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News for 26 June '00 to 2 July '00 · Sources: AFP, Age, AP, BBC, New York Times, Reuters, Stratfor, Toronto Star, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post · Gore: Saddam Must Go (BBC) · Bush Campaign Challenges Democrats on Iraq Policy (Reuters) · Gore, Bush Seem Committed To Ousting Saddam Hussein (Wall Street Journal) · 'Pretend' Iraq Policy (Washington Post) · Flight Tests by Iraq Show Progress of Missile Program (New York Times) · Interview -- UN Must Change Iraq Disarmament Goals -- Ex-Inspector (Reuters) · CIA Ruined Iraqi Weapons Hunt (Age) · Iraqi Investment Fund Aimed Against Sanctions (Stratfor) · FAO Chief Meets With Baghdad Employees After Burial of Slain Colleague (AFP) · Babies Pay the Price as Iraq Sanctions Go Into 11th Year (Toronto Star) · Iraqi Youth Pay Price for U.N. Sanctions (Toronto Star) · The Rich Get Richer, the Poor . . . (Toronto Star) · He Thought He Could Help. He Was Wrong (Toronto Star) · Kurds Rebuild Homes, Carve a State (Toronto Star) · Auctioning off Baghdad (Toronto Star) Only links provided for the following reports: · Italy Parliament Wants End to Embargo on Iraq (Reuters) · Two Killed In Attack on U.N. Office In Baghdad (Washington Post) · Iraq Says One Killed, One Wounded in Airstrike (AP) · Saddam Suspends Military Zones Set Up in Response to U.S., British Airstrikes (AP) · Iran Impounds Iraqi Oil Tankers (AP) · More Iraqi POWs Released (BBC) ________________________________________________________ · Babies Pay the Price as Iraq Sanctions Go Into 11th Year, Toronto Star, 24 June '00 http://www.thestar.com/back_issues/ED20000624/news/20000624NEW01d_FO-IRAQ24. html By Sandro Contenta Toronto Star Middle East Bureau SADDAM CITY, Iraq -- Death is doing the rounds at Ibn Al-Baladi hospital. It strikes while Dr. Uldram Ahmed is on duty, standing at the bedside of a malnourished baby, plucking at the infant's distended belly to show the loss of skin elasticity. His examination is jarringly interrupted by an aide who runs into the room shouting and pointing to the corridor, ``She's dead. The child is dead!'' It's 2:56 p.m. Ahmed dashes out and sees a woman wrapped in a black chador covering a bundle in her arms. He lifts the veil and finds a toddler in a red dress, nestled as though sleeping in her mother's arms. Her name as Yousser Wadi. She is one year old. ``She fell sick 10 days ago,'' says her mother, who is from a village a three-hour drive from Baghdad. She arrived at the hospital just five minutes before the girl died. Such chilling dramas are replayed five or six times a day in Ahmed's 260-bed children's hospital in this poor and filthy suburb of Baghdad. Aug. 2 is the 10th anniversary of Saddam Hussein's stunning invasion of Kuwait. Economic and military sanctions were imposed by the United Nations Security Council four days later and have remained in place ever since. Today, and in future editions, The Star will examine various aspects of the Iraqi problem. The wide-ranging economic and trade sanctions in essence prohibit all trade with Iraq except for medical equipment and food for humanitarian purposes. They also bar airlines from flying to and from Iraq and control how much crude Iraq can sell under the ``oil-for- food'' program. The U.N. sanctions, designed to punish or topple Saddam, have instead left ordinary Iraqis languishing in Third World squalor while the ruling elite remains entrenched and well-heeled. An oil-rich country whose hospitals and schools were once the envy of the Middle East, Iraq has been brought to its knees. Its professional and technical class has vanished, its members reduced to doing odd jobs or emigrating. A civil servant gets about 5,000 dinars a month, or $2.50 (U.S.). A teacher gets even less. Youth drop out of miserably equipped schools, where funding has dropped from $230 million (U.S.) in the mid-1980s to just $23 million today. They're a lost generation, stunted by malnutrition and growing up on little more than hate for the United States. ``It has transcended the bounds of tragedy. It's a concrete genocide,'' says Ryadh Al Qaysi, Iraq's deputy foreign minister, referring to the sanctions policy. Western nations reject that assertion, but officials quietly concede the sanctions policy has not worked. And that poses a troubling conundrum for a world community that is trying to find ways to punish bad guys. In Iraq, in large part because the tyrannical Saddam has no compunction about letting his people bear the brunt of the punishment, the efforts have come at a very high cost. A UNICEF report last year, conducted with the help of the Iraqi government, estimated 500,000 children under the age of 5 died between 1991 and 1999. Mortality for children under 5, the report found, rose from 56 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1984 and 1989, to 131 per 1,000 between 1994 and 1999. ``Iraq has gone from being on a par with countries like Greece to being on a par with countries like Haiti,'' UNICEF official Tim Sutton says of the infant mortality rate. Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEF's chief representative in Iraq, calls the sanctions ``frightfully unsmart.'' ``Sanctions are a legitimate instrument. But at the same time, we have enough experience worldwide to show that sanctions, when imposed, tend to hurt vulnerable groups in a country rather than the elite they're supposed to target,'' she says. If the embargo's humanitarian results have been tragic, its political results are mixed. Saddam is in no shape to threaten Iraq's neighbours, but he's still in power. Much of his nuclear weapons program has been dismantled. But further destruction of his arsenal ended in 1998, when U.N. monitors were expelled by Baghdad and the U.S. and Britain began a low-level bombing campaign that has continued for 18 months. Now it's a stalemate: Iraq won't let monitors back in, saying its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have all been destroyed, and the U.N. won't lift sanctions until it does. In December, 1996, the U.N. implemented the oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell oil and buy humanitarian goods. The U.N.-supervised program - which has approved $10.4 billion (U.S.) worth of goods so far - has slowed, but not stopped, the sharp decline in health and living standards, Rao Singh says. U.S. officials say Saddam is using money to build grand palaces and pay off military officials rather than feed his people. They also charge Iraq is selling medicine on the black market in nearby countries. But U.N. officials note the oil-for-food program has numerous ``observation mechanisms'' that keep track of how the program's goods, including food and medicines, are used. ``Not one of those observation mechanisms has reported any major problem in humanitarian supplies being diverted, switched, or in any way misused,'' says George Somerwill, spokesperson for the U.N.'s humanitarian relief program in Iraq. Dr. Hussein Zakar, head of the World Health Organization in Iraq, says the U.N. is slow to approve contracts for medicine, which contributes to shortages. And distribution within Iraq is hampered by broken-down trucks and the lack of money to pay workers. A sanitation crisis is also endangering lives. Crumbling water and sewage treatment networks pump out polluted drinking water while the U.N. withholds contracts for spare parts, concerned they might be used for military purposes. Each day, some 300 tonnes of solid, untreated raw sewage is discharged directly into rivers because treatment plants can't handle the load. Only 10 per cent of garbage trucks work, so only one-third of the garbage is collected. The rest is left to rot in fields or on the streets. And only one-quarter of Iraqis in the country's central and southern regions are served by piped sewage systems. Taken together, these factors have turned Iraqi communities into breeding grounds for the increased cases of cholera, typhoid and gastroenteritis that are making short work of malnourished children. Nowhere is this more visible than in Hai Al Tarek. Ali Hussein, the 10-week old baby who died, lived in Hai Al Tarek, perhaps the worst slum on the outskirts of Baghdad. Dr. Ahmed is on the front lines of the fight to save children. He describes the human cost in cold, clinical language. ``It starts with marasmus - progressive loss of weight due to malnutrition - and then they're hit with blood diarrhea,'' he says. ``Look how thin her hair is,'' he says, plucking at strands on Yousser's head. ``It is a sign of the disease: she had loss of weight due to malnutrition, blood diarrhea, vomiting, and then death.'' Yousser's mother covers her child in her veil and walks away. Then comes a despairing voice from a nearby room: ``Another one has died.'' It is 3:03 p.m., just seven minutes after death made its first visit. Yousser's mother can still be seen walking away, and Ahmed is already heading into the examination room for another example of the hospital's daily, deadly routine. On a long green table lies 10-week-old Ali Hussein, an impossibly tiny baby of skin and bones who has just vomited his last breath of blood on a blanket beneath him. Dr. Ghassam Rasheed Al Baya, a young man with a bushy moustache, searches for life with a stethoscope on the baby's chest. Ali's 18-year-old mother is bent over her son, frozen in shock. Ali's shirt is pulled up under his chin. His skin is ashen and shrivelled, his belly bloated, and his ribs protrude to meet at a hollow in the middle of his chest. His tiny fingers are half-closed like claws, as though to the very end he tried to hang on to life. Ali's mother, who brought the baby to the hospital four hours earlier, comes out of her daze, wraps the tiny body in the stained blanket and hurries out. ``It is the third baby I see die today. I am very depressed,'' Baya says. ``This embargo is a crime. These babies are not soldiers. Why must they die?'' He blames the embargo for the lack of medication necessary to treat the large numbers of malnourished children who fall victim to chronic diarrhea, especially during the scorching summer months. Ahmed enters a ward where babies fill several beds. Toddler Rinda Satar is gasping for breath as her mother Jassima Abed chases flies from the child's face. ``The water we drink is dirty,'' says Abed, 32. ``It is fatal,'' Ahmed says, once out of the room. ``I think she will die today; not more than six to eight hours.'' Rinda is discharged overnight, to die at home. The community started taking shape in the late 1980s, settled by those who could not afford to live in Saddam City, itself a poverty-stricken suburb of Baghdad. >From the garbage-strewn streets of Saddam City, a dirt bridge across a water-filled canal leads to Hai Al Tarek. The canal was originally built to divert flood waters. Today, it's the main dump for Al Tarek's untreated sewage. More than 30,000 people, many of them squatters, live in one-room row houses of mud bricks and cement blocks. There's no sewage system, and most don't have running water. Pipes from homes take urine and other liquid waste to gutters dug out in the middle of the dirt roads, where barefoot children play. Flies, mosquitoes and a stench that no one seems to notice any more hangs thick in the hot air. ``The water smells, and my children are always sick,'' says Hashemia Abdul Hassan, 30, watching children play knee-deep in a gray pool of stagnant water. Saad Benham Abdullah, general director for the Baghdad Water Supply Authority, says his department doesn't have money to repair Baghdad's water and sewage networks, let alone extend them to places like Hai Al Tarek. A small pumping station makes some 3,000 cubic metres of water per day available for Hai Al Tarek - four times less than needed for a population of its size, he says. Hai Al Tarek residents often get water by illegally plugging small pumps directly into main water lines, Abdullah says. It causes ``negative pressure'' that sucks untreated sewage into the water line. ``There are 20 or 30 places like Al Tarek around Baghdad,'' says Abdullah. ________________________________________________________ · Iraqi Youth Pay Price for U.N. Sanctions, Toronto Star, 25 June '00 http://www.thestar.com/back_issues/ED20000625/news/20000625NEW15_FO-YOUTHS.h tml By Sandro Contenta Toronto Star Middle East Bureau Poverty pushes children out of school and on to the streets, putting an entire generation at risk Ten years ago, oil-rich Iraq was considered an emerging success story, with hospitals and schools that were the envy of the Middle East. But a decade of U.N.-imposed sanctions has brought the country to its knees. The Star's Sandro Contenta recently spent two weeks in Iraq to chronicle the effects of the embargo on the country. BAGHDAD -- Like homeless people the world over, the poor of Baghdad gravitate to bus terminals, where men in rags curl up to sleep on the concrete platforms. There are about 40 of them on a recent night, their bodies silhouetted by a nearby bonfire. Another group of homeless men gaze at the fire in silence. Ismael Ibrahim is among them, squatting behind his shoeshine box. Ibrahim is 15, has never gone to school and has been sleeping on the streets of Baghdad for the past 14 months. Homeless youths are a relatively recent phenomenon in Baghdad. United Nations workers say their numbers have grown steadily since the mid-1990s as the trade embargo tears at the country's social fabric. The U.N. imposed the embargo against Iraq because President Saddam Hussein refused to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction. ``The number of children on the streets increases each month,'' says Jean Michel Dupouy, head of the Iraqi mission for Enfants du Monde, a French non-governmental organization. But street kids are only the visible part of a much bigger problem concerning Iraqi youths, who are growing up knowing nothing but hardship - and a deep hatred for the United States, which is seen as the main obstacle to lifting sanctions. Dupouy and U.N. youth workers say the embargo has shattered traditionally close-knit families because of the strains caused by poverty, and the resulting psychological and physical abuse it can breed. Many of these young people have survived a high infant mortality rate only to suffer the stunting effects of malnutrition. They're dropping out of miserably equipped schools in growing numbers, failing to see the point of education when the payoff is unemployment, or a teaching or engineering job that pays $2 (U.S.) a month. ``We're frying a whole generation,'' says the head of a Western non-governmental organization working to improve Iraq's health-care system. They're a lost generation that won't develop the technical and professional skills Iraq needs to get back on its feet. ``This generation is going to make everybody pay a heavy price for the suffering,'' says Hashami Abdul Razak, a senior member of the ruling Al Baath party and Iraq's ambassador to France during the Gulf War. Anupama Rao Singh, head of UNICEF in Iraq, notes the world is full of examples of violent movements fuelled by angry youths. ``This is not the best case scenario if we're interested in peace,'' Rao Singh warns. But there's no sign of anger on Ibrahim's face. There's timidness, and some fear, as he answers questions put to him through a government-selected translator, whose job it is to ``mind'' foreign journalists. Ibrahim says he and his six siblings all ran away from home to escape an alcoholic father and a stepmother he describes as uncaring. He suffers from asthma and can't read or write. He says he makes up to 30 cents a day shining shoes and gives half of it to the man who owns the shoeshine box. Police regularly tell him he can't sleep on the street and tell him to go to Dar al Rahma, a centre that houses both homeless youths and young offenders. ``I'm afraid to go there,'' says Ibrahim, adding it's because he doesn't want his father to find out where he is. Also, he adds, several of his homeless friends went to the centre and he has not seen them since. Dupouy says the centre is essentially a prison for youths. The Iraqi government, he says, has a hard time accepting the presence of homeless youngsters, seeing them as some sort of affront to the country's collective dignity. It's a paradox foreign journalists constantly come up against. Iraqi officials want to demonstrate the devastating effects of the embargo, but a kind of wounded pride makes them balk at allowing access to scenes they believe portray them as a Third World country. Government officials reluctantly agreed to allow The Star to interview street kids. But when a reporter wanted to snap a picture of Ibrahim, the government minder refused to allow an angle that would have also shown another homeless youth sleeping behind his shoeshine box. The Juvenile Welfare Law empowers police to round up vagrants, which it defines as homeless people, but also ``someone who is a beggar in public (or) someone who is polishing shoes or selling cigarettes as a peddler.'' Eleven-year-old Ali Khalid, who lives at home and shines shoes from 8 a.m to 10 p.m., is talking about his dream of being a soccer player when he suddenly catches a glimpse of a police car. He quickly picks up his shoeshine box, which weighs almost as much as he does, and dashes away. The children police pick up are first placed in two transit centres housing 550 boys and girls ranging in age from 9 to 18 years. A judge decides who gets sent to Dar al Rahma, where some 80 street youths were being held. Enfants du Monde distributes food in Dar al Rahma, and has set up a school at Dar al Rahma. It's also trying to encourage the government to see street children as a social, not criminal, problem. Baghdad is equally concerned about the growing number of children who drop out of school to work, although it doesn't treat them as delinquents. In Basra, a mainly poverty-stricken Shiite city in southern Iraq, 13-year-old Mohammed Ramahi kneels inside a basket of cucumbers and proclaims his school days are over. ``There is no use going to school because life is so hard. I'm going to help my father,'' says Mohammed, who looks small for his 13 years. Mohammed's father, Kareem Mehedi El Ramahi, says he needs his son's help at his vegetable stall. Ramahi says he understands the importance of a good education, but the need to make a living is more urgent. ``When life goes well, he will go back to school,'' says Ramahi, 41. Ramahi has four other children in school, but says he can't imagine letting them finish their education unless things improve. The government doesn't provide statistics on dropouts. But it does say 66 per cent of 6-year-olds were enrolled in school in 1999, compared to 88 per cent in 1991. UNICEF believes the enrolment figures are lower. School buildings need urgent attention. The U.N. estimates about 55 per cent of schools are unable to provide proper instruction because of dilapidated buildings. According to Iraq's education ministry, 8,000 schools require structural work and 5,000 new schools are needed. Some schools run two or three shifts a day to cope. Essma Abdul Adim, 28, teaches English at Basra's El Noor high school, exclusively for children of National Oil Company employees. The company helps finance the school, which means it's better equipped than most - desks, running water and textbooks are a luxury at most other schools. Investment in education during the first two years of the ``oil-for-food'' humanitarian program, which allows Iraq to sell oil in return for goods approved by the U.N., averaged $23 million (U.S) a year. That compares to Iraq's $230 million (U.S.) budget for education in the mid-1980s. But Adim says even her relatively privileged school has to fight an uphill battle to convince students of the value of education. ``I tell them, you are the young soldiers of the revolution. The enemies want you to leave your schools. They want you to be ignorant, but you have to study because your country needs you,'' Adim says. ``Most of them tell me, `You are a teacher and what did it get you?' '' Adim adds, alluding to her salary of about $2 a month, and to the fact that her family has had to sell most of its furniture to survive. ``They tell me, `If I leave school to go work in the market, I will get more than your salary'.'' ________________________________________________________ · The Rich Get Richer, the Poor . . ., Toronto Star, 25 June '00 http://www.thestar.com/back_issues/ED20000625/opinion/20000625AWAB02_WB-SAND RO.html Billions of dollars worth of goods evade U.N. rules By Sandro Contenta Toronto Star Middle East Bureau ZAKHO, Iraq -- TRUCK DRIVER Suleiman Mohammed Ali and his pals seem the most carefree smugglers in the world as they wait to get their load of Iraqi oil across the border to Turkey. They sip tea and chat by a lineup of trucks that stretches as far as the eye can see, each one containing up to 5,000 litres of diesel - and each one on the verge of breaking the U.N.'s international trade embargo on Iraq. ``I've been waiting in line since noon and I hope to cross the border at midnight,'' says Ali, 41, alluding to the snail's pace at which the 500 trucks cross the Iraqi border every day to sell diesel to Turkey. It's sunset and on the Turkish side of the border, another line of trucks waits to bring in goods to Iraq. U.N. officials estimate only 1 of every 200 trucks coming from Turkey is selling goods to Iraq legally - that is, goods approved by the U.N. The rest are breaking the 10-year-old embargo, with no one verifying what is smuggled in and no one knowing what Saddam Hussein is doing with the money he makes from oil smuggled out. Western diplomats estimate Iraq smuggles the equivalent of about $1.5 billion worth of oil annually. But they won't venture an estimate on the amount of non-oil goods smuggled to and from Iraq, nor how much Baghdad is pocketing in customs' duties on these goods. It's a lucrative, illegal trade that U.N. humanitarian officials here privately describe as one of the most damning indictments of the U.N.'s sanctions policy against Iraq. Originally designed to punish Saddam and his regime for invading Kuwait in 1990 and triggering the Persian Gulf War the following year, the U.N. trade embargo has missed its target. Those it punishes are ordinary Iraqis. Saddam and his repressive regime remain entrenched and well-heeled through the smuggling trade, while the vast majority of Iraqis languish in filth, disease and poverty. Some observers suggest the United States, the main opponent to lifting sanctions, turns a blind eye to much of the smuggling - at least as it involves its ally Turkey. Many Iraqis are convinced the U.S. is more interested in keeping Saddam in power than getting rid of him. The ``smuggling'' done here does not involve people sneaking around under cover of darkness on perilous routes. Much of it is conducted at main border crossings in plain sight. The main smuggling routes are by land through Jordan and Turkey and by sea through the Persian Gulf. Iraq actively encourages the trade, which it doesn't consider smuggling. ``I am not going to allow myself to be choked to death by an embargo that has no legitimacy,'' says Riyadh Al Qaysi, Iraq's deputy foreign minister. He argues that sanctions are illegal because Iraq no longer has weapons of mass destruction. ``Every opportunity I get to survive, I will certainly take. In fact, I am duty bound to take it,'' Qaysi says. Under the international trade embargo, all goods going in or out of Iraq must be approved by the U.N. under its Oil For Food program. Iraq's approved oil sales amount to almost $39 billion since the program began in December, 1996, $21 billion of that in the last 12 months. The U.N. uses the money to allow Iraq to buy humanitarian goods such as food and medicine and to pay for Gulf War reparations. Since the Oil For Food program began in late 1996, the U.N. has approved less than $16 billion worth of contracts for a country of 22 million people, whose infrastructure - from hospitals to sewage treatment plants - is crumbling. Goods that come and go illegally aren't policed by U.N. officials because their mandate is to inspect only those shipments approved under the program. So smuggling is conducted relatively freely, keeping Saddam Hussein and the ruling elite rolling in dough and creating a class of nouveau riches. Iraqis call them the Intiha'ah al-Hasar - the ``embargo cats.'' Fat cats is more to the point. They own swanky villas in Baghdad's elite Monsour and Araset neighbourhoods that can cost more than $2 million and cruise around in the latest Mercedes or BMWs. Yousef Ahmed, co-owner of a company that installs indoor pools, says smugglers helped his business boom during the last decade. He had virtually no competition when he started his indoor pool business in 1989, Ahmed says. Today, there are eight companies that install indoor and outdoor pools in Baghdad. Smuggling has also fuelled Iraq's fledging stock exchange. The number of companies it lists has grown from 64 in 1992 to 98 today. The total value of the market's stock has climbed from $1 million to about $300 million. Iraq's business community was initially crushed by the embargo. Faris El Hadi, for example, watched most of the six companies he owned - selling everything from computers to nuts - go down the tube. Hadi, one of Baghdad's better-known business leaders, says he turned to smuggling in 1996 to survive. He first tried to convince Samsung to make him their Iraqi agent. But the South Korean electronics giant feared reprisals for breaking the U.N. embargo. So Hadi, 59, followed a widely used Iraqi business scheme. He set up a Jordanian front company, the Qareeb Trading Agencies Ltd., Co-ordination Office, in Amman. It is registered under the name of a Jordanian citizen, a friend of Hadi, which allows the company to get letters of credit from Jordanian banks. But Hadi says he and his business partner, Khalil Bunniya, another well-known Iraqi businessman, are the Jordanian company's real owners. Samsung sells goods to Hadi's Jordanian front company, thereby technically respecting the U.N. embargo. Hadi then ships the goods to Baghdad, where he sells and services them, warranty included. Hadi uses the same route to transport air conditioners, refrigerators, microwaves and all sorts of electronic and household appliances that contravene the embargo. The Iraqi government, Hadi says, gets a big cut of the smuggling business. For every air conditioner brought in, for example, the government levies a customs duty of 70 per cent of the manufacturing and freight costs, plus a further 10 per cent tax. A simple air conditioner that fits into a window can cost $510 to manufacture and ship, Hadi says. It sells at $1,110 retail. Embargoed goods considered more sensitive by the U.N. Security Council, such as high-powered computers, Hadi brings in by fishing boats from Dubai. ``It's smuggling,'' Hadi says. His shipments hug the coast and have never been stopped by the U.S. navy, which patrols the Persian Gulf. But they are often stopped by Iranian patrols and fined, or taxed, depending on how you see it, before being allowed to continue their trip to a southern Iraqi port near Basra. Iran also takes its cut from the smuggling of Iraqi oil, charging a tax of 30 per cent of the value of oil before letting the tankers cross Iranian waters, says a Western diplomat in Iraq. The Iranians didn't seize a single Iraqi ship smuggling oil until last April. The ship was exporting 2,500 tonnes of oil in breach of the U.N. embargo. Hadi says he shipped $3 million worth of goods last year, 40 per cent with fishing boats from Dubai, the rest through Jordan. He expects to more than double that amount this year but insists he would be doing 10 times the business if the embargo were lifted. The smuggling at the Turkish border is a kind of joint venture between the Iraqi government, Iraqi Kurds and the Turkish government. The no-fly zone imposed by the U.S. and Britain in northern Iraq has helped the Kurds set up an autonomous region. Its western sector is controlled by the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK) and the eastern part is run by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The two have long been at war, although they have so far respected a 1998 U.S.-brokered ceasefire. A main source of tension is the DPK's refusal to give the PUK a cut of its lucrative smuggling trade. The DPK runs the border crossing post at the Turkish border and makes nearly $170 million a year on duties levied on the smuggling, says Jawher Namiq, head of the DPK's politburo. That doesn't include the money the DPK makes by buying oil from the Iraqi government and selling it at a profit to Turkish truck drivers who smuggle it across the border, for sale in Turkey. PUK spokesperson Said Ahmed Pire put the oil smuggling revenue at the Turkish border crossing at about $7.5 million a day. He says much of it is controlled by a company called Asia, owned by Turkish, Iraqi and DPK interests. ``Asia is the biggest racket here,'' says a diplomat in Baghdad. ``It's a brokerage company that trades between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria,'' he says, adding that it is owned by ``influential personalities,'' including members of Saddam Hussein's family. Selim Karaosmanoglu, Turkey's ambassador to Iraq, acknowledges his country is illegally doing business with Iraq outside the Oil For Food program, but argues there's not big money involved. ``It's a trickle across the border, not a major trade,'' he says. Since the embargo, Turkey has lost as much as $75 billion in trade with Iraq. Today's cross-border trade is just enough to keep the local economy in eastern Turkey alive, Karaosmanoglu says. The U.S. government is well aware of the illegal trade, says a Turkish official. The U.S. tolerates the trade because it wants to keep using a Turkish air base to operate its flights over Iraq's north, the official adds. The U.N. Security Council tolerates trade between Iraq and Jordan because Jordan is too important a Middle East ally to be destabilized economically at a time when Israel is trying to make peace with Syria and the Palestinians, say Western diplomats in Iraq. They suggest the U.S. may have also decided that keeping Saddam Hussein in power is better than the alternative - a highly fractious opposition in exile, or a takeover by Shiite Muslim groups in the south waging sporadic, armed resistance. ________________________________________________________ · He Thought He Could Help. He Was Wrong, Toronto Star, 25 June '00 http://www.thestar.com/back_issues/ED20000625/opinion/20000625AWAB03b_WB-HAN DE.html Stephen Handelman UNITED NATIONS -- Hans von Sponeck believed he could help heal Iraq's wounds. Instead, he became another casualty of one of the world's longest-running tragedies. ``I thought it was possible to meet the minimum needs of Iraqis even with sanctions in place,'' says von Sponeck, who was director of the United Nations humanitarian relief program in Iraq until he resigned in protest three months ago. ``I was wrong.'' Von Sponeck, who spent 32 years as a top U.N. civil servant in Africa, Europe and Asia until his career crashed to a painful end in Baghdad, was the fifth director in the five-year history of the U.N. Office of the Iraq Program (OIP). ``I was actually the person who stayed the longest, almost 17 months,'' he says from his home in Geneva, where he has taken early retirement. ``My predecessor lasted just 13 months before he quit.'' The serial resignations provide extra ammunition for critics who say the U.N. embargo against Iraq hurts the wrong people. ``Some 167 Iraqi children are dying every day,'' von Sponeck says. ``Maybe the sanctions were once defensible as a temporary measure, but after nine years they are violating international law.'' Moreover, the grisly tales of poverty and malnutrition out of Iraq raise questions about whether embargoes are still a useful international tool. That was the British parliament's conclusion this year in a report noting the drastic consequences of the Iraq embargo. Ironically, the program headed by von Sponeck was an attempt to shield ordinary Iraqis from just such a situation. The so-called Oil For Food arrangement was created by the U.N. Security Council in 1995 - four years after Saddam Hussein's defeat in the Gulf War - as a temporary means of allowing Iraq to buy food, medicine and other basic supplies with revenue from its rich oil reserves. According to von Sponeck, it was doomed from the start because the big powers - particularly the United States and Britain - systematically manipulated the program to serve political aims. ``Instead of being about saving children's lives, it's about saving face,'' he says. Western diplomats and some of von Sponeck's former U.N. colleagues angrily deny the charge. They insist the real culprit is Saddam, who exploits his people's to win international support for ending the embargo. Nevertheless, the complaints of normally publicity-shy U.N. bureaucrats like von Sponeck are becoming hard to ignore. How did things get to this point? Under the Office of the Iraq Program, Iraq was given a ceiling in U.S. dollars on the amount of oil it could sell in each 180-day period, starting with $2 billion and reaching more than $5 billion until the ceilings were finally lifted this year. The money is deposited in eight bank accounts in Europe and the United States, where it is administered by U.N. officials. They use it to pay for food and medicine shipped to Iraq on the basis of contracts signed by the Baghdad regime. Thanks to the U.N. program, more than 10 million metric tonnes of foodstuffs and the equivalent of nearly $10.5 billion in medicine and health supplies have poured into the country since 1997. While that sounds like a lot of aid, Iraqi officials say it is of limited use in a country whose infrastructure has been stretched to the breaking point. Private relief organizations and even some U.N. officials back that argument. ``No matter how much food you give a person, the minute she takes contaminated water - because of unsanitary conditions and the breakdown of Iraq's clean water supply - that investment is down the drain,'' admits one senior OIP official who asked to remain anonymous. Although the U.N. has begun to approve contracts for infrastructure supplies and spare parts, chronic breakdowns in Iraq's electricity grid, hospital network and distribution system condemn what was once a sophisticated economy to have-not status. That, of course, was supposed to be the point of the embargo in the first place. It was a means to force Saddam to comply with the disarmament pledges he made at the end of the war. If Saddam continued to resist, the thinking went, his suffering people would rise up and get rid of him. Whether that was ever a realistic scenario, the Oil For Food program was clearly not the solution to Iraq's dilemma. Was it part of the problem? ``What we do is operate a machine which enables the government of Iraq to sell its oil and buy what its people most need,'' explains John Mills, the Oil For Food program's chief spokesperson in New York. ``We're not direct players, except in the northern areas of the country, which are under direct U.N. control.'' In fact, the U.N. is far from a passive participant. It must approve each list of items requested by Baghdad, partly to ensure Iraqis get minimum standards of nutrition and partly to make sure no suspect material that could be used for military purposes slips through the embargo. More than $2.5 billion worth of alleged ``dual-purpose'' goods have been held up, ranging from chlorine and pesticides to heavy trucks and ambulances. The number is small compared with the total amount of aid. But according to von Sponeck and other critics, it demonstrates how U.N. efforts to micromanage the relief effort inadvertently worsen Iraq's situation. ``In all my years at the U.N., I had never been exposed to the kind of political manoeuvring and pressure that I saw at work in this program,'' says von Sponeck. He says the core of the problem lies in U.S. domination of the ``sanctions committee'' appointed by the Security Council to oversee the program. Washington's fears of granting any concessions to Saddam that might erode the sanctions caused periodic delays in shipments and occasionally prevented key supplies from arriving at all, he adds. Von Sponeck won't give specific details, but says he concluded that to stay any longer as OIP director ``would have made me a guilty party.'' His predecessor was equally disturbed by the contradiction of operating a humanitarian program in the shadow of an embargo. ``Surely, it's time that (we) find an alternative way to live with Iraq without punishing an innocent populace,'' Dennis Halliday said during a joint appearance with von Sponeck before a U.S. congressional subcommittee this spring. Both men, as well as other U.N. officials who left the program, have called for separating the military and economic embargoes on Iraq. ``Smart'' sanctions, they say, would target elite members and institutions of the Iraqi regime that have so far been able to avoid the worst consequences, thanks to widespread smuggling and profiteering. Von Sponeck says that by altering the embargo, ``President (Bill) Clinton in his final year of office could perform a real act of statesmanship, but the Americans and British are as cornered as the Iraqis.'' The two ex-directors have been accused of being apologists for Saddam, a charge von Sponeck bitterly rebuts. ``I've got little time for dictators, considering the history of my own country,'' says von Sponeck, a German national. ``But we're treating Iraq as if it were made up of 23 million Saddam Husseins, which is rubbish.'' Meanwhile, von Sponeck can only sympathize with his successor, another veteran U.N. bureaucrat named Benon Sevan. ``I wish him nothing but good luck,'' von Sponeck says sadly. ``But if he has a conscience, he will go through the same process I did.'' ________________________________________________________ · Interview -- UN Must Change Iraq Disarmament Goals -- Ex-Inspector, Reuters, 26 June '00 http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20000626_2995.html LONDON -- Former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter said on Monday that efforts to account for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were doomed to fail unless the U.N. dropped its insistence on total disarmament. Ritter, who has repeatedly said Iraq no longer has a significant prohibited weapons capability, said the inspectors faced an endless task as long as Baghdad was obliged to declare it had rid itself of 100 percent of its banned arsenal. As a result Iraq, which had "lied and cheated" over the inspections since they began, had no chance of seeing sanctions lifted because it could never convince the world it had met the stringent demands of the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire resolutions. "It is imperative that the Security Council decide what its objective in Iraq is: is it to forever keep the Iraqis prisoner under the guise of weapons inspections, or is it to disarm Iraq?" Ritter told Reuters in an interview. "If the goal is to disarm Iraq, then the Security Council needs to redefine Iraq's disarmament needs," said Ritter, who took the hunt for Iraqi weapons secrets into the heart of its military and security establishment before he resigned in 1998. Iraq said he was a U.S. spy, a charge he vehemently denied. Ritter said that instead of requiring inspectors to declare Iraq totally free of any banned long-range missile, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons capabilities, they should assess whether it had retained any "meaningful" capacity. The key questions would be whether Iraq had retained significant weapons stockpiles, and whether it had retained its ability to produce those weapons. Both could be answered satisfactorily within weeks of inspectors returning to Iraq, Ritter said, adding that this could trigger a full lifting of sanctions. SANCTIONS "REPREHENSIBLE" Ritter, who resigned from the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) of weapons inspectors two years ago, saying it had been turned into a tool for U.S. espionage, was in London to address a meeting of British campaigners seeking an end to nearly 10 years of sanctions on Iraq. He said sanctions were a "reprehensible policy" which had been prolonged by moves -- led by the United States -- to set excessively tough targets for Iraq's disarmament. "But you cannot lift sanctions in a vacuum," he said. The key to lifting the trade embargo on Baghdad still lay in its disarmament compliance. Ritter said that despite the absence of inspectors in Iraq since they pulled out in December 1998 ahead of a U.S.-British bombing campaign, it was "irresponsible" to talk of Iraq rebuilding an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Ritter was scathing about the way he said his former boss Richard Butler, an Australian diplomat who led UNSCOM from 1997 until last year, had allowed UNSCOM to be manipulated for the benefit of hardline U.S. policies on Iraq. He accused him of lying over the instalment of monitoring equipment in Iraq -- under the cover of UNSCOM operations -- which Ritter says was used exclusively by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He also accused Butler of exaggerating the danger posed by Iraq's attempts to acquire biological weapons, categorically denying Baghdad had a capacity to produce them. ________________________________________________________ · Kurds Rebuild Homes, Carve a State, Toronto Star, 26 June '00 http://www.thestar.com/back_issues/ED20000626/news/20000626NEW10_FO-KURDS.ht ml By Sandro Contenta Toronto Star Middle East Bureau Village Saddam destroyed for palace rises again brick by brick ASHAWA, Iraq -- Under the protective drone of U.S. and British warplanes patrolling a ``no-fly zone'' in northern Iraq, Musla Ali Ibrahim and his Kurdish neighbours are rebuilding their lives. But, brick by brick, stone by stone, they are also carving out an autonomous region with all the trappings of an independent state. Ibrahim and his neighbours were forced to flee their village in 1987 when it was razed to make way for a vast presidential compound with three-metre-high walls surrounding rolling hills and luxurious villas. It was one of the summer retreats for Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. The villagers plant crops and fruit trees near an artificial lake Saddam had built, and use stones and steel beams from what was once Saddam's villa to rebuild their houses. ``We used dynamite to blow up the palace and then we took stones from it,'' said Ibrahim, 28, who was a teenager when his family was chased out of Ashawa by Iraqi security forces and approaching bulldozers. ``It's a kind of revenge,'' said Ibrahim, the father of a year-old daughter. About 25 of the 150 families who once lived in Ashawa have returned. Their houses are in the shadows of what remains of Saddam's villa: A mound of rubble with remnants of Italian marble and Moroccan-carved decorations; walls and archways that suggest a power that is a thing of the past - at least for now. The 3.4 million Kurds in Iraq's northeastern region are just a three-hour drive from Baghdad, but they seem much further away from the authority that displaced hundreds of thousands of them in the past. While the United Nations continues to consider the Kurdish provinces part of Iraq, the gigantic portraits and statues of Saddam found in the rest of the country are nowhere to be seen here. Nor will you find Iraqi soldiers, police, the Iraqi flag or Iraqi currency. The Kurds have their own currency, their own schools, their own police and their own governments. Perhaps the most striking example of the transformation is the state of Saddam's villas. About 500 metres from what was his presidential compound in Ashawa, Saddam's Amoshka villa is in ruins, the high wall around it missing hundreds of bricks removed by Kurds who use them to rebuild homes throughout the area. A handful of Kurdish militia soldiers use the gutted villa as a barracks, decorating its walls with childish graffiti, and keeping watch from the roof with an anti-aircraft gun. ``We are afraid that maybe some day he will come back and take his revenge,'' said Ashrafi Sulemon, 50, baking bread with her daughter outside their home in Ashawa. In a bid to suppress separatists, Iraq has waged a scorched-earth policy against the Kurds since 1975, razing more than 3,000 villages and systematically and forcibly depopulating big stretches of Iraqi Kurdistan. In April, 1991, after the Iraqi army was routed in the Gulf War, Saddam sent his forces to crush Kurdish rebels who had captured the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Some 50,000 Kurds were reportedly killed, and up to 2 million refugees fled across the northern mountains to Turkey and Iran. Neither the decade-old U.N. trade embargo, nor the no-fly zone can stop Saddam from marching his troops to the north. But he keeps them out because he has his hands full staying in power in Baghdad, said Sadi Ahmed Pire, spokesperson for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which controls the eastern province of Sulyamaniyah. Sending troops to the north risks a protracted guerrilla war that would expose Iraq's army to American air strikes - a scenario that could create dissension within the ranks of the Iraqi military, Pire added. Kurds fear that will no longer be the case if the U.N. ends its embargo, and U.S. warplanes stop patrolling what Sulemon calls ``the Kurdish safe haven.'' Sanctions have meant hardship for Iraqis in the rest of the country, but a respite for Kurds in the north. Thousands of displaced Kurds have been able to rebuild homes, schools, hospitals and whole villages with help from the U.N. and non-governmental organizations. It has also allowed Kurdish militias to pay local bureaucrats with money earned from smuggling Iraqi oil. The contrasting effects of the sanctions can be seen in infant mortality rates, which have increased in the rest of Iraq during the embargo, but decreased in Iraqi Kurdistan. One reason is that the Kurdish north gets more than the rest of the country from the U.N.'s oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell oil and use the money to buy U.N.-approved humanitarian goods. With about 13 per cent of Iraq's 22 million population, the Kurdish provinces get 13 per cent of the goods under the program. The centre and south regions of Iraq - where 87 per cent of the population lives - get only 53 per cent of goods. The oil money that remains goes mostly to pay Iraq's Gulf War reparations. While Saddam may be out of their lives for now, the fractious Kurds have other battles to contend with as armed factions vie for supremacy. In the past, fighting among the militias has forced Kurds to flee their villages, and subjected them to arbitrary killings and human rights violations, according to Amnesty International. A U.S.-brokered ceasefire in 1998 has brought an uneasy peace and a divided Iraqi Kurdistan: Massud Barzani's Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK) controls Erbil and Dohuk provinces in the northwest, while Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) controls Sulyamaniyah province. Both have their own governments and thousands of armed men who sit around towns toting guns and doing little else. The two groups meet weekly to find a way to unite. But one of the main obstacles to peace, Pire said, is the DPK's refusal to share revenue it makes from the smuggling trade. The DPK admits to making $75 million (U.S.) a year from duties on smuggled oil being trucked to Turkey through the border crossing it controls. It also acts as a middleman, buying oil from an Iraqi refinery in the south and selling it at a profit to Turkish truckers who do the smuggling. It doesn't say how much it makes in the scheme. ________________________________________________________ · Auctioning off Baghdad, Toronto Star, 26 June '00 http://www.thestar.com/editorial/life/20000626LFE01_LI-AUCTION.html By Sandro Contenta Toronto Star Middle East Bureau Ten years ago, oil-rich Iraq was considered an emerging success story, whose hospitals and schools were the envy of the Middle East. But a decade of U.N.-imposed sanctions has brought the country to its knees. A growing chorus of protesters wants to lift sanctions, arguing they hurt the Iraqi people rather than the Saddam Hussein regime. The Star's Middle East Bureau chief Sandro Contenta recently spent two weeks investigating conditions in Iraq as part of a comprehensive look at sanctions and its effect on that country. BAGHDAD -- A sandstorm is obliterating Baghdad as Hassam Abdul Razak and his nephew sit in an auction house, their hopes riding on a battered washing machine. The machine looks like its best cycles are a thing of the past. It's seven years old, made in China. The lid is warped and the machine looks incapable of carrying a full load, let alone the hopes of its owner. But to Razak and his nephew Raied Mohammed Abdul Razak, the washing machine is the key to their livelihood. Like so many thousands of others, they're hoping to strike a deal at the auctioneers - one of the few businesses booming in Iraq these days. There were fewer than a handful of auction houses in Baghdad before August, 1990, when the U.N. Security Council imposed an international trade embargo on Iraq days after it invaded Kuwait. But as one year of sanctions followed another, the economy collapsed, taking the livelihood of Iraqis with it. Struggling Iraqis began selling personal belongings - from furniture to family heirlooms - to make ends meet. Today, Baghdad has more than 50 auction houses. The minimum asking price of 80,000 Iraqi dinars (the equivalent of $60) the pair are seeking equals the back rent they owe on their shop. Their business - a stationery store - has gone under and they want to switch to selling fruit juices. But first, they have to come up with the rent. And time is running out. The washing machine had been on the block for a month, without attracting a bid. The auctioneers say this will be the last day they will try to sell it. ``This is our last hope,'' says Razak, a 45-year-old father of four. ``The embargo has made this kind of business flourish,'' says Nassar Rasheed, owner of the Sabalkh Auction House, Baghdad's oldest. Rasheed's auction house is a big warehouse crammed with bulky couches of all colours, TVs, radios, large cooling fans, safes, lamps, carpets, paintings, hot water tanks, stuffed animals - you name it. It's all jammed together like one big kitsch collage, but each item tells the story of better times. Hassam Razak's face is long and his eyes droop as he waits for the auction to begin. He lists the personal items he has sold in the past, and it adds up to pretty much everything but the beds. ``Selling my belongings is like selling one of my children, because each one represents my life, my progress, my past, my memory,'' he says. ``When I started selling it off, it was like something inside me collapsed.'' In the days when Razak's apartment was fully furnished, he had a good business. The Casino Salam (the Peace Coffee Shop) employed five people and boasted billiard and table tennis tables. ``I was like a king,'' Razak recalls. He lost it all after the embargo, as rampant inflation and unemployment ruined a once-prosperous country. Razak's nephew was also fighting steady economic decline when he joined forces with his uncle to open the ill-fated stationery shop. ``We don't think about the future any more,'' says Raied Razak, 26, who has three daughters. ``We just think about the next 24 hours and how we'll get food for the family.'' The two men represent the collapse of Iraq's middle class, in which business people, professionals and technicians have joined the ranks of the poor, or fled to another country. ``Every year for 10 years, I thought, `This year or next year, the embargo will be lifted,' '' Hassam Razak says. ``I'm still hoping.'' After losing his coffee shop, he and his family moved out of a three-bedroom apartment and into a one-bedroom that costs about $18 a month. His family lives off the monthly food basket distributed by the Iraqi government under the U.N.'s Oil For Food program, which allows Iraq to sell oil and buy humanitarian goods with the money. The average monthly ration is made up of: 9 kilograms of flour, 2.5 kilograms of rice, 2 kilograms of sugar, 150 grams of tea, 0.41 kilograms of pulses (a legume), 100 grams of salt, 1 kilogram of cooking oil, 3.6 kilograms of powdered baby milk, 250 grams of soap, 350 grams of detergent, 800 grams of weaning cereal and 153 grams of cheese and milk. ``We rarely eat meat,'' an embarrassed Razak says. He had nothing left to sell to get the rent money for the fruit juice stand, so Raied put up his wife's washing machine. On this, the last day of bidding, 200 Iraqis are gathered at the auction. To increase the chances of a sale, the auctioneer lowers the minimum price without permission, opening the bidding at 50,000 Iraqi dinars, or about $37. He coaxes the audience, but the silence in return seems long and brutal. Once again, the washing machine doesn't even get a bid. ``There's an Arab proverb that says, `The eye sees the goal, but the hand cannot reach it,' '' Razak says. ``If things continue this way, I fear my son will suffer the same fate,'' he adds, looking at 16-year-old Ali. They don't even have money to get the washing machine back home. A reporter gives them a pack of dinars, enough for the transportation. The Razaks are grateful, but they don't smile and they don't stir. They sit looking outside, at the sandstorm that obliterates Baghdad. ________________________________________________________ · Gore: Saddam Must Go, BBC, 28 June '00 http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid%5F809000/809168 .stm By Jeff Phillips in Washington US Vice-President Al Gore has told Iraqi opposition politicians that the United States remains committed to the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein. Meeting a delegation from the Iraqi National Congress (INC), he also reiterated the administration's view that the Iraqi leader should be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Clinton administration is trying to beef up the INC after nearly 10 years of sanctions on Iraq have brought the world no closer to bringing down the Iraqi leader. It has allocated $8m this year to the INC to help to re-build the organisation. Vote winner The INC will also be given some money to provide for the welfare of refugees and displaced Iraqis. More than $250,000 has already been handed over. Although the government has sometimes been reluctant in the past to spell out its direct support for a campaign to overthrow the Iraqi leader, a strategy that would topple him without the involvement of American troops has strong support in the US Congress. In a presidential election year, President Clinton, and more to the point, presidential candidate Mr Gore, might also find it useful to demonstrate rather more determination to change things in Iraq than he has in the past. The INC's nine-man delegation was led by its president, Ahmed Chalabi, and included representatives of the two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. However, a key group, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), was absent from the meeting. $97m support The SCIRI represents Iraq's Shi'ite community and is the only organisation currently militarily active against the Baghdad government. SCIRI and a number of Islamic groups have been boycotting the INC since April 1999 in protest at its agreement to accept US financial and material support. Hamid al-Bayyati, SCIRI's representative in London, said: "Taking American money and other material backing will undermine our support among Iraqis and in the Arab states." Nevertheless, the administration has also allocated a further $97m worth of material support for the INC, to be provided by the Department of Defense for training in, amongst other things, computers, logistics, field medicine and communications and web site design and broadcasting. Meanwhile, the INC has urged the administration to speed up the contract-approval process for sending medicines, spare parts and humanitarian supplies into Iraq and to find a means of diverting oil revenues away from the regime and into the hands of the Iraqi people. The State Department says that it regards the INC as a "representative and authoritative voice for the people of Iraq". It expects whatever new regime replaces the current one to emerge "very much from within Iraq". And it is clear that the INC is being prepared to take on this responsibility and to act as a legitimising counterpart to whatever emerges, presumably from among disaffected military officers in Baghdad. ________________________________________________________ · Bush Campaign Challenges Democrats on Iraq Policy, Reuters, 28 June '00 http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20000628_3209.html WASHINGTON -- A foreign policy adviser to Texas Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign Wednesday joined the looming battle over the Clinton administration's failure to get rid of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Richard Perle, an assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan, told a Senate hearing that a Bush administration would take seriously its duty to support the Iraqi opposition, with a view to ousting the Iraqi leader. Iraq is a salient weak point in the Clinton administration's foreign policy record because Saddam Hussein does not appear significantly weaker than he was when President Clinton took office in January 1993. Bush's father, President George Bush, was much criticized in the 1992 campaign on a similar count -- leaving Saddam in power after the 1991 war to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. Saddam has shaken off a U.N. weapons inspection regime and convinced much of the world that U.N. sanctions rather than his government are to blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people. Four Gulf states which took part in the military campaign to make Iraq withdraw of Kuwait -- Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- have since restored diplomatic relations with Baghdad, easing its isolation. Vice President Al Gore, the presumptive Democratic candidate in presidential elections in November, apparently aware of his vulnerability on Iraq, promised Monday to accelerate assistance to the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an umbrella opposition group that Washington is promoting. But Perle, the INC and the chairman of the Senate committee that deals with Iraq all said Wednesday they had doubts about whether anything would change. In the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 the U.S. Congress gave the administration authority to give the Iraqi opposition Pentagon supplies and training worth up to $97 million. Kansas Republican Sam Brownback, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, said the Administration had disbursed only $20,000 of that to the INC. Perle said: "Governor Bush has said ... he would fully implement the Iraq Liberation Act. We all understand what that means. It means a serious and sustained effort to assist the opposition with a view to bringing down Saddam's regime." NONLETHAL TRAINING "In 31 years in Washington, I have not seen a sustained hypocrisy that parallels the current administration's public embrace of the Iraq Liberation Act and its dilatory tactics aimed at preventing any progress taking place under the act. That will not be the case in a Bush administration," he added. Perle suggested the Clinton administration reassign Frank Ricciardone, the State Department official responsible for relations with the INC, and appoint someone who "believes in the goals and objectives of the Iraq Liberation Act." Another foreign policy adviser to Bush, Robert Zoellick, has proposed detaching a part of Iraq from Saddam's control for use as a base by military operations by the INC. Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the INC joint leadership, told the hearing Wednesday he favored that idea but so far the Clinton administration has offered only nonlethal training in skills such as field medicine, logistics and communications. "We don't understand this resistance to lethal training. You can't liberate Iraq by treating wounded people," he added. Administration officials defend their cautious approach, citing the debacle of 1996, when Iraqi forces, in alliance with one of the two big Kurdish parties, wiped out the INC infrastructure in the Kurdish-run north of the country. A senior State Department official, speaking after a meeting between the INC and Al Gore Monday, said the United States had spent the last 18 months reuniting and reorganizing the INC and making it eligible for direct U.S. aid. "This year they mean to make a year of 'operationalizing' the INC again, coming back together as a real organization, with leaders, staff, office space, activities, programs et cetera that they can lay out," the official said. But critics of the administration say the INC will never succeed by making speeches and releasing press statements. "We need to work with the United States on a plan of action which would have a military component to get rid of Saddam quickly... This fiction, this bogeyman that the opposition is not united must be put behind us now," Chalabi said. "Unless the strategy is to bring down the Saddam regime by inducing fatal laughter ... this is not the way to advance the purposes of the Iraq Liberation Act," added Perle. ________________________________________________________ · Gore, Bush Seem Committed To Ousting Saddam Hussein, Wall Street Journal (Capital Journal), 28 June '00 By Gerald F. Seib UNDERSTANDABLY ENOUGH, most Americans are only starting to take a close look at the coming presidential election. Six thousand miles from here, though, stands a man who ought to be watching very closely -- and getting a little worried. He's Saddam Hussein, the maddeningly resilient dictator of Iraq. Slowly but surely, he's becoming an issue in the presidential race, and inspiring a bitter war of words between the presidential camps of Al Gore and George W. Bush. Through the rhetoric, though, one reality is becoming clear: Saddam next year will face a new American president who is publicly committed to get rid of him, not merely contain him. On the Gore side of the equation, the vice president himself met just this week with the leaders of the Iraqi National Congress, the umbrella organization of Saddam foes. The meeting was loaded with symbolism. The intended message was that Mr. Gore isn't interested in simply humoring the Iraqi opposition, which critics charge the Clinton administration has done, but rather in working with the opposition to drive him out. Lest anyone miss the point, Mr. Gore's office issued a statement declaring: "The vice president reaffirmed the administration's strong commitment to the objective of removing Saddam Hussein from power, and to bringing him and his inner circle to justice for their war crimes and crimes against humanity." There also was one tangible move to buttress those words, Gore aides say. The Iraqi opposition leaders delivered to Mr. Gore a list of 140 candidates for American training in ways to build the opposition into a meaningful force. PRIVATELY, GORE ADVISERS talk of a kind of three-step process for going after Saddam. Step one would be to turn the Iraqi National Congress, still a young and frequently querulous organization, into a unified voice that can win international respect. Step two would be to use that international respect to persuade Iraq's neighbors to let the opposition operate from their territory. Step three would be to figure out how to move -- and whether to try to precipitate a crisis that creates an opening. Such talk leaves some Bush backers sputtering in anger and charging that the words are hollow after the Clinton-Gore administration has let the opposition wilt over the last seven years. "I have never seen, in 30 years in Washington, a more sustained hypocrisy, never," says Richard Perle, a former senior Pentagon administration aide who now advises the Bush campaign. In his own remarks, Texas Gov. Bush hasn't been particularly specific, saying merely that he would hit Iraq hard if he saw any clear sign that it is building weapons of mass destruction or massing its military forces. But look for Mr. Bush to hold his own meeting with the Iraqi opposition soon. And Mr. Bush's lead foreign-policy adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is explicit: "Regime change is necessary," she declares. She is careful not to overpromise, asserting: "This is something that could take some time." Like team Gore, she talks of the need to rebuild the anti-Iraq coalition, including Persian Gulf states and Turkey, as a precondition for eliminating Saddam. Others in the Bush orbit, offering their personal ideas, sound more aggressive. Both Mr. Perle and Robert Zoellick, a former top aide to Gov. Bush's father, advocate specific steps to oust Saddam. Mr. Perle calls for giving the Iraqi National Congress tools such as radio transmitters to beam an anti-Saddam message into Iraq and for more extensive training for Saddam's foes in ways to mobilize opposition, particularly in the Iraqi military. THEN, MR. PERLE suggests, the U.S. should help the opposition "re-establish control over some piece of territory" inside Iraq and remove international economic sanctions from that toehold of Iraq. Saddam then would have to either accept losing a chunk of his country, a humiliation, or mass his army to take it back, leaving his forces vulnerable to American air attack. Either way, he says, Iraqi military defectors will "come in droves." In a similar vein, Mr. Zoellick talks of turning the existing "no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq, where American planes now patrol to keep out Iraqi aircraft, into "no-move zones," in which ground movements by Iraqi forces would be blocked as well. That, he argues, would open the way for the opposition to occupy a piece of the country, where they could be protected by U.S. forces. This kind of talk leaves Gore partisans sputtering in their own anger, for they contend that the best chance to take such steps was squandered in 1991, when the Bush team was in power right after the Persian Gulf War. Mr. Gore, one of the few Democrats to back the war, called then for ousting Saddam. In the end, both sides are right: The chances of ousting Saddam were best back in 1991, and the Clinton administration hasn't made the Iraqi opposition into a serious force. But that shouldn't obscure the basic fact: Both presidential contenders are talking a different game now. ________________________________________________________ · Iraqi Investment Fund Aimed Against Sanctions, Stratfor, 29 June '00 http://www.stratfor.com/MEAF/commentary/0006292320.htm Iraq has established a $50 million fund to encourage private investment in government-approved projects, reported the state-run weekly Al-Zawra. According to the report, "The fund will provide loans to private and mixed sectors to reinvigorate the Iraqi economy by financing projects included in the country's development." The move appears to be a public relations effort. As more countries oppose the U.N. sanctions - and as the U.S. presidential election nears - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is attempting to chip away at the support for and effectiveness of the crippling U.N. sanctions. Iraq has attempted to portray a kinder, gentler appearance in recent weeks. The Associated Press noted June 29 that public projects have been sprouting up in Baghdad. According to the report, streets are being paved and parks are being spruced up for the first time in nearly a decade. Also, Iraq offered $10 million worth of crude oil as relief aid to Vietnam for victims of the November floods that killed nearly 600 people. The United States recently vetoed the offer, prompting condemnation from Iraq and Vietnam. Baghdad's recent public relations campaign has significant value inside Iraq. Within the country, Saddam can attempt to rally domestic support from citizens who have suffered under economic sanctions for nearly a decade. Saddam can also use the opportunity to try to discredit opposition claims that he is spending money on palaces and weapons rather than public works and humanitarian needs. But setting up the investment fund is most likely intended for an international audience as well. According to the Al-Zawra report, Iraqis are now allowed to bring as much foreign money into the country as they wish. And private banks set up in the past five years have been permitted to extend loans in hard currency with few restrictions. While the fund appears to be established for private Iraqi investment, it does not exclude foreign investment, which is prohibited under the U.N. sanctions. Saddam appears to be luring foreign business - either directly or through Iraqi sponsor companies - in the name of humanitarian causes in an attempt to open loopholes in the international sanctions. As November approaches, the sanctions will become an issue in the U.S. presidential election. The more international pressure Saddam can rally against the sanctions, the better chance he has of obtaining relief from a new U.S. administration. Saddam may find some international support. France, China and Russia are Iraq's three biggest allies on the U.N. Security Council and regularly voice opposition to the sanctions. All three stand to gain lucrative oil contracts once sanctions are lifted or suspended. Several countries already violate U.N. sanctions by smuggling Iraq's oil. On more than one occasion, Russian tankers have been caught with Iraqi oil in the Persian Gulf. It is possible that any of these countries might be willing to help chip away at the U.N. sanctions' effectiveness. ________________________________________________________ · Flight Tests by Iraq Show Progress of Missile Program, New York Times, 1 July '00 http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/070100iraq-missile.html By STEVEN LEE MYERS WASHINGTON -- Eighteen months after American and British warplanes badly damaged its missile factories, Iraq has restarted its missile program and flight-tested a short-range ballistic missile, Clinton administration and American military officials said this week. The tests -- eight in all, including one on Tuesday -- have involved Al Samoud, a liquid-fueled ballistic missile that could carry conventional explosives or the chemical and biological weapons that Iraq is still suspected of hiding, the officials said. Because its range is less than 150 kilometers, or under 95 miles, the missile does not violate United Nations restrictions imposed on Iraq after the Persian Gulf war in 1991. But the flight tests show that production plants and research labs destroyed in four nights of American and British strikes in December 1998 have been rebuilt and have resumed work, the officials said. The missile's range, shorter than that of the Russian-made Scud missiles that Iraq fired at Israel and Saudi Arabia during the war, does not pose a significant threat to Iraq's neighbors or American forces in the Persian Gulf, the officials said. But they view the testing as evidence that Iraq is still working to perfect its ballistic missile technology, which could be adapted to missiles with a longer range. Iraq's program has intensified fears within the administration and the Pentagon that in the prolonged absence of international weapons inspectors, President Saddam Hussein may already be covertly working on, though not testing, longer-range missiles. Such work would violate the United Nations restrictions and would confront the United States with the difficult choice of how to respond. "We're starting to see things up and functioning," Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, the commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf region, said in an interview on Monday, before the most recent missile test. "What he learns from these tests, the technological developments and the other things he picks up, are transferable to longer-range missiles. I mean it's not a stretch." The United States and Britain attacked Iraq in 1998 to punish Mr. Hussein's government for halting all cooperation with international inspectors searching for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as the missiles that can carry them. Iraq agreed to forsake those weapons as a condition for the United States and its allies ending the gulf war in 1991. A significant number of the targets struck in the 1998 raids -- 12 of 100 over all -- were industrial and military factories involved in Iraq's missile program, including one in the Taji military complex north of Baghdad and the nearby Ibn al-Haytham missile research center, where Al Samoud is made. American officials acknowledged earlier this year that Iraq had managed to rebuild many of the structures damaged or destroyed, but the extent of its missile program and its continued testing has not previously been disclosed. "We never claimed it was permanent," a senior Defense Department official said of the damage done 18 months ago. "Whatever you can build, you can rebuild." Officials said the new missile did not appear to be ready for deployment. They said their analysis of the tests -- monitored by American satellites, radar and aircraft patrolling the "no flight" zones over northern and southern Iraq -- found significant problems with the missile. "They have all kinds of problems with it," an official said. "They can't get the guidance to work right. They can't get the engines to work right. It's not close to going into production, but they are persistent." Before the war, Iraq had many missiles, so presumably it still has the technology to build them, even though for a decade it has been proscribed from working on longer-range missiles and from buying equipment. The disclosure of the missile tests comes at a time when the administration's policy toward Iraq has faced intensifying diplomatic criticism and international concern that economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations are punishing the Iraqi people, not Mr. Hussein's government. The administration's policy is also emerging as an issue in the presidential campaign between Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas. "The word policy is probably an overstatement in describing the administration attitude toward Iraq," Richard Perle, a former assistant defense secretary and now an adviser to Governor Bush's campaign, said to a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. "Paralysis is probably more appropriate." Since the attacks in 1998, there have been no international inspections of Iraq's weapons programs, and for months before there there was little meaningful monitoring because of Iraq's refusal to cooperate. Earlier this year, the United States joined the other members of the United Nations Security Council in approving a new inspection system, but the system's new director, Hans Blix, has moved slowly to assemble a team of inspectors. Despite an offer to ease the sanctions if the new inspections find no evidence of weapons programs, Iraq has insisted that it will not cooperate with any new inspectors. Iraq began work on Al Samoud -- which in Arabic means resistance -- after the Persian Gulf war. The missile is believed to be a variant of the Soviet-era SA-2, the type of surface-to-air missile that shot down the U-2 spy plane flown by Francis Gary Powers over the Soviet Union in 1960. Iraq first tested the missile in 1997 under supervision of the previous team of international inspectors, which sought to ensure that the missile remained within the prescribed range. With the American and British strikes in 1998, Pentagon officials said they set back Iraq's missile program one to two years. But the damage to the missile centers now appears to have derailed the program far less significantly. Flight tests resumed as early as May 1999, when Iraq fired a test into the desert west of Baghdad. Since then Iraq has conducted seven more tests, including the one on Tuesday, the officials said. All of the missile flights have stayed within the United Nations limits, they said. "They are being very careful," one said. "They are not giving us any reason to go clobber them." Previous American reports, including one by the State Department in 1998, have said Iraq imports missile parts and other equipment through "clandestine procurement networks," and the officials said Iraq was still seeking to acquire parts on the international arms market. American intelligence experts also estimate that Iraq still has 20 to 40 Scud missiles that it has hidden since the end of the Gulf war. ________________________________________________________ · FAO Chief Meets With Baghdad Employees After Burial of Slain Colleague, AFP, 1 July '00 http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/article.html?s=singapore/h eadlines/000701/world/afp/FAO_chief_meets_with_Baghdad_employees_after_buria l_of_slain_colleague.html BAGHDAD -- The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation arrived in Baghdad Friday where he met with employees in the wake of a shooting earlier this week that left two of their colleagues dead and another seven people wounded. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf also visited those wounded in the attack on the FAO offices and went to the grave of one of the men killed and who was buried near Baghdad earlier in the day. Diouf said he would also meet with Iraqi authorities to discuss with them "the work of FAO employees in Iraq." According to UN sources, Iraqi Agriculture Minister Abdel Ilah Hamid accompanied Diouf to the cemetery and characterized the shootings as "an aggressive act that we totally reject." The minister told journalists he would use the opportunity of Diouf's visit to discuss with him the state of agriculture in the country, including the drought that is affecting some regions, as well as the FAO program in Iraq and the obstacles created by UN sanctions. Earlier in the day, an Iraqi government representative, foreign diplomats and UN officials paid their respects at the funeral of Yusuf Abdullah, deputy head of the FAO offices in Iraq's capital, who was killed in the Wednesday shooting. Another victim of the gunman who burst into the FAO offices, an Iraqi computer expert with the UN organisation, has been buried in his home-town of Kirkuk, northern Iraq. The gunman said he wanted to draw attention to the "genocide of thousands of Iraqis" under the UN embargo, which has been in force ever since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Car mechanic Fuad Hussein Haidar told a press conference at a police station after his surrender that he had wanted to take hostage the FAO chief for Baghdad but started shooting after coming under fire from security guards. The FAO, which employs around 40 staffers in Baghdad, operates in northern Iraq under a UN humanitarian deal and also runs a regular country programme. Since the shooting, the UN Security Council has reaffirmed the need to ensure the security of all personnel working for the UN programme in Iraq and its support for humanitarian agencies. The Security Council said it was awaiting the results of an investigation by Iraqi authorities "as soon as possible". ________________________________________________________ · 'Pretend' Iraq Policy, Washington Post, 2 July '00 http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/opinion/columns/hoaglandjim/A33954-2000Jul1 .html By Jim Hoagland Page B07 During its brief, bumbling covert war against Saddam Hussein, the Clinton administration spent bundles of cash on the Iraqi opposition and pretended it had not. Today the White House pretends to fund Saddam's foes and makes sure the money never arrives. Pretense has become the only constant of this president's Iraq policy. Seven years of failure have to be explained away or buried in foreign policy spin. Worse: American pilots and Iraqi civilians are put at risk daily to keep up political appearances, and not to bring strategic change to the gulf. Waiting for Saddam to go away has emerged as the most daring strategy President Clinton will pursue in Iraq. He has also extended that strategy to the Iraqi opposition over the past two years, apparently hoping it too will just blow away if not given meaningful U.S. help. Clinton and his national security team have either permitted or encouraged the State Department to flout the clearly stated intent of Congress to fund and equip the Iraqi National Congress (INC) in an expeditious manner. The mid-level bureaucrats State has assigned to "help" the INC continue to denigrate and thwart the organization rather than genuinely help it overcome its divisions. Why would they do that? Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) asked Ahmed Chalabi, a senior INC official, that question at a committee hearing on Wednesday. Chalabi initially sought to avoid trouble with the White House. But he finally yielded a response: Turning the Iraqi opposition into a serious force to confront Saddam is seen by this administration as too risky. Confirmation of that theory--and of the condescending, culturally arrogant attitude with which the INC is treated by its U.S. "handlers"--was provided by a senior State Department official who anonymously briefed reporters on Monday. Here is the State Department's view of guerrilla war in Iraq: "Last year was a year spent helping them get their act together politically. You have got to deal with lawyers and accountants, get offices leased, hire personnel, install telephones, do a lot of travel and travel arrangements. These sorts of things are new to them." Chalabi happens to possess a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago, and he studied at MIT. He owns an international credit-card company in London. New to travel arrangements? Like Saddam, the INC has managed to survive the Clinton "let's pretend" school of foreign policy, which mixes calculated neglect with insincere declarations of commitment to regime change. But the disconnect comes sharply into focus with the arrival of the U.S. presidential campaign. The INC leaders were in Washington this past week primarily to meet with Vice President Al Gore, who voted for Desert Storm as a senator and showed early, strong interest in helping Saddam's opponents. But Gore has quietly gone along with Clinton's Iraq finesse since they arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue together. Gore's problem on Iraq is his campaign problem in microcosm: The meeting with the opposition was the right thing to do. It was intended to suggest that a President Gore would do more to bring down Saddam and to check his development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. But the choreography of the meeting as an official occasion at the State Department (rather than a political meeting, where promises would have to be made) gave Gore a pretext for not saying such words or for actually differing with Clinton's approach. Once again, Gore seemed to lack the courage of his convictions. Clinton on the other hand lacks the courage of his cynicism. He has authorized the U.S. Air Force to bomb and strafe Iraq on slim provocation in the longest active military campaign the United States has conducted since Vietnam. But he has not come before the nation to explain the 18-month-long air war that has followed the three-day strikes of Desert Fox. If Iraq is worth bombing, it is worth a presidential speech that lays out the problems and prospects of constructing an effective anti-Saddam policy. Enormous problems still confront the INC, the U.N. inspectors trying to get back into Iraq and other forces that would work against Saddam. But patronizing Iraqi democrats, the American people and Congress only prolongs and intensifies those problems and internal divisions. Clinton is unlikely to change his spots this late and finally offer honesty on Iraq. But Gore and George W. Bush have not only the chance to come clean on what they will--or will not--do to reverse this ignominious failure. They have an overwhelming obligation. ________________________________________________________ · CIA Ruined Iraqi Weapons Hunt, Age, 2 July '00 http://theage.com.au/news/20000702/A45711-2000Jul1.html By MARTIN DALY American spy agencies virtually crippled United Nations' efforts to shut down Saddam Hussein's nuclear and chemical warfare arsenals after the Gulf War. American self-interest threatened the disarmament process in Iraq and peace in the Middle East, according to a book by Sunday Age journalist and author Tania Ewing to be published tomorrow. As the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq, headed by former Australian diplomat Richard Butler, faced threats from gun-toting Iraqi troops, the Americans were using personnel and equipment from the special commission, known as UNSCOM, to gather crucial intelligence, which they then refused to share with Mr Butler's disarmament inspectors. In The Peace Broker, Ewing analyses Mr Butler's career and his controversial period in the often fractious UN network. She reveals that the United States hijacked UNSCOM's intelligence-gathering project to such an extent that some staff in Baghdad complained they had been dragged unwillingly into espionage. UNSCOM members were adamant that some Iraqi targets bombed during Desert Fox - including the bedroom of one of Mr Hussein's mistresses - could only have been picked from information recorded by UNSCOM. The mantle of American interest hung so heavily over the operation that the boundaries between UNSCOM, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency became blurred. UN member nations were obliged to help UNSCOM where it did not have the capacity to monitor the deadly arsenals hidden by the Iraqi regime, but they were mandated to hand over the information. Often the US maintained sole access to intelligence they were supposed to decode for UNSCOM. Even when the US did share information, it was often rendered useless because of long and deliberate delays, enabling Iraq to change tactics and hide arsenals and evidence from UNSCOM. Ewing also reveals that UNSCOM personnel sometimes thwarted American self-interest by asking personnel from one US agency to decode data without letting the other know about it, and by using other intelligence sources such as the Israelis to decode the data. At the time, Iraq complained bitterly that UNSCOM was a front for the US and other military powers. These complaints were dismissed as an Iraqi ruse to deny UNSCOM access to its arms data and arsenals. The book also reveals that UNSCOM installed a listening device in its Baghdad headquarters for disarmament purposes but this was used by the US for monitoring Mr Hussein, an activity not covered under the UN mandate. A $1 billion Vortex satellite launched by the US to use those frequencies to monitor mobile telephone conversations and radio traffic in Iraq crashed on take-off. Mr Butler eventually acknowledged the CIA could have been using UNSCOM, but he claimed to have no knowledge of it. "He refused to concede that, ultimately, the buck stopped with him," Ewing notes. "All he had to say was, if the CIA did compromise UNSCOM, then he took full responsibility because it happened on his watch. But he didn't, and it damaged him and his organisation." ________________________________________________________ Only links provided for the following reports: · Saddam Suspends Military Zones Set Up in Response to U.S., British Airstrikes, AP, 25 June '00 http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/06/25/iraq.saddam.ap/index.html · Italy Parliament Wants End to Embargo on Iraq, Reuters, 26 June '00 http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20000626_2997.html · Iran Impounds Iraqi Oil Tankers, AP, 28 June '00 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20000628/aponline010745_000.ht m · Two Killed In Attack on U.N. Office In Baghdad, Washington Post, 29 June ' 00 http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13356-2000Jun28.html · Iraq Says One Killed, One Wounded in Airstrike, AP, 29 June '00 http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/ap20000629_1226.html · More Iraqi POWs Released, BBC, 30 June '00 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_812000/812446.stm -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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