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News, 24­30/6/01 (2)

News, 24­30/6/01 (2)



*  Cheney hit by Iraq deal row
*  Opec members harden against output rise


*  Iraq poised to attack Kurds in [a rather complicated, I would have
thought - PB] ploy to avert tighter sanctions
*  U.S., British planes strike Iraqi air defenses
*  U.S. navy fighter plane strikes at air defence sites in southern Iraq
[this is probably the same incident as the preceding but here it is one navy
fighter jet and there is was US and British warplanes]
*  Iraq says three people killed in attack on south
*  Iraq says its defences hit Western warplane [previous items on a raid on
Monday. This one was on Tuesday]
*  Envoys mull need for flyovers [though the article is mainly on the
military buildup near Kurdistan]


*  Le Pen becomes the Good Samaritan of Iraq [the author, professing great
contempt for Le Pen, doesn¹t seem to know that he has consistently opposed
western policy on Iraq since even before he Gulf War]
*  German Industry Urges Rethink On Iraq Policy [conscious of lost
opportunities to make money]
*  Iran should take German companies to international courts [for supplying
material for chemical attacks on Sardasht and Halabja]


*  Iraqi Shi'ite cleric died mysteriously, says newspaper
*  Iraqi President Appoints New Interior Minister
*  Iraq's 'photocopy culture'


*  Annan's decency gives him UN job [second five years in office. The
article suggests that Annan was a bit too decent and this led to him being
taken for a ride by the likes of S.Hussein, eg in 1998 when he brokered a
deal over UN weapons inspectors just before they were expelled. As has often
been pointed out in this list, however, they were not expelled; they
withdrew to make way for US and British bombers. My memory was that the deal
was aimed to reduce the preonderant influence of the US on the inspection
team at a time when it was quite obvious that their brief was to humiliate
the Iraqis, to prolong sanctions for as long as possible and to spy for the
US government. The problem arose because the US refused to comply with the
spirit, whatever about the letter, of the agreement entered into. Annan at
that time showed his weakness by not resigning in protest against the
contempt with which he was treated, not by Saddam but by theUS and Britain.
But that¹s probably why, unlike B.B.Ghali, he¹s got a second term in


by Tony Allen-Mills, Washington
Sunday Times, 24th June

PRESIDENT George W Bush will face further questions this week about his
administration's ties to big business following fresh disclosures about
Vice-President Dick Cheney's term as chief executive of Halliburton Co, a
Texas oil conglomerate whose subsidiaries signed contracts to sell equipment
to Iraq.

Cheney became chairman of Halliburton after serving as defence secretary
during the Gulf war against Saddam Hussein. At the time he backed a hard
line on economic sanctions against Baghdad.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that two of his Dallas-based
company's foreign subsidiaries, Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll Dresser Pump Co,
signed deals worth more than $73m to supply pumps, pipeline equipment and
spare parts to Iraq through French affiliates between 1997 and last summer.

There was nothing illegal about the contracts, the Post emphasised, but
United Nations records were said to show that the Iraq dealings "were more
extensive than Vice-President Cheney has acknowledged".

Scrutiny of the administration's links to business has intensified in recent
weeks. Bush's senior domestic adviser, Karl Rove, was criticised for meeting
senior executives of Intel Corp, the computer chip manufacturer, which is
seeking government approval for a merger. At the time, Rove held shares in
the company worth more than $100,000.

The Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, sold millions of dollars worth of
shares in Alcoa, the aluminium company he formerly headed, after complaints
that he stood to benefit personally from any government measures that helped
the industry.

In an interview last year, Cheney denied that Halliburton or its
subsidiaries had traded with Iraq. He corrected himself after a company
spokesman acknowledged that two foreign subsidiaries had signed contracts to
sell to Baghdad.

Yesterday the Post quoted former executives of the subsidiaries as saying
that Cheney would "definitely" have been aware of the contracts.

A Cheney spokeswoman said the vice-president had not been involved in
meetings or conversations about Iraq and had "no control" over the
subsidiaries' joint ventures.
BFLFOC&live=true&tagid=YYY9BSINKTM&useoverridetemplate=IXL ZHNNP94C

by Toby Shelley
BBC News Online, 26th June

Opinion within the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries is
hardening against raising output when ministers convene for an
extraordinary meeting next week.

Officials at the Opec secretariat and sources close to three large  Opec
producers, told the Financial Times that market fundamentals  had not
changed enough over the last month to warrant higher  production.

On June 5, Opec members decided to maintain the production ceiling  of 10
members at 24.2m b/d, rather than respond immediately to  Iraq's suspension
of its 2.1m b/d exports in furtherance of its dispute  over US-UK 'smart
sanction' proposals. They agreed to reassess  market conditions on July 3-4
and vowed to pump extra oil if it was  needed.

Almost a month on, Iraqi exports through the Turkish port of  Ceyhan and
Mina al Bakr in the Gulf remain suspended with no-one  prepared to forecast
when they will resume. The UN Security  Council is due to vote on the
proposals on June 3, hours after Opec  ministers are due to convene in
Vienna. Russia may well reject the  proposals but it is unclear whether a
stalemate could provide the  conditions for a restart of exports.

Despite some 3 per cent of global oil production being withdrawn  suddenly
from the market just ahead of the stockbuilding season and  amid a
concatenation of energy crises in the US, crude oil prices have  not soared.
Indeed, the daily price of Opec's reference basket of  seven crudes has
fallen back from the $27 a barrel area to the $25  area in recent days,
right in the middle of Opec's target range.

Maintenance of prices in that range is crucial to consensus within  Opec and
it also allows the cartel to boast that it is imposing stability  on a
market capable of great volatility, to the benefit of all. The  potential
problem, said an official of a Gulf Arab national oil company,  is two-fold.
Firstly, "When the market is low, Opec is proactive but  when prices are
higher, it is reactive". Secondly, he said, the  mechanism Opec uses to
assess whether prices are exceeding its  range - the Opec basket over 20
trading days - is backward looking  while the danger lies ahead.

"There is plenty of supply in the market" said a senior source with  one
Gulf Opec country, adding that stock builds in the US have been  stronger
than expected. "Market fundamentals are looser" said an  adviser to the
national oil company of another large Opec producer.

Analysts in Opec countries are also sceptical of forecasts of a severe
tightening of supply in the fourth quarter, saying stocks have been
stronger and demand will be weaker than seen by, for example, the  Centre
for Global Energy Studies (CGES). One source who  personally favours raising
the ceiling by 1m-1.5m b/d now,  nonetheless believes indications that the
US downturn will be longer  lasting than earlier thought, to militate
against such a move next week.

Dr Shokri Ghanem, director of Opec's research division, is categoric.  The
removal of Iraqi crude from the market with no accompanying  crude price
surge proves Opec's argument that high energy prices,  particularly in the
US are caused by refinery and pipeline bottlenecks,  not lack of oil.

He also undercuts the detailed arguments over the levels of stocks.  Global
commercial and strategic stocks amount to 5.7bn barrels yet  the market
moves on changes of a few tens of millions of barrels in  the US due to
speculation, he said. "One hundred million barrels is  not a matter of
concern." Running down of stocks is a policy decision  not a reflection of
supplies, he argued, pointing to the move by oil  consumers towards
just-in-time delivery in the mid-1990s. He added:  "If stocks fall by 8 per
cent or 10 per cent, I will worry".

All this said, no-one disputes that a prolonged Iraqi absence from the
market would squeeze supplies and boost prices in the absence of  extra
production by the other 10 Opec members. But Opec has  given the assurance
it will compensate for any shortfall that  imbalances the market. The open
questions would be ones of quantity  and timing. If they have to make up for
Iraq, other Opec member will  first want to assess how much of shortfall has
already been countered  by non-Opec producers and, indeed, through quota
busting by  members. It is the issue of timing that is contentious, said one
Opec  source.

It is far from certain that Iraq's intentions will be clear by the time
ministers leave Vienna. A UN reversion to the original oil-for-food
programme for a standard six month period would ensure a restart  but would
look like a defeat for the US and UK. Proceeding with the  proposed 'smart
sanctions' would guarantee continued suspension for  an unknown period. Most
likely, the outcome will be less definitive  and the response impossible to
call. That, says one Opec source,  means a likely outcome of next week's
meeting would be a decision  touse the pricing mechanism as trigger for
increased production of,  perhaps, 1m b/d.

For those, like CGES, who forecast market tightening in the fourth  quarter
without higher Opec output even before Iraq suspended  exports, delaying a
production rise until the Opec basket had  exceeded $28 a barrel for 20
trading days would be too little, too  late, bringing a return to Brent
crude prices of $30 and higher.


by Jessica Berry
Sunday Telegraph, 24th June

IRAQI troops are preparing for a strike inside Iraqi Kurdistan in an attempt
to defeat British and American plans to impose new sanctions, The Telegraph
can reveal.

The new "smart sanctions" are designed to reduce smuggling by tightening
inspections and allowing non-military supplies to flow freely, thus denying
President Saddam Hussein the opportunity to claim his people are being
starved by the West.

An Iraqi military expert said: "By invading Kurdistan, Saddam is going to
try to goad Britain and America into retaliating with air strikes. If they
do, Russia and China, who both oppose the reformed sanctions, would demand
further reviews before any new sanctions plan could be implemented. Any
confrontation will also boost Saddam's popularity."

Iraq, which said last week it would fight the sanctions plan, has a hidden
oil trade worth £2.2 billion a year on top of the £11 billion it earns
officially. Military experts in Iraq said that the build-up of troops is
centred just south of the town of Arbil, in the western protected enclave of
northern Iraq and subject to the no-fly zone.

The northern no-fly zone was set up in April 1991 in response to UN
Resolution 688 to protect the Kurds and to deter Iraqi attack. The Iraqi
leader, they said, has sent tanks, artillery and armoured vehicles to the
northern region of Kirkuk in what was described as "excessive military
activity". A smaller number of troops and armoured units have been moved to
Haditha, on Iraq's western border with Jordan, and the Iraqi president has
also reopened the al-Baghdadi air base in the same area.

Evidence is mounting that Saddam is preparing for some kind of confrontation
with the Kurds. In the last week, he has moved ministries and security units
to secret locations close to schools and hospitals, making them problematic
targets. The last time Iraq moved its ministries was in December 1998, just
before the Operation Desert Fox air strikes on military targets.

Iraq invaded Arbil in August 1996 when it destroyed the opposition
headquarters of the Iraqi National Congress, killing hundreds of dissidents.
Saddam, who has put Qusay, his son and heir, in charge of security aspects
of the current operation, has also brought in Field Marshal Ayad Alrawi, a
former commander of the Republican Guard, and Field Marshal Salah Abood,
both senior Ba'ath party members.

In recent television broadcasts, Saddam has called for a "final war" and has
warned of imminent attack from the West and a threat from Iran. Last week,
he claimed that Allied war planes fired at a playing field in the Kirkuk
area, killing 23 people. America and Britain denied the attack.

One Iraqi dissident in the area said it was most likely that an Iraqi
missile had exploded accidently. He said: "They are moving a lot of weapons
around at the moment and I'm pretty sure there was an accident." The Foreign
Office said last night: "We are monitoring the situation in Iraq very
closely. We remain determined to protect the Kurds by enforcing the northern
no-fly zone. There is no weakening in our resolve to protect them."

The Ministry of Defence added: "We are aware of a troop concentration in the
Arbil area and are keeping a close eye on it. What Saddam's intentions are
we do not know yet."

by Chris Plante
CNN, June 25, 2001

WASHINGTON: U.S. and British warplanes bombed an Iraqi anti-aircraft
artillery site in southern Iraq Monday in response to "hostile acts against
coalition aircraft monitoring the southern no-fly zone," the Pentagon said.

The nighttime air strikes mark the first attack by Western warplanes in
southern Iraq since June 14, according to a statement from the U.S. Central

There have been "more than 900 separate incidents of Iraqi surface-to-air
missile and anti aircraft artillery fire directed at coalition aircraft
since December 1998, including more than 275 in this calendar year," the
statement said.

The strikes took place at about 3:15 p.m. EDT, according to the Central


The Province (Vancouver), 26th June

WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. navy fighter jet attacked an anti-aircraft
artillery site in southern Iraq on Monday in what U.S. military officials
called an act of self defence.

The F-14D Tomcat, flying from the aircraft carrier USS Constellation in the
Persian Gulf, struck the Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery site near Basra, the
U.S. Central Command said. No damage assessment was immediately available.

The attack was in response to anti-aircraft artillery fire at U.S. and
British aircraft patrolling the "no fly" zone over southern Iraq, officials


Baghdad, Reuters, 27th June

Iraq said yesterday three people were killed when U.S. and British planes
hit targets in the south of the country.

"At 2145 on Monday, U.S. and British warplanes violated our air space," a
military spokesman said in a statement carried by the Iraqi News Agency
(INA). "The planes flew over areas in the provinces of Basra, Dhiqar, Meisan
and Muthanna, Wassit, attacking service and civil installations in Basra
province. The bombing led to the martyrdom of three people."

He said Iraq's ground air defences fired on the planes and forced them to
return to their bases.
The U.S. Central Command said in a statement on Monday that U.S. and British
aircraft had struck an anti-aircraft artillery site in southern Iraq in
response to "Iraqi hostile acts". Western aircraft monitoring the southern
no-fly zone struck the site and a damage assessment was being conducted, the
statement said.

The strikes were in response to Iraqi "threats and acts" against coalition
forces and their aircraft, the statement said. "If Iraq were to cease its
threatening actions, coalition strikes would cease as well," the Central
Command said.


Baghdad, Reuters, 28th June

Iraq said yesterday it had fired at U.S. and British aircraft attacking
targets in southern Iraq, hitting one and forcing them to return to base.
Baghdad said one civilian was injured in the attack, which took place on
Tuesday evening.

"American and British planes violated our air space at 9:30pm on Tuesday and
flew over the provinces of Basra, Dhiqar, Missan, Muthanna and Qadissiya,"
the official news agency INA quoted an Iraqi military spokesman as saying.

"The planes attacked our civilian and service installations in Basra
province, injuring one civilian," the spokesman added. "Evidence indicates
that one of the plane was hit," he said. There was no immediate confirmation
by the United States or Britain of the Iraqi report.

INA said President Saddam Hussein yesterday met Lt-Gen Shaeen Yassin,
commander of the anti-aircraft defences, as well as a number of researchers,
engineers and technicians. The agency said Saddam welcomed efforts to
upgrade Iraq's defences.

Iraq said on Tuesday that three people were killed in an attack by U.S. and
British planes on Monday on targets in the south of the country.

By Eli J. Lake
Washington Times, 28th June

UPI: A U.S. delegation will evaluate the need for continued flights over
northern Iraq during a visit this week to the region, where U.S. and Kurdish
sources say Saddam Hussein has deployed as many as 10,000 members of his
elite Republican Guard.

Military experts have told the London Sunday Telegraph they suspect Saddam
may be planning an attack into the north to create a crisis that would
undermine international support for a plan to amend U.N. sanctions on Iraq.

Farhad Barzani, the Washington representative for the Kurdistan Democratic
Party, said KDP sources inside Iraq estimate that close to 9,000 members of
Saddam's Republican Guard have massed northwest of the northern Iraqi city
of Mosul.

Other sources in the region said Iraq over the last three weeks has
concentrated troops in an arc between Ba'adra and Shakhan.

An administration official said yesterday that recent intelligence reports
estimate the number of troops in the area at between 8,000 and 12,000.

Mr. Barzani, interviewed Tuesday evening, said, "This is a little bit more
than a routine exercise, [but] I still cannot say the threat is significant
and imminent."

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was asked Tuesday about the
buildup after the London Telegraph report appeared in The Washington Times.

"We have seen reports that Iraq is moving troops towards the Kurdish areas.
We are trying to establish the facts on the ground. We are watching the
situation closely," he said.

Qubad Talabani, a Washington representative for the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, the other main Kurdish political party inside Iraq, said U.S. and
British forces patrolling the northern no-fly zone had responded effectively
to such troop movements in the past, and that the PUK was confident the
Western aircraft would defend them in case of an attack.

"We are seeing movement ... beneath the KDP territory. The response of
Operation Northern Watch to a similar movement in December was very
effective. It reassured the Kurdish people and sent a message to Saddam
Hussein," he said.

The Iraqi troop movements come as the Pentagon evaluates the U.S. policy for
patrolling the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, which have
grown more dangerous as Iraq, with Chinese help, has upgraded its air

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, have
proposed changing the rules of engagement to let U.S. planes strike Iraqi
targets pre-emptively and defend civilian targets against Iraqi attacks,
according to administration officials.

However, these sources said, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have opposed this
tack in policy meetings, arguing instead for less-frequent flights.

The policy is bound to come up this week when a two-person State Department
delegation meets in the Kurdish Iraqi cities of Sulemani and Irbil with the
PUK leader Jalal Talabani and his KDP counterpart, Masoud Barzani.

A State Department official said the purpose of the visit is to try to
determine "what is and what is not possible in northern Iraq -- what can we
move forward on."

The official added, "There will be some discussions on how important the
no-fly zone is to the north."

Kurdish leaders visited Washington in March for talks with officials at the
Pentagon, the National Security Council, the State Department and the office
of the vice president.

"Everyone reassured us the no-fly zone would continue," Farhad Barzani said.
"People assured us there would be technical changes on the rules of
engagement, but the mandate would remain for the north."

Other sources who attended the meetings said the Kurds were not given a
direct assurance that Iraqi strikes against Kurdish civilian targets would
be answered with American air power.

On Tuesday, Mr. Boucher said, "Our long-standing policy has been that if
Iraq reconstitutes its weapons of mass destruction, threatens its neighbors
or U.S. forces, or moves against the Kurds, we do maintain a credible force
in the region. We are prepared to act at an appropriate time and place of
our choosing." 


by Matthew Campbell, Paris
Sunday Times, 24th June

In a development likely to provoke guffaws of disbelief among his critics,
Jean-Marie Le Pen, the rumbustious leader of the French National Front, is
recasting himself as a caring, humanitarian envoy.

Le Pen may be a rank outsider in next year's presidential election, but his
status is growing in Iraq, where, with his wife, he has been doling out
medical supplies, saying the country has been crippled by United Nations

"The country has suffered terribly," he said in an interview at his chateau
on the edge of Paris last week. "Particularly the children. I have seen
them. The sanitary situation there is appalling."

Arab children in France do not seem to benefit from his altruism. Le Pen,
who has built his political career on decrying an influx of predominantly
Arab immigrants, would be quite happy to see them sent home.

Like Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, Le Pen knows what it is like to be
cast as the devil incarnate. He may lack Saddam's status as an international
pariah, but his stance on immigration and his anti-semitic rhetoric -
calling Nazi concentration camps "a detail of history" - have alienated
mainstream politicians.

For Le Pen, a former French paratrooper in Algeria, the only horror to rival
immigration is European integration, which risks diluting national identity.
"We don't have the same tastes," he says of other European Union states.
"That's why we have different countries."

The only son of a Breton fisherman, Le Pen founded the National Front in
1972. Since the peak of his popularity in 1995, when he won 15% in a
presidential election, the party's fortunes have been flagging. He is
expected to win no more than 6% in next year's presidential election.

Jany, his second wife, is president of a group called SOS Children of Iraq.
Le Pen has accompanied her on trips to Baghdad.

"We have punished the country enough," he said, recounting with horror an
anecdote an Iraqi minister's wife told him about having a hysterectomy
without anaesthetic. "They told her to bite on a cloth," he said.

If France does not seem to appreciate Le Pen, he may at least find favour
with Saddam.{7E647BF9-6AE3-11D5

by Manfred Schäfers
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 28th June

BERLIN. German industry is calling on the federal government to reconsider
its policy on Iraq. For political reasons, said the managing director of
Berlin-based industry association BDI, Ludolf von Wartenberg, on Thursday in
an intervGerman Industry Urges Rethink on Iraq, German companies in Baghdad
are frequently unable to conduct business.

"Other Security Council member countries have fewer reservations than the
German government," he said. In the early 1990s, Germany supplied Iraq with
goods worth DM6 billion ($2.6 billion), said Mr. Wartenberg, adding that the
country now supplied only DM270 million worth.

Even in spite of sanctions, this figure could still be higher, he said, as
France's example showed. According to Mr. Wartenberg, companies from France
sell goods worth as much as $3-$4 billion to Iraq each year.

While traveling in Iraq last year, Mr. Wartenberg formed the impression that
Iraqi leaders sought to punish the German economy because the federal
government would not formulate an independent position.

"The exclusive orientation toward the uncompromising stance of the United
States does not help," he said, adding that it has more to do with a
political solution than partisanship with Iraq. The years-long sanctions,
said Mr. Wartenberg, have not achieved anything apart from the suffering of
the Iraqi people. Together with the French, Germans should try to encourage
Iraqi leaders to find a way out of the crisis.

It is also important for Iraqis to see that Germans are doing something, Mr.
Wartenberg said, adding that the reopening of the German embassy in Baghdad
would be an important signal. Diplomatic visits could also be improved, he

According to Mr. Wartenberg, German industry sticks fully to prevailing
sanction rules under the "Oil for Food" program. "The laws are in force, and
we must respect them." But one must also understand industry's request that
one should not neglect a country with 24 million inhabitants and the
second-largest oil reserves in the world. German business approves the
suggested alterations, which are currently being discussed in the United

According to the current law, Iraq's oil revenues flow into a trust account
-- $10 billion in the second half of 2000. Part of the money --13 percent --
is divided up between the three Kurdish provinces. A further 25 percent is
put aside for reparations claims.

Another 8 percent is put aside for financing operations conducted by the
United Nations. The government may use the remaining 54 percent to purchase
humanitarian goods. In the second half of 2000, that amounted to DM11

According to Mr. Wartenberg, German industry is particularly hit by the
sanctions, owing to its supply structure. If new rules came into force, 90
percent of export contracts would be unproblematic.

IRNA [Iranian press agency], 30th June

The English-language daily `Kayhan International' in its editorial on
Saturday said for the sake of the victims of Sardasht and Halabja, Iran must
take German companies to international courts.

Recalling the anniversary of the chemical bombardment of Sardasht area in
1987 and of Halabja in 1988 by the Iraqi regime, the daily said that despite
the horrendous consequences of the Iraqi chemical attack in Sardasht, the
world remained silent, and through its criminal silence it paved the way for
another tragedy the next year, i.e. the Halabja massacre of 1988.

It said the forsaken people of Halabja received the deadly chemical doses
that were administered by the Iraqi Air Force. Despite the enormity of these
twin tragedies of Sardasht and Halabja, they have yet to receive their due
publicity and the perpetrators of the crime in Baghdad and accessories to
the crime, i.e. the companies that put the chemical weapons at Saddam's
disposal, have yet to be brought to justice, added Kayhan International.

If the combatants were not Iranian and the Halabja village had not been a
Kurdish village, (for instance, if the village had been in the Middle of the
United States), the whole world would have known about it by now, said the
daily, adding since this was a crime by a Third World tyrant committed
against Third World people, a good portion of the world still does not know
about Sardasht and Halabja. Moreover, the perpetrator in Baghdad and those
who provided him with weapons of mass destruction are still at large, it

The editorial said that Hojatoleslam Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who heads the
Expediency Council, last week rightly reminded the German Ambassador to
Tehran that ``the German companies are responsible for giving chemical
weapons to Baghdad.'' It said that recently it was announced that Lebanese
government plans to take the Zionist Regime to court for the 1982 invasion
of Lebanon.

Kayhan International asked, ``Why can't Iran take German companies to court
for a crime which as been more recent?'' It said such litigation is
necessary for three reasons. First, companies that produce weapons of mass
destruction will think twice about selling their lethal weapons to a Third
World tyrant. Second, the litigation in itself will act as an indictment of
the unethical Western capitalism that sells its weapons to anyone anywhere
regardless of how blood-thirsty the buyer is. Third, and the most important
consequence, these companies will have to pay for the expensive medical
treatment of those who have survived chemical attacks in Iran but have to
constantly receive expensive medical treatment.

It said that the issue of German complicity in the Iraqi chemical attacks
was raised four years ago during the Mykonos Affairs. ``But it was soon
forgotten,'' it added. It said the issue must be pursued regardless of
whether Iran and Germany are enjoying friendly ties or not.

It commented that actually, now that Iran and Germany are enjoying friendly
ties, this issue can be resolved a lot quicker, and the living victims of
chemical attacks and even the families of the deceased martyrs of the
chemical attacks can be compensated a lot faster.


Dubai, Reuters, 24th June

A top Iraqi Shi'ite cleric has died under mysterious circumstances in Iraq,
a Saudi-owned newspaper reported yesterday. Grand Ayatollah Hussein Bahr Al
Iloum, a 75-year-old scholar, died in his home city of Najaf on Friday and
was buried there, the London-based Al Hayat daily said. It did not say how
he died.

The ayatollah's relatives were quick to blame the Iraqi government for his
death, suggesting that he may have been assassinated. Al Hayat quoted a
statement from Bahr Al Iloum's office as saying that the clergyman was being
harrassed by Iraqi authorities for refusing to cooperate with them.

The statement urged international human rights organisations to take a
"stand against vicious attacks aimed at religious scholars, intellectuals
and thinkers in Iraq".

It said Bahr Al Iloum had repeatedly demanded the release of jailed Shi'ite
clerics and activists in Iraq, including several members of his own family,
imprisoned since Baghdad crushed a 1991 revolt after the Gulf war.

Iranian media gave similar accounts of the death of Bahr Al Iloum, who they
said had taken over after the assassination of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed
Sadeq Al Sadr in 1999.

Sadr was shot and killed along with his two sons. The Iraqi government said
it had nothing to do with his death and blamed it on forces trying to break
down the country's unity. But the UN cast doubt on the Iraqi government's

People's Daily, 24th June

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Saturday formally appointed Mahmoud Diyab
al Ahmad as the new interior minister, the official Iraqi News Agency

Ahmad, former minister of irrigation, has been the acting interior minister
after Saddam dismissed Muhammad Ziman Abd al-Razzaq from that post on May

Razzaq was named as the chief of Iraq's ruling Baath Party in the northern
provinces of Kirkuk and Ninive early May.

Meanwhile, Rasoul Abdel-Hussein Suadi was appointed as the minister of
irrigation, the news agency said.

Jerusalem Post, 28th June [apparently reprinted from Monday Morning, Beirut,
June 18]

Iraq's legions of culture-vultures have been forced to resort to a
"photocopy culture" to feed their hunger for reading in the lean era of

"To print 2,000 copies of a book costs almost two million dinars [$1,000],
and no intellectual can afford such a sum," said Jawad Hatab, a poet and
former general secretary of the Iraqi Writers' Union.

"We've invented a kind of 'photocopy culture.' Any poet or author who wants
to publish a work has it typed and then makes photocopies, which he sends to
the critics and newspapers hoping for a good review," he explained.

Novels or anthologies of poems with good reviews by critics stand a chance
of being published by the Culture Ministry. "But you have to wait months, if
not years, for publication, and, normally, the quality is mediocre because
of the lack of means," warned the poet.

The same method is used for works published abroad, to make them available
to the book starved Iraqi public, who have always been avid readers.

Hatab gave the example of an Arabic translation of the memoirs of Nikos
Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek, the book turned into a film starring
Anthony Quinn.

"The book, brought into Iraq by a Lebanese publishing house, was on sale for
15,000 dinars [$7.50]. To buy it I would have to save up three months'
salary. Together with a group of friends, we got hold of the book and
photocopied it for 3,000 dinars apiece."

Such photocopied works are sold in Baghdad bookstores and on the pavements
of Mutanabbi Street. Named after one of the Arab world's most celebrated
poets and lying near the Tigris river, the street is a popular meeting place
for book-lovers at weekends.

Photocopy shops have sprung up across Baghdad. At his cramped premises,
39-year-old Bassel Abd-Al-Karim has two machines which are in much demand.

"We copy between 500 and 750 books a month, and they are sold for between 10
and 15 percent of the price of the original," he said, as he carefully
removed page after page from an Arabic novel and slid them through one of
the machines.

"I keep all the originals, especially university books, to be able to make
more copies in case they're needed."


by Alexander Rose
National Post, Canada, 30th June

WASHINGTON - Kofi Annan, re-elected without opposition yesterday to his
second five year term as United Nations Secretary-General, is the most
popular man to hold the post since Dag Hammarsjkold in the 1950s.

Traditionally, each world region enjoys a decade-long rotation in the
crucial post, but Mr. Annan's success allows Africa 15 years at the helm.

Marking a distinct change from the experiences of previous
secretary-generals, none of the permanent, veto-wielding members of the UN
Security Council openly voiced objections to Mr. Annan's candidacy. In 1981,
China torpedoed Kurt Waldheim, and Mr. Annan's predecessor, Egypt's Boutros
Boutros-Ghali, was blocked by Washington.

Praise for the British-accented, American-educated Mr. Annan is not hard to
find. Observers cite his dignity, decency and courage. His compassion and
kindness, let alone his courtesy and tact, are beyond dispute. His
Scandinavian wife, Nane, a niece of Raoul Wallenberg, says, "in Swedish we
have a word -- 'cast whole'. That is him".

And yet, is relying on these personal attributes necessarily the most
effective means of executing the secretary-general's responsibilities? Are
virtues which work wonders at UN headquarters when dealing with fractious
diplomats applicable to the messy nature of international, ethnic or civil

There is a suspicion that Mr. Annan, for all his worldliness, does not
understand the world.

A moral universalist, he believes that everyone is like him, and seems
mystified when others fail to live up to his idealism or betray his

Recalling a meeting with Slobodan Milosevic, Mr. Annan was bewildered to
discover that "he speaks English, sounds like a rational, reasonable person,
and yet he [was] capable of all sorts of acts. How do they do it?"

Likewise, Mr. Annan was humiliatingly fooled by Saddam Hussein in early
1998. After their meeting in Baghdad, Mr. Annan rapturously declared he "had
a good human rapport" with Saddam Hussein, only to belatedly find the
charming Iraqi president had brazenly lied to him. Owing to Mr. Annan's
blunder, Saddam Hussein gained enough confidence to expel UN weapons
inspectors several months later.

His compassion and decency tend to make Mr. Annan naive. In 1999, misled by
the Indonesian government's protestations of benevolence and ignoring clear
signs of impending violence, Mr. Annan encouraged the East Timorese to vote
but failed to ensure UN protection. When the ensuing carnage began, Mr.
Annan said, "Nobody in their wildest dreams thought what we were witnessing
could have happened."

Most disastrous was Mr. Annan's decision, when he headed UN peacekeeping
operations, not to despatch additional troops to Rwanda, despite urgent
requests from his own commanders before the mass murder of ethnic Tutsis. He
appears to have been reluctant to unsettle the rival Hutu leaders.

Mr. Annan's unfortunate hesitance on that occasion appears to have persuaded
him to send more peacekeepers to more war zones more quickly without
considering whether circumstances warranted UN intervention.

The embarrassment of what happened last year in Sierra Leone, when without
500 peacekeepers were taken prisoner by a gang of untrained, drunken
teenagers without a shot being fired, should stand as a question mark over
Mr. Annan's judgement, as should a later proposal to send troops to the
roiling cauldron of Congo.

On the other hand, his cultivated inoffensiveness earns him high marks at
the UN.

Although the Security Council members or General Assembly countries may
grumble occasionally about the Secretary-General, these complaints are not
strident enough to create a permanent opposition bloc.

The U.S. wants serious UN reforms, but Mr. Annan has placated his noisiest
critics by undertaking some attempts at improving UN transparency and

Russia and China, too, have expressed reservations about Mr. Annan's
insistence that state sovereignty is not inviolable, but the
Secretary-General has done little to impose his views on the Security

While the Asia region was mildly annoyed that Africa looked likely to
maintain its grip on the Secretary-Generalship, it conceded that no one
comparable had stepped forward.

In this regard, Mr. Annan is an acceptable compromise candidate.

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