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News, 4­10/2/01

NEWS, 4­10/2/01


*  Iraqi sanctions crumble to dust (Financial Times)
*  Sanctions Against Iraq Should Be Lifted (WorldNews special)
*  Speaker of Moroccan parliament leads Arab delegation to European
parliament over lifting anti-Iraq sanctions
*  Iraq Sanctions Effective, Insists UK
*  Britain and US look for a way to hurt Saddam, not his people (Cook¹s
visit to the US)


*  Iraq's Saddam Hussein: He Never Went Away (an old article from January by
a Former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA)
*  Saddam Has Won the Propaganda War, So Change Tactics [by Thomas Friedman.
Perhaps the most interesting article of the bunch, already circulated by
Drew Hamre]
*  A Risky No-Fly Zone Over Iraq [a risky operation sending it out since it
comes from the Washington Post. But note that I am invited to ŒE-Mail This
Article¹ and that¹s what I¹m doing]


*  Iraq-Egypt flights under way
*  Iraq defends minister's handshake with Saudi counterpart
*  Kasi [federal minister of Pakistan] calls on Saddam, delivers CE[Chief
Executive]¹s message
*  Washington opposes a Jordanian, Iraqi [free trade] agreement
*  Iraqi prevents anti- Syrian political practices in its territories
*  Egypt rejects Iraqi 'escalation' against Kuwait
*  Iraq thwarting peace attempts: Kuwait
*  Saddam forms army "to liberate Jerusalem"
*  [Egyptian/Kuwaiti] Talks in Kuwait dealt with lifting suffering of the
Iraqi people
*  Pope Shenouda visits Jerusalem only at Arafat's invitation [extract
saying that ŒThe Middle East Council of Churches has plans to convene an
upcoming meeting in Baghdad¹]
*  Iraqi paper renews warnings over Kuwait
*  Iraq appoints a new representative at the UN


*  Iraqi opposition says sending in agents this month
*  Iraqi Leader Praises U.S. Gov't
*  Iraqi Opposition Faces Major Credibility Hurdles [worth reading]


*  Ethnic Cleansing in Kirkuk
*  Baghdad To Replace Currency In Kurdistan


*  CIA: China, Iran, Terrorism, pose worst threats ["Never in my experience
has American intelligence had to deal with such a dynamic set of concerns
affecting such a broad range of U.S. interests. Never have we had to deal
with such a high quotient of uncertainty," CIA Director George Tenet said.
Come back, Stalin. All is forgiven]
*  Interpreting the new Bush [Israeli account of Arab hopes and fears]
*  UK-US joint front against Iraq, Libya


*  Iraq Says It Can Prove No More Mass Destruction Arms
*  Gulf War bombs kill Iraqi child, injure 6

*  U.S.-Iraq policy may hinge on Mideast peace
by Andrea Koppel, CNN, 7th February
*  Iraq Imperils OPEC Plan
Washington Post, Saturday, February 10, 2001
[on success of Iraq¹s smuggling and surcharge operations. Its all appeared
before in one form or another]
*  UN sanctions on Iraq attacked
by Jimmy Burns, Financial Times, 5th February
*  New Leads Emerge on Missing Flier
Los Angeles Times, 9th February
[we¹re not actually told what the new leads are]
*  U.S. calls on U.N. panel to curb Iraqi oil surcharges
by Bernie Woodall,3605,435833,00.html
*  Hain's world
by Kevin Toolis
The Guardian, 10th February [this might have gone in but its an epic-length
soap opera]

by Carola Hoyos and Roula Khalaf
Financial Times, 5th February

United Nations diplomats are becoming increasingly alarmed at the crumbling
of the comprehensive sanctions against Iraq.

The UK and France, which as recently as a month ago played down the impact
of Iraq's strengthened ties with the international community, now believe
the Iraqi regime is earning what amounts to $2bn (£1.36bn) a year from
smuggling, double estimates of western governments a few months ago.

On top of increased smuggling through Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan,
evidence is mounting that companies buying Iraqi oil are paying a surcharge
directly to the Iraqi government.

"The cheating is the worst- kept secret in the oil business," says Antonio
Szabo, president of Stone Bond, a Houston-based energy consultant. "The
oil-consuming countries have a keen but concealed interest in keeping Iraqi
crude flowing."

UN diplomats agree. "Everybody knows - the Americans know, the French know
and the [UN] oil overseers know," said one diplomat. The UN employs 1,000
international staff and 1,700 Iraqi nationals who are paid with Iraq's oil

With arms inspectors blocked from returning to Iraq, control of Baghdad's
finances has become one of the last means the UN has of preventing the
country rebuilding its weapons programmes. But wresting control of Iraq's
oil revenues back from the UN has also become Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein's top priority.

In recent weeks, middlemen with good Iraqi contacts have begun to accept
Baghdad's demand for a surcharge on its crude oil in sales under the
UN-approved oil-for-food deal. They resell the oil to traders, who pass it
on to large companies.

Analysts say these companies are taking Iraqi oil at a relatively high price
because the production cut earlier this month by the Organisation of
Petroleum Exporting Countries has left Iraq as the last resort.

According to the UN, Iraq's exports doubled from December to January and now
total about 1.2m barrels per day (b/d), but are still about 1m b/d short of
their average capacity. The increase follows a two-month interruption during
which Somo, Iraq's state oil company, tested the size of the surcharge
buyers were willing to accept.

Western officials point out that there are breaches of sanctions by
companies selling to Iraq outside the oil-for-food programme, and these too
are being ignored. "They have to import and export outside the oil-for- food
deal and everyone is joining in, including big western companies," says a
senior official.

Syria has begun to import illegally as much as 100,000 b/d of Iraqi oil,
according to diplomats. Iraqi oil trucks stream across Jordan's border, and
Iran is doing little to stop tankers smuggling oil through the Gulf.

The reopened pipeline to Syria is the most embarrassing development for the
UN. Damascus is believed to be buying Iraqi oil to use in its own refineries
and increasing exports of its own crude. Both Iraq and Syria are keen not to
publicise the new trade. Damascus says it has no intention of breaching UN
resolutions. But as one senior European official says: "Everyone knows, and
they're all closing their eyes to this, while the Syrians say they're just
testing the pipeline."

Oil experts and diplomats say the UN is unable to prosecute those who break
sanctions. But the more pervasive problem is that the Security Council,
which designs the UN's policy on Iraq, is too divided to counter or even
spotlight the violations.

by our Correspondent Christos Gabrielides.

Mounting international criticism of decade-old UN sanctions on Iraq, and
their devastating impact on the civilian population, led the UN Security
Council to form a committee in April to look at ways in which sanctions
could be imposed without unduly harming innocent civilians.

A draft report from the committee advocates placing time-limits on sanctions
and a 'reward' for compliance. These proposals were broadly supported by
French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, who recently commented: "The
Security Council must precisely define the sanctions' goals, and fix a
limited duration that would allow it to regularly evaluate the situation and
to lift, alleviate or on the contrary prolong them by a deliberate

France has argued that a 'carrot and stick' approach to sanctions would be
far more effective and less damaging to countries and their populations.
However, the United States is understood to be opposed to such reforms -
fearing this would undermine its hardline stance on Iraq.

Last month marked the tenth anniversary of the start of the Gulf War and
prompted renewed calls for the lifting of sanctions, which are estimated to
have contributed to the deaths of at least 500,000 people in Iraq, many of
them children.

The UK's Tony Benn, a veteran Labour politician widely respected for his
political integrity, has long campaigned for the lifting of sanctions.

Mr Benn has suggested that UN sanctions against Iraq constitute a war crime
and, according to the BBC, said: "We have destroyed the whole of Iraqi
society. We have killed hundreds of thousands of people with sanctions. We
have used depleted uranium - and no one talks about the effects it has on
the people we used it on, only the British veterans."

Mr Benn went on to question the real motives behind the continued imposition
of the sanctions and argued that economic considerations, rather than
political or humanitarian concerns, were the cause. He added: "It really is
the systematic destruction of a country for reasons I think are more
connected with oil than human rights."

Meanwhile, 'A People Sacrificed: Sanctions Against Iraq', a report released
yesterday by Europe's leading Catholic aid agencies stated that sanctions
'resulted in untold suffering for millions of people - physical, mental and
cultural', and argued for their end.

Interestingly, the report quoted Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary
General of the United Nations and former United Nations Humanitarian
Co-ordinator for Iraq. He was quoted as saying: "Both the fact that we can
not communicate with him (President Saddam Hussein), the fact that we can
not make any progress in our dialogue with him, does not allow us, does not
empower us to kill the children of Iraq. It is as simple as that. And like
you, you and I together, we don't want to be held responsible for, for lack
of a better word, what is genocide in Iraq today."

[The report can be had at ­ PB]

China, France and Russia have long argued that sanctions should be eased or
lifted. Their most vociferous opponents have been the US and Britain, which
claims to have an 'ethical foreign policy'.

Arabic News, 7th February

Speaker of the Moroccan house of representatives, Abdelouahed Radi, will
lead an Arab parliamentary delegation on a mission to the European
Parliament for the lifting of the sanctions enforced against Iraq.

The Arab delegation will meet this Wednesday speaker of the European
parliament, Nicole Fontaine.

The APU secretariat general appointed Radi chairman of the Arab delegation
to undertake contacts with the European Parliament and other legislative
bodies to glean support for the lifting of the embargo enforced against Iraq
in 1990. The delegation comprises legislators from Jordan, Algeria, Morocco
and Yemen.

Radi's mission comes in implementation of resolutions adopted by the Arab
Inter Parliamentary Union meetings, mainly the APU council extraordinary
session held in December 1998 in Amman.

A memorandum of the APU secretariat general deplores the negative effects of
the sanctions, mainly the high infant mortality rate, propagation of
diseases, malnutrition, medicine shortage and deterioration of health and
education services. Contradictions between policies meant to starve people
and human rights principles were also criticized by the memo.


London, Feb. 7, IRNA -- The British government has denied that the
decade-old UN sanctions regime against Iraq has become increasingly

"The sanctions have had the effect of containing Saddam Hussein for 10
years. We should not underestimate the enormity of that achievement,"
Foreign Office Minister Baroness Scotland said in a short House of Lords
debate on Iraq Tuesday.

She insisted that Britain "cannot accept the lifting of sanctions" before
Iraq is in compliance with Security Council Resolution 687 dating from 1991.
"That would amount to rewarding Iraqi intransigence on its WMD (weapons of
mass destruction) capability," she said.

The Foreign Office Minister faced questions about the breaking of sanctions
by two members of the Security Council, France and Russia, and signs that
the UN oil-for-food program may be unravelling with reports of oil companies
paying premiums direct to Baghdad.

Asked about the damage that may be done to the EU's common foreign and
security policy by difference between London and Paris, she said that she
cannot accept that the UK was "at odds with our partners, France" over Iraq

She added it was a "difficult, complex and sensitive" area and that the
British government "must strive for comity, clear understanding and joint

by David Usborne in New York
The Independent, 9 February 2001

Britain and the United States are preparing to offer radical changes in the
regime of sanctions against Iraq to answer charges that, as currently
applied, they disproportionately harm the Iraqi people.

Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, and Colin Powell, the US Secretary of
State, have started talks in Washington this week on how to revive
thecrumbling policy on Iraq. The two men asked their officials urgently to
explore new approaches to applying sanctions on Saddam Hussein.

There is deep frustration in London and Washington over the Iraqi leader's
success in depicting UN sanctions as the principal cause of the suffering of
his population. But both governments argue that it is the actions of his
regime, not the sanctions, that are responsible for the hardship.

"International debate has begun to soften on Saddam Hussein's version of
events," said Mr Cook. "Saddam has explained sanctions to imply that we are
penalising the Iraqi people. We are not. We and the people of Iraq have a
common problem and that problem is Saddam Hussein."

Preventing Saddam from rebuilding his army and developing weapons of mass
destruction remains the priority of London and Washington.

The system of sanctions and weapons inspections authorised by the UN
Security Council has become unpopular with other governments. France, China
and Russia, the three other permanent members of the council, are pressing
for the sanctions regime to be wound down.

Privately, Britain has even become impatient with the US over how the
sanctions are implemented. Iraq, for example, is entitled to import
equipment to rebuild its infrastructure with money earned from oil exports.
In practice many such contracts are being blocked by the US, on the grounds
that those supplies might be diverted to military projects.

The Government is pressing the US to relax its stance on putting a hold on
civil engineering contracts, arguing that such inflexibility plays directly
into the hands of Saddam.

London also wants to find new forms of sanctions that hurt the Iraqi army
and political leadership. "It is very important that we are focused on the
military side of sanctions or Iraq," said Mr Cook. He added that it was
likely any new approach on Iraq could be implemented within the framework of
existing UN Security Council resolutions. Mr Powell signalled that it may be
time to give up on trying to get inspectors back in to Iraq and establish a
system of inspections at points of import on Iraq's border.


by Graham E. Fuller
Los Angeles Times, 24th January

George W. Bush must now figure out how to succeed in Iraq where his father
failed in 1991.  Saddam Hussein, whom former President Bush failed to
topple, is still the most vicious and  dangerous leader anywhere in the
world today. The bad news is that it is probably too late for  the new
administration to effect genuine change in Iraq at a price the United States
is willing  to pay.

What might have been possible even five years ago is no longer possible
today. Hussein is  stronger both politically and militarily than he has ever
been since the Gulf War, and he is  pumping oil once again. The sanctions
have lost nearly all international support and are  perceived to have caused
widespread suffering, especially upon children. Anti-Western  feeling in
Iraq has never been higher.

Meanwhile, the international scene has shifted dramatically against U.S.
policy. Sanctions  are violated regularly. The French, Russians and many
Arab states now operate flights into  Baghdad.

Weapons inspection regimes are over. Except for Kuwait, no Gulf state has
the stomach for  further sanctions, and they are increasingly uncomfortable
with U.S. military missions over  Iraq. Even the British now suggest that
they are about to back off from supporting any more  "no-fly zones" in
southern Iraq, the sole part of the country where serious anti-regime
operations occur. The Kurds in the north have long since lost faith in the
ability of the U.S.  to protect their autonomous region over the long run
and have reestablished serious working  relations with Hussein as insurance.

Meanwhile, the Arab-Israeli peace process has collapsed, and anti-American
feeling is  running high in the Arab world. The Palestinians, embittered by
their own impotence,  revere any Arab leader with the guts to stand up to
the U.S. and Israel. Other Arab autocrats  fear their own populace and have
little stomach for supporting what they see as unpopular  U.S. adventurism
against  an over-demonized Arab strongman.

The people of the region now range from cool to hostile toward any U.S.
military presence  on their shores. The U.S. presence in the Gulf is
resented at a time when the U.S. needs Gulf  goodwill in an environment of
high oil prices. Everybody knows that Hussein is vicious, but  they will no
longer lend support to bringing him down. More to the point, except for
Kuwait,  they do  not feel imminently threatened.

Over the past decade, despite elaborate plans, Clinton policies have
succeeded only in  containing Hussein, denying him the chance to unleash
campaigns of intimidation or war  against yet more neighbors. His
development of nuclear weapons has been severely retarded  but not
definitively terminated. This modest but significant holding operation may
be the  best we can hope for. All else has failed.

The new Bush team inherits a mess while holding virtually no cards. As
repugnant as it is to  contemplate, U.S. policy now must come to terms with
the reality of Hussein's presence until  some Iraqi eliminates him.  The
U.S. is not going to invade Iraq. Coup plans have repeatedly foundered and
are  discredited; opposition groups are divided and penetrated. Radio
broadcasts and  opposition pinpricks are to no avail. A seriously armed
opposition army in the north requires  full Turkish cooperation, which will
not be forthcoming.  All Bush can do at this point is to maintain consensus
on blocking the sale of war materiel to  Iraq.  More important, when signs
of production and deployment of nuclear weapons are clear,  Washington must
be prepared to take unilateral action to eliminate them. And can, or  will,
Washington even protect the Kurds if Hussein marches against them inside his
own  country? That is  the real litmus test.

To build a more serious anti-Iraqi coalition requires near Herculean change
in our Middle  East policy: adoption of new policies perceived to be truly
balanced in the peace  process; a peace process shared at the international
level with the EU and the U.N.;  improving ties with Iran, a state that can
seriously influence events in Iraq and the Gulf;  gradual steps toward
building a Gulf  security forum and a willingness to listen to--not just
lecture- regional leaders on what should  be done regarding Hussein.  After
all, U.S. concerns about Hussein cannot be more vital than those of  the
people who  live next to him.   

Graham E. Fuller Is a Former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence
Council at the  CIA

by Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times

Wednesday, February 7, 2001 DOHA, Qatar The Bush team has a full-fledged
public relations disaster on its hands in the Arab world. From the smallest
pistachio seller here on the shores of the Gulf to the highest Arab
ministers, there is not only total opposition to any Bush plans to tighten
sanctions on Saddam Hussein until he is squeezed out of power, but in fact
virtually unanimous support for lifting sanctions immediately.

America has lost the propaganda war with Saddam.

Before the sanctions regime collapses entirely, it needs to find a way to at
least salvage an international ban on all weapons sales to Iraq, with border
inspections, so that Saddam's military power is contained - and forget about
using endless economic sanctions to get rid of him. They are not

Especially after Ariel Sharon has won the Israeli election. Judging from
many conversations here, the Arab street is poised to say to the Bush team:
"Let me get this straight. You want us to join America in imposing sanctions
on the Iraqi leader who smashed Kuwait, while America accepts the Israeli
leader who smashed Lebanon? Not a chance."

The U.S. effort to isolate Saddam has died of many causes. For one, Saddam
totally outfoxed Washington in the propaganda war. All you hear and read in
the media here is that the sanctions are starving the Iraqi people - which
is true. The U.S. counter-arguments that by complying with UN resolutions
Saddam could get those sanctions lifted at any time are never heard.
Preoccupied with the peace process, no senior U.S. officials have made their
case in any sustained way.

You would never know from talking to people in the Gulf region that just a
few weeks ago Saddam Hussein's son Uday put forward a "working paper" to the
Iraqi National Assembly calling for a new emblem that showed Kuwait "as an
integral part of greater Iraq." You would never know that Iraq's deputy
prime minister, Tariq Aziz, recently declared that "Kuwait got what it

You would never know that during the period from June to December 2000,
despite all the hunger among the Iraqi people, the United Nations reported
that Saddam bought only $4.2 billion worth of food and medicine for his
people, even though under the UN oil-for-food program he had $7.8 billion to

No, all you hear now are the sorts of arguments that Egypt's foreign
minister, Amr Moussa, made at the Davos forum last week: "We can't expect
that the people of Iraq live under sanctions forever. ... Since the war,
public opinion in the Arab world has moved 180 degrees."

Even if Colin Powell came to the Gulf to make the right arguments, he would
have an uphill battle. For one thing, Washington has forgotten how different
Iraq looks from the Arab world. The leaders of the small Gulf sheikhdoms are
very good at calculating the balance of power. They know the difference
between the mirage and the oasis, and they know that as long as Saddam is
posing no immediate military threat to them, his army is still a use ful
counterweight to their more dangerous historic enemy, Iran.

On the Arab street the notion that at least one Arab country has weapons of
mass destruction that can balance Israel's is very popular. And the daily
Arab television diet of pictures of the Palestinian uprising and the Israeli
retaliations has produced a gut desire on the Arab street to poke a finger
in America's eye.

Finally, the Arab street no longer accepts the logic of sanctions - that if
you squeeze Iraq long enough the Iraqi people will oust Saddam. It is widely
felt that Arab leaders can never be ousted by the "people." It never happens
in this neighborhood. A Qatari intellectual said to me: "If your sanctions
on Castro have not worked for 40 years to get rid of him, and he is right
next to you, why do you believe that they will work to get rid of Saddam?"

For the most part, the Iraqi opposition groups (funded by the United States)
are viewed as corrupt outsiders who would be rejected by the Iraqi body
politic in the unlikely event that they ever did oust Saddam.

Bottom line: If Colin Powell tries really hard, launches a real PR campaign
against Saddam, he might be able to hold together the sanctions long enough
to get them lifted in an orderly way and replaced by a UN ban on all
military sales to Iraq.

If you think otherwise, well, I have some lakefront property on the
Saudi-Qatari border I'd like to sell you.

by Jim Hoagland
Washington Post, February 10, 2001

E-Mail This Article

For the first time since the Persian Gulf War ended a decade ago, Iraqi
anti-aircraft units seriously endangered the lives of American and British
pilots enforcing no-fly zones over that Arab country.

Concern over a small but abrupt rise in Iraqi surface-to-air missile
batteries and a recent change in tactics by Iraqi gunners reaches from the
top of the Pentagon down to the crews operating out of Saudi Arabia and
Turkey, according to U.S. and foreign military officers.

The pilots and their commanders are stuck with flawed strategy and tactics
developed under the Clinton administration. The fliers follow orders to
attack targets of little military significance in Iraq, primarily for
symbolic reasons, while operating in an increasingly dangerous environment.

The Bush administration recognizes Iraq as an urgent foreign policy issue.
But it needs to move more quickly to minimize the risk that Saddam Hussein
will seize the initiative in a new Gulf crisis by knocking down a U.S. or
British warplane with an SA-6 missile.

President Bush chaired a White House meeting earlier this month devoted to
Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has instructed his staff to rethink
strategy on Iraq and may hope to make the Pentagon the lead government
agency charting Iraq policy. He has a strong case for that move.

But much of the initial attention in Bush II has been misdirected to shoring
up sagging international support for economic sanctions against Iraq, a
problem that requires sustained diplomatic work over the next year rather
than a quick fix.

In redesigning Iraq strategy to meet the new threats, the administration
confronts one timing handicap of its own making -- the slowness in making
appointments to key working-level positions in foreign policy and national
security -- and another imposed by Congress, which severely restricts the
work senior appointees can do before they are confirmed.

The result is that Clinton era holdovers who helped develop and implement
the strategy of ineffectual aerial pinpricks against Saddam's forces still
hold important jobs and sit in on key planning sessions on Iraq. The Senate
should help correct this anomaly by putting aside formalities and letting
the new Bush people get to work.

The Clinton administration essentially gave up on trying to get U.N. weapons
inspectors back into Iraq and on bringing Saddam down, after staging three
days of limited air raids in late 1998 during Operation Desert Fox.

Saddam's refusal to let U.N. inspectors search for his missiles and weapons
of mass destruction puts Iraq in breach of the cease-fire that ended the
Gulf War. That provides a legal basis for new coalition military campaigns
against Iraq.

But after Desert Fox, the Clinton White House went the other way. It issued
to the Pentagon highly restrictive rules of engagement for the pilots
patrolling over Iraq's northern Kurdistan region and south of the 33rd

Frustration quickly set in as pilots understood they were taking risks over
Iraq for no real military purpose. Britain, the last ally willing to fly
with the Americans over Iraq, quietly passed the word to Washington recently
that a new, more focused and effective strategy was needed to justify
continued military action.

The concern over pilot safety jumped even more in Washington and London
after Saddam staged a display of new military hardware in the New Year's Eve
parade in Baghdad.

U.S. military planners concluded that Iraq's inventory of SA-6 missile
batteries had jumped from "a number you could count on two hands" to three
dozen or so, said one planner. Intelligence reports identify Serbia and
Ukraine as sources of the new missile batteries smuggled into Iraq last

Iraqi gunners have had years to watch the flight patterns of U.S. and U.K.
warplanes on patrol and have developed effective ways of using the SA-6
radar to guide the missile after it has been fired. This sharply decreases
the time available to a pilot to evade the Iraqi rocket or to fire on the
attacking battery.

Pilots will adapt their tactics of evasion, and the new SA-6 batteries do
not change the U.S. Iraqi military balance. But the new risks show that the
Bush team does not have a minute to waste in reassessing the cost-benefit
ratio of the military effort it has inherited in Iraq.

That effort has not achieved results worth the potential sacrifices it asks
pilots to make. The time for symbolic military action against Saddam is
over. The British are right: We are at a crossroads. It is time to get real,
or to get out.

BBC World Service, 4th February

More details have emerged about an operation by an Egyptian company,
International Group for Investment, to run flights between Cairo and the
Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The company chairman, Mohamed Shetah, told the BBC that three flights had
already taken place with the approval of the United Nations sanctions

Another would leave on Friday. Earlier reports had said the first flight
would take off on Tuesday.

Mr Shetah said the planes were taking doctors to Iraq, and bringing back to
Cairo Egyptian expatriates.

He said the Egyptian authorities were aware of the operation and that if the
UN should deny permission, the flights would be halted.

Times of India, 4th February

DOHA: Iraq's foreign minister defended on Friday the fact that the country's
interior minister had shaken hands with his Saudi counterpart earlier this

Nizar Hamdoun, arriving here on an official visit, was referring to a
handshake on Tuesday between Iraqi Interior Minister Mohammad Zamam Abdul
Razzak and Saudi Arabia's Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz.

"This handshake is normal between two Arab ministers," Hamdoun was quoted by
the official QNA news agency as saying. On Wednesday, Prince Nayef also
defended the handshake. "(Political) differences do not stop me from
greeting an Arab and speaking to him," Prince Nayef said, quoted by
Al-Riyadh newspaper.

At issue was a photograph published Tuesday showing Prince Nayef about to
share a hearty handshake with Razzak on the sidelines of a meeting of Arab
interior ministers in Tunis. Baghdad broke off diplomatic relations with
Saudi Arabia in February 1991 in the Middle of the Gulf War.

Meanwhile, Hamdoun said his visit to Qatar was not "directly linked" with
that country's initiatives to normalize Arab relations, which were severely
damaged by Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. He also expressed his regret over
the lack of normal relations between Iraq and Kuwait. (AFP)

Dawn (Pakistan), 4th February

BAGHDAD, Feb 3: The federal minister, Dr Abdul Malik Kasi called on
President Saddam Hussain on Friday and delivered a message from the chief
executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Dr Kasi, who is on a goodwill visit, apprised the Iraqi president about the
situation relating to Kashmir and Afghan refugees.

He said Pakistan wanted to have good relations with Iraq and its people and
said the Pakistanis were concerned about the plight of their Iraqi brethren
and had sympathies with them.

President Saddam Hussain emphasised on strengthening of bilateral relations
with Pakistan and said both the countries have common values and centuries
old ties.

Saddam appreciated the goodwill expressed by Pakistan for Iraq and gave a
message of goodwill for the chief executive Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Earlier, Health Minister met the deputy prime minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz
and discussed matters of mutual interests.-APP

Arabic News, 6th February

Political and diplomatic sources in Amman said that the US has opposed
Jordan's desire to sign a free trade zone agreement with Iraq, which is
currently under preparations.

The Jordanian weekly al-Majd in its recent issue published on Monday quoted
these sources as saying that the American embassy in Amman conveyed to the
Jordanian government the regret of the American administration for
statements made by the Jordanian prime minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb which he
made last Monday in which he said that the Jordanian minister of commerce
and industry will discuss in Baghdad signing a free trade agreement between
the two states.

The same sources added that the US state department informed the Jordanian
foreign ministry that Jordan can not be linked to two free trade agreements
with two countries who are in a state of hostility and that Jordan has to
stop its attempt to sign this agreement with Iraq.

Arabic News, 6th February

In its Monday's issue, the Jordanian weekly al-Majd said that the Iraqi
leadership gave instructions to all opposition Syria organizations which
take Baghdad as a headquarters to stop issuing statements or taking any
stances damaging the regime in Syria.

Well-informed sources told al-Majd that the opposition Syrian organizations
(Baathists, Islamists, Marxists ) recently received clear instructions from
the Iraqi leadership on the need of halting all activities against Syria
either by words or action, under the penalty of expelling from the Iraqi
territories any group or organization violates these instructions.

The sources expressed their conviction that these tough instructions from
the Iraqi leadership reflect the deep relations recently established between
Syria and Iraq at all political, economic and security levels.

Kuwait, Reuters, 7th February

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak began a visit to Kuwait yesterday expected
to focus on boosting ties and discussing ways to deal with Iraq, their Gulf
War foe. Kuwait's ruler Emir Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah opened talks
with Mubarak shortly after greeting him at the airport on his first visit in
two years. Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa told reporters Cairo had no
specific initiative to present on mending the Iraq-Kuwait rift that has
split the Arab world since Iraq invaded its southern neighbour in 1990.
"This is not the purpose of the visit," Moussa said.

He denounced recent remarks by Iraqi Vice President Taha Ramadan as an
"escalation" against Kuwait. Ramadan said during a visit to Cairo in
January, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of the start of the Gulf
War, that 99 per cent of Iraqis still believed Kuwait belonged to Iraq.
"These statements were surrounded by many question marks... we are against
escalation and this is unacceptable," Moussa said.

Ramadan's visit to Cairo to seal a free trade accord with Egypt coincided
with a visit by Kuwaiti Speaker Jassem Al Kharafi. Kharafi told reporters
that while in Cairo he asked Mubarak if there were any obstacles in ties
between their countries. "'Not at all'," Kharafi quoted Mubarak as telling
him. "The President said: 'You will see me soon among you',".

Egypt played a major role in the 32-nation, U.S.-led military alliance which
forced Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in a six-week war. Egypt has acted in
recent months to normalise ties with Iraq and diplomats say this has caused
concern in Kuwait, which is sensitive about relations between Arab states
and Iraq. Moussa said Egypt's free trade accord with Iraq should not be seen
as a step against Kuwait.

"It concerns trade ties between two countries within the boundaries of trade
only...and not at the expense of any other country," he said.
Kuwaiti-Egyptian ties have faced a few snags in recent years including riots
in 1999 by thousands of Egyptian workers protesting against alleged
maltreatment in Kuwait. Mubarak has visited Kuwait five times since the Gulf
War ended a seven-month Iraqi occupation of the small, oil-rich state.

Times of India, 7th February

DOHA (AFP): Iraq is undermining all attempts at a rapprochement between Arab
countries by making hostile statements about its neighbours, a senior
Kuwaiti official said Tuesday.

"At a time when Arab solidarity has started to be revived, Iraq has come to
dash all hope of a proper revival through its recent statements," secretary
of state for foreign affairs, Khalid Jarallah, said in Doha.

Jarallah, on the last stop of a tour that has taken him to Oman and the
United Arab Emirates, was referring to renewed claims by MP Uday Saddam
Hussein, elder son of the Iraqi president, to Kuwait as forming part of a
"Greater Iraq".

Uday Hussein called for Iraq's National Assembly "to prepare a map of the
whole of Iraq, including Kuwait City as an integral part of Greater Iraq."

The renewal of claims over Kuwait came on the eve of the 10th anniversary of
the 1991 Gulf War triggered by Baghdad's invasion of the emirate and its
annexation as Iraq's 19th province in August the previous year.

"While everyone is looking to put the region out of tension's way, Iraq
insists on doing the opposite and defying UN Security Council resolutions,"
Jarallah said.

Jarallah also denied any link between his visit to Qatar and that of his
Iraqi counterpart Nizar Hamdoun's on Sunday.


Times of India, 7th February

BAGHDAD: President Saddam Hussein has started to form an army "to liberate
Jerusalem" from Israeli rule, a senior Iraqi official announced on

"At the orders of President Saddam Hussein, we have started to form the
first brigade of volunteers in the Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem) Army to
liberate Jerusalem," Ali Hassan al Meguid, a member of the decision-making
Revolutionary Command Council, said.

Iraq has already announced the mobilisation of more than 6.5 million
volunteers for a jihad, or Muslim holy war, against the Jewish state.(AFP)

Arabic News, 8th February

Osama Al Baz, the Political Advisor to the President said that talks by
President Mubarak with Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah dealt
with the importance of lifting the suffering of the Iraqi people besides key
issues, which will be tackled by the forthcoming Arab summit.

Baz told Sawt A1 Arab Radio that Arab reconciliation will be only
established if it is based on frankness. He referred to the Kuwaiti
leadership's keenness to rally Arab ranks.

Arabic News, 8th February

Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Shenouda III said he continued to
hold firm on his rejection to visit Jerusalem as long as it remains under
Israel's control and will only go to the Holy City at the invitation of
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.


Pope Shenouda said he was happy to receive an invitation from the Iraqi
government to visit Baghdad, and expressed solidarity with he Iraqi people
who have suffered a great deal under an embargo and serious humanitarian

The Middle East Council of Churches has plans to convene an upcoming meeting
in Baghdad, he added.


CNN, February 8, 2001

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- An authoritative Iraqi newspaper said Thursday
that Iraq would be within its rights to end its commitment to U.N.
resolutions regarding Kuwait because of Kuwait's provision of bases for
Western planes that bomb Iraq.

"Iraq has the right to withdraw its recognition of any provision of the
United Nations resolutions which the Kuwaiti rulers benefit from," the
ruling Baath Party newspaper, al Thawra, said.

 One resolution issued by the U.N. Security Council was that Iraq must
formally recognize its border with Kuwait in line with provisions of the
1991 Gulf War cease-fire.

They also demanded the scrapping of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and
the U.N. monitoring of its defense facilities.

The comment was the most explicit statement so far of a view that has been
hinted at in recent weeks in the Iraqi press.

Iraq, whose forces invaded Kuwait in 1990 but were driven out by a U.S.-led
alliance in February 1991, recognized Kuwait and the U.N.-defined borders in

"It is quite unacceptable that only Iraq is committed to such unjust
resolutions," al-Thawra said in a front-page editorial.

Last month, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan caused concern in the
Arab world and beyond when he said that 99 percent of Iraqis believed Kuwait
belonged to their country, although he added that was not state policy.

Al-Thawra said its comment was "not a threat or escalation as the Kuwaiti
rulers would interpret ... but it is a legal stance which represents Iraq's
right to maintain its security and sovereignty.

"Iraq has the right to take suitable decisions at a suitable time and if
what we have said is worrying for the Kuwaiti rulers they should stop
participation in the aggression," the paper concluded.

U.S. and British warplanes use Kuwaiti and Saudi bases to patrol a no-fly
zone over southern Iraq set up after the Gulf War to protect Shi'ite
Muslims. The planes have frequently bombed targets when challenged by Iraqi
defense forces.

Iraqi officials and the press have launched fierce verbal attacks on Kuwait
and Saudi Arabia for allowing the Western planes to use their territory.

Arabic News, 10th February

It was announced in Baghdad on Friday that Iraq has appointed ambassador
Muhammad Ali al-Douri as a new ambassador t the UN in New York.

It was also said that Muhammad al-Douri, Iraq's permanent representative at
the European headquarters of the UN at Geneva, had submitted his credentials
to the UN secretary General Kofi Annan, in succession to Saeed Hassan

Recently, al-Musawi who acquired this post since February 1999 was appointed
as the chairman of the international organizations and conferences.

Washington, Reuters, 7th February

The Iraqi opposition, flush with new U.S. aid money, said yesterday it would
send dozens of groups of infiltrators into Iraq starting this month to
collect information and recruit supporters for its campaign to overthrow
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC)
said the cross-border operations could now begin because the new U.S.
administration of George W. Bush is more serious about supporting the
opposition than the previous Clinton team.

"Now that the administration is much more forthcoming on these issues, we
can take it to another level," said INC official spokesman Sharif Ali bin
AlHussein. "Initially we will send teams in to gather the information and to
recruit more people through internal organizations inside Iraq... They will
enter Iraq within two weeks and establish communications lines," he told

He said "tens of groups" would cross the border, choosing areas where the
Iraqi security presence is thin and making use of their local connections.
"The security system is not that pervasive and it's not difficult to enter
Iraq for groups that have the connections," he added. Sharif Ali, a
constitutional monarchist and first cousin to the late King Faisal II of
Iraq, is in Washington with the rest of the six-man INC leadership for
negotiations with the State Department on details of a $29 million U.S. aid

The package is a quantum leap up from the amounts the INC received under
former President Bill Clinton. The Clinton administration had already given
the INC clearance to spend $4 million on information gathering inside Iraq
and the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control released the
funds last week. The INC leaders began their meetings on Monday and were to
have talks yesterday with Edward Walker, assistant secretary of state for
Near East affairs.

Sharif Ali said they had also met prospective members of the Bush
administration but he declined to name them on the grounds that they have
not yet been appointed or confirmed. But he said he detected a "marked
shift" in the attitude towards the Iraqi opposition, which some members of
the Clinton administration often slighted in private.

The former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, Gen. Anthony Zinni,
was especially outspoken about the failings of the INC and the dangers of
giving it military support. "Some of these groups (have) debilitating
quarrels. They fight with each other. They kill each other. They have yet to
show cohesion," he told the Senate Armed Forces Committee last September.

"Before we sign up the American careful. Bay of Pigs could
turn into Bay of Goats," he added - a reference to U.S. support for the
abortive invasion of Cuba by Cuban opponents of Fidel Castro in 1961. Sharif
Ali said, "There's a marked shift in turning policy into practice. We are
getting a definite feel that they (the Bush administration) are enthusiastic
about doing something."

"It's a different ballgame now. It's tangible how big the change is. We're
getting a very positive response," he added. U.S. officials under Clinton,
including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, repeatedly advocated
building up the INC slowly, avoiding military action at first for fear its
forces would be wiped out in their first skirmish with Iraqi troops.

Sharif Ali said sending INC agents into government-held territory was a risk
but Iraqis will be willing to take it. "These are all volunteers and there
are many more clamoring to return to Iraq. It's very exciting for them," he
said. The next phase of INC activity inside Iraq will be distributing food
and medicines through clandestine forays. The $29 million aid package
contains $12 million for this.

INC sources say Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld strongly support of INC plans to challenge Saddam, while Secretary
of State Colin Powell has not yet made up his mind if it is wise to help
them. Iraq's immediate neighbours, including Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia, are not enthusiastic about the INC - a factor that is bound to weigh
in Powell's calculations.


WASHINGTON (Associated Press, Wed 7 Feb) ‹ Seeing new hope after years of
frustration, an Iraqi opposition leader said Wednesday the Bush
administration is ``significantly'' more inclined to provide aid to
resistance groups than was the Clinton administration.

Sharif Ali Bin Al Hussein, in Washington with two other members of the Iraqi
National Congress for official talks, said ``the last four or maybe eight
years have been wasted'' because of what he said was the Clinton
administration's unwillingness to show strong backing for the London-based

Ali said in an interview that he and others from the INC have been impressed
by the eagerness of the new team in Washington to find ways to help the
group in its quest to depose Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

``The questions we are being asked are: 'How can we do it? What do you
suggest? How can we move forward?' We never had that discussion with the
previous administration.''

Ali, Ahmed Chalabi, a founding member of the INC, and S.H. Mohammad Mohammad
Ali are meeting with officials of the State Department's Middle East bureau
this week.

Iraq has been high on the administration's agenda, and Secretary of State
Colin Powell discussed the issue on Tuesday with British Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook.

``It's important that we frustrate the ambitions of Saddam Hussein,'' Cook
told reporters Wednesday.

Last week, the INC was encouraged by the Bush administration's decision to
allow the group to draw $4 million approved by Congress to carry out
information-gathering activities inside Iraq relating to Iraqi war crimes,
weapons development and other matters.

Ali said the INC is conferring with administration officials on the release
of an additional $29 million approved for the current fiscal year. It will
be used for humanitarian relief, media-related activities, administration,
diplomacy and conferences.

Separately, Congress has approved $97 million in military assistance to the
INC. Only a small part was released by the Clinton administration, a
reflection of its cautious approach.

Clinton's national security adviser, Samuel Berger, once explained the
administration's rationale by saying that if ``you encourage and almost
incite people to rise up against their government, you incur a moral
obligation to come to their defense at a moment of peril.''

Ali said the administration should have acted more boldly against Saddam:
``It preferred containment to removal,'' he said.

In the absence of clear signals of resolve by the United States, Iraq has
been resurgent and Arab countries ``have been cozying up to Saddam,'' Ali

He said he believes a turning point will occur when Saddam's enemies are
able to seize control on an enclave or installation, and Saddam's forces are
unable to remove them.

``Once people feel they are able to challenge him, then (the rebellion) will
spread significantly,'' he said.

by Jonathan Wright

WASHINGTON (Reuters, aturday February 10) - The opposition Iraqi National
Congress (INC), billed as a worthy cause under the Bush administration,
faces major hurdles in its campaign to overthrow President Saddam Hussein
(news - web sites), analysts said.

The INC will have to secure a level of U.S. commitment sufficient to
persuade Iraq's neighbors that Washington is serious about carrying out the
task that President George W. Bush (news - web sites)'s father shied away
from after the Gulf War (news - web sites) in 1991.

The leaders at the center of the INC must also persuade their Kurdish and
Shi'ite Muslim colleagues, who have real guerrilla forces, to cooperate with
a central command and carry out a coordinated plan, according to analysts.

Even then, success will probably depend, not on capturing Baghdad in
street-to-street fighting but on convincing Iraqi troops and Baath Party
members that they have no future under Saddam and that the time was come to
defect, they added.

INC leaders, visiting Washington for the first time since President Bush
(news - web sites) took office on Jan. 20, say they are strongly encouraged
by their contacts with the new administration.

``We feel this administration is much more serious about dealing with the
Iraqi regime,'' Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the six-man INC leadership, said
on Friday.

``We are very optimistic. They have taken our ideas on board,'' added INC
spokesman Sharif Ali Bin Al Hussein.


The opposition leaders take heart from campaign statements by people in or
close to the Bush administration. Many Republicans accused the Clinton
administration of failing to give the INC the level of support it deserved.

The Clinton administration argued in private that none of Iraq's neighbors
were willing to endorse a strategy of ``regime change'' based on support for
the opposition.

Clinton officials also did little to dispel the widespread impression that
INC leaders were armchair revolutionaries, more comfortable in London hotels
than on the ground in Iraq.

Their opponents retorted that if the United States led the way and showed it
was serious about the INC, Arab states like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan
would follow.

``What we have seen is a self-fulfilling prophecy,'' said former congressman
Steven Solarz, vice chairman of the International Crisis Group and an INC

``We don't give them support on the grounds that they're not effective, and
they're not effective because we haven't given them any support,'' he told

But even if the United States does promote the INC, for example by giving
military training, it is by no means clear that the organization will be on
the path to success.

Hamid al-Bayati, London representative of the Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), said the INC would need permission
either from the Kurds or from Iran, even for its preliminary plan to start
operations inside Iraq.


Historically the Kurds, who now run an autonomous enclave in the north, have
borne the brunt of Baghdad's retaliation whenever opposition activities
collapse. They are naturally wary of associating with adventurers.

``We cannot leave our people to the mercy of the consequences of such acts.
It's premature, given the consequences that could emerge,'' said a senior
Kurdish politician, speaking by telephone from Kurdistan.

The politician said the priority of the Kurdish authorities was to set up a
model of self government in the north, with a high quality of life, rule of
law and civil society.

``I would rather not push my people into jeopardy, into harm's way, into
schemes that are not well defined or credible. That would put people's lives
in danger,'' he said.

``We are living in the region. We do not have the luxury of hotels in
London. We have to be very realistic and very cautious,'' the politician

This Kurdish hesitancy is a serious obstacle to the INC's ambitions, because
the Kurdish parties already have an experienced guerrilla force of some
10,000 fighters and their territory is the natural springboard for INC

Bayati, whose Tehran-based group already attacks Iraqi government targets in
the south and center of the country, says that to infiltrate Iraq from the
south the INC needs Iranian permission. ``We don't know if they have that,''
he added.


SCIRI's position, sympathetic to the INC's goals but critical of its
dependence on U.S. financial assistance, is symptomatic of the INC's

``Overt U.S. support undermines the credibility of the INC, so we can't take
part in its activities,'' Bayati said.

Besides, as when Shi'ite Muslims rose in rebellion against Saddam in March
1991, the United States is itself wary of helping exclusively Shi'ite
groups, apparently for fear of creating an Iranian-backed mini-state in the
south of Iraq.

The INC and its sympathizers, heartened by the advent of the Bush
administration, are now recycling military proposals which made the rounds
in the last years of the Clinton era.

The most popular is the idea of a liberated opposition enclave inside Iraq,
protected by U.S. air power, in which Iraqi army defectors could take

But the Bush administration has not even said if it likes the idea, let
alone where it would be, who would carve it out in the first place and how
neighboring countries might react.

``Based on their past records, the Bush administration contains strong
supporters of a more robust approach, but it remains to be seen what they
will do. My impression is they have not yet decided,'' Solarz said.

``The INC does believe that the new administration is more serious,'' said
Bayati. ``But they might not be as serious as we need them to be,'' he

Iraq Foundation, January 26, 2001

The Iraqi regime's deportation of Kurdish and Turkoman families from the
city and  governorate of Kirkuk has escalated in the last year. Concerned
organizations have  published information regarding the ethnic cleansing
practiced by the Iraqi regime, and Iraq  Foundation has received copies of
Iraqi documents containing deportation orders and giving  the names of
deported families.

Typically, Kurdish and Turkoman families are singled out in official
records, ordered  deported, and stripped of their property, possessions, ID
cards and ration cards. Some are  deported  to areas in Kurdistan under
Kurdish control; others are deported to areas in Iraq  under  government
control, to face a dangerous future. Their confiscated properties are
usually sold to Arab  families loyal to the regime, who live in government
controlled areas.

In a report of January 20th, Al-Zamman newspaper reported that the Iraqi
authorities are  registering the names of new families that live in Kirkuk
and Debiss, in preparation to  move them out of the area, and have
prohibited 55 families from selling or buying property.  Azzaman also
reports that the Iraqi regime is giving three million dinars to each Arab
family  that moves  into a house belonging to a deported Kurdish or Turkoman
family. Additionally,  residential and  agricultural land belonging to
non-Arab citizens in Kirkuk, Erbil and Mosul  governorates, has been 
confiscated and distributed to officers of the military and security

A further tactic adopted by the Iraqi regime in trying to obliterate ethnic
identity in the  Kirkuk region is the forced ethnic "conversion" of Iraqi
Kurds and Turkamons. Individuals  and families are intimidated into signing
documents renouncing their ethnic identity, and  declaring themselves to be
Arabs, and threatened with deportation and confiscation of all  assets if
they fail to do so.

As part of its Iraqi Research and Documentation Project, the Iraq Foundation
has gathered  sensitive official Iraqi documents that give chilling details
of the ethnic cleansing operations  underway. The documents refer to
activities in the year 2000. For security reasons, the  Foundation cannot
publish these documents, but can describe some of their content:

- a document that is clearly titled "Deportation of Non-Arab Citizens",
containing  implementation procedures

- documents listing the names of Kurdish and Tukoman families that were
deported during  the period. Some were deported to Kurdish-controlled areas,
while others were deported to  the western desert of the Anbar governorate.

- documents that contain statistics of the number of Kurdish and Turkoman
families that  have been forced to change their ethnicities-what the
document calls "correcting" ethnicity

- documents with orders to confiscate properties belonging to named
individuals who had  been deported, or who were imprisoned "for political
reasons"    - documents on the award of property in a destroyed Turkoman
village to an Arab clan  leader "loyal  to the leadership of the party and
the revolution"

- documents showing the "correction" of ethnicity of Kurds and Turkoman
individuals to  Arab ethnicity.

The Foundation also has official Iraqi documents citing names of individuals
who are barred  from employment in the public sector because they are Kurds
or Turkoman.  The deportation of Kurds and Turkoman from areas under
government control, and  particularly from the Kirkuk governorate, has left
over 100,000 people from northern areas  homeless and destitute. The
deportees have been stripped of their possessions and papers,  and have no
access to shelter, food or work. The Kurdish regional administrations in
Erbil  and Suleimaniya are having difficulty sheltering and feeding such
large numbers of people.

The situation of those  deported to areas under government control, such as
Al-Anbar, are in  even worse shape, as they are still under government
surveillance and victims of both  deprivation and persecution.

Kurdistan Observer, 1st February

According to a Kurdish source in Iraqi Kurdistan, Baghdad has drawn  up a
plan to withdraw old Iraqi currency printed outside Iraq that  currently is
the coin of the realm in the Kurdistan Regional  Government. London's
"Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" of 23 January says  that Iraqi government collaborators
have been ordered to open  offices in regions adjacent to the KRG for this
purpose.  Baghdad has been in the process of withdrawing foreign  currency,
particularly the U.S. dollar, from the region over  the last several years.
(David Nissman)


WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Terrorist financier Osama Bin Laden and his
associates continue to pose the most immediate danger to Americans, but more
traditional threats from states with ballistic missiles and weapons of mass
destruction remain of deep concern, CIA Director George Tenet told the
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Wednesday.

"Never in my experience has American intelligence had to deal with such a
dynamic set of concerns affecting such a broad range of U.S. interests.
Never have we had to deal with such a high quotient of uncertainty," Tenet

Tenet said his top priority is terrorism.

"Osama bin Laden and his global network of lieutenants and associates remain
the most immediate and serious threat. His organization is continuing to
place emphasis on developing surrogates to carry out attacks in an effort to
avoid detection, blame and retaliation. As a result, it is often difficult
to attribute terrorist incidents to his group, Al Qaeda," Tenet said.

Moreover, Iran has stepped up its support for terrorist groups who opposed
the Middle East peace talks over the last two years, and the ruling
government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, continues to harbor terrorists,
Tenet said.

Iran poses not just a terrorist threat but also a conventional one,
according to Tenet.

In addition to China, Russia and North Korea, Iran could threaten the United
States with intercontinental ballistic missiles in the near future -- in
large part because of help Teheran has received from Russia and China, Tenet
said. However, there is a greater and more immediate threat from short- and
medium-range missiles aimed at American troops and U.S. allies "here and
now" he added.

"As worrying as the ICBM threat will be, Mr. Chairman, the threat to U.S.
interests and forces from short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles is
here and now. The proliferation of MRBM's, driven largely, though not
exclusively, by North Korean Nodong sales, is altering strategic balances in
the Middle East and Asia," Tenet said.

The missiles include Iran's Shahab-3, Pakistan's Ghauri, and the Indian
Agni-2, Tenet said.

Making these weapons even more worrisome is the fact that Russia, China and
North Korea continue to proliferate chemical, biological and nuclear
technology, as well as long-range missile technology, which can dramatically
increase the lethality of the missiles.

"Russian state-run defense and nuclear industries are still strapped for
funds, and Moscow looks to them to acquire badly needed foreign exchange
through exports," Tenet said.

Of particular concern, according to Tenet, are Russian entities' provisions
of ballistic missile technology to Iran, India, China and Libya.

"Indeed, the transfer of ballistic missile technology from Russia to Iran
was substantial last year and in our judgment will continue to accelerate
Iranian efforts to develop new missiles and to become self-sufficient in
production," he said.

Russia is using its weapons expertise as leverage against the United States'
hegemony in world affairs, Tenet said.

"Moscow continues to value arms and technology sales as a major source of
funds. It increasingly is using them as a tool to improve ties to its
regional partners -- China, India and Iran. Moscow also sees these
relationships as a way to limit U.S. influence globally," Tenet said.

Tenet warned that a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan looms as a

"I must report that relations between India and Pakistan remain volatile,
making the risk of war between the two nuclear-armed adversaries
unacceptably high," Tenet said. "If any issue has the potential to bring
both sides to full-scale war, it is (the disputed territory in) Kashmir," he

India's conventional forces vastly outnumber Pakistan's making it possible
Pakistan would rely on its nuclear weapons to even the score in a battle.

"Pakistan relies heavily on its nuclear weapons for deterrence. Their
deep-seated rivalry, frequent artillery exchanges in Kashmir, and short
flight times for nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and aircraft all
contribute to an unstable nuclear deterrence," Tenet said.

Nevertheless, Pakistan is pursuing more advanced conventional technologies,
and will likely seek Chinese assistance to build its two-stage Shaheen-2
medium-range ballistic missile.

Beijing pledged not to provide assistance to "unsafeguarded" nuclear
facilities in Pakistan in 1996, but Tenet does not know for sure whether
that promise is being kept.

"There are contacts in some areas that are still are worrisome that we watch
very, very carefully. So I'm not giving anybody a clean bill of health," he

China's drive to be the top regional power in East Asia is one of the United
States chief diplomatic and political challenges, Tenet said.

"It is pursuing these goals through an ambitious economic reform agenda,
military modernization, and a complex web of initiatives aimed at expanding
China's international influence, especially relative to the United States,"
Tenet said.

While solid relations with Washington are important to Beijing, it is a
double-edged sword for them, according to Tenet.

China's development remains heavily reliant on access to Western markets and
technology, but they also view Washington as their primary obstacle because
they perceive the U.S. is bent on keeping China from becoming a great
power," he said.

Russia is also bent on claiming some of the status and power it lost after
the break up of the Soviet Union, Tenet said.

"There can be little doubt that President (Vladimir) Putin wants to restore
some aspects of the Soviet past status as a great power, strong central
authority and a stable and predictable society, sometimes at the expense of
neighboring states or the civil rights of individual Russians," said Tenet.

North Korea continues to view it ballistic missile technology as a way to
drum up cash.

"Pyongyang attaches a high priority to the development and sale of ballistic
missile equipment and related technology because these sales are a major
source of hard currency," Tenet said.

Tracking and controlling the exchange of such dangerous technologies is
increasingly difficult because of better "denial and deception" capabilities
on the parts of arms holders, and the growing availability of "dual-use
technologies" that have non-military applications but also can contribute to
weapons programs.

Despite North Korea's diplomatic efforts to reach out to the West during the
last year, Pyongyang remains a major military threat to the Untied States
and South Korea.

"We do not know how far Kim will go in opening the North, but I can report
to you that we have not yet see a significant diminution of the threat from
the North to American and South Korean interests. Pyongyang still believes
that a strong military, capable of projecting power in the region, is an
essential element of national power," Tenet said.

He also warned that if Kim's power slips, he is capable of swiftly reversing
his course.

"The risk for Kim is that he overestimates his control of the security
services and loses elite support, or if societal stresses reach a critical
point, his regime and personal grip on power could be weakened. As with
other authoritarian regimes, sudden radical change remains a possibility in

Iraq also continues to pose serious problems from the Untied States,
especially as Saddam Hussein whittles away at the 10-year sanction regime
imposed after the Gulf War to keep him from having the capital or technology
to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Since August, Baghdad
has received more than 40 flights from abroad in violation of the U.N.
embargo, Tenet said, and several countries -- notably Syria -- are restoring
diplomatic relations with Iraq.

The continued drug trade and insurgent war in Colombia also threaten
American interests. The United States has pledged $1.3 billion in aid to
Colombia to combat narcotics traffickers and is providing limited military
support to the operation. The main insurgent group there has said American
soldiers in the combat zones would be targeted.

Continued economic and political instability in the Middle East -- the
latter largely inspired from the Palestinian and Israeli conflict --
combined with an exploding youth population that may be unable to find work,
could fracture that region further and lead to uprisings and possibly armed

Tenet did not comment on how the election of Ariel Sharon as Israeli prime
minister would affect security of the region.

by Zvi Bar'el
Ha'aretz, 7th February

Ibrahim Ke'aoud, a political commentator on the staff of the Egyptian weekly
Akhir Sa'ah, attempting to interpret American President George W. Bush's
first steps with an eye to the future, says that the Arab world is getting
an American president after its own heart."His first phone calls were to
President Mubarak and to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. He dismissed "Clinton's
rabbis" (Clinton's Jewish advisors who managed the peace process). He did
not appoint a single Jew to his cabinet. Bush does not need the Jewish
lobby, and this time it will be the Arab lobby that will do most of the work
for Bush," writes Ke'aoud.

Another pundit cites a story quoted at length in the American weekly, New
Republic. It reports on John Sununu, former president George Bush Sr.'s
chief of staff, appearing on behalf of the Bush headquarters before the Arab
American Political Action Committees in Chicago. Sununu, who is of
Palestinian descent, said: "I have to tell you, as one whose family still
has property in Jerusalem that belongs to us [...] I'm worried not only
about the right of return, but I want to return with rights to get my
property back."

This story, in the pundit's view, is a clear indication of the Bush
administration's line. This interpretation is not unusual among Arab
analysts, who take the view that new staff in the White House will opt for
what is euphemistically called a more "even-handed policy" - one that favors
Israel less and Arabs more.

"We deserve finally to have an American administration that will see the
facts as they are and not as they have always been presented to it by the
Jewish lobby in Washington," an Egyptian commentator told Ha'aretz. But he
does not see the signs his colleagues have seen and has difficulty finding
evidence that Bush Jr. will not dash their hopes.

"Bush's commitment to carry out an evenhanded policy toward Israel is not
all it is made out to be. There are a number of matters on the Arab agenda
and we cannot yet determine whether the new administration will lean toward
the Arab side where they are concerned. How will Bush behave in the Iraq
question, for example? Will he remove the sanctions imposed by his father?
Will he continue Clinton's shoulder-shrugging policy or will he try to leave
his own mark? And what will that mark be?"

Bush's recent decision to provide the Iraqi opposition with additional aid,
plus talk heard in Washington about a policy of attempting to unseat Saddam
Hussein, have raised many eyebrows in Arab states. After all, the process of
diluting the sanctions has almost passed the point of no-return.

There is not a single Arab country - except for Kuwait - that does not
maintain some form of relations with Iraq. Just last week, Bush sent a
letter to Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit warning him of a number of
stumbling blocks in bilateral relations, especially Turkey's decision to
appoint an ambassador to Baghdad. But does such a letter imply that the
United States wants to takes steps against its own ally, a member of NATO
and the home of its most important attack bases against Iraq?

And what about Syria, which renewed its old oil pipeline from Iraq to
Tripoli and now wants to build a new pipeline between Syria and Iraq? Does
an American administration that seeks to advance the peace process between
Israel and Syria think it can, right at the outset, wrangle with Bashar

The Bush administration is likely to be influenced by individuals who
believe the time has come to soften the U.S. position toward Iran. The most
prominent spokesman for this policy is Richard Cheney, the vice president.
But he is not the only one.

If Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor to Bush's father, has an open
ear in the administration - he already has the attention of Condoleezza
Rice, Snowcroft's "disciple" - and if James Baker, the former Secretary of
State, is heard, the approach toward Iran may be considerably toned down,
especially if President Khatami is reelected in June.

The new administration did not lose its temper, for example, when Saudi
Arabia announced with great fanfare last week that it had signed a security
alliance with Iran. It is not a military defense alliance, only a police
cooperation treaty. However, here is the re-entry of Iran into the Arab
circle - through the most important Gulf state, Saudi Arabia, along with the
possibility of new diplomatic ties between Iran and Egypt, the warm embrace
Iran is enjoying in Jordan and in its old alliance with Syria. All this will
enable Iran easily to withstand American sanctions, especially since its
ties with Europe, and more recently with Britain, resemble the relationship
between affectionate allies.

"The tendency to examine Bush's every comment during his election campaign
under a microscope, including signs that point to a specific policy, is a
mistake," says the Egyptian commentator. "When running for office, people
say a lot of things they don't necessarily mean. Despite this, it is hard to
undermine the firmly fixed Arab view that an administration made up of oil
people will be closer to Arab interests.

"That it why it is hard to fault those who consider Bush's comment, 'We must
maintain strong ties with the countries of the Middle East because of the
current energy crisis,' a pro Arab one. What disturbs me is the constant
search for a soft shoulder for the Arabs."

"The Arab countries seem to me to be way beyond that stage, but they have
not yet internalized their new reality. Today, an American administration
needs a soft Arab shoulder, not the other way around."

By this view, the Arab countries are more prepared than ever for an American
administration. They are not waiting for a nod of approval from the American
president to wear away the sanctions on Iran or Iraq.

They pressed for the agreement between Britain, the United States and Libya
concerning the extradition of the suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case.
They decided when Iran would become an Arab ally. The largest arms buyer's
market is in the Middle East, and the control of oil prices is still in
Riyadh, Bahrain and even in Iraq.

"These elements of Arab power will always exist, but now they have been
joined by the decision to use them, and that makes all the difference
between the early nineties and the beginning of the new millennium," says a
researcher at the Al Aharam Strategic Studies Institute.

"The final word still has not been said on this, because the ability and
willingness to use this ability still do not guarantee the results. I cannot
say today that Arab countries are currently able to dictate American policy
toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, for example. This would be the ultimate
test of Arab influence, because that is where the field of competition with
the Jewish-Israeli influence is. The Arab leadership does feel freer to take
an independent Arab stand without constantly checking on the American
position. It may also feel the new administration will give it a green light
anyway because it needs the Arabs more that the Arab leadership needs it.
But Arab leaders are not yet at the point where they can compete with Israel
over the American agenda."

Transferring the American embassy to Jerusalem may not be top priority for
the moment, and direct American involvement in the peace process may be on a
back burner too. Colin Powell's body language projected almost-loathing
every time he was asked to comment on the topic, and he did not even hint at
America's intention to become immediately involved in the peace process.

The slogan coined by James Baker - "the United States cannot want peace more
than the parties themselves" - is apparently back in the American lexicon,
but what will happen if the violence goes beyond stone-throwing and mutual
rifle fire?

"American anger at an Israeli prime minister cannot calm the region," says
the Egyptian commentator. "The United States will be forced into the
conflict against its will. An Arab boycott of American products, like we are
currently seeing in Egypt, has not yet taken on threatening proportions. If
the United States is forced to close down embassies because of terror
threats, as it recently did in Rome, or if Arab leaders refuse to receive
American envoys, and the feeling is that the American administration is
about to lose the region, Bush will get on the first plane to here."

"That is when the extent of the Arab countries' ability to influence the
American administration will be put to the test. I underscore influence, not
pressure or threats, because I believe that the Arab world in general wants
to be part of the global policies of the United States and it seeks good
relations with the only superpower in the world. What is difficult to
estimate is the exact place of that balance point within the Arab world,
which distinguishes between diplomatic behavior and tribal laws. These are
the laws that often make the Arab world behave as if it really were one
bloc, without looking to see where the real interests of each country lie.

Times of India, 8th February

WASHINGTON: The US and Britain presented a unified front on Libya and Iraq
Wednesday as their foreign ministers demanded that Tripoli and Baghdad
comply with UN resolutions if they want sanctions lifted. US Secretary of
State Colin Powell and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Tripoli
must accept responsibility for the 1998 Lockerbie bombing and pay
compensation to the victims, after the conviction last week of one of its
intelligence officers for the attack on Panam 103 that killed 270 people.

They said officials from London and Washington would meet in coming weeks to
discuss re energizing and improving the existing sanctions imposed on Iraq,
aimed at forcing a halt to Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction program.
Powell said the verdict in the Lockerbie case was "a major blow" in the
fight against terrorism but added the conviction was not the end of the

``Libya must fulfill the requirements of the (UN) Security Council in full,"
he said. "Its leadership must accept responsibility for the act of one of
its senior intelligence officers, and Libya must pay compensation to the
relatives." Powell and Cook told reporters at a joint news conference the UN
sanctions would remain in place until Libya fulfilled its obligations, and
Cook moved to quash speculation the two countries were at odds on the


BAGHDAD (Reuters, 6th February) - Iraq will submit documentary proof to U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan later this month that it has no more weapons of
mass destruction, a senior government official was quoted Tuesday as saying.

However, it will not allow the return of international weapons inspectors,
foreign ministry undersecretary Nabil Najem told the weekly newspaper

But it will accept monitoring of its weapons if U.N. sanctions are lifted
and similar monitoring is imposed on all other countries in the Middle East,
including Israel, he said.

He did not indicate how such monitoring might be carried out.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf is due to lead a delegation in
talks with Annan this month at United Nations headquarters in New York. The
talks are aimed at breaking the impasse over international inspections of
Iraqi weapons.

``We are confident that we have implemented all our commitments toward the
Security Council's resolutions and we will submit documents and proofs to
prove that,'' Najem told al-Rafidain.

``We have prepared documents and proofs including reports conducted by the
previous U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) and they will be in favor of

``We will not accept the return of the inspectors,'' he added.

The New York talks are intended as a follow-up to a meeting between Annan
and Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council,
during an Islamic summit in Qatar last November.

Najem said Iraq would only accept monitoring of its weapons after trade
sanctions imposed by the United Nations were lifted and if the United
Nations monitored all countries in the region, including Israel.

U.N. weapons inspectors have not been allowed into Iraq since they left in
December 1998 on the eve of U.S.-British bombing strikes.


CNN, February 9, 2001

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- A child was killed and six people were injured
when two bombs dropped during the 1991 Gulf War exploded in southern Iraq,
an Iraqi newspaper reported on Friday.

The newspaper al-Iraq, quoting civil defense officials, said 10-year-old Ali
Awad was killed when one of the bombs exploded in al-Arouba in Kerbala

The second bomb exploded in the Kut Akwam area, of Shatt- el-Arab district
in Basra province, injuring six people who were taken to hospital for

It did not say when the bombs exploded.

Five children were reported as having been killed in January by Gulf War
bombs in the southern provinces of Dhi qar and Basra.

U.S. and British planes patrol two no-fly zones over the north and south of
the country. They frequently bomb air defense units which challenge the

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