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Write to the Guardian !

Here's another brief round-up of some recent stuff. You have until Wednesday
for letters to the Sunday's. The letter from the INC in today's Guardian
(see below) requires an urgent response ...

Best wishes,

voices uk

* Protecting Iraqis against Saddam (a couple of letters from today's
* Fuel fears as Iraq bans oil exports, 3rd June, Independent on Sunday
* 4 gallon looms as Iraq bans oil exports, Observer, 3rd June
* US-British Iraqi Sanctions Plan in Trouble at UN, AP, 31 May
* Iraq ready to renew oil-for-food programme if it remains unchanged, AFP,
May 30


2 Letters from today's (4th June 2001) Guardian:

Protecting Iraqis against Saddam
Monday June 4, 2001
The Guardian

Seumas Milne is right that important issues, such as foreign affairs, are
often not given the priority they deserve in general election campaigns
(Voteless victims, May 30). It will be important for the incoming government
to focus its attention on the wellbeing of the Iraqi people. However, Mr
Milne has overlooked several key facts in his analysis of the current
humanitarian situation in Iraq.

It is disingenuous to suggest that the suffering of the Iraqi people is the
result of UN sanctions. It is Saddam Hussein who is to blame for their
suffering. To suggest otherwise is to assist Saddam in abusing the sanctions
regime, purely to further his own propaganda agenda. Sufficient food and
medical resources are available under the oil for food programme, yet Saddam
chooses not to make these resources available to the Iraqi people.

Mr Milne is right to say that sanctions are being flouted. But does he stop
to think where all this additional illegal money is going? Certainly not to
the Iraqi people - rather, it is used to increase Saddam's personal wealth
and military might.

Sanctions were imposed to prevent Saddam from pursuing his programme of
developing weapons of mass destruction. To this end, they have been
successful. Equally, the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq were
established to safeguard the civilians in these areas. All too often Saddam
has demonstrated his willingness to employ weapons from the air against
innocent Iraqis. It is vital that the UN pursue policies that will protect
the Iraqi people.

Sharif Ali Bin AlHussein
Iraqi National Congress

 British policy towards Iraq has been to contain Saddam with his hapless
victims in the same box. This policy is incompetent and immoral; it has led
to more suffering and a substantial increase in the number of Iraqi
asylum-seekers. What the Iraqi people need is "smart protection" rather than
"smart sanctions". If the government wants the votes of the Iraqi community,
it should support the indictment of Saddam and his accomplices through the
European parliament for their crimes of genocide.

Saad Rashid
Bury, Lancashire


Fuel fears as Iraq bans oil exports
By Severin Carrell, Tony Heath and James Morrison
03 June 2001

There was confusion over the future of oil prices last night as Iraq, the
world's second-biggest oil producer, announced that it was stopping oil
exports from tomorrow.

The move prompted speculation that the loss of Iraq's exports of two million
barrels a day from the world oil market could cause shortages that would
raise the prospect of a 4 gallon at British forecourts.

But Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister, Ali Naimi, reassured traders that his
kingdom alone  the world's biggest oil producing country  had enough spare
capacity to cover Iraq's output. The US also said it would maintain
"adequate" supplies.

Professor Andrew Oswald, an oil expert at Warwick University, said Iraq's
boycott, a protest against United Nations economic sanctions, would "take a
fair chunk out of the total market". He said a 4 gallon was a possibility.

"We are likely to see a significant rise in prices next week, but it is not
clear whether dealers have already partially built this move, which was
expected, into their prices," he said.

The Iraqi announcement came as a blow to motorists as the threat from
British fuel protesters, who set up pickets at oil refineries on Friday,
appeared to be receding.

Panic-buying by motorists led to shortages in parts of Wales after hundreds
of hauliers and protesters descended on 10 oil refineries and depots in
Wales, the Midlands and southern England on Friday night.

Protesters at Purfleet, Essex, and Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, pledged
that their pickets would continue until the election. By nightfall, however,
the number of protesters had declined, becoming no more than a handful at
two depots in Wales. The oil companies said there had been minimal
disruption to supplies.

At Stanlow in Cheshire, the scene of the first blockade last year, numbers
dwindled to nothing through the night, and police said the situation was the
same at refineries at Purfleet, Avonmouth, Ipswich and Fawley, Hampshire.

Yesterday, around 30 people were at the Texaco oil refinery at Pembroke Dock
and the Elf Total refinery at Milford Haven, where they succeeded in turning
back a number of deliveries, with nine tankers still parked in the refinery
compound by early afternoon. The protesters, who parked 25 heavy vehicles
and lorries near the gates, had allowed only tankers delivering heating oil
to hospitals and old people's homes to leave.

Ray Holloway, head of the Petrol Retailers Association, urged motorists not
to panic-buy. "Behave normally; simply buy today what you would buy on any
Saturday," he said.

After last November's mass blockades left much of Britain without fuel, the
sudden upsurge of protests raised fears that the last few days of the
election campaign would be dominated by fuel shortages.

Last year's crisis severely dented Labour's lead in the polls, and yesterday
Tony Blair urged fuel protesters to "behave responsibly". Speaking in
Salford, Manchester, the Prime Minister said Labour had cut 2p off a litre
of ultra-low-sulphur petrol and 3p off ultra-low-sulphur diesel, and had cut
road tax for hauliers.

He said world oil prices had gone up, and warned that ministers would not
sanction further fuel duty cuts in case they damaged public finances.

Ann Widdecombe, the shadow Home Secretary, said she did not approve of
actions that would affect everyday life and business but understood the
protesters' motives. Ms Widdecombe said: "I sympathise with the frustration
felt by people for whom fuel can be a tremendous drain on their business."

In Wales, shortages were reported at filling stations in Cardiff, Newport
and Swansea as queues began to form before breakfast time.

* A pensioner escaped unhurt last night after his car collided with a petrol
tanker outside the Milford Haven refinery. Demonstrators said the driver had
been sounding his horn in support of the protest at the time of the

4 gallon looms as Iraq bans oil exports

Conal Walsh and Nick Paton Walsh
Sunday June 3, 2001
The Observer

The price of petrol could rise by more than 50p a gallon after Iraq, the
world's second biggest oil producer, yesterday announced it was stopping
exports tomorrow.
Sparking fears of a global shortage, Saddam Hussein's government said its
move was a protest against the United Nations economic sanctions being
enforced by Britain and the United States.

In a further blow to motorists, hauliers mounted protests at fuel depots
across Britain, prompting panic-buying and fears of a repeat of last year's
crippling shortage.

Experts last night predicted that Iraq's decision to stop oil exports
indefinitely will create a world shortage, pushing British forecourt prices
from 3.55 a gallon to well over 4 within a month.

'If Iraq chooses to maintain this embargo, it will have a dramatic effect on
prices,' said oil industry analyst Derek Bamber of Petroleum Economist

'Before this, the feeling was that British petrol prices could reach 3.60 a
gallon by July. This could take it to over 4.

'We had expected world supplies to be short by about a million barrels a day
this summer anyway, but this will triple that figure at least.'

Iraq is allowed to export two million barrels a day under the UN's
'oil-for-food' programme.

It will turn off the taps in protest at a UN Security Council decision last
week to extend this scheme for a month to give Britain and the US time to
come up with 'smart sanctions' that would step up trade with Iraq but crack
down on sanctions busting. Iraq objects to 'smart sanctions' which a Baghdad
daily newspaper warned would 'be a disaster on those who planned for it'.

Leaders of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) will
come under pressure at a meeting in Vienna on Tuesday to stop world prices
rising by increasing their own oil output.

In Britain, police were last night monitoring a series of peaceful protests
outside oil refineries in East Anglia, Wales and Cheshire after a small
number of hauliers had tried to prevent fuel supplies being distributed on
Friday night.

David Handley, leader of the protests last September, said: 'There are at
least 200 people involved in this. We intend to maintain a presence at
several sites.'

Other figures involved in last year, however, played down the size of the
new protests and claimed Handley was acting alone.

Garages around the picketed Texaco refinery in South Wales rationed fuel. An
assistant at one in Brynmawr said: 'It's 10 worth per person.'


Source: Reuters
Date: 31 May 2001


US-British Iraqi Sanctions Plan in Trouble at UN

By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and Britain have given up
attempts for a quick U.N. Security Council vote to overhaul sanctions
against Iraq after objections from Russia, China and France, diplomats said.

Instead the 15-member council will be asked this week to extend the current
system for the U.N.-Iraq humanitarian oil-for-food program before it expires
on midnight Sunday.

But the length of the extension is still in dispute. U.S. and British
officials said on Wednesday they wanted one month, Russia advocated six
months and France is suggesting a compromise of three months. All four
nations, along with China, are permanent Security Council members with veto

The Anglo-American draft resolution, which would ease restrictions on Iraqi
trade while trying to stop oil smuggling and illegal weapons, is meeting
solid opposition from Russia, Iraq's closest ally on the council, diplomats

Baghdad, which wants the decade-old U.N. sanctions lifted, has threatened to
stop oil flows if the resolution is adopted. Iraq's U.N. ambassador Mohammed
Aldouri told reporters, "We will not accept any injection of ideas from the
United States, Britain, and others, even the French," whose compromise
proposals he said were similar to the U.S.-British text.

A senior U.S. official, briefing reporters accompanying Secretary of State
Colin Powell on his eight-day visit to Africa and Europe, confirmed late on
Wednesday the decision to seek a delay in putting the resolution to a vote.

"We do believe that should be done in about a month's time," he said,
speaking on condition of anonymity. "It's not unreasonable to provide that

At issue is the oil-for-food program under which Iraq may sell oil to buy
some civilian goods. The oil sales revenues go into a U.N. escrow account
out of which the United Nations pays suppliers of the goods Iraq orders, a
system which will not be changed under the Anglo-American plan.

The sanctions were imposed by the Security Council in August 1990, two days
after Iraq invaded Kuwait.


France, China and Russia have argued that the deadline could not be met
because of the necessity of examining a lengthy U.S.-British list of "dual
use" goods that have military and civilian applications. Iraq would be
barred from buying them without council approval.

Powell himself told reporters on his plane back to Washington on Wednesday:
"The difficulty of course is in the details -- the lists and how one looks
at these various lists and of course other aspects. It's excruciatingly

France, which is generally in favor of the U.S.-British proposals, received
the list earlier but Russia and China say it only reached them over the last
10 days.

The decision to wait at least another month, however, is a setback for
Powell, who made revising the sanctions a high priority when he took office
in January.

In an effort to dispel criticism in the Arab world and beyond, the United
States wants to put responsibility on Iraq for the hardships of its people
under sanctions by freeing imports of civilian goods but tightening controls
on military items and keeping control of the money Iraq spends.

Talks on Tuesday and Wednesday in Budapest, Hungary, among Powell and his
counterparts from Britain, France and Russia apparently did not
substantially narrow the differences, with varying interpretations on the
meetings, diplomats said.

However, a French spokesman in Paris said on Wednesday the four ministers
agreed on the sidelines of a NATO meeting to move toward lifting sanctions
on civilian goods and set a deadline on formulating proposals. Some of these
concepts may be included in the oil-for-food rollover resolution.

But the more controversial parts of the U.S.-British draft resolution
require consent from Iraq's neighbors Jordan, Turkey and Syria, and
recommendations from Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the council would
then have to approve.

These include regulating illegal trade among Iraq and its neighbors,
monitoring Iraq's land and sea borders against smuggling and sifting through
a list of oil traders to eliminate shadowy firms alleged to be paying
Baghdad a surcharge on oil sales outside of the U.N. system.

With Iraq threatening to cut fuel to these countries if they cooperated with
the United States, some compensation would have to be included in the
package, either through the World Bank or through Iraq's oil revenues under
U.N. control that are earmarked for a reparations fund for Kuwait, diplomats

(Jonathan Wright contributed to this report)


Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 30 May 2001


Iraq ready to renew oil-for-food programme if it remains unchanged

BAGHDAD, May 30 (AFP) - Oil Minister Amer Rashid said Wednesday that Iraq
was ready to renew the UN oil-for-food programme if no amendments were made
that could damage Baghdad.
"If the memorandum of understanding is extended without the introduction of
any measures or paragraphs harmful to Iraq, Baghdad will react positively,"
Rashid told reporters.

"Otherwise, Iraq will halt its crude exports," he warned after talks with
Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil, who is also president of OPEC
(Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

The current six-month phase of the oil-for-food programme, launched in 1996
to allow Baghdad to export crude under UN supervision to finance imports of
humanitarian goods for its 22-million population, expires June 3.

It comes at a time when the UN Security Council is discussing a US-backed
British proposal to abolish the 11-year-old embargo on civilian trade with
Iraq while seeking to tighten a ban on sales of arms and military

Russia, Iraq's closest ally on the 15-member Security Council, has insisted
on detailed discussion of the British draft resolution that could block its
adoption before June 3.

Rashid declined to specify if Iraq would accept a one-month extension of the

current phase of the programme to give Washington and London more time to
win Moscow's support for their proposal.

Iraq has repeatedly said it would block any UN resolution to revise the
sanctions regime imposed on Baghdad for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, warning
it "will not sell a single barrel of oil under the oil-for-food programme"
if the resolution is adopted -- a threat that could remove around 2.1
million barrels a day from world markets.

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