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Iraq Supplement, 14-21/1/01


*  In the wake of the high-tech Œstorm' [NY Post. A US-eye view from high
tech wizardry to regret not pushing on to Baghdad to Gulf War Syndrome. Not
much on how the Iraqis may have lived it]
*  Female POW: I wasn't a hero [Seattle Times. An account of imprisonment in
Iraq by Gulf War POW, Michelle Koidin who was, as it happens, treated
*  Gulf War didn't stop Hussein  [Sunday Times. I haven¹t bothered with the
article but I include a chronology given at the end of it]
*  A time for celebration [Jerusalem Post. The Arabs have been kept down,
which is good, but they still have delusions of grandeur, which is bad]
*  A war without end [Observer. John Nichol, the Gulf War prisoner. While
justifying the war he argues against the postwar bombing and sanctions]
*  Kuwait bears scar of war [suggests that Kuwait has suffered a moral
collapse since the Gulf War]
*  Gulf War Tied Israel's Hands [Life in Israel during the Gulf War]
*  Saddam sent hitman to kill London foes [A defector¹s tale, by Marie
Colvin, who seems to specialise in this sort of thing. Sunday Times]
*  Iraqi deserter prospers in US [an extract describing a huge Œtent sity¹
in the Saudi desert full of Iraqi refugees]
*  Kurds Still Dependent on Outsiders [useful account of present situation
of Kurds. More informative than Peter Hain as to why they¹re presently
better off than the rest of Iraq. But it does pose a question as to whether
we in the anti-sanctions movement should be opposing the existence of the
no-fly zone over Iraqi Kurdistan]
*  Iraq's Basra now a far cry from its past glory [tragedy of Sinbad¹s
*  Kuwait's crossroads [Western liberties or faithfulness to tradition?]
*  Gulf War lesson: how the peace was lost [The Age, Australia:  Œinstead of
the success of post-World War II West Germany, Iraq has been more like a
post-World War I Germany: alienated people seeking revenge against the
victors.¹ Quite a good critique of the post war policy from a
pro-Imperialist standpoint]
*  Links between FF and the Iraqi regime [Article by Fintan O¹Toole in the
Irish Times suggesting that the opposition to sanctions by leading Fianna
Fail representatives, though wholly honourable, is, or may be, or we will
insert into the ear of our readers that it is, motivated by greed. This is
one nasty little piece of work]
*  Let's finally end the Gulf War [a strange article using the arguments
that are usually used in favour of sanctions, eg the bold assertion that
ŒWestern intelligence indicates that Iraq has rebuilt its arsenal of weapons
of mass destruction¹, to argue against them]
*  Eyewitness: Iraq stuck in timewarp [BBC. Account of life in the
University of Basra]
*  Ten years after the Gulf War, UN should stop punishing people of Iraq
[very good statement of basic argument]
*  Saddam ready to put Bush to test [Extract giving some not very
encouraging quotes from Bush aides Rumsfield, Rice and Wolfowitz]
*  Over a barrel: Abandoning sanctions now would simply strengthen Saddam
[Nasty little editorial from the Times]
*  First Night of Gulf War Detailed [What S.Hussein was doing. Extracts from
The Secret Battle, Its Leader, The Events And Facts That Preceded It by
Iraqi Lt. Gen. Abed Hammeed Mahmoud]
*  Powerful, moving pictures in the wake of war [account of some films made
about the Gulf War and its aftermath]
*  Saddam is aiming for a regional war [it seems that, thanks to that woolly
minded liberal Madeleine Albright. Saddam is now more heavily armed, at any
rate he has more tanks, than he was at the start of the Gulf War]
*  Standing firm against Saddam [Nasty little editorial from the London
Evening Standard]
*  If Saddam doesn't get you the UN sanctions will [I used to think Saddam
was vicious until I realised what Tony Blair was up to ...]
*  Ten years after the Gulf War, Saddam smiles again [Ha¹aretz worried at
Saddam¹s success in the Arab world]
*  Defying misery caused by the UN embargo [on the thriving art scene in
Baghdad, and they aren¹t all pictures of S.Hussein ...]

*  Agony of Kuwait's missing
by Frank Gardner in Kuwait
BBC, 15th January
*  Gulf War: Iraq's legacy of pain
by Barbara Plett in Basra
BBC, 15th January
[mentions road to Basra]
*  Flashback: Desert Storm
by Tarik Kafala
BBC, 15th January
*  Lessons of the Gulf War
by Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus
BBC, 15th January
*  CNN's Brent Sadler looks at Iraq since the Gulf War
CNN, 16th January
[Nothing here we don¹t know but it seems to be quite a reasonable account of
the present state of Iraqi public opinion]
by Ashraf Fouad (Reuters, 16th January),1113,2-10
*  Saddam's sons cultivate power
News 24, 18th January
[Does contain the following: ŒOdai also has a paramilitary force called
"Saddam's Commandos", though it's better known for bizarre antics than
military prowess. Members wear black masks and have been shown on television
butchering cats, dogs and wolves and then eating the raw meat.¹ Is this well
attested? Is it very likely from a group which has pretentions to being
UPI, Thu 18 Jan 2001
[Account of the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan. Not particularly enlightening]
by Asma Rashid
[Sympathetic article from the Pakistani paper Dawn, but it more or less
restates the case using the same sources we do eg von Sponeck v Hain]

by Neil Graves
New York Post, 14th January

Operation Desert Storm - which began 10 years ago this week - was a conflict
like none other: a high-tech extravaganza that was more like the first war
of the 21st century than the last of the 20th.

The arsenal of technological marvels included cloak-and-dagger Stealth
fighters that eluded enemy radar, laser-guided bombs that obliterated
bunkers, cruise missiles launched from anchored ships, and infrared
night-fighting devices from battleships to handheld weapons.

"The high-tech war was a huge step forward in terms of maximizing our
ability to hit targets and to minimize loss of life," said Gary Sick, acting
director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

The "mother of all battles," as Saddam Hussein called it, lasted just six
weeks, beginning with the aerial assaults of Jan. 16 and 17, 1991. The air
war continued for better than a month before ground attacks started on Feb.
24. Then, 100 hours of tank battles later - and after seven months of crisis
- it was all over.

Analysts say U.S. troops were fortunate to face an enemy that had just duked
it out with Iran for eight years in an extremely bloody war.

Iraq was expecting more of the same and was stunned by the mechanized and
high-tech war unleashed on it. When Saddam sued for peace in early March
1991, America was relieved to find not only that it had accomplished its
stated goal of ejecting Iraq from Kuwait, but it had done so with amazingly
low casualties.

U.S. combat losses were nearly 150 killed - a quarter of those from friendly
fire - and nearly 470 wounded, truly remarkable numbers in this age of
sophisticated missiles and defense systems. About 470,000 troops served.

Saddam's army, which the Pentagon originally said had a half-million troops,
consisted of only 361,000, according to a later congressional report. Some
153,000 deserted and 26,000 were killed and wounded, the report said.

Some of the major players of President-elect George W. Bush's administration
were calling the shots then. Gen. Colin Powell, currently Bush's nominee for
secretary of state, was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Dick
Cheney was secretary of defense.

As part of the brain trust, Powell and Cheney decided not to bring Saddam
Hussein's regime to an end - choosing to stick to the letter of a United
Nations mandate - and left large portions of Iraq's army intact after
fulfilling its mission of kicking Iraq out of Kuwait.

That meant frustration for U.S. troops who had endured five months of Desert
Shield - the preparation phase - and then watched the enemy lines cave in
without being able to finish them off.

"We didn't imagine it ending so quickly," said Lt. Col. Terri O'Brien, whose
800th Military Police Brigade based at Uniondale, L.I., guarded some 29,000

"The consensus was to keep going to Baghdad. We wanted to kick butt and get
it over with. But [not continuing] was a political decision."

Veterans not only have bad feelings about those government decisions on the
battlefield but also about decisions made back home, when they started
feeling the long-term effects of war.

The Washington-based National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition claims
at least 9,600 Desert Storm veterans have since died from Gulf War Syndrome
ailments, generally classified as fatigue, shortness of breath and aching

Another 200,000 claims have been filed with the U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs - of which 60,000 have been denied, the organization said.

Anthony Fiorillo, 31, of Bellerose, Queens, was a Marine who fought at the
nasty battle of Khafji on Jan. 29, 1991, where 11 Americans died before
defeating the Iraqis.

After returning stateside, Fiorillo bled rectally, had breathing problems
and dropped nearly 100 pounds. Worst yet, Fiorillo was told he could never
father a child because of injections of antivirus vaccines - which he
learned had been in storage since 1975 - that had left him sterile.

But on Dec. 24, 2000, Fiorillo and his wife had a "Christmas child," little
Christiana. He credited the miracle to three years of periodic herbal
treatments on an Arizona Indian reservation.

"Doctors said it would never be, but the Lord thought otherwise," Fiorillo

"If I had any advice for the VA [Department of Veterans Affairs], it would
be don't believe American vets are lying. I was willing to give my blood -
and I did. All I ask for is to be treated as a human being, not a piece of

The VA does not officially designate Gulf War Syndrome a malady, labeling
complaints "undiagnosed illnesses."

"If you inject uranium, there is a health risk, but if you inject lead,
there's [also] a health risk," VA spokesman Larry Devine said.

"But to my knowledge, there is nothing specific where you can clearly say .
. . this particular exposure caused some of the complaints."

by Michelle Koidin
Seattle Times, 14th January

SAN ANTONIO (The Associated Press): Her mother walked through her days in a
fog, not knowing if her only child was dead or alive. Her father prayed day
and night. Hundreds of people she had never met wore POW bracelets inscribed
with her name.

Locked away in a Baghdad prison for 33 days, Melissa Coleman had no idea
such a fuss was being raised about her. She assumed the video and snapshots
taken by her Iraqi captors let everyone know she was OK.

And, amazingly, she was.

"Even though it was in the middle of a war, and it was air raids going on -
I could see the traces of them shooting anti-air warfare - it was peaceful,"
says Coleman, then Melissa Rathbun-Nealy and the first of two female U.S.
prisoners of war in the Persian Gulf War.

"I was just alone, I was by myself, and I had to rely on myself and my mind.
I'd talk to myself. It's weird to say, but it was peaceful."

Today, the only outward traces of her service are a fingertip-sized shrapnel
scar on her forearm and two scars the size of jelly beans in her upper arm
from the puncture and exit of a bullet.

But like thousands of fellow veterans, Coleman says she suffers from chronic
fatigue, memory loss, headaches and muscle pain. The ailments are associated
with an unexplained condition known as Gulf War syndrome.


Now 30, she left the Army in 1993 and is a stay-at-home mom living off
medical disability and her husband's pay. The San Antonio apartment she
shares with her husband, fellow Gulf War veteran Michael Coleman, and their
7- and 8-year-old daughters bears no symbols of their days at war.

On a recent afternoon, her husband was sleeping after an overnight shift at
the post office, and her girls were at school. Her parents, Leo and Joan
Rathbun, were visiting for the winter from Newaygo, Mich.

Fiddling with a shiny purple press-on nail and running her fingers through
her hair, Coleman recalls how she went from a sassy, rebellious teenager who
joined the Army on a whim to a soldier who drove tank-hauling trucks to a
POW at age 20. And then, how her life changed on Jan. 31, 1991.

More than three weeks before the 100-hour ground war began, Coleman and her
partner, 23 year-old Spec. David Lockett of Bessemer, Ala., were hauling
tanks to the front lines when they made a wrong turn and accidentally
crossed the border from Saudi Arabia to Kuwait.

"All of the sudden, we hear gunfire, and I just jumped on the floor," she
says calmly.

Blood splattered. Coleman was shot in the arm. Both were cut by shrapnel.
The truck stalled. Lockett pulled Coleman out, and before they knew it, they
were surrounded by 10 to 15 Iraqi soldiers wielding AK-47s.


Coleman cried at first, then prayed for strength.

Over the next day and a half, the two were whisked across the desert and
interrogated at abandoned buildings along the way.

She finally got medical treatment at the prison in Baghdad where they ended

While some of the 21 U.S. POWs said they were beaten, starved or held in
solitary confinement, Coleman says she was fed three meals a day, given
access to a courtyard and allowed to walk freely from her cell to a bathroom
down the hall.

"Looking back, it really wasn't that traumatic," says Coleman, who is
believed to have been the first U.S. servicewoman imprisoned by enemies
since World War II.

Back home, word spread that a female truck driver was missing in action.

No name had been released, but Leo Rathbun had a pit in his stomach.

He went out and bought a fifth of whiskey. After a couple of drinks, the
doorbell rang. Through the window, Rathbun saw an Army uniform. It was the
beginning of a long month of waiting and wondering.

"It was almost like a case of hopelessness because we couldn't get any
information from the government at all," Joan Rathbun says. "We knew that
they weren't in the truck. We didn't know if they tried to escape, whether
they were shot dead, whether they were buried in the sand someplace - we
knew nothing."

Their fears finally were put to rest March 4, when they turned on CNN after
an excited phone call from a friend and saw Coleman and other POWs being
turned over to the Red Cross at a Baghdad hotel.

Unaware that her high-school senior picture had been published and broadcast
worldwide, Coleman was surprised to hear the shouts from strangers:
"Melissa, are you OK? Melissa, did they hurt you?"

Over the next several weeks, the swarms of news crews were about as daunting
to Coleman as her imprisonment. But she found a way to cash in on her fame,
making "nice sums of money" by telling her story to tabloid TV shows.


Less than a month later, Coleman returned to her post in El Paso and quickly
married Michael Coleman, who had proposed before the war. She then was
exposed to the downside of celebrity when she received hate mail over her
marriage to a black man. Coleman, who is white, began shunning the

Today, she has settled into a quiet routine of driving her daughters to
school and taking computer classes. Her Purple Heart, Prisoner of War and
National Defense Service medals are stuffed in a closet. When her dad
suggests she dig them out and display them, she shrugs, much as she scoffs
at being called a hero.

"What did I do to be a hero?" Coleman says. "I didn't do anything. The ones
that flew the air raids, the ones that got Kuwait back, they were the ones
that were the heroes."

by Greg Myre
Sunday Times, 14th January

[The article itself contains nothing new but it finishes with a chronology
and chronologies are alweays useful]

Key events and what followed

July 17, 1990: Saddam Hussein accuses Kuwait and United Arab Emirates of
overproducing oil and pushing prices down.

Aug. 2, 1990: Iraqi army invades Kuwait. United Nations Security Council
imposes trade embargo on Iraq.

Aug. 7, 1990: President George Bush orders deployment of U.S. troops to
Persian Gulf.

Jan. 17, 1991: U.S.-led coalition launches devastating air war on Iraq.

Feb. 26, 1991: Kuwait liberated. Baghdad accepts cease-fire two days later.

March 2, 1991: Shiite Muslims revolt against Hussein in southern Iraq. Later
joined by Kurds in north. Both rebellions savagely crushed after month of

April 17, 1991: Complying with UN Resolution 687, Iraq starts providing
information on outlawed weapons. UN accuses Hussein of cheating, hiding
missiles, nuclear facilities. That month, United States, France and Britain
declare a 19,000-square-mile area of northern Iraq a "safe haven" for Kurds
and impose no-fly zone above 36th parallel.

Aug. 27, 1992: United States, backed by Britain and France, declares
"no-fly" zone over southern Iraq to protect Shiite Muslim rebels.

Dec. 9, 1996: UN allows Iraq limited oil sales under closely monitored deal,
first loosening of 1990 sanctions.

Dec. 16, 1998: Weapons inspectors withdrawn from Iraq. Hours later, four
days of U.S. British air and missile strikes begin, pounding Baghdad.

Aug. 10, 2000: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez becomes first head of state
to visit Iraq since Gulf War, meets with Hussein.

Sept. 22, 2000: French charter flight becomes first international flight
into Baghdad to ignore request from UN sanctions committee to wait for
clearance, starting flood of flights--with and without approval--from
nations eager to chip away at sanctions.

Jerusalem Post, 14th January

Exactly 10 years after the war over Kuwait started, the era that battle
opened is now coming to an end.

Ironically, the US president's first name is still going to be George and
his last name will be Bush.

But the Iraqi president's first name is still Saddam and his last name is

Many of the positive changes that came about because of the Kuwait crisis
and subsequent war are now fading away.

Iraq has not abided by its commitments made at the war's end, and the
international community seems unwilling to take the actions necessary to
ensure greater compliance. While Baghdad flouts its promises and refuses to
allow weapons' inspections, Iraq receives frequent rewards for its obduracy.

On the plus side, international sanctions against Iraq still exist. Yet they
are declining year by year and often month by month. The year 2000 was the
time when Iraq was finally admitted back to the Arab League and Arab world
with virtually full status. The year 2001 may well be the year when
sanctions cease to be meaningful at all.

This does not mean, though, that the 10-year-long effort has been a failure.
Without sanctions, Iraq would have rebuilt its military power and renewed
its threat to the region far faster and more effectively than has happened.

Ten years ago, there was great hope that the lesson of the crisis and war
would persuade the Arab world to move toward greater moderation. Having
shown radicalism, militancy, pan Arab nationalism, and violence to have very
negative effects on Arab fortunes (both political and financial), the crisis
seemed to show the way toward a different kind of strategy and thinking.

Applauding and appeasing dictators could lead to such people invading one's
own country. The ceaseless demand for battle against Israel could backfire
as inter-Arab politics turned into inter-Arab imperialism.

To some extent, this new phase has remained a powerful force in influencing
a number of Arab leaders and countries. Yet all the old, and suicidal,
temptations appear to have returned in many ways as well.

Specifically, the disaster of their having sided with Iraq had supposedly
showed the Palestinians that only negotiations and compromise with Israel
could bring them any progress.

Because of the PLO's policy, the war's aftermath brought the flight of
Palestinian refugees from the Gulf states in numbers on an order of
magnitude approaching that of the 1948 war. After the West Bank Palestinian
leaders and masses cheered Saddam as their "savior," his crushing defeat
showed that no Arab champion was going to come and deliver total victory to
the Palestinians.

Given the events of recent months, however, this understandable expectation
of a changed Palestinian world view has also been thrown into question. Some
seem to have forgotten these events, and others perhaps never absorbed their

Another product of the 1991 Kuwait war was the place of the United States as
the world's preeminent power, whose influence in the Middle East had reached
a high point. Of course, this effect was intensified by the
near-simultaneous collapse of the USSR and of the Soviet bloc.

While the relative power of the US remains one of the most important
features of international affairs, there are now clear indications that
either it cannot do everything it wants or that its abilities do not match
its capabilities.

Obviously, the US's vital and often capable role should not be
underestimated. But the US has not been able to mediate Syria-Israel or
Palestinian-Israeli peace, bring down Saddam Hussein, moderate Iran by
pressure or conciliation, destroy terrorist groups acting effectively
against American targets, create a stable security order in the Gulf, or
achieve several other critical goals.

As a result, US credibility may be suffering. There are also serious
indications that American leaders are seriously out of touch with regional
realities. As Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Palestinians, and others have rejected
American initiatives and insulted American interests, no effective
countermeasures have been taken by US presidents.

Despite all these reservations, the 10th anniversary of the Kuwait war
should be a time for celebration as well as introspection.

There are many ways in which this struggle was of the utmost, lasting
importance. It was a great victory over a dangerous, unscrupulous dictator.
The war upheld principles of international cooperation against aggression.
It shattered the myth that the Arab states and Israel had inevitably
conflicting interests.

And if the war had not been fought and won, the Middle East would be in a
far worse situation than it is today.,6903,421999,00.html

by John Nichol
Observer, 14th January

Ten years ago today I was preparing for war. My RAF Tornado squadron was
based on the island of Bahrain and I distinctly remember sitting on the
coast staring out to sea, contemplating that I may not have long to live.

Iraq had invaded Kuwait a little over five months previously. Now a
coalition of 36 countries, led overwhelmingly by the armed forces of the
United States backed by a large British contingent, was amassed in the
deserts of the Gulf, poised to eject Saddam Hussein's army from the tiny
oil-rich emirate.

After nine years in the military, Queen and Country had called in their
dues; they wanted to know if the millions of pounds invested in my training
had been put to good use. I was about to fight and possibly die, and the
question I asked myself was: 'Am I up to it?'

A few days later I was to find out. Flying into battle at 600mph, 40 feet
above the desert, my jet was blasted out of the sky - £20 million of
technology transformed into 20 tonnes of metal by a surface-to-air missile.
Ejecting from the blazing Tornado, I floated down to the sandy ground well
behind enemy lines. As my captors approached with guns blazing, whether I
was 'up to it' became academic. Survival was my key concern.

Of course, in comparison to the main issues, these were only my personal,
insignificant worries. The bigger question being asked about the war was:
'Is this just? Is it worth it?' For the record, I believe the answer to both
questions was yes. Although I did not really think about it at the time,
Operation Desert Storm was as much about oil as it was about the freedom of
Kuwait. And in retrospect, stabilisation of the region and protection of the
West's oil supplies were still honourable causes to fight for.

Of course 10 years on, the military's basic mission has been mired by the
passage of time, circumstances and political infighting. The man who started
it all, Saddam Hussein, is still in power. In many ways he is in a stronger
position now than when the crisis erupted. His main political sparring
partners of the time have been confined to history. While there is no sign
of the demise of Saddam, Bush, Thatcher, Major and now Clinton have all been
shown the political door. But where, then, did my mission go so wrong?

One of the most overused phrases I hear, and one I suspect will be repeated
many times over the coming days, is 'the job wasn't finished'. But what do
the armchair warriors mean when they tout this easy soundbite? I can only
presume they are advocating that the military should not have stopped its
assault until the whole of Iraq was occupied. This, of course, is fantasy.

First, the coalition of nations would never have allowed the Western
countries to occupy Arab land. Second, and more importantly, what would the
West have achieved? Do we think that our Special Air Service could have
marched to the equivalent of 10 Downing Street in downtown Baghdad and
demanded that Saddam come out with his hands raised? The death toll would
have been massive and I suspect I, held in Iraq for the seven weeks of the
conflict as a prisoner of war, would have been one of the casualties. Of
course my death would have been unimportant on its own, but public opinion
would never have tolerated thousands of body bags being flown back to
Britain. The same supporters of the 'finishing the job' brigade would then
have been decrying a catastrophic military action.

Even if Saddam had been killed, which I presume is what 'finishing the job'
means, who would have replaced him? His son Uday - a man who had his
football team flogged for losing a match? We seem to have forgotten that
only a few years ago Saddam Hussein was 'our man' in the Middle East. We
trained his pilots in our RAF; we gave him the ingredients to cook up his
chemical weapons which killed thousands of Kurds. These are the same
weapons, of course, that we are so keen to have returned. Our former ally
has become a thorn in our side, which I suppose is what happens when your
foreign policy, ethical or not, is to interfere in the affairs of other

So why did the military fail in its mission? The reality is that it did not.
The military was supremely successful in carrying out its objectives; Iraqi
forces were evicted from Kuwait and the oil supplies were secured. It was in
the aftermath of a great victory that great failures occurred and 10 years
after the war was won Britain and America are still embroiled in the
so-called peace.

Sanctions imposed on Iraq after the war are reputedly responsible for the
deaths of some 600,000 children. Of course the Iraqi regime is ultimately
responsible, but can we just wash our hands of the issue and say, as
Madeleine Albright did, 'we think it is a price worth paying'?

The men and women who fly our combat aircraft put their lives at risk on a
daily basis patrolling the no-fly zones in Iraq. Over the last 10 years they
have dropped thousands of bombs on Iraqi targets in an effort to force the
regime into compliance. It has been a largely unsuccessful strategy. And it
is unsuccessful, in the same way that sanctions have failed; for a simple
reason with which we have real difficulty coming to terms. Saddam Hussein
cares not a jot about how many of his people are killed, indeed the more who
die the stronger his position becomes; I think he actually welcomes the
daily rise in the death toll.

There is, of course, a flaw in my argument. And it has been pointed out in
the media many times recently. The Foreign Office Minister, Peter Hain,
constantly asks the question: 'So what would you do?' But these are weasel
words. Just because you are doing something does not mean that it is the
right thing. It is simply not good enough to bury our heads in the sand and
blame the other guy, no matter how blameworthy he is. Are we not better than
that? Surely, if we truly believe that we in the West have the right to
impose our will on weaker nations, we can do better than watching thousands
of children die because their leader is an evil dictator? If I am truthful,
I suppose that I don't really have an answer, but I do know that the current
policy is not only a failure, it is also wrong.

Ten years ago I was proud to be part of the military machine that achieved
all of its objectives in Desert Storm. If winning a war is possible then I
firmly believe that in 1991 our military won. Sadly, in 2001, our
politicians are losing the peace. What can be done? Well, as the old saying
goes, 'To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.' Having been to war, I
tend to agree.

€ During 15 years in the RAF John Nichol saw service in the Falklands, the
Gulf and Bosnia. He is now a writer, broadcaster and management consultant.

Detroit News, 14th January

KUWAIT (Associated Press): In the shadow of Saddam, the lights blaze
brighter than ever. Oil flows at record rates. A stop sign can easily back
up a million dollars worth of cars. But something is wrong with this

If Kuwait rose quickly from its Gulf war ashes, it re-emerged as a curious
phoenix, plump and gaudy yet somehow incapable of flight.

"This is hell after paradise," said Nayef el-Zuaby, a Lebanese-born
transport magnate with deep roots in this desert emirate. He said Kuwaiti
society was shattered a decade ago and has yet to be repaired.

"So many people have lost their ethics, forgotten how to behave," el-Zuaby
said, clutching worry beads and a cell phone in his meaty right fist.
"Before, thinking was clear, neat, pure. No longer."

His tone is extreme for those who reflect on the real hell wrought by the
Iraqis, who killed 330 Kuwaitis over seven months and left a city in ruins
under greasy, stinking black smoke that turned noon to midnight.

Before fleeing, the Iraqis opened oil taps and set fire to 720 burning oil
wells. They looted or smashed everything from supercomputers to kids' toys.
Damage claims by Kuwait and its citizens total $130 billion.

After 10 years, Kuwait has yet to learn the fate of more than 600 people the
government calls prisoners of war. Although Iraq denies it, Kuwait insists
they are being held as hostages.

Doctors note a dramatic rise in lung cancers and respiratory diseases they
blame on a toxic fog that lasted six months, until the oil fires were put
out. Psychological trauma still marks many survivors of the invasion.

But el-Zuaby's point -- that Kuwait is missing its compass -- was echoed
repeatedly by Kuwaitis and foreigners, from government officials to liberal
members of parliament to fundamentalist Islamic leaders.

Many feel that the liberation of Kuwait gave an opportunity to fix what was
wrong with their society, but that the chance was missed.

After the shock of invasion, the pain of occupation and the promise of
liberation, Kuwait fell back into its old habits. Oil pays for glitter.
Foreigners do the dirty work. Women are still awaiting the vote.

Hardly anyone expects Saddam to return anytime soon across the
U.N.-monitored border. But rather than build its own army, Kuwait finances a
rotating force of 5,000 American and British soldiers.

Some of the old certainties are gone. Kuwait stock exchange trading volume
dropped 30 percent in 2000 and is now at its lowest point in five years.

Still, many hold out hope. Oil prices are high, and Kuwait is rebuilding the
$100 billion investment portfolio it amassed abroad before the war.

The words scrawled in red on the old U.S. Embassy wall are faded but still
legible: "Thanks for Bush." Kuwaitis are happy to see a new Bush heading
into office, with familiar faces like Colin Powell and Dick Cheney.

"A handful of Kuwaitis are investing their money at home, building new
things," said Lubna Saif Abbas, marketing manager of the Kuwait Free Trade
Zone, part of a privately owned local conglomerate.

She made the news during the war as one of nine Kuwaiti women trained to
fight in the armed forces. A decade later, she is disappointed that women
still lack some rights, but expects them to get there eventually.

In some Arab countries, her frankness would land her in prison, she said.
"In Kuwait, people are very outspoken. It is the implementation that is

Las Vegas Sun, 14th January

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Robert Rosenberg's rooftop apartment in Tel Aviv was his
front-row seat in the Persian Gulf War -- the fiery clash of Iraqi Scud and
U.S. Patriot missiles playing out nightly overhead.

"It looks like the finger of God going up in the sky -- the Patriots firing,
the Scuds," says Rosenberg, now one of Tel Aviv's many Internet
entrepreneurs, then both hapless target and fascinated spectator.

The first night that air-raid sirens whined -- 2 a.m. on Jan. 18, 1991 --
one of Saddam Hussein's Scuds hit near enough to crack the woodwork in the
window and door frames of Rosenberg's apartment.

Later, it was Nir Barnea's turn in a Tel Aviv suburb, emerging from his
mother's home, its window glass in shards, to find a neighbor's house
flattened. "The woman inside was dead," says Barnea -- witness to one of
Israel's two direct fatalities from the missile barrage.

For Israelis, the Gulf War was the conflict that compelled the fiercely
proud Jewish nation to do the unthinkable -- sit tight and not hit back.

Over 31 nights, 39 Scud missiles slammed into Israel. A stunned populace
fumbled with gas masks and waited fearfully in rooms sealed with tape and
plastic against gas attacks, while outsiders saw to the besieged nation's

U.S. pressure forced Israel to keep its arms sheathed throughout the
conflict, for fear of inflaming Arab members of President Bush's anti-Iraq
coalition. More than once, Israel's Air Force Journal reported this month,
ground crews armed warplanes, pilots scrambled to cockpits, and military
jets hung in the air just this side of Israel's border -- but the strike
order never came.

In a demonstrative effort to allay Israeli fears, Bush ordered batteries of
Patriots airlifted into the country on short notice.

"It's not in Israel's nature to be hit, without hitting back," said Moshe
Arens, then-Israeli defense minister, 10 years later his voice still cold on
the topic of the U.S.-dictated passivity.

Israel came "very close" to responding, he confirmed.

But the inaction strained the nation's ethos of always -- always - meeting
force with greater force so hard that it never quite snapped back into

"The Gulf War taught us about the limits of power," said Rosenberg, an
author and former journalist. "We were and still are the most powerful
military force in our region, and there was nothing we could do."

Supporters of Israel's restraint say it kept the allied coalition together.

Opponents say inaction weakened Israel in the eyes of the world - and its

Some say the jolt led, directly or indirectly, to the landmark Mideast peace
accords of the 1990s.

Peace advocates such as former Prime Minister Shimon Peres have pointed to
the war as evidence of the vulnerability of all of Israel, some 60 miles
across at its broadest point; since no available buffer was wide enough
against ballistic missiles, they argued, it was better to trade land for

Ironically, it was the bustling coastal city of Tel Aviv that came most
under target -- disrupting the lives of people who had told themselves they
had little in common with intense religious and political passions elsewhere
in the country.

Some threw "end of the world" parties to mark the night the allied deadline
expired for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.

For years after the Friday that the missiles hit his neighborhood, Barnea
says, dogs on the streets would scramble under tables or cars whenever they
heard a backfire, or any bang.

"The war penetrated their homes, not only physically, but mentally," said
Nachman Shai, the wartime military spokesman who became a national hero as
he nightly, calmly, let Israelis know when danger was coming, and when it
had passed.

Now a broadcast executive, Shai was dubbed "The National Comforter" during
the war. Grateful parents named innumerable Israeli babies after him. One
set of twins was named Nachman and Shai.

With one phone in one hand for radio, another in the other for TV, Shai
would go on the air: Two missiles have been fired toward Israel; in two or
three minutes, they'll be landing somewhere in the country.

He can still repeat his calming patter from those frightening days: "Make
sure we get in the sealed room with the family. Talk to your kids, make sure
they feel comfortable. If they don't want to wear the masks, they can go
without for a while ..."

by Marie Colvin
Sunday Times, 14th January

THERE is one question that Iraqi intelligence agents are not supposed to put
to the people they interrogate under torture. They never ask why their
prisoners oppose Saddam Hussein.

Brutality has become such a commonplace in the culture that keeps Saddam in
power that his minions cannot be allowed to doubt whether the evil they
commit is normal.

Interviewing defectors from the Iraqi power structure entails hearing about
so many inhuman acts that when one agent of the mukhabarat (security
service) said he had worked in the Bureau of Murders, I thought he meant the
office that committed them. In fact, it was the office that investigated

There are many startling stories about Iraq. Saddam gunned down half his
cabinet after he took power in 1979; Uday, his eldest son, raped and killed
a woman, then gave her family a car in compensation; Qusay, his second son,
ordered Abu Ghreib prison to be "cleaned out" and had 2,000 prisoners
executed in 24 hours.

What these stories obscure is the day-to-day oppression that 16m Iraqis
endure. The people who commit brutal acts say: "It was normal to us."

Omar Ismael, now a refugee in western Europe, worked for 14 years in the
mukhabarat and rose to the rank of captain before fleeing six months ago.

He is not an unfeeling man: he talks movingly about wanting his children,
Mustapha, 9, and Raima, 6, to escape from Iraq and join him. But he has no
remorse about the job he considered "normal". Ismael saw so many people
killed in Iraqi prisons that he no longer remembers their names or the

Ismael did not leave Iraq because he opposed Saddam, but because he thought
he would be the next victim. His final mission is a chilling warning of how
far beyond any civilised boundaries the regime in Iraq has gone.

Ismael's last order - one he did not obey because he believed he would have
been killed - was to travel to London and assassinate Iraqi opposition

He was given weeks of training with 14 other mukhabarat agents, all being
prepared for similar missions. He was to pose as an asylum seeker in London
and ingratiate himself with opposition figures there. For weeks his
instructors at the Salman Pak bureau of the mukhabarat schooled him in what
to say to his interviewers to convince them he was a political refugee. He
was given a passport with a new name identifying him as a Shi'ite, the
branch of Islam that is followed by those in the south of Iraq and is viewed
with suspicion by Saddam's Sunni elite.

He was told to say he had been imprisoned for joining the Shi'ite rebellion
that followed Saddam's defeat in the Gulf war and was taught the dialect of
the south. More sinister was the training he received to fire a gun with a
silencer and to use thallium, a slow-acting poison that has featured in
Iraqi assassinations.

"They told me to go to London, to remain quiet for two months and get myself
established. They said the government of Britain would pay me some money and
I should live only on that. Then I was to get close to three people. They
showed me thick files on the people in London."

He left through northern Iraq, now in control of the Kurds, and was given
money by an Iraqi agent in Ankara. He was to check in with Baghdad every
week through contacts in Romania and Greece. If he needed a weapon or
thallium compound, he had a number to call in Cyprus.

"I was told I would be given new orders after two months," Ismael said. "I
knew I was supposed to assassinate these people for three reasons: one, why
else would they teach me to use a silenced gun and thallium; two, I was told
not to worry about my children - they would be taken care of; and three, the
way the mission was set up in Baghdad, they could deny any connection with
me if I was caught."

Ismael decided to flee. He knew what could happen to him because for years
he had been a "technician" - recording torture sessions or helping with
electrical equipment during the interrogation of suspects.

The equipment, imported from Germany by the health ministry, was a machine
manufactured to restart patients' hearts with a jolt of electricity. The
mukhabarat modified it to deliver stronger jolts.

Every torture session had to be recorded and a tape sent to the office of
Qusay, who runs Iraq's Special Security Organisation. Like the Nazis, the
Iraqi regime is keeping details of the crimes it commits in its own
archives. The record could be invaluable to any tribunal convened to
consider the regime's crimes against humanity.

"Sometimes we had so much work that we could not record everything, but we
sent many tapes," Ismael said. "Always one question was asked: who are you
working with?"

Electrodes were placed on suspects' heads or genitals. Whenever a question
went unanswered, said Ismael, the voltage was increased.

His career reveals the depth of the regime's paranoia. In April 1998 Ismael
and four other agents followed Taha Abbas Hababi, the director of the Al
Eimn al-Amn, Iraq's equivalent of MI5. Hababi was considered to have gone

"We found nothing against him after two months, so we made a tape of his
daughter having sex with a man," Ismael said. "We had to drug her first."

When Hababi was sent the tape he went directly to a meeting with Saddam and
Qusay. He was not seen again until his body was delivered to his family two
months later.

Executions were routine. "Prisoners would be put in a room and killed by a
man who just opened fire, spraying them with bullets," Ismael said. "Then
another man would come and put a bullet in each one's head, to be sure. Once
we found a man who had died without any bullet holes in him - from fear, I

On one occasion Ismael and fellow mukhabarat agents were called to witness
the execution of two colleagues. "I think it was to make an example of
them," he said.

In Ismael's last year one name kept emerging in torture sessions: Amar
Turki, said to be an opposition leader based in London. Iraq had no file on
him. Part of Ismael's mission was to find Turki. He was also ordered to get
close to Arras Habib, of the Iraqi National Congress, and Mohammed Safie,
another opposition leader. Habib is not surprised. "I was told Saddam
offered 40m dinars [£17,000] for my death," he said yesterday.

Ismael was sent on his mission last August and, having sought sanctuary,
says he can never return to Iraq. His story would be amazing had other
former mukhabarat agents not provided similar accounts.

Khaled Jenabi, now a refugee in Jordan, was also a mukhabarat officer until
he left last year. His brother, Kamel, a field marshal, was shot dead by
Qusay after an argument. Jenabi believes that Saddam felt he had become too

Both Khaled Jenabi and Ismael were sons of the regime. Ismael was recruited
from university; Jenabi at 16. "I was told by my tribe that I had been
chosen by Saddam. I was very proud," Jenabi recalled. He started as a
bodyguard to Barzan Tikriti, Saddam's brother and a former head of the
mukhabarat, then graduated to spying on fellow Iraqis.

He drugged female relatives of government or army officials and filmed them
having sex. Some tapes were used for blackmail, others to keep officials in
line. The tortures Jenabi saw in prisons ranged from pulling nails to
burning skin with a blowtorch. "Iraqi prisons are like burial places - once
you enter, you never leave," he said.,1113,2-10

News 24 (South Africa) 15th January


In Baghdad, Al-Subaihawi at age 17 was in the Iraqi army, but fled after 11
months, hiding out in one of his father's gas stations before spending three
days on the run with a cousin. They found US troops and avoided execution
squads allegedly formed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to kill deserters.

Al-Subaihawi and his cousin were taken to Kuwait, then to a Saudi tent city
where he found his brother, who had also left Iraq.

His brother remains there, fearing death if he tried to return to Iraq and
his wife and four daughters. His cousin eventually went back to Iraq and was
executed for deserting, according to Al-Subaihawi.

The tent city, surrounded by Saudi soldiers, housed thousands of refugees
crammed three or four to a tent, sleeping on blankets and getting by on
rice, beans and other dry foods. Fourteen men killed themselves rather than
remain in the makeshift outpost, according to Al Subaihawi.

"Just imagine sitting in this tent for years," he said. "There's nothing
green, no plants. Just yellow, just sand. ... Everything's sand."

He lifted weights, played cards, chatted with friends or went to a mosque
fashioned out of a tent. He had no contact with his family, who presumed he
was dead.

A travelling shop sold cigarettes, candy and what Al-Subaihawi appreciated
most: art supplies. He drew, painted and specialised in wood and ceramic
sculptures. His work so impressed an immigration official that he cleared
the way for Al-Subaihawi to leave for the United States.


Los Angeles Times. 15th January

IRBIL, Iraq (Associated Press): Kurdish militiamen walk patrols armed with
assault rifles and cruise the streets in pickup trucks mounting heavy
machine guns. Local officials, and not Baghdad, make the decisions on what
gets done. Foods and goods in short supply elsewhere in Iraq are abundant.

Ten years after the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi Kurds have realized their dream
of governing themselves in a largely independent area of northern Iraq.

But the undeclared state is divided, fragile and dependent on the United
Nations for food and the U.S. Air Force for protection.

Kurds know their fighting men are no match for Iraqi helicopters and tanks
just 20 miles from Irbil, whose 750,000 people make it the area's biggest
city. They worry about losing the U.S. air patrols that have kept Saddam
Hussein's troops at bay since a failed Kurdish uprising a decade ago.

"If there were more planes, we'd feel even safer," says Ibrahim Amin Abdel
Rahman, a former militiaman.

Anxiety has been increasing as Iraq's government tries to weaken support for
U.N. economic sanctions that have devastated Iraq's economy by dangling the
prospect of lucrative oil deals to oil-consuming nations.

"Could the international community just drop this experience in freedom and
democracy after 10 years?" says Sami Abdel Rahman, a former Kurdish militia
leader who is now a leading figure in the local administration. "I believe
there is a moral obligation, but sometimes economic interests overrule moral

The Kurdish-run zone was established with the help of Washington and its
allies after Saddam brutally put down the 1991 Kurdish uprising that broke
out after the Gulf War, causing hundreds of thousands of Kurds to flee into
Turkey and Iran.

Iraq's Kurds have thrived in their autonomy.

They have freedoms virtually unimaginable in the rest of Iraq. There are
several political parties and newspapers, and criticism of the Kurdish
administration is tolerated although discouraged. The Internet, which is
banned by Saddam, is permitted.

Iraqi Kurds have been battling for their freedom for most of the last
century. That fight has been frustrated not only by Iraqi forces, but also
by neighboring Iran and Turkey, which fear Kurdish freedom in Iraq would
encourage restive Kurdish minorities on their territory.

The economy in the Iraqi Kurdish areas is booming. New roads are being
built, refugees are being resettled and shops are kept filled.

But the sense of stability and prosperity is deceptive.

Although the Kurds are lobbying for the United Nations to keep the sanctions
imposed on Iraq after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, they benefit from
being one of the largest violators.

An army of tanker trucks -observers estimate as many as 40,000 -haul oil
from Iraqi government areas to Turkey, a rampant business that can create
traffic jams at the border stretching six miles. The illicit trade funnels
badly needed cash to both Saddam and the Kurds, with the latter earning
about $100 million a year.

Oil smuggling income would mostly disappear if sanctions are lifted.

The Kurdish economy also thrives on the United Nations' oil-for-food
program, which has pumped $4.6 billion into the north over the past four
years. The program allows Iraq to sell oil and buy food and medicine and
repair infrastructure as an exception to U.N. trade sanctions.

The north gets disproportionate help from the U.N. program, because some
money is taken from the Iraqi government's share to cover war reparations
and administrative costs. The result is that the Kurds get about 50 percent
more per person than the rest of Iraq.

Despite two years of drought in the north, there are few signs of hunger.
Markets are filled with refrigerators from Turkey, soaps from Syria, even
potato chips from Europe. In Iraqi government areas, hunger and want are

"It's black and white between the Kurdish areas and Iraq," says Alan
Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East policy.

The aid creates problems, however. So much free U.N. food is pouring into
the Kurdish area that many farmers no longer bother to plant wheat in the
valleys that once formed part of the breadbasket of Iraq.

The problem is becoming so serious that the local government is urging the
United Nations to start buying food locally. Currently, all the aid for the
food program is imported so no money benefits Saddam's government.

"They need to give farmers an incentive to grow," says Safiq Qazzaz, the
Kurdish official in charge of humanitarian aid.

Politically, the Kurds have also taken only small steps toward creating a
viable state.

The region is partitioned between Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic
Party and Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which are
antagonistic largely due to clan splits and a personality clash between
their leaders.

The two militias face off across a fortified line that splits the enclave,
with slightly over half of the enclave's 3.5 million people living in
Barzani's area.

The two sides signed a cease-fire in Washington in 1998, but officials admit
they have done little since to unite the feuding fiefdoms.

Many Kurds are pinning their hopes for stability on Washington, especially
now that the son of the U.S. president who defeated Saddam in the Gulf War
is headed for the White House.

But few have forgotten that George W. Bush's father did not intervene in the
north until after the Kurdish uprising was defeated. "Bush has the name, but
it is not always complimentary," Qazzaz says.

Some people, like Ali el-Ekiabi, a political science professor at Irbil's
university, keep ready to flee on a moment's notice.

"I don't think Saddam Hussein will be back tomorrow morning," el-Ekiabi says
-but he keeps his passport in his jacket pocket and his wife carries a small
bag filled with dollars at all times.

"In five minutes I can be ready to go anywhere," he says.

Basra, Reuters, 15th January

Two major wars, a rebellion and 10 years of economic sanctions have turned
Iraq's southern port city of Basra, once a hub of trade and tourism, into a
poor, desperate town. The birthplace of Sinbad the Sailor, the hero
immortalised in Arab literature, is struggling to provide its inhabitants
with basic services and decent living standards despite its vast oil wealth.

Since the Gulf War over Kuwait that erupted on January 17, 1991, its
residents have been fighting a daily battle to make ends meet. The vast
majority of its estimated two million population depend for survival on
government supplies distributed under an oil-for-food deal with the United
Nations. It is a far cry from the days when Basra was a regional trade hub
and its casinos, palm-dotted parks and mild weather made it a playground for
wealthy Gulf Arabs, many of them from Kuwait.

"If it weren't for the monthly rations from the government, most residents
would not be able to put food on their tables," Kazem, a government
employee, told Reuters. "It is a far cry from the recent past when we were
the most well off among Iraq's population." Basra's infrastructure is a
shambles. It suffers from chronic power cuts, leaking sewage and water
networks, and muddy roads.

Revenues from the oil sales, closely monitored by the United Nations, have
enabled the authorities to start modest repair work. Government workers are
installing new pipes for the water network and repairs are being made to the
electricity grid. The extent of desperation among some of the population is
clearly visible at the city's weekly "Friday market" where Iraqis from
different walks of life offer the same basic home appliances, clothes and
furniture for sale.

On display on the side walks of a main street are used television and radio
sets, refrigerators, clothes, light bulbs, children's bicycles and video
games. "I am selling the clothes of my grandchildren," Yousef Hussein, 70,
said. "We have no money and my family lives on my retirement salary of 150
dinars (eight U.S. cents) a month."

Hussein, who used to work in construction, said he would earn 70 dinars
before the 1990-91 crisis when the Iraqi currency was worth more than $3 to
the dinar. "No one here can replace the things being sold," Hussein said.

Basra, Iraq's sole outlet to the sea 50 kilometres north of the border with
Kuwait and 550 kilometres south of Baghdad, saw its heydays in ancient times
under the Abbasid Islamic rule.The Abbasids built the city in the seventh
century and in a few decades it became the focal point for Arab sea trade
which stretched as far as China. Alongside its fame as a trade hub, Basra
became an intellectual centre, renowned for its architecture, mosques and
libraries. It produced a number of leading Islamic thinkers and

In the 1970s and early 1980s it evolved into a tourist destination with many
Kuwaitis crossing the border in search of good times. The city bore the
brunt of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war on the shores of its disputed Shatt Al
Arab waterway where the rivers Euphrates and Tigris meet before running to
the Gulf.Its Al Ma'kal port has been out of service since the start of that
war. Ships carrying goods under the UN oil-for-food deal unload at Umm Al
Qasr port to the south. Tankers load crude from a separate port, Min Al

As a strategic town linking Baghdad to Kuwait, Basra was also a main target
for U.S.-led forces which pummelled it with bombs, missiles and artillery
from the air, land and sea during the 1991 Gulf War.Shortly after Iraqi
troops were forced out of Kuwait at the end of February that year,
retreating soldiers began a revolt against President Saddam Hussein once
they reached Basra. The soldiers were soon joined by locals and opposition
activists. The riots spread to most of the mainly Shi'ite south but within
days Saddam's loyalist forces regained control.

Scars of the devastation are still clear with destroyed houses and a
strategic bridge bearing testimony to the ferocity of the fighting. Despite
several U.S. military strikes and the establishment of a no-fly zone over
the south since the 1991 war, Saddam appears to have tightened his grip over
the restive area.

A drive from Baghdad to Basra confirms this. The highway is dotted with
small military points on both sides and barred at several stages by Iraqi
army and police roadblocks. The soldiers appear relaxed and in full control.

by Frank Gardner in Kuwait
BBC, 15th January

It has been 10 years since more than 500,000 men and women went to war with
Iraq to free Kuwait from occupation.
Once Kuwait was liberated it was widely expected that this conservative Gulf
state would become more democratic, such as giving women the vote.

But instead, Kuwaiti society is now being pulled in opposite directions, one
traditional, one liberal.
Take for example a colourful Lebanese cultural dance troupe that is doing
the rounds this month in Kuwait.
To most Western-educated, well-travelled Kuwaitis, it is a harmless cultural
The women keep their clothes on and the music is distinctly Arab.
But to Kuwait's devout Islamists, this hip-swivelling dance show is exactly
the sort of imported culture they want to see banned.
At night-time gatherings and in the all-male parliament, they rail against
almost any form of entertainment.
They believe it encourages young people to lose their inhibitions, leading
to forbidden sex between unmarried couples.

The Islamist MP, Waleed Tabtabai, is leading the drive to resist what he
sees as the Westernisation of Kuwait.
"We as Islamic parties oppose the Western behaviour in this community, like
the women voting and the western concert music that we see," he said.
"Also we oppose the new Western clothes that have invaded this country and
the hairstyles and also the tradition we see among the youth of smoking and
drinking liquor."

It is clear that for all its oil wealth and advanced technology, Kuwait is
still largely a conservative, Islamic society.
That might come as a disappointment to those in the West who expected this
country to open up after the Gulf War.
After all, goes the Western thinking, over half a million Americans and
Britons risked their lives to save Kuwait.
Surely this Gulf state should repay the favour by giving full democracy to
its people.

But ironically, it is not the government that is keeping women out of
Two years ago the ruling emir decreed that women could both vote and stand
for office.
The powerful all-male parliament voted it down, by just two votes.
Yet women political campaigners, like Kuwait University Professor Lubna
Al-Qadi, think time is on their side.
"I think Kuwaiti women have advanced in many fields," she said.
"They are highly educated. They are also participating in the economy of the
country, whether it is in international organisations where they represent
Kuwait as an ambassador or other agencies.
"But, however, there is one other area that is closely linked to the
progress of the country, which is the political participation, which we hope
to achieve in the near future."

Kuwait since the Gulf War has embraced many of the trappings of the West.
Fast food and global fashion chains are all on offer in this tiny Gulf
But not, it seems, full democracy. When it comes to politics, morals and
lifestyles, Kuwaitis are becoming increasingly polarised between liberals
and conservatives.

by Keith Suter
The Age (Australia), 15 January 2001

The Gulf War began 10 years ago tomorrow. Forty-three days later Saddam
Hussein surrendered. But not much has changed since. Saddam is still in
power, he is still making weapons of mass destruction, he is still a threat
to other countries in the region, the US-led coalition opposing him is
fractured and barely holding together - and there is a George Bush in the
White House.

The US won the war but lost the peace. What has gone wrong? First, the US
was obliged to have limited war aims - and getting rid of Saddam was not one
of them. The US said it would drive Iran out of Kuwait. It achieved what it
set out to do.

The US wisely decided not to drive on to Baghdad. It could then have been
sucked into a Vietnam-type quagmire, with Iraqis using guerrilla tactics.

Besides, the US did not know what else to do. If it had somehow managed to
kill Saddam, there is no guarantee that his replacement would have been
pro-American (after all, he is a ruthless person who had already wiped out
potential contenders). The US could have brought in one of the leaders of
the anti-Saddam groups living in exile in Europe. But there is no guarantee
that such a person would enjoy wide support from the Iraqi people. Iraqi
domestic politics is very complicated.

If the US had gone even further and destroyed Iraq, there is a risk that
Iran or Syria, neither of which is pro-US, could have filled the power
vacuum. This could have included getting access to Iraq's oil wealth. Thus,
the US could have unintentionally contributed to Iran's strength (the US had
backed Iraq in its war against Iran in the 1980s).

Iraq itself could have broken up into different ethnic groups and so added
to the region's instability. The Kurds in the north, for example, could have
provided an example to the Kurds in eastern Turkey to continue their
struggle for freedom. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia (with its Sunni Muslim
population) would have been worried if Iraq's Shiite majority got control of
part of the country and so provided a foothold for Shiite-dominated Iran
nearer to Saudi Arabia.

Second, the US opted for a policy of sanctions to disarm Saddam and to buy
time in the hope that there would be an internal rebellion against Saddam to
topple him. There have been some rebellions (not least by the northern
Kurds), but not what the US hoped for. No one 10 years ago expected the
sanctions to have to last this long.

There was a lack of scenario planning in the White House. No one asked
themselves what would happen if the sanctions failed to dislodge Saddam.
This was not an unusual question - after all, the US has had sanctions
against Castro's Cuba for 40 years and yet Castro is still there. Sanctions
have had a very chequered history during the past century.

Third, the official aim of the sanctions may have been flawed at the outset.
The sanctions were designed to ensure that Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction had been destroyed. That was a laudable aim but how was anyone
to know when the job had been completed? After all, the country could have
been completely disarmed but as soon as the international inspectors had
left, Iraq could have started to rebuild the weapon supplies.

This type of internationally imposed disarmament requires an occupation
force, both to ensure the removal of the weapons and the creation of a new
political culture more amenable to the victors. It was done well by the
Allies in West Germany and Japan after World WarII. But in 1991 there was
not the international stomach for an occupation force to rehabilitate Iraq.

Thus instead of the success of post-World War II West Germany, Iraq has been
more like a post-World War I Germany: alienated people seeking revenge
against the victors.

One of the architects of the US 1991 policy, Colin Powell, becomes secretary
of state next week. Let's hope that he learns from the mistakes of the US
over the past decade.

Keith Suter is a senior fellow with Global Business Network Australia.

by Fintan O'Toole
Irish Times, 16th January

With a George Bush back in the White House, and Saddam Hussein still in
power in Baghdad, it is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the
start of the Gulf War. The anniversary of Operation Desert Storm,
nevertheless, will undoubtedly prompt a general reappraisal of the
relationship between the Western democracies and a regime which, in spite of
stiff opposition, probably still deserves to be called the nastiest in the

Already, in Ireland, there are signs of a push to re-establish the economic
and political links with Iraq which were severed by the invasion of Kuwait
and the sudden transformation of a perfectly acceptable trading partner into
a pariah. The point of this column is to suggest that, before that happens,
a lot of questions need to be answered.

With the passage of time, and the overwhelming evidence of the disastrous
effects of UN sanctions on the Iraqi people, there has been a marked shift
in public sympathies since the gung-ho days of 1991. Most people now realise
that the first and worst victims of the Baghdad regime are the Iraqis
themselves. In the face of UN sanctions, moreover, Saddam has taken his
people hostage. He is like a thug who puts a gun to the head of a child and
says: "Back off or I shoot the kid."

In the light of this terrible failure of policy and morality, it is right
and proper that Irish politicians should involve themselves with the plight
of the Iraqi people. Fianna Fáil, in particular, has been especially active
on the Iraqi issue of late, and I have no doubt that in this regard the
motivation of senior figures like David Andrews is purely humanitarian. The
problem, though, is that these decent impulses have to be disentangled from
a web of political and economic interests.

The plain fact is that there has been, since the late 1970s, an
extraordinarily close relationship between Fianna Fáil and the Iraqi regime.
The relationship is both public and private. At an official level, the State
became entangled with Saddam by providing massive support for exports,
particularly of beef, to Iraqi state companies. At a private level, and
perhaps coincidentally, each of Bertie Ahern's two immediate predecessors as
leader of Fianna Fáil has had substantial financial connections to the Iraqi

We know from the Moriarty tribunal that in October 1979, shortly before he
replaced Jack Lynch as Taoiseach, Charles Haughey offered his bankers,
Allied Irish Bank, a deposit of £10 million from the Iraqi Rafidain Bank.
Rafidain is a commercial bank wholly owned by the Republic of Iraq. The
Central Bank of Iraq controls all its transactions and that is controlled by
Saddam Hussein.

Albert Reynolds, on the other hand, has made no effort to conceal his
entirely legitimate business interests in Iraq. When Mr Reynolds became
chairman of oil company Bula Resources, the company pointed out that the
ex-taoiseach's contacts in Libya and Iraq would significantly enhance Bula's
position. The extraordinary general meeting of Bula which approved Mr
Reynolds's appointment as chairman was told that he was receiving 87.5
million penny shares under a once-off option scheme granted because of these
Libyan and Iraqi contacts.

It is clear, moreover, that Mr Reynolds had a personal stake in Iraqi oil
even before he took up this Bula position. A subsequent Bula a.g.m. was told
that Mr Reynolds would receive a 3.75 per cent share in an oil development
in the western desert of Iraq if Bula was granted a licence to drill by the
Saddam Hussein regime. According to Mr Reynolds, this stake arose from an
agreement with a consultant, Bill Griffin, which predated his appointment as
chairman of Bula. Mr Griffin, a petroleum specialist who described himself
as Bula's "main negotiator with the Arab countries", said he had given Mr
Reynolds this personal stake in the oilfield concession because Mr Reynolds
had called for UN sanctions against Iraq to be lifted.

Mr Reynolds also explained to the Bula a.g.m. in 1999 that the oilfield in
question, Block 4, was "much sought after, a very good, highly-prospective
block", but that its full development depended on a lifting of sanctions. He
also stressed that he was not claiming any "extreme influence" with the

There is clearly nothing underhand or unusual about Mr Reynolds's business
interests in Iraq. They do illustrate, however, the extent to which
humanitarian concerns about the effect of UN sanctions cannot be entirely
disentangled from private business interests.

Some of Fianna Fáil's support for Iraq, moreover, has gone well beyond a
call for the lifting of sanctions to embrace what looks very like a
justification for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. Writing in The Irish Times
last month, former minister for foreign affairs Mr Andrews told us that
"Kuwait was an integral part of Iraq for about 3,000 years" and that it had
provoked Iraq by "slant-drilling Iraqi oil in the border area" which he
described as "theft by another name".

He also implied that these were not just private thoughts but "were of
concern ... to the present Minister, Brian Cowen".

This borders dangerously on the appeasement of a vile regime. Until we know
more, the distinction between solidarity with the suffering Iraqis and
sucking up to their murderous oppressors will be less clear than it should

by James R. Holmes
Boston Globe, 16th January

TEN YEARS AGO TODAY an immense, US-led expeditionary force began raining
cruise missiles and an array of precision munitions on Saddam Hussein's
army. Iraqi forces soon began to wither under this high-tech assault.

As a gunnery officer in the battleship Wisconsin during Operation Desert
Storm, I directed nine naval gunfire missions and oversaw the launch of four
Tomahawk missiles. By delivering over a thousand 1,900-pound high-explosive
projectiles - fired by their massive guns, the largest ever installed in an
American warship - the Wisconsin and its sister ship, the Missouri, cleared
southern Kuwait of Iraqi forces and supported the advance of Saudi and US
ground troops into Kuwait.

My most vivid memory of the war came one night in February 1991, when the
Wisconsin's Remotely Piloted Vehicle - a sort of radio-controlled model
airplane, equipped with an infrared camera, that flew over target areas to
monitor the accuracy of our gunfire - relayed images of Iraqi soldiers
desperately fleeing the high-explosive rounds exploding in their midst.

The impression of insuperable military strength was indelible. No one, it
seemed, could withstand the armed might of America.

That was then. Today - a full decade after Desert Storm - Saddam Hussein
remains in power and defiant. In a sense, the Gulf War never ended.
Hussein's antics have divided the permanent five members of the United
Nations Security Council and sapped the unity of the international
community. Many Americans have wondered how Hussein performed such a feat
after suffering a military debacle.

The answer is simple. The administration of George Bush Sr. - with the
current secretary of state-designate, General Colin Powell, serving as
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - set political goals for the war,
some of which could not be achieved by military means. Although their war
aims were never clearly laid out, Bush administration spokesmen suggested
that they intended to accomplish three things by force.

First, the multinational coalition would expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait and
reestablish the emirates lawful government. Second, military action would
safeguard the vital oil fields of Saudi Arabia - thus assuring the flow of
Middle East oil at market prices and preventing economic havoc in the
industrialized world. These objectives lent themselves to a military
solution - defeating the Iraqi army then occupying Kuwait - and were
achieved in resounding fashion.

But then the Bush team overreached. The third goal, eliminating Iraq's
inventory of nuclear biological, and chemical weapons, was unattainable by
force - or at least by any degree of force acceptable to the United States
or its allies.

Instead, the Security Council erected a stringent framework of economic
sanctions and weapons inspections. The council hoped to compel Baghdad to
relinquish its weapons of mass destruction by intrusive weapons inspections
and by choking off its chief source of revenue to fund weapons programs -
oil sales.

At present a UN committee strives to ensure that Iraqi oil revenues go only
to the purchase of food and humanitarian supplies - not to illicit weapons
research. Saddam Hussein has kept his vow never again to admit international
weapons inspectors, having expelled them in 1998.

Meanwhile, American and British aircraft continue a daily - and largely
unreported - air war to enforce the no-fly zones over northern and southern
Iraq. The Clinton administration ad the Republican Congress have waged an
equally toothless campaign to unseat Hussein.

These efforts ultimately failed. Western intelligence indicates that Iraq
has rebuilt its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

The framers of Desert Storm - Bush, Powell, then-Secretary of State James
Baker, et al. - erred in transforming the Gulf War into a protracted
political and propaganda battle. This evened the odds for the wily Hussein,
who was unable to prevail on the battlefield but wielded the propaganda
instrument expertly.

By covertly channeling oil revenues into armaments research, the Iraqi
leader has been able not only to revive his weapons programs - furthering
his political and military ambitions - but at the same time to portray his
citizens as the victims of a heartless, if not racist, America.

The result: increasing sympathy for Iraq in the United Nations and ebbing
political support for US Iraq policy in the Security Council. France, China,
and Russia openly oppose the sanctions. The propaganda war thus favors Iraq
despite its failure in Desert Storm.

The lessons of the prolonged tussle with Saddam Hussein are, first, that
economic sanctions cannot force a tyrant indifferent to the fate of his
people to carry out the wishes of the international community and, second,
that UN inspectors cannot locate all weapons components when the target
nation's leaderhip wishes to conceal them.

It is time for America to face this reality. US forces stationed in the
Persian Gulf region are more than adequate to deter or defeat a new Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. The flow of oil will continue. Thus the
gains achieved by American arms in 1991 are secure.

But the United States will never succeed in eliminating the Iraqi
unconventional arsenal so long as Saddam Hussein remains in power. End the
sanctions, President-elect Bush, and with them the war begun by your father.

James R. Holmesis a doctoral candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and
Diplomacy at Tufts University.

by Barbara Plett in Basra
BBC, 16th January

The University of Basra offers studies in survival.
There is no classroom instruction on the subject and no certificate.
Attendance is all you need.
The campus in southern Iraq is a small collection of faded, peeling
buildings on a flat, treeless plain, flooded now with water and muck from
recent rains.

Students squeeze together on wooden benches, distracted by conversations
from passers-by that float easily through broken window-panes.
But they are determined to learn. They have to be, considering their
dangerous neighbourhood.
Missiles regularly struck the university during Iraq's eight-year war with
Iran, which is just across the Shat al Arab waterway from Basra. That
conflict was followed almost immediately by Desert Storm - the attack by the
US-led coalition that drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Again the battlefield
was only dozens of kilometres away in the southern desert.

But 10 years later, people here say that was nothing compared to the damage
done by UN sanctions that have deprived them of learning tools.
"I am a full professor who graduated from a well known university in the
UK," says Dr Ghaleb Baqer, dean of the college of arts.
"Up to now I don't know how the internet works, can you believe this?"
He acknowledges that the UN's humanitarian programme is now bringing in a
steady supply of food and medicine to counter the worst effects of the
embargo. But he says that is all the West is prepared to do.
"You cannot stop people from eating, stopping people from eating means
dying," he declares. "But you can stop the same people from being
modernised, from stepping forward to the latest inventions of the world."

On the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War many people in Iraq speak of their
resilience, of their ability to adapt to a grim decade of deprivation, and
of hope that recent cracks in the embargo are a sign of the end to

But behind the strident nationalism or determined optimism voiced more and
more on the streets, there is the frustration of being left behind, and the
deep sadness of irreparable loss.
"Medical colleges are using the same texts that I did when I was a student
in 1982," said a doctor who works with a programme to rescue Iraq's
collapsing health system. "There's a huge gap in technical knowledge,
they're still using old methods."
He shows me a crowded clinic that was recently repaired and equipped. It is
located in a Baghdad suburb where streams of open sewage flow between banks
of rubbish, and nearly 2,00 children are seriously underweight.
I ask him if he thinks he is making a difference and he shakes his head.
"Before the war we had a health system that served 95% of the population,"
he said. "Now look at us, chronic malnutrition and no way to compensate for
all the good doctors who've left the country."
 "I think the war against Iraq is still going on," says Dr Baqer. "We talk
about the war that started 10 years ago, but it has not finished yet."

Montreal Gazette, 16th January

"I had been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition
of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a
million individuals, children and adults. ... History will slaughter those

- Denis Halliday, former co-ordinator of the UN humanitarian program in
Iraq, who resigned in protest in 1998.

With its 100,000 to 200,000 deaths, 5 million displaced people and $200
billion in damage, the Gulf War was the single most devastating event in the
Middle East since World War I. But for the Iraqi people, it was only the
beginning of a long nightmare.

For a decade, the UN Security Council - led by the U.S. and Britain and with
the continued support of Canada - has maintained the most severe sanctions
regime in the history of the United Nations against Iraq. As a result, Iraq
has gone from relative prosperity to massive poverty and has seen the death
of 1.5 million citizens, 600,000 of them children under 5. Reports say
children continue to die at the rate of 150 to 200 per day, 70 per cent of
women suffer from anemia and 55 per cent of schools are unfit for learning.

The Geneva Convention prohibits starving civilians as a means of warfare and
targeting installations necessary for their survival. The convention also
prohibits collective punishment. Despite this, the sanctions against Iraq
prohibited all trade including food, even though the country relied on
imports for 70 per cent of its food.

A few months after the bombing started 10 years ago today, it became clear
that Desert Storm had targeted the civilian infrastructure of Iraq. Its the
bombers deliberately targeted water-treatment facilities and, today,
problems related to the lack of drinkable water are still the main causes of
death among Iraqi children.

European public opinion is currently alarmed at depleted uranium because of
the suspected deaths of a few soldiers who served in Kosovo and Bosnia. But
who is worried that 25 times more DU was rained on Iraq and that alarming
rates of certain kinds of cancer and horrible congenital malformations have
been observed there for several years? Who do we hear denouncing the fact
that Iraq is prevented from simply importing the needed detection

Within the framework of the Oil for Food program, revenues from Iraqi oil
are deposited into an account administered by the United Nations. Despite
its benevolent name, the program allocates only 53 per cent of funds for
central and southern Iraq where 86 per cent of the population live. Thirty
per cent goes to a compensation fund for war damages caused in Kuwait.

Despite the high price of oil and the improvements to the OFF program, the
monthly food ration remains the most important part of household revenue for
most ordinary Iraqis. The U.S. and Britain continue to block a large number
of contracts for rebuilding of bombed-out infrastructure.

The OFF program prevents the reconstruction of Iraq and perpetuates the
misery of its people. And its "improvements," of which Canada is so proud,
have the pernicious effect of portraying as saviours the very ones who are
responsible for the destruction of Iraq.

Increasing numbers of Canadians are speaking out against support for
sanctions. However, the federal government continues to ensure Canadian
military participation in the naval blockade. It sheds crocodile tears over
the humanitarian situation in Iraq and congratulates itself on CIDA's
contribution this year of $3.8 million, while ignoring the fact that Canada
has devoted about $1 billion to the destruction of Iraq since 1990.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War, let's denounce the
odious, illegitimate and illegal character of this huge operation of havoc
and plundering of a country whose civilian population continues to pay the

This operation, allegedly mounted to protect Iraq's neighbours and its
Kurdish population against a brutal dictatorship, aims more realistically at
the destruction of Iraq as a regional power and at the usurpation of its
tremendous oil resources.

We are convinced that the citizens of Canada, who have never been consulted
on these policies and their effects, would equally refuse that such crimes
be committed on their behalf and with their tax dollars.

- Francine Nemeh is a director of the Quebec Association for International
Co-operation. Raymond Legault and Bechir Oueslati are members of Voices of
Conscience. This article was excerpted from a longer version signed by 40
prominent Quebecers. The full text and list of signatories is available in
French at

by Stephen Fidler and Roula Khalaf
Financial Times, 17th January


Mr Rumsfeld hinted at his confirmation hearings last week that a smarter
sanctions regime might be devised to keep the Iraqi leader contained and
deny him access to funding. This, say US policy experts, could be combined
with more explicit threats of military strikes if evidence emerged that Iraq
was redeveloping non-conventional weapons.

Helping the Iraqi opposition - to which the Clinton administration last week
granted $12m of aid - is also likely to receive greater attention.

Ms Rice, writing a year ago in Foreign Affairs magazine, said: "Nothing will
change until Saddam is gone, so the United States must mobilise whatever
resources it can, including support from the opposition, to remove him."

Other likely members of the administration have argued that backing for the
opposition should be accompanied by a much more aggressive military posture.

Paul Wolfowitz, Mr Bush's likely choice as deputy defence secretary and an
old ally of Mr Cheney, said in 1998 he supported the creation of "a
liberated zone in southern Iraq comparable to what the US and its partners
did so successfully in the north in Operation Provide Comfort in 1991".


The Times, 17th January

The passing of a decade since the start of the Gulf War has not altered
attitudes everywhere. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry declared yesterday that it
will ³accept nothing less than a total lifting of the embargo² when Kofi
Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, visits Baghdad next month to
discuss whether international arms inspectors might return to that country.
Uday Hussein ‹ son, apparent heir to the dictator and parliamentarian ‹ on
Monday urged fellow legislators to alter the official map of Iraq to include
Kuwait as its province once more. Tony Benn, who rushed on to the airwaves
ten years ago to condemn the allied air attacks, appeared on the Today
programme again in order to denounce sanctions as a ³war crime².

In ordinary circumstances one would not expect Mr Benn and the senior
executives of an oil company to be political partners. Shell has, however,
confirmed that it has held ³preliminary low-level discussions² with Iraqi
officials over ³potential opportunities² in the Ratawi oilfield. The company
insists that no deals will be struck until that is permissible. Shell is
merely protecting its commercial interests. But in so doing it is infecting
the political atmosphere.

When told of these talks, Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrats¹ widely
respected foreign affairs spokesman who backed the 1991 conflict, concluded
that ³if British companies are already in negotiations for lucrative
contracts, then clearly the days of wholesale sanctions are numbered².

This assumption will be welcome news in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein has over the
past few months engaged in what is, by his standards, a charm offensive. He
has exploited the unrest on the West Bank and Gaza Strip to court popular
Arab opinion. He has forged new economic and political links with Egypt,
Jordan and Syria. When a Saudi Arabian airliner was hijacked last October,
it was Iraq which ended the crisis. It did not, however, send the terrorists
to Riyadh, as it said it could not send suspects to a nation with ³such a
poor human rights record². As a result, when the UN renewed its oil-for-food
programme last month it enacted a new provision permitting Saddam to spend
some of this money on new oil infrastructure and associated labour costs.

Iraq believes that sanctions will wither in the near future without
intrusive inspections of its weapons. It calculates that the British
Government might be weary of this enterprise. Peter Hain, the Foreign Office
Minister, encouraged that impression yesterday by calling for ³flexibility²
if Iraq offers ³goodwill². But the Bush Administration is unlikely to
underestimate Saddam¹s ambitions. Colin Powell, the Secretary of
State-designate, has spoken of the need to reinforce sanctions. Condoleezza
Rice, the new National Security Adviser, has called for the coalition
against Iraq to be rebuilt. Donald Rumsfeld, the incoming Defence Secretary,
has proved a highly prominent supporter of the Iraqi National Coalition, the
main exiled opposition organisation.

The United States will insist, correctly, that neither sanctions nor the
no-fly zones can be compromised until a sweeping and sustained inspection
effort is put in place. Opponents of present policy towards Iraq contend
that it must have ³failed² because Saddam is still in power. This ignores
the inconvenient fact that it has succeeded in its explicit objective,
namely obstructing the deployment of biological, chemical and nuclear
arsenals. If sanctions are eroded at no cost to Baghdad, then the resources
that are released will be diverted once more to all these projects. Geoff
Hoon, the Defence Secretary, asserted yesterday that ³Britain will continue
to support sanctions and the no-fly zones until Iraq no longer represents a
threat². That pledge must not be diluted.


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP, 17th January) -- Saddam Hussein drove around the Iraqi
capital wearing the traditional Arab dress and head gear while allied
warplanes bombed his country on the first day of the Persian Gulf War,
according to his personal secretary.

Saddam spent most of the first night at a house in Baghdad, praying and
watching the anti aircraft fire drawn by the raiding warplanes, Lt. Gen.
Abed Hammeed Mahmoud wrote in a 1997 book, excerpts of which were published
in newspapers Tuesday.

"The president was praising and rooting for the anti-aircraft men to shoot
down (warplanes)," Mahmoud wrote.

Some Baghdad residents recall seeing Saddam on the night of Jan. 17, 1991 --
the first day of a six-week campaign that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait
-- driving a car accompanied only by Mahmoud.

Saddam "stood in the balcony wearing his night clothes to follow Iraq's
anti-aircraft fire for most of the first night," Mahmoud said in the widely
read book titled "The Secret Battle, its Leader, the Events and Facts that
Preceded it." The book was reprinted several times since it first appeared
in 1997.

The address of the house where Saddam stayed and the names of its occupants
remain unknown to this day. Saddam, who stayed away from his palaces and
residences during the war, has returned to the house several times since the
war, according to Mahmoud.

"When President Saddam decided to write a speech to his people on the first
night of the war, we did not have the proper equipment at the house to
record it and it was hard to record while the walls of the house were
shaking from the continuous bombing," Mahmoud wrote. "It took an hour to
record a five-minute speech," he added.

Lateef Naseef Jassim, Iraq's information minister at the time, was quoted in
the book as saying the tape on which the speech was recorded also had a
popular song by a Bedouin singer.

by Loren King
Boston Globe, 18th January

It would be correct to call them war films, but don't expect a glorification
of bravery in battle or even a tribute to survival during wartime. The
unique, thoughtful, often harrowing films presented in the Harvard Film
Archives' six-film series, ''The Gulf War: Ten Years After,'' examine the
social, political, and psychological impact of the US-British bombing of
Iraq and the continuing economic sanctions imposed on that country.

The Persian Gulf War began Jan. 16, 1991, and ended the following month. But
three of the documentaries in this series - one by British, two by American
filmmakers - spotlight the continuing effects of the economic sanctions,
particularly on the civilian population, which include an untold number of
children dying because medicine and food are prevented from entering the
country. (There are allegations, though, that Saddam Hussein has been using
the proceeds from oil sales to buy weaponry rather than the food and medical
supplies the United Nations has approved from such sales.)

The fourth documentary, ''Lessons of Darkness,'' was directed by renowned
German filmmaker Werner Herzog in 1992. Shortly after the Gulf War, Herzog
and cameraman/coproducer Paul Berriff traveled to Kuwait to film scenes of
postwar devastation. The result is a 52-minute operatic examination of war
as apocalyptic spectacle. With aerial shots at once mesmerizing and
horrifying, the film depicts craters in the earth from bombs, burning wells,
scorched landscapes devoid of human presence, lakes of thick oil, and the
ruins of buildings. Organized into 13 chapters and narrated by Herzog, the
film's antiwar images are set to the music of Mahler, Wagner, and Verdi. At
times, the swelling music is reminiscent of ''2001: A Space Odyssey.''
Luminous and chilling, ''Lessons in Darkness'' is a film like no other.

Cambridge-born filmmaker Signe Taylor spent one month in Baghdad in 1992.
Two years later, she released ''Greetings From Iraq,'' a half-hour
documentary about the postwar experiences of Iraqi children that takes
viewers on a journey through a scarred Baghdad that has been transformed
from a modern to a pre-industrial city. Juxtaposed with footage of former
President George Bush declaring that the United States has no quarrel with
the people of Iraq, Taylor talks with families about the aftermath of the
Gulf War and the effect of the embargo on their lives.

''Lessons of Darkness'' and ''Greetings From Iraq'' screen tonight at 7 and
Saturday night at 9:30.

''Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq'' is a one-hour documentary
directed by Alan Lowery of Great Britain. Lowery follows journalist John
Pilger as he escorts former UN Assistant Secretary-General Dennis Halliday
to Iraq for the first time since he resigned in 1998 in protest over the
continuation of sanctions. The film exposes how the destruction of Iraq's
infrastructure has polluted the water and destroyed health facilities,
contributing to the rise in the mortality rate of children - an estimated
150 a day. The ongoing bombing by the United States and Iraq in the ''no fly
zones'' of northern and southern Iraq, along with the embargo, have
devastated the civilian population as food, medicine, and emergency
humanitarian supplies have been severely limited. The result, the film
argues, is that Hussein now exerts even greater power and control in a
country crippled by this dubious foreign policy.

The same issues are raised by the equally stirring ''The Hidden Wars of
Desert Storm,'' made by US filmmakers Gerard Ungerman and Audrey Brody and
narrated by actor John Hurt. The documentary uses media clips, investigative
interviews with officials such as General Norman Schwarzkopf and former
Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and little-seen documents to offer a
convincing, powerful argument that Operation Desert Storm was a politically
motivated attack on Iraq. The film examines aspects of the war, from the
motivations for the bombing and the embargo to the ''Gulf War Syndrome''
affecting hundreds of thousands of Gulf War veterans and civilians.
Compelling evidence is examined about the use of discarded plutonium as
ammunition - while the US military failed to warn soldiers to avoid areas
where the radioactive material was detonated.

Both ''The Hidden Wars of Desert Storm'' and ''Paying the Price: Killing the
Children of Iraq'' will screen Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.

In addition to the documentaries, ''The Gulf War: Ten Years After'' offers
two feature films that use the war as a backdrop. In the extraordinary ''The
Law of Enclosures,'' director John Greyson (''Lillies'') uses the media
images of the Gulf War - bombs lighting up the night sky - as a metaphor for
the ravages of illness and personal destruction. Based on the novel by Dale
Peck (the setting has been moved to Sarnia, Ontario, a petro-chemical town
on the Michigan border), the film follows the parallel stories of a young
couple, Beatrice (Sarah Polley) and Henry (Brendan Fletcher) and their older
selves, Bea (Diane Ladd) and Hank (Sean McCann).

Set in 1991 while the country is enthusiastically engrossed in the live
images coming from Iraq 24 hours a day, the film follows the romance and
courtship of young Beatrice and Henry, who is being treated for cancer. It
intercuts this story with the story of the embittered marriage of Bea, who
is battling cancer, and Hank. Canadian director Greyson's fifth feature is
aided by arresting visuals and exquisite performances by all the actors,
particularly Ladd and McCann as a couple whose souls have been eroded by
anger, resentment, and silence. ''The Law of Enclosures'' is a powerful,
poignant look at the casualties of life, love, and war. It screens Saturday
at 7 p.m. with Greyson on hand to introduce the film.

HFA associate curator John Gianvito will introduce his own film, ''The Mad
Songs of Fernanda Hussein,'' at a preview screening Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. This
feature was shot over six years, using a cast of nonprofessional actors. It
presents three stories in three cities as it follows characters whose lives
have been altered by the war.

For more information on ''The Gulf War: Ten Years After,'' contact the HFA
at (617) 495 4700 or at,2669,SA
V 0101190042,FF.html

by Georgie Anne Geyer, Universal Press Syndicate.
Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2001

WASHINGTON -- It was April of 1973, and I was in Baghdad for the first time,
as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Daily News. Without warning, I
received some news from the Ministry of Information: I would have an
interview with Iraq's secretive leader, Saddam Hussein.

I found myself sitting in an elegant room in the palace of the Iraqi kings
along the Tigris River, contemplating the figure of dread who sat next to me
in the formal salon chair of a French monarch.

Saddam was tall and classically handsome, in his mid-30s then and dressed
elegantly in a silk suit. But he seemed cold as a corpse as we sat there for
four hours, accompanied only by his translator. There was no light behind
his eyes and he remained totally without expression the entire time.

Once I asked him why it was said that he killed all of his enemies, most
often with his own hands? And he answered without hesitation or emotion:
"Sometimes when you are in an underground movement, you have to do things
for your party that you would not do for yourself."

I was the first foreign journalist ever to lay eyes on Saddam. In the
previous weeks, Iraq had finally finished nationalizing the British-owned
oil fields, at Kirkuk and elsewhere, and he wanted to sell oil to the world.
I just happened to be the correspondent there at one of those historic

And now today, there he is still. Of course, it is merely an "accident"
that, as George W. Bush becomes president, we are this very week
commemorating the l0th anniversary of the first days of the Gulf War. It is
only a curious overlay of history that it was his father who waged the
successful, but unfinished, war against Saddam. It is just one of those
coincidences of history that Saddam Hussein is barely biding his time,
planning to finish his job against the Bushes, as well as America and the

Yet it is also clear that George W. Bush has been bequeathed the single most
dangerous foreign policy question he will face. The last eight years, with
virtually no policy at all toward Iraq, have left us gravely open to many

- With no weapons inspections for nearly two years now, Saddam is readying
himself for another strike outward. He has rebuilt his supply of nerve gas
and renewed his stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. At his military
parade in Baghdad on Dec. 3l, he sent a message that he is resurgent, with
more than l,000 tanks on display (he had about 660 in l996), and chemical
weapons units armed with missiles and new surface-to-air systems.

- As with special "oil-for-food" arrangements with the UN Security Council,
he is again exporting oil all over the world. Baghdad has said it can more
than double oil-production capacity--up to 6 million barrels a day in three
to four years --and it is clear that Saddam aims at supplanting the Saudis
as the dominant force in OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries. (There are also rumors, odd but potentially believable, of the
formation of an implicit or explicit axis between Iraq, Russia and
Venezuela's left-leaning government.)

- Saddam aims to become the leader of a regional war, which he is stoking
between the Palestinians and other Arabs and Israel. He has reportedly
already given upward of the equivalent of $980 million to the Palestinians,
in arms, in food and in family payments. His picture is everywhere in
Palestine. Reportedly he is pushing the Iranian-supported Hezbollah movement
in Lebanon to take part in a bigger war. Indeed, beleaguered Prime Minister
Ehud Barak has predicted the possibility of such a regional war.

- President-elect Bush understands that the threat awaiting him is largely
due to the Clinton administration's wanton disregard for policy. He noted
with concern in a recent New York Times article that the UN sanctions
against Iraq had collapsed so much that "they resemble Swiss cheese." Other
top advisers, such as defense secretary nominee Donald Rumsfeld, favor
aiding the Iraqi resistance to overthrow Saddam, but Washington has not
excelled at such imprecise and risky business. The administration should
analyze how we won the Gulf War in l99l and how we may lose it in 200l.

l) Never do half a job, particularly when dealing with a ruthless and
persistent tyrant like Saddam Hussein. This does not mean we should have
marched to Baghdad, but it does mean that we should not have stood in the
way of his own people overthrowing him.

2) If one depends upon something as imprecise as sanctions against a
tyrannical government, enforce them strongly at all times. This means
keeping Saddam in his "box" in Baghdad and not letting him (as President
Clinton did) march north and destroy the "free fly zone" of the Kurds. This
means, too, keeping close contacts with the rest of the Arab coalition,
which was not done.

3) Finally, plan a strategy and devise tactics accordingly. The major reason
President Bush the Elder did not finish the job was that so many in the
Pentagon and elsewhere got the bizarre idea that to defeat Saddam would be
to "break up Iraq." And we didn't want that to happen.

What did we want to happen? Heaven knows. Maybe President Bush the Younger
will know.

London Evening Standard Editorial Comment, 19th January

On the tenth anniversary of the Gulf War pressure is mounting for a
re-examination of Western policy towards Iraq, and for the dropping of
sanctions and the cessation of intermittent bombing.

The assumption is that, since Saddam is still there and the Iraqi people are
suffering more than his regime, sanctions have been a failure. The misery of
the Iraqis is beyond doubt, but it is more a consequence of Saddam Hussein's
readiness to use his own people as hostages than a direct result of
sanctions. Nor has overall Western policy been a failure.

The main purpose was to contain and weaken a dangerous aggressor. That has
been achieved. Meanwhile, claims that the policy is achieving nothing are
self-fulfilling; the more sanctions are said to have failed, the less
inhibited countries like France or Russia feel about cosying up to the Iraqi
dictator, the first in the hope of lucrative contracts, the second to re
establish influence in the Middle East.

A unilateral abandonment of sanctions for nothing in return would strengthen
Saddam immensely. It would boost his economy and his ability to rebuild his
military might with no monitoring by the UN. In the Middle East it would be
seen as a victory over the Americans and, in an area of the world where
respect for brute force is greater than for democracy, the reputation of the
leader of a gangsterish regime who has been known to shoot his real or
imaginary opponents personally would grow.

Iraq is a test case of the willingness of the UN to check international
miscreants and to stay the course. For the West, it makes little sense to
invest in expensive technological counter measures against rogue regimes,
such as the American son of Star Wars, if it was to abandon any serious
attempt to contain them on the ground. If there is a relaxation of policy
towards Iraq it will come about through weakness and sentiment rather than

A triumph for Saddam could only increase the longevity of his monstrous
tyranny, and the long-term victims would once again be the Iraqis

by Patrick Cockburn
Independent, 20 January 2001

Iraqis tell a story illustrating the ruthlessness of their government. It
seems the Americans, Russians, British and Iraqis held a competition to
capture rabbits in a forest. The Americans won. They offered money and visas
and were overwhelmed by enthusiastic rabbits rushing out to give themselves
up. The Russians came second. They bombarded the forest with heavy artillery
and, in a few hours, the surviving rabbits surrendered.

The British approach took longer. Through cunning diplomacy they managed to
divide the rabbit forces into two factions, one of which handed the other to
the British.

The Iraqi team went into the forest and failed to re-emerge. Hours passed.
The other teams became worried, and started searching for the Iraqis.
Eventually they heard the sound of blows. In a clearing they found the Iraqi
team, who had captured a deer and tied it to a tree. The Iraqis were beating
it, shouting fiercely: "Go on, admit it! Confess you are a rabbit."

To write stories about atrocities in Saddam Hussein's Iraq has always been
easy. He became President in 1979 after a bloodbath at the top of the ruling
party. In 1988-89 some 182,000 Kurds disappeared.

Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam's, oversaw their disappearance. When
a Kurdish delegation asked him what had happened to them, he shouted
angrily: "What is this exaggerated figure of 182,000? It couldn't have been
more than a hundred thousand!" The regime takes a certain macho pride in its
brutality. Its cameramen have shot film of firing squads in action. The
government tackled a crime wave by cutting off the hands of alleged
offenders and showing the severed limbs on television. Defectors from Iraqi
security forces have disclosed horrific details of torture and mass
executions in the prisons.

I used to write extensively about the atrocities, but in the late 1990s I
began to have misgivings about their impact. The problem is that they give a
distorted view of what is happening in Iraq. The country is obviously run by
a very nasty regime. But since the crushing of the rebellions at the end of
the Gulf war in 1991, exactly 10 years ago, UN sanctions have killed far
more ordinary Iraqis than Saddam Hussein.

Sanctions against Iraq, introduced in 1990, have never been fully understood
by the outside world. They are far more rigorous than those imposed on South
Africa, Serbia or any other country. They are more an exaggerated version of
the old Soviet system of central planning. Under the oil-for-food programme
of 1995, all Iraqi government contracts are processed by the UN in New York.
Most are examined by a special UN committee, dominated by the US and
Britain, which decides if any item has a military use.

Imagine how Tony Blair or Bill Clinton, those protagonists of the free
market, would react if any other country in the world were to try to run its
economy on these neo-Stalinist lines. They would protest, saying it was a
recipe for catastrophe. And they would be right. Over the past decade the
Iraqi economy has been destroyed. The reports of Kofi Annan, the UN
secretary-general, make no bones about this, saying the oil-for-food
programme was never meant "to be a substitute for normal economic activity".

The result of this prolonged economic siege of the Iraqi people has been
devastating. This comes through even in the lumbering bureaucratic prose of
the latest UN report, which speaks of "pauperisation and growing food
insecurity". Nobody even knows if the food Iraqis are eating will keep them
alive, because the UN sanctions committee in New York has held up contracts
for food-testing equipment. Mr Annan politely urges "the early release of
these holds to facilitate the provision of safe food to the Iraqi people".

Because of the central control of New York, the Iraqi government cannot
perform day-to-day maintenance. So the oil industry, electric power system
and water supply are collapsing. Some 90 per cent of raw sewage goes into
the rivers from which people drink. In the stifling heat of the Mesopotamian
plain, hospitals have limited electric power.

A few years ago I was travelling through villages north of Baghdad. Farmers
would take out old, dusty X-rays of children suffering from long-term
illnesses, taken before the Gulf war, and show them to me hopefully as if I
could make an instant diagnosis. They explained that there was nowhere they
could have gone to get another X-ray since the war.

In Baghdad, I visited the al-Khatin hospital for infectious diseases, where
Hussein Ali Majhoul, an eight-month-old with meningitis, was unconscious.
Deraid Obousy, his doctor, pointed to an empty oxygen bottle and told me:
"It is in the hands of God. We don't have any more oxygen in the hospital
and we don't have money to hire a truck to pick up a new one from the
factory that refills them on the other side of Baghdad."

The reason why Hussein and other Iraqi babies die is well-known. Mr Annan
admitted that the sanctions regime has led to "the worsening of a
humanitarian crisis". Only Peter Hain, the Foreign Office minister with
responsibility for Iraq, has the gall to claim that the Iraqi government has
lots of money and wonders: "Why do we still see pictures of malnourished and
sick children?"

A fair wind in the Gulf
by Tanvir Ahmad Khan
Dawn, 29th January

GLOBAL television enabled us to watch President Saddam Hussein address the
people of Iraq, as indeed the larger Arab nation, on the tenth anniversary
of the Gulf War on Jan 17. The diction he settled for was not drawn so much
from the traditional jargon of the Ba'athists as from an indistinguishable
mix of Islam and Arabism. It was natural that the suffering of the Iraqi
people would be uppermost in his mind. He repeatedly used a rhetorical
device to question if he should be expected to enumerate the sufferings in
specific terms.

The question that would inevitably arise in the minds of his objective
listeners would be if the address commemorating Iraq's war of humiliation
and huge losses was still that of a dictator representing a predatory state
or of a leader who felt that the main burden of history on him was to bring
to an end the crippling sanctions that continue to impoverish one of the
potentially most affluent Arab-Islamic states. The honest answer that behind
his declaratory defiance is that Saddam Hussein seeks the salvation of his

Not all that long ago I had an opportunity to ask Rolf Ekeus, the one-time
executive chairman of the United Nations's Commission for the Disarmament of
Iraq about the kind of positive transformation that we might witness in that
country as it reflected, in historical time, over the events of the early
1990s. Far more sophisticated and balanced than the brash Australian,
Butler, who pursued the destruction of the Iraqi state and society as his
life mission, Ekeus showed a touch of pessimism for as long as Saddam
Hussein was at the helm of affairs.

In the region itself, as indeed to a somewhat lesser degree in Western
Europe and Japan, there is, however, a new readiness for a paradigm shift on
the security of the Gulf. This shift includes recognition of such simple
statistics as, while the Gulf War might have killed 50,000 to 100,000
Iraqis, the sanctions have contributed to the premature death of half a
million Iraqis. Nominally waged by a coalition of 31 nations, the Gulf War
was overwhelmingly dominated by a very small number of the most
technologically advanced states of the world. The work done by Robert Fisk
of the British newspaper, The Independent, has amply documented the
after-effects of the use of depleted uranium weapons against Iraq.

The Gulf states have increasingly pondered over the best mix of strategies
that would guarantee their security against putative threats, the nature of
which is dynamic and the response to which goes far beyond the purely
military deployment provided by the West.

The divergence of perspectives became apparent with events such as Iraq
prohibiting in February 1998 the UN inspectors from visiting weapon sites.
In the words of Joseph Kostiner of the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern
and African Studies, Tel Aviv University, "In this case, the US position as
an ally of the Gulf states was judged with ambivalence and ambiguity both in
Washington and in the Gulf capitals. In some ways, the United States wanted
to be the defender more than some Gulf states wanted to be defended."

The recent decision of the leaders of the Gulf in Manama, Bahrain, to sign a
mutual defence pact may not, in absolute terms, signify much, given the
population and other available resources, but it certainly points to a new
approach to establishing a political and military equilibrium in this vital

One of the implications would be that the Gulf states seek a modification of
the terms on which the mighty forces of the United States operate in the
Gulf. Some objectives of high importance for Washington obviously do not
have the same resonance in the Gulf capitals.

A former senior officer of the United States air force, Joseph Moynihan,
maintains that the current set of security relationships between the US and
the Gulf Cooperation Council "serves three important and interrelated
interests: the uninterrupted access to the petroleum resources of the Gulf,
a potential base of operations should a regional opponent of the Middle East
peace process initiate hostilities against a peace process partner, and,

third, the prevention of Iran or Iraq from attaining regional
political-military dominance in a strategically important area of the

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait made the United States abandon its policy of
maintaining an over the-horizon watch and switch over to large-scale forward
presence. Its global reach is ensured by Southern Command, Pacific Command,
European Command, Continental United States and Central Command (USCENTCOM).

The last mentioned is responsible for a huge area stretching from Sudan and
Egypt to Pakistan and Central Asia and can rapidly deploy a formidable force
with quick access to pre-positioned assets. Its power projection is ensured
by the presence in the Gulf of at least one aircraft carrier all the time.

The Gulf states will continue to have a pivotal role in meeting the world
demand of energy which is increasing by nearly 2 per cent per annum. The oil
and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea region will not diminish this role

The search for stability, security and, above all, sustainable development
beyond the status of renrier states in the region will progressively shift
from the danger of conventional threats of inter-state hostilities to a more
comprehensive framework that provides a tension-free environment for
increasing production, negotiating energy prices, safely delivering oil to
the world market and, finally, participating in the globalized economy with
a diversified portfolio of goods and services.

Iran has already covered a great deal of ground in establishing ties of
better understanding with practically all the Gulf states. The new climate
of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is conducive to the emergence of
a large area of mutually beneficial understanding.

Iran is thus a potential future partner though the internal tensions of
state and society in Iran that have surfaced so vividly since Khatami's
election as president would cause occasional ripples of apprehension. It is
also for quite some time that the leaders of the UAE and other Gulf states
have regularly expressed concern about the sufferings of the people of Iraq.

There is a clear realization that by forging greater integration in diverse
fields, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries can contain and neutralize
the so-called traditional threat from Iran and Iraq cast in a deterministic
role of potential regional hegemons. In fact, it is now well within the
realm of possibility that a new set of terms of engagement begins to
regulate the triangular - GCC, Iran and Iraq - relationship and alter the
old threat perceptions.

The posture of militaristic containment (including the rather outdated 'dual
containment') is also getting eroded by the increase in the number of
extra-regional actors that do not share it conceptually. The European Union,
Turkey and Japan have proactive policies towards the region which is
supportive of the long-term US objectives while actively seeking to modify
the somewhat linear US posture into a mellower and multi-dimensional
engagement with the area. China and Russia are other potential
extra-regional players with agenda that serve their national interest.
Neither of them is antagonistic to the US desire for stability in the Gulf
but both China and Russia would like to preserve their autonomy in promoting
beneficial ties with the region.

Another aspirant is India. The Indian missiles and mid-air fuelled aircraft
already have the region within their reach. The advent of nuclear submarines
and sea launch ballistic missiles will have serious implications for the
strategic map of the region. India will also inevitably press home the
advantage of well-established Indian communities in the Gulf states. The
Indian factor would articulate itself more clearly in the years to come.

The Gulf leaders have no illusions about dispensing with their dependence on
the West for their security. What they seem to be aiming at is greater
freedom to grasp the dynamic nature of threats, including those shaping
within their societies, and thus define afresh the parameters of their
response. There is a clear perception that the disintegration of Iraq as a
nation state or the further weakening of its society because of sanctions
and indiscriminate reprisals would be major factors of instability. The
regional countries are, therefore, rightly exploring the possibilities of a
durable rapprochement with Baghdad. A potential source of instability in the
region has been the existence of boundary disputes.

Eversince the Manama Directive of December 1994 that all such disputes would
be settled peacefully and bilaterally, there has been substantial progress
in stabilizing the political map of the region. The decree issued by the
Revolutionary Command Council of Iraq on Nov 10, 1994, accorded
unconditional recognition to the UN decreed delimitation of the Iraq-Kuwait
border. A final settlement of Tunb and

Abu Musa with Iran will add another significant dimension to the
stabilization of the Gulf.

Pakistan's coastline is a natural extension of the Gulf and it has a long
border with Iran.. In all the exigencies of its history, Pakistan has
received sympathy and support from this fraternal region. This set of vital
relationships should not, however, be taken for granted. Pakistan's
diplomacy in the region lacks the cutting edge of strategic thinking.

It is time it reconstructs its embassies structurally and also give even
greater impetus to contacts at the highest level with the leaders of all the
Gulf states. Steps being taken to consolidate the political, economic,
monetary and military cohesion of the GCC are harbingers of a new era. Is
Pakistan ready for it?

states that they possess a power they hadn't appreciated
by Zvi Bar'el
Ha'aretz, 21st January

During a visit to Egypt this week Iraqi vice-president Taha Yasin Ramadan
had some news for the Arab world. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will visit
Egypt in the near future, and President Hosni Mubarak will make a reciprocal
visit to Iraq. It seemed Ramadan was announcing that Iraq now agreed - 10
years after the Gulf War - to allow Egypt back into the family of Arab

This was the first visit by a senior Iraqi official to Egypt since the war
outside the framework of the Arab League. And so, a decade after Egypt
initiated the pan-Arab front against Iraq and shifted it in line with the
Allied coalition, there is talk in Egypt of the years of prosperity that can
be expected as a result of renewed ties with Saddam's regime.

The Egyptian economics and trade minister, Yusuf Boutrous Ghali, recently
made a point of mentioning that his country's trade with Iraq, which
amounted to $1 billion last year, was likely to double this year "making
Egyptian exports to Iraq - of goods not including petroleum - equivalent to
the sum total sum of Egyptian exports to the rest of the world."

In recent years, Iraq has become the big prize for those whom Saddam agrees
to adopt. "In an absurd way, a reverse set of relations has developed," says
an Egyptian researcher at the American University in Cairo. "From a
situation in which Saddam was portrayed in Cairo as the Hitler of the Middle
East, a traitor to the Arab nation and a war criminal, he has become almost
a national hero. In the eyes of many, he is the only Arab leader who stood
up to the United States. He survived all the attacks. Despite the sanctions,
he established international ties - even more extensive than he had before
the war - and has reached a point where even Syria is considered a close
friend of his."

The researcher further points out that Turkey, from whose territory most of
the allied war sorties against Iraq were launched, has appointed a new
ambassador to Iraq and is considering building a railway between the two
states. Jordan has further strengthened its ties with Saddam, and even Iran
is holding talks with its historical enemy.

"Suddenly," says the researcher, "it seems the rejectionist state now
standing in the way of new Arab unity is actually Saddam's victim - Kuwait -
which refuses to consider a diplomatic solution."

At the age of 64, Saddam can again smile in the face of the new U.S.
administration. It includes some of his old "friends" - Vice President
Richard Cheney, who was Defense Secretary under George Bush Sr., and Colin
Powell, who was commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces in the war.

Then, of course, there is George W. Bush, the new president, perceived in
Iraq (and in the Middle East in general) as a perpetuator of his father's
policies. It is almost the same administration that developed the concept of
"dual containment" to block military development in both Iran and Iraq - now
largely irrelevant.

Iran is permitted to export pistachios to the U.S. and to play football
against the American national team, while the name of President Mohammed
Khatami is a good one in Washington.

As for Iraq, it seems there has never been a country so strong in the face
of international sanctions. In a good-will gesture last week - or a reward
for their loyalty - President Clinton decided to give Iraqi opposition
groups another $12 million, although the administration has long ceased
harboring any illusions about their ability to topple Saddam.

For two years there has been no talk of international inspectors in Iraq,
and it is clear to the Americans that any new inspection arrangements can
only be established as part of a process of normalizing ties with Iraq.
"Paradoxically, Saddam has been the unifier of the Arab nation twice in the
last decade. By his invasion of Kuwait, he created the united Arab coalition
against him. Now he has succeeded in building an Arab coalition that will
work for him," says the Egyptian researcher.

"It appears the Arab world can unite around a pure Arab issue and not just
around the question of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. "More importantly,"
adds the researcher, "both Saddam and the policy of sanctions have taught
the Arab states that they possess a power they never fully appreciated. It
is possible to defy the U.S., to send civilian planes to Baghdad, to conduct
diplomatic relations (with Iraq), to develop trade links and, at the same
time, maintain good relations with the Americans. Thanks to Iraq, the Arabs
have learned that relations of dependency between the Arab states and the
U.S. are mutual and not simply one-sided."

The Egyptian researcher says the Gulf War happened when the Soviet Union had
fallen apart and the Arab fear of being without a superpower patron made it
much easier for Washington to cobble together an Arab coalition against

"Today, after a long learning period the Arabs have come to understand very
well that it is possible to live with a single superpower, and even
establish independent rules of the game."

by Kim Ghattas
Dawn, 21 January 2001, 25 Shawwal 1421

BAGHDAD: The first image the word Iraq brings to mind today is that of a
country under embargo, of Iraqis selling their belongings for medication and
children dying by the thousands.

But amidst the misery, the sadness and bitterness of what Iraq has become
after 10 years of embargo, there is a peculiar ray of light and hope in the
streets of Baghdad: Art.

Driving around Baghdad, art galleries seem to be everywhere. Although Iraq
has always had a tradition for art, the embargo seems to have catalysed
creation and from two galleries before the embargo, Baghdad now boasts 25.

They are a reminder of what Iraq was before the UN-imposed sanctions, which
came right after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. This is where old Mesopotamia
lay, where one of the seven wonders of the world, the gardens of Babylon,
was located. The `cradle of civilizations', as it is often called, was home
to the Sumerians, the Assyrians and others.

It is this rich history that has been inherited by Iraq's contemporary
artists, who are today striving to maintain their art under the embargo.
"Before the embargo, artists painted for the sake of art. They produced
maybe 3 to 4 paintings a year and often chose not sell them," says Ghayath
el Jazairi, director of the Inaa' art gallery on Abu Nawwas street. Al Inaa'
opened in 1995.

"Now artists can produce up to 20 paintings a year because they have to
support their families. But the quality has not diminished to the expense of
quantity. On the contrary, it has given them more experience, they are
experimenting with different techniques and styles," he adds.

What has diminished is the material needed for the artists' works, prices
have doubled sometimes tripled and quality has diminished greatly. But
Jazairi says there is a lot of solidarity between the artists since the
embargo. "Some artists had reserves of paint, so when the embargo came, for
example, they traded their red oil paint for a big canvas, because paint
doesn't keep well too long anyway," he says.

The harsh conditions of creation are enhanced by the knowledge that until
1990, Iraqi artists, painters and others, had a special place in Iraqi
society and art was always highly encouraged by the state.

Until now, Iraqi artists are well known around the world and are thought to
be the best in the Arab world. Before the embargo, artists were provided
with material free of charge with no conditions put on their work. One
Western diplomat described Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, now blamed for
the state his country is in, as a visionary despot.

In the 30's when the Iraqi monarchy was put in place, artists were sent to
study in Europe. They are now regarded as the pioneers of Iraqi art. Every
generation of artists has its style, and that of the embargo generation is
observed with great interest and admiration.

"I am impressed, moved, by their creation," says Francis Dubois, the UN
Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative in Baghdad, who is an
admirer of Iraqi art. "They have no paper, no pens, no colours, they suffer,
and still they create and it's really good. Comfort is the enemy of art and
creation, it's difficult living conditions that create art, desperate people
want to hold on to something, some choose religion but here a lot have
chosen art," he adds.

For Samira Abdel Wahab, a renowned artist who started in the mid 80's, the
embargo has made artists even keener to defy the difficult conditions and
make art triumph over the embargo. "Suffering gives me the power to create,
it's inspiration, joy doesn't, it's too superficial," she says. Abdel Wahab
lost two of her sons in the mid 90's, and says that, unfortunately, this is
what made her a real artist.

Iraqi paintings are very modern most of the time, somewhere between abstract
and figurative. The colours vary, from very dark browns and blacks to bright
blues and reds. Interestingly enough, there is very rarely a direct
representation of Iraq's present situation and government propaganda is
absent from arts exhibited at privately owned galleries. Dawn/InterPress
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