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News, 11­17/2/01 (1)

News, 11­17/2/01 (1)

I¹m sorry this mailing is late and a bit scrappy, produced under difficult
circumstances. I¹m sure the raids on Friday must have poroduced more
intresting comment than I was able to pick up. I have put the material on
the raids in a separate mailing.

1. Sanctions
*  Rethink Iraq Sanctions (San Francisco Chronicle)
*  Powell: U.S Won't Toughen Sanctions
2. The Iraqi National Congress
*  Bush's Foreign Policy Team Is Split on How to Handle Hussein
*  More talks needed before US pays Iraqi opposition
*  Iraqi rebels to get special weapons [but no-one seems to see the comical
side of giving weapons training to a body that purports to represent among
others the two main Kurdish paramilitary­political formations in Iraq]
3. General US policy
*  Powell asks ME nations to 'keep tabs' on Baghdad
*  Powell Outlines New Policy in U.N. Visit

*  Romania Sends 3 Lawyers to Iraq
*  Nastase [Romania] is Trying to Diminish the "Iraq Scandal"
*  Sick children leave Iraq for treatment in Cairo
*  Iraq conference discusses depleted uranium
*  Iraq flights to Syria require UN clearance, says US
*  Iraq doesn't need Syria oil line under UN programme, says envoy
*  Chief of the Iraqi intelligence visited Damascus, the two Baath party
wings froze differences
*  Saddam entertains 'ethnic cleanser' on secret visit to Baghdad [Vojislav
Seselj of the Serbian Radical Party. A surprising piece of hysteria from
Robert Fisk]
*  Iraq-Arab states trade reaches $6.2b in 2000
*  Iraqi, Jordanian MPs to hold border rally
*  Jordanians back Iraqis, urge end to UN curbs
*  First Iraqis leave Baghdad for Mecca pilgrimage
*  Iraq says UN monitors sought U.S. Gulf War pilot

*  Iraqi Airways retires five helicopters
*  Ingenious thieves ransack ancient Nineveh, other sites in troubled Iraq
[includes this piece of information I didn¹t know: ŒBombs from allied
aircraft left large craters at Ur of the Chaldees in the south, the site
reputed to be the birthplace of Abraham. A ziggurat was blasted with more
than 400 rounds of machine-gun fire.¹]
*  Saddam praises Sabaeans, pledges to build temple
*  Iraq to mark 5,000th anniversary of writing [though the Times of India
thinks the Egyptians were in there first]
*  Civilians and allied troops died [a brief history of collateral damage
during the Gulf War]

*  Chronology of Strikes Against Iraq
*  History of the 'no-fly' zones in Iraq
*  Airstrikes offer first test for 'special relationship' [end of article
which gives a brief chronology of the conflict]

RAIDS (etc ­ sent separately)
*  Iraq says Western planes wound seven in south
*  Iraqis blast "criminal" Bush after 15 injured in air raid
*  US planes strike Iraqi missile site
*  Iraq Says Cluster Bomb Injures Two Children
*  Pentagon: Iraq Air Strike Effective
*  Abrupt end to Britain's quest for conciliation
*  Teenager Dies in Western Strikes-Iraq Papers


*  Allies attacked due to 'Iraqi threat', UK says [extract giving reactions
of the British ³opposition parties²]
*  Iraqi opposition supports no-fly zones
*  Was It Justified?Experts Criticize U.S. Strike on Baghdad
*  Britain Says Iraq Raid 'Humanitarian'
*  Experts unsure if Iraq attack is sole volley
*  Nations Criticize Air Attacks on Iraq
*  Palestinians show support for Hussein [also quite interesting on Israeli
*  Russia condemns U.S.-British air strike on Baghdad [³We are shocked by
the actions taken, relying on military force².  Yes. Well ....]
*  We bombed Iraq! What else is new? [interesting reaction from John Pike,
director of ŒThe main thing that distinguished Friday's
action from the strikes that occurred under the previous administration,
Pike said, is publicity.¹]
*  Australia backs US and UK air strikes on Iraq

*  Rethink Iraq Sanctions
San Francisco Chronicle, February 12, 2001

ECONOMIC SANCTIONS against Iraq have been a political and humanitarian
disaster. They are not furthering our goal of deposing or containing Saddam
Hussein. It's time for a change. Ten years is enough.

The West has "sanctions fatigue," and every Arab nation except Kuwait is
doing business with Iraq. Saddam has convinced Arabs -- especially his own
people -- that the United States is solely responsible for the deaths of
thousands of Iraqi children from disease or malnutrition.

That is a lie. U.N. sanctions -- of which the United States is the main
advocate -- are only partly responsible for the devastation of Iraqi lives
and Iraqi society. Saddam's contribution is major. But we should not argue
percentages with a butcher.

The danger he poses is no joke: Weapons of mass destruction in his hands
would threaten his neighbors and our interests, including, yes, our need for
a stable supply of oil.

Recently, there have been assertions that since U.N. weapons inspectors were
forced out of Iraq two years ago, Saddam has re-established his programs for
chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons. That is not an argument for
keeping economic sanctions; it means they aren't working.

What they do is prevent the recovery of Iraq from two wars and the re-
establishment of decent medical care and clean water. In Iraq, water is
death. The U.N. oil-for-food program provides calories while children die
from disease, and hospitals lack syringes and modern equipment.

This situation is shameful, and Saddam is using it against us. We wanted to
put him in a box; we have put ourselves in a box.

The Bush administration deserves time to come up with another policy and a
good spin for it so we do not appear to be caving in to Saddam. No one has
easy answers. Obviously, sanctions should remain on arms and arms materiel,
but the "dual use" rule should be dropped. It has, for example, prevented
Iraq from importing ambulances because they could be used to transport

We should try to get U.N. arms monitors, not inspectors, into Iraq. We are
financing the Iraqi opposition in the hopes of deposing Saddam. That could
work; he could also die in an earthquake. A better guess is that if Saddam
is done in, it will be by someone near and dear to him. Informants on the
ground or satellites in the sky can alert us if Iraq develops a weapon that
endangers us. Then, we have the ultimate answer: We can destroy it.

Meanwhile, this country is gaining nothing from the suffering of the Iraqi

*  Powell: U.S Won't Toughen Sanctions
Associated Press, Wed 14 Feb 2001

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ‹ In a more conciliatory tone toward Iraq, Secretary of
State Colin Powell said Wednesday the United States will not seek tougher
U.N. sanctions but insisted that Baghdad eliminate its weapons of mass

Powell, who met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for more than an
hour, said the United States wants Iraq to allow U.N. inspectors to return
to verify the destruction of its banned weapons ‹ as demanded by U.N.
resolutions ‹ and then ``move on beyond this.''

Powell's visit comes just ahead of Feb. 26-27 talks between Annan and Iraqi
Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf on ending the stalemate over U.N.
sanctions and weapons inspections.

``I hope that the Iraqi representative comes with new information that will
show their willingness and desire to comply with the U.N. resolutions and
become a progressive member of the world community again,'' he said.

The Bush administration has criticized the Clinton administration for being
too soft on Iraq and not doing enough to bring about the ouster of Saddam
Hussein. Bush and his top officials have have signaled a tougher line toward
Baghdad and talked about reenergizing sanctions.

But the tougher line was not evident in Powell's comments Wednesday.

``We obviously are bound by U.N. resolutions and we're not trying to modify
those,'' Powell said. ``What they have to do is get rid of the weapons of
mass destruction that we know they have been developing and have had over
the years.''

``The initiative should be in Baghdad for them to do what is required and
what is right,'' Powell said.

Iraq wants to end the sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait,
and it has strong backing from Arab nations, France, Russia and China. But
it has refused to allow the return of U.N. inspectors, who pulled out ahead
of U.S. and British airstrikes in December 1998.

After meeting Annan, Powell went to the U.S. Mission across the street from
U.N. headquarters to meet ambassadors from the four other major powers on
the Security Council ‹ Russia, China, Britain and France.

``We're all clear that we have the same objective on Iraq which is to see
the resolutions implemented,'' Britain's U.N. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock
said after the meeting, ``but we have different views on how to get there.''

Powell stressed that the Bush administration is now reviewing its Mideast
and Iraq policies. The secretary of state is expected to make his first
major trip to the Middle East later this month for a first-hand assessment.

Greenstock said once the policy is determined, the council would like quick
action on Iraq.

Elsewhere in the Mideast, Powell called the latest clashes between Israel
and the Palestinians ``very, very troubling'' and urged everybody ``to
control their passions and not keep moving in the direction that gets us on
an escalating scale of violence that does nothing but see people's lives

He also called for all countries in the region and international donors to
provide economic assistance to the Palestinians.

Annan said he believes the U.N.-U.S. relationship ``is on a very good
footing.'' U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said there are negotiations with the
White House for Annan to meet Bush later this month.

*  Bush's Foreign Policy Team Is Split on How to Handle Hussein
by ROBIN WRIGHT, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON--The Bush presidency's foreign policy priorities are still under
review, but already the new administration is experiencing its first
internal fractures over how to salvage U.S. policy toward Iraq.

Two distinct factions are emerging as President Bush's foreign policy team
debates the best way to follow through on the administration's pledge to
increase pressure on Baghdad, U.S. officials acknowledge.

The biggest difference between the two camps involves the depth of U.S.
support for controversial opposition forces that are attempting to mobilize
Iraqi exiles to oust the regime of President Saddam Hussein.

One faction, including representatives of Vice President Dick Cheney's
office, the Pentagon and Congress, advocates an aggressive strategy designed
to empower the Iraqi National Congress, or INC--the main opposition
group--to launch military operations against Hussein. The goal would be to
erode the Iraqi leader's power until he is forced, one way or another, from

INC leaders, who arrived in Washington last week for talks with the new
administration and members of Congress, are already boasting of a larger
U.S. role in their activities.

"We are very confident that the Bush administration is going to help us,"
Ahmad Chalabi, one of the group's six leaders, said in an interview. "We
want to work so we can initiate actions against Saddam on the ground. We're
talking about getting more military training and going back into the
country, and they've agreed to that."

The other administration faction, centered within the State Department,
favors a policy of "streamlined" sanctions against Iraq and more modest
support for the opposition, limited largely to intelligence, propaganda and
aid for displaced Iraqis.

The approach this side would prefer, its advocates say, stands a better
chance of enticing European and Arab allies back into a common policy fold.

Both groups share a goal of forcing Hussein to honor the terms of the 1991
Persian Gulf War cease-fire, especially his pledge to surrender all weapons
of mass destruction and stop threatening both his own people and neighboring

But under Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who was chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff during Operation Desert Storm, the State Department is wary
of the INC and of the potential dangers of even low-level military support
that could become open-ended and increasingly costly, U.S. officials say.

Over the weekend, Powell endorsed U.S. support for an INC mission that would
be limited to "public diplomacy" and humanitarian work.

"They can be effective in some of the public diplomacy actions they have
undertaken, in broadcasting or getting information to the Iraqi people about
the nature of their regime and what their leadership is costing them. I
think in terms of providing humanitarian relief," Powell said Sunday on
CBS-TV's "Face the Nation."

Powell said the administration would look at what else the Iraqi opposition
might do "that makes sense and supports our policies."

His Gulf War strategy gave rise to what has become known as the Powell
Doctrine, a military approach that calls for well-defined goals, a clear
exit strategy and deployment of enough forces to complete a mission as
quickly as possible. His strategy is intended in part to avoid the kind of
problems America experienced in Vietnam.

Key allies in the 38-nation coalition that went to war against Hussein,
including several neighboring governments, also don't support INC military
actions. Most have indicated that they would not provide the front-line
access needed to stage covert operations, U.S. and Arab officials say.

Many of these governments now advocate a policy of engagement with Iraq as
the best way to promote change.

Powell's team is confident that it can eventually win allied support for a
streamlined sanctions policy toward Baghdad. That would lift the most
punishing aspects of existing economic sanctions but leave in place an arms
embargo and U.N. control over Iraq's oil revenue to ensure that the Hussein
regime does not use its income to develop more weapons of mass destruction.

Powell has already discussed the policy shift with several European and
Mideast governments, and U.S. officials say he will hold further talks next
week during his first foreign trip as secretary of State--to the Mideast to
mark the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War's end.

But even if the Bush administration could win foreign support for a more
aggressive plan involving opposition forces, the State Department is
skeptical about the exiles' ability to stay united or have much impact,
officials say.

The INC's internal divisions were responsible for fighting that broke out in
1996 among its rival Kurdish wings, opening the door for Hussein to send
troops to the northern Iraqi portion of the region known as Kurdistan. Both
the INC and the CIA station operating in the region were forced to flee to

The INC has developed a series of military options for U.S. consideration.
They include launching operations from Kurdistan, from a newly created
enclave in southern Iraq near the Kuwaiti border, and even from Iran,
according to sources within the group. But each would require changing the
rules of engagement--and U.S. air support--if Hussein dispatched troops to
squelch the resistance.

"We want U.S. backup . . . to act in participation with the U.S. military,"
said Francis Brooke, the U.S. spokesman for the INC. "If Saddam moves his
armor in large numbers, then we would expect the U.S. military to be
prepared to pursue."

Under current rules of engagement, U.S. warplanes bomb areas only when the
planes are targeted by Iraq during flights over the two "no-fly" zones
established after the Gulf War in northern and southern Iraq.

The INC wants the Bush administration to declare "squares in the sand," or
zones from which Iraq's military could not move without becoming targets for
American planes.

That strategy is designed mainly to undermine morale within the Iraqi army
and the elite Republican Guard, not to win big battles against Baghdad's
estimated 350,000-strong military machine. The INC would, however, need
significant training from the United States to pull it off, Chalabi said.

"We want training to create an effective force so that we can act as a
catalyst to attract members of the Iraqi army to our side," Chalabi said.

The group is counting on past supporters who are joining the Bush
administration, such as Deputy Secretary of Defense-designate Paul
Wolfowitz, to push for a stronger U.S. role. It has also presented its
proposals to the Pentagon.

"We think we're in a strong position. In general, the Department of Defense
is organizing along our lines," said Brooke, the group's spokesman.

The State Department appears considerably less receptive. Group leaders met
Tuesday with Assistant Secretary of State Edward Walker. The discussion
centered on $29 million in U.S. funds earmarked to help opposition forces
air anti-Hussein broadcasts, investigate war crimes, ferret out intelligence
and distribute humanitarian aid supplies.

The funds, which were authorized during the Clinton administration, have
been on hold while the INC prepared specific proposals for their use. A
group spokesman said Tuesday that the money still has not been released.

A State Department official denied that the disagreement over Iraq policy
constitutes a major policy rupture, and said he had not heard of any
disagreements among the key U.S. foreign policy players.

But according to a well-placed U.S. official who requested anonymity, Powell
is clearly apprehensive about providing extensive U.S. support to the INC.

"Powell knows that this is a feckless group of people whose dreams far
exceed their capabilities," the official said. "And he's not at all
enthusiastic about relying on them."

*  More talks needed before US pays Iraqi opposition
Reuters, 14th February

raqi opposition leaders came to the State Department yesterday but failed to
obtain final clearance for their plans to spend some $29 million of U.S. aid
money on operations within Iraq. Sharif Ali Bin AlHussein, spokesman for the
opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC), said the INC was encouraged by the
attitude of the Bush administration, members of which have spoken favourably
of increasing support for the opposition.

Sharif Ali and two other members of the INC's six-man leadership spent about
90 minutes with Assistant Secretary of State Edward Walker, who is in charge
of the Middle East. "The assistant secretary requested that the Iraqi
National Congress have further discussions with the U.S. administration,
which we naturally agree with," he told reporters. "They are carrying out a
very important review obviously of the situation regarding Iraq and we want
to broaden and expand the discussions further."

He said talks over the next few days could yet lead to the release of the
money, which the INC wants to spend on broadcasting, investigating war
crimes, gathering information and clandestinely distributing food and
medicine. The INC leaders came to Washington about 10 days ago with high
hopes that the United States under President George W. Bush would be more
sympathetic to their cause than under former President Bill Clinton.

The Clinton administration gave the INC small amounts of money but resisted
pressure from members of Congress to make them a centerpiece of its policy
towards Iraq. But the Bush administration has not yet named people to many
of the key jobs in the State Department and other agencies related to
national security.

*  Iraqi rebels to get special weapons
United Press International, 12 February 2001
[thanks to Glen Rangwala for telling me about this one ­ PB]

In the next month, a handful of Iraqi rebels are scheduled to go to College
Station, Texas, for their first round of weapons training from federal
lawmen and members of the military's Special Forces under a U.S. plan to
support insurgency activities inside Iraq. 

The Iraqi National Congress, the coalition of Iraqi dissidents and rebels
supported by the United States officially since 1998, are in the final
stages of completing a $98,000 contract with the Guidry Group, a consulting
firm comprised of ex-secret service agents. Under that contract, INC
security officers will learn the fine art of diplomatic security. 

What distinguishes this training from previous courses for the INC, is that
the rebels attending the five-day seminar will also learn how to use
pistols, Kalishnikov rifles, 12-gauge shotguns and a variety of other
fire-arms. Previous U.S.-backed training for the INC has been limited to
"non-lethal" activities, such as emergency medical care, public relations
and war crimes investigations, according to an INC adviser. 

While the State Department still considers this assistance to be of the
non-lethal variety, the INC clearly does not. "This is important because
this is the first time we are receiving lethal training with the United
States government funding," said Francis Brooke, the Washington adviser for
the INC. 

Retired Gen. Wayne Downing, the commander of the joint special operations
task force during the Gulf War, concurred. He told United Press
International, "This is significant because this is the first lethal
training. It is designed to protect, so the significance is that this is the
first time they are being trained to do anything on this level." 

But State Department officials disagree. One official said, "This is not
lethal assistance. The skills involved are purely protective and defensive
in nature of the type necessary for the Iraqi National Congress to protect
any non lethal presence or activities inside Iraq." 

The debate over lethal assistance marked the INC's fiercest battle with the
Clinton Administration. The lethal aid promised in the 1998 legislation that
authorizes $98 million for the group was never delivered largely under the
premise that the INC was not ready to challenge Hussein militarily. 

But this thinking may change under the Bush administration. While Secretary
of State Colin Powell has carefully avoided making any comments on the
military aspect of the Iraq Liberation Act, his counterpart at the Pentagon,
Donald Rumsfeld is a long time supporter of a plan to oust Hussein through
U.S. backed rebels. 

Both Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz signed a letter to President
Clinton in 1998 that spurred the creation of the Iraq Liberation Act. 

The Feb. 18, 1998 letter states, "Iraq today is ripe for a broad-based
insurrection. We must exploit this opportunity." It goes on to outline a
series of steps the government should take to aid the INC, including
positioning "U.S. ground force equipment in the region so that, as a last
resort, we have the capacity to protect and assist the anti-Saddam forces in
the northern and southern parts of Iraq." 

The $98,000 contract with the Guidry group is tucked into a larger $4
million aid package -- separate from the Iraq Liberation Act funding --
aimed at establishing an alternative Iraqi media through radio transmitters,
satellite television stations and newspapers. The plan, approved initially
in September by the Clinton administration, also sets aside money for INC
members to go inside Iraq to collect information on war crimes, Iraq's
military and political changes. 

One of the INC's principal leaders, Ahmad Chalabi, speaking to reporters and
analysts Friday at the American Enterprise Institute, said he believed his
group could attract a number of defectors from Iraq's military if they
established a presence inside the country. 

"The Iraqi army is unwilling to defend Saddam, but they are too weak to
overthrow him," Chalabi said, estimating that 40 percent of Iraq's elite
Republican guard is absent without leave. 

To be sure, the five-day security seminar is a far cry from the battle field
training and American military support envisioned by Chalabi and his
supporters in Washington. 

Chalabi on Friday said he hoped the Pentagon would change the rules of
engagement for American aircrafts patrolling the no-fly zone in northern and
southern Iraq, to allow fighters to attack Iraqi army battalions when they
were moving against civilian targets. Downing, who has worked as an adviser
on a volunteer basis with the INC for three years, called the security
training in the State Department aid package a "drop in the bucket." "This
is not the training they will need to put together a liberation army. There
you would need individual training, basic training, weapons training,
involving anti tank weapons, machine guns, rockets and that sort of thing,"
he said. 

Downing estimates this sort of training would take six to eight months and
could be provided by either the U.S. military or the CIA. INC officials will
meet with the acting assistant secretary for Near East affairs, Edward
Walker, Tuesday to discuss the remaining details of the $4 million aid

*  Powell asks ME nations to 'keep tabs' on Baghdad
Dawn (Pakistan), 12th February

WASHINGTON, Feb 11: US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday said he
will stress to Middle East leaders during his brief trip to the region later
this month the "absolute necessity" of keeping a close eye on Iraq's Saddam

"On my trip, I am going to be telling everybody in the region (and) I am
also going to be discussing with friends in the Security Council the
absolute necessity in making sure that he is not able to ... pursue weapons
of mass destruction," Powell told CBS television.

During his whirlwind tour of the Middle East, Powell will visit Israel,
Syria, Egypt and Jordan; meet with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip; and stop in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to commemorate the 10th
anniversary of the Gulf War. The trip is aimed at exploring options for an
Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and pushing continued containment of Iraq.

"I think it's my responsibility," Powell said, "to try to rally again to
make sure we keep the finger pointed where it deserves to be pointed - on
the Iraqi regime and not the Iraqi people, and remind everybody in the
region: He isn't threatening America. He is threatening the nations of the
region - every nation around him."

But Powell added that Saddam has lost his Gulf War-era power.

"He's weaker. Much weaker. That million-man army of 10 years ago is gone. He
is sitting on a very much smaller army of perhaps 350,000 that does not have
the capacity to invade its neighbors any longer."

"What he can't do is invade his neighbors anymore, but what he can do is
threaten his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction," Powell said,
"which is why we entered into this agreement at the end of the Gulf War to
contain his ability to move in that direction."

Baghdad has been pushing hard to get the UN embargo imposed on it after its
1990 invasion of Kuwait lifted.

Washington, on the other hand, has said it is looking to maintain the
containment policy on Iraq and will seek Arab support in pressuring Saddam
into allowing UN weapons inspectors back into the country.

Powell stressed that sanctions must remain in place until Saddam allows the
weapons inspectors to return.

"It should not be us begging for him to let the inspectors in," Powell said.
"At the end of the day, he's going to have to let the inspectors in if he
wishes ultimately to recapture freedom of movement totally."

Bush role: US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Sunday President
George W. Bush would become involved in the Middle East peace process once
Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon forms a new government.

Appearing on the CBS "Face the Nation" program, Powell also said he had
added a brief stop in Damascus to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
as he makes the round of Arab capitals and travels to Israel beginning Feb.

"Syria is ... an important player in this whole process and so I thought it
was very, very appropriate for me as part of this quick trip to the Middle
East, my first trip, to also stop in Syria for just a few hours," Powell

With tension high in the region in the wake of hard-liner Ariel Sharon's
election as prime minister in Israel, Powell announced last week he would
visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, Jordan and
Kuwait. It will be Powell's first foreign trip alone.

He will meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as well as Sharon.

The election of Sharon, widely mistrusted by Arabs, raised concerns that
months of Israeli-Palestinian violence will go on. The 72-year-old former
army general beat Prime Minister Ehud Barak in a landslide, mainly on
promises to take a harder line in peace talks with the Palestinians.

The new Bush administration had stepped back back from the active mediation
in the region of former President Bill Clinton, but Powell pledged on Sunday
that the United States would be actively involved once Sharon forms his new
government and peace talks with the Palestinians resume.

"We will be active as well and we will try to see the Middle East peace
process, as its called, put in a broader regional context," Powell

*  Powell Outlines New Policy in U.N. Visit
Los Angeles Times, 15th February
by MAGGIE FARLEY, Times Staff Writer

UNITED NATIONS--Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Wednesday made his
first "foreign" visit since taking office--to the international territory of
the United Nations--to sketch out how the Bush administration plans to work
with the world body.

"It's a time of challenges, a time of opportunity and also a time of risk
and danger, and we know the important role the U.N. will play," he said
after an hourlong meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Powell also met
with ambassadors from Russia, China, France and Britain, the United States'
fellow permanent members on the U.N. Security Council.

Powell's visit came a week after the Senate finally approved payment of most
of the money Washington owes the world body, settling a drawn-out dispute
that had led to charges that the United States was an arrogant deadbeat
nation. The House is expected to endorse the dues-paying plan.

But the slate is far from clean.

Part of Powell's mission Wednesday was to soften signals from the Bush
administration that Washington plans to focus on where its interests are
strongest, not where the world needs it the most. In recent weeks, President
Bush and his foreign policy team have said that the U.S. is looking forward
to reducing its peacekeeping presence in the Balkans, an area perceived by
the White House as a European responsibility, and that Africa is not on the
priority list.

And the fact that Bush has yet to name an ambassador to the U.N.--and will
downgrade the position from a Cabinet-level post--suggests to diplomats here
that the body is not as important to the new administration as it was to its

But Powell, one of the most progressive, yet pragmatic, members of the Bush
team, provides hope for diplomats here. He has emphasized that Africa will
not be left out under his watch and that the U.S. considers AIDS a threat to
the world's economic and social stability and will support Africa in the
fight against the pandemic.

Powell hinted that a U.S. ambassador will be named soon and that he, for
one, will be glad--because so far he's the only new official at the State
Department. The candidate at the top of the list is John D. Negroponte, a
career diplomat who is now an executive director at the McGraw-Hill
publishing firm.

"I'm still a little bit lonely," Powell joked.

The U.S. is finding itself increasingly isolated on some positions,
especially its insistence on continued comprehensive sanctions against Iraq.
But Powell suggested that Washington is preparing to change its approach in
a way that will keep pressure on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to give up
the development of weapons of mass destruction while sparing his people
further privation.

"We are reviewing our policy in the region both with respect to our
responsibility as members of the United Nations as well as our individual
policies with respect to Iraq," he said.

Iraq will break a two-year stalemate and send a delegation to meet with
Annan at the U.N. later this month. At the same time, Powell plans to travel
to the Middle East and Persian Gulf to remind Iraq's neighbors that
Hussein's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction makes him a threat to the
region and his own people.

But as hardships for Iraqis grow under decade-long sanctions, Iraq's
supporters have become bolder in flouting them, whether out of principle or
for profit. Syria has been importing about 100,000 barrels of oil a day from
Iraq outside the U.N. oil-for-food program. Other countries have been
breaking sanctions by paying millions of dollars in illegal surcharges for
oil, smuggling goods across the border and sending uninspected cargo flights
to the country.

"We have sympathy for the people of Iraq. We have sympathy for the children
of Iraq. We see a regime that has more than enough money to deal with the
problems that exist in that society," Powell said, adding, "The burden of
this is on Baghdad."

Powell also shot down hopes that the U.S. would participate in the proposed
International Criminal Court. President Clinton signed the treaty to create
the court during his last hours in office, despite opposition from critics
who fear the court could be used as a political tool against Americans.

"As you know, the United States, the Bush administration, does not support
the International Criminal Court," Powell said. "President Clinton signed
the treaty, but we have no plans to send it forward to our Senate for

When Powell met with Annan on Wednesday, they renewed a friendship that
began more than a decade ago, when Annan helped negotiate the release of
more than 900 U.N. employees held hostage after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Since then, they have stayed in touch and shared an occasional dinner. 

*  Romania Sends 3 Lawyers to Iraq
Las Vegas Sun, February 11

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- An ultranationalist opposition party has sent
three lawmakers to Iraq, seeking to improve economic ties, in a trip that
Romanian officials said Sunday they feared could hurt Romania's efforts to
warm up to the West.

Opposition leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor said he gave three lawmakers from his
Greater Romania Party permission to travel to Iraq to improve economic ties
and seek ways to win payment of some $1.7 billion in debts Iraq owes

Tudor, who lost Romania's presidential race in a December run-off, called
for impoverished Romania to "restart its economic ties with countries like
Iraq, otherwise we will die of hunger." He said the lawmakers will meet with
Deputy Prime Minster Tariq Aziz and other officials.

The trip Saturday was approved by the United Nations, Romania's Foreign
Ministry said, suggesting it was not a violation of U.N. sanctions against

Still, the trip raised concerns that contacts with sanctions-bound Iraq
could hurt Romania's attempts to court Western aid and integrate with the
European mainstream.

Parliamentary officials said the legislature would open an inquiry into the
visit, which they said should have been approved by parliament.

"This type of action can harm Romania's image," parliament spokesman Andrei
Chiliman told the television station Antena 1. "We want to say clearly this
is not a parliamentary initiative."

Tudor's party has gained popularity in recent years and holds a quarter of
the seats in parliament. Its members are nostalgic for former Communist
dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who was deposed and killed in 1989.

Ceausescu cultivated relations with Iraq, Libya, Iran, Sudan and other
countries at odds with the West, and they still owe Romania substantial sums
of money.

Despite U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait,
groups from countries eager to restore trade and recover debts have been
traveling there in recent months.

The United Nations says its committee overseeing sanctions on Iraq --
including a flight ban -- must approve such flights. The Romanians flew to
Baghdad on a flight bringing humanitarian supplies. The official Iraqi News
Agency said Iraqi lawmakers welcomed their counterparts at the airport.

*  Nastase [Romania] is Trying to Diminish the "Iraq Scandal"

BUCHAREST, Monitorul, Feb 14, 2001: Yesterday, the PDSR (Social Democracy
Party) president Adrian Nastase expressed his opinion about the scandal
provoked by the fact that some PDSR and PRM (Great Romania Party)
parliamentarians had traveled to Iraq. Even if he admitted that they had no
mandate from the Parliament, Nastase tried to justify their presence in
Saddam Hussein's country by mentioning the need to recover Iraq's debts to
Romania. The Premier also added that Romania should hurry as far as the
competition with the important states is concerned in order to get a more
influential position in the Persian Gulf.

The PDSR parliamentarians who participated in the activity approved by the
ONU Security Council in Iraq did not have a parliamentary or political
mandate and their travel was motivated by "personal interests", since they
are oil experts. This is what Adrian Nastase declared yesterday. However, if
we analyze the official biographies of the two PDSR parliamentarians, which
can be read on the Internet site of the Chamber of Deputies, we realize that
only one of the PDSR deputies, i.e. Nicolae Sersea - has a certain
specialization in this field.

According to Nastase, this travel was justified by an economic interest; in
his opinion, the Romanian businessmen could go to Iraq if they observed the
ONU provisions and the embargo rules.

He also said that Romania should not "be a country which is always defeated
in the international crusades", adding that our country registered
considerable losses in its commercial relationships with Iraq and that we
should re-launch the economic relations with this state. "We shall be
surprised to see that when the embargo is annulled, the important states
will be already present there", Nastase added.

He mentioned Yugoslavia's example, where Romania lost huge sums of money
because of the embargo and on whose market our country is not present any

As for PDSR's responsibility in this case, Nastase was pretty ambiguous. On
the one hand, he declared that the PDSR parliamentarians involved in this
scandal hadn't needed the approval of the party in order to do that, since
they were not members of a delegation. On the other, Nastase said that PDSR
should have anticipated the negative impact of such a travel to a country
affected by an embargo. He said that for the time being, he didn't intend to
sanction the PDSR members present in Iraq and he added that such operations
should be more "transparent" in the future.

*  Sick children leave Iraq for treatment in Cairo
Baghdad, Reuters, 12th February

Six Iraqi children suffering from chronic diseases untreatable in Iraq
because of a decade of UN sanctions, left Baghdad yesterday for treatment in
Egyptian hospitals, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported.

The children went aboard an Iraqi Airways Russian-built Ilyushin aircraft
accompanied by Syrian-born Egyptian cinema star Reghda.

"The trip is a message to (the) Arab conscious as Iraqi children are
suffering from chronic diseases such as colon cancer, blockage of retina and
cancers of brain," Reghda told reporters at Baghdad's international airport.
"The children need urgent operations to save their lives."

INA did not say whether the plane would fly directly to Cairo or land in
Amman. Commercial flights into and out of Iraq have been curbed since
shortly after the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq for its August
1990 invasion of Kuwait. Baghdad maintains that civilian flights were not
included in the sanctions.

Humanitarian flights resumed earlier last year. Jordan was the first Arab
country to send a humanitarian flight to Baghdad.

Egypt contributed troops to the U.S.-led coalition that drove Iraqi
occupation forces from Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War. But Cairo says it is
time to end the tough trade sanctions imposed on Iraq, within the framework
of UN resolutions.

Relations between the two countries have improved in recent months and trade
has blossomed, but full diplomatic ties have not been restored.

*  Iraq conference discusses depleted uranium
UPI, Tue 13 Feb 2001

Some 1,400 Iraqi, Arab and foreign doctors joined Tuesday in a medical
conference to discuss the impact of depleted uranium that was used by the
allied forces against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. The three-day
conference opened Tuesday in Baghdad to focus on the health and
environmental effects resulting from the usage of some 315 tons of depleted
uranium in 940,000 shells fired at Iraqi targets during the six-week Gulf
War. The conferees were to discuss environmental pollution and cancer cases
in Iraq and their link to the use of depleted uranium by U.S. forces during
the conflict. Specialist doctors were to present studies and research to
prove such a connection. The participants include Yemeni, Jordanian,
Egyptian, Bahraini, Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Sudanese, U.S. and
British doctors. --

*  Iraq flights to Syria require UN clearance, says US
Times of India, 14th February

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Monday it was unsure whether Iraqi
Airways had resumed service to Syria as Baghdad claimed, and insisted that
any such flights would require UN clearance.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Washington could not confirm
if regular flights had started, as Iraqi Transport Minister Ahmad Murtada
claimed Friday.

Boucher was skeptical of the announcement, which was later denied by the
head of Syria's civil aviation department, who said a plane from Iraq had
landed in Damascus but that it was not a regularly scheduled flight.

The Iraqis have "announced things like that several times in the past when
they haven't turned out to be precisely true so let us look at that one a
little more and figure out what's going on," Boucher said.

Boucher did say, though, that any flights into or out of Iraq must be
cleared with the United Nations.

"Flights would have to be notified to the Sanctions Committee," Boucher
said, adding that the publication of a timetable for regular service to and
from Syria would not suffice as notification.

"The UN would expect to be told more than that," he said. "All flights are
supposed to be appropriately notified and inspected."

In Baghdad, Murtada said the flight was the first of Iraqi Airways' new
twice-weekly Baghdad-Damascus-Baghdad route that had resumed after a break
of 19 years.

Baghdad airport officials said Iraqi Commerce Minister Mohammad Mehdi Saleh
was on board the Boeing 747, along with six Arab passengers.

But Hussein Mahfuz, the Syrian civil aviation chief, said the flight was not
part of the carrier's regular service and that the company that owned the
plane was not registered in Iraq or Syria but rather in Kenya.

"It's certainly not a regular flight," Mahfuz said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell is to travel to Syria later this month as
part of a whirlwind Middle East tour and will spend several hours in
Damascus meeting with Syrian officials including President Bashar al-Assad.

Boucher could not say whether Powell would specifically discuss the alleged
resumption of flights with Assad but stressed that the issue of Iraq as well
as other regional questions would be the primary focus of the visit.

Powell has indicated a desire to regionalize all Middle East issues, from
peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbours to the containment of

"He wants to take a regional approach to many of the issues in the region,
and he felt it was useful to go to Damascus at this time to talk about all
the issues of the region, including the peace process and Iraq," Boucher
said. (AFP)

*  Iraq doesn't need Syria oil line under UN programme, says envoy
Reuters, 14th February

Iraq has no current plans to ask that its crude oil pipeline to Syria be
included as an export route in the UN-administered oil-for-food programme,
Iraqi UN representative Mohammed Aldouri said yesterday. "We don't need it
now. If there is a need someday we will use it," said Aldouri, who added
that Iraq can export all of the oil it is capable of extracting through the
two ports already approved in the oil programme by the United Nations.

Oil industry sources and analysts say Iraq and Syria are violating UN
sanctions by exporting between 100,000 and 150,000 barrels per day of crude
on the pipeline to Syria. Aldouri, the new UN ambassador for Iraq, yesterday
reiterated statements issued previously from Iraqi officials in Baghdad that
Iraq is not exporting crude to Syria on the pipeline. The UN Security
Council has unanimously agreed the Syrian pipeline can be included in the
oil-for-food programme - which currently allow exports through Mina Al Bakr,
Iraq and Ceyhan, Turkey - if Syria and Iraq request it.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will visit Syria next week and plans to
ask officials in Damascus about the claims of oil shipments on the pipeline.
Iraqi officials have said crude was shipped on the pipeline, but only to
test it and that no active programme of exports is being shipped. The
pipeline was closed in 1982 after Syria sided with Iran in the Iran-Iraq
War. Aldouri last week became Iraq's UN representative, taking the place of
Saeed Hasan, who left in late December.

Iraq's oil exports have fallen to about 1.2 million bpd in a four-week
period ending February 9 from around 2.2 million barrels per day in
November, UN figures show. Oil industry sources say the slowdown in oil
exports has been caused by political considerations stemming from Iraq's
demand of kickbacks from oil buyers in the form of surcharges paid outside
of the humanitarian oil-for-food programme.

Aldouri said yesterday there is no such surcharge, which also echoed
previous statements from Baghdad. He said there are technical reasons for
the slowdown in oil exports. "There is no reason why we wouldn't export oil
for the time being," Aldouri said. "There are certainly technical reasons on
the pipelines. Sometimes we have trouble with them."

*  Chief of the Iraqi intelligence visited Damascus, the two Baath party
wings froze differences
Arabic News, 16th February

Sources at the Iraqi opposition in Syria unveiled that the chairman of the
Iraqi intelligence Lt. Gen. Taher Jalil al-Haboush has recently visited
Damascus and that Damascus and Baghdad had agreed to put " the doctrine
differences" between " the two wings of the Baath party" aside and to
co-operate for attaining regional balance.

At the meantime, the London- based al-Hayat daily said in Its Thursday's
issue quoting diplomatic sources that the US Secretary of State Colen Powel
will discuss with President Bashar al-Assad on February 26 the question of
the Syrian- Iraqi relations, especially operating the Karkouk ( Iraq)-
Banias ( Syrian) oil pipeline.

The "other's direction" ( al-Itijah al-Akhar) paper said that al-Haboush
discussed during his recent visit to damascus with Syrian security and
military men giving Iraqi support in case Syria will be exposed to an
Israeli attack." The paper added that the Iraqi leadership formed the "
Jerusalem army to liberate Palestine from the sea to the land and this was
to back Syria militarily and immediately in case Syria is exposed to an
Israeli aggression. Iraq is also intending to form several fighting groups
in the name of 'al-Quds army' to back Syria and to contributing to receiving
the first blow of war."

Earlier an Israeli paper said that Iraq had sent two military contingents to
the border with Syria to support it.

The al-Hayat daily said that it could not receive an official comment on the
information published by " al-Itijah al-Al- Akhar" which is published from
Holland by the Hizb al-Watan al-Iraqi ( the Iraqi homeland party) Mashaan
al-Jabouri who lives in Damascus.

Al-Jabouri told al-Hayat that information published in the first issue of
the paper is true, including the decision of the Syrian and the Iraqi
leadership to put their "doctrine differences apart and to maintain
practical and realistic cooperation among them."

A report published in the front page of the paper said that the Iraqi vice
President Taha Yassin Ramadan decided after his visit to Damascus by the end
of February to sign the free trade agreement with Syria and to " halt any
activity against Syria," in his being the Iraqi official in charge of this
file in the leadership of the " Iraqi Baath party."

Al-Itijah al-Akhar indicated Syrian efforts to mediate between Baghdad and
Tehran so as to have " Iraq a security passage between the two strategic
allies against the possible risks resulting from electing Ariel Sharon as a
prime minister in israel.

President Bashar al-Assad had visited Tehran in January and the Syrian prime
minister Muhammad Mustafa Miro is expected to visit Baghdad to sign a" pan
strategic agreement."

Worthy mentioning the Syrian foreign ministry decided to send ambassador
Hassan Tawab to open the mission for serving interests on February 20.

*  Saddam entertains 'ethnic cleanser' on secret visit to Baghdad
by Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent
Independent, 15 February 2001

Under a veil of secrecy, one of Serbia's most notorious "ethnic cleansers"
and an ally of ex-president Slobodan Milosevic is visiting Baghdad as a
guest of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Baath party. The purpose of Vojislav
Seselj's journey across the desert to the Iraqi capital remains a mystery
although he was escorted part of the way by senior Iraqi government
officials and is believed to have been housed in one of President Saddam's
villas, with the former Serbian minister of information Aleksander Vucic.

During the 1999 Kosovo war, Mr Milosevic and President Saddam exchanged
telegrams of mutual support ­ Iraq was being bombed by American and British
jets as Nato bombarded Serbia ­ and the two men maintained close links in
the preceding years. Persistent rumours in Belgrade say President Saddam
helped to fund Mr Milosevic's regime with millions of dollars in sympathy
with the Serbian leader's anti-American stand ­ and there is bound to be
speculation that the President is planning to send further funds to his
beleaguered friend in Belgrade. Few of Mr Milosevic's allies exercised
fiercer rhetoric against Washington than the corpulent leader of the Serbian
Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj.

Iraq has kept the visit secret and no word of Mr Seselj's astonishing
journey has leaked to the Serbian press.

Intriguingly, he travelled to Baghdad via Syria, arriving at Damascus on a
scheduled flight of the Yugoslav national airline JAT a week ago. He and Mr
Vucic and at least three Serbian bodyguards were met at Damascus by
four-wheel-drive vehicles ­ one of them Iraqi ­ for the 12-hour overland
journey to Baghdad. At the Syrian-Iraqi border post at Wadi ash Shalan, a
convoy of Iraqi government cars was waiting for the two men, both of whom
were believed to be travelling on diplomatic passports.

Mr Seselj's Serbian "Cetnik" militia were among the cruellest fighters to
assault Bosnia's Muslim civilians in the Drina valley in 1992. Mr Seselj
himself proposed the division of Bosnia between Serbia and Croatia,
dismissing the first reports of Serb concentration camps as "images
fabricated by America, great protectors of the Muslims". He once advocated
the napalming of Zagreb, a notion that might appeal to the man who dropped
poison gas on the village of Halabja in northern Kurdish Iraq.

President Saddam has reason to be grateful to Yugoslavia. Many of his top
pilots were trained by the Yugoslav air force ­ especially by Serb crews ­
at the air base in the Bosnian city of Mostar. Serb technicians built a
number of hardened underground communication bunkers across Iraq ­ several
in co-operation with British companies ­ and Yugoslavia constructed one of
the biggest underground air bases for President Saddam, equal in size to the
military airport at Pristina where Mr Milosevic hid his MiGs in underground
hangars throughout the 1999 Kosovo war.

Aleksander Vucic was one of Mr Milosevic's most loyal supporters in the
conflict, having narrowly avoided death when he cancelled an interview with
CNN in the Serbian state television studios that would have virtually
coincided with the US Cruise missile attack that destroyed the building.
*  Iraq-Arab states trade reaches $6.2b in 2000
Daily Star (Bangladesh), 15th February

AFP, CairoTrade between Iraq and Arab countries reached 6.2 billion dollars
in 2000, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohamed Mahdi Saleh said Tuesday. Saleh, who
arrived Tuesday in Cairo for a five-day visit, added that Arab countries
accounted for 47per cent of Iraq's total trade.

He also announced trade between Iraq and Egypt was expected to exceed 2
billion dollars in 2001, thanks to the creation of a free trade zone between
the two countries following an agreement signed in January.

Egyptian exports to Iraq totalled 1.2 billion dollars in 2000, up from 400
million in 1999, while trade reached 300 million dollars in the reverse
direction, Saleh said.

Egypt has become one of Iraq's major economic partners since 1996, when the
United Nations started letting Iraq sell limited amounts of oil for food,
medicine and other necessities. Saddam Hussein's country has become Egypt's
second export market after the United States.

Cairo has regularly called for an end to economic sanctions on Iraq, which
were imposed following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

During his visit in Cairo, Saleh and Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Ebeid will
discuss the details of the application of their free trade agreement.

The officials are also expected to decide on a date for the visit of an
Egyptian trade delegation to Baghdad, headed by Egyptian Economy Minister
Yusef Butros Ghali, which was scheduled to leave Friday but was delayed.

Saleh also said he would take part in the Arab League Economic and Social
Council meeting which was to kick off Wednesday, where he said he would call
on all Arab countries to sign free trade agreements with Iraq.

*  Iraqi, Jordanian MPs to hold border rally
Times of India, 15th February

BAGHDAD: Iraqi and Jordanian MPs are to rally on the border between the two
Arab states in solidarity with the Palestinian uprising against Israel and
to protest the embargo on Baghdad, an Iraqi deputy said on Wednesday.

Parliamentary speakers Saadun Hammadi of Iraq and Jordan's Abdul Salem
al-Majali are to head the delegations at the rally on the Iraqi side of the
border on February 16, Iraqi parliament deputy speaker Hamad al-Rawi told
reporters. Trade union leaders are also expected to take part in the
demonstration to protest the UN sanctions in force against Iraq since
Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and to support the Palestinian intifada.

*  Jordanians back Iraqis, urge end to UN curbs
Dawn (Pakistan), 17th February

AMMAN, Feb 16: Hundreds of Jordanian deputies, politicians, unions leaders
and members of popular committees on Friday rallied inside the border with
Iraq in support of the Iraqi and the Palestinian people.

The demonstrators joined forces with their Iraqi counterparts in a "united
call from Amman and Baghdad for a lifting of the unjust (United Nations)
sanctions on Iraq and to support the noble (Palestinian) intifada,"
Jordanian deputy Mahmood Kharabsheh told AFP.

Kharabsheh, in a mobile phone interview from the border, said he was among
43 deputies led by Jordan's Parliament Speaker Abdel Hadi Majali attending
the rally alongside the speaker of the Iraqi national assembly Saadun

"We want to raise our message to the Arab leaders who will meet at a summit
in Amman (March 27) so that they may adopt efficient resolutions of support
for Iraq and the Palestinians," Kharabsheh said.

"The embargo on Iraq is no longer justified and the human rights of the
Palestinian people must be respected," Kharabsheh said, adding that he hoped
the rally's message would also be heard at the United Nations.

Between 200 to 300 people, representatives of political parties,
professional and trade unions, town halls and students, made the overland
desert trip from Amman to the border, Kharabsheh said.

Iraqi and Jordanian demonstrators stood together just inside the Iraqi
border and offered Friday prayers. The demonstrators also heard speeches
from Majali and Hammadi.-AFP

*  First Iraqis leave Baghdad for Mecca pilgrimage
Times of India, 17th February

BAGHDAD: The first group of around 1,000 Iraqi pilgrims travelling on the
annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca left Baghdad for Saudi Arabia on Friday
aboard 15 buses. Iraq's Religious Affairs Minister Abdul Moneem Ahmad Saleh,
who was in Saudi Arabia in January to finalise preparations for Iraqi
Muslims during the 2001 Haj, said "more than 10,000 Iraqis are set to make
the pilgrimage this year."

Saleh told reporters that "the majority of Iraqi pilgrims will travel to
Saudi Arabia by road." Under Haj quotas, sanctions-hit Iraq has the right to
send 24,700 pilgrims to the holy Muslim city every year, but has not
succeeded in sending that number due to economic problems.

The Haj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is set to take place in March
this year when some two million pilgrims will gather in Mecca. It is
obligatory for all Muslims sound of body and having the financial means to
carry it out. Riyadh and Baghdad do not have diplomatic relations and
contact has been rare since the Gulf War in 1991. (AFP)

*  Iraqi Airways retires five helicopters
Times of India, 11th February

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Airways has retired five helicopters from its fleet for
internal flights because of the danger they posed to passengers, a newspaper
reported on Saturday.

Quoting an unnamed company official, the weekly Takrit said, "the use of
this type of machine for the transport of passengers is a danger because
they are old and not suitable."

The five helicopters, used to shuttle passengers between Baghdad and Basra
in the south and Mosul in the north, will be replaced by two Iraqi Airways
Boeing planes, one of which will be a jumbo, the official said.

Iraq, which resumed domestic flights for the first time since the 1991 Gulf
War last November, already has four planes in service between Baghdad, Basra
and Mosul.

Three of them are of Russian make and one is a Boeing 747 donated by a
member of Qatar's ruling family in a show of solidarity with Iraq. (AFP

*  Ingenious thieves ransack ancient Nineveh, other sites in troubled Iraq
by Les Donison, Chronicle Foreign Service, Sunday, February 11, 2001

Atop a hill near the heart of the city, walls and foundations rise from the
ground to tell stories of an ancient time.

These are the excavated remains of the palace of Assyrian King Sennacherib,
ruler of a once-great empire. In 612 B.C., the Medes and Babylonians marched
on the storied city of Nineveh, site of modern-day Mosul. The city -- and
with it Sennacherib's glorious palace -- was laid to waste.

Now, once again, the palace is under attack -- by looters desperate for
quick cash.

"They are just destroying the heritage of mankind," bemoaned Donny George,
one of Iraq's foremost archaeologists. "They are crushing it, turning it
into this stupid matter called dollars."

Since 1990, when the United Nations imposed sweeping economic sanctions on
Iraq because of its invasion of Kuwait, world-famous sites such as Babylon,
Hatra, Umma, Ur and Nineveh have become prime targets of looters.

"Not only are things being destroyed, but the accumulation of knowledge at a
breathtaking speed has been replaced by destruction at the same sort of

Virtually no illegal trade in Iraqi antiquities existed after Saddam Hussein
came to power in 1979. Hussein set about ensuring the country's rich
heritage would be accessible to all Iraqis, ordering establishment of more
than a dozen regional museums to house important local artifacts. In a
nation with 10,000 historical sites, archaeology flourished.

Then came the invasion of Kuwait, the Gulf War and the ensuing sanctions.
Throughout the country, all archaeological work halted abruptly. The
regional museums were closed. The destruction began.

The U.S.-led military coalition was responsible for some damage. Bombs from
allied aircraft left large craters at Ur of the Chaldees in the south, the
site reputed to be the birthplace of Abraham. A ziggurat was blasted with
more than 400 rounds of machine-gun fire. Trenching and bulldozing occurred
at Tell el-Lahm in the north.

Amid the chaos immediately after the war, most of the regional museums were
looted, some burned to the ground. In the years since, the thieving has
continued nonstop.

Some of the damage is caused by desperate people hit hard by the sanctions.
Other sites are hit by highly organized, well-armed teams of looters.

In stark contrast to the careful, time-consuming methods of modern
archaeological excavation, the antiquity bandits use hammers, heavy earth-
moving equipment and even dynamite to extract their booty.

Before the war, George and Russell worked together at Nineveh, producing a
complete photographic catalog of the palace reliefs. The reliefs were in
such good condition they were left at the site rather than moved inside a

Today, the evidence of looting is plain to see. The ground inside the palace
throne room is littered with hammered remains of several reliefs -- proof
that looters smashed the heavy stone slabs into smaller, easier-to-carry

"This was part of a palace of an emperor who was encouraging science and
literature," George said. "Now it's been destroyed by a hammer."

The destruction is not only physical. The "accumulation of knowledge," as
Russell put it, ceases the moment any object, regardless of size, is moved
from its larger context.

"It's as if you took something out of Versailles and just put it out on the
market," said McGuire Gibson, a professor of archaeology at the University
of Chicago. "I mean, what do you learn?"

George, an official with the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage,
said about 10,000 looted objects have been seized at the border, "but we
believe even double that, or more, have got out."

The Iraq Museum in Baghdad houses evidence of what George cited as the
single worst archaeological crime.

In 1994, archaeologists digging at Khorsabad, a city built by Sennacherib's
father, Sargon II, found a huge stone statue of a winged bull in excellent
condition. With the onset of the winter rainy season, the scientists decided
to bury the statue and return later, when the ground was firmer and moving
it to a museum would be easier.

Before they could return, bandits used saws to cut off the bull's head, then
cut the head into 11 pieces for easier transport. The looters were caught
attempting to cross the border and were executed. Today, the bull's head
awaits the arrival of a team of German specialists who will try to
reconstruct it.

Trade in stolen antiquities is a huge business. According to George, a
common route transports the pieces to England for evaluation, then to
Switzerland for auction, then finally into the hands of the purchasers --
often Americans, Japanese or Israelis. The Internet and small antiquities
shops, especially in London, are used as clearinghouses for looted objects.

"The biggest problem you have," Gibson said, "is that some of the biggest
collectors are also major millionaires, and they're major contributors to
all sorts of political campaigns. They're movers and shakers. They also
happen to collect stolen goods."

To date, there has been little international movement toward solving the
problem. After the end of the Gulf War, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization requested permission to go to Iraq to review the
situation. The U.N. Security Council denied the request.

In 1995, experts in Mesopotamian archaeology sent a letter to the sanctions
committee, asking permission to send photographic equipment to Iraq to make
an inventory of objects remaining in museums. Again, the request was denied.

"We are often asked the question, 'Why protect monuments when people are
dying?' " said Lyndel Prott, a UNESCO official in Paris. "The reason is, the
people who are dying ring us up and say, 'Please protect our monuments.'

"If people feel that strongly about their heritage, we don't feel the
international community can simply stand back and say, 'It's not important.
As long as you're not dying, that's all that counts.' "

*  Saddam praises Sabaeans, pledges to build temple
Baghdad, Reuters, 12th February

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has praised the Sabaean religious sect and
pledged to build a temple in Baghdad for its followers, Iraqi newspapers
said yesterday. During a rare meeting with the head and prominent members of
the sect on Saturday night, Saddam also promised the Sabaeans they would
keep their equality with Muslims and Christians.

The Sabaeans believe in God but are neither Muslims nor Christians. In Iraq
they are officially recognised as a separate religion. The head of the sect,
Sattar Jabbar Hilo, presented Saddam with a translated version of their holy
book, Kanza Raba (great treasurer). Newspapers said it was the first time
their holy book had been translated into Arabic.

"We will set up a temple for you," Saddam told Hilo and his followers.
"Iraqis have religious freedom, whether they are Muslims, Christians or
Sabaeans." Iraqi historians say the sect was founded in Palestine in the
first two centuries after Christ's death but its members had to flee to
Yemen and from there emigrated to Mesopotamia in present-day Iraq. In time
they developed an elaborate ritual, particularly for baptism. They trace
their roots back to John the Baptist, whom they revere.

Members of the sect say that around 80,000 Sabaeans live in Iraq, and some
15,000 still live in southern Iran. They speak a distinct language,
Mandaean, and their religious books are written in Sabaean script.

The Iraqi Sabaeans used to live among Shi'ites in the marshes of southern
Iraq, where they earned a reputation as the best canoe-makers and the area's
most talented carpenters. But the majority left their land of streams and
rivers for Baghdad in the 1950s, adapting to city life by becoming the
country's best silver and goldsmiths.
*  Iraq to mark 5,000th anniversary of writing
Times of India, 15th February

BAGHDAD: Iraq is to mark the 5,000th anniversary of the invention of the
written word between March 20 and 27, a culture and information ministry
official said on Wednesday.

Undersecretary of state Hamid Said said that an international conference
would be held with the participation of historians and archaeologists from
several Arab and other countries, including Britain, France, Japan and the
United States. Iraqi historians trace writing, in the cuneiform script on
clay tablets, back to the ancient city of Uruk, 260 kilometres (155 miles)
southwest of Baghdad, during the Sumerian civilisation in the third
millennium B.C.

Archaeological discoveries suggest that hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt may
have been the earliest form of writing, dating them back to around 3300 or
3200 B.C. (AFP)

*  Civilians and allied troops died
by Michelle Nichols
The Scotsman, 17th February

WHILE the Gulf War may have been deemed a success by the US and the UK it
was not without its collateral damage - military jargon for the deaths of
its own troops in friendly fire and civilians.

A US air force attack on the Al-Amiriya bunker in Baghdad resulted in the
deaths of more than 500 civilians when intelligence analysts identified the
40ft deep fortified structure as a vital Iraqi military command centre.

In another incident between 50 and 130 civilians died and about 78 others
were injured when the RAF dropped a laser guided bomb which missed its
target and exploded in a built-up area of Fallujah, a city about 40 miles
west of Baghdad.

Four laser-guided bombs were dropped on the Fallujah Bridge. At least one
struck in the middle while one or possibly two bombs fell short in the

The fourth bomb veered to the right and hit a market in the town. It
appeared to have failed to engage its laser guidance system.

More than 100 allied soldiers were killed by friendly fire during Desert

In official reports, the Pentagon has admitted that of the 148 American
servicemen and women who perished on the battlefield, 24 per cent of the
total killed in action were victims of friendly fire.

Eleven more Americans were killed when an allied munitions dump blew up,
raising the friendly fire proportion of casualties to 31 per cent. Most
soldiers said that the thousands of unexploded mines and bomblets they
encountered, were more dangerous than enemy fire.

Nine British soldiers in two Warrior personnel carriers were killed when
attacked accidentally by two US A-10 Tankbuster bomber planes.

The SAS has also admitted it made tactical mistakes behind Iraqi lines in
the Gulf War.

Brigadier Andy Massey, who commanded the elite force in the Gulf, said the
famous Bravo Two Zero commando team - all but one of whom were killed or
captured - should have been equipped with vehicles.

The eight-man patrol was forced to flee within hours of being landed by
helicopter, after a goatherd spotted them in a dry river bed and alerted an
Iraqi observation post.

Claims have also been made that one of the US¹s best-known generals launched
an unnecessary onslaught against retreating Iraqi troops two days after the
Gulf War ceasefire in 1991.

Gen Barry McCaffrey, the commander of an infantry division charged with
attacking the Iraqi flank, is said to have ordered the assault on an Iraqi
armoured column after manufacturing a minor confrontation. His troops are
also said to have shot unarmed prisoners and civilians in two other related

The alleged incidents are said to have occurred after the implementation of
the 27 February ceasefire that followed an attack by American forces on
retreating Iraqi troops.

*  Chronology of Strikes Against Iraq
The Associated Press, Fri 16 Feb 2001

A list of some of the most significant strikes by allied forces against Iraq
since the Persian Gulf War. U.S. and British warplanes strike Iraqi defense
sites almost daily in the no-fly zones.

Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zones and has been challenging allied
aircraft since December 1998. The allies say their planes never target
civilians, but Iraq says strikes have killed some 300 people and injured
more than 800.

‹Feb. 26, 1991: U.S.-led coalition forces Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.
Baghdad accepts cease-fire two days later.

‹April 1991: United States, France, Britain declare 19,000-square-mile area
of northern Iraq ``safe haven'' for Kurds and impose no-fly zone north of
36th parallel.

‹Aug. 27, 1992: United States, backed by Britain and France, declares
``no-fly'' zone over southern Iraq to protect Shiite Muslim rebels. United
States and some allies begin air patrols.

‹Jan. 7, 1993: After Baghdad refuses to remove missiles that United States
says it has moved into southern Iraq, allied warplanes and warships attack
missile sites and a nuclear facility near Baghdad.

‹June 27, 1993: U.S. warships fire 24 cruise missiles at intelligence
headquarters in Baghdad in retaliation for what the United States calls plot
to assassinate President Bush.

‹April 14, 1994: Allied planes enforcing no-fly zone shoot down two U.S.
helicopters carrying a U.N. relief mission, mistaking them for Iraqi
helicopters. Twenty-six people are killed, including 15 Americans.

‹Sept. 3-4, 1996: U.S. ships and airplanes fire scores of cruise missiles at
Iraqi anti-missile sites to punish the Iraqi military for venturing into the
Kurdish ``safe haven'' in northern Iraq.

‹Sept. 11, 1996: Iraqi forces fire a missile at two F-16s in the northern
no-fly zone. United States responds by sending more bombers, stealth
fighters and another aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region. Iraq
accuses Kuwait of an ``act of war'' for allowing U.S. jets into Kuwait.

‹November, 1996: Two U.S. F-16 pilots fire missiles at Iraqi radar sites
near the 32nd parallel in the southern no-fly zone.

‹June 30, 1998: A U.S. F-16 fighter fires a missile at an Iraqi
surface-to-air missile battery in southern Iraq after Iraqi radar locks on
four British patrol planes.

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

‹Feb. 10, 1999: U.S. and British warplanes fire at two air defense sites in
Iraq after three waves of Iraqi fighter jets violate southern ``no-fly''

‹Feb. 24, 1999: Air Force and Navy aircraft attack two Iraqi surface-to-air
missile sites near Al Iskandariyah, about 30 miles south of Baghdad, in
response to anti-aircraft artillery fire and an Iraqi aircraft violation of
southern no-fly zone.

‹November 22, 1999: Navy fighters fire missiles at a ``surface-to-air
missile site'' after Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery fire at a coalition
aircraft. The site was located near the city of an-Najaf, about 85 miles
south of Baghdad.

‹April 4, 2000: Coalition aircraft target four Iraqi military sites with
precision-guided munitions ‹ including a military radar site at Nasiriyah,
17 miles southeast of Baghdad. Iraq says two killed in U.S.-British air raid
in the south.

‹Feb. 16, 2001: U.S. and British warplanes bomb sites around Baghdad on
Friday, hitting targets U.S. officials said posed threat to air patrols.
Twenty-four attack planes involved, much more than in recent missions over
northern and southern Iraq.

*  History of the 'no-fly' zones in Iraq
London Evening Standard (Reuters), 16th February

The "no-fly" zones over Iraq, which Baghdad has rejected for years, were
imposed unilaterally by the Western allies over the northern and southern
part of the country at the end of the 1991 Gulf War that drove Iraqi troops
from Kuwait.

On Friday, American and British planes attacked Iraqi military installations
south of Baghdad, outside of the southern air exclusion zone. The Pentagon
said they were attempting to destroy air defense radars the Pentagon said
was threatening U.S. and British aircraft.

The no-fly zones ban Iraq from using all aircraft, including helicopters.
The zones have not been authorized by the United Nations. When they were
first imposed, there were few protests in the U.N. Security Council but
Russia and others have been criticizing them in recent years.

Northern no-fly zone: The United States, Britain and France set up a "no-fly
zone" north of the 36th parallel in 1991 when Baghdad flew helicopter
gunships to quell a Kurdish uprising. France, however, pulled out of this
watch in 1998. The area covers 19,000 square miles (49,000 sq km).

Southern no-fly zone  A second no-fly zone was imposed by the three allies
south of the 32nd parallel in 1992 to protect Shi'ite Muslims who also
rebelled against Baghdad.

Late in 1996, the southern zone was extended northward to the 33rd parallel,
closer to the southern suburbs of Baghdad and covering the southern third of

France declined to participate in the expansion.

Iraqi reaction: In September 1996, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said he
would no longer recognize the no-fly zones, calling them a breach of
international law and the U.N. Charter.

*  Airstrikes offer first test for 'special relationship'
by Jenny Percival
The Scotsman, 17th February


Ten-years of conflict

2 August, 1990 ‹ Iraq invades Kuwait and is condemned by United Nations
Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 660 which calls for full withdrawal.

6 August, 1990 ‹ UNSC Resolution 661 imposes economic sanctions on Iraq.

8 August, 1990 ‹ Iraq announces the merger of Iraq and Kuwait.

16 January, 1991 ‹ The Gulf War starts when the coalition forces begin
aerial bombing of Iraq - Operation Desert Storm.

24 February, 1991 ‹ The start of a ground operation which results in the
liberation of Kuwait on 27 February.

3 March, 1991 ‹ Iraq accepts the terms of a ceasefire.

27 June, 1993 ‹ US forces launch a cruise missile attack on Iraqi
intelligence headquarters in Al-Mansur district, Baghdad in retaliation for
the attempted assassination of US President, George Bush, in April.

29 May, 1994 ‹ Saddam Hussein becomes PM.

14 April, 1995 ‹ UNSC Resolution 986 allows partial resumption of Iraq¹s oil
exports to buy food and medicine.

31 August, 1996 ‹ In response to call for aid from KDP, Iraq launches
offensive into the northern no-fly zone and capture of Arbil.

3 September, 1996 ‹ The US extends the northern limit of the southern no-fly

12 December, 1996 ‹ Saddam Hussein¹s elder son, Uday, is seriously wounded
in an assassination attempt in Baghdad's Al-Mansur district.

31 October 1998 ‹ Iraq ends all forms of co-operation with the UN Special
Commission to Oversee the Destruction of Iraq¹s Weapons of Mass Destruction

16-19 December, 1998 ‹ After UN staff are evacuated from Baghdad, the US and
UK launch a bombing campaign .

17 December, 1999 ‹ UNSC Resolution 1,284 creates the UN Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic) to replace Unscom. Iraq
rejects the resolution.

August 2000 ‹ Reopening of Baghdad airport .

November 2000 ‹ Iraq resumes domestic passenger flights. The Iraqi Airways
flights are the first since the 1991 Gulf War. The airliners take off from
Baghdad and fly through the no-fly zones imposed by the US and UK. Deputy
Prime Minister Tariq Aziz rejects new weapons inspection proposals.

1 December, 2000 ‹ Iraq halts its oil exports after the United Nations
rejected its request that buyers pay a 50-cent-a-barrel surcharge into an
Iraqi bank account not controlled by the UN.

16 February, 2001 ‹ The United States and the United Kingdom carry out
bombing raids on targets close to the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

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