting of civilians.

The JA developed a variety of tactics and decoys to blunt the NATO air
assault. Among the simplest of these was the construction of visual decoys
of wood, fabric and plastic that drew NATO bombs and artificially drove up
the tally of "destroyed" Yugoslav equipment.

Yugoslav forces also learned to cycle their radars on and off quickly to
trigger the launch of anti-radiation missiles but to foil target lock-on.
NATO blamed this tactic for the accidental impact of a HARM missile on an
apartment in the Gorna Banya, suburb of Sofia, about 30 miles inside
Bulgaria, on April 28, 1999. However, when a second HARM missile struck near
the village of Lyulin, Bulgaria, on May 7, 1999, rumors emerged that the JA
was using decoys to divert NATO missiles.

One possibility as to the nature of these decoys comes from a British
officer who spent six months in Kosovo and conducted his own bomb damage
assessment. He claimed the JA used microwave ovens looted from Albanian
homes to simulate the infra-red signature of armored vehicles and draw NATO
bombs, according to the Glasgow Herald on Feb. 18. Author William Dorich
claims the microwave ovens were rigged to "mimic the heat of a radar site."
The trouble is microwave ovens do not create heat on their own. They vibrate
the water molecules in food to generate heat. They do, however, emit
radiation in the range of 2.5 gigahertz frequency - what the military refers
to as E band.

Several Russian radar systems operate in E band, including early warning,
target acquisition and height finding radars for the SA-5 surface-to-air
missile system, height finding and fire control radars for the SA-2, height
finding radars for the SA-3 and target acquisition radars for the SA-6. That
is not to say that you should fear inbound HARM missiles every time you heat
up a cup of tea.

Microwave ovens only generate around one kilowatt of power, as compared to
the several hundred to over a megawatt output of the military radar
installations. Moreover, as John Pike, an analyst with the Federation of
American Scientists, pointed out, the emitter profile library in the HARM's
targeting system catalogs not only frequency but also bandwidth and
waveform. Given the difference in effective radiated power between microwave
ovens and military radars, as well as the unfamiliar signal generated by the
ovens, Pike declared he was skeptical the ovens would even be noticed, let
alone that they would be targeted.

But the JA did not steal and deploy a large number of microwave ovens for
nothing. Perhaps the ovens were modified to increase the resemblance of
their signal to that of a radar. Alternatively, it is possible the threat
warning systems in the aircraft that fired the missiles were more sensitive
and less discriminating than the seekers in the HARM missiles. In explaining
the Gorna Banja accident, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea told reporters that the
missile had been launched when the NATO fighter's defense system indicated
it had been locked on to by a Yugoslav SAM system. The missile then went
astray when the ground radar was turned off. Or perhaps the HARM's targeting
system simply did not agree with the aircraft's threat analysis.

Whether the Yugoslav military's effectiveness at dodging NATO's SEAD efforts
was the result of clever tactics, jamming, decoys, microwave ovens or a bit
of each, apparently the lessons learned during Operation Allied Force are
being transferred to its ally Iraq. Iraq and Yugoslavia, encouraged and
assisted by Russia, Error! Bookmark not defined. before, during and after
the Kosovo crisis. High-level contacts between the three countries have been
stepped up in the past several weeks. Following visits of the Yugoslav
deputy prime minister to Baghdad in March and the Iraqi defense minister to
Belgrade and Moscow in April, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Saeed
al-Sahhaf arrived in Belgrade May 9 for intensive talks with his Yugoslav
counterpart Zivadin Jovanovic. Jovanovic will reportedly travel to Moscow on
May 15-16.

Collaboration among Yugoslavia, Iraq and Russia is apparently intense, and
if Gen. Mohammed is to be believed, it is generating tangible results. Iraq
has now claimed it can render HARM missiles impotent, and thus its air
defense system - being rebuilt with help from Russia - is a serious threat
to U.S. and British aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones. But Baghdad will
need more than a blustering press conference to convince its neighbors that
the United States is not a reliable defender. If Mohammed's assertions are
to be credible, Iraq will have to demonstrate the renewed effectiveness of
its air defense system. Iraq may be set to exploit the first "war dividend"
of the Kosovo conflict.

 Rocket Attack Kills 3-year-old Girl in Baghdad, CNN, 13 May '00

BAGHDAD -- A 3-year-old girl was killed and four of her relatives wounded
early Saturday when eight missiles exploded in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad
before dawn.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry said that eight Katyusha rockets were fired at
an area in west Baghdad from a rocket launcher that was found near the area
following the attack.

Iraq blamed "Iranian agents." Iran harbors an Iraqi Muslim group that is
fighting to topple Iraq's government.

There was no immediate response from the Iranian government.

Iraqi dissidents claim responsibility

The Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim group based in Iran, the Supreme Council of the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), said in statements issued in London and
Syria that it was responsible for the bombardment.

SCIRI is one of the largest Iraqi opposition groups and claims to have
between 4,000 and 8,000 fighters in Iraq trying to bring down the Sunni
Muslim-dominated government of President Saddam Hussein.

The missiles struck two houses in west Baghdad, killing Zahra Mohammed

"There was lightning first, then an explosion in the bedroom," said Zahra's
uncle Hussein Mohammed, 50, who lives next door. "Dust was all over, and we
could not see anything first. Then we found Zahra, who was already dead."

A funeral was held hours after Zahra was killed. Zahra's father, mother and
two aunts were treated at a hospital and released.

Most of the missiles fell behind Zahra's house, exploding in an open area
and causing no casualties, said Mohammed, who was the first to enter the
house after the explosion.

But the missile that killed Zahra landed next to her bed, destroying her
house. Mohammed's house was lightly damaged.

Group says it aimed at presidential palace

In Damascus, Syria, the SCIRI said the assailants fired nine Katyusha
rockets at the offices of the presidential palace "in retaliation for the
great violations of the Iraqi people by the repressive Iraqi regime."

The palace is two miles south of the bomb site.

In London, SCIRI representative Hamid al-Bayati said five rockets were fired
at the presidential palace and four at a government building nearby.

SCIRI claimed dozens of people were killed in the attack.

The Iraqi government said it would hold the Iranian regime fully responsible
for the attack. Iraq also blamed two earlier attacks on Baghdad on Iranian

. . . . .

 Qatar Urges Gulf Move to End Iraq Crisis, Embargo, Reuters, 13 May '00

KUWAIT -- Qatar called on Saturday for an initiative by Gulf Arab states to
normalise ties with Iraq and lift United Nations sanctions still isolating
Baghdad a decade after its troops invaded Kuwait.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani called
"for a regional initiative to end the Iraq crisis and return to normalcy in
the Gulf region, including lifting the siege against Iraq and its people."

Sheikh Hamad told a conference in Kuwait that Gulf Arab states should not
merely stick to their demand for Iraq's full compliance with U.N.
resolutions since 1990, "waiting for a miracle to come and save us from this

Iraq has been under strict U.N. sanctions since its August 2, 1990 invasion
and seven-month occupation of Kuwait.

Iraq's opponents often blame President Saddam Hussein for the prolonged
crippling embargo, saying he has failed to meet all Gulf crisis-related U.N.
resolutions and demands including verifiable disarmament.

But Sheikh Hamad said: "Gulf Arab states bordering Iraq must take the
initiative and work to move the situation to end the current stalemate to
escape the tight fist of crisis which the region has been suffering from for
almost a decade."

He was speaking at the start of a three-day conference on the future of
Kuwait's ties with Iraq. The closed-door meeting was organised by the
foreign relations committee of Kuwait's elected parliament.


Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, used as bases by some of the U.S. and British
warplanes that launch almost daily attacks on Iraqi targets in response to
Baghdad's violations of "no-fly zone" rules, refuse any direct dealings with
an Iraq ruled by Saddam.

Other Gulf Arab states have preserved or rehabilitated ties with Iraq to
some extent. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates reopened diplomatic
missions in Baghdad recently while Qatar and Oman have continued to host an
Iraqi ambassador.

But all six Gulf Arab states, which participated in the 1991 U.S.-led Gulf
War against Baghdad, are united in their call on Iraq to meet all United
Nations resolutions.

Sheikh Hamad also stressed it was necessary for Kuwait to normalise its ties
with Iraq to open the door for better Arab-Arab ties after the shock
invasion, which split the region.

"The situation in the region cannot be normal before Iraq returns to its
place in the Arab world."

But he also said Iraq committed a "grave mistake" when it stormed Kuwait,
saying this brought a region-wide "catastrophe."

Kuwait's demands to Iraq include a clear apology for the invasion and the
release of some 600 people, mainly Kuwaitis, missing since the 1990-91 Gulf
crisis whom the Gulf state says are being held in Iraqi prisons.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah reiterated to the
conference that Iraq had to honour U.N. resolutions before relations could
be improved.

"... Kuwait looks with hope and optimism to the future of its ties with
Iraq, built on Iraq's full implementation of all U.N. resolutions ... as the
best method to cement ties of good neighbourliness between the two sisterly

The conference was also attended by Kuwaiti ministers and some Iraqi
opposition figures.

 Blast Rocks Iranian Town, BBC, 14 May '00

Several powerful explosions rocked the Iranian town of Kermanshah, near the
Iraqi border.

The People's Mujahideen, Iranian's main opposition group in exile, has
claimed responsibility for the mortar attack.

A Mujahideen spokesman, Farid Soleimani, told the BBC that the intended
targeted was the headquarters of Kermanshah's state security forces.

He said dozens of agents had been killed or wounded in the attack.

. . . . .


Iran's official IRNA news agency reported that several powerful explosions
rocked Kermanshah.

The explosions were heard at 2325 (1855 GMT) on Saturday - a few hours after
the rocket attack on Baghdad.

IRNA quoted witnesses saying that several people were injured.

Police closed off a district of the city where the blasts appeared to be
centred, the news agency added without giving further details.

. . . . .

Only links provided for the following reports:

 Turkey Says 53 Kurd Rebels Killed During Raid Into North Iraq, Reuters, 10
May '00

 Iraq Says it Foils U.S. Missiles, Reuters, 11 May '00

 Yugoslavia, Iraq Slam Sanctions as War on Progress, Reuters, 11 May '00

 Malaysia Pledges to Help Rebuild Iraq's Economy, Times of India, 14 may

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