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Hello all: Please note CASI's latest occasional briefing (in .pdf format) which can be accessed from CASI's home page at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/societies/casi/index.html Alternatively, you can download it directly from: http://www.cam.ac.uk/societies/casi/briefing/000625HoCdebate.pdf It's designed to help MPs prepare for Thursday's debate in the Commons. Thanks, Hathal ________________________________________________________ News for 19 June '00 to 25 June '00 · Sources: AFP, AP, Forbes, Independent, National Post, Newsday, Reuters, San Francisco Chronicle, Sydney Morning Herald, Wall Street Journal · Italian Parliament Calls for Lifting of Iraq Sanctions (AFP) · Iraq Has Sold Crude Worth Over 29 Billion Dollars Since December 1996 (AFP) · Sanctions Could Keep Inspectors Out of Baghdad (Independent) · Butler Fears Saddam Has Used Black-Out to Build Arms (Independent) · Crude Facts -- Saddam is Winning Control of The Oil Markets (Wall Street Journal) · That Was no War, it Was Homicide -- And Still Iraqis Die (Sydney Morning Herald) · How Dictators Manage Their Billions (Forbes) · One Family's Daily Despair (Newsday) · Fatter in Lean Times -- Iraqi Elite Gets Richer From Illegal Smuggling Ignored by U.S. (Newsday) · Survival of Innocents -- How Iraqi Children Cope With Poverty and Homelessness (Newsday) · Rebuilding on Ruins -- Kurds Reclaim Homes Lost in War, But Iraq Still a Threat (Newsday) · US Top General Blames Saddam For Civilian Losses in Air Strikes (AFP) · UN Urges Iraq on Kuwaiti Property (AP) · Missing Kuwaitis Inquiry to Continue Without Iraq (Reuters) Only links provided for the following reports: · The West's Forgotten Conflict (Independent) · In Iraqi Countryside, Allies' Forgotten War Inflicting Deep Wounds Innocent Civilians Routinely Killed in Retaliatory Strikes (San Francisco Chronicle) · Iraq Says Accepts New Oil Deal With U.N. (Reuters) · The Man From UNSCOM Has a New Mission (San Francisco Chronicle) · Iraq May Never Repay War Debt, Experts Say (National Post) · Iran Says Forces Kill Seven Rebels on Iraq Border (Reuters) · Iraq Says Iran Behind Bungled Car Bomb Attack (Reuters ________________________________________________________ · One Family's Daily Despair, Newsday, 18 June '00 http://www.newsday.com/coverage/current/news/sunday/nd1629.htm By Matthew McAllester. MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT Baghdad -- The washing machine sat in front of the rows of white plastic chairs at the Sabalkh auction house. It was 10 years old, was made in China and had a Japanese engine. Sometimes it broke down and when it did, Raed Mohammed Abdul-Razak would fix it himself. He bought it three years ago. At that point, the washing machine was already seven years old. It was the last thing of any value Abdul-Razak owned and now he wanted to get $40 for it at the Friday morning auction or he was finished. And so was his uncle. And their families. "Yesterday the landlord started to say he's going to lose his patience," Abdul-Razak said. That's the landlord of the shop Abdul-Razak rented. Until recently, Abdul-Razak sold stationery there but now that school was over for the semester and demand for notebooks and pencils had dried up, he wanted to turn the shop into a juice bar with his uncle, Hassan Abdul-Razak. But they were already 18 days late on the rent for the month and their only chance at continuing in business, in finding a few dinars to survive on, sat a few yards away on the concrete floor waiting for a bidder. >From different generations-Hassan is 45, Raed 26-the two men have experienced the eradicating impact of the 10-year-old United Nations trade sanctions on Iraq's formerly huge middle class at different stages in their lives. A decade ago, Hassan had it all. Raed was a teenager without a care in a country that has the second biggest oil reserves in the world. Until the sanctions were imposed, the government made sure that its many employees were paid well, that the country's health care and education systems worked well, and that private businessmen could run small enterprises like Hassan's tea shop. Baghdad used to be full of Egyptians, Filipinos and Indians serving tea and cleaning offices and opening hotel doors for Iraqis. Now the capital is full of Iraqi engineers who drive beaten up taxis, teachers who sell car parts on the sidewalk and small businessmen who show up at the numerous Friday auctions to sell their ropey settees and tired air conditioners so they can pay their rent. "The embargo has made this kind of business flourish," said Nazar Rashid Al Sabalkh, the owner of the auction house. When the sanctions started, there were four or five houses in town. Now there are more than 50. Hassan, Raed and Hassan's 16-year-old son Ali came to Sabalkh's warehouse at 9:30 a.m. on May 19. For the second day running, a storm of russet dust spiraled around Baghdad, floated in people's eyes and lungs, and formed a film coating everything. "I used to have a tea shop before the embargo," Hassan said, as he sat on a white chair and waited for the auction to start. "Then, the tea bags were cheap, the rent was cheap, the furniture, the salaries. After the embargo all the costs went up. I worked day and night and ended up with very little. I surrendered." He closed his tea shop, Casino Al Salaam, in 1991. Since then he's been buying and selling just about anything he could work a deal on. He and his wife have four children and the family has moved into a tiny apartment. They survive off the food ration the government doles out to all Iraqis each month. It's paid for by the money generated by the Oil for Food program, which is monitored by the United Nations. Hassan had his livelihood snatched away from him. His nephew Raed was deprived of his future. "I didn't think about the future because it was so safe," he said. Instead, his teacher father paid for Raed's tae kwon do lessons, his pocket money, his school books. And then the embargo started and Raed had to leave school at 17 to help support the family. Now he has a wife and three children of his own. His wife had never in her life had to wash clothes by hand. At noon, the auction started. The auctioneer, a round man in denim, held up clocks, a cassette player, a Casio keyboard and he took a few bids here and there for the equivalent of a dollar or two. Hassan, Ali and Raed sat silently in their chairs. "One washing machine," the auctioneer called out. "Do I hear 50,000 dinars ?" Silence, but for the dusty wind. And that was it. Raed and Hassan walked out of the auction area and sat on the couch of someone else in need of money. Disappointment tied Raed's tongue and he stared out into the dust. "Now I'm going to sell it in the street," Hassan said. "We'll never go home until we sell it. My wife needs money, she needs food. I am responsible for that." ________________________________________________________ · Fatter in Lean Times -- Iraqi Elite Gets Richer From Illegal Smuggling Ignored by U.S., Newsday, 19 June '00 http://www.newsday.com/coverage/current/news/monday/nd2296.htm By Matthew McAllester. MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT Baghdad -- Back in 1990, before the sanctions started, Youssef Ahmed was the only game in town. Now he has seven competitors, all angling for the business of building private luxury pools in Baghdad. In the first three months of this year, the Baghdad stock exchange index rose more than 75 percent. Behind three-meter-high walls in a part of central Baghdad, work finished last year on a presidential palace the size of a small town. Houses sell for the equivalent of a million dollars in the wealthy neighborhoods. Refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves and all sorts of cheap electronic goods from Korea fill dozens of shops all over the city. This is the other side of the United Nations sanctions in Iraq. As innocent babies die at unprecedented levels in part because of an infrastructure crumbling under the weight of sanctions imposed in 1990, the embargo on Iraq has also enriched a small cadre of Iraqi businessmen-smugglers including, Newsday has learned, the immediate family of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, trading through a company called Asia. The massive smuggling-some estimates reach $1 billion a year-is taking place almost unhindered, with the acquiescence of the embargo's biggest proponent, the United States, which has been loath to object because several neighboring countries involved in the smuggling are U.S. allies. "In the 1990s a new class of people was created," said Ahmed, explaining the surge in demand for private pools. "Those people started building modern houses...After the embargo started, the merchants and smugglers and traders, their activities flourished more than before. Before, the government provided our goods. Now smugglers and merchants do that." "The president and his men are getting stronger and stronger," one diplomat said. "Look at [the wealthy neighborhoods of] Arasat and Mansour. Look at the cars. Most people are driving clunkers but every week I go down there and there are more Mercedes and not just your baby Mercs but big S classes. These people are getting richer and richer." In order to appease allies in the region, the United States and its allies elsewhere make little effort to stem much of this illegal trade, many diplomats and politicians in Iraq and analysts in the United States say. American naval vessels patrol the Persian Gulf looking for smugglers of oil and other goods. But on none of Iraq's borders does any country strictly enforce the embargo. Several diplomats and UN officials say the United States and its key allies turn a "blind eye" to Hussein's illegal trade, as shown by the long line of trucks that cross at the Turkish border in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq 24 hours a day. "I brought in one ton of potatoes and I'm taking out 5,000 liters of diesel," said Suleiman Mohammed Ali, 41, a Turkish Kurd who was waiting with his truck at the Iraqi-Turkish border crossing on a recent evening. In front and behind his truck were hundreds of others, all illegally carrying Iraqi diesel, which the Kurdish authorities tax before allowing it to leave the country. "The diesel goes to the Turkish government at a station across the valley there," said Ali, who had slept in his cab for four days on this trip. "It takes the oil and distributes it around Turkey." And where did the oil come from? "This is Saddam Hussein's oil," Ali said. According to diplomats and officials in Iraq, the United States has applied no pressure on Turkey to curtail the trade, which boosts the economy of southeastern Turkey and so provides stability to a region whose Kurdish population has often rebelled against the government. On the Iraqi side, most of the revenue goes to Hussein and to the Kurdish authorities who currently control northern Iraq. "Why do the Americans tolerate the trade?" said one Middle Eastern diplomat here. "Because it creates revenue for the Kurds, not because they like the Turks. It's one of the pillars of their foreign policy, to keep Saddam limping, to keep him on his toes." A State Department official acknowledged this was one reason why the trade continues: "The Kurds are getting a lot of money through the oil trade and we like the Kurds." The United States also tolerates the trade because it needs to use Incirlik, a Turkish base, to operate its flights to maintain two no-fly zones over Iraq, said a Turkish official. "If they say we must shut this door and have no contact with Iraq, we would say OK, and now we'll discuss our entire relationship with the U.S. Our cooperation is a package deal," he said. The State Department official said the United States is trying to address the illegal oil sales. "This trade is an issue of concern," the official said. "To suggest that we tolerate it is not accurate. It's something we're working on with the Turks to address. It's not an easy problem to solve." Iraqi politicians are unabashed about the government's policy of conducting illegal trade. "I am not going to allow myself to be choked to death simply for a resolution that has no legitimacy," said Riyadh Al Qaysi, Iraq's deputy minister of foreign affairs. "Every opportunity I get to survive I will certainly take. In fact, I am duty bound to take it." A large percentage of Iraq's illegal trade in oil and other goods is controlled by Asia, Newsday learned from diplomatic and political sources in Iraq. The company, owned by the Hussein family, manages the bulk of illegal trade with neighboring nations. Two sources separately said that the Kurdish party that controls the border with Turkey is a partner with the Baghdad-based Asia, even though that party, the Democratic Party of Kurdistan, claims to be an enemy of the Iraqi government. Asia has an office in the DPK-controlled town of Zakho, one Western diplomat said, and may have offices in neighboring countries like Turkey and Jordan. "Asia, it's the biggest racket here," the diplomat said. "It's a brokerage company that trades between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria." Other Iraqi business owners are not shy to say how they get their goods. As he talked about his work, Ahmed the pool contractor glanced down at the tiles, pumps and other materials he needs to build pools lying on the floor. They were from Germany, Lebanon, Italy, Spain, Britain and elsewhere. "I started to go through Dubai and Jordan as transshipment points because of the embargo," he said. Across town, Faris Al-Hadi was also happy to explain how his Samsung dealership manages to skirt the sanctions. From a well-known Baghdad family, Al-Hadi is as respectable a businessman as they come. In the years before the sanctions, Al-Hadi and his father had many business interests and were agents for well-known Western watches, radios, typewriters, pens. Al-Hadi owned a successful flower shop and a big nursery and factories for retreading tires and processing nuts. He also owned a photo-developing lab and a computer consulting group. When the sanctions started, he said, "everything was messed up totally." After the Gulf War, Al-Hadi began to nurture a relationship with the Korean electronic goods manufacturer, Samsung, and together with a partner he formed his current company, Qareeb Trading Agency. Two years ago he and Samsung struck a deal. Al-Hadi would import some Samsung goods to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates south of Iraq on the Persian Gulf. Others would go through a transfer company in Jordan and then across the Iraqi desert in trucks to Baghdad. Samsung's "concern was, 'we are afraid of the UN and the U.S.'-that they might consider any direct dealing with Iraq as breaching the sanctions," Al-Hadi said. James Chung, a spokesman for Samsung Electronics in Seoul, acknowledged that Samsung goods are sold in Iraq. "We have sales offices in Amman and Saudi Arabia but we don't have an official office in Iraq," he said. "Many local distributors can get Samsung Electronics goods around the countries near Iraq and they import these products through various channels and sell our products in Baghdad." Chung said the company complies with the sanctions. "Samsung Electronics wants to negotiate with the local distributors directly but it is not possible because Iraq is under UN sanctions," he said. "So we cannot make official relations with any distributor in Iraq. We are not making any gains through sale of our products there." As an experienced and upfront businessman, Al-Hadi finds it demeaning to have to import his goods in this roundabout way. "It's almost like smuggling, you know?" he said. According to international law, it is smuggling. It's a perilous way to run a business. Once, one of the small boats his company hires to bring the goods from Dubai caught fire and $60,000 worth of music tapes were destroyed. Another time, a boat was caught by one of the U.S. warships that sail the Gulf and act as the only physical deterrent to smuggling on Iraq's perimeter. The boat was held for six weeks and fined. But usually, the boats face no problems in the Gulf. "These boats are not in international waters," Al-Hadi said. Those ships pass through the waters of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait with those governments' apparent knowledge. "They are very close to the shore. They know when they can sail and when to stop. They know what they're doing. They're smugglers." Business under these conditions is difficult but Al-Hadi is doing well. Last year he had sales worth $2 million. This year he expects that to double. But it's nothing compared to the success of his businesses pre-embargo. Samsung, which has heavy competition in Iraq, likes to be sure its products are marketed properly, Al-Hadi said. "We receive a lot of Samsung staff," he said. "They visit Iraq and check the market share and do a lot of work and see their products here." Chung acknowledged that Samsung employes visit Baghdad. "We hope to make some good relationship with Iraq after the sanctions," he said. "It's possible that an employee met Mr. Al-Hadi some day but that does not directly mean there is an official connection with Samsung Electronics." Unashamed of the way he does business, Al-Hadi nevertheless has harsh words for some Iraqi businessmen who he says have taken advantage of the basic needs of the Iraqi people to make a fast buck. This is the new, pool-building class that are Ahmed's clients. "They are mainly engaged in the food business, the smuggling business in general," he said. "They bring in low quality goods and the purchasing power of people is very low so people buy this food. They cheat. Some food items imported are expired or branded with a brand that's not true. You can see Pepsi Cola in the marketplace from five different sources." In fact, Pepsi is one of the 98 companies traded on the Baghdad stock exchange. "Not the real Pepsi," noted Sabih Al-Dulaimi, director general of the exchange. Al-Dulaimi echoed Al-Hadi in his explanation of the new wealthy class in Iraq. "It's a kind of exploitation of the situation," he said, noting that all of the 98 companies on the exchange import goods illegally and are encouraged to do so by the government. "We're still in a war. In a war, many people go up and a lot go down." ________________________________________________________ · UN Urges Iraq on Kuwaiti Property, AP, 19 June '00 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20000619/aponline212842_000.ht m By Edith M. Lederer Associated Press Writer UNITED NATIONS -- The Security Council urged Iraq Monday to return property seized from Kuwait after its 1990 invasion and account for hundreds of missing people, adding its weight to a similar demand from Secretary-General Kofi Annan. A council statement issued after a briefing by retired Russian ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, who was appointed by Annan in February to try to resolve the Kuwait-related issues left over from the 1991 Gulf War, stressed "the importance of dialogue among parties." A report last Thursday by Annan on missing Kuwaiti property called for "understanding and goodwill" from Iraq in returning government archives, museum pieces and military equipment. The council said it agreed with Annan's conclusion "that understanding and goodwill are of critical importance for the success of Mr. Vorontsov's mission." Iraq has withdrawn from an international committee set up to look into the issue of persons who have been missing since the Gulf war. Baghdad claims that the committee, which is scheduled to meet again in Geneva on June 21, has not applied enough pressure on Kuwait. . . . . . The Security Council urged Iraq "to cooperate to ensure the repatriation or the return of all Kuwaiti and third country nationals or their remains." The council also echoed Annan's report last week that Iraq has returned "a substantial quantity of property" but it still has an obligation to return "many items, of fundamental importance for Kuwait" Annan noted that in December 1998, his special envoy in Baghdad, Prakash Shah, was told by Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz that the property issue was not a major one and could be easily settled. At a summit of developing nations in Havana, Cuba, in April, Annan said he urged Iraq's Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf to cooperate on the return of Kuwaiti property and archives, and was told the issue should be addressed under the 1991 Security Council resolution that ended the Gulf War. The secretary-general said Vorontsov is prepared to go to Baghdad at the earliest opportunity to facilitate the return to Kuwait of several small items Iraq reported finding in local markets in 1997 and 1998, including a green leather bag, a revolver, a hunting rifle and several decorated dishes. ________________________________________________________ · Iraq Has Sold Crude Worth Over 29 Billion Dollars Since December 1996, AFP, 20 June '00 http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/article.html?s=singapore/h eadlines/000621/world/afp/Iraq_has_sold_crude_worth_over_29_billion_dollars_ since_December_1996.html BAGHDAD -- Iraq has exported crude oil earning more than 29 billion dollars, representing more than 1.8 billion barrels, since the start of the oil for food programme at the end of 1996, the United Nations said. "Since the inception of the (oil for food) programme on December 10 1996, Iraq has exported nearly 1.845 billion barrels with a value of 29.36 billion dollars," the UN office in Baghdad said. "During the period June 10 to 16 Iraq exported 13.9 million barrels of oil for revenue estimated around 342 million dollars," it added, referring to the start of phase eight of the programme, which is aimed at easing the effects of the embargo imposed on Iraq since 1990. . . . . . Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Said al-Sahhaf said the country has accepted the latest renewal of the six-month UN oil-for-food programme, according to an Iraqi newspaper Tuesday. "The renewal (of the programme) on each occasion is a matter of routine which is accepted by both sides (Iraq and the UN), given that we have been subjected to an embargo" since 1990, said Sahhaf, according to the Iraqi weekly al-Rafidain. "When the eighth stage of the programme takes effect, the Iraqi government will seek to use the Iraqi funds (resulting from sales of crude), which are not a gift, to answer the needs of the population in various areas," the Iraqi minister added. . . . . . ________________________________________________________ · Survival of Innocents -- How Iraqi Children Cope With Poverty and Homelessness, Newsday, 20 June '00 http://www.newsday.com/coverage/current/news/tuesday/nd1264.htm By Matthew McAllester. MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT Basra, Iraq -- School is over for Mohammed Al Ramahi-for good. From now on, he's going to be selling vegetables in the market. "There's no use going to school," said Mohammed, 13, who this month completed what his father has decided will be the boy's last year of formal education. "Life is so hard and I have to help my father. I don't feel so happy about it but I must help." Mohammed stood behind a row of cucumbers at his father's stall, his body language confident and adult, his voice still unbroken. His father, Karim Al Ramahi, appeared out of the shopping crowd and explained why he had taken his son out of school. "I appreciate that learning is very important and he's still a kid but things are so tough," said the father of five. "The embargo has created a real crisis so everyone has to do his best to get through. I have to take care of my family or they'll collapse." Mohammed is part of a generation of young Iraqis who have grown up in a decade of increasing poverty and continuing economic sanctions. Many his age are dropping out of school to start work before they have started to shave. In Basra, Iraq's second largest city and a place of perhaps unparalleled poverty in this formerly wealthy country, there are many children like Mohammed. All over the town's souk, or market, young boys push large barrows of potatoes or flour. They call out the prices of car parts from stalls. They offer shoeshines. For the first time in people's memory, children are sleeping on the streets of the capital, Baghdad. The kids who do stay in school, teachers and aid workers say, are becoming increasingly apathetic, hopeless and bitter about the outside world that the children blame for their loss of opportunities and hunger. Some aid workers and diplomats are worried that the Western countries like the United States and Britain that insist on continuing the decade-old embargo are helping to create a generation that is demoralized, under-educated and developing a hatred of the West. "If you look at the possibility of a whole generation not feeling that their hopes and aspirations can be met, combined with this situation of isolation by the international community and feeling to a great extent that the rest of the world is responsible, you have to look at the ramifications for peace," said Anupama Rao Singh, the head of the United Nation's children's organization, UNICEF, in Iraq. Abdul Razak Hashemi, a minister in the Iraqi government, was less diplomatic: "God help the West for the hate growing up in Iraqi children." A State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the United States government is aware of the hostility to the West among the younger generation in Iraq but said it is not a top priority. "At this point, it's not a war for the hearts and minds," the official said. "It's a question of the security of the region. At this point it's not a popularity contest." Young Iraqis, the official said, are bound to feel hostility toward the United States and its allies because the people of Iraq do not have access to free information and are susceptible to President Saddam Hussein's propaganda. For many young people, however, daily survival is life's main concern. It was past midnight on a recent night and the platforms of Baghdad's bus station were dark and punctuated by the bodies of sleeping men. By the bare electric light bulbs of the food stands that stay open all night, a boy sat behind his shoe-shine box. He can't read or write. Behind his bony chest are lungs that struggle with asthma. His mother is long dead. He's a sweet boy, polite and a little nervous and usually hungry. He left home more than a year ago because his stepmother wanted him to beg in the streets and he hasn't been back since. "Sometimes I sleep here," said the boy, Ibrahim, 15. "Well, every day." Ibrahim makes 1,000 dinars, or 50 cents in a day, sometimes a quarter. What he makes he has to split with the man who actually owns the box full of brushes, rags and polish. He's a nice man, Ibrahim said. No one in the bus station, the regulars, takes advantage of him. Even the police are sympathetic. "Sometimes they even offer me food," he said. Ibrahim is part of a growing number of homeless children in Baghdad, a fact that the government is highly sensitive about. Although the government minder who accompanies foreign journalists everywhere was quite willing to take a journalist to see dying babies in Iraqi hospitals, it took several days for Newsday to gain permission to interview homeless children. Requests for access to Baghdad's only center for homeless children, Dar Al Rahma (House of Mercy), were denied. And the reason for the sensitivity is this: Iraqis, people with a history of extended family responsibility and extensive government social welfare programs, are simply embarrassed that families and society at large can no longer guarantee a home for every Iraqi child. While dying children is a crime against Iraq, to many Iraqis, the existence of homeless children is a stain on the national honor. Officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs did not respond to requests for interviews, but Singh said the Iraqi government is beginning to address the problem. "It's one of the areas we've had a lot of forward movement in the last two years," she said. "Two or three years ago they weren't willing to discuss the issue." Some are critical of the progress. According to aid workers who have been there, the 18-month-old Dar Al Rahma center resembles a prison more than a haven for homeless children. Armed guards surround the building, which the children cannot leave. Street kids are mixed inside with young criminals. There are no social workers to help the roughly 75 children inside-only a sociologist and a psychologist. Still, inside the center the children can go to school and learn crafts like carpentry, so things are getting better, aid workers said. But the news has spread on the streets that Dar Al Rahma is best avoided. When the police do speak to Ibrahim, they tell him he should go home or find the center. Home is where his drunken father and abusive stepmother are. He won't go back there. And he said he hasn't made it to the center because "I don't know the address." An Iraqi man listening to the conversation had his own interpretation. "He knows where it is," the man said. "He just doesn't want to go there." What are Ibrahim's dreams? An end to the sanctions perhaps? A change of government in Iraq? "I hope one day I'll have at least enough clothes and pocket money to survive," he said. "And I would like to go to school." Some young Iraqis are more politically aware and have complex, conflicted views of the West. They are bitter at what they perceive as an unjust economic stranglehold that countries like the United States and Britain support and yet they are attracted to the fruits and freedoms of the West. Fahed Yousser Hamoud is 19 and hopes to go to medical school in September. He lives in the old city of Basra, once a neighborhood of elegant homes and canals that Iraqis called their Venice. Most of the houses are now on their last legs and the canals are dried-up dribbles of sewage and trash. On a recent afternoon, Hamoud was walking home after finishing his final exams at high school. Many of his friends have dropped out of school, knowing they can make more money in the souk or driving cabs than they could as doctors or engineers. Hamoud is determined to push ahead with his studies, hoping that by the time he is a fully qualified doctor, in eight years, the sanctions might be over. One of the things Hamoud most wants is access to the Internet-illegal in Hussein's Iraq. His Chicago Bulls T-shirt and Phoenix Suns baseball cap give a clue to the country in the world he would most like to visit. "I would love to go to America," he said. "I would love to see the countryside there. And Michael Jordan." Even so, Hamoud strongly opposes the U.S.-backed sanctions against Iraq. "It's no use continuing the embargo on people," he said. "It's a crime to join politics and this campaign against innocent people. It will just create hatred." ________________________________________________________ · US Top General Blames Saddam For Civilian Losses in Air Strikes, AFP, 20 June '00 http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/article.html?s=singapore/h eadlines/000620/world/afp/US_top_general_blames_Saddam_for_civilian_losses_i n_air_strikes.html ABU DHABI -- The commander of US forces in the Gulf, General Anthony Zinni, blamed Iraq's President Saddam Hussein on Tuesday for any civilian casualties in the almost daily US and British air strikes on his country. "The Iraqis have made false claims. They fire at our planes indiscriminately not caring where their own rounds go," said Zinni, who is on a farewell tour of the Gulf two weeks before retirement. He charged that Saddam was to blame for any civilian losses because Iraq's air defences were being deployed around populated areas. "We do not try to engage those kinds of targets that are around populated areas," Zinni told a press conference in the Emirati capital. "We go out of our way to ensure there is no civilian casualties or damage." But according to Baghdad, a total of 299 people have been killed and 889 injured -- mainly civilians -- in US and British strikes since the two allies waged an air war on Iraq in December 1998. Iraqi artillery gunners clash regularly with US and British warplanes which enforce "no-fly" zones in the north and south of Iraq, without any casualties or damage reported on the side of the Western partners. Zinni disputed the Iraqi toll. "I don't accept that casualties are mainly civilian ... That is an allegation that the Iraqis have made. It has not been validated," said Zinni, chief of the US Central Command since 1997 and who directed the "Desert Fox" air war in 1998. He also insisted that US warplanes on patrol "do not ever engage the Iraqis unless they fire at us". . . . . . Zinni also reasserted his opposition to a lifting of sanctions against Iraq, which has been under UN embargo since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and held Saddam responsible for the hardships of the Iraqi population of 22 million. "I think someone like Saddam would use that (lifting of sanctions) to rebuild his military," he said. The US general, who has been decorated with medals on his Gulf tour, charged that Saddam was denying his own people of aid under a UN humanitarian programme and revenues from gasoil smuggled through Gulf waters. "He could feed them now," said Zinni. Turning to Iran, the Marine Corps general said it had earlier this year started to deny access through its waters to sanctions-busting ships but added that the current situation was not clear. "Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't," he said. "We are not sure what's happening now ... We are seeing ships again using Iranian waters." ________________________________________________________ · Missing Kuwaitis Inquiry to Continue Without Iraq, Reuters, 20 June '00 http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20000620_2271.html GENEVA -- Iraq will likely boycott a meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to try to clarify the fate of some 610 Kuwaitis missing since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, its organisers said on Tuesday. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will host the meeting, but only Kuwait and members of the U.S.-led Gulf War coalition (the United States, Britain, France) are due to attend, they added. Diplomats said that no substantive progress has been made since Iraq began shunning the tripartite committee talks in February 1999, although the Swiss-run ICRC continues to meet separately with an Iraqi delegation. "Consultations will be held on Wednesday, but Iraq will not take part as its position is the same. It will not participate in meetings as long as countries which do not have missing persons take part," an ICRC spokeswoman told Reuters. "As long as there are people still missing, we will try to mobilise the parties so things move ahead," she added. "Families have a right to know...This is a humanitarian issue." A Saudi diplomat told Reuters: "This is the fifth tripartite committee meeting in a row in which Iraq has not participated." The missing include about 24 Saudi nationals unaccounted for since the 1990 invasion and seven-month occupation. Iraq, which says it has no Kuwaiti or Saudi prisoners, also claims that 1,150 Iraqis went missing during the period. . . . . . "Our hope is that Ambassador Vorontsov will be in a position to go to Baghdad and the sooner the better. This is an important issue and the Council is unanimous...that Iraq should cooperate," French ambassador Jean-David Levitte, this month's Council president, told reporters in New York on Monday. ________________________________________________________ · Italian Parliament Calls for Lifting of Iraq Sanctions, AFP, 21 June '00 ROME -- Italy's lower house of parliament on Wednesday called for a UN embargo against Iraq, imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, to be lifted. A parliament motion, backed by 302 deputies -- among them communists and the Greens party as well as right-wing opposition deputies -- created a rift between governing parties and the government but also among the opposition. Ninety-five legislators voted against the motion presented by the last leader of Italy's old communist party, Achille Occhetto, while 55 abstained. It called on Prime Minister Giuliano Amato's center-left government to act within the framework of the United Nations so sanctions can be lifted and frozen Iraqi assets be unblocked. The Italian embassy in Baghdad should be reopened by the end of the year and a "sanitary airlift" be set up. During the parliament debate, post-fascist deputy Alberto Simeone said Iraq was "not this devilish regime as pictured by the official press but a regime in which religious tolerance and therefore great democracy exist." ________________________________________________________ · Rebuilding on Ruins -- Kurds Reclaim Homes Lost in War, But Iraq Still a Threat, Newsday, 21 June '00 http://www.newsday.com/coverage/current/news/wednesday/nd5939.htm By Matthew McAllester. MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT Northern Iraq-"If we went over there, they would slice us in half," Lt. Abboud said as he stared at the checkpoint a kilometer up the road. An Iraqi army officer, Abboud stood at his roadblock looking north into a part of his homeland he can no longer visit. It was the pleasant beginning of a warm night, and he could see the green mountains of the north and the evening lights of Kurdish villages and cars traveling along single-track roads. Above the plain and the distant mountains, the clouds turned quickly from purple to dark blue. Abboud had a fine, broad view of a piece of sovereign Iraq that has not been under President Saddam Hussein's control for nearly a decade. The 3.5 million Kurds in the region have a name for the land of cool breezes and oddly shaped mountains that Abboud looked out on. They call it Kurdistan. The UN, on the other hand, calls it Northern Iraq. The government of Iraq calls it Iraq. Largely forgotten since the end of the Gulf War, when Hussein put down a Kurdish rebellion and caused a million Kurds to flee into the Turkish mountains, Northern Iraq has since become an unofficial but highly precarious state within a state. It was in late 1991 that the Iraqi army and government apparatus pulled out of the region, leaving Iraq's northern garden in the hands of two heavily-armed rival Kurdish parties and under the impermanent protection of the United States and its allies. Aid workers poured into the region once the Iraqi army and allied troops left. UN agencies took over the revitalization of the region on behalf of the Iraqi government in 1997 after the inception of the Oil for Food program in late 1996. What remains now is a land whose future is hostage to the whims and political calculations of many players: Hussein, Kurdish leaders, the UN, Iran, Turkey and the United States and its allies. For the people of the region, their greatest fear is that Hussein and his troops will regain control of the region. In the tiny village of Ashawa, only 25 families of the 170 who were cleared out on a Friday in the spring of 1987 by uniformed Iraqi soldiers and their yellow bulldozers have so far returned. Many still live in temporary camps and in apartments in the nearby town of Dohuk. Those who have returned are haunted by the memories of the day the Iraqi president's men showed up at noon to tell them their boss had decided to build one of his palaces where their homes then stood. "I will never forget that feeling," said Ashrafi Suleiman, 50, who sat with her daughter one recent afternoon making dozens of flat circles of unleavened bread over a fire. One of Hussein's roughly 20 presidential palaces stood 20 yards away, now a shell of a building full of rubble. The shed that gave her shelter from the midday sun was built from Hussein's fine stone. "At that time, I had only one cow and no money," she said, as hot air bubbled the thin, browning dough. "I had to sell that cow to get flour for my kids. That's what Saddam Hussein wanted for us. We are still afraid that maybe he will come back." As Suleiman spoke and helped prepare her family's food for the day, the men of the village were down the road starting work on the foundations of a mosque. They plan to build it with manila sandstone blocks from another of Hussein's palaces that sit in heaps of rubble. When they came back to Ashawa, the villagers blew up the palaces with dynamite, shattering the president's bedrooms and splintering the elaborate Moroccan plasterwork that adorned his dining room. "It's a sort of revenge because Saddam Hussein destroyed our village and made us refugees for 11 years and occupied all our land," said a neighbor of Suleiman's, Musla Ali Ibrahim, 27. He had put down the pickax he had been swinging into the ground of Northern Iraq. "When we came back, we wanted to destroy all the things Saddam left behind." Building in the ruins of Hussein's palaces, Iraq's Kurds live with the knowledge that their fragile peace and relative freedom could be over in a day. "I am 99 percent sure that Saddam Hussein will not come back to the region," Ibrahim said, "because there are some decision-makers including the Americans who will protect us." Ibrahim is banking his future on a promise the American government has never directly made. The United States, from the Incirlik airbase in Turkey, enforces a no-fly zone in Northern Iraq, designed to protect the Kurds from Hussein's air force, but Iraqi ground forces are not specifically forbidden to venture into the north. "We've made it clear that if [Hussein] moves against the people of the north, we're prepared to use force," said a State Department official who requested anonymity. The official would not say whether the United States would in fact use force to protect the Kurds. The Kurds are living with an American threat, not a promise, of retaliation against Hussein should he venture into Kurdistan. After the Gulf war, the U.S. did not intervene with troops to support rebelling Kurds. As for the UN, its role in the north of Iraq is purely humanitarian. There are no UN troops there to keep the peace. Armed though they are, the Kurdish militias would be no match for the Iraqi army in a fight. However, Iraq's army appears weakened at the moment because of the war and the sanctions, and to start a new war in the north of the country to regain control over the region could jeopardize the key crutch of the Hussein regime, the Iraqi military, most diplomats in Baghdad said. The long-term aim of the Iraqi government, however, remains clear. "The north part of Iraq is Iraq and is going to be part of Iraq," said Abdul Razak Hashemi, a minister in the Iraqi government. It is a beautiful land. While the north doesn't have the economic value that so many patches of flat, yellow Iraqi desert do-those patches that conceal huge lakes of oil below the surface-the north is Iraq's Arcadia. Rivers tumble through the mountains towards valleys of apple orchards and vines. A gentle wind will ripple the surface of a cornfield that follows the curve of the rolling land. It's little wonder that Hussein wants to return to the land that was once his vacation retreat. That prospect terrifies the Kurds who live in thousands of villages with newly rebuilt homes with flat, low roofs. In his earlier campaigns of the 1980s and early 1990s to suppress rebellions in the north, Hussein had his army level villages by the thousand. Millions were made refugees in their own land or fled over the northern peaks to Turkey. Tens of thousands of people died. Hussein used chemical weapons on a town called Halabja in 1988, killing 5,000 people and leaving a legacy of birth defects, high cancer rates and fear. Helping to heal the wounds of Kurdistan is a vast aid program administered by the UN. The UN aid agencies are everywhere. Food, medication, water facilities, sewage systems, agricultural programs, reconstruction-all of these things are supervised and paid for by the UN. "We're spending over a billion to a billion-and- a-half dollars a year," said John Almstrom, the head of UN operations in the north. "Some agencies are spending more money here than they do in the rest of the world." All of that money comes from the sale of Iraqi oil under the Oil for Food program, not from the regular UN budget. What the UN cannot spend money on, according to Security Council resolutions, is the maintenance of the local governments run by the rival Democratic Party of Kurdistan and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Supporting these authorities would mean a de facto recognition of a Kurdish state and such a state could destabilize Iraq and possibly fuel Kurdish separatist movements in neighboring Turkey and Iran. Officially, then, the UN does not recognize the local authorities, acknowledging only the Baghdad government. On the ground, it doesn't quite work that way. The UN works with the Kurdish population and authorities so they can become self-sufficient rather than reliant on the UN. "When we get out of here, we have to try not to have left behind white elephants," Almstrom said. "There's been no point if we walk out of here and nobody knows how to run things." In Ashawa, the villagers are relearning how to run things their own way. They have received no help from either the UN or their local Kurdish authority. And they seem to like it that way. They survive by cultivating the land that was once Hussein's garden. Small boys collect twisted bits of metal from the ruins of the palaces in wheelbarrows and sell the scrap to passing truck drivers. But in spite of the efforts they are making to rebuild their lives, they face an insecurity born of experience with Hussein. "If the world doesn't protect us when he next comes, we know what we will do again," said Krait Hassan, 29, Ashrafi Suleiman's son. He pointed to the Turkish mountains. ________________________________________________________ · That Was no War, it Was Homicide -- And Still Iraqis Die, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 June '00 http://www.smh.com.au/news/0006/22/text/features03.html Behind the official version of Desert Storm lie awful secrets of a one-sided slaughter, writes John Pilger. The great American reporter Seymour Hersh is at war with the American military over his report in The New Yorker that one of its most lauded generals, now a member of President Bill Clinton's Cabinet, ordered his troops to fire on retreating Iraqis on the eve of the Gulf War ceasefire in 1991. Barry McCaffrey, commander of the 24th Infantry Division, has denied accusations such as the machine-gunning of 350 disarmed Iraqi prisoners. "Why are we shooting at these people when they are not shooting at us?" says one of his men on a tape quoted by Hersh. "It's murder," says another. The allegations against McCaffrey suggest he was a bad apple. But the enduring secret of the 1991 Gulf War was that it was not a war at all, rather an epic act of homicide. A great deal of propaganda has been devoted to covering up this truth and promoting the precision of so-called smart weapons, as if war has finally become a science. The bombing of the Al-Amiriya bunker in Baghdad in February 1991, incinerating more than 300 people, mostly women and children, was immediately blamed on Saddam Hussein. The bunker, we were told, was a "military facility". Although the lie was exposed by several reporters, the taint of "Iraqi reporting restrictions" remained. Britain's Independent Television News said it was censoring its report because the material was "too distressing". Six months later, the unedited CNN and World Television News "feeds" of footage of the bunker were obtained by the Columbia Journalism Review. "They showed scenes of incredible carnage," wrote the reporter who viewed them. "Rescue workers were collapsing in grief, vomiting from the stench, dropping blackened corpses." The atrocity was passed over quickly, and the "coverage" returned to its main theme of a sanitised, scientific war. Unknown to reporters corralled in Saudi Arabia, less than 7 per cent of the weapons used in the Gulf War were "smart"; most were old-fashioned "dump" bombs. Seventy per cent of the 88,500 tonnes dropped on Iraq and Kuwait - the equivalent of more than seven Hiroshimas - hit no military targets and fell in populated areas. Paul Roberts, one of the few journalists to escape the "pool" system, travelled with Bedouins. "I experienced bombing in Cambodia, but it was nothing like that ..." he said. "There were three waves every night. After 20 minutes of this carpet bombing there would be a silence and you would hear a screaming of children and people. [The survivors] were walking around like zombies." This was never published in the mainstream media, nor was the overwhelming evidence that - as in Vietnam and last year in Serbia and Kosovo - civilians were not mistakenly killed, but targeted. Cluster bombs, still killing and maiming children in Kosovo, are, as the label says, "anti-personnel". As the ceasefire was being negotiated with Iraq, columns of retreating other nationalities who had been trapped in Kuwait, mostly guest workers, were attacked by American carrier-based aircraft. They used cluster bombs and napalm B, the type that sticks to the skin while continuing to burn. Returning pilots bragged about a "duck shoot" and a "turkey shoot". Others likened it to "shooting fish in a barrel". Unknown to journalists in the pool system, in the two days before the ceasefire (when the McCaffrey atrocities allegedly happened), American armoured bulldozers were deployed, mostly at night, burying Iraqis alive in their trenches. Six months later, the New York Newsday reported that three brigades of the 1st Mechanised Infantry Division used snow ploughs mounted on tanks and combat earthmovers to bury thousands of Iraqi soldiers - some still alive - in more than 110 kilometres of trenches. A brigade commander, Colonel Anthony Moreno, said: "For all I know, we could have killed thousands." To my knowledge, the only images of this shown in the West included a few fleeting pictures on the BBC. The policy of the American commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf, was that Iraqi dead were not to be counted. One of his senior officers boasted: "This is the first war in modern times where every screwdriver, every nail, is accounted for." As for human beings, he added: "I don't think anybody is going to be able to come up with an accurate count for the Iraqi dead." The London Independent rejoiced in the "miraculously light casualties". In the US, there was some attempt to root out the truth. However, this was confined to very few newspapers, such as Newsday, and samizdat publications such as Z magazine, which publishes Noam Chomsky. Shortly before Christmas 1991 the Medical Educational Trust in London published a comprehensive study of casualties. Up to 250,000 men, women and children were killed or died as a direct result of the American-led attack on Iraq. A one-sided slaughter. In evidence before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, the major international relief agencies reported that 1.8million people had been made homeless, and Iraq's electricity, water, sewerage, communications, health, agriculture and industrial infrastructure had been "substantially destroyed", producing "conditions for famine and epidemics". Most of this was not reported, or was tucked away. In the most covered war in history, almost everybody had missed the story. It is hardly surprising that, in the nine years since, the death of half a million children due to economic sanctions, and the continuing bombing of populated areas in Iraq by American and British aircraft, are not news. "The thought that the state is punishing so many innocent people," wrote playwright Arthur Miller, "is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied." ________________________________________________________ · How Dictators Manage Their Billions, Forbes, 22 June '00 http://www.forbes.com/tool/html/00/jun/0622/feat.htm By Arik Hesseldahl For a guy who the world is more or less forbidden to do business with, Saddam Hussein seems to be doing pretty well. According to this year's Forbes list of the World's Working Rich, Saddam's personal wealth has grown from about $5 billion in 1997 to $7 billion this year. Not bad for a dictator whose country has been the subject of international trade sanctions since 1991. With the recent death of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, Hussein is the only member of the Forbes list of Kings, Queens and Dictators whose power does not derive from being royal born. In power now for 21 years, Hussein's continued presence on the list is a testament to his staying power and the way he uses his wealth to inspire continued loyalty among his closest cronies and family members. The source of his money is clear: smuggling oil out of Iraq. And while American and allied naval forces have done their best to keep illicit shipping in check, observers like Jonathan Mendilow, a professor of political science and a Middle East expert at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., say that for every one ship that is stopped or turned back, five or six make their smuggling runs successfully. By one estimate, smugglers will ship more smuggled oil this year than they have in the previous four years combined. According to people familiar with Iraq's practices, these ships, disguised to blend in with other maritime traffic in the region, will typically carry less than a thousand barrels at a time. How much Iraq makes per barrel of smuggled oil is unknown, but it has no doubt increased as international crude oil prices have grown in recent years. Assuming a spot price of $33 per barrel and 700 barrels per ship, Saddam would stand to make more than $23,000 per shipment. Of course Saddam doesn't pocket it all. He has to pay shipping costs and middlemen, such as the Iranian army, which is thought to take a cut of shipments that traverse Iranian territorial waters, legally out of reach of U.S. Naval forces. But every oil-smuggling ship that does make it, personally benefits Saddam financially. Iraq has been allowed to sell some $29 billion worth of oil under the United Nations' oil-for-food program at an average price of $19.23 a barrel, according to the United Nations. In addition to maritime shipping, thousands of trucks smuggle Iraqi oil, diesel fuel and other goods into Turkey and Jordan. So what does the world's most disreputable billionaire do with his ill-gotten gains? That was the question investigators from Kroll-O'Gara (nasdaq: KROG) set out to answer on behalf of the government of Kuwait in 1992. Norb Garrett, now head of Kroll's business intelligence and investigations unit, was involved with the project. "We were asked to find out where Saddam and his clique might be quietly investing his money around the world. And we found that he has pretty good financial advice," Garrett says. And lots of help from people who really don't have a choice. It turns out that Saddam, through the use of front organizations and individuals working on his behalf or on his order, has in the past invested in several legitimate businesses around the world, including the French publishing company Hachette, and other companies with subsidiaries in the U.S. "He might have a finance person in, say, Switzerland tell him to open an account in his own name and how much money it will have in it and exactly what he wants done with that money," says Nick Peck, another Kroll investigator who worked on the firm's Iraq investigation and now heads Kroll's office in Johannesburg, South Africa. "That person's family will typically be in Baghdad, and he'll know that they'll be hurt if anything were to go wrong with that money." One of the most notable of Saddam's foreign investments uncovered by Kroll was a stake in the French magazine publisher Hachette. At one point, Kroll investigators estimated that a Panamanian front corporation called Montana Management owned 8.4% of Hachette's publicly traded stock, accumulated since 1981. At the time, Hachette said Montana wasn't represented on the board of directors and had no influence on corporate affairs. In another case, the U.S. Treasury Department said in 1991 that an Iraqi businessman living in the Los Angeles area used some $4 million in Iraqi funds to set up a London-based company called Technology and Development Group. That company went on to acquire Matrix Churchill, a British tool company with a subsidiary in Ohio. Though Peck hasn't tracked Saddam's financial dealings for several years, he says he is unaware of any reason to believe that Saddam's changed the way he does business. "The names may have changed, but it's a fair assumption that it's business as usual for Saddam and for Iraq," Peck says. But Saddam, like all mobsters, has to spend a fair amount of money to maintain his grip on power. Big expenses include more than 50 royal palaces around the country and payoffs to family members and his closest aides. So how does Saddam stay in power? By spending large amounts of money to care for those around him, from his immediate family to those in his extended family from his hometown of Tikrit to those charged with protecting him and his regime. "The privileges of power are very costly," says Edward P. Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Israel who is now director at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston. "The substantial amounts of money that come in through the black market finance the elaborate security apparatus that surrounds him. And that means not only outfitting them militarily, but also taking care of people. That's one of the ways that he assures loyalty." Those closest to Saddam are sure to have their pick of houses and smuggled material goods. See a Mercedes or BMW tooling through the streets of Baghdad, and a Saddam crony is likely at the wheel. What he doesn't spend on loyalty or the construction of lavish palaces is saved for a rainy day, says Mendilow of Rider University. Much of Saddam's wealth was generated after a secret 1972 decision by Iraq's ruling Baath party to set aside 5% of the country's oil revenue for unspecified eventualities. That helped build up much of the nest egg that the dictator has salted away in various places around the globe, most of which is believed to be stashed away in European banks. At the time Saddam, still rising within the ranks of the party, was one of three people given authority over that money. Once he came to power, he was the only one of those three left alive. One of the others was executed, and the other died in a helicopter crash. "This is a person who knows that if his regime falls he is dead," says Mendilow. "When you take care of your family, you take care of yourself, and that way he personally can save himself." Should the regime fall in some sort of violent upheaval, something considered extremely unlikely in the foreseeable future, Saddam would probably have arrangements in place to spirit himself out of Iraq, most likely by ship through the port of Basra. From there, he would move on to another country--such as Afghanistan or one in Africa--that would quietly take him in for a large payment of cash, Mendilow says. And while Saddam may be well entrenched in Iraq, the forces of history may not be on his side. The examples of billionaire dictators whose wealth outlasted their regimes are many. . . . . . ________________________________________________________ · Sanctions Could Keep Inspectors Out of Baghdad, Independent, 23 June '00 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Middle_East/2000-06/sanction230600.s html Iraq: UN commission chief says he cannot secure co-operation, while his predecessor warns that the Iraqi leader may have rebuilt his arsenal By David Usborne in New York Hans Blix, the chairman of the new UN commission for inspecting arms in Iraq, has warned that, even as he prepares to send inspectors back into the country, Baghdad may block him because of its fury over sanctions and the bombing of its territory by Britain and America. Mr Blix, who was appointed earlier this year to run the new body, called Unmovic, voiced his concerns to The Independent as he completes recruitment of a new team of inspectors. He expects to be ready to deploy them - if the UN gets the co-operation of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein - towards the end of August. About 40 of the new inspectors, experts in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, will come to New York next month for four weeks of training. To answer Iraqi complaints that the predecessor arms body, Unscom, adopted a "cowboy" approach to its work, the inspectors will receive training on issues such as Iraqi culture and religion. While he claims to be "optimistic" that Iraqi resistance to the resumption of UN inspections will be overcome, Mr Blix concedes that there are issues beyond his control that mean Baghdad may never let in the new inspectors. They include the near daily bombing of targets in the north and south of Iraq. "Most of those things fall outside my remit, like when they talk about stopping of bombing, when they talk about the no-fly zone and when they talk about stopping of sanctions," said Mr Blix, a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "These are things I can do nothing about." It has already been 18 months since the old Unscom folded and inspections in Iraq ceased, after the launch by the US and Britain of Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. Mr Blix conceded that while satellite surveillance has never stopped, he has no way of knowing what Iraq may have done to rebuild its arsenals in that time. "Satellites don't see through roofs," he noted. Mr Blix occupies a corner room in a suite of offices on the 31st floor of UN headquarters that used to be the buzzing command centre of Unscom. With new plaques identifying it as the home today of Unmovic - the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission - the offices, that spread also to the floor below, are half empty. Only a small staff remains, preparing for next month's training courses. The place is filled, meanwhile, with artefacts testifying to the death of Unscom, the agency that was reviled by Iraq. There is a clumsy-looking light table, for instance, for studying aerial surveillance photographs, idle since its two operators were fired over six months ago. Stacked in corridors and against the walls of the so-called bunker, a room where advisers would gather during each of Unscom's many crises, are scores of tin and wooden crates that inspectors seized from a farm just outside Baghdad in 1995. Most remain stuffed with the documents, diagrams and computer diskettes that proved invaluable in demonstrating the extent of Iraq's weapons programmes. In theory, it will not be long before the place is buzzing again. However, critics, including the former chairman of Unscom, Richard Butler, already charge that Unmovic will never get off the ground. And even if Saddam Hussein does let them in, they add, the new body will be toothless. Mr Blix bases his optimism on the content of Resolution 1284, which created Unmovic last December. Crucially, it promises a suspension of economic sanctions, in place since 1991, if Iraq demonstrates cooperation "in all respects" with the inspectors. Previously, those sanctions were to remain in place until the complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction inside Iraq had been proven. "So that is a totally new ballgame and I hope it is a ballgame that the Iraqis will play," Mr Blix said. "My assessment is that they would stand to gain from this." He takes seriously the earlier complaints by Baghdad about some of Unscom's practices. His new inspectors, he says, "should know about the shrines in Iraq because many of them were not knowledgeable about this in the past. There was a perception that the inspectors came from outer space before and they perhaps did not always appreciate that a mosque was a mosque - that sort of thing." But he denied the notion that Unmovic will be a pale and ineffectual stepchild of Unscom. "We are young and kicking. There is nothing in the resolution to say that we will have less power than our predecessor body. There is no reduction of power," he said. "We shall not have cosy relations with the Iraqis but they should be correct," he added. "We shall not undertake activities that are intended to be harassing or humiliating or provocative". ________________________________________________________ · Butler Fears Saddam Has Used Black-Out to Build Arms, Independent, 23 June '00 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Middle_East/2000-06/saddam230600.sht ml By Anne Penketh Richard Butler, the outspoken Australian who led UN efforts to strip Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction after the Gulf War, says he fears that Iraq has used the 18 months without UN monitors to rearm. Iraq has been under sanctions since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, but, in an interview with The Independent, Mr Butler said that Iraq had exploited divisions among the UN Security Council's five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the US. Russia has even ensured that "Saddam has a veto at the Council table" by insisting that Iraq must approve of the future inspection procedures. "The absence from Iraq of such [disarmament] work should be a source of grave concern," Mr Butler said. If the Big Five UN members are united, then military action should not be necessary to enforce international law, he said. Mr Butler, who has just published a book, Saddam Defiant, on his own frustrating experience as top weapons inspector, said: "The world will never be the same" if a missile loaded with nerve gas were to hit Tel Aviv, a single canister of VX nerve gas were released into the New York City subways, or a single nuclear explosion hollowed out central London. Britain is faced with a tough policy decision on Iraq in the coming weeks when the new disarmament body prepares to test President Saddam Hussein's willingness to allow intrusive inspections. If Iraq defies UN provisions by refusing entry to the UN inspectors, the Security Council, will have to decide whether to take military action to force the sanctions-hit country to comply. Iraq's last refusal to co-operate with Unscom inspectors led by Mr Butler prompted the US and Britain to launch Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. The two countries have kept up a low-level bombing campaign in allied-patrolled "no-fly" zones since then. "There will be a crunch in August," Mr Butler predicted. That is when Unmovic, the new organisation that he describes as the "sickly son of Unscom," will have recruited and trained its politically and geographically correct team of experts. They were mandated by the Security Council last December to complete the elimination of Iraqi nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and long-range missiles capable of striking Iraq's neighbours. Unscom fell apart in the aftermath of Desert Fox, which split the Security Council, amid accusations that it was being used by the US and Israel for spying purposes, and was disturbing Iraqi sensibilities through its "cowboy" methods. Iraq, backed by Russia and China, continues to insist that it has already complied with UN disarmament requirements and that sanctions should be lifted forthwith. Baghdad has also warned that it will not cooperate with Unmovic. Once the Unmovic teams, now led by Hans Blix, a former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, are operating at the end of August, the Security Council will have to decide whether to force the issue by attempting to send them back to Baghdad. Mr Butler, who is now diplomat in residence at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York, said that Britain will come under pressure in the Security Council from the Russians and Chinese. "Russia, China and France say first lift the sanctions on the promise to let the monitors in. The choice for the West is: will they take Iraq's word for it? "And then the Council will have been conned," he added. Noting that August is only three months ahead of the US presidential election, Mr Butler said that the attitude of the other hardliner on Iraq cannot be predicted. Washington seems somewhat disengaged on Iraq at present, according to UN diplomats. Some said that Mr. Butler may be premature in predicting a new crisis in August, and that the Security Council may sit on its hands when presented with the new-look inspectors. ________________________________________________________ · Crude Facts -- Saddam is Winning Control of The Oil Markets, Wall Street Journal (Europe), 23 June '00 By Malcolm Wallop and George Yates. Mr. Wallop, a former U.S. Senator from Wyoming, served as ranking minority member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. George Yates, an independent oil producer from New Mexico, has served as chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. It's been nearly 10 years since the West went to war against Saddam Hussein. A brilliant military campaign expelled his army from Kuwait in a little over a month. A sustained eight-year inspections regime curbed the Iraqi dictator's attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. But a nine-year UN sanctions policy designed to strangle his regime economically has not only failed to accomplish its objectives - it has actually helped Saddam accomplish his. Consider this week's meeting in Vienna of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, where oil ministers voted to raise their production ceiling by 700,000 barrels a day, to 25.4 million barrels a day. Alas, increased output is not likely to bring down the price of oil. Many of OPEC's members are now at full capacity. Indeed, the spot price of crude oil for August delivery actually rose by 72 cents after the results of the conference were announced. Clearly traders believe that oil supplies are tight. Meanwhile Iraq, which does not participate in these conferences, has increased its output to a post-Gulf War high of 2.9 million barrels a day, up 26% since March. That makes Iraq the world's third largest oil exporter. And it gives Saddam the clout to throw the oil markets into chaos, particularly if he chooses dramatically to scale back production. Saddam is once again a force to be reckoned with in the world economy. How did we come to this? UN sanctions were supposed to allow Iraq to export just enough oil to purchase urgently needed food and medicine. But the fine print of the agreement was much more generous to Baghdad than most people ever realised. By 1998, the value of oil Iraq could sell on the open market was capped at a little over $5 billion every 180 days - a sum so high that Iraq could not even reach it during the period of low oil prices in 1998 and early 1999. Perversely, that ceiling allowed Saddam to more than triple his export capacity in 1998 alone. Additional volumes, unreported to the UN, are also believed to have been dumped on the market through Russian trading companies, sold to Jordan, or smuggled through Iran to Turkey. Then, in December 1999, the UN lifted its ceiling entirely on arguable humanitarian grounds, without considering the effect on the oil market. The flaw in UN sanctions policy should have been apparent from day one. The policy created a disincentive for Iraq to conserve resources, maximise price, or otherwise conduct affairs based on normal commercial considerations. Because the sanctions were based on a dollar and not a barrel ceiling, low prices made little difference to Saddam. He could create an oil glut without having to face the consequences, even if the glut had very serious consequences to the rest of the oil-producing world. Not surprisingly, it is Saddam who is largely responsible for the collapse in oil prices in 1998 and 1999. That collapse devastated the oil industry and resulted in the reduction of worldwide supplies. Approximately 560,000 daily barrels of oil production were lost in the U.S. alone. At the same time, non-OPEC production declined for the first time in decades. Even OPEC countries felt the pain, as they were unable to maintain existing reserves, much less drill for new supplies. Shutting down the upstream industry for two investment cycles has had serious implications for spare capacity - that is, capacity that could be produced within two months time. While no one has perfect knowledge of spare capacity, we do know that today's spare capacity is small relative to the current 77 million-barrel-a-day market. Measuring this capacity against the needs of a growing market, the natural depletion of oil wells, and various transportation and supply infrastructure bottlenecks, worldwide oil supplies are tenuous. Few realise that the world needs enough spare capacity to ensure a stable supply of oil. And this failure has created a potent gift for Saddam Hussein. We have made it possible for him to become a swing producer - able to set the world price of oil. He can and probably will use this economic weapon. A few months ago, Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Rasheed said that Iraq planned to ramp up production by another million barrels a day by the end of the year. Ominously, Mr. Rasheed also threatened to curtail exports if the U.S. doesn't compromise on sanctions. Is this an idle threat? Almost certainly not. Saddam has now achieved what the allies thought they had prevented by forcing him out of Kuwait - control of the oil market. He can use this leverage to set oil prices or undermine sanctions. As fuel supply is relatively inelastic in the short term, very high prices would be the obvious result of any export curtailment until the world's oil industry can respond. Finding and developing supply requires a substantial lead-time. Oil production is not a "just-in-time" business. Obviously, the world has a problem. Can it be solved without bowing to Saddam's demands? Fortunately, the answer is yes. We absolutely must maintain surplus capacity worldwide and support the process that is necessary for the maintenance of that capacity. We also need an information system that gives us more accurate data on excess capacity and production worldwide than we have at present. Western countries that don't have policies to encourage indigenous production of oil and gas need to adopt them. In the short term, our only recourse to respond to an oil shortage and maintain necessary sanctions on Iraq may well be using the world-wide strategic petroleum reserves created after the OPEC oil embargo - a system that so far has never been used. Whether Saddam will ultimately wrestle control of the oil market remains an open question. But he's never been in a stronger position to do so. It's time the West starts playing its cards more wisely. ________________________________________________________ Only links provided for the following reports: · The Man From UNSCOM Has a New Mission, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 June '00 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/06/16 /MN105242.DTL · Iraq Says Accepts New Oil Deal With U.N., Reuters, 20 June '00 http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20000620_639.html · Iraq May Never Repay War Debt, Experts Say, National Post, 22 June '00 http://www.nationalpost.com/news.asp?f=000622/324491&s2=world · Iran Says Forces Kill Seven Rebels on Iraq Border, Reuters, 22 June '00 http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/06/22/iran.iraq.reut/index.html · Iraq Says Iran Behind Bungled Car Bomb Attack, Reuters, 22 June '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000622/wl/iraq_iran_dc_1.html · The West's Forgotten Conflict, Independent, 23 June '00 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Middle_East/2000-06/raids230600.shtm l · In Iraqi Countryside, Allies' Forgotten War Inflicting Deep Wounds Innocent Civilians Routinely Killed in Retaliatory Strikes, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 June '00 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/06/23 /MN67847.DTL -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi