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News, 25/2-3/3/01 (1)

News, 25/2-3/3/01 (1)

Star of the week is undoubtedly Colin Powell who says: "I have every reason
to believe we are able to keep the box as tightly closed as we have the last
10 years, without receiving the baggage that goes with it". The baggage in
question is of course the deaths by starvation and disease of some hundreds
of thousand of people. And one may wonder, if this is possible now, why it
wouldn¹t have been possible some ten years ago. What nonsense it makes of
everything our government has been saying for the past ten years! We may of
course be sceptical about it but we can still get some satisfaction from the
panic in certain sections of US public opinion. And also from the amusing
dilemma of Mr Blair and Mr Hague. They are both competing to see who can be
the toughest supporter of US policy. Well what are they going to do if the
signals being sent by the US leadership are mixed? Or less tough than they

*  Egypt Urges a Review of Iraq Sanctions Policy
*  Powell Will Scale Back Rather Than 'Re-Energize' Iraq Sanctions; Newsweek
[which helpfully supplies us with a list of Powell¹s past Œerrors¹]
*  U.S. considers lifting non-military Iraq sanctions
*  Washington looks to modify Iraq sanctions
*  Iraq FM: Powell statements 'stupid'
*  Mubarak, Jordan's Abdullah seek compromise on Iraq
*  Saudi, US agree on reconsidering sanctions on Iraq
*  Powell tour over; 'solid agreement' with Syria
*  Colin Powell's conversion [Washington Times panics]
*  US body [American Muslim Council] hails proposals on Iraq sanctions
*  Colin Powell's 2nd Iraq Blunder [New York Daily News panics]

*  Defence nominee's Iraqi policy [some indications that even Paul Wolfowitz
might disappoint his friends]
*  Iraq: U.S. Rights Report a Bid to Impose Will

*  A female eye takes aim in the Iraqi sky [Œwhat appeals to her about
flying is the challenge ³to come up with a decent, sneaky enough tactic to
get in unseen and shoot someone else² ... Sensitivities about shooting down
an adversary do not figure. ³He would be an anonymous character. An Iraqi,
maybe, and I probably wouldn¹t get to see the aircraft ...²¹]
*  Making Sense Of The Airstrikes On Iraq [An African view]
*  America Cluster Bombs Iraq [powerful article on the evil of cluster
*   Iraq air strikes were a success, says Hoon [Œboth weapons dropped by the
RAF hit their intended target¹ ie the little things the US allowed the
British to shoot for the sake of having them on board both hit their
targets, despite the failure of the really important stuff launched by the
*  Yugoslavs aiding Iraq air defense
*  Bombing of Iraq off target, Rumsfeld confirms

*  Iraq wants mass-destruction weapons cleared from all Mideast [in
accordance with UN resolutions. This is, in my view, a demand that should be
*  Iraqi three-year nuke threat called 'ploy' [Israeli intelligence
sceptical about Iraq¹s nuclear capacities]
*  Iran stockpiled tonnes of chemical weapons: CIA
*  US: Iraqi Weapons Programs Intact

*  Was this Saddam's bomb?
Sunday Times, 25th February
[Article related to the recent BBC programme arguing that the Iraqis have
succeeded in developing a nuclear bomb. Only think of the number of lives
that could have been saved if it were true! I haven¹t given it because its
very long]

*  Iraq: No inspectors even if sanctions lifted
*  Iraqi talks end, new round to take place in weeks
*  Cashed-up Iraq shuns suffering [argument that Iraq isn¹t spending all the
money available to it]
*  Iraq sets five conditions for cooperation with UN
*  60 million people in 33 countries suffer from food shortages, says FAO
report [very brief extract in which the FAO gives Œsanctions¹ as one of the
reasons for food shortages in Iraq]
*  U.N. Agency [UNMOVIC] May Buy Satellite
 * UN agency revives Iraq arms fears [UNMOVIC again. Seems to be throwing
off the mask of reasonableness and sounding more and more like UNSCOM]
*  Annan pleads for Security Council unity in Iraq dealings


*  Emirati leader urges Arabs to end sanctions on Iraq
*  Sharon: A plan to strike Iraq
*  Egyptian Iraqi Free Trade Zone agreement effective
*  Two Syrian ministers arrive in Baghdad
*  Qatar Airways plans to start flights to Iraq
*  Not-so-smart sanctions for Iraq [short extract giving, in summary,
Israeli fears that humanitarian concern for Iraqis could result in
humanitarian disaster for Israelis]
*  Syria approves free trade deal with Iraq

*  Gulf war ended too soon, says Thatcher
*  Kuwait's Gulf War anniversary bash 'provokes' Iraq
*  Kuwait extends hand to Iraq decade after invasion
*  Kuwait Supports Amended Sanctions on Iraq: Official

*  German president slams air strikes against Iraq
*  How the anti-Iraq raids played in France
*  Iraq lifts trade boycott of Poland
*  Iraq threatens reprisals against Italy
*  Germany arrests Iraqi 'spies'


*  China to Open Probe Into Iraq Sales
*  Chinese Firm Is Focus of U.S. Iraqi Suspicions

*  Iraqis step up secret Russian weapons trade
*  Iraqi oil drilling approval opens door for foreign firms

*  The case for Mr Galloway [a very nice little tribute from Tam Dalyell,
followed by an interesting observation on the Lockerbie trial]
*  Hain: An enthusiastic liar [not a good guy this, but the article is by
John Pilger. A reply to the article by Kevin Toolis, Hain's world,,3605,435833,00.html]
*  Blind spots of British politics get bigger [short extract on condemnation
of Iraq raids by SNP leader, John Swinney]

*  10 years on, Iraqis shrug off embargo [The bright side. Mood of optimism
in Baghdad.]
*  Saddam's children: the damned of Iraq [The not so bright side]
*  Iraq - metamorphosis from aggressor to victim [a rather interesting
article from the Israeli paper, Ha¹aretz, which, though supporting an
Israeli view, shows itself capable of understanding the Arab point of view]
*  Smugglers are giving oil blockade the slip
*  Sanctions on Iraq Cause 200 Billion Dollars in Losses Worldwide


Los Angeles Times, 25th February     

CAIRO--In a sharp rebuke to U.S. policy on Iraq, a senior Egyptian official
bluntly told Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Saturday that Iraq is no
longer a threat to the region and that the time has come to reconsider the
decade-old embargo on Baghdad.

"Sanctions should be reconsidered as a weapon or as one of the procedures
that the [U.N.] Security Council resorts to," Foreign Minister Amr Moussa
said at a joint news conference after Powell held talks with Moussa and
President Hosni Mubarak.

"Sanctions so far have affected the people rather than any regime. This
situation should be under constant review so it's not a stagnant situation,"
he added.

The policy shift from one of America's closest allies--a pivotal member of
the 38-nation coalition that defeated Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf War--was
an embarrassing blow on the first leg of Powell's debut abroad as secretary
of State, a whirlwind swing through six Mideast stops and Brussels.

Powell arrived in Egypt on Saturday to be greeted by scathing editorials in
the Egyptian press challenging U.S. motives in sustaining the world's
toughest economic embargo.

"After the destructive Gulf War and 10 years of blockade, Iraq no longer
threatens anyone. . . . Tell Powell that we do not want to participate in
starving the Iraqi people under the claim of fears for Kuwait, Saudi Arabia
or other Iraqi neighbors," wrote the pro-government weekly Akhbar el Yom.
"The U.S. wants to maintain [President Saddam Hussein's] regime as the
boogeyman for the Gulf countries so as to maintain its troops in the Gulf to
protect and secure the inflow of oil."

U.S. officials traveling with Powell tried to downplay the differences.
During their private talks, Mubarak agreed with Powell on the fundamental
goal of preventing Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction or
rebuilding its military, the officials said.

En route to the Mideast, Powell told reporters on his plane that the United
States needs "to turn the debate onto [Hussein's] actions as opposed to our

But the criticism of U.S. policy by a country that accounts for more than
half the world's Arab population reflected mounting opposition that the Bush
administration is finding difficult to counter. Throughout the region, Arab
communities Saturday staged anti American protests.

In two West Bank towns, hundreds of Palestinians attending pro-Iraqi
demonstrations chanted "Powell, go home!" and burned pictures of Powell and
President Bush as well as the American flag. The volatile security situation
led the United States to shift the site for Powell's scheduled meeting today
with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

In Jordan, which Powell also planned to visit today, more than 500 people
carrying portraits of the Iraqi leader protested the secretary's impending
arrival and denounced him as a war criminal and a coward.

"Lift the sanctions on Iraq now and stop the war and destruction,"
proclaimed one banner.

In Cairo, Powell also found himself on the defensive about the U.S. and
British airstrikes near Baghdad earlier this month in response to Iraqi
antiaircraft attacks on allied warplanes as they flew over the two "no-fly"
zones in Iraq.

"These zones have a purpose--to protect people, protect Arabs, not to affect
anything else in the region. And we have to defend ourselves," Powell said.

The secretary, in office only five weeks, said the reaction had "sensitized"
the Bush administration to the need to "do a better job of making our
friends aware of the kinds of plans we are executing and the kinds of
contingency plans we have."

The Iraq issue will continue to be debated between the long-standing allies.
Powell announced that Mubarak had accepted an invitation to visit Washington
on April 2 "to further cement our strong relationship."


NEW YORK, Feb. 25:  Despite Secretary of State Colin Powell's promise one
month ago to "re-energize" sanctions against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein,
now U.S. and British officials have concluded that sanctions can be salvaged
only if they are dramatically scaled back, abandoning most of the trade
embargo, Newsweek reports in the current issue. Powell is offering Arab
leaders a deal: the U.S. would agree to sanctions narrowly aimed at Saddam's
capacity to build new weapons if Iraq's Arab neighbors will clamp down on
the revenues flowing directly to Saddam from his spiraling exports of
smuggled oil.

The backtracking on sanctions is part of a report in the March 5 issue of
Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, February 26) by Assistant Managing Editor
Evan Thomas and National Security Correspondent John Barry that details some
of Powell's controversial decisions behind his status as an icon. Although
he benefits from the enormous good will he has earned as a charismatic hero
who has overcome prejudice and devoted his life to service, "Powell has a
lot to answer for," one former senior Foreign Service officer told Newsweek.
"Still, I'm glad he's secretary of State."

In the Newsweek report:

‹ Former President Bill Clinton became furious when he read a Senate Armed
Services Committee report on the 1993 invasion of Somalia that asserted
Powell had "strongly opposed" sending special forces to Somalia and only
"reluctantly" complied with "civilian control." "NOT SO," Clinton scribbled
in the margin. "IT WAS HIS IDEA."

‹ The Joint Chiefs under Powell warned President George H.W. Bush not to
send forces to Somalia, where warring factions were tearing the country
apart and millions were starving. But then Clinton unseated Bush and
suddenly the Pentagon changed its mind. In an interview given at the time by
Powell's No. 2, Adm. David Jeremiah, he explained that Powell and the Joint
Chiefs decided delivering food in Somalia seemed less risky than mountain
fighting in Bosnia, where they feared Clinton would force the Pentagon to
intervene. The military believed they could go in, quickly establish order
and then hand the job to the United Nations. When the main Somali warlord
Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid ambushed a U.N. force, the U.N. called for a
manhunt to track him down. Clinton recalled that Powell came to him to
recommend that U.S. Special Forces be sent. The result was a debacle: a
force of U.S. Rangers pinned down in a 10-hour gun battle, 18 killed, 75
wounded and one captured. Powell had also denied the request for support

‹ During the Bosnia crisis, Powell steadfastly resisted American
involvement. At one meeting, Madeleine Albright, then ambassador to the
United Nations, famously confronted Powell. "What's the point of having this
superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" she
demanded. In his memoirs, Powell recalled that he told Albright that GI's
were "not toy soldiers to be moved around on some sort of global game
board." An official who witnessed the exchange told Newsweek that Powell
also said: "You would see this wonderful society destroyed," the general
angrily told Albright. It was clear, said this official, that Powell was
referring to his beloved Army.

‹ On Day Three of the ground war in Iraq in 1991, the commander, Gen. Norman
Schwarzkopf, still wanted at least another 24 hours to finish the job and
oust Saddam. But Powell was already worried that photographs of the "highway
of death," where allied planes were shooting up Iraqis fleeing Kuwait City
with carloads of loot, would tarnish the image of the Army's victory. "We
don't want to be seen as killing for the sake of killing, Mr. President,"
Powell told Bush. Bush suggested calling for a ceasefire by the end of the
day. Powell acquiesced -- then pressured Schwarzkopf into agreeing. Most of
Saddam's tanks escaped after the ceasefire. They needn't have. The 101st Air
Assault Division was poised to airlift a brigade deeper into Iraq to block
the main escape route. Powell canceled the operation. Saddam promptly used
his surviving Republican Guard to crush a rebellion and stay in power.

from Andrea Koppel

BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN, 27th February) -- In what would be a major policy
change, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that the United
States was seriously considering supporting the lifting of all non-military
U.N. sanctions against Iraq.

The U.N. sanctions program was designed to force Iraq to destroy its ability
to develop and produce weapons of mass destruction.

Critics say the sanctions failed in their goal but caused the Iraqi people
to suffer.

"I have every reason to believe we are able to keep the box as tightly
closed as we have the last 10 years, without receiving the baggage that goes
with it," Powell said.

Following three days of talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and
Syria, Powell said the United States was in the process of shaping new
sanctions, which would target Iraq's military exclusively and not the Iraqi

Powell said these ideas resonated throughout the region, where support for
sanctions had greatly diminished.

The Bush administration has as much as acknowledged that Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein has won the propaganda war and succeeded in convincing the
Arab world that the sanctions had caused the Iraqi people to suffer.

Although Powell has attempted to convince people otherwise, he has also
shown a willingness to lift some of the non-military sanctions.

Powell said a lot of the details still need to be worked out and ultimately
it would be up to the United Nations sanction committee to decide what might
be exported to Iraq.

Powell said the Bush administration hopes to have its new policy on Iraq
ready to roll out before the Arab League Summit in Amman, Jordan, at the end
of March.


Currently there are some 1,600 contracts being held up by the United States.

 The sanction program has been heavily criticized for it humanitarian
impact. Irishman Denis Halliday, the coordinator of the U.N.'s oil-for-food
program in Iraq, resigned in protest against them in 1998.

"We are in the process of destroying an entire society," warned Halliday.
"It's as simple and terrifying as that. Five thousand children are dying
every month."

Others have criticized the current sanctions for failing in their declared

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last September,
former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler said, "given the last 22
months, given today's circumstances of crumbling sanctions, given the fact
that he is back in the arms business, it follows as the night follows the
day for me to say what I am saying: These sanctions are not working."

Powell has described rebuilding sanctions against Iraq in a "more sensible
way," as the chief reason for his Middle East-Persian Gulf trip.

The essence of the so-called smarter sanctions, explained Powell, is to
target Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, not the Iraqi people. That
message "resonated" within the region, according to Powell.

Tightening of questionable exports

He also stressed that modifications in the sanctions must involve tightening
of questionable exports to Iraq from front-line states, neighbors like
Jordan and Syria.

"If you go forward, you really have to do something about the front-line
states to stop things that might not be under U.N. controls," he said.

Powell said tight controls on weapons shipments to Iraq will remain in place
even as the burden of economic sanctions on the Iraqi people is eased.

The Bush administration intends to consult with Russia, China, Britain,
France and again with Arab governments, said a senior Bush administration
official speaking on condition of anonymity.


BRUSSELS, Belgium, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was
due Tuesday to brief European Union and NATO officials about his three-day
Middle East tour and new U.S. proposals to rebuild United Nations sanctions
against Iraq.

Powell says the United States is ready to propose changes in U.N. sanctions
that would lift all non-military restrictions against Iraq.

The sanctions were intended to force Iraq to destroy its ability to develop
and produce weapons of mass destruction.

Powell says Middle East and Persian Gulf leaders support revisions that
would allow more goods into Iraq and ease the burden faced by the people of

But he said his outline of a plan would be criticized in Washington. "The
charges will come that it is weakening," he said. "There will be a lot of
people who will want to hear more." Some hard-liners in Congress and the
administration want tougher action, including the arming of Iraqi opposition
groups, in an attempt to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, The New
York Times said Tuesday.

Monday, Powell and Saudi leaders discussed the new Iraq proposal which would
target Iraq's military exclusively and not the Iraqi people. It allows the
resumption of civil flights but on condition that Baghdad permit the return
of U.N. weapons inspectors, a U.S. diplomat said.

The United Nations has not carried out weapons inspections in Iraq for more
than two years. U.N. inspectors left Iraq in December of 1998.

Powell paid a four-hour visit to Riyadh where he met with Saudi King Fahd,
Crown Prince Abdallah and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.

Al-Faisal said his country and the United States agreed on the "need to
review the embargo imposed on Iraq and to find a way to eliminate the
sufferings of the Iraqi people that will guarantee Iraq's commitment to
complying with U.N. Security Council resolutions related to Kuwait and
Iraq." He said the United States and Saudi Arabia agreed on the "need of the
international community to guarantee that what happened on August 2, 1990
(the invasion of Kuwait) will not be repeated and of abiding by all related
Security Council resolutions.".

by William M. Reilly

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Heading into a second day of high-level
U.N. talks Tuesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Said Al-Sahaf labeled Secretary
of State Colin Powell's call for an easing of sanctions that affect Iraqi
civilians and a tightening of the embargo on military supplies, "stupid
statements." Sahaf quickly dismissed an inquiry into Baghdad illegally
sending oil to a neighbor with, "There is no pumping of oil from Iraq to
Syria." Powell had said Syria agreed to hand over revenues to the United
Nations from the pipeline sales rather than sending them to Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein. The oil trafficking has been an example of eroding
sanctions. Only exports under the U.N. sanctioned oil-for-food program are

Sahaf is leading a delegation in two days of talks with Secretary-General
Kofi Annan and high-ranking U.N. officials. Sahaf called the sessions a
"dialogue," but Monday described the first round of meetings as more of a
detailed "presentation" of Iraq's grievances over the 10 years since
sanctions were imposed by the Security Council over the Gulf War and Iraq's
non-cooperation with international inspection efforts to certify it is free
of weapons of mass destruction.

Powell has been touring Mideast capitals talking with leaders. He has said
those he has been talking with agree on the need to tighten sanctions
against strategic materials, but also on loosening restrictions of consumer
goods for civilians.

"We are hearing stupid statements from the foreign minister of the United
States of America (Powell), talking about clever sanctions as if, and he
confessed, that all of what has been going on since 1990 is stupid," Sahaf
said at the outset of the second day of talks. "It's impossible to
understand how shallow those statements (are), really. This can be
understood if it is rubbish from a propagandist, not from a foreign

"We are talking of a nation under siege," said the foreign minister of his
nation. "Somebody comes and says we will alleviate from this group and we
will tighten on that group. This is only to deceive the public opinion. This
is a new way of deception.

"That means Secretary Powell is saying that his country, his government, is
insisting on killing the Iraqis," Sahaf told reporters. "Second, the real
meaning of what he had mentioned, unfortunately, is that they are insisting
on continuous sanctions against Iraq." He added, "This is our reaction to
what Secretary Powell had mentioned. He is trying to play on words in a very
awkward way, and I pity him, really."

As for showing some leeway in the talks, the foreign minister said, "There
is no place for a compromise. It is a matter of if there is good intention
and willingness for a dialogue in order to solve this problem." After a
brief morning meeting the two sides broke off until late afternoon when they
were to resume the talks.

Asked about his reaction to the secretary of state's remarks, Annan said
that the topic came up in discussions with Powell earlier in the month. "He
did hint at it without going into details, emphasizing the fact that the
objective of the sanctions was not to hurt the Iraqi people, that they were
not the targets and one has to find a way of strengthening the disarmament
regime and giving relief to the Iraqi people," Annan told reporters, adding,
"I am not surprised with the comments." The secretary-general said there was
a lot of discussion going on in capitals around the world and "within the
council." "I am sure that council members will need to work together on this
and come to some consensus on how to proceed," he said.

Annan plans to brief the Security Council on the meetings Wednesday. Sahaf
said he would hold a news conference Wednesday as well. Annan said decisions
following the discussions would be up to the council.

"I would not want to prejudge or pre-empt what the council members may do,
but obviously, as you know, there is lots of reflection and discussion going
on and I hope that out of all this will come something constructive," he

When asked about Sahaf's suggestion Monday that weapons monitors be allowed
in Iraq if also put in Israel and other Arab countries in the Mideast, Annan
was diplomatic.

"It's too early to get into that," he replied. "But as I said, we had good
discussions in a good atmosphere and we are going to continue." Sahaf
agreed, saying, "The success of the dialogue is a continuation of the
dialogue by both sides, myself and his excellency the secretary general." He
said he anticipated the talks would take time.

"We need more than one round of talks and of dialogue because there are
really huge dossiers, there are very complicated issues," he said.

Times of India, 28th February

AMMAN: Jordan and Egypt are seeking US support to ease 10-year-old UN
sanctions on Iraq to avoid serious divisions at an Arab summit to be hosted
in March by Amman, officials and diplomats said. These efforts coincide with
a visit to Amman Tuesday by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for talks with
Jordan's King Abdullah II, following a regional tour by US Secretary of
State Colin Powell.

"Means of easing the sanctions on Iraq and the need to establish a regular
dialogue between Baghdad and the United Nations will be at the center of
talks between President Mubarak and King Abdullah," a Jordanian official
said. Powell's just-ended tour enabled the new US administration to
understand how much Arab countries oppose the sanctions slapped on Iraq
after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Diplomats and officials in Amman
criticise the sanctions, which allow Iraqi authorities to ration
distribution of food and medicine to the population. "The United States'
Arab allies are fed up with the sanctions targetting civilians, who are
being cleverly manipulated by the Iraqi regime, which appears as the
people's saviour while reinforcing its position" one Western diplomat told

A senior Jordanian official said the sanctions "have created a precedent by
allowing the regime to control the calorie intake of each citizen. "The
regime (in Baghdad) is coming out stronger by deciding how much food Iraqis
will eat and by controlling the medicine they take, and this is what
regional leaders told Mr. Powell," he said on condition of anonymity.
"Furthermore, the sanctions have allowed Iraq to impose in the region a
strategy that enables it to sidestep the blockade, and that is weakening the
UN," the official added.

Over the past five months, several Arab countries, spearheaded by close US
regional allies Jordan and Egypt, have organised "solidarity" flights to
Baghdad in defiance of the UN air embargo on Iraq. Iraq has also signed free
trade agreements with Egypt, Syria and Tunisia and is preparing to seal a
similar accord with Amman and Beirut amid Arab concern to help ease the
hardships of the Iraqi people. "Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Syria
have said they are willing to respect UN resolutions on Iraq, but they
cannot force their population to accept American-imposed decisions," the
official said. "King Abdullah was very clear, in his talks with Powell, on
the need to lift sanctions on Iraq and to ensure that controls over Iraqi
weapons would be discussed between Baghdad and the UN," the official added.

Syria's pledge Monday to Powell to put its controversial pipeline from Iraq
under UN control is "the first sign of this Arab willingness to cooperate
with the United Nations," the official said. Powell announced the Syrian
promise Tuesday in Brussels at the end of his Middle East tour, during which
he appealed to Arab leaders to help the United States contain Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein.

Powell said he found a consensus in the region for modified sanctions that
would ease restrictions on civilian goods but strengthen those on military
products. A senior US official earlier said Washington hoped to get
consensus on modifying at least some UN sanctions on Iraq before the March
27 Arab summit in Amman. Powell was to consult the French and British
foreign ministers in Brussels. "France is proposing that sanctions be
replaced by more vigilence and international controls on illegal weapons" a
western diplomat said.

"If the five permanent members of the Security Council agree ... this will
help the success of the Arab summit," the Jordanian official said. "The most
important thing for moderate Arab countries is to avoid further US-British
air strikes on Iraq, which will toughen positions and trigger divisions at
the Arab summit," the official added. This would place Jordan and Egypt,
which have peace treaties with Israel, in a vulnerable position at the Arab
forum, a diplomat added. (AFP)

Times of India, 28th February

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia backs a US proposal for easing sanctions
on Iraq, the Saudi foreign minister said.

But hard-line Syria repeated calls for the sanctions to be ended, reflecting
what is likely to be a continuing debate in the Arab world over the ideas US
Secretary of State Colin Powell raised during a swing through the Mideast
that ended Monday.

"The two sides have agreed on the need to reconsider the sanctions imposed
on Iraq and find a way to relieve the hardships facing the Iraqi people,"
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal said Monday, according to the official
Saudi Press Agency. The minister's comments followed Powell's brief stop in
the kingdom earlier Monday.

At the end of his three-day tour of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi
Arabia and Syria, Powell said sanctions against Iraq are "in a state of
disarray" and called for changes that would permit export to Iraq of more
consumer goods while maintaining curbs on assistance to Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein's weapons program.

Arabs have complained bitterly that the Iraqi people were bearing the brunt
of the sanctions, which were kept in place after the 1991 Gulf War to try to
force Saddam to keep his promise to abandon dangerous weapons programs.

In Syria Tuesday, the official Tishrin newspaper called for the sanctions to
be lifted, saying "otherwise, American credibility in the region will
totally collapse."

Tishrin also accused the previous US administration of siding with Israel
and said Powell had given no indication the new administration would be

"What Powell has submitted during his tour was below the Arabs'
expectations," said Tishrin, which is a mouthpiece of the Syrian government.

Times of India, 28th February

DAMASCUS: U S Secretary of State Colin Powell wound up his first major
overseas trip with a "solid agreement" with Syria on a suspicious pipeline
from Iraq's oil fields and a consensus with Arab leaders to let more
consumer goods go to Iraq.

Clearly satisfied, Powell said on Monday that tight controls on weapons
shipments to Iraq will remain in place even as the burden of economic
sanctions on the Iraqi people is eased. "I have every reason to believe we
are able to keep the box as tightly closed as we have the last 10 years,
without receiving the baggage that goes with it," Powell said after leaving
Syria at the end of a six-nation tour of the Middle East and Persian Gulf

The pipeline problem has festered for months. Syria has resisted U S
inquiries on reports that it was taking in Iraqi oil, selling its own and
sharing the revenue with Baghdad in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Powell said Syrian President Bashar Assad promised he would submit to the U
N sanctions committee both operations of the pipeline, through Syria to the
Mediterranean coast, and its revenues. Powell said U S President George W.
Bush told him he was pleased with the commitment.

"The president said to me, in response to my query, that it is their plan to
bring that pipeline, and what is going through the pipeline, and the
revenues generated in that pipeline, to be under the same kind of controls
as other elements of the sanctions regime," Powell said.

Since 1996, Iraq has been allowed to sell its oil abroad only if the revenue
were used for food, medicine and other humanitarian purposes. U S officials
insist only about 20 percent of the revenue has been used that way. In the
meantime, Arabs have complained bitterly that the Iraqi people were bearing
the brunt of the sanctions, which were kept in place after the 1991 Persian
Gulf War to force President Saddam Hussein to keep his promise to abandon
dangerous weapons programs.

Powell said he was convinced in talks with Arab leaders in Egypt, Jordan,
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria that the sanctions regime could be modified
for consumer and even some dual-use goods. He admitted to risk in the second
category, civilian items with potential military applications such as water
pumps that are vital to poor villages but are banned under the sanctions.

Powell also stressed that modifications in the sanctions must involve
tightening of questionable exports to Iraq from front-line states, neighbors
like Jordan and Syria.

"If you go forward, you really have to do something about the front-line
states to stop things that might not be under U.N. controls," Powell said.

He said he planned to take soundings from the NATO foreign ministers in
Brussels, Belgium, where he flew from Damascus, and to consult further with
the Arabs with the aim of deciding on a new sanctions regime by late March,
when Arab leaders hold a summit meeting in Jordan's capital Amman.

Before his Damascus stop, Powell was in Kuwait to observe the 10th
anniversary of the emirate's liberation from its Iraqi occupiers.

In Kuwait City, Powell pledged that "freedom will live and prosper in this
part of the world" in spite of Saddam, whose forces were driven from Kuwait
10 years ago by the U S-led Gulf War coalition.

"Aggression will not stand," Powell said as he joined former President
George Bush, the current president's father, and Norman Schwarzkopf, the
U.S. military commander in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq, in honoring
148 Americans killed in the 1991 conflict.

Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war, described the
U.S. mission as one of combating evil.

"We want the world to know our quarrel is not with the people of Iraq. It is
with the regime in Baghdad," he said.

In a dispatch from the official Iraq News Agency, Saddam criticized America
as colonialist. "The Americans think they can master the world at the time
we say that nobody has the right to master the world and that nations must
live free," the agency quoted Saddam as saying while receiving a visiting
Armenian minister.

With Arab sentiment rising against sanctions, Iraqi officials were holding
talks Monday and Tuesday at U.N. headquarters in New York to make a plea for
ending them.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he hoped a review of Iraq sanctions by the
United States and other major governments in the United Nations can help
break an impasse over U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq that stopped two
years ago.

"For a long time the attitude had been `This is our policy. This the way we
do things,"' Annan said. "But I think recently we have put on the table that
critical question of `What should we be doing?"'

Powell will suggest sanctions modifications to President Bush after he
returns home Tuesday night, said the senior U.S. official, speaking on
condition of anonymity. A decision may take some time, although the aim is
to reach one before an Arab summit in late March.

The United States wants to concentrate sanctions on military equipment while
relaxing curbs on civilian goods, the official said. The administration
intends to consult with Russia, China, Britain, France and again with Arab
governments, the official said. (AP)

Washington Times, 28th February

Secretary of State Colin Powell went into the Middle East with a bang and
came out with a whimper. The strike first, negotiate later tactic only works
if the message remains consistent during both actions. Mr. Powell's was not.
By bombing Iraq, the Bush administration aptly told the Arab world that the
United States would no longer sleep while Iraq develops weapons of mass
destruction and threatens Israel, and that it cared that Iraq's neighbors
were looking the other way. Now it is calling for sanctions on Iraq to be
eased and has put pressure on Israel to open its borders while still under
fire. One wonders what vision Mr. Powell had on the road to Damascus.

Is this the same man who stood in Washington earlier this month saying that
without the U.N. inspector's verification that Iraq had stopped developing
its weapons of mass destruction, sanctions would not be lifted? Read his
lips: "Let the inspectors in, and we can get beyond this . . . Until
(Saddam) does that, I think we have to be firm. We have to be vigilant and I
will be carrying this message to my friends in the region."

Not only did his "friends" not get this message, but he is returning with a
detailed plan of how the United States can best bow to pressure from the
Arab world: Sanctions could be lifted on up to 1,600 contracts for the sale
of civilian goods to Iraq. This could even be extended to some items that
could be used for military purposes. His Middle Eastern "friends" told him
this was "the right thing to do," that he had no other options. Such a
carrot has had no influence on Saddam. An Iraqi delegation at the United
Nations has said inspectors will not be allowed to return under any
condition. Now Saddam could have the best of both worlds ‹ fewer sanctions
and the glory of watching his former foe back down under pressure.

Saddam was given more than one reason to celebrate during the Powell tour.
While the secretary of state was busy learning how he could reverse policy
on Iraq, he also gave Israelis a slap in the face: He proposed they pay the
$54 million in taxes owed the Palestinian Authority and open their borders
to the Palestinians ‹ whom Saddam wants to aid in a holy war against the
Israelis. Now, the Israelis weren't asking for much in order to comply with
Mr. Powell's wishes for them to be softer on the Palestinians: A call from
Yasser Arafat to stop violence, an effort to stop anti-Israeli media
propaganda, and a renewal of anti terrorism ties between Palestinian and
Israeli security agencies. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wasn't even
demanding that all violence stop, just a signal from the top aggravator that
he would put pressure on his men to stop their fire would have been nice.

If Mr. Powell was trying to renew a friendship with an old ally through
these actions, Israel wasn't impressed. Neither were the Arab countries who
saw him speak out of both sides of his mouth. The Bush administration needs
to come up with a consistent policy on the Middle East before the laughter
from the Persian Gulf becomes deafening.
Dawn (Pakistan), 1st March

WASHINGTON, Feb 28: The American Muslim Council has backed US Secretary of
State Colin Powell's suggestions to the Bush administration favouring the
elimination of many of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq.

The secretary said during his just concluded visit to the Middle East that
sanctions against Baghdad should be refocused to more pointedly target
President Saddam Hussein's military and his alleged ability to produce
weapons of mass destruction and avoid hurting the Iraqi people.

The US has been increasingly under attack in the Middle East and from other
countries for the hardship that the current sanction regime is causing to
Iraq's civilian population, particularly women and children.

The council "supports Secretary Powell's initiative to ease the suffering of
the Iraqi people and for a more constructive policy toward Iraq" and cited
the following as arguments:

i) The sanctions have only succeeded in impoverishing the Iraqi nation and
causing the deaths of over a million people, at least half of whom are

ii) A more compassionate US policy toward the Iraqi people can have a great
impact on relations with other Arab countries in the Middle East.

iii) As a nation that seeks to promote human rights, the US can no longer
allow this humanitarian crisis to persist in the name of national security.

iv) US security measures can and should be met without the further
destruction of the Iraqi people.

New York Daily News, 2nd March

Colin Powell has made a stunning misjudgment about Iraq, the second of his
career. This one is exactly contrary to a deep belief of some of the most
important people holding office in the Bush administration: The more you
give Saddam Hussein, the more dangerous he becomes. These top officials have
neither the duty nor inclination to keep their mouths shut long.

The first misjudgment, when Powell was America's most admired military
officer, was to persuade then-President George Bush to end the Gulf War a
few days too early. That left the Iraqi dictator with a military army and a
police army intertwined ‹ battered, but intact enough for him to keep total
power for the 10 years since his defeat.

He set to murdering as many Iraqis who opposed him as his execution squads
could reach; still is. He grew as a deadly threat to the U.S. and
neighboring nations. He became a powerful ally for international gangs
searching the world for political and religious targets.

The second Powell inspiration, now that he has become secretary of state: a
plan that would cement Saddam's power, remove almost any remnant of real
penalties for his defeat in 1991 and speed his way to an arsenal of nuclear,
chemical and bacteriological weapons. Such weapons are now only a few years
away ‹ or less.

Obviously, those are not Powell's objectives. He wants to make Iraq's Arab
and European allies accept "refined" and "smart" sanctions on Iraq. But what
counts in diplomacy, as in every other trade, is not what you wanted to do,
but what you wind up getting.

Powell's plan is evidence that the new Bush administration is surrendering
to Saddam's 10 year triumph. As happened during the Clinton administration,
Powell would allow Saddam to wipe out totally the international inspections
appointed to track down evidence of his producing weapons of mass
production. Powell offers to "ease" nonmilitary sanctions and concentrate on
blocking imports by Iraq of arms and the means to produce arms. This would
be accomplished by tightening United Nations controls on oil revenue. What?

I have a sick, dizzy feeling that I am sitting in the first row of a jumbo
jet before takeoff, watching the crew read a manual to figure out which
levers to pull.

The only nonmilitary sanctions that count for the rest of the world concern
food and medicine. Iraqi children suffer for lack of both. Saddam refuses to
spend millions for these children out of the total that the UN has put aside
for that purpose from Iraqi oil revenues. Or he spent the money on building
more palaces.

Block arms and arms material? That is exactly what the UN was trying to do
from the inside with the inspectors for 10 years. But on the outside, the
very Arab countries Powell hopes will vigilantly guard their borders against
arms smuggling are ones that make billions in smuggling UN-barred goods to
Saddam. Which border police and airport guards ‹ the UN ban against flights
to and from Baghdad is a farce now ‹ are supposed to look out for arms
contraband, Chinese radar specialists and European investors? The Iraqis? Or
the guards of neighboring nations that sell Saddam whatever he wants?

The sour irony is that Powell knows all sanctions would end immediately if
Saddam did just about the only thing the armistice of 1991 demanded of him ‹
give full access to UN inspectors. Saddam kicked all the inspectors out; the
Powell proposals tacitly accept that, as has the world for more than two

The very presentation of the Powell plan, which was made during his recent
trip to the Mideast, will infuriate ‹ privately or publicly ‹ some of the
Republicans appointed by President Bush to top defense and foreign affairs
posts. If Bush understood the Powell proposals, he should also understand
that they cut right across the strong anti-Saddam position of Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretary of State John Bolton and
others designated for similar top jobs.

In 1998, then-President Bill Clinton got a letter from prominent Americans
calling on him to recognize a provisional government of Iraq and to
strengthen the Iraqi anti-Saddam haven in northern Iraq. Sanctions would be
lifted in those areas as they grew. The men named in the paragraph above
were on that list. If Bush did not know it before, he does now.


by Stephen Fidler in Washington
Financial Times, 27th February

Paul Wolfowitz, US deputy defence secretary designate, said on Tuesday that
US national interests would be served by unseating Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi

Mr Wolfowitz told his confirmation hearing before the Senate armed services
committee that sanctions could constitute only part of a policy towards

But he softened the backing he expressed in 1998 statements that US forces
should be committed to helping create a safe haven in southern Iraq in
support of Iraqi opposition groups.

Asked if he still advocated the commitment of US forces to support
opposition within Iraq in an effort to overthrow Mr Saddam, Mr Wolfowitz
said: "It would depend on what those opposition forces are actually capable
of doing...If there's a real option to do that, I would certainly think it's
still worthwhile."

However, he said it was not clear that today, such a commitment was a real

Asked about sanctions, he said the US needed to make clear that the United
Nations sanctions in place were not intended - and should not - prevent
humanitarian assistance or food and medical supplies from reaching the Iraqi

"But I'd also emphasise sanctions aren't a policy; they're, at best, a part
of a policy.

"I think the overall policy has to focus on how one can prevent him [Mr
Saddam] from getting weapons of mass destruction, or get rid of them, if he
has them; how to keep him from becoming a threat to his neighbours by
conventional or unconventional means; and, hopefully, if possible, to devise
a strategy to assist the Iraqi people in freeing themselves from this

"And that's not going to be something that's going to happen overnight," he

He added: "I think there's no question that the whole region would be a
safer place, Iraq would be a much more successful country, and American
national interests would benefit greatly if there were a change of regime in

Mr Wolfowitz has been viewed as more hawkish on Iraq than other members of
the administration, including Colin Powell, secretary of state.



BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters, 1st March) - Iraq said Thursday the United States'
latest report on human-rights conditions abroad was a bid to ``terrorize''
foes into submitting to its will.

``The State Department has released a long report on the human rights
situation in the world appointing itself ... a supervisor of these rights,''
the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official news
agency INA.

``The report on human rights is used to intimidate, terrorize and exercise
pressure on those who refuse to submit to U.S. demands. ... As for
supporters and followers, criticism and accusations are meant only to remind
and warn them.''

The annual U.S. human rights report, released this week on the State
Department's Web site (, evaluated human rights conditions in
a number of countries around the world.

The U.S. report called Iraq's human rights record ``extremely poor.'' It
said President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s government ``has reacted
with extreme repression against those who oppose or even question it'' and
that ``security forces committed widespread, serious and systematic human
rights abuses.''

The report noted that ``perceived political opponents'' were summarily
executed and that the government tortured Iraqis for a variety of alleged
misdeeds. The report also noted severe restrictions on freedom of speech,
press, assembly, association, religion and movement.

The report was criticized by countries, including Iraq, China and Russia,
that it accused of human rights abuses. The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry
criticized the report as unacceptable interference in the internal affairs
of other countries.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry statement said the United States was using the
``noble'' issue of human rights to serve policies that could not be
described as noble.

It listed what it called ``hideous U.S. acts,'' including CIA involvement in
toppling foreign governments, alleged pro-Israeli bias and the use of
uranium-tipped weapons in the 1991 Gulf War  against Iraq and NATO's 1999
air war against Yugoslavia.

``The use of depleted uranium munitions and the imposition of illegal and
illegitimate no-fly zones (over Iraq) bear stark evidence to the
aggressiveness of this administration and its violation of basic human
rights,'' the ministry added.



http://www.sunday 25 2001

Sunday Times, 25th February

When six RAF planes joined the airstrikes on Iraq, two women were on
stand-by: a fighter and a bomber pilot. In the end they weren't needed, but
they are members of a small but growing band of British women pilots who fly
on the front line.

Last week, Britain's new chief of the defence staff, Admiral Sir Michael
Boyce, said women should not be barred from the front line simply because of
"moral distaste", but he still opposes the infantry deploying women on the
front line.

In the RAF, however, things are different. Flight Lieutenant Sue Gardner,
29, is one of Britain's most combat-experienced fighter pilots and has just
returned to RAF Leuchars in Scotland from her second tour of duty in Iraq.
There she has been shot at and had skirmishes with "enemy" aircraft.

Until now, the RAF has kept quiet about the role of women there. But in the
first interview with a female fighter pilot, Gardner, unlike Boyce, does not
mince her words. "If you're totally capable and you can do the job to the
same degree as a bloke can do it - then go ahead," she says.

Britain now routinely sends women pilots into action. There are 11 who fly
Tornado, Harrier and Jaguar warplanes and eight have flown operational

Out on patrol, cocooned with her navigator in the Plexiglass bubble of the
cockpit, Gardner flies with other British and American planes, never alone.
When crossing the Iraqi border, she says: "Everything goes quiet. People are
concentrating. It's tense and you are all just ears and eyes."

The combat is tactical, and pilots need to be hyper-aware. "For instance, an
Iraqi missile launch can be a decoy tactic to attract your attention, so
someone can sneak through the back door."

Air warfare today is like a game of three-dimensional chess. With cruising
speeds of about 500mph, jets in combat frequently go supersonic. Tornados
are so complex that the closest equivalent is probably the human brain.

"There have been surface-to-air missile launches on other aircraft while
I've been airborne," says Gardner. "Enemy aircraft have got airborne while
I've been flying." When this happens, her job is to evade the heat-seeking
missiles and force Iraqi planes back to the ground.

What appeals to her about flying is the challenge, "to come up with a
decent, sneaky enough tactic to get in unseen and shoot somebody else". It's
not the plane that excites her, it's what she does with it.

"The aeroplane is just a weapons platform. When you first buy a car it's a
novelty and you want to drive everywhere in it - and that's what it's like
at the start with the [Tornado] F3. But now I think, 'How many missiles have
I got? What's the radar like? Is it good?' I want to make sure I can do the

Today's battles are largely fought on radar. An encounter with an enemy
plane 60 miles away might sound reassuringly distant but, according to
Gardner, it's alarmingly close.

Sensitivities about shooting down an adversary do not figure. "He would be
an anonymous character. An Iraqi, maybe, and I probably wouldn't get to see
the aircraft. If I don't kill him then, potentially, he kills me.

"I'm fairly happy that I would get there first. It is ultimately what your
job is about," she says firmly, but quietly.

Although the rules allowing women to fly were changed in 1991, emotional
antipathy to the idea of women in combat still runs deep.

Ten years ago, during the Gulf war, photographs of RAF aircrew who had been
forced to bale out behind enemy lines and been beaten after capture prompted
outrage. Today, there are questions about whether the public is ready for
that to happen to a woman. Gardner says she doesn't think about it when
she's flying, but "it does cross your mind. I'd like to say I'd be brilliant
under those circumstances. But I'm only human".

Like all combat pilots, she has been on a course that simulates capture. "It
was an eye opener for me and I am now aware of my limitations," she says

Arguments against women in these situations frequently cite scenarios of
rape used as a tool to force information out of their (male) navigators.

"You'd have to talk to a man on my squadron to get their ideas on that,"
Gardner says. "It's not really my problem."

Flying warplanes is without doubt an aggressively male business. Gardner is
the only woman in her squadron and no concessions are made. The equipment
was designed for men - she wears Y-front long johns to keep out the cold and
an oxygen mask that doesn't fit as snugly on a female bone structure as on a

She doesn't expect or want special treatment but says it matters to "hang
on" to her femininity. "It's very important," she says. "At the end of the
day, I have other things than the air force. There is more to life than
running around in a 'green bag' [flying suit] and bantering the boys."

She keeps her hair long, even though it is more difficult to handle. She
once dropped a hair bobble in the cockpit, and with millions of pounds worth
of sensitive equipment, the only option was to turn the plane upside down
until it was found.

"Perhaps I'm not the most sensitive of girls," she admits, "but that's
probably a good thing. It does take a certain personality to be able to do
this job."

She is immensely proud of her status - fighter pilots consider themselves
the flying "elite". Divorced from another F3 pilot ("I just married the
wrong man"), she is careful not to get into arguments about women such as Jo
Salter, the first woman to fly a Tornado bomber who, having completed an
expensive training, got pregnant and decided to leave. "Babies? I haven't
thought about it for me."

Both of Gardner's parents were in the army. She went into the RAF straight
from school and set her heart on flying. But she was also inspired, she
confides laughingly, by the 1980s film Top Gun. Except that she thought
she'd be the love interest. "I never thought I'd be Tom Cruise."

by Tony Okeregbe
Nigerian Guardian, 25th February

FOLLOWING the series of airstrikes on Iraq defence facilities, and the
predictable worldwide condemnation of this naked display of Anglo-US
military might, informed opinions and commentaries have come to suggest that
the point which Britain and the US were attempting to underscore by this
bombing diplomacy, was inconsistent with and devoid of any sense of clear
moral judgement.

The reason for the spate of bombing was that President Saddam Hussein
infringed the 'no fly zones' by attacking the Allied war planes which
patrolled the area. Now, the 'no-fly zones' (themselves illegitimate as far
as international law is concern) are protected areas in the North and South
of Iraq. They are located in such a way that Saddam's area of territorial
influence is sandwiched between these no-go areas. So fashioned, they
provide a safe haven for oppressed Iraqis especially the minority Kurds and
political opponents. The 'no-fly zones' pronouncement was established, not
by the International community, but by the Allied forces in response to a
situation of overwhelming humanitarian necessity for the security and
survival of the ordinary Iraqis. Its establishment was occasioned by the
assumption and claim of the Allied Forces, that Saddam was making use of
weapons of mass destruction to suppress any opposition of his megalomaniacal
and dictatorial tendencies.

Because the 'no-fly zones' were West-protected areas, Iraq, whoever was
domiciled there was suppose to be safe. But the West claimed that, in an
apparent display of repulsion over an encroachment of his territory and
disregard for the sovereignty of the Iraq State, Saddam had repeatedly,
since the beginning of the year, intensely attacked the Allied war planes
patrolling the zones. It was estimated that in January alone, Iraqi missiles
and rockets had targeted the Allied war planes 22 times ­ more than the
number of times it did in the whole of 2000.

What point was Saddam trying to put across by his act? For his Arab
compatriots, Saddam was only demonstrating his sovereign power, and at the
same time protesting the lowliness which Arabian lives are being viewed in
the western annals of power. But according the Western ñ that is, the
Anglo-US mind, when one considers the claim by western intelligence sources
that Saddam with the aid of china, was building a fiber-optic network to
better equip his arsenal of terror, Saddam's braggadacio could just mean
that he is preparing to tease the world's unipolar power into a tug of war.
He is thus ruthlessly putting it to Bush that he is still very much around
to continue from where the senior Bush stopped. Hence the two-legged air

Defending the airstrike, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said whatever
blames there are concerning the airstrikes should be put on Saddam. Blair,
standing with his Canadian counterpart Jean Chretien at a joint news
conference in Ottawa, said Saddam had a history of bloodshed and needed to
be contained. He stressed that the countries enforcing the no-fly zone over
Iraq would do whatever was necessary to do so.

Blair was quoted as saying: "We will continue to do what is necessary to
contain him. Saddam Hussein is a leader that has killed thousands of is own
people through chemical weapons. He launched a war against Iran where a
million of people lost their lives. He launched a war against Kuwait, a
peaceful and friendly neighbouring territory and had to be repulsed from
that country.

If anyone believes this, such a person would believe anything. Can the West
feel more compassion for the Iranians than the Iranians themselves? Can
Britain sincerely be more compassionate to the humanitarian concerns of
Kuwaitis than Kuwait itself? Yet it is these countries, which, together with
other Arab countries, vehemently condemned the airstrikes.

A better defence would have been that the Anglo-US league wanted to
perpetuate the blossoming stature of a unipolar power bloc. Blair said this
much: "The reason why we have to act is to prevent him acquiring the
capacity to threaten the world again. And the reason why this is building up
now is because in January there were more attacks on allied planes than in
the whole of the year 2000 put together."

>From every indication, it seemed that Blair was a lone voice in his country
in this defence. Even his labour party parliamentarians were said to have
been caught in the dark. Barely a day before the airstrikes, a British
Foreign Office Minister, Brian Wilson, had completed plans on new approaches
to ease UK sanctions against Iraq.

But as Alan Simpson, a labour MP said, "the brave step he (Wilson) was
trying to take was bombed out, quite literally, by the military of the U.S."
Elsewhere, the condemnation had come with the same intensity with which the
airstrikes were made. In Russia the head of the Russian army foreign
relations department Colonel-general Leonid Ivashov lashed at the US, saying
that: "This is a barbarous, anti humane act towards the population of other
countries." France felt it was an unwise action for diplomacy considerably
Collin Powell's scheduled visit to the Arab world. Germany viewed it as an
aggressive action that scores a point of sympathy for Saddam and Iraq.

Two most important reasons are adduced for the airstrikes, namely (1)
Destroying strategic defences so that Saddam cannot possess the might to
attack allied planes patrolling the no fly zones which are safe havens for
oppressed and prosecuted Iraqis and (2) preventing Saddam from acquiring the
capability to threaten the world. Of these two, only the latter makes sense.
It makes sense in that it is consistent with the piper who dictates the
tune. When one considers the fact that the new American foreign policy is a
rehash of a Bush policy 10 years ago, it is not difficult to see that
certain attitudes run in the blood as in the Bush-Bush case. Consequently,
analysts have come to wonder whether the airstrikes are not a case of
provocation on the part of Bush; so aimed that Saddam would make mistakes so
that large scale that justifiable military action can be taken to overthrow
his regime.

But as far as the first reason is concern, the airstrikes are a disaster,
and quite unfortunate. If this had been the only reason, the airstrikes
would have been a total failure. This is because if the UK and the US have
humanitarian intentions to protect the oppressed Iraqis, it would have been
demonstrated in a more fruitful manner. A scenario would explain this. The
West tightens sanctions against Iraq, the people suffer. Social
infrastructures collapse, basic amenities become a luxury for the powerful
only. Power supply is depleted. Saddam is frustrated, and he metes his
frustration on the weak, he blames political opponents and persecutes them.
Those who are lucky to escape his terror flee the country. They do not trust
the protection of the Allied forces. Where do they go to? They flee to
Germany, Britain, France, etc.

The irony is that those who claimed to have imposed sanctions in order to
protect them, and have justified the airstrikes by citing protection of the
helpless Iraqis, are the same ones who fashion out tough immigration
policies to prevent the 908 Kurdish Iraqi immigrants, who ran aground the
French Riviera, from entering Britain.

As one analyst commented, if the protection of the Iraqi Kurds is a good
reason for the no fly zones, Britain and the US should halt the bombing, end
the sanctions and open the gates for the immigrants fleeing Saddam's terror
to flood in.

by William M. Arkin
Washington Post, 26th February

News media reports last week that 50 percent of the weapons fired at Iraqi
military installations missed their so-called aimpoints obscures a more
disturbing facet of the Feb. 16 attack: The U.S. jets used cluster bombs
that have no real aimpoint and that kill and wound innocent civilians for
years to come.

This is not merely some insider detail. The choice of cluster bombs, still
unnoticed by the American media, is likely to prove controversial. The
weapon that was used in Iraq is formally known as Joint Stand-off Weapon
(JSOW,pronounced jay-sow). It was first used in combat in Iraq on January
25, 1999, when Marine Corps F-18 Hornet's fired three weapons at an air
defense site.

The missile is described by the Navy, its primary developer, and Raytheon
Systems, its manufacturer, as a long-range glide bomb. Acting Pentagon
spokesman, Navy Rear Admiral Crag Quigley primly calls it an "area
munition," doggedly avoiding the scattershot reality conveyed by the term
"cluster bomb."

Twenty eight JSOWs were fired by Navy aircraft in the in the Feb. 16 attack,
along with guided missiles and laser-guided bombs. Pentagon sources say that
26 of the 28 JSOWs missed their aimpoints.

The 1,000 pound, 14-foot-long weapon carries 145 anti-armor and
anti-personnel incendiary bomblets which disperse over an area that is
approximately 100 feet long and 200 feet wide. In short, this weapon, which
Quigley describes as a "long-range, precision-guided, stand-off weapon,"
rains down deadly bomblets on an area the size of a football field with six
bombs falling in every 1,000 square feet. So much for precision.

The JSOW has quickly become a top weapon of choice for Navy and Marine Corps
airplanes in the no fly zone mission for at least four reasons. It has as a
range of more than 40 nautical miles when delivered from high altitude
(20,000 feet about ground level). The dispersal of bomblets inflicts more
lasting damage than a small warhead on an anti-radiation missile. Pilots can
reprogram target coordinates right up to the moment of launch. And because
the JSOW is guided by satellite, the delivering aircraft can "launch and

"With JSOW we can attack SAMs [surface-to-air missiles] from well outside
the threat rings and destroy rather than suppress" the target, a Navy
document notes. In other words, years of bombing in Iraq have had less than
spectacular results of Iraq's air defenses and the U.S. military is looking
for some way of causing more permanent damage to the country's military

Launch and Leave Pilots may launch and leave, but the JSOW, like other
cluster bombs, is unforgiving once aircraft deliver them. The JSOW releases
its sub-munitions about 400 feet above its target. These bomblets are also
used in the most prevalent modern U.S. cluster bomb, the CBU-87. But unlike
the CBU-87, the JSOW does not spin to disperse its bomblets. Rather the JSOW
uses a gasbag to propel the sub-munitions outward from the sides. Once
ejected, the bomblets, each the size of soda can, simply fall freely at the
mercy of local winds. A few almost always land outside of the center point
of the football field size main concentration. On average 5 percent do not
detonate. These unexploded bomblets then become highly volatile on the

Recently, U.S. Air Force engineers in Kuwait found an entire unexploded
CBU-87 at an airbase that had been attacked during the Gulf War. The weapon
had apparently malfunctioned and ripped open upon impact, burying bomblets
up to six feet deep in the vicinity. To destroy them in place, a series of
10-foot high barriers had to be built inside a 700-foot wide safety cordon.

Already this month, there has been one Iraqi civilian death and nine
injuries from unexploded cluster bomblets, presumably all left over from the
1991 Gulf War. On Feb. 20, Agence France Press (AFP) reported that a
shepherd was wounded near Nasiriyah in southern Iraq when an unexploded
bomblet detonated. On Feb. 15, Reuters said two Iraqi boys in western Iraq,
also tending sheep, were injured by a cluster bomblet. On Feb. 9, AFP
reported a child was killed and six others were wounded by sub-munitions
near Basra.

February, it seems, is a fairly typical month for cluster bombs inflicting
damage on innocent civilians.

"What we have to do is make sure we continue to tell the world that we are
not after the Iraqi people," Secretary of State Colin Powell told CNN on
Feb. 12. That is a tough task given the use of a weapon which has unique
civilian impact.

Saddam Hussein relishes the cat and mouse game in and around the "no-fly"
zones, almost welcoming bombing and civilian casualties if they will
contribute to Baghdad's strategy of breaking the international consensus on
sanctions and inspections. The use of cluster bombs against minor
out-of-the-way targets, far from doing anything to "degrade his capacity to
harm our pilots," as President Bush said at his Feb. 22 press conference,
actually helps Iraq to achieve its foreign policy goals.

"We think we've accomplished what we were looking for in the sense to
degrade, disrupt the ability of the Iraqi air defenses to coordinate attacks
against our aircraft," Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, director of
operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the Pentagon on the day of
the strikes.

The vague objective "to degrade" is straight out of the go-nowhere Clinton
playbook. We bomb, and even if virtually of the JSOWs miss their aimpoints,
the United States proclaims: "mission accomplished." After all, some level
of degrading of Iraqi capabilities occurred.

I give the use of cluster bombs a D grade.

Ananova, 26th February

Air strikes launched against Iraq 10 days ago caused significant disruption
to air defences that were threatening allied aircraft, Geoff Hoon has told
the Commons.

In a statement on the attack by Britain and the US, the Defence Secretary
said the operation had been a "success" and both weapons dropped by the RAF
hit their intended target.

He defended the raid as being a proportionate response in self defence.

He said the action was taken "solely to reduce the risk to our air crew
carrying out routine humanitarian patrols of the southern No-Fly Zone".

Insisting that it did not represent a change of policy, Mr Hoon added:
"Faced with a substantial increase in the threat in recent weeks, it was
right that we took the minimum necessary steps to reduce it."

Shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith backed the strikes and said that
he "fundamentally" disagreed with those arguing that they were "provocative"
and would make the situation worse.

by Jonathan S. Landay
Miami Herald, 1st March

WASHINGTON -- Iraqi anti-aircraft crews have come closer to shooting down a
U.S. or British warplane in recent weeks partly because Yugoslav military
has been helping the Iraqi military improve its air defense systems.

The Yugoslavs briefed Iraqi officers on tactics used by U.S. aircraft during
the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia and told them ways to
defeat American tactics and technology, said U.S. officials familiar with
the issue, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Yugoslav gunners shot down two U.S. aircraft in 1999. One was a
radar-evading F-117, the first ever shot down in combat. Both pilots were
rescued unhurt.

Iraqi and Yugoslav air defenses use some of the same Soviet-designed radar,
missile and anti-aircraft artillery systems.

The Yugoslav advice, coupled with fiber-optic communication links that
Chinese technicians were installing, improved Iraq's air defense, the
officials said.

Iraq recently increased its attacks on U.S. and British aircraft enforcing
the no-fly zones that Britain, the United States and France declared in
northern and southern Iraq to protect opposition groups.

In response, President Bush last week authorized the largest airstrikes on
Iraq in two years.

A senior defense official said Yugoslav military experts began advising Iraq
shortly after NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999.

With the Iraqis, the Yugoslavs ``were talking tactics, and for the fiber
optic cable and other high-tech stuff, it was the Chinese,'' the official

The Yugoslav and Chinese assistance apparently resulted in a new Iraqi
method of tracking and targeting U.S. and British aircraft while protecting
air defense radars from High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) missiles
fired by U.S. aircraft. HARMs home in on the microwave radiation emitted by
air defense targeting radars.

As the Yugoslavs did in 1999, the Iraqis began using multiple radars to
track U.S. and British planes.

The fiber-optic technology allowed them to skip among more than two dozen
radars in five sites to avoid leaving any one radar on long enough to
attract the HARM missiles.

And by linking the radars, the Iraqis got a much better picture of U.S. and
British aircraft from a greater distance.

The problem with this tactic is that the Iraqis must fire anti-aircraft
missiles at allied aircraft without guidance from targeting radars.

The Iraqis have not hit U.S. or British aircraft. But Marine Corps Lt. Gen.
Gregory Newbold, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said
last week that they ``were getting closer and closer.''

Iraq also has obtained SAM-6 surface-to-air missiles and the defense
officials said the United States suspects the Iraqis got them from
Yugoslavia and Ukraine.

It was not clear how Yugoslavia's alleged assistance to the Iraqi military
would affect relations between Washington and the pro-West reformist
government in Belgrade that replaced Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

The Yugoslav Embassy had no comment.

The allegations have strained relations between the United States and China.

by Robert Burns
Seattle Times, 2nd March

WASHINGTON (AP): Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday that last
month's airstrike on Iraq accomplished its goal but acknowledged what the
Pentagon previously had been unwilling to say publicly: Navy bombs used in
the attack performed much worse than expected.

Two dozen U.S. and British jets attacked air-defense sites outside Baghdad
on Feb. 16. The Pentagon has said it acted because Iraq had been improving
its ability to target - and potentially shoot down - pilots patrolling the
"no fly" zone over southern Iraq.

"Our interest was in addressing the question of the safety of the coalition
pilots that are flying those missions," Rumsfeld said. "There's no question
but that their safety is better today than it was before."

Pentagon officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that more
than half of the Navy bombs used against radar installations missed their
intended impact points, although some of the installations were damaged.

Rumsfeld said there is "no question" that "the Navy munitions did not find
their targets precisely, and we now think we have a pretty good grip on
exactly why that happened, and it's unlikely to happen again."

He did not elaborate.

The Navy weapon in question is the AGM-154A, also known as the Joint
Stand-off Weapon, or JSOW, which first was used in January 1999.

Earlier this week, defense officials said the Navy had concluded that most
of those weapons went astray because sensors had too little time to adjust
the bombs' flight path to account for heavy winds.

The solution, these officials said, is to ensure that in future missions the
bomb is programmed to level out sooner so it can correctly calculate the
wind and allow for course corrections.

On a level course, however, the bomb is more vulnerable to hostile air
defenses, so mission planners seek to make the bomb's final approach to the
target as short as possible.

The 14-foot-long bomb navigates on a glide path using signals from
global-positioning satellites.


Sunday Times, 25th February
[Article related to the recent BBC programme arguing that the Iraqis have
succeeded in developing a nuclear bomb. Only think of the number of lives
that could have been saved if it were true! I haven¹t given it because its
very long]

Kyodo News, Japan, 25th February

BAGHDAD Feb. 25 Kyodo -  Iraq said Sunday it will not budge on its demand
for the total lifting of sanctions in Monday talks with the United Nations
and that it will also press for elimination of all weapons of mass
destruction in the Middle East, including in Israel.

Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz told reporters, ''For us, the main target
(of the talks) is to demand our rights. We have carried out what was imposed
on us although they were unjust and oppressive obligations. It is high time
now the Security Council itself carried out its obligations toward Iraq'' by
lifting sanctions.

Aziz said Iraq would insist both on a complete end to sanctions and the need
to implement Paragraph 14 of U.N. Resolution 687, which calls for clearing
the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear

''They did what they did to Iraq, but they ignored Israel the Zionist
entity, which possesses all types of mass-destruction and nuclear weapons.
Now, the implementation of this paragraph should be asserted,'' Aziz said.

Backing down on implementing Paragraph 14 would ''constitute a hostile
attempt not only toward Iraq but all other countries of the region which
consider Israel as the main threat to them,'' he said.

Aziz was speaking to reporters at Saddam International Airport, where he
received Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan, who is leading an
official delegation that also includes businessmen.

The Armenian minister told reporters, ''Under the present difficult
condition, we are able to offer help to Iraq.''

Armenia opened an embassy in Baghdad late last year and Aziz said Iraq would
open an embassy in Armenia soon.

by Yossi Melman
Ha'aretz, 26th February

Israeli security officials and intelligence analysts from other nations have
responded skeptically to media reports that Iraq might have operational
nuclear weapons within three years.

Israeli experts say they believe these reports, which are based on a German
Federal Intelligence Service estimate, are exaggerated, and say that Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein's arms efforts will not reach such a level for at
least another seven or eight years.

Recent media reports about the state of Iraq's nuclear weapons programs are
based on information leaked deliberately by the new U.S. administration,
Israeli sources suggest. The leaks, the sources maintain, aim at creating an
impression that Hussein's regime poses an "immediate threat," and at putting
anti-Iraq efforts back at the top of the international agenda.

Reports about planned training in Texas for soldiers from anti-Hussein Iraqi
opposition groups also come as part of this Bush administration mobilization
against Iraq, the sources added.

The Israeli sources acknowledge that since the cessation of international
weapons inspection in Iraq in 1998, Hussein's regime has geared-up its
efforts to procure non-conventional arms in chemical, biological and nuclear

Yiftah Shapir, from Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic
Studies, outlines Iraqi advances during the past 30 months in the following

- Chemical weapons: There is clear evidence of accelerated Iraqi efforts to
obtain chemical weapons; it appears Hussein already possesses some such
weapons. Iraq has used agricultural-fertilizer plants as a cloak to pursue
efforts in this chemical-weapon area.

- Biological weapons: Iraq never ceased manufacturing biological weapons;
inspection teams never managed to identify and bring a halt to this
manufacturing endeavor.

- Missile capacity: Intelligence officials, including Israeli experts,
believe Hussein managed to hide some 15-to-40 Scud "B" missiles from
international inspectors. These missiles have a 600-kilometer range and
could strike Israel.

Shapir believes the objective of Iraq's current efforts is to restore the
missile capacity it possessed prior to the Gulf War a decade ago. He thinks
Iraq can reach this objective within a year or two - raw materials needed
for the manufacture of Scud "B" missiles are not difficult to acquire; and,
contrary to some reports, Iraq still has the ability to produce engines for
these missiles.

The main obstacle impeding Hussein's missile efforts involves
gyroscopic-guidance components for them. It is believed that Iraq will try
to obtain these parts from Russia or the Ukraine.

Times of India, 28th February

WASHINGTON: Iran has stockpiled several thousand tonnes of chemical weapons
and the bombs and artillery shells for delivering them, the CIA said in its
latest proliferation report to US Congress.

The evidence collected in the first six months of 2000 indicates determined
Iranian efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and advanced
conventional weapons (ACW), related equipment, materials, and technology
focused primarily on entities in Russia, China, North Korea and Western
Europe, it said.

"Tehran is attempting to develop an indigenous capability to produce various
types of weapons -- chemical, biological and nuclear -- and their delivery

Tehran continues to seek production technology, training, expertise,
equipment and chemicals that could be used as precursor agents in its
chemical warfare programme from entities in Russia and China, it said.

It said Tehran expanded its efforts to seek considerable dual-use
biotechnical materials, equipment and expertise from abroad-primarily from
entities in Russia and western Europe "ostensibly for civilian use."

"We judge that this equipment and know-how could be applied to Iran's
biological warfare programme."

The CIA said work continues on the construction of a 1,000 MW Russian
nuclear power reactor at Bushehr that will be subject to international
atomic energy safeguards.

In addition, Russian entities continued to interact with Iranian research
centres on various activities. These projects would help Iran augment its
nuclear technology infrastructure.

It said the expertise and technology gained, along with the commercial
channels and contacts established could be used to advance Iran's nuclear
weapons research and development programme.

"We suspect that Tehran most likely is interested in acquiring fissile
material and technology for weapons development as part of its overall
nuclear weapons programme."

The CIA said entities in Russia, North Korea and China continued to supply
the largest amount of ballistic missile-related goods and technology to Iran
which Tehran is using to support production programmes and to achieve its
goal of becoming self-sufficient in ballistic missiles production.

"Against the backdrop of sustained cooperation with Russian, North Korean
and Chinese entities, Tehran intends to develop a longer range ballistic
missile capability," it said.

The CIA said throughout the first half of 2000, North Korea continued to
export significant ballistic missile-related equipment and missile
components, materials and technical expertise to countries in the middle
east, South Asia (Pakistan) and north Africa.

On Iraq, the CIA said it, having lost its on-the-ground access, is more
difficult for the U N or the U.S. to accurately assess the current state of
Baghdad's WMD programmes.

It said Pyongyang continues to acquire raw materials from out-of-country
entities needed for WMD, especially through firms in China.

The CIA said Libya continued its efforts to obtain ballistic missile-related
equipment, materials, technology and expertise from foreign sources.

Libya is also seeking to acquire the capability to develop and produce
biological warfare agents.

The agency said it is highly probable Syria is also developing an offensive
biological warfare capability.

During the reporting period, Sudan sought to acquire a variety of military
equipment from various sources. (PTI)

by Barry Schweid,
Los Angeles Times, 2nd March

WASHINGTON (AP)--The Bush administration denounced Iraq again Friday, saying
it had not met its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions to

"In fact, Iraq has done very little to try to demonstrate that any of its
declarations are true on this subject," State Department spokesman Richard
Boucher said.

Iraq is still hiding weapons programs, Boucher said in response to an
article in the Financial Times that reported the new U.N. weapons inspection
team suspects Iraq still has the capacity to develop and deliver the most
deadly chemical and biological weapons.

President Saddam Hussein's government has claimed otherwise and closed the
country to U.N. weapons inspectors in late 1998.

"If Iraq does not comply with its obligations, Saddam will remain trapped in
the situation, in the jail that he has built for himself," Boucher said.

The Times' story was based on an initial document prepared by the U.N.
Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission that was presented Feb.
20 to an international panel of advisers set up by the U.N. Security

Boucher said the report was secret and could not discuss it. And then he
said "the general judgment that's reported, that Iraq has not disarmed, is
fully consistent with our views."

The Bush administration has yet to produce a strategy to compel Saddam to
admit U.N. inspectors. At the same time, while insisting Saddam was trapped
"in a box," it is moving to remove curbs on trade with Iraq in consumer



by William M. Reilly

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Iraqi Foreign Minister Said Al-Sahaf said
Monday "there will be no return" of U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq, even if
10-year-old Security Council sanctions were lifted.

However, he told reporters, a weapons monitoring system could be accepted
if Israel and other Arab nations also accept monitors. Sahaf's remarks came
shortly after he sat down with Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who opened two
days of high-level talks Monday, on the 10th anniversary of the liberation
of Kuwait in the Gulf War, between U.N. officials and a high-level Iraqi
delegation over sanctions and weapons inspectors.

Asked if the sanctions were lifted "would you allow inspectors back in?"
Sahaf replied, "Not at all. There will be no return for any inspectors in
Iraq."   When asked "even if sanctions are totally lifted?" he replied,
"Even the  sanctions totally lifted because the right position is the
following:   "Lifting sanctions should be implemented without any further
conditions  because Iraq has implemented all the requirements of (the
sanctions-enabling  Security Council mandate) Resolution 687. Therefore,
there shouldn't be any  additional conditions. Second, there shouldn't be
any kind of inspection.

"There should be, if there is a need for monitoring, then it should be
according to Article 14 of the same Resolution 687, which says that, clearly
stipulates that, what is implemented (in) Iraq should be implemented (in)
the other states in the region," Sahaf continued. "That means, in our view,
that this should be implemented on Israel and all other countries. If they
want monitoring in Iraq, there shouldn't be any monitoring confined to
Iraq."   Then, when asked Iraq would accept "weapons monitors" if they were
sent to  Israel, he said, "To all states in the region and first Israel
because they  have an atomic arsenal and other arsenals of weapons of mass
destruction."   "I do not expect miracles," Annan cautioned as he arrived at
U.N. headquarters for the talks. "At least it is a beginning." Sahaf, the
leader  of Baghdad's team, did not encourage over-optimism either as he

"We are going to explain in detail. Iraq's position in regard to all
aspects of all Security Council resolutions," he told reporters, adding,
"Iraq had met all of the requirements of those mentioned resolutions and now
it is the role of the Security Council to implement its mutual obligations
towards Iraq. That means an immediate lift of sanctions imposed on Iraq."
A spokesman said Annan and Al-Sahaf met for 20 minutes in a tete-a-tete
before the two delegations sat down together.

The discussions, held around a large oak table in a conference of Annan's
38th floor office, came about after a meeting the secretary-general had with
Iraqi First Vice President Izzat Ibrahim in Doha, Qatar, at the Islamic
Conference in November.

"During that conference I was also able to talk to lots of Arab and  Islamic
leaders as to what their own positions were vis-à-vis the sanctions  against
Iraq," the secretary-general said. "We're looking forward to a frank  and
constructive dialogue, and I hope we'll be able to find some ways as we
move forward of breaking the current impasse, which no one considers
satisfactory."   A spokesman for Annan, Fred Eckhard, said the Iraqis had
been asked for an  agenda proposal but did not submit one. The spokesman
said the lack of such  a written agenda was not of concern.

"There is quite a bit of reflection going on here in the building and
around the capitals of the world," the secretary-general said. "For a long
time, the attitude has been: This is our policy, this is the way we do
things. But I think recently we have put on the table that critical question
of what should we be doing, and I hope out of this review and search will
emerge a constructive way forward."   He expressed hope the Iraqis also have
done some reflection and reviewed  their thinking because, "Obviously, the
members of the (Security) Council  are not satisfied with its performance
with regard to Security Council  resolutions."   Asked about changes since
the Doha meeting, which prompted these  discussions, Annan said, "There have
been movements in capitals as to their  own thinking, their own approach.
The council has been busy since there is a  new U.S. administration that is
also reviewing the situation, so there are a  lots of movements that can
affect where we go."   The changes he was referring to involved sanctions
and bombings. Iraq has  been under sanctions for 10 years because of its
invasion of Kuwait, which  led to the 1991 Gulf War. However, under the
oil-for-food program,  authorized in 1996, humanitarian goods have been
allowed into the country.

The Feb. 16 British-U.S. bombing of air defense sites on the outskirts of
Baghdad brought condemnation from several quarters, even allies of the two
nations and included Saudi Arabia where U.S. troops and planes are based.

Support for the 10-year-old sanctions has been declining and the
effectiveness of them have eroded to the point that President Bush has
referred to the sanctions as "Swiss cheese."   "Whether Iraq has fully
complied with Security Council requirements is not  a judgment that is left
to me, it's a judgment that the inspectors will  affirm or determine once
they've been able to get back into Iraq," said  Annan. "There's no doubt
that some progress has been made over the years  when the inspections were
going on."   Inspections ended in December 1998 when the allies bombed Iraq
for  non-cooperation with the weapons inspectors of the U.N. Special

A year later, a new authority was established to seek out weapons of mass
destruction called the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection

After Monday's sessions on disarmament and humanitarian sessions, the  talks
were to adjourn until Tuesday morning when unfinished business is  taken
before final adjournment late in the afternoon.

Annan heads the U.N. delegation, which includes the world organization's
legal counsel, Hans Corell; Jayantha Dhanapala, the undersecretary-general
for disarmament affairs; Benon Sevan, director of the Office of the Iraq
Program; Danilo Turk, assistant secretary general for political affairs;
Shashi Tharoor, acting head of the Department of Public Information;
Vladimir Grachev of the secretary-general's executive office; and Annan's
Chief of Staff, Iqbal Riza. Annan will chair the opening and closing

Hans Blix, head of the UNMOVIC, is noticeably not included in the talks.

Eckhard attempted to explain the absence by pointing out Blix does not
report  to the secretary-general but to the Security Council and that
Dhanapala, the  senior U.N. official dealing with disarmament, would be
present. The  spokesman also said he assumed that Annan would report to the
council at  some point on the meetings.


UNITED NATIONS (Reuters, 27th February) - Iraq and the United Nations ended
two days of talks on 10-year-old sanctions Tuesday with no conclusions but
agreement to meet again within weeks, Baghdad's foreign minister, Mohammed
Saeed al-Sahaf said.

The two teams are expected to have a second round in New York "within a few
weeks," al Sahaf told reporters, without revealing the precise date.

He said the Iraqi delegation would return "with feedback because we have to
continue building this house."

"This dialogue is not end in itself. It is vehicle for something, to find a
way out to find a solution," al-Sahaf said. "We didn't discuss any
proposals. We discussed issues."

Expectations were low that the first high-level talks in years between U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Iraqi delegation would yield any
concrete results. But some U.N. Security Council diplomats deemed them
positive if Iraq considered the talks the beginning of a dialogue rather
than a one-shot session.


The Age (Australia), 1st March

More than $US3.5 billion ($A6.8 billion) approved to buy medicines, food and
other essential items to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people is lying
idle in United Nations bank accounts waiting for the Iraqi Government to

The amount of unused money, amassed from the proceeds of sanctioned Iraqi
oil sales, has grown sharply in recent months as President Saddam Hussein's
regime has failed to lodge applications to get access to the money.

UN documents supplied to The Age in New York show that Iraq has been offered
$624.8 million in the past six months alone to buy drugs and medical
supplies for the country's struggling health system.

But the Iraqi Government has asked to spend only $83.6 million, opting to
leave more than $540 million parked in the accounts.

At the same time, President Saddam has increased his attacks on the UN's
sanctions regime, blaming them for depriving his country of crucial medical

A high-ranking Western diplomat, who asked not to be named, said many
countries believed President Saddam was manipulating the suffering of his
people to direct anger at the UN and the US.

His failure to spend the oil money was seen as a way of prolonging that
suffering to win international sympathy. "The money is there for him to buy
the drugs and save the lives of his suffering children, but he is refusing
to spend it for the most inhumane political objectives," the diplomat said.

The chairman of the Security Council's oil-for-food committee, Ole Peter
Kolby, of Norway, has sent a stinging letter to the Iraqi delegation asking
why Baghdad is not using more of the money.

In a copy of the letter obtained by The Age, Mr Kolby says he is concerned
by the "unacceptably slow rate" at which Iraq is applying for money,
particularly for health.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is believed to have amplified those concerns
in meetings this week with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahaf.

Mr Annan and Mr al-Sahaf hope to lay the groundwork for a continuing round
of meetings aimed at breaking the deadlock over the economic sanctions and
weapons inspections regimes in Iraq.

The Security Council has told Iraq it will review the sanctions only if
international arms experts are allowed to resume their inspections of Iraqi
weapons sites.

Mr al-Sahaf said on Monday that Iraq would not allow the inspectors back
into the country.

The oil-for-food program budgets amounts in six-monthly phases to be spent
by Iraq in specific areas, including health, education, water and
sanitation, agriculture, transport and housing.

A resolution passed last year by the Security Council allows spending on
food, drugs and other essentials to be accelerated.

The UN's official figures show that $351.5million was offered to Iraq in
phase eight of the program, which ended yesterday. Iraq spent just $21.6
million of that money. Another $551.2 million was available for improving
water and sanitation services, but only $184.8 million was spent.

Food was the only sector in which all money had been spent during the phase.
However, large amounts of food money from earlier phases have not been

The $3.5 billion sitting in the UN accounts will remain available for the
duration of the program, in addition to the new funds issued every six

The UN's oil-for-food office in New York revealed on Tuesday that the
proceeds from the past three months of Iraqi oil sales were expected to be
$2.2 billion.

Diplomats blamed Mr Saddam for a drop-off in sales, accusing him of placing
an illegal surcharge on the price of Iraqi oil that has forced buyers to
look elsewhere.

Times of India, 1st March

BAGHDAD (AFP): Iraq's ruling Baath party on Wednesday laid down five
conditions, including the lifting of the decade-old embargo and scrapping of
no-fly zones, for its renewed cooperation with the United Nations.

Otherwise, "Iraq has the right not to deal with the outcome of a revision of
sanctions" that is being proposed by the United States, said Ath-Thawra, the
party's mouthpiece.

Apart from the "total and unconditional lifting of the embargo," Iraq was
also demanding the establishment of a Middle East free of weapons of mass
destruction, with Israel also included.

Ath-Thawra said Baghdad wanted an end to the exclusion zones imposed by US
and British warplanes over northern and southern Iraq.

The other conditions were "a commitment by all states to respect the
sovereignty of Iraq and not to meddle in its internal affairs," and for the
country "to be treated on a equal footing as other states."

The set of demands was "totally legitimate and just," said Ath-Thawra,
adding however that Iraq expected resistance because of US pressure and "a
(UN) Security Council that is incapable of implementing international law."


NO URL: Source:  Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


Rome, 1 March 2001 -- Some 60 million people in 33 countries are facing food
emergencies of varying intensity, according to a report released today by
the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


ASIA (11 countries)

Afghanistan   Drought, civil strife Armenia   Drought, economic constraints
Azerbaijan   Drought, economic constraints Cambodia   Floods Georgia
Drought, economic constraints Iraq   Sanctions, drought Jordan   Drought
Korea, DPR   Adverse weather, economic problems Mongolia   Economic
problems, harsh winter Tajikistan   Drought Uzbekistan   Drought in

For further information, please contact:
John Riddle FAO Media Relations tel. + 39 06 5705 3259 e-mail:

by ROBIN McDOWELL, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS (AP, 1st March) - With no green light from Baghdad to let
inspectors into Iraq, the United Nations (news - web sites) weapons
inspection agency said Thursday it was considering the purchase of satellite
imagery to help identify suspected arms facilities.

The agency said it has trained 120 experts for weapons searches, but that it
will not go ahead with more costly commitments such as helicopter service
contracts unless there is some indication Iraq will admit inspectors.

However, discussions are proceeding with governments and commercial
providers about potentially using satellite technology, the U.N. Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission said in a report.

``While imagery cannot be a substitute for on-site inspection, it can
provide a valuable complement to inspection,'' chief U.N. inspector Hans
Blix said in the quarterly report to the Security Council.

The report was issued two days after the conclusion of U.N. talks on
restarting weapons inspections in Iraq, which ended in December 1998 just
before the United States and Britain launched airstrikes against Baghdad.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf ruled out the return of
inspectors - even if U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of
Kuwait are lifted.


Financial Times, 1st March

The UN's new weapons inspection agency suspects Iraq still has the capacity
to develop and deliver the most deadly chemical and biological weapons.

In a document produced last month, the agency, called Unmovic, says Iraq
could still have Scud long-range missiles, mustard gas and biological
weapons including anthrax spores.

Unmovic was set up in December 1999 by the UN security council to succeed
Unscom, the controversial inspection agency disbanded a year earlier amid
accusations of bias towards the US and having been a vehicle for spying on

The classified Unmovic document is based mainly on information it inherited
from Unscom because Iraq has refused to allow any UN inspectors back in.

But its revival of Unscom's concerns is likely to prove controversial. It
comes as the US and its closest ally Britain are under pressure from fellow
permanent security council members Russia, France and China to ease their
tough stance on sanctions against Baghdad.

On February 20, three days after the US and UK bombed Iraqi defence sites
just outside Baghdad, Unmovic presented its report to a meeting in Vienna of
an international panel of advisers set up by the security council to guide
its work. The document will form the basis of a list of disarmament tasks
Iraq will be set by the UN to be completed before sanctions can be lifted.

Britain said the Unmovic report demonstrated why the UK was right to insist
on the retention of UN sanctions until Mr Saddam complied with security
council resolutions. "This justifies and reinforces the approach we are
taking," said an official. "Saddam remains a threat and still needs to be

But a French foreign ministry official insisted that the meeting in Vienna
had merely discussed documents on the state of Iraq's weapons stocks and
armaments programmes. It was agreed the various governments concerned should
undertake a review of how to proceed.

Other French officials said the documents would be counter-productive in
convincing Iraq to again accept weapons inspectors. "It shows that Unmovic
is no different to Unscom," said one.

Hubert Vedrine, French foreign minister, made clear Paris would not be
swayed from its demand to end the 10-year embargo against Iraq. Quoted in
Liberation, the French newspaper, he described the embargo as "more and more
cruel and intolerable and less and less effective".

The document said Iraq could still have two imported long-range Scud B
missiles as well as its own Scud B type missiles, launchers and fuel. It
could still have mustard gas, with as many as 500-700 155mm shells
unaccounted for.

Unmovic believed Iraq produced tens of thousands of litres of Agent B
anthrax spores and had more than 50 R400 aerial bombs and five Al-Hussein

United Nations, Reuters, 2nd March

With major Security Council powers at odds over policies toward Iraq, UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed for unity so he could negotiate
properly with Baghdad officials in the future.

Reporting on two days of talks with an Iraqi government delegation this
week, Annan acknowledged late on Wednesday that no new proposals had emerged
to break the impasse over sanctions and UN weapons inspections. Instead, the
Iraqis had submitted a stack of documents purporting to show why the
decade-old sweeping embargoes should be dropped immediately.

Given the intense nature of discussions among council members, and U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent trip to the Middle East, Annan said
he hoped the 15-member body could agree "on certain critical questions and
to restore unity" before his next round of talks in April or May.

He spoke to reporters after briefing the Security Council. In response,
Russia and France said members had to clarify precisely what Iraq had to do
to get a suspension of the sanctions, imposed after Baghdad's troops invaded
Kuwait in August 1990.

Both countries said the clarifications, including a time frame between arms
inspections and the suspension of sanctions, would help Annan in his
negotiations. Getting arms inspectors back into Iraq is a key requirement
before the sanctions can be lifted or eased further. Iraq has not allowed
them to return since they left on the eve of a December 1998 U.S.-British
bombing raid. But the five permanent members of the council - the United
States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- have been unable to agree for
years on contentious clarifications, thereby leaving sections of resolutions
and vague statements to paper over differences.

The last major resolution on Iraq, in December 1999, drew abstentions from
Russia and China - and at the last minute from France - as well as a
rejection from Baghdad. That document outlined measures toward a suspension
of sanctions if Iraq cleared up questions on its weapons of mass

The United States is reviewing its policies toward Baghdad, which might
include monitoring its borders and pressuring such countries as Jordan or
Turkey to cut brisk illegal trade with Iraq. Powell succeeded in getting
Syria to place oil flowing from Iraq under U.N. supervision, which still
controls the bulk of Baghdad's oil revenues.

Powell also wants to ease sanctions on civilian goods going to Iraq, and
remove some of its "holds" on $3 billion dollars worth of supplies for
infrastructure repairs, which Washington had promised to do nearly a year
ago. But so far diplomats say Powell's attempts to seek a common ground with
France have been unsuccessful following months of strained relations between
Washington and Paris on this issue.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who led the delegation to
New York, rejected weapons inspections but said he might agree to
non-intrusive monitoring if other countries in the region submitted to the
same, starting with Israel. But British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said
the goal of a Middle East without dangerous arms was "an aspiration." The
council had to focus on Iraq first because "that is the business where there
is a real security threat."

Confident it has Arab opinion on its side, the Iraqi delegation on Monday
and Tuesday alternated from anti-U.S. rhetoric to conciliatory words about
seeking a way out of the deadlock. Al-Sahaf characterized Powell's comments
to rethink sanctions and ease the sufferings of ordinary Iraqis as
"rubbish," and a "stupid" ploy to deceive public opinion.

Several diplomats, however, said he left his supporters with little positive
news, such as movement on the fate on missing Kuwaitis during Iraq's 1990
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