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NEWS SUPP 2027/8/00 (SEE NEWS 2027/8/00) * [British] arms build-up 'breached anti-nuclear treaty' (The Observer) * Stop the bombing: we must find a better way to deal with Iraq (Guardian leader) * Watch over Iraq: Thankless and dangerous, but in no sense pointless (Times leader) * Bombing of Iraq 'a threat to peace' (Letters to The Times) * Afghans welcome arms embargo, not economic sanctions: UN (Times of India) * Labour ditches ethical arms trade bill (Guardian) * Perfecting the art of evasion: Russians aren't the only ones who have been telling lies (Guardian) * Is Iraq planning to nuke U.S.? (Christian Broadcasting Network) * What is the UN doing about Iraq? (Chicago Tribune editorial) * The collapse of the Iraqi war machine: Ten years after the Gulf War, what was once the world's fourth largest army remains incapable of protecting its own territory. (The Ottawa Citizen) http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4053532,00.html * ARMS BUILD-UP 'BREACHED ANTI-NUCLEAR TREATY by Antony Barnett, public affairs editor (The Observer, Sunday August 20, 2000) Britain has covertly built up its nuclear arsenal in what anti-nuclear campaigners claim is a clear breach of its obligations under international peace treaties. An official government report obtained by The Observer details how since 1978 British governments have made more than 500 transfers of 'civilian' nuclear material to the Ministry of Defence. In 1968 Britain was one of 62 countries which signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which was aimed at stopping such transfers. Nations with nuclear weapons, such as the UK and the United States, have led international criticism of other countries for trying to develop atomic bombs by using nuclear material from civilian sources. The imposition of international inspectors on Iraq was based on alleged breaches of the NPT. The report, released by the Department of Trade and Industry, describes how in 1992 five tons of low-enriched uranium from British Nuclear Fuels' Capenhurst reactor in Cheshire was used to produce tritium, an important component of nuclear weapons manufactured at Aldermaston in Berkshire. In 1983 almost 100 tons of low-enriched uranium from Capenhurst was used for nuclear weapons material. The report also gives details of a previously undisclosed incident in 1986 when more than 800 grams of weapons-grade plutonium from BNFL's nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield in Cumbria was 'inadvertently' sent to another reactor. In addition large amounts of depleted uranium from civilian reactors were used for conventional military purposes in making depleted uranium shells and armour for tanks. Dr David Lowry, an environment consultant who has campaigned for years for the information to be released, said: 'It appears to be a case of one rule for us and another for other countries.' A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman denied Britain had been guilty of any such breach. http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4053556,00.html * STOP THE BOMBING: WE MUST FIND A BETTER WAY TO DEAL WITH IRAQ (Guardian Leader, August 21, 2000): Without fanfare Britain and the United States have resumed their bombing of Iraq. Whether or not the official Iraqi reports that the latest attacks killed civilians are true, the bombing is unnecessary and reckless. After long debate the United Nations passed a resolution many months ago setting up a new inspection system designed mainly to check Iraqi progress in dismantling its weapons of mass destruction and the potential to re-create them. The inspectors have recruited their team and will soon be ready to visit Baghdad. Although Iraq has not yet said it will accept them, for some weeks it has not repeated its statements rejecting the resolution that set up the inspection team. There is therefore an opportunity that could make it easier for the team to start work. Air attacks on Iraq at this moment cannot help the climate. To claim, as the United States and Britain do, that they contain no political message and are merely a technically triggered reaction to the fact that Iraqi defences have locked on to the planes is disingenuous. The aircraft that patrol the two no-fly zones over Iraq are under political control and Washington and London could easily reduce the number of flights. Britain and the United States should also take more seriously the questions which the Iraqis have raised about the new inspectors. When the council authorised the team, the aim was to find a quicker way of achieving compliance and ending the international sanctions, which have dragged on for almost 10 years. It is true that the sanctions have been eased but they are still in force and doing serious harm to ordinary people, though very little to the regime. Iraq wants to know whether there is a finite term in sight if it cooperates with the inspectors or whether it is entering another tunnel in which objections will constantly be raised. The American presidential election complicates the matter since neither candidate wants to appear weak. But the Iraqi bogy has fortunately lost much of its resonance in American politics and there is no reason why sensitive diplomacy at the United Nations should suddenly explode into a campaign issue. Rather than sending warplanes over Iraq the United States and Britain should be sending signals to their UN missions to urge the secretary-general to answer Iraq's legitimate questions. http://www.sunday-times.co.uk:80/news/pages/tim/2000/08/22/timopnedt01003.ht ml * WATCH OVER IRAQ Thankless and dangerous, but in no sense pointless (The Times, leading article, 22 August) Saddam Hussein is a terrible strategist, but an adept at tactics and political manipulation. Ever the loser parading as the victor, he set out his "58 great lessons of war" earlier this month, in one of his set-piece broadcast tirades. Had he, ten years ago, obeyed one of his own dictums - "Do not provoke a snake before you summon up the ability to cut off its head" - he would have waited to invade Kuwait until Iraq had the nuclear capability that he was and is intent on developing. Equally, had the West, which had the ability to do so, cut Iraq's lines of retreat in the Gulf War endgame in 1991, it might not still be in the dreary business of containing this dangerous and duplicitous dictator. The occasion of the Saddam broadcast was the twelfth anniversary of the end of the Iraq-Iran War. But he uttered not a word about Iran, instead denouncing Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as "traitors" to the Arab cause. These are the two countries that provide local bases for the British and American patrols which, since 1992, have been patrolling the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. They have made these facilities available for the good reason that Saddam remains a threat to their security. But the policy is not popular in the streets of the Middle East; and Saddam is intent on exploiting that. His anxiety to be rid of the patrols is not hard to understand. Ten years after Iraq invaded Kuwait, they are the only remaining form of direct military pressure on his hideous regime. It has become fashionable in Western Europe to deride this strategy, saying that it has become as pointless as it is undoubtedly expensive, thankless and dangerous. The critics are wrong. The aerial watch on Iraq has admittedly been almost powerless to fulfil part of its original purpose, the protection of the persecuted Shia and Marsh Arab communities in southern Iraq, although in the north it has deterred Saddam from resuming his extermination of Iraq's Kurds. But if the patrols did not put him under real pressure, Saddam would not be so anxious to see the back of them. His forces, as we report today, have locked onto patrolling aircraft with surface-to air missiles or artillery no fewer than 434 times between October 1999 and June this year. Such bombing as has continued has been in riposte, to remove the sources of threat. To Iraqis, the aircraft are visible evidence of Saddam's isolation in defeat. But they serve not just a symbolic but a solid military purpose (and not only as a valuable form of live-fire training). Since Saddam defied the UN and expelled its weapons inspectors in 1998, these patrols are the closest to direct surveillance of Iraq's renewed military build-up, both of its conventional forces and of weapons of mass destruction, that the West now gets. This intelligence is vital. Saddam's regime is circumventing UN sanctions with increasing success and using the profits not only to buy loyalty in the Republican Guard and the loathsome Iraqi secret police, but to rebuild key portions of Iraq's former ballistic missile production capability. That includes the al-Haytham complex destroyed in 1998 in Operation Desert Fox. Iraq has flight tested a new ballistic missile, the al-Samoud. It is just within the range that Iraq is permitted by the UN to possess; but the technology could easily be adapted for long-range missiles. In addition, the al-Samoud could carry chemical or biological warheads, which Iraq, according to reliable intelligence, is again secretly developing. This all underlines that while Saddam is in power, Iraq - which still has not even relinquished all claim to Kuwait, as the UN ceasefire resolution requires, or released Kuwaiti captives and looted property - will continue to be a threat to regional and ultimately to international stability. That must not be forgotten by critics of the air watch over Iraq. It costs Britain £48 million a year, and the US much more. The outlay is heavy; but it is more than justified by the menace Iraq continues to present. http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/2000/08/24/x-timopnolt01003.htm l * BOMBING OF IRAQ 'A THREAT TO PEACE' (Letters to The Times, August 24) >From Dr B. M. Al-Chalabi Sir, To suggest that Iraq is a threat to regional stability and ultimately to international stability (leading article, August 22; see also letter, August 5) does not change the fact that the British and American flights over Iraq have debatable international legal authority and British support for them is therefore wrong, especially within the context of Robin Cook's ethical foreign policy. No one seriously believes that Iraq, tired and weak after ten years of sanctions and disarmament, can threaten international stability. Perhaps you should look more closely at the real threats that can destabilise the region, such as the disintegration of Iraq with the continual US/UK bombings, not to mention Israel's nuclear weapons and Iran's weapons of mass destruction. Kind regards, BURHAN M. AL-CHALABI, 11 Queen's Gate, SW7 5EL. email@example.com August 22. >From Mr Jon Holbrook Sir, Operation Desert Storm, followed by nine years of international sanctions and regular bombings, has turned Iraq into a wasteland. Whatever fanciful plans Saddam may (or may not) hold the truth of his actual military capability is revealed by your own statistics (report, August 22). Between October 1999 and June this year British and American aircraft have dropped bombs on Iraqi air defence and other radar facilities 141 times. Although Iraqi forces have fired at foreign aircraft 427 times not a single one has been damaged. There is no contest between the military machines of Iraq and the West. The danger to peace and stability in the region comes not from Saddam's imagination but from the imaginations of Western strategists who substitute present fact with future fiction. Yours faithfully, JON HOLBROOK, 204 Lambeth Road, SE1 7JY. firstname.lastname@example.org August 22. http://www.timesofindia.com/230800/23nbrs3.htm * AFGHANS WELCOME ARMS EMBARGO, NOT ECONOMIC SANCTIONS: UN (Times of India, 23 August ) ISLAMABAD: The people of Afghanistan are "highly vulnerable" to further economic sanctions but would welcome an arms embargo to limit the civil war, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan said most Afghans felt an arms embargo would "command widespread support and moral authority" but any more economic curbs would only inflame their sense of victimisation. "As noted by many, UN restrictions on the transfer of weapons would avoid the humanitarian contradictions that are associated with economic measures," the office said in a report on the impact of UN sanctions imposed in November. "The population of Afghanistan is highly vulnerable and has little capacity to cope with any further economic shocks." The report would appear to bring the UN one step closer to announcing an arms embargo against the country which has been ravaged by one war or another for more than 20 years. Financial and aviation sanctions were imposed on the ruling Taliban militia last year after it refused to hand over suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden to the United States for trial. Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi exile who lives under Taliban protection in Afghanistan, is accused of plotting the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania which killed more than 200 people. On the second anniversary of the bombings earlier this month, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Washington had been "exploring further United Nations measures against the Taliban." "These could include a travel ban on Taliban members, the closing of Taliban representative offices and an arms embargo. These kind of measures are under discussion with other members of the Security Council," he said. Russia and the United States in June agreed to cooperate more closely on the alleged terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan, which is blamed for training Islamic militants to fight in places like Chechnya and Kashmir. The UN has also expressed frustration after renewed fighting broke out in June despite repeated appeals for both sides to seek a peaceful solution. UN special envoy to Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell has recently told journalists he believes the Taliban are responsible for the latest outbreak of fighting, a claim vehemently denied by Kabul. The Taliban seized Kabul in 1996 and control most of the country, except for pockets of resistance from opposition forces loyal to ousted president Burhanuddin Rabbani. The UN report said the sanctions imposed in November, including a freeze on Taliban offshore assets and a ban on international flights by the national airline, "came on top of a devastating drought and large-scale population displacement." "Almost all households without an able-bodied male are vulnerable and rely on food aid, children's work and begging to survive," it said. It said the sanctions had "magnified the extent to which ordinary Afghans feel isolated and victimised" and noted the violent reaction against UN staff in Kabul after they were imposed. The Taliban earlier this month warned that more sanctions would spark a global Islamic backlash and destroy any chance for negotiations over bin Laden. "Muslims, as a united body, will come to the conclusion that America, Russia and the UN are confronting Islam," Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal said. He said there was no evidence against bin Laden and that his protection from the Taliban was as "Islamic policy with no room for amendments." http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4054382,00.html * LABOUR DITCHES ETHICAL ARMS TRADE BILL (Guardian, Wednesday August 23, 2000) Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor Robin Cook's ethical foreign policy has suffered a severe setback after his bill to regulate the arms trade failed to secure a place in the government's autumn legislative programme. Labour will be open to accusations of hypocrisy by going into the general election without having implemented the recommendations on arms brokering made by Sir Richard Scott, who conducted the inquiry into the arms-to-Iraq affair. The Foreign Office had been keen to put through the legislation to send a positive signal to counter criticism it has faced over dubious arms sales to countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. The revelation that the measure has not been included in the Queen's Speech is an embarrassment to Mr Cook, who made his parliamentary reputation in opposition by hounding the then Conservative government in 1996 over the arms-to-Iraq affair. Over the last few months, Mr Cook and the trade and industry secretary, Stephen Byers, fought hard in private Whitehall meetings for parliamentary time for the arms bill. They were backed by the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon. But they were overruled on the ministerial committee that decides what bills should be included in November's speech. The arms bill, which had already been drafted by the Department of Trade and Industry, would have forced Britons involved in the export of arms to be licensed. At present, the trade is governed by loose legislation introduced in 1939. The US and other countries within the European Union, such as Germany and Sweden, license companies selling arms abroad. Licences are withheld from dealers regarded as dubious. Spokesmen for the Foreign Office and the Department of Trade yesterday stuck to the standard government formula when asked about the Queen's Speech, saying they could not anticipate its contents. But Whitehall sources close to the ministerial negotiations confirmed the bill had dropped off the list. "The bill is dead," one said. As the Queen's Speech is almost certainly the last before the general election, Labour is designing one that will have electoral appeal, devoted to health, education and crime. The arms industry is not regarded as a vote-winner. Expectations that the bill would be in the Queen's Speech were raised in February when Department of Trade officials were given the go-ahead to begin drafting, which normally guarantees a slot. A white paper on strategic export controls had first been published by the Department of Trade in 1998. This proposed "to control the involvement of persons in the UK or UK persons abroad in trafficking and brokering in arms and other controlled goods to any country subject to an embargo". Those breaking the proposed law would be subject to criminal charges. The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell, said last night: "Labour promised much in opposition when it reaped the dividend of Tory cynicism over arms-to-Iraq. To fail to make the necessary changes in legislation in the course of a parliament hardly suggests the kind of commitment to change for which Labour argued when the Scott report was published." Kevin Mullen, a spokesman for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, expressed disappointment: "Tough controls are required to stop UK nationals profiting from conflict hot spots. If the government fails to act, it will be yet another disappointing episode on this issue, considering their promises to control illicit arms sales and their posturing on the problem of blood diamonds." The Foreign Office has led a campaign this year to restrict the sale of diamonds from Sierra Leone, Angola and the Congo that contribute to their civil wars. Paul Eavis, director of Saferworld, another campaign group, said: "It is outrageous that the government is not bringing forward legislation to tackle the problems caused by arms brokers and shipping agents." In the last year, Mr Cook has been overruled several times by Tony Blair, who came down in favour of Mr Byers and Mr Hoon in allowing contentious arms sales. But Mr Byers was an enthusiast for this bill. To a lesser extent, so was Mr Hoon. http://search.ft.com/search/multi/globalarchive.jsp?docId=000823001460&query =Iraq&resultsShown=20&resultsToRequest=100 * THE GUARDIAN: PERFECTING THE ART OF EVASION: RUSSIANS AREN'T THE ONLY ONES WHO HAVE BEEN TELLING LIES (The Guardian, Aug 23, 2000) Before the current crowing over Moscow's untruths and public relations blunders about the Kursk submarine disaster strays into a hubristic never-never land, a little sober reflection on Britain's own record of official lying is necessary. Twelve days of deceit and cack-handed public relations from the Russian authorities have certainly fuelled popular anger about the Murmansk tragedy, while western commentators have blamed the legacy of Soviet secrecy. But it was only last week that British claims about the scale of Serb killings in Kosovo were shown to be false. The death toll was likely to be less than 3,000, war crimes investigators revealed, rather than the 10,000-plus insisted on by the Foreign Office at the time. That followed the leaked internal Ministry of Defence report that most British bombs dropped on Yugoslavia missed their targets, contrary to earlier boasts of devastating accuracy. And last month Lord Gilbert, defence minister during the Kosovo war, told the House of Commons that the Rambouillet terms offered to Serb leaders had been 'absolutely intolerable" and designed to provoke war, a proposition ridiculed by the British government last year. Throughout the past decade, official Anglo-American lies about Iraq have been two-a-penny. During the Gulf war it was said that the al-Amiriya bomb shelter in Baghdad, where hundreds of civilians were incinerated, had been a military command centre; that the pulverised Biladi baby milk factory was really a biological weapons plant; and that Iraqi soliders in Kuwait had ejected babies from hospital incubators. All these tales were later accepted as untrue. More recently, there was Robin Cook's fictitious story, repeatedly used to shore up Labour support for the Desert Fox bombing campaign against Iraq 18 months ago, that a 16-year-old Iraqi boy had been incarcerated since the age of five for throwing stones at a portrait of Saddam Hussein. In general, however, British officialdom prefer to avoid what they call 'direct lies' wherever possible. Their speciality is the partial disclosure designed to disguise or obscure a larger truth. 'Half the picture can be true,' Robin Butler, the then cabinet secretary, told the Scott arms-to-Iraq inquiry. Whitehall's attitude was immortalised by Robert Armstrong, Butler's predecessor, as being 'economical with the truth". A textbook case was the presentation of Margaret Thatcher's decision to sink the Belgrano during the 1982 Falklands war when the Argentine cruiser was outside Britain's exclusion zone and sailing away from the islands. It took two years to force Thatcher to admit the damag ing truth about when the Belgrano was first sighted. Nuclear accidents are a prime target for mendacity and cover-ups - as highlighted by the case of the British nuclear submarine, HMS Tireless, damaged earlier this year and now moored off Gibraltar. The Gibraltar government says that it was initially given the impression by the Ministry of Defence that there was 'no risk at all' in repairing it in the Rock's harbour. It was later told the risk was 'modest'. The MoD says it cannot disclose its full safety report for security reasons. Tony Benn, former energy secretary, said in parliament recently that he had never been told the truth by the nuclear industry - and only found out about the 1957 fire and fallout at Windscale (now Sellafield) years later on a visit to Japan. The scale of the Windscale incident was not officially acknowledged until 1986, the year Chernobyl took over the dubious accolade of the world's worst nuclear accident. For nearly 40 years, the MoD maintained the fiction that there had never been a nuclear weapons accident in Britain. It was only in 1996 that the government admitted that it had lied. There had been been an accident at RAF Wittering in 1959 involving 'serious damage' to a 2,000lb nuclear bomb which fell out of an aircraft and a serious fire on a loaded nuclear bomber at the US Air Force base at Greenham Common in 1957. It has also taken bitterly resisted public inquiries to expose the truth about Britain's secret supply of arms-related equipment to Saddam Hussein in the 80s and - although the full truth has yet to emerge - the shooting of 14 unarmed demonstrators by British soldiers on Bloody Sunday in Derry in January 1972. Such cases emphasise the effectiveness and sophistication of British official deceit: born of centuries of diplomatic evasion and a need-to-know culture of secrecy. For all the relative success of its political propaganda, the Soviet Union relied where possible on silence to deal with Kursk style disasters. In ramshackle post-communist Russia, that is no longer possible, but the Kremlin still lacks the more practised evasions perfected in the west. Is the problem really not that the Russians have lied, but that they haven't yet learned to lie well? http://www.cbn.com/Newsstand/stories/000821a.asp?y * IS IRAQ PLANNING TO NUKE U.S.? (Christian Broadcasting Network. Associated with Pat Robertson. August 21, 2000) by Dale Hurd Ten years ago this month, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. To most Americans, Saddam is a has-been, old news. But the Iraqi dictator may be planning a 10th anniversary gift of sorts for America and the world -- an Iraqi nuclear bomb. We don't know for sure because there are no longer any weapons inspectors in Iraq, but some experts believe Hussein's scientists are nearing completion on one or more nuclear bombs. "I think he's very close," says Shyam Bhatia. Bhatia was an Iraq correspondent for the Guardian newspaper and is co-author of Brighter Than the Baghdad Sun. "If you can think of the nuclear bomb as a gun and a bullet, then Saddam has assembled the gun, right?" he says. "He's tested the barrel; he's pressed the trigger; he has even used dummy bullets. Everything works. The only thing he lacks is the live ammunition. And if he gets that live ammunition, another word for plutonium or weapons-grade uranium, he will have the bomb." "There's good reason to believe Saddam has all the actual components he needs for one of three nuclear weapons," comments Stephen Dolley. Dolley is Research Director at the Nuclear Control Institute. "It takes very little of this material to make a nuclear weapon effective," he says. "An amount of plutonium the size of a small grapefruit would be enough to make a nuclear weapon, and you don't need that much more highly enriched uranium. I mean, someone could literally put it in a large briefcase and carry it over the border." Ambassador Richard Butler was Chairman of the United Nations weapons Inspection program in Iraq and had the impossible task of trying to stand up to Saddam's regime without enough support from the world community. "We faced massive resistance," notes Butler. "We tried to fight it, and we failed." Butler is author of The Greatest Threat. He says 10 years after Saddam's defeat and the subsequent sanctions, the Iraqi dictator is still a man on a mission. "He deeply believes that the Arab world needs a leader, and he obviously thinks he's the prime candidate for that," Butler adds. "For that purpose, he believes he needs to be the most muscular guy on the block." Our knowledge of Hussein's weapons program is only fragmentary, but satellite images show past locations for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. Is work going on at these sites? Saddam Hussein is a past master at hiding his production capabilities, so it's hard for experts to tell. We know that a facility at Doura was outfitted to produce botulin. And the Tuwaitha Nuclear Facility was used to separate out plutonium for weapons use. It's been bombed considerably. "The time frame for Saddam to get a nuclear weapon depends on what he has to do to get the fissile material," says Dolley. "Once the plutonium or HEU is in hand, assuming they already have the components, and there's reason to believe they do, it could be done in a matter of weeks or maybe even days." Some believe Saddam might be waiting to unveil a bomb until he has an effective missile to carry it. Last month it was learned that Saddam has kicked his missile program into high gear. Last week, the London Times reported that Iraq is secretly negotiating with Russian companies to set up a factory to make navigational components for long-range ballistic missiles. Meanwhile, international support for sanctions against Iraq has crumbled even further. Five hundred thousand Iraqi children are believed to have died because of chronic malnutrition and inadequate medical care. Saddam uses as much as $42 million a month from oil smuggling to build presidential palaces and weapons of mass destruction. There have been rumors that the 63-year-old leader has cancer, but such rumors seem fueled by wishful thinking. Saddam's position seems to be stronger than ever. The coalition once aligned against him has fallen apart, and he knows it. Ten years after the United Nations imposed sanctions against Iraq, it is again preparing to send weapons inspectors to Baghdad. But no one knows whether the inspectors will be allowed in. "When it comes to the point where the UN inspectors ask, under the resolution passed last December, to go back into Iraq and hunt for weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein will most likely say, ŒYou and what army?¹" says Dolley. "There's no army to back that up. There is really no support for military action on the Security Council. Three out of five of the permanent members, France, Russia and China, not only would support military action, but they want the sanctions lifted now." Butler believes Saddam is, by no means, a has-been. He is a man the United States is going to have to confront again. "The existence of a person like Saddam, with his addiction to these weapons, means that as long as they're there, they will be used, either by a terrorist group or some other way," sums up Butler. "No one should sleep easily in their beds at night." http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/editorial/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV 0008240190,FF.html * WHAT IS THE UN DOING ABOUT IRAQ? (Chicago Tribune editorial, August 24, 2000) The United Nations' policy on Iraq is moving from feckless to quixotic. The UN has set up a new arms monitoring commission, in part to answer Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's complaints about the old one. Yet Hussein has already rejected allowing the new team into his country. That one was easy to predict. So what does the UN do now? The UN and the Clinton administration have already made very clear they will use military force to slap Hussein when he doesn't bend to their will, but won't use enough force to remove him. And Hussein's comfortable with that. Very comfortable with that. Meanwhile, Iraqi citizens are dying--more than 1 million so far, by UN estimates--as a direct or indirect result of the UN economic sanctions imposed on Iraq more than 10 years ago after Hussein invaded Kuwait. Yes, responsibility for those deaths falls on Hussein, who has refused to comply with UN resolutions ending the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which called for him to disarm and eliminate his weapons of mass destruction and to allow UN inspectors to verify that was done. But Hussein isn't suffering. Not even, obviously, from a guilty conscience. His grip on power has not been shaken by the embargo. In fact, he has cruelly allowed his people to suffer for his sins and tried to play members of the UN Security Council against one another, hoping he can wait them out. His strategy may be working. The UN has formed a new Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission to replace the old commission called UNSCOM, which Iraq had accused of being loaded with U.S. and British spies. The new panel has members from 19 nations, who are supposed to be more accountable to the UN and report directly to Secretary General Kofi Annan, not their home governments. The new team has finished training and may be ready by next week to go to Iraq, setting up a confrontation with Hussein when he refuses them entry. What then? The UN can't agree on an endgame. The Security Council is hopelessly divided even over the question of retaining economic sanctions. The U.S. and Britain favor keeping them in place. Russia, China and France want them eased. Let's face it, Hussein has called the UN's bluff. And the UN might want to stick with sanctions to save face, except innocent people are dying. It's time to end the economic sanctions and leave the arms embargo in place, making it plain to Hussein that if he ever threatens his neighbors again, America will respond with massive retaliation. And then America will have to be ready to do it. NO URL. Communicated by Nathaniel Hurd. * THE COLLAPSE OF THE IRAQI WAR MACHINE: Ten years after the Gulf War, what was once the world's fourth largest army remains incapable of protecting its own territory. (The Ottawa Citizen, August 24) SAMAWA, Southern Iraq - It was mid-morning when the air raid sirens sounded throughout the Samawa market square. At the governor's headquarters, several Iraqi soldiers in the courtyard stared skyward trying to spot any trace of approaching U.S. aircraft, while an anti-aircraft gunner atop the roof anxiously traversed his automatic weapon at the unseen foe. Several seconds later, the sound of jets high overhead indicated that this was no false alarm. Everyone grew tense, bracing for an imminent attack. When the sound of the aircraft engines faded and there were no explosions, the people in the market and the Iraqi soldiers who had been frozen in anticipation, quickly resumed their activities as though nothing had happened. Just one week earlier, U.S. and British bombers had pounded this same town of Samawa in two separate attacks. The Pentagon's explanation for those attacks claimed their jets were fired upon by Iraqi forces while they were patrolling the southern ''no-flight'' zone. (Ever since the Gulf War in 1991, the U.S. has imposed and enforced strict ''no-flight'' zones in the north of Iraq -- above the 36th parallel -- and in the south below the 35th parallel.) Lt.-Cmdr. Ernest Duplessis, a spokesman for the United States Central Command, which is responsible for the Persian Gulf, also claimed that the Samawa attack had destroyed a building ''used to store air defence equipment and weapons.''' However, my inspection of the actual bomb site did not substantiate either of the claims. Two large blackened craters mark the actual point of impact in an empty lot, some 300 metres in front of the train station. The shrapnel from these rockets damaged nearby houses, but caused only superficial damage to the warehouse. If this lightly damaged building was the U.S. jets' intended target (and it's the only facility even close to the impact area), then the Pentagon's initial intelligence reports were also faulty. A portion of the Samawa warehouse is now used as an administrative office for food distribution, while the remainder -- formerly an auto parts centre -- has long since been empty (as evidenced by the mounds of pigeon droppings heaped on the floor). In total, 19 civilians were injured in the Aug. 11 attack, and two of the warehouse employees were killed. In interviews with several of the surviving victims, all claim that there were no sirens and no anti-aircraft fire preceding the attack. The blasts came as a shock. ''I was just having a smoke break beside my car when there was a giant flash in front of me,'' explained Talib Lamir Sahib, a 56-year-old railway worker. ''The shock threw me to the ground about 20 feet away.'' Mr. Sahib received a 20- centimentre gash to his forehead from a piece of shrapnel when a second rocket exploded, even closer to him, just seconds later. Rad Hazal-Kareem, a 24-year-old security guard at the station, received injuries to his arms and wrists as a result of being blown out of his cot and onto the roadway. ''I was sound asleep at the time,'' he admitted sheepishly. Yet even if the Iraqi forces had fired at the U.S. planes, such a gesture would have been merely an act of defiant futility. With its air force either destroyed or still being held in limbo by the Iranian government (135 Iraqi fighter pilots flew their planes to what they believed was to be a safe haven during the Gulf War and remain there to this day), Iraq's only challenge to the ''no- flight'' patrols must come from its ground forces. The Iraqi air defences, which proved to be woefully inadequate and were heavily targeted during Operation Desert Storm 10 years ago, have been neither replaced nor modernized. In the no-fly zones, the majority of Iraq's anti-aircraft weapons consist of 23-millimetre automatic cannons and 145-millimetre heavy machine- guns. Around major military installations, these weapons are grouped together in four-gun batteries and directed by primitive radar units. However, most of the air defences consist simply of single cannons mounted atop the facility they are intended to protect. While neither the 23-mm or 145-mm guns are effective above 6,000 feet, the majority of the U.S. patrol flights -- like the bomb sorties launched against Yugoslavia in 1999 -- are flown between 15, 000 and 23,000 feet. The state-run press reports daily on the number of sorties flown against Iraq by the ''U.S. and British aggressors.'' These attacking jets are derogatorily referred to as ''ravens'' and the pilots as ''cowards,'' but even through the jingoistic bravado, the importance of the Iraqi air defence effort is readily apparent. ''Our brave soldiers chased away the hostile intruders'' is the common closing line for most of these articles, while any claim of downed U.S. aircraft is accompanied with the acknowledgement that the wreckage (i.e., proof) went down outside Iraq's borders. In the central region, which is unaffected by the ''no-fly'' patrols (between the 35th and 36th parallels), Saddam Hussein has retained the best of what little air defence he has left. Larger 35mm cannons, which are effective to 10,000 feet, and guided missile batteries are in evidence throughout Baghdad and surrounding the capital. Privately, Iraqi officials admit that even these heavier weapons are virtually useless against the U.S. warplanes. It is in this relatively secure central region that the remains of Saddam Hussein's armoured personnel carriers are housed in covered vehicle parks. Ten years ago they failed to put up any resistance against the U.S. coalition forces. Starved for spare parts due to the past decade of UN trade sanctions, the Iraqis have had to seriously curtail the use of their armoured vehicles. Roving army patrols now use civilian Toyota pickup trucks with a light machine-gun mounted above the cab, while armoured personnel carriers (APC) are often seen dug into sand berm perimeters established as permanent bunkers around military encampments. In travelling through the south of Iraq, the level of destruction levelled against the Iraqi forces during the bombing campaign in 1991 and the subsequent air strikes, is apparent. Every current Iraqi military facility now sits adjacent to its obliterated predecessor. Huge lots of twisted metal and destroyed vehicles remain as grim testimony to the havoc unleashed on them by the allied warplanes. Inside the rebuilt compounds, herds of sheep sleep under the canopies meant to house Iraq's once vaunted armoured regiments. With the best of Saddam Hussein's military hardware hidden away from U.S. air force patrol zones, the opposite is true for the calibre of soldiers deployed into these two regions. The Republican Guard and airborne units stationed in Basra and Samawa, for example, are far more martial in their demeanour than the rag- tag units that provide security around Baghdad's official buildings (with the exclusion of the elite military police units who patrol certain key intersections). All of the troops in the Iraqi Army are conscripted for a mandatory three-year term of national service, but those who desire more money ($15 a month instead of $10) and better food, can volunteer for more strenuous demands of serving in the Republican Guard. Even among these elite units, there is an evident shortage of basic equipment: Footwear is by no means standardized, with civilian leather shoes being the norm; body armour or flak jackets are non-existent; ammunition pouches are shared between on- and off-duty sentries; and the wooden stocks of personal weapons are badly scarred and worn. The officer corps remains the only ''professional'' element of the Iraqi army with all of their senior commanders having had some combat experience over the past twenty years of constant warfare. When the 1980-89 war with Iran was concluded, Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people celebrated it as a tremendous victory. As part of the same victory celebrations, Saddam Hussein staged a massive parade of military power through the streets of Baghdad. Unfortunately, these old images of massed tanks, over-flown by hundreds of fighter aircraft, serve only to illustrate how thoroughly Iraq's armed forces have been ravaged. What was once the fourth largest army in the world is now a shattered hulk, unable to defend its own territory and people from the ongoing air strikes. Scott Taylor is publisher of Esprit de Corps magazine. He is the author of several books and his most recent, INAT: Images of Serbia and the Kosovo Conflict,examined NATO's 1999 air campaign against Yugoslavia. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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