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News, 11-18/3/01 (1) Once again this news reports comes from an unfamiliar address. Complaints and queries should still be addressed to me at email@example.com. The most spectacular news has been the friendly fire¹ bombing in Kuwait. The pieces I have picked up don¹t seem to attach enough importance to the fact (at least I think its a fact) that these were shrapnel bombs, ie the nastiest, messiest sort of direct anti-personnel bombs. My own favourite article in a long but generally rather uninteresting selection is *US blunder triggered global germ bomb race¹, under the New World Order heading. NO FLY ZONES * Allies carry out 46 sorties over Iraq * U.S. jet mistakenly bombs ground observers, killing 6 [this article is interesting as showing that this is by no means an isolated incident] * U.S. serviceman directed Kuwait bombing * On killing of American soldiers in Kuwait [a perhaps rather fanciful speculation that the people involved in the incident were experimenting with ways of assassinating Saddam Hussein] * Abort! Abort!¹ call too late * US investigators to begin work on Kuwait bombing deaths * U.S. airman directing Kuwait attack was injured * The price of closing Vieques [Vieques is a training ground in Puerto Rico where there was a nasty accident mentioned in U.S. jet mistakenly bombs ground observers, killing 6¹ above. This article complains that it has been closed for political reasons namely the protests of Puerto Ricans living near it] * Britain and America's pilots are blowing the cover on our so-called "humanitarian" no-fly zone [by John Pilger. A very important article which if anything understates the degree of Britain¹s involvement in the Turkish repression of the Turkish Kurds] IRAQI INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * US to decide whether to complain to UN on China * Cuban parliament speaker visits Iraq * A test for Poland¹s loyalties [on the rather intriguing incident in which a government adviser was sacked for giving the impression that the Polish government supported the raids on Baghdad] * Moroccan truck firm to deliver Iraq 550 vehicles by end 2001 RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL/PALESTINE * US needs a credible Iraq strategy [Jerusalem Post in a state of alarm that the US appears to be appeasing Arabs] * Iraqis Seek To Liberate Palestine¹ [Saddam¹s Jerusalem army] * Book Exposes Israeli Nuclear Policy [The CIA has estimated more recently that Israel has between 200 and 400 nuclear weapons. ] * Sharon to press for U.S. sanctions on Damascus [for backing the Hezbollah in Lebanon] * Of water pipes and diplomacy [not directly related to Iraq but interesting on Israeli/Lebanon relations. And once again it seems to me, Ha¹aretz articulating an intelligent pro-Israeli position] * Saddam poses a diplomatic threat [Ha¹aretz again. Adopting a new tack in discussions with Powell, the Arab states grasped Saddam as their most potent leverage in relations with the U.S., so long as Washington sticks to its sanctions policy.¹ Should be read in conjunction with the next article from the Jerusalem Post] IRAQI MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS * Syria key to any anti-Iraq coalition - US sources [Jerusalem Post again. Israeli anxiety about Syria again. Largely on the refusal of senior US politicians to meet the Maronite patriarch. The statement that the Maronite church is a splinter of the Roman Catholic Church¹ is a bit of simplification] * Ankara sends 400-member trade mission to Iraq * Lebanon gears to restart diplomatic ties with Iraq [obviously as part of the Syria/Iraq detente] * Saddam Says Leave Iraq Out of Arab Summit * Middle East could erupt in fireball, warns Holbrooke * Troops swamp Beirut to deter protests [protests in favour of the lebanese Christian leader, General Michel Aoun. Remember him?] * Death sentence commuted for Kuwaiti puppet leader * Lebanese seeks help over missing in Iraq * Moussa [Egypt], Sahaf [Iraq] exchange views on Amman summit¹s agenda * Oman calls for greater Arab unity * Kuwait Ready to Discuss Iraq at Arab Summit * Saddam Invited to Attend Arab Summit * Saddam is expected to take part [in person, which would be interesting] in the Arab summit * Iraq pardons 27 Iranian prisoners * Jordan, Iraq sign financial arrangements minutes of meeting * Mubarak-Bush summit to focus on the peace process, Iraq and free trade zone * Kuwaiti man builds museum to remember Gulf War horrors [including a mock-up of an Iraqi trench complete with looted TV set and VCR.¹] * Yemen minister in Baghdad Sent separately as News, 11-18/3/01 (2) LIFE IN IRAQ * Gulf War¹s Deadly Legacy [depleted uranium] * Net gives a few Iraqis a window on the world [internet cafés in Baghdad] * WHO to Study Health Effects of Depleted Uranium in Iraq * Sanctions make two classes in Iraq UNITED NATIONS POLICY * Unpaid Pakistani victims of Iraqi invasion [complaints that Pakistanis missed out on the Iraq compensation scam. Makes Dawn¹s opposition to sanctions appear a little hypocritical] * UN sanctions committee decides to compensate Kuwait from the Iraqi oil [no such complaints here, yet] * UN weighs aid to Iraq on pollution claims [Russian/French proposal, opposed by the US and Britain, that Iraq should be helped to research its own defense against compensation claims] UNITED STATES POLICY * How Saddam profits off mercy [to the great disgust of the New York Post] * Powell Is Smartand Toughon Iraq [Powell¹s policy is the best way to keep sanctions going] * The folly of sanctions that fortify dictators [from The Scotsman] NEW WORLD ORDER * Global Realities Reshaping Bush Foreign Policy Vision * US blunder triggered global germ bomb race¹ * Let¹s boycott the UN¹s racism conference [on the grounds that dark skinned tyrants have the nerve to want to criticise white-skinned liberal democratics] * 'Something special is at risk' [by Winston Churchill. A long, friendly interview with Donald Rumsden and Paul Wolfowitz about US foreign policy in general] Sent separately as RIGHTS SUPPLEMENT (11-18/3/01) [A series of articles put out by Arabic News giving excerpts from the UN government reports on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq] NO FLY ZONES http://www.timesofindia.com/110301/11worl6.htm * Allies carry out 46 sorties over Iraq Times of India, 11th March AMMAN: US and British warplanes carried out 46 reconnaissance missions over Iraq¹s southern no-fly zone on Friday, drawing fire from Iraqi anti-aircraft missile units and guns, the state-run Iraq News Agency (INA) reported. The jets launched sorties from bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, INA quoted a spokesman for the command of the Iraqi Defence Force as saying. ``The hostile aircraft targeted residential areas and civilian installations in ... Basrah, Thiqar and Qadissiyyah,¹¹ the spokesman said. He also claimed: ``They were intercepted by our rocket units and anti-aircraft batteries, which forced them to return to their bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.¹¹ INA did not report any US or British air activity over Iraq¹s northern no-fly zone from bases in Turkey in the last few days. (DPA) http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/846957 * U.S. jet mistakenly bombs ground observers, killing 6 by MICHAEL HEDGES Houston Chronicle, 13th March WASHINGTON A bomb dropped by an F/A-18 fighter aircraft killed six ground observers during a training exercise in Kuwait near the Iraqi border Monday, Pentagon officials said. Five of the dead were with the U.S. military and the sixth was a New Zealand military observer, Pentagon officials said. Five other people were injured in the blast and were taken to hospitals in Kuwait. Their injuries are not life-threatening, a Pentagon spokesman said. The incident took place at about 8 p.m. Monday Kuwait time, or 10 a.m. CST. The bomb was dropped ³on or near an observation post² on a training range 45 miles northwest of Kuwait City, said a Pentagon statement. It was not clear Monday whether the F/A-18 Hornet¹s pilot had been given the wrong coordinates on where to drop the explosive, or whether the pilot erred in following the directions relayed from the ground. Investigators are being sent from the U.S. Central Command in Florida and are expected to begin searching for the cause of the deaths by the end of the week. ³The F/A-18 aircraft was participating in a routine close air support training exercise,² said a statement from the U.S. Central Command, whose headquarters is at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. ³This exercise involves both day and night training.² Those killed were taking part in a training mission in which ground observers point out targets to circling aircraft, which then bomb the targets, said a Pentagon official. The names of the Americans killed and injured were not released Monday night because their families had not been notified, the Pentagon said. Maj. John McNutt was identified by the New Zealand army as the New Zealander who died. The flight was part of a military training mission near the Udairi range, about 28 miles from the Iraqi border in northern Kuwait. The Navy aircraft flew from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Northern Arabian Gulf. Last month, aircraft from the same carrier took part in bombing missions against Iraqi radar and communications targets near Baghdad after the United States claimed Iraq was targeting aircraft. President Bush told an audience of military personnel and their families at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla., Monday that the accident illustrated the danger they faced on the job. ³I¹m reminded today of how dangerous service can be. We lost some servicemen today in Kuwait in a training accident,² Bush said. ³I hope you¹ll join me in moment of silence for those soldiers and their families.² Few details of what caused the accident were released Monday. The incident is likely to be the subject of a lengthy review. Some military analysts said the most similar accident they could recall involved the killing of a civilian military employee at the bombing range of Vieques, Puerto Rico, in April 1999. In that incident, an F/A-18 pilot erroneously identified a watchtower near a bombing training area as a target, and destroyed it, killing a guard inside. That killing galvanized many Puerto Ricans to protest live ammunition training exercises at the site by U.S. forces in the Atlantic. In January 2000, former President Clinton issued a memorandum that could stop training exercises there. Without commenting directly on the accident Monday, military analysts said there is growing stress on American armed forces to undergo sufficient training to avoid mistakes. William Taylor, a senior military analyst with the Center for Strategic and Military Studies said, ³It is impossible to find a senior military leader who does not say our troops are underfunded and overstretched.² The center did a 1999 study of 12,500 troops who cited a lack of fuel, ammunition and other equipment for proper training as a major concern. Jack Spencer, a military readiness analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, said, ³As a general matter, I do believe the apparent increase in military accidents can be traced to cutbacks in the money for training, and the amount of training, of America¹s military.² Spencer said the budget for training missions has dropped throughout the 1990s, and access to training sites like Vieques has also decreased. A series of military accidents some high profile and some little reported have highlighted the danger from military operations to both soldiers and civilians. A military court of inquiry in Hawaii is investigating the sinking of a Japanese fishery training vessel, the Ehime Maru, after it was struck by the submarine USS Greeneville Feb. 9. Nine men and boys on the ship were killed. Last week, the wives of three Marines killed in an April crash of an V-22 Osprey gave emotional testimony about what one called the ³many legitimate and serious safety concerns² with aircraft. That crash and another V-22 accident in December together cost the lives of 23 Marines. On March 3, 18 members of the Virginia Air National Guard and three Army crewmen died in the crash of a C-23 twin engine turboprop ferrying soldiers from Florida to a naval base in Virginia. And in the past month, the military has experienced other deadly accidents. On Feb. 13, six soldiers died and 11 were injured when two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters collided in Hawaii. On Feb. 22, two Navy airmen were killed in the crash of an F-14 aircraft as it practiced takeoffs and landings from an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic off Jacksonville, Fla. The United States military has mounted frequent missions against Iraq from airfields in Kuwait and aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf since the 1991 Gulf War. The Udairi range has been a frequent site for training missions by forces in the region, officials said. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=11913 * U.S. serviceman directed Kuwait bombing Washington, Reuters, 14th March A U.S. serviceman who directed a practice bombing in Kuwait that accidentally killed five American troops and a New Zealander belatedly called off the strike when at least two bombs went awry, U.S. officials said yesterday. The officials, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters a military forward air controller mistakenly directed an F/A-18 attack jet from the aircraft carrier Harry Truman at a bombing range in Kuwait, then tried to abort the strike too late. ³Tragically, they (the bombs) hit near the service members that were at an observation post on the range,² Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. It was not clear whether the U.S. serviceman directing the attack might have been one of those killed. Quigley declined to discuss details of the incident, other than to say evidence indicated two of the three 500-pound (227- kg) unguided gravity bombs dropped by the F/A-18 ³Hornet² ripped into an air traffic control area on the range, causing six deaths and seven injuries. ³This was the site of the forward air controllers,² he told reporters at a briefing. Quigley said a veteran pilot who commands a U.S. Navy fighter squadron aboard the Truman was flying the F/A-18 jet when it dropped the bombs. Cmdr. David Zimmerman, who has more than 3,000 flying hours and is commander of attack squadron VFA-37, was flying the jet when the incident occurred after dark at about 7:30pm Kuwait time on Monday, about 80 kilometres from the Iraq border. He was flying the 79th of 85 sorties scheduled in the exercise, which was abruptly ended after the accident. It remained unclear how the bombs landed on the air controllers¹ vehicles and a small observation post, but Quigley said those involved in the exercise were using night-vision goggles and that weather was not a factor. Zimmerman, the son of a former naval aviator, is a native of Orange Park, Florida. He joined the service in 1982 and has been flying F/A-18s for eight years. The U.S. Central Command, which is based in Tampa, Florida, and oversees American military operations in the Persian Gulf, said an investigation team headed by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Mike DeLong would depart for Kuwait on Wednesday to begin a full investigation of the incident. The three-star general is deputy commander of the Central Command. Four U.S. Army troops, one U.S. Air Force serviceman and a New Zealand officer were killed in Monday¹s incident. The Air Force yesterday identified the airman killed as Staff Sgt. Jason Farley, a tactical air controller with the 19th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The U.S. Army dead were not immediately identified, but the New Zealand Defense Force said Acting Maj. John McNutt, 27, of the elite First NZ Special Air Service Group was killed. Seven others were injured at the Udairi bombing range in the Kuwaiti desert - four U.S. soldiers, one American airman and two Kuwaiti troops. All were taking part in the exercise as observers. Only three Americans remained hospitalized with injuries that were not life threatening, the Pentagon said. The Air Force identified one of those hospitalized as Staff Sgt. Timothy Crusing, also an air traffic controller from Fort Campbell. He was in stable condition. President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark expressed sadness and regret for the accident. Rumsfeld and Clark promised a thorough investigation. ³Tragedies such as this occur without warning and for reasons that are difficult to understand. We will work hard to take care of the families involved, and to find out how such an accident could occur,² Rumsfeld said in a statement. ³Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our fellow service members, from the United States as well as New Zealand,² added Clark. ³Military operations are dangerous by their very nature and these service members lost their lives in service to their country and their coalition.² The U.S. military and Kuwaiti and foreign forces have set up a permanent training range at Udairi, where almost year-round exercises are held. About 5,000 Americans are based in Kuwait. The United States and Britain have air forces deployed as part of ³Operation Southern Watch,² which patrols over southern Iraq to enforce a no-fly zone. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010314/2001031403.html * On killing of American soldiers in Kuwait Arabic News, 14th March British military sources on March 12 questioned conditions of incidents in which four American soldiers and one soldier for New Zealand and other ten were wounded when an American F18 planes dropped a bomb, mistakenly, on a region where they were positioned to the north of Kuwait during military training, noting the vagueness on this incident. In an exclusive statement to the London- based al-Quds al-Arabai issued on Monday a British military expert said that this incidents reminds of a similar incident that took place during secret Israeli training five years ago when five high ranking Israeli military men were killed and it was found out later that these training were in the framework of an Israeli secret plan to assassinate the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.. The expert did not rule out that these maneuvers which were not officially declared in Kuwait were in the course of a similar plan also to assassinate the Iraqi President. Earlier, the British daily had asserted that there is an American- British plan to assassinate the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and to topple his regime and this plan¹s details were agreed upon during the recent visit held by the British prime minister Tony Blair to Washington during which he met with the US President George Bush. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=177316&thesection=news&thesubsection=world * Abort! Abort!¹ call too late by SCOTT INGLIS and AGENCIES New Zealand Herald, 15th March Ace pilot David Zimmerman was slicing through the darkness 1500m above the Kuwaiti desert when he was told he could drop his three bombs. ³Cleared, hot,² the ground-based forward air-controller declared over the radio. But moments later, the controller frantically shouted, ³Abort, abort!² as he realised too late that the pilot was flying towards his own observation post. The three unguided 500-pound (226kg) ³dumb² bombs fell near the post, killing New Zealand special forces officer John McNutt and five United States servicemen. It was not clear last night whether the controller was killed in the accident. However the US Air Force said one of its tactical air controllers, Staff Sergeant Jason Faley, was among the dead. The soldiers had been observing a live-ammunition bombing exercise in the Udairi military training range, about 50km from the Iraqi border. Seven other soldiers were wounded in the accident at 5 am on Tuesday (NZ time). Acting Major McNutt, a 27-year-old high-flyer in the SAS, had been New Zealand¹s sole military representative in Kuwait since December. He had been a staff officer at the Coalition Joint Taskforce headquarters - a joint mission in Kuwait also involving the US, Britain and Australia - and was due home in eight weeks. As investigators started an inquiry and New Zealand demanded answers, US military sources revealed how the botched exercise was thought to have unfolded. Commander Zimmerman, leader of the US Navy¹s attack squadron VFA-37 based at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia, took part in the December 1998 bombing of Baghdad and enforcement missions over Iraq¹s no-fly zones. He has more than 3000 flight hours in tactical jets. A native of Orange Park, Florida, he graduated from Jacksonville University in 1982 and has since become a highly decorated pilot with four major medals - including the Defence Meritorious Service Medal. On Monday night in the Gulf, he put on his night-vision goggles and took off in his F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. Commander Zimmerman was taking part in the close air-support live-ammunition bombing exercise over the Udairi range. Close air-support exercises involve forward air-controllers properly identifying targets for aircraft to engage. The controllers are supposed to tell the pilots the crucial information they need, such as the target¹s location and type of target. Commander Zimmerman flew the several hundred kilometres to the Udairi range. His targets were wrecked vehicles, and as he approached them he rose to about 3000m in the $55 million plane. Commmander Zimmerman, on the 80th of 85 sorties, cut through the clear Kuwaiti sky at more than 800km/h, and was directed in the early stages of his approach by a Navy forward air-controller in another aircraft. In the final stage, a ground-based controller guided him into the target area, and he dropped to 1500m. About 7.30 pm Kuwaiti time, what should have been a straightforward exercise turned into an international tragedy. Commander Zimmerman was reportedly told his bombs were ³cleared, hot² - an unambiguous military term. Moments later, despite the desperate attempt of the controller to abort the exercise, the bombs exploded. Major McNutt¹s body was flown last evening to the US forward air base in Germany, and will be flown on to New Zealand. The Florida-based Central Command chief, General Tommy Franks, will oversee the US inquiry into the tragedy, but it could be several weeks before there are any proper findings. New Zealand Colonel Richard Cassidy left early yesterday for Kuwait and will act as an inquiry observer. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/074/nation/US_investigators_to_begin_work_on_Kuwait_bombing_deaths+.shtml * US investigators to begin work on Kuwait bombing deaths by Ashraf Fouad, Reuters Boston Globe, 15th March KUWAIT - A team of US military investigators headed by a general flies into Kuwait today to investigate how bombs dropped by a US plane killed five American servicemen and a New Zealander during a desert exercise near the border with Iraq. Joining them will be a three-man Kuwaiti team, including an officer who was on the ground when bombs from a US Navy F/A-18 Hornet fell on an observation post during a night exercise. Several military sources familiar with the accident said the two bombs that killed the six servicemen fell several kilometers away from their designated targets. ¹The approach of the aircraft towards the designated target indicated that something was not right,¹¹ said one officer. Another said: ¹The difference was big. We are not speaking about a few meters but several kilometers.¹¹ But the sources said it was premature to try to identify the cause of the accident at the Udairi training range, which is used for almost year-round live-fire exercises, mainly by US, British, and Kuwaiti forces. Military sources said US forces held an emotional memorial service last night for the victims at Camp Doha, a military facility on the outskirts of the capital, Kuwait City, which is also the base for prepositioned US heavy arms deployed in the country. It was not immediately clear whether technical or pilot error was to blame or whether the warplane was wrongly directed by a ground team. A US forward air controller directing the nighttime bombing run Monday had cried, ¹Abort,¹¹ to try to stop the Navy Hornet from dropping its load of 500-pound bombs. Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman, said in Washington that evidence indicated that two of the three unguided gravity bombs loosed by the Hornet had hit the air traffic control site where the forward air controllers operated. One US Army medic, three explosives specialists, one US Air Force tactical air controller, and a New Zealand liaison officer died in the accident. Two Kuwaitis were injured, along with five US servicemen, including another air traffic controller. Defense Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Hamad al-Sabah of Kuwait said the investigation teams would start their work shortly. They are due to visit the accident site, which has been secured and sealed off. The war games, called Intrinsic Action, have been frozen. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=11997 * U.S. airman directing Kuwait attack was injured Washington, Reuters, 15th March A U.S. Air Force ground controller who was directing a practice bombing that missed the target in Kuwait was one of seven military personnel injured in the deadly strike, defense officials said yesterday. Five U.S. troops and a New Zealand officer died in Monday¹s accident at a bombing range in northern Kuwait when two out of three bombs dropped by a U.S. Navy F/A fighter jet smashed into a ground observation site at the range. The U.S. defense officials, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Crusing, a tactical air controller, was directing the attack when the bombs destroyed his post. He was hospitalized in stable condition after the incident. The officials spoke as an investigation team led by a senior officer from the U.S. Central Command left Florida for Kuwait on Wednesday to begin an in-depth study of the incident at the Udairi bombing range 80 kilometres from Kuwait¹s border with Iraq. But the defense officials stressed that it was not clear whether Crusing, who was in Kuwait on temporary duty from the 19th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was the controller who gave permission to the Navy pilot to begin his bombing in darkness and then tried to call off the strike. [.....] http://www.nypostonline.com/postopinion/editorial/26534.htm * THE PRICE OF CLOSING VIEQUES New York Post, 16th March The U.S. Navy has another embarrassment on its hands: This week¹s aerial bombing accident in Kuwait that killed six people - five American soldiers and an army officer from New Zealand. This is the second time in less than a month that Navy fliers have proven less than proficient in carrying out their duties. Earlier, bombs dropped from carrier-based aircraft during an attack on Iraqi air-defense radars fell far off their targets, endangering the attacking planes and any others on no-fly-zone duty over Iraq. It¹s not entirely clear what caused the bombing tragedy in Kuwait. But the father of one of the GI¹s who was killed made an excellent point earlier this week: ³There¹s a problem somewhere in our training, and I think we need to find out what the problem is and get it solved before we lose more people,² said Mike Freligh of Gosnell, Ark. There is one common element in the two incidents: Both involved aviators who had been denied the usual amount of naval bomb-range training on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques - because of political considerations. Here in New York, Gov. Pataki and Sens. Schumer and Clinton - among others - are loudly calling for the Vieques range permanently to be closed before an alternative is located. Down in Arkansas, a grieving Mike Freligh has a wider view. Again: ³We need to get [this] solved before we lose more people.² Think of it as Vieques, put in perspective. http://www.consider.net/forum_new.php3?Action=Display&newDisplayURN=200103190010 (Circulated to CASI list) * Britain and America's pilots are blowing the cover on our so-called "humanitarian" no-fly zone by John Pilger New Statesman, 19th March Royal Air Force pilots have protested for the first time about their role in the bombing of Iraq. Pilots patrolling the so-called no-fly zone in the north of the country have spoken angrily about how they have been ordered to return to their base in Turkey in order to allow the Turkish air force to bomb the Kurds in Iraq - the very people the British are meant to be "protecting". The pilots say that, whenever the Turkish air force wants to launch attacks on the Kurds, the Turks are recalled to base and their radar is switched so that the targets will not be visible. One British pilot reported seeing the devastation caused by the attacks when he resumed his patrol. The pilots agreed to speak, on a non-attributable basis, to Dr Eric Herring, the Iraq sanctions specialist at Bristol University. "They were all very unhappy about what they had been ordered to do, and what they had seen," he said, "especially as there had been no official explanation." While British government ministers have repeatedly described the no-fly-zones as "humanitarian cover" for the Kurds, the pilots' unease has become an open secret in the United States. Last October, the Washington Post reported: "On more than one occasion [US pilots who fly in tandem with the British] have received a radio message that 'there is a TSM inbound' - that is, a 'Turkish Special Mission' heading into Iraq. Following standard orders, the Americans turned their planes around and flew back to Turkey. 'You'd see Turkish F-14s and F-16s inbound, loaded to the gills with munitions,' [pilot Mike Horn] said. 'Then they'd come out half an hour later with their munitions expended.' When the Americans flew back into Iraqi air space, he recalled, they would see 'burning villages, lots of smoke and fire'." Last December, more than 10,000 Turkish troops invaded northern Iraq, killing untold numbers of civilians and fighters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK. British and American aircraft "protecting" the Kurds did nothing to prevent the invasion; indeed, most patrols were suspended to allow the Turks to get on with the killing. Inside Turkey, the Ankara regime has destroyed 3,000 Kurdish villages, displaced more than three million people and killed tens of thousands. Racist laws prevent Turkish Kurds from speaking their language; parliamentarians and journalists who speak out end up in prison, or assassinated. The Blair government has said nothing about this, because Turkey is a member of Nato. Almost all Kurds applying for asylum in Britain - from Turkey and Iraq - have been refused. Jack Straw's new Terrorism Act bans the PKK, which has no history of violence in this country. This means that Kurdish activists resident in Britain are now at risk of being sent back to Turkey: to prison, or worse. In the past few weeks more than 1,000 political prisoners on hunger strike in Turkish jails have been attacked by the authorities, leaving 33 people dead. Again, Whitehall's response has been silence. RAF pilots are gradually becoming aware of the dishonest power game of which they are a part, and that the no-fly zones have no basis in international law and provide no "humanitarian cover" for the Kurds in the north and the Shi'a in the south. Concern for these people was always a sham. In 1991, when President Bush Sr called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, he was really inviting Saddam's generals to stage a military coup and install a more malleable dictator. The last thing he wanted was the ensuing popular uprising by the Shi'a in March of that year - which Saddam crushed with helicopter gunships that the US allowed him to fly, and while American commanders denied weapons and equipment to the rebels. An estimated 30,000 people were slaughtered. "We clearly would have preferred a coup. There's no question about that," said Bush's national security adviser Brent Scowcroft in 1997. The British commander in the Gulf war, General Sir Peter de la Billiere, said, apparently with a straight face: "The Iraqis were responsible for establishing law and order." Eric Herring wrote to me: "Perhaps the most repulsive thing about the whole policy is that US and British decision-makers have exploited popular humanitarian sentiment for the most cynical Realpolitik reasons. They have no desire for the Shi'ite majority to take control or for the Kurds to gain independence. Their policy is to keep them strong enough to cause trouble for Saddam Hussein while ensuring that Saddam Hussein is strong enough to keep repressing them. This is a direct descendant of British imperial policy from the First World War onwards [and is about the control] of Iraqi oil . . . Divide and rule was and is the policy." Recently, Richard Norton-Taylor disclosed in the Guardian that Britain's military establishment was concerned about the proposed new international criminal court. The generals complained that rules made in Brussels might "prevent British peacekeepers from carrying out their tasks effectively". Their real concern, and that of western politicians, was put by Michael Caplan, the former lawyer to General Pinochet, who questioned how Tony Blair would be able to defend himself were he charged with bombing targets in Kosovo knowing that civilians would be killed. When he was the Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq, Peter Hain wrote to the New Statesman, describing as preposterous the very suggestion that he, and other British ministers directly complicit in the atrocious embargo against Iraq, might be summoned to appear before the new court. We shall see. www.johnpilger.com IRAQ-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://www.timesofindia.com/110301/11amrc5.htm * US to decide whether to complain to UN on China Times of India, 11th March WASHINGTON: The United States put China on notice on Friday that it may soon decide to complain to the United Nations about Beijing¹s alleged flouting international sanctions against Iraq. ³We¹ll see about that in coming days,² said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. ³We may, after we look into this further and see what¹s being done, we may decide that we need to go to the UN Sanctions Committee and discuss it there.² US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday Washington might ask the committee to review whether China has complied with the sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 occupation of Kuwait. Allegations that Chinese technicians may be helping Iraq to lay fiber optic cables to upgrate the country¹s air defenses came in the wake of last month¹s US and British air strikes against military targets outside Baghdad. A Pentagon official said the strikes had been carried out specifically on a Friday, the Muslim holy day, to avoid hitting the Chinese technicians. China has denied the US allegations. US Ambassador to Beijing Joseph Prueher raised the issue of Chinese technicians in Iraq during his meeting Monday with Chinese foreign ministry officials. ³In that meeting, the Chinese told us that they intended to abide by UN resolutions, that they intended for their companies to abide by UN resolutions,² Boucher said. But he said the Chinese officials did not provide the US government [with information? - PB] about the nature of work performed by Chinese specialists in Iraq. ³We will continue to monitor this situation and work with the Chinese to make sure that the general instructions to Chinese companies are abided by the way the Chinese government says it wants,² said Boucher. (AFP) http://www.timesofindia.com/110301/11mide10.htm * Cuban parliament speaker visits Iraq Times of India, 11th March BAGHDAD: Cuba¹s parliament speaker Ricardo Alarcon held talks with his Iraqi counterpart Saadun Hammadi on Saturday at the start of a visit to Baghdad, parliamentary officials said. They said the aim of the visit was to further boost the close ties between the two countries, both of which are on a US list of pariah states. The Cuban foreign ministry condemned the US and British air strikes around Baghdad on February 16, branding the operation as the latest in a ³long series of criminal and hostile actions² against Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War. (AFP) http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3UWP1JBKC&live=true&tagid=ZZZAFZAVA0C&subheading=europe * A test for Poland¹s loyalties by John Reed in Warsaw Financial Times, 14th March France and Poland had a telling diplomatic exchange after last month¹s US-British bombing of Iraq. When an adviser to Poland¹s prime minister expressed sympathy for the raid, Hubert Vedrine, French foreign minister, remarked pointedly that Canada and Poland were the only two other countries in the world to support the attack. Warsaw duly sacked the official, whose remarks it said did not reflect a neutral official stance. But government spokesman Krzysztof Luft also remarked tartly: ³Polish foreign policy is conducted by Poland¹s foreign ministry, not France¹s.² The incident highlighted two emerging trends: first, European Union countries are increasingly monitoring Poland, as a prospective member, for clues on its future policy leanings after December¹s Nice summit awarded it the same number of votes in an expanded EU council as Spain. Second, some apparently worry that the country - among the most pro-American in Europe - could prove a stalking horse for US interests within the EU. ³There is no getting away from the fact that some countries perceive the Poles as having strongly divided loyalties,² said one senior EU diplomat in Warsaw. ³This is felt most strongly in defence and foreign policy areas,² he added, especially over plans for an EU-led rapid reaction force. Polish Americanophilia goes back to the 18th century, when many Poles fled their partitioned homeland to fight under Washington in the American war of independence. The ties continued into the 20th century - when President Woodrow Wilson championed Polish independence - and through the 1980s, when Polish intellectuals supported Ronald Reagan¹s anti-Soviet stance. Today, Poland¹s embassy in Baghdad looks after US diplomatic interests in Iraq, one reason why last month¹s remarks touched off a minor international incident. Opinion polls consistently rank Americans as Poland¹s favourite foreigners, ahead of the French and British. More than 9m Americans claim Polish descent, and emigré groups were instrumental in pushing for Poland¹s acceptance into Nato two years ago. With Nato membership a novelty and memories of Soviet domination fresh, Poland continues to support a strong US role in Europe. ³We feel ourselves part of Europe, but we want to see the future of Europe with a strong connection with the US,² said Maciej Pisarski, US desk officer in Poland¹s foreign ministry, who emphasised he spoke in a private capacity. Yet Poland needs to play its perceived transatlantic special relationship carefully or risk alienating its future EU partners. When Britain and France proposed a European defence force Poland irritated some EU diplomats by opposing it because it could weaken Nato. Poland has since shifted its stance to support the initiative, although as a non-EU member it complains it is not being fully consulted about the future force¹s shape. Meanwhile, as the debate on the future US role in Europe gains momentum, Poles continue to deny they should have to ³choose² between Europe and the US. ³We often ask the question: should we go with Europe or the US?² said Longin Pastusiak, a member of parliament with the opposition Democratic Left Alliance who has written some 60 books on the US. ³I think it¹s a false dilemma, since it¹s in our interest to have equally good relations with both.² Security issues aside, Mr Pastusiak and other Poles realise that their country¹s economic fortunes are firmly tied to the EU, with which Poland conducts more than 70 per cent of its foreign trade. German, Italian and other European companies are the country¹s biggest foreign investors, and some of the most important decisions affecting Polish business are already made in Brussels, Berlin and Paris. Free from communist and Soviet domination for just a decade, most Poles support EU membership and appear to have few qualms about surrendering some sovereignty. The same perspective inspires Poland¹s relatively uncritical embrace of US political and cultural influences. ³Unlike the French, we never had the luxury to think about preserving our sovereignty in the face of the American market and media domination,² says Andrzej Werner, a cultural critic and member of Poland¹s Academy of Sciences. ³There were always threats closer to home that captured our imagination.² http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010314/2001031419.html * Moroccan truck firm to deliver Iraq 550 vehicles by end 2001 Arabic News, 14th March Morocco¹s truck-making firm, DAF Industries, has concluded a $ 60 million-worth contract with Iraq for the delivery of 550 trucks by end 2001, reports Moroccan economic daily ³L¹Economiste.² According to the source, the truck deal makes about one third of a $ 160 million deal obtained by Morocco as part of the ninth stage of the oil-for-food program. The first delivery of 50 vehicles took place in the beginning of the year, the second on March 9 for a value of $ 15.5 million, another 200 trucks will be sent in July 2001 and the rest, 200 vehicles, before end 2001. DAF General manager says the company will double its turnover which only stands at 350 vehicles, rejoicing that this is the first time that DAF goes to Iraq. In a previous story, the paper had reported quoting a United Nations classified document, that some contracts are still suspended over suspicions that the supplies could have a double use, such as a $ 1.2 million contract for the supply of computer equipment and a $ 2.2 million contract of irrigation machinery. Moroccan companies, facing a harsh competition on Iraqi market, blame the government for lack of financial support in a high-risk market, unlike Egypt which subsidizes 15% of exports to Iraq. According to the source, the Moroccan exporters association is projecting to stage this March 26 a made-in- Morocco exhibition in Iraq. RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL/PALESTINE http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2001/03/11/Opinion/Editorial.22705.html * US needs a credible Iraq strategy Jerusalem Post, 11th March The Middle East policy of President George W. Bush is beginning to emerge and its key element is identifying Iraq as international public enemy No. 1, to use the famous FBI title for the most dangerous criminal threatening America. But what does such a strategy really mean? Despite this tough stand, US leaders have apparently concluded that Washington can only muster allied support by reducing sanctions against Baghdad. In his remarkable March 9 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted that sanctions are falling apart and that US policy is having a tough time rebuilding an anti-Iraq coalition. He also stated that Iraq has been winning the international propaganda war against the United States. Baghdad¹s policy is to avoid spending available money for civilian uses, then blame any resulting suffering on US-backed sanctions. These domestic problems are also exaggerated. Yet ³humanitarian concerns² have now become an acceptable excuse for countries that want to take a softer line against the Iraqi dictator, even though their real motive is to get more money from commercial deals with Iraq. For the Iraqis, their apologists, and their would-be business partners, such an approach is quite cynical but also very effective. Despite US determination, though, one can hardly blame the Gulf Arabs for rejecting American urgings to denounce or combat Iraq. After all, American credibility to eliminate the Iraqi regime and American ability to do so is very much in question. For the Gulf Arabs, Saddam Hussein is scary and many local rulers are once again thinking about appeasing him. Fortunately for them, the Gulf rulers also have a good excuse for doing precisely what they want. We would love to help out the United States, they whisper to US officials, but unless the Palestinians get everything they want it is impossible to act. Of course, this rationale should be ridiculed but - as in the case of Saddam Hussein¹s deep humanitarian concerns - it is taken seriously by many Western leaders. American credibility in defending moderate states and battling the spread of weapons of mass destruction to Middle Eastern dictators is also suffering on other fronts. Recently, it became public that the US-Russia agreement to let Moscow complete existing arms and military technology transfers to Iran as long as it didn¹t start new ones has been violated by the Russians. Indeed, Iran has now announced that its Russian-built nuclear reactor will open in 2003, with partial operations starting earlier. Despite Iranian and Russian claims that this is an innocent electricity-generating scheme, both Israel and the United States charge that the reactor will be used to further Iran¹s nuclear weapons program. Suspicions can only be heightened by charges that Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov has received payments for his past dealings with Iran. At the same time, assertions that Egypt has been working alongside North Korea to develop missiles have also become public. US experts have charged for some time that intelligence about such a program was kept secret by the American government to avoid a negative impact on US-Egypt relations. Quiet warnings to Cairo to stop these activities had no effect. The United States is claiming some success with persuading China to stop helping Iraq improve its air defenses so that it can shoot down American planes. Whether in fact Peking has ordered its companies to stop such projects will only be seen over time. Another concern about US policy on Iraq is whether the obsession with Baghdad might blind American leaders to other regional threats. Powell¹s statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee claimed that he had found Syrian President Bashar Assad helpful during his trip to Damascus. Powell claimed the Syrian leader was also concerned about growing Iraqi power and would put the reopening of the Iraq-Syria oil pipeline, which violates UN sanctions, under UN auspices for monitoring Iraq¹s exports. This view may signal a renewal of historic American naivete over Syria. More important, it might well mean that, despite Syria¹s destruction of the Syria-Israel peace process and other activities, the United States will avoid putting any pressure on Damascus. Finally, and of particular concern, there are signs that the United States hopes to enlist Iran as at least a silent partner in an anti-Iraq coalition. The administration will not support renewal of a law that punishes foreign companies for dealing with Iran, a process that has cost Iran billions of dollars and badly needed equipment. Again, there is the possibility that Washington will turn a blind eye to Iran¹s growing involvement in anti-Israel terrorism in order to win Teheran¹s help. As has happened before with Iran, American expectations of Iranian help are likely to prove illusory. Bush¹s tough stance against Iraq¹s resurgence is welcome. But such a policy should be effective, credible, and not involve concessions to other radical - and equally threatening - regimes. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2001/mar/11/031101518.html * Iraqis Seek To Liberate Palestine¹ Las Vegas Sun, 11th March BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Vowing to ³liberate all of Palestine,² a group of Iraqi volunteers on Sunday bid an emotional farewell to their families and left for military training in the so-called Jerusalem Army. With his call to form an army to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control, President Saddam Hussein has cast himself as the defender of the historic city as Arab leaders meet in Cairo to discuss their stance on both Israel and Iraq. Saddam made his call for volunteers for the ³Jerusalem Army² in October, responding to Israel-Palestinian clashes that had erupted the month before. The clashes have so far killed 424 people. The official Iraqi News Agency says that more than 7 million men and women - nearly a third of the 22 million population - volunteered for the force. It was unknown how many were in the first batches to be trained, but the figure appeared to be in the thousands. On Sunday, Iraqi volunteers chanted, ³with our blood and souls ... we sacrifice for Saddam,² as their wives and children kissed them goodbye. A similar group left for military training on Saturday, in an event broadcast on Iraqi television. ³Everybody should look at the stand made by Saddam Hussein and the people of Iraq and the Baath party,² Latif Nasaif Jassim, a high-ranking official of the ruling Baath Party, told the crowd on Sunday. ³We are going today to train, and after training you will be ready to join the Jerusalem Army to liberate all of Palestine.² It was not clear what the volunteers would do once their training was completed. Saddam, who shocked the world by invading Kuwait a decade ago, has called for a war to liberate Jerusalem, but other Arab leaders say negotiations are the only way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has ridiculed calls for war. Arab foreign ministers discussed the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process in the Egyptian capital on Sunday as they prepared for an Arab League summit later this month in Amman, Jordan. The Cairo talks and the Amman summit also were expected to grapple with growing calls to end Iraq¹s isolation since it invaded Kuwait and then was forced to retreat in the Gulf War. The issues of Israeli-Palestinian clashes and Iraq¹s isolation are becoming increasingly intertwined among Arabs, in part because of Saddam¹s stated willingness to fight for Jerusalem. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators across the Arab world have waved Iraqi flags and shouted praise of Saddam - and criticized their own governments for not taking a firmer stand against Israel. Demonstrators also have expressed sympathy for ordinary Iraqis suffering under U.N. trade sanctions that cannot be lifted until Saddam proves he has surrendered chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. U.S. support for the sanctions is often portrayed as anti-Arab, just as the United States is seen by many Arabs as supporting Israel against the Palestinians. Control of Jerusalem continues to be a flashpoint of Arab emotion. On Sunday, Jordan joined Iran and other Mideast nations in criticizing U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell¹s statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. On Thursday, Powell told the U.S. Congress that while there is no immediate plan to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv, President Bush is committed to moving it ³to the capital of Israel, which is Jerusalem.² In a session of Jordan¹s Parliament, Prime Minister Ali Abu-Ragheb said that Powell¹s statements on the holy city, which both Israel and the Palestinians claim, will ³lead to more tension and complications to an already complex issue.² Israel considers Jerusalem its undivided and eternal capital. But few countries have accepted its claim to the entire city, whose eastern half was controlled by Jordan until the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=6203252&template=worldnews/search.txt&index=recent * Book Exposes Israeli Nuclear Policy JERUSALEM (Associated Press, Wed 14 Mar 2001) Israel¹s nuclear program has avoided domestic scrutiny for decades, but an Israeli author¹s return from the United States is testing the limits of public debate on the hypersensitive topic shrouded in official secrecy. Unable to get his manuscript approved by Israeli censors, Avner Cohen published his 1998 book, ``Israel and the Bomb,¹¹ in the United States, where he works as a senior researcher at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Though facing possible arrest in Israel, Cohen returned this week and was promptly questioned by the military and police on suspicion of breaking the legal wall of silence erected around Israel¹s nuclear capabilities. He was released and has not been charged, but will be called back for questioning. Cohen isn¹t giving interviews during his 10-day stay, but did speak about Israel¹s nuclear program Wednesday at a Jerusalem institute located next door to the official residence of Israel¹s President Moshe Katsav. ``All nuclear development (in Israel) has functioned as a secret state within a state,¹¹ Cohen said in an hour-long address. ``The entire field has become the black hole of Israeli democracy.¹¹ Cohen insists he is not seeking a confrontation with Israeli authorities. But his work challenges the core of Israel¹s policy of ``nuclear opacity¹¹ whereby the entire world assumes Israel has nuclear weapons but the government refuses to discuss it. Cohen has argued for a spirited public discussion of nuclear policy. He says his book was produced from information in the public domain, and therefore is not subject to military censorship. Yet he also knows the threat of prosecution for divulging nuclear secrets is not an idle one. Mordechai Vanunu, a technician who worked at Israel¹s nuclear reactor at Dimona, in the Negev Desert, is serving 18 years in prison for giving pictures taken inside the reactor to The Sunday Times of London in 1986. Based on the photographs, experts said Israel had the world¹s sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. The CIA has estimated more recently that Israel has between 200 and 400 nuclear weapons. According to Cohen, Israel and the United States reached an understanding in 1970 that Washington would look the other way as long as Israel kept a low nuclear profile and did not carry out nuclear tests. U.S. protection has helped shield Israel from international scrutiny, and maintaining this arrangement has overwhelming support among Israel¹s political and military establishment. Israel¹s new prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is expected to renew this understanding when he meets President Bush in Washington next week, Haaretz newspaper reported. ``Opacity has been successful in Israeli eyes, allowing Israel to enjoy a regional nuclear monopoly without incurring the political cost of possessing nuclear weapons,¹¹ Cohen wrote in his book. ``This brought many Arabs to the realization that the conflict could not be settled by military means, but only through negotiation.¹¹ Arab countries have complained for years, to no real effect, about Israel¹s special status when it comes to nuclear weapons. Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty nor opened its facilities to international inspection. Meanwhile, the Americans have pressed hard to prevent other countries such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea from developing a nuclear arsenal. Even nations with otherwise normal relations with the United States, such as Pakistan and India, have been criticized for their nuclear programs. Cohen¹s book traces the development of Israel¹s nuclear program from its origins in the 1950s, when it was guided by a young, fast-rising government official named Shimon Peres. Peres, now 77, is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the foreign minister in Sharon¹s government, and he has maintained his silence on the nuclear program. According to Cohen, Israel first built crude nuclear weapons shortly before the 1967 Middle East war, when the country feared it could be overrun by Arab armies. Ever since, Israel has enjoyed a position of nuclear dominance it doesn¹t want to declare, Cohen argues. ``Israel cannot openly make a case for nuclear monopoly and thus must keep its nuclear status unacknowledged,¹¹ he wrote. http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/scripts/article.asp?mador=14&datee=3/16/01&id=113647 * Sharon to press for U.S. sanctions on Damascus by Aluf Benn Ha¹aretz, 16th March Prime Minister Ariel Sharon plans to ask U.S. President George W. Bush to step up American sanctions against Syria during his trip to Washington next week. Sharon will request that Bush impose the full range of sanctions possible under American law against states that support terrorism. Syria is on the State Department¹s list of state sponsors of terrorism, but until now has received less severe treatment compared to other countries on the list - such as Iraq, Iran, Sudan and North Korea - because it was engaged in negotiations with Israel. Government sources in Jerusalem said that Sharon¹s decision to ask the U.S. to increase its pressure on Syria was due largely to the fact that Syrian support for Hezbollah has expanded under President Bashar Assad beyond the level that obtained during the tenure of his late father, Hafez Assad. Sharon will also ask the U.S. to warn Lebanon that, if it continues to back Hezbollah, it too risks being added to the list of state sponsors of terrorism. However, he does not plan to ask that the Lebanese government be added to the list immediately, as former prime minister Ehud Barak made such a request not long before the elections. Sharon plans to present Bashar Assad as someone who through his support for Hezbollah is ³playing with fire² and undermining the stability of the entire region. He will ask the U.S. to pressure Assad into restraining Hezbollah, and to press Lebanon to deploy its army in the south. He will also discuss Iran¹s growing involvement in Lebanon. But Sharon¹s national security advisor, Uzi Dayan, has advised him that he should also leave the door open to a possible resumption of negotiations with Syria. At a meeting between Sharon and his advisors yesterday, Dayan also proposed that the prime minister call during his Washington visit for a return to the Sharm el Sheikh Agreement. This agreement, signed by Barak and Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat in October but never implemented, contains a number of measures aimed at reducing the violence and enabling the resumption of negotiations. Sharon, however, rejected this idea. Other participants in the meeting noted that the agreement speaks about renewing negotiations on a final-status accord, whereas Sharon believes any talks that take place should focus on a series of long-term interim agreements. Sharon stressed that he considers himself obligated only to signed agreements that the Palestinians have fulfilled, and certainly not to unsigned understandings that were never implemented. But Arafat, he added, has broken every one of his agreements with Israel, in all of which he pledged to refrain from violence and to combat terrorism. Sharon also reiterated that a distinction must be made between the Palestinian Authority, with which he intends to deal harshly, and the Palestinian public, for whom he would like to ease conditions as much as possible. Israel¹s ambassador to the U.S., David Ivri, said the American administration will be interested to learn at what point ³between Madrid and Taba² Sharon believes negotiations should pick up once they are restarted. But he recommended that Sharon refrain from presenting detailed ideas for renewed talks at this stage. Instead, said Ivri, Sharon should say, ³first let there be quiet, and then we¹ll see.² Brigadier-General Amos Gilad, the head of Military Intelligence¹s research division, issued a similar recommendation. http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/scripts/article.asp?mador=3&id=113868&datee=3/18/01 * Of water pipes and diplomacy Ha'aretz, 18th March The excitement surrounding the intention of the Lebanese authorities to pump water from the Hatsbani River, in proximity to the "Blue Line," with which the United Nations demarcates the northern border of Israel, died out toward the end of last week. What appeared at first to be a crisis of serious proportions, threatening to draw Israel and Lebanon into a violent confrontation, shrunk down to its natural proportions - a local dispute with a solution. It appears that the attention the media gave to the story swept with it a number of politicians whose eagerness is greater than their experience in government. Among them was Minister of National Infrastructure, Avigdor Lieberman, whose ministry is responsible for Israel's water resources. Composed voices were needed in the government and the General Staff in order to cool him down. Since the armistice was signed with Syria in 1949, which left vague the issue of sovereignty over land adjoining the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret, a number of disputes have emerged between the countries who share these scarce water resources. Syria opposed Israel's decision to drain the Hula swamp and build the National Water Carrier. Israel acted forcefully to thwart Syrian preparations, supported by other Arab states, to react to the diversion of waters of the Kinneret to the south by diverting the Jordan River. The deterioration in relations between Israel and Syria, to the point where tanks and aircraft took part in clashes over the diverting of the water, directly contributed to the escalation that resulted in the Six-Day War in June 1967. Efforts to mediate between Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, reaching a zenith in 1953 with the Johnston Plan, which called for the sharing of the waters of the Jordan River by the four countries, failed. Nonetheless, it is clear to all that a total and final regional peace accord will revive the sharing solution or one in a similar spirit. Lebanon has so far been the least troublesome of all the countries involved in the dispute over the water. In a peace deal, experts are suggesting that surplus waters from the Litani River be used, with Lebanon's agreement, as a partial solution to Israel's water problems, with Lebanon receiving electricity in return. It is doubtful that Lebanon will willingly take a chance by daring Israel on the water issue, at a time when the situation on the northern border remains highly flammable. The question of the Hatsbani River waters should be included in the general basket of subjects that should be discussed in an effort to achieve peaceful coexistence in the region, and especially between Israel, Syria, and Lebanon, which comes under the aegis of Damascus. The visit of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to Damascus last month was the first step toward renewing the Syrian-American-Israeli channel and the unraveling of the warming relations between Syria and Iraq. Friday's telephone conversation between George W. Bush and Bahsar Assad, the sons of the presidents who forged a practical alliance against Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991, and agreed to initiate the peace process at the Madrid Summit in 1992, suggests that the renewing of the dialogue, which froze last year after the meetings at Shepherdstown and Geneva, is close at hand. In this context, the telephone conversation between Bush and Assad appears to serve as a prelude to the diplomatic talks which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is set to hold in Washington this week. >From the Hatsbani affair that wasn't, we must learn what will take place in the bargaining between >Israel and Syria. There lies the future of the whole northern border, where Syria will be asked to >deal with the Hezbollah and counter Iranian influence; and the two sides will determine formulas >which will prevent unilateral actions on the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret - holy sites for >Christianity, but more importantly, essential for the survival of the peoples of the region. An >acceptable agreement in this arena will also influence the Jordanians and the Palestinians, who >are thirsty more than others for water, which so far has been given to them as a result of the >generosity of their neighbors. http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/scripts/article.asp?mador=4&datee=3/18/01&id=113877 * Saddam poses a diplomatic threat by Zvi Bar'el Ha'aretz, 18th March In his bid to sharpen policy toward Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has received assurances from Damascus. Syrian President Bashar Assad has promised Powell that he will allow UN inspectors to keep tabs on the flow of oil from Iraq to Syria, and that money which turns over in Syria after sales of Iraqi oil will be deposited in a sanctions-treasury handled by the United Nations, instead of ending up in Baghdad. In exchange for these Syrian assurances, the U.S. government is prepared to consider ways in which it might help Syria make up for losses incurred when sanctions are clamped down more vigorously against Saddam's regime.In trying to formulate its policy in the Middle East, the Bush administration is focusing on Baghdad and also on Saddam's links with Damascus. Expanding economic links between Syria and Iraq - featuring plans by their two governments to raise the annual trade volume between them to $1 billion (a level close to double the annual trade between Jordan and Iraq), along with Iraq's rapid, renewed acceptance by the Arab world - have become major foreign policy issues in Washington. In view of the salience of the Baghdad issue, and also Syrian assurances to the Americans, it is difficult to imagine that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's demand for U.S. sanctions against Syria will win much sympathy in Washington, even though Syria appears on the list of states that support terrorism. "We are currently engaged in the effort to restore the efficacy of sanctions against Iraq. And to achieve this end we need the full cooperation of Arab states, especially those which border Iraq, such as Syria, Jordan and the Gulf states," one American diplomat explains. "The imposition of sanctions against another Arab state would do more than undermine this effort. It would set the whole Arab world against us." Nudging aside the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Saddam Hussein will apparently top the Bush administration's Middle East policy agenda. When it comes to the Palestinian problem, the new U.S. government has dusted off the old apathetic formula whereby "the United States cannot seek peace more ardently than the sides themselves." In contrast, turning the screws in its diplomatic campaign against Iraq, the Bush foreign policy team has shifted into high gear in attempt to sway the hearts of Arab states. Knowing that the efficacy and status of the old sanctions policy had eroded, Powell was forced to propose American agreement to a significant expansion in the trade of civilian goods with Iraq, in exchange for stepped-up inspections concerning the sale of military items. Powell came away from his visit to the region believing that this proposal has Arab backing. But he also learned that the proposal is enveloped by an Arab demand for "balanced American policy in the Middle East" - meaning tougher American stances toward Israel. In concrete terms, the Arab states want Washington to stop referring to a united Jerusalem as Israel's capital; to denounce Israeli policies in the territories; and to show "understanding" toward Arab stances adopted in international forums in which America plays a decisive role, such as the UN Security Council. These states' strategic goal of exploiting America's obsession with Saddam Hussein in order to notch gains in the Israeli-Arab arena is clear. In addition, the Americans understand that their goal of toughening policy toward Iraq necessitates plugging up areas where sanctions policies have had leaks, such as Jordan and Syria. These two countries will demand major economic compensations, should they decide to jeopardize their relations with Iraq by showing support for the American position. (Jordan's annual exports to Iraq are valued at about $700 million, compared to $20 million in exports to Israel. Jordan's imports, including low-priced oil, from Iraq stand at roughly the same level. Syria, in its efforts to end economic stagnation, could rely on Iraq as a source of cheap oil and a market for its goods.) Adopting a new tack in discussions with Powell, the Arab states grasped Saddam as their most potent leverage in relations with the U.S., so long as Washington sticks to its sanctions policy. When addressing the Israeli-Arab dispute, U.S. officials have the luxury of choosing the level of their involvement, and the extent to which they are willing to put American prestige on the line. The character and status of American policy toward Iraq is completely different. Policy toward Iraq has repercussions with respect to America's image abroad, the formulation of agendas which will compel action on the part of European allies, and confrontation with Russian ambitions to upgrade its status as a major power. Thus, it suddenly seems as though the threats posed by Iraq to Israel are of a diplomatic, rather than military, nature. If Israeli policy in the territories interferes with American efforts to build up an alignment of Arab states for initiatives against Saddam, Israel could come to be perceived as a strategic burden in Washington. IRAQI MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2001/03/11/News/News.22717.html * Syria key to any anti-Iraq coalition - US sources by Janine Zacharia Jerusalem Post, 11th March WASHINGTON: The US administration considers Syria a key part of any new coalition against Iraq, and therefore is trying to avoid ruffling feathers in Damascus as it embarks on a campaign to sell a narrower sanctions policy to skeptics in Washington, sources in Washington say. As part of that goal, last week US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell both declined to meet with the Lebanese patriarch of the Maronite Church, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir - an outspoken critic of Syria¹s occupation of Lebanon - despite prodding from Arab-American lobbyists and officials including Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, himself of Lebanese origin. The Lebanese president is always Maronite, making the minority sect - a splinter of the Roman Catholic Church - the most powerful ethnic group in Lebanon. The last time Sfeir was in the US, in 1988, he met with then-president Ronald Reagan. The State Department offered Sfeir a meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Edward Walker, but Sfeir refused, saying he only wanted to meet with top officials. A State Department spokesman said the department believes ³a meeting at the assistant-secretary level offers the patriarch an excellent opportunity for a substantive exchange on the issues he is most interested in.² After Sfeir¹s refusal, Walker declined an invitation to dinner hosted by the Lebanese ambassador in Washington in Sfeir¹s honor last Thursday night, according to diplomatic sources. A State Department official acknowledged that Walker had received the invitation, but ³had made his own decision for whatever reason not to attend.² Powell declined an invitation to a luncheon for Sfeir held last Friday by the Vatican¹s embassy in Washington, saying that his schedule was already full. ³This administration is trying to court Syria. They don¹t want to take any steps that will be interpreted by the Syrian government as anti-Syrian, especially when Syria is a main player in rebuilding a coalition,² a well-informed source in Washington familiar with Syrian-American relations said. During his testimony to the House International Relations Committee last Wednesday, Powell cited Syria specifically as one of the key nations that had expressed support for his new sanctions policy. In making his sanctions pitch, Powell has repeatedly mentioned Syria without mentioning other Arab states by name. ³In fact, in Syria, when I discussed it with President [Bashar] Assad, who has been calling for the end of sanctions, he saw some merit in this because he, too, is concerned about weapons of mass destruction,² Powell said. The US is eager to see Damascus put the flow of oil through an Iraqi-Syrian pipeline under UN control, and Powell said he received conditional assurances from Assad that he would do so if the US modified its sanctions policy. To a question on whether the US believes Syria needs to pull its troops out of Lebanon, Powell echoed the traditional US view that it would be a positive move at some point but did not call on Damascus directly to do so. ³We believe that it would be for the benefit of all parties if eventually at some point - I¹d like to see it tomorrow, but it isn¹t going to happen tomorrow - for the Syrian army to leave Lebanon,² Powell said. Sfeir, who is in Washington for several weeks, met with more than a dozen congressmen last week. He was quoted as saying that the Maronites want ³a Lebanon that is free to determine its own future, independent from all other forces, whether within her borders or exerted upon by her neighbors.² Syria is the de facto power broker in Lebanon, with roughly 35,000 troops stationed there. http://www.timesofindia.com/120301/12mide12.htm * Ankara sends 400-member trade mission to Iraq Times of India, 12th March ISTANBUL: A 400-member Turkish trade mission heads for Iraq on Monday to relaunch economic ties frozen by an embargo now considered obsolete, Anatolia news agency reported. Trade secretary Kursad Tuzmen, who is heading the mission, briefed Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit about its objectives, the agency said on Sunday. A similar mission was organised last month by Ankara which recently strengthened its diplomatic ties with its neighbour by reopening its embassy in Baghdad. Turkey has also organised several ³humanitarian² flights to Iraq since late last year with medical equipment and also businessmen aboard. They were organised with the approval of Turkish authorities who said they had observed official procedures by informing the United Nations about the flights and where they came from. Several other countries have since followed Turkey¹s example despite the UN air embargo on Iraq imposed after the Gulf War in 1991. Anatolia did not say whether the latest mission would go to Iraq by land or by air. (AFP) http://www.timesofindia.com/120301/12mide10.htm * Lebanon gears to restart diplomatic ties with Iraq Times of India, 12th March BEIRUT: The Lebanese cabinet has decided to overturn a 1994 decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iraq, paving the way to restart normal diplomatic relations, an official source said on Sunday. The source said the decision was taken during a cabinet meeting earlier this week to match the improvement in economic ties between the two countries. He gave no further details. Lebanon severed diplomatic ties with Iraq in 1994 after accusing Baghdad of killing an Iraqi opposition figure in Beirut. Relations were partly restored in 1998 when Beirut and Baghdad exchanged low-key diplomatic representatives and resumed trade ties. Several Lebanese economic and ministerial delegations have visited Baghdad since and signed contracts with Iraq to sell goods under Iraq¹s oil-for-food deal with the United Nations. (Reuters) http://www.latimes.com/wires/20010312/tCB00a8906.html * Saddam Says Leave Iraq Out of Arab Summit Los Angeles Times, 12th March BAGHDADIraq urged Arab leaders on Monday to concentrate on the Palestinian issue at the upcoming Arab summit in Amman and not to discuss Iraq¹s situation after a decade of U.N. sanctions. Arab leaders scheduled to meet in Amman later this month aim to forge a united stance on Iraq sanctions and the conflict between Israel and Palestine, considered the two most contentious issues in the region. The United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq in 1990 as a punishment for Baghdad¹s invasion of Kuwait. ³Iraq believes that Arab rulers who will attend the summit should not bother themselves with discussing any of Iraq¹s affairs,² said a statement issued following a meeting of top Iraqi officials chaired by President Saddam Hussein. ³The attitude of Arab countries toward the embargo and (U.S. and British) aggression can be developed through bilateral and other means, rather than by discussing them collectively at this stage,² said the statement, handed to Western reporters in Baghdad. The statement was referring to a joint attack last month by the United States and Britain on targets near Baghdad, which Iraq said killed two civilians and wounded more than 20 others. It said the summit should ³separate the issue of ending the embargo and the aggression on Iraq from other issues like differences between Iraq and Saudi Arabia and the rulers of Kuwait.² http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=VDD8SV6K&atmo=9999999 * Middle East could erupt in fireball, warns Holbrooke by Anton La Guardia Diplomatic Editor Daily Telegraph, 13th March THE resurgence of Iraq and the collapse of Arab-Israeli peace poses the most serious threat to world stability in nearly four decades, Richard Holbrooke, the recently departed US ambassador to the United Nations, said yesterday. With Saddam Hussein threatening to mobilise tens of thousands of ³volunteers² to fight alongside the Palestinians, Mr Holbrooke gave warning that the two problems could merge into a ³gigantic fireball². He told the annual meeting of the Trilateral Commission, a network of senior business and political leaders: ³If Iraq and Arab-Israeli conflict merge, you could have . . . the most serious threat to peace since the Cuban missile crisis.² Iraq has steadily been breaking down the wall of sanctions imposed at the time of its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Saddam has ably exploited the emotions of the five-month-old Palestinian uprising to present himself as the only Arab leader ready to stand up to the Americans. Britain¹s recently retired Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Charles Guthrie, voiced long-held fears that British and American aircraft could be lost while patrolling the ³no-fly² zones in Iraq. He told the gathering in London: ³We are living on borrowed time. Sooner or later one of our aircraft is going to be shot down or there is going to be an engine failure.² Sergei Yastrzhembsky, an adviser to President Putin, said Moscow believed that ³Iraq has been punished enough². He said there was a better chance of containing Iraq¹s weapons of mass destruction by ³engagement² with Baghdad. http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3XI01DBKC&live=true&tagid=ZZZINS5VA0C&subheading=middle%20east%20and%20africa * Troops swamp Beirut to deter protests by Gareth Smyth in Beirut Financial Times, 13th March Lebanon¹s army swamped the streets of Beirut on Wednesday to prevent anti-Syria demonstrations by supporters of Michel Aoun, the exiled former army commander. The Liberal National Student Grouping had called on the Lebanese ³to prove to the world that they are a living people² by peaceful gatherings at government buildings on the 12th anniversary of Gen Aoun¹s forlorn attempt to drive out Syrian forces. Battle-ready troops backed up with armoured vehicles were deployed at busy intersections. Checkpoints created long tailbacks. With 35,000 soldiers in Lebanon, Syria has supervised Lebanese politics since the civil war ended in 1990. Growing opposition to Syria¹s presence has been strongest among Lebanon¹s Christians, who make up about a third of the country¹s 3.5m population. Nasrallah Sfeir, patriarch of the Maronites, the largest Christian sect, is pressing the issue on his current tour of the US and Canada, home to many Lebanese expatriates. ³Lebanon existed 1,800 years ago within its modern official boundaries,² said Mr Sfeir. ³It was mentioned 66 times in the Bible.² The government insists that this is not the time to raise the Syrian role. ³Syria¹s presence here is necessary, legitimate and temporary,² said Rafik Hariri, prime minister, this week. ³We are now in a critical situation, with the new government in Israel [led by the hardline Ariel Sharon], and discussing Syria¹s presence here is out of place.² On Wednesday in Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was joined by Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, and King Abdullah of Jordan to inaugurate an electricity network adding Syria to a grid already linking Egypt and Jordan. The grid will eventually link Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. The three Arab leaders also discussed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict - which will be the focus of the Arab summit in Amman, Jordan, on March 27-28. Syria - which wants to regain the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967 - is trumpeting Arab unity as the best means to combat Mr Sharon. Such a regional atmosphere gives little room for the anti-Syrian opposition in Lebanon, who were also disappointed by this month¹s visit to Beirut of Edward Walker, the new US assistant secretary of state. Mr Walker said the US would not intervene in the Lebanese-Syrian relationship. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/SeattleTimes.woa/wa/gotoArticle?zsection_id=268448413&text_only=0&slug=kuwait14&document_id=134274382 * Death sentence commuted for Kuwaiti puppet leader by Diana Elias Seattle Times, 14th March KUWAIT - An appeals court yesterday commuted the death sentence of a Kuwaiti officer who headed a short-lived puppet government after Iraq¹s 1990 invasion, reducing his sentence to life in prison. Alaa Hussein, the lieutenant who was chosen to head the Iraqi-appointed government, had been convicted of treason and sentenced to death in May 2000. Judge Abdullah al-Issa upheld the treason conviction but commuted the sentence to life imprisonment, saying the mitigating factors included Hussein¹s ³good upbringing, his age and the fact that he returned home from his shelter in Norway at his own free will ... asking for clemency.² Hussein¹s lawyer, Nawwaf al-Mutairim, said he hoped Kuwait¹s emir might issue a full pardon. ³We have been able to untie the noose from Alaa Hussein¹s neck,² he said. Hussein had told a lower court he had no idea why Iraqis chose him from hundreds of war prisoners to head the puppet cabinet in Kuwait that served for about a week after Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. He says that the Iraqis forced him to stay in Iraq after the war until 1997. Witnesses for the prosecution testified that Hussein came to enjoy his position and giving orders in the puppet government. The other members of the pro-Iraqi government surrendered to the Kuwaiti authorities after a U.S.-led coalition liberated Kuwait in February 1991. The authorities investigated and exonerated them. Hussein, 41, lived in Iraq, Turkey and Norway until January 2000, when he returned home, saying he wanted to prove he was not a collaborator with Iraq. Hussein, who is married with four children, has exhausted his court appeals and can only ask the emir for a pardon. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=11918 * Lebanese seeks help over missing in Iraq Beirut, Reuters, 14th March Families of Lebanese who went missing in Iraq a decade ago urged their government yesterday to try to secure their release, days after Beirut moved to restore normal ties with Baghdad. The Committee of the Families of Lebanese Detainees in Iraqi Prisons listed six names, saying they were not politically active and that they were studying religion subjects at a Shi¹ite school in Iraq when they were arrested during the eight-year-long Iraq-Iran war. ³We urge the Lebanese leaders to make a move to know the fate of those detainees and work to secure their release,² said a statement by the group. An informed foreign ministry source said the ministry received a complaint during the Iraq-Iran war that there were about 80 Lebanese detainees in Iraq. ³The Iraqi government denied at the time it was holding them.² The Lebanese cabinet last week decided to overturn a 1994 decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iraq, paving the way to restart normal diplomatic relations. Lebanon severed diplomatic ties with Iraq in 1994 after accusing Baghdad of killing an Iraqi opposition figure in Beirut. Relations were partly restored in 1998 when Beirut and Baghdad exchanged low-key diplomatic representatives and resumed trade ties. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010314/2001031431.html * Moussa, Sahaf exchange views on Amman summit¹s agenda Arabic News, 14th March Egypt¹s Foreign Minister Amr Moussa met in Cairo Tuesday with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Saeed EL Sahaf. Speaking to the press after the meeting, Sahaf said they exchanged views on outcome of the ll5th session of the Arab League Council. The Ministers agreed to maintain consultations to render the incoming Arab summit, slated for March 27 in Amman, successful, he added. ³On his evaluation of decisions taken during this session on lifting the ban imposed on Iraq, Sahaf said what took place Monday and Tuesday was an attempt to hammer out the summit¹s agenda. participants exchanged views and there was a common Arab desire to make this summit a success,² he said. On differences emerged among the foreign ministers on items of the agenda and whether or not those differences would hinder reaching effective decisions, Iraq¹s top diplomat denied the existence of such difficulties. Sahaf termed as ³very successful² the recent Cairo Arab summit as its agenda focused mainly on the Palestinian people¹s suffering. Asked if Iraq would present an initiative to achieve a comprehensive reconciliation especially with Gulf states, he made it clear that Iraq is not required to do so. Solving pending problems between Baghdad and both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait hinges on creating an appropriate Arab atmosphere to render any relevant bid successful, he clarified. ³To achieve this goal, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait should not allow their lands to be used in launching daily military operations against Iraq,² he said. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=11917 * Oman calls for greater Arab unity by Arif Ali Muscat, 4th March: The Sultanate of Oman has called for greater Arab unity to counter Israel¹s growing hostilities being inflicted on the homeless Palestinians. ³The Arabs should adopt all means to counter the Israeli challenge and make it come to the path of peace,² said Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah after meeting his Egyptian counterpart, Amr Moussa, in Cairo, as quoted by Oman Television. ³We should, at the same time, extend support to the Palestinians to help them overcome their current ordeal.² Alawi is in Cairo for the Arab foreign ministers¹ meeting ahead of the Arab summit in Amman, Jordan, on March 27. He also discussed with Moussa ways of improving ties with Iraq in order to end the sufferings of the Iraqi people caused by the UN sanctions after the 1990 Gulf War. Oman, which has severed its trade links with Israel to support the Arab cause, wants Israel to vacate all occupied Arab lands, including Syria¹s Golan Heights, and agree to the creation of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital - a move which is going to top the Arab summit agenda. The Arab foreign ministers have already warned the United States against moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as suggested by Secretary of State, Colin Powell, after his first visit to the Middle East in his new position in the new Bush administration. The ministers have also renewed their appeal for an international protection force for the Palestinians. The UAE was one of the first Arab countries to take notice of Powell¹s remark at a congressional committee in Washington last week. On Monday, the UAE called this ³a flagrant violation of international law², saying that the comments could jeopardise U.S. ties with Arab and Muslim countries. Earlier, before leaving for Cairo, Alawi held discussions in Muscat with the visiting Kuwaiti Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al Salim Al Sabah, on a number of Gulf, regional and international issues of common concern, as well as on how to achieve security and stability in the region. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010314/wl/kuwait_summit_dc_1.html More...Wednesday March 14 11:20 AM ET * Kuwait Ready to Discuss Iraq at Arab Summit KUWAIT (Reuters, 14th March) - Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who is to tour Arab states this week, said Wednesday his country would not oppose discussing Iraq at the forthcoming Arab summit. ``We have no objections to placing this item on the agenda,¹¹ the sheikh told reporters in parliament, when asked for his view on discussing U.N. sanctions against Kuwait¹s former occupier Iraq at the Arab summit in Amman on March 27-28. Iraq urged Arab leaders Monday not to discuss Iraq¹s situation after a decade of U.N. restrictions, but to concentrate on the Palestinian issue. Sheikh Sabah, discussing his tour, said: ``It is time to visit our brothers in these countries and at the same time I carry a letter from the Emir (Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah) concerning the Arab summit.¹¹ Sheikh Sabah, who is also first deputy prime minister, is expected to visit Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen. The summit is the first since Arab leaders decided in October to hold regular annual meetings. Jordan said Wednesday it would hold separate talks with the foreign ministers of Iraq and Kuwait on the thorny issue of relations between the two Gulf foes. Jordanian Information Minister Taleb al-Rifai said Arab foreign ministers, who met earlier this week in Cairo, had asked Jordan, Egypt and Qatar to try to bridge the gap between Iraq and Kuwait before the summit discusses ``the state of affairs¹¹ between them. Leaders of Egypt, Syria and Jordan are also expected to discuss the forthcoming talks in Damascus where they converged Wednesday for a ceremony linking electricity grids. [.....] http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200103/15/eng20010315_65075.html * Saddam Invited to Attend Arab Summit People¹s Daily, 15th March Jordanian Interior Minister Awad Khleifat arrived in Baghdad Wednesday by plane to invite Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to attend the coming Arab summit later this month. Khleifat said at the Saddam International Airport that he, on behalf of King Abdullah Bin Hussein, came to Baghdad to invite Saddam to take part in the two-day Arab summit on March 26-27 in Amman. Khleifat said he also brought a letter from the Jordanian monarch to the Iraqi president. It is widely believed that Saddam will not accept the offer because he has never left Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War, which ejected Iraqi troops out of Kuwait after seven-month occupation. Saddam was also invited by his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak to attend the Cairo Arab summit on October 21-22 last year, a signal of Iraq¹s return to the Arab world, from which it has been excluded since its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Saddam thanked Mubarak for the offer, but apologized for not being able to come to Cairo. Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council, came to the summit representing him. The upcoming Arab summit is expected to deal with the ongoing situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and ways to support the Palestinian uprising and enhance Arab unity.¡¡ The Iraqi delegation attending the 115th session of the Cairo- based Arab League (AL) Council which concluded Monday in Cairo, demanded that the summit discuss the issues of ending both the decade-old U.N. sanctions and the no-fly zones against Iraq. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010315/2001031505.html * Saddam is expected to take part in the Arab summit Arabic News, 15th March In a statement to the London- based al-Hayat daily issued on Wednesday, a high ranking Arab officials said that the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein might surprise the Arab leaders who will meet at Amman¹s summit on March 27 and 28 by attending this summit.. The source added that if it happens the participation of the Iraqi president will be a surprise of one or two hours time during which the Iraqi president will deliver a speech and then he will leave the meeting hall heading back to Baghdad. The source explained that it is so far known that Iraq¹s participation in the summit will be in a high ranking official presided over by one of the Iraqi vice Presidents, Izzat Ibrahim or Taha Yassin Ramadan. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010316/2001031605.html * Iraq pardons 27 Iranian prisoners Arabic News, 16th March The Iraqi President on Thursday pardoned 27 Iranian prisoners who are hailed under various crimes. The spokesman for the Iraqi foreign ministry said that this Iraqi measure expresses Iraq¹s good intention and the real desire to deal with and close all files including the questions of the war prisoners, missing, the refugees and the remains of the war victims. The Iraqi spokesman added that the Iranians covered by the Amnesty were released and handed to the Iranians through the al-Manzereyah border point with Iran under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010316/2001031606.html * Jordan, Iraq sign financial arrangements minutes of meeting Arabic News, 16th March Jordan and Iraq on Thursday signed a protocol on financial arrangements aiming at revitalizing their bilateral trade protocol. On the Jordanian side, the minute of meetings was signed by the governor of the Iraqi central bank Umaya Toukan and the Iraqi side was attended by the governor of the Iraqi central bank Issam Hweish who arrived on Wednesday in Amman in a visit to Jordan on top of a delegation from the Bank that will last for several days. On Thursday Hweish held meetings with the Jordanian minister of finance Michael Marto; the minister of finance and commerce Wasef Azar and the executive President of the Arab banking establishment in Jordan Zeyad Fareiz during which they reviewed bilateral relations, prospects of economic and trade co-operation and the importance of joint co-ordination among various economic sectors in the two states and means of eliminating hindering obstacles. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010317/2001031736.html * Mubarak-Bush summit to focus on the peace process, Iraq and free trade zone Arabic News, 17th March Well-informed US sources said intensive contacts are underway between Cairo and Washington in preparation for President Mubarak's planned visit to the US capital early next month. The sources noted that Mubarak-Bush summit on April 2 will focus on the issues of free trade zone between Egypt and the United States, developments of the peace process and Iraqi crisis. US sources said contacts which were held between Cairo and Washington in preparation for President Mubarak's visit to the United States have provided the US administration with the chance to get acquainted with the guidelines of Egypt's standpoint regarding the latest developments. The sources said President Mubarak would inform President Bush during their meeting at the White House of further details on the sufferings of the Palestinian people as a result of denial of their rights and the Israeli policies which have created a feeling of frustration and despair among the Palestinian people. US sources said President Bush administrations interested in listening to President Mubarak's views and his assessment of the situation in Iraq and the US policy towards Iraq. Well informed sources in the US capital expressed their confidence that the issue of bilateral relations would be given special emphasis in Egyptian US talks which will be held during President Mubarak's visit. The sources said the two sides will tackle during the visit certain subjects agreements and ideas mainly the among which are issues of economic, commercial cooperation, the establishment of free trade zone, technology transfer and the future of US aid to Egypt. In the context of preparation for President Mubarak's visit to the United States, Prime Minister Dr. Atef Ebeid reviewed at his meeting today with members of the US Chamber of Commerce the working papers of the economic file which will be given top priority in President Mubarak's talks with the US administration. The economic file includes a number of important issues such as the volume of Egyptian exports to the US and providing privileges to the Egyptian commodities in the US market and increasing US investments in Egypt. Eng. Sameh Fahmy, the Minister of Oil said the sector of petroleum represents one of the important sectors in attracting US investments, indicating that US investments in the sector of oil in Egypt is expected to reach 3-4 billion dollars in the year 2005. The Minister of petroleum said total US investments in Egypt until the year 2000 amounted to 11.6 billion dollars. Diplomatic sources in Cairo said President Mubarak's visit to Washington would witness meetings with officials in the US administration, members of the Congress, chairmen of a number of US companies and the press. Ambassador Hager Al Islamboully the Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs said a delegation from the US Chamber of Commerce would visit the United States on March 25 to prepare for the visit in which the economic side would be given special significance in the light of plans by Egypt and the United States to declare the establishment of free trade zone between them. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/851275 * Kuwaiti man builds museum to remember Gulf War horrors Houston Chronicle, 17th March KUWAIT -- Amid all the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of Kuwait's escape from Iraq's grasp -- the parades and dancers, concerts and poetry readings and VIP guests -- Youssef al-Ameeri wanted to make sure the horrors of the war weren't forgotten. The urge to remember is perhaps stronger among Kuwaitis these days as they see former Arab allies succumbing to the lure of trade with Iraq and questioning the need to go on smothering its people in punishing economic sanctions. Al-Ameeri, a Kuwaiti civil servant, said he sold his house to help pay for his own museum chronicling Iraq's Aug. 2, 1990, invasion of his homeland and the U.S.-led Gulf War that forced it out. "Many of Kuwait's Arab guests don't know how horrid the invasion was," al-Ameeri said. "They think we were eating cookies and chocolate and waiting for Westerners to liberate us." Al-Ameeri said he spent the war supplying resistance fighters with arms salvaged from a Kuwaiti air base and smuggled in garbage bins. His cousin, he said, was captured by the Iraqis in an attack on a police station to free Kuwaiti prisoners. He was tortured, killed and his body dumped on the doorstep of his home, al-Ameeri said. A staffer in Parliament's protocol department, al-Ameeri began working on his museum in 1997. He said it has cost over $900,000 so far and needs another $650,000. Parliament Speaker Jassem al-Kharafi, a wealthy contractor, was a major contributor, and private companies also helped, al-Ameeri said. The government donated material for the exhibits, some electronic equipment and a one-story building for a nominal $65 in monthly rent. Kuwait has no official memorials or museums of the war. All the damage has been repaired and little evidence remains that the New Jersey-sized country of 750,000 citizens was looted and sabotaged a decade ago by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's army. The 10th anniversary was marked with a lavish gala. Former President Bush, the Gulf War leader and father of the current U.S. president, was among the guests at the Feb. 25-26 celebrations. Al-Ameeri and 30 volunteers raced to open the museum beforehand, even if it was three months from completion. Museum halls have been constructed and some of the exhibits are in place, including a mock-up of an Iraqi trench complete with looted TV set and VCR. Volunteers say the unfinished museum already attracts crowds of Kuwaitis and foreigners. A volunteer, Rawnak Mohammed, said she has shown ambassadors, labor leaders and allied forces soldiers around the exhibits. The completed museum will offer a half-hour sound-and-light trip through history. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1227000/1227518.stm * Yemen minister in Baghdad BBC World Service, 17th March The Foreign Minister of Yemen, Abdul-Qader Bajammal, is in Baghdad with a message from his government to President Saddam Hussein about the forthcoming Arab summit in Jordan. Last week, Arab foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo, discussed a summit agenda, but correspondents say they could not agree on the question of moves to lift United Nations sanctions against Iraq. The summit is also expected to seek a consensus on negotiations with the new Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. Yemen supported Iraq during the Gulf crisis ten years ago, but in recent years has improved relations with Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk