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News, 18-24/3/01 (1)

News, 18-24/3/01 (1)

The main news - the forthcoming Arab summit in Amman - hasnıt happened yet.
Much speculation about it in the Middle East section. Otherwise, in the ŒUS
Policyı and ŒNew World Orderı sections we can see that Madeleine Albrightıs
ambitious but merely terrestrial imperialist policy has been put on hold for
the moment for an even more ambitious project: securing monopoly control
over all the space that surrounds the planet Earth. That is certainly what
the ŒNational Missile Defenceı scheme is all about. Only the most servile of
Americaıs courtiers - Britain, Australia and Germany (though Germany may be
playing a little game of its own) - could take seriously the notion that the
US is in danger from Iraq, Iran or North Korea. Once total control is
secured over the Earthıs atmosphere, Mrs Albrightıs policy can of course be
picked up again ...ı


*  Blair heckled over Iraq at Muslim award dinner [well done, Mil!]


*  Iraq exports via Ceyhan to stay at full capacity
*  Diggers discover 4 700-year-old town
*  War robs Iraq of its history [on spoliation of archaeologocal sites. We
note in these articles the presence in Iraq of archaeologists and historians
with Anglo Saxon names who probably rank among the real heroes of the past
ten years]
*  Blast Injures 6 in Baghdad
*  Iraq blames Iran for latest blast
*  US, British Planes Drop Incendiary Bombs in Northern Iraq: Spokesman
*  Iraqis Now Daring to Talk of Life After Hussein [speculation about the
state of Saddam Husseinıs health ­ which I am still inclined to take
seriously given that it comes from the respectable end of the Iraqi
opposition, the SCIR]

*  Smugglers thumb noses at sanctions
by Hugh Dellios
Chicago Tribune, March 19, 2001
This is the usual on the one hand thereıs all sorts of western goodies in
Baghdad shops on the other hand people are dying of malnutrition and
treatable illness.


*  Iraq, Russia Call for Lifting No-Fly Zones Against Iraq [ŒRussiaı being
the speaker of the Russian state duma which has called almost unanimously
for Russia to do what it ought to do, namely, break the sanctions]
*  New Zealand and Iraq [NZ wonıt replace the New Zealand soldier killed by
the Americans because they disapprove of the policy of sanctions]


*  Gulf arms bazaar opens for business [ŒThe United States, the main
guarantor of security for Gulf Arab nations, has long advised the countries
to acquire similar weapons that would complement each other in time of war.ı
Thatıs what its all about]
*  Syria keeps up extra exports, helped by Iraq [the Œillegalı pipelineıs
still pumping, it appears]
*  Kuwait Bolsters Position Against Iraq [this, and the following articles
in this sections are to do with the forthcoming Arab summit in Amman]
*  Gulf Arab ministers stand firm on Iraq [having bought huge quantities of
weapons of mass destruction at the Gulf arms bazaar at Abu Dhabi the Gulf
Co-operation Council wants Iraq to abide by UNSC resolutions]
*  Arabs seek panel to reconcile Iraq with Kuwait
*  'Arms sale to Iraq can be blocked'  [surprising little piece in which the
Iraqis seems to be endorsing the idea of Œsmart sanctionsı]
*  Arab Foreign Ministers Wrangle Over Iraq

Sent separately in News, 18-24/3/01 (2)

*  From Bay of Pigs to Bay of Goats, History Would Repeat Itself [defence of
Powellıs policy. ŒHe knows that for now, Hussein is in his box, and our
priority must be to keep him there.ı Points out that the US canıt afford to
win against Saddam because then they would have to take responsibility for
the difficult job of ruling Iraq. Doesnıt manage to draw the conclusion that
perhaps these difficulties have something to do with the nastiness of
*  Iraq 'unable to build weapons of mass destruction' [saysVice Admiral
Charles Moore, Commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, at the IDEX arms bazaar]
*  U.S. says making progress on Iraq sanctions package
*  US Official: Iraq Sanctions Failed [defence of powellıs policy by
Assistant Secretary of State Edward Walker]
*  Anti-Saddam group angers US backers [this and the next two articles
preparing public opinion for the dirching of the Iraqi National Congress]
*  Bush changes tack on Iraq
*  U.S. Eyes Other Iraq Opposition Groups Besides INC [the implication of
these three artyicles is that there has been a split in the INC and the
Sunni/Baıath element has gone off. And the Sunni/Baıath element ­ the
element closest to S.Hussein ­ is the one the US wants to back]
*  Should we still bomb Saddam? [Apparently not. Because he might soon be
able to shoot down a US plane]
*  Iraq Weapon Goals Said Unfullfilled [interview with Powell who says Œall
U.S. efforts are designed to prevent Iraq from become a menace to its
neighbors.The international community must not let them, because they are
threatening the children of the region ...ı]

V 0103230007,FF.html
*  Bush's fuzzy stance on foreign policy
by Georgie Anne Geyer
Chicago Tribune, March 23, 2001


*  UN official asks staff to abide by oil deal [its unclear in what way they
are not abiding by the oil deal but it seems to be related to the next
*  Iraq accuses UN official of recruiting US spies
*  UN Adopts New Policy on Iraqi Oil Cargo
*  Sanctions Against Iraq Should Be Lifted, Says UN Envoy [Tun Myat, who
Œsaid there was no programme that could substitute a normal economic life in


*  Downer [Australian foreign minister] understands US stand on missiles
*  This international court isn't simply unjust, it is a threat to peace
[Norman Lamont waking up to the fact that irresponsible people acting from
political motives could construe certain things done by the UK government to
be Œwar crimesı]
*  Rogue nation missiles threaten Canada: CSIS


*  Saddam of Sumeria [Editorial from The Times. Rupert Murdochıs paper muses
on the way in which the written word - invented in Iraq - can be used as an
instrument of social control. Indeed]


Daily Telegraph, 22nd March
TONY BLAIR was heckled over Government policy on Iraq last night as he
addressed an Islamic community awards ceremony at the Savoy hotel in London.

As Mr Blair delivered his speech at the Muslim News Awards for Excellence
dinner, a guest at the back shouted: "When are you going to stop killing our
children in Iraq?" The Prime Minister continued with his speech.

A Downing Street spokesman said he was not put off and had received "a very
warm welcome" at the dinner. Referring to the foot and mouth crisis, Mr
Blair joked that he was reading a book in the Koran called Cattle.

The evening was organised to highlight the positive contributions made by
Muslims in Britain. Those honoured included Iqbal Sacranie, the founding
secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Mr Sacranie, from Malden, Surrey, has been awarded the OBE for services to
Muslims in Britain. Among those presenting awards were Michael Ancram, Tory
Party chairman, Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP, and Sir Richard Wilson,
Cabinet Secretary.


London, Reuters, 21st March

Iraqi oil exports from Ceyhan, Turkey, are expected to run at their full
capacity of one million barrels per day (bpd) through to the end of the
month, industry sources said yesterday. Over the past four days, six million
barrels of sour Kirkuk has lifted on the Zalaq, the Alex Stream and the
Crudesky, all million-barrel ships, plus the 600,000-barrel Panagia Armada
and Kriti Wave and the two-million-barrel Andros Giorgios.

Over the past 10 days, the flow of crude out of Ceyhan has averaged about
1.2 million bpd, a touch stronger than the port's nominal capacity of one
million bpd and the strongest run of exports since the start of a pricing
spat last December. "I would expect the terminal to continue loading vessels
at full capacity until the end of the month," said one source. Traders said
the surge in competitor crude Russian Urals has made Kirkuk - at an official
selling price of Dated Brent -$4.70 to Europe - irresistably attractive,
spurring the sales this month despite ongoing worries over surcharge

The 600,000-barrel West Virginia is loading crude on Tuesday with the very
large crude carrier (VLCC) Settebello epected to arrive late in the evening
and birth today. The Iran Najm should follow on Thursday to lift two million
barrels. The pipeline supplying the Turkish port from Iraq has also seen its
volumes double from 450,000 bpd in the month to March 10 to 900,000 bpd over
the course of the last nine days.

Although volumes are on the upswing out of Ceyhan, lifting from the Iraqi
port of Mina Al Bakr have held steady. Iraqi Oil Minister Amir Muhammad
Rasheed said last week at Opec's meeting in Vienna that Iraqi March crude
exports would be around 1.8 to 2 million bpd, up from 500,000 and 700,000
bpd from February figures. In November, before Iraq began fueding with the
United Nations and its buyers over an illegal surcharge, crude exports in
the UN oil-for-food programme were about 2.2 million bpd.


Baghdad (AFP, 21st March) - Iraqi archeologists have uncovered the remains
of a Sumerian town dating back to 2 700 BC, including what the head of the
excavation team said could be the oldest cemetery known to mankind.

"Remains show that the town stretched over six square kilometres and
excavations started in 1999 have uncovered many houses, a palace, a temple
and a huge cemetery," said Haidar Abdulwahad, head of the archeology team.

"The cemetery has thousands of tombs dating from between 2 300 and 2 600 BC,
which is the oldest cemetery in the history of mankind," Abdulwahad said.

"We found curled-up skeletons of men, women and children," he said. "The
team has also found pottery, figurines, jars, glasses and jewellery as well
as other items such as knives and axes."

'We found curled-up skeletons of men, women and children'Abdulwahad said the
palace covered 2 500 square metres and was surrounded by a wall 2,5 metres

But the head archeologist said that the site had been pillaged in 1991 in
the thick of the Gulf War in which Iraqi occupation troops were expelled
from neighbouring Kuwait.

"Around 4 000 archeological pieces were stolen, with antiques traffickers
smuggling some of their booty into Turkey."

Despite the looting, the head of Iraq's department of archeology and
heritage, Donni George, dubbed the discovery as "an important event because
it will throw light on the Sumerian era".

"The town, whose name is not known, was probably an administrative and
religious centre, given it had a temple, palace ziggurat and cemetery," he

Iraq contains more than 10 000 archeological sitesThe town lies in the
desert region of Um al-Aqareb, or "mother of the scorpions", almost 300
kilometres south of Baghdad and so called because of its large number of

It is just 120 kilometres north of Ur, the most splendid of all the ancient
Sumerian cities of Mesopotamia, witnessing its peak in about 4 000 BC.

Ur, which contains the remains of the famous ziggurat - a three-tiered
edifice standing more than 17 metres high - spreads out over nine square
kilometres and houses a mass of temples, palaces and royal tombs.

Ur, the Biblical birthplace of Abraham, has been linked to Gilgamesh, the
king of Uruk, who is one of the main figures in Assyrian and Babylonian

Iraq, and especially the northern province of Kurdistan, contains more than
10 000 archeological sites, most of which have still not yet been uncovered,
according to official statistics.

Following the Gulf War, Baghdad accused US soldiers of having stolen some
treasures from Ur.

Iraq has also repeatedly accused foreigners of financing the theft of
archeological pieces and pointed an accusing finger at diplomats posted in
Baghdad and UN employees.

Before the embargo imposed on Iraq in August 1990 for invading Kuwait, Iraq
played host to numerous foreign archeological expeditions each year.

by Anton La Guardia in Nineveh
Daily Telegraph, 21st March

A CONFERENCE marking the "birth" of writing in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago
opened in Iraq yesterday. However the region, known as the cradle of
civilisation, is being plundered by treasure hunters.

The meeting was attended by 140 international experts, including British
academics, and is supposed to be a celebration of Iraqi culture after 10
years of debilitating international sanctions. But throughout the country
the heritage of Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria is being stripped by
antiquities smugglers.

As poverty has deepened, and the Iraqi government's control of more remote
regions has weakened, the theft of antiquities has become a lucrative trade.
Clay tablets and cylinder seals inscribed in cuneiform writing, many of them
stolen from Iraq, are particularly popular objets d'art at online auction

At the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, which re-opened only last year, the foreign
delegates will find the 11 pieces of stone that made up the head of a large
winged bull, a fabulous part human and part-animal mythological creature
guarding the entrances to Assyrian cities. The head was lopped off a
monumental sculpture in Khorsabad, another Assyrian capital, and then cut
into small pieces about two years ago. Ten members of the gang that stole it
were caught by Iraqi police in Mosul and executed.

The throne room of the great Assyrian emperor Sennacherib is a
heart-breaking sight. The floor is a muddy mess, revealing the tracks of
goats and other animals that wander freely in the inner sanctum of what was
the capital of the greatest empire of its time. A corrugated iron roof that
protected this priceless Iraqi archaeological site was stolen soon after the
end of the Gulf war, allowing the summer sun and winter rains to assault the
crumbling carved reliefs.

What has not been destroyed by neglect has been smashed and stolen by
looters. Little pieces of white marble litter the ground where robbers have
torn off the carvings and broken off the slabs into manageable pieces.
Several pieces have made their way to the antiquities market and private
collections in London, where they are the object of legal action by the
Iraqi government.

In the mounds of dissolved mud-brick that dot the south of Mesopotamia,
where Sumer and Babylon flourished, armed looters have sometimes used
mechanical diggers, brought the earth away in lorries, and then sifted the
material at leisure in search of saleable objects. Donny George, assistant
director at the Baghdad Museum, said: "In Umma, in the south, I have seen
holes as large as this room. We believe this is being directed from abroad."

In a country obsessed by the supposed "imperialist-Zionist" conspiracy, Dr
George suspected that the Israelis, in particular, had a hidden hand behind
the theft of Iraq's heritage. He recounted how, before the Gulf war, Iraqi
officials had boxed their museum collections and dispersed them around the
country. The idea was to reduce the risk of war damage, but the effect was
to expose antiquities to theft in outlying areas when the Shi'ite Muslims in
the south and the Kurds in the north rose up against the regime.

Several museums were attacked, and the Baghdad authorities have drawn up a
list of about 4,000 missing objects. Dr George said: "Academics abroad have
helped us, but we have found almost nothing." Saddam Hussein has given
approval for archaeological excavations to resume at dozens of endangered
sites in order to demonstrate the presence of "the government" and deter
thieves. As a result, claims Dr George, the problem of antiquities smuggling
has been brought under control.

But in Nimrud, a major Assyrian city, soldiers guarding the site recounted
how smugglers had slipped in last year and used an electric saw to cut up
four large black basalt cuneiform steles. Farid Amjad, a soldier, said:
"People who do this are betraying their country. No punishment is harsh
enough for them."

It is almost impossible to stop the trade in antiquities, as police need
proof that they are stolen before they can act. Sometimes a piece is spotted
by museum curators, such as a head from the Parthian city of Hatra that was
seized at the British Museum.

The most notable success was the discovery in London of pieces from
Sennacherib's palace. The Iraqi government is suing an antiquities collector
to recover the looted carvings. The collector said he bought the pieces in
good faith from an intermediary in Switzerland and had offered to lend them
for exhibition in Jerusalem's Bible Lands Museum.

They were identified as stolen by Dr John Russell, an American academic who
had meticulously photographed the reliefs in Sennacherib's palace in 1989
and 1990. Iraqi government lawyers said they were trying to reach an
out-of-court settlement to buy back the carvings.

The looting of Sennacherib's palace, said Dr Russell, amounts to "the modern
sack of Nineveh", completing the task begun by the Babylonians who defeated
Assyria and set fire to Sennacherib's palace in 612 BC. The fire turned the
marble reliefs into brittle gypsum. They lay buried until 1847, when they
were discovered by the British adventurer Austen Henry Layard.

They are of immense historical importance, providing corroboration for the
accuracy of the Bible. One relief confirms the story of Sennacherib's
campaign against Judea recounted in the Second Book of Kings. Layard was,
arguably, the first looter of Nineveh's antiquities, carting away a section
depicting the siege of Lachish which is now on view at the British Museum.

But the Iraqis may yet have cause to thank Layard. Because of his theft, the
carving of the siege of Lachish has been spared the ravages of the weather
and looters. It is now one of the best-preserved remains of Sennacherib's

Las Vegas Sun, 21st March

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An explosion in a residential neighborhood wounded six
people and damaged several houses on Wednesday, the official Iraqi News
Agency reported.

The blast, the second in less than a week, took place in the middle-class
al-Zeweya district, INA said. The agency blamed the explosion on a "gang of
Iranian agents."

Authorities are investigating the blast, the agency said, but did not give
its cause.

Iran and Iraq fought a brutal eight-year war that ended in 1988 with a
U.N.-brokered cease fire. Relations, however, remain tense over issues such
as prisoners of war each side still holds. Both countries have been targets
of rocket attacks and explosions that they blame on each other. Iran and
Iraq also accuse each other of providing support to their respective
opposition groups.

On Thursday, an explosion at a bus station in Baghdad killed two and injured

BBC World Service , 21st March

State media in Iraq has said Iran is responsible for an explosion in
Baghdad, in which six people were injured.

It's the second blast in the city in less than a week.

On Friday two people were killed and twenty-seven others injured in an
attack, which was also blamed on Iran.

Television pictures of the latest attack showed injured people and damage to
houses and cars in an unspecified location in Baghdad, as Iraqis were
celebrating the spring festival Novruz.

People's Daily (China), 21st March

US and British warplanes dropped incendiary bombs in northern Iraq on
Tuesday, said an Iraqi military spokesman.

In a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency, the spokesman said
that at 12:25 local time (0925 GMT), the US and British jets made a total of
14 armed sorties over Iraq's three northern provinces of Dohuk, Neiveva and

They dropped incendiary bombs in the Ain Zallah region of Neiveva province,
the spokesman said, without mentioning whether there were any casualties or
property damage.

The planes were challenged by the Iraqi air defense artillery and were
forced to flee back to their air bases in Turkey, the spokesman added.


by John F. Burns
New York Times, 22nd March

Discussion of a future after Saddam Hussein, once an unmentionable topic, is
no longer taboo as growing numbers of Iraqis are ready to take the risk of
whispering their fear and deep-seated hatred for the Iraqi ruler.

On the eve of the gulf war 10 years ago, a Westerner visiting Baghdad could
be sure of one constant in any conversation with an Iraqi obsequious praise
of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's often merciless ruler.

Usually, the phrases about "the Iraqi people's great leader, His Excellency
Saddam Hussein," and the "glorious era" of his rule would have an edge of
urgency, as if only an excessive display of loyalty could ward off the
retribution Mr. Hussein has been known to exact for dissent, including
summary executions of whole families.

But a visit to Iraq shows that even if little has altered in the way Mr.
Hussein maintains control, something else has changed.

Where once the verbal genuflecting would pour forth unprompted, it is now
possible for a visitor to go days without anyone but the government "minder"
who accompanies every visiting foreigner mentioning Mr. Hussein. More than
that, growing numbers of Iraqis, seizing moments when the minders are
distracted, are ready to take the risk of whispering their fear of the Iraqi
ruler and the deep-seated hatred that they say he has engendered among this
country's 23 million people.

Even more remarkable, officials at senior levels have begun to speak of a
time when Mr. Hussein will no longer be the country's ruler, and even, in
two interviews in the past 15 days, to allude to his eventual death.

Altogether, the changes could suggest that at 63 Mr. Hussein is seriously
ill. A decade ago, for a foreigner even to hint that Mr. Hussein might be
mortal was to court expulsion, and for an Iraqi official to do so was

The first of the two senior officials to broach the subject of Mr. Hussein
in interviews was Abdul-Karim al- Hashemi, a former higher education
minister with a doctorate in geochemistry from Boston University who heads
the Organization of Friendship, Peace and Solidarity, an agency that is a
prominent part of Baghdad's machinery for greeting foreigners. At the start
of the interview, he was asked what he thought Americans should know about
the state of affairs in Iraq.

Almost immediately, he began a discourse about the durability of the Baghdad
regime and how it was not solely reliant on its current leader.

"To this day, people in America and Britain do not know that Saddam Hussein
is not heading a one-man show," he said. "They don't know that the system
Saddam Hussein has put in place is operating, not deteriorating, and not
only operating, but developing."

Ten days later, a more senior official, Human Abdul Khaliq al-Ghaffour,
inquired about the reporter's personal experiences as a lymphoma patient, a
decade ago, and asked whether his visitor's lymphoma, a form of cancer, had
spread to his bone marrow, and whether he had undergone a bone marrow

After arguing briefly that the United States should open a "dialogue" with
Iraq, Mr. Khaliq then turned unprompted to the issue of Mr. Hussein's
mortality. "We are proud of Saddam Hussein, of course, but we are realists,"
he said. "Even after years of his long life, and I hope that he will stay
forever, we are human beings, we know that there is an end to life. But we
have thousands of Saddam Husseins now, so we have nothing to fear, this is
the reality."

Mr. Khaliq is regarded by Western intelligence as one of perhaps two dozen
men who form an inner circle around Mr. Hussein. He has been information
minister since 1997; before that, for 10 years until 1992, he was chairman
of Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission and thus, according to Western
intelligence reports, was deeply involved in Iraq's efforts to build nuclear
weapons. Mr. Khaliq, 54, holds a doctorate in nuclear physics from London

Later, when Mr. Khaliq's remarks were passed along to other Iraqis, during
moments of unmonitored conversation, several reacted with something
approaching nonchalance, as if they had known that Mr. Hussein was not well.
One man said his family had ties with the Iraqi leader going back nearly 20
years but that nobody in the family had seen him lately. He added: "But of
course, he's sick. He's very sick. We know that."

Another man, a physician, said it was known that Mr. Hussein was ill, and
that many Iraqis were commenting privately about the Iraqi ruler's seeming
pallor and weight loss during recent appearances on television. But added,
"If we talk of that, it's KALABOSH" an Arab word meaning handcuffs.

Rumors like these have surfaced before only to recede as the Iraqi ruler
vigorously carried on. After talk five years ago that he had Hodgkin's
disease, a form of lymphoma, Mr. Hussein appeared on television to boast
that he was fit enough to swim the Tigris. Politically, too, he has seemed
in many ways stronger than ever.

In the face of the harsh economic sanctions against Iraq over the past
decade, he has defied the Western world over his secret weapons arsenal, and
Iraqis say, exiles assert, enriched himself, his family and his cronies from
black market dealings while millions of his countrymen have fallen into

While blaming the West for Iraq's deepening poverty, he has continued
building vast marble palaces in Baghdad and other cities.

More specific rumors circulating now mostly come from Arab-language
newspapers published outside Iraq that rely heavily on exiled Iraqi
opposition groups. Some say one of his palaces has been turned into a
clinic, some say the younger of his two sons, Qusai, stands ready to take
control. Earlier this month, the Washington Times carried a report that Mr.
Hussein had informed his family and senior aides in December that he was
dying, and said that that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell "is reputed to
give this intelligence assessment credibility."

This welter of rumor has provoked widespread doubts. At Western embassies in
the region, officials familiar with the most recent intelligence reports
remain skeptical that the Iraqi leader is ill, telling reporters that they
have no evidence to indicate that, and cautioning that the Iraqis may be
spreading the rumors as part of a "disinformation campaign" to weaken
support for the economic sanctions.

"If there was some reason to believe that Saddam might be removed from the
scene within weeks or months, then there might be less receptivity to a
hard-line position on sanctions," one Western diplomat commented.

The Central Intelligence Agency, for its part, has been dismissive of such
rumors. "I wouldn't attach credibility to rumors that Saddam is seriously
ill," said one American intelligence official.

This time, Mr. Hussein has offered no public denial that he is ill. But he
has responded in a way, by keeping up a vigorous schedule of official
duties; Iraqi newspapers and broadcasts detail his every meeting with a
foreign dignitary, or with his cabinet

At one of those appearances, a military parade in Baghdad four months ago,
remained in the bitter cold for 13 hours, repeatedly firing a hunting rifle
with one hand to salute the battalions marching past, and impressing
diplomats with his stamina. At one point, hearing some of the guests
complaining about the cold, he ordered an aide to fetch them warm clothing.

Some diplomats who were present, having heard the rumors of cancer, wondered
if they were looking at a double. But an ambassador from a neighboring
country, who greeted Mr. Hussein and shook his hand, said he had no doubt it
was Mr. Hussein.

"Looking at him out there in the cold, firing that rifle, you couldn't
imagine any guy stronger than him," he said. "And when he ordered warm
clothes well, the way his assistants reacted, snapping to attention, it
could only have been the real Saddam."


People's Daily (China), 19th March

Iraq and Russia on Sunday condemned the airspace violations by the United
States and Britain against Iraq, calling for lifting the no-fly zones over
northern and southern Iraq.

In a joint communique, Iraqi National Assembly (parliament) Speaker Saadoun
Hamadi and visiting Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Speaker
Gennady Seleznev demanded the US and Britain to stop their patrolling over
two no-fly zones, which are irrelevant to the United Nations resolutions.

The U.S. and British warplanes have been enforcing the two air exclusion
zones since the 1991 Gulf War, with the claimed aim of protecting the Kurds
in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south from the forces of Iraqi

Iraq has firmly rejected the no-fly zones for their lack of UN

Earlier Sunday, Seleznev held talks with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and
called for lifting the decade-old sanctions on Iraq.

Seleznev told the Iraqi president that the Russian parliament has been
striving for the lifting of the sanctions on the Iraqi people, the official
Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported.

For his part, Saddam appreciated the Russian's pro-Iraqi stand, stressing
that Iraq enjoys the support of 300 million Arab people.

"The United States can only exert pressure on a few Arab rulers, but not on
the Arab people, " he was quoted by the INA as saying.

Seleznev has also held talks with senior Iraqi officials, including Vice
President Taha Yassin Ramadan and Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz.

Seleznev arrived in Baghdad by plane late Friday night for a visit, aiming
to cement bilateral relations, especially parliamentary ties.

Seleznev was among the highest Russian officials to visit Iraq since the
Gulf War, triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Iraq has since
been under stringent international sanctions.

Russia, a key ally and the largest trade partner of Iraq, has been calling
for lifting the sanctions on Iraq and condemned the air raids against
southern areas of the Iraqi capital by the US. and Britain on February 16.

There have been frequent exchange of official visits between the two
countries. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov visited Baghdad in November
last year and Iraqi Health Minister Umid Medhat Mubarak went to Moscow in
January. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan is expected to visit
Russia soon.

Arabic News, 20th March

New Zealand prime minister Mrs. Helen Clark said on Monday that her country
will not send an army office to Kuwait instead of the officer who was killed
in the bomb explosion incident in the joint exercises between the Kuwaiti
and American forces last week, noting that her country supports the
amendment of sanctions imposed on Iraq.

News reports quoted Clark as saying to the press that her country backs the
amendment of the sanctions imposed on Iraq. She added that this decision by
the government of New Zealand is in line with the accelerated calls in the
world to amend the sanctions imposed by the UN on Iraq.

She continued that the aim behind amending the sanctions is to alleviate the
sufferings of the Iraqi people who underwent a difficult time in the past


Times of India, 19th March

ABU DHABI: The show grounds were prickly with tanks, missiles, grenade
launchers, machine guns, radar, trucks, and enough other equipment to start
a small war on Sunday as 860 arms makers from around the globe courted some
of their best customers - tiny, oil-rich Gulf states that have been spending
heavily on weapons since the Gulf War.

"Gulf countries account for 20 percent of all the arms sold in the world,"
said Paul Beaver, spokesman for the Jane's Information Group, which
publishes the respected Jane's Defense Weekly. "The world spent dlrs 81.8
billion in arms last year, and we estimate that to increase by 2 percent
every year for the next five years."

Nearly every arms maker in the world is drawn to the biennial International
Defense Exhibition in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. This
year's version of the arms bazaar known as Idex opened Sunday and closes

Last year, the UAE placed one of the biggest defense orders in the world,
buying 80 F-16 fighters from Lockheed Martin of the United States. On
Friday, Oman said it is increasing defense spending by 38 percent and wants
to buy an unspecified number of F-16s.

The United States, the main guarantor of security for Gulf Arab nations, has
long advised the countries to acquire similar weapons that would complement
each other in time of war.

Following the 1991 Gulf War, in which a U.S.-led international coalition
forced Iraq to reverse its invasion of Kuwait, Kuwait and others in the Gulf
have invested heavily on weapons and signed defense cooperation agreements
with major Western countries. Aggressive, much larger neighbors such as Iraq
and Iran have made many of the smaller countries nervous.

Iran signed a dlrs 7 billion arms agreement with Russia last week, further
fueling the regional arms race. Also, oil prices have been soaring and look
to remain strong, so there is more money to spend on arms.

Brazil, Ireland, Kazakstan and Bosnia make their debut at this year's Idex.
Organizers said Saturday that all countries were welcome - except Israel,
which many Arab countries do not recognize.

Idex draws buyers from around the Middle East and beyond. From the VIP
grandstand during the opening ceremony, King Abdullah of Jordan sat in a
short-sleeve camouflage uniform and black beret, watching tanks showing off
their maneuverability on a dirt field loaded with obstacles, or commandos
astride a specially equipped vehicle attacking "terrorists" in a mock
hostage situation.

A tank maker from Belarus was unlikely to get customers, after its tank
rattled, hissed, and finally broke down, before the VIP audience. (AP)

London, Reuters, 22nd March

Syria has planned roughly unchanged monthly crude oil exports for April,
indicating that unauthorised pipeline imports from Iraq continue apace,
trade sources said yesterday. They said the Syrian Light export plan for
April calls for 14 full cargoes and two half cargoes - the equivalent of
about 300,000 barrels per day, unchanged from March.

The programme for the country's heavy Souedie grade slipped a touch to six
and a half full cargoes - or about 130,000 bpd - from March's 140,000 bpd,
the sources said. It includes one spot cargo to be sold by Syrian marketer
Sytrol itself. Total exports from Syria of about 430,000 bpd remain almost
100,000 bpd over last year's standard flow.

With domestic production steady, Syria's extra exports are the result of
imported Iraqi crude displacing domestic supplies to the country's
refineries, industry observers believe. Last month a Syrian industry source
said the pipeline - reopened in November after 18 years of disuse - was
flowing, but at a lower rate than the 170,000-bpd-plus level that was
registered at the tail end of last year.

Measuring by additional Syrian exports over its 350,000 bpd baseload,
December imports from Iraq soared to over 150,000 bpd, only to fall back to
near zero in January and level off at around 100,000 bpd since February.

Both Iraqi and Syrian government officials have denied the pipeline is
operating. The pipeline is not a sanctioned export route for Iraqi oil
sales, which are overseen by the United Nations.

Sanctions hawks the United States and the UK have said they would approve
the route if asked, while U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Syria
had agreed in late February to bring the pipeline under UN supervision.

The pipeline is one in a series of Iraqi moves to attempt to loosen the
sanctions regime and gain more control over its oil export revenues,
governed by the United Nations. Baghdad has also imposed an illegal
surcharge on direct lifters of Iraqi crude, a move that has gradually become
institutionalised although it caused a slump in UN-monitored exports for the
past three months.

Some industry sources said the supplies sent to Syria since November - just
as the surcharge issue emerged - were necessary in order for Baghdad to
avoid shutting in production. Now that Iraqi UN exports are steadily
returning to last year's average 2.2 million bpd, it remains to be seen
whether the pipeline supplies to Syria will be maintained.

Analysts point out that revenues from sales to Syria are controlled directly
by Iraq, giving it more incentive to maintain those sales rather than the
UN-monitored sales routes through Ceyhan, Turkey, and Mina al-Bakr.

by Diana Elias, Associated Press Writer

KUWAIT (AP, 18th March) - Kuwait, concerned about growing sympathy among
other Arab nations for its Gulf War nemesis Iraq, sought Sunday to ensure
that its fears of aggression by Baghdad are not ignored.

Foreign Minister Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah visited Syria on Sunday,
meeting with President Bashar Assad. Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen also
were on the itinerary for his five-day swing through the region.

Iraqi officials have traced a similar route in their own campaign to
influence debate at the Arab League summit, to be held March 27-28 in

Kuwait wants to see a ``unified'' stance emerge from the summit, Kuwaiti
lawmaker Abdul Mohsen Jamal said in an interview Sunday. Kuwait needs to
protect its sovereignty and to see an ``end the Iraqi threats,'' Jamal said,
but does not object to ending U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq after Baghdad's
1990 invasion. The 1991 Gulf War forced Iraq to retreat from Kuwait.

Shafiq al-Ghabra, head of the government's Kuwait Information Office in
Washington, wrote in Al-Watan daily on Sunday that Kuwait worried that
``many Arabs, governments and peoples, have started to deal with what
happened in 1990 as a part of history that can be forgotten and placed on
the political shelf.''

This, coupled with a ``continuation of Iraqi escalation rhetoric, were among
the most serious threats to Kuwait and its future,'' he said. Earlier this
year, Odai Hussein, the son of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, said Kuwait
should be included in a new map of Iraq.

Sheik Sabah will call on fellow Arabs to support Kuwait's rights while
making clear that Kuwait sympathizes with the suffering the Iraq people have
endured under sanctions and under Saddam, a senior Kuwaiti official said on
condition of anonymity Sunday.

Ten years after the war, this small but oil-rich state still depends on its
Western allies for protection. It is becoming increasingly concerned that
its Arab allies in the Gulf War, particularly Egypt and Syria, are warming
up to Iraq.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said Sunday that he hoped the Jordan
summit would spark debate that takes into consideration ``the sufferings of
the Iraqi people'' as well as both Iraq's and Kuwait's interest in
``protecting its sovereignty and independence.''

Syria has backed Iraq's calls to lift the economic sanctions, and Egypt has
said they must be rethought. Even the United States, the main international
backer of the sanctions, has called for refocusing them so ordinary Iraqis
suffer less and to limit Saddam's access to weapons.

Meanwhile, the first Kuwaiti delegation since the Gulf War, led by speaker
of parliament Jassem al-Kharafi, arrived in Yemen on Sunday to discuss the
summit, Kuwaiti and Yemeni officials said.

Yemen has been critical of the sanctions against Iraq. On Sunday, Yemeni
Trade Minister Abdul Aziz Nasir signed an agreement expanding economic ties
with Iraq during a visit to Baghdad, the official Iraqi News Agency

Sheik Mohammed Al Sabah, Kuwait's minister of state for foreign affairs,
said last month that it backed ``altering'' the sanctions to maintain a ban
on ``military materials that would directly threaten Kuwait's security.'' He
also said he hoped the U.S. plan for fine-tuning the sanctions, still under
development, will``crystalize'' as a Security Council resolution accepted by

Under U.N. resolutions, Iraq must surrender all weapons of mass destruction
before sanctions can be lifted.

Kuwait says it cannot consider reconciling with Baghdad until Iraq accounts
for the 600 missing Kuwaitis and other nationals, and implements all
Security Council resolutions. Baghdad maintains it is not holding Kuwaiti

On Saturday, foreign ministers meeting in Riyadh for the Gulf Cooperation
Council condemned renewed Iraqi threats against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and
called on Baghdad to show ``good will in statements and actions'' and to
resume cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors.

The alliance groups Kuwait with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates,
Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

Times of India, 19th March

RIYADH: Foreign ministers from the six Gulf Arab monarchies held firm on
Iraq and congratulated Bahrain and Qatar for resolving a territorial dispute
as they met on Saturday ahead of a summit of Arab leaders.

The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- Bahrain, Kuwait,
Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- adopted a
resolution calling for Iraq "to execute the commitments contained in (UN)
Security Council resolutions."

The countries denounced Iraqi officials for making threatening remarks
against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in recent months, including unveiling a map
in the Iraqi parliament that showed Kuwait as Iraqi territory.

Iraq has been under economic sanctions since its invasion of Kuwait in 1990
and has refused to allow arms inspections in the country, a condition for
the lifting of UN sanctions.

The GCC also congratulated Bahrain and Qatar for the resolution Friday of
their 60-year old feud over oil and gas rich territories.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague handed down a verdict
Friday, endorsing Bahrain's sovereignty over the Hawar islands and Qitat
Jarada island. Qatar was awarded the Zubara strip on the northwest of the
Qatari peninsula, which it already controlled, and also received the Fasht
al-Dibel rocks and Jinan island.

The ministers praised the verdict as a "historic event" that "will
contribute to the strengthening of brotherly ties between the two nations in
the interest of the member states of the GCC."

Bahrain and Qatar had almost gone to war over the territories in 1986.

The foreign ministers were meeting in Riyadh ahead of a summit of Arab
leaders March 27 and 28 in Amman.

At the opening of the session, Bahrain's Education Minister Abdelaziz
Mohamed Al-Fadhil appealed for the upcoming Arab summit in Amman "to adopt
resolutions in the interest of the GCC and the Arab Islamic nation," the
official Saudi Press Agency said.

Fadhil, who sat in place of Bahrain's foreign minister, also called for the
resolution of a bitter dispute between the UAE and Iran over the Abu Mussa
and the Tomb islands calling it a source of "instability in the region."

Separately, the GCC denounced US Secretary of State Colin Powell's comments
last week to the US Congress calling Jerusalem Israel's capital and
affirming the United States was committed to moving its embassy in Israel
from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The GCC called Powell's statements "contrary to international

Times of India, 23rd March

AMMAN: Some Arab countries have proposed the creation at next week's Arab
summit of a committee to reconcile Iraq with its neighbours, Kuwait and
Saudi Arabia, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf said in
statements published on Thursday.

"The idea was suggested by a limited number of Arab (foreign) ministers, who
met last week in Cairo, and calls for the creation at the Arab summit of a
reconciliation committee headed by Jordan's King Abdullah II," Sahhaf said.

The proposed committee would draft "a solution to the pending problems
between Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait," Sahhaf told Jordanian newspaper
editors without saying who was behind the initiative.

Sahhaf stressed that Baghdad's position was that the summit "should adopt a
resolution calling for the lifting of the (UN) embargo on Iraq without
condition. "Most Arab countries realise that the sanctions were imposed in
an unfair manner on Iraq," after it invaded Kuwait in 1990, Sahhaf said.

Iraq agrees that the Arab leaders should examine differences between
Baghdad, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait "so that they may try to solve them," he
added. Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo last week decided to include
Iraq on the agenda in the context of "the situation between Iraq and

Sahhaf said he discussed the proposed plan Tuesday with Abdullah, whose
country is hosting the summit. Abdullah "was very interested by this
proposal, and Iraq has left it up to him to examine it," and decide whether
or not to discuss it at the summit, Sahhaf said.

Abdullah will chair the ordinary Arab summit in Amman Tuesday and Wednesday
to discuss several political and economic issues, notably the Palestinian
crisis and Iraq.

After talks with Sahhaf on Tuesday, the king met Kuwaiti Foreign Minister
Sheikh Sabah al Ahmed al-Sabah. On Wednesday he travelled to Saudi Arabia to
review the summit's agenda with King Fahd.

According to an Arab diplomat who took part in the Cairo talks, Saudi Arabia
and Kuwait had opposed Iraq's request to mention the lifting of the embargo
in the main points of the summit agenda.

Kuwait wants Iraq to formally apologise for the invasion and said it would
raise the issue of some 600 Kuwaiti prisoners it says Baghdad has been
detaining since the Gulf war that ousted Iraqi troops from the emirate. Iraq
and Kuwait agree that the Palestinian cause should take precedence over
their problems. (AFP)

Times of India, 24th March

AMMAN, Jordan: The United States can maintain its tight grip on Iraq's
weapons program by blocking arms sales to Baghdad instead of continuing UN
sanctions, Iraq's trade and industry minister said on Friday.

Mohammed Mehdi Saleh's remarks were apparently aimed at preempting support
for Iraq's quest to lift the sanctions, imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion
of Kuwait. A summit of Arab leaders next Tuesday is expected to discuss the
plight of Iraqis under the sanctions.

Saleh spoke shortly before Arab ministers of commerce, economy, trade and
finance met to discuss a collective plan for a common Arab market that would
allow the free flow of capital and trade.

He said if the United States and Britain "are worried about the development
of our military arsenal, they could put restrictions on international arms
companies to prevent them from selling arms and military material to Iraq."

That should replace the "blockade on Iraq and its people since 10 years with
the aim of crippling its military capabilities and helping the Zionist
entity acquire greater military might," he told The Associated Press.

[general account of likely agenda of Arab summit]

by Alistair Lyon, Reuters
Los Angeles Times, 24th March

AMMAN--Arab foreign ministers sought to resolve wrangling between Iraq and
Kuwait on Saturday ahead of an Arab summit expected to show support for
Palestinians waging a costly revolt against Israeli rule, delegates said.

Kuwait proposed that the summit agree on a call to lift U.N. sanctions
imposed for Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait only if Iraq agreed to tough

The official Kuwaiti news agency KUNA said Kuwait had demanded that Iraq
halt its "threats and provocations" against it and Saudi Arabia, return
Kuwaiti prisoners missing since the 1990-91 Gulf crisis and return looted
Kuwaiti property -- demands certain to enrage Baghdad.

Iraqi television said on Saturday that President Saddam Hussein, who is not
expected to attend the Arab summit, would send it an "important and historic
message." It gave no details.

Arab foreign ministers delayed an evening session, which was due to have
considered draft resolutions for the March 27-28 summit, in favor of
informal discussions on a compromise over Iraq.

"The Iraqi issue needs consultation and we will not put it on the table for
the 22 ministers until it has been resolved," a senior Jordanian official
said. "We don't feel it is possible to be able to come out of the Gulf
crisis overnight."

A Palestinian official said that Egypt and Jordan, which in recent months
have boosted trade with Iraq and pressed for an end to sanctions, had
hardened their stance, arguing that Iraq must comply with U.N. sanctions to
get the embargo lifted.

The meeting starting on Tuesday would be the first regular summit of Arab
leaders since the 1991 Gulf War.

The Palestinian official, who asked not to be identified, also said that in
a closed ministerial session Iraq had demanded a jihad, or holy war, on
Israel. Libya had called for a revival of the Arab boycott of the Jewish

Saudi Arabia had said the new Israeli government under Ariel Sharon should
be given a chance.

Palestinians will ask Arab leaders to deliver on a pledge they made in
October to provide $1 billion in support of a six-month-old uprising against
Israeli occupation.

At least 427 people, mostly Palestinians, have been killed in the revolt.
Israeli restrictions on travel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have helped
to cripple the Palestinian economy.

"We, of course, are in favor of the Arab boycott until Israel halts its
siege on us," Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath told reporters. "We
are under a full Israeli blockade and siege imposed on us despite the peace

Shaath had been asked if the Palestinians would support a Syrian proposal to
revive the Arab boycott of Israel.

"Israel must understand that there are limits to what it can do against the
Palestinian people and to its relations with the Arab world," he said.

Shaath earlier said the Palestinian Authority hoped the leaders would
approve emergency aid of $40 million a month to meet the running costs of
its battered institutions.

"All we want is a clear expression of the determination of the Arab
governments of their utmost support against the present policies of the
Israeli government. In practical terms, we would like to see clear support
in financial and economic matters."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa told his colleagues in a morning
session that the revolt had flared due to an impasse in peace efforts and
miserable Palestinian living conditions.

He said simultaneous deadlock on the Syrian and Lebanese peace tracks had
prompted frustration among Arabs.

Referring to the new Israeli government, Moussa said the Arabs must confront
"the return of an aggressive expansionist policy and the policy of threats
and provocation."

They must demand the return of all occupied land and the creation of a
Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

"There can be no retreat from that and no peace without it," declared
Moussa, expected to be chosen unopposed at the summit as the next
secretary-general of the 22-member Arab League.

Shaath said Palestinians wanted the summit to press Israel to end its
blockade of Palestinian towns and resume peace talks from where they left
off under the previous Israeli government -- a demand the hardline Sharon
has dismissed as a non-starter.

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