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News, 20 26/5/01 Second instalment of the backlog of news items and again the sanctions reform¹ items are under-represented (there were a lot of them but they did not seem to say very much.All that is really on offer seems to be that the US and UK will relax their present outrageous holds¹ policy in return for a much more intrusive US/UK - who else could be trusted? - presence on Iraq¹s borders) SANCTIONS REFORM * Russian opposition likely to delay UN vote on Iraq sanctions * Turkey says will abide by UN on Iraq sanctions * Revamped sanctions 'will not deter Iraq arms efforts' IRAQI-MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS * Iran, Iraq to link power grids * Syrian PM to seal end to 20-year rift with visit * Damascus denies Miro visit to Baghdad * Turkish army incursion into the Iraqi territories NO FLY ZONES * Iraq Says US, British Planes Bomb Northern Iraq INSIDE IRAQ * Saddam Appoints Son as Baath Party Deputy Military Commander * Iraq is draining away 5,000-year way of life [in the area of the Marsh Arabs¹. You know - the ones we¹re protecting through the imposition of the No Fly Zones. Reference is made to dams built in northern Iraq saince the 1950s which could have a positive effect but the maintenance of these projects under Hussein has been poor, and there are too few experts in charge of them to do the job properly¹. Wouldn¹t the whole situation, including a policy of draining the southern marshlands, the sort of thing every modern¹ government wants to do, have been very different if Iraq hadn¹t been under embargo?] IRAQI OPPOSITION * Washington and Tehran Ought to Get Together Against Saddam [begins quoting Ahmad Chalabi but is in effect advocating a reorientation away from the INC toward the Hezbollah, oops, Supreme Council for the Revolution in Iraq] CAMPAIGNING * Powell under seige at Wits University ["I'm here to say to you that Africa matters, by history and by experience, to the United States and to President Bush.² Bad luck for the Africans] DEPLETED URANIUM * Blast exposed Gulf troops to 'DU-plus' ["The urine sample tests which governments like Canada are providing to their soldiers are essentially useless -- simply a placebo aimed at increasing their own negative test results."] CULTURE * Iraqi singer breaks down many barriers [Farida Mohammed Ali performing in Chicago] SANCTIONS REFORM http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=17953 * Russian opposition likely to delay UN vote on Iraq sanctions Reuters, 24th May With Russia balking at U.S. and British plans to lift controls on consumer goods to Iraq, the UN Security Council may be forced to delay a vote on the programme until next month or later, diplomats said yesterday. And without unity among the five key council members - the United States, Britain, Russia, France and China - threats from Iraq to cut off oil supplies to the world could become a real possibility, they said. The United States and Britain want a resolution adopted before the current phase of the UN oil-for-food humanitarian programme expires on June 3. That plan aims to ease the impact on ordinary Iraqis of sanctions imposed when Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait in August 1990. But France, more amenable to the proposals than Russia or China, believes two weeks is too short to debate all the resolution's provisions and hopes adoption could be possible later in June, its diplomats said. This would mean a rollover or extension of the oil-for-food programme for whatever length the council decides. The program puts proceeds from Iraqi oil sales in a UN account and then pays suppliers of food, medicine and many other goods. Diplomats said France had submitted a series of amendments on arrangements for civilian flights to Baghdad and the rate Iraq has to pay to a compensation fund, among others. France also wants the resolution to allow foreign investments in goods and services to help Baghdad's economy. If the French reach agreement with the British and the Americans, Russia would come under pressure to drop its opposition, the diplomats said. But Russia's ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, sharply criticized the U.S.-British proposals and revived a counter draft resolution rejected by the council in December. It did not include removing civilian goods from tight UN controls but Lavrov said if the United States stopped blocking $3 billion worth of contracts for Iraq the impact would be the same. In a position similar to that voiced by Iraqi leaders, Russia advocated the council take six months to work out a comprehensive plan leading toward the suspension or lifting of sanctions rather than rush through a more narrow one now. Iraq fears that any new system affecting its economy will only prolong the embargoes, which it hopes will be lifted or whither away. If the draft resolution is adopted, Baghdad says it would stop oil sales through the U.N. programme, which would mean curtailing them for the world. "Not a single barrel of oil shall be sold through the (UN programme) if the Security Council adopts the draft resolution with the proposed American elements and ideas in it," Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz was quoted as telling foreign diplomats in Baghdad. The U.S.-British proposals are the first concrete measures since the administration of President George W. Bush began an overhaul of its Iraqi policy. In an effort to counter critical world opinion of the sanctions, the draft aims at dropping embargoes on all nonmilitary items, from bicycles to whiskey. But it retains the current system of having the bulk of Iraq's oil revenues run through a UN escrow account, leaving Baghdad without direct control of its monies. In an effort to keep out of Iraq goods the military can use, the U.S.-British proposals call for a list of "dual use" items, which include high-grade computers and some telecommunications equipment. Such items would still need separate approval by a council committee. "We have quite a number of questions, starting with a list, which we are invited to endorse and which is not yet made available," Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday. But most other plans on tightening sanctions or halting smuggling of oil and other goods would not be enacted immediately and call for recommendations from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The draft resolution provides for letting Iraq's neighbours, Turkey, Jordan and Syria, deal legally in trade with Baghdad and asks them to institute border monitoring to stop smuggling. But these measures depend on proposals from Annan, after which the council would have to approve them. In Ankara, Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Huseyin Dirioz, said his country would be pleased if the British-U.S. plan "adds to the normalization and improvement of conditions for the Iraqi people." Turkey restored full diplomatic relations with Iraq in January and has sent humanitarian and trade missions to Baghdad in recent months, despite U.S. opposition. Still, official policy is to back the sanctions and urge Iraq to comply with UN demands on weapons of mass destruction. Britain yesterday underlined its commitment to a clampdown on illegal Iraqi oil exports as part of U.S.-backed proposals for a new UN "smart sanctions" regime against Iraq. But Foreign Office minister Brian Wilson said London would be flexible on the timing of a UN Security Council vote and said the measures, that have drawn heavy criticism from Russia, needed some refining. "An essential element of our approach must be to tighten up on illegal oil exports which, one would assume, does include those neighbouring countries," Wilson told Reuters. He was referring to illicit cross-border oil trade to Turkey, Syria and Jordan that brings billions of dollars a year direct to the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Britain distributed a draft proposal to Security Council members on Tuesday that would allow civilian goods to flow freely to Iraq while maintaining a ban on military materials. The document aims to tighten up UN control over Iraq's oil revenues. Baghdad has threatened to pull out of the world body's oil-for-food exchange if the new measures interfere with the programme. The U.S. and Britain are aiming for a vote by the council on May 31, in time for the next six month phase of oil-for-food which is due to start on June 4. Russia, stopping short of threatening a veto, heavily criticised the draft proposals. China said the measures could not be adopted as they stood. As permanent members of the Security Council both have the power to veto the proposals. Wilson said Britain would not object to the vote being delayed beyond May 31, adding the proposals could need refining. "It is more a case of getting it right rather than working towards a particular deadline," he said. "There are very positive discussions going on. There is great unanimity within the international community and the Security Council about preventing Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction," he added. "The objective is shared by all. It is simply a case of refining it." Britain and the U.S. believe revenues from smuggled oil could be used to develop weapons and want to stifle Baghdad's direct cash supplies by forcing its neighbours to step up border controls. Most Iraqi oil exports take place under the UN's oil-for-food programme, which allows the country to sell crude in return for civilian supplies. Revenues are controlled by the UN through a New York escrow account. Iraq has threatened to cut off its oil supplies to Turkey and Jordan if they cooperate with the UN and has said it will stop exports under oil-for-food altogether if the new sanctions interfere with the programme. The loss of Iraq's two million barrels a day of supplies to world markets for any significant period could force up oil prices that already are close to $30 a barrel. Wilson said the aim of the new plan was solely to bring Iraq's oil exports under greater international scrutiny, to ensure revenues were channelled to the Iraqi people, not government. "Our purpose is not to win applause from Iraq," he said. "The intention is to make it more difficult for Iraq to develop weapons of mass destruction - that is the imperative behind this entire policy." http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=17963 * Turkey says will abide by UN on Iraq sanctions Reuters, 24th May Turkey said yesterday it would back revised sanctions on Iraq once they were approved by the United Nations but declined to comment on specific details of a current proposal being considered by the UN Security Council. Britain distributed a draft proposal to council members on Tuesday that would allow civilian goods to flow freely to Iraq while maintaining a ban on military materials. Russia has challenged the ideas and revived a counter plan to adjust the sanctions. The U.S.-British document aims to tighten up UN control over Iraq's oil revenues and stop Baghdad smuggling what industry sources say are about 300,000 barrels a day through Turkey, Jordan and Syria. Iraq has threatened to halt all oil exports if the new UN sanctions regime is enacted and last week said it would penalise its neighbours Turkey and Jordan if they cooperated. Asked whether Turkey would back so-called "smart sanctions", Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Huseyin Dirioz said Turkey would implement all UN resolutions that are approved. But he declined to comment on the merits of the current proposals, including efforts to clamp down on the illegal oil exports through Turkey, which Ankara condones and even raises revenues from through levies. "All the time we are calling on Iraq to obey...UN resolutions and thus contribute to the normalisation of the situation," he told a news briefing. "In Turkey, we are complying with the U.N. resolutions and are pleased if their implementation adds to normalisation and improvement of conditions for the Iraqi people," he said. The spokesman's comments were in response to a question over Turkey's reaction to last week's Iraqi threat to stop deliveries of oil by land through a southeastern Turkish border gate. "It's out of the question for Turkey not to implement the U.N. Security Council resolutions. There's a warming in ties with Iraq but I don't expect a change in our general policy," former foreign minister Ilter Turkmen told Reuters. Britain and the United States hope that the 15-member UN Security Council will vote on the "smart sanctions" draft by May 31, before the next phase of the UN-Iraq humanitarian oil for-food programme begins on June 4. Turkey says it has lost $30 billion in trade with Iraq since sanctions were imposed after the 1991 Gulf War that drove Iraqi invasion forces out of Kuwait. Ankara is seeking to improve commercial and political ties with Baghdad - once its biggest trading partner - and appointed a new ambassador to Baghdad earlier this year, upsetting its close ally Washington. But observers said Turkey, a NATO member, would risk its strategic cooperation with the United States if it did not support the new U.N. sanctions proposals. Turkey allows a U.S. led air force to conduct patrol flights over Kurdish-held northern Iraq, which has been outside Baghdad's control since after the Gulf War. Western countries, most notably the United States, have turned a blind eye to Turkey's technically illegal diesel trade with Iraq which continues despite Ankara's official position in support of the sanctions. Ankara raises revenues from the trade through levies and the smuggling is a mainstay of the economy in Turkey's southeast. Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdulilah Al Khatib was due to visit Ankara today and the two sides would discuss the Iraqi sanctions, the Turkish spokesman said. The Turkish spokesman said there were signs that Washington might provide compensation for Turkey's losses if the diesel smuggling with Iraq was stopped. "It is not clear yet how that could be formulated," he said. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=18088 * Revamped sanctions 'will not deter Iraq arms efforts' Reuters, 25th May Revamped sanctions proposed this week by the United States and Britain address what critics have long felt are some key weaknesses in existing UN sanctions imposed on Iraq. But they are no easy panacea for international concerns about Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime, analysts said. The new measures - if they are adopted by the UN Security Council - may enable the United States to reclaim the public relations high ground on Iraq. They will not, however, end debate over penalties more generally nor guarantee that Baghdad will be thwarted in its efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction, analysts said. "Unfortunately, it seems to me this new policy may be more of a fig leaf for diplomatic retreat by the United States, although it's being presented as increasing pressure on Iraq," said James Phillips of the conservative Heritage Foundation. Charles Duelfer, former deputy head of the UN arms inspection commission for Iraq, said the proposal may be effective in slowing erosion or even building up the international consensus in support of sanctions, particularly those halting the transfer of military technology to Baghdad. "But if you're betting on this to prevent Iraq from adding to its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) arsenal, well it's not going to do much," Duelfer told Reuters. Horse-trading over the British-U.S. attempt to overhaul the decade-old sanctions regime, imposed when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, began in earnest this week when a draft resolution was presented to the Security Council. Sponsors would like to see it adopted before the existing Iraqi oil-for-food humanitarian programme expires next month. But controversy over the plan is likely to continue for months. The British-U.S. proposal is aimed at several goals. First, it would drop restrictions on the sale or supply to Iraq of goods for civilian use, from bicycles to whiskey. Until now, many imports had to be approved by the council's Iraqi sanctions committee, where some $3.7 billion worth of orders are on hold because of U.S. objections. Under the new proposal, Iraqi oil revenues needed to purchase imports would still be controlled by the United Nations through an escrow account, as they have been since 1997 when Iraq was allowed to sell oil again. But the presumption is the funds could be spent on any item - unless it is on a banned list of specific materiel or supplies that could enhance the military. This is an attempt to deprive Saddam of what has been a huge propaganda victory. He has created a public impression in Iraq and the Arab world, especially, that Washington and its allies are to blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people, although the Security Council increasingly has loosened its controls. The council stipulated from the start that sanctions could be suspended if Iraq agreed to eliminate all of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes. "I think they are really on the right track here," former U.S. Ambassador Robert Pelletreau said of the new proposal. "It will go a long ways toward reestablishing a strong international coalition against what's really worrying about Iraq," he told Reuters in an interview. However, Iraq, which desperately wants sanctions lifted altogether, opposes the proposals. And some analysts say even if revised sanctions are enacted, Saddam will continue to delay importing all the civilian goods, including food and medicine, that his people need and oil revenues can afford. Pelletreau said the United States and its allies should conduct a vigorous public relations campaign to underscore "there are no international restrictions on normal civilian imports." Second, in an effort to keep military-related goods from Iraq, the draft creates an expanded list of "dual use" items with civilian and military applications, including supercomputers and telecommunications equipment. But to make it harder for Baghdad to provoke international crises, as it repeatedly has done in recent years, there is no demand in the revised plan tying a loosening of the sanctions to Iraq's acceptance of intrusive inspections by UN arms experts. Eliminating Iraq's WMD programme would still be required before the United Nations would lift sanctions completely, however. Other elements of the draft are aimed at tightening UN monitoring of Iraq's borders and encouraging neighbour states Turkey, Syria and Jordan to cooperate by allowing each to purchase up to 150,000 barrels of Iraqi oil per day. These proposals would depend on further negotiations between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and council members and there is no guarantee they will ever be put into effect. "If the U.S. could attain greater cooperation in monitoring what goes inside Iraq, then it might be a worthwhile trade, but I don't see that as being realistic. So I'm afraid what might happen is we reduce sanctions against Iraq but don't get the increased cooperation in constraining military programmes," Phillips said. He added that even under the best of circumstances, it would "still be very difficult to find military hardware smuggled in among consumer imports." IRAQI-MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=17613 * Iran, Iraq to link power grids Reuters, 20th May Iran and Iraq have reached a preliminary agreement to set up a power transmission line between the two countries, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported yesterday. "The expansion of Iran's electricity network to the neighbouring countries has been on our agenda in the past years," Masoud Hojjat, deputy head of state power company Tavanir, told IRNA after returning from a visit to Iraq. He said the plan needed further approval on both sides. Iran said in February it was exporting 45 megawatts of electricity to Azerbaijan, 40 to Turkey and 150 to Armenia. Hojjat said Iran had a surplus of 1,000 megawatts of electricity for exports in the year which ended in March. http://www.timesofindia.com/210501/21mide7.htm * Syrian PM to seal end to 20-year rift with visit Times of India, 21st May BAGHDAD: Iraq and Syria will seal their reconciliation on Monday when Prime Minister Mohammad Mustapha Miro pays a visit to Baghdad, ending 20 years of bitterness between two Arab states ruled by rival branches of the Baath party. The visit comes as Iraq seeks the backing of its neighbours to fend off US and British efforts to pressure the Baghdad leadership with a new regime of targeted sanctions. Miro will be only the second top-ranking Arab official to visit Baghdad since the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait, following the example of Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb who travelled to Iraq last November. News of the landmark visit came a day after Damascus opened an interests section in Baghdad and follows a visit to Syria in January by Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. An Iraqi official, who refused to be named, told AFP that Miro's talks were "particularly important" and would embrace "the strengthening of relations between the two countries in all fields." The two Arab states, after a longstanding on-off relationship, finally broke off diplomatic ties in 1980 when Damascus backed Tehran in the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq. It took until 1997 for a first real improvement when Syria and Iraq reopened their border for businessmen and officials. Iraq, which has been under a sweeping UN trade embargo since invading Kuwait in 1990, signed a free trade accord with Syria in January during Ramadan's visit. It came into effect on April 1. Syrian diplomat Mohammad Hassan Tawab opened the interests section at the Algerian embassy on Saturday with the title of charge d'affaires. Iraq opened an interests section in the Syrian capital more than a year earlier, in March On his first day, Tawab met Iraq's Deputy Foreign Minister Nabil Najm and was given assurances of "all the necessary facilities for the success of his mission", according to a diplomatic source. Over the past four years, Syrian and Iraqi government officials have stepped up visits to each other's capital and Damascus has started to send flights to Baghdad despite a UN air traffic embargo. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on February 28 underlined the need "to lift the embargo imposed on the Iraqi people" and the Baath party in Damascus has called for "joint Arab action" against the sanctions. With the embargo now under review, Iraq has warned its neighbours, on whose support the United States is counting to implement "smart" sanctions, that they would lose billions of dollars in trade if they fell in line with Washington. Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz also said last week that Iraq would halt oil exports to its neighbours in retaliation. Syria, which has embarked on economic reforms, is counting on the Iraqi market and its potential thanks to the country's massive oil wealth, second only to Saudi Arabia in reserves. Smart sanctions would end the UN embargo on trade with Baghdad for all non-military goods. But US and British proposals expected to be discussed in the UN Security Council this week also aim to halt Iraqi oil exports to neighbours outside the confines of a UN oil-for-food programme, according to diplomats in New York. Syria and Iraq are examining plans to build a new oil pipeline, while the industry press said an old pipeline -- closed since 1982 after the break in ties -- was reopened last November. Damascus has explained to the US State Department that the old pipeline was only being "tested", while Baghdad said in March that it had become obsolete and needed to be replaced. (AFP) http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010522/2001052212.html * Damascus denies Miro visit to Baghdad Arabic News, 22nd May The press office of the Syrian prime minister Muhammad Mustafa Miro denied the Iraqi news on the visit of the Syrian prime minister Miro to Baghdad which an Iraqi official said it was presumed to be made on Monday ( yesterday), The Syrian prime minister press office announced that there is no schedule visit for Miro. On Sunday an Iraqi official announced that Miro will start on Monday ( yesterday) a visit to Iraq which is the first for a Syrian official at this level to Baghdad within the 20 past years. Meantime, the Syrian minister of economy and foreign trade Muhammad al-Imadi on Monday evening started a visit to Iraq to take part in the works of the joint committee of the two countries, according to the press office of the minister. The Syrian official dailies said that a delegation from the ministry and also from the two ministries of health and irrigation are accompanying the minister. On Saturday, it was announced the opening of the Syrian interests office in Baghdad, one year after opening the branch of the Iraqi interests office in Damascus. Meantime, diplomatic sources in Damascus did not rule out in press statements that Miro's visit to Baghdad to be made next week in order to take part in an official celebration to be held on the occasion of opening the Syrian interests office in Baghdad. The sources also did not rule out that al-Imadi visit will be in the framework of preparations for Miro's visit to Baghdad which will be in response to the visit made by the Iraqi vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan to Damascus by the beginning of this year. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010526/2001052605.html * Turkish army incursion into the Iraqi territories Arabic News, 25th May The BBC correspondent in Ankara on Friday quoted news reports saying that Turkish military moves were seen and put into alert in the north of Iraq and Southern Turkey in preparations to launch attacks against members of the Kurdistani Labor Party there. The correspondent added, quoting these information, as that this attack will be very vast to the north of Iraq and Southern Turkey. NO FLY ZONES http://news.excite.com/news/r/010523/15/news-iraq-raid-dc * Iraq Says US, British Planes Bomb Northern Iraq BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said U.S. and British planes bombed civilian targets in the north of the country on Wednesday, causing damage to farmland but no casualties were reported. An Iraqi military spokesman said anti-aircraft guns and missiles fired at the planes attacking targets in Nineveh province at 3.45 a.m. EDT. There was no immediate comment on the Iraqi report from the United States and Britain. [.....] INSIDE IRAQ http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200105/20/eng20010520_70489.html * Saddam Appoints Son as Baath Party Deputy Military Commander People's Daily, 20th May Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Saturday appointed his younger son Qusai to be deputy commander of the ruling Arab Baath Socialist Party's military bureau, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported. Qusai, along with Latif Nusayif Jassim, were named deputy commanders in charge of the military bureau of the Baath party, the INA said. This was the first time that Qusai was given an official post in the Baath party. Also for the first time, Qusai was elected a member of the Baath party command on Thursday's 12th election conference. The conference re-elected Saddam the secretary-general of the party. Qusai, 34, currently runs the Republican Guards, the country's best-trained and equipped troops and handles the elite Special Security Organization that protects his father. Qusai's elder brother Uday controls Iraq's media and is also a member of Iraq's National Assembly (parliament). Besides Qusai, Saddam also named other members of the newly- elected command to head other bureaux, organizations of the Baath party in the capital Baghdad and other provinces, the INA said. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV 0105220152,FF.html * Iraq is draining away 5,000-year way of life by Ray Moseley Chicago Tribune, May 22, 2001 LONDON -- One of Saddam Hussein's major crimes against his own people has been his little-noticed effort to drain the marshes of southeast Iraq and destroy a way of life that goes back at least 5,000 years. Hussein undertook the drainage project after the Shiite Muslims of southern Iraq- encouraged by the United States--rose up in an unsuccessful revolt against his regime following the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Today just 6 percent to 17 percent of the marshes, one of the world's most important wetlands, is intact, and more than 200,000 people have been driven out of the area in this act of vengeance by the Iraqi dictator. The marshes may disappear altogether by 2010. A London-based international charity, Amar, is preparing a detailed report on the effects of Hussein's policy and on ways to restore the marsh Arabs to their homeland and their traditional way of life in a post-Hussein era. The European Parliament is throwing its weight behind Amar's efforts to alert governments around the world to the need for financial and technical aid in restoring the marshes when that becomes possible. Amar organized a conference in London on Monday of historians, economists, sociologists, legal and political experts and others to make contributions to its report, which will be issued in mid-July. `NOTHING IS LEFT' "Everything has been lost to the marsh Arabs," said Emma Nicholson, the founder of Amar and a British member of the European Parliament. "Nothing is left at all." Nicholson, who is chairwoman of the Parliament's foreign affairs and human-rights committee, said she recently held talks with State Department officials in Washington and found "a deep feeling of moral grief" over the fact that the administration of then-President George Bush encouraged the Shiite Muslims to revolt against Hussein. That led to Hussein's order to drain the marshes. "The U.S. bears that burden of guilt," she said. The Amar charity was named for an injured boy whom Nicholson met when she made a clandestine visit to the marshes. He was a victim of napalm and phosphorus bombs dropped by Hussein's planes but he survived by diving into a river to douse the flames engulfing him. He now lives in Britain with Nicholson, who is his legal guardian. "Among the many crimes of Saddam Hussein, the draining of the southern Iraqi marshes stands out," she said. "It is a humanitarian and cultural catastrophe as much as an ecological one. "The marsh Arabs must be included in any post-Saddam settlement ... The full restoration of the marshes and the communities who depend on them is feasible and necessary." The marshes covered 6,000 square miles, an area slightly larger than Connecticut, and were fed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. They were once home to about 400,000 people. A series of dams built in northern Iraq dating to the late 1950s began to decrease the flow of water to the marshes, but drainage occurred only when Hussein's regime diverted the river waters and built drainage canals in the 1990s. This was followed by the systematic destruction of villages and the deportation of people. Since ancient times the marsh Arabs, known as Madan, lived from reed gathering, mat weaving, fishing, hunting and grazing of water buffalo. They lived on islands constructed of reeds and used reeds to build their homes. More than 95,000 Madan have fled to refugee camps in Iran since Hussein drained the marshes and are getting some help from Amar. Others have been made destitute and are internal refugees in Iraq. The marshes also have played an important role in supporting the international migration of birds. Several species of wildlife threatened with extinction also have inhabited the marshes. Thomas Naff, director of the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said that if drainage of the marshes continued at its present rate, "there may come quickly a point at which salvation is not possible." Where marshes do survive, he said, they have been altered permanently and fisheries may not recover. `REVERSAL' NEEDED Naff said the full impact of dams built on the Tigris and Euphrates in Turkey and Syria has not yet been felt but could be considerable. "But if there is going to be any salvation [for the marshes], there has to be a reversal in Iraq itself," he said. Naff said there was a positive side to the tragedy. The dams in northern Iraq were built to deal with floods and drought and to expand irrigated agriculture. If the marshes are restored, he said, then there may be a more consistent flow of water and better quality water in the area. But he said the maintenance of these projects under Hussein has been poor, and there are too few experts in charge of them to do the job properly. James Brasington, a lecturer in geography at the University of Cambridge, showed satellite photos of the marsh region taken by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration that revealed how the marshes have shrunk. The NASA photos showed that only a narrow strip along the border with Iran and stretching into Iran remains marshland. Brasington said that was between 6 and 17 percent of the original area. IRAQI OPPOSITION http://www.iht.com/articles/20755.html * Washington and Tehran Ought to Get Together Against Saddam by Stanley A. Weiss International Herald Tribune, May 24, 2001 LONDON: Why would Washington's closest Arab allies, the countries most threatened by Saddam Hussein, oppose U.S.-based efforts to remove him? Ahmad Chalabi, head of the leading Iraqi opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, tells me that from Egypt to the Gulf the authoritarian regimes and hereditary monarchies fear democracy in Iraq more than Saddam. Their economies are stagnant and their population growth is exploding as farmers move into crowded cities. With almost half the population under 15, the young people are more interested in the Internet and the latest Nike shoes than in tired slogans about liberating Palestine. Yet these largely artificial countries justify their very existence in terms of the war against Zionism. And they have used hatred of Israel to distract attention from the repression, corruption and lack of fundamental rights at home. The tyrannical regime in Baghdad, armed with the nuclear weapons that Saddam Hussein surely will obtain, poses the worst nightmare to the oil-rich region and the industrial world - much worse than how the Jews and Arabs divvy up Palestine, an oil-poor desert half the size of San Bernadino County in California. Bill Clinton paid lip service to establishing a new government in Iraq, but was not about to go to war to enforce it. His no-ground-troops air war over Kosovo was called Operation Just Cause. An aborted air strike against Saddam was Operation Just Kidding. The United Nations weapons inspection teams no longer inspect. The "no-fly zones" to protect the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south may soon apply to allied planes themselves. Sanctions have all but collapsed. And if the policy of containing Saddam has trapped him "in a box," the self-proclaimed protector of the Arab world against the Persians and the Jews, doesn't seem to notice. The Bush administration has an opportunity to forge a clear, new policy in the Middle East based on the president's vision of remaining engaged in the world while basing America's actions solely on its own interests. A Middle East without Saddam is clearly in the best interest of the United States. But to succeed, Washington must be serious about supporting the Iraqi insurgents. Its unlikely ally in such an effort would be Iran, the only neighboring country offering to provide the rebels with a secure base, and whose people despise Saddam and have the will to stand up to him. In the eight-year war that followed Iraq's invasion of Iran in 1980, Iran suffered 750,000 casualties and endured savage trench warfare, chemical and gas attacks and the bombing of its cities, oil refineries and sacred mosques. Saddam fears a Washington-Tehran common policy against him more than anything else. Iran is the ideal staging ground for an Iraqi insurgency, having sponsored both Kurdish and Shiite guerillas in the last four decades. Iran has indicated that it is willing to put aside its differences with the United States in order to work together against Saddam. Some initial steps have already been taken. Iran has allowed the Iraqi National Congress to open an office in Tehran to coordinate operations across the border. Iran will permit the INC set up a radio transmitter to beam its message to the Iraqi people. Iran is fully aware that the INC is funded by the U.S. State Department. So American government money is being spent openly in Iran for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The Iranian-backed opposition to Saddam has announced that it will now work with the United States. During two decades of its existence the Tehran-based Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq refused to deal with Washington. But it recently said: "The protection of the Iraqi people remains the responsibility of the international community, in which the United States is a major element that cannot be ignored." There are legitimate fears that a post-Saddam Iraq would break up, creating greater instability in the region, so the territorial integrity of Iraq must be guaranteed. But that concern should not drive the United States to continue its current failed policies while Saddam builds his arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in order to control the region's oil wealth and blackmail his enemies. (The writer is founder and chairman of Business Executives for National Security and former chairman of American Premier, a mining and chemicals company. He contributed these personal views to the International Herald Tribune.) CAMPAIGNING http://www.iol.co.za/html/frame_news.php?click_id=79&art_id=ct20010525195504 497H232718 * Powell under seige at Wits University by Peter Fabricius Independent Online, May 25 2001 American Secretary of State Colin Powell was held virtual hostage outside the University of Witwatersrand Great Hall for almost an hour on Friday by protesting students who prevented him from leaving as they chanted anti-American slogans. Powell had just delivered a speech on the new Bush administration's Africa policy, pledging that the US would not abandon Africa. He was heckled throughout by a group of about 150 students who branded him an "Uncle Tom sellout" and as "The Butcher of Baghdad" for his leading role - as America's chief soldier - in the US-led international attack on Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991. Powell was unruffled by some sharply critical questions and sometimes loud heckling in the hall. But despite the disruption, Powell was generally well received, and students gave him a standing ovation. However, when his motorcade tried to leave afterwards along a narrow alley next to the hall, the chanting, toyi-toying and jeering students blocked the way. Eventually, after nearly an hour of negotiations with Leila Patel, the university's acting vice chancellor and principal, and students representative council president Muhammad Cajee, the students agreed to let Powell's convoy through as riot police held them back. The protesters were mostly students from the Muslim Students Association and South African Students Congress but also included members of the Palestine Action Group, student leaders said. In his address, Powell gave the assurance that the administration of President George W Bush would not abandon Africa, pledging that "we will be with you every step of the way" as Africa moved down the path of democracy, peace and free market development. "I'm here to say to you that Africa matters, by history and by experience, to the United States and to President Bush. As the only African-American secretary of state so far, I will enthusiastically engage with Africa on behalf of the American people," he said to applause from most of the more than 1 000 people in the packed hall. But he also stressed that the US could not bring peace and development to Africa; Africans themselves would have to do that, and the US could only help. Powell hailed South Africa and Nigeria especially as examples to the rest of Africa for having chosen the path of democracy, good governance and open markets. Free trade, he said, was a "powerful tool for freedom and for sustainable development" and that was why the US would work with Africa to remove trade barriers to African exports. 'It is for the citizens of Zimbabwe to choose their leader in a free and fair election'He praised Zambian President Frederick Chiluba for his recent announcement that he would not seek an unconstitutional third term, but slammed Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe for clinging to power after more than 20 years in office. "Now it is for the citizens of Zimbabwe to choose their leader in a free and fair election, and they should be given that opportunity," Powell said. He announced that President Thabo Mbeki would visit Washington on June 26 to meet Bush for the first time as president. Mbeki met Bush when the latter was still Texas governor and running for president. Powell detailed current US aid to Africa, including efforts to prepare seven battalions of African troops for peacekeeping duties on the continent. This was already happening with the Economic Community of West African States, and he said he hoped that the US would also be able to work with the Southern African Development Community. He said the US was cautiously optimistic about the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo and stressed that the US would not support any solution to the country's crisis that entailed partition of the country. DEPLETED URANIUM http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/010520/5023728.html * Blast exposed Gulf troops to 'DU-plus' by Scott Taylor The Ottawa Citizen, 20th May BAGHDAD -- A leading German scientist claims Canadian combat engineers serving in Doha, Kuwait, after the Gulf War were exposed to a highly toxic "cocktail" of depleted uranium (DU) when an American ammunition dump exploded next to their barracks in July 1991. Albrecht Schott, director of the Berlin-based World Depleted Uranium Centre, cites the Doha explosion as the "worst contamination site on record," and noted that the Canadian soldiers were "at ground zero." What made the incident so extreme was that it not only detonated depleted uranium shells, but also, in the ensuing inferno, a number of U.S. tanks coated with DU armour tiles also burned. "With the incredible heat generated by this burning uranium -- upwards of 2,000 degrees Centigrade -- the microscopic radioactive particles discharged into the atmosphere would have been glazed into a cocktail of cancer-causing substances," says Mr. Schott. "These Canadian soldiers weren't just exposed to DU, they were exposed to DU-plus." In January, the Citizen first reported that as many as 50 members of the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment had been at risk of DU exposure as a result of the Doha blast. At the time, Canadian military medical official Col. Ken Scott acknowledged that the U.S. military had not advised him about the presence of DU until February 2000. It was Col. Scott's decision not to inform the soldiers exposed as it would "only increase their stress levels." U.S, British and Canadian military officials have steadfastly denied any link between exposure to DU and the growing legion of sick soldiers. "Stress" has always been the official explanation of these illnesses. When Citizen reporters tracked down 18 of the combat engineers, they were told that 10 now suffer from some form of immune-system ailment. In addition, several of the Doha veterans contacted also reported that their children had been afflicted with congenital anomalies. Mr. Schott says this is further evidence that these engineers ingested DU particles into their lungs. "These tiny alpha radiation molecules lodge in the lymph nodes and there they attack chromosomes and the body's immune system," says Mr. Schott. "This is why so many of these veterans are contracting cancer, and why there has been so many birth defects among those exposed." Mr. Schott is currently in Iraq studying the horrific proliferation of such congenital anomalies -- particularly in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, which was heavily bombed during the Gulf War -- in the offspring of Iraqi veterans who served in Kuwait. "We have had a 350-per-cent increase in birth defects since 1991," says Riyahd Riyal, a senior surgeon at the Saddam Hussein Children's Hospital in Baghdad. "Unfortunately, we do not have the facilities or the funding to conduct the large-scale testing required to link this phenomena to DU, but the circumstantial evidence is too overwhelming to ignore." Mr. Schott acknowledges that testing for the presence of DU is possible, but the only failsafe method is extremely expensive and that only a few laboratories in the world have the means to perform such analysis. "A true test involves methodically observing 1,500 blood cells at the moment they divide in order to detect decentric chromosomes," says Mr. Schott. "The urine sample tests which governments like Canada are providing to their soldiers are essentially useless -- simply a placebo aimed at increasing their own negative test results." This year, Canada's ministers of Defence and Veterans Affairs authorized "voluntary" urine testing of all soldiers who believe they may have been exposed to DU during service in either the Persian Gulf or the Balkans. In March 2000, the World Health Organization did a preliminary study of the health situation in Basra and recommended a full-scale international research survey be conducted into the effects of DU. To date, this initiative continues to be blocked by the U.S. and British governments. Mr. Schott does not believe DU is the only "culprit" in causing the widespread illnesses. "If you look at the Iraqi situation -- where their sewage systems and water treatment plants were destroyed, malnurishment due to the continuing sanctions is widespread and, of course, they inhaled the pollution from the oil-well fires -- all these factors contribute to the breakdown of immune systems," says Mr. Schott. "As for the U.S. coalition soldiers, they also had the anthrax vaccine, which continues to be the cause of many concerns." However, Mr. Schott says all DU research must focus on the epicentre of destruction. "Basra is the only major urban centre which has experienced a large dose of DU shelling during the Gulf War. And after a decade we can see a tremendous decline in the population's resistance to malignancies." The leukemia ward at the Baghdad Children's Hospital is full to capacity, and more than 70 per cent of the young patients are from Basra. "With nearly 2,000 cases diagnosed in the past year among Iraqi children under 12 years of age, this marks a 700-per-cent increase of leukemia among Iraqi children over the past 10 years," says Dr. Riyal. It was a rash of leukemia cases among NATO soldiers returning from service in Bosnia and Kosovo that created an international furore last year. Until last year's international media blitz, NATO officials had strongly denied using DU rounds in Bosnia. But contradictory documents leaked to the British media forced them to admit their "error." In Kosovo, NATO admitted to firing more than 10,000 depleted uranium anti-tank shells, but they maintain that these weapons pose no health risk to their troops or the local population. Mr. Schott is closely following the breakthrough research of Dr. Asaf Durakovic at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The scientists on Mr. Durakovic's team were the first to confirm the evidence of DU in the tissue, hair and bones of Gulf War veterans. It is the autopsy of Canadian soldier Terry Riordan, who died of what his wife insists was Gulf War Syndrome, that provided some of the most conclusive evidence of DU contamination to date. Mr. Schott is now anxious to examine the Canadian soldiers involved in the Doha incident. "In all the American reports of the incident that I have studied, they never mentioned the presence of any Canadians," he says. CULTURE http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/metro/chicago/printedition/article/0,2669 ,SAV 0105200371,FF.html * Iraqi singer breaks down many barriers by Lou Carlozo Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2001 When Iraqi singer Farida Mohammed Ali performs at the Chicago Cultural Center Monday- the final date on her U.S. mini-tour--it will mark a musical event unlike any the city has ever witnessed. First, Ali is a master of maqam, an immensely complex Arabian music form dating from the 15th Century and little known outside Iraq. The music is based on between 55 and 70 maqams, or suitelike songs, and no single singer has ever mastered them all. Second, Ali is touring during a U.S. embargo of her native country. As world music enthusiasts know, her concert marks a watershed not only in genre, but gender as well. "This is the first time ever an Iraqi maqam singer has toured the U.S., never mind a female," said Wafaa' Salman, founder of the Institute for Near Eastern and African Studies in Cambridge, Mass. In Iraq, Ali became the first female maqam singer qualified to teach others. Though there has been talk in Chicago's Iraqi community of tensions associated with the concert because of gender and political issues, cultural center officials said they do not foresee any problems at Monday's performance or a need for heightened security. Still, city officials requested that the names of Ali's band members not be published. Yet for many Iraqis, Ali's visit is a source of pride--and hope. "Since the embargo, there's this feeling that the Iraqis have been shattered, this hopeless and helpless feeling of despair," said Salman, whose organization is sponsoring Ali's tour. "There's this desire to grab strings from the disaster; psychologically, there's this nostalgia, this wanting to encourage an Iraqi singer who's coming to the United States." Michael Orlove, program director for the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, said he booked Ali's performance six months ago because "it sounded to me like a can't-miss event, an event you'd rarely get to see. It's not the first time we've presented an artist from an embargoed country, and as far as I'm concerned, politics and culture should be far removed from each other." In Iraq, that has been far from the reality. "Politically, it's been pretty repressed," said Widad Albassam, director of the Arab American Action Network's arts council in Chicago. Iraqi artists have "pretty much been hostages of the government, so that's one reason we're anxious to have them outside of Iraq. And she's a woman, so that's unique." Ali now lives in the Netherlands, a move necessitated by the harsh realities of the Iraqi boycott. Unable to find work and running out of cash, she and her family moved there in 1997, aided by fans in Holland. A large portion of the audience is expected to be made up of Arabs like Albassam, who is Saudi, and Mazin Safar, an Iraqi American. "We're kind of detached from our background, and anything that brings music like this is welcome," said Safar, director of enrollment at East-West University in Chicago. "We listen to maqam at home, we enjoy it and it brings us together. As Iraqis, we're scattered here and scattered now more than at any time in the past." He added: "I feel like music is the one thing that keeps us from talking politics." True, the recent success of "Buena Vista Social Club," the 1997 album and subsequent film that featured an array of talented Cuban musicians, proves that music rises above the din of world affairs. But what if the gulf between two nations is a Gulf War? Observers following the Middle East agree that where diplomats and negotiators have failed to ease distrust and prejudice between the American and Iraqi peoples, a singer just might succeed. "Surely there should never be a time when Americans are unwilling to welcome musicians, artists or athletes from any country regardless of current political disputes," said Jerri Bird, founder and president of Partners for Peace, a Washington-based group that focuses on Middle East affairs. "Our doors, minds and hearts should be open to these emissaries, and they will enable us to recognize our common humanity." Despite her expatriate status, Ali said her heart remains close to her homeland. Ali relishes the unofficial role of Iraqi cultural ambassador and acknowledges her desire to spread goodwill. "The mission is to try to bridge the misunderstandings," Ali, 37, said through an interpreter during a telephone interview from Cambridge. She's quick to add that she knows a thing or two about how to do this. Long before coming to the U.S., Ali had to convince skeptical men back home that she was worthy of performing maqam. "It used to be a male-dominated form of music, but I'm trying to challenge people and take it forward," Ali said. "Maqam is a form of Sufi singing, a religious experience, and the argument goes that it's for males and there's no place for female singing. But I got so good the men couldn't criticize me anymore." Today, Ali is one of three singers credited with keeping maqam's heritage alive. "It's the most lasting form of Iraqi music," she said. "It cannot disappear." "I know that a lot of Iraqis are going, and I'm trying to bring friends," including non-Iraqis, Safar said. "Iraq has been vilified and we've all been made to look bad, even Iraqis in America. People forget that Iraq is the cradle of civilization: Writing started there, music started there. Things have to be put in perspective, and the one way to do that is through music." -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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