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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 US Policyı and New 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 National 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 CAMPAIGNING * Blair heckled over Iraq at Muslim award dinner [well done, Mil!] LIFE IN IRAQ * 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] URL ONLY: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV 0103190064,FF.html * 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. IRAQI INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Iraq, Russia Call for Lifting No-Fly Zones Against Iraq [Russiaı 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] MIDDLE EAST * Gulf arms bazaar opens for business [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.ı Thatıs what its all about] * Syria keeps up extra exports, helped by Iraq [the illegalı 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 smart sanctionsı] * Arab Foreign Ministers Wrangle Over Iraq Sent separately in News, 18-24/3/01 (2) US POLICY * From Bay of Pigs to Bay of Goats, History Would Repeat Itself [defence of Powellıs policy. He 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 S.Hussein.]] * 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 all 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] URL ONLY: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/commentary/printedition/article/0,2669,SA V 0103230007,FF.html * Bush's fuzzy stance on foreign policy by Georgie Anne Geyer Chicago Tribune, March 23, 2001 IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * 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 piece:] * 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 said there was no programme that could substitute a normal economic life in Iraq.ı] NEW WORLD ORDER * 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 war crimesı] * Rogue nation missiles threaten Canada: CSIS POMPOUS NONSENSE * 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] CAMPAIGNING http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=LxSxilLd&atmo=99999 999&pg=/et/01/3/22/nheck22.html * BLAIR HECKLED OVER IRAQ AT MUSLIM AWARD DINNER 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. LIFE IN IRAQ http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=12586 * IRAQ EXPORTS VIA CEYHAN TO STAY AT FULL CAPACITY 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 demands. 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. http://www.iol.co.za/html/frame_news.php?click_id=588&art_id=qw985154461125B 213 * DIGGERS DISCOVER 4 700-YEAR-OLD TOWN 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 thick. 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 said. 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 scorpions. 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 mythology. 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. http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=r9Q39S3X&atmo=99999 999&pg=/et/01/3/21/wirq21.html * WAR ROBS IRAQ OF ITS HISTORY 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 sites. 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 palace. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2001/mar/21/032100733.html * BLAST INJURES 6 IN BAGHDAD 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 27. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1234000/1234677.st m * IRAQ BLAMES IRAN FOR LATEST BLAST 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. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200103/21/eng20010321_65563.html * US, BRITISH PLANES DROP INCENDIARY BOMBS IN NORTHERN IRAQ: SPOKESMAN 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 Erbil. 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. [.....] http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nyt/20010322/wl/iraqis_now_daring_to_talk_of_li fe_after_hussein_1.html * IRAQIS NOW DARING TO TALK OF LIFE AFTER HUSSEIN 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 unknown. 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 transplant. 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 University. 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 destitution. 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." IRAQI INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200103/19/eng20010319_65332.html * IRAQ, RUSSIA CALL FOR LIFTING NO-FLY ZONES AGAINST IRAQ 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 government. Iraq has firmly rejected the no-fly zones for their lack of UN authorization. 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. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010320/2001032014.html * NEW ZEALAND AND IRAQ 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 decade. MIDDLE EAST http://www.timesofindia.com/190301/19mide14.htm * GULF ARMS BAZAAR OPENS FOR BUSINESS 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 Thursday. 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) http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=12653 * SYRIA KEEPS UP EXTRA EXPORTS, HELPED BY IRAQ 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. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010318/wl/kuwait_iraq_2.html * KUWAIT BOLSTERS POSITION AGAINST IRAQ 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 Jordan. 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 reported. 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 Iraq. 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 prisoners. 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. http://www.timesofindia.com/190301/19mide2.htm * GULF ARAB MINISTERS STAND FIRM ON IRAQ 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 resolutions."(AFP) http://www.timesofindia.com/230301/23mide4.htm * ARABS SEEK PANEL TO RECONCILE IRAQ WITH KUWAIT 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 Kuwait". 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) http://www.timesofindia.com/240301/24mide2.htm * 'ARMS SALE TO IRAQ CAN BE BLOCKED' 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] http://www.latimes.com/wires/20010324/tCB00a4716.html * ARAB FOREIGN MINISTERS WRANGLE OVER IRAQ 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 conditions. 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. IRAQ DEMANDS JIHAD AGAINST ISRAEL 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 state. 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 process." 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. HOPE FOR EMERGENCY AID 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. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk