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News for 17 July '00 to 23 July '00

Dear Friends:

As I have told you a couple of weeks ago, I really need to focus on my PhD
so this week's news digest is my last one. One or two of you will kindly
take over this voluntary task from me and you should hear from them shortly.
I hope that my news digests for the last few months did not clutter your

I wish everyone at CASI, at Cambridge and elsewhere, all the best.

Best regards,


News for 17 July '00 to 23 July '00

Sources: AFP, BBC, Christian Science Monitor, Independent, Jerusalem Post,
Moscow Times, Newsweek, Reuters, Sunday Times, United Nations, Washington

· Saddam's Tanks Set for Attack on Kurds (Sunday Times)
· UN Says Sanctions Kill Some 500,000 Iraqi Children (Reuters)
· Ten Years of Sanctions Against Iraq Have "Completely Failed": von Sponeck
· Iraq Brags of Biological Weapons to 'Deal with Zionist Entity' (Jerusalem
· Butler: Iraq Could Have Nukes in a Year (Jerusalem Post)
· Disarmament Dispute in Iraq (Washington Post)
· Saddam Tones Down Rhetoric (BBC)
· Weekly Update for the Period 8 to 14 July 2000 (United Nations)
· Iranian 'Tollgates' Cash in On Iraqi Oil Smuggling (Christian Science
· New Low for Sanctions-Hit Oil Traders (BBC)
· Robert Fisk: The Voices of Protest Find an Unexpected Audience in the US
· Putin Could Visit Iraq, says Aide to Ultra-Nationalist Zhirinovsky (AFP)
· Iraq Denies U.S. Claim on Missing Kuwaitis (Reuters)
· Iraq Aims to Hike Oil Output Capacity to Six Million bpd "with Own Means"

Only links provided for the following reports:

· Saddam's Long Shadow (Newsweek)
· Iraq Criticises Saudi Plan to Raise Oil Output (Reuters)
· Kuwait Tells Iraq Deal with Saudi not its Concern (Reuters)
· Report: Russia Helped Iraq Foil U.S. Patrols (Moscow Times)
· Iran Claims Iraq Responsible for Recent "Terrorist" Attacks (AFP)
· Iraq Takes Measures to Solve Housing Problem (Reuters)
· Iraq, Indonesia in Trade Talks (BBC)

· Robert Fisk: The Voices of Protest Find an Unexpected Audience in the US,
Independent, 14 July '00

'Even in the United States it is sometimes possible to hear the unvarnished
truth about the Middle East'

Just after Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, made the
commencement address at the University of California at Berkeley last month,
a Palestinian student medallist, who had been invited to respond to the
address, put aside the speech that she had prepared - a speech that had
already been officially approved by the university - and decided, in her own
words, to "talk from my heart".

Fadia Rafeedie is a courageous lady. In just a few short, eloquent
paragraphs, she accused Albright - introduced to the audience as "the
greatest woman of our times" - of lying by omission, of responsibility via
UN sanctions for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi
civilians, of failing to tell her audience that it was an American company
that had supplied Saddam Hussein with his chemical weapons and the CIA that
had earlier funded him. To the horror of the university authorities, who
thought they had control of her address, Fadia Rafeedie even mentioned the
unmentionable: that US-made depleted uranium munitions fired by the
Americans in the 1991 Gulf war may be destroying the lives of thousands more

At almost the same time, on the other side of the US, a former Israeli
soldier, James Ron, was baring his soul in the normally very pro-Israeli
pages of the Boston Globe. As a member of a supposedly "élite" Israeli
paratroop unit operating in Lebanon in 1986, he wrote, he dragged a
blindfolded middle-aged man into an alley and put him through a mock
execution. He helped to ransack and pillage a Lebanese village. He watched
his comrade kick a cup of scalding tea into the face of an old man. Then he
put his rifle against the head of a 10-year-old Lebanese boy and put him,
too, through a mock execution. "Let me begin", he wrote, "by asking
forgiveness from the 10-year old whose name I never knew and from the
village I no longer remember."

Two brave voices in a conformist land - one Palestinian, one Israeli -
demonstrate that even in the US, it's sometimes possible to hear the
unvarnished truth about the Middle East. I've railed against America's
sheep-like subservience to the "moderate", pro-Israeli rules laid down by
the State Department and CNN so often that I could scarcely believe what I
was reading when Rafeedie's address and Ron's article arrived in Beirut. And
you won't have read their words anywhere else. Real news is no longer news
in the West, where only the clichéd peace-process-vs-terrorist-fanatics
version of the Arab-Israeli conflict finds its way into print.

So it's worth studying these two astonishing contributions to the truth. In
Rafeedie's case, her words were an act of faith. Several of her student
colleagues - protesting at Albright's claim that UN sanctions against Iraq
were necessary - had been hauled from the lecture theatre. "When [those]
protesters were protesting," Rafeedie told the students listening to her,
"it's not because they wanted to pick a fight with the woman whom you guys
all happen - well, many of you - happen to love. She was introduced as the
'greatest woman of our times'. Now see, to me that's an insult. This woman
is doing horrible things. She's allowing innocent people to suffer and to
die. Iraq used to be the country in the Arab world that had the best medical
services for its people, and now look at it. It's being obliterated."

Sharp lady that she is, Rafeedie spotted the need to disassociate herself
from Saddam. "He's a brutal dictator and I agree with her [Albright], and I
agree with many of you. We need to see who's responsible for how strong
Saddam has gotten. When he was gassing the Kurds, he was gassing them using
chemical weapons that were manufactured in Rochester, New York. And when he
was fighting a long and protracted war with Iran, where one million people
died, it was the CIA that was funding him."

Rafeedie was talking to people who would never have agreed with her. "I'm
speaking to a crowd that gave a standing ovation to the woman who typifies
everything against which I stand... and I think that if I achieve nothing
else, if this makes you think a little bit about Iraq, think a little bit
about US policy, I've succeeded." Some hope. But Rafeedie ended her
extraordinary speech with an Arab slogan: "Fear not the path of the truth
because of the lack of people walking on it."

Mr Ron was making a somewhat different point: that Israel will have to do
more than just withdraw its soldiers from southern Lebanon if it is to be
forgiven for what it did there. Such as the 10-year-old boy. "We forced his
family into the kitchen and dragged him to a nearby orchard," he wrote. "My
lieutenant pressed the child's face into the dirt while I jammed my rifle
against his skull. Although the officer threatened to shoot his head off,
the boy did not respond, even after we threatened to throw him from the roof
of his three-storey home."

When Ron expressed "reservations" about this - a somewhat mild word under
the circumstances - he was ridiculed. "Casual brutality was not limited to
lower-income [Israeli] recruits. Omri, child of an intelligence officer,
liked to fire bursts towards villagers peeking through doorways. Rafi, son
of a liberal parliamentarian, kicked a cup of hot tea into an elderly man's

Ron recalled the civilian fatalities of Israel's invasions of Lebanon -
almost 20,000 - and asked why Israel could not compensate those it had
harmed. "If Israel will not do so on its own, the international community
should pressure it to do so. If other countries can face up to their
unpleasant pasts" - Ron mentioned El Salvador and South Africa - "why not

Brave voices, as I said. Have no doubts - these are the voices of decent,
genuinely moral people. Of course, it has to be said that Rafeedie was a bit
braver than Ron. Her chances of academic progress are not going to be
improved by her outburst at the awful Madeleine Albright. Ron, I should add,
is an Israeli, an assistant professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins
University and a human-rights investigator. No one is going to disturb his
academic tenure. And 14 years is, frankly, a long time to wait before
spilling the beans.

But no, the real question is much simpler: why aren't non-Jewish and
non-Arab Americans saying these things? Why aren't "ordinary" Americans -
ie, those without a stake in the Middle East - asking these questions?
Indeed, if the Boston Globe's own journalists had reported what Ron told the
paper's readers, their dispatches would have remained unpublished. Rafeedie
and Ron should take a bow: a Palestinian and an Israeli didn't worry that
they were the only people walking down the path of truth. But why does it
take such courage in America to tell the truth about the Middle East?

· Saddam Tones Down Rhetoric, BBC, 17 July '00

By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

The Iraqi president has given what observers describe as a low-key speech to
mark the 32nd anniversary of the revolution that brought his Ba'ath Party to

In the speech - broadcast live on state television - Saddam Hussein said
that under Ba'ath rule the Iraqi nation would achieve victory and evil doers
would be defeated.

But he made no direct mention of Iraq's long-running confrontation with the
West, or of nearly a decade of United Nations sanctions.

The tone of the address contrasts with the defiance of previous speeches to
mark the anniversary of Iraq's 1968 revolution against the monarchy.


Last year, the Iraqi leader praised his people for resisting what he called
abortive attempts by successive American administrations to bring them down.

In 1998, he used the occasion to say that international sanctions against
Iraq were beginning to crumble and would soon be completely eroded.

This time, almost a decade since his invasion of Kuwait - which led to the
embargo - there was no direct reference either to the sanctions, or to the

Dressed in a dark suit and tie and standing in front of an elaborate flower
arrangement, Saddam Hussein spoke in abstract, almost philosophical terms.

He said the Ba'ath revolution had been like "the smile of a baby, the prayer
of a hermit and rain falling on parched land".


The revolution had transformed Iraq from a wasteland, he added.

But he made no mention of the terrible suffering that 10 years of sanctions
have inflicted on his people.

Nor did he refer to Iraq's relations with the UN Security Council.

Baghdad has rejected a UN resolution that could ease sanctions if it allows
weapons inspectors back into the country.

· New Low for Sanctions-Hit Oil Traders, BBC, 17 July '00

By Chris Morris on the Turkish-Iraqi border

Even though United Nations sanctions were imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War
in 1991, trade across the Iraqi-Turkish border has never ground to a
complete halt.

In fact, the border trade, technically illegal, has become a crucial source
of income in south-east Turkey, which suffered economic devastation during
15 years of conflict between the Turkish army and Kurdish rebels.

The war in the south-east has all but come to an end.

Now the border trade is dying as well.

Until a few months ago, drivers bringing oil across the border from Iraq
could sell it to anyone.

But now a strict quota has been imposed, and the trade regulated.

The new restrictions have left many drivers wondering how to earn a living.

"We used to go across the border every month," says one driver, Omer Simsek.

"Now it's once every two months. No-one can afford it, no-one is happy."


The south-east is emerging cautiously from the long conflict between the
Turkish state and the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK.

Peace is gradually returning but unemployment is sky-high.

There is still a lot of resentment and a lot of hanging around on street

There is also a blanket of security, in a region still governed by a state
of emergency.

In this area of the borderlands, the main source of income used to be
farming - raising sheep and cattle. Thousands of villages were evacuated by
the army during the PKK conflict.

Farming has declined dramatically. The oil trade now dominates the local

That is why the current loss of business is such a worry.

In the nearby town of Cizre, they are bringing in the chairs for a meeting
with the local member of parliament.

Everyone has a theory about why the restrictions have been introduced.

Many like Salih Yildrim, a Motherland Party Member of Parliament, believe
nationalists in the government do not want to give too much money to this
mainly Kurdish region.

"We have to produce alternatives if we're going to restrict the only source
of income the people have," he says.

Bitter reaction

"Don't forget that this region has lost up to $40bn in trade because of the
UN embargo on Iraq."

No-one cares about breaking the embargo. This region cannot survive without
massive economic help.

If even a limited border trade is lost, Kamil Ilhan of the Sirnal Chamber of
Commerce says that there will be a bitter reaction.

"We can't go back to the old ways," he says.

"And if we're not careful we'll turn our lorry parks into graveyards."

Some of the new restrictions may be eased, but people will still be earning
less money than before.

If the state wants to win back the trust of the south-east, it will have to
mount a rapid economic offensive.

People are looking for answers.

· Ten Years of Sanctions Against Iraq Have "Completely Failed": von Sponeck,
AFP, 18 April '00

NICOSIA -- A decade of sanctions against Iraq has "completely failed," and a
new approach is called for, the former UN humanitarian aid coordinator to
Iraq, Hans von Sponeck, told AFP in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Von Sponeck, who resigned from his post in February to protest at the
continuing sanctions, said the Iraqi experience had shown that "sanctions
have completely failed in a dictatorship environment."

"We have to give an another approach a chance and be honest. We have to sit
with the Iraqis at the same table," said von Sponeck, who was taking part in
a closed-door three-day conference here on the future of Iraq organised by
the Centre for World Dialogue and attended by about 30 international
researchers and experts.

"The unthinkable is not so unthinkable now and we have to break this Berlin
wall between Iraq and the rest of the world," von Sponeck said.

"Being against the sanctions does not mean to be for Saddam Hussein," he

He said the UN "oil for food" deal was not working. Under the deal,
introduced at the end of 1996, Iraq is allowed to sell limited quantities of
oil in order to purchase essential goods under UN supervision.

Describing the situation for civilians in Iraq as critical, he listed the
diseases -- diarrhoea, respiratory problems and malnutrition -- from which
Iraqis, and especially children, are suffering.

Iraqis who had grown up under sanctions belong to a "refrigerator
generation," he said, adding: "We'll never be able to give them back what
they lost all these years."

· Iraq Brags of Biological Weapons to 'Deal with Zionist Entity', Jerusalem
Post, 18 July '00

By Etgar Lefkovits

JERUSALEM -- Former UNSCOM executive director Richard Butler said yesterday
that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz had told him his country has
biological weapons "to deal with the 'Zionist entity.' "

Butler said he fears that Aziz's comment, made in a meeting while Butler was
still involved in the disarmament effort in Iraq, is a statement of
"genocidal character."

Speaking at a lecture in Jerusalem sponsored by the Jerusalem Center for
Public Affairs, Butler said that, two years after Iraq kicked out the UN
monitoring agency, Iraq is back in the business of making weapons of mass
destruction, and that only a united Security Council can prevent Iraq from
producing biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.

The regime, now "awash with money," will only be spurred to produce more
weapons following Iran's successful launching of a long-range missile on
Saturday, Butler said.

But it was "from day one" that Saddam decided to refuse to obey the laws,
said Butler, currently a diplomat in residence at the Council for Foreign
Relations in the US. "Either the Iraqis' declarations were false, phony, or
filled with deceptions and evasions," he said.

Faced with political pressure from Russia to "lower his standards" and a
crumbling Security Council consensus, Butler drew up a list of disarmament
requirements for the Iraqis to bring an end to the sanctions.

He asked them to account for 500 tons of fuel used to make Scud missiles, to
list the quantity of mustard shells as well as the amount of VX nerve gas
they had, and most important to reveal what types of biological weapons they
were producing.

Despite the assurances that he received from Aziz, whom Butler terms the
"minister for disarmament resistance," Iraq refused to comply with any of
the conditions, and expelled Butler's group in August 1998.

"They refused to comply with my list because it was right. The things I was
asking for were precisely the weapons that if we got hold of, Iraq would be
disarmed, and they did not want to be," he said.

The new organization that took over after UNSCOM was expelled established
six months ago after nearly a year of UN deliberations six months ago has
still never set foot in Iraq, and is undergoing training in New York about
Iraq's "cultural sensitivities," he said.

Calling Iraq's flaunting of the UN Security Council, with Russia's backing,
a "crisis in global security," Butler said Iraq is basically telling the
main authority of international law to "get lost."

The US, Butler argues, has not made it adequately clear to the Russians that
their behavior is incompatible with their relationship with the US.

"When the Security Council is not united, rogue states get away with
flaunting the law," he said.

The UN, which was set up in the wake of World War II, has a moral imperative
to act, he said. "I don't think we should wait for another catastrophe to
happen before making a change," Butler concluded.

Meanwhile Saddam Hussein marked the 32nd anniversary of the coup that
brought him to power yesterday, telling the Iraqi people they had defeated
the West and exhorting them to overcome UN sanctions.

In a live television and radio address, Saddam said the July 17, 1968
revolution had transformed Iraq from a "wasteland."

Newspapers carried color portraits of Saddam on their front pages and
praised the achievements of his Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party.

"The people and the nation achieve victory and the evil ones meet defeat,"
Saddam said.

In a clear reference to the US, he added: "And thus the free, exalted men
and women win victory over the invaders."

Saddam's address made no reference to Iraq's relations with the UN Security
Council and UN inspections of Baghdad's prohibited weapons.

· Weekly Update for the Period 8 to 14 July 2000, United Nations, 18 July '

During the period 8 to 14 July Iraq exported 15.3 million barrels of oil for
revenue estimated around $378 million. The revenue generated from the
beginning of phase VIII on 9 June is now estimated at around $1.502 billion.
Since the inception of the programme on 10 December 1996, Iraq has exported
more than 1.891 billion barrels with a value of more than $30.5 billion.

Last week the Security Council's 661 Committee approved 27 new contracts for
the sale of Iraqi oil under phase VIII. This brings the total of approved
contracts to 68 with a volume of nearly 318 million barrels (194.121 million
Basrah Light and 124.466 million Kirkuk).

Since the accelerated procedures for the approval of contracts for
humanitarian supplies for Iraq came into force on 1 March 2000, the Office
of the Iraq Programme (OIP) has notified the 661 Committee of 551
applications, worth $1.112 billion. These contracts are for items on the
lists approved by the Committee in the food, health, education and
agriculture sectors.

Over the past week OIP has received two contracts deemed to include possible
dual-use items affected by the provisions of resolution 1051 (1996). The
total of applications under this category in phases IV through VII is now

The 661 Committee has approved $7.081 billion dollars worth of contracts for
humanitarian supplies in phases IV to VII and put $1.219 billion on hold for
the same period. In phases IV to VII, OIP has received a total of 2,798
contracts worth $1.560 billion for the supply of oil industry spare parts
and equipment. Of these contracts, the 661 Committee has approved 1,910
worth $982.3 million and put 489, worth $275.8 million, on hold. The total
value of contracts on hold in all sectors is now around $1.495 billion.

Humanitarian supplies and equipment for the oil industry continued to arrive
normally during this period through the three land border points and at the
Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.
Arrivals included: 38,980 tonnes of wheat, 68,822 tonnes of rice, 8,059
tonnes of cooking oil, 2,028 tonnes of pulses, more than 6,068 tonnes of
detergents, plus a range of medicines and pharmaceutical products. Other
arrivals included school furniture, tractors, tires, and water pumps and
power station equipment.

· Butler: Iraq Could Have Nukes in a Year, Jerusalem Post, 19 July '00

By Nina Gilbert

Iraq could have nuclear capabilities within a year of obtaining the raw
materials it is missing to complete its program, according to former UNSCOM
director Richard Butler.

Butler, who was hosted by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
yesterday, also said that Iraq already has biological and chemical weapons.
Iraq has 16 warheads loaded with Anthrax, he added.

Butler believes the Iraqis will try to obtain the missing materials on the
black market. If they can be obtained, he said, Iraq can complete its
nuclear program within a year.

Butler's weapons monitoring group was expelled from Iraq in August 1998.

Iraq showed its nuclear program to UNSCOM, and at the time it was within six
months of completing it. Butler noted that Iraq does not lack the scientific
and technological knowledge for producing nuclear weapons.

He also told the committee that Iraq has production facilities for
150-km.-range missiles, allowed under a decision of the Security Council.
However, he said they are making every effort to expand the range of the
missiles and are producing engines that are suited for this.

According to Butler, Iraq refused to give any information to the inspection
teams about the missile engine production that could send the missiles as
far as 650 km.

He believes that Iraq's successful Shihab-3 test will result in Iraq
boosting its missile program.

Moreover, Butler said he has received information that Iraq has rebuilt its
factories for the production of chemical weapons that were destroyed in the
Gulf War.

· Disarmament Dispute in Iraq, Washington Post, 19 July '00

Delmar, N.Y.
The writer is a former UNSCOM weapons inspector.

In his July 17 op-ed column about Saddam Hussein re-arming, Richard Butler
said that in my article in the June issue of Arms Control Today I claimed
that Iraq is "qualitatively disarmed" without offering new evidence to
support my position. In fact, I quoted from five U.N. arms inspection agency
documents and referenced events in which I was involved to support my

Mr. Butler also said that my position regarding Iraq's qualitative
disarmament has been shaped by conversations with "unspecified Iraqi
officials." I have articulated this position since late 1998 through
numerous public speaking engagements and the publication of a book as well
as in opinion pieces in the New York Times, Boston Globe and The Post.

My position regarding Iraq's disarmament status is no about-face, but a
careful assessment based upon an examination of all the facts I was privy to
during my time with UNSCOM, the U.N. inspection team.

Mr. Butler further misrepresented my interaction with the Iraqi officials.
My article noted that Iraq almost certainly would cooperate with an
inspection team if the disarmament program was specifically linked to the
lifting of economic sanctions upon a finding of compliance. At no time did
Iraq try to sell me on the concept of "qualitative disarmament;" it is
strictly my own position.

The missile tests cited by Mr. Butler, all of which reportedly failed, tend
to reflect the reality that Iraq has not had any quantum leaps in the 18
months since weapons inspectors were last in Iraq.

Mr. Butler also cited U.S. assertions that Iraq continues to possess 20 to
30 Scud missiles. This figure is without substance. Since 1991, I had been
struggling with U.S. intelligence over Scud numbers and watched as the
figure shrank from more than 200 to "around a dozen" without any
corresponding analysis. UNSCOM never supported a figure of more than eight,
and even that number was speculation.

· Iranian 'Tollgates' Cash in On Iraqi Oil Smuggling, Christian Science
Monitor, 20 July '00

· Iran's recent policy change is expected to net Saddam Hussein $1 billion.

Scott Peterson
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor


Iran's flip-flopping "policy" toward Iraqi oil smuggling - in violation of
United Nations sanctions - is proving enigmatic even in diplomatic circles.

American officials say that after two months of strictly enforcing the UN
embargo, Iran's Revolutionary Guards are now allowing, for pay, scores of
sanction-busters to use Iranian waters to evade American and other craft
monitoring the area.

"Nobody really knows who is in charge," says Mohammad Hadi Semati, a
political scientist at the University of Tehran. "Like everything else in
Iran, it is cat and mouse. It may have nothing to do with strategic
gamesmanship, but a lot to do with [local] political games. It is part of
the bizarre chaos of Iran's political process."

The UN is permitting Iraq to sell about $17 billion in oil this year and use
the proceeds to buy humanitarian goods, including food and medicine.

The illegal trade - which also uses northern land routes to US-ally Turkey -
is considered by Western diplomats to be Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's
personal cash stream that could net him up to $1 billion this year, and pay
for everything from luxuries for loyal cronies to rebuilding weapons of mass

US policymakers heralded Iran's April crackdown on oil smugglers. At the
time, it was seen as a carefully calibrated response to a March gesture by
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright easing restrictions on Iranian
carpets, caviar, and pistachios.

The clampdown also occurred shortly after the US State Department leaked
details of how Iraq was spending millions from these oil earnings on
building a new military base east of Baghdad for thousands of heavily armed
opponents of the Iranian regime, the Mujahideen e-Khalq.

Iran has many good reasons for stopping the flow, analysts say, though some
hard-line elements like the Revolutionary Guard corps also have very good
reasons for keeping it going.

But, as with most other political issues in the Islamic Republic, the power
struggle between the popular, reformist President Mohamad Khatami and
right-wing clerics is most likely in play.

Analysts point out that Mr. Khatami ordered a halt to the oil smuggling soon
after assuming office in 1997, but hard-liners, who control the Guards
corps, rekindled it shortly thereafter.

Diplomatic sources say that the Iraqis are selling oil at $15 to $16 per
barrel, of which $5 to $6 per barrel is paid to cooperating Iranian forces.

Khatami has made clear that he wants to clean up Iran's reputation for
terrorism and abide by international law. Early on, he also sent powerful
signals that Iran wanted to break down the "wall of mistrust" that stood
between Tehran and Washington.

"Certain people are afraid of Iran opening to the US, because it could
undermine their power," says a senior Western diplomat in Tehran. "So this
could be part of the internal quarrel. Khatami doesn't need the American
opening now for popular support."

And there may be less-direct reasons at play, such as Iranian anger over the
strident US policy of shutting Iran completely out of a future Caspian oil
pipeline. Washington has vowed to fund a vastly expensive line, which few in
the petroleum industry say is economically feasible, to skirt Iran.

"This could be a move by Iran to tell the Americans: 'We can do it, to
counter what you are doing in the Caspian,' just to show that they can mess
up the US strategy in the Gulf," says Mr. Semati.

Among other issues, the US policy toward Saddam Hussein has its share of

"There is a real constituency in Iran that believes the US does not want to
get rid of Saddam Hussein, and that the US wants him to have this income,"
Semati says. "If the Americans know about it, why don't they stop it?"

Even though Iran and Iraq waged the bloodiest Mideast war in the 1980s -
killing and wounding more than 1 million people - some calculate that
earning a profit with an old foe makes more sense than complying with the UN
Security Council.

"The US has wanted to push the Security Council to condemn Iran," says a
senior Western diplomat in Tehran, noting the inconsistency. "We don't
contest Iranian complicity, but other countries like the UAE [United Arab
Emirates] play a fruitful part. Don't choose just one [to condemn] - that is
more part of the US game on Iran."

· UN Says Sanctions Kill Some 500,000 Iraqi Children, Reuters, 21 July '00

BAGHDAD -- A senior U.N. official said Friday about half a million children
under the age of 5 have died in Iraq since the imposition of U.N. sanctions
10 years ago.

Anupama Rao Singh, country director for the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF),
made the estimate in an interview with Reuters.

``In absolute terms we estimate that perhaps about half a million children
under 5 years of age have died, who ordinarily would not have died had the
decline in mortality that was prevalent over the 70s and the 80s continued
through the 90s,'' she said.

A UNICEF survey published in August showed the mortality rate among Iraqi
children under 5 had more than doubled in the government-controlled south
and center of Iraq during the sanctions.

Baghdad said the UNICEF survey proved that the sanctions were killing
thousands of children every month and called for an immediate end to the

Rao Sigh blamed malnutrition for the high mortality rate among children.

``Nutrition was not a public health problem in Iraq in the 80s. It emerged
as a major problem in the 90s and it increased steadily till about 1996,''
Singh said.

She said since the start of the U.N. oil-for-food program, malnutrition
rates among children had stabilized, but death rates remained extremely

``One in four children below 5 suffers from some form of malnutrition or
other and most of them are chronically malnourished,'' Rao Singh said.

Sanctions were imposed on Iraq as punishment for its 1990 invasion of
Kuwait, although the United Nations has allowed Iraq to sell oil to buy
food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies.

Rao Singh said the sanctions also have affected the quality of education,
with many children forced to leave schools to hustle a living on the

``There has been a drop in enrollment, an increase in drop- outs ...
children working, children in the street -- all of which, we believe, is
going to affect the quality of human resources that Iraq will have in the
future,'' she said.

According to Rao Singh, the sanctions have caused massive impoverishment
except for a small proportion of the elite. ``The majority of middle class
people in Iraq, for instance, now find themselves having to do all sorts of
mean and insecure jobs to survive,'' she said.

· Putin Could Visit Iraq, says Aide to Ultra-Nationalist Zhirinovsky, AFP,
21 July '00

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing a possible visit to
Iraq, an aide to ultra-nationalist parliament deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky
told AFP on Friday.

Alexei Mitrofanov, a senior figure in Zhirinovsky's LDPR party which has
close ties with President Saddam Hussein, said Putin would discuss the idea
at a meeting next week with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz in

"This question is being looked at but things are still at a very delicate
stage," Mitrofanov said in a telephone interview.

"We are seeking to play a role in this. President Putin's meeting with Tareq
Aziz will be very important. During this meeting, important steps could be
taken in terms of preparations for a possible visit by Putin to Iraq," he

Contacted by AFP, the Kremlin said it could not comment on the issue.

The Zhirinovsky aide said that visiting Baghdad would give Putin a
privileged insight into Saddam Hussein.

"If this takes place, Putin will get a unique opportunity to have direct
contact with Saddam Hussein, as all other leaders, from Europe and the
United States, rely on rumours," he said.

Putin this week paid a landmark two-day visit to North Korea, meeting the
Stalinist state's reclusive leader Kim Jong-Il, whose contact with foreign
leaders has been limited to a visit to China and last month's summit with
South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung.

Russia and Iraq had much to discuss about their bilateral relations, said

Top of the agenda would be Russian exploitation of Iraq oil fields,
cooperation under the oil-for-food programme that allows Baghdad to export
oil in return for humanitarian supplies and the lifting of UN sanctions
against Iraq.

Russia, as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, is
a strong supporter of a lifting of sanctions, which have been in force ever
since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Zhirinovsky is a frequent visitor to Baghdad, and has consistently advocated
strengthening relations between Russia and the Soviet Union's traditional
ally in the Middle East alongside Syria.

· Iraq Denies U.S. Claim on Missing Kuwaitis, Reuters, 22 July '00

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's parliament on Saturday rejected a U.S. claim that Baghdad
was still holding Kuwaitis missing since the 1991 Gulf War.

The speaker of parliament, Saadoun Hammadi, said in a letter to the U.S.
Congress that Iraq is no longer holding Kuwaitis or anyone else as prisoners
of war.

"Iraq had released all Kuwaitis and other prisoners of war under the
auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after the
(Gulf War) cease fire in 1991," Hammadi said in the letter carried by the
Iraqi News Agency.

He denied claims that Iraq was impeding the work of a committee formed soon
after the Gulf War to discuss the fate of the missing in action.

Kuwait says that about 605 people -- including 550 Kuwaitis -- have been
reported missing since the 1990 Iraqi occupation of the emirate.

Baghdad says that Kuwait has withheld information on the fate of 1,150
missing Iraqis.

Iraq has been boycotting a committee determining the fate of the missing,
objecting to the participation of the United States, Britain and France.

"Iraq has announced time and again readiness to resume participation in the
meetings of the tripartite committee to clarify the fate of missing
Kuwaitis, Iraqis and other nationalities on condition the meetings are not
attended by countries that have no missing persons," Hammadi said.

The U.N. Security Council says that accounting for the missing is one of the
conditions Iraq must meet before it will lift sanctions imposed after its
invasion of Kuwait.

Iraq has always maintained its forces took no prisoners from Kuwait when
they were forced out by U.S.-led multinational forces.

· Iraq Aims to Hike Oil Output Capacity to Six Million bpd "with Own Means",
AFP, 22 July '00

BAGHDAD -- Iraq said Saturday it aims to double oil output capacity to six
million barrels per day (bpd) "by its own means" if foreign companies opt
out because of UN sanctions.

"Iraq is determined to raise production capacity, by its own means, even if
it does not sign accords with foreign companies to develop oilfields," an
Iraqi oil official said, quoted by the state news agency INA.

"More than 33" foreign oil companies are in negotiation with Iraq, which has
been under sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, over its plans to
raise output to six million bpd, said the unnamed official, who gave no

Calling in effect for international oil companies to ignore the embargo, he
urged those "who want to participate with Iraq in developing its oilfields
not to miss this opportunity".

Iraq has been exporting crude since December 1996 to finance imports of
essential goods under a deal agreed with the United Nations. Its normal
exports run to 2.5 million bpd, with some 500,000 bpd set aside for domestic

Baghdad has said it plans to raise capacity to 3.5 million bpd by the end of
2000 and estimates it needs 30 billion dollars in investments to develop its
war-battered oil sector.

· Saddam's Tanks Set for Attack on Kurds, Sunday Times, 23 July '00

Marie Colvin

SIX Iraqi infantry and mechanised army divisions are poised on the edge of
Kurdistan, awaiting President Saddam Hussein's order to strike in a blow
that would challenge America's pledge to protect the Kurds.

The Iraqi attack plan, entitled Operation al-Khassas al-Adel (Justice), is
aimed at capturing Suleimaniya, a large Kurdish city, and two dams that
supply water to central Iraq.

The plan was disclosed by an Iraqi military intelligence source who recently
defected. He said it entailed three divisions of infantry, accompanied by
three armoured divisions, driving north from three separate locations and
sweeping towards Suleimaniya, headquarters of the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Jalal Talabani.

Tanks and armoured personnel carriers had been moved into place south of
Chamchamal, Kufri and Kallar. A total of 800 tanks and armoured personnel
carriers (APCs) had joined the infantry divisions, each numbering 12,000
men, with Republican Guard divisions in reserve.

The soldiers involved in Operation Justice, headed by General Ibrahim Abdel
Satar, chief of staff of the army, and overseen by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri,
the Iraqi vice-president, are said to have been moved into place in the past
few weeks.

The aim is to recapture territory Iraq lost in an uprising that followed the
1991 Gulf war.

Saddam also wants to seize the dams of Dukan and Darbandikhan. Central Iraq
and Baghdad are short of water and the president believes the Kurds are
cutting off their supply. Kurds deny the charge and say the shortages are
due to a lack of snow last winter.

The Iraqi operation would mirror its August 1996 invasion of Kurdistan, when
Saddam's troops swept north to Irbil and destroyed the headquarters of the
opposition Iraqi National Congress, killing hundreds of supporters. CIA
agents escaped just ahead of the Iraqi columns, leaving files which Saddam
used to track down and murder their associates.

As well as wanting to regain control of the area, Saddam is said to be
intent on punishing the PUK for an attack in Baghdad in May, in which he
believes the group assisted Iran. Eight rockets were launched on the
presidential palace complex, probably the most closely guarded area in Iraq.

So furious was Saddam at the attack, which caused little damage but dented
his aura of invulnerability, that he recalled Brigadier-General Mizher
Rashid al-Turfah from a military intelligence posting in Iran to lambast him
for failing to uncover the infiltration. Al-Turfah has been kept in Baghdad
since, and Saddam has increased the surveillance of other officers by
military intelligence units.

There is little to stop Saddam's move on Kurdistan. Against his 72,000 men
and 800 tanks and APCs, the PUK has about 30,000 soldiers armed only with
Kalashnikovs and a few anti-tank missiles.

In an attempt to head off the Iraqi operation, Talabani has sent messages to
Saddam denying any role in the attack on the presidential palace.

An attack by Iraq would pose a challenge for the Americans, whose planes
patrol two "no-fly zones" in Iraq. One, north of the 36th parallel, was set
up to protect the Kurdish population. A second, south of the 32nd parallel,
was established to protect the largely Shi'ite population.

Both areas suffered severely when Saddam turned his forces on them after
rebels took control of 14 provinces during the 1991 uprising.

The area of Suleimaniya, however, is just below the 36th parallel. Saddam's
drive north would not therefore break the letter of the ceasefire agreement.
Kurdish sources said observers had seen troop movements and feared that an
invasion could be imminent.

The Iraqi source said Saddam believed the Americans, whose planes patrol the
northern no-fly zone supported by 18 British aircraft, would not have the
will to fight. The Arab world has relaxed sanctions against Iraq, the United
Nations security council enforcing them is divided and the American
presidential campaign is heating up.

One Iraqi general who knows Saddam well said the president would believe the
Americans could do little against him. "What can they do from the air?" said
General Wafiq Samarra'i. "Hit his radar? Anti-aircraft installations? They
are doing that anyway."

The Iraqi threat comes as the American government, facing criticism at home
that its Iraqi policy is in tatters, has become involved again with a
rejuvenated Iraqi opposition.

At a recent meeting in London, the Iraqi National Congress elected a new
leadership. The group is forging ahead with plans to try to re- establish a
presence in northern Iraq, possibly setting up a humanitarian operation to
feed the poor and win sympathy within the country.

Only links provided for the following reports:

· Report: Russia Helped Iraq Foil U.S. Patrols, Moscow Times, 18 July '00

· Kuwait Tells Iraq Deal with Saudi not its Concern, Reuters, 19 July '00

· Iran Claims Iraq Responsible for Recent "Terrorist" Attacks, AFP, 19 July

· Iraq Takes Measures to Solve Housing Problem, Reuters, 19 July '00

· Iraq, Indonesia in Trade Talks, BBC, 19 July '00

· Iraq Criticises Saudi Plan to Raise Oil Output, Reuters, 23 July '00

· Saddam's Long Shadow, Newsweek, 31 July '00

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