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News, 27/5-2/6/01 Third instalment of the backlog. SANCTIONS REFORM * Iraq rejects French bid to ease sanctions * The voteless victims [a welcome expression of outrage at US/UK policy published in The Guardian, which usually has more important matters to campaign about, such as abolition of the monarchy] * Arab, international contacts to lift sanctions imposed on Iraq [quite a tough statement of scepticism from Amr Moussa, Secretary of the Arab League] * Oil Watch: Iraq in a changing marketplace [on the losses Turkey, Syria and Jordan could excpect to sustain if the sanctions reform succeeded, against the odds, in stopping the smuggling] * US Lifts Holds on $800 Million in Iraqi Contracts [Œ``The release of these contracts will provide civilian goods for civilians in Iraq. It assists the Iraqi public in their endeavors without assisting the Iraqi regime in developing weapons,'' he (Richard Boucher) told a news briefing¹. leaving us all wondering why the holds were imposed in the first place] * Powell Stumbles Between the White House and the World [commentary by Jim Hoagland] * UN council agrees to reform Iraq sanctions [but not yet ...] IRAQI-MIDDLE EAST/ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Algerian energy minister arrives in Baghdad * Iran holds maneuvers on Iraqi border INSIDE IRAQ * Iraqi Gets 10 Years in Hostage Case [though, apparently under government pressure, he was found not guilty of killing his UN hostages, which is odd because it suggests that the Iraqi security forces must have done it] * Saddam appoints irrigation minister as acting interior minister IRAQI-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Iraq Rejects Sh18b Debt Cancellation [³The Iraqi government has rejected a request by Uganda to write off a US$10m (sh18b) unpaid soft loan under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.² Vide. Matt 18, 2335] NEW WORLD ORDER * Seeking Damages [Four Americans, imprisoned by S.Hussein for around 6 months, win $19 million compensation. Ludicrous as this is it is part of the process, dramatically illustrated in the case of Gen Noriega, whereby US domestic law is being turned into a law with international validity]. CAMPAIGNING * U.S. Clerics: End Iraq Sanctions CULTURE [in a manner of speaking] * Artist says Iraqi leader stole image for his book SANCTIONS REFORM http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/scripts/article.asp?mador=14&datee=05/27/01&id =120279 * IRAQ REJECTS FRENCH BID TO EASE SANCTIONS Haaretz (Israel), 27th May BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq yesterday rejected any proposal to ease 11 years of UN sanctions while tightening an arms embargo, saying French-proposed changes to the draft UN resolution were unacceptable. Iraq totally rejects the new French resolution, which was introduced to the Security Council, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told the official Iraqi News Agency. From a preliminary reading of the resolution, it looks similar to the British resolution, but with French makeup, Aziz said. He did not elaborate further. Aziz was apparently referring to the French amendments in the existing British-proposed resolution calling for lifting of restrictions on most civilian goods entering Iraq while toughening enforcement of an arms embargo and UN control over Iraq's oil revenues. In Paris, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said France had proposed only changes to the British proposal, and not a resolution. The United States has endorsed the British proposal. In New York Friday, China joined Russia in criticizing the plan, saying it appeared aimed at punishing Baghdad rather than easing life for Iraqis. The split among the veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council signaled tough negotiations ahead and raised a major obstacle to U.S. and British efforts to win council approval for their overhaul of sanctions by June 4th, when the current phase of the UN oil for-food humanitarian program expires. France has taken a more conciliatory approach in an effort to achieve consensus among all 15 council members. The French-proposed changes to the British draft resolution were discussed at a closed meeting of the five permanent members, diplomats in New York said. It was not immediately known what the French were proposing. Iraq has also threatened to quit the oil-for-food program if the British proposal is endorsed. Started in late 1996, the program allows Iraq to sell oil provided proceeds are used primarily to buy humanitarian supplies. Yesterday, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said his country was prepared to deal with all consequences of its decision to reject the British proposal, including the possible halt in oil exports. "Iraq is prepared for any possibilities," Saleh told reporters at the opening of an Egyptian trade fair in Baghdad. Asked if Iraq has stored enough food and humanitarian supplies to cover the needs of Iraqis if the oil-for-food program stopped, Saleh only answered: "This is our task to be handled. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,498318,00.html * THE VOTELESS VICTIMS by Seumas Milne The Guardian, May 30, 2001 It is a fair rule of thumb that the more important a political issue, the less likely it is to be discussed during a general election. That certainly applies to this campaign, where the Blair government's zeal for bombing, occupying and generally interfering in other people's countries - described by the former Tory prime minister Edward Heath as an attempt to resurrect a colonial system - has not even registered as a flicker on the election radar. British soldiers and air crews have been shedding blood in the Gulf, the Balkans and west Africa on a scale unprecedented since the demise of empire. But these interventions merit no debate - perhaps because all the main parties support them or perhaps because such issues are considered best not discussed in front of the electorate. The victims have no vote. Nowhere has more blood been shed or more lives reduced to misery than in Iraq, where 10 years after Saddam Hussein's army was expelled from Kuwait, its 20m people are still being punished by the British and American governments for the decisions of a man they did not elect and cannot peacefully remove. RAF and US air attacks on the unilaterally declared no fly zones in Iraq have continued unabated in recent weeks, while politicians in Britain concentrate on the minutiae of marginal tax rates. The decade-long sanctions siege of Iraq, effectively sustained by the US and Britain alone, has cut a horrific swath through a country devastated by two cataclysmic wars and a legacy of chemical and depleted uranium weapons contamination. Unicef estimates that 500,000 Iraqi children have died from the effects of the blockade - they are still dying in their thousands every month - and the living standards of a once-developed country have been reduced to the level of Ethiopia. A ware that they have lost the battle for international opinion over responsibility for this national calvary, Britain and the US have now come up with a plan for "smart sanctions", which they claim will ease the embargo on civilian imports and decisively shift the blame for Iraqi suffering on to Saddam. That is the spin, at least. The reality is that the British scheme currently before the UN security council would actually make sanctions more effective and prolong indefinitely Iraq's status as a form of international trusteeship. One reason why the allies, as the Blair and Bush governments like to call themselves, are so keen to act is that the existing sanctions are, mercifully, eroding fast. Smuggling, cash surcharges on contracts, unsanctioned preferential oil supplies to Iraq's neighbours and flights in and out of Baghdad have all helped to ease conditions for ordinary Iraqis. Anglo American smart sanctions would put a stop to most of that by forcing neighbouring states to police the unlicensed trade across Iraq's borders. In return for this tightening of the vice, the British are proposing to restrict controls to military and "dual use" goods - those with civilian and military applications. But the obstruction of dual-use products is at the heart of the problem with the current sanctions. The secretive New York-based sanctions committee already rubber stamps Iraqi imports of flour and rice. But more than $12bn-worth of alleged dual-use contracts have been blocked or vetoed. Everything from chlorine and ambulances, vaccines and electrical goods to hoses, morphine and anaesthetics have been stopped, in every case by the British or US representative, on the grounds that they might have military uses. The same will apply under smart sanctions, as will the arrangement by which Iraq's oil income is controlled from outside, with a third of it used to pay reparations to cash-rich Kuwait and the cost of administering sanctions. The pretext for maintaining and tightening the embargo is supposedly to prevent Iraq developing new weapons of mass destruction and force it to readmit the arms inspectors kicked out two years ago. One of those inspectors, Scott Ritter, insists Iraq has long since been disarmed and no longer has the means to develop significant chemical and biological, let alone nuclear, weapons. No other state in the region - notably nuclear-armed Israel, which daily violates a string of UN resolutions in its illegally occupied territories - is subjected to such punishment. The obvious way out of this inhuman and failed policy would be negotiation for the simultaneous lifting of sanctions and return of UN inspectors. That is unlikely to happen. Iraq has been singled out, not because of the brutality of its dictator, but because it cannot be trusted to toe the western line in a strategically critical part of the world. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010531/2001053123.html * ARAB, INTERNATIONAL CONTACTS TO LIFT SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON IRAQ Arabic News, 31st May Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa stressed that the American-British proposed smart sanctions regime is still unclear to all Arabs so far. There are a lot of question marks surrounding the smart sanctions proposal, Moussa said, referring to Arab consensus at Aman Summit on lifting for good the ten-year UN sanctions against Iraq, and not classifying them as smart or otherwise. He said that the Arab League is following up with Arab sides and the UN what is going on between the five permanent UN Security Council member states about this issue. What is important is not what the UN Security Council will issue but what can be implemented in light of the Arab public opinion seeing the importance of lifting these crippling sanctions. "So the Arab world is not interested whether these sanctions are smart or not," Moussa added. About holding Iraq responsible for refusing any initiative to lift the sanctions, Moussa said "I do not think Iraq is refusing any initiative in this respect but it has an opinion when it comes to the so-called smart sanctions". "Iraq sees that the new regime is a mere decorative form of the current sanctions," Moussa said. "It is not in the interest of the UNSC to pass a resolution that will be inapplicable for lack of conviction," Moussa added. "The UNSC should come out with a resolution that complies with the public opinion's aspirations to end the suffering of the Iraqis," he added. About Kuwait's stance, Moussa said, "of course, the Kuwaiti side has the full right to feel secure and safe and to receive guarantees, and what happened in 1990 will not be repeated. We are working on ensuring the safety of Kuwait from any threats either at present or in the future." http://www.vny.com/cf/News/upidetail.cfm?QID=190279 * OIL WATCH: IRAQ IN A CHANGING MARKETPLACE by SAJID RIZVI LONDON, May 30 (UPI) -- The next two days of trading on the oil markets both sides of the pond will indicate if there is substance to rumors of a sea change in the way business looks to Iraq. Certainly, in recent weeks, there appears to be a strange aura of respectability surrounding the pariah state of the 1990s, Gulf aggressor, oppressor of its minorities and the not-so proud recipient and purveyor of a 1,001 other epithets. Until recently, post-Gulf War Iraq's most and perhaps only positive contribution to the world was universally judged to be a singular addition to the English lexicon -- President Saddam Hussein's infamous pledge of a "mother of all battles" and its numerous permutations in the world of art, business, fashion, journalism and the entertainment industry. Now the oil trade looks with rising expectation and deepening respect at pronouncements from Baghdad. The mother of all ironies, of course, is this: of all the 11 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iraq happens to be the one that is not a party to the production agreement. This is a network of barrel-swapping deals cut behind closed doors, usually at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, to arrive at a collective ceiling of quarterly production by the other 10 members of the group. Iraq's exclusion from the quota system appears to matter less and less, as the oil trade sets sights on Iraq's output, third largest in OPEC after Saudi Arabia and Iran. This week, the markets seesawed on news of Iraq hinting at a supply cut-off and then relenting, in a manner of speaking. Iraq's posturing was a response to an intense diplomatic game being played at the United Nations in New York and other centers, after the United States and Britain initiated moves to toughen the sanctions against the country, in force since Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. The idea behind the U.S. initiative is to ease controls on food and medicinal shipments, deflecting growing criticism of the sanctions in the Arab world and elsewhere, but also to seek tougher curbs on borders to check smuggling. All this week, U.S. negotiators worked to secure backing for the revised package before renewal of the existing sanctions regime became due on Monday. Support for the U.S.-led plan for "smart sanctions," with the hope of reversing some of the recent setbacks to the embargo, has been patchy at best, with little guarantee that any significant parts of it will be incorporated in the new oil-for-food program starting next week. But, not taking any chances, Iraq mounted a campaign that was part bluff and part bluster, warning of a repeat of its December suspension of exports. Hussein called the proposed new sanctions "even more stupid than the current sanctions" and vowed to fight them. His Oil Minister Amer Rasheed warned another stoppage was on the cards unless, of course, the United Nations extended the current sanctions without further changes. Iraq pumps about 2.2 million barrels a day of crude, 2.5 percent of the world's oil, but in recent months has built up a body of co-conspirators who are aiding the country in a systematic erosion of the sanctions. So organized, secretive and effective is the smuggling operation that the best estimates of its total worth range sharply between $1.5 billion and $3 billion a year. The truth lies somewhere in between and is surely uncomfortable reading for decision-makers who want to reverse the trend. The current oil-for-program allows Hussein to use the oil revenues to buy food and medicines and finance basic infrastructure improvements. It has the support of France, Russian and China plus numerous other countries, including many Arab governments that are increasingly reluctant to back any more stringent measures they see as harmful to the Iraqi people. The changes being sought by Britain and the United States will cut the red tape that bedevils the program and help enforce a fast-track approach to Iraq's imports, allowing all but the really suspect goods to pass through freely. At the same time, however, the changes will aim to close some of the loopholes that Hussein has exploited to build up his oil trade outside the U.N. oil-for-food program. Whether the program will succeed in closing the loopholes is by no means certain. The markets' growing awe of Iraq stems from realities on the ground, where Iraq's sanctions busting exercise has found tacit support, and a certain degree of official complicity, in three countries crucial to the West's scheme of things. Turkey is a member of NATO, Jordan has a long-standing close association with both Britain and the United States and Syria has emerged from the death of President Hafez Assad as a country aspiring to reinvent itself as a market economy. A successful plugging of the loopholes under the "smart sanctions" will hurt all three countries unless there was a simultaneous program of action that helped all three make good their losses, expected to run into millions of dollars if Iraq's oil exports outside the U.N. program stopped. The negotiations over the toughening of sanctions have not even begun to consider options for Turkey, Jordan and Syria in case the 'smart sanctions' do go through. In contrast, Iraq has enough cash to carry on without exporting oil for several weeks and certainly will have no qualms about inviting further hardship on its people if it opts for a showdown with the United Nations. Iraq may decide against tempting fate and carry on exporting oil under the U.N. program. But that is unlikely to minimize Iraq's leverage in a market so prone to volatile behavior in response to anything that passes for news. [Oil Watch is a bi-weekly analysis of the international oil market] http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010601/pl/iraq_usa_sanctions_dc_5.html * US LIFTS HOLDS ON $800 MILLION IN IRAQI CONTRACTS by Carol Giacomo WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States announced on Friday it was releasing more than $800 million worth of contracts under the United Nations's oil-for-food program for Iraq that Washington had blocked in the past. The move was part of an effort to build credibility and support for a proposed major U.S. British overhaul of the decade-old sanctions regime against Iraq that is now being debated by the U.N. Security Council. ``I think these (contract) releases are evidence that the new system can work, and we do anticipate that more contracts will be released,'' State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters. The announcement brings the total value of contracts released since the beginning of May to about $1.2 billion -- roughly one-third of the total $3.5 billion worth of contracts on which Washington had placed holds that have kept contracts frozen for months and, in some cases, even years. The United States had placed holds on the contracts in an effort to ensure Iraqi President Saddam Hussein did not obtain goods and materials that could prop up his regime or foster his development of weapons of mass destruction. But Washington has come under increasing criticism, from allies as well as other countries, for being too strict and making decisions that harm the Iraqi people. Boucher said the Bush administration decided to unblock the contracts in order to help the Iraqi people, who have suffered under the U.N. sanctions regime, imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. HELP FOR IRAQI PEOPLE ``The release of these contracts will provide civilian goods for civilians in Iraq. It assists the Iraqi public in their endeavors without assisting the Iraqi regime in developing weapons,'' he told a news briefing. Items affected by the U.S. action include pipes, pumps, water tankers and valves for the water and sanitation sector; pumps, drilling machines and welding equipment for the oil sector; steel-reinforced aluminum conductors for the electrical sector; a waste heat boiler for fertilizer production and earth moving equipment. He stressed that the proposed new U.S.-British sanctions system ``envisions an end to the system of placing holds on contracts (so that) overall there won't be any impediment from our side ... for the Iraqi people to get what they need.'' ``And any impediments that will come, will come from the Iraqi government,'' he added. Boucher said the release of the contracts conformed to the basic tenets of a revised U.S. policy toward Iraq. ``In fact once the (U.N. Security) Council has adopted the details of the new arrangements we will work through the backlog of contracts on hold and decide which ones should be released on the basis of the new approach,'' he said. The U.S. decision is likely to be seen as a positive move as the U.S. and Britain try to persuade the U.N. Security Council to go along with their proposed overhaul of the sanctions regime against Iraq. The oil-for-food program, created in December 1996, is a major exemption to sanctions imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. It allows Iraq to sell oil but the proceeds must go to a U.N. escrow account, which pays suppliers of the goods ordered by Baghdad. PUBLIC RELATIONS PROBLEM In an effort to counter critical opinion of the sanctions in the Arab world and beyond, a new U.S.-British U.N. Security Council resolution would allow unfettered imports of all civilian goods to Iraq. However, the escrow account would be kept intact so Saddam will not have control of his country's oil revenues; arms-related imports would still be banned and hundreds of other ``dual-use'' items would be subject to review. The United States and Britain wanted to get the new format adopted before the existing sanctions regime expires on June 3. But objections, mainly from Russia and China, prevented that. In a rare show of unity on Iraq, the security council on Friday adopted a compromise resolution extending the Iraq humanitarian program for one month and signaling its willingness to overhaul the sanctions program at the end of that period. Boucher said the vote ``means the international community once again is united in its view of Iraq and what we need to do.'' While admitting much detailed work needs to be done, he expressed confidence that ``the direction is set clearly by this resolution that was passed this morning.'' Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the Iraq issue with the foreign ministers of Russia and other countries during a meeting in Budapest last week. But Ambassador James Cunningham, the acting chief U.S. representative at the United Nations, said there was no deal with the Russians in Budapest. http://www.iht.com/articles/21668.html * POWELL STUMBLES BETWEEN THE WHITE HOUSE AND THE WORLD by Jim Hoagland The Washington Post, June 2, 2001 WASHINGTON: Does Colin Powell need a hearing aid? Or is the secretary of state being set up and then hung out to dry by more devious rivals in the Bush administration? Or is it that he is part, witting or otherwise, of a hidden master plan to ease U.S. foreign policy onto a more unilateralist path by showing how flawed and unrewarding multilateral diplomacy can be? These questions crackle along the diplomatic grapevine after four months of puzzling foreign policy missteps by the Bush team. The buzz in foreign capitals has quickly turned from relief at the "professionals" being back in charge along the Potomac to wonderment at Washington's sustained misreadings of other nations' intentions and capabilities in matters large and small. The hearing aid question is metaphorical, of course. But it arose again last week after General Powell futilely persisted in pushing NATO's other foreign ministers to declare in a communiqué that the alliance faces a "common threat" from long-range rockets being developed by lunatic Third World leaders. The Europeans declined, as they had told the State Department repeatedly and uniformly they would in the days leading up to the meeting in Budapest. Press coverage then predictably focused on General Powell's admission of failure to get the common threat phrase into the communiqué, and ignored the otherwise positive tone and accomplishments of the NATO meeting. This was reminiscent of the Bush foreign policy team's failure to anticipate the sulfurous reaction abroad to its abrasive abandoning of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases, and of the United States being voted off the United Nations Human Rights Commission largely because of the State Department's inattention to that vote. And General Powell suffered an embarrassing setback at the United Nations last week when Russian and Chinese opposition - again, well advertised - blocked his effort to get the Security Council to adopt urgently a new set of "smart sanctions" on Iraq. That will leave in place for three to six months the current sanctions arrangement - which General Powell and President George W. Bush have ridiculed as ineffective and unworkable. They have turned a flawed bird in the hand into a dead duck. There is a touch of minor-league Machiavellianism in General Powell's Iraq nonpolicy. He and aides have cited the need to sell the smart sanctions effort at the United Nations to block serious discussion within the administration of other, more aggressive steps to oppose Saddam Hussein. But the only visible results of these blocking efforts are delay and confusion within the administration itself, while Moscow and Baghdad and other Arab capitals push ahead with the rehabilitation of Saddam. General Powell seems not to see that a coordinated and targeted rehabilitation campaign is under way. His public statements emphasize that this is all a big misunderstanding, that other nations have not grasped that it is Saddam's evil rather than the sanctions that are the problem, that by changing sanctions we can change their attitudes. No one knows Saddam's nature better than the Arabs, Turks and Persians who live around him. What they have understood is that the United States is not prepared to make his removal from power a high priority. They therefore have to find ways to live with him, such as buying his oil on the cheap and helping fund his regime, even after promising General Powell they wouldn't. The secretary's initial trusting reaction to such promises delivered to him personally suggested that there might be a sharper diplomatic learning curve for this experienced and celebrated general than had been expected. In the Middle East, the kind of concessions he made on sanctions are quickly pocketed and seen as an invitation to ask for more. On Iraq, General Powell is leading with his chin. General Powell's charisma, distinguished record and moderation have made him the human face of Bush diplomacy for the rest of the world. European foreign ministers and liberals in the United States court and support him as a bulwark against the isolationist cravings of more conservative U.S. officials. His rivals are not displeased to see a growing pile of visible nonsuccesses accumulate on General Powell's doorstep. They can be counted on to drop banana peels in his way. But it is unlikely there is a master plot to discredit him or to pursue a stealthy isolationism as some Europeans fear. Confusion, not conspiracy, is at work here. General Powell has yet to demonstrate that he can bridge the gap between the State Department's accommodationist outlook and the White House's harsher and blunter worldview. His tendency so far has been to voice the former and submit to the latter. No one can be happy with that pattern for very long. http://www.dawn.com/2001/06/02/int2.htm * UN COUNCIL AGREES TO REFORM IRAQ SANCTIONS Dawn(Pakistan), 02 June 2001, 09 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1422 UNITED NATIONS, June 1: Ignoring a threat by Iraq to disrupt its oil-for-food programme, the Security Council on Friday formally endorsed the principle of reforming the 11-year-old UN Iraqi sanctions regime. The council adopted a resolution to extend the programme by one month instead of the usual six months, and said that by July 3 it would "consider new arrangements" for the trade embargo on Iraq. All 15 council members voted for the resolution, which expressed their "intention to adopt and implement such new arrangements" on July 4 for an initial period of 190 days. It said the arrangements would "improve significantly" Iraq's ability to import civilian goods, and "improve controls to prevent the sale or supply" of prohibited arms sales. They would also "prevent the flow of revenues to Iraq" from smuggling outside the oil-for-food programme. Iraq, which is believed to earn about 1.5 billion dollars a year from illegal oil sales, rejected the resolution earlier Friday, and described it as "still-born". Exports under the oil-for-food programme earned about 16 billion dollars in the past year, more than two-thirds of which went into an escrow account to finance imports approved by the UN. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said the sanctions reforms proposed by Britain and the United States would "harm not only Iraq but all the partners of Baghdad among its friends and brothers". Thursday, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohamed Al Douri, told reporters that "Iraq will not conclude any oil contracts" based on the one-month extension. But he said it would "honour all existing contracts" - a rider that took the sting out of the threat, since Iraq has outstanding commitments to ship almost 300 million barrels of crude, equivalent to about 135 days exports at last week's rate of just over 2.2 million barrels a day. Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Jeremy Greenstock, said the 15-0 vote in favour of the resolution "shows that we're serious about wishing to take forward the policy in adjusting the sanctions regime." It was "very unusual to have a resolution of some controversy on Iraq passed with unanimity in the council," he told reporters. "Business now begins in earnest on the details of this resolution," Greenstock went on, adding that experts would resume work Monday on a list of military items and dual-use goods and technologies prohibited to Iraq. The list would replace a cumbersome process of contract vetting under the oil-for-food programme by the council's Iraqi sanctions committee. On Thursday, Greenstock's Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said there were "many unanswered questions" about the list, which includes, for instance, some telecommunications and fibre-optic equipment. "No economic development project could be implemented" without such items, he said. Greenstock acknowledged that the list was "the crux" of the coming discussions, but added: "I don't think it's going to be contentious, so much as a serious look at what is necessary to represent the responsibility of the council to make sure that prohibited goods don't enter Iraq." But Greenstock insisted that "this is not an attempt to tighten any kind of hold on Iraq." The offer to suspend sanctions if Iraq allows UN arms inspectors back into the country and cooperates fully with them "remains very fully on the table and supported fully by every member of the council," he said. CONTRACTS: The United States has expressed willingness to release about 800 million dollars worth of contracts currently frozen under the United Nations' oil-for-food programme for Iraq, US officials said. This represents only a portion of the $3.5 billion in total holds that Washington has placed on contracts under the program. But it is likely to be seen as a positive move as the United States and Britain try to persuade the U.N. Security Council to go along with their new proposal for the Iraqi sanctions regime.-AFP\Reuters IRAQI-MIDDLE EAST/ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/meast/05/27/iraq.algeria.reut/index.html * Algerian energy minister arrives in Baghdad CNN, May 27 BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil arrived on Sunday in Baghdad to discuss ways of improving cooperation with Iraq. Khelil, who was welcomed at Baghdad airport by Iraqi Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed, was accompanied by representatives of state-owned and private companies and businessmen. "We will study cooperation projects between Algerian and Iraqi companies...in various fields," Khelil told reporters. Algeria is one of several Arab countries which have called for the lifting of United Nations sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It refused to contribute troops to the U.S.-led coalition that liberated Kuwait in 1991. http://www.vny.com/cf/News/upidetail.cfm?QID=190055 * Iran holds maneuvers on Iraqi border TEHRAN, Iran, May 30 (UPI) -- Amid tension between Tehran and Baghdad, the Iranian army is conducting weeklong army maneuvers along the frontier with Iraq to reinforce its deterrent power and show off new weapons, the Iranian press reported Wednesday. Some 20,000 troops are taking part in the maneuvers called Eqtedar 80 that began last weekend in Iran's western and southern regions, the Iranian press quoted military officers. Iran was expected to employ new 125 mm shells manufactured for its Russian-built T-72 tanks during the exercises. Relations between the two states had improved somewhat after their 1980-1988 war but became strained in April when, according to press reports, both Iran and Iraq redeployed troops along their common frontier. It was reportedly the first time that either country has done so since the 1991 Gulf War. Adding to tensions was the Iranian dissident organization, Mojahedin-e Khalq, based in Iraq, claiming responsibility for the April 10 assassination in Tehran of a senior Iranian general and, at the same time, the Iranian-backed dissident Iraqi Shia organization, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which was increasing its attacks on Iraqi forces and mortaring Baghdad. Iran has also supported the Kurdistan Workers Party, the Marxist guerrilla force driven out of Turkey, that has set up bases on the Iran-Iraq border. In answer to requests for support from Iraqi Kurds fighting the PKK, Turkey sent army units deep into Iraqi territory last year. Iran also supports the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan that has about 4,000 followers centered on the town of Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan. In another development, Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei appointed Brig. Gen. Habib Baqaie as acting commander of the army. Khamenei also appointed Brig. Gen. Reza Pardis as commander of the air force. INSIDE IRAQ http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010528/wl/iraq_un_1.html * Iraqi Gets 10 Years in Hostage Case by WAIEL FALEH, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An Iraqi who held U.N. employees hostage last year in a standoff that left two people dead was convicted Monday and sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. Fuad Hussein Haider, 38, was found guilty of attempted murder of two guards at the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization building in Baghdad, where he held people hostage last June. Murder charges against Haider were dropped. Two employees of the U.N. agency - a Somali administrative officer and an Iraqi information technology worker - were killed during a rescue effort, and the United Nations had criticized Iraq for failing to bring Haider to justice promptly. Judge Lukman Thabit said state prosecutors decided to drop the murder charges because witnesses, including Food and Agricultural Organization employees, said he did not kill the two victims. Haider, a mechanic, gained entrance to the Food and Agriculture building on June 28 and held its occupants hostage. The two staffers were killed and six people were wounded when security forces tried to storm the building. A seventh person was injured jumping from a window. The government stopped short of condemning the incident, and in an unusual move, authorities allowed Haider to address the media after he surrendered. He said he had wanted to take agency officials hostage to protest the U.N. sanctions enforced against Iraq since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Thabit sentenced Haider to consecutive sentences of five years and one month for one attempted murder count and five years and 6 months on the other. The 10 months he served in detention will count toward the sentence. Haider did not react to the verdict and sentence, and a policeman led him out of the court immediately afterward. His lawyer made no statement, and it was unclear whether he would appeal. There was no immediate comment from the Food and Agricultural Program office in Baghdad. http://www.timesofindia.com/300501/30mide6.htm * Saddam appoints irrigation minister as acting interior minister Times of India, 30th May BAGHDAD: President Saddam Hussein on Tuesday appointed Irrigation Minister Mahmoud Diab al-Ahmed as acting interior minister, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. The move came a day after Saddam relieved Interior Minister Mohammed Zemam Abdel Razzak of his duties. Saddam also issued a decree removing Mohammed Hamza al-Zubaidi from the Revolutionary Command Council, the highest legislative body in the country, after he failed to get enough votes in the May 18 elections of the ruling Baath party, INA said. Al-Ahmed will retain his post as irrigation minister, according to the agency. Saddam frequently reshuffles his Cabinet, giving no reason for dismissals or appointments. (AP) IRAQI-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://allafrica.com/stories/200105290264.html * Iraq Rejects Sh18b Debt Cancellation by Felix Osike New Vision (Kampala), May 29, 2001 The Iraqi government has rejected a request by Uganda to write off a US$10m (sh18b) unpaid soft loan under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The money was given to Uganda in 1975 through the Iraqi Fund for External Development (IFED) for financing industrial projects including the renovation of sugar factories and development of edible oil extraction plants, cotton ginning projects, storage and transport projects. Iraq has filed a suit in the High Court demanding for the US$10,964,354, broken down as; principal US$5.281,283, interest US$1,602,715 and delayed interest US$4,080,356. Uganda only acknowledges US $5.8 of the debt. Through her lawyers Odere and Nalyanya Advocates, Iraq argues that she is not bound by the IMF and World Bank decisions to write off the debt. High Court judge Okumu Wengi is expected to decide tomorrow on whether the case should go for arbitration as requested by the Attorney General. Iraq said all obligations by the Government were governed only by the relevant loan agreements and not by the World Bank or Paris Club directive. In a letter dated August 8, 2000 to the IFED president, finance minister Gerald Ssendaula said Uganda would make no further repayments to service the debt if Iraq did not write off some debts. "In conformity with the HIPC agreement which calls for participation of all creditors, I am writing to request you to provide debt relief. We understand that at the end of June 1999 you should provide debt relief equivalent to US$2.62m in Net Present Value terms," read Ssendaula's letter. In a letter to the Solicitor General, Peter Kabatsi, the then deputy secretary to treasury, Chris Kassami, said Iraq was bound by the HIPC terms. "Since Iraq is a member of the World Bank and IMF, she is bound by their decisions. We are also bound by the same HIPC decision to demand from all bilateral creditors the same terms," Kassami said. NEW WORLD ORDER http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/iraq010530_suit.html * Seeking Damages Abc News, May 30 Four Americans who were imprisoned for up to six months by Iraq after the Gulf War are getting revenge against Saddam Hussein's regime ‹ by hitting it in the pocketbook. A federal judge in Houston has ruled that Iraq owes David Daliberti, Bill Barloon, Chad Hall and Kenneth Beaty and their wives a collective sum of almost $19 million for the pains the men suffered in captivity. All four men were civilians when they were imprisoned, and say they never intentionally trespassed on Iraqi soil. One says he was kidnapped from Kuwaiti territory and taken across the border. All four say they have post-traumatic stress syndrome from their time in prison. "Their lives have been shattered," said Andrew Hall, a lawyer for the four men. He is not related to Chad Hall. The men say they have found it hard to work or find work, suffer from nightmares, are unable to maintain close relationships, and have phobias. Beaty was awarded $4,235,441, Daliberti $3,848,559, Barloon $2,942,285 and Chad Hall $1,797,004. Each of the men's wives received $1.5 million. The judge ruled the wives were due financial damages for the effect the men's ordeals had on their marriages. "I don't think this is compensation for what I went through, but it would help with financial security for my wife and children," Beaty told The Associated Press after the court ruling on Tuesday. Andrew Hall was more congratulatory. "Today is a great day for Americans who are the victims of terrorism," the lawyer said after the judgment. "We now have a tool where we can fight back." TALES OF THEIR ORDEAL Daliberti and Barloon say the nightmare began for them on March 13, 1995. The two were working as civilian defense contractors for the government of Kuwait when they say they mistakenly crossed a border checkpoint from Kuwait into Iraq. When they realized where they were, they immediately tried to turn around, but the border guards refused to let them exit, and they were imprisoned for illegal entry into Iraq, they say. They were sentenced to eight years in prison, held under horrible conditions ‹ blindfolded, interrogated and subjected to physical, mental and verbal abuse, according to their suit. Daliberti had a cocked gun placed against his head, and suffered seizures in prison from lack of medical attention, he says. They were freed after 126 days, after then-Rep. Bill Richardson met with Saddam to secure their release. THE TEASE OF FREEDOM Beaty had been working as a drilling rig supervisor on April 25, 1993, when he says he was taken captive by Iraqi boder guards. But Beaty's imprisonment was especially torturous. He says he was confined at one point for 11 days in a prison cell with no water, toilet or bed. Eventually, he got a trial, and was found not guilty of illegal entry and espionage. But when he returned to prison to retrieve his personal belongings, he was ordered back to the courtroom and sentenced to eight years in prison. Beaty spent 205 days in captivity, and was only freed when his wife raised a ransom of $5 million worth of medical goods to obtain his release. The lawsuit's final litigant, Chad Hall, a former major in the U.S. Army working as a civilian bomb disposal specialist in Kuwait, spent five days in Iraqi captivity. He says he was kidnapped at gunpoint in Kuwait, and taken into Iraq, and confined in a prison cell for four days with no lights, window, water, toilet, or proper bed. A CHANGE TO LONG-HELD BELIEFS The four men's judgment against Iraq is a rare occassion, because international law has long held that foreign states were immune to lawsuits by individuals. But in 1996, Congress amended the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to allow lawsuits against foreign nations for committing acts of terrorism. Since then several people have won judgments. The first went to families of three American pilots in the anti-Castro group Brothers to the Rescue. The families won $183 million after the Cuban military downed the pilots' planes in 1996, killing them. Soon after, the family of American college student Alisa Flatow won $247.5 million in damages from Iran, after Flatow was killed in a suicide bus bombing in the Gaza Strip in April 1995. The payments were made after Washington released money from assets belonging to the governments of Cuba and Iran that had been frozen by the U.S government for decades to pay the lawsuits against those countries. Some have criticized the nature of these awards, because the countries in question aren't punished when the United States takes the damages out of frozen accounts. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Stuart Eizenstat told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 27, 1999, that awards like the ones given to Brothers to the Rescue might discriminate against thousands of other Americans with long-standing claims against Cuba. And collection can be difficult. Washington has traditionally worried that seizing foreign properties in the United States could lead to retaliation against U.S. diplomatic properties abroad. "There's no circumstance more draconian or nightmarish than to provide a remedy and then to say having relied on our system of justice, 'congratulations but it was just an exercise in futility ‹ but there's no money for you,'" Andrew Hall said. CAMPAIGNING http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010601/wl/us_religious_groups_iraq_1.html * U.S. Clerics: End Iraq Sanctions by CHERYL WITTENAUER NEW YORK (AP) - A group of American religious leaders called this week for an end to U.N. sanctions against Iraq and said a U.S.-British plan to amend them would do little to alleviate the Iraqi people's suffering. A letter to President Bush signed by 10 religious groups and 30 leaders, including nine Roman Catholic bishops, said the plan falls painfully short. What's needed, and what the plan forbids, the group said, is foreign investment to address Iraq's massive unemployment, hyperinflation, widespread poverty and failing infrastructure. The U.S.-British proposal aims to permit a greater flow of civilian goods into Iraq, while tightening an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The U.N. Security Council agreed Friday to extend a humanitarian program in Iraq for 30 days, giving Washington and London more time to sell their plan to other council members. Iraq also has criticized the proposal saying it wouldn't help the Iraqi people. In a report to the Security Council last week, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Iraq in recent months has not used all the money available to it under the oil-for-food program - established in 1996 to allow Iraq to sell oil for humanitarian goods. The religious leaders, who include Christians, Jews and Muslims, urged Bush to consider instead a policy of encouraging large-scale capital investment to ``rehabilitate Iraq's shattered economy.'' The U.S.-British plan ``doesn't do anything to allow Iraq to rebuild its infrastructure,'' said Thomas Gumbleton, a Catholic bishop who signed the letter. ``If you can imagine, what would Germany have been like without the Marshall Plan?'' The coalition further recommends an embargo on weapon sales to Iraq and to its neighbors to meet a U.N. goal of ``establishing in the Middle East a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.'' Another signer, Rabbi Douglas E. Krantz, said the sanctions are ``immoral, impractical and ineffective.'' The more difficult, but moral path is constructive engagement, he said. ``When you see the faces of Iraqi children, you realize (the sanctions are) not in anybody's best interest,'' said Krantz, who has traveled to Iraq. ``How has a rise in child poverty and illiteracy made the world safer from (Iraqi leader) Saddam Hussein?'' Among the signers to the letter are the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Baptist Peace Fellowship, the American Muslim Council, the Methodist Federation for Social Action and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. CULTURE [in a manner of speaking] http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/151/nation/Artist_says_Iraqi_leader_stole_ image_for_his_book+.shtml * Artist says Iraqi leader stole image for his book by Colin Nickerson Boston Globe, 31st May MONTREAL - Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi strongman who pillaged the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Kuwait a decade ago, has now hijacked the work of an artist from even tinier Prince Edward Island. Intelligence sources say the illustration on the cover of an allegorical romance penned either by Hussein himself or by writers in his employ is an unauthorized reproduction of an oil painting, ''The Awakening,'' by Jonathon Earl Bowser, a fantasy artist living in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The painting was reproduced without permission by the Iraqi government-owned publisher, in apparent violation of international copyright law. Bowser, who learned only last week of the piracy, said he is not happy that his painting is gracing a novel by a man his enemies call the Butcher of Baghdad. But what really rankles, Bowser said, is that the Iraqi dictator didn't pay for the work, much less give the artist a credit line. ''Of course, if there'd been a choice, I'd prefer to be associated with an author other than Saddam Hussein,'' the 38-year-old painter said in an interview from his studio in Canada's smallest province. ''But the real issue is, `Where are my royalties?''' But an Iraqi official denied that Bowser's work had been used. Mohammed H. Radhi Al Saffar, charge d'affaires for the Embassy of Iraq in Ottawa, said he was unfamiliar with Bowser's paintings, but asserted that it was ''impossible'' that Iraq's leader would violate copyright law or try to cheat an artist. The 160-page novel, written anonymously, is the buzz of the Arabic-speaking world, especially among Iraqi intellectuals, according to press reports. Entitled ''Zabibah and the King,'' the disjointed, overheated tale has been scrutinized in recent months by the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies on the theory that it is a quasi-autobiographical work either of Hussein himself or a committee of ghostwriters acquainted with his innermost thoughts and feelings. Middle East analysts say the novel could yield valuable psychological insights into the Iraqi leader. A New York Times article last week quoted a CIA summary as saying, ''Saddam's style, sentence structure, and expression are clearly present in the novel.'' The book recounts the physically chaste but emotionally passionate relationship between a woman named Zabibah, said to symbolize the Iraqi people, and a wise, compassionate, but iron-willed king, who is thought to represent Hussein himself. Although set in ancient times, the fable is full of modern references. A description of the cruel rape of Zabibah, for example, is seen as an allusion to US-led attacks on Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which resulted in the liberation of Kuwait. The Times described the cover artwork as portraying Zabibah standing before ''the arches of ancient Babylon,'' implying that the novel is the work of an Iraqi artist. No way, said an indignant Bowser. ''The image is of the Goddess of Spring bringing new life to the winter landscape,'' he said. ''Saddam Hussein was the last thing on my mind when I painted this beautiful woman in a beautiful garden. The arch is a portal to the kingdom of eternity, not to anyplace in Iraq.'' Bowser was alerted to the theft by fans who saw the painting on the cover of the novel, inscribed with the title in Arabic. He has since sent an e-mail to the CIA to stress that he is in no way connected to the dictator's literary ambitions. Meanwhile, his lawyer is researching whether there might be legal redress for the copyright violation, although Bowser said he is resigned that Hussein isn't likely to cough up a dinar, especially not while the world maintains a military blockade and economic embargo against his regime. ''I suspect there aren't any real legal options,'' Bowser said. ''Anyway, there is a long list of people with far more serious grievances against Saddam Hussein than me. ... So I basically just write it off as, `That's life.' And it is funny, in a creepy, unsettling way.'' Intelligence contacts in the US and Canada suggest that Hussein or his minions lifted the 1998 painting from Bowser's Web site. There are 950 original prints of Bowser's ''The Awakening, '' with 100 or so already sold for about $200 apiece, according to a Canadian news report. The original went to a California collector for $32,000. The painter estimates that 90 percent of his ''goddess art,'' as he describes his work, is purchased by Americans. It is unclear how many copies of Hussein's supposed work are in circulation. The book sells for the equivalent of $1 a copy in Iraq. The introduction states that the author wishes to remain anonymous, ''out of humility, like the great sons of Iraq who sacrifice their lives and their valuables and never talk about their great deeds.'' -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk