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IRAQI SUPPLEMENT, 17-24/12/00 [Article of reflection directly dealing with Iraq] * Grief-stricken Palestinians getting checks from Iraq * Iraqis reeling under sanction see glimmer of hope * Bush's Saddam test [Israeli view of Powell¹s remarks on sanctions. They are not reassured] * Bush Team Sets Ambitious Target in Iraq Policy [I include this in full because it gives a rundown of the views of a wide rangle of Œexperts¹ in the field] * Report: economic growth linked to Iraq, Mideast peace [extract] * Matthew Norman's 'turncoat competition' [on P.Hain] * Board Sees Stress As a Primary Cause of Gulf War Illnesses * No cover-ups on Gulf War Syndrome, panel says * Powell Reconsiders Sanctions on Iraq (5 years ago he wrote against them; now he'd make them tougher) ["The problem is that sanctions are most often imposed against regimes that have only their own interests and the retention of power at heart ... And since these leaders are still going to have a roof over their heads, food on their table and power in their hands, sanctions rarely work against them." Colin Powell, 1995] * The Anglican Church's voice in the Valleys [very short extract. The Archbishop of Wales¹ views on Iraq] URLs ONLY: http://www.vny.com/cf/News/upidetail.cfm?QID=146014 * Iraq would have preferred Gore by Hussein Hindawi http://www.latimes.com/wires/winternat/20001220/tCB00V0566.html * Powell Sees end to Saddam's Regime by George Gedda, Associated Press Writer Los Angeles Times, 20th December http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV 0012170396,FF.html * GRIEF-STRICKEN PALESTINIANS GETTING CHECKS FROM IRAQ by Hugh Dellios Chicago Tribune, December 17, 2000 ABU KASH, West Bank -- A winter cap pulled down to his brow, a look of profound grief on his face, Adnan Bayatneh stepped out into the cold to welcome his visitors. Only days before, the Palestinian waiter's son, Ramzi, was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers. The boy, 14, was Bayatneh's eldest son, a 9th grader with a sharp aim with a slingshot and hands so skilled that his father dreamed of building him his own mechanic shop someday. On this day, however, the grieving father's guests did not come just to mourn. Once inside, they said a prayer, put a poster of Saddam Hussein in Bayatneh's hands and gave him a $10,000 check from the Iraqi dictator, asking for his signature on a receipt before they left. "We come on behalf of Saddam Hussein to pay our cordial respects," said Rakad Salem, head of the delegation from the Iraq-backed Arab Liberation Front. "Despite the difficult conditions for Iraqis, they decided to support the families of the martyrs." The visits have been repeated at the homes of every Palestinian who died during the last 11 bloody weeks in the Mideast, all as part of Hussein's campaign to promote the Palestinian intifada and nurture his growing support among the Arab masses who want confrontation with Israel. What worries the Israelis and many Western diplomats is that it is working. Around the West Bank, posters of Hussein are carried in funeral processions, and his name is shouted by stone throwers inside Jerusalem's Al Aqsa compound. The grieving families, poor as most are, accept the money from Iraq with deep reservations, but many use part of it to pay for photographs of Hussein in local newspapers next to advertisements thanking him for his generosity. "Saddam knows what he is doing," said Zakaria Al Qaq, a political analyst with the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information. "When you ask the shabab [street youths] who is their hero, do they say [Yasser] Arafat? No. They say Saddam." Hussein's motive, analysts say, is to raise his profile as the one true pan-Arab leader and to further break down support for the United Nations economic sanctions and military no-fly zones that have crippled his country since the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Over the last several months, popular support for the intifada has increased pressure on moderate Arab leaders to disregard the 10-year-old sanctions. Jordan has been among several nations that have resumed commercial flights and other contacts with Baghdad, with or without UN approval. The Israelis accuse Hussein of using his money to cynically encourage Palestinian families to send their sons to die. They fear that what Hussein most wants is for the intifada to escalate into a full-fledged Israeli-Arab war, which would be the best way to assure his resurrection. "One of the things that worries Saddam most is the intifada dying out," said Amatzia Baram, an Iraq analyst at the Israeli National Defense College. "What Saddam has in mind is to speak to the Arab masses above the heads of their leaders, to force the leaders to be more active against Israel. If there is war, he knows that all the sanctions and all the no-fly zones are off." Al Qaq, the Palestinian analyst, says he believes Hussein's goal is not war but to force other Arab leaders to a summit where they could not resist popular demand to break the sanctions once and for all. The checks to the families of "martyrs" are not Hussein's only assistance to the Palestinians. Each wounded Palestinian gets $1,000 from Iraq, in addition to assistance for all victims from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other Palestinian groups. Last week, Hussein proposed that $900 million be given to the Palestinians from the special program through which the UN allows Iraq to sell oil in exchange for food and medicine. That assistance is supposed to go to the Iraqi people, who have suffered under the sanctions. Hussein also has opened Iraq's hospitals to wounded Palestinians, bringing them in on special flights. And he recently sent 68 Iraqi trucks to the border between Jordan and Israel to deliver food and medical supplies. This raises obvious questions about Hussein's priorities in alleviating his own people's suffering. "Can you imagine how many Iraqi families could live on $10,000 per year?" said Baram, the Israeli defense analyst. "I'm not so sure the Iraqi people are so happy about this, but I'm also sure that no one is going to protest." In the Ramallah area, the checks come from the small fifth-floor office of the tiny Arab Liberation Front, where posters of a smiling Hussein fill the plate-glass windows and a man with a Kalashnikov rifle stands guard on the landing. Next door is the office of the Palestinian Liberation Front. That is the party of Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Abbas, the man behind the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1986, who moves freely between his homes in Baghdad and Gaza since the 1993 Oslo peace accords. Salem, the Arab Liberation Front's general secretary, says his party is under the umbrella of Hussein's Iraqi Baath Party and that the money is simply an extension of Hussein's effort to promote unity throughout the Arab world. It also is reciprocity for Palestinian support during the gulf war, Salem said. A Palestinian who fled his village near Acco in 1948 and lived in exile in Baghdad, Salem said it is not the first time that Hussein has aided the Palestinians. During the Lebanese civil war, he often sent money to the PLO in times of crisis, though never checks to individual families. Salem said that, despite the applause from the masses, the Palestinian families do not always want the money. "A high number of the families asked us to take the money back, to give it to the Iraqi people," he said. "But we refused. It is the decision of Saddam Hussein and it's a donation. The amount for the martyrs is not a big amount." The money actually is a hefty sum for a Palestinian family, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, during winter and during a period when the Palestinian economy has nearly come to a halt behind Israeli army blockades. The Bayatnehs were alerted by telephone that the Baath leaders were coming, and a cousin searched all over Ramallah for an Iraqi flag to fly from a ladder. A line of family men with checkered headscarves and rough workmen's handshakes greeted the delegation in the yard. Yet Ramzi's father sat emotionless during the visit, his eyes downcast. One relative stood to read a statement of gratitude, but after the visitors left, the father slumped back in a chair with the check buried deep in his trouser pocket. "Maybe somebody needs this," said Bayatneh, 47, who has not been to his job at an East Jerusalem hotel since the fighting began in September. "I don't need it, because it comes this way. It is fire in my pocket." The dead boy's face peered out from two posters on the living room wall heralding him as a martyr, although the photos had been taken when he was far younger than 14. Ramzi, his father and cousins said, was a master at building things at his private school in Jericho. He hunted birds with his slingshots, but also kept some as pets in his room, along with a handsome dog named Rocky, who hasn't eaten since Ramzi failed to come home. "Before he died, I told him, `When you finish school, I will build you your own shop,'" Bayatneh said, brightening when the questions turned from the money to his son. "I told him when you work in your shop, I will sit with you and smoke the nargileh," a water pipe. Bayatneh said Ramzi always denied going to the clashes. Now he chooses not to ask how his son died, although the family can guess what happened in Ramallah, where hundreds of youths have confronted Israeli soldiers with stones and the soldiers are authorized to open fire on the ones that endanger them. "The truth is that Ramzi was the very best at the slingshot," said Abu Shakri Nasser, a second cousin. "He could hit a bird at 200 meters, and he used this expertise to fight the Israelis." http://www.economictimes.com/today/18worl09.htm [India] * IRAQIS REELING UNDER SANCTION SEE GLIMMER OF HOPE Economic Times (India), 18th December Baghdad (Reuters): Ali works 10-hours a day at a bakery shop in Baghdad where he earns $4 a month and a few loaves of bread to feed a wife and four children. Despite the odds, he makes it with the help of the government food rations. And despite the gloom around him he still finds room for optimism. "Things are looking up," he said. "There is hope that, God willing, things would start to improve and this embargo would be lifted soon." Ali¹s remarks are echoed by other average Iraqis in Baghdad ever since foreign states resumed flights, albeit mostly humanitarian, to Iraq since August after a 10-year break because of UN sanctions imposed on Baghdad after Iraq invaded Kuwait. "The flights mean the end of our isolation and show that despite what the United States says, the world is on our side," Hassan, a hotel employee, said. "Dawn might not be far away." Diplomats said that the flights had had little physical impact on Iraq but had given a huge boost to the morale of Iraqis. The UN Security Council was considering a formula to allow more regular flights to and from Baghdad. Iraqis are also seeing some improvements in their daily life. Electricity cuts, a regular feature of the past 10-years, have become less severe, drinking water and sewerage networks are being repaired and the capital is looking cleaner. An increase in revenues from unlimited oil sales under a humanitarian programme with the United Nations have helped the authorities to increase spending on the infrastructure. The Security Council lifted a year ago a ceiling on oil sales in the programme, first introduced late 1996. Iraq has sold oil worth around $17-billion this year. A third of that sum went to a compensation fund and to cover UN expenses while the remainder was allocated to buying food, medicines and other essential goods, such as spare parts for the oil industry and other infrastructure sectors. Iraq regularly complains that many contracts to buy goods under the programme are either blocked or delayed by the United States and Britain. Revitalised plans mean that the Iraqi government is distributing food rations to the 23 million population more efficiently under the supervision of the United Nations. "Things are better in general, but make no mistake there is a long, long way to go before any kind of normalcy is restored," a diplomat said. "The economy remains in ruins and the vast majority of people are way under the poverty line." He said that the health and educational sectors in particular were still major problems. Iraq, which agreed to an extention of the oil-for-food programme last week, said it had fulfilled all its obligations under Security Council resolutions and sanctions should be lifted. http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2000/12/18/Opinion/Editorial.17526.html * BUSH'S SADDAM TEST Jerusalem Post, December 18 It takes some reading between the lines, but sparks of the Republican critique of eight years of Clinton foreign policy can be discerned in George W. Bush's first statement about the world as president-elect. Words like "freedom," "democracy," "values," and "friends" suddenly have moved to center stage. The question is whether this subtle change in tone will reflect a real change in policy, particularly toward the Middle East. Upon introducing Colin Powell, his nominee to be secretary of state, Bush's first words to characterize his foreign policy were, "In word and deed we must be clear and consistent and confident that our values are real. And we must be true to our friends." Bush continued, "As president I will set our priorities and we will stand by them. If we do not set our own agenda, it will be set by others, potential adversaries or the crises of the moment... Our stand for human freedom is not an empty formality of diplomacy, but a founding and guiding principle of this great land. By promoting democracy we lay the foundation for a better and more stable world." All of these are fine and refreshing words, which could set the stage for a dramatic change in the US foreign policy of the last eight years, which was characterized by peacemaking efforts that enjoyed varying degrees of success, but passivity and vacillation in the face of simmering global threats. The decade of the 1990s, which was expected to see the advance of an unstoppable wave of freedom following the collapse of the Soviet bloc and America's victory in the Gulf War, has instead witnessed a range of unsavory dictatorships hanging on to power quite nicely. The most glaring example, of course, is Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. George Bush's father, or Colin Powell, for that matter, hardly expected Saddam to survive the utter defeat they dealt him. Today, however, Saddam not only has survived, but is practically unfettered by the sanctions regime that was supposed to have crushed his ability to produce weapons of mass destruction. The case of Iraq, then, is a good place to start in judging who will be "setting the agenda," as Bush puts it: the US or Saddam. Powell's opening salvo, in this respect, is not encouraging. On the one hand, in setting his tone regarding the world as a whole, Powell tracked his new boss's more muscular approach nicely: "We will stand strong with our friends and allies against those nations that pursue weapons of mass destruction, that practice terrorism. We will not be afraid of them, we will not be frightened by them. We will meet them, we will match them, we will contend with them." But when it came to the specific case of Iraq, Powell began to sound awfully like the people he was replacing: "We will work with our allies to reenergize the sanctions regime. And I will make the case in every opportunity I get that we're not doing this to hurt the Iraqi people... I think it is possible to reenergize those sanctions and to continue to contain him and then confront him, should that become necessary again." The UN sanctions regime at its height was unable to fulfill its mandate of discovering and destroying all of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Now that Saddam has succeeded in keeping out even a watered-down version of UNSCOM and the air embargo is leaking like a sieve, talk of "reinvigorating sanctions" is more akin to a wet noodle than a big stick. For a more realistic policy befitting the solid principles that he and Bush laid out, Powell need only look to Bush's own stable of foreign policy advisers. In a February 25, 1998 open letter to President Bill Clinton, senior Bush adviser Paul Wolfowitz and others urged recognition of a provisional government led by the Iraqi opposition, and assisting its offensive against Saddam "logistically and through other means." Another Bush adviser, former undersecretary of state Robert Zoellick, advocated helping the Iraqi opposition to "slowly taking away pieces of his territory" by extending the current US-policed "no-fly zone" to also include "no-drive" zones that would keep out Iraqi tanks. Powell, of all people, should understand that Saddam Hussein is not impressed by empty saber-rattling. Sitting back and waiting for Saddam to put up a sign stating "We have nuclear weapons" is precisely the reactive foreign policy that the Bush team claims to be rejecting. A lack of realism toward Saddam bodes ill for the Arab-Israeli peace process as well, since the forces of rejectionism will take their cue from how the US treats its most aggressive leader. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20001219/pl/bush_iraq_dc_1.html * BUSH TEAM SETS AMBITIOUS TARGET IN IRAQ POLICY by Jonathan Wright WASHINGTON (Reuters, 19th December) - With its pledge to restore the vigor of sanctions against Iraq, U.S. President-elect George W. Bush (news - web sites)'s team has set itself a challenging goal that it might live to regret, analysts said on Tuesday. But the pledge is open to differing interpretations, and some versions would offer concessions to win over countries like Russia and France, which are skeptical about the effectiveness and moral basis for the sanctions system. Secretary of State-designate Colin Powell (news - web sites), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, made the pledge on Saturday when Bush announced his appointment. He repeated the Clinton administration mantra that the sanctions, now in their 11th year, should remain as long as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein does not meet the cease-fire conditions imposed on Iraq at the end of the Gulf War in 1991. ``They (the Iraqis) have not yet fulfilled those agreements and my judgement is that sanctions in some form must be kept in place until they do so,'' Powell said. ``We will work with our allies to re-energize the sanctions regime.'' Coupled with Bush's remark in a campaign debate with Vice President Al Gore (news - web sites) on Oct. 11, that he wanted the sanctions to be tougher, Powell added to the impression that a Bush administration would try to tighten the screws on Iraq. Some Bush advisers, as well as Republicans in the U.S. Congress, have also openly advocated arming the Iraqi opposition in an attempt to overthrow the Iraqi leader -- a step that the Clinton administration carefully avoided. Some analysts said the Bush administration would be going down a blind alley if it seriously expected to restore the cohesion of the alliance which defeated Iraq in 1991 and to plug all the gaps breached since then in the sanctions. Against U.S. objections, a long list of countries have started flights into Baghdad. Iraq exports more and more oil outside the U.N. supervision system, through Turkey, Iranian territorial waters and now the pipeline to Syria. ``It is a reality that although the U.S. can try to buttress the sanctions, they are going to continue to erode and there will be steadily less effective control over the normal flow of imports and exports,'' said Anthony Cordesman, a military and Middle East specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. ``Tightening the sanctions is not in the realm of feasible realism. The idea also shows traces of unnecessary provocation,'' added Clovis Maksoud, director of the center for the Global South at American University. Ruth Wedgwood, a specialist on U.N. affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that in the long term it would not be possible to restore the integrity of the sanctions. ``Given the tenor of the U.N. Security Council -- unless they get a short spurt of goodwill -- but otherwise it's just a long and grinding decay,'' she said. But other analysts say there are steps the Bush administration can take to try to stop the erosion and put together a package that would win the support of U.S. allies. Cordesman said the United Nations (news - web sites) could impose restrictions on travel by Iraqi leaders and focus the embargo on ``dual use items'' -- goods that have both civilian and military uses. Meghan O'Sullivan, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the best approach would be to give up sanctions which do not work in exchange for allied support for those which do. ``They should bargain away what's not in place for what is in place, to show we are willing to play ball,'' she said. The United States could offer, for example, to let foreign oil companies invest in the Iraqi oil industry in return for a commitment that their governments would stick to the rules. In the case of Russia, the United States could offer to let it take Iraqi oil to pay down the huge military debt which Iraq owed to the Soviet Union, O'Sullivan added. ``It's open to question to what extent a proposal that has something in it for everyone can be cracked, but that should be one of the focuses of the new administration,'' she said. Guy Caruso, an oil specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it would be tough to restore the credibility of sanctions. ``But there are some things they can do to stop the salami tactics,'' he added. Caruso speculated that the Bush team might tell the U.S. Navy in the Gulf to intercept a tanker loaded with Iraqi oil for which the buyer has paid a covert surcharge. That would deter other companies tempted to go along with Iraq's surcharge proposal, which is designed to put more of the country's oil revenues outside U.N. control. Caruso said another idea would be for the U.S. air force to bomb one of the pumping stations along the Iraqi-Syrian oil pipeline, which appears to be carrying Iraqi oil. But Jon Alterman of the U.S. Institute of Peace said that ''smart sanctions'' may be just a grand way of saying ``sanctions other than the ones we have now'' and that the smartest sanctions would do little without smart implementation. Even if the Bush administration does try to work on a concerted Iraq policy with Europe and Russia, some countries would continue to try to ``push the envelope'' on sanctions. ``The Europeans only want to cooperate on the basis of the five percent possibility of Iraqi good behavior, not on the 95 percent possibility of Iraqi bad behavior,'' he added. The analysts dismissed proposals to overthrow Saddam through the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC). ``There's a universal feeling in the region that support for the INC and an overt effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein borders on the ridiculous. The INC is greeted with total contempt outside the Beltway (the Washington area),'' he said. ``But there are many true believers (in the Republican Party) who have never had much to do with Iraq so it would be foolish to assume it won't be tried,'' he added. http://www.wn.com/?action=display&article=4916790&template=worldnews/search. txt&index=recent * REPORT: ECONOMIC GROWTH LINKED TO IRAQ, MIDEAST PEACE UPI, Tue 19 Dec 2000 Western Asia's economy was predicted to improve through 2001, especially if the United Nations lifts sanctions on Iraq and the Middle East peace process makes progress, according to a report released Tuesday in Beirut by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. The energy sector will affect the economy and growth in the ESCWA region in 2001, along with developments surrounding the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq since 1990, progress in the Middle East peace process and implementation of economic reforms by ESCWA members. Scarcity of water and promotion of information and communication technologies also could play a role. The report said the oil sector in the region was expected to perform very well -- though not as well as in 2000. Although the region's oil production was projected to rise, the increase will be on a much smaller scale than in 2000. Moreover, the average price of OPEC crude oil was projected to be around $26 per barrel for next year, which is 7 percent below the priliminary estimate of $28 per barrel for 2000. Although oil revenues are expected to be lower than in 2000, they will continue to boost economic growth and development, particularly in the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. According to the report, the removal of economic sanctions against Iraq in 2001 could have a considerable positive effect not only on Iraq but on other members as well, in particular Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. [.....] Developments in the international oil market had also considerable economic implications for the region. Of the 13 ESCWA members, only three -- Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine -- are not oil exporters. In 2000, the oil sector performed exceptionally well in most countries of the region, with world oil prices surged by 60 percent and preliminary estimates indicating that the region's oil production increased by 6.1 percent and its oil revenues by 70.8 percent. The ESCWA members are Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The gross domestic product for the ESCWA's 13 member states, with the exception of Iraq, is set to grow by 4 percent. Although this would be lower than the real GDP growth rate estimated for 2000, it would be one of the highest since 1992 and sufficient to yield a real GDP growth rate of 1.5 per cent per capita for the region. It expected economic conditions to improve markedly in Iraq in 2001, particularly if the economic sanctions are lifted. -- http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/diary/story/0,3604,413160,00.html * MATTHEW NORMAN'S 'TURNCOAT COMPETITION' Diary , Guardian, Tuesday December 19, 2000 An edge of tension creeps into relations with two of our Turncoat of Turncoats candidates. First up, a warm Diary hello to that relentlessly ambitious Foreign Office minister Peter Hain. What a paradox he is. The effects of his sanctions policy on the sick, dying and starving of Iraq he takes in his stride, and yet at a hint of personal criticism the poor lamb goes into shock. His latest bleatings appear in Tribune, where he rebukes George Galloway, John Pilger and myself for doubting his motives in propagating the policy that led two heads of the UN humanitarian aid programme in Iraq to resign in disgust. Ah well, no doubt people have done worse on the long crawl towards cabinet before. And when Peter talks of opponents as people who "cannot stand a serious argument so they resort to cheap smears" ... high praise from one who routinely dismisses sanctions critics as "Saddam apologists". As for the section about serious argument, should we take this as formal acceptance, after so many timid rejections, of George Galloway's continual offer of a public debate? Perhaps Peter's diary secretary would care to call with a time and date? It was Peter who responded to a recent item over a delayed humanitarian flight from Morocco to Baghdad by drawing a distinction between "blocked the flight" (my words) and "placed the flight on hold" (his). It now seems that fellow Turncoat contender Barbara Roche is another semantic stickler. She is irritated by Friday's item in which we mentioned her reference to the "vile" behaviour of asylum seekers. What in fact she said earlier this year was this: "These people have come here with the intention of exploiting the system and exploiting their children. It's a vile thing to do." Somewhere in all that is another absolutely crucial semantic distinction, and I trust that this clarifies the matter. [.....] http://news.excite.com/news/r/001220/21/news-health-military-dc * BOARD SEES STRESS AS A PRIMARY CAUSE OF GULF WAR ILLNESSES WASHINGTON (Reuters December 20) - Stress is a likely primary cause of illness in at least some Gulf War veterans, a presidential study group concluded Wednesday in its final report. The Special Oversight Board, appointed by President Clinton to evaluate work done by the Defense Department on the controversial issue of Gulf war illness, said the department correctly found that chemical, biological and environmental factors had limited or no impact on the Gulf War troops. The board also cleared the department of complaints that it had deliberately withheld information on Gulf War illness from the general public and veterans. "The board concludes that stress is likely a primary cause of illness in at least some Gulf War veterans," the report said. "It is likely a secondary factor in (making possible) other causes of undiagnosed illnesses among some Gulf War veterans," it added. The board acknowledged that owing to misunderstanding "an unfortunate reluctance" exists among the American public, some members of Congress and veterans themselves "to recognize the impact that stress can have on an individual." But the board asserted that "stress can lead to genuine illnesses ... The symptoms are indeed real; they are not imagined and they are not 'all in the head."' During the Gulf War, the board said American military felt stress from being in the war zone; coming under fire; enduring the perception of a threat from biological or chemical warfare; coming into direct contact with smoke from Kuwait oil well fires or using insect repellent on a regular basis; working under adverse conditions; and struggling with family issues (like divorce, death, severe illness) far from home. The board urged that combat stress be investigated by the private Washington-based Institute of Medicine "with the same academic and scientific rigor that was used to evaluate other Gulf War exposures whose investigation Congress mandated." After the 1991 U.S.-led Gulf War, which ousted Iraq from Kuwait, many American veterans complained of illnesses whose origin could not be determined. This prompted considerable study and controversy over potential causes. The board endorsed Defense Department findings that the only known potential exposure of U.S. personnel to chemical warfare agents remains the accidental low-level release of nerve agents during demolition operations in Khamisiyah, Iraq in March 1991. It found that department assessments regarding environmental exposures were consistent with "available evidence." "Available evidence does not support claims that depleted uranium caused or is causing the undiagnosed illnesses (or diagnosed illnesses) from which some Gulf War veterans still suffer," the board said. It also agreed with a previous report that special camouflage paint posed a health hazard only to about 200 personnel who participated in spray-painting operations. Finally, the board found that contaminant concentrations in smoke caused by oil well fires in Kuwait "were below those known to cause short or long-term health effects." It did recommend, however, that ongoing research must be completed before there is a final determination on oil well fires. Turning aside criticism leveled at the Defense Department and its office charged with handling the Gulf War illness issue, the board said both had "worked diligently to fulfill the President's directive to leave no stone unturned" in investigating possible causes of Gulf War illnesses. Further, the department "has made no effort to deliberately withhold information from the general public of from veterans concerning its investigations or findings related to Gulf War illnesses," the board found. On the contrary, the department has made an "extraordinary effort" to publicize its finding through the publication of reports and newsletters, public outreach meetings, briefings to veterans and active duty service members, the creation of a toll-free hotline and an actively update Web site, the board said. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV 0012210324,FF.html * NO COVER-UPS ON GULF WAR SYNDROME, PANEL SAYS by Pauline Jelinek Chicago Tribune, December 21, 2000 WASHINGTON (AP) -- A presidential panel says the Pentagon worked "diligently" and didn't cover up anything in investigating Persian Gulf war syndrome, veterans' ailments still unexplained 10 years after the war. But the head of one veterans advocacy group called the conclusion "a whitewash." A 90-page report released Wednesday details 30 months of work by the board, ordered by President Clinton to oversee Pentagon investigations of illnesses reported by thousands of veterans of the 1991 war. One of the board's seven members, Dr. Vinh Cam, dissented in a three-page letter. An immunologist, Cam charged that the board, made up largely of retired military brass, lacked independence from the Pentagon office it was overseeing, the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illinois, or OSAGWI. She also said it had no authority to suggest that stress be studied further as a possible cause. "At times [the board] acted more like an extension of OSAGWI," Cam wrote. The investigating board concluded that the Defense Department has "worked diligently to fulfill the president's directive to `leave no stone unturned' in investigating possible causes" for illnesses, which include memory loss, nervous system disorders, headaches, joint pains and chronic fatigue. It also found the department "made no effort to deliberately withhold information," an allegation made by critics who believe the Pentagon is hiding data about Iraqi chemical warfare agents or other toxins to which veterans may have been exposed. "On the contrary, [the Pentagon] has made an extraordinary effort to publicize its findings through the publication of reports and newsletters, public outreach meetings, briefings to veterans," a Web site and so on, said the Presidential Special Oversight Board for Department of Defense Investigations of Gulf War Chemical and Biological Incidents. The board repeated the theme of all Pentagon findings so far: "To date, research has not validated any specific cause of these illnesses." It said research must continue. An estimated $300 million has been spent and scores of studies have looked into such possible culprits as Iraq's chemical and biological weapons, vaccinations of military personnel, oil well fires, anti-nerve agent tablets taken by troops, desert sand and stress. "It's a whitewash, exactly the kind of whitewash we were expecting," said Pat Eddington of the advocacy group National Gulf War Resource Center, criticizing what he called the board's "cozy relationship with the Pentagon." In a 1997 lawsuit pending in federal court, Eddington is seeking thousands of pages of Pentagon and CIA documents he says could contain information on Iraqi chemical and biological weapons and other information relating to troop health. Wednesday's report is the final one by the oversight board, which goes out of business this month. Officials have said that of the 700,000 troops who served in the Persian Gulf war, some 100,000 have registered with the Pentagon or Veterans Affairs Department for free exams to look into unexplained illnesses. The two agencies have said about 20,000 of those were found to be ill. http://www.iht.com/articles/5047.htmSections Front Page * POWELL RECONSIDERS SANCTIONS ON IRAQ (5 YEARS AGO HE WROTE AGAINST THEM; NOW HE'D MAKE THEM TOUGHER) by John Lancaster Washington Post/International Herald Tribune, December 21, 2000 WASHINGTON Critics of United Nations sanctions against Iraq, who have long complained about hardships that the restrictions inflict on ordinary Iraqi citizens, could hardly have argued their case more eloquently than General Colin Powell did in his 1995 autobiography, "My American Journey." "The problem is that sanctions are most often imposed against regimes that have only their own interests and the retention of power at heart," wrote General Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the Gulf War that followed in 1991. "And since these leaders are still going to have a roof over their heads, food on their table and power in their hands, sanctions rarely work against them." "Saddam was the perfect example," he added, referring to the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. But General Powell, chosen by President-elect George W. Bush to serve as secretary of state, appears to have undergone a change of heart. "We will work with our allies to re energize the sanctions regime," General Powell said Saturday during a joint appearance with Mr. Bush. "And I will make the case in every opportunity I get that we're not doing this to hurt the Iraqi people, we're doing this to protect the peoples of the region, the children of the region, who would be the targets of weapons of mass destruction if we didn't contain them and get rid of them." During the campaign, Mr. Bush and his advisers accused the Clinton administration of neglecting policy on Iraq, citing the end of UN arms inspections in 1998 and the erosion of support for sanctions by the members of the UN Security Council. Although he did not offer any specifics, Mr. Bush suggested that he would take a more aggressive approach to get rid of Mr. Saddam, starting with increased support for opposition groups. A retired colonel, Bill Smullen, General Powell's spokesman, attributed the change to "a contrast of times and conditions." General Powell's earlier criticism of sanctions, Mr. Smullen said, reflected the former chairman's experience during the buildup to the Gulf War, when he and other members of the Bush administration hoped that economic sanctions alone would force President Saddam to withdraw from Kuwait. "We're in a different situation now," Mr. Smullen said. "His view today is that sanctions in the year 2000 are in place, and should be, with respect to the containment of the Saddam Hussein regime from building and spreading weapons of mass destruction." http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=ps3311be&atmo=99999 999&pg=/et/00/12/23/nwill23.html * THE ANGLICAN CHURCH'S VOICE IN THE VALLEYS Daily Telegraph, 23 December 2000 [.....] Dr Williams, 49, became Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Wales in March. A DD from Oxford, he is the only bishop in Britain with an international reputation as a theologian. He is tipped to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, although he laughs at the suggestion, saying he neither wants nor expects the post. [.....] To him, the rise in populist politics, such as the fuel protests, is another example of people's demand to be made "to feel better" instantly. The country, he says, also does things to "make itself feel better", without considering G_• bÄI¶Pnsequences. E~ÄGulf war and the intervention in Kosovo, in his view, were examples of Britain "rushing in to relieve its own sense of injustice". He said: "We do not look ahead and think how our actions will affect the situation in these countries in 10 years. In Iraq, there is no change except a lot more people are dying." He is also "deeply unhappy" at the vote in the Commons this week to allow cloning of human embryo cells for medical research. 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