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News, 3­9/6/01 (2)

News, 3­9/6/01 (2)


*  Nizar Hamdoun appointed at Iraq's new ambassador in Austria
*  S.Africa relief mission to Iraq coincides with diplomatic visit
*  Russia and Iraq sign emergencies pact
*  Pakistan emerges on wheat export map: Loading for Iraq begins today
[readers may remember that this follows on a series of stories about India
supplying Iraq then Iraq expressing dissatusfaction with the quality of the
wheat. Is there more to it than meets the eye?]


*  Rumsfeld: US Planes Face Bigger Danger in Iraq [Rumsfield in Turkey, an
odd place and an odd time to announce that they¹re running scared]
*  Coalition forces strike site in Iraqi no-fly zone
*  Iraq gains NATO military secrets [or more realistically, Iraq might have
gained some NATO military secrets from the Serbs. But on the other hand,
they might not ...]


*  Human rights group expresses concern for journalists in Iraq


*  The Worst Terrorist Is Still in His Palace [not G.Bush, but S.Hussein,
who might have been behind the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. On the
other hand, he might not. Interesting to note that energetic anti-Saddam
campaigner Laurie Mylroie Œwas Bill Clinton's advisor on Iraq during the
1992 presidential campaign¹. She feels Bill let her down. As lots of people
are beginning to feel George is letting them down]
*  Bombers cite Iraq sanctions [Ramsay Clark testifying at the trial over
the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya]
*  An appropriate welcome for Powell at Wits [University in South Africa.
Gives a list of reasons why Africans shouldn¹t like the US]
*  Robert Fisk: All these cruel Muslim regimes abuse the people of the
Middle East [ŒIn Arab and Iranian homes, Muslim families exhibit infinitely
more compassion and love than Westerners. They don't send their elderly and
incurably sick to die in nursing institutions. The old and the fatally ill
spend their last days in their family homes, cared for to the end by
relatives. Shame on us. But how come the same men and women can stand on a
rooftop to scream at a woman strangling on a rope?¹]


Arabic News, 4th June

An Iraqi weekly said on Sunday that Iraq has decided to appoint the foreign
ministry secretary Nizar Hamdoun as a new ambassador for Iraq to Austria in
succession to Naji Sabri al-Hadeithi who at the meantime occupies the post
of the minister of state for foreign affairs.

Worthy mentioning that Hamdoun is a diplomat who occupied the post of Iraq's
ambassador in Washington during the 1980 s and he also had the post of
Iraq's permanent representative at the UN in New York before he returned
back to Baghdad.

Al-Hadeithi who was appointed in April this year as a minister of state for
foreign affairs occupied the post of Iraq's ambassador to Austria and Iraq's
representative at the International Agency for Atomic energy.

Times of India, 7th June

CAPE TOWN: A South African relief mission to Iraq will depart on Saturday
and arrive in Iraq to coincide with a visit by Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz
Pahad, Pahad said Wednesday.

"The flight, with about six tonnes of food and medicine, was postponed
several times for logistical and cost reasons," Pahad told journalists in
Cape Town.

"All these have now been finalised and the flight will depart on Saturday
from Johannesburg for Iraq via Oman," he added.

The supplies were collected by the Iraqi Action Committee and other civil
bodies in South Africa to relieve the plight of ordinary Iraqis suffering
under UN sanctions.

It will be the first time South Africa has undertaken a humanitarian flight
to Iraq in the 10 years since the United Nations imposed sanctions on the
country for invading neighbouring Kuwait and refusing to comply with arms

Delegations from at least 15 other UN member-states have completed similar
relief missions, according to the foreign ministry.

The mercy flight is expected to arrive in Iraq when Pahad, who visited
Baghdad in April, is in Iraq following a trip to Russia from June 7 to 9.

Pahad said he would use his visit to get a sense of the Iraqi authority's
response to the continuing debate about the UN sanctions -- currently under
discussion in the UN Security Council.

The Non-Aligned Movement, chaired by South Africa, favours the lifting of
sanctions, he said.

About 100 South Africans will accompany the supplies. (AFP)

Times of India, 8th June

MOSCOW (AFP): Russia and Iraq signed an emergencies prevention agreement
including the exchange of experts and specialist training, the ITAR-TASS
news agency reported.

Russian emergencies minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday to
meet Iraqi officials. On Wednesday, he signed the emergencies pact with
Iraqi interior minister Mahmoud al-Ahmed and announced the opening in July
of a representative office there.

The new emergencies deal will include help in case of emergencies as well as
the exchange of expertise, ITAR-TASS reported.

Shiogu also met Iraqi deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz on Wednesday.


Dawn (Pakistan), 08 June 2001, 15 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1422

KARACHI, June 7: Pakistan emerges on the world wheat export map on Friday
when loading of the first consignment of 35,000 tons begins aboard mv Iran
at Port Qasim. This loading marks the beginning of shipment of 100,000 tons
of wheat to Iraq for which, the Chairman of Trading Corporation of Pakistan
Syed Masood Alam Rizvi said, full arrangements have been made to ensure
"quality and delivery on schedule".

Addressing a press conference in his office on Thursday in presence of
senior executives of TCP, officers of Passco, the official wheat supplying
agency, representatives of the shipping company and the pre-shipment
inspection contractor, Syed Masood Alam Rizvi expressed complete confidence
that Pakistan's 'hard winter' quality wheat would conform to the requirement
set for this staple food by the Iraqi government.

Giving details about the measures adopted for ensuring wheat quality as well
as making it free from foreign elements, he said that mechanical as well as
manual cleaning process and fumigation had been carried out prior to
bringing it to Port Qasim. He said that to ensure insect free cargo another
fumigation of the wheat will be carried out after de-bagging and prior to
bulk loading into the vessel from covered plenths of the port.

The entire process of loading of 35,000 tons of wheat, he said, would take
ten days and this would mean that by June 18, the vessel would be ready to
sail out with first wheat consignment for Baghdad. As per contract with
Iraqi Grain Board the entire contracted wheat of 100,000 tons should be
delivered within 90 days from the date of opening of L/C, therefore, he said
the third and the last consignment of 35,000 tons would be reaching Baghdad
by August 8, 2001.

Consequently, Rizvi said that the second vessel will take berth on a
tentative date of June 23 and leave by July 1, 2001, while the third and the
last ship will come on July 13 and leave by July 23, 2001.

Responding to a question, the chairman TCP said that Pakistani wheat, which
is of "hard milling" quality meets the Iraqi specifications, which demands
28 per cent gluten and 14 per cent moisture. However, he said as per the
contract average gluten of 26 per cent has been allowed by the Iraqi Grain

He lauded the efforts of Passco in arranging and ensuring wheat quality and
also appreciated private sector involvement in the pre-inspection as well as
timely haulage of wheat which carries great significance for the country in
entering in the world wheat market. The chairman TCP indirectly hinted at
the difficulties being faced by Pakistan in the process of entering world
wheat market particularly in the presence of countries like the US, Canada
and Australia in the market of Iraq and Iran.

He said there is a fear that due to proximity Pakistan may capture both the
markets though, he added, it was too difficult for Pakistan to meet huge
requirements of around six to seven million tons of Iran and around 3.5
million tons of Iraq. Briefly speaking on the occasion general manager
Passco Major (R) Muhammad Akram said that special arrangements have been
made at Port Qasim to ensure that wheat quality was maintained in the
process of transportation and loading. He said that already around 20,000
tons of wheat has reached Port Qasim and daily about 150 NLC trucks are
bringing fresh loads from the upcountry to meet the shipping schedule.


People's Daily (China), 5th June

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Monday said improvements in Iraqi
air defenses, aided by foreign powers, had increased the danger that US or
British pilots could be shot down over north Iraq.

US pilots at Turkey's Incirlik air base, nerve center of Operation Northern
Watch flights over the Kurdish enclave, backed up Rumsfeld's comments when
he visited them.

Speaking in Ankara at the start of a week-long European trip, Rumsfeld said
he saw no friction with Turkey over use of Incirlik as a base to enforce the
no-fly zone established in the Kurdish enclave after the 1991 Gulf War.

Operation Northern Watch is a crucial part of US policy in containing Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein. But US defense officials have said privately there
is debate within the Pentagon on whether or not to reduce patrols.


Defense analysts say there is a high risk that eventually a British or US
aircraft could crash in the area as a result of improved Iraqi air defenses
or because of a technical fault.

"We've been very fortunate that we've not had a loss," Rumsfeld told
journalists. "Is it conceivable that there could be one at some point?
Certainly it is possible.

"The risk grows to the extent that other nations assist Iraq in
strengthening its air defense capability."

He spoke of several nations helping Iraq in upgrading Iraqi communications
in defense systems.


When Rumsfeld visited Incirlik in southern Turkey a US pilot at the base
said the threat to flights had increased significantly in the last six

"It is very uncommon to fly a mission and not be fired at," he said. "It is
not a boring environment."

Turkey occupies a special place in Pentagon strategic calculations, situated
as it is on the edge of the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East - a
Western-orientated Muslim country with ties to both Israel and the Arab

Washington has played a central role in winning multi-billion dollar loans
for Turkey to help it out of a financial crisis.

"Turkey is acting very responsibly for security and stability in the
region," Turkish Defence Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu said after meeting

Rumsfeld said a dispute between Turkey and the European Union that threatens
to disrupt plans for an EU defense force appeared close to resolution.

Turkey has demanded full involvement in decision-making over deployment of
NATO resources. The EU was offering consultative rights to the EU candidate


We...feel it is quite close to resolution which, of course, would be a good
thing for NATO and a good thing for Turkey," Rumsfeld said.

He also met Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

Talking to reporters traveling with him, he praised Turkey for supporting UN
sanctions against Baghdad and specifically Northern Watch.

Rumsfeld said the current administration of was debating overall US policy
toward Iraq but that "we don't have any proposals to alter that at the
present time."

The United States and Britain want to ease UN sanctions against Baghdad to
provide more goods for Iraqi civilians while preventing Saddam from
obtaining military aid from abroad and building nuclear, chemical or
biological arms.

"That is not an easy task," Rumsfeld told reporters. "It is a complicated
task and at its best it will be done imperfectly. Even when there were [UN]
inspectors in there it was practically impossible to really monitor
effectively and locate with any high degree of assurance what was going on
because he [Saddam] is clever and he is determined."

Rumsfeld's trip will take him to Ukraine and five other countries. He will
visit US troops in Macedonia and Kosovo and attend regional defence
ministers' meetings in Greece, Belgium and Finland.

CNN, June 5

MACDILL Air Force Base, Florida: U.S.-coalition aircraft fired
precision-guided weapons on an anti-aircraft artillery site in southern
Iraq's no-fly zone Tuesday, in response to recent Iraqi "hostile acts," the
United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) said in a written statement.

The attack, which took place at 3:30 a.m. EDT, comes less than a month after
the last coalition strike in the southern no-fly zone on May 18.

Coalition officials are still assessing the damage, according to the

There was no immediate reaction from Iraq.

The command estimates that Iraq has violated the southern no-fly zone
restrictions more than 160 times, since December 1998.

USCENTCOM also said Iraq has fired on coalition aircraft in more than 900
separate incidents, during the same period.

The U.S. Central Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida is a
division of the Department of Defense, which protects U.S. security
interests in several countries, including Iraq.

Arabic News, 7th June

The British daily " Evening Standard" issued in London on Wednesday said
that the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has got military secrets from the
NATO that might enable him to down American and British planes in the
northern and southern parts of Iraq.

The paper added that a military museum in the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade, at
the meantime, exhibits an undamaged British missile which missed its goal
during the NATO air raids against Serbia. A matter which made it possible
that the Serbs deciphered the missiles and gave the information to the

The paper added that the missile is considered one of the most important
weapons of the NATO and the US in the air raids against Serbia and Iraq.

The paper explained that a photographer has found the missile complete ( all
sets available) recently at the Serbian military museum, but it was noted
that the front of the missile which contains the deciphering equipment was
replaced. A matter which made it possible that the decipher was taken to
another place after testing its sensitive components.


CNN, June 5, 2001

HONG KONG (AP) -- Debate over ending Western sanctions against Iraq should
not eclipse international concern for journalists and others executed,
tortured or otherwise abused by the Iraqi government, a human rights group
said Tuesday.

The Washington-based Human Rights Alliance is leading a campaign by 200
international non-governmental organizations for the establishment of an
international tribunal to try Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for crimes against
humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Iraqi authorities have killed more than 500 journalists and other
intellectuals in the past decade, said the group's director, Bakhtiar Amin.
More than 1,200 live in exile.

In one of the most brutal recent killings, prominent Kurdish scholar Jamil
Rozhbayani, 91, was axed to death in his home in Baghdad on March 26, said
Bakhtiar Amin, who reported on the situation in Iraq to the annual congress
of the World Association of Newspapers, meeting this week in Hong Kong.

Iraqi journalist Najim Al Sa'doun, accused of espionage, died last year at
the age of 83 after 15 years of imprisonment, the Human Rights Alliance

It listed 31 journalists, authors and artists who were detained and tortured
and another four whose fate was unknown. Many others could not be listed out
of fear that their families would face retaliation, the group said.

The alliance fears that debate over whether to ease United Nations sanctions
against Iraq could detract attention from human rights abuses inside the

The United Nations imposed sanctions on weapons and consumer goods as part
of a U.S. led drive to reverse Iraq's annexation of Kuwait in 1990.

The Iraqi government maintains strict control over the media, which is
largely under the jurisdiction of Saddam's eldest son, Uday, who heads a
paramilitary organization as well as the national press union, Amin said.

Uday runs a media empire that includes 11 newspapers out of the country's
35, a television network and a radio station.

A recent report by the international group the Committee to Protect
Journalists described freedom of expression in Iraq as "moribund."

"Newspapers, radio and television were heavily censored," it said. "Any
criticism of Hussein carried moral risks."

Iraq's first Internet cafe opened in July of last year, but it allows access
only to government sanctioned sites. Private ownership of modems, faxes and
satellite dishes is restricted.

The World Association of Newspapers promotes freedom of the press worldwide.
It represents more than 17,000 newspapers and 68 national newspaper


by Robert C. Mcfarlane, Laurie Mylroie
Los Angeles Times, 4th June

After last week's conviction of four followers of Islamic militant Osama bin
Laden in the deadly bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998,
we may be tempted to conclude that our greatest terrorist threat is from a
Saudi renegade rather than the nation of Iraq.

That would be a serious mistake. Here is why.

On June 25, 1996, a 5,000-pound bomb exploded outside the Khobar Towers
residence for American military personnel in Saudi Arabia, which housed the
pilots enforcing the "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq. Nineteen U.S. airmen
died. It was Saudi Arabia's most lethal terrorist bombing, and it occurred
just after an Arab summit ended.

That meeting, the first Arab summit since the Gulf War, was convened because
Saudi Arabia and Syria both wanted Arab support for their special concerns.
Benjamin Netanyahu had just been elected Israeli prime minister, and Syria
wanted a tough Arab line against Israel. The Saudis were worried about Iraq.
Hussein Kamel Majid, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, had defected in August (he
later returned to Iraq and was killed within days), precipitating alarming
revelations about the unconventional weapons Iraq retained in defiance of
the U.N. cease-fire resolution. Iraq was the only Arab state not invited to
the summit, which took a tough line against Baghdad. The summit demanded
that Iraq comply with the U.N. resolutions and held the Iraqi regime
responsible for the suffering of the people under sanctions.

The Iraqi media responded to the summit's final statement by lashing out at
the United States, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Al Thawra, the official
newspaper of the ruling Baath Socialist Party, charged that it "was written
with Arabic letters but with American sentences and phrases paid for by
Saudi and Kuwaiti dirty money." The official Iraqi army paper, Al Qadissiya,
warned, "Before it is too late, the Arabs should rectify the sin they
committed against Iraq when a number of Arab armies joined the 30-state
coalition and participated in the aggression against it." The daily Al Iraq
wrote, "Both agent regimes in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the enemies of the
Arab nation, instigated the Americans, Zionists and smaller agents to strike
at Iraq and destroy it."

In intelligence parlance, that kind of media assault is called a "threat
environment" and is considered a meaningful indicator in regard to
terrorism. Two days after the summit ended, with the Iraqi press still
blasting away, the Khobar Towers bombing occurred.

Who was behind the blast? Wasn't Iraq the most obvious suspect?

Indeed, Wafiq Samarrai, a prominent defector who headed Iraqi military
intelligence during the Gulf War, said that Iraq had formed a special
committee to carry out terrorism, including attacks in Saudi Arabia, near
buildings where U.S. soldiers lived.

Yet in 1996, with elections in November, the Clinton administration had no
interest in fingering Iraq for the Khobar Towers bombing. As a candidate in
1992, Bill Clinton had talked tougher than his opponent, President Bush, on
Iraq, arguing that Hussein should have been overthrown. But as president,
Clinton was much softer, settling on a policy of "containing" Iraq. Even
after Majid's defection, the administration continued to maintain that its
policy was sufficient to deal with the Iraqi threat.

Initially after the Khobar Towers bombing, both the FBI and the CIA leaned
toward the view that the renegade Saudi fundamentalist, Bin Laden--that is,
not a nation-state--was responsible. That was convenient from a U.S.
perspective. If evidence showed that a terrorist state was said to be behind
the bombing, the administration would have been expected to take action. Yet
from the Saudi perspective, it was the worst possible answer. It made the
regime's domestic opponents appear more capable and determined than they
were. That may explain why the Saudi Embassy leaked information from the
interrogation of Saudi Shiites rounded up after the bombing. Under torture,
they acknowledged responsibility and fingered Iran. Most people will say
anything under torture, but the Saudi leak ended speculation that Bin Laden
was responsible.

It is now five years later. Thus far, the U.S. has no policy on Iraq, and
the Saudis have turned to Iran to help them deal with Iraq. Saudi Crown
Prince Abdullah recently rebuffed the Bush administration, turning down its
invitation to visit Washington.

One thing the new administration can do to help clarify matters is to
revisit the bombings in Saudi Arabia. Almost certainly, it will find that
the evidence points toward Iraq and that Hussein remains a far more
dangerous figure than is generally recognized.
- - -
Robert C. Mcfarlane Was National Security Advisor Under President Reagan.
Laurie Mylroie, Author of "Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War
Against America" (Aei Press, 2000), was Bill Clinton's advisor on Iraq
during the 1992 presidential campaign,2669,SAV

by Lisa Anderson
Chicago Tribune, June 5, 2001

NEW YORK -- Seeking to avoid the death sentence for a man convicted in the
1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, defense attorneys Monday cited a
decade of U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq as a source of deep hatred of
America across the Muslim world and as a motivation for the bomber.

Lawyers for Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali, convicted last week of
conspiracy and the killing of 213 people in the attack on the embassy in
Nairobi, called human-rights activist and former Atty. Gen. Ramsey Clark to
testify in the federal trial's penalty phase about the scope of suffering
imposed by the sanctions on the Iraqi people.

A frequent visitor to Iraq over the last 10 years, Clark, 73, also told the
jury that he believed that anyone associated with alleged Saudi terrorist
Osama bin Laden has "little or no chance of getting a fair trial" in the
United States.

Clark testified that on his annual visits to Iraq he had seen a worsening of
conditions among civilians, including an increase of illnesses and deaths
among children and the elderly due to shortages of food, medicine and clean
water. Under questioning from Al-'Owhali attorney David Baugh, Clark said he
blamed Iraq's misery on international sanctions imposed in August 1990.

Al-'Owhali, 24, of Saudi Arabia, was one of four men convicted May 29 of
conspiring with bin Laden in a global campaign to kill Americans. That
campaign included the near simultaneous bombings of the U.S. Embassies in
Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Aug. 7, 1998, that killed 224 people,
including 12 Americans, and injured 4,000 others.

Al-'Owhali and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed of Tanzania, who delivered the bombs
to the Kenyan and Tanzanian embassies respectively, face the death penalty.
Wadih El-Hage of Arlington, Texas, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh of Jordan, who
were convicted of conspiracy, face the possibility of life in prison without

During his testimony, Clark said he met with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in
a futile attempt to avert the Persian Gulf war and then returned to Iraq
during the American-led bombing in 1991. Clark later provided legal
representation in the trial of Egyptian extremist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman,
who was convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and
is serving a life sentence in prison.

Most recently, Clark told the jury, he filed an affidavit in a British court
in the case of Khalid Al Fawwaz, an associate of bin Laden charged in the
bombings, who is fighting extradition to the U.S.

In that affidavit, Clark said, he told the British court that he felt there
was insufficient probing for prejudice among prospective jurors in the
Rahman trial and that "20 years of anti-Arab sentiment" in the U.S.
precluded the possibility of a fair trial for such defendants.

Asst. U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, who also prosecuted the World Trade
Center bombing case, vigorously challenged Clark's depiction of the
questioning of prospective jurors in the Rahman case. Fitzgerald recently
was named by Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) as his choice to be the next
U.S. attorney in the Chicago area.

When asked by Baugh if he had had occasion to criticize the U.S. government
over the years, Clark acknowledged that he had. "I believe if you love your
country, that's your duty," said Clark, who served as attorney general under
President Lyndon Johnson.

Al-'Owhali's proceeding, which is expected to go to the jury later this
week, is the first death penalty case to be heard in a Manhattan federal
court since 1957.

by Salim Vally and Patrick Bond
The Mail&Guardian (South Africa), June 5, 2001

United States Secretary of State Colin Powell was forced to spend an extra
hour hemmed in on campus by demonstrators, learning why the US is now widely
regarded as the world's main rogue state. Wits students engaged in
non-violent civil disobedience and blocked the US delegation's exit. For
their trouble, security forces roughed up students David Masondo and Nick
Dieltens, who both received nasty facial and head wounds.

Throughout the day, members of Powell's security entourage patrolled the
campus, on occasion ripping down posters critical of US foreign policy. A
student was also "requested" to cover up his Che Guevara T-shirt because it
was deemed "offensive".

This arrogance and coercion seems to have been the trend throughout Powell's
tour of Africa. Aids activists in Kenya say they were prevented by US
officials from unfurling a banner that read: "Put lives before profit."
Nevertheless, in spite of Powell's militaristic buffer, the message got
through: while he may have a respectful audience in Pretoria (and in banal
Sunday Times coverage), he's more often considered, as a sign said: "The
Butcher of Baghdad."

It was appropriate that the Bush administration's envoy received such an
inhospitable welcome for several reasons. Firstly, Powell is personally
responsible for an attempted cover-up of the horrific 1968 My Lai massacre
of women and children by US forces in Vietnam; for participating in the
mid-1980s cover-up of the Iran-contra Arms Scandal; and for covering up and
downplaying 1991 "Gulf War syndrome" diseases and violations of the Geneva
Convention associated with the mass slaughter of retreating Iraqi troops.

Secondly, Powell's responsibilities for human rights violations continue,

‹ Washington's coddling of the apartheid state of Israel, which with US
financial and military support is killing hundreds of Palestinians.
‹ The illegal blockade of Cuba, in the wake of at least 17 CIA assassination
attempts on Fidel Castro.
‹ A $1,5-billion escalation of an alleged "drugs war" in Colombia, which in
reality is merely another failing counterinsurgency in the tradition of
Indochina, Central America and Southern Africa.

Thirdly, there are other features of the Bush administration's disregard for
the rest of the planet's citizens that Powell should have answered for:

‹ The refusal to honour more than $1-billion in United Nations dues.
‹ The retreat from international efforts to curb illicit money laundering.
‹ The rejection of obligations to stop trashing the environment through the
Kyoto Protocol on carbon dioxide emissions.
‹ Massive military expenditure in the form of the "Star Wars" missile
defence programme.
‹ A new attack by the US Office of the Trade Representative on Brazil's
ability to produce anti-retroviral generic drugs to combat HIV/Aids.
‹ The recent refusal by Washington to fund organisations that provide family
planning and abortion services in the Third World.
‹ Sabotage of Korean peace talks.
‹ The nomination of men with appalling human rights records to the United
Nations and Organisation of American States.
‹ Insistence on Third World countries' repayment of illegitimate foreign
debt to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
‹ Ongoing demand that other countries adopt the World Bank and IMF
free-market "structural adjustment", which cut the living standards of
Africans while promoting transnational corporate and banking interests.
‹ Continuation of the extremist trade liberalisation process of the World
Trade Organisation and African Growth and Opportunity Act, while
hypocritically retaining protectionist tariffs at home.
No one should really be surprised at the aggressive record of the Bush
regime in these vital areas, though, given its origins in a banana-republic
election in Florida. Thanks to Governor Jeb Bush and five white Supreme
Court judges, African-American voters were blatantly disenfranchised. Though
Powell is black, he serves alongside people who have promoted apartheid and
repression of Africans. Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, voted in
favour of keeping Nelson Mandela in prison and against anti-apartheid
sanctions in the US Congress during the 1980s. As the CEO of the oil
services company Haliburton during the 1990s, Cheney sustained the Sani
Abacha regime in Nigeria. And while the Middle East, Colombia and Cuba are
just three current sites of US aggression, our region knows Washington's
history of meddling all too well:

‹ The CIA's decades-long support of the apartheid regime.
‹ Encouragement of Pretoria's invasion of Angola in 1975.
‹ US patronage of Renamo's war in Mozambique.
‹ Ronald Reagan's "constructive engagement" policy, which prolonged
apartheid's life during the 1980s.
During his term as US president, Bill Clinton apologised to the people of
Central America for America's record of malign intervention, and Powell
should have done the same while here.

The critique of US foreign policy may be loudest when students protest, but
it behoves the Department of Foreign Affairs to consider why Washington's
international illegitimacy was confirmed by the US's own peers in the UN.
Over the past few weeks the US was stripped of its seats on the UN Human
Rights Commission and UN international drug monitoring board. Human rights
activists across the world celebrate the growing rejection of the world's
most dangerous rogue nation, including its main foreign policy
representative, Powell.

Will a US delegation return to Johannesburg next September for more evidence
of international opposition to Washington's multifaceted war on the planet
at the Rio+10 Summit on Sustainable Development?

Salim Vally and Patrick Bond are Wits staff members. Bond is the author of
the forthcoming book Against Global Apartheid

Independent, 6th June 2001

Why, I ask myself, am I spending more time than ever - in 25 years covering
the Middle East - cataloguing the barbarity, torture, hangings,
head-choppings and human rights abuses of the region? No, I'm not talking
about Israel's death squads, its vile torture apparatus at the Russian
compound in Jerusalem and its shoot-to-kill army, some units of which are
turning into an indisciplined rabble. I'm talking about the blind, cruel,
vindictive Muslim regimes of the Middle East; because I'm beginning to ask
myself if there isn't something uniquely terrible about the way they treat
their people, the way they kill their people, the way they abuse them and
flog them and string them up.

Let's start low-key. Last month, an Egyptian court sentenced Saadeddin
Ibrahim, the Cairo intellectual and human-rights campaigner, to seven years
in prison for spreading "false reports" abroad about electoral fraud and
religious persecution and for receiving illegal foreign donations. Now I
happen to know Saadeddin. He is a palpably honest, decent man. At his
hearing - in a state security court, for heaven's sake - every charge
against him was disproved with documentary evidence. The so-called "foreign
donations" came - again, don't gasp - from the European Union. But he got
seven years.

Now let's go to the other end of horror. The scene is the Tehran suburb of
Khak e-Sefid on 19 March this year. A young woman called Fariba Tajiani
Emamqoli has been sentenced to death for drug-trafficking, along with four
other men. She is led out in front of a baying crowd, blindfolded and
manacled, begging desperately for her life. But senior police officers
ignore her. Along with her four male companions, 30-year-old Fariba is
strung up from one of five cranes and spends 10 minutes choking to death
before a crowd of 500 people - along with others who had gathered to watch
from their rooftops - who shriek "death to dealers" as her body sways above
the streets.

Down in Saudi Arabia, where public execution is a fine art, they're well on
their way to meeting last year's rich crop of 113 public beheadings. A week
ago, three Saudis - Sotam al Dhouibi, Majid al-Dahiri and Hamad al-Matiri -
were beheaded with a sword in Qassim province for theft and male rape.
Guilty or not - and the kingdom's trials are a mockery of justice - our
friends the Saudis are second only to the merciless Saddam when it comes to
butchering their people in public. Then there's the other refinement of
Saudi sadism: "cross amputation" (the chopping off of right hand and left
foot for supposed crimes), a cruelty visited upon seven men, three of them
Nigerian, in the first half of last year.

Yes of course, Saddam still tops the cruelty league - women are hanged on
Tuesdays (with Thursdays as an optional extra if the hangman is too busy the
previous Tuesday) in Baghdad. And Saddam prefers to do most of his massacres
in private. The Syrians do their hanging in private and only now are the
political prisons beginning to open. One of their most recent liberations
was that of a journalist who had spent 30 years in a dungeon. Even little
Lebanon is now accused by Amnesty International of the increasing use of
torture, with one report recording the use of the back-breaking "German
chair" - a filthy instrument originally perfected by the East Germans in
Damascus - on victims.

What does it represent, this behaviour by the states of the Middle East?
Yes, I know the Americans are poisoning, frying or shooting their condemned
prisoners at a ferocious rate. And of course, I know about "sharia" law.
I've heard more than I want to know about its severity. But what about the
mercy and compassion that are among the first words of the Koran? In Arab
and Iranian homes, Muslim families exhibit infinitely more compassion and
love than Westerners. They don't send their elderly and incurably sick to
die in nursing institutions. The old and the fatally ill spend their last
days in their family homes, cared for to the end by relatives. Shame on us.
But how come the same men and women can stand on a rooftop to scream at a
woman strangling on a rope?

Chibli Mallat, a prominent member of the anti-death penalty commission in
Lebanon, dismisses the idea that brutality in the region is rooted in the
"soul of the people", even though Hajaj ben Youssis, the ancient ruler of
Baghdad, wrote about "pure power", a tradition that Saddam has followed. And
Yasser Arafat - the "super-terrorist" who became a "super-statesman" and is
about to be turned into a "super-terrorist" again - certainly learnt Ben
Youssis's principles when he needed them. When Arafat had a collaborator,
Alanbadi Odeh, publicly shot in Nablus on 13 January this year, there were
the usual delighted shouts from a mob of Palestinians that "God is great" to
send the man on his way to eternity.

Chibli doesn't think this is endemic. "I think we lost a lot of our
liberalism in the 1930s under colonialism because the (British and French)
mandatory powers distorted the meaning of democracy," he says. "In Syria and
Egypt, the decent, democratic liberals couldn't get into government. So
people learned that they had to use the 'putsch'. And so, after the colonial
powers, we got dictators. And they want power. Today, one of our Lebanese
judges, Hassan Kawas, has become revolted by judicial killings. He's against
them now. We want to put our compassion into legal means to end this. But we
are blocked by governments that want strong power."

I wonder about this. I wonder not so much about power but about the dark,
undocumented complicity of dictators with their people. The Palestinian mob
that screamed with joy at Odeh's execution loved Arafat. When Tunisia
targets its human-rights defenders, the people are silent. When human-rights
groups are put on trial in Morocco, the people are silent. Lebanon, which is
not a dictatorship and hosts tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees, has
reportedly sent 300 asylum-seekers back to their countries of origin in the
past nine months, including an Iraqi, Ammar Kazim Shams, who was recognised
as a refugee by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Jordan
currently wants to send Abdul al Ridha al-Ibrahimi, an Iraqi army deserter -
whose family have already been tormented by Saddam's thugs - back to
Baghdad. If they do, say goodbye to Mr Al-Ibrahimi.

And so it goes on. And for the most part - unless it happens to involve
Saddam - the Americans and British and French, those supposed upholders of
human rights, stay silent. Why? But even more to the point, how did the
Muslim Middle East produce this cruelty? Meanwhile, before you go, just one
more execution. A 35-year-old Iranian woman was stoned to death in a Tehran
jail this month for allegedly acting in obscene films. But not to worry. She
was buried up to her shoulders for execution so the stones could not touch
her breasts. And only the prison guards watched.
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