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News, 1723/6/01, part 1 Another bunch of news that is out of date owing to my travels. CONTENTS: SMART SANCTIONSı * Jordan in plea against revamped Iraq sanctions * Ex-UN officials attack U.S.-British plan on Iraq [Halliday and Von Sponeck. Includes the interesting comment that it is mainly money from outside the Oil for Food scheme, ie illegalı money, which is being used to begin the process of getting people back to workı] * Syria does not accept monitors to Iraq sanctions * Mubarak receives Iraqi Envoy * France Offers Iraq Sanctions Deal COMPENSATION FUND * Israel to Get $74M for Attack [Turkey only got $1,800, Syria got nothing. Talk about selling your soul for a mess of pottage] * UN pays $243m for Gulf War environment studies [so that yet more claims can be made, the aim being to cripple the Iraqi economy indefinitely] NO FLY ZONES * U.S. pilots face more fire from Iraqi guns * U.S. denies Iraqi report of air raid that killed 23 * For US fliers over Iraq, danger rises * Pentagon Claims Iraq Responsible for 23 Deaths * Missile Fragments Collected in Iraq [by Voicesı representatives] IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * A free trade zone between UAE, Iraq * Al-Assad issues a decree to found a Syrian trade center in Iraq * US blames Iran for Saudi bombing AND, SENT SEPARATELY IN NEWS PART 2: IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * NASYO [Malaysian youth organisation PB] Calls For A Total Lifting Of UN Sanctions Against Iraq * Iraq Wants To Buy Palm Oil Direct From Malaysia * Canada in tough at world under-20 soccer championship with Iraq first foe [Iraq won PB] * Bula [Irish oil company whose chairman is former Irish PM, Albert Reynolds] says it has not signed Iraq deal * Wengi To Hear Iraq Case [about money owed to Iraq by Uganda from Idi Amin era] * South Africa to Rescue of Iraqis [on recent humanitarian plane from South Africa and underlying diplomacy. Contains a rather naive reference to domestic and foreign pressureı on Iraq for a more open economy and societyı. I canıt see that anyone is exercising any such pressure on Iraq at the present time. The only thing the International Communityı seems to care about is that somehow S.Hussein should disappear in a puff of smoke] * All Indian wheat shipments to Iraq stopped [because it is full of weevils, apparently because UN rules require that it should be opened and inspected, thus undoing the work of fumigation] * Malaysia knocking on Iraq's door [general article on pro-Iraqi policy adopted by Malaysia] * French Senators Call for Lifting UN Embargo on Iraq INSIDE IRAQ * Book-Starved in a Land With a Literate Past [short extract from an interesting article on general state of literature in Arab world] * Saddam in warning to 'wasteful' women * Iraq says drug industry hit by lack of materials WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION * Iraq got around sanctions, reports say [more leaks from the old weapons inspection team suitable for creating paranoia and keeping them all in employment] * Iraq Calls U.N. Reports Lies [though it would be rather surprising if the Iraqi government hadnıt been smuggling in the means to defend themselves during the nineties] * Iraq close to building nukes - defector [Dr Khidhir Hamza again. Well, a manıs got to make a living. And it doesnıt seem that the former head of Iraq's nuclear weapons programı is good enough to get a job in the American nuclear industry] OIL PROBLEMS * Iraq unaware of possible changes in UN oil pricing * No Opec output rise if Iraq oil back soon: Iran [note that I havenıt been bothering with the large number of articles saying that oil is going up, or down, or whatever, as a consequence of Iraqi policy, or not, because I canıt make any sense of them and so canıt tell whatıs important and what isnıt] US POLICY * Time for Realism On Handling Iraq [surprisingly sensible article from the Washington Post recommending the lifting of sanctions and suggesting that carefully fostered US public perceptions are the main obstacle to progress: While Saddam Hussein is portrayed here as one of the greatest threats to world peace, the rest of the world sees him as a ruthless dictator who is neither powerful enough to pose such a threat nor so suicidal as to be immune to military deterrence.ı]SMART SANCTIONSı http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=19910 * JORDAN IN PLEA AGAINST REVAMPED IRAQ SANCTIONS United Nations, Reuters, 16th June: Jordan appealed to the UN Security Council yesterday not to enact a new U.S.-British plan to revamp sanctions against Iraq, saying Jordan's economy might collapse otherwise. "The effect on the macroeconomic performance cannot be over-exaggerated," said Prime Minister Ali Abu Al Ragheb in a memorandum to Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the council. At issue is a draft resolution that would ease sanctions on civilian imports to Iraq, ban military materials and draw up a lengthy list of goods for review of items that could have military and civilian uses. The resolution also seeks to stop smuggling, worth about $1 billion a year, among Iraq's neighbours and have the monies paid to a separate account rather than to Baghdad directly. But details were left vague, including how the neighbours might be compensated, leaving it to Annan to devise a system. One council diplomat said the Jordanian letter had to be considered "very seriously" but did not say if this would alter the negotiations. Iraq fears the new proposals would solidify rather than ease the sanctions, imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. It cut off oil supplies on June 4 in protest against the resolution. It has also threatened to cut oil exports to its neighbours, including Jordan and Turkey, if they cooperated with the new plan, should the council approve it. The Security Council had turned a blind eye to Iraqi oil exports to Jordan, but Al Ragheb's letter revealed how extensive Jordan's trade was with Iraq. He said Jordan not only imported $750 million worth of oil a year from Iraq but exported a wide range of goods and services to Baghdad, its largest trading partner. Much of the trade is through barter, he said. "In other words, 37 per cent of all Jordanian industrial companies are depending on Iraq," Al Ragheb said. If this trade were stopped or reduced, he said there would be a "recessionary impact" on Jordanian industry, transportation, construction, banking and other sectors. Al Ragheb said Iraq had amassed more than $1.3 billion in debts to Jordan, which were gradually being paid. He also said any interruption in current arrangements would have an impact on 300,000 Iraqi nationals who have found jobs in Jordan. The Jordanian prime minister noted that the political consequences of the proposed change in the sanctions were as serious as the economic ones, particularly in view of the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza. "Repeated calls for solidarity with Iraqi and Palestinian people and the broadening base of support for Iraq and radical Palestinian organisations are direct results of regional tensions," Al Ragheb said. These pressures would be aggravated if Jordan's economy suffered as a result of a change in the sanctions, he said. The council is working towards a self-imposed deadline of July 3 to adopt the new resolution. Russia, Iraq's closest ally on the council, has signaled its objections to the concept. Unclear, however, is whether Russia would use its veto power to kill the measure or abstain, letting it go through should it be put to a vote. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=20088 * EX-UN OFFICIALS ATTACK U.S.-BRITISH PLAN ON IRAQ Baghdad, Reuters, 18th June Two former United Nations officials yesterday condemned a U.S.-British proposal to revamp 11-year-old UN sanctions on Baghdad as a move which amounted to increased punishment for the Iraqi people. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who have both headed the UN humanitarian programme or oil-for-food deal, told reporters the proposed "smart" sanctions were designed to extend an embargo imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. "They (smart sanctions) are intended to create an open-ended opportunity to sustain an embargo," said Halliday, who quit as head of the oil-for-food programme in 1998 and has since been a vocal critic of the sanctions. "We have very carefully studied the draft resolution. We find it a provocation and an intensified punishment of a people for a crime they have never committed," said von Sponeck, a German career UN official. He resigned from the same post last year, criticising the sanctions' effects on ordinary Iraqis. The UN Security Council is debating an Anglo-American draft resolution that would ease sanctions on civilian imports to Iraq and tighten the ban on military goods. The council is working towards a self-imposed deadline of July 3 to adopt the new resolution. Russia, Iraq's closest ally in the Security Council, has signalled its objections. The resolution also seeks to stop smuggling, worth about $1 billion a year, and have the monies paid to a separate account rather than to Baghdad directly. "If the Americans and the British were able to close down (Iraq's) borders with Turkey, Syria and Jordan, that will deny Iraq a source of hard currency outside the so-called oil-for- food programme. And it is that extra money which is being used to begin the process of getting people back to work," Halliday said. Iraq sells oil to neighbouring Jordan, Syria and Turkey outside the oil-for-food deal, providing funds directly to Baghdad. Iraqi sales under the oil pact go to a UN escrow account to pay for food, medicine and other humanitarian needs. Baghdad fears the new proposals would solidify rather than ease the sanctions. It cut off oil supplies on June 4 in protest and threatened to stop selling oil to its neighbours if they cooperated with the new plan. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on June 14, Jordan appealed to the Security Council to drop plans to overhaul sanctions, saying its economy would be devastated if trade was halted. Iraqi media said Syria had also voiced its concern over the new resolution in a letter to Annan. Turkey last week sent its foreign ministry under-secretary to Baghdad, where he was told by Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz that Ankara would suffer severe consequences if it implemented the new resolution. Halliday and von Sponeck accused Washington and London of misleading public opinion by saying the new proposals would ease the plight of the Iraqi people. "We see headlines in the media in London saying 'sanctions have been lifted on Iraq' but this, of course, is simply not true," Halliday said. Both former UN officials are touring countries lobbying for an end to the sanctions. "Only a full lifting of economic sanctions will let Iraqis have a chance to live a normal life again," von Sponeck said. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010618/2001061803.html * SYRIA DOES NOT ACCEPT MONITORS TO IRAQ SANCTIONS Arabic News, 18th June Diplomatic sources in Damascus told the London- based al-Hayat daily issued on Sunday that Syria is very worried from the existence of UN observers to monitor the new sanctions system against Iraq and sees in that as a violation to the Syrian sovereignty on its own territories that it can not accept. The sources added that Syria will not accept to increase the suffering of the Iraqi people while it is concerned with lifting these sanctions, especially at this period of Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people, besides the Iraqi market has become very important for the Syrian economy and that there are economic problems in Syria that can be solved through consolidating trade relations with Iraq. The paper indicated that the observers expect the question of the sanctions to be among the files which President Bashar al-Assad will discuss with the French President Jacques Chirac during his visit to Paris scheduled on June 25. Al-Hayat noted the possibility that an agreement will be signed with the French Elf Aketin company to erect a new oil pipeline from Iraq to Syria in the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010619/2001061946.html * MUBARAK RECEIVES IRAQI ENVOY Arabic News, 19th June The Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Monday morning received at the Presidential palace Iraqi Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Hikmat Ibrahim. The meeting was attended by Iraqi charge d'affaires in Cairo Hamam E1 Aloussi. Speaking to the press after the meeting, Hikmat Ibrahim said he came to Egypt as an envoy of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to brief the president on the latest developments on the so-called "smart sanctions", its dimensions and direct impact on Iraqi-Arab relations in general and Iraqi-Egyptian ties in particular. >From the outside, the Anglo-American project seems ostensibly containing some points that are in favour of the Iraqi people because it speaks about easing measures to enable Iraq import commodities and goods from the outside world, he said. Iraq's trade dealings with its neighbors should take place through the UN, but reality shows the US influence the UN and consequently, Washington has the upper hand in carrying out this project, he added. This project puts the Iraqi civil aviation under control and inspection as each plane heading for Iraq should first land on neighboring borders and be subject to inspection in search for commodities that might be banned, he said. Revenues of Iraqi aviation are then to go to a UN-supervised fund, he added. "Iraq rejected this project because it would be an infringement of its dignity and sovereignty,and it is a new colonialist formula. The entire region is now in great danger because of the energy sources Israel owns," Ibrahim said. Asked whether Iraq will work anew as part of the UN oil-for food programme, he said the programme was usually extended for six months but this time the UN extended it only for one month in a bid to force Iraq to agree on the British-American-proposed smart sanctions regime. That why we announced our approval to extend the programme for six months but under new terms, he added. Whether Iraq will accept lifting the UN sanctions and tight control on its armament process, he said the previous resolutions used to organize the armament process but now the US is trying to suffocate Iraq even more. About the impact of the new sanctions regime on the Iraqi Arab relations, he said "Arab countries exactly feel what we feel." Though the US is trying to insinuate that there are some countries that supported new sanctions regime, the official Arab stance is in general against this regime." Concerning whether the Saudi-Iraqi dispute over the oil pipeline was contained, he said this issue is about the Iraqi oil pipeline passing through Saudi lands. "This project was set up in accordance to a definite contract signed between the two sides,and they should sit together to discuss the contract," he added. The United Nations Security Council decided on June 1 to extend the oil-for-food programme for one month to end on July 3. Russia and China have been insisting earlier to extend the programme for six months, but the UNSC failed to take such a decision in the current phase. As regards the Kuwaiti prisoners of war held in Iraq, Hekmat Ibrahim said that this issue is a controversial one, adding there are still more important issues such as Iraqi borders with Kuwait and recognizing the state of Kuwait. Moreover, Prime Minister Atef Ebeid Monday received Hekmat Ibrahim, who is now visiting in Cairo. "The talks dealt with Egypt's stance that rejects maintaining the international blockade imposed on Iraq," said the Iraqi official after the meeting. In reply to a question about the volume of trade between Egypt and Iraq after carrying out the oil-for-food memorandum of understanding , Ibrahim said that it hits now $ 2.5 billion. The figure will rise high after ratifying the free trade area between the two sides, he pointed out. Ibrahim denounced the Security Council resolution on extending the oil-for-food programme for only one month instead of six months. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010621/wl/un_iraq_4.html * FRANCE OFFERS IRAQ SANCTIONS DEAL by Edith M. Lederer, Writer UNITED NATIONS (Associated Press, 21st June) - In an apparent effort to build consensus for an overhaul of sanctions on Iraq, France renewed its support for foreign investment in the country and proposed only limited interference in Baghdad's trade arrangements with its neighbors. A new French proposal circulated to Security Council members Wednesday reiterated France's initial call for allowing foreign companies to invest in Iraq's civilian sectors, singling out the country's ailing oil industry. The move appeared aimed at winning Iraq's support for a controversial sanctions overhaul. But Britain and the United States continue to oppose direct foreign investment in Iraq's economy. A new draft British resolution, also circulated to council members Wednesday, would allow foreign companies only to provide services to Iraq's civilian sectors, such as agriculture, education and health care. British and U.S. diplomats insist that their countries will only allow foreign investment in Iraq if it cooperates with U.N. weapons inspectors. Sanctions imposed by the Security Council after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that the country's programs to build weapons of mass destruction have been dismantled. But Iraq has barred U.N. inspectors for 21/2 years, demanding instead that sanctions be lifted unconditionally. Baghdad maintains it has fulfilled all the U.N. resolutions. Norway, head of the U.N. sanctions committee, rebuffed an Iraqi plea for an end to the sanctions on Wednesday, insisting Baghdad bow to international demands. Deputy Iraqi Foreign Minister Nizar Hamdoon met with his Norwegian counterpart Raymond Johansen in Oslo, but a two-hour working lunch produced no new concessions. ``No one will take the first step and that must be Iraq now, which must allow access to weapons inspectors,'' Johansen said. Hamdoon said Iraq has no intention of giving in, adding: ``We have lost faith in the security council.'' The British plan, backed by the United States and first submitted May 22, would lift most restrictions on civilian goods entering Iraq while tightening enforcement of the arms embargo and plugging up lucrative Iraqi smuggling routes. Iraq's main objection to the British proposal is that it would bring under U.N. control its flourishing trade in oil and other commodities with its neighbors. Iraq exports oil at a highly discounted price to Jordan under a special U.N.-approved arrangement, and illegally ships hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of oil and petroleum products to neighboring Syria and Turkey, reportedly earning $1 billion a year. Iraq halted its U.N.-monitored oil exports June 4 to protest the proposed British plan and has warned its neighbors that it would stop their supplies if they cooperate with it. The three neighbors have expressed deep concern about the British draft. The French proposal makes clear that Paris wants the existing trade arrangements between Iraq and Jordan kept largely intact, and asks Secretary-General Kofi Annan to prepare recommendations ``in close cooperation'' with the neighbors. The revised British draft would leave it up to Annan to consult the neighbors on trading arrangements, a more watered down version of its original proposal. The three neighboring countries are unlikely to agree to any new arrangement. COMPENSATION FUND http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010621/wl/un_iraq_compensation_1.html * ISRAEL TO GET $74M FOR ATTACK by Alexander G. Higgins GENEVA (Associated Press, 21st June) - Israel will receive $74 million in compensation for costs incurred in Iraqi Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War, but a U.N. panel rejected most of a $1 billion military-related claim. ``The commission very early decided that military costs of participating in the Desert Storm operation would not be compensated, but a number of member states went ahead in spite of this,'' U.N. Compensation Commission spokesman Joe Sills said Thursday. The commission, charged with making payments to victims of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the resulting Gulf War, received a total of $8.58 billion in claims from Israel, Germany, Turkey and Syria, but only awarded approximately $79 million in compensation, Sills said. Sills did not go into detail about what was rejected, but commission documents showed many of the successful claims involved costs of evacuating civilians. The commission also agreed to cover damage to diplomatic buildings, the documents showed. Germany submitted claims for $130 million and was awarded $5 million. Turkey asked for $3.3 billion, but was granted only $1,800 for property losses. Syria submitted claims for $3.8 billion, but none of its claims were approved, Sills said. The awards are funded through the U.N. oil-for-food program. The compensation fund receives 25 percent of the revenue Iraq earns through the sale of oil. Because of Iraq's refusal to sell oil under the U.N.-imposed conditions, no further funds are being added to the commission's reserves, but it still has $503 million available, Sills said. The panel also decided to let Iraq have up to $5 million to hire consultants to defend against environmental claims. The agreement, which initially had been opposed by the United States, was worked out on a political level in the U.N. Security Council in New York, Sills said. The commission is made up of representatives of the 15 Security Council members. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=20393 * UN PAYS $243M FOR GULF WAR ENVIRONMENT STUDIES Geneva, Reuters, 22nd June The United Nations' Gulf War reparations body yesterday announced it would pay $243.3 million to five Middle Eastern countries to fund studies on damage to the environment and public health caused by Iraq. Overcoming initial United States objections, the Geneva-based fund also agreed to provide up to $5 million for Iraq to prepare its defence against the claims, officials said. It is the first time Iraq has been given funds for technical assistance. The move comes amid British and U.S. attempts in the UN Security Council to revamp sanctions against Baghdad to ease the impact on civilians. Neighbouring states have filed a total of $46 billion worth of environmental claims against Iraq for damage due directly to its 1990 invasion and seven-month occupation of Kuwait. Iraqi troops fleeing a U.S.-led military coalition set fire to oil wells which spewed out pollution and took months to put out. The UN Compensation Commission (UNCC), which is handling a total of $300 billion in claims, has already awarded nearly $17 billion to Kuwait for damaged oil wells. The UNCC's Governing Council, the executive body, is made up of the same 15 states that sit on the UN Security Council. At its three-day session, the UNCC Council approved another $599 million in assorted claims by individuals, companies and governments - part of the ongoing process of reparations imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War. Payments included $74 million to Israel for damage caused by Scud missiles, officials said. The five "front line" states - Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan and Syria - were awarded $243.3 million to carry out the environmental studies. Turkey's claim was rejected. "The studies will bring forward information about the extent of environmental damage and public health damage," UNCC spokesman Joe Sills told a news briefing. The awards, to be paid in the next weeks, are: Saudi Arabia $109.6 million; Kuwait $108.9 million; Iran $17 million; Jordan $7.1 million and Syria $700,000. The funding for Iraq's defence was awarded after pressure by Russia and France, both highly critical of current international sanctions against Baghdad. "This was clearly a difficult political matter...because the U.S. publicly said initially that they opposed any funding being made available and I think some other members had reservations," Sills said. However, a U.S. spokesman in Geneva said Washington was "satisfied" with the assistance to Iraq. Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Samir Al Nima, had urged the Governing Council to reject funding the studies but to contribute $20 million to Iraq's defence. The fund currently receives 25 per cent of the revenue generated by the UN oil-for-food deal, which allows Iraq to use other proceeds from strictly controlled oil sales to buy humanitarian supplies. Iraq halted its oil exports under the programme on June 4 in protest at the Security Council extending the pact for only one month instead of the usual six so as to ponder new sanctions. NO FLY ZONES http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV 0106190188,FF.html * U.S. PILOTS FACE MORE FIRE FROM IRAQI GUNS by Louis Meixler Chicago Tribune, June 19, 2001 INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (Associated Press) -- U.S. fighter pilots are shooting back less despite taking more anti-aircraft fire while patrolling northern Iraq, leading to concerns among aviators of Saddam Hussein scoring an enormous propaganda victory if an American plane is downed and to questions in Washington about the value of the decade-old mission. Iraqi gunners are opening fire almost every day, said U.S. pilots, and experts say Hussein has beefed up his missile forces with Chinese and possibly Yugoslav help. Since January, U.S. warplanes patrolling a no-fly zone over northern Iraq struck at targets just seven times, while Iraq opened fire on the aircraft 48 times. In 2000, the United States struck 47 times. The dangers and the estimated $1 billion cost have led officials in Washington to question a mission that has sent more than 200,000 flights over Iraq during the past decade. Hussein "is doing everything he can to shoot us down," said Col. Maury Forsyth, the U.S. officer who draws up the allied flight plans for the no-fly zone. He spoke from his concrete command bunker in Incirlik air base in southern Turkey. Forsyth said the Iraqis have been shooting at allied warplanes during his 22 months in command of the aircraft. Some suspect Hussein has been hiding some of the anti-aircraft guns in civilian areas. "I prefer to ... stay away rather than endanger the civilian population," Forsyth said. Experts say Iraq apparently hired Chinese workers to install fiber-optic cables to link its radar systems -- an allegation noted by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on a visit to Incirlik this month but denied by the Chinese government. Though the surveillance radar is outside the no-fly zone, the network gives Iraqi commanders an overall picture of the allied flights and help them direct anti-aircraft fire. Other reports say Slobodan Milosevic, then president of Yugoslavia, dispatched air defense experts to advise the Iraqis on how to improve their anti-aircraft capabilities. The no-fly zone was set up in 1991 after the Persian Gulf war to protect rebellious Iraqi Kurds from Hussein's forces. A similar zone was set up over southern Iraq a year later and is also patrolled by U.S. and British aircraft. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/front/948556 June 20, 2001, 1:52PM * U.S. DENIES IRAQI REPORT OF AIR RAID THAT KILLED 23 Houston Chronicle [?], 20th June BAGHDAD, Iraq, Associated Press: Iraq's state-run television claimed today that a U.S. British airstrike killed 23 people during a soccer game, and showed children reportedly injured in the attack. U.S. and British officials said the claims were false propaganda. The Iraqi News Agency said allied planes attacked Tall Afar, 275 miles northwest of Baghdad, the capital. It did not say when, but said the victims were buried today. It said 11 other people were injured. Iraqi state-run television quoted an unidentified doctor who treated people at Tall Afat Hospital saying the attack was Tuesday. The television report quoted the doctor as saying four members of one family were killed and some of the injured were in a serious condition. "I saw three planes attack the soccer field at 11:30 a.m.," an unidentified man told the station. An injured child, Amar Hameed, 5, said on television that he was watching the soccer game when a missile fell on the field. He reportedly had burns and fractures. Television footage showed several injured children in a hospital, reportedly wounded during the American-British raid in Iraq's north. "America and its ally, Britain, have committed a new, ugly crime that will be added to the record of their heinous crimes against Iraq," the Iraqi News Agency said. "The people of Tall Afar buried today the martyrs amid shouts of anger and condemnation against this crime." Allied aircraft patrol the skies over southern and northern Iraq, zones established after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Shiite Muslim rebels in the south and Kurds in the north from Saddam Hussein's forces. Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zones and has challenged allied aircraft since December 1998. In Washington, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said of the Iraqi charges: "There's no substance, nothing at all to those claims." Maj. Ed Loomis, public affairs officer for the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, denied such a hit could have come Tuesday. "We did fly yesterday, conducting routine enforcement of the no-fly zone," Loomis said. "Our aircraft completed their mission without dropping any ordnance and returned safely to their bases. ... The Iraqi allegations are absolutely false." Britain's Ministry of Defense said American and British planes were fired on by Iraqi ground forces while patrolling Tuesday and today, but did not respond either day. "This is yet another example of Iraqi propaganda," a ministry statement said. "Saddam regularly claims that we have killed civilians or destroyed civilian infrastructure on days when we have not dropped ordnance -- and even when we have not flown patrols over the no-fly zones." British and American jets enforcing the no-fly zone over northern Iraq are based in Turkey. A spokesman for U.S. forces at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, home base for the planes that fly over northern Iraq, denied anything was bombed today. "We flew today, but we did not ... drop anything," said Maj. Scott Vadnais. The Iraqi television report also showed hundreds of people and government officials attending funerals, with people shouting "we will protect our leader with our souls" and "America is the enemy of the world's people." http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/171/nation/For_US_fliers_over_Iraq_danger_ rises+.shtml * FOR US FLIERS OVER IRAQ, DANGER RISES by Louis Meixler, Associated Press Boston Globe, 20th June NORTH OF THE TURKISH-IRAQI BORDER - Lieutenant Colonel T.J. O'Shaughnessy steers toward Iraq, where the American pilot patrols the skies with laser-guided bombs under the wings of his jet fighter. In his vest, he carries a pistol and a letter urging his safe return if he is shot down. The no-fly zone over northern Iraq is becoming more dangerous for its enforcers, with Iraqis firing more often - from beefed-up air defense facilities - at US and British aircraft. The United States is responding by avoiding risky areas and preparing for a possible rescue mission. The most recent shooting incident occurred yesterday, when Iraqi gunners opened fire with antiaircraft artillery on a patrol that included O'Shaughnessy and his F-16 squadron, the Buzzards. No planes were damaged. ''Pretty much every day, they are shooting at us,'' said O'Shaughnessy, of Boston. ''That keeps guys on their toes. It keeps you focused.'' Air Force commanders say President Saddam Hussein's forces are firing their antiaircraft guns and missiles more often at planes patrolling the zones established to protect Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south. Pilots say the missiles are fired without radar guidance because American aircraft carry missiles designed to home in on radar. Brigadier General Edward Ellis said yesterday that while the chance of an Iraqi missile hitting an airplane was small, Hussein ''shoots more often than he did in the past ... and the bottom line is he could get lucky.'' US aircraft try to avoid areas where there are Iraqi guns and have significantly reduced their bombing of northern Iraq, pilots said. This year, US warplanes have struck targets just seven times, even though Iraq fired on the aircraft 49 times. Last year, the United States bombed northern Iraq 47 times. The northern no-fly zone was created in 1991 to protect rebellious Kurds from Hussein's forces. The southern zone was set up a year later and is also patrolled by US and British aircraft. Iraqi gunners began shooting at the aircraft in December 1998. If a plane were shot down, O'Shaughnessy and his men would be responsible for locating the pilot on the ground. After making contact with the pilot, O'Shaughnessy could call in Air Force commandos for a rescue mission. O'Shaughnessy and all American pilots who fly over Iraq carry a 9mm Baretta and a letter - in English and Arabic - urging anyone who finds them to help. Some also carry cash. Specialists say that after almost a decade of air patrols, Iraq is so desperate to shoot down a US plane that its gunners try to bait the pilots to approach heavily defended areas. ''They are going to try to come up with any tactic that could work,'' Ellis said. Pilots say Hussein has been placing antiaircraft guns in civilian areas so that they can fire without being attacked. ''An Iraqi civilian does not deserve to die because Saddam Hussein placed a gun near his home,'' Ellis said. ''But if it is out in the open, we will respond violently.'' In Washington, officials are considering cutting back the dangerous mission, which costs some $1 billion a year. Ellis said that with Hussein still well armed and capable of posing a threat to his neighbors, he would recommend continuing the patrols. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=2B3AE906-65D5-11D5 841A00508BF9712A&Title=Pentagon%20Claims%20Iraq%20Responsible%20for%2023%20D eaths * PENTAGON CLAIMS IRAQ RESPONSIBLE FOR 23 DEATHS by Alex Belida Voanews, 21 Jun 2001 Pentagon officials say Iraq itself appears to be responsible for the 23 deaths it claims resulted from a bombing raid by U.S. and British warplanes. Donald Rumsfeld says patrolling coalition aircraft this week observed Iraqi missile and anti aircraft artillery fire at a distance. He believes some of those shots may have struck a sports field in Northern Iraq, killing 23 people and wounding 11 others. Mr. Rumsfeld said, "They were not anywhere near our airplanes. The coalition aircraft did not fire in response and in the event anyone was killed it was undoubtedly the result of misdirected ground fire that ended up in a location that was not intended." Mr. Rumsfeld spoke to reporters after meeting at the Pentagon with NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson. Earlier, Pentagon officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said similar apparent accidents have occurred in Iraq in the past. They noted Iraqi authorities have in the past also sought to blame coalition air patrols for casualties and damage. The Pentagon acknowledges that U.S. and British aircraft conducted routine patrols in the skies of Northern Iraq on Tuesday and Wednesday. But spokesmen deny that any bombs were dropped or missiles fired. Iraq says its anti-aircraft defense units fired on the planes, hitting one. But the Pentagon says all the aircraft returned to their base in Turkey safely. Coalition aircraft have been flying patrols over both Northern and Southern Iraq since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. In the North, the patrols are intended to protect minority Kurds from attack by Baghdad. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2001/jun/23/062302614.html * MISSILE FRAGMENTS COLLECTED IN IRAQ Las Vegas Sun, 23rd June BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Six American and British activists opposed to U.N. sanctions against Iraq said Saturday they had collected fragments of a missile that reportedly killed 23 Iraqis to determine whether it was fired by allied warplanes, as alleged by Iraq. The United States had denied dropping bombs Tuesday on a soccer field in Tall Afar, 275 miles northwest of Baghdad. Washington said if there were deaths in the attack, they were likely caused by Iraq's own misdirected ground fire. "We saw a soccer field with a small crater and there were missile fragments, clothes and children's sandals," said Bilal Moose Patel, a 31-year-old British member of the Chicago based Voices in the Wilderness pressure group. "The nearest large facility was a grain elevator, which is at least one half to three-quarters of a mile away," he said. American activist Philip Steger, from St. Paul, Minn., said he planned to ask the Pentagon to check on the serial numbers on the fragments. "Since we now have only initial observation, we are not prepared to draw any conclusions," he told reporters. Since arriving in Baghdad on June 14, the three Britons and three Americans have visited Basra, 340 miles south of Baghdad, and the province of Mosul, where the attack allegedly occurred. The activists said they want to voice their support for Iraqis suffering under 11 years of U.N. sanctions, imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Allied aircraft patrol the skies over southern and northern Iraq, zones established after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Shiite Muslim rebels in the south and Kurds in the north from Saddam Hussein's forces. Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zones and has challenged allied aircraft since December 1998. IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010618/2001061801.html * A FREE TRADE ZONE BETWEEN UAE, IRAQ Arabic News, 18th June The Iraqi minister of trade Muhammad Mahdi Saleh has stressed that his talks with several officials on Saturday in the United Arab Emirates UAE dealt with the establishment of a free trade area with the UAE and Iraq aiming at UAE exportation of commodities through its ports without customs fees and a licensing to Iraq. In a press statement, Saleh added that a joint cooperation in the area of ports will be held between the ports authority and the free zone of Jabal Ali in Dubai and the authorities concerned in Iraq, noting that the volume of the foreign trade of Iraq with the Arab states, according to the "oil for food" agreement reached USD 10.6 billion. [.....] http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010619/2001061916.html * AL-ASSAD ISSUES A DECREE TO FOUND A SYRIAN TRADE CENTER IN IRAQ Arabic News, 19th June Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday issued the presidential decree no, 311 for 2001 provides for the establishment of a Syrian trade center in Baghdad, belong to the Syrian ministry of Industry and aims at acquainting with the Syrian products, making relevant marketing studies and maintaining cooperation with regional organizations and their trade centers concerning exports as well as taking part in the activities that would help realizing objectives of the center. http://www.rnw.nl/hotspots/html/us010622.html * US BLAMES IRAN FOR SAUDI BOMBING by Bertus Hendriks, Radio Netherlands, 22 June 2001 The United States has indicted 13 Saudi militants and a Lebanese man for the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. At the same time, the US accused parts of the Iranian government of being behind the 1996 attack which killed 19 U.S. servicemen and wounded 372 other Americans. The indictment did not name or charge any members of the Iranian government, but it may have serious political repercussions. The 14 people indicted in connection with the 1996 truck bomb attack near the town of Dahran are said to belong to Saudi Hizbollah, a radical Shi'ite Muslim group. Saudi Arabia's ruling royal family and the majority of the population belong to Sunni Islam. Eastern parts of Saudi Arabia including the town of Dahran is home to a sizeable Shi'ite minority. Shia Islam is dominant in Iran and in southern Iraq. For years, the United States have suspected the involvement of Iranian officials in the planning and supervison of the sophisticated operation in which a powerful truck bomb ripped through a US military housing complex at the Khobar Towers, leaving 19 serviceman dead and causing massive destruction. Iran´s Alleged Involvement Iran has always strenuously denied any involvement, but the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation now says it has enough proof of Iranian involvement. It has taken the FBI a long time to come to that conclusion, not in the least because the Saudi authorities have been very reluctant to cooperate in the police investigation. Saudi Arabia, a key ally of the US, fears that the American accusations against Iran and the political actions the US would have to take if the accusations are upheld in court, could jeopardise Saudi-Iranian relations which have greatly improved in recent years. Changes in Iran As a matter of fact, a lot has happened since 1996. The then President Hashemi Rafsandjani was replaced by reformist president Mohammad Khatami in 1997. Mr Khatami has just clinched a second term in office winning a landslide victory earlier this month. One of the few successes of President Khatami's first term has been the mending of Iran's relations with its neighbours in the Gulf and elsewhere in the world. Rogue operations by Iranian-backed militants abroad were stopped and hardliners within the Iranian intelligence apparatus responsible for such operations were sidelined. An example is former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, who, in April 1997, was held responsible by a German court for the 1992 murder of Kurdish Iranian dissidents in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin. Normalisation Undermined Just as the Mykonos trial caused a crisis in Iranian European relations, the Khobar trial could gravely undermine Mr Khatami's efforts to normalise relations with the US. A debate is currently going on in US government circles about this sensitive subject. Leading voices in the US establishment are calling for a rapprochement with Iran with a view to boosting the position of the reformist Iranian president vis a vis his conservative hardline opponents, for whom the US is still the Great Satan. But any normalisation between Iran and the US means first of all a lifting of trade sanctions under the Iran-Lybia Sanctions Act adopted by the previous Clinton Administration. The lifting of sanctions has the strong support of the US oil industry, which now sees many lucrative contracts go to European competitors. But such normalisation also faces strong opposition, especially in Congress and in pro-Israeli circles. These argue that Iran is still supporting terrorism, developing weapons of mass destruction and putting up opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In short: the Khobar trial will put Mr Khatami on the defensive at home and it will thwart any attempts by the Bush Administration to lift the sanctions or to renew them only for a limited time. In other words, the normalisation of US-Iranian ties is not around the corner. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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