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News, 27/5-2/6/01

News, 27/5-2/6/01

Third instalment of the backlog.


*  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
*  UN council agrees to reform Iraq sanctions [but not yet ...]


*  Algerian energy minister arrives in Baghdad
*  Iran holds maneuvers on Iraqi border


*  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


*  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]


*  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].


*  U.S. Clerics: End Iraq Sanctions

CULTURE [in a manner of speaking]

*  Artist says Iraqi leader stole image for his book


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

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.,3604,498318,00.html

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

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

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

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.

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

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

"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."


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

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]

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

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.


``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

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.


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

Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the Iraq issue with the foreign
ministers of Russia and other countries during a meeting in Budapest last

But Ambassador James Cunningham, the acting chief U.S. representative at the
United Nations, said there was no deal with the Russians in Budapest.

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

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.

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.

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

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


*  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 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

It refused to contribute troops to the U.S.-led coalition that liberated
Kuwait in 1991.

*  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.


*  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.

*  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)


*  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)

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

We are also bound by the same HIPC decision to demand from all bilateral
creditors the same terms," Kassami said.


*  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."


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.


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.


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.


*  U.S. Clerics: End Iraq Sanctions

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

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]

*  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.''
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