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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 mailboxes! I wish everyone at CASI, at Cambridge and elsewhere, all the best. Best regards, Hathal ________________________________________________________ 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 Post · 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 (AFP) · Iraq Brags of Biological Weapons to 'Deal with Zionist Entity' (Jerusalem Post) · 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 Monitor) · New Low for Sanctions-Hit Oil Traders (BBC) · Robert Fisk: The Voices of Protest Find an Unexpected Audience in the US (Independent) · 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" (AFP) 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 http://www.independent.co.uk/argument/Commentators/fisk140700.shtml '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 Iraqis. 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 face." 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 Israel?" 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 http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle%5Feast/newsid%5F837000/8 37865.stm 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 power. 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. Resistance 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 West. 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". Transformed 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 http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle%5Feast/newsid%5F838000/8 38100.stm 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." Sky-high 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 corners. 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 economy. 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 added. 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 http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2000/07/18/News/News.9758.html 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 ' 00 http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/latest/wu000718.htm 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 150. 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 http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2000/07/19/News/News.9817.html 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 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3215-2000Jul18.html SCOTT RITTER 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 analysis. 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 http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2000/07/20/p7s1.htm · Iran's recent policy change is expected to net Saddam Hussein $1 billion. Scott Peterson Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor TEHRAN, IRAN 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 destruction. 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 critics. "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 http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000721/ts/iraq_children_dc_1.html 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 embargo. 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 high. ``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 streets. ``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 Moscow. "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 added. 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 Mitrofanov. 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 http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/07/22/iraq.kuwait.missing.reut/index.htm l 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 timeframe. 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 use. 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 http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2000/07/23/stifgnmid02002.html 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 http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2000/07/18/002.html · Kuwait Tells Iraq Deal with Saudi not its Concern, Reuters, 19 July '00 http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20000719_557.html · Iran Claims Iraq Responsible for Recent "Terrorist" Attacks, AFP, 19 July '00 http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/world/afp/article.html?s=singapore/h eadlines/000719/world/afp/Iran_claims_Iraq_responsible_for_recent__terrorist __attacks.html · Iraq Takes Measures to Solve Housing Problem, Reuters, 19 July '00 http://www.gulf-news.co.ae/19072000/GULF/gulf2.htm · Iraq, Indonesia in Trade Talks, BBC, 19 July '00 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/asia-pacific/newsid_842000/842163.stm · Iraq Criticises Saudi Plan to Raise Oil Output, Reuters, 23 July '00 http://www.brecorder.com/story/S00DD/SDG23/SDG23183.htm · Saddam's Long Shadow, Newsweek, 31 July '00 http://www.msnbc.com/news/436596.asp -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi