The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
News, 1824/12/01 (3) 8. NEWS FROM INSIDE IRAQ * Iraq threatens to hit back at Saudi, Kuwait * Iraq splits ministry of culture and information * Iraq's oil export rebounds from record low: UN * Iraq Warns Russia Over Oil Contracts [Russia might lose them if they don¹t start drilling right away, sanctions or no sanctions] * Russian oil work in Iraq not UN approved-diplomats * Tunisia, Iraq agree free trade pact 9. IRAQ AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION¹ * No direct evidence¹ of Iraq weapons [according to the CIA] * German spy report warns of Iraqi nukes [according to that sedulous servant of the New World Order, the German BND] 10. IRAQI KURDISTAN * Gunmen kill Iraqi Kurdish governor in ambush * Kurds despair under west's leaky umbrella [on the refugees beached on the French riviera and on the plight of Kurds still under Iraqi control. Also says there is 85% unemployment in the so-called liberated areas¹ where Mr Blair is always telling us eveything is so much better. But then, they¹re under sanctions too, a bizarre fact no-one ever seems to question] 11. ANTI-SANCTIONS CAMPAIGNING * 'Iraqi bombing like Hitler's invasion', [on George Galloway¹s recent visit to Iraq. The substantial quotes are more interesting than the title suggests] * Protesters seek to end Iraqi sanctions [on the 7 day protest outside the House of Commons] * Italy Ministry Blocks Iraq Aid Flight at UN Request URL ONLY http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0218i.htm * Group seeks to aid Iraqi citizens by Karen Rouse, Denver Post National Organizing Conference on Iraq conference in Denver. Doesn¹t say much other than that they are opposed to sanctions. 12. ITEMS OF GENERAL INTEREST * We are not alone says Blair, as he defends Baghdad bombing [extract in which Coiok¹s figure as to the amount of money the Iraqis aren¹t spending is questioned] * West's Gulf War Chiefs in Kuwait Victory Party * No Gulf War regrets for leaders [John Major doesn¹t regret not killing Saddam Hussein] URL ONLY http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/scripts/article.asp?mador=14&datee=2/19/01&id= 110615 * Saddam's army is obsolete, but the know-how remains by Amnon Barzilai, Ha¹aretz, 19th February Israeli estimate of Iraqi military capacity. Very little hard information. 13. POWELL¹S TRIP TO THE MIDDLE EAST * Powell Gets Quick Lesson in Arab Mistrust * Powell, Russian counterpart try to bridge gaps 14. AND THE STATE OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER * Could British pilots face trial for bombings? [once the International Criminal Court is set up?] * Taliban ready to send Osama bin Laden to Saudi * Wearing a T-shirt makes you a terrorist URL ONLY http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/scripts/article.asp?mador=14&datee=2/19/01&id= 110620 * Israel to face Iran alone when U.S. lifts sanctions by Aluf Benn Ha'aretz, 19th February Israeli expectations that US is going to relax pressure on Iran and in particular get rid of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), initiated by former Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato and passed with the lobbying efforts of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)¹ which is due to expire this year. The end of dual containment¹. 8. NEWS FROM INSIDE IRAQ http://www.timesofindia.com/200201/20mide5.htm * IRAQ THREATENS TO HIT BACK AT SAUDI, KUWAIT Times of India, 20th February BAGHDAD (AFP): Iraq's ruling Baath party on Monday threatened military retaliation against Saudi Arabia and Kuwait if they keep providing bases for US and British air strikes, as demonstrators cried "Death to America" on Baghdad streets. "Doesn't Iraq have the right to adopt military measures against aggressors and those who grant them facilities if the aggression is renewed?" asked the party's mouthpiece, Ath Thawra. The Iraqi leadership is determined "to face up to the aggression and step up the means of resistance so as to turn the skies over Baghdad into a hell for the crows of aggression," it said, referring to US and British warplanes. Ath-Thawra said the Saudi and Kuwaiti leaderships should be "ashamed to put forward pretexts" for the US and British strikes around Baghdad on Friday that Iraq said left three dead and 30 wounded. US and British warplanes police the skies of southern Iraq from air bases in the two Gulf monarchies as well as from aircraft carriers in the Gulf. To cries of "Death to America," thousands of Iraqi demonstrators protested for a third straight day against the deadly air strikes and set fire to US and Israeli flags. About 10,000 people took part in demonstrations in the suburbs of Saddam City and Al Adhamiya. And in the West Bank, around 1,500 Palestinians on a protest march in Hebron to condemn the Israeli army's killing of three Palestinians at the weekend also expressed solidarity with Iraq. They waved Iraqi flags and portraits of Saddam. [.....] http://www.timesofindia.com/220201/22mide18.htm * IRAQ SPLITS MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND INFORMATION Times of India, 22nd February BAGHDAD: Iraq on Wednesday split the ministry of culture and information into two portfolios, under orders from President Saddam Hussein, the official news agency INA announced. It said the incumbent, Humam Abdul Khalek, would stay on as information minister, while MP Hamad Yussef Hammadi, a former holder of the joint portfolio, would take office as culture minister. The two posts, which have been grouped together since the 1970s, were separated to reinforce both the information sector and that of culture, the arts and tourism, INA explained. (AFP) http://www.dailystarnews.com/200102/23/n1022305.htm#BODY12 * IRAQ'S OIL EXPORT REBOUNDS FROM RECORD LOW: UN Daily Star, Bangladesh, 23rd February AFP, United Nations: Iraqi oil exports rebounded last week from a record low, to reach 10.8 million barrels, the office administering the UN oil-for-food programme said Wednesday. The exports, lifted in six loadings, were worth a total of 254 million euros. Four loadings were through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, which had virtually ceased to function as an outlet for Iraqi crude during a seven-week slump caused by a dispute with the UN sanctions committee over the pricing formula for December. Although last week's level fell short of normal levels of exports, it was a substantial increase from the programme's lowest weekly figure of 1.6 million barrels registered in the week ending February 9. In the second half of last year, Iraq's exports averaged 14.6 million barrels per week. Two more contracts for the purchase of Iraqi oil were approved by the UN oil overseers and sanctions committee last week, the office said. It said a total of 103 contracts were awaiting completion, for over 262 million barrels. The office also said that the value of import contracts blocked by order of the sanctions committee rose by 100 million dollars to 3.28 billion dollars as of February 16. In an attempt to sidestep this blockage, the committee added more than 700 items to the lists of humanitarian supplies for fast-track processing by the Office of the Iraq Program (OIP). http://dailynews.muzi.com/ll/english/1050506.shtml * IRAQ WARNS RUSSIA OVER OIL CONTRACTS [Muzi.com seems to be a Chinese news service PB] BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq warned Russia's top integrated oil company on Thursday that it risked losing contracts to develop huge oil reserves by failing to implement them, AP reported. Deputy Oil Minister Faiz Shaheen said OAO Lukoil, partly owned by the Russian government, had signed contracts to exploit the giant West Qurna deposit and other fields in southern Iraq in 1997. ``There are binding oil-field development contracts between Iraq and companies from Russia and China and others. Any contract that is violated by non-implementation on the ground will no longer be valid,'' Shaheen told The Associated Press. Russia and China have pushed for an easing of the U.N. trade sanctions maintained on Iraq since its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but they respect the embargo. U.N. resolutions say it can be lifted only when Iraq proves to the world body that it has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is anxious to increase its oil production now that oil prices are relatively high and the United Nations has authorized it to export as much crude as it likes. The exports are part of the oil-for-food program under which oil revenues must be spent on food, medicine and essential goods approved by the United Nations. Shaheen reminded Russia of its support for Iraq over the crippling sanctions that have caused shortages and malnutrition among children. ``We awarded the contract (West Qurna giant oil filed) to the Russian people and the Russian government, and they must give us implementation and performance in return or suggest an alternative solution,'' Shaheen said. Iraq has previously threatened to act if the contractors do not develop the fields, but it has not abrogated the contracts. http://www.hoovershbn.hoovers.com/bin/story?StoryId=CoPxUub9DtJiZnJqXmW * RUSSIAN OIL WORK IN IRAQ NOT UN APPROVED-DIPLOMATS Reuters Company News - February 23, 2001 18:03 UNITED NATIONS, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The U.N. sanctions committee on Iraq has not approved a plan allowing Russia's Tatneft to start drilling for oil in Iraq this year, U.N. diplomats said on Friday. While Tatneft said in a statement issued earlier on Friday that it had won approval for the drilling plan in December, the diplomats said the sanctions committee had not approved the plan and that it had no chance of passing in its current form. "There's no way we're going to allow that. It would be a major breach of sanctions," said one diplomat. "The United States and Britain have major problems with this. I don't think that they will approve it," said a Western diplomat. "They may allow some equipment to come in, but I don't think they'll allow them to perform services." Under U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, a council committee monitors all contracts that Iraq enters into with foreign business concerns, to assure goods brought into the country cannot be used in making weapons of mass destruction. Each of the council's 15 member-nations has a seat on the committee, and each panel member has the power to block any contract by objecting. Tatneft said in a statement that the decade-old Gulf War U.N. sanctions on Iraq do not extend to work aimed at increasing oil output. It said it would be operator of the year-long project to drill 45 wells for Iraq's state-owned North Oil Company and work would begin only when the Security Council opened a letter of credit with French bank BNP Paribas . Tatneft has already met with Zarubezhneft and arranged to have all the necessary technical equipment in Iraq within three months, the statement said. The plan is based on a contract between North Oil Company, which handles all production and exports in northern Iraq, and Russia's Zarubezhneft that was signed around 18 months ago, Tatneft said. Zarubezhneft is one of the main Russian companies involved in U.N.-approved exports from Iraq under an oil-for-food programme. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1186000/1186589.st m * TUNISIA, IRAQ AGREE FREE TRADE PACT BBC, 23 February The Iraqi Vice President, Taha Yassin Ramadan, has ended a visit to Tunisia during which the two countries signed a free trade accord. Officials said the agreement, which aims to abolish tariffs on trade and investments, was part of moves to set up a wider Arab free trade zone. Correspondents say the accord could not be implemented before United Nations sanctions against Baghdad are lifted. Iraq has reached similar agreements with Egypt and Syria. 9. IRAQ AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION¹ http://www.msnbc.com/news/535396.asp?cp1=1 * NO DIRECT EVIDENCE¹ OF IRAQ WEAPONS by Robert Windrem NBC NEWS, Feb. 24: While the United States continues to see Iraqi attempts to upgrade civilian facilities that could be used in superweapons programs, a CIA report on proliferation released this week says the intelligence community has no ³direct evidence² that Iraq has succeeded in reconstituting its biological, chemical, nuclear or long-range missile programs in the two years since U.N. weapons inspectors left and U.S. planes bombed Iraqi facilities. ³We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its Weapons of Mass Destruction programs, although given its past behavior, this type of activity must be regarded as likely,² said the agency in its semi-annual report on proliferation activities, referring to the December 1998 U.S. attacks on Iraq. U.N. inspectors left the country just before the bombing began. ³We assess that since the suspension of U.N. inspections in December of 1998, Baghdad has had the capability to reinitiate both its CW [chemical weapons] and BW [biological weapons] programs within a few weeks to months. Without an inspection monitoring program, however, it is more difficult to determine if Iraq has done so,² the report said. Specifically, the CIA said Iraq has rebuilt some of the factories bombed two years ago, facilities the United States believed could be turned from industrial and commercial production to weapons production. Moreover, in the 10 years since the end of the Gulf War, Iraq has made great strides in industrial production of chemical weapon precursors, the report said. DUAL-USE CONCERNS ³Iraq has rebuilt key portions of its chemical production infrastructure for industrial and commercial use, as well as its missile production facilities. It has attempted to purchase numerous dual-use items for, or under the guise of, legitimate civilian use.² Dual-use material, which is under varying degrees of regulation, includes materials that have legitimate commercial value but which can also be used in weapons production. That could include anything from aerospace parts to chemicals used as paint solvent. Regarding biological weapons, the CIA report states that Iraq is apparently hiding a continuing program. ³Iraq continues to maintain a knowledge base and industrial infrastructure that could be used to produce quickly a large amount of BW agents at any time, if needed,² according to the CIA. Moreover, U.S. intelligence believes that Iraq is making good progress in its attempt to develop a cruise missile-like system for delivering weapons of mass destruction, based on the Czech jet trainer, the L-29. ³It is believed that Iraq may have been conducting flights of the L-29, possibly to test system improvements or to train new pilots. These refurbished trainer aircraft are believed to have been modified for delivery of chemical or, more likely, biological warfare agents,² the report said. As for the nuclear weapons program, Iraq¹s reconstitution capabilities remain limited. ³We believe that Iraq has probably continued low-level theoretical R&D associated with its nuclear program. A sufficient source of fissile material remains Iraq¹s most significant obstacle to being able to produce a nuclear weapon,² the CIA said. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/832653 * GERMAN SPY REPORT WARNS OF IRAQI NUKES Houston Chronicle, Reuters News Service, 24th February BERLIN -- Saddam Hussein may be able to menace Iraq's neighbors with nuclear weapons in three years and fire a missile as far as Europe by 2005, according to a German intelligence assessment made public Saturday. The Federal Intelligence Service -- known by its German initials, BND -- has gathered evidence that Baghdad is also stepping up efforts to produce chemical weapons and has increased buying abroad the materials to make biological weapons. Details of the assessment were published in German newspapers. A spokesman at the BND's headquarters near Munich confirmed that selected correspondents had been briefed on Iraq by intelligence officials Friday. "It is clear that we have suspicions about Iraq," the spokesman told Reuters. [.....] Iraq barred U.N. weapons inspectors in 1998, making it extremely difficult to keep track of what the West believes are Baghdad's efforts to menace the Middle East and beyond with ABC -- atomic, biological and chemical -- weapons. Based on information it has gathered, the German BND has drawn the following conclusions, according to reports in the Welt and Frankfurter Allgemeine newspapers: · There is evidence that Iraq has resumed its nuclear program and may be capable of producing an atomic bomb in three years. Work has been observed at the Al Qaim site, believed to be the center of Baghdad's nuclear program. · Iraq is developing its Al Samoud and Ababil 100/Al Fatah rockets that have a 95-mile range. Medium-range rockets capable of carrying a warhead 1,900 miles could be built by 2005 -- putting Europe within reach. Iraq is also believed to be capable of manufacturing solid rocket fuel. A New Delhi-based company, which is on a German government blacklist because of its alleged role in proliferation, has acted as a buyer on Iraq's behalf. Deliveries have been made via Malaysia and Dubai, the BND says. · Since the end of U.N. weapons inspections, the number of Iraqi sites involved in chemical production increased from 20 to 80. Of that total, the BND believes a quarter to be involved in making weapons. · Widespread procurement activity has been observed abroad and production of biological weapons could be resumed at short notice. The BND does not rule out the possibility that production may already have begun. 10. IRAQI KURDISTAN http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=10005 * GUNMEN KILL IRAQI KURDISH GOVERNOR IN AMBUSH Tunceli, Turkey, Reuters, 19th February Unidentified gunmen killed a prominent Kurdish official in the breakaway region of northern Iraq yesterday, Kurdish television said. Fransu Hariri, governor of the city of Erbil and a senior member of Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), was shot to death in an ambush on his car, satellite TV channel Medya TV said. Erbil, 350 kilometres north of Baghdad, serves as Barzani's capital. Hariri's bodyguard also died in the attack, and his driver was wounded, Medya TV said. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. Northern Iraq has been beyond Baghdad's control since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. A U.S.-brokered ceasefire agreement in 1998 led to a drop in fighting between the KDP and Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). But the fragile peace between the rival factions is threatened by separatist Turkish Kurdish rebels, who withdrew from southeastern Turkey into Iraq. Abdullah Ocalan, the condemned leader of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), ordered his fighters to leave Turkey after his capture and death sentence two years ago. The United States and Britain patrol a no-fly zone over northern Iraq from an airbase in southern Turkey. Ankara has sent soldiers into the region to combat the PKK and has pledged technical support to both the KDP and the PUK. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,440372,00.html * KURDS DESPAIR UNDER WEST'S LEAKY UMBRELLA by Brian Whitaker and Jon Henley in Paris The Guardian, 20th February The 900 refugees whose ship was beached on the French Riviera at the weekend are the visible tip of a much larger exodus fleeing harassment by Saddam Hussein, Kurdish sources said yesterday. "People are continuously fleeing," Mahmoud Osman, a Kurdish leader based in London said. "The arrival of the refugees in France should send a very strong message to Europe that as long as Saddam is there people will leave. He added: "Every Kurd I know wants the no-fly zone in northern Iraq to stay, though at present it doesn't give adequate protection." The 250 men, 180 women and 480 children who arrived in Fréjus on Saturday claim to come from the Mosul area of Iraq where they were protected, in theory, by British and American air patrols north of the 36th parallel. The area, however, is just south and west of the territories controlled by two rival - and effectively autonomous - Kurdish factions, the Kurdish Democratic party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Salih Azad, a Kurdish speaker who was called in by the French government to interview the refugees, said they had fled because their village had been devastated. "Many of them are house-owners and had had their property seized by Saddam because they are Kurds and Yazidites - in other words, not Muslim. They all thought they were heading for Italy. "Some told me of throat-slittings and torture. They all say there is not enough to eat there. Even the babies are deprived of food. They could no longer live where they were." Mr Azad, who himself came to France as a refugee, said they paid $300 (£210) to get to the Turkish border, and then $2,000 to $3,000 (£1,400 to £2,100) to be ferried out to the ship moored off a beach in eastern Turkey. "This shows once more the desperate state of the Kurdish people. In northern Iraq, some 4,000 of their villages have been destroyed or are completely cut off from the rest of the country," he said. The Kurdish areas of northern Iraq have long been in conflict with the Baghdad regime. In 1988 Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to attack the Kurdish town of Halabjah, killing thousands of people. In 1991, following the Gulf war, rebellions broke out in both northern and southern Iraq and many Kurds fled their homes in the north as Iraqi forces sought to reassert control. UN security council resolution 688, passed in April 1991, called on Iraq to end repression of its civilian population, and the US declared a no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel to protect the KDP and PUK areas. Ground forces also gave temporary assistance to the Kurds under Operation Provide Comfort. The no-fly zone covers only about two-thirds of the Kurdish areas, leaving large parts - such as Kirkuk - under Iraqi control on the ground. After 1991, the Baghdad government held on to the main oil fields around Kirkuk and Mosul and since then has pursued a policy of moving in Arab families from further south, displacing the resident, and unprotected, Kurds. Iraqi influence also penetrates the Kurdish areas which have autonomy. "Iraqi spies come in and go out," Mr Osman said. "Relations between the Kurdish parties also allow infiltration, so the Iraqis are still active here and there. There are some skirmishes, but Saddam can't bring in his army or shell people with artillery as he did before." Yesterday, the KDP said that gunmen with automatic weapons had killed Francois Hariri, a former governor of Irbil. Hariri, who was the KDP's governor until last year, was attacked in his car in the Kurdish-controlled city on Sunday, the party said. It was not clear if Iraqi forces were to blame. If western air patrols provide incomplete protection they do, in the eyes of many Kurds, fulfil a useful role. Last December, according to the Foreign Office, Iraqi troops surrounded the Kurdish village of Ba'edra, near Dohuk, but were driven back by the combined efforts of KDP fighters on the ground and US-British patrols in the air. Many of the Kurdish refugees who make their way to Europe come, originally, from outside the protected area. "Some are ousted from Kirkuk and the Arabised areas under Iraqi control," Mr Osman said. "But when they come to the so-called liberated areas they can't find homes or jobs. There is 85% unemployment in Kurdistan. These people, when they come out, want to stay in Europe and help their families." The northern no-fly zone, officially known as Operation Northern Watch, is enforced from Incirlik air base in Turkey with about 45 US and British aircraft and more than 1,400 support personnel. In the most recent incident, on February 12, Iraq fired at patrolling aircraft from sites north of Mosul. The western aircraft responded by attacking Iraq's air defence system. Amid international criticism of the no-fly zones following Friday's US-British attacks on radar stations around Baghdad, the arrival of so many Kurdish refugees has highlighted the other side of the argument. A history of persecution 1988 Iraq conducts "Anfal" campaign against rebel Kurdish areas, culminating in a chemical weapon attack on town of Halabjah, killing at least 5,000 March-April 1991 Iraqi forces suppress rebellions in Kurdish north and Shi'ite south April 1991 UN safe haven for Kurds created in northern Iraq, with no-fly zone established north of 36 degrees north 1996 Iraqi forces temporarily allowed into city of Irbil by KDP during fighting between rival Kurdish factions. Scores of anti-Saddam activists executed 1997 Operation Provide Comfort replaced by Operation Northern Watch 2000 Iraq resumes domestic passenger flights from Baghdad to Mosul 11. ANTI-SANCTIONS CAMPAIGNING http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=362177&in _review_text_id=307315 * 'IRAQI BOMBING LIKE HITLER'S INVASION' London Evening Standard, 12th February Labour MP George Galloway has arrived in Baghdad and compared the bombing of Iraq as "Hitler marching into Czechoslovakia". The maverick backbencher wants to assess the damage done by US and British planes during raids. He said: "What the British and American governments are doing is reckless, lawless and murderous." He added: "If they are not already working for Saddam Hussein then they might as well be because for every bomb that is dropped, Saddam is getting stronger." Mr Galloway described the mood in the capital as dark. "The people are very angry and I think that it's fair to say it is the ugliest atmosphere I have seen here in recent years. "People here have thought that things would be getting better but all that has gone up in smoke and it is them that are suffering as a result of this." Mr Galloway said he planned to visit hospitals tomorrow to talk to people wounded during the raids. The MP expects to stay in the Iraqi capital until the middle of the week. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk_politics/newsid_1184000/1184005.stm * PROTESTERS SEEK TO END IRAQI SANCTIONS BBC 22nd February A seven-day protest aimed at lifting sanctions against Iraq has begun outside the Houses of Parliament. The demonstration, which is being led by members of the Socialist Alliance and the Great Britain Iraq Society, follows last week's Anglo-US air strikes against targets near Baghdad. Cllr Ian Page, Socialist Alliance Both groups want all sanctions to be removed saying they are only serving to hurt ordinary Iraqis. The minister with responsibility for Iraq, Brian Wilson, said the review by the UK and US governments would focus on sanctions that harmed the Iraqi people. But he insisted that those which were preventing Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction would remain. Peter Deegan, spokesman for the Great Britain Iraq Society, said: "We have had 10 years of sanctions. They have not worked. We would like to see all sanctions against Iraq lifted." He added: "We are not convinced that sanctions are necessary." Dave Nellist, a former Labour MP and now leader of the Socialist Alliance group on Coventry City Council, also called for an end to sanctions. He criticised the government's review saying its aim was to lift those sanctions that prevented British companies from trading with Iraq. Mr Nellist criticised the government's review "The review of sanctions is not actually being driven for the wellbeing of the Iraqi people. "It is being driven for commercial reasons." Ian Page, a Socialist Alliance councillor in Lewisham in London, said sanctions had failed. "Sanctions have done nothing to eliminate Saddam Hussein, who is a brutal dictator. "They are not working and should go." The protest which began on Thursday will continue until Wednesday 28 February. Labour MPs Tony Benn and George Galloway are expected to lend their support to the campaign next week. They are both due to address a meeting in the Commons next week calling for sanctions to be lifted. Both have been criticial of last week's Anglo-US bombing of Iraq. In an article in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, outlined the Government's strategy as, "first, to protect the world from Saddam's weapons of mass destruction; second, to protect his neighbours from his aggression; and third, to protect the people of Iraq, who have suffered most of all from his brutality". Mr Cook concluded: "We need to re-focus international opinion on the continuing threat that he poses. We will continue to stand firm against Saddam and his attempts to bring death and suffering on the people of Iraq and its neighbour." http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010223/wl/italy_iraq_dc_1.html * ITALY MINISTRY BLOCKS IRAQ AID FLIGHT AT UN REQUEST ROME (Reuters, 23rd February) - Italy said Friday it had blocked the departure of a humanitarian aid flight to Iraq for technical reasons after a request from the U.N. sanctions committee. ``We don't have any problems with the designation of the flight as a humanitarian operation, but there are some technical issues to do with the carrier,'' a foreign ministry spokesman said. ``We received a request from the U.N.'s sanctions committee Thursday night asking for the flight to be blocked.'' The flight was scheduled to leave Rome for Baghdad Friday morning. The sanctions committee, responsible for enforcing and monitoring a UN embargo placed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, objected to the company chartered to carry the humanitarian aid, the spokesman said. A French-owned Russian Tupolev 154 was hired to carry more than two tons of medicine, seeds and other aid to Baghdad as part of the mission, the trip's organizer Father Jean Marie Benjemin said. The flight was originally to have been with an Italian carrier but insurers had demanded premiums of up to $2 billion to fly to Baghdad, making the journey impossible, Benjemin said. As well as the aid, the flight was to have carried 90 delegates including Italian parliamentarians, Swiss and Austrian officials, aid agency representatives and clergymen. The aid mission was originally due to depart Tuesday, and had received clearance from the United Nations (news - web sites) and Italy's foreign ministry, but because of last week's U.S.-British air bombardments on Baghdad the flight was postponed. The foreign ministry would not elaborate on the technical issues the U.N. sanctions committee had with the carrier but said the flight would not go ahead as long as the current company was involved. Benjemin said earlier he did not understand why the flight's departure had been blocked. ``We have authorization from the United Nations and written consent from (Italy's Foreign Minister) Lamberto Dini,'' he said from Rome's Ciampino airport. ``We are waiting to deliver important humanitarian aid and they say there are technical problems.'' Several non-government organizations have tried to send aid flights to Iraq in recent months with varying degrees of success. The South African government and 30 aid agencies plan to fly a shipment of medical aid to Baghdad from Johannesburg later this month. The United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but allows Baghdad to buy humanitarian supplies under the oil-for-food program which began at the end of 1996. 12. ITEMS OF GENERAL INTEREST http://www.smh.com.au/news/0102/22/world/world6.html * WE ARE NOT ALONE SAYS BLAIR, AS HE DEFENDS BAGHDAD BOMBING Boston Globe, 22nd February [.....] Iraq blames sanctions for the death of a million of its people, but London and Washington say Baghdad is deliberately failing to make full use of the funds available under the UN's "oil-for-food" program. The British Foreign Secretary, Mr Robin Cook, has complained that Iraq has ordered no medicines for the past six months and that the equivalent of $A20billion lies unspent in the escrow account of the UN sanctions committee. "Saddam is to blame for his people's suffering," he said. However, a spokesman for the UN's Iraq Program said the amount of unspent money was about $A7.7billion. [.....] http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010224/wl/kuwait_liberation_dc_2.html * WEST'S GULF WAR CHIEFS IN KUWAIT VICTORY PARTY by Ashraf Fouad KUWAIT (Reuters, 24th February) - Former U.S. President George Bush and some of his military commanders arrive in Kuwait on Saturday to lead celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War. ``I wish this hero (Bush) and his family long life and health ... He promised us and kept his promise'' by forcing Iraqi troops out of Kuwait, said ruler Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al Sabah in rare remarks published in Saturday's al-Qabas daily. In a sign of Kuwaiti gratitude, Bush is being flown in with former British prime minister John Major and some 35 other prominent guests aboard the aircraft of Kuwait's emir. Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher arrives separately on Saturday and U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of allied forces in the 1991 Gulf War, is also due to attend. The emir said Bush had telephoned him in Saudi Arabia after he fled Kuwait as Iraqi troops advanced almost unopposed on August 2, 1990 to ``assure us that God is with us ... and that Kuwait shall return liberated by God's will ... Before that call, only God knew the state I was in....'' On February 23, 1991, a 100-hour ground offensive by a U.S.-led multinational force from some 30 countries was launched against Iraqi troops, who swiftly withdrew from Kuwait, bringing an end to the six-week-long Gulf War Kuwait is awaiting talks on Washington's future plans for dealing with Iraq when new Secretary of State Colin Powell arrives on Sunday. Diplomats said the talks were expected to include plans by the new administration to increase pressure on Iraq and revive efforts to support groups opposed to President Saddam Hussein. Powell served under Bush as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war. Kuwaitis affectionately call Bush ``Abu Abdullah'' or father of Abdullah, making him one of their own. Powell was going to Kuwait for the anniversary and to assess the situation 10 years on, U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait James Lorocco told Reuters. ``We stand ready to protect Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the whole region from any threats and we believe that the security of the Gulf is a vital U.S. national interest,'' Lorocco added. But most Kuwaitis feel the celebrations are incomplete with Saddam still in power. They hope Bush's son, the new U.S. President George W. Bush, will be able to overthrow Saddam. A joint U.S.-British military attack on Iraqi targets last week revived hopes in Kuwait that Bush would seek to end Saddam's rule. Kuwait often stresses that its much larger neighbor to the north continues to pose a threat to it. That fear is evident with the deployment of Patriot missiles in Kuwait City, covering the country's main Bayan Palace and also the new United States Embassy where some of the Gulf War commemorations will be held. In an interview with al-Qabas, Bush senior reiterated defense of his decision to stop the war and not pursue the Iraqi president, adding that at the time ``everyone thought his people will end his (Saddam's) terrorist rule.'' Washington had accused Baghdad of trying to assassinate Bush during a visit to Kuwait in 1993 and retaliated by firing missiles at Iraqi targets. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_1187000/1187343.stm * NO GULF WAR REGRETS FOR LEADERS BBC, 24th February Former Prime Minister John Major has joined with ex-US president George Bush in defending the decison not to try to kill or capture Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War. Speaking on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the launching of Operation Desert Storm, Mr Major said any other decision would have violated international law and angered some of the coalition allies. "I passionately believe the correct decision was taken to stop the war at that time," Mr Major told the audience at the Texas A&M University. Mr Bush, whose son George W has now inherited the presidency, said while he thought the war was well-executed and the right decisions were made, he admitted underestimating the Iraqi leader's "brutal" hold on power. "I honestly thought and so did every Arab leader...that given the pounding Saddam Hussein took, he couldn't survive. "He did, but he did through total brutality of his own people... we underestimated the tyranny," Mr Bush said. But he added: "I really can't think of any fundamental mistakes (we made)". The former president said the world had to maintain pressure "very, very strongly" on President Saddam to comply with international law and the terms of surrender he agreed to at the end of the war. Retired US general and Gulf War commander Norman Schwarzkopf, who joined the two former leaders on the panel, said he had just one regret. Intense bombing He said he wished allied bombers could have destroyed a statue of President Saddam which stood in the centre of Baghdad. Advisers ruled it out because of the possibility that civilians would be killed but he said: "I really wish we'd blown that up." The allied ground offensive, which followed 38 days of intense bombing of Iraqi military positions, lasted just 100 hours before the Iraqis surrendered their positions in Kuwait. Summing up the importance of the war, Mr Bush said "it simply made a moral, profound statement" against aggression. The Iraqi leader now poses a problem for Mr Bush's son who, with the help of UK forces, launched air strikes on Iraq last week, as part of the enforcement of a "no-fly" zone imposed after the Gulf War. Critics claim the sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War have failed to achieve their aim and have simply led to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children. But opponents of the sanctions, both in the US and the UK, have failed to undermine London or Washington's commitment to them. 13. POWELL¹S TRIP TO THE MIDDLE EAST http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010224/pl/iraq_usa_dc_4.html * POWELL GETS QUICK LESSON IN ARAB MISTRUST by Jonathan Wright JERUSALEM (Reuters, 24th February) - On a Middle East mission to restore a broad front against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Secretary of State Colin Powell is quickly learning the depths of Arab mistrust of American motives. ``I know there is some unhappiness,'' Powell told a news conference in Cairo, the first stop on a four-day tour that includes Jerusalem, Ramallah in the West Bank, Amman, Kuwait, Damascus and Riyadh. Egyptian commentators tried to rip U.S. policy to shreds, both on the impact of U.N. sanctions on the Iraqi people and on last week's U.S. and British air strikes on air defense installations near Baghdad. Those strikes have been widely condemned in the Arab world as a sign of U.S. belligerence. The victory of Likud hawk Ariel Sharon over Ehud Barak in Israeli premiership elections on Feb. 6 added to the potent mix, given that most Arabs see Sharon as a war criminal. ``Arab leaders should tell Powell openly that the issue is not Iraq but Palestine, where the people are starving under the blockade of Israeli criminals,'' columnist Kamal Abdel Raouf wrote in the pro-government weekly Akhbar el-Youm. At the Cairo news conference, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa of Egypt, whose country receives about $2 billion a year in U.S. aid, disagreed openly with Powell's view that the Arab-Israeli conflict should be seen as only one part of the whole picture of Middle East problems. Moussa said the Arab-Israeli conflict was of paramount importance. Powell's position is one of the new elements in the Bush administration's Middle East policy. A Syrian official reiterated Syria's criticism of the air strikes against Iraq, saying they were aimed at diverting attention from Israel's harsh treatment of the Palestinians. Moussa was also openly critical of the sanctions still in place against Iraq, saying they had more effect on the people than on Iraqi rulers. ``Sanctions should be reconsidered as a weapon or as one of the procedures the Security Council resorts to,'' Moussa said. Powell said the sanctions had largely succeeded in depriving Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction and preventing it from threatening its neighbors. But Powell has shied away from the original phrase for his objective -- to ``re-energize'' sanctions against Iraq by rebuilding the Gulf War alliance of which he was a part as chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff 10 years ago. A senior State Department official said on Saturday the United States was now looking at requests to ease up on Iraq imports of items which can have both civilian and military uses. ``People are telling us that some of the dual-use stuff that is not getting through does contribute to an impact on the civilian population and that's the area that he (Powell) said we would be looking at,'' the official said. ``We're quite willing to look at the sanctions to try to eliminate any impact (on ordinary Iraqis), if there is an impact like that,'' he added. One example is refrigerated trucks, which former U.N. weapons inspectors have implicated in Iraq's biological weapons program before the Gulf War. Powell was also mildly apologetic about the lack of diplomatic action in conjunction with last week's air strikes. NATO ally Turkey, where the United States bases planes patrolling Iraq, has complained that Washington did not consult it in advance. Arab commentators said it made no sense to advocate an alliance when Washington acted unilaterally. ``It (the reaction) has certainly sensitized us to the need to do a better job of making our friends aware of the kinds of plans we are executing,'' Powell said. A U.S. official said Powell did not mean that the United States would tell Arab countries of such attacks in advance -- an offer that would dismay the U.S. military -- but that it would explain better the rules of engagement for the ``no-fly zones'' the United States and Britain enforce over Iraq. The new secretary of state will not, however, try to sell Arab leaders on the idea of overthrowing Saddam through support for the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC). He has not brought on the trip the State Department official in charge of ``regime change'' and U.S. officials said he would not make much of the INC in talks with Gulf leaders. Powell will find a sympathetic ear in Israel, his current stop, but that will not help much in the region as a whole. The complaint at the root of Arab grievances is that the United States does not treat Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Golan Heights, and its treatment of the Palestinians, by the same standard as it treats Iraq. The accusation of a ``double standard'' is likely to come to a head when Powell visits Syria on Monday, with a request that Syria stop importing Iraqi oil outside the sanctions system. The Syrians will tell him that the key to peace and stability in the Middle East is Israeli withdrawal to the borders as they stood before the 1967 war. http://www.sunspot.net/news/nationworld/sns- * POWELL, RUSSIAN COUNTERPART TRY TO BRIDGE GAPS by Robin Wright and Robyn Dixon Baltimore Sun (from Los Angeles Times), 24th February CAIRO, Egypt -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov met here today to try to close the growing chasm between the two former Cold War rivals on issues ranging from the controversial U.S. national missile defense scheme to sanctions on Iraq. Powell described the first encounter between the Bush administration and the year-old government of President Vladimir V. Putin less than a week after the FBI uncovered a senior U.S. counterintelligence official spying for Russia as ³very, very excellent.² During the 90-minute session, Ivanov said, the two opened a ³constructive dialogue² on the principal U.S.-Russian concerns as well as on ³urgent international matters.² The congeniality displayed by Powell and Ivanov, who met alone and agreed to call each other by their first names, masked the increasingly lopsided relations between Washington and Moscow. Ivanov jokingly conceded that any notion that the two countries will be able to resolve their differences soon ³exceeds our expectations.² No issue reflects the attitude of the new U.S. administration and Russia's growing suspicion of U.S. intentions more than national missile defense. The two governments have been sparring for months over the proposed $60-billion plan to build a shield to protect the United States from a missile attack. In Cairo, the two foreign policy chiefs agreed to reconvene working groups of specialists, set up under the Clinton administration, to discuss both offensive weapons and defensive systems. But this incremental step forward was overshadowed by huge differences in substance. Over the past week, Moscow has attempted to offer an alternative plan that might, at minimum, make Russia a party to a missile defense system rather than exclude it altogether. En route to Cairo, however, Powell described the plan, presented by Putin to NATO Secretary-General George Robertson last week, as ³interesting² but noted that it would involve ³a different kind of system.² Rather than welcome Russia's effort to find some compromise by offering an alternative for a nonstrategic missile defense for Europe, the Bush administration heralded the proposal largely because it implied Moscow's acceptance that the threat of missile strikes by ³rogue² nations does exist. ³Their words indicate that they recognize that there are new threats in the post-Cold War era, threats that require a theater-based antiballistic missile system,² President Bush said Thursday at his first news conference. Underlying the two countries' differences on specifics is a more fundamental recent shift in attitude. In Washington, the issue debated during the Clinton administration was ³Who lost Russia?² Under the Bush administration, experts contend, the attitude seems to be ³Who needs Russia?² The initial policy statements mark a major shift from the Clinton's administration's description of Russia as a strategic partner and its funneling of aid to help entrench the country's fragile young democracy. ³The dynamic in relations during the 1990s was getting Russia to go along with things it didn't want to, such as the first NATO expansion. The United States offered what amounted to bribes in the form of incentives aid or (International Monetary Fund) credits or turning the G-7 (group of industrialized nations) into the G-8 to include Russia. The difference now is that there's not a lot on the table to bring them along,² said Michael McFaul of Stanford University and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. The new attitude has been bitterly noted in Moscow. ³A lot of people in Russia, especially among the top brass and in state security bodies, feel angry and embittered over the fact that people in the new U.S. administration act and talk as if they have already discarded Russia,² said Dmitri Trenin, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Moscow Center. In response, Putin has pledged that he will not make the kind of concessions offered by former President Boris N. Yeltsin during the Clinton administration. In the future, Moscow would stand firm about its national interests, he said in a foreign policy speech. Putin has deliberately snubbed the United States on a series of foreign trips designed to re energize Russian foreign policy, while cultivating powers that Powell has called rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran. The gap between the two former ideological rivals now exists with regard to several other issues that were on the table in Cairo, including two of particular concern to the Bush administration. On Iraq, Russia has pressed harder than any nation to ease or lift sanctions on the capital, Baghdad, and has sent regular missions to Iraq in a campaign of support to end the 10-year international squeeze on President Saddam Hussein. This policy division has acquired a new twist in Moscow since Bush's inauguration. The local media and deputies in Parliament have been charging publicly that the new U.S. policy will be aimed at avenging the partial defeat of Bush's father during Operation Desert Storm. The U.S. and British airstrikes near Baghdad earlier this month deepened the divide. Washington feels it no longer must meet Russia halfway on many security issues. While the U.S. defense budget is roughly $300 billion, Russia can now afford less than $7 billion, according to Michael McFaul of Stanford University and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Interestingly, the one issue not on Powell and Ivanov's agenda was the arrest of alleged spy Robert Philip Hanssen, who is charged with having passed information to Moscow for 15 years in one of the most damaging cases of espionage in U.S. history. En route to Cairo, Powell said the case is being handled through ³other channels.² 14. AND THE STATE OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=gjwfZYju&atmo=99999 999&pg=/et/01/2/20/nlaw20.html * COULD BRITISH PILOTS FACE TRIAL FOR BOMBINGS? by Joshua Rozenberg, Legal Editor Daily Telegraph, 20th February COULD Tony Blair find himself hauled before the International Criminal Court some time this decade, charged with committing a war crime? Might British military commanders find themselves on trial at the Old Bailey for bombing Iraq? The prospect is not as fanciful as it seems. The International Criminal Court Bill, currently before Parliament, makes it an offence under domestic law for a British national to commit genocide, a crime against humanity, or a war crime. The offences are identical with those that will be tried by the new International Criminal Court. War crimes have a broad definition in the international treaty setting out the court's jurisdiction. They include: "Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life, or injury to civilians, or damage to civilian objects, or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated." Last Friday's raids by British and United States warplanes were aimed at military command centres south of Baghdad, and the only reported civilian casualty was the wife of an air defence officer. On this basis, presumably, not even Saddam Hussein could suggest that the loss of life was "excessive" in relation to the British and American military objectives. Earlier conflicts may be less clear cut. Michael Caplan, Gen Pinochet's former solicitor, asked last week what defence Tony Blair would have if he were charged with bombing targets in Kosovo in the knowledge that civilians might be killed. As far as the ICC is concerned, the Prime Minister need have no fears. The new court will have no jurisdiction over crimes committed before it comes into existence, and that will not be until 60 states have ratified the 1998 treaty. So far, there have been 28 ratifications, most from countries that would not regard themselves as world powers. Britain will be able to ratify the treaty once Parliament has passed the International Criminal Court Bill and the court could well be up and running in two or three years. In all, 139 countries signed the treaty: the United Kingdom did so with enthusiasm, while America and Israel left it to the last possible moment, on Dec 31, 2000. Their reluctance came as no surprise; in Rome, the US lobbied against the International Criminal Court, fearing that malicious prosecutions would be brought against its peacekeeping forces. Now, similar fears have been expressed in Britain by Francis Maude, the shadow foreign secretary. However, ministers have so far failed to answer the Tories' concerns. Mr Maude said: "The Government has not fully assured us how our Armed Forces are to be protected from vexatious prosecution from rogue states. We cannot have the situation where our forces hesitate before following through an order, fearing that their actions may be liable to cross-examination in court later." Another worrying aspect, he says, is a provision in the Bill that allows officers to be prosecuted for crimes committed by their troops, even if they were not obeying orders. Clause 65 states: "A military commander . . . is responsible for offences committed by forces under his effective command and control . . . as a result of his failure to exercise control properly over such forces." This applies "where he either knew, or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that the forces were committing or about to commit such offences, and he failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his power to prevent or repress their commission". That clause was criticised in the House of Lords last week by Lord Howell of Guildford, better remembered as Lady Thatcher's first Energy Secretary, David Howell. He wanted it applied only to cases where a commander had consciously disregarded information which indicated that offences were about to be committed. The Government says military responsibility for a failure to exercise control over troops is already an established principle of international law. The wording of the clause was copied from the treaty setting up the ICC. It is crucial to understand that the ICC will step in only where other courts are unable or unwilling to tread. Its jurisdiction is "complementary" to national courts. It takes over, for example, when conflict has led to the collapse of the local judicial system or when a dictatorial government refuses to punish the abuses of its troops. The minister, Baroness Scotland, said: "We want to make absolutely sure that we can try British military personnel, including commanders, rather than leave room for the ICC to say we were unable to try them and for the ICC to take jurisdiction." If the ICC believes that a war criminal is lurking in Britain, its first move is to ask authorities here to bring a prosecution in a UK court. The Conservatives want Parliament to be kept informed in cases like this. As the Bill now stands, a valid arrest warrant from the court simply needs to be rubber-stamped by the Senior District Judge at Bow Street magistrates' court, and the suspect can then be locked up. There is a strong presumption against bail. Mr Maude warned: "The Government must ensure that there is discretion over the execution of warrants." Geoffrey Robertson, QC, author of Crimes against Humanity, dismisses these concerns as "fantasies". He said: "It is entirely fanciful to imagine that a Briton against whom there is evidence of war crimes would not be prosecuted under our own military procedures. We have to be prepared, in theory, to have our soldiers tried [by the ICC] but, in practice, it will never happen. They can't be tried if there's an investigation going on here." If Parliament is dissolved to make way for an early election, the International Criminal Court Bill could be lost unless the Government has Opposition support. All the more reason, then, for it to address Tory concerns; this important measure must not be allowed to fail. http://www.timesofindia.com/200201/20nbrs2.htm * TALIBAN READY TO SEND OSAMA BIN LADEN TO SAUDI Times of India, 20th February ISLAMABAD: The Taliban militia in Afghanistan is ready to send one of Washington's most wanted men, Osama Bin Laden, to Saudi Arabia to face terrorism charges, a report said here Monday. Quoting a "high-level" but unnamed source, the Dawn daily said Taliban supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar made the offer to visiting Pakistani Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider earlier this month. "We never raised the Osama issue -- it was raised by no less a person than Mulla Omar during the talks," the source was quoted as saying. "Mulla Omar had proposed handing over of Osama to Saudi Arabia for trial." Earlier this month the Taliban raised the prospect of a "fourth proposal" with the United States to resolve their tug-of-war over bin Laden. The Taliban have made three offers to resolve the dispute -- to try Bin Laden in an Afghan court, to try him before a panel of Islamic clerics from overseas, or to keep him under the surveillance of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Mutawakel said the latest proposal had not yet been chalked out and refused to give details. A US-based human rights group, expressed outrage Monday about reports that as many as 300 Shiite Muslims were massacred by the Taliban in central Bamiyan province. In a report released Monday the US-based Human Rights Watch urged an immediate inquiry by the UN into reports that Taliban troops rounded up abut 300 men after capturing Yakoalong in central Bamiyan province in January. The men were reportedly lined up and shot. Several of the dead or missing were Afghans working for humanitarian organisations. The Human Rights Watch released fresh accounts of the killing, a list of names of the dead and said that at least two mass graves had been uncovered. ``After conducting search operations throughout the city and nearby villages, the Taliban detained about 300 civilian adult males, including staff members of humanitarian organisations. The men were herded to assembly points in the centre of the district and several outlying areas, and then shot by firing squad in public view,'' the Human Rights Watch report said. The organisation urged speedy action by the UN, accusing the global body of failing to hold both sides in Afghanistan's bitter and protracted civil war accountable for grave abuses. (AFP) http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,441314,00.html * WEARING A T-SHIRT MAKES YOU A TERRORIST by George Monbiot The Guardian, 22nd February Britain, Tony Blair announced at Labour's spring conference on Sunday, is on the brink of "the biggest progressive political advance for a century". To prepare for this brave new world, two days before his speech Mr Blair bombed Baghdad. On Monday, the progressive era was officially launched, with the implementation of an inclusive piece of legislation called the Terrorism Act 2000. Terror, in the new progressive age, is no longer the preserve of the aristocracy of violence. Today almost anyone can participate, just as long as she or he wants to change the world. Beating people up, even killing them, is not terrorism, unless it is "designed to influence the government" or conducted "for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause". But since Monday you can become a terrorist without having to harm a living being, provided you believe in something. In that case, causing "serious damage to property" or interfering with "an electronic system" will do. Or simply promoting or encouraging such acts, or associating with the people who perform them, or failing to tell the police what they are planning. Or, for that matter, wearing a T-shirt or a badge which might "arouse reasonable suspicion" that you sympathise with their activities. In his speech on Sunday, Tony Blair called for a "revolution" in our schools, and spoke of "noble causes... asking us to hear their cry for help and answer by action". So perhaps we should not be surprised to learn that you can can now become a terrorist by supporting government policy. British subjects writing pamphlets or giving lectures demanding a revolution in Iraq can be prosecuted under the new act for "incitement" of armed struggles overseas. The same clause leaves the government free to bomb Baghdad, however, as "nothing in this section imposes criminal liability on any person acting on behalf of, or holding office under, the crown." By such means, our new century of progressive politics will be distinguished from those which have gone before. There will be no place, for example, for violent conspiracies like the Commons Preservation Society. The CPS launched its campaign of terror in 1865, by hiring a trainload of labourers to dismantle the railings around Berkhamstead Common, thus seriously damaging the property of the noble lord who had just enclosed it. The CPS later split into two splinter groups called the Open Spaces Society and the National Trust. Under the new legislation, these subversive factions would have been banned. Nor will the state tolerate dangerous malefactors such as the woman who claimed "there is something that governments care far more for than human life, and that is the security of property, and so it is through property that we shall strike the enemy" and "the argument of the broken windowpane is the most valuable argument in modern politics". Emmeline Pankhurst and her followers, under the act, could have been jailed for life for damaging property to advance a political or ideological cause. Indeed, had the government's new progressive powers been in force, these cells could have been stamped out before anyone had been poisoned by their politics. The act permits police to cordon off an area in which direct action is likely to take place, and arrest anyone refusing to leave it. Anyone believed to be plotting an action can be stopped and searched, and the protest materials she or he is carrying confiscated. Or, if they prefer, the police can seize people who may be about to commit an offence and hold them incommunicado for up to seven days. Under the new act, the women who caused serious damage to a Hawk jet bound for East Timor could have been intercepted and imprisoned as terrorists long before they interfered with what Mr Blair described on Sunday as his mission to civilise the world. So could the desperados seeking to defend organic farmers by decontaminating fields of genetically modified maize. Campaigners subjecting a corporation to a fax blockade become terrorists by dint of interfering with an electronic system. Indeed, by writing articles in support of such actions, I could be deemed to be "promoting and encouraging" them. Which makes me a terrorist and you, if you were foolish enough to copy my articles and send them to your friends, party to my crime. I don't believe the government will start making use of these new measures right away: after all, as Mr Blair lamented on Sunday, "Jerusalem is not built overnight". But they can now be deployed whenever progress demands. Then, unmolested by dangerous lunatics armed with banners and custard pies, the government will be free to advance world peace by bombing Baghdad to its heart's content. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk