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NEWS 24-31/12/00 Not easy to spot any important trend in the main news apart from China¹s apparent growing interest in the Iraq issue. I apologise for continuing to run the Playstation story but hopefully that¹s now at an end. The article ¹Southland Muslims Seek to Ease U.S.-Led Embargo on Iraq¹ in the Iraqi supplement is a quite encouraging account of anti-sanctions efforts by a variety of different religion based groups in the United States. The article ŒCastro, Saddam and Chavez Pose Challenge to Bush¹ is in the NWO section because its mainly about Chavez but its quite relevant to Iraq as well. * Saddam's son Uday attends Iraq parliamentary session * Saddam's son Uday says Iraq heading for multiparty system * Conference on Persian Gulf to be held in Tehran * India considering humanitarian flights to Iraq * Chinese Exports to Iraq Amount to Two Billion Dollars in Four Years * China calls for early lifting of UN curbs on Iraq * Iraq accuses Turkey of blocking water-sharing plan * Saddam Calls Holy Fight on Israel * Iran does not let Iraq-bound flights via Iran's route * Saddam donates hundreds of Korans to Iraqi Kurds * Iraq: Saddam receives message of allegiance from Kurdish tribal leaders * Baghdad Says US, British Jets Bomb Southern Iraq * Experts weigh in on Iraqi Playstations [on the difficulty of using them as a means to conquer the world] * If Saddam wanted PlayStations he, too, would have to wait in line [on the difficulty of obtaining them] * Iraq Questions Credibility of UN [for failing to report or prevent violations of its air space] * Iraq wants peace talks [with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but doesn¹t ask for them with the sort of language that could be expoectewd to get them] * Iraq again interrupts Mina Al Bakr exports * Heroes and villains [letter to the Independent from Harold Pinter on the villainy of T.Blair] * Iraq Urges A[rab] L[eague] Intervention to Halt US, British Aggressions * Ceyhan pipeline started pumping Iraqi oil Thursday * Gulf Council States Discuss Rapid Deployment Force * Yugoslavia to take on Iraq in opener in Kochi IRAQI SUPPLEMENT (sent separately) * Suffering of war opens way to a brighter future for Kurds * Southland Muslims Seek to Ease U.S.-Led Embargo on Iraq * IAF reveals Gulf War attack plan * Saddam guard wants to stay in Oz [this is one of a spate of articles about the conditions of refugees at Woomera in Australia. I haven¹t included these articles but many of the refugees in question are from Iraq] * Iraqi dissidents deal with U.S. Life [the advantages and disadvantages of seeking asylum with the people who have destroyed your country] * Sanctions give Iraq little to celebrate [the end of Ramadan in Iraq] * Saddam £10k to kill Top Gun [The Sun reports on the heroism of our boys having to face five hours without the possibility of a having a wee in order to break Iraq¹s national pride. Does this indicate a tabloid war with the Mirror after its piece on John Nicoll?] * Muslims mark sombre Eid [the end of Ramadan in Iraq] * Saddam Hussein: the last great tyrant (by Robert Fisk) * Next Pentagon chief a supporter of Iraqi resistance [on Donald Rumsfeld¹s support for the Iraqi Liberation Act] NEW WORLD ORDER SUPPLEMENT (sent separately) * Madeleine Albright [brief account of career with sycophantic interview] * Venezuela calls on OPEC to go to battle over oil price * Sanctions target the innocent * OIC [Organisation of Islamic Conference] urged to impose sanctions on India [over Kashmir] * How the mighty are fallen... * European nations probe illnesses of troops in Balkans [ŒSome specialists argue that uranium rounds are environmentally harmful.¹] * Moscow-Tehran ties threaten Gulf * Bush's Pentagon Pick Is Missile-Shield Savvy [on the new Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who persuaded the US government that their country faces a serious threat of missile attack from Iraq and therefore need to spend lots of money on an anti-missile umbrella] * Promoting the national interest - exercising power without arrogance [by the new US security adviser, Condoleezza Rice] * Iran Now a Hotbed of Islamic Reforms [a rare article that presents Iran as a country in which there are many people who have a variety of different and interesting thoughts about the world. The author, who also wrote the piece on Madeleine Albright which begins our selection, finds this fact stunning and amazing] * Castro, Saddam and Chavez Pose Challenge to Bush * This is the world in 2015 [new global trends report from the CIA. The document itself may be had at http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/globaltrends2015/index.html] http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/12/24/iraq.parliament.reut/index.html * SADDAM'S SON UDAY ATTENDS IRAQ PARLIAMENTARY SESSION CNN, December 24, 2000 BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- President Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday attended a parliamentary session on Sunday evening, his first appearance since he won a seat in elections held on March 27. Uday won his seat in a vote in which 522 candidates were competing for 220 seats in the 250-seat chamber. All 165 candidates of the ruling Baath party were successful, as were 55 independents. Baghdad said the government had appointed 30 deputies to represent rebel Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, where no elections took place. Northern Iraq has been outside the control of the central government since soon after the 1991 Gulf war over Kuwait. During the session, Uday presented a summary of a paper which he submitted to the National Assembly on parliament's performance and his views about pluralism and democratic practices. "Our stage might be a transitional one and we hope it would be a transitional one towards achieving pluralism and democratic freedom," Uday said. http://home.kyodo.co.jp/fullstory/display.jsp?newsnb=20001225013 * SADDAM'S SON UDAY SAYS IRAQ HEADING FOR MULTIPARTY SYSTEM Kyodo news, Japan BAGHDAD Dec. 25 Kyodo - Uday Saddam Hussein, the 35-year-old son of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, said Sunday that Iraq is heading toward a multiparty system and more political openness. ''Surely, Iraq is marching on the course of a new stage, after the nation achieved full consciousness and preparedness for that. Personally, I believe it is high time for (political) openness in a more expansive manner,'' he told reporters after his first attendance at a session of the National Assembly. But he said that openness does not ''of course mean untraditional and abnormal openness. It is rather (meant to be) an openness that would cope with the aspirations, traditions and tribal roots of our people in a manner achieving the aspired goals serving all.'' Iraq has been governed by a one-party system since the ruling Baath Party seized power in a 1968 coup. Uday recalled that in an address back in 1991 President Hussein declared the country's intention to implement a multiparty system. ''Years that followed were difficult, and we were under difficult conditions that prevented us from achieving that,'' he said. He won a landslide victory in his constituency in Baghdad during the March parliamentary elections but has never attended the assembly before. Uday has been a member of the Baath Party, led by his father, since 1975. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/04162622.htm * CONFERENCE ON PERSIAN GULF TO BE HELD IN TEHRAN Tehran, Dec 24, IRNA -- The 11th International Persian Gulf Conferenceon `Status of the Persian Gulf at New Global Relations' is to held in Tehran on January 7-8, it was announced here on Sunday. The Persian Gulf is considered as an important geographic region which is the centerpiece for the most important political and international developments. The region is also regarded as the biggestsource of world energy leaving mutual affects on global developments. The two-day conference is the study these interrelated developments at the Foreign Ministry's Institutes for Political and International Studies (IPIS). Researchers and scholars from England, United States of America, Canada, France, Russia, China, Japan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Iraq, Yemen, as well as the central Asian and Caucasian republics will attend the conference. The conference will assess the most important issues of the regionand study the interrelation political, economic and security developments on global policy. http://www.southnexus.com/newspopup_news.php?date1=25/12/2000&sequence=32&cn ews= * INDIA CONSIDERING HUMANITARIAN FLIGHTS TO IRAQ South Nexus, Karnataka, Southern India DUBAI, Dec 25: India is considering direct humanitarian flights to Iraq in the wake of similar initiatives recently by several countries, even as trade between Baghdad and New Delhi is expected to touch one billion Dollars next year. "India is considering direct flights to Iraq as several other countries have already initiated such flights. This will be a humanitarian flight and not a regular flight," Indian ambassador to Iraq R R Dayakar told a news agency on phone. "Several flights from other countries have landed in Baghdad in recent weeks despite UN sanctions," Dayakar said. He said, bilateral trade between India and Iraq will touch one billion Dollars in the ninth phase of the Oil-for-Food programme in January-June 2001 having already crossed $ 600 million this year. Most of the contracts awarded to India are in the power sector, the largest being a $ 100 million deal struck with Bharat Heavy Electricals in March this year to supply gas turbines to power plants in northern Iraq, Dayakar said. Export of Iraqi oil to India has already begun while a pact with ONGC for oil prospecting in Iraq is awaiting ratification and completion of formalities, he said. He said, Indian construction companies could make a comeback in Iraq in the housing sector which is expected to be opened up to foreign companies next year. A major chunk of Indian contracts are in power, food, education and agriculture while petrochemicals and railways are emerging sectors for Indian companies, Dayakar said. He said, export of Indian tea to Iraq is pegged at 40,000 tonnes amounting to $ 20 million annually, next only to Vietnam. http://www.insidechina.com/news.php3?id=236200§ion=default * CHINESE EXPORTS TO IRAQ AMOUNT TO TWO BILLION DOLLARS IN FOUR YEARS BAGHDAD, Dec 25, 2000 (Agence France Presse): China has exported more than two billion dollars worth of goods to sanctions-hit Iraq since a UN humanitarian program was launched four years ago, Iraqi Commerce Minister Mohammad Mehdi Saleh said Monday. The minister, quoted by the official news agency INA, said China was ranked in third place among countries supplying Iraq, after France and Egypt, under the program launched in December 1996. [.....] http://www.timesofindia.com/271200/27nbrs9.htm * CHINA CALLS FOR EARLY LIFTING OF UN CURBS ON IRAQ Times of India, 27th December BEIJING (AP): China on Tuesday said the humanitarian situation in Iraq is worsening and called for the early lifting of UN sanctions to help suffering Iraqis. The appeal, issued by China's Foreign Ministry, follows hard after a highly symbolic Chinese mission to Baghdad that included an unexpected meeting with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Chinese Cabinet minister Ismail Amat delivered humanitarian aid to Baghdad, carried on the first direct flight from Beijing in 10 years. The mission, which occurred over the weekend, underscored China's desire to end the sanctions - something it has been pushing for in the UN Security Council with fellow permanent members Russia and France against Britain and the United States. Amat gave Saddam a letter of support from Chinese President Jiang Zemin and toured an underground bunker bombed during the Gulf War. He visited a children's hospital to gauge "the Iraqi people's sufferings under long-term sanctions and the great losses war caused Iraq," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We tried to convey the profound sympathy of the Chinese government and people to the Iraqi people who have been suffering from sanctions," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said at a media briefing. "The humanitarian situation in Iraq continues to be very grave and it can also be said that it is deteriorating." Zhang provided no specific examples from Amat's trip to illustrate what China considers the worsening conditions in Iraq. She said "China would like to see the early lifting of sanctions against Iraq." The Chinese support was welcome in Baghdad. Iraqi state television said Saddam, while meeting Amat, accused Britain and the United States of violating U.N. resolutions. In declaring sympathy for Iraq, Zhang however also signaled that China was not attempting to circumvent the United Nations in ending the sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. She reiterated China's position that U.N. resolutions on Iraq need to be fully respected. That, she said, means "fairly and objectively" assessing Iraq's progress in meeting U.N. demands so that the sanctions can be gradually eased. In the past China has also called on Baghdad to work with the U.N. inspectors who need to verify that Iraq has dismantled biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs. Previously the target of sanctions, China generally opposes their use. It abstained in the UN Security Council vote that allowed a US-led force to wage war against Iraq for the invasion of Kuwait. In recent years, China has quietly stepped up contacts, hoping to land contracts for business and oil shipments once sanctions fall and improve its influence in the Middle East. Two-way trade grew 60 per cent last year to $264 million, by Chinese government statistics. Zhang, the spokeswoman, said China has also provided an unspecified amount of aid to Iraq, but said all the assistance has been approved by the U.N. sanctions committee. With China working hard to raise its profile in the Middle East, Zhang also announced that Vice President Hu Jintao would travel to Iran, Syria and Jordan next month. On the same trip he will also visit Cyprus and Uganda. http://www.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/12/25/iraq.turkey.syria.reut/index.html * IRAQ ACCUSES TURKEY OF BLOCKING WATER-SHARING PLAN CNN, December 25, 2000 BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- Iraq says it has agreed with Syria on a water-sharing plan but says Turkey is blocking efforts for a tripartite agreement. "Irrigation Minister Mohamoud Diyab al-Ahmed has announced that Iraq and Syria have reached an agreement on sharing waters of the Euphrates," the weekly Nabdh al-Shabab newspaper said on Monday. It quoted Ahmed as saying that Syrian Irrigation Minister Taha al-Atrash would come to Baghdad shortly to sign the agreement. The paper gave no details of the agreement. Meantime, Ahmed accused Turkey of blocking efforts to reach a three-way water-sharing agreement with Baghdad and Damascus. "The Turkish side is still stubborn (over reaching) a solution to the water issue," he said. Baghdad and Damascus depend largely for drinking water, irrigation and power generation on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, both of which originate in Turkey. The Euphrates winds through Syria before entering Iraq, while the Tigris flows straight to Iraq from Turkey. Both Baghdad and Damascus say the current flow of water from Turkey is not enough. Iraqi protests have grown since 1996 when Turkey announced a $1.62 billion plan for its fourth dam on the Euphrates to produce power and irrigation for a big area of southeast Turkey. Iraq, Turkey and Syria have held several meetings in the past but failed to clinch a water-sharing agreement. Ankara and Damascus signed a provisional agreement in 1987 under which Turkey allows the flow of 500 cubic metres per second to Syria. The Syrian government has called for a permanent accord. http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=5001418&template=worldnews/ search.txt&index=recent * SADDAM CALLS HOLY FIGHT ON ISRAEL BAGHDAD, Iraq (Associated Press, Mon 25 December): Saddam Hussein used his traditional Christmas message Monday to call on the world's Christians and Muslims to rise up in holy war against Israel and the ``Zionist conspiracy.'' The Iraqi leader praised Christians and other Iraqis for standing up to conspiracies through which ``the United States, Britain and Zionism ... have tried to bend Iraqis' will, bring them to their knees and master their independent decision.'' The letter was carried on the front page of every Baghdad newspaper. The president called on Christians and Muslims everywhere to take ``the path of jihad (holy war), without which we cannot attain our aspirations of establishing right, justice and peace and delivering humanity from the evils of aggressors, criminal killers.'' Iraq opposes peace agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians and those signed with neighboring countries. ``The Zionist conspiracy aims at Judaizing (Jerusalem) and other areas of Palestine and annihilating its indigenous population, Muslims and Christians, with the backing of America,'' al Thawra daily quoted Saddam as saying in his letter. [.....] http://www.economictimes.com/today/26comp08.htm ONGC to invest Rs 400cr in Abu Khema oil fields Economic Times, India, 26th December Mumbai (PTI): THE OIL and Natural Gas Corporation will invest Rs 400 crore for exploration and development of 'Abu Khema' oil fields in Iraq beginning early next year. Abu Khema oil fields (block No 8) have a capacity to produce up to three lakh barrels of crude per day, equivalent to that produced by ONGC's prime property Mumbai High, company sources said here. ONGC's overseas subsidiary ONGC Videsh has been awarded exploration and development contract for Abu Khema in southern Iraq which ONGC had explored 15 years ago but abandoned consequent to the Iran-Iraq war, the sources said. A contract for exploration of the blocks for crude oil for a period of 20-25 years was signed between OVL and Oil Exploration Company of Iraq during the five-day official visit of Iraqi vice president Taha Yassin Ramadhan in November. ONGC has also tied up with Reliance Industries and Algerian national oil company Sonatrach for securing the Tuba oil field in southern Iraq. Tuba, discovered in 1959, lies in southern Iraq between Rumaila and Zubair oil fields and reportedly could yield as much as 300,000 barrels per day of oil of medium and heavy crude, the sources said adding OVL, Reliance and Sonatrach were equal partners in the project. OVL would invest over $200 million in the project, expected to cost over $500-600 million, and had been given a security of crude supply for a period of 20-25 years, the sources added. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/06114207.htm * IRAN DOES NOT LET IRAQ-BOUND FLIGHTS VIA IRAN'S ROUTE Tehran, Dec 26, IRNA -- Upon a request by the United Nations, Iran does not allow Iraq-bound flights to pass through Iran's airspace, press reported here Tuesday. Gholam-Abbas Aramesh, a deputy chief of the Civil Aviation Organization told the daily Abrar that the United Nations Security Council has approved the above-mentioned plan. He rejected reports by foreign media that Iran has allowed Iraq-bound flights to use its airspace and said "Iran's airspace is merely allowed to be used by humanitarian flights agreed upon by the United Nations and Iran's Foreign Ministry." He said that the plane which flew Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi to Iraq in mid-October, had the endorsement of the United Nations. But, in early October, Iran has agreed to allow regular Tehran-Damascus flights to pass through Iraq's airspace instead of Turkey's. "Since the route over Turkey is not suitable for these flights, and wanting to develop relations with Iraq, particularly in transportation, Iran believes these flights should go over Iraq," Road and Transportation Minister Mahmoud Hojjati said after meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Ahmed Morteza in October. The Tehran-Damascus route is primarily geared toward Muslim pilgrims. All international airlines have avoided flying over Iraq since August 1990, when an air embargo was imposed on the country after Baghdad's invasion of Kuwait. Iran has previously said it would return the planes to Iraq but only if requested to do so by the United Nations. The issue of POWs is a key stumbling-block to a normalization of ties between Iran and Iraq, which fought a bloody eight-year war up to 1988. During the 9th summit of the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference in Doha in November, Kharrazi held normalization talks with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammad Said al Sahhaf. Early this month, Kharrazi told visiting Iraqi undersecretary for foreign affairs Riad al-Qaissi that Tehran and Baghdad needed to respect the 1975 Algiers agreement that fixed the two countries' borders. The 1975 agreement was signed between Iran's then shah and Saddam Hussein, who was vice president at the time. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2000/1226/breaking14.htm * SADDAM DONATES HUNDREDS OF KORANS TO IRAQI KURDS Irish Times (AFP), 27th December President Saddam Hussein has sent 870 copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, to the Kurds who control northern Iraq in defiance of Baghdad, an official newspaper reported today. Al-Iraq said 10 Korans were offered to each mosque in the Kurdish-held region. The books had been gifts to the Iraqi leader. In another gesture for the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr, which follow the fasting month of Ramadan, Saddam has distributed 1,000 of the holy books to 100 mosques of Baghdad. Iraqi Kurdistan, home to around three million people, has been under the control of Kurdish factions since Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait. http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/article.html?id=001227003748&query =Iraq * IRAQ: SADDAM RECEIVES MESSAGE OF ALLEGIANCE FROM KURDISH TRIBAL LEADERS Source: Republic of Iraq Radio, Baghdad, in Arabic 1500 gmt 27 Dec 00 BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Dec 27, 2000 President leader Saddam Husayn has received a message from the leaders of Kurdish tribes in which they renewed their pledge of love and absolute loyalty to the builder of Iraq's glory and founder of the self-rule government, President leader Saddam Husayn. They pledged to remain under his command to liberate the land of our dear north from mercenaries and the country's traitors who have sold themselves as slaves to the foreigners. In a message sent to his excellency, the chiefs expressed their warmest congratulations on the occasion of the blessed Id al-Fitr. They asked God Almighty to look after his excellency and keep him the pride of the homeland and leader of the mujahidin to liberate the country's land from the filth of those mercenaries and evict Zionism from the holy land in Palestine. http://www.latimes.com/wires/20001227/tCB00a7528.html * BAGHDAD SAYS US, BRITISH JETS BOMB SOUTHERN IRAQ Los Angeles Times, 27th December BAGHDAD--Iraq said U.S. and British warplanes struck targets in the south of the country on Wednesday but no casualities were reported. An Iraqi military spokesman, quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency INA, said "enemy formations" flew over the provinces of Basra, Dhi qar, Muthanna, Qadissiya, Najaf, Kerbala and Wassit at 2:15 a.m. EST, attacking civilian and service installations. Iraqi air defense units fired at the jets and forced them to return to bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the spokesman said. There was no immediate comment on the report by the United States or Britain, whose jets patrol no-fly zones set up by Western powers after the 1991 Gulf War. [....] http://www.vny.com/cf/News/upidetail.cfm?QID=147617 * EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON IRAQI PLAYSTATIONS by J. Mark Huffman, UPI Science News WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- The Sony Playstation 2 is acknowledged as the leading video game console and the envy of every kid, but could it be a major asset to the Iraqi military? Experts in both defense and video games say no, despite some concerns raised in U.S. intelligence circles. WorldNetDaily, a news and opinion Web site, cited a secret Defense Intelligence Agency report stating as many as 4,000 of the game consoles have been purchased in the United States and shipped to Iraq late this year. The report expresses concern that the units could be linked together to form a powerful super computer, capable of many military uses, including control of missiles. FBI and U.S. Customs officials are investigating the claim, but even if it's true, Iraqi generals would likely be disappointed in the results anyway, a Playstation 2 expert told United Press International "As shipped, the Playstation 2 does not have the capability to link processors in parallel. The idea that you can create a super computer by linking ten of these units together is wrong. That's not a capability of the Playstation 2 right out of the box," said Eric Newhouse, group manager at Videogame Review.com, a San Francisco-based game site. Newhouse agreed a major advantage of the Playstation 2 over a personal computer is its greatly enhanced graphics capabilities, but he questioned how valuable that would be to Iraqi military applications. "The graphics capabilities would help for modeling and design functions, but for raw CPU issues like calculating missile trajectory, a powerful computer would be much better," Newhouse said. John Carey, a Washington-based defense issues consultant, is also skeptical of the Playstation's usefulness to the Iraqi military, especially in controlling its missiles. "The key Iraqi problem is accuracy. No matter how sophisticated their computers, those old Soviet-era missiles are just too inaccurate to be a threat. That's why our ships can operate in the region without becoming targets," Carey told UPI. Carey, president of International Defense Consultants, said he was in the region during the Persian Gulf War and saw the state of Iraq's missiles at close hand. He doesn't think the use of video game consoles will increase Iraq's offensive capabilities. "Where a computer might help is in defending yourself from attack," he said. If Saddam Hussein did want to buy up large quantities of video game consoles, however, he would have an easier time getting them past U.N. sanctions than if he were buying regular computers. Video games are classified as toys, which are not closely scrutinized. Computer hardware, on the other hand, is banned under U.N. sanctions. The Japanese government has shown sensitivity to the issue, having slapped export controls on the game console upon its release last April. The Sony Playstation 2 has been a hard-to-find item since it's introduction earlier this year. It features a 300 MHz, 128-bit CPU. It's prized by video game enthusiasts for its speed, sound reproduction and graphics. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi bin/WebObjects/SeattleTimes.woa/wa/gotoArticle?zsection_id=268448413&text_on ly=0&slug=play28&document_id=134256553 * IF SADDAM WANTED PLAYSTATIONS HE, TOO, WOULD HAVE TO WAIT IN LINE Seattle Times, 28th December WASHINGTON - Widespread media reports that Iraq has been importing the scarce and highly sought-after PlayStation 2 video consoles for their military potential are unsubstantiated and groundless, Sony said yesterday. Several media outlets, including NBC, have cited an unidentified U.S. Customs officer as saying the popular PlayStation 2 units were being diverted from toy shops around Detroit to factions affiliated with the Iraqi military. The stories note the coveted video-game units are being sought by the Iraqi government due to their hefty processing power, which when hooked together en masse could conceivably offer computing speeds similar to that of low-grade supercomputers, devices seen as necessary for the development and testing of weapons of mass destruction. But Sony spokeswoman Molly Smith said if Saddam Hussein wanted a stash of PlayStations, he'd have to get in line behind millions of other consumers: "With our current inventory situation, it's likely that anyone - Saddam Hussein or otherwise - claiming to have a substantial number of PlayStation 2 units is probably pulling your leg. This completely unsubstantiated story has been lingering for weeks, and it's time to put it to rest." "I would assume that if Iraq were determined to obtain such devices illegally, it would presumably go after something much more powerful than a chip in a toy," said Robert Majak of the Commerce Department Bureau of Export Administration. http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=5016147&template=worldnews/ search.txt&index=recent * IRAQ QUESTIONS CREDIBILITY OF UN BAGHDAD, Iraq (Associated Press, Wed 27 Dec) ‹ Iraq is questioning the credibility of a U.N. force monitoring the border with Kuwait, saying it does not report flights by American and British warplanes as violations to U.N. resolutions. In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Iraq's foreign minister took the monitors to task over the U.S.-British warplanes, which patrol a no-fly zone in southern Iraq and frequently fire on Iraqi air defense sites that target them. The U.N. Observation and Monitoring force, known as UNIKOM, watches over a no-man's land at the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border, where its role is to monitor all land, sky and sea traffic and report any violations of either nation's territory immediately to the Security Council. ``Most of the warplanes cross the area observed by the UNIKOM posts to strike Iraq and return through the same points,'' Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said in the letter, reported by Iraqi television Tuesday night. ``By violating our territories, the warplanes commit sheer violations to U.N. resolutions, obliging the UNIKOM forces to monitor and report these violations immediately ... to the U.N. and the Security Council,'' al-Sahhaf said in his letter. The U.S.-British patrols, conducted since 1992 following the Gulf War, are not mandated by the United Nations and Iraq considers them violations of its sovereignty and international law. The United States and Britain say the patrols ‹ based out of Saudia Arabia and carriers in the Persian Gulf ‹ are necessary to protect Iraq's Shiite Muslim minority in the area from the Baghdad government. A similar no-fly zone in the north is enforced by planes based in Turkey. Iraq has been challenging the flights for two years ‹ locking on to the planes with its radar ‹ and routinely drawing fire. In its reports, including its most recent one Sept. 27, UNIKOM has highlighted air violations of the no-man's land, but has not identified the origin of the planes and has said it could not chart all violations because the aircraft were flying too high to be identified. Al-Sahhaf dismissed that reasoning in his letter, noting the allies ``themselves announce that their warplanes have carried out daily patrols in Iraq.'' ``Is flying in the no-man's land considered to be an accepted act?'' the letter asked. ``If flying at high altitudes is not considered to be a violation, then we Iraqis can do that, too.'' ``What would the UNIKOM observers then say if Iraqi planes flew over the same area?'' al-Sahhaf asked in the letter. http://www.news24.co.za/News24/World/Middle_East/0,1113,2-10-35_959167,00.ht ml * IRAQ WANTS PEACE TALKS News 24 (South Africa) Baghdad (Sapa-AFP ): Iraq's ruling Baath party called for dialogue with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, aimed at a reconciliation with its neighbours after a decade of enmity. The call came on Thursday, ahead of a Gulf summit set for the weekend. The Muslim and Christian holidays "could be an opportunity for ... a constructive dialogue to forget the pains of the past and reach a reconciliation ending division and humiliation", said the party's mouthpiece, Ath-Thawra. In reference to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which were not named, Ath-Thawra said its invitation was addressed to "those whom Satan has deviated from the path of jihad", or holy war. The two neighbours had "allied themselves with the US-Zionist enemy in thinking that they could thus break the determination of the Arab world to struggle for its rights", said Ath-Thawra. It urged Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which provide air bases for US and British warplanes to overfly Iraq, to revise their policies. "This call does not mean that Iraq is in a position of weakness or that it needs anyone's help. On the contrary, it is filled with confidence and feels it has left the crisis behind," Ath-Thawra said. The Gulf Arab monarchies are to hold their end-of-year summit in Bahrain on Saturday and Sunday. Baghdad's ties with the region have vastly improved this year, but Iraq remains at odds with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the emirate that Iraqi forces occupied between August 1990 and February 1991. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=5748 * IRAQ AGAIN INTERRUPTS MINA AL BAKR EXPORTS Dubai, December 28 (Reuters): UN officials confirmed that oil exports from Iraq in the United Nations oil-for-food programme were interrupted again yesterday but were expected to resume later in the day. Industry sources had said earlier that exports had been halted with a tanker at the Gulf port Mina Al Bakr waiting for permission from Baghdad to load. Weather conditions at the port, one of two permitted for the oil programme, were good enough to allow loading but the tanker Astro Beta has yet to be invited to start lifting Iraq's Basrah Light, the sources said. "It appears exports will resume today because another tanker is about to berth" at Mina Al Bakr, said a UN official who wished to remain anonymous. The official was referring to the Astro Beta, which has a valid letter of credit needed to lift Iraqi oil. Oil loadings from Mina Al Bakr were halted for the first 12 days of December and have been slowed in the past week. There have been no December loadings at the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, Turkey. In the oil programme, Iraq is allowed to export oil only through Mina Al Bakr and Ceyhan. Another tanker, the Moscliff, was at the front of the queue of tankers at Mina Al Bakr since last Wednesday and finally sailed laden with crude on Monday, the industry sources said. Oil analysts say the disruption is an active effort by Baghdad to whittle away at 10-year-old sanctions. Crude exports from Iraq have limped along from Mina Al Bakr in the past two weeks. In November, Iraq was exporting about 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd). That was before the December export disruption that is linked to an oil pricing row Baghdad is having with the United Nations. Industry sources said yesterday that Iraq still is demanding of customers a surcharge above approved UN oil prices. Baghdad has denied it is charging oil buyers a surcharge that would raise funds for an Iraqi-controlled bank account, which UN officials say is not allowed under the sanctions. In the four years of the oil-for-food programme, Iraq has often held up oil exports to gain leverage in the ongoing debate over UN sanctions. Top-ranking Iraqi officials will meet next month with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss the sanctions. http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/article.html?id=001228000052&query =Iraq * LETTER: HEROES AND VILLAINS The Independent - United Kingdom; Dec 28, 2000 by Harold Pinter Sir: You invited me to participate in your feature "Heroes & Villains 2000". For my villain I submitted the following text: "Tony Blair for Nato's `humanitarian' bombing of Serbia and the murder of thousands of innocent people (mainly children) in Iraq." You agreed to publish this. Now I find that you omitted the name Tony Blair. This was done without any reference to me. This omission also means that the second part of the sentence is untrue. Nato is not bombing Iraq nor is it behind the sanctions. The United Kingdom and the United States are responsible for both. HAROLD PINTER London W8 http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200012/29/eng20001229_59186.html * IRAQ URGES AL INTERVENTION TO HALT US, BRITISH AGGRESSIONS People¹s Daily, 29th December Iraq Friday urged the Arab League (AL) to intervene to halt "the continuous aggressions" by the United States and Britain, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported. In a letter to AL Secretary-General Ahmed Esmat Abdel-Meguid on Friday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamad Said Al-Sahaf elaborated the continuous aggressions by the US and British warplanes on December 9-15. The infringement were aimed at "harming Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity, infrastructure, civilians and civil installations," Sahaf said. Moreover, "We ask you to demand the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments to stop their logistic support to the aggressions," he added. Sahaf accused Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as "full partners" in the U.S. and British aggressions against Iraq, the INA said. [.....] http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=5878 * CEYHAN PIPELINE STARTED PUMPING IRAQI OIL THURSDAY Istanbul, Reuters, 30th December The Ceyhan pipeline carrying Iraqi oil to the Turkish port on the Mediterranean started pumping oil again on Thursday morning, a spokeswoman for Turkish pipeline company Botas said yesterday. "The pumping began at 11:00 yesterday at a rate of 3,500 cubic metres per hour (530,000 barrels per day)," the spokeswoman told Reuters. "The loading of the first tanker also began at that time and it will be completed this evening." Iraq stopped exports from Ceyhan at the start of December, insisting that buyers pay a surcharge which customers said would contravene the terms of the United Nations oil-for-food programme. However, enough oil was pumped through the pipeline during December to fill up the storage tanks at Ceyhan. Industry sources say the first tanker to load up at Ceyhan is the Amazon Falcon, chartered for Bayoil. "Ceyhan officials expect more tanker loadings in the days ahead," the Botas spokeswoman said. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20001230/ts/gulf_summit_dc_1.html * GULF COUNCIL STATES DISCUSS RAPID DEPLOYMENT FORCE By Rawhi Abeidoh MANAMA (Reuters, 30th December) - Leaders of six oil-rich Gulf Arab states on Saturday discussed a plan to set up a rapid deployment force at a summit overshadowed by their tensions with big neighbors Iran and Iraq. Delegates at the annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit said the long-delayed defense plan might be gaining support among the six member-states, who failed to defend fellow member Kuwait when it was invaded by Iraq a decade ago. The delegates said Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah and Bahraini Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa spoke in favor of boosting joint defense in separate speeches at the summit. ``Developing a defense capability that can effectively deter any possible attack on our countries is of vital importance which we must not belittle,'' Crown Prince Abdullah said. The Saudi-led GCC, which relies on Western powers for their defense, have spent billions of dollars to strengthen their armies since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. But efforts to boost a small Saudi-based joint force set up in 1986 have so far failed. ``This calls on all of us to move efficiently and decisively toward raising the GCC's defense capabilities so that we can confront current and potential challenges,'' the prince added. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman are also in the GCC, which sits on more than half the world's oil reserves, and their output policies are seen as crucial to energy prices. IRAN-IRAQ ISSUE GCC delegates said relations with powerful neighbors Iran and Iraq figured high on the agenda of the two-day summit which ends on Sunday. Iran has rejected a GCC mediation bid to resolve a dispute with the UAE over three strategic Gulf islands, insisting on direct talks, Gulf Arab officials said earlier on Saturday. The islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tums are located near key shipping lanes in the Strait of Harms. They are claimed by both states and held by Iran. The officials said Tehran has refused to meet a GCC tripartite ministerial committee after one of its members spoke in favor of the UAE in the prolonged dispute. Prince Abdullah urged Tehran to respond to the GCC initiative ''so that a valuable opportunity to settle this long-standing dispute is not squandered.'' The panel was set up in 1999 to try to help Iran and the UAE come to a settlement, but has yet to produce any result. The delegates said the GCC was also split on how to deal with Iraq after Saudi Arabia and Kuwait turned down a proposal by Qatar to soften the group's strong opposition to lifting the crippling U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait. They said that Qatar's initiative, presented at a preparatory foreign ministers meeting on Friday, was backed by the UAE. Both have repeatedly called for the lifting of the sanctions. ``The position of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait is that any such softening would encourage Iraq to continue its procrastination and failure to implement Security Council resolutions without any preconditions,'' one Saudi official said. These resolutions call on Iraq to rid itself of all weapons of mass destruction, provide compensation to Kuwait and release prisoners of war. A Saudi delegate said earlier that the Qatari proposal called for a ``Gulf Arab initiative that would contribute to putting an end to the sufferings of the brotherly Iraqi people.'' OPEC MINISTERS AT SUMMIT Oil ministers from GCC members and key OPEC (news - web sites) producers Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were at the summit but it was not immediately clear if a recent decline in crude prices would be discussed. ``We, in this vital location, which is indispensable to the world, are aware of our important role in the field of global energy and strategic balance,'' Bahrain's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said in an opening speech, without elaborating. A recent decline in the price of crude oil has prompted calls from several OPEC members for output curbs before the second quarter, when seasonal demand dwindles, to keep prices afloat near the cartel's preferred price of $25 a barrel. The GCC was set up in 1981 and it supported Iraq during its 1980-88 war with non-Arab Iran, ostensibly to prevent Tehran from exporting its Islamic revolution. But the pro-Western GCC states stood against Baghdad when it invaded Kuwait and took part in a U.S.-led international coalition that ended Iraq's seven-month-old occupation. http://www.southnexus.com/newspopup_news.php?date1=31/12/2000&sequence=25&cn ews= * YUGOSLAVIA TO TAKE ON IRAQ IN OPENER IN KOCHI South Nexus (Karnataka, southern India) KOCHI, Dec 31: Yugoslavia would cross swords with Iraq in the inaugural match of 'Group 1' in the 16-nation Millennium Super Soccer Cup 2001, in the Kochi leg scheduled to be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru international stadium here on January 10. Chile would take on Bahrain in group 4 while Uzbekistan will clash with Japan on the same day at Calcutta, All India Football Federation president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told reporters here on Saturday. The two groups playing in Kochi are Group-1 featuring Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Iraq and Bangladesh and Group-2 (Uruguay, Iceland, Indonesia and India). Group-3 matches, to be played at Goa, features Rumania, Cameroon, Jordon and HongKong while Group-4, playing in Calcutta will have Chile, Uzbekistan, Japan and Bahrain. Dasmunsi said the tourney would provide a feast of 32 matches with 12 matches and a quarter final being played here, seven matches including a quarter-final at Goa and 12 matches including two quarter-finals, two semi-finals, third-fourth places and the final to be played at Calcutta. Calcutta's Yuba Bharati Krirangam, one of Asia's largest stadiums with a seating capacity of 1.20 lakh, would host the inaugural and closing ceremonies, he said. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk