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NEWS, 19/12/0014/1/01 Lots still happening. These reports seem to be getting way out of hand at the moment. Most obviously, the world seems at last to have noticed the scandal of depleted uranium. I have given it a separate supplement, but don¹t claim that my selection is exhaustive or even that I¹ve managed to assemble the best pieces. In particular, there were important articles in the Guardian and the Independent which I haven¹t given here. At the same time, with much less publicity, Turkey has sent 10,000 (perhaps) troops into northern Iraq, without the consent of the Iraqi government. Which I imagine is an illegal act, but Œinternational law¹ as we know, is a rather selective affair. As usual, I¹ve turned to the Kurdistan Observer and produced a selection of articles from that. Otherwise, there¹s the tomato, Ramsey Clark arriving in Iraq, Clinton handing over a large sum of money to the INC, more ambiguity over Iraq¹s oil policy, which is very difficult to follow, and continuation of the Hain/von Sponeck confrontation ,which I¹ve put in the ŒIraq supplement¹ together with various reminiscences of the Gulf War. * Mortars Explode in Iranian Capital * What's wrong with Saddam? Sore feet * Iraq Demands U.N. Man's Withdrawal * Galloway seeks answers on phone tapping * Britain seeks u-turn over Iraq bombing * Security Council Designates Chairpersons Of Sanctions Committees * U.N. panel split over Iraqi offer to Palestinians * Iraq Withdraws from India Tournament * Iran, Iraq exchange bodies of soldiers * Tomato hits Blair in protest about Iraq sanctions * Two in court over Blair tomato * India hopes to buy 1 mt crude from Iraq * Iraq resumes normal exports from Gulf port: Press * [Egyptian] Aid flight to Baghdad stopped * Routine Syrian Jan oil exports cloud Iraq pipeline issue [not clear if the Syrians are Œillegally¹ receiving Iraqi oil] * Iraq oil exports still well below average: UN * Iraq still out of market * Peace Action to march against Iraq sanctions [protests in Oakland County, in Metro Detroit, particularly interesting because it seems to be largely an Iraqi largely Iraqi Christian immigrant community] * Shot-Down Flier Could Be Alive, Says Navy * Iraqi defector reported U.S. pilot in Iraqi hospital * Iraq Rejects Reports US Pilot Lived * UK Iraq policy 'bonkers' [account of BBC interview with George Galloway] * Iraqi Airways reopens Beirut office * Iraq starts distributing ration cards for 2001 * Iraq Blames UN Committee for Shelving Humanitarian Contracts [1,762 contracts altogether, worth some US$4billion] * Iraq Says Two People Injured in Air Raid * Nuclear watchdog to inspect Iraqi nuclear material [Annual IAEA inspection] * Iraqi vice-president to visit Egypt * US gives go-ahead to Iraqi opposition * Iraq wants OPEC oil output cuts of three million bpd by March * U.S. activists land in Baghdad airport URL ONLY: http://www.timesofindia.com/110101/11euro2.htm * Russia urges US, Britain to end strikes on Iraq Times of India, 11th January URL ONLY; http://www.economictimes.com/today/12comm02.htm * Iraq asks for certified fungus free wheat Economic Times (India), 12th January [Not an unimportant item since the India/Iraq wheat for oil deal seemed to be indicate a possible way by which the Oil for Food arrangements could have been made redundant] SUPPLEMENTS (sent separately) DEPLETED URANIUM SUPPLEMENT IRAQ SUPPLEMENT KURDISH SUPPLEMENT NEW WORLD ORDER SUPPLEMENT NEWS: http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2001/jan/07/010700212.html * MORTARS EXPLODE IN IRANIAN CAPITAL Las Vegas Sun, 7th January TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Five mortars shells exploded in northern Tehran on Sunday near a military base belonging to Iran's elite Islamic Republic Guards Corps, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The rebel group Mujahedeen Khalq, in a call to The Associated Press in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, claimed responsibility for the mortar attack, saying the target was the base. The official Iranian agency reported no casualties. But the Mujahedeen Khalq said the explosions inflicted many casualties among Iran's security forces and caused damage to the military compound and vehicles in it. The conflicting casualty reports could not be independently verified. The Iraqi-based Mujahedeen Khalq seeks the overthrow of Iran's Islamic government and frequently attacks targets deep inside Iran and along the border with Iraq. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Middle_East/2001 01/saddam070101.shtml * WHAT'S WRONG WITH SADDAM? SORE FEET by Patrick Cockburn Independent, 7 January 2001 At the end of last year a team of 10 doctors was suddenly summoned to Baghdad from Amman, the Jordanian capital, to treat President Saddam Hussein. They met him in one of his many palaces after a roundabout trip in which they were blindfolded to prevent them learning his true location. When the Iraqi leader entered the room where they were waiting for them he stepped out of his shoes and socks and showed them his feet, which were streaked with blood. The doctors saw that there were tumours on one of his feet, which they suspected was the result of a non-life-threatening form of cancer. An Iraqi source, who met one of the medical team in Amman, says that the doctors advised Saddam to wear soft shoes and avoid standing up too much. He seems to have taken at least part of their advice, for subsequent photographs show him in white sports shoes with his dark suit. Speculation about Saddam's state of health has mounted since an opposition group in Damascus called the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq claimed on Monday that the 63-year-old president had suffered a severe stroke the previous day. The London based, Saudi-backed newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat said he had collapsed at a banquet after a military parade in Baghdad and was under intensive care in hospital. It is not the first time that the president's imminent demise or departure from Iraq has been predicted by the Iraqi opposition or Arab newspapers. During the Gulf war, Western intelligence spread reports that he was about to flee to Mauritania. At the end of last summer, some Arab newspapers claimed that he had been diagnosed as having contracted cancer two years ago and this had spread to his lymph glands. To rebut reports that he had suffered a stroke, the Iraqi leader delivered a televised speech yesterday to mark the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi armed forces. It was not clear whether the speech was live or taped. On Thursday, Iraqi television showed pictures of Saddam greeting Egyptian actors visiting Baghdad [ASSIDUOUS READERS OF THE NEWS REPORTS WILL KNOW THAT THIS VISIT WAS REPORTED ON 22ND DECEMBER: URL: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20001222/wl/egypt_iraq_dc_1.html PB]. Although he is known to suffer from back pain, his health has been good for most of his life. It appears unlikely that the Iraqi leader has suffered anything as serious as a stroke. It is possible, however, that, if he is experiencing problems with his feet, he may have been incapacitated by standing up for five hours last Sunday at a military march-past and firing his rifle into the air 142 times to salute the marchers. It was the biggest military parade in Baghdad since the Gulf war. Iraqi observers also note that the security forces and army in Baghdad are not on high alert, which would be expected if the president had had a stroke. Nevertheless, reports on foreign radios that Saddam may be in poor health are leading to speculation in Baghdad about who would succeed him if he were to die. The two main candidates are his sons Uday and Qusay, with Ali Hassan al-Majid, a powerful member of the ruling family, playing a prominent role in deciding the succession. Although Uday, notorious for his personal violence and cruelty, is the elder son, he still suffers from wounds inflicted when would-be assassins came near to killing him in 1996. He controls the newspaper Babel and a television station. On 24 December he surprised the Iraqi parliament, of which he is a member, by presenting a paper which targeted different government ministries for failing to serve the people, and calling for more democracy. He said that not enough mosques had been built for Shia Muslims, who make up the majority of the Iraqi population, although the regime is predominantly Sunni. Qusay is in a stronger position to take over because he is in charge of his father's security and in overall supervision of the security services. He also has the support of important members of his father's tribe. He is considered a cooler head but no less ruthless than his brother. The intense international interest in the fate of Saddam is also a sign that the position of Iraq is of growing importance as the second Palestinian intifada against Israel destabilises the Middle East as a whole. Iraq is not the military power it once was, but at the military parade after which the president was allegedly taken ill, the Iraqi army was still able mount a flypast of jets and show off 1,000 Russian-made tanks. The parade itself was in support of the Palestinians. At the same time, US President-elect George W Bush may feel that he cannot afford to fail in any contest with an enemy whom his father failed to eliminate in 1991. Several members of his cabinet, notably Colin Powell, the incoming Secretary of State, made their reputations during the Gulf War. Over the past 10 years, however, foreign intelligence services have failed to pose a serious threat to the government in Baghdad, which has swiftly eliminated any domestic opponents. http://www.wn.com/?action=display&article=5168789&template=worldnews/search. txt&index=recent * IRAQ DEMANDS U.N. MAN'S WITHDRAWAL BAGHDAD, Iraq (Associated Press, Sun 7 Jan 2001) ‹ Iraq has accused a U.N. officer who helps monitor the border with Kuwait of smuggling and demanded he be withdrawn. In a letter to the United Nations, carried by the official Iraqi News Agency on Sunday, Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said the officer, a Kenyan, was caught last month trying to cross into Iraq with illegal items hidden in a U.N. car. The letter did not describe the items. ``The officer was summoned to the Iraqi liaison office. ... Items were unloaded from the car and he confessed to attempting to smuggle the items into Iraq,'' al-Sahhaf's letter said. Officials with the U.N. Observation and Monitoring force, known as UNIKOM, could not be reached for comment Sunday. UNIKOM watches over a no-man's land along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border. It is charged with reporting any violations of either nation's territory immediately to the U.N. Security Council. Iraq periodically challenges the U.N. restrictions under which it was placed after invading Kuwait a decade ago. Last month, Baghdad questioned UNIKOM's credibility, saying the monitors did not report flights by U.S. and British warplanes across the border zone as violations. Al-Sahhaf said the incident involving the Kenyan ``and the many other similar incidents have proven that U.N. employees are misusing their status to do things they know very well violate Iraqi laws.'' http://www.thescotsman.co.uk/parliament.cfm?id=37729&keyword=th * GALLOWAY SEEKS ANSWERS ON PHONE TAPPING by Pauline McInnes The Scotsman, 8th January REBEL MP George Galloway will today challenge the Prime Minister over claims that MPs¹ private telephone calls are being tapped by the security services. The outspoken Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin claims he has evidence that his home and office have been bugged. Mr Galloway also alleges that suspicions his calls and messages are under surveillance were confirmed by a senior cabinet minister. As the Westminster Parliament resumes today, Mr Galloway will demand the truth from Tony Blair. Mr Galloway said: ³More than 30 years ago Harold Wilson told Parliament that the telephone calls of members of the House would not be tapped by the security services. I will be tabling a written parliamentray question to Tony Blair for priority answer, demanding an assurance that the statement still stands.² The politician, famous for his criticism of the continuing sanctions against Iraq,Mr Galloway added: ³Over the last three years, in which my friends and I have inflicted damage on the US-UK policy towards Iraq, I¹ve sensed that the irritation of the Foreign Office at my views and activities has hardened. I have come to believe someone is monitoring international communications connected to the work I have been doing. ³A senior minister has now given me reason to believe my suspicions are correct.²It would be a particularly bitter pill if the surveillance was being ordered by a Labour government.² Westminster rules state that the Prime Minister must give a response to his question within seven days. http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,419224,00.html * BRITAIN SEEKS U-TURN OVER IRAQ BOMBING byEwen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor Guardian, 8th January The British government, in a policy u-turn, is to propose to the incoming US administration that the bombing of targets over southern Iraq should be stopped. British and US planes have enforced no-fly zones along Iraq's northern and southern borders since 1992. In the past two years alone, they have dropped more than 100 bombs, mainly against Iraqi air defences. The bombing, in what is sometimes called the "forgotten war", has led to an unknown number of civilian casualties. Hans von Sponek, the former UN humanitarian coordinator, writing in the Guardian last week, said that 144 civilians had died in the no-fly zones because of the bombing. The two no-fly zones were imposed by the US and Britain after the Gulf war in what was described as a humanitarian effort to protect the Shi'ites in the south of Iraq and Kurds in the north. However, they are not backed by any UN security council resolution and do not include flights by Iraqi helicopters. Iraq is now flying civilian aircraft over the zones. The official British line is that there are no plans to change the approach to Iraq and that British foreign policy is determined independently of the US. In the Guardian last week, Peter Hain, the Foreign Office minister, strongly defended the no-fly zone policy. But in reality, the whole of US-British policy towards Iraq is under review as a result of the impending arrival of a new US administration. Among the top foreign policy issues the new president, George W Bush, will have to contend with is how to deal with the renewed confidence of the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. Mr Bush is expected to take a tough line, given that his father was president at the time of the Gulf war and that his secretary of state, Colin Powell, commanded the Allied forces. Gen Powell has spoken of the need to "re-energise" US policy towards Iraq. But only Britain and the US remain enthusiastic about maintaining sanctions and France, among others, has criticised the continued bombing of southern Iraq. In an attempt to deflect criticism, the British government has been looking behind-the-scenes at the introduction of so-called "smart" sanctions and an end to the southern no-fly zone. The no-fly zone was meant to counter Saddam Hussein's assault on the southern Shi'ites by denying him air space. But the Iraqi campaign of repression has effectively ended because the anti-Saddam opposition in the towns and among the Marsh Arabs has been quelled. The Ministry of Defence, which has spent more than £800m policing the zones, is increasingly uneasy about the possibility of an RAF pilot going down, and the bombing has led to public concern, especially after evidence that victims have included civilians. The British government is proposing to retain the no-fly zone in the north because it argues the threat remains to the Iraqi Kurds. Although ready to consider fresh policies, Britain does not intend to let up on Saddam, seeing him as a serious threat to world stability. Downing Street has been increasingly toying with the idea of switching from a blanket ban that has exceptions to sanctions that specify a narrow band of prohibited goods, mainly weapons. UN reports have shown that the sanctions have resulted in a high civilian death toll, especially among children. Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said yesterday a rethink of British and UN policy towards Iraq was "absolutely necessary". "Ten years of inertia is no substitute for effective policy," he said. Also under consideration will be sanctions that target the regime more effectively by trying to limit the ability to travel and hitting overseas bank accounts, though such measures have proved difficult to achieve in the past. URL ONLY: http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=lvPvn7wt&atmo=99999 999&pg=/et/01/1/9/wfly09.html * No-fly zone hinges on arms inspection renewal by Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor Daily Telegraph, 9 January 2001 [DOESN¹T REALLY ADD MUCH TO ABOVE. A GLASS HALF EMPTY AS OPPOSED TO THE GUARDIAN¹S GLASS HALF FULL PB] http://allafrica.com/stories/200101080411.html * SECURITY COUNCIL DESIGNATES CHAIRPERSONS OF SANCTIONS COMMITTEES United Nations PRESS RELEASE, January 8, 2001 Members of the Security Council today designated chairpersons of 10 committees set up by the Council to monitor sanctions against countries or groups around the world. The names of new chairpersons were announced by Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore, who took over the rotating presidency of the Council for the month of January. Following "very productive" closed-door consultations this morning, the Council President told the press that the following delegates were selected to chair the 10 sanctions committees: Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby of Norway (concerning Iraq); Ambassador Valeri P.Kuchynski of Ukraine (Libya); Ambassador Said Ben Mustapha of Tunisia (Somalia); Richard Ryan of Ireland (Angola); Ambassador Moctar Ouane of Mali (Rwanda); Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury of Bangladesh (Sierra Leone); Ambassador Patricia Durrant of Jamaica (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia); Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia (Afghanistan); Ambassador Anund Priyaya Neewoor of Mauritius (Ethiopia and Eritrea); and Ambassador Mahbubani (Liberia). Ambassador Mahbubani also announced that the Council would hold informal consultations tomorrow on the situations in Sierra Leone and Ethiopia-Eritrea. He added that Singapore would work during its presidency to "keep the Council meetings brisk and efficient." Today's session marked the start of the rotating two-year terms of Singapore and four other non-permanent Council members -- Colombia, Ireland, Mauritius and Norway. On 1 January, they joined Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia and Ukraine, which are continuing their two-year terms from 2000, as well as the Council's five permanent members -- China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States. http://news.excite.com/news/r/010108/21/iraq-un-palestine * U.N. PANEL SPLIT OVER IRAQI OFFER TO PALESTINIANS by Bernie Woodall UNITED NATIONS (Reuters, 8th January) - France, Russia and China on Monday supported an Iraqi request that some of its money from oil sales go to Palestinians killed or wounded in three months of violence in the West Bank and Gaza, diplomats said. But the United States and Britain blocked any action during a closed-door meeting of the Security Council's committee monitoring the 10-year-old sanctions against Iraq. Envoys from both countries said the United Nations had other means to help Palestinians without diverting funds from needy Iraqis living under embargoes imposed after Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait in August 1990. The U.N. panel, which includes all 15 nations on the Security Council, expects to discuss the controversy again next week, its chairman, Norwegian Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby, said. But he noted that the full Security Council would have to make any final decision. A French diplomat on the committee said funds to aid Palestinians should not come out of assistance to ordinary Iraqis. Instead, he said, the money could come from Iraq funds allocated to compensate Kuwaitis and other Gulf War victims, which along with U.N. administrative expenses, account for some 28 percent of Iraq's oil sales. Under the so-called oil-for-food humanitarian program, monitored by the United Nations, Iraq sold about $17 billion of oil last year. With Iraq attempting to mend fences in the Arab world, President Saddam Hussein said last month he had promised the Palestinians 1 billion euros, the equivalent of about $945 million, over the next year. Iraqi officials say 700 million euros ($662 million) should go for food and medicine for the Palestinians, while the remainder would be for families of those killed or wounded in the near-daily clashes with Israeli troops. More than 360 people, mostly Palestinians, have been killed since Sept. 28. The French envoy, however, said that 1 billion euros was too much and urged Security Council members, along with U.N. staff, to arrive at a lower number. But a U.S. official said that while everyone sympathized with needy Palestinians, taking money from needy Iraqis was not the way to solve their problems. And a British diplomat said U.N. resolutions were clear that the revenues from Iraqi oil sales were designed to provide aid for Iraqis and no one else. Iraqis receive rationed food regularly, but children under 5 are still suffering from malnutrition, according to U.N. agencies. Some people sell the free food distributed by the government to pay for clothes, shoes and other necessities. Raad Alkadiri, an analyst with the Washington-based Petroleum Finance Co., said Saddam's gesture was popular among ordinary Iraqis. "At a certain level, this plays very well on the Iraqi street. The Palestinian issue is one that has a lot of resonance in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world," he said. http://184.108.40.206/english/htm/20010109/305081.htm 2001.1.10 WED * IRAQ WITHDRAWS FROM INDIA TOURNAMENT Xinhuanet, 9th January Iraq have withdrawn from an international soccer tournament starting in India on Wednesday, a senior official from the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said on Monday. Iraq soccer authorities informed AIFF of the withdrawal but did not give the reason, AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco said. Group one would now be a three-team affair comprising Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Bangladesh. The tournament could be reduced to 14 countries as Cameroon are also unlikely to come, a top soccer official who did not want to be identified said. The African team had not informed the organizers about their decision until Monday evening, he added. The competition runs from January 10-25 with preliminary matches played in three venues. Calcutta will host both the semifinals and the final. http://www.wn.com/?action=display&article=5202527&template=worldnews/search. txt&index=recent * IRAN, IRAQ EXCHANGE BODIES OF SOLDIERS UPI, Tue 9 Jan 2001 Iran and Iraq Tuesday exchanged the bodies of soldiers who were killed during the 1980-88 war between the countries, according to the official Iranian News Agency. The agency said Iraq handed over the bodies of 38 Iranian soldiers in return for 332 bodies of Iraqi soldiers at the Shalamcheh border in Khuzestan. Commander Faisal Baqerzadeh, who is in charge of the Iranian Armed Forces committee for the missing-in-action, said Iranian and Iraqi authorities agreed to continue searching for the soldiers who were missing in action from the Iraq-Iran war. http://www.timesofindia.com/100101/10euro5.htm * TOMATO HITS BLAIR IN PROTEST ABOUT IRAQ SANCTIONS Times of India, 10th January BRISTOL (AP), England: Prime Minister Tony Blair was hit by a tomato Tuesday as he encountered a group protesting against sanctions imposed on Iraq. "How many Iraqi children have you killed?" shouted one of a score of protesters as Blair arrived at City of Bristol College. Protesters threw oranges and other fruit, but only the tomato was seen to hit the prime minister. Two women and a man were arrested, Avon and Somerset police said, but they were not immediately identified. Blair carried on with the engagement, and a stain on the shoulder of his jacket appeared to be the only damage. Later, in a question and answer session with party members and business executives, Blair defended Britain's policy towards Iraq. He said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had committed an act of "barbarism" by invading Kuwait, would be prepared to use weapons of mass destruction and had to be contained. URL ONLY: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/UK/Politics/2001-01/tomato100101.shtml * Students against war in Iraq fire the mother of all tomatoes by Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor Independent, 10 January 2001 [MOSTLY A COMICAL ACCOUNT OF BLAIR¹S SPEECH] http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=Qw3mS9mR&atmo=99999 999&pg=/et/01/1/13/ntom13.html * TWO IN COURT OVER BLAIR TOMATO Daily Telegraph, 13th january THE woman accused of throwing a tomato at Tony Blair appeared in court yesterday charged with public order offences. Protesters: Lynn Marie Coles [left] and Jo WildingLynn Marie Coles, 25, was accused of using threatening behaviour after a charge of causing criminal damage to the Prime Minister's jacket was dropped. At a separate five-minute hearing at Bristol magistrates' court, Jo Wilding, 26, was charged with using threatening behaviour when Mr Blair was struck during a visit to the city on Tuesday. She had been accused of damaging a police inspector's clothes but that charge was dropped. The women gave the same address in Robertson Road, Eastville, Bristol, and were accompanied by supporters, including two dressed as tomatoes. Suzanne Nicholas, representing Coles, told the stipendiary magistrate, Dudley Thomas, that her client would not enter a plea and sought a two-week adjournment. Wilding was not represented and pleaded not guilty. Both were bailed until Jan 26. Outside court Coles said she did not wish to comment. Wilding said she had been protesting about a number of issues, including sanctions against Iraq and the use of depleted uranium. http://www.timesofindia.com/100101/10busi13.htm * INDIA HOPES TO BUY 1 MT CRUDE FROM IRAQ Times of India, 10th January NEW DELHI: India is hopeful that the U.N. Sanctions Committee will agree to its plea for purchase of an additional one million tons of crude oil from Iraq under the food-for-oil programme. The committee last month gave its approval for India to receive 1.5 million tons of crude in exchange for wheat, rice and tea, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Ram Naik said on the sidelines of the 4th International Petroleum Conference and Exhibition he inaugurated on Tuesday. "We hope to receive the U.N. Sanctions Committee approval for an additional one million ton crude from Iraq during this fiscal in addition to the 1.5 million tons of crude already approved in December," he said, adding the crude would be priced below current international prices. On the agreement signed with Iraq for the supply of crude on a long-term fixed rate basis, Naik said while the "the in principal agreement has been signed, it would take effect when the sanctions against Iraq are lifted. We are seeking to buy large quantities of Iraqi crude, the price and quantity of which would be decided once the sanctions are lifted." With pressure from various countries building up for lifting the sanctions on Iraq, Naik hoped this would happen soon. On reports of a proposal for a gas pipeline from Bangladesh to India, Naik said while there is some thinking on those lines, no government to-government talks have been initiated on this so far. "We want to bring gas to India from Bangladesh but so far no talks have been initiated at the government level. We hope this would be done soon," Naik said. In his address to the conference, which is being attended by over 2,500 delegates from 35 countries, Naik said, "Oil and gas currently meets about 42 per cent of the energy consumption in the country. It is estimated to remain as high as 45 percent by the end of the first quarter of the 21st century. While the share of oil is estimated to decline from around 35 percent to 25 percent during this period, that of natural gas is estimated to increase from 7 percent to 20 percent." To shift the country's reliance on petroleum products like naphtha for power generation, "the government is seriously focusing attention on non-conventional and alternative sources of energy. There is also serious thinking on increasing atomic power generation in the country," said Naik. This move is expected to reduce reliance on imported energy fuels. Currently India imports about 70 percent of its oil requirements. The oil import bill this fiscal year is projected to go up to about Rs 80 billion against Rs 54 billion in 1999-2000. "In this context, I feel strongly that the time has come for the community of nations to join hands to frame a better World Petroleum Economic Order which will ensure long-standing, mutually beneficial economic and trade relations amongst the oil producing and oil consuming countries," said Naik. India has already made a representation to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for a two-way separate formula for developing countries which would provide for crude supply at a discounted price and permit deferred payments as is being done by Venezuela for some neighboring countries. (India Abroad News Service) http://www.timesofindia.com/100101/10mide10.htm * IRAQ RESUMES NORMAL EXPORTS FROM GULF PORT: PRESS Times of India, 10th January BAGHDAD (AFP): Iraq has resumed normal oil exports from its Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr following a month-long interruption due to a dispute with the UN over prices, an official daily Al-Qadissaya reported Tuesday. Seven oil tankers have been loaded over the past 10 days, "loading operations are now continuing normally and other tankers are expected at the (Mina al-Bakr) terminal in the coming days", the newspaper said. The paper added that exports were going ahead "despite the refusal of the UN sanctions committee to approve contracts for spare parts to rehabilitate Iraq's oil installations". Oil Minister Amer Rashid told Al-Qadissaya that Iraq had so far received 450 million dollars worth of oil industry spare parts out of a total of 1.9 billion dollars worth of deals submitted to the UN for approval. According to UN figures, 1.24 billion dollars worth of oil spare parts contracts have been approved and 331.5 million dollars worth placed "on hold", while the rest has yet to be examined. Iraq has been under embargo since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait but is authorised to export crude under strict UN supervision in return for imports of humanitarian supplies and essential goods. The UN sanctions committee in December rejected a new formula proposed by Iraq for the pricing of its crude amid controversy over Baghdad's efforts to impose a surcharge to be paid outside UN control. http://news.24.com/News24/World/Middle_East/0,1113,2-10-35_963571,00.html * AID FLIGHT TO BAGHDAD STOPPED Cairo (Sapa-AFP): The UN sanctions committee has acted on a US request to suspend a humanitarian flight by EgyptAir to Baghdad which had been scheduled for Tuesday, an Egyptian foreign ministry official said. The official, who asked not to be identified, said on Wednesday that the flight by the national airline would have transported medical supplies, humanitarian aid and delegates from non-government organisations to Baghdad. The flight was suspended "after the American representative to the sanctions committee objected to the presence of two heart-monitoring machines among the equipment the plane was to carry," the official said. "This US objection is unjustified because this kind of medical equipment is not among equipment banned by the sanctions committee," he added. "The British delegate to the sanctions committee asked Lloyds not to insure humanitarian flights which fly to Baghdad without explicit sanctions committee approval, which led to the suspension of several humanitarian flights to Baghdad recently," he said. [.....] http://news.excite.com/news/r/010110/11/energy-syria-iraq * ROUTINE SYRIAN JAN OIL EXPORTS CLOUD IRAQ PIPELINE ISSUE by Jonathan Leff LONDON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Syria's crude oil export plans are back to normal levels in January after a surge in December sales raised speculation of unauthorised pipeline imports from Iraq. But market sources say extra barrels could still surface, either through additions to the programme later in the month or by Syria quietly slipping extra cargoes to discreet parties. Oil companies that buy Syrian crude said the country's Syrian Light programme for this month calls for some 14 to 15 standard cargoes, four lower than December when exports were some 25 to 40 percent above the monthly average. The schedule for Syria's heavy Souedie crude counts six lifters, although only one is taking a full 80,000 tonne stem with the remainder top-ups. Souedie plans comprise the equivalent of about three to three and a half cargoes. A normal monthly programme is about four cargoes while December's rose to almost double that. "On the surface it all looks quite average," said one long-time lifter of Syrian oil. "But I suspect the pipeline is still flowing and extra sales are going on the quiet." The additional exports last month followed the reopening of a pipeline from Iraq in November, which industry sources said Syria was using to import about 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iraqi crude for use in their domestic refineries. This freed up the additional volumes of Syria's own crude for export, as the country is unable to increase production without diverting supplies from its plants. Other traders say the lack of extra exports means the pipeline is off line, at least for the moment. "This (cutback) would imply that the pipeline isn't flowing," said a trader with an oil major. "I think that's the case, as we asked for extra barrels and were told no." Another trader added: "They were testing it before, but now I think they want official approval before they do more." The United Nations, which regulates Iraq's oil exports as part of sanctions imposed after the Gulf War, has not formally approved any pipeline exports to Syria although diplomats have said they would do so if Damascus asked for permission. Syrian officials have told the United Nations that the pipeline is not in operation, most recently in December when the world body pressed the issue amid reports that the country had raised its export volumes. Analysts say the United States may have ignored the exports to avoid antagonising Arab public opinion as it attempts to mediate Middle East peace talks. Meanwhile, Syria could be using a discreet intermediary to move additional cargoes. A Syrian oil industry source told Reuters that a European trading house who has been a term lifter for several years was taking on four Syrian Light cargoes in January. But in the official monthly programme circulated to lifters, the trader has only a single stem and has not offered any additional stems into the market. "Syria is eager to avoid a repeat of December, when the jump in exports caused all sorts of uncomfortable questions from the United Nations," said one market source. http://www.timesofindia.com/110101/11mide8.htm * IRAQ OIL EXPORTS STILL WELL BELOW AVERAGE: UN Times of India, 11th January UNITED NATIONS (AFP): Iraq's oil exports under UN supervision continued to be slow in the first week of January after falling far below average in December, the United Nations said Tuesday. The statement, by the office administering the UN's Iraq oil-for-food programme, contradicted a claim by Oil Minister Amer Rashid that Iraq had resumed normal exports, with seven tanker loadings in the past 10 days. Between December 29 and January 5, there was a single loading at Iraq's Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr with a volume of 1.8 million barrels of crude for an estimated value of 32 million dollars, the office said. There were no loadings at the Turkish port of Ceyhan. The average price of Iraqi oil exported in that week was 19.6 dollars a barrel, the office said. This compares with an average price of 18 dollars in the two previous weeks, when Iraq sold a total of 12.9 million barrels. Iraq has an export capacity of about 2.4 million barrels day, but has exported only 17.7 million barrels since December 13, when it resumed sales of oil after a 12-day halt due to a dispute with the UN over the price. "Currently there are 65 approved oil purchase contracts with a volume of 118.6 million barrels of oil awaiting completion," the UN office said. http://www.dailystarnews.com/200101/11/n1011105.htm#BODY6 * IRAQ STILL OUT OF MARKET Daily Star, 11th January Crude exports out of Iraq appeared to remain on hold on Tuesday despite assurances a day earlier from Iraqi officials that oil would begin to flow soon. Exports ground to a halt after customers refused to stump up cash for an illegal surcharge levied by Iraq which contravenes UN sanctions. UN officials, who monitor movements of Iraqi oil under the oil-for-food programme adopted following Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, said three tankers were heading on Monday for the Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr, one of two outlets for Iraqi crude. Industry sources also said the Gulf port would be back in business on Wednesday, confirming two Basral Light crude oil loadings. Two other tankers would also leave the port, but despite the emergence of spot offers, oil majors were steering clear of Iraqi exports into Europe, traders said on Tuesday. Companies were unwilling to cross the United Nations by touching cargoes tainted by the illegal surcharge, they added. There were no vessels at the second export port of Ceyhan in Turkey, UN officials said. Only one tanker has loaded Iraqi oil this month against total exports of roughly 16.5 million barrels in December when loadings were halted for 12 days. http://www.detnews.com/2001/nation/0101/11/b04-174278.htm * PEACE ACTION TO MARCH AGAINST IRAQ SANCTIONS by Jennifer Brooks The Detroit News, 11th January FERNDALE -- Oakland County residents will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Persian Gulf War this weekend with a silent march and public discussion of whether it's time to end the sanctions that have crippled Iraq for the past decade. "There is no reason for the Iraqi people to be suffering like this," said Brad van Guilder, a physicist-turned-activist who heads the Ferndale-based group Peace Action of Michigan. He has seen the suffering first hand. In December 1999, he joined other activists from Metro Detroit on an inspection tour of the devastated country. There they saw schools shattered by bombs, and cities reeking with raw sewage because the country has been unable to rebuild its water and sanitation systems. And everywhere, he said, he saw children dying. "Why are you doing this to us? Why?" one father screamed at him during a tour through a Baghdad hospital. The man clutched a blood-soaked rag that his leukemia-stricken daughter had been coughing into all day. With medical supplies in short supply because of the sanctions, the death rate from leukemia is almost 100 percent, he said. The Ferndale group is coordinating Metro Detroit Against Sanctions, one of many groups across the nation calling for an end to the sanctions. Since the war, at least 10,000 Iraqi refugees have flooded into Metro Detroit -- many of them doctors and other white-collar professionals who have gone on to make their homes in Oakland. The Chaldean Federation of America in Southfield estimates there are 120,000 Chaldeans living in Metro Detroit, the vast majority in Oakland County. Back home, they leave a country where 1.2 million civilians have died of hunger, disease and deprivation since the end of the Gulf War, which began on Jan. 18, 1991, with the first air strikes of Operation Desert Storm against Iraq. "We must ask ourselves, 'Who are the sanctions hurting?' They're hurting the Iraqi people," said Anan Ameri of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. "Is it not enough that they are suffering under a bad leader? We are punishing them for having a bad leader." http://www.nydailynews.com/2001-01-11/News_and_Views/Beyond_the_City/a 95448.asp * SHOT-DOWN FLIER COULD BE ALIVE, SAYS NAVY New York Daily News, 11th January The Navy has changed the status of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speicher, a fighter pilot shot down on the opening night of the 1991 Gulf War, from killed in action to missing, officials said yesterday. Pentagon officials said Navy Secretary Richard Danzig acted because of substantial evidence that Speicher may not have died in the crash. "It's substantial in nature, in the totality," one official said. He would not elaborate. According to CBS News, that evidence includes the discovery of Speicher's flight suit during an examination of the crash site in 1995 that was sanctioned by Iraq. "There, laying on the desert floor, is the flight suit, [looking like the pilot] had just thrown it on the desert floor 10 or 15 minutes before," CBS quoted Tim Connolly, who was then the deputy secretary of defense in charge of special operations, as saying. "Now immediately, it begs the question of where has the flight suit been?" As a result, the State Department sent a diplomatic note to Baghdad demanding that the Iraqi government tell all it knows about Speicher's fate. Other evidence includes satellite photos of manmade markings in the desert, possibly a sign from the pilot that he survived, and the discovery of the jet's canopy far from the rest of the wreckage, suggesting that he ejected. In March, Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.) and Sen. Rod Grams (R-Minn.) asked Danzig to change Speicher's status to reflect evidence suggesting he survived the crash. Smith met with Danzig again Dec. 20 on the matter, officials said. In a letter dated Dec. 18, Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, told Smith that a recent intelligence assessment "has stimulated a high-level review of this case ‹ several new actions are under way, and additional steps are under intense review." Berger's letter, which was given to The Associated Press yesterday, did not specify what actions were contemplated. Speicher, of Jacksonville, Fla., was flying a Navy F-18 Hornet when he was shot down Jan. 16, 1991, in an air-to-air battle with an Iraqi fighter. He was the first American lost in the war and the last still unaccounted for. http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/01/12/gulf.war.pilot/index.html * IRAQI DEFECTOR REPORTED U.S. PILOT IN IRAQI HOSPITAL WASHINGTON (CNN, 12th January) -- An Iraqi defector reported a U.S. pilot had been seen in a hospital in Iraq after the start of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, CNN has learned. Defense Department sources said Friday that the report by a defector contributed to Navy Secretary Richard Danzig's decision Thursday to change the status of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher from "killed in action" to "missing in action." But the report did not specifically say the pilot was Speicher. Navy officials says there were eight Navy and Marine Corps aviators captured during the Persian Gulf War. Speicher was on his way to drop bombs on downtown Baghdad January 17, 1991, when the F/A-18 fighter jet he was piloting went down over the Iraqi desert. He was the first American lost in the conflict. It is unclear whether it was a surface to air missile or an Iraqi MiG that downed Speicher's plane. He is officially listed as "the only air-to-air combat loss" of the war, since it is believed that he was in a dogfight with an Iraqi fighter jet when his plane went down. Earlier Friday, President Clinton said he had no hard evidence that a fighter pilot shot down over Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf War is alive and promised that the United States would do its best to find out. The president said that he didn't want to raise false hopes. "We do not have hard evidence that he is alive," Clinton told reporters Friday at the White House. "We have some evidence that what had been assumed to be the evidence that he is lost in action is not so." "And we're going to do our best to find out if he is alive and if he is, to get him out because as a uniformed serviceman he should have been released if he is alive." http://www.wn.com/?action=display&article=5273512&template=worldnews/search. txt&index=recent * IRAQ REJECTS REPORTS US PILOT LIVED BAGHDAD, Iraq (Associated Press, Sat 13 Jan 2001) ‹ Iraq said Saturday there was no truth to reports that a missing U.S. Navy pilot might have survived after being shot down during the Gulf War, calling the idea a ``silly lie.'' Iraq's Information Ministry said it would soon release documents concerning Lt. Cmdr. Michael S. Speicher, whose jet was hit on the first night of the Gulf War in 1991. The ministry did not say what information the documents contain. U.S. intelligence officials in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday there have been unconfirmed reports in recent years that Speicher survived the downing of his plane and was seen afterward in Iraqi custody. ``This silly lie represents the bankruptcy of (President) Clinton,'' the Iraqi Information Ministry said in a statement on the state-run Iraqi News Agency. Clinton cautioned that he didn't want to raise false hopes, but said the United States was ``going to do our best to find out if he is alive and, if he is, to get him out.'' The U.S. government sent a diplomatic communication to Baghdad on Wednesday demanding an accounting, U.S. officials said. Speicher is the only American lost in Iraqi territory who has not been accounted for. After the war, the Iraqi government turned over remains it said were Speicher's, but DNA analysis and blood testing showed they were not his. The U.S. officials said more than one informant had reported to U.S. intelligence agencies that an American thought to be Speicher was being held prisoner in Iraq after the war ended. The reports were received over a period of several years but the sightings were in 1991 and 1992, the officials said. The veracity of the reports was uncertain, but they are credible enough to lead American government officials to think Speicher probably survived the crash. Speicher, of Jacksonville, Fla., flew his F-18 Hornet off the carrier USS Saratoga on the opening night of the war in January 1991, and went down west of Baghdad. He apparently was attacked by an Iraqi MiG-25 fighter. Another American pilot who saw the jet explode in the air reported that it was hit by an air to-air missile and that he did not see Speicher eject. A combat search and rescue mission was planned but not executed, and the crash site was not found until 1994. Shortly after then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney told reporters on the night of the shootdown that Speicher had died in the crash, the Pentagon declared him ``missing in action.'' In May 1991, the Navy approved a ``finding of death,'' in the absence of evidence that he had survived, and he was switched to ``killed in action.'' The KIA status was reaffirmed by the Navy in 1996. The Navy told Speicher's family on Wednesday that it was changing his status to ``missing in action.'' On Thursday, the Navy said ``additional information and analysis'' led Navy Secretary Richard Danzig to reverse earlier determinations that Speicher had died. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk_politics/newsid_1112000/1112859.stm * UK IRAQ POLICY 'BONKERS' BBC, 11th January A Labour MP has branded the West's sanctions policy towards Iraq as "bonkers" saying it had transformed President Saddam Hussein into "one of the most popular political leaders in the world". George Galloway, a long-time opponent of sanctions, said that not only had the sanctions inflicted huge suffering on ordinary Iraqis but that they had reinforced Saddam's position by making him appear to be a victim of Western aggression. So this policy is berserk, it's bonkers, quite apart from being immoral in my view Mr Galloway, who has repeatedly visited Iraq and is off on another trip to the Gulf country, said that the Iraqi government was becoming "stronger and stronger" He said that its popularity extended "throughout the Third World, the Arab world, the Muslim world, (more) than it could ever have dreamt possible". "One of the great achievements of this sanctions policy, and the policy of aggression against Iraq, is that Saddam Hussein is one of the most popular political leaders in the world. "His pictures are being held aloft in demonstrations in all manner of places ... If you look at the uprising in Palestine for example, you will not see a single demonstration or funeral procession in the Intafada which is not bearing aloft Iraqi flags and pictures of the Iraqi president.. "The reality is that these sanctions provide an alibi for Saddam, they provide a means whereby a certain class in Iraq can become rich through smuggling ... and which strengthen the regime while devastating the people. "So this policy is berserk, it's bonkers, quite apart from being immoral in my view," Mr Galloway told BBC Radio 5 Live. The Glasgow Kelvin MP urged Western governments which back the sanctions, including the UK and US, to rethink the strategy. http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=5241323&template=worldnews/ search.txt&index=recent * IRAQI AIRWAYS REOPENS BEIRUT OFFICE UPI, Thu 11 Jan 2001 Iraq's national carrier, Iraqi Airways, reopened Thursday its representative office in Beirut following years of closure because of U.N.-imposed sanctions on Baghdad over its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The reopening ceremony was attended by Iraqi Charge d'Affaires Nabil al-Jinadi and a number of Lebanese political and aviation officials. Al-Jinadi emphasized the importance of such a move which "strengthens air transportation activities between Lebanon and Iraq." The reopening of Iraqi Airways office comes as contacts were underway to complete preparations for resuming flights between the two Arab countries. Iraq's carrier has reopened its offices in Syria and other countries while a number of Arab and foreign countries have sent planes to Baghdad in defiance of the international embargo. http://www.timesofindia.com/120101/12mide6.htm * IRAQ STARTS DISTRIBUTING RATION CARDS FOR 2001 Times of India, 12th january BAGHDAD (AFP): Iraq's commerce ministry on Thursday began handing out ration cards to its citizens for 2001, the eleventh straight year of sanctions. A ministry official told AFP at one of the distribution centres that it would take around one month to provide all 22 million citizens of sanctions-hit Iraq with their ration cards. The government has distributed ration cards since sanctions were imposed upon Iraq in August 1990 after it invaded Kuwait. The ration cards have provided Iraqis with basic needs amid a dramatic plunge in their living standards. Each month, Iraqis receive their rations, which consist of small quantities of flour, rice, tea, sugar, vegetable oil and infant milk, along with soap, salt, detergents, razors and matches. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200101/12/eng20010112_60274.html * IRAQ BLAMES UN COMMITTEE FOR SHELVING HUMANITARIAN CONTRACTS People's Daily, 12th January The United Nations Sanctions Committee has put on hold a total of 1,762 contracts during the past eight phases of the UN oil-for-food program, according to a report released by the Iraqi Trade Ministry on Thursday. These contracts, worth some US$4 billion, have been signed between Iraq and other countries for the UN sanctions-hit country to import vital humanitarian goods within the framework of the oil-for-food formula. [.....] http://www.latimes.com/wires/20010112/tCB00a4304.html * IRAQ SAYS TWO PEOPLE INJURED IN AIR RAID Los Angeles Times, 12th January BAGHDAD--Iraq said on Friday that two people were injured when U.S. and British planes attacked civilian targets in the southern region a day earlier. A military spokesman quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency INA said: "U.S. and British planes flew over provinces of Basra, Dhiqar and Wassit provinces at 20:18 p.m. last night (Thursday). The planes attacked civilian and service installations in Wassit province injuring two people." Iraqi air defense units fired on the jets and forced them to return to their bases in Kuwait, the spokesman said. There was no immediate comment on the report from the United States or Britain. [.....] http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=6831 * NUCLEAR WATCHDOG TO INSPECT IRAQI NUCLEAR MATERIAL Dubai (Reuters, Saturday, January 13, 2001): The International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday it intends to carry out a limited inspection of nuclear material in Iraq this month to ensure that the material it knew was there two years ago is all still there. The inspection would have the limited goal of simply verifying that the known nuclear material, none of which is of weapons grade, was there and remained under seal, said Mohammed El Baradei, director-general of the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog agency. "It would not and could not serve as a substitute" for more comprehensive and intrusive IAEA inspections in Iraq conducted prior to 1998 under a Security Council resolution ordering Baghdad to eliminate all its weapons of mass destruction, he said in a letter to the UN Security Council. UN weapons inspectors have been barred from Iraq since the last UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) team left in December 1998. It withdrew shortly before U.S. and British warplanes launched a four-day air campaign on grounds that Iraq was hindering the work of UN arms experts. But IAEA inspectors have since been allowed in, to carry out less exhaustive inspections under an agreement between Baghdad and the IAEA aimed at guarding against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The IAEA is required to carry out these limited inspections once a year, and the last one was completed on January 25, 2000, El Baradei said in his letter dated December 22 and circulated yesterday. While all weapons-grade nuclear material has been removed from Iraq in line with Security Council resolutions, "a significant amount of low enriched and natural uranium" remained in the country, he said. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/24145948.htm * IRAQI VICE-PRESIDENT TO VISIT EGYPT Athens, Jan. 13, IRNA -- Iraqi vice-president Taha Yasin Ramadan begins an official visit to Cairo lasting several days on Monday with the aim to improve Egyptian-Iraqi relations. Taha Ramadan will be leading a high-ranking Iraqi delegation to discuss ways to boost economic and trade relations and cooperation between the two Arab countries. According to the London-based Arab daily ''al-Sharq al-Awsat,'' Taha Ramadan will deliver a personal message from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It is the first official visit of an Iraqi vice-president to Cairo since the two countries broke ties in the aftermath of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait that resulted in the second Persian Gulf war in 1991. The paper, quoting Iraqi sources, said Ramadan's visit to Cairo might lead to a full restoration of Egyptian-Iraqi ties. Diplomatic relations between Cairo and Baghdad were upgraded in December after Egypt sent several humanitarian flights to Iraq. Another Iraqi vice-president, Ezzat Ibrahim, had represented Iraq at the emergency Arab summit held in Cairo in October. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57039-2001Jan13.html * US GIVES GO-AHEAD TO IRAQI OPPOSITION by John Lancaster Washington Post, 14th January With barely a week left in office, the Clinton administration has approved a plan to help Iraqi opposition groups reestablish their presence inside Iraq, a potentially high-risk operation that could test President-elect Bush's commitment to ousting Saddam Hussein, administration officials said. In a report submitted to Congress on Wednesday, the administration outlined plans to distribute food, medicine and other forms of humanitarian relief inside government controlled areas of Iraq by means of the Iraqi National Congress, or INC, the main umbrella group for opposition forces arrayed against Hussein's government. Notwithstanding its humanitarian purpose, the $12 million program has important political and security implications because it would commit the United States to assist the INC in reestablishing a substantial operation inside the U.S.-protected "safe area" of northern Iraq, from which it was ousted by Hussein's forces in 1996. Congress appropriated funds for the program last fall and gave the administration until Jan. 5 to develop a plan for carrying it out. According to the plan, prepared in close consultation with the INC, opposition members will make clandestine forays into government-controlled areas to distribute relief supplies and propaganda. Administration officials acknowledge that the Iraqi leader is sure to regard the opposition's presence as a provocation, raising questions about the willingness of the incoming Bush administration to protect the relief operation from Iraqi government forces. Opposition leaders, meanwhile, say they view the operation as a precursor to the armed insurrection that they hope to mount one day with the help of American weapons and air support. Administration officials say they welcomed the initiative as an effective way to boost the opposition's profile in Iraq short of supplying it with arms, a proposal with wide support in Congress but one that President Clinton and his aides regard as ill-advised. Even as a relief program, however, the U.S.-backed plan "does raise obvious security questions," said a senior administration official involved in formulating Iraq policy. The INC "is very conscious of the risk it faces," the official added. "We've talked about security issues with them, . . . and a new U.S. administration is going to be looking closely at this." After checking with Bush transition officials yesterday, a Bush spokeswoman said she was "unable to determine" whether Bush's foreign policy advisers had been consulted on the plan. But in any event, she said, they would have no comment on it until after Jan. 20. Richard N. Perle, a former assistant defense secretary who advised Bush on foreign policy during the campaign, predicted the new administration will welcome the initiative. "It's not a question of blocking them in or forcing them into a situation they would object to," he said. "My guess is they will wish to support the opposition." [.....] Responding to Republican critics, administration officials say it would be premature, and perhaps disastrous, to arm the opposition until it resolves its factional rivalries and organizational problems. "I think that in the final analysis, if Saddam Hussein is to go the way of [ousted Yugoslav president Slobodan] Milosevic, it's going to happen on the inside," national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger told reporters and editors of The Washington Post on Friday. While the opposition "can play a role," Berger added, "I don't know any countries around Iraq who believe that's a viable option, that they could constitute a serious threat to Saddam Hussein in that way." Blocked from acquiring lethal aid, the INC leadership last year proposed the relief operation as a first step to get the organization up and running again inside Iraq. The idea was embraced by Congress, which last fall appropriated $12 million for humanitarian relief "to be provided to the Iraqi people inside Iraq" through the INC. An additional $6 million was budgeted for INC radio and television broadcasts inside Iraq. State Department officials saw both initiatives, which come on top of the $97 million in the Iraq Liberation Act, as a good opportunity to help the opposition and satisfy Congress while avoiding the issues posed by lethal assistance. Clinton signed the law Nov. 6. Congress gave the administration the choice of submitting its plan in classified or unclassified form. The administration chose the latter, in part because it wanted to respond publicly to critics who said it was not doing enough to help the opposition. According to the eight-page report, the INC plans to distribute humanitarian aid to displaced persons in northern Iraq and to "Iraqis living in areas controlled by the regime (especially Marsh Arabs and other people living in southern Iraq and the Iran-Iraq border areas)." To that end, the opposition will set up relief offices in northern Iraq and southern Iran; aid will be distributed in government-controlled areas of the south "through temporary deployments of mobile teams supported by offices in Iran." The propaganda campaign will include satellite television broadcasts, 24-hour-a-day radio broadcasts from a "high power transmitter inside the country" and distribution of a "miniaturized version" of the INC's weekly newspaper "inside areas now under the control of the Baghdad regime," the report states. The administration's embrace of the plan heralds a modest comeback for the INC. Founded in 1992 with heavy CIA backing, the organization and its various offshoots once fielded a guerrilla army from bases in northern and southern Iraq. But that operation was largely destroyed in 1996, when Hussein sent tanks into the north and forced the hasty evacuation of 6,000 INC operatives and supporters. The Clinton administration's refusal to block that incursion with military force has long been a source of bitterness within the organization and among its supporters in Congress. According to the report, the prospect that the INC will begin rebuilding its infrastructure in the north, even on a modest scale, could confront the next administration with a similar choice. "Beyond such improvement of the INC's own abilities to protect its people and others inside Iraq, the administration and Congress will need to consider what forms of direct protection, if any, the U.S. should provide," it states. In a telephone interview from his London office, Ahmed Chalabi, a founding member of the organization and its most visible spokesman here, expressed hope that the relief operation will lead to bigger and better things. "If we can operate an organization inside the country and at the same time carry out an actual program inside the country in the face of Saddam's regime," he said, "this means . . . we can do it for other things which are relevant to getting rid of Saddam." http://worldoil.com/News/NewsStory.asp?ID=3948 * IRAQ WANTS OPEC OIL OUTPUT CUTS OF THREE MILLION BPD BY MARCH BAGHDAD, Jan 13 (AFP) - Iraq called Saturday for a still larger cut in OPEC production, seeking an output drop of three million barrels per day (bpd) from current levels by the end of March, following a two million bpd reduction planned for next week. "The coming OPEC meeting is called upon to lower production by around two million bpd and to follow on with another one million bpd cut at its next meeting in March," Oil Minister Amer Rashid told the Qatari satellite TV channel Al-Jazira. Rashid insisted that OPEC must decide at its Vienna meeting next Wednesday on "an immediate reduction of two million bpd" rather than split the cut into two phases. OPEC president Shakib Khelil, in an interview published Saturday, said the oil cartel is expected to decide to cut output by between 1.5 and 2 million bpd in Vienna. "Qatar''s energy minister is talking of two million barrels and the Saudi (oil) minister of 1.5 million barrels. There is agreement that the cut will be between these two figures," Khelil told the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Hayat. Khelil said the Vienna meeting would also decide on when the production cut is to take effect and for how long. Most members of OPEC (the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) have called for a decrease in oil production to offset lower prices as spring approaches in the northern hemisphere. Rashid, whose sanctions-hit country is an OPEC member but exempted from the cartel''s quota system, has warned that the current Gulf tour by US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson was aimed at weakening the consensus to lower production. Richardson started his tour with talks in Riyadh on Saturday. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/795151 * U.S. ACTIVISTS LAND IN BAGHDAD AIRPORT Houston Chronicle, 13th January BAGHDAD, Iraq (Associated Press): More than 70 American activists arrived on two flights Saturday to deliver medicine, books and school supplies as part of the growing international challenge to the 10-year-old embargo against Iraq. The Americans, mostly members of religious and humanitarian organizations, make up one of the largest U.S. contingents to visit since the 1991 Gulf War. A pair of Royal Jordanian flights ferried them from Amman, capital of neighboring Jordan, adding to the dozens of planes that have touched down at Saddam International Airport following a decade of U.N. sanctions that had effectively banned air travel. "We're probably the first Americans who have flown over Iraq for a long time who haven't brought bombs," said organizer James Jennings, head of Atlanta-based Conscience International. The visiting Americans did not request U.S. government permission for their trip. However, they did not technically violate the sanctions placed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Jordan, which owns the airline, received advance approval for the first flight from the U.N. sanctions committee, officials said. "Down USA" is painted in large black letters on the sidewalk at the entrance to the airport and similar handwritten signs are posted throughout the massive terminal building. However, a delegation of more than 100 Iraqis led by Health Minister Omed Medhat Mubarak warmly greeted Jennings' group on the tarmac. The second group of Americans, headed by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, arrived Saturday night. The Americans brought a total of $250,000 worth of medicine, eyeglasses, school supplies and medical books for the Iraqis. [.....] -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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