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News for 22 May '00 to 28 May '00 · Sources: AFP, BBC, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, Jerusalem Post, The Lancet, New York Times, Reuters, Sunday Times, Wall Street Journal · Baghdad 2000 -- Rubbish Heaps and Cesspits (The Lancet) · Child Death Rate Doubles in Iraq (BBC) · UN Sanctions 'Are Killing Iraq's Children' (The Guardian) · Iraqi Nerve Gas 'Could Paralyse Western Cities' (The Guardian) · U.N. Forming a New Panel for Inspecting Iraq Weapons (New York Times) · Iraq Will Not Co-operate with UN, Warns Butler (The Daily Telegraph) · Pentagon: No Proof of Iraq Chemical War on Civilians (Chicago Tribune) · Iraqi Opposition: Palestinian Refugee Deal Would Cause Civil War (Jerusalem Post) · Saddam and the Prophet of International Doom (Sunday Times) · Stronghold Can Backfire: Iraqi Tribes Are Key Source of Loyalty, Rebellion (Wall Street Journal) Only links provided for the following reports: · Sanctions and Childhood Mortality in Iraq (The Lancet) · Child Deaths in Iraq Have Doubled Since Sanctions (The Independent) · London: Iraq is Still Dangerous (Arabic News) · Iraq, Hit by Counterfeiters, Seeks Banknote Machines (Reuters) · Syria Sends Team to Iraq to Boost Economic Ties (Reuters) · US, British Warplanes Strike in Northern, Southern Iraq (AFP) · Turks Kill 10 Kurds in Iraq (AP) ________________________________________________________ · Iraqi Opposition: Palestinian Refugee Deal Would Cause Civil War, Jerusalem Post, 22 May '00 http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2000/05/22/News/News.7015.html By Douglas Davis LONDON -- A leading Iraqi opposition activist yesterday expressed bitter disappointment over reports that Israel will consider dropping its support of sanctions against Iraq if Saddam Hussein takes in up to one million Palestinian refugees from Lebanon and other Arab states. Nabil Musawi, a Shi'ite member of the central committee of the London-based Iraqi National Council (INC), told The Jerusalem Post that any such deal would lead to a full-scale civil war in Iraq. "We will not allow a single Palestinian into the country," he said. "They played a very dirty role during the Gulf War and they were instrumental in crushing the Iraqi uprising against Saddam following the war in 1991." Musawi added that there are currently some 200,000 Palestinians in Iraq. He also revealed that two months ago the Iraqi regime decreed that Palestinians could own property in Iraq, specifically in the northern city of Kirkuk, claimed by both the Kurds and the Turkeman populations. Another Iraqi source told the Post yesterday that the decree has triggered three Katyusha rocket attacks against the mainly Palestinian district of Baghdad al-Jadida in the Iraqi capital, the latest coming just last week. "There have been many explosions in Baghdad," said the source, "but this is the first time that a specific group has been targeted in a specific district." It is estimated that a dozen Palestinians were killed and scores injured in the three attacks. The INC, a US-backed umbrella group for opponents of Saddam Hussein's regime, is aimed at toppling the Iraqi dictator and creating a federal system giving autonomy to Iraq's ethnic groups. According to Musawi, Arab Shi'ite and Sunni dissidents are "extremely disappointed that democratic Israel should appear to be abandoning the democratic solution being advocated by the INC." It is understood that the United States and some Western European governments oppose such a deal, in which Israel would help end Iraq's diplomatic isolation in exchange for Iraq's absorption of Palestinian refugees now in Lebanon and toning down of its hostile anti-Israel rhetoric. Lebanese politicians blame the Palestinians for triggering the civil war there and are alarmed at the prospect of any peace agreement that leaves them in place in Lebanon. Furthermore, even if Hizbullah ceases its attacks after Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, armed Palestinians, who oppose any deal that does not involve their return, are expected to pose a major security threat to Israel. Their relocation to Iraq, say sources, would remove that danger. A report in yesterday's Observer of London stated that Israeli and Iraqi representatives have met four times over the past 15 months. The paper also quoted intelligence sources in Jerusalem confirming last week that discussions between Israeli and Iraqi representatives are continuing. It also stated that official sources in Washington, London, Amman and Jerusalem confirmed the contacts between the two countries, and the Iraqi proposal. Senior US State Department sources reportedly told the paper, "We know that this is being talked about. No agreement has been finalized but we are pretty confident it is going to happen." ________________________________________________________ · Stronghold Can Backfire: Iraqi Tribes Are Key Source of Loyalty, Rebellion, Wall Street Journal. 23 May '00 By STEPHEN J. GLAIN Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL MOSUL, Iraq -- For a glimpse of one of Saddam Hussein's oldest weapons, look at a sign along the desolate highway that leads to this city: Territory of the Al Dulaimi Tribe -- Sword in the Hands of the Leader. Or look in a nearby suburb at a ranch house with an SUV out front, or across the border in Damascus, Syria, where plots are hatching against Saddam Hussein. These are all modern manifestations of the tribes of Iraq. When loyal, they refer to themselves as the leader's sword and provide a guide to how Saddam Hussein clings to power. When rebellious, the tribes suggest that his grip is slipping. They also are one possible lever that Western officials have largely ignored in their long campaign to unseat the Iraqi dictator. At least three-quarters of the Iraqi people are members of one of the nation's 150 tribes, which originated in the Arabian peninsula and moved north in search of water. They are bound more by family ties and a strict honor code than by ethnic background or religion. All of Iraq's rulers -- the Ottoman Turks, the British and then a British-backed monarchy -- had to win their cooperation. Decline and Recovery But tribes grew weaker when nomads settled into towns and cities, and as the state took responsibility for schools, roads and power. By the 1960s, Iraq was a modern state, with an educated elite. Who cared about the sheiks now? The answer was Saddam Hussein, who seized control of Iraq after a 1968 military coup. Most of his co-conspirators came from cities, but he grew up surrounded by tribes near his birthplace in the poor town of Tikrit. He identified the sheiks as good friends to have in a fight, and he later called on them to battle Iran. Over the years, he has helped to restore a tribal identity that had been ebbing in Iraq for generations. Saddam Hussein regularly dons traditional Arab dress and makes televised visits to tribal elders, sipping thick coffee and negotiating what amount to power-sharing agreements with the sheiks. Source of Power The result is that the tribes have become his prime source of power outside Baghdad -- a combination of mercenary army, local government and loyalty club, paid and patronized for maintaining order and fealty. Favored tribes get better roads and schools, welcome bounty in a country withered by sanctions for the past decade. (The United Nations is debating a plan that would revive a weapons-inspection regime in Iraq and could pave the way for at least a partial lifting of sanctions over the next several months. But U.N. officials say there is little hope for a breakthrough soon.) "The only way to get a job for many Iraqis today is by returning to the tribe," says Falath Abdul Jabar, a writer and sociologist in London. "Sanctions created a vacuum, and the tribes filled it." Bassem Abed Al Shammari is a typical urban sheik, living in a comfortable ranch house in a Mosul suburb -- with about 30 members of his extended family. Cooperation with the Iraqi regime earns him perks that seem modest but go far under sanctions. He drives a 1999 GMC Suburban and receives $2,000 a month to distribute among the Shammar tribe's 500 families. The tribe recently got a new garbage truck from Baghdad. The 49-year-old Mr. Shammari also acts as mayor, judge and social worker for the tribe. A year ago, for instance, farmer Abas Al Shammari killed his city-dwelling brother-in-law in a fistfight. His parents, fearing reprisals, asked the sheik to hold a fasal, or mediation. He sat members of the two families on opposite sides of the room, and the aggrieved family made its demand: about $1,000 in compensation, the return of Abas's wife, and the betrothal of Abas's sister to one of the murdered man's relatives. After two months of haggling, the two sides agreed on $250 and a wedding. Abas was able to keep his wife. Manpower for Militia But the patronage system also can nourish a threat to Saddam Hussein. The greater the bounty from Baghdad -- much of which comes from the smuggling trade that has formed around the trade sanctions -- the more manpower the clans generate for their militia. The stronger the tribes become, the more the Iraqi leader has to worry that they will become a weapon for his enemies. "Saddam knows it is the tribes who can destroy him," says Ghanim Jawad, a director at the London-based Al Khoei Foundation, an Islamic research institution. "The men who died fighting his wars were from the tribes." Some of the swords that have fallen out with the leader have turned sharply against him. One example is Machann Al Jaburi. His father, a sheik, was killed by members of another tribe, and the son's older relatives were locked in a succession struggle. Just 17 and the youngest member of the sheik's family, Mr. Jaburi was in a weak position. That, he believes, is exactly why Saddam Hussein summoned him to Baghdad. "He asked me what I needed, and I told him I wanted to be a sheik," Mr. Jaburi says in an interview. The Iraqi leader gave the young man a watch, $10,000, a car and a villa, and a high-paying job in Baghdad. His state-backed appointment as sheik quickly settled the tribal power struggle. Payback time came in 1980, when war broke out between Iraq and Iran. "I went to my hometown with 50 buses, and came back with 50,000 men," Mr. Jaburi says. Whatever the real number was, the Al Jaburis were the country's most powerful clan by the time the war ended in 1989. Mr. Jaburi's territory was transformed with public-works projects. But Saddam Hussein apparently concluded the tribe had become too powerful. He cut off their patronage, played down their contribution to the war effort and excluded the tribe from his first postwar government. Forced to choose between the state and his increasingly resentful tribe, Mr. Jaburi chose the tribe. He and his family members plotted to assassinate the Iraqi leader and take over the government. The coup plan was discovered in early January 1990, when Mr. Jaburi was in Paris, and the other plotters were arrested and executed. But the Al Jaburi problem didn't go away. Saddam Hussein purged the tribe from the military, prompting another coup attempt from them in 1993. Machann Al Jaburi moved to Damascus, and although he lost authority over his tribe, he kept his connections to other, increasingly restless clans. He says he has allied himself with clan leaders in the Kurdish north, and diplomats believe he also has formed ties with tribes in the Shia south, where many opposition groups are based under the protection of the allied Western forces' no-fly zones. His office is adorned with photos of him alongside tribal leaders in traditional garb. "We are trying to make small incidents into large ones," says Mr. Jaburi. "But it won't happen overnight." Republican Guard In April, the Arab-language Al Shark Al Awsat newspaper reported that security units arrested 40 Republican Guard officers who were allegedly planning a coup. A U.S. government official said one of the seniormost plotters was an Al Jaburi tribesman who escaped from the country through the Kurdish north. The incident also provided some confirmation of diplomats' belief that the loyalty of Republican Guard members, once Saddam Hussein's janizaries, can no longer be taken for granted. Before that, in March, members of the Bani Hasan tribe clashed with regular troops in the marshes of southern Iraq, according to diplomats in Baghdad and dissidents abroad. The fighting, in which two dozen soldiers were killed and 14 tribesman executed, was over a government land-distribution and tax plan. Last year, according to the same sources, the regime had to put down a much larger challenge from forces related to the Al Dulaimi tribe, whose turf lies in northwestern Iraq. While the drumbeat of opposition has been steady since the mid-1990s, diplomats in Baghdad say the incidents have grown more serious. Shia opposition groups say they can buy guns from the military, according to a U.S. official in the Middle East. Parts of Iraq, particularly in the impoverished south, are no longer safe for Iraqi troops to enter after dark. With their standing militias, "the tribes can rise up overnight if the sheiks give the word," says Sami Alzara al Hajam, a sheik of the 8,000-strong Bani Hajam tribe and now a dissident living in London. Mr. Hajam is still a tribal sheik, and says he keeps in touch with his fellow tribesmen in southern Iraq. Three years ago, Saddam Hussein summoned young Hajam members to Baghdad, in a clear attempt to win loyalists the same way he wooed Mr. Jaburi. "We sent dozens, even men who weren't invited," Mr. Hajam says. "This way, Saddam doesn't know who he can manipulate." He says he has frequent contact with British officials about the situation in Iraq, though not so much with Washington. "The British know us, because they understand how the tribes work," he says. "But not the Americans." Washington's Efforts U.S. officials are starting to take notice of these outbreaks. Having failed to unseat the Iraqi leader by war and sanctions, Washington has occasionally tried to seed the clouds of opposition in the hope of a desert storm from within. Two years ago, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution that provides funding for opposition groups formed along religious and ethnic lines. They include Kurdish militia leaders, Shiite-Muslim Arabs with ties to Iran, and Sunni-Muslim Arab intellectuals. Now, some State Department officials are communicating with dissident tribal leaders in the hope of developing ties with clans on the ground. The idea isn't an easy one to swallow, though. "Many in the U.S. establishment feel more comfortable dealing with their own type," says Sharif Ali, a cousin of Iraq's last king and an Iraqi dissident who meets regularly with U.S. officials. "When I talk about the tribes, they give me blank stares," he says. Mr. Ali, who heads an opposition group from exile in London, says he is in frequent contact with tribal leaders in Iraq. "They can take any town, but they can't hold it," he says. "For that, they need outside support." A big problem with the U.S. approach, according to a senior diplomat in the region, is that it tends to focus on cultural, ethnic and religious differences -- instead of the family ties that bind tribes and offer the most fertile sources of opposition when they unravel. U.S. officials concede that their efforts haven't been fruitful. Now their strategy involves waiting to see whether opposition groups can work together and muster a substantial force worth backing. Saddam Hussein reacts to trouble by drawing loyal tribes even closer - and rehabilitating those that fall out of favor, as he has with the Al Jaburis. His meetings with the sheiks have become more frequent. State-controlled newspapers react to each crisis by listing, on the front page, tribesmen loyal to the leader. And the regime has hinted it will transfer some legal authority to the sheiks. A Lid on Problems One man who makes the loyalty list is Rashid Abdula Salem Al Jaburi, an Al Jaburi leader, responsible for about 20,000 people throughout Iraq, who has stuck with the regime throughout its confrontation with his tribe. The government recently built a school in Al Jaburi territory, not far from the sheik's orange and date farm just outside Baghdad. Unlike most other schools, this one even has new textbooks. "When we ask for help, the government doesn't hesitate to provide it," says Mr. Jaburi, 55, who greets two visitors -- including the minder sent along by the Iraqi government - in a brown checked robe and carrying a bamboo walking stick. Part of what the regime expects of Mr. Jaburi is to keep small problems from developing into big ones. From dawn to noon, he tends his orchards. After lunch, he leads a caravan of automobiles in his marine-blue Chevy Impala to see to the needs of his people. In a few days, he must travel to Dialla, several hours away, to head off a blood feud after one of his tribesmen murdered a member of the Bani Said. "We'll sit down and talk it out," Mr. Jaburi says. "Although this may take mediation from a third-party tribe." Mr. Jaburi is a popular sheik, praised by some Iraqis who privately complain about the government. When his father died last year, thousands of mourners attended the funeral, including a senior delegation sent by Saddam Hussein. But the regime still keeps an eye on the clan's latest sheik, sometimes assigning an official to "coordinate" between tribe and state, as Mr. Jaburi puts it. He says he doesn't mind. "Our responsibilities are getting so big," he says, keeping one eye on the minder. "We can use the help." Write to Stephen J. Glain at firstname.lastname@example.org ________________________________________________________ · Iraqi Nerve Gas 'Could Paralyse Western Cities', The Guardian, 24 May '00 http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4021509,00.html Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor The Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, has built up a deadly arsenal of chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons over the past 18 months capable of creating mayhem in London, New York and Tel Aviv, according to the former UN weapons inspector, Richard Butler. His warning runs counter to the Iraqi government's claim that it has destroyed all its weapons of mass destruction in compliance with UN resolutions agreed after the Gulf war. The issue is at the heart of one of the most complex problems confronting the UN. Some campaigners against UN sanctions on Iraq insist there is no evidence that Baghdad still retains weapons and that sanctions should be lifted. Mr Butler, who headed the UN weapons inspectorate in Baghdad until the UN pulled out in 1998 alleging obstruction by the Iraqi government, said he had evidence from his time in Baghdad that President Saddam had kept weapons of mass destruction hidden from the UN. But he said that more worryingly President Saddam had used the absence of the UN in the intervening period to build up his arsenal of missiles and chemical and biological weapons. Mr Butler had also been presented with evidence that President Saddam had re-convened his nuclear development team and had the capability to build nuclear weapons. His warning came as President Saddam praised Iraqi scientists for their innovative work in finding ways of combatting US and British fighters flying missions over the country. The Iraqi leader said he had "listened to a detailed explanation on innovations and work conducted by a group of researchers and fighters to confront and stop the aggressors". He added: "I am very proud of you and all Iraqi scientists." In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Butler, an Australian diplomat dubbed "Mad Dog" by the Iraqi government, said: "This stuff is out there and it is serious. This man has a track record. We do not want to wait until this stuff turns up in Trafalgar Square or Times Square and say we did not see it coming." Iraq had been building up the range of its missiles to 375 miles over the past 18 months, he said. "I have seen evidence they have been attempting to procure missile manufacturing equipment from the west through front companies." "Missiles are only a delivery system. They can carry conventional warheads but Iraq has wanted them for chemical, nuclear and biological weapons." He said he was convinced that President Saddam had stores of the nerve agent VX, which he described as more dangerous than Sarin and anthrax. "A Scud missile with 140 litres of VX can kill up to a million people," he said, recalling that President Saddam had fired Scuds at Israel during the Gulf war. He warned that Iraq had, or could soon have, the nuclear weapons to "hollow central London". The Iraqi government had never yielded its nuclear weapons designs to his team. It had the know-how and all it needed was the uranium, which it could get on the black market or from its own mineral supplies. The US and Britain bombed Baghdad in 1998 after Mr Butler reported that the Iraqi government had been obstructive. The UN is at present putting together another weapons inspection team under Hans Blix, but Iraq has so far said it would not allow an inspection team back in. The UN will formally ask Iraq to allow its team in this summer. Mr Butler said that either President Saddam would allow Mr Blix and his team back into Baghdad or he would ignore it. He believed the latter was the more likely. He blamed three of the five permanent members of the UN security council - France, China and Russia - for the UN's impotence, saying they all put self-interest ahead of tackling Iraq. France's main aim was protecting its oil interests. Mr Butler has written a book about his bruising encounters with the Iraqi government, Saddam Defiant, which is to be published shortly. Although he wants tougher action against Iraq, he says in his book that sanctions have proved to be largely ineffective. ______________________________________________________ · U.N. Forming a New Panel for Inspecting Iraq Weapons, New York Times, 25 May '00 http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/052500iraq-un.html By BARBARA CROSSETTE UNITED NATIONS -- Despite increasingly negative signals from Iraq on the future of arms inspections there, the head of a new monitoring and inspection commission is moving ahead with the staffing of his advisory panel, members of the group said today. An American expert is likely to be put in charge of training and equipping the inspection commission, with Europeans holding other crucial positions, officials say. A core staff of about 40 people is expected to be hired by sometime next month. The United States and other nations are also expected to provide the panel with intelligence information, officials said. An advisory "college of commissioners" -- 16 arms-control and weapons experts from around the world -- met with the chief inspector, Hans Blix, a former Swedish foreign minister and ex-director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, twice this week to review his first report on the establishment of the new United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. Dr. Blix is chairman of the advisory group as well as the commission, which replaces the inspection body known as Unscom. The American representative in the college of commissioners is Robert J. Einhorn, assistant secretary of state for arms control. On the eve of the meeting this week, Iraq's vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, condemned the commission in some of the strongest terms to date. The Iraqis continue to insist that sanctions be lifted before any arms inspections can resume. "Iraq has become clearer and clearer in its rejections," an American official said today. "We think this is very unfortunate. Iraq needs to understand that if it wants sanctions to be suspended or eventually lifted there is only one route to that goal, and that route passes through full cooperation and compliance." The Iraqis, who have been earning large amounts of money through the legal and illegal sales of oil, have made no moves behind the scenes to send a more conciliatory message to Dr. Blix, as some members of the Security Council had hoped. Dr. Blix has said he will not negotiate with the Iraqis to win their cooperation. He has not made any effort to go to Baghdad, saying that the first move is up to President Saddam Hussein. Dr. Blix has drawn some criticism from independent arms control experts who say that he was not tough enough with the Iraqis in the past, when he was in charge of nuclear monitoring, while Unscom supervised inspections on biological, chemical and missile systems. Critics also say that his plan to include "cultural" training for the new commission is a sop to those in the United Nations friendly to Iraq, who demand that the Iraqis be treated more diplomatically after years of tougher inspection techniques. "He is trying to demonstrate to Iraq that there's a real opportunity for Iraq in cooperating with Unmovic, but that its up to Iraq," the American official said of Dr. Blix. "He is making clear to the Iraqis that while there will be elements of continuity from the past in terms of the responsibilities of Unmovic and its mandate in Iraq, there will also be some innovation and some changes from the past. "Dr. Blix wants to show a kind of fresh face to the world and to Iraq," the official said, "but at the same time show that this is truly a professional organization that is determined to pursue full Iraqi compliance with resolutions of the Security Council." ______________________________________________________ · Child Death Rate Doubles in Iraq, BBC, 26 May '00 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_763000/763824.stm The toll of war and years of sanctions on the health of Iraq's children has been revealed by new research.. In the parts of the country most affected by both, infant mortality has more than doubled, rising well beyond 100 per 1,000 live births. This puts Iraq, once a highly prosperous country with and advanced health system, on a par with some of the poorest developing countries when it comes to infant mortality. The new study, led by scientists at the London School of Hygeine and Tropical Medicine, was published in the Lancet medical journal. However, it found that infant and child mortality in the autonomous, mainly Kurd region in the North of the country, has actually fallen, perhaps reflecting the more favourable distribution of aid in that area. Iraq's oil wealth led to swift economic and social development leading up to the start of the 1991 conflict. Shortly before the start of UN sanctions, the healthcare system reached approximately 97% of the urban and 79% of the rural population. Infant mortality - children born alive, but dying before their first birthday - had fallen to 47 per 1,000 live births between 1984 and 1989. This compares to approximately 7 per 1,000 in the UK. Overall health Infant and child mortality is a good indicator of the overall health of the population, as poor nutrition of the mother may lead to premature birth, one of the key factors in early death. The surge in mortality also reflects low access to health services, and clean drinking water and sanitation, which affects everyone. The researchers looked at 23,000 women aged between 15 and 49 years, asking about the health of their children. They found that in south and central Iraq, infant mortality had risen to 108 per 1,000 between 1994 and 1999, while child mortality - covering those between one and five years - rocketed from 56 to 131 per 1,000. The sanctions have been now eased to allow an "Oil for Food" aid scheme which pushed back the threat of mass malnutrition. The sanctions were relaxed even further in December. However, charity Save the Children says much more needs to be done. A spokesman said: "These figures for infant mortality graphically illustrate the problems in Iraq. "The Oil for Food programme has been under resourced to date and this has inevitably affected children's growth and development. "The belated removal of the restriction on oil sales by the UN should slowly increase the resources available. "But removal or suspension of sanctions would not guarantee immediate improvements for vulnerable groups." "We consider a long term plan is required for both the infrastructure and human needs of the population - talk of food and medicines after nearly 10 years of sanctions means we 'forget' the educational and social needs of young people." ______________________________________________________ · Iraq Will Not Co-operate with UN, Warns Butler, The Daily Telegraph, 26 May '00 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=aqhJd6TJ&atmo=99999999 &pg=/et/00/5/26/weast126.html By Hugh Davies THE bluff, no-nonsense Australian who, as a weapons inspector, failed to disarm Saddam Hussein, gave warning yesterday of the cigar-smoking wheeler-dealers in Baghdad who will resist new United Nations intervention. Richard Butler predicted in a Telegraph interview that Tariq Aziz, his old foe as Iraq's deputy Prime Minister and Saddam's front-man, would remain a key stumbling block, blowing smoke from his Cuban-supplied Cohibas in the faces of outsiders who pry into his master's chemical, biological and almost certain nuclear weapons production. Eighteen months after Mr Butler's United Nations experts destroyed mustard gas and anthrax supplies but got out of Iraq before Anglo-American air attacks, a new team is being put together in New York. Mr Butler, vilified by Baghdad as "a mad dog", has now left the UN for an American think-tank. In an account of his encounters, Saddam Defiant, he says the former Russian prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov, an "overbearing and somewhat bullying" figure involved in supposedly disarming Baghdad through mediation with the UN, was privately paid off to protect Iraqi interests. Writing of his "poisoned chalice" role as chairman of the UN special commission on Iraq (Unscom), Mr Butler spoke of his shock when intelligence sources told him that Mr Primakov, a noted Arabist and former spymaster, was "on the take". He said: "I was informed that the reports were verifiable and, a year later, was told that fresh evidence further confirmed the allegation." Mr Primakov denies the claim. Mr Butler decided to publish the details as they were "already in the public arena". Seymour Hersh, the Washington investigative journalist, claims British intelligence intercepted an $800,000 (£544,000) bank transfer from Mr Aziz to an unnamed Russian who US officials were convinced was Mr Primakov. The author spoke of Mr Aziz with particular venom, saying he was surprised how "cloying" he was, as a "vain, arrogant bully, about whom there appears to be nothing decent". He was a haughty character with a "foul mind and petty imagination". When Mr Butler told him about a newly wed UN helicopter pilot who had made a little badge from a photo of his wife, Mr Aziz snapped: "It was probably a picture of his mistress." Mr Butler said he found it "unbelievable" that Mr Aziz and other leaders were utterly without humour. Mr Aziz once asked him what he planned to do between negotiation sessions. The Australian replied: "I will withdraw for prayer and reflection." Mr Aziz, one of the few Christians in the regime, completely missed the facetious tone, falling on him in fierce religious argument. Mr Butler said: "He just leaped at me. It was pretty heavy and nasty." ______________________________________________________ · Pentagon: No Proof of Iraq Chemical War on Civilians, Chicago Tribune, 26 May '00 http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV-000526036 3,FF.html By Michael Kilian Washington Bureau WASHINGTON -- A final Pentagon report released Thursday has concluded there is "no substantiated evidence" of Iraqi use of chemical weapons against Iraqi civilians in the years since the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Unconfirmed charges have been circulating for years that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein used chemical warfare to suppress a Shia rebellion in southern Iraq shortly after the gulf conflict ended. Defense Secretary William Cohen cited Hussein's gassing of Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq in the 1980s as partial justification for the American Operation Desert Fox aerial assault on Iraq in December 1998--a response to Hussein's ouster of UN weapons inspectors looking for chemical and biological warfare stockpiles. In another report released Thursday, the Pentagon said it is "unlikely" that Iraq had chemical warfare agents stored at its Tallil air base. The base was used as a launching site for chemical attacks against Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. It has been cited as a possible source of gulf war syndrome, the array of unexplained ailments and illnesses suffered by U.S. veterans of the 1991 conflict. U.S. and British warplanes have been flying daily operations over northern and southern Iraqi "no fly" zones, in part to protect Iraqi opposition groups and neighboring countries from the Iraqi military, including possible chemical and biological weapons attacks. "This investigation is closed," said Bernard Rostker, the Defense Department's special assistant for gulf war illnesses, though he invited anyone with new information to contact his office. The Pentagon began the investigation into the Shia incident after witnesses said they saw an Iraqi helicopter dropping large canisters containing a yellow chemical spray over the then-rebel-held city of al-Nasiriyah. Some recalled seeing civilians being treated by U.S. military medics for burns and blisters, prompting the Pentagon to investigate the incident as a possible contributing factor in gulf war syndrome. . Interviews were conducted with more than 100 American doctors, medics and nurses who served in the area, but none reported seeing any chemical exposure, according to Thursday's report. Pentagon investigators also interviewed "hundreds" of military weapons specialists, including the 82nd Airborne Division's nuclear, biological and chemical warfare officer in charge of the al-Nasiriyah sector. He said he believes the Iraqis may have used conventional tear gas and white phosphorous, which can produce symptoms similar to those inflicted by more deadly chemical weapons. The Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency came to similar conclusions, the report said. "The lack of conclusive evidence, eyewitness accounts of reported attacks, possible victims or their medical records prevents a definite finding," a Pentagon statement said. "Investigators concluded that continued efforts would not yield additional insights." The Tallil air base was hit by a 2,000-pound bomb during the gulf war, and its facilities and munitions were destroyed by members of the 82nd Airborne assigned to the area in the aftermath of the fighting. A U.S. Air Force demolition technician who searched the Iraqi storage bunker there told investigators he saw no evidence of chemical or conventional weapons--only debris from the 2,000-pound bomb. In yet another finding, the Pentagon reported Thursday that an investigation into possible Iraqi chemical weapons deployment in a Kuwait minefield along the southern Iraq border failed to produce evidence of chemical exposure to Marines cutting paths through the minefield. ______________________________________________________ · Baghdad 2000 -- Rubbish Heaps and Cesspits, The Lancet, 27 May '00 http://www.thelancet.com/newlancet/reg/issues/vol355no9218/news_d1893.html (Registration required) Peter Kandela When someone seems to have more than their fair share of problems, there is an Iraqi saying that on top of blindness, their eyes are now infected. I thought of this frequently during my recent visit, when it seemed that nature was hurling additional hardships at a people already worn down by the effects of the UN sanctions. April should have been a month of pleasant spring weather but this year summer arrived early and the daytime temperature soared to 400C. The electricity supply remains poor and power is cut off for hours on end every day, so that even those people who still have fridges and freezers have problems in keeping food fresh. The heat was accompanied by fierce sandstorms every couple of days, brought about by the abnormally low rainfall. The effect was that of a dense fog and anyone venturing out came home coated with sand. For people with asthma and other chronic lung problems this situation was intolerable, and the demand for oxygen was so great that one day during my visit, government hospitals ran out completely. Patients were forced to contact private clinics in search of oxygen, and in one such hospital I saw staff prioritising children in their allocation of the increasingly scarce supplies. While I was there, one mother returned to the hospital with her new baby, asking whether the date of birth could be changed from April 27 to April 28 on the birth certificate. The latter is the birthday of Saddam Hussein and the government had announced that all babies born on this "auspicious birth date" were entitled to a presidential "hiba"--a cash gift worth about US$50. When the medical officer explained that the birth certificate could not be altered she left in tears cursing her luck and that of her new born child. Statistical evidence of the effects of sanctions on the Iraqi people and particularly on children, are at last being published and reaching a wider audience (see p 1851 ) but nothing can prepare you for the lives that children now lead. In the terrible afternoon heat, I saw children playing in what looked like a crater filled with water from a burst water main. In fact, it was one of the many broken sewage pipes in the city and these children were cooling themselves in a stinking cesspit. This was in a residential area, just a mile or so from the presidential palace. Children are also seen all over the city scavenging on rubbish heaps. In the past, I was concerned about the environmental hazard of rubbish being collected and burned on street corners but now things are even worse as children are exposed to dirt and disease looking for any items of value in other people's rubbish. They search in particular for empty containers of proprietary goods such as soft drinks, shampoo, and tomato puree, which can be reused by manufacturers of counterfeit goods. This production of adulterated goods is now such big business, that the government is offering rewards to anyone who informs on those involved. Child labour has increased dramatically to supplement the family income, and to cut the cost of schooling. At Al-Najjat school, one teacher told me about two brothers who attended school on alternate days, because they only had one pair of shoes between them. At the other end of the education ladder, I was surprised to see two university lecturers incongruously dressed in obviously new suits. Apparently the government had become concerned at the shabby appearance of lecturers--most of whom are doing two jobs just to survive--and decreed that they should be given two new suits each summer and winter. This will not be sufficient to stop the drastic decline in staffing levels. About 80% of the staff of the College of Agriculture at Baghdad University have left the country. Those professional workers who choose to leave the country cannot take their money with them and become in effect economic refugees, but several Arab countries are warmly welcoming them because of the expertise they bring. Their loss will be keenly felt when Iraq is finally rebuilt (see Lancet 1999; 353: 1861). Doctors too are leaving, although when I visited the Kadhimiya hospital I was surprised to find some improvement in the fabric of the building and the facilities. The reason is that hospitals are now required to be "self financing", with patients charged for attendance at outpatients clinics, and for surgery and other treatment. The income received has helped to improve facilities, but what of those who cannot afford to pay? Only some teaching hospitals are permitted to offer free care, so these are the only option for the poor. In the end, waiting lists will be so long that those who cannot pay will have little realistic hope or expectation of receiving treatment. The requirement to pay does not stop with hospital fees. I was horrified to see a patient "tipping" a nurse to bring a bedpan. This practice may have been originally intended to buy preferential care on the wards but in some hospitals it has developed to the extent that staff withhold services unless paid by the patient. Health workers, like other workers, barely earn enough to feed their families, and cannot be blamed for the falling standards and corruption which are found as much in hospitals as in the rest of society. This is the tragedy of Iraq. A once-prosperous country, its doctors, engineers, and teachers are leaving. Children who should be at school are scouring rubbish heaps and keeping cool in cesspits, and when they get ill there will be no treatment for them. These are the next generation, and who will blame those who survive to adulthood if they react with bitterness and fury against those they deem responsible. ______________________________________________________ · UN Sanctions 'Are Killing Iraq's Children', The Guardian, 27 May '00 http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,319084,00.html Sarah Boseley, health correspondent Deaths among babies and children in Iraq have more than doubled in the past 10 years because of the deprivation and malnutrition caused by UN sanctions, according to reports in the Lancet medical journal published yesterday. These soaring child-mortality rates will present the defenders of sanctions with a difficult case to answer, and an editorial in the journal spells out a dire warning. "The courageous policy is to suspend [not abandon] sanctions, lest upcoming generations of Iraqis, out of resentment, suffering and isolation, grow up to be as aggressive as their current leader," it says. The study, carried out by Mohammed M Ali from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Iqbal Shah from the World Health Organisation, provides the first accurate data on child mortality in Iraq since 1991. The fieldwork was carried out by the United Nations children's organisation Unicef, with the permission of the Iraqi government. The researchers compared the death rates among babies and children under five years old in the autonomous (northern Kurdish) region with those in the rest of the country. They found a marked difference between the Kurdish area, which is benefiting from the oil-for-food programme, and the rest of Iraq, which is not. In the Kurdish area, child mortality rates have improved; between 1994 and 1999, infant mortality declined from 64 to 59 per 1,000 live births and the under-five mortality ratio fell from 80 to 72 per 1,000. In the rest of Iraq, child mortality more than doubled during the sanctions period, rising from 47 per 1,000 live births during 1984-89 to 108 per 1,000 in 1994-99; under-five mortality rose from 56 to 131 per 1,000. The reports point to many critical factors undermining the health of the Iraqi population - particularly for those who live in rural areas. Hospitals and health clinics have had little or no maintenance since 1991 and their work has been hampered by shortages of power and water. Before sanctions, 90% of urban families and 70% of those in rural areas had access to safe water supplies. Now, that can be said of only half those living in towns and a third of those in the countryside. Dr Ali said yesterday that he and his fellow researcher were not trying to draw conclusions from their work. "We have showed that the increase in child mortality coincides with the start of sanctions," he said. Since sanctions were imposed, there has also been an increase in malnutrition for mothers and babies - from 3% to 11% of the population - and a rise in endemic diseases such as measles and diarrhoeal diseases. Malaria, eradicated from Iraq in the 1970s, has returned. Children of educated women traditionally fare better than those from illiterate families - but literacy is not helping in Iraq. "Clearly, education of the mother, suggested to be a determinant of infant-child mortality, has a limited effect in deteriorating socio-economic and health conditions, as seen in the south [and] centre of Iraq," write the authors. Peter Kandela, a doctor who has just returned from the country, writes of what he calls the tragedy of Iraq in another Lancet article. "Children who should be at school are scouring rubbish heaps and keeping cool in cesspits, and when they get ill there will be no treatment for them," he writes. "These are the next generation; and who will blame those who survive to adulthood if they react with bitterness and fury against those they deem responsible?" Two surveys were carried out for the study on child mortality and maternal mortality, the second of which is yet to be published. Between February and March 1999, researchers interviewed 23,105 married women aged 15-49 living in the centre and south of Iraq. Between April and May, 14,035 married women of the same age were interviewed in the autonomous Kurdish region. One paper notes that Iraq had "spectacular social and economic development" between 1970 and 1990, followed by dramatic decline in the past 10 years. All progress stopped with the start of the Gulf war, the report says. ______________________________________________________ · Saddam and the Prophet of International Doom, Sunday Times, 28 May '00 http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2000/05/28/stirevnws01010.html Richard Butler, former weapons inspector, is a man with an ominous message for the West, says Cosmo Landesman Richard Butler is a man with a message for us all: it's time to wake up and smell the anthrax. He wants us to get real about weapons of mass destruction, unless we want to face apocalypse tomorrow. We're talking all sorts of scary but possible scenarios here: a mushroom cloud across a London sky, or the hiss of nerve gas seeping into your local Tube station. But Butler is not a nutter with a placard declaiming "The End is Nigh" on his back. He is a distinguished Australian diplomat whose book, Saddam Defiant: The Threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Crisis of Global Security, has just been published. The highlight of his glittering 30-year career in international diplomacy came in 1997 when he became head of Unscom, the UN watchdog charged with keeping an eye on Iraq's attempts to make biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. His mission ended in failure, and the threat of Saddam Hussein has since faded from the spotlight. But Saddam is still trying to make these weapons, says Butler - and nobody is doing anything to stop him. "The whole mechanism the international community has set up to control these terrible weapons has broken down," he says. "If we don't stop Saddam today, someone else tomorrow will be using them." In the flesh, Butler is like every smart middle-aged Australian man - they all have a pot belly, a jowly face, thinning hair, social confidence and a craggy charm that makes them good company. He sits across the table and starts to undo his tie and rub his big meaty hands together in a let's-get-down-to-business kind of way. "You say in your book, 'It is not known, accurately, what capability for making and using weapons of mass destruction Saddam retains,' " I point out. "If that's the case, how do you know for certain that he has these weapons?" "Because I'm not brain dead," Butler replies quietly. "The last conversation I had with Saddam's missile general in Baghdad, I said to him: 'You're trying to make missiles that will fly long distance. Stop it, it's against the law.' He said: 'I won't.' "They threw us out of Iraq because I wanted their remaining chemical and biological weapons and they wouldn't give them to me. I've also just learnt that Saddam is bringing his nuclear weapons design team back together." Having the technology is one thing, using it another. I ask if he really believes that anyone reading this article should be worried about waking up one day to a mouthful of mustard gas. He looks a little uncomfortable and tries to underplay the apocalyptic stuff: "I'm not saying that Saddam is going to kill you tomorrow on the Tube . . ." "Actually, your book says: 'Imagine the result were the Iraqis to release a chemical or biological agent into the London Underground.' So is such a scenario possible or not?" Trapped by his own words, he becomes defensive: "Yes, because the materials exist. Saddam wouldn't do it directly, but he makes weapons accessible to terrorists who would happily go to their death for Islam." He sees my incredulous look and says: "Talk to the CIA, the NSA, MI5, MI6 and they will tell you the same thing. This is the great worry of our time." "But these weapons like mustard gas don't kill a mass of people all at once, so all your talk about 'weapons of mass destruction' is intrinsically alarmist . . ." "I don't accept your definition," says Butler with a cross shake of his head. "The term means non-targeted, non-specific killing. It doesn't matter if it's 10 or 10,000 people who are killed." "Ten people killed is terrible, but no way can you call that a mass killing. Can't you see how someone reading your book might think mass destruction means nuclear holocaust - whole cities wiped out in seconds?" And, to his credit, he doesn't press the argument: "Actually, I think you've got a point. Maybe these weapons should be called weapons of indiscriminate destruction." It's odd to think that I'm debating with a man who has sat across the negotiating table with mass killers like Son Sen, the the Khmer Rouge's "butcher of Phnom Penh", or a nasty piece of work like Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister. I was curious to find out what it was like being in Baghdad touring Saddam's military bases and top secret laboratories. Butler starts to peel a grape and talks about his problems with the Iraqis: "We'd turn up at a base for an inspection and we could see stuff being carried out the back and loaded into lorries." Not only did he have to deal with lies, evasions, rudeness, a whole gambit of psychological tricks to wear him down, but he even faced the threat of direct action: "There was a time when I thought they'd poison me." So just how did he manage to deal with that kind of pressure? "I remember Tariq Aziz would take a verbal baseball bat to me. I'd just wait until he was finished and say, 'Shall we return to our discussion?' "He once threatened my family. I said the same thing. You see, he wanted me to lose it and I refused." Every day we have to negotiate with other people - employers, wives, husbands, lovers, children. Can the skills of diplomacy help you manage your life better? "Listen, mate," says Butler, "let me give you a tip. I've seen too many diplomats who've ended up divorced and lonely trying to do that. They come home from a meeting and the wife will ask, 'What do you want for supper - fish or steak?' And the diplomat will say: 'What do you mean by steak and how do you define fish?' " Butler's story is that of a working-class boy with a passion for rugby, jazz, surfing and social justice. Today he lives with his wife, Barbara, in New York and works for a think tank at the Council on Foreign Relations. But doesn't he miss the world of diplomacy? The very idea makes him react with bemused horror. "If I had to go back to being an ambassador, I'd reach for the Smith & Wesson. The cocktails and dinner parties - they're mind-numbing." ______________________________________________________ Only links provided for the following reports: · US, British Warplanes Strike in Northern, Southern Iraq, AFP, 22 May '00 http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/article.html?s=singapore/h eadlines/000523/world/afp/US__British_warplanes_strike_in_northern__southern _Iraq.html · Turks Kill 10 Kurds in Iraq, AP, 24 May '00 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20000524/aponline092628_000.ht m · Child Deaths in Iraq Have Doubled Since Sanctions, The Independent, 26 May '00 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Middle_East/2000-05/iraq260500.shtml · London: Iraq is Still Dangerous, Arabic News, 26 May '00 http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/000526/2000052606.html · Syria Sends Team to Iraq to Boost Economic Ties, Reuters, 26 May '00 http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20000526_461.html · Sanctions and Childhood Mortality in Iraq, The Lancet, 27 May '00 http://www.thelancet.com/newlancet/reg/issues/vol355no9218/menu_NOD999.html (Registration required) · Iraq, Hit by Counterfeiters, Seeks Banknote Machines, Reuters, 27 May '00 http://www.gulf-news.co.ae/27052000/GULF/gulf3.htm -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi