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News for 3 July '00 to 9 July '00 Sources: AP, CNN, Gulf News, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Reuters, St. Petersburg Times, Stratfor, Sunday Times, Times, USA Today, Voice Of America · Iran Opens Key Isle to Iraqi Oil Smugglers, U.S. Says (Los Angeles Times) · Bush/Gore/Iraq (Voice Of America) · Iraqis Ask U.S. to Do More to Oust Saddam (New York Times) · Iraq: The Recovery of a Renegade Country Nears Prewar Levels (USA Today) · Sanctions-Bound Iraq Revives with Oil-Price Windfall (CNN) · Saddam Blackmails Rebels with Rape (Sunday Times) · Middle Eastern Power Brokers Confer over Iraq (Stratfor) · Gulf Help to Smugglers 'Sustains Saddam' (Times) · Iraq Wants Immediate Work on Upstream Deals-MEES (Reuters) · Iraq July 1-15 Oil Sales Down 500,000 BPD on June (Reuters) · Medical Mysteries (St. Petersburg Times) · 'You'll See Children Die' (St. Petersburg Times) · The Cult of Saddam (St. Petersburg Times) · Cross Him, Pay a Price (St. Petersburg Times) Only links provided for the following reports: · Iraq Pressing Russian Group to Honour Oil Contract (Reuters) · US Concerned with Iraqi Activity (AP) · Iraq Walks Out as OIC Condemns Kuwait Invasion (Gulf News) · Key Iraqi Opposition Movement Quits U.S.-Backed Alliance (AP) ________________________________________________________ · Medical Mysteries, St. Petersburg Times, 4 June '00 http://www.sptimes.com/News/060500/Worldandnation/Medical_mysteries.shtml Is depleted uranium hurting the health of Iraqis and U.S. Gulf War veterans? Story by SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN firstname.lastname@example.org Times researchers Kitty Bennett and Cathy Wos contributed to this story. BASRA -- It is a heart-breaking catalog of horrors. Babies with grotesquely big heads. Or a single Cyclopean eye. Or no face at all, just a gaping hole where the nose should be. "This family near Kuwait had three children -- all the same, no genitalia," says Dr. Janan Hassan, flipping over page after page of stomach-turning photos. "You could not even tell the sex." In the past nine years, Hassan and other doctors in this southern Iraqi city have seen what they say is an ever-growing number of babies with hideous birth defects. Last year alone, at least 137 were born with congenital malformities, five times as many as reported in 1991. And that is not the only frightening trend. Iraqi authorities say the number of children and adults stricken with leukemia, lymphoma and other types of cancer has also soared since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. To the Iraqis, there is a simple explanation. They blame the increases on exposure to depleted uranium, a radioactive substance used in weapons fired during the war by U.S.-led forces. But many outside experts say the claim is premature. There have been no scientific studies in Iraq itself. The few conducted elsewhere have found that depleted uranium causes little risk of cancer and none at all of birth defects. Other hazards could be at fault, the experts say. Thus continues a major medical mystery -- one of concern not only to Iraq but also the thousands of Gulf War veterans from the United States, Canada and other nations who have long complained of apparent war-related health problems. There is worry, too, in Kosovo, where NATO forces used munitions containing depleted uranium to attack Serbian troops last year. "The issue has become polarized," says Dan Fahey, a U.S. Navy veteran who has spent years trying to prod the Pentagon into acknowledging the potential risks from depleted uranium. "The danger with DU is mainly localized contamination in the immediate area, say within 150 feet of a tank that's hit. Some people make it sound like if you're 100 miles away you're breathing in the dust. In my opinion they are inflating the hazards, but it is a serious hazard and in terms of how this has impacted the health of vets and civilians it definitely needs more study." Of the three types of uranium, two are fissionable and thus key in the making of nuclear bombs. The leftover material, called depleted uranium, is valuable in other types of weapons because it is so dense and heavy. At high speed, a shell containing 10 pounds of solid DU can slice through tanks like "a hot knife through butter," in one apt description. It burns on impact, releasing particles that are toxic and remain radioactive for billions of years. During the Gulf War, allied troops fired almost 1-million rounds containing an estimated 300 tons of depleted uranium. Most of those hit Iraqi tanks or fell on Iraqi soil. However, U.S. soldiers were also exposed, either wounded by "friendly fire" or from inhaling contaminated dust as they clambered over Iraqi tanks at war's end. At the time no one -- neither Iraqis nor Americans -- knew much about the health risks from depleted uranium. But within a year, Iraqi doctors realized that something strange seemed to be happening. Women who lived near the battlefields or whose husbands had fought in the war began having more and more babies with birth defects. Some survived, usually those with cleft palates or missing limbs. Others were stillborn, including some with tails, two heads, no brains or such terrible malformities they barely appeared human. "I am a pediatrician but there is nothing even in the books about these kinds of things," says Dr. Hassan, a professor in the medical college of Basra University. In 1991, her records show, 28 babies in Basra had birth defects, for a rate of 2.84 abnormalities per 1,000 births. In 1998, the number of infants born with defects grew to 78 and the rate ballooned to 7.76. "And the numbers will go up more and more," Hassan predicts. "The trend may continue forever. DU is radioactive and Basra is saturated with DU. This is a crime. What crime have our children done to deserve this?" Along with the increase in birth defects has been a 262 percent percent jump in leukemia and other cancers nationwide, Iraqi authorities say. In Basra, the hardest hit area, cancer strikes almost seven times as many people as it did in 1988, according to Dr. Jawa Kadhim Al-Alia, an oncologist at Saddam Teaching Hospital. Three of his best friends, two doctors and a pharmacist, have sons with leukemia. "Everybody is afraid of getting cancer," Al-Alia says. For the first time in his long career, he is also seeing many "clusters" -- cancer striking several members of the same family. Doctors at Saddam Central Teaching Hospital in Baghdad, where many young leukemia victims go for treatment, used to get only a few cases a year. Now two or three children are diagnosed every week. "In Jordan and Egypt there is a very low incidence of leukemia," says Dr. Basim Al Abdili, the chief resident. "The cause of this is very clear: It's depleted uranium used during the war." To some outside experts, though, the link between depleted uranium and cancer or birth defects is not at all clear. There are other factors, they say, that should be thoroughly studied: * Iraq's air is often hazy and hard to breathe, polluted by the thick black smoke that belches from oil refineries and countless brick factories. After the Gulf War, pollution was aggravated by the many oil-field fires set by Iraqi troops as they fled Kuwait. * In the 1980s, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein used mustard gas and other chemical weapons on rebellious groups in his own country as well as on Iranian soldiers who fought near Basra during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. Scientists say mustard gas can cause genetic damage. * Years of war-related food shortages have left many Iraqis seriously malnourished. Pregnant women who do not get enough folic acid, an essential vitamin, have a greater chance of delivering babies with birth defects. * "The regular Iraqi people have suffered a lot and the situation is bad," says Dr. Kelley Brix of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "It is human nature to try to find reasons why the situation is bad, but the only way you're going to get the answer is by having a careful evaluation done by a group that is authoritative and balanced in its viewpoint." Brix is among those working with the Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board, created partly in response to complaints by U.S. soldiers that they have suffered a wide range of ailments since their Gulf War service. Like the Iraqis, many wonder if their problems are caused by depleted uranium. Pentagon officials "have changed their story a lot in the past couple of the years," says Fahey, a researcher for the non-profit Military Toxics Project. "A couple of years ago, no one was exposed, now the line is that a lot of people might have been exposed but no one was exposed enough to cause any health problems. The problem is they don't have any data to support that because they didn't do any testing right after the war." The Pentagon acknowledges that at least 100 or so U.S. soldiers injured by friendly fire still have DU-contaminated shrapnel in their bodies. Since 1993, those vets have visited the Baltimore VA Center three times a year for a full battery of tests and examinations. To date, officials say, there have been no reported cases of cancer, birth defects or even kidney problems, the main health risk observed in rats exposed to high levels of uranium. "Despite the fact (the veterans) do have a high amount of uranium in their bodies, they are not showing any adverse effect so far," Brix says. "That's not to say they wouldn't show up down the line so the (Department of Defense) and the VA will keep a very careful look on these poor American soldiers for at least 10 years." Since 1998, the government has offered medical evaluations to all Gulf War veterans, not just those hit by shrapnel. Hundreds of veterans might have come in contact with depleted uranium as they cleaned up after a large fire in Kuwait that burned tons of munitions. Under pressure from critics, the Pentagon plans other research, including live-fire testing on tanks to get a better handle on the levels and range of exposure. Only a few studies have been completed so far, and those found no greater rate of birth defects in the babies of Gulf War veterans. But can depleted uranium cause leukemia and other types of cancer? On that score, the evidence is more troubling. Three years ago, researchers from the National Cancer Institute and other agencies exposed human cells to depleted uranium and injected them into mice. They developed tumors within four weeks. Based on those results, the cancer-causing potential of DU "remains a concern and warrants additional studies," the reserachers said. In the United States, depleted uranium is considered enough of a risk that the Environmental Protection Agency requires detailed plans for protecting people and the environment at the three sites where the material is stored. No such precautions exist in southern Iraq. Children still play near burned-out tanks and farmers still grow tomatoes -- albeit stunted ones -- in fields they say were hit with missiles. Although some residents have been moved out of the area, the Iraqi government says it has neither the resources nor the responsibility to clean up any uranium. "The polluter pays. This is the principle in America," Khidhir Putres, a top environmental engineer, pointedly tells two American journalists. The World Health Organization and Iraqi officials have discussed a study on the risks of depleted uranium, but the government has yet to make a formal request. In the meantime, W.H.O. has twice sent missions to Iraq to lay the groundwork for investigating the apparent rise in cancer cases. The teams "found a lot of missing data in Iraq's health records," says Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the Geneva-based agency. "What we need is to start at ground zero and re-establish a system for collecting scientific data." Verifying Iraqi claims and tracking down victims can indeed be difficult. Hospitals do not require patients to give full names and exact addresses, let alone the exhaustive amounts of information required in the United States or Europe. A Times reporter and photographer tried, for example, to find the woman whose three stillborn babies lacked sex organs. Dr. Hassan's notes showed only the mother's name and the fact she lived near the main school in a village near the Kuwaiti border. However, no one in the area, including the village elders, said they could place the woman, explaining that they generally know families only by the husband's name. Nor could anyone recall three malformed babies born to one woman. Perhaps, they said, she was so ashamed she never told anyone other than close relatives. Likewise, efforts to locate a family who "live across the bridge and near the market" in another village also came to naught. "So many babies," one man said, glancing at the dozens of children playing in the street. "Who remembers the dead ones?" ________________________________________________________ · 'You'll See Children Die', St. Petersburg Times, 4 June '00 http://www.sptimes.com/News/060500/Worldandnation/_You_ll_see_children_.shtm l Story by SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN email@example.com BASRA -- Here in the Basra Maternity and Pediatric Hospital, with its peeling paint and grimy walls, the motto could be "Getting by on what we have." Disposable gloves are washed and used again. That increases the risk of tearing -- and spreading germs -- but gloves are in such short supply the hospital says it has no choice. Meanwhile, premature babies must breathe industrial-grade oxygen that is just 92 percent pure. The factory that produced oxygen for medical purposes was bombed during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and never repaired. And nurses keep a close eye on one of the incubators used for premature infants. It is so unreliable the temperature can abruptly drop or soar. "Everything we have is old," says Dr. Ali Faisal, the hospital's director. "We are functioning at only a small percent of our ability." By all accounts, Iraq is suffering a humanitarian crisis that has taken a terrible toll, especially on the young. Children under 5 in heavily populated central and southern Iraq are dying at more than twice the rate they did 10 years ago, a level comparable to that in Haiti, UNICEF says. Tens of thousands of other youngsters are so stunted by malnutrition that many 14-year-olds look like they're 8 or 9. Diseases once thought to have been eradicated are making a comeback, among them polio, cholera and meningitis. Iraq blames the crisis on one thing: the economic sanctions that have been in place ever since it invaded Kuwait in 1990. Although Iraq is allowed to sell unlimited amounts of oil to buy food, medicine and other essentials, it says the committee that oversees the oil-for-food program often delays or turns down requests for things it desperately needs. "You'll see children die because we don't have enough medicine to give them," says Dr. Ghanim al-Marsomi, director of the Saddam Central Teaching Hospital in Baghdad. But those who work closely with the U.N. sanctions committee say it has a difficult job. It must distinguish legitimate humanitarian items from "dual use" ones that could be valuable in making chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. "The oil-for-food program has moved from an emergency program for food and medicine to where it's more or less a rehabilitation program for the entire economy," says Harry Verweij, spokesman for the Dutch ambassador to the U.N., the committee chairman. "Iraq is actually working on great projects, grand projects where contracts sometimes come in for $90-million or more. These contracts are extremely complicated and where on the face of it a certain contract may not seem to be dual use, specific items might well be of dual-use nature." Iraq complains, for example, that the committee has held up requests for laser eye-surgery machines and refrigeration equipment to keep blood cool. But, as others note, lasers also have military applications. Refrigerators can be used to store chemical and biological agents used in warfare. Even something as seemingly innocent as disposable gloves could be worn by workers in weapons-development labs. At times, the fear of what could be converted to military use borders on the ludicrous, Iraqi officials say. A few years ago, the sanctions committee refused to let a big British pharmaceutical company sell Iraq a drug called Angised, used to treat angina in heart patients. The reason: The tablets contain tiny amounts of nitroglycerin, an explosive. Officials also complain that the committee drags its feet by making repeated requests for information. "We wanted to buy 10 CT scan machines to use in teaching hospitals," says Dr. Kusai Al Keit, a director in Iraq's Ministry of Health. "After two months (the committee) says, "Give us the names of the hospitals where they are going to be installed.' So we gave them that and two months later they say, "Can you tell us the names of the staff that's going to operate them.' How does it matter if it's me or Dr. Ali?" Months and months later, a few machines finally arrived. "We're still waiting for the rest," Al Keit says. The sanctions committee acknowledges it sometimes asks for more details, primarily to make sure the items are for the general population, not just the Iraqi elite. Hence a request for a liposuction machine, presumably to slim someone's bulging belly, got thumbs down. The committee also holds up certain drugs because they are sold by companies that have repeatedly violated the sanctions, or are known to be fronts for the Iraqi government. Money from such sales goes directly to Saddam Hussein's regime to be used, it is suspected, for nefarious purposes. As for Iraq's malnutrition problem, the government has largely itself to blame, a top U.S. representative to the United Nations charged in March. "Iraq consistently under-orders foodstuffs and has never met the minimum calorie and protein targets set by the (United Nations) despite record-setting revenues" from oil sales, says James Cunningham, deputy permanent representative. His statement was partly in response to accusations that the United States and Britain are the main culprits in Iraq's health care crisis. Of the 15 nations represented on the sanctions committee, they are the only ones that ever challenge Iraq's proposed purchases. That, defenders say, is because they have the technical expertise to do so. "Credit is due to those delegations which possess both the required resources and the political will to scrutinize all contracts for dual-use potential," Dutch Ambassador Peter Van Walsum, chairman of the sanctions committee, told the United Nations this spring. However, he admitted that the amount of contracts on hold -- $1.7-billion worth -- was "intolerably high." In response to criticism, the committee has shortened the time for reviewing contracts and expanded the list of items that can be sold without approval. It has also allowed the sale of chlorine and other supplies that have military uses but also are essential for public health services like water purification. Although the sanctions have been eased over the years -- and would be dropped if Iraq cooperated with weapons inspectors -- Iraqi officials say the effects already have been catastrophic. "It will take years before we get back to the status we used to have before the sanctions," says Al Keit of the health ministry. "Iraq was one of the pioneers of health services in the region and to restore that situation will take a lot of time." ________________________________________________________ · The Cult of Saddam, St. Petersburg Times, 6 June '00 http://www.sptimes.com/News/060600/Worldandnation/The_Cult_of_Saddam.shtml Are sanctions an effective club for getting Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons? By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN, Times Senior Correspondent firstname.lastname@example.org BAGHDAD -- At the Saddam Hussein Museum for the Arts, visitors get a generally warm and fuzzy view of the man considered one of the world's most dangerous dictators. Here are the Iraqi president's high school report cards. (An 89 in history, 82 in geography.) Here are the many odd and lavish gifts he received before Iraq became an international pariah. (Silver spurs from Ronald Reagan, a football signed by the New York Giants.) And here are dozens of engaging photos of Hussein, chatting with troops at the Kuwaiti front and comforting Baghdad residents at the start of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. But the museum's assistant director is especially proud of one display: a giant electronic map that, when you push a button, shows Iraqi missiles raining down on Israel in the war's early days. "Haifa, Tel Aviv -- 39 of our Scuds hit Israel," he says, beaming with satisfaction. "This map, it's very nice." It is Iraq's history of belligerence toward its neighbors in the Middle East that lies at the heart of a bitter debate: Should the United Nations lift economic sanctions imposed on the country after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait? Critics of the sanctions, now almost a decade old, argue that they have failed to dislodge Hussein but have caused untold misery to millions of ordinary Iraqis. Earlier this year, the U.N.'s top humanitarian official in Iraq resigned, saying he could no longer bear to see an entire population "deprived of everything . . . the right to proper life, the right to work, the right to shelter, good services and most of all, the right to education." But supporters of the sanctions say they are the most effective way of keeping Hussein in check as he defies U.N. resolutions and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. "Iraq remains a threat," James B. Cunningham, a U.S. representative to the U.N., said in March. "Unanswered questions remain in the areas of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. . . . Sanctions are the leverage the international community has to get the government of Iraq to comply. That is the goal." In the past 10 years, international attitudes toward Iraq have done an abrupt about-face. Most of the world was aghast when Hussein invaded a sovereign nation, on the pretext that Kuwait had been waging "economic war" against Iraq by keeping oil prices artificially low. More than three dozen countries joined the U.S.-led allied coalition, including most of the Persian Gulf states and even nations like Syria that had never been friendly toward the West. But with the war over and the sanctions dragging on far longer than anyone expected, there is increasing sympathy for Iraq and growing hostility toward the United States and Britain, the sanctions' most ardent enforcers. Most Arab nations have called for an end to the embargo and some have have resumed diplomatic relations with Baghdad. Many other countries -- among them Russia, China, France and Canada -- want the sanctions substantially relaxed, if not dumped altogether. And in February, more than 70 members of Congress sent President Clinton a letter urging an end to the embargo. Ironically, the only congressman who has visited Iraq since the Gulf War thinks the sanctions, while flawed, should continue. Tony Hall, an Ohio Democrat, decided to look for himself in April despite reservations from the Clinton administration. "They said, "It's not safe. You have to be careful you don't get sucked into their propaganda,' " Hall recalls. "They basically said, "We don't like Saddam Hussein and we don't like his government.' I said I agreed with all those things but the fact is you have a lot of innocent people who could care less about Saddam and are dying." A five-day tour of decrepit schools, hospitals and utilities convinced Hall that "we could be doing a much better job" of helping the Iraqi people. But while he found the misery real and widespread, he wasn't convinced the embargo was solely to blame. "If Iraq's government would show it is serious about easing its people's suffering -- instead of using their problems to support its bid to end sanctions -- it would be easier for me to see sanctions as the primary culprit," Hall says. Not all of the opposition to the embargo stems from humanitarian concerns. Foreign companies are chafing to do business with Iraq, which has the world's second-largest oil reserves and an enormous pent-up demand for cars, televisions and other consumer goods. But skepticism remains that much of Iraq's oil wealth would ever trickle down to average Iraqis as long as Hussein stays in power. "This is a regime which has a high tolerance for the hardships it inflicts on its own subjects," says Peter Van Walsum, the Dutch ambassador to the United Nations. Phebe Marr, an Iraqi expert, says Hussein did little to improve conditions in the lull between the end of Iraq's war with Iran in 1988 and when he invaded Kuwait in 1990. "If the sanctions come off tomorrow -- and they definitely are not going to -- the expectation of the people is that everything is going to get better. It's only going to get a little bit better," predicts Marr, a former senior fellow at the U.S. National Defense University. "I watched this happen after the Iraq-Iran war. There's going to be a bonanza. We've got all of this oil. But what happened? Not much." Marr notes that the sanctions already have been eased to the point Iraq can sell unlimited amounts of oil to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian essentials. She thinks it also should be allowed to rebuild its oil industry -- the core of the economy -- and have greater access to the outside world. "One of the things that is so bad for this country is its isolation," she says. "We ought to look into the possibility of opening up some commercial air travel. Let some people out, some books in. They can't get out, they can't travel, they can't see anybody." But it would be a mistake, she says, to end the sanctions altogether. "Lifting the sanctions means putting all of the money from oil exports into Saddam's hands," Marr says. "People who want to do this have not yet figured out a suitable way to make sure he is not using (the money) to import weapons of mass destruction. They're only solving one part of the problem." How great is Iraq's military threat? Experts agree that Hussein's might was substantially weakened in the Gulf War. Still, "Iraq could test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States in the next 15 years," the CIA ominously predicted last fall. Contrary to a general belief, the United Nations has never tried to eliminate all of Iraq's weapons. To help maintain a balance of power in the Middle East, where Iraq is surrounded by much larger countries like Iran and Turkey, the 1991 cease-fire agreement allowed Hussein to produce missiles with a range of 93 miles or less. That means "Iraq can retain a significant missile development effort," says Anthony Cordesman, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. According to a new report by Cordesman, U.S. satellite photos show that Iraq has rebuilt one missile research facility. It also has two large new buildings designed to produce much longer-range missiles. The big question -- and great worry -- is what Iraq would put in its warheads. At the time of the Gulf conflict, it was the only major country to have recently employed weapons of mass destruction -- in this case, mustard and nerve gases used against Iranian troops and rebellious Kurds in the 1980s. Iraq was also known to be developing nuclear and biological weapons capable of reaching Israel, several hundred miles away. After his Gulf War defeat, Hussein agreed to eliminate his weapons of mass destruction under strict monitoring by the United Nations Special Commission. However, UNSCOM charged, Iraq consistently stonewalled inspectors, withheld thousands of documents and offered no evidence for claims it had destroyed its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. In one case, the Iraqis repeatedly insisted that a huge facility south of Baghdad made only pesticides and animal feed. In fact, as inspectors later discovered, it stored tons of "growth material" used to produce the germs needed for biological warfare. As for Iraq's nuclear capability, "UNSCOM believes Iraq's nuclear program has been largely disabled and remains incapacitated," Cordesman writes. However, "Iraq retains substantial technology and established a clandestine purchasing system in 1990 that it has used to import forbidden components since the Gulf War." The inspections standoff came to a head in December 1998, when U.S. and British jets bombed Iraq in an attempt to jolt Hussein into cooperating. Instead, he kicked out the inspectors and disabled the automated video monitoring systems they had installed in suspected weapons plants. The bottom line? While there is no "direct evidence" Iraq has rebuilt its weapons program since 1998, "this type of activity must be regarded as likely given its past behavior," the CIA said in February. Intelligence sources suspect that at least some of Hussein's weapons development takes place in enormous, heavily guarded compounds whose opulence stands in marked contrast to Iraq's overall shabbiness. Photos of these mysterious mini-cities are strictly forbidden. The government guides who accompany all foreign journalists are notably tight-lipped when asked about them, such as the one in Baghdad that covers several blocks and has a monumental entrance topped by what appear to be anti-aircraft guns. "What's that?" a guide was asked. "A gate," he answered. 'What's behind the gate?' Meanwhile, a palatial structure overlooking the ruins of ancient Babylon is described as a government "guest house." Why foreign dignitaries would be consigned to such a remote area miles from the capital is not explained. Nor is it clear why photos of the guest house are banned It was on his visit to Babylon that Hall, the member of Congress, found himself musing on what Iraq is today, and what it could be. "I thought, isn't it sad that here's a country with tremendous oil wealth and some of the greatest historical and Biblical sites in the world? If they ever got a good leader and some stability, think of what could happen." Today, though, Saddam Hussein seems as firmly in charge as he has at any time since grabbing power in 1979. At 63, the Iraqi president is rarely seen in person but appears everywhere in portrait. Iraqi artists have found that one sure way of getting canvas and other supplies during times of shortage is by painting their leader large and often. Hotels, restaurants and government buildings all display portraits of Hussein in an endless variety of get-ups. Sporting straw hat and safari shirt, he looks like Panama Jack; with fur cap and heavy jacket, he resembles Dr. Zhivago. There are larger-than-life paintings of Hussein hugging babies, clutching prayer books, smelling flowers. But these benign images belie a reality of life in Iraq today: It is a totalitarian state where few dare utter a word against the regime. Those who do risk imprisonment, torture and death. "Suspected political opponents . . . continue to be arrested and tens of thousands of others arrested in previous years remain held," Amnesty International said in its 1999 report on human rights abuses in Iraq. "Torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and detainees were widely reported. According to reports, at least six people had their hands amputated as punishment. There was no further news on the fate of thousands of people who "disappeared' in previous years." The greatest threat to Hussein's regime came immediately after the Gulf War, when Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south rose up against him. But the rebellions failed when the U.S. government, which had encouraged both groups, refused to provide military help. Among the reasons for the reluctance to intercede in southern Iraq were fears that the Shiites were actually backed by Iran. Its fundamentalist government, which held 52 Americans hostage from 1979 to 1981, was considered as big a threat to regional peace as Iraq's bellicose dictatorship. In the north, U.S. officials worried that support for the Kurds would anger Turkey, a long-time U.S. ally that was waging its own war against Kurdish guerrillas. Since the Gulf War, Congress has appropriated millions of dollars for opposition groups based outside Iraq in hopes they could engineer a coup or popular uprising. However, the opposition, primarily based in London 2,500 miles away, remains fragmented, and attempts to overthrow Hussein have failed. Cordesman, the military analyst, says the United States has two viable options in dealing with Hussein and trying to prevent another dangerous weapons buildup: Either support a professional, covert operation to oust the Iraqi leader or else "wait for history to take its course." "Trying to publicly unite the weak and divided Iraqi opposition outside Iraq into a useful tool, and to do so with minimal or no Arab support, is like trying to forge Jell-O into a sword," Cordesman said in a March report. Moreover, he says, it is unrealistic to think that Iraq will ever stop trying to develop weapons of mass destruction, given its place in a region where at least three other countries -- India, Pakistan and Israel -- have nuclear capability. "We may want a world of of arms control, but Iran and Iraq live in a world of proliferation," he writes. "Power, status and security appear to come with proliferation and even far more moderate regimes would find it difficult to put their trust in arms control and restraint." ________________________________________________________ · Cross Him, Pay a Price, St. Petersburg Times, 6 June '00 http://www.sptimes.com/News/060600/Worldandnation/Cross_him__pay_a_pric.shtm l By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN, Times Senior Correspondent email@example.com BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein likes to keep things all in the family. But relatives who cross him, beware. In 1995, Hussein's son-in-law, Gen. Hussein Kamel, surprised the world by defecting to Jordan after years of heading Iraq's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. But even more surprising -- many said "stupid" -- was his decision to return to Baghdad after such a public betrayal of the Iraqi regime. Kamel and his brother, who had also defected, lasted only a few days back in Iraq. They were killed Feb. 20, 1996, in a shoot-out with Saddam Hussein's security forces, led by Hussein's oldest son, Uday. The slayings devastated the men's mother, Safiyah Salma Al-Majid. She complained she wasn't allowed to see her grandchildren and began publicly criticizing the Iraqi regime. Last February -- almost four years to the day her sons were murdered -- Mrs. Al-Majid was found hacked to death at her home in Baghdad. Police did a brief investigation and closed the case without arrests. According to Western intelligence sources, the Kamel brothers had run afoul of the regime because of a power struggle with Uday Hussein. But Uday himself had barely escaped his father's wrath. In 1988, he gunned down one of Hussein's favorite bodyguards for allegedly arranging trysts between the Iraqi president and a beautiful eye doctor. Hussein later took the woman as his second wife -- much to the anger of his first wife, Uday's mother. In Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein, authors Andrew Cockburn and Patrick Cockburn, describe a bizarre scene in which wife No. 1 called Jordan's King Hussein and pleaded with him to help. "Uday has killed Jajo and now Saddam wants to shoot Uday!" Mrs. Hussein shouted into the phone. The king flew his own plane to Baghdad and, he later recalled, spent the next several days "talking things over" with Iraq's ruling family. As an apparent result of the king's intercession, Saddam Hussein cooled down -- somewhat. "It is my constitutional responsibility to enforce justice in the society ... and that does not exempt anyone," Hussein said in announcing that his son would stand trial for murder. Uday did time in prison, then spent a self-imposed exile in Switzerland that ended when he was asked to leave for carrying a concealed weapon. On his return to Baghdad he regained his father's trust enough to supervise the execution of several hundred officers accused of plotting against the regime. (According to the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based opposition group, the hot-tempered Uday has also murdered a guard, an aide, a tobacconist caught selling U.S. cigarettes and a teenage girl who resisted his sexual advances.) So despised was Uday in his home country that in 1996 he was nearly killed when would-be assassins opened fire on his Mercedes, riddling him with bullets. Initial reports said he had been permanently paralyzed but after several operations, he is able to walk again, albeit with a limp. Now in his mid-30s, Uday owns a Baghdad TV station, a Baghdad newspaper and is head of the country's press council. He was recently elected to the Iraqi Parliament and is in charge of Iraq's Olympic committee. More clandestinely, he is reputed to have made a fortune smuggling cigarettes, luxury cars and other goods as a major player in the country's thriving black market. Observers have long presumed that Uday's ultimate goal is to succeed his father. If that's the case, his chief rival may be his younger brother, Qusay. Considered more mature and self-controlled, Qusay has one of Iraq's most sensitive jobs: directing Saddam Hussein's secret security forces. "Qusay is still behind the scenes but he's emerging more," says Phebe Marr, an Iraqi expert and former senior fellow at the U.S. National Defense University. Still, she doubts that either Qusay or Uday will ever rule Iraq. "If Saddam died tomorrow, nobody thinks these kids can hang on. Needless to say, they're not that popular," Marr says. "But I don't think he's going to die tomorrow and I think he's going to be around awhile." ________________________________________________________ · Iran Opens Key Isle to Iraqi Oil Smugglers, U.S. Says, Los Angeles Times, 3 July '00 http://www.latimes.com/news/front/20000703/t000062846.html Mideast: Use of transit point to skirt U.N. sanctions represents a baffling surge in collusion between the nations, American officials declare. By ROBIN WRIGHT, Times Staff Writer WASHINGTON -- To aid Iraq's largest sanctions-busting operation, Iran has opened its strategic Qeys island for secret transfers of illicit Iraqi oil to ships that can evade a United Nations blockade, according to Clinton administration officials. Traffic has become so heavy in recent weeks that the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is smuggling as much as 100,000 barrels of oil a day, netting as much as $42 million a month that is being used in part to rebuild Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, U.S. officials say. "Saddam Hussein is very dependent on this illicit trade," said a senior administration official who requested anonymity. "It's his biggest source of income not under U.N. control." The oil transfers in the waters around Qeys, a small tourist haven off Iran's southern coast, represent a substantial escalation of Iran's collusion in Iraq's smuggling operations. In the transfers, slow barges and tugboats offload their cargo to ships that disguise the origin of the oil and can carry loads five to seven times larger and at much faster speeds. The use of Qeys as a transfer point has enabled Hussein to expand the volume of contraband traffic to as many as 200 small ships leaving Iraq monthly, U.S. officials say. Without Iran's assistance--which it seems to be offering mainly for money--many of the smaller smugglers would have difficulty evading the international blockade. But the Qeys island operation, overseen by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, allows an estimated 90% of the smugglers to sail through the Persian Gulf without being stopped, according to U.S. officials. "Qeys has become the central rendezvous point for smuggling operations," said a well-placed administration official, also speaking on condition of anonymity. It covers up the transactions "between the people who take oil out of Iraq and those who take it on to the United Arab Emirates for resale. That creates a tremendous problem for enforcement." Under a U.N.-authorized "oil-for-food" program, Iraq is allowed to export up to $18 billion worth of oil this year. But the revenue is tightly controlled by U.N. officials and must only be used to acquire humanitarian aid such as food and medicine. Hussein turned to oil smuggling in the mid-1990s to generate a separate stream of income he could use for any purpose, U.S. officials say. Since then, Iran has sporadically allowed ships carrying contraband Iraqi oil to use its waters in order to avoid detection by the U.N. Multinational Interdiction Force, which maintains the blockade. The pace of the smuggling has picked up significantly in the last two years, U.S. officials say. But opening up Qeys as a transfer point is a big leap that supports Iraq's most flagrant violation to date of the international sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. "The use of Qeys marks a huge surge," said a third U.S. official who closely monitors the gulf. U.S. officials say the United Arab Emirates, a key U.S. ally in the gulf, also is assisting Iraqi smuggling by making at least two of its ports available as transfer points. They say some oil-laden ships, after sneaking through Iranian waters along the coast, dash across international waters to the safety of Fujaira and Dubai, ports in separate parts of the fragmented Emirates. "The little Emirates are reverting back to their role as pirate posts during the early 19th century," said the senior administration official. The Emirates leg is important because the two ports allow Iraqi oil to enter the legitimate international market. Fujaira, located on the Strait of Hormuz, the gateway to the gulf, is particularly valuable as a place to blend contraband oil with oil from legitimate sources, U.S. officials say. The blatant use of Qeys, which began last winter and has escalated rapidly in recent weeks, means Iran can no longer credibly deny abetting Iraq's smuggling, U.S. officials contend. Last month, the Iranian Foreign Ministry acknowledged that Iraqi oil smuggling had resumed in May after a brief hiatus but said that was because Iran's navy alone couldn't stop all of the ships that pass through its waters to avoid the U.N. blockade. Although Tehran appealed to the United Nations for help, it has not allowed ships of the interdiction force to enter its waters, which extend 12 miles out from the Iranian coastline. U.S. officials no longer speculate--as they once did--that Iran's involvement could be a rogue operation run by the Revolutionary Guards without the approval of the Iranian government. The use of Qeys, which has created an angry backlash on the island because of oil spillage and pollution problems, signals that senior officials in Tehran must be involved. "They're very complicit. This wouldn't be going on unless people high in the government were aware of it and condoning it," the well-placed official said. At the same time, he said it is not clear whether the reform bloc headed by President Mohammad Khatami supports the smuggling. Under Iran's Islamic government, the president is not commander in chief and does not have direct control over the Revolutionary Guards. "We're convinced Khatami knows about it," the official went on. "What we don't know is whether he doesn't act because he doesn't care or because he's unable." For the United Arab Emirates, as for Iran, the main incentive for assisting Iraq appears to be economic--although the Emirates have been sympathetic to Baghdad's efforts to relieve the pressure of a decade of sanctions. Iran's Revolutionary Guards make an average of about $20 million a month from Iraqi smuggling, U.S. officials say. A Guards post known as Arvand One--located near where the Shatt al Arab waterway, through which the small smugglers begin their journeys, flows into the gulf--charges smugglers $50 for every metric ton of oil ferried out of the Iraqi port of Abu Flus, they say. The most recent U.S. estimate is that 400,000 metric tons of illicit oil are now being shipped out of Iraq each month, or about 95,000 barrels a day. The trade is so lucrative to all involved that owners of ships seized and then auctioned off by the U.N. Multinational Interdiction Force still make enough profits to buy them back--and then start up again, U.S. officials say. What baffles Washington the most is Iran's willingness to facilitate an operation that has become Hussein's largest source of independent income. Baghdad has used smuggling proceeds not only to develop the kind of weapons of mass destruction used against Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, but also to arm the Moujahedeen Khalq, the deadliest Iranian opposition group, which is based in Iraq. Iraq recently built a new headquarters for the Moujahedeen at Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, that will accommodate 3,000 to 5,000 members and includes barracks, training fields, administrative buildings, farms and even lakes. ________________________________________________________ · Iraqis Ask U.S. to Do More to Oust Saddam, New York Times, 3 July '00 http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/070300iraq-hussein.html By STEVEN LEE MYERS WASHINGTON -- More than a year and a half ago, President Clinton signed a law pledging money and military equipment to opponents of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Last week, a group of them came to Washington, still waiting for signs that support is coming. Even though the law gives Mr. Clinton the authority to spend as much as $97 million to help speed the overthrow of Mr. Hussein, the administration has so far spent only $20,000 of it, the cost of sending three Iraqi exiles to a training course in civilian-military relations at an Air Force base in Florida. The administration's failure to act on its pledge to support Mr. Hussein's fractious, far-flung opponents has prompted growing criticism from Republicans in Congress, who used last week's visit by opposition leaders to intensify attacks on the administration's policy toward Iraq. "It is hard for me to figure out why administration officials, from President Clinton and Vice President Gore on down, keep insisting that they are interested in ousting Saddam and yet not one official of this administration has been willing to take even the most minimal steps towards that end," Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican from Kansas, said at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that was attended by several opposition leaders. The Iraqi opponents of Mr. Hussein, including exiles and dissidents from inside Iraq, spent the week meeting with senior administration officials at the State Department and the Pentagon to press them for more assistance, including military training for 140 Iraqis and military equipment like communications gear that, they argued, could be used to foment opposition to Mr. Hussein. After meeting with the opponents on Monday, Vice President Al Gore voiced strong support for their goal, And late last week, officials said they were trying to schedule military training courses for as many of the 140 as possible, starting in the fall. But administration and defense officials balked at some of the opponents' other requests. Those included a request to expand the "no flight" zones in southern and northern Iraq, to expand the mission of American jets to include attacking Iraq's ground forces fighting rebels in the south and to set up humanitarian relief centers inside Iraq that would be operated by opposition groups based in neighboring countries, the officials said. The American officials emphasized that the military training would only involve courses in leadership, international law, medicine, civil engineering and public affairs, and not combat. Ahmad Chalabi, a leader of the Iraqi National Congress who is based in London, welcomed the additional training but complained that the administration refused to provide weapons and other military equipment to confront Mr. Hussein's forces on the battlefield. "You cannot liberate Iraq by treating wounded people," Dr. Chalabi said in the Senate hearing on Wednesday. "We need to liberate Iraq by fighting Saddam." At the same hearing, a leader of the Shiite rebels fighting in southern Iraq, Seyid Kadhim al-Batatt, complained that American aircraft patrolling the "no flight" zones over the region did little to help their cause. "Unfortunately, American aircraft fly over us as we are being continuously bombarded by Saddam's forces," he said, citing a clash with Iraq forces in the swamps near Basra on May 15. The opponents' demands are being echoed by Republicans here and are turning Iraq into an issue in this year's presidential campaign between Mr. Gore and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas. Mr. Bush has vowed to take a tough stand against Mr. Hussein, and some of his advisers have called for actively supporting the seizure of Iraqi territory. But administration officials and, especially, military commanders remain deeply skeptical. They say the opposition leaders remain divided by lingering hostilities and lack popular support inside Iraq or in the Arab world. Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, commander of all American forces in the Persian Gulf, said Mr. Hussein's forces would easily crush an armed insurgency like the one the opponents have proposed. The opponents, he said, needed to spend more time in the region turning themselves into a credible alternative to Mr. Hussein. "I don't think the military adventures that they're seeking for us to fund are reasonable," General Zinni said in an interview last Monday. "They are pie in the sky. They're going to lead us to a Bay of Goats, or something like that." ________________________________________________________ · Iraq Wants Immediate Work on Upstream Deals-MEES, Reuters, 3 July '00 http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT4P07Y28AC&liv e=true&useoverridetemplate=ZZZFKOXOA0C&tagid=ZZZCWHK1B0C&reuters=true NICOSIA -- Iraq has decided not to sign further upstream deals with foreign oil firms unless they are prepared to implement projects on the ground immediately, the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) said on Monday. It said Iraq would no longer sign any production and exploration agreements such as the two reached in 1997 with Chinese and Russian consortiums unless companies are willing to start work immediately - before United Nations sanctions are lifted. "The policy reflects Iraq's frustration with the lack of progress on the part of the Russians and Chinese towards carrying out any exploration and development work in Iraq itself, having confined their activities to in-house engineering and consulting work in their home countries," MEES said. The industry newsletter said the policy will apply to all international oil companies, including state firms from "friendly" countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Algeria and India, which have been negotiating with Iraq for several years. Iraq's oil industry has been hit hard by U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait in 1990. But the country has managed to crank up oil production and lure international firms, who have been eagerly awaiting the lifting of sanctions to get their hands on lucrative projects. Iraq is competing with other major oil producers in the Gulf - Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait - who are opening their doors wider to foreign oil firms, hoping to attract investments worth billions of dollars. MEES said it has learned that Iraq is also repairing two berths at Khor al-Amaya in the Northern Gulf with the aim of providing an export capacity of about 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) at the terminal by the end of the year. Iraqi authorities still require U.N. Security Council approval for any exports from Khor al-Amaya. "It is also understood that Baghdad is going ahead with the construction of two topping plants each with a capacity of 10,000 bpd," MEES said. "MEES understands that part of the products, particularly gas oil, would be exported to Turkey, which is planning to increase its border trade with Iraq outside the oil-for-food programme," the newsletter said. ________________________________________________________ · Iraq July 1-15 Oil Sales Down 500,000 BPD on June, Reuters, 4 July '00 http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT4REJUL9AC&liv e=true&useoverridetemplate=ZZZFKOXOA0C&tagid=ZZZCWHK1B0C&reuters=true LONDON -- Iraq's preliminary oil sales programme for July 1-15 shows a 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) drop on the June average of 1.9 million bpd, oil industry sources said on Tuesday. Loadings for the first week of this month could decline to just under 600,000 bpd, but look set to recover during the second week of July to around 2.45 million bpd, the sources added. The lower rate during July 1-7 was mostly down to sluggish Kirkuk sales, which might only reach about 160,000 bpd in the period. There have been no tanker loadings at the Turkish Mediterranean port since June 25, but there is one vessel set to lift this week, shipping sources said. An Iraq oil official declined to say whether the higher export rate expected next week would be sustained for the remainder of the month. He added that state oil marketer SOMO will submit a price proposal for second-half July European Kirkuk loadings to the United Nations this week. Iraq last week cut its July Kirkuk price for first half loadings to Dated Brent - $5.00 fob Ceyhan from an original Dated Brent - $2.95. ________________________________________________________ · Iraq: The Recovery of a Renegade Country Nears Prewar Levels, USA Today, 5 July '00 http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20000705/2427332s.htm By Barbara Slavin WASHINGTON -- As the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War nears, Iraq is on its way back to its prewar status -- an oil-rich dictatorship that no one loves but with which many are eager to do business. Technically, Iraq is a renegade country cut off from the West diplomatically and under almost daily air attack from U.S. and British forces. It remains under United Nations sanctions aimed at preventing Baghdad from producing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles. The sanctions, imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, channel oil revenue into a U.N. account, which can be used only for civilian goods. Despite the sanctions, almost daily attacks on radar and anti-aircraft positions and the rising talk in the U.S. election campaign about finally bringing down President Saddam Hussein, Middle East analysts say the 63-year-old Iraqi leader is in better shape than he has been in years and faces no credible internal or external challenges. Since a U.N. resolution in December lifted the ceiling on Iraqi oil exports, those sales are approaching prewar figures of $18 billion a year. As much as 10% of production is diverted to smuggling, and the proceeds are available to Saddam for his own purposes, U.S. officials say. On the diplomatic front, the prospects for Iraq also look brighter. Two more nations along the Persian Gulf -- the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the base for the U.S. Central Command's naval forces -- have restored full diplomatic relations with Baghdad, which already has ties with Qatar and Oman. Analysts say these countries want support against Iran, Iraq's rival and the other traditional regional power. Meanwhile, nations from Europe to Southeast Asia are sending trade delegations and providing commodities and oil equipment under a U.N. humanitarian program. ''Some of the neighbors and some Europeans and permanent members of the Security Council have come to the conclusion that you have to deal with Saddam and that it's pointless to wait for him to go because he's not going,'' says Judith Yaphe, an Iraq expert at the National Defense University. A tight oil supply has also given Iraq new leverage. A brief Iraqi suspension of production last November pushed oil prices to a nine-year high and helped persuade the White House to lift the ceiling on Iraqi pumping. ''A rogue's not a rogue when oil is $30 a barrel,'' says Kenneth Katzman, senior Middle East analyst at the Congressional Research Service. Administration officials stress that the bulk of oil revenue goes into a U.N. escrow account at the New York branch of the Banc National de Paris. But the range of items Iraq can purchase under the U.N. oil-for-food program has been expanded, and contracts are no longer stringently reviewed to weed out so-called dual-use items that can be used for civilian purposes as well as in weapons. ''There's much more stuff coming into Iraq, and it's being handled much more expeditiously,'' says Jim Placke, who directs Middle East research for Cambridge Energy Associates in Washington. More than $1 billion has been set aside to invest in Iraq's oil and gas sector, where oil production is running at 2.7 million barrels a day, close to the prewar figure of 3.3 million. Meanwhile, Iraq, which before the war had developed chemical and biological weapons and was close to building a nuclear bomb, has rebuilt capacity destroyed by U.S.-British airstrikes in December 1998. U.S. officials say Iraq has successfully tested missiles with a range of less than 95 miles, permitted under U.N. sanctions. This suggests that longer ranges might not be hard to achieve. Uncertainty surrounds other Iraqi programs since the country has gone without on-the-ground international arms inspection for 18 months. The U.N. resolution that lifted the ceiling on oil exports created another arms inspection commission but hedged it with so much political interference that its ultimate effectiveness is in question -- assuming the Iraqis even let inspectors into the country. ''The emphasis is on controlling the chairman (of the arms monitoring commission), not controlling Iraq,'' Rolf Ekeus, the Swedish chairman of the first postwar inspection system told The Washington Institute for Near East Policy last week. Russia has reportedly tried to blackball at least one of the proposed personnel choices of the new chief U.N. inspector, Hans Blix, like Ekeus, a Swede. And it remains unclear to what extent U.S. intelligence will be shared with the new inspection team, which appears to contain more personnel from countries sympathetic to Iraq than the previous organization, which was headed first by Ekeus and then by a blunt Australian, Richard Butler. Meanwhile, antipathy to U.N. sanctions increases among Arabs, in the developing world and among some circles in the USA. Though the Clinton administration insists that it is Saddam, not sanctions, that has caused suffering to Iraq's 22 million people, the fact remains that millions of Iraqi children are malnourished while Saddam and his cronies build more palaces. Given this unhappy situation, a coalition of Iraqi exiles opposed to Saddam has tried to court additional support from both U.S. presidential contenders. They have made some rhetorical headway. Vice President Gore told leaders of the Iraqi National Congress last week that Saddam ''must be removed from power.'' Gore seemed to suggest that he would be more vigorous in implementing a 1998 law earmarking $97 million in training and surplus Pentagon equipment for the Iraqi opposition. But the Clinton administration, skeptical of the exiles' abilities and cohesion, has offered only a few fax machines and training in non-lethal activities such as field medicine and communication. Tuesday, one coalition member, the Iraqi National Accord, quit the alliance, in part because of its close ties with the United States. Advisers to presumptive Republican nominee George W. Bush have been scathing in their criticism of the Clinton policy. Richard Perle, a Reagan appointee who now advises the Bush campaign, told a recent congressional hearing, ''In 31 years in Washington, I have not seen a sustained hypocrisy that parallels the current administration's embrace of the Iraq Liberation Act. This will not be the case in a Bush administration.'' Despite the tough talk, experts doubt that the younger Bush would finish what his father did not when he left Saddam in place at the end of the Gulf War. ''A year from now, the Iraqi opposition will have proved completely ineffective,'' predicts Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Rend Francke of the Iraq Foundation says, ''The only change will be that Saddam is better off.'' ________________________________________________________ · Gulf Help to Smugglers 'Sustains Saddam', Times, 5 July '00 http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/2000/07/05/timfgnmid01002.html BY RICHARD BEESTON, DIPLOMATIC EDITOR BRITAIN has warned the Gulf states and Iran that they are helping President Saddam Hussein of Iraq to remain in power by collaborating in a multimillion-pound oil smuggling operation. According to senior British sources, the Iraqi regime is able to bypass UN sanctions by using an elaborate shipping operation through the Gulf and on to markets in the Far East and the West. Ironically the smuggling is being conducted with the help of Iraq's rivals in the region, including Iran, the United Arab Emirates and third parties, who are making huge profits transporting and selling Iraqi crude. A senior British source, clearly frustrated by the failure of the Gulf states to help the US and British blockade of Iraq, told regional envoys this week: "We spend time and energy to stop him exporting oil illegally. If similar dedication was shown by the Gulf countries we would be successful." The Iraqi oil, believed to be at least 100,000 barrels a day, travels down the Shatt al-Arab waterway through Iranian waters into the UAE and from there to the world market. According to American sources, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, the volume has become so great that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who control the contraband oil in Iranian waters have opened the island of Qeys as a trans-shipment point. Once it leaves Iranian waters it is transported to Dubai or Fujairah in the UAE, where it is often mixed with other crude to disguise its origin. The only successful interdiction occurred earlier this year when the US Navy seized a Russian oil tanker and forced it to unload. It was found to contain Iraqi crude. In addition to the main Gulf route, other smaller scale smuggling is also being conducted north into Turkey and west into Syria. The sanctions-busting export business has been made increasingly profitable by the high oil price, currently around $30/barrel, combined with growing disillusionment in the Middle East about the effects of sanctions against Iraq, which have been in place for nearly a decade. This week Iraq reopened its embassy in the UAE, the fourth Gulf country to reestablish diplomatic relations since the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Last month Qatar openly called for the sanctions onIraq to be lifted. Although Iran has promised to try to tackle the contraband shipments, a senior official challenged on the subject this week dismissed the problem as "only a few barrels". Instead he blamed the West for keeping the Saddam regime in power. However, British and US officials said that the smuggling operation, worth about £2 million a day, is not only helping Saddam to survive, it is strengthening his position. Although the Iraqi people are suffering terrible deprivations because of the economic boycott on the country, the illicit oil revenues are used to import luxury items for Iraq's ruling elite, particularly the military, the intelligence services and Saddam's clan. The cash flow is thought to have helped Iraq to revive its military infrastructure, supposedly destroyed by allied air raids. Last month Iraq conducted missile tests of the short-range al-Samoud ballistic missile, capable of carrying conventional, biological or chemical warheads. ________________________________________________________ · Bush/Gore/Iraq, Voice Of America, 6 July '00 By NICK SIMEONE WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration's inability to achieve its stated goal of bringing about a change of government in Iraq is shaping up as a key foreign policy issue in this year's presidential campaign. Last week, Vice President Al Gore met with members of the Iraqi opposition, pledging to continue working to overthrow President Saddam Hussein if elected to the White House in November. His Republican Party opponent, Texas Governor George W. Bush, shares that objective, but differs on how to reach it. V-O-A's Nick Simeone reports from Washington. Vice President Gore promised the London-based Iraqi National Congress that if he becomes president next January, there will be little difference between his policy toward Saddam Hussein and that of President Clinton. The United States will not flag in supporting your efforts to promote a change of regime even as we continue to contain the threat posed by Saddam. But Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush - - whose father put together the international coalition that drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait nine years ago -- has advocated a more aggressive stand against Baghdad, with Bush campaign advisors wondering why more was not done during the Clinton/Gore years to oust the Iraqi leader. The Bush team has called the Clinton/Gore policy toward Iraq a debacle. One of Governor Bush's foreign policy advisors, Richard Perle, charges the administration does not have the courage of its convictions. Among other things, he says the Clinton team has not done what is necessary to enforce the Iraq Liberation Act, in which Congress set aside millions of dollars to fund the Iraqi opposition. Mr. Perle says only a small amount of that money has actually been spent. The administration could appoint one official, just one, at a senior level who believes in the goals and objectives of the Iraq Liberation Act and who would honestly seek to implement the law as the law has been written and approved. I can't, as I look through the list of administration officials responsible for this policy, find a single official who is sympathetic to the goals and objectives of the Iraq Liberation Act. U-S officials say Washington has been slow in disbursing money and equipment to the Iraqi National Congress, largely because of infighting among its members and problems with accountability. Another issue emerging in U-S Iraq policy is the fact that it has been more than 18 months since United Nations weapons inspectors have been on the job in Iraq, a situation that no longer appears to be a U-S foreign policy priority. Former chief United Nations weapons inspector Richard Butler thinks it should be. The specific order of magnitude of Iraq's military threat today can't be known accurately, precisely, because there isn't an international presence there to measure it. What can be said with certainty is that absent international inspection and as long as Iraq continues to disobey the law, which it is today, it would be utter folly to assume that they're not back in the business of making weapons of mass destruction. President Clinton often used to stress the need for weapons inspectors to get back on the job, saying Saddam Hussein is determined to use weapons of mass destruction if he is allowed to rearm. Administration officials say Iraq has now resumed short-range missile tests. U-S officials are very concerned about such activity, saying it underscores the need to get U-N weapons inspectors back on the job. But privately, they say Washington does not want to provoke a fight with Iraq that could put American servicemen in harm's way before November's presidential election. ________________________________________________________ · Sanctions-Bound Iraq Revives with Oil-Price Windfall, CNN, 6 July '00 http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/07/06/iraq.oil/index.html BAGHDAD -- Iraq is looking ever less like a militarily vanquished nation hopelessly hobbled by the world's most sweeping trade sanctions, imposed by the United Nations in response to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Not only is Iraq once again beginning to look threatening -- thanks to activity which the United States government says could be the restart of its missile program -- its economy has rebounded enough to set off a mini-building boom in Baghdad. The country's sudden new vigor may have more than a little to do with rising oil prices. U.N.-approved oil sales alone have produced for Iraq a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars. Sanctions-busting oil smuggling has brought it millions more. Iraq's oil minister, Gen. Amer Rasheed, says business is booming. "How far we go depends on the other countries -- how much they can tolerate American pressure to prevent them from doing normal business with Iraq," he said. "From an Iraqi point of view, the sky is the limit." An extra $1 million a day Washington condemns Iraq's oil smuggling through the Persian Gulf to Iran, but appears to tolerate it to neighboring Turkey, where the United States has an air base used for attacks on Iraq. Baghdad is officially allowed to sell as much oil as it can produce to buy humanitarian supplies under strict U.N. supervision. After U.N. deductions, an extra dollar per barrel in the world price of oil means more than an extra $1 million a day that Iraq can eventually spend. That's partly why in the heat of the Baghdad summer, high-level business delegations still stream into the country to court Iraqi business. "Iraq has the second largest reserves in the world," said Usman Aminuddin, Pakistan's oil minister. "So it is a very important and very major player in the oil world. We are very keen to develop a relationship with a major player." 'Concerns will increase' Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department expressed concern Wednesday about actions at Iraqi sites that it said are known to be capable of producing weapons of mass destruction and long range ballistic missiles. Another concern, the department said, is Iraq's "long-established practice" of acquiring materials that have civilian uses but also could be used to make powerful weapons. The department commented in a written response to press questions about a New York Times story last Saturday that said Iraq has restarted its missile program and has conducted flight tests of a short-range ballistic missile. The tests -- eight since as early as May 1999, including one last week -- have involved Al Sambaed, a liquid-fueled ballistic missile that could carry conventional explosives or the chemical and biological weapons that Iraq is still suspected of hiding, according to Clinton administration and military officials cited by the newspaper. The State Department response said that in the absence of U.N. inspectors on the ground in Iraq, uncertainties about the significance of these activities will persist. "As time passes, our concerns will increase," it said. A resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council in December would allow the sanctions against Iraq to be suspended for renewable periods if Baghdad cooperates with a new arms inspection agency, the U.N. Monitoring, Inspection and Verification Agency. There have been no U.N. inspections in Iraq since December 1998, when joint U.S.-British air strikes were launched after Baghdad refused to permit inspections by the United Nations. ________________________________________________________ · Middle Eastern Power Brokers Confer over Iraq, Stratfor, 7 July '00 http://www.stratfor.com/MEAF/commentary/0007072257.htm The three most powerful governments in the Middle East - Egypt, Iran and Turkey - are comparing notes about the future of the region. Although separated by culture, geography, history, and politics, all three have sent officials to Cairo, according to the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat. While the three countries may hope to overcome their differences in the interest of broad, long-term cooperation, they already share one immediate concern - Iraq. By themselves, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey are extremely powerful nations. They have the largest populations in the Middle East, and each occupies a critical crossroads in the region - bracketing the remaining nations among them. Each has a massive military, only Iraq's is of comparable size, and their economies are among the largest in the region. A host of differences have traditionally kept the three at arm's length. Iran is a fundamentalist Shiite state; both Turkey and Egypt have secular regimes. Turkey is a major U.S. ally and NATO member while Egypt is a nominal ally and former Soviet satellite. Though relations are beginning to thaw, the Iranian clerical regime has long been hostile to the United States. Most of Iran is ethnically Persian, while Turkey is Turkic and Egypt mostly Arab. Tehran and Cairo broke off diplomatic relations decades ago, and Ankara has recently accused Tehran of funding militants inside Turkey. Iran is a major oil exporter, while Turkey is a net importer and Egypt is basically self-sufficient. But the three are meeting nonetheless, raising the question of what is bringing them together. As the three most populous and heavily armed countries in the region - in which they are also strategically located - the three countries have the potential in the long term to act as power brokers and peacekeepers, if they can overcome their myriad differences. There is one pressing issue that affects all three and transcends their dissimilarity - the ongoing ostracism of Iraq. Baghdad is slowly beginning to break out of its isolation. It restored diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates on July 3, sent its foreign minister to Syria on June 25 (the highest-level visit in decades) and is expected to start warming ties with Jordan. Meanwhile, the nation is rebuilding as massive oil revenues continue to flow. The three countries all have reasons to want to assume management of the Iraqi situation - though it is unclear what their policy would be. Turkey has a history of border clashes with Iraq, but also wants to increase Iraqi oil shipments through Turkish territory. Egypt is aligned with Washington, but it is also Iraq's largest trading partner and could benefit by a shift in the regional balance of power. No one in Tehran has forgotten the eight-year war with Baghdad, and Iran competes with Iraqi oil exports. But Iran has profited from Iraqi oil smuggling and has used its chokehold on Iraqi exports to its own political benefit in dealings with OPEC and the United States. All three nations have an interest in shaping the way Iraq re-enters the world. Coordinated policies, or even complimentary viewpoints, can have a major effect on the actions of Iraq and the rest of the nations in the region. Because the three are so different, they cannot be accused of advocating any particular agenda - Shia, Turkic, fundamentalist, nor Nasserite. The United States will likely echo any decisions made, as Ankara and Cairo have strong voices in Washington. Egypt, Iran and Turkey have the means, the motivation and the opportunity to fundamentally reshape power relations in the Middle East. The meeting in Cairo appears to be the first step in doing so. ________________________________________________________ · Saddam Blackmails Rebels with Rape, Sunday Times, 9 July '00 http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2000/07/09/stifgnmid02002.html Marie Colvin THE opening scene of a videotape General Najib Salahi received from Baghdad filled him with apprehension. Instead of the message he expected from loved ones he had left behind when he defected from Iraq, he was confronted with the image of an empty room. Salahi sent his young son out of the room before pressing the play button again. His worst fears were about to be realised. The flickering images showed one of his female relatives being raped by a member of President Saddam Hussein's intelligence service. It was blackmail of the most horrific kind. The Iraqi leader wanted Salahi to stop working for the opposition and co-operate with agents of his regime. Last month's video was a message: savage cruelty could be inflicted on his family unless he fell into line. Yesterday it emerged that a wall of silence has for years concealed Saddam's use of this terror tactic to keep his people under control or threaten his enemies. So great is the stigma attached to rape in Arab society that nobody has spoken out before. Worse, because the coercion on these videos is off-camera, the victims - who are sometimes drugged - fear the video will be used by the regime either to stain a family's honour by suggesting a married woman is adulterous or to make a virgin unmarriageable. Salahi, 48, said he knew such videos had been sent to Iraqi officials, military officers and diplomats. His claim was confirmed yesterday by American government officials. One of them told The Sunday Times that Washington knew of two high-ranking officials in Saddam's regime who had also received videos of female relatives being raped. The Iraqis' loyalties were considered suspect, and Saddam was sending them the most brutal of warnings. The American source said the videos made painful viewing. For Salahi, there was no warning that such horror would enter his life when he received a telephone call at his home in Amman, the Jordanian capital, on the night of June 7. "A man with a Jordanian accent called at 9pm and said someone had sent me a gift from Baghdad," Salahi said. "This man said he had no time to see me, but he would leave it at a bakery up the road." An hour later Salahi went to the bakery and was told a video cassette had been left by a taxi driver who drove the Baghdad-Amman route. When he started watching it, he had a "bad feeling", he said, and sent his 16-year-old son, Amr, out of the room on the pretext of needing something to be fetched. The general was shaken to the core by what came next. "I found myself watching a pornographic movie," Salahi said. "It was a criminal play, very well organised." The general is a strong man, toughened by his career as one of Saddam's top military men. He fought in the Gulf war and rose to the rank of chief of staff of the Sixth Armoured Division before he defected in 1995. He has endured Saddam's threats since and continued working to overthrow him. But he grimaces in pain and disgust when he speaks about the film. "In this video, a man of the Iraqi mukhabarat [intelligence service] is performing rape on one of my lady relatives," he said, looking down and speaking in a soft voice, shaking his head. Last week he spent two days giving evidence to an American government lawyer and has promised the tape can be shown to any court that tries Saddam. Rape, when used by a state against people, is a crime against humanity and the Americans have embarked on a campaign to indict the Iraqi dictator. Salahi's courage in exposing this outrage cannot be underestimated. He said he knew many other Iraqi officials, military officers, diplomats and opposition members who had suffered from similar blackmail and were broken. "I became so angry," Salahi said. He is articulate and dressed in an immaculate navy blue suit with a yellow Hermès tie. "I have known for a long time this is one of the tools Saddam Hussein is using to stay in power. "I thought about how many people Saddam Hussein had treated like this and how these people reacted. All of them decided to keep quiet and that encouraged Saddam to continue with these kinds of crimes. I decided I would not react the same way." Before Salahi could decide how to fight back, he received another challenge. An Iraqi man telephoned from Baghdad 10 days later, identifying himself as Abu Khaled. "We sent you a gift, did you receive it?" Salahi knew Abu Khaled was an officer of the Iraqi mukhabarat because the same man had telephoned him last year after he attended an Iraqi opposition conference in New York. He had put Salahi's brother and father on the phone to ask him to give up working against the regime. Salahi, who is well respected in the Iraqi military, had sent tape cassettes into Iraq telling officers they should work against Saddam. "You will pay a very high price for what you did," Salahi shouted at Saddam's henchman. What followed revealed to what depths of moral corruption Saddam's regime has sunk. "Be cool, be calm," Abu Khaled told the general. "We tried to reach you but you didn't stop so we had no alternative." More threats followed. "You should remember that a very important part of your family is in Iraq. And don't forget you are in Amman and that you are not far from us." The general was not cowed. "Tell Saddam that he has picked the wrong target," he replied calmly. "I am not the kind of person to be blackmailed and I will not stay quiet. Do whatever you want with this tape."Salahi is waiting for his day in court but he has in no way been stopped. He travelled to London this weekend to take his place as a member of the first meeting of the central council of the revived Iraqi National Congress. "Saddam Hussein is a criminal," he said. "He will pay the price. My message is 'listen, Iraqi people, this is not something personal against me. It is a crime against you and against Iraqi families'." Saddam's worst crimes 1988 Poison gas attack wipes out Kurdish village of Halabja. 1990-91 Atrocities inKuwait during Iraqi occupation. 1991 Repression of Shi'a population of southern Iraq. Leading clerics murdered, thousands imprisoned and tortured. Marsh Arabs forcibly relocated, their environment destroyed. 1990s Biological weapons tested on Iranian prisoners of war. Political prisoners suffer electric shocks, acid baths, rape and beatings. Family members of defecting officials disappear and presumed killed. ________________________________________________________ Only links provided for the following reports: · Iraq Walks Out as OIC Condemns Kuwait Invasion, Gulf News, 1 July '00 http://www.gulf-news.co.ae/01072000/WORLD/world.htm · Key Iraqi Opposition Movement Quits U.S.-Backed Alliance, AP, 4 July '00 http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/07/04/iraq.opposition.ap/index.html · US Concerned with Iraqi Activity, AP, 5 July '00 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000705/wl/us_iraq_1.html · Iraq Pressing Russian Group to Honour Oil Contract, Reuters, 8 July '00 http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT4DW9X7FAC&liv e=true&useoverridetemplate=ZZZFKOXOA0C&tagid=ZZZCWHK1B0C&reuters=true -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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