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NEWS, 14-21/1/01 The items I found interesting here were the harrassment of the Iraqi fishermen, the notion that Iraq might save the West¹s bacon when OPEC cuts its oil production and Benon Sevan¹s criticism of Iraqi purchasing policy (I haven¹t investigated the question but the figures he gives are pretty surprising). The items I didn¹t find interesting including Uday reasserting the claim over Kuwait and Saddam, in imitation of Gadaffy a few years back, offering to give lots of money to poor Americans. Some good anti-sanctions agitations. There are also supplements on Iraq (general discussion articles swoillen this week by lots of rather amnaesiac reminiscence of the beginning of the Gulf War), the ongoing depleted uranium saga, and general matters of the New World Order aka US foreign policy. * Saudi firm to start direct exports to Iraq * Iraq says oil exports will soon return to 2 million barrels a day [press conference by Iraqi oil minister, Amer Mohammed Rashid] * Iraq will not let U.N. inspectors return, minister says * Iraq: U.S. attempting to 'cover the truth' with missing Gulf War pilot * Egyptian FM Rejects "Indefinite" U.N.-Imposed Sanctions on Iraq * Iraqi fishermen say they [are] harassed by Iran, Kuwait * Iraqi oil smuggled out on train via Syria * Saudi, Iraqi ministers discuss upcoming haj plans * Iran Group Claims Mortar Attack [in Teheran by Iraqi based Mujahedeen Khalq] * [Indian] PM writes to Saddam [Œconveying India's interest in the reconstruction of Iraq¹] * Aziz Finds Friendly Audience [in US activists] * Iraq gives $9m to intifada [actually 900m, though not clear that its actually or will actually change hands. PLO rep in Baghdad to discuss modalities] * Iraqi Feb Kirkuk oil prices approved by U.N * British oil firms in talks with Iraq * 'Stop the war' with Iraq, Canadian churches urge * Water and sanitation kills Iraqis: British activists [Voices in the Wilderness visit to Iraq] * Minister says Iraq has right to sell oil freely * London traffic stopped by Iraq sanctions demo * Hunt supporters sanction rival protest * Aziz blames West for Gulf War [Extract giving account of Voices protest in NY] * Syrian mediation between Iraq and the Arab Gulf states * Iraq denies mediation for reconciliation with Saudi Arabia * Jordan forms committee for building oil pipeline from Iraq * Australian Government Urged to Change Policy Towards Iraq [by group including ex-PM, Malcolm Fraser] * Baghdad lavishes riches on elite [short article has a bit more nuance than the headline] * US air strike in southern Iraq * End To U.N. Sanctions Sought [Fellowship of Reconciliation in New York targetting Richard Holbrooke] * Britain promises flexibility on Iraq inspections [Hain trying to sound reasonable. Unfortunately the Iraqi experience of weapons inspectors from 1991 to 1998 argues against him] * Palestinians march for Iraq on Gulf War anniversary * Hussein Calls for Arab Unity [account of SH¹s 10th anniversary TV speech] * UN Complains Iraq Neglecting Health, Oil Sectors [Report from Benon Sevan criticising Iraqi purchasing policy] * Saddam may hold the key to West's prosperity [by making up the gap created when OPEC reduces its oil quotas] * Egyptian - Iraqi relations beyond diplomatic representation [and related URLs] * Iraq shoots self in foot again [Uday reasserting claim to Kuwait and reaction among Arab and Gulf states. With related URLs] * Some 11,000 Iraqis die in December, 2000 of the siege * Vietnam flouts Iraq air embargo * Iraq, Kurds still in dialogue despite break: Baghdad * Dr. Barham Salih becomes the new Prime Minister of the PUK-controlled region of Southern Kurdistan * Iraq Says Airstrike Kills Six * Israel investigates its envoy in Atlanta for alleged Iraqi link [He is accused of having an Iraqi friend, a very serious offence, it appears] * Iraq seeks UN permission to aid 'wretched Americans' URLs ONLY: http://www.nypostonline.com/news/worldnews/21297.htm * Saddam's vicious sons to fight it out by Niles Lathem New York Post,January 14,2001 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk_politics/newsid_1119000/1119736.stm * Call to end Iraq sanctions BBC, 16th January [Account of BBC interview with Tony Benn. Also starring Peter Hain and the Kuwaiti ambassador to London. Summary of well established positions] http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010117/wl/iraq_leadall_dc_1.html * Iraq Marks Gulf War with Eye on New U.S. Leader by Nadim Ladki (Reuters, 17th January) [Account of Baghdad rally attended by Ramsey Clark¹s International Action Center] http://www.dawn.com/2001/01/19/ebr3.htm * Wheat export to Baghdad, Kabul, Tehran targetted by Aamir Shafaat Khan Dawn (Pakistan) 19th January http://www.timesofindia.com/140101/14mide5.htm * SAUDI FIRM TO START DIRECT EXPORTS TO IRAQ Times of India, 14th January RIYADH (AFP): A Saudi transport firm signed a contract with Iraq for direct exports through a border crossing to the sanctions-hit state, the company said onSaturday. Khaled bin Ibrahim al-Namlah, managing director of the Saudi Land Transport Co., told AFP the contract was signed with Iraq's General Land Transport Co. in the United Arab Emirates earlier this week. The Arar border crossing would be used and the service launched in a month's time after agreements have been sealed with Saudi exporters, he said. He said his company would not handle Iraq-bound goods in transit. A Saudi official said in November that the kingdom was awaiting a green light from the United Nations to reopen Arar to ease the entry of humanitarian goods to Iraq. "The opening of the border crossing also needs the designation of a UN agent to oversee that the products in question fall under the oil-for-food programme," said Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah al-Zamel, head of a centre for promoting Saudi exports. Zamel put the figure of exports from Saudi private companies transited through Jordan under the programme at "more than 400 million dollars." [.....] http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/meast/01/14/iraq.oil.ap/index.html * IRAQ SAYS OIL EXPORTS WILL SOON RETURN TO 2 MILLION BARRELS A DAY CNN, January 14, 2001 BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq's oil exports, which fell sharply last month amid a dispute with the United Nations, are expected to reach 2 million barrels a day by the end of January, close to previous levels, the country's oil minister said Sunday. Amer Mohammed Rashid also called for OPEC to cut its output by 2 million barrels a day at its meeting this Wednesday to help reduce what he called an oversupply in the international market. In a wide-ranging news conference, Rashid expressed frustration at the U.N. sanctions committee that has repeatedly delayed approval of contracts for spare parts and other supplies Iraq needs to rehabilitate its oil industry. Despite a decade of sanctions, Iraq has been producing at close to the same level as before the 1991 Gulf War. The country was exporting 2.3 million barrels of oil a day in the latter part of 2000. But Iraq slashed exports to just 600,000 barrels a day in December due to a dispute over pricing with the United Nations, which regulates Iraqi exports. Rashid said Iraq would soon overcome this hiccup. "We will come back to 2 million (barrels a day) at the end of January," Rashid said. He also described the recent slowdown in exports through the Turkish port of Ceyhan as a "temporary interruption due to the holidays" at the end of December. The United Nations has lifted the ceiling on Iraq's oil exports and the country sold more than $16 billion worth of oil last year, roughly what it earned annually before the war. [.....] "There is absolutely no hope for this program to succeed, even with good faith," said Rashid, who accused the United States and its allies of seeking to undermine Iraq's efforts to rebuild its economy. "Contracts over two years old are still on hold." Iraq is a member of OPEC, but due to Iraq's current economic state, it operates independently and does not take part when OPEC raises or lowers its output quotas. Still, Iraq's output is large enough to influence world oil prices. OPEC increased oil output four times last year, helping drive down prices that had peaked around $35 a barrel. The United States and other major oil consuming nations are urging OPEC to make only a moderate cut in production this week, not the 2 million barrels that Iraq is seeking. On other issues, Rashid said: -- Iraq total oil production, for both exports and domestic use, averaged around 3 million barrels a day last year, and the target this year is 3.5 million barrels, Rashid said. He said Iraq could pump up to 4 million barrels a day, but needs spare parts to reach full capacity. -- Iraq's oil export pipeline to Syria, which has been out of operation for nearly two decades, is in the "final phase of repairs and testing." He did not give a date when it would be formally reopened. -- When asked about Iraq oil smuggling through neighboring states such as Syria and Turkey, Rashid said his country was free to engage in trade with its neighbors despite the U.N. program that calls for the sanctions committee to approve all oil contracts. [.....] http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/meast/01/14/iraq.sanctions.reut/index.html * IRAQ WILL NOT LET U.N. INSPECTORS RETURN, MINISTER SAYS CNN, January 14, 2001 BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- Iraq said on Sunday it would not allow U.N. weapons inspectors to return to the country, as Baghdad and the United Nations prepare for high level talks next month. Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed reiterated Iraq's dismissal of a U.N. resolution adopted in December 1999 which calls for the suspension of sanctions against Baghdad if it allows weapons inspectors to return. "It is a complete failure and we will never deal with it and it is totally impractical," Rasheed told a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War on January 17, 1991. He said the resolution had removed Iraq "from a long tunnel where we started to see light, and put us in a new tunnel with new procedures and without an end." [.....] Rasheed also criticized the country's oil-for-food deal with the United Nations, saying it was too difficult to implement. "You cannot run a country of 23 million people with revenues of $16 to 20 billion," under the direction of the Security Council, Rasheed said. The oil pact allows Iraq to sell unlimited quantities of oil over six months to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies for Iraqis hard pressed by sanctions. "We have to accept it... until people in the Security Council realize it is high time that sanctions should be lifted," he said. [.....] http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/01/14/gulf.war.pilot.02/index.html * IRAQ: U.S. ATTEMPTING TO 'COVER THE TRUTH' WITH MISSING GULF WAR PILOT CNN, January 14, 2001 [.....] Details divulged from 1995 crash search Iraq on Sunday also divulged details of a 1995 search of its western desert, where the crash occurred. U.S. crash site specialists from the Defense Department, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, entered Iraq with President Saddam Hussein's permission. The 11-member U.S. and Red Cross team found the wreckage from Speicher's aircraft and reported there had been previous digging at the site. Clinton administration officials told CNN the Red Cross team was able to retrieve the plane's flight data recorder from Bedouin Arabs, as well as a "tattered flight suit" that appeared to belong to Speicher. The data recorder offered no useful clues, and neither did the flight suit, officials said. Likewise, the Bedouins were not of any substantial help. In its account of the search, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry statement said the United States demanded that it "be carried out secretly." "The team, accompanied by Iraqi experts and (Red Cross) representatives, found the pilot's uniform, but not his remains," the Foreign Ministry said. Parts of the plane were found at the site, along with "evidence the pilot was killed," the ministry said without elaboration. The ministry said a symbol near the crash site, cited by U.S. authorities as evidence the pilot may have survived the crash, was in fact erected by Bedouins. The Bedouins say the symbol was made from the plane's wreckage and was erected near the site as a marker for travelers in the desert. Iraq's government "did not know where the site was prior to the visit. The American team supplied Iraq with the details on the location," the statement said. Meanwhile, Iraq renewed its demand that the U.S. government pay $70,000 for Iraqi expenses incurred during the investigation. Clinton: No 'hard evidence that he is alive' U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said more than one informant has reported to U.S. intelligence agencies that an American thought to be Speicher was being held prisoner in Iraq after the war ended. However, the United States does not have "hard evidence that he is alive," President Clinton said Friday. Speicher, of Jacksonville, Florida, 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 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. 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. The Gulf War was triggered by Iraq's 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait, an attack countered by a U.S.-led allied force. http://18.104.22.168/english/htm/20010114/315700.htm * EGYPTIAN FM REJECTS "INDEFINITE" U.N.-IMPOSED SANCTIONS ON IRAQ CAIRO, January 13 (Xinhuanet) -- It is impossible to accept the notion of implementing "indefinite" U.N. sanctions against Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said here on Saturday. Moussa made the remark at the three-day 14th annual conference on political research which opened in the day and was sponsored by Cairo University's Centre for Political Studies, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported. The 10-year sanctions on Baghdad should by no means continue " indefinitely" and it is high time for them to be lifted, said Moussa. [.....] Iraq severed its relations with Egypt in the 1991 Gulf war when Egypt joined the U.S. led multinational force that ended Iraq's seven month occupation of Kuwait. But the two countries have since maintained interests sections. In November, Egypt raised its diplomatic mission in Iraq to the level of charges d'affaires. Egypt has regularly called for a lifting of the decade old U.N. sanctions. Egypt has become Iraq's largest trade partner in the Arab world and the fifth largest in the world, after Russia, China, France and India. Enditem http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=6916 * IRAQI FISHERMEN SAY THEY [ARE] HARASSED BY IRAN, KUWAIT Fao, Iraq, Reuters, 14th January Fishermen on Iraq's only outlet to the sea said yesterday UN restrictions and Iranian and Kuwaiti harassment were badly hurting the industry. Hundreds of old wooden vessels and small boats flying Iraqi flags line the tiny port at the Fao peninsula on the Iraqi bank of the Shatt Al Arab waterway. Crew members sat idly on some of the boats and fishermen said only a few boats were out in the waters. "In recent months our fishing activity has gone down considerably because of harassment and restrictions," fisherman Abdullah Mussaed told Reuters at the port. "After increasing harassment from Iranian and Kuwaiti patrol boats, the (Iraqi) authorities have asked us to cut our fishing trips." Iraq has fought wars against both Iran and Kuwait in the past 20 years. Although there have been some fence-mending efforts between Baghdad and Tehran, animosity still runs high across the Shatt Al Arab since the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war that claimed one million lives. Kuwait still regards Iraq as a major threat. Iraqi fishermen say they are being picked upon by the Iranian and Kuwaiti patrol boats to settle old scores. "They want to muscle us out and eliminate us as competitors," Mussaed said. "They also want us to suffer more under (UN)-imposed sanctions." There are more than 7,000 Iraqi vessels registered by the Fishermen's Association that runs Fao's port. The association, run by the state, organises the fishing activities and provides the fishermen with equipment and financial support. The fishermen say the patrol boats routinely search their vessels, check their identity cards and boat registration before questioning them and taking away their fishing nets. The procedures are usually accompanied by insults and foul language, they said. They say most of the time the incidents occur in international waters but there had been cases of them being stopped while in Iraqi territorial waters. "We are not allowed into the international waters," one fisherman said. When the vessels accidentally wander into Iranian or Kuwaiti waters, patrol boats seize the fishermen and vessels. "In the last incident, seven vessels with 27 fishermen were held for four weeks by the Iranians. They had sailed outside the Iraqi waters by mistake because of high winds and fog," Abbas Hamdan Lazem, the association's security chief, said. Under UN rules, Iraqi fishing vessels are not allowed to have weapons or radio transmitters on board. Iraq has repeatedly complained to the United Nations over harassment of its fishermen."The fishermen are in constant fear. They have no weapons to defend themselves and there are no Iraqi patrol boats to protect them," Lazem said. "If they run into trouble they don't even have radios." Fao was at the centre of the most ferocious fighting during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The Iranians captured the peninsula in 1986 but the Iraqis took it back two years later. Large Iraqi placards commemorating the Fao battle say nearly 53,000 Iraqi soldiers and 120,000 Iranian troops were killed. http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=VkujxPxx&atmo=99999 999&pg=/et/01/1/14/wiraq14.html * IRAQI OIL SMUGGLED OUT ON TRAIN VIA SYRIA by Jessica Berry, Philip Sherwell and Mary Fagan Sunday Telegraph, 14th January Saddam Hussein's regime is taking advantage of Arab anger over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to export its crude abroad illegally at a time when there is little interest in the region in enforcing the United Nations trade embargo. Oil industry analysts say that the United States has ignored reports that Iraq has sharply increased its smuggling operations via Syria in an effort to avoid antagonising Arab public opinion at a critical stage in the faltering Middle East peace talks. Baghdad recently agreed a one-off deal to sell crude worth £700 million at concessionary rates of £7 a barrel to Damascus (the price for Brent crude is about £17). Both countries profit from the deal as it gives Iraq more money than it would receive for the oil under UN accords and allows Syria to sell it on at a higher price. Improved relations between Baghdad and Damascus, former foes, mean that Iraq is now sending oil to Syria through a pipeline that can carry 150,000 barrels a day and by the daily rail service. Syria's oil exports have risen dramatically, reflecting the influx of smuggled Iraqi crude, according to industry insiders. Arab security experts said that most of the oil has been exported to Russia and China, although they also claim that some has been sold to Italy. The latest disclosures, just days ahead of this week's 10th anniversary of the start of the Gulf war, are the latest blow to the tough sanctions regime backed by Britain and America. The line linking Iran, Iraq and Syria was closed for 18 years after Damascus backed Teheran in the Iran-Iraq war, but was reopened seven months ago. Ostensibly the train is meant to carry passengers, but fresh evidence has shown that people are heavily discouraged from using the service. Shipments began in August, according to military experts inside Iraq, with relatively modest cargoes, but have been increased recently. After reaching Aleppo it is transported to the Syrian port of Ladhiqiyah, and also through Lebanon. The train came under attack recently at Al Mawsil, on the Iraqi side of the border, by tribal gangs angered by the sight of the daily export of much-needed fuel. The ambush failed and the attackers were shot dead by the train's heavily-armed security guards. The train, according to security experts, always carries representatives from the ministries of oil and transport, Iraqi intelligence agents and a member of the military industrialisation committee, in charge of building up weapons of mass destruction. Experts inside Iraq said that Saddam Hussein's son Uday is behind the operation. He is also responsible for the clandestine use of the Iraq-Syria pipeline between Kirkuk in northern Iraq and the Syrian port of Banias, as revealed previously by The Telegraph. Iraq has been under sanctions since it invaded Kuwait in August 1990. It is allowed to sell oil providing that the revenues go to a UN-administered account to be used for food, medicine and other supplies to alleviate the impact of the embargoes on ordinary Iraqis. UN resolutions only allow two ports officially to handle Iraqi crude, one in Turkey and the other on Iraq's Gulf coast. Iraq has suspended oil shipments from Turkey since December 1 and for two weeks cut them from its Gulf port at Mina al-Bakr in its efforts to undermine the UN sanctions regime. The export of Kirkuk crude oil to Syrian refineries via the pipeline in violation of UN resolutions is an open secret, according to diplomats in New York and oil analysts. The smuggling of Iraqi oil via the railway line is, however, a new and previously undisclosed operation. Iraqi crude is pumped to Syrian refineries, allowing Damascus to sell oil that otherwise would be used domestically. The revelations come against the backdrop of a fresh power struggle between Uday and Qusay as uncertainty over their father's health increases. Only last week Qusay succeeded in wresting control from Uday of a powerful military corps, the Martyrs of Saddam, as he organised the huge military parade on December 31. The Syrian authorities receive a handsome commission for their role. Some of the Iraqi profits go directly to Uday, providing funding for a future showdown with his brother. The rest of the money allows Baghdad to continue to rebuild its heavy weapons store and funds the lavish existences of the ruling elite. A Foreign Office spokesman last night said: "We are aware of the railway line but as yet have no firm evidence that there is a breach of sanctions. We are monitoring it very closely." http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=6917 * SAUDI, IRAQI MINISTERS DISCUSS UPCOMING HAJ PLANS Dubai, Reuters, 14th January Saudi Arabia's Haj minister met a visiting Iraqi cabinet member yesterday to discuss arrangements for the upcoming Haj pilgrimage, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.It said Haj Minister Iyad Madani received Iraq's Religious Affairs Minister Abdul Muneim Ahmed Saleh in his office in Jeddah and "reviewed the arrangements and issues pertaining to the Iraqi pilgrims who will come to visit the holy sites during this year's Haj." The Haj falls in February this year. Relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia have been severed since Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia was a key member of a U.S.-led coalition that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait seven months after the invasion. The Iraqi minister last year accompanied Iraqi pilgrims who flew to Saudi Arabia aboard an Iraqi plane despite Western-imposed no fly zones over Iraq. Saudi officials welcomed the Iraqi pilgrims to Jeddah. A total of 10,000 Iraqi pilgrims performed the Haj last year, most travelling to the kingdom by land. Under a quota set by the Organisation of Islamic Conference, sanctions-hit Iraq is allowed to send up to 22,000 pilgrims to perform the Haj annually. Up to two million Muslims from all over the world perform it each year. http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3DMPSZYHC&liv e=true&useoverridetemplate=ZZZUGORQ00C&tagid=ZZZNSJCX70C&subheading=global * US ENERGY SECRETARY WARNS AGAINST OPEC CUTS by Ruth Sullivan and FT.com staff Financial Times, 14th January Bill Richardson, the US energy secretary, on Sunday urged the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries to make only a modest reduction in production, insisting that prosposals by some Opec members to cut output by 2m-3m barrels a day would be "unhealthy" for the world economy. Kuwait's oil minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah, said Opec was set to cut oil production by 1.5m bpd. Indonesia and Quatar are among other oil producing counties advocating step cuts in production. Mr Richardson, on a tour of the Persian Gulf in a bid to persuade producers to keep prices down, said a greater reduction would force oil prices up thereby harming the world's economy. The Kuwaiti minister, known for his hawkish stance on oil prices, said a "definitive" cut was necessary to ensure market stability and steady global oil prices. Opec, which meets in Vienna on January 17, is widely expected to agree on a cut. Saudi Arabia, the organisation's biggest producer, has also suggested a reduction of 1.5m bpd to keep prices between $25 and $28 per barrel, while some other members want a cut of up to 2m bpd. Mr Richardson met with leaders from producing countries to try and convince them to keep the price of oil between $25 and $28 which was the price he considered ideal for both producers and consumers. On Thursday, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, a former Saudi oil minister, said his country had already informed its customers of a 500,000 bpd reduction in its February allocations of crude. A reduction of 1.5m bpd would not translate into more than 1.3m bpd of oil being taken off the markets because some member countries are not meeting their quotas, he said. Sheikh Yamani predicted the cut would drive prices higher but said the full impact would depend on the state of the world economy and the behaviour of Baghdad. In December, Iraq severely reduced its exports from 2.3m bpd to just 600,000 bpd as it sought to convince companies to pay a surcharge that would contravene the 10-year United Nations sanctions. http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=5279066&template=worldnews/ search.txt&index=recent * IRAN GROUP CLAIMS MORTAR ATTACK DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Associated Press, Sun 14 Jan 2001) ‹ An Iranian opposition group said Sunday it caused heavy damage with a mortar attack on intelligence ministry offices in northern Tehran, though the claim could not be immediately confirmed. The rebel group Mujahedeen Khalq said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press from Paris that the attack occurred Saturday evening. State-run Iranian media said nothing about an attack. People living in northern Tehran contacted by AP said they heard several explosions on Saturday but had no details. The Mujahedeen Khalq said the explosions inflicted casualties among people in the ministry. The Iraq-based Mujahedeen Khalq seeks the overthrow of Iran's Islamic government. It frequently attacks targets deep inside Iran. Last week, the group fired five mortar shells at a military base belonging to Iran's elite Islamic Republic Guards. Iran's state media confirmed those attacks but said there were no casualties. http://www.hindustantimes.com/nonfram/150101/detFOR20.asp * [INDIAN] PM WRITES TO SADDAM Hindustani Times, 15th January PRIME MINISTER Atal Bihari Vajpayee has written to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, conveying India's interest in the reconstruction of Iraq. Diplomatic sources said Mr Vajpayee, in his letter to the Iraqi strongman, reiterated the long-term nature of Indo-Iraqi relations. The Prime Minister was hopeful that the recent initiatives by the two countries would go a long way in furthering their ties in diverse fields. This is the second time in the recent past that Mr Vajpayee has written to Saddam Hussein. Minister of State for External Affairs Ajit Kumar Panja had personally delivered a letter from Mr Vajpayee to Saddam Hussein when he visited Baghdad in September last year. The Iraqi President had stressed the need for deeper involvement of India in his country's reconstruction programme and intensification of the dialogue between the two countries for strengthening bilateral ties. Mr Panja's visit to Baghdad was followed by Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yasin Ramadhan's visit to New Delhi in November last year. India is hopeful of bagging some major contracts from Iraq under its reconstruction programme. The bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to touch one billion US dollars in the ninth phase of the oil-for-food programme in January-June this year. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2001/jan/15/011500170.html * AZIZ FINDS FRIENDLY AUDIENCE Las Vegas Sun, 15th January BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- For veteran Iraqi politician Tariq Aziz it was the rarest of occasions: As he denounced U.S. policy toward Iraq, a roomful of appreciative Americans nodded in agreement and applauded his pronouncements. They even laughed at his jokes. With the 10th anniversary of the start of the Persian Gulf War on Wednesday, Aziz spoke to about 70 American activists who have come to Iraq to deliver aid and urge the lifting of international sanctions against the Arab nation. "Although the Iraqis are very mad at the policy of the U.S. government, they are not mad at the people of the United States," Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister, said Monday evening. For much of the past decade, Aziz has been the Iraqi official who has gone before the cameras whenever there's a crisis brewing in Iraq. Standoffs with U.N. weapons inspectors, U.S. bombing raids and U.N. debates over sanctions have regularly brought a forest of microphones and tough questions addressed to Aziz. None of those issues were raised Monday, and the queries from the Americans, most of them members of religious and humanitarian groups, were decidedly friendly. "I know that (President) Saddam Hussein is a good Muslim," one young American began before going on to ask whether the United States had shown a willingness to compromise on sanctions. "Until now, the Americans have not made any point of holding an objective dialogue with the Iraqi side," Aziz replied. The Americans made their comments over a microphone to a roomful of people without identifying themselves. The comprehensive sanctions, imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, have shown signs of cracking in recent months. Dozens of planes have flown into Iraq since September, ending a de facto 10-year air embargo. Smuggling through neighboring states is widespread, and a growing number of countries are calling for the sanctions to be eased or lifted. However, the U.S. government has said the sanctions should remain in place until Iraq eliminates its weapons of mass destruction, as required by U.N. resolutions. Iraq claims it has done so, but U.N. weapons inspectors were demanding more material and documents before they left Iraq during a confrontation two years ago. The U.S. government says the current oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell as much oil as it can, provides the country with enough money to meet its basic needs. But Iraq blames the sanctions for its emaciated economy and claims the punitive measures are to blame for an additional 1 million deaths over the past decade. Aziz appeared on a panel alongside Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. attorney general who has been one of the more prominent opponents of U.S. policy toward Iraq. Clark heads one of the visiting delegations, and several questioners were from his group. "We're all here because we stand against the imperialistic forces," said one young American woman, who wanted to know if Iraq would allow "imperialistic economic forces" into the country when sanctions are lifted. "We do not buy the tricks and lies of globalization. We are socialist and cannot approve of capitalist policies," Aziz responded, to a round of applause. One man asked Aziz how he thought relations might be under President-elect Bush. "We are not going to bet on the new administration," Aziz said dryly, drawing chuckles from the crowd. Another questioner asked how the Iraqi government had changed since Saddam and his Baath Party came to power in 1968. "We have been in power for 32 years," Aziz said. "Basically, the political situation has not changed for 32 years." http://www.news24.co.za/News24/World/Middle_East/0,1113,2-10 35_965485,00.html * IRAQ GIVES $9M TO INTIFADA News24, 15th January Baghdad (Sapa-AFP): The head of the PLO's political department, Faruk Khaddumi, arrived on Sunday in Baghdad for a visit of several days centring on aid Iraq has promised the Palestinians, the INA agency reported. According to INA, Kaddumi will have talks with Iraqi officials on the "mechanism for paying the aid of one billion euros ($900 million) to the Palestinian people and to the intifada," which was decided upon by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The Palestinian embassy in Amman had earlier said that Kaddumi was accompanied on the trip by Palestinian ministers of trade, health, and public works. Iraq, which is opposed to the Middle East peace process, has said it has mobilised 6.6 million volunteers for "the liberation of Palestine" in answer to an appeal by Saddam Hussein on 8 October. http://news.excite.com/news/r/010115/16/energy-iraq-kirkuk * IRAQI FEB KIRKUK OIL PRICES APPROVED BY U.N UNITED NATIONS (Reuters, January 15th) - The U.N. Security Council committee monitoring Iraqi sanctions approved Monday Baghdad's proposed prices for February crude oil shipments to Europe, U.N. officials said. Iraq State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) on Thursday submitted the prices three weeks prior to the beginning of the month, a move oil traders said was an encouraging sign for oil shipments from Ceyhan, Turkey. The council's Iraqi sanctions committee was given until 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT) on Monday to raise any objections. No committee member did so, which means the prices are approved, U.N. officials said. SOMO wants to maintain January prices for Kirkuk in February at benchmark Dated Brent $3.00 a barrel, diplomats said. February shipments of Basra Light crude are to priced at Dated Brent -$4.50 a barrel. Only one shipment of about two million barrels of Kirkuk crude from Ceyhan has been made since November with the slowdown pegged to price rows between SOMO and the United Nations. In November, Iraq was shipping around one million barrels per day (bpd) of Kirkuk crude with most of it going to Europe. The diplomats said there seemed to be a new willingness by SOMO to end confusion caused since November by tardy submission of price proposals. The U.N.'s in-house oil advisors, called overseers, recommended to the sanctions committee that the Kirkuk proposal be approved, and committee members agreed. While there has been only a single lifting of Kirkuk crude from Ceyhan, there have been nine tankers loading Basrah Light from Mina al-Bakr, industry sources said. And now tankers appear to be loading without significant delay at the Iraqi Gulf port, unlike in December when ships were forced to undergo two or more weeks of demurrage. Total Iraqi exports in the oil-for-food program administered by the United Nations dropped from about 2.2 million bpd in November to about 500,000 barrels per day in December. http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_174729.html * BRITISH OIL FIRMS IN TALKS WITH IRAQ Avanova, 16th January: At least two British oil companies have been holding talks with Iraqi officials about developing the country's oil fields. Shell says it may invest up to £2 billion in oil fields in the south east of Iraq, but insists that no business would be done until sanctions against the country are lifted. There are also reports that Premier Oil is considering setting up business in Iraq. A Shell spokesman says talks over land in south-east Iraq, which could yield one billion barrels of oil, have been started with government officials. The news comes the day after the 10th anniversary of sanctions on Iraq, which have prevented companies trading with the oil-rich country. The spokesman says: "Preliminary low-level discussions with the Iraqi minister for oil to investigate potential opportunities in the Ratawi oil field have taken place. Those discussions are mainly technical in nature." He says the talks are about how the oil would be extracted from the land, should any opportunity arise. "However, the Iraqi authorities are clearly aware that Shell would do nothing to contravene any regulations arising from UN resolutions or other relevant legislation." The spokesman says: "We are a large company which operates in countries where human rights abuses do occur. "But human rights are of great importance. We are not a government, we are a business. Within particular limits that apply to businesses, we try to promote respect of human rights." The spokesman adds that Shell has been talking to Iraq since 1994. http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/010116/5007288.html * 'STOP THE WAR' WITH IRAQ, CANADIAN CHURCHES URGE The Ottawa Citizen, 16th January Canadian churches want an end to the Gulf War launched against Iraq 10 years ago tomorrow. In a statement marking the anniversary, Canada's major churches say the continuing economic sanctions against Iraq have killed 1.5 million of Iraq's 23 million people by disease and malnutrition, and are simply an extension of the war. "The U.S. and its allies are still at war with Iraq. We need to stop the war," said Dale Hildebrand, executive director of Inter-Church Action. The death toll in Iraq is greater than the 1994 massacre in Rwanda, or the massacres in Cambodia's killing fields by the Pol Pot regime in the 1970s, said Mr. Hildebrand. The churches have demanded an immediate end to the sanctions against Iraq, which they say are both unjust and immoral. But Foreign Affairs says the the dire humanitarian situation in Iraq is not the result of sanctions -- which it says are appropriate and necessary -- but the result of the regime's bid to elicit sympathy, in the hope that world governments will be pressured to lift sanctions without Iraq complying with its disarmament obligations. Over the past 10 years, the United Nations has made it easier for Iraq to receive foreign help, and in 1999 the UN Security Council lifted the restriction on the amount of oil Iraq could sell under the oil-for-food program instituted in 1996, said Carl Schwenger, a Foreign Affairs spokesman. This move more than doubled the money available for humanitarian goods to $7.1 billion from $3.4 billion every month, Mr. Schwenger said. Mr. Hildebrand visited Iraq in November and said the sanctions on products ranging from irrigation equipment to chlorine for purifying water have destroyed the country's economy and made it impossible to rebuild its infrastructure. The results include contaminated water, a resurgence of cholera and polio, and a 50-per-cent drop in food production. More than half the dead are children, and UN officials estimate 5,000 children younger than five are still dying every month, said Mr. Hildebrand. Mr. Schwenger said a long list of goods, including those related to food, education, agriculture, health, water and sanitation no longer require Security Council approval to be imported. Industrial or commercial goods that might have a dual use and help further Iraq's chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs cannot be imported, Mr. Schwenger said. Mr. Hildebrand said Canadians and other westerners pay little attention to the death toll because "it is not people with machetes hacking other people to death. It is children dying of diarrhea and malnutrition." In the 10 years since U.S. and allied forces drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait, Iraq has been transformed from one of the most prosperous countries in the Middle East to the status of some of the poorest African countries, said Mr. Hildebrand. Inter-Church Action, a peace and justice coalition, is launching an education campaign on the effects of sanctions, and will continue to lobby for a change in Canada's support for them. Mr. Hildebrand said Canada is afraid to tread on the toes of the U.S., which has vowed to continue the sanctions until Saddam Hussein is ousted. He said UN experts concluded in 1998 that Iraq is no longer capable of nuclear, chemical or biological warfare, and Iraqis told him sanctions have not achieved the U.S. goal of destabilizing Saddam Hussein's regime. "People are so desperate just to survive that they simply don't have any energy to organize an opposition. What opposition there was has evaporated. Saddam is much more powerful now," said Mr. Hildebrand. Mr. Schwenger said, however, that the Security Council does not know that Iraq cannot make weapons of mass destruction. Iraq began interfering with weapons inspections in the summer of 1998, forcing the last inspection team to withdraw that December. And, Mr. Schwenger said, as long as Iraq stonewalls weapons inspections, sanctions will likely remain. "We think that sanctions need to be in place until the regime either gets out of the way -- the regime falls -- or they allow the inspectors to go in and do their job and certify that this program of weapons of mass destruction has been totally eliminated," Mr. Schwenger said. "There's this broad international consensus. All the member countries of the G8 have this position, all our allies in NATO," he said. "It's just a widely, widely held position." The sanctions have caused hyper-inflation in Iraq. Where one prewar Iraqi dinar was worth $3 U.S., it now takes 2,000 dinar to buy $1 U.S. The punishing sanctions are unprecedented, he said. Even Germany received help to rebuild after the Second World War, said Mr. Hildebrand. Mr. Hildebrand said "23 million people in Iraq are being held hostage in a political tug of war between the U.S. and Iraq." http://www.timesofindia.com/160101/16mide21.htm * WATER AND SANITATION KILLS IRAQIS: BRITISH ACTIVISTS Times of India, 16th January AMMAN (AFP): British activists from the charity group Voice in the Wilderness on Monday said contaminated water was the "biggest killer" in Iraq and vowed to fight for an urgent lifting of UN sanctions against Baghdad. "It doesn't matter how much food and medicine is being poured into Iraq, water and sanitation are the biggest killers and the systems must be repaired quickly to save more lives," group leader Richard Byrne told AFP in Amman at the end of an eight-day trip to Iraq. "We visited hospitals in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra (devastated in the Gulf war) and spoke to doctors and the UN humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad," Byrne said. Doctors complained that they are daily confronted by numerous cases of children suffering from intestinal and urinary tract bugs from drinking polluted water, that lead to malnutrition and eventually to death. "Doctors say they can give the children all the medicine they need but when these children go home they return to living conditions of squalor, open sewers, broken water pipes, no electricity to pump water," Byrne said. "So unless the electricity and the water delivery systems are quickly repaired Iraqi children are going to continue to die at a very high rate," Byrne said. Byrne and the three activists who accompanied him to Iraq are due to protest on Tuesday outside 10 Downing Street, the British prime minister's official residence, and then join an anti-sanctions protest later in the day outside the House of Commons. "We will challenge the government to prosecute us for breaking the export and import laws and we are taking back with us dates, scarves, books and postcards bought in Iraq to sell outside the House of Commons," he said. The group is also scheduled to give a series of television and radio interviews when they return home as well as press for the election of an anti-sanctions MP during forthcoming elections in Britain, he said. "Our government must realise that we need to lift the sanctions now and not in a slow way to contain the humanitarian crisis and allow for quick repairs of the water and electricity systems," Byrne said. Byrne was accompanied to Iraq by Brighton writer Milan Rai, social worker Les Gibbons from Southampton and Birmingham restaurant manager Zia Chowdhury. They took with them toys, medical journals and supplies in defiance of the sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. This week sees the 10th anniversary of the start of the US-led offensive against Baghad which ended the Iraqi occupation of the emirate. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=7068 * MINISTER SAYS IRAQ HAS RIGHT TO SELL OIL FREELY Baghdad, Reuters, 16th January Iraq's trade minister yesterday gave the strongest signal yet that Iraq was smuggling oil to neighbouring countries outside the terms of its oil-for-food deal with the United Nations. But Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said the scope and impact of any smuggling was limited. Asked at a news conference about reports that Iraq was smuggling oil illegally outside the UN deal, Saleh said, "The illegal (act) is to restrict Iraq from exporting oil in normal cases."Our right is to export any commodity, whatever we could, and to buy any commodity that Iraqi citizens require," he said in English. Saleh said no country could control smuggling across its borders, citing smuggling from Mexico to the United States as an example. "There are no walls between countries. However, smuggling itself becomes an approach which is limited always. It does not give the real trade between countries," he said. International oil traders suspect that Syria has been selling crude on behalf of Iraq via a pipeline between the two countries since late last year. Iraq has also been said to smuggle crude on tankers to Iran. "There is a will from other countries to lessen and reduce the impact of sanctions and restrictions on Iraq by exporting for Iraq without adopting these aggressive resolutions," Saleh said. Saleh reiterated that the programme, adopted in 1996, had failed to alleviate the suffering of Iraq's 23 million people. He said Iraq had sold oil worth $40 billion in the past four years within the oil-for-food programme, but had received goods worth only $9.6 billion. Contracts for goods on hold and not received were worth $15.6 billion, he said. He said the goods received amounted to only $7 per capita for every month since 1996.Saleh said the United Nations had deducted a total of $13.6 billion for its expenses and for a fund to pay compensation for losses incurred during Iraq's seven-month occupation of Kuwait. "The oil-for-food programme has failed to lessen the plight of the Iraqi people," he said, adding that the United States and Britain backed the deal for political reasons and to stabilise world oil prices. [The rest of the article is an account of the sanctions committee approval of Iraq¹s proposals for prices in Fenbruary. Reported elsewhere] http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_175122.html * LONDON TRAFFIC STOPPED BY IRAQ SANCTIONS DEMO Avanova, 16th January: Demonstrators have brought traffic in central London to a standstill as they protest about economic sanctions in Iraq. Hundreds of campaigners from several groups carried child-sized coffins as they called on MPs to stop the "suffering" of innocent Iraqis. Police said that one protester had been detained and escorted from the House of Commons at around 1.50pm. He insisted that there had been no further breach of security and that there was "no indication that they were arrested". Earlier veteran Labour MP Tam Dalyell addressed demonstrators and said the sanctions had caused "terrible human suffering". "I visited Baghdad in 1994 and again in 1998 and in hospitals there I saw the most appalling injuries to young children who by no stretch of the imagination could be to blame. "The fact of the matter is that this is about sanctions. We are here to ask for the immediate lifting of sanctions and a lifting of sanctions straight away." http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=352075&in _review_text_id=296630 * HUNT SUPPORTERS SANCTION RIVAL PROTEST by Luke Leitch The small band of hunt supporters were making their point peacefully when an altogether noisier group of demonstrators loomed into view. Beating drums, some dreadlocked and dressed in boiler suits, a 50-strong band protesting at western sanctions against Iraq descended on the corner of Parliament Square and Whitehall today. Suddenly the hunters feared they had become the hunted. Charles Mann, 50, a farmer from Gloucestershire, called for calm among his fellow country sports enthusiasts. "We are just going to stay here very calmly as they pass by." Some among the anti-sanctions group attempted a sit-down protest which was broken up by police. For 30 minutes the uneasy crush of these two very different groups of demonstrators went on. There was some barracking but what could have been a confrontation was nothing more than a friendly exchange of views. The real arguments came when a small group of pro-sanctions demonstrators unfurled banners in the midst of their opponents. The pro-hunting group held their position. As the last of the demonstrators edged away, Mr Mann said: "The streets of London are full of disparate groups and it's good to see they can get on in harmony." And in a pointed reference to the Commons vote on hunting, he added: "Let's hope the Government sees fit to respect different minorities too." http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1119000/1119787.st m * AZIZ BLAMES WEST FOR GULF WAR [Extract giving account of Voices protest in NY] BBC, 16th January [.....] A handful of demonstrators from the Chicago-based group Voices in the Wilderness protested at UN headquarters in New York on Monday, wearing shirts which read: "Nations must unilaterally break the siege of Iraq." The protesters argued that this week was not the anniversary of a war that had ended, but of one that was still going on. "The war didn't end", said Kathy Kelly, a co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness. "It changed into economic warfare." The US insists that the sanctions will remain in place until Iraq proves it has no weapons of mass destruction. UN weapons inspectors were pulled out of Iraq at the end of 1998 and have not returned. [.....] http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010116/2001011605.html * SYRIAN MEDIATION BETWEEN IRAQ AND THE ARAB GULF STATES Arabic News, 16th January News reports said on Monday that Syria is currently mediating between Iraq and the Arab Gulf members states especially Kuwait in order to normalize relations and open a new page. The Qatari daily al-Watan said that sources that refused to be disclosed stressed that this mediation has achieved a big stride in the area of making contacts between Iraq and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council states. The sources expected that these Syrian efforts will continue in the coming phase and will be adjusted in order to create elements of stability and confidence in the Iraqi- Arab Gulf relations in order to end any attempt what so ever made by the new US administration to once again escalate the situation with Baghdad and to try to find out new hotbeds in the region, in general. The sources told the paper that Syria also makes similar mediation efforts between Iraq and Iran, noting the recent improvements on the relations between the two countries which is considered a fruit to the efforts made by Damascus, stem from strategic considerations aspire to establish a Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian alliance in the region to withstand the American- Israeli alliance and its grave and numerous challenges. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010117/2001011702.html * IRAQ DENIES MEDIATION FOR RECONCILIATION WITH SAUDI ARABIA Arabic News, 17th January Iraqi foreign ministry secretary Nizar Hamdoun has denied in a statement issued by the Iraqi weekly al-Rafeydeen ( the two tributaries) mediation to reform relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. He said" we are always confident that we are with the Arab states including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and when each of them show desire to reach solution, we will be ready for that." He added but " regrettably " there are no indicators for that and what is taking place is totally the contrary and the evidence on that is the two countries continue to ensure bases for the " American- British aggressions " against Iraq. http://www.timesofindia.com/170101/17mide19.htmMiddle East * JORDAN FORMS COMMITTEE FOR BUILDING OIL PIPELINE FROM IRAQ Times of India, 17th January AMMAN (AFP): Jordan on Tuesday formed a committee tasked with paving the way for the construction of a pipeline to carry Iraqi oil to the kingdom, Information Minister Taleb Rifai told reporters. "The council of ministers decided to set up a preparatory committee to execute the pipeline project in Jordan in coordination with Iraq," Rifai said at the end of a weekly cabinet meeting. The committee, including experts from the finance and energy ministries and the central bank, was asked to "prepare a feasibility study of the project and a memorandum of understanding" with the Irqi government and the firm which will be selected for the job, he said. Jordan depends on Iraq for all of its oil needs and will import five million tones of crude in 2001 under an agreement between the two countries, up from 4.8 million tones in 2000. The oil is transported by tanker trucks across the desert from Iraq to the Jordanian refinery at Zarka, northeast of Amman. Under the new plan which has been under discussion between Baghdad and Amman in recent years a 750-kilometre (465 mile) pipeline will feed Zarka at an estimated cost of 350 million dollars. Jordan and Iraq have been discussing means to finance the pipeline. http://22.214.171.124/english/htm/20010117/320816.htm * AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT URGED TO CHANGE POLICY TOWARDS IRAQ CANBERRA, January 17 (Xinhuanet) -- Australian public figures Wednesday urged the government to change its policy towards Iraq. Nine prominent Australians including former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser issued an open letter to Prime Minister John Howard urging him to take an independent standing towards Iraq. "After a decade of suffering by innocent people, and the deaths of children on a scale far exceeding that caused by any military weapon in history, the sanctions continue to bring misery and degradation to all sectors of Iraqi society except their target, the Iraqi government," the letter said. The letter citing international agencies' surveys said that the impact of sanctions has seen a dramatic increase in infant mortality and morbidity in the general population in Iraq. They asked the prime minister to assert an independent standing and "to review Australia's policy towards Iraq so that it properly reflects our common aspirations for peace with justice for all people, including the people of Iraq." http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,2-69162,00.html * BAGHDAD LAVISHES RICHES ON ELITE >From Michael Theodoulou in Nicosia The Times, 17th January IRAQ¹S budget may be opaque, but how President Saddam Hussein spends his money is transparent. >From the hardware on display at a recent military parade to the grandiose marbled palaces and the new Mercedes and BMWs driven by the political and military elite, it is simple to account for the estimated £2 billion he makes from smuggling oil. More cash is drawn from a secret pre-Gulf War slush fund. Some has been spent on using local engineering skills to rebuild bridges and roads destroyed ten years ago. The UN¹s oil-for-food programme has restored a measure of stability for Iraq¹s 23 million people, although widespread poverty and suffering remain, with high child mortality rates, poor healthcare and a crippled education system. For Saddam¹s critics, the lavish lifestyle of his inner circle is proof that he could alleviate the plight of his people. For critics of the embargo, it is evidence that sanctions have failed to hit their target, leaving Saddam¹s regime unscathed while innocent Iraqis pay the price. Money is being lavished on building the Hussein Grand Mosque, the biggest in the Middle East. Saddam¹s latest quirky gesture is to offer £64 million in humanitarian aid to America¹s inner cities and rural poor to goad the United States, where the Clinton Administration¹s parting shot was to release £7 million to the Iraqi opposition. http://www.abc.net.au/ra/newsdaily/s234292.htm * US AIR STRIKE IN SOUTHERN IRAQ ABC news, 17th January American and British warplanes have struck anti-aircraft artillery batteries in southern Iraq in retaliatory raids on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 1991 Gulf war. A spokesman for the U-S Central Command says the strikes were launched after coalition aircraft came under fire from Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery during patrols of the southern no-fly zone. The spokesman says follow-up patrols to enforce the no-fly zone met no resistance. [.....] http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=5323312&template=worldnews/ search.txt&index=recent * END TO U.N. SANCTIONS SOUGHT NEW YORK (Associated Press, Wed 17 Jan 2001) ‹ On one of his final days as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke was invited to a lunch. He can be forgiven for passing it up. The simple meal of lentils, rice, pita bread and untreated East River water is a symbol of the typical diet forced upon Iraqis by punishing, 10-year-old U.N. sanctions, say peace activists who displayed the lunch to onlookers Tuesday outside the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. ``We believe the economic sanctions are illegal and immoral,'' said Ibrahim Ramey of the Nyack, N.Y.-based Fellowship of Reconciliation. ``We understand the anxiety about weapons of mass destruction ... and we are not supporters of the Baghdad regime. But we do support the right of Iraq's people to live in peace and dignity.'' The lunch and demonstration outside the U.S. mission was one of several protests in recent days designed to draw attention to the plight of Iraq's 23 million people under U.S.-backed sanctions ahead of the 10th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War on Wednesday. Sixteen people who gathered on the steps of the U.S. mission were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and blocking a public building, police Det. Frank Bogucki said. Every day for the past week, the protesters have sent a photograph of an Iraqi citizen and a letter to Holbrooke asking him to consider using his influence to end the sanctions, clear Iraq of depleted uranium used in bullets during the war, and allow the country to rebuild its infrastructure. Noting that Holbrooke leaves office Saturday, the Rev. Bob Bossie of Chicago said: ``He has a few days to take a moral stand.'' Holbrooke was unavailable for comment, his office said. [.....] http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=7137 * BRITAIN PROMISES FLEXIBILITY ON IRAQ INSPECTIONS London, Reuters, 17th January Britain promised yesterday to show flexibility towards Baghdad if it opened talks to resume UN weapons inspections in Iraq, a key condition for the suspension of sanctions. Speaking on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 1991 Gulf War, junior Foreign Office minister Peter Hain said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would find "reasonable people ready to do business" if he signalled a readiness to negotiate. "I think everybody would want to show goodwill, and everybody would want to show flexibility," Hain told Reuters in an interview. Hain insisted that a December 1999 UN resolution on arms inspections, which Iraq has consistently rejected, would remain the bedrock of any talks between Baghdad and the United Nations. But faced with growing demands from the Arab world, Russia and France for an end to the suffering of Iraqi civilians, Hain said Britain - Washington's most steadfast ally against Saddam - was anxious to see the stalemate broken. "I want to see sanctions suspended. Britain wants to see sanctions suspended, and the route for that remains (UN resolution) 1284," he said. The resolution promises a suspension of sanctions six months after the resumption of arms inspections, broken off in 1998 when U.S. and British forces bombed Iraq in retaliation for Baghdad's alleged non-cooperation. "If (Saddam) was willing, even without prejudice to final acceptance of 1284, to discuss with the UN the terms on which arms inspectors would operate and the modalities of suspension of sanctions, I think he would find reasonable people willing to do business," Hain said. He said the "flexibility" on offer to Iraq would depend on what Saddam brought to the talks. It could include the manner of weapons inspections, areas where the inspectors went and the terms of their operations. In terms of sanctions suspension it could cover where the oil revenues went, what would remain under UN control, and easing restrictions on Iraqi business people, Hain said. "So there is this way of moving forward. It is not as if... Britain is saying this stalemate should have concrete put around it and we are not willing to talk," he said. Hain has been one of Saddam's most outspoken critics, highlighting allegations of human rights abuses, corruption and reports of continued work on illicit Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in an effort to maintain pressure on Baghdad. But British diplomats have privately signalled unease at the continued impasse over sanctions and said Britain would try to persuade the United States to end patrols over the no-fly zone in southern Iraq, which they said were risky and costly and a source of resentment in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. "We'd prefer British pilots were doing something else," Hain said, though they would continue the patrols as long as Saddam was seen as a threat to his neighbours and his own Shi'ite and Kurdish populations. He said London had begun talks on Iraq with the incoming administration of President-elect George W. Bush, whose officials have talked of more robust U.S. action against Baghdad - a step which would widen international divisions on Iraq. But Hain played down the chances of a sharp change in U.S. policy. "A new team, whatever people say in opposition in the middle of campaigns, has to come into office and grapple with the realities of current circumstances," he said. http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/meast/01/17/mideast.palestinian.iraq.reut/inde x.html * PALESTINIANS MARCH FOR IRAQ ON GULF WAR ANNIVERSARY CNN, January 17, 2001 "The Palestinian and the Iraqi peoples are in the first trench against Zionism, imperialism and aggression," read one of the banners waved by the crowd in self-ruled Gaza. The mother of Palestinian teenager Moussa al-Debbis, who was shot dead in clashes with Israeli troops on November 11, held up posters of her son and the Iraqi leader. "Saddam is the father of all Arabs. He is the bravest example of how an Arab leader should be," she said. Despite Iraq's impoverishment since the war, Saddam makes generous payments to the families of Palestinians killed and wounded in their 16-week uprising against Israeli occupation. At least 309 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Arabs and 44 Israelis have been killed in the violence. Many Palestinians consider Saddam a hero for resisting the powerful U.S.-led military coalition which ejected Iraqi troops who had invaded neighboring Kuwait. Palestinian babies are named after him. Wednesday's demonstrators marched to the main United Nations office in Gaza City, urging the international community to lift sanctions imposed after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. They called on the Iraqi leader to repeat the Scud missile strikes he launched against Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities during the Gulf War. "Dear Saddam, hit Tel Aviv," they chanted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8004-2001Jan17.html * HUSSEIN CALLS FOR ARAB UNITY by Howard Schneider Washington Post, 17th January CAIRO, Jan. 17 -- Still in power after a decade in which a U.S.-led war destroyed much of his country's military and U.S.-backed sanctions crippled its economy, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein today reasserted Iraq's place in the Arab world and linked his country's travails to the Palestinian conflict with Israel. In a taped, televised speech marking the 10th anniversary of the start of the Persian Gulf War, Hussein appealed for Arabs to unite against foreign influence in the Middle East and called for the liberation of Palestinian lands from "the river to the sea" -- an allusion to Israel's destruction. "After the immortal Mother of All Battles, and after the children, youth and the aged of Palestine, men and women, have faced the weapons of the U.S. and Zionism with stones," Hussein said, "can fear find its way to the heart of any Arab?" The address mingled religious imagery about the United States and other "followers of Satan" with prideful language about Iraq's -- and his regime's -- durability. "The missiles and bombs of aggression hit everything material and suitable as targets for their weapons," Hussein said of the massive allied air bombardment that began 10 years ago today and continued until land forces pushed Iraqi invaders out of Kuwait and north toward Baghdad. Despite the punishment, and the economic sanctions that continued after the war, "Iraq has remained, the people have remained, the army has remained," the Iraqi leader said. Hussein's rhetoric was temperate in comparison with some of his other public statements. His address omitted the harsh language he has often used in discussing the participation of Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries in the U.S.-led military coalition that ended Iraq's brief occupation of Kuwait. Instead, he focused on asserting that Iraq still holds a prominent place among its Arab neighbors. "The Arab nation is our nation," Hussein said. "We belong to it, and it belongs to us. It is our pride and our strength. It is our depth, and Iraq is its depth." The remarks came at a comparative high point for Hussein and his country. After a decade in which Iraq's economy has been crushed by sanctions, its grip on portions of its territory has been loosened, and its capital has been subjected to missile attacks, the country is now enjoying the fruits of stronger oil prices and gradual but steady political rehabilitation. Hussein himself, the subject of rumors that he is dying of cancer or has suffered a massive stroke, has frequently been shown on Iraqi television as a picture of strength -- meeting with his cabinet or, at a recent military parade, firing one-handed rifle shots. With Gulf War memories of his decision to fire Scud missiles at Israel still lingering, Hussein is hailed today as a hero by Palestinians engaged in new violence with the Jewish state. His donations of cash to the Palestinian cause have cemented his image in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the Palestinians' best Arab ally. He remains estranged from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, monarchies still wary of Baghdad's repeated territorial threats. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said this week that Kuwait "got what it deserved" when Iraq invaded the emirate in 1990, because it was undermining Iraq's oil prices and stealing Iraqi oil by drilling underneath their common border. The president's son, Uday Saddam Hussein, a member of parliament, meanwhile suggested this week that parliamentary maps be modified to include Kuwait "as part of larger Iraq." But Iraq's isolation from other Arab states is easing. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan is in Egypt this week to sign a free trade agreement, and Iraq has been working with Syria, a traditional ideological foe, on restoring an oil pipeline that could help Iraq further skirt an international embargo. The embargo itself, which still limits how much oil Iraq can sell and what it can buy with the revenue, has become less and less of a financial and political problem. Between high world oil prices and the easing of U.N. restrictions on the amount Iraq can sell, Iraqi oil receipts have skyrocketed to the point where the country has $12 billion resting in U.N.-monitored accounts. "U.N. sanctions are eroding, and Saddam thinks he is becoming stronger while the United States is becoming more isolated," Patrick Clawson, research director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote in a recent analysis. It suggested that Iraq's emerging ties with Syria, the pressure it can exert on Jordan and its ability to radicalize Arab public opinion could pose a renewed threat to Israel. The Iraqi leader is not, however, completely unfettered. At the end of the war, he agreed to dismantle the country's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. He allowed teams of U.N. weapons monitors to oversee the process; economic sanctions were designed to ensure compliance. Since Iraq kicked the inspectors out in 1998, that arrangement has been dormant. But Secretary of State-designate Colin L. Powell, who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, has announced his hope to "energize" sanctions to ensure Iraqi compliance with the weapons regime. U.N. officials, meanwhile, are to open new discussions with Iraq in February about a possible return of inspectors. The U.S. government has also pledged $12 million to help Iraqi opposition groups and recently proposed that the money be used to smuggle humanitarian supplies and propaganda into the country. But Hussein's government insists that the inspectors will never return and scoffs at the notion that exiled opposition leaders could crack their grip on power. "Iraq has triumphed over the enemies," Saddam said today. "It will triumph in all the remaining rounds." http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010117/wl/iraq_un_dc_1.html * UN COMPLAINS IRAQ NEGLECTING HEALTH, OIL SECTORS by Evelyn Leopold UNITED NATIONS (Reuters, 17th January) - The United Nations (news - web sites) complained to Iraq on Wednesday it had not ordered enough supplies for health education, water and sanitation and oil equipment as permitted under the U.N. humanitarian program. ``I am gravely concerned at the unacceptably slow rates of submission of applications, in particularly under the health, education, water and sanitation as well as the oil sectors,'' said Benon Sevan, the U.N. official in charge of the program. Under the so-called oil-for-food program, Iraq is permitted to sell oil in order to buy food, medicine and other supplies to ease the impact of U.N. sanctions imposed after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990. The goods are ordered by Iraq according to a plan that the U.N. Security Council and Sevan's office approves. Sevan spelled out his criticism in a letter obtained by Reuters and sent to Iraq's U.N. mission as well as Norwegian ambassador Ole Peter Kolby, head of the Security Council's committee monitoring Iraqi sanctions. But he said he was pleased that Iraq had submitted applications for foodstuff that exceeded the allocation of $1.582 million and said these had been approved. Applications made for agriculture, food handling, housing and telecommunications had also been received, he said. However, he said that ``despite all the concerns expressed regarding the nutritional and health status of the Iraqi people,'' the value of applications for supplies Iraq submitted for the health sector was only $83.6 million whereas $624 million had been allocated. Applications for oil equipment and spare parts amounted to $22.7 million compared to the proposed budget of $600 million, Sevan said. For education, applications amounted to $21.58 million compared to an allocation of $351.5 million while water and sanitation applications from Iraq amounted to $184.76 million compared to $551.16 million allocated. During the seventh phase of the program that started on Jan. 5, Sevan said Iraq had submitted a total of $4.265 billion applications for goods compared to $7.798 billion allocated for the program over the next six months. Of this amount, some $2.742 billion had been approved by the United Nations while the others were pending. Another $783.8 million had been blocked in the council's sanctions committee. Sevan did not say how many contracts from previous months or years since the program began in December 1996 were still blocked. However, he has urged Washington in the past to release some of the orders it placed on hold. Baghdad has frequently complained that some $2 billion in its orders had been blocked by the United States and to a lesser extent by Britain, the countries most critical of Iraq. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,23-69968,00.html * SADDAM MAY HOLD THE KEY TO WEST'S PROSPERITY >From Richard Beeston in Vienna And Damian Whitworth in Washington Times, 18th January THE future prosperity of Western economies could rest in the hands of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq after oil producers decided yesterday to cut production and Baghdad said that it would meet the shortfall. A decade after the Western allies went to war with Iraq, in part to secure oil supplies from the Gulf, Baghdad emerged as the one country in the region prepared to boost exports to the West at a time of uncertainty in the global economy. The bizarre twist emerged in Vienna at an emergency meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), where oil ministers from the 11-nation cartel voted to reduce production in an effort to keep up the price of crude. They also threatened further cuts later in March. Chakib Khelil, Opec¹s President, said that the member states had agreed to cut production by 1.5 million barrels a day in an effort to keep prices at about $25 (£17) a barrel. ³I am happy with this, but maybe we will have another cut in March,² Abdullah alAttiyah, the Oil Minister of Qatar, said. ³We will have to see how the market reacts.² The price rise has caused concern in America. At the weekend Bill Richardson, the Energy Secretary, went on a tour of the Gulf states in an effort to persuade the oil-rich kingdoms to maintain their production levels. It is feared that higher fuel prices could hasten a slowdown of the economy, which his already showing signs of strain. Mr Richardson said the decision was disappointing and could lower stock levels and make oil prices more volatile. No sooner had Opec announced its plans to cut back production than the Iraqi delegate at the meeting said that his country would more than meet the expected shortfall. Naji al-Hadithi, the former editor of the Baghdad Observer, who represented Iraq at the Opec meeting, said that Iraq¹s disrupted exports would resume in earnest by the end of the month and that he expected the country to be exporting two million barrels a day. ³We warned Opec that their reduction was meaningless and that if they wanted to have any impact they should have announced reductions of three million,² he said. ³That is because we intend to have our exports back to two million barrels a day by the end of this month.² Although Iraq has a seat at Opec it is outside the cartel¹s production agreements because, by international law, its oil must be sold through the United Nations, which controls how the money is spent. Because of a dispute with the UN last month over pricing, exports have been largely frozen. Mr al-Hadithi emphasised that Iraq had not made the decision out of any sympathy for America or the West, which, ten years to the day since the start of the Gulf War, it still regards as its bitter enemies. Instead the move is a reflection of Iraq¹s need to generate more revenue for its UN-held account, which is used to purchase food and medicines. The Iraqi move does, however, raise the prospect that Opec may have to consider further production cuts when it meets in March if it is to keep the oil price at today¹s levels. Opec¹s action is likely to be used by George W. Bush, the US President-elect, to bolster his argument that new areas of America must be opened up to oil exploration. During the election campaign Mr Bush, a former oilman, repeatedly argued that the United States needed to become less dependent on importing oil and realise the potential of oilfields believed to lie beneath a number of wilderness areas, chiefly the National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Mr Bush, who clashed with Al Gore over the issue, repeated his desire to expand oil and gas drilling when he met members of Congress earlier this month. ³I¹m not going to allow the working people of this country to suffer,² he said, referring to the rising cost of petrol and heating oil. He plans to review decisions taken by President Clinton in his final days in office to limit exploitation of 58 million acres of national forests and create a series of new national ³monuments², many of which are pristine areas where companies had hoped to drill. He decided not to give extra protection to the Alaskan refuge, which will be opened to exploration companies only if Congress agrees. The news from Opec may even help him in the battle over his nomination of Gale Norton as Interior Secretary. Ms Norton has faced tough opposition from environmentalists because she, too, has championed the need to allow oil companies on to Alaska¹s North Slope and other controversial sites. Friends of the Earth said that Mr Bush had declared war on the environment with her nomination, but concerns about oil supply might persuade some wavering senators of the merits of changing energy exploration policy. URL ONLY: http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3DMPSZYHC&liv e=true&useoverridetemplate=ZZZUGORQ00C&tagid=ZZZNSJCX70C&subheading=global * US ENERGY SECRETARY WARNS AGAINST OPEC CUTS by Ruth Sullivan and FT.com staff Financial Times, 14th January http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010118/2001011831.html * EGYPTIAN - IRAQI RELATIONS BEYOND DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION Arabic News. 18th January Egypt's President Mubarak yesterday received Iraqi Vice President and member of the Iraqi Revolution Command Council Taha Yassin Ramadan, who said following the meeting that they touched on Arab reconciliation. He said that the aim of his visit to Egypt is to set the steps, which have been recently taken in a legal and organizational framework through the joint free market agreement, which serves as a model for joint Arab cooperation. Ramadan said that this agreement would lead to the flow of goods, supplies and services between the two countries. He said that this is the first agreement in the Arab world since Arab organizations started to speak about the issue of Arab cooperation, expressing hope that all Arab countries would follow this example. Answering a question on whether an agreement was reached on upgrading diplomatic representation between Iraq and Arab countries, Ramadan said that relations between Iraq and Arab countries are already existing with exception to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. He said that the level of relations between Egypt and Iraq have gone beyond the idea of diplomatic representation at the level of charge D'affaires or interests section. On Iraq's attitude towards the peace process and Intifada, the Iraqi Vice President said that Iraq is backing Intifada and liberation of usurped territories. Asked on whether Iraq would soon release Kuwaiti POWs, he said that there are no Kuwaiti POWs in Iraq. He said that Kuwaiti officials know that but they are requested by the US and Britain to say so to find a justification. For sustaining siege on Iraq. He wondered what Iraq would get from Kuwaiti POWs? Answering a query on Iraq's political rhetoric, which is not proportionate to Egypt's efforts to bring Iraq back to the Arab rank, Ramadan said that this is not accurate talk because Iraq faces daily attacks, launched from some Arab countries, but when Baghdad talks, its talk is considered as sabotage to solidarity efforts. It is not a secret that the US-UK warplanes hit Iraq from Saudi, Kuwaiti and Turkish lands everyday. Is this considered Arab solidarity, the Iraqi Vice President fumed? On whether Iraq endorsed a new map that included Kuwait, Ramadan said that the issue is raised as a bill at the parliament and the state should not be held accountable. "This is the opinion of one Member of Parliament and 99% of the Iraqi people are convinced of it," he further said. "But the leadership has a different opinion," he added. And if there are contacts conducted between Iraq and the new American Administration, the Iraqi Vice President said that we cannot say the incoming US government will have a perspective on Iraq different than that of its predecessor. Answering a query whether Iraq will settle a number of Palestinian refugees in order to improve its relations with the US, he said that the issue was not raised. Iraq would not go for less than condition-less relations with the US, based on equal treatment. The Iraqi Vice President had arrived in Cairo Tuesday on a few days' visit to Egypt during which some agreements on joint economic and trade cooperation and setting up a Free Trade Area between the two countries will be signed. The volume of trade transactions between the two countries stands at present at $ 1.3 billion and is expected to reach the tune of $ 2 billion this year. Iraq has decided to cancel all customs tariffs in its trade dealings with Egypt. These measures come into effect within days. URLs ONLY: http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010116/2001011617.htmlFree! * IRAQ ABROGATES CUSTOM FEES WITH EGYPT Arabic News, 16th January http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010120/2001012038.html * EGYPT, IRAQ SIGN AGRICULTURAL COOPERATION PROGRAM Arabic News, 20th January [Includes cooperation on Œgenetic engineering¹] http://www.news24.co.za/News24/World/Middle_East/0,1113,2-10 35_967357,00.html * IRAQ SHOOTS SELF IN FOOT AGAIN News 24, 18th January Dubai (Sapa-AFP): Baghdad's dramatic new claim over Kuwait a decade after the Gulf War has ignited fresh fears and outrage in the Middle East at a time when sympathy was running high for Iraq. President Saddam Hussein had not been in such a comfortable diplomatic seat for years, as relations resumed with Cairo and strengthened with Damascus and some European and Asian capitals. The terrible plight of the Iraqi people has seen virtually every Arab country defy US wrath and a UN air embargo to fly aid and solidarity planes to Baghdad. Saddam's ministers have flown to Egypt, India and Syria in recent weeks to drum up support for a campaign to lift the UN sanctions imposed for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Yet it was his own influential and feared son Odai, an MP, who boldly renewed the claim to Kuwait in a document submitted to parliament and published on Tuesday in his newspaper Babel. And for good measure, Saddam himself threatened on Wednesday to unleash a six-month artillery barrage against Israel to liberate Palestine. Baghdad annexed Kuwait as its 19th province, but retreated in chaos before the largest military alliance seen since World War II. Iraq was later obliged to drop all claims to Kuwait and recognise the international border. However, Odai said Kuwait forms part of "Greater Iraq," and urged the National Assembly "to prepare a map of the whole of Iraq, including Kuwait City as an integral part of Greater Iraq". Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz on Tuesday sought to calm matters, saying the claim was just Odai's personal viewpoint. However, the views of Saddam's eldest son, who wields life-and-death powers in Iraq and is a prime candidate for the succession, resound far and wide. And Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan, the highest-ranking Iraqi to visit Egypt since the war, clearly embarrassed his hosts by admitting it was the view of 99 percent of Iraqis, if not the state. 'KUWAITIS DESERVE INVASION' Even the diplomat Aziz added a side-swipe that the Kuwaitis deserved to be invaded, and worse. An outraged Kuwait immediately protested to the United Nations, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) warned of fresh dangers, and Syria stressed the need for Arab solidarity, not threats against neighbours. Ahmad Bishara, head of Kuwait's National Democratic Movement, a liberal group, told AFP: "This is a catastrophe for Iraq and the Arab nation". Shiite MP Hussein al-Qallaf said in Thursday's Al-Watan newspaper: "The Iraqi and Kuwaiti people are both suffering from the Iraqi regime, which is a cancerous disease". Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who also called in the Arab League, said the claim betrayed Iraq's "aggressive intentions" towards Kuwait, and posed "a direct and flagrant threat to security and stability in the region". In Damascus, Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara called Sheikh Sabah to offer his support for Kuwait. And the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al-Nahyan also warned of heightened tension in the Gulf and threats to stability. "It seems the Iraqi regime deliberately provokes an incident, however small, every time there is a prospect of a detente in relations with its neighbours," a senior Gulf official told AFP. "The conclusion can be drawn that the regime benefits from the continuation of the crisis. It blocks all prospects for normalisation... and justifies the mistrust that western countries have of Iraq." The official dismissed Saddam's threat against Israel as "pure boasting". "He's deceiving everyone when you know the balance of power in the Middle East." Saudi Arabia's Al-Riyadh newspaper called for UN weapons inspectors to return to Baghdad, which refuses to let them in. "It is impossible to understand the policy of the Iraqi regime... it is not based on any political foundation. "A disarmament mission to Iraq is absolutely fundamental because this regime no longer inspires confidence," the paper said. URLS ONLY: http://news.24.com/News24/World/Middle_East/0,1113,2-10-35_965708,00.html * KUWAIT CLAIMED AS PART OF 'GREATER IRAQ' News 24, 15th January http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=7254 * SYRIA BACKS KUWAITI SOVEREIGNTY Damascus, Reuters, 18th January http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=7249 * UAE CONDEMNS IRAQ'S STATEMENTS ON KUWAIT Abu Dhabi, WAM, 18th January http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/29221305.htm * SENIOR IRAQI CLERIC REJECTS IRAQI NEW CLAIM OVER KUWAIT Tehran, Jan 18, IRNA -- [Chairman of the Iraqi Islamic Revolution Supreme Council, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqer Hakim] http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010117/ts/iraq_kuwait_dc_1.html * KUWAIT BLASTS IRAQ, LAUNCHES DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE KUWAIT (Reuters, 17th January) http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010119/2001011910.html * SOME 11,000 IRAQIS DIE IN DECEMBER, 2000 OF THE SIEGE Arabic News, 19th January Iraq stressed on Thursday that the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people resulted in the spread of diseases that caused the death of more than 11,000 persons mostly children since December 2000. In a statement, the Iraqi ministry of health said that some 8182 Iraqi children under five year old died because of the spread of diseases resulted from the lack of nutrition, diarrhea and others in comparison with 299 deaths cases reported for the same period of 1989. http://itn.co.uk/news/20010119/world/14iraq_sanctions.shtml * VIETNAM FLOUTS IRAQ AIR EMBARGO ITN. 19th January Vietnam became the latest country to flout the UN air embargo on Iraq when a Vietnamese plane carrying Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Cong Tan landed at Baghdad airport according to the Iraqi news agency INA. The plane, the first from Hanoi to Baghdad since the 1991 Gulf War, brought a 100-member delegation including the foreign, trade and industry ministers and businessmen. "The visit aims to hold talks with senior Iraqi officials to discuss means of developing relations between the two countries," Tan said. He will deliver a letter from President Tran Duc Luong to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that discusses bilateral ties. The delegation was greeted at the airport by Deputy Prime Minister Hikmat Mezban Ibrahim, Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, Agriculture Minister Abdulillah Hameed Mahmoud and a number of foreign and industry ministry officials. Iraq has good commercial links with Vietnam and the two countries have carried out trade deals before under the UN oil-for-food programme. Vietnam supports an early end to the sanctions, which the United Nations has ruled will not be lifted until UN inspectors confirm the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. http://www.timesofindia.com/200101/20mide8.htm * Iraq welcomes first Turkish ambassador to Baghdad since Gulf War Times of India, 20th January BAGHDAD (AFP): Iraq on Friday welcomed the decision by Turkey to name an ambassador to Baghdad for the first time since the Gulf War, saying it hoped to see an increase in bilateral cooperation in various fields. While receiving the credentials of Ambassador Mehmet Akat, Iraq's Foreign Minister Mohammad al-Sahhaf said his ministry was "ready to accord all facilities to the Turkish diplomat to guarantee the success of his mission." Quoted by the official INA news agency, Sahhaf said: "Iraq welcomes the Turkish decision and hopes to increase bilateral cooperation in various fields to serve the interests of the two neighbouring peoples." On January 5, Ankara named Akat, an expert on Turkish-Iraqi relations who previously served in the Turkish embassy in London, to the post. He replaces charge d'affaires Selim Karaosmanoglu, who has been at his post for the past several years. Turkey, which backed western nations in the 1991 Gulf War, has not had ambassador in Iraq since the conflict, but it has previously spoken out against the crippling decade-old sanctions imposed on Baghdad for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Turkey is also mulling the idea of opening a second border gate to Iraq, while both countries have already agreed to open a rail link, running through Syria. Iraq, on the other hand, often criticises Turkey for its incursions into the Kurdish-held north of the country to hunt Turkish Kurd rebels and for allowing western planes to use a base in southern Turkey to patrol northern Iraq. Some 40 British and US planes are deployed at Incirlik airbase to monitor the northern no fly zone imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War to protect the region's Kurdish population. Baghdad does not recognise the northern no-fly zone, nor a similar exclusion zone in the south of the country aimed at protecting the Shiite Muslim population. Neither is authorised by any specific United Nations resolution. http://members.home.net/kurdistanobserver/16-1-01-afp-irq-kurds-relation.htm l * IRAQ, KURDS STILL IN DIALOGUE DESPITE BREAK: BAGHDAD Kurdistan Observer, 16th January BAGHDAD, Jan 16 (AFP): Iraq and the Kurdish factions which have controlled the north of the country in defiance of Baghdad for almost a decade are still in dialogue despite their differences, a senior official said Tuesday. "The dialogue between the Iraqi leadership and the main Kurdish parties in the north has never been cut off, despite our reservations over much of their policies and their positions," said foreign ministry undersecretary Nizar Hamdoun. Iraq wants "to pursue the dialogue with these parties," he said, quoted in Al-Rafidain newspaper. But the embargo, the western-imposed no-fly zone over Iraqi Kurdistan and frequent US-British air strikes "have up until now prevented the normalisation of the situation," he said. "Once circumstances allow, I am convinced Iraq will be capable of normalising the situation." Two rival factions, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Democratic Party, have held northern Iraq since 1991 following Baghdad's defeat in the Gulf War over Kuwait. Although part of the fragmented Iraqi opposition, they have criticised US efforts to overthrow President Saddam Hussein. http://members.home.net/kurdistanobserver/16-1-01-ko-new-primeminister.html * DR. BARHAM SALIH BECOMES THE NEW PRIME MINISTER OF THE PUK CONTROLLED REGION OF SOUTHERN KURDISTAN The Kurdistan Observer Jan 16, 2001 Jalal Talabani, the Secretary General of The PUK party , has just appointed Dr. Barham Salih as the new Prime Minister for the PUK-controlled region in southern (Iraqi)Kurdistan yesterday, a PUK official informed the KO today. Salar Doski, a PUK representative in Canada, said that Dr. Salih was asked by Talabani yesterday to form a new cabinet after the resignation of the former prime minister, Mr. Kusrat Rasol, on Jan 14. The PUK official also added that the PUK leader has asked all PUK media outlets to stop the negative media campaign against the KDP and to use all efforts of PUK media for the purpose of strengthening the foundation of peace, understanding, and coexistence between the two major political parties in Southern Kurdistan, the PUK and KDP. Many experts of the PUK-KDP conflict believe that with the Salih appoitment, relations between the rival Kurdish parties will improve. Dr. Salih is a leading member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and has served as the director of the PUK bureau of international relations. (The Kurdistan observer had conducted an interview with Dr. Salih on September 2, 1998) To read the interview, please click on the following link http://members.wbs.net/homepages/k/u/r/kurdistanobserver/Interview-Barham Salih.htm http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2001/jan/20/012000096.html * IRAQ SAYS AIRSTRIKE KILLS SIX Las Vegas Sun, 20th January BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq said U.S.-British warplanes killed six of its citizens in airstrikes Saturday on southern Iraq and that its air defense units hit one of the aircraft. The U.S. military denied any aircraft was hit, saying all planes returned safely after a raid conducted in response to Iraqi anti-aircraft fire. In a statement issued through the official Iraqi News Agency, the Iraqi military said allied aircraft attacked civilian targets in two districts in the southern province of al-Muthana, 220 miles south of Baghdad. "Three people were martyred when enemy warplanes bombed southern Iraq and a residential house was destroyed in Salman and a farm was burned in Samawa," the statement said. Later, the Iraqi military said the death toll had risen to six and that rescue workers were looking for more casualties while digging through the rubble of bombed houses. The Information Ministry invited foreign journalists in Baghdad to go on an official trip to the sites on Sunday. The U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., said allied planes attacked Iraqi radar systems and anti-aircraft artillery, but its statement made no mention of civilian casualties. "Coalition aircraft never target civilian populations or infrastructure," the command said. "The sites were targeted to further degrade Iraq's ability to jeopardize coalition pilots and aircraft." The allied aircraft were fired on while patrolling the no-fly zone over southern Iraq, which was established after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Shiite Muslim rebels from Iraqi government forces. Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zone and has been challenging allied aircraft since 1998. "Our heroic (anti-aircraft) missile units confronted the enemy warplanes, hitting one of them while it was violating our skies," the Iraqi statement said. The statement did not give the nationality of the plane or say that it fell to the ground. Iraq has previously claimed to have hit allied aircraft, but has never provided evidence. The airstrike came hours before President George W. Bush's inauguration. http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/epaper/editions/saturday/news_a396 b382408b10f10076.html * ISRAEL INVESTIGATES ITS ENVOY IN ATLANTA FOR ALLEGED IRAQI LINK by Don Melvin - Staff Atlanta Journal, Saturday, January 20, 2001 The new Israeli consul general in Atlanta confirmed Friday that he is the subject of a security investigation being conducted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. According to a report in Wednesday's edition of the English-language Jerusalem Post --- which cited the Hebrew newspaper Yedioth Aharonot --- the Foreign Ministry is investigating reports that an Iraqi citizen has been living in the official residence of a diplomat in an unnamed Western country. Consul General Jacob Rosen confirmed in a telephone interview that he and the Atlanta consulate were the subjects of the investigation, but declined to make any further statement. "Since the investigation is still ongoing, I have no intentions for the time being of commenting on it," Rosen said. The Jerusalem Post said that the diplomat and his wife, Annette, are suspected of having known the Iraqi since they were posted in a third country. Before assuming his duties in Atlanta this summer, Rosen was posted for six years at the Israeli Embassy in Jordan. The Israeli newspaper report said that the Iraqi "has allegedly been living in the diplomat's official residence for the past few months, although the diplomat claims it has only been for a few days." The newspaper said that, because Israel considers Iraq an enemy state, Israelis --- and especially senior emissaries --- are prohibited from having any contact with Iraqi citizens. The diplomat has been ordered to expel the Iraqi from his house immediately, and to make sure that neither he nor his wife has any further contact with him, the newspaper reported. The Jerusalem Post said Foreign Ministry officials consider the case one of the strangest ever in the annals of the ministry. The officials added, the Post said, that the official in question is highly regarded and considered to be an outstanding diplomat. Rosen was born in Poland in 1948 and moved with his family to Israel in 1957. He began his career with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1973. He served in Israel's embassies in the Netherlands and Britain before becoming senior research fellow at the Center for Political Research for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem in 1981. In 1984, Rosen became consul for Academic Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York. Since then, he has served as political counselor at Israel's embassy in Egypt and as second-ranking officer at the embassy in India. Rosen, who is the father of two sons and a daughter, collects books on Lawrence of Arabia. He speaks Polish, Dutch, English, Arabic and Hebrew and can follow conversations in Russian, German and Yiddish. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=7383 * IRAQ SEEKS UN PERMISSION TO AID 'WRETCHED AMERICANS' United Nations, Reuters, 20th January Iraq sought UN clearance yesterday for a gift of $94 million (100 million euros) in humanitarian aid to "homeless and wretched" Americans living in poverty. In a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf said Baghdad meant the gift as an expression of "deep sympathy for the human suffering and wretchedness of some 30 million U.S. citizens who live below the poverty line." "The vast majority of those people are black citizens who continue to suffer from persecution and discrimination and live on refuse, deprived of the most basic means of subsistence," Sahaf said. "Their continued suffering must not be met with silence," said the letter, which did not spell out how Baghdad planned to distribute the money if it were approved. Washington promptly dismissed Iraq's idea of donating money to poor Americans as "ridiculous and nonsensical." "It shows that what they are doing is playing political games with the world," [.....] URL ONLY: http://www.hindustantimes.com/nonfram/180101/detfor13.asp * SADDAM'S DOLLAR BOMB MAKES US FUME Hindustani Times, 18th January -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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