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News, 22-28/4/01 (1) The most important developments are probably the depressing skirmishes between Iraq and Iran. The articles * Iraq sanctions create nightmare for legitimate shipping (under Smuggling¹) and * Secret u-turn to send Kurds back (under Miscellaneous) are particularly interesting. And I can¹t help thinking that something could be made of the revelation that both Bush Sr and Jr are members of what is quite is plainly a Satanist cult (also in the Misc section). IRAQ/IRAN RELATIONS * Iraq says Iran attack means no attendance at Islamic conf. * Iran raid was signal to U.S., Saudi Arabia, says Iraq paper * Iran rebels say attack police station in capital * Iraq lays scores of cease-fire violations to Iran * Iraq Slams UN Silence Over Iran's Missile Attacks * Iran says eight rebels killed near Iraqi border IRAQ/US RELATIONS * Iraq Invites US Companies to Hold Exhibitions in Baghdad * Bill would repay Gulf War claims [proposal to steal Iraqi money in US banks in order to speed up the compensation scam] * Bush Iraq team considers reviving coup option [yawn] * Top Russian, U.S. Officials to Hold Talks on Iraq IRAQ/RUSSIA RELATIONS * Alfa Eko, Sputnik Eye Iraqi Telecoms Deal [possibility of Iraq getting access to a satellite system.] * Russian firms jostle for Iraqi oil but problems ahead [for example, competition should sanctions end. And understandable Iraqi impatience at the Russians reluctance to simply break the sanctions] IRAQ/GENERAL MIDDLE EAST AND GULF RELATIONS * Dubai-Iraq ferry slashes fares as traffic rises * Iraq demands UN to shrink size of demilitarised zone along border NO FLY ZONES * Bombing Deaths in Kuwait Tied to Pilot Error * Iraq claims air raid death, UK says no OIL SMUGGLING & OTHER PROBLEMS * Emirates to punish oil smugglers [The U.S.-led force charged with intercepting smugglers has impounded 24 ships found to be carrying illegal Iraqi oil this year ...¹] * Canadian warships cannot board unco-operative vessels in Arabian Gulf: report * US, Britain, threaten Swiss firm on Iraqi oil sale [The mystery of why US bound oil should be cheaper than Europe bound oil is still not explained] * Iraq sanctions create nightmare for legitimate shipping SENT SEPARATELY AS NEWS 22-28/4/01 (2) IRAQI WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION¹ * French 'weapons grade' exports to Iraq blocked [an accont of some of the 965 contracts being challenged by the sanctions Committee in the 18 month period to February 2001, all but one of them by Washington and London] * Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Knew [a former Iraqi weapons inspector outlining nasty possibilities such as launching foot and mouth disease on the innocent American public. Well, its his job, after all ...] * German intelligence chief warns of Iraqi, Iranian weapons threat * Iraq tested radioactive bomb [according to another weapons inspector looking at a document which someone passed on to someone who passed it on ... ] LIFE IN IRAQ * Iraq, Kazakstan to World Cup Finals * Iraqi MPs recommend Saddam's birthday a holiday * Jordanian Ambassador to Iraq Robbed IRAQ/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Czech Republic Ousts Iraqi Diplomat [no explanation why] * Spain urges easing of sanctions against Iraq * Pope calls for an end to Iraq's suffering MISCELLANEOUS * Secret u-turn to send Kurds back [Kurdish refugees being sent back because Mr Straw thinks that Iraqi Kurdistan is safe. An interesting detail I didn¹t know is that there is a third Kurdish body which controls territory in the area - the Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan, and they apparently control Halabja, where the chemical weapons attack took place] * France to Study 'Gulf War Syndrome' * Bizarre secrets of Bush club exposed [Further details of the Skull & Bones Club¹ may be had at http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/8425/BONES.HTM] CHILDREN¹S CORNER * British police probing war crimes allegations against Saddam [the crimes incude taking hostages in the run-up to the war. Will this prompt anyone to ask why Saddam Hussein RELEASED his hostages? All of them? Or will anyone other than myself notice that it was only when the last one had been released that the UN assault began?] * Tonight, the Babylonian tyrant will sleep less easy [in which we learn that most of the medical equipment and medicines taken into Iraq by the UN is smuggled abroad to be sold for more cash on the black markets of Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Iran.¹ Gosh. The article continues: I estimate that he has caused the deaths of more people than did Genghis Khan and Tamberlane in the 13th and 14th centuries put together¹. Presumably the author reaches this conclusion by ascribing to Saddam all the deaths that have been caused by Antony Blair, Robin Cook and their predecessors and allies] * Why is Yard chasing Saddam? [A historic article. The first time ever I find myself in almost complete agreement with The Sun] IRAQ/IRAN RELATIONS http://home.kyodo.co.jp/fullstory/display.jsp?newsnb=20010422075 * IRAQ SAYS IRAN ATTACK MEANS NO ATTENDANCE AT ISLAMIC CONF. BAGHDAD April 22 Kyodo [Japan] - Iraqi National Assembly Speaker Sa'doun Hummadi said Sunday Iraq will skip an Islamic parliamentary conference in Tehran late this month to support Palestine because of an Iranian missile attack on Iraqi border towns last week. According to Iraqi statements, Iran fired 68 Scud surface-to-surface missiles at four Iraqi border towns Wednesday, killing four civilians and wounding an unspecified number of others. Iran has admitted to firing 26 missiles, it but said the attack targeted camps of the Iranian People's Mojahedin opposition organization inside Iraq, not Iraqi targets. A statement faxed by the Mojahedin to the Kyodo News office in Baghdad on Sunday said rebel units inside Iran launched a series of attacks on Iranian army positions near the border with Iraq earlier in the day. The group claimed an unspecified number of Iranian soldiers were either killed or wounded in the Sunday attacks, while it lost two commandos. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=15226 * IRAN RAID WAS SIGNAL TO U.S., SAUDI ARABIA, SAYS IRAQ PAPER Baghdad, Reuters, 22nd April An Iraqi newspaper said yesterday that Iran's Wednesday missile attack on rebel bases inside Iraq was intended as a signal to the United States and Saudi Arabia that it could play the role of "policeman of the Gulf". "By its aggression, Tehran's regime was aiming to gain favour with other parties and present a proof...that it could be the policeman of the Gulf once again," said the official Al Iraq newspaper in a front-page editorial, seen as referring to the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Iraq said on Wednesday that Iran had fired 56 Scud missiles at camps inside Iraq belonging to Iran's armed opposition People's Mujahideen Organisation. Tehran said the strike was "defensive" after the rebels launched attacks in Iran. "Tehran's regime will find no one who believes it when it claims that it was targeting Iranian rebels...because the number of the missiles it fired was very big...more than those fired by Iraq or Iran during the 1980-88 war," Al Iraq said. "Iranian claims are groundless as all the Iranian missiles landed in populated cities, killing Iraqi citizens," it added. Baghdad said on Friday that six people had been killed and several others wounded in Wednesday's attack. The paper linked the timing of the attack to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Edward Walker's tour of Iraq's neighbours Jordan, Syria and Turkey to discuss changes Washington wants to make to the UN sanctions against Baghdad, and a recent visit by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef to Iran to sign a bilateral security pact. Iran threatened on Thursday to launch more strikes against the Iraq-based rebels unless they ceased cross-border raids. A Revolutionary Guards commander said the missile attack was a warning to the heavily armed Mujahideen to cease their attacks in Iran, Iranian state television reported. Tehran regularly criticises the Iraqi government for its support of the Mujahideen. Iraq in turn accuses Iran of sheltering Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim dissidents. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=15402 * IRAN REBELS SAY ATTACK POLICE STATION IN CAPITAL Dubai, Reuters, 24th April Iran's main rebel group said it had fired rocket-propelled grenades yesterday at a police station in the capital Tehran, near a high-security area where several Iranian leaders live. A spokesman for the Iraq-based People's Mujahideen Organisation told Reuters in Dubai that the attack had inflicted "heavy damage and casualties" on the police station in the northern suburb of Shemiran. Residents of the district, near Jamaran where residences of senior leaders are located, said they had heard a loud blast. Journalists who visited the area said there was no visible sign of damage at the police building. Police denied any attack had taken place. The Mujahideen said the raid was the 14th it had launched in retaliation to Iran's missile attack on the group's bases in Iraq on Wednesday. Iraq has said Iran fired 56 Scud missiles at Mujahideen camps, killing six people and wounding several others. The group has said one of its members had been killed. Iran said the strike was in self-defence against Mujahideen attacks and threatened to launch more strikes against rebel bases in Iraq unless they ceased cross-border raids and attacks deep inside the Islamic republic. Tehran regularly criticises the Iraqi government for backing the Mujahideen, the main Iranian armed opposition group. Iraq in turn accuses Iran of sheltering Iraqi Shi'ite dissidents. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=15416 * IRAQ LAYS SCORES OF CEASE-FIRE VIOLATIONS TO IRAN United Nations, Reuters, 24th April Iraq accused Iran yesterday of 61 violations in the first 10 weeks of the year of the 1988 cease-fire accord that ended a ruinous eight-year war between the two Gulf neighbours. The accusation came in a list of alleged violations of the UN-brokered cease-fire that was submitted by Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The violations included alleged exchanges of fire between Iraqi and Iranian vessels, ship boardings, artillery attacks and shelling of Iraqi military units with mortar rounds. Others appeared less serious, such as work by Iranian construction crews and helicopter flights that never strayed from Iranian territory. On January 8, for example, "an Iranian excavator worked on improving the dirt road running opposite the Iranian outposts at coordinates 5492," according to the Iraqi document. Iraq regularly accuses Iran of sheltering Iraqi Shi'ite dissidents on its territory. Tehran, in turn, regularly charges the Iraqi government with backing the Mujahideen, the main Iranian armed opposition group. The report to the United Nations focused solely on the period from Jan. 1 to March 8 and did not deal with a series of cross-border raids that have taken place in the last few days. The Mujahideen boasted yesterday that it had launched its 14th raid against Iran in retaliation for an Iranian missile attack on the group's bases in Iraq on Wednesday. Iraq has accused Iran of firing 56 Scud missiles at Mujahideen camps, killing six people and wounding several others. According to the Mujahideen, only one person was killed. Iran said the missile strike was in self-defense against Mujahideen attacks and threatened to launch more strikes against rebel bases in Iraq unless they ceased cross-border raids and attacks deep inside the Islamic republic. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200104/25/eng20010425_68542.html * IRAQ SLAMS UN SILENCE OVER IRAN'S MISSILE ATTACKS People's Daily (China), 25th April Iraq on Tuesday slammed the United Nations for silence over Iran's recent missile attacks on Iraqi territory, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. In a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Foreign Minister Tareq Aziz urged the world organization to shoulder its commitments toward Iraq's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The UN Security Council has taken "coercive measures" to prevent Iraq from rebuilding its defensive capabilities, while the region is engaged in an arms race, Aziz said, adding that the " double-standard policy has encouraged regional and non-regional forces to launch attacks against Iraq." He said that the Iranian attacks and its financing of Iraqi opposition groups were aimed at "destabilizing Iraq." Iraq has said that six civilians died and 36 others were wounded when Iranian forces launched 68 missiles against an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq last Wednesday. In a letter to the UN Security Council last Wednesday, Iran acknowledged that its forces attacked Iraqi bases of the rebel Mujahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO), and has threatened to launch more attacks against the MKO unless it ceases cross-border raids. Iraq has retaliated against the attacks by shooting down an unmanned Iranian reconnaissance plane over Iraqi territory last Thursday. Iraq and Iran, who fought a war in 1980-88, play host to each other's opposition groups. The MKO has often engaged in attacks against Iran, while the Tehran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq has vowed to continue attacks until the Iraqi government is toppled. The issues of opposition groups and prisoners of war have impeded the two neighbors from normalizing their relations more than a decade after their bloody war ended. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=15805 * IRAN SAYS EIGHT REBELS KILLED NEAR IRAQI BORDER Tehran, Reuters, 29th April Iranian forces killed eight Mujahideen rebels in a clash near the border with Iraq yesterday, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported. The agency quoted Iran's army as saying that troops clashed with nine fighters from the Iraq-based People's Mujahideen Organisation trying to cross into Iran in the mountainous Qasr-e-Shirin area. The ninth member was captured, it said. IRNA said no government troops had been hurt in the clash. In a statement sent to Reuters in Dubai, the Mujahideen said its fighters had killed or wounded dozens of Iranian government forces in several hours of clashes which began north of the nearby town of Gilan-e Gharb. [.....] IRAQ/US RELATIONS http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200104/23/eng20010423_68340.html * IRAQ INVITES US COMPANIES TO HOLD EXHIBITIONS IN BAGHDAD People's Daily (China), 23rd April Iraq has invited US companies to hold exhibitions in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the weekly newspaper Al-Ittehad reported Sunday. "A number of US companies have been invited to hold a series of specialized fairs in Iraq," the weekly quoted Fawzi Hussein al-Dhahir, general director of Iraq's trade fair company, as saying. Dhahir said that his company is ready to provide all the facilities for companies that wish to hold fairs in Baghdad, adding that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Spain, Ukraine, Germany and Turkey will hold trade fairs in Baghdad next month. This is believed to be the first time for Iraq to openly invite American firms to hold exhibitions in the sanctions-stricken country. Ever since the 1991 Gulf War, during which the US-led multinational coalition drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait after a seven-month occupation, U.S. companies have been absent from the Iraqi market. The U.S. has been the major force behind the continuation of the decade-old United Nations sanctions on Iraq, triggered by the invasion of its tiny neighbor in August 1990. http://www.wn.com/?action=display&article=6904614&template=worldnews/search. txt&index=recent * BILL WOULD REPAY GULF WAR CLAIMS WASHINGTON (AP, 26th April) Osama Shoufi and thousands of other Americans who fled Kuwait during the 1990 Iraqi invasion lost nearly everything they owned and still are waiting for the compensation they were promised a decade ago. Shoufi abandoned his construction business, drove to Jordan and borrowed just enough money to buy a plane ticket to Dallas, where he now lives with his family. ``We suffered enough. We really did,'' he said. ``A lot of things were taken from us and it shouldn't have been done this way.'' Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., introduced legislation Thursday to use $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets frozen by the U.S. government to help Shoufi and the approximately 3,100 other Americans with $4.3 billion in claims against Iraq. ``These people have been devastated and a process was put in place and that process isn't working,'' Shadegg said. ``These monies certainly aren't going to be returned to Saddam (Hussein), so they ought to be used because there are people with real-life claims and real life injuries.'' After the Gulf War, the United Nations established a system to take 25 percent of the proceeds from Iraqi oil sales. Three-quarters of that went to buy food for Iraqi civilians; the rest went into a fund to repay claims made by people, corporations and governments that lost possessions or family members in the invasion. But the money has been slow in coming. Iraq did not start participating in the program until 1996, and since then, the funds generated have not kept up with the flood of claims, said Joe Sills, a spokesman for the U.N. Compensation Commission. ``The processing has run far ahead of the money available ... but as the money has come in it has been paid out almost immediately,'' he said. The commission received nearly $300 billion in claims. Of those, about $4.3 billion came from the United States $256 million from individuals, $1.7 billion from businesses and $2.3 billion from the government. Shadegg's bill, co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, and others, stipulates that individuals and families who suffered losses would get repaid first, followed by businesses, then any government claims. Iraq's ambassador to the U.N., Mohammed Al-Douri, would not comment until he had seen the legislation. http://www.vny.com/cf/News/upidetail.cfm?QID=181166 * BUSH IRAQ TEAM CONSIDERS REVIVING COUP OPTION by Eli J. Lake WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- The Bush administration is seriously considering both supporting an Iraqi insurgency group and fomenting a military coup to topple Saddam Hussein, United Press International learned exclusively Friday. These options are set out in a report written earlier this month by Richard Haass, the head of the Bush administration's interagency working group on Iraq policy. Haass recommended backing an uprising by a popular rebel group, while simultaneously recruiting and supporting high-ranking Iraqi military officers willing to oust Saddam's regime, according to administration officials who have seen Haass' memo, and described its contents to UPI. The ouster of Saddam Hussein is what the administration means by "regime change," one of the three areas of Bush's emerging Iraq policy, along with U.N. sanctions, and maintaining the no fly zone to protect Kurdish northern, and Shi'ite Muslim southern Iraq. One State Department official told UPI, "There is support for regime change, but we want to work with a wide representation of Iraqis opposed to the government of Saddam Hussein." This source added, "We know what hasn't worked, but we don't know what's possible. We don't know what a likely scenario is at this point." Patrick Clawson, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's research director, said in an interview Friday: "If you are going to pursue a regime change, you ought to pursue a whole variety of regime change options rather than pick your favorite one and assume it will work." The strategy is still in the development stage, according to administration officials. On April 25, in a "deputies' meeting," which included high-ranking CIA officials, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Vice President Richard Cheney's national security adviser, I. Lewis Libby, the draft was sent down for further revisions. Haass' insurgency/coup proposal is a continuation of the Clinton strategy on Iraq. The Clinton administration pursued numerous unsuccessful coup plots against Saddam since 1992, while giving public symbolic support for the Iraqi National Congress -- an umbrella group of Iraqi rebels. The most embarrassing U.S.-backed coup attempt was in July 1996, when CIA operatives provided support for a group of Sunni defectors associated with the Iraqi military who promised to deliver Saddam through a military insurrection. Iraqi intelligence agents used the CIA's own communications equipment to tell the agency that its insurrection had failed and that its plotters would be executed. It is now believed that the entire organization -- the Iraqi National Accord, or the Wifaq movement-- which received $6 million in 1995 from the United States, was infiltrated with double agents. "This two-track approach is an old approach, this was used from the summer of 1994 to the summer of 1996," former CIA Iraq desk officer, Warren Marik told UPI in an interview Friday. Marik who now works on a volunteer basis with the Iraqi National Congress, said the 1996 coup attempt was "totally penetrated." Haass' proposal however does not get specific about how to pursue a coup option, other than to say that it should be pursued for now to see if such a plan would eventually bare fruit. The memo also proposes that U.S. policy refrain from explicitly stating that its goal is to remove Saddam from power and makes the case that each day he remains in power is a failure for the new administration. Haass' report revealed a new fault line in the young Bush administration's foreign policy team on Iraq. High-ranking Defense Department officials such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld -- not to mention Vice President Richard Cheney's national security team -- are strong supporters of the Iraqi National Congress and particularly one of its leaders, Ahmad Chalabi. But many State Department and CIA officials doubt the efficacy of Chalabi's plan to create a military opposition inside Iraq capable of defeating an attack by one of Saddam's armored brigades. Chalabi has argued that this approach would give military defectors inside Iraq a safe haven and lead Iraqi military commanders disloyal to Saddam to join the INC. One problem for Chalabi, however, is the early resistance from Iraq's neighbors to an insurgency plan. The Jordanians, Syrians and Turks are wary of the INC. On April 11, Jordan's King Abdullah -- perhaps the Arab leader most sympathetic to U.S. interests in the region -- said, "When it comes to the opposition I don't see, I don't agree with the weight that has been put to it. ... There is an attitude that they are a solution, I don't think they are." But the Bush administration's supporters of Chalabi are undeterred. This month, the Pentagon appointed as its Iraq transition coordinator Randy Scheunemann, former national security adviser to Sens. Trent Lott, R-Miss. and Bob Dole, R-Kan., and the author of the 1998 legislation authorizing $98 million in Pentagon aid for the Iraqi National Congress. In the Clinton administration, the Iraq transition coordinator's post was filled by the State Department. Haass would not agree to an interview due to his pending confirmation hearing. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010427/ts/iraq_usa_russia_dc_1.html * TOP RUSSIAN, U.S. OFFICIALS TO HOLD TALKS ON IRAQ by Richard Waddington GENEVA (Reuters, 27th April) - Senior diplomats from Russia and the U.S. are to hold exploratory talks here on Saturday on ways to narrow their sharply differing policies toward Iraq, diplomats said on Friday. U.S. assistant secretary of State David Welch and assistant secretary for non-proliferation Robert Einhorn will meet Russian Foreign Ministry officials Uri Fidotov and Alexandre Saltanov, director for international relations and head of Middle Eastern affairs, respectively, on Saturday afternoon. Both Russian and U.S. officials described the meeting as part of on-going discussions and added that no statements were expected to be made at the end of the talks. [.....] ``They (the U.S. officials) will consult with the Russians on how to rebuild the international consensus to bring Iraq into compliance with United Nations (news - web sites) Security Council resolutions,'' a U.S. spokesman for the diplomatic mission in Geneva said. He said the talks followed discussions Welch and Einhorn had with British and French officials on April 17 and 18. [.....] IRAQ/RUSSIA RELATIONS http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2001/04/23/043.html * ALFA EKO, SPUTNIK EYE IRAQI TELECOMS DEAL by Elizabeth Wolfe Moscow Times, 23rd April Alfa Eko and Intersputnik, the former Soviet-bloc satellite communications organization, are nearing a deal with Iraq to upgrade the war-torn country's ground- and space-based telecommunications network, both sides said Friday. Negotiations with the Iraqi government began about six months ago, and the first contract to provide telecoms services could be signed in about a month, said Alexander Lysenko, head of the international department of Alfa Eko, a subsidiary of the Alfa Group conglomerate. Alfa Eko and Intersputnik representatives visited Baghdad in early April to hold talks with Iraq's Transport and Communications Ministry and Information Ministry. Intersputnik will oversee the technical side of any projects, while Alfa Eko, which has been working with Iraq for nearly five years as part of the UN oil-for-food program, will provide political connections and handle the finances. Both parties label potential work with Iraq as "humanitarian," insisting that it does not violate the UN's economic sanctions against Iraq, imposed after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. "The people need at least some access to information, to television, to communication with the outer world, so that's why we believe that such cooperation in no way contradicts the sanctions," said Viktor Veshchunov, Intersputnik's head of international legal affairs. "We have to explain, we have to show [the UN] that this is really a civil project. There is no military involvement," Lysenko said. "There are some discussions to make sanctions more flexible, so using this possibility we think that this project can be realized." Any contract struck between the parties would need approval from the UN. The two Moscow-based partners said that phase one is to advance Iraq's telecoms system by leasing out Intersputnik's existing satellite capacity for broadcasting and communications, particularly voice traffic exchanges between Iraq and CIS countries. Outfitting facilities on the ground will prove trickier, though one possibility is to rebuild a broadcast station near Baghdad that was built with Intersputnik expertise in the 1980s and destroyed during the Gulf War. If salvageable, the station could be used for telecommunications. Veshchunov said it would not be difficult to find a Russian or European manufacturer from which to purchase equipment, but said it was too early to single out any companies or put a price tag on the groundwork. Also on the table is a proposal to launch a small satellite, which could cost anywhere from $55 million to more than $100 million, depending on the manufacturer, launch vehicle and whether the satellite is injected into a national Iraqi orbital slot or Intersputnik's. Intersputnik is already speaking with both Western and Russian satellite producers, including the Khrunichev space center. Barring legal or financial snarls, the first part of the project to lease satellite capacity could be realized in a few months, Veshchunov said. Lysenko said a likely financing scenario would be via the UN's oil-for-food program, whereas Alfa would receive crude oil as payment. Alfa hopes such a financing scheme would meet the terms of Article 50 of the UN charter, which grants third-party countries hurt by sanctions the right to cooperate with the sanctioned country to limit economic losses. Alfa Eko is also making headway circumventing UN sanctions in the oil industry: The company's early-April trip to Baghdad resulted in the Iraqi government announcing that Alfa would be given the right to develop several major oil and gas deposits in the country, deals the parties hope also fall within Article 50. Oil majors Slavneft and Tatneft have already struck deals, approved by the UN, with Iraq to drill. Both parties see sizeable potential in the telecoms project, which if successful will be the first time Intersputnik has closed deals with Alfa Eko and with Iraq. Veshchunov said that there is a huge volume of pending traffic from other countries that can't be handled in absence of technical facilities in Iraq. "The Iraqis are very keen to do something about their telecommunications sector because the shape and status of this sector today is very, very poor," Veshchunov said. Russia has been one of the most vocal nations in calling for an end to the sanctions. Intersputnik was created by 1971 as a joint satellite broadcasting tool for Soviet bloc countries. It now has 24 member states, including India, Syria and Yemen, Veshchunov said. It has eight satellites in orbit and has commissioned two new ones. http://news.excite.com/news/r/010426/10/energy-russia-iraq * RUSSIAN FIRMS JOSTLE FOR IRAQI OIL BUT PROBLEMS AHEAD MOSCOW, April 26 (Reuters) - Russian oil companies are jostling to grab chunks of Iraq's huge oil reserves before the United Nations lifts sanctions on the Arab country and Western firms move in. Russian oil firms, bolstered by Moscow's close ties with Baghdad, are keen to expand their supply base and tap into the second largest reserves in the world. "Of course we are keen to expand our reserve base abroad and Iraq for us is a good option, not only in itself but also as a platform for the region as a whole," said Dmitry Dolgov, spokesman for LUKOIL, Russia's largest oil company. LUKOIL was one of the first Russian firms to get involved in Iraq, agreeing in 1997 to invest $4 billion over 23 years into the huge West Qurna oilfield with total reserves of six billion tonnes. But work there has not progressed because of sanctions. While some Western firms such as TotalFinaElf, with exclusive negotiating rights for the Majnoon and Bin Umar fields, are interested in Iraq, those projects too are frozen. But last December Russian firm Zarubezhneft became the first company to win long-awaited U.N. approval to drill in Iraq to help Iraq maintain output under the U.N. oil-for-food programme. It got the go-ahead for an $8 million contract to drill 45 wells while another firm Tatneft this year received a $4.8 million deal to drill 33 wells. Slavneft said this week it would sign in May a deal to drill in the Suba field with reserves of up to 110 million tonnes (800 million barrels). "We plan to boost our output to 20 million tonnes (400,000 bpd) by 2005 from 12 million tonnes today. A considerable part of this growth will come from our overseas fields including Iraq," said Slavneft spokeswoman Yekaterina Arkusha. Media reports say Gazprom-affiliated Sibur and Stroitransgas are also getting into the act, while a slew of companies supply oil industry equipment. The U.N. approval to Zarubezhneft already opened the door for other foreign firms to apply for similar ventures. Russian companies are also the largest lifters of Iraqi crude under the oil-for-food programme, accounting for about 40 million barrels so far this year, half of that lifted by Zarubezhneft. The oil companies are also keen to obtain a toehold in Iraq as part of the quest to boost their presence abroad. Slavneft earlier this week signed a deal to drill in Sudan and is eyeing two other projects there while LUKOIL is active in Egypt's Melut field together with Agip. Alfa-Bank analyst Konstantin Reznikov said the Iraqi projects would allow Russian firms to produce more at less cost. "For one, Iraq is closer to markets, second, it is cheaper to produce oil there than in Russia," Reznikov said. "In Iraq, average production cost is about $2.5 per barrel while in Russia it costs $3.5-$4.0, not including high taxes and shipping costs." Russia has opposed U.N. sanctions against Iraq, saying they harm its business interests and prevent it from recouping $8 billion of debts owed by Baghdad. But analysts say the end of sanctions could bring problems for Russian firms. "Right now Russian companies are welcome in Iraq as no one else can go there. They are not up against U.S., British and French competitors," said Stephen O'Sullivan, energy analyst at United Financial Group. "But once sanctions are over they will be one of 10 companies vying for a slice of the pie." But they say current easy access gives the Russians a chance to build contacts which could stand Russia in good stead post-sanctions or when "smart sanctions" which could promote other foreign oil work in Iraq, kick in. "The sanctions are good for us," one Russian oil trader said. "We can increase our influence and sign contracts for the most lucrative fields before Western firms flock there." But despite the head-start on Western rivals, the Russians could be spurned once Iraq has a choice. Baghdad, irritated about Russia's reluctance to violate U.N. sanctions, has threatened to tear up LUKOIL's West Qurna deal saying there has been no sign of the promised investments. And in another possible sign of Baghdad's annoyance, LUKOIL has not received contracts to lift Iraqi oil in recent phases. But LUKOIL is treading carefully as it is keen not to jeopardise its chances in the U.S., where it owns a filling station network and plans a New York listing. "However much Russia wants to develop its overseas oil business it still wants international respectability," O'Sullivan said. IRAQ/GENERAL MIDDLE EAST AND GULF RELATIONS http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=15285 * DUBAI-IRAQ FERRY SLASHES FARES AS TRAFFIC RISES by Saifur Rahman, Dubai Gulf News, 23rd April: A Dubai company which operates passenger ferry services to Iraq has slashed fares by 40 per cent to encourage sea travel. Naif Marine Services has reduced the cost of a return economy class fare from Dh1,100 to Dh660, and has also reduced cargo rates. General Manager Michael Nye said, "We have slashed the fare due to an increase in passenger traffic. The new fare took effect last week and will continue until the end of June. It will also encourage more Iraqi people to come to Dubai, as well as inspire people to visit Iraq." Nye said the reduction in cargo rates will also benefit the local economy. "Most Iraqis come to Dubai to buy goods ranging from household electronic items to clothes and accessories. The reduction will encourage them to buy more." The reduced fares will encourage Shi'ite pilgrims to visit holy shrines in Iraq by sea rather than by road, he said. "We expect Iraq-bound traffic to grow as there are a lot of Shi'ite pilgrims who want to visit their holy sites in Iraq," he said. Besides, Nye said, the current fare from Dubai to Umm Qasr is much lower than the only other route - Amman to Baghdad - which is Dh730 ($200). "A lot of people will consider travelling by ship rather than by road as it is much safer as well as cheaper." The one-way sea trip between Dubai and Umm Qasr takes 36 hours. Naif Marine Service received permission to operate direct ferry services to Iraq in November 1998 and carried 12,000 passengers in 2000. But after adding a second ship to the service in February, passenger traffic has increased steadily. Nye said 2,000 passengers travel each month on the two ships - Jabal Ali 1 and Jabal Ali 2 - which make two trips per week to Umm Qasr. A third vessel, Jabal Ali 3, is being refurbished and may join the fleet shortly if traffic warrants. "We will review the passenger traffic in June to assess the situation. Then we will decide whether to bring the fare back to the previous level or not," Nye said. http://www.timesofindia.com/260401/26mide12.htm * IRAQ DEMANDS UN TO SHRINK SIZE OF DEMILITARISED ZONE ALONG BORDER Times of India, 26th April BAGHDAD: The United Nations should shrink the demilitarized zone along the Iraq Kuwait border, an official Iraqi newspaper said in an editorial on Wednesday that also accused the U.N. mission monitoring the zone of leaving key information out of reports on violations of the zone. "It is time for Iraq to demand a decrease of the demilitarized zone on the Iraqi side of the border with Kuwait, to five kilometers instead of 10," the Ba'ath ruling party newspaper al Thawra said Wednesday. The zone is five kilometers wide on the Kuwaiti side of the border. The U.N. observer mission known as UNIKOM monitors the demilitarized zone and reports back to the United Nations on air, land or sea violations of it. The demilitarized zone, which Iraq accepted after the 1991 Gulf war, was designed to ensure Iraq's troops stayed well away from Kuwait. In February, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan responded to Iraqi concerns about the observers' failure to report U.S.-British warplanes that strike on Iraqi targets from the zone. Annan said then that UNIKOM had recorded more than 200 aerial violations of the zone since 1991, but that "it has not been possible for UNIKOM to identify the aircraft involved or to determine their nationality." Al-Ba'ath newspaper raised its concerns again Wednesday, saying "UNIKOM ignores facts ... related to the daily aggression by American and British warplanes on Iraqi cities and villages using Kuwaiti bases and skies." The mission describes the planes as unidentified, the newspaper said, adding that "we describe this attitude as bias and collaboration because, contrary to its pretext, UNIKOM does not need high-tech equipment to detect those hostile warplanes." Al-Thawra also accused UNIKOM of employing locally far more Kuwaitis than Iraqis and said the mission should no longer be allowed to keep an observation post at the old Iraqi naval base at the port of Umm Qasr in the demilitarized zone. The newspaper claimed that the post, set up to keep watch for any sea violations, facilitates spying activity against Iraq and Kuwaiti attacks on Iraqi vessels. The paper said Iraq should "deny UNIKOM the privilege to use the Iraqi port at the naval base in order to curb suspicious and aggressive activities carried out by Kuwaitis and other parties". (AP) NO FLY ZONES http://www.iht.com/articles/18195.html * BOMBING DEATHS IN KUWAIT TIED TO PILOT ERROR by James Dao New York Times Service International Herald Tribune, April 27, 2001 WASHINGTON: A Pentagon investigation into a bombing that killed six people in Kuwait last month has concluded that a navy pilot mistook an observation post for a target and recommends that he be disciplined, military officials said. But the report, which has not yet been made public, also assigns some blame for the bombing to two air traffic controllers who helped guide the F/A-18 pilot toward the observation post and then authorized him to release three 500-pound (225-kilogram) bombs, the officials said Wednesday. Five American servicemen and an army major from New Zealand died in the incident at the Udairi Range near the Iraq border, while three other Americans were seriously injured. The officials said that the report would probably not include specific recommendations on how the three men should be disciplined, leaving that decision to their commanders in the navy and air force. For the pilot, Commander David Zimmerman, the head of an F/A-18 squadron, punishment could mean being stripped of his command, being forced into retirement, or being reprimanded, military officials said. The report also said that at least three other incidents occurred in the months before the March bombing in which pilots dropped bombs in the wrong places at the Udairi Range, the Pentagon officials said. The investigators concluded that the targets might be difficult to see from the air, and recommended that the army improve its management of the range. The report was prepared for General Tommy Franks, chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Gulf region. The report recounts a rapid series of blunders on the evening of March 12 that began with Commander Zimmerman mistakenly identifying a staffed observation post as his intended target, which was about a mile away. At the time, Commander Zimmerman was flying at about 10,000 feet (3,000 meters). After flying once over the target area, Commander Zimmerman banked and prepared to begin his bombing dive. At the observation post, an air force ground spotter was using an infrared beam visible through night-vision goggles to point the pilot toward the intended target. But for reasons that remain unclear, Commander Zimmerman focused on the source of the beam instead of the target. As he finished his bank, the officials said, Commander Zimmerman received what sounded like assurances that he was on course from a navy air traffic controller who was flying in a nearby F-14. In fact, his aircraft was pointed at the observation post. Moments later, after Commander Zimmerman had programmed his aircraft to aim at the wrong target, the air force controller at the observation base authorized him to drop his bombs, using the code words "cleared hot." Almost immediately, the controller realized the F/A-18 was aiming at him, and tried to abort the mission. But it was too late. The investigators found that the ground-based air controller was distracted while Commander Zimmerman was preparing his run, causing him to take his eyes off the jet for a brief time. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=15803 * IRAQ CLAIMS AIR RAID DEATH, UK SAYS NO Baghdad, Reuters, 29th April Iraq said U.S. and British planes raided the south of the country yesterday, killing one person and injuring two, but Britain denied the report. A military spokesman, quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency INA, said U.S. and British jets attacked civilian targets in Najaf province, 160 kilometres south of Baghdad. A British Ministry of Defence spokesman in London gave a different version of events. "We did have a coalition patrol flying over southern Iraq today in the no-fly zone," he said, referring to the swathe of southern Iraq from which Iraqi aircraft have been banned for the last decade. "They were attacked by Iraqi ground forces, but there was no response no weapons were dropped," the British spokesman said. The Iraqi spokesman said the planes also flew over the provinces of Basra, Dhiqar, Muthanna and Qadissiya. Iraqi anti-aircraft defences forced them back to their bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, he added. An Iraqi official said authorities would take Western journalists to the scene of incident tomorrow. [.....] OIL SMUGGLING & OTHER PROBLEMS http://www.wn.com/?action=display&article=6832335&template=worldnews/search. txt&index=recent * EMIRATES TO PUNISH OIL SMUGGLERS DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Associated Press, Sun 22 Apr 2001) The United Arab Emirates has announced that it will punish the owners of ships caught transporting smuggled Iraqi oil in its waters. The foreign minister raised the issue at a meeting of a task force formed after a ship sank off the Emirates coast and leaked smuggled Iraqi oil last week, the official Emirates News Agency reported Saturday. The minister, Sheik Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, did not elaborate on what steps the Emirates would take. He said his government would act against locally owned companies or those with branches in the country. The Georgian-flagged Zainab sank about 17 miles off Dubai on April 14, spilling oil that forced the closure of several water desalinization plants in the Emirates. During the past week, oil has washed up along coasts of the emirates of Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. Hundreds of municipal workers are involved in the cleanup. Dead fish and oil coated birds littered the coast. The ownership of the Zainab was unclear. An exception to the U.N. trade sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990 allows Iraq to sell oil as long as it uses most of the proceeds to meet the needs of the population. Vessels caught by carrying oil from Iraq without U.N. approval are auctioned off, as is the smuggled oil. The U.S.-led force charged with intercepting smugglers has impounded 24 ships found to be carrying illegal Iraqi oil this year, said a spokesman, Cmdr. Jeff Gradeck. http://www.canoe.ca/NationalTicker/CANOE-wire.Toothless-Ships.html * CANADIAN WARSHIPS CANNOT BOARD UNCO-OPERATIVE VESSELS IN ARABIAN GULF: REPORT HALIFAX (CP) -- Canadian warships enforcing a UN embargo against Iraq have been denied permission to board suspect vessels if the crews show any resistance. Newly released documents show that Canada's heavily armed frigates patrolling the Arabian Gulf are operating under a Canadian policy that prevents them from acting against alleged smugglers if the vessels take evasive action. The restriction limited the operations of HMCS Calgary, which completed a five-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf on Nov. 30. Calgary was sent to join American and British warships under Defence Department orders issued last May 1 that specifically included "non-co-operative boardings." But those orders changed sometime after the ship sailed from Esquimalt, B.C., limiting the crew's ability to act. "As a result, Calgary was not able to participate in any non-co-operative take-downs of smuggling vessels during the entire operation," says an internal report on the mission. "This restriction was initially not well known to our allies." The Nov. 28 report was obtained under the Access to Information Act. The released document has several deletions containing information that the Defence Department claims could harm international affairs or the defence of Canada if made public. The deletions include details of Calgary's rules of engagement. The captain of HMCS Calgary, Cmdr. Tim Howard, turned down a request for an interview, referring all questions to Ottawa. Military spokesmen in Ottawa declined to provide reasons for the boarding restriction, saying it's classified. A navy official in Halifax confirmed that the frigate that replaced HMCS Calgary in the Arabian Gulf, HMCS Charlottetown, is operating under the same restrictions. Charlottetown, equipped with a Sea King helicopter and a wide array of weaponry, sailed from Halifax in January with a crew of 235. It is to return on July 11. Canada's frigates may not act against "vessels that will not readily submit to a boarding," Lieut. Yves Vanier, a public affairs spokesman in Ottawa, confirmed in an interview. Unco-operative vessels are those that ignore orders to slow down or to change course, that head to shallow waters or that seek out the protection of the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit of countries in the region, Vanier said. He declined to provide further information about the policy. HMCS Calgary carried out seven co-operative boardings and inspections during its mission with the American destroyers USS Milius and USS Oldendorf. "We've had an extremely good relationship with all of the vessels we've boarded," the frigate's combat officer, Lt.-Cmdr. Art McDonald, said during the mission. Canadian navy spokesmen said the American crews were responsible for carrying out any so-called non-compliant boardings. Canada's frigates in the Arabian Gulf are operating under the command of the American-led Fifth Fleet. http://news.excite.com/news/r/010425/16/iraq-un-glencore * US, BRITAIN, THREATEN SWISS FIRM ON IRAQI OIL SALE UNITED NATIONS (Reuters, 25th April) - The United States, France and Britain joined forces this week in blocking a Swiss trading firm from purchasing more oil from Iraq after it illegally diverted a shipment for the United States to Europe. The move against Glencore International AG, a commodity trading firm, was unusual as it is rare that all three countries agree on controversial issues concerning Iraq that come before the Security Council's sanctions committee. Glencore, a trading company which does not own refineries, was founded in the 1970s by U.S. commodity trader Marc Rich, who then sold the company. It is a key purchaser of Iraqi crude. The United States and France spoke against Glencore Monday and Britain Tuesday. Glencore had bought 1 million barrels of Iraqi Kirkuk crude in February for delivery to the United States under the U.N. humanitarian program for Iraq. Instead the shipment was diverted to Croatia, where the oil was sold for an additional $3 million in Europe that did not go to the United Nations. Glencore last week agreed to pay $3 million into the United Nations account. When the company then applied to raise by 2 million barrels the amount of crude it wanted to buy from Iraq, to a total of 13 million barrels, the Western nations balked. In a letter to the United Nations, obtained on Wednesday, Glencore said the crude was going to be stored in Croatia before being transferred to the United States. "We have always been, and will continue to be, totally committed to fully respecting and observing all U.N. regulations," said the letter from Glencore (UK) Ltd. But U.N. oil experts earlier expressed skepticism over Glencore's contention it was only storing the oil. Iraq contends it is monitoring customers closely. If we see anything wrong, we will ask them to rectify it," one official told Reuters in Dubai. Under the U.N. humanitarian "oil-for-food" program, Iraq is allowed to sell oil to purchase humanitarian goods and other supplies to ease the impact on ordinary Iraqis of U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The monies have to be paid into a U.N. escrow account from which suppliers of goods Iraq purchases are paid. The United States and Britain want Glencore to explain the diversion of crude to Croatia. They want the sanctions committee to ask Switzerland to investigate the firm. Britain, in its letter to the committee, also asked Glencore to divulge aspects of its oil dealings with Iraq, including details of how and to whom it resells any Iraqi crude. France has not asked for an explanation from Glencore. But it wants the committee to give a warning to the company that no further irregularities would be tolerated. The council's Iraqi sanctions committee is often deadlocked on major issues. France, Russia and China, sympathetic to Iraq, usually oppose the United States and Britain and vice versa. Recently, the United States and Britain attempted unsuccessfully to pare down the list of 600 international companies authorized by the United Nations. This might eliminate shady traders allegedly paying Iraq oil surcharges in violation of U.N. sanctions, they said. Glencore is the second company whose applications will be reviewed by the United Nations on a case-by-case basis. A South African-based firm, Montega Trading PRY Ltd., in February diverted oil destined for the United States to Singapore. Most large international oil companies have been wary of doing business with Iraq since last year when it reportedly attempted to impose an illegal surcharge on oil purchases to get more cash that did not flow through the U.N. programs. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=15780 * IRAQ SANCTIONS CREATE NIGHTMARE FOR LEGITIMATE SHIPPING by Tanya Goudsouzian Dubai (Gulf News, 29th April): Iraq-bound cargo ships docking in Dubai are reluctant to sail for Basra because they fear intensified naval inspections after the ill-fated Zainab was caught smuggling oil. Crewmen have denounced the actions of the UN's Multinational Interception Force as "piracy", in which ships are halted in mid-journey and "ransacked" by inspectors who descend upon them by helicopter. Shipowners put off departure dates, dreading confiscation of their ships "for arbitrary reasons". Traders lament the rotting of their merchandise due to excessive delays in arrival. Cargo ships bound for Iraq's Khor Al Zubair port are subject to rigorous inspections in international waters. According to figures provided by the British Embassy, smuggled Iraqi oil exports amounted to $600 million last year. However, mariners say these inspections delay the three-day journey often by up to 48 hours, depleting the crew's supplies of food and fresh water and causing perishable cargo to spoil in the heat and humidity. "The situation was always bad, but the Zainab incident has worsened the matter," said Sabah Abbas, an Iraqi marine agent whose company, Sumar Shipping, has been transporting "whatever the UN allows" to Iraq for eight months. "The ships are not only delayed by inspections while loading, but also in mid-journey. They delay them as they load, they delay them on the way. At least three days' delay," he said. Abbas usually works with an average of 10 ships a month, but claims none have docked in Dubai or set sail for Basra this month. "We have commodities here waiting to be transported to Iraq - sugar, oil, tea, rice - but there are no ships ready to take them. Either they are under surveillance in Iraq, or too scared to leave Dubai just yet," said Abbas, adding that he has lost more than Dh15,000 in the past two weeks. "The problem is mainly due to the sanctions. If the sanctions are lifted, everything will go smoothly, everyone will be happy, everyone will be able to do business, including the Americans and the British." Bassam Jawad, an Iraqi owner of two cargo ships, said one ship is held up in Iraq for inspection. The second was confiscated in February and retrieved at an auction in Abu Dhabi last week. The Bassam I is now docked at Hamriya Port in Dubai. "Iraqi businessmen are not the only ones suffering. Some of the ships are owned by foreigners and they face the same difficulties. We're all in the same boat, he said." The Bassam I was confiscated along with $10,000-worth of diesel because the MIF accused it of smuggling oil which was intended to fuel the ship's return trip, Jawad said. "The Americans are under the impression that all ships coming from Iraq are smuggling oil. They turn the cargo upside down. It is a nightmare for us," said Abbas, citing one ship that was scheduled to sail yesterday. Its owners finally resolved to send the ship after hesitating for two months. The ship's captain was on site on Thursday as the loading operation was underway. He said his concern was not the journey to Basra, but his trip back to Dubai when he would be carrying nothing but his fuel bunker. The captain, who asked not to be named, said, "When we go UAE-Iraq, we have cargo, they check, and there's no problem. It's when we come back that I am scared. Refueling our bunker is much cheaper in Iraq than in the UAE, so we prefer to purchase diesel from there. Sometimes I have orders from Sri Lanka, or India or Pakistan. I need the fuel. But mid-way, they stop us and if we are carrying more fuel than they think we need, they confiscate the ship, arrest the crew and we lose everything." The ship's captain described a routine inspection: "They come by helicopter and they stop the ship. My crew is relegated to the deck while over a dozen inspectors go searching the ship. For over four hours, under the hot sun or rain, my men must stand outside. If they want to use the bathroom, it takes 40 telephone calls to get clearance. And if permission is granted, my unarmed crew member is followed by a security officer who points a gun to his back as if he were a criminal. "Sometimes they stop the ship for two to three days. If we hit high seas, where speed is reduced and the journey will take longer than it normally would, we risk not having enough provisions and fresh water," he said. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk