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Stratfor.com's WorldView - 20 November 2000 _________________________________________________ Stratfor.com introduces new, expanded analysis for readers seeking more insight on the entire range of global affairs. Our new site features more intelligence on more subjects, easier navigation and expanded coverage. Coming soon: Subscribers will soon receive our new Monday morning analysis, the Global Economic Forecast, by e-mail. And later this month, we launch the e-mail Daily Intelligence Report, summarizing the day's coverage -- exclusively for Stratfor.com subscribers. http://www.stratfor.com/COMPANY/subscribepromo.asp _________________________________________________ Meanwhile, Back in Iraq By George Friedman Buried deep in the American subconscious lurks the specter of a 10- year old war. American aircraft still fly daily combat air patrols and conduct air strikes. U.S. Navy ships still ply the water and nearby, ground forces remain at the ready. The ongoing U.S. and British action against Iraq remains the ultimate in low intensity conflict. It is not so much a forgotten war as one whose goal is unattainable. Neither the destruction of Saddam Hussein nor the restoration of an arms inspection regime is now possible. Last week, the Russians helped make these military operations meaningless. In a new drive, the Putin government is signaling that it will help the Iraqi government put a formal end to a decade of UN economic sanctions. By doing so, the Russians aim to halt the U.S. and British patrols and gain for themselves billions of dollars by developing Iraq's western oil fields. Ten years after the defeat of Iraq in the Gulf War, the United States continues to conduct a Persian Gulf policy on autopilot, despite the fact that the policy is programmed to go nowhere. A decade ago, the United Nations imposed an embargo on Iraq. The British and Americans imposed no-fly zones in the north and south of the country, flying nearly constant air operations. Saddam did not fall. So the goal shifted to preventing him from developing weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations sent inspection teams to Iraq to look for facilities suspected of making biological and chemical weapons, as well as long-range missiles. Saddam systematically thwarted the effort. And the inspection regime failed. __________________________________________________________________ Subscribe today to our expanded global coverage! http://www.stratfor.com/COMPANY/subscribepromo.asp _____________________________________________________________ As a result, the sanctions against Iraq have not only failed they have been repeatedly and deliberately violated for months but their last vestige of believability has been shattered. Everyone from the French to the Syrians has quite publicly violated the sanctions in some way. The United States has responded by pretending that the violations weren't violations. But the American strategy of pretending just became much more difficult. Last Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov visited Baghdad. He carried with him a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The letter called for an end to U.S. and British air strikes against Iraqi targets. The letter also declared, the Russian leadership's firm intention to obtain a rapid political settlement to the Iraqi problem, including the lifting of sanctions against Iraq. In an interview with Al-Djazira television reported by Interfax, Ivanov stated, "It is necessary to work out steps that would provide for the carrying out of UN Security Council resolutions concerning Iraq and guarantee reliable control over banned military programs." The Russian foreign minister also called for a UN dialogue on the subject but said that the talks are in deadlock and implied that Iraqis are not the ones responsible for the delay. The Russians are working hard to strengthen ties with Iraq and in the process will strain relations with the United States. A Russian airline, Vnukovo, is going to begin regular service to Baghdad, although it will be labeled as a special charter. A group of Russian scientists recently visited Baghdad to protest sanctions. However, this has as much to do with oil as it does with global power politics. In a memorandum to UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, Ivanov noted that sanctions against Iraq have cost Russia $30 billion over the past decade. Ivanov got this number from Yuri Shafranik, who leads the committee for Russian cooperation with Iraq and is a director of the Russian Central Fuel Company. Russian firms are in danger of losing access to Iraq's vast western oil fields and now the Russian government is using foreign policy as a lever in this struggle. Recently, Amer Rasheed, Iraq's oil minister, threatened to cancel a contract with Russia's giant Lukoil to develop the Kurna oil field in western Iraq, one of the largest in the world. The Russians say it has the potential to produce 200 million tons of oil. The Iraqis complained that the Russians have done nothing to develop the field; the Russians countered that the sanctions make that impossible. The Iraqis agree and appear to have made a quid pro quo quite clear: If the Russians will get rid of the sanctions, the Iraqis will give them the keys to the western oil fields. The Russian government has a lot to lose in Iraq, and little to lose in challenging the Americans at the United Nations. This is a perfect marriage between geopolitical interests and economic ones. It's important to understand that this is not just talk. The Russians want to develop the oil fields. The Iraqis will pull the contract if they don't do so. Therefore, the Russian government will engineer a fig leaf solution to weapons inspections, helping the UN create a regime that is wholly ineffective. This will allow Moscow to claim that Iraq has met the conditions for ending the sanctions. Although the British and the Americans will object, they will run into serious problems at the Security Council. Both the Chinese and the French will buy into a pseudo-inspection system. As important, the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation has increased anti- Americanism throughout the Arab world. Recent events will make the American position harder to maintain. While in Baghdad, the Russian delegation insisted that it had no geopolitical interests in the region. Ironically, the leader of the delegation of Russian scientists was the director of the country's geopolitical institute. Pure coincidence, of course. _______________________________________________ SUBSCRIBE to our new service. Just go to http://www.stratfor.com/subscribe.html _______________________________________________ (c) 2000 Stratfor, Inc. _______________________________________________ SUBSCRIBE to the free, daily Global Intelligence Update. Click on http://www.stratfor.com/home/giu/subscribe.asp UNSUBSCRIBE by clicking on http://www.stratfor.com/home/giu/unsub.asp _______________________________________________ Stratfor.com 504 Lavaca, Suite 1100 Austin, TX 78701 Phone: 512-583-5000 Fax: 512-583-5025 Internet: http://www.stratfor.com/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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://www.casi.org.uk