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News, 15-21/7/01 (1)

News, 15-21/7/01 (1)

This brings us up to date. Most interesting item from our point of view is
probably the film made by Scott Ritter (under ŒAnti-Sanctions Campaign¹),
though its sure to be more interesting than the Associated Press account
would have us believe. There¹s also the piece, under ŒInternational
Relations¹ about the amount of Iraqi oil that is going to the US.


*  US Navy Blocks Cargo Ship From Reaching Iraq [it was carrying an
obviously dangerous cargo of 13,000 tons of sugar]
*  G8 FMs call for new Iraq strategy [Guess wot? Smart sanctions.]
*  Iraqi official says international embargo stops Iraq from conveying its
message to the world


*  Russian envoy pays surprise visit to Baghdad
*  Iraq:When Bush's Friend Putin Turns Out to Be Unfriendly [Jim Hoagland in
a state of outrage that Russia should dare to have a foreign policy of its
own, though he himself refers to ŒGeneral Powell's essentially unworkable
sanctions plan¹. Extracts]
*  Iraq's Saddam Receives Putin Letter on Sanctions
*  Russian Oil Interests Forced Putin to Back Off From Supporting A U.S.
Plan to Refashion Sanctions Against Iraq [just like US oil intrests and the
Kyoto agreement?]


*  33rd Anniversary of the Iraqi Revolution [saluted by the Philippines]
*  Yugoslavia Vows to Repair Iraq's Ailing Power Grid, Power Report, Amman -
A visiting cabinet minister from Yugoslavia has expressed his country's
desire to rehabilitate Iraq's devastat...  [In the event I was unable to
access this but it looked rather intriguing. Difficult to imagine there is
any centre of resistance left in the Yugoslav government ...PB]
*  Trading With the Enemy: U.S. Refiners Reportedly Buying Most of Iraq's
Oil [90%, the article suggests. From Russia. Apparently it is much prized
for its ecologically friendly low sulphur content]
*  Petrel [oil exploration company based in Dublin] hopes centre on Iraq


*  Syria makes political overture to Iraq
*  King Mohammed [Morocco] congratulates Iraq's Hussein over national day
*  Abu Nidal may try to leave Iraq
*  Pro-Iraqi terror cell leader captured here [in Israel]
*  Lebanon to sign free trade deal with Iraq soon
*  In A Decisive Reply On The Campaigns Of Lies Fabrication: Saudi Arabia
Calls Upon Annan To Stop Iraqi ''Border Violations''.
The Head Of UNHCR In Riyadh: The Saudis Are Providing Uncomparable Humane
Treatment To The Iraqi Refugees [three articles from the as usual rather
verbose Saudi paper Ain al-Yaqeen. The third is about the Shi¹i opposition
bombs in Baghdad. Extracts.]
*  Iraqi train to Turkey through Syria

AND, IN NEWS, 15-21/7/01 (2):


*  An Irishwoman's Diary [on meeting in Kimgslay Hall addressed by
*  Former U.N. Inspector Decries U.S. [Scott Ritter¹s film on how the
Weapons Inspectors were used to provoke responses which could then be used
as an excuse for US (and, for what its worth, British) military action. One
interesting detail, among many: ŒHe noted that the head of Iraq's weapons
programs - Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kamal al-Majid - told Ekeus after he
defected to Jordan in August 1995 that all of Iraq's banned weapons had been
destroyed.¹ This wasn¹t one of the statements of Kamal al-Majid that got a
lot of media attention]


*  U.S. to Keep Patrolling Iraq for Now
*  Western aircraft attack Iraq
*  U.S. F-16 Fighter Jet on Iraq Mission Crashes [in Turkey]
*  U.S. forces in Gulf on various alerts
*  Pentagon: Iraq Fires at US Aircraft [claim that they fired into Kuwaiti


*  Iraq denounces delay of Gulf War health study [into the effects of
depleted uranium]
*  Iraq at Risk From Rift Valley Fever
*  3,000-year-old temple found in Iraq


*  Hussein appeals to Kurds in northern Iraq
*  Sanctions and Iraq [another rosy view of life in Iraqi Kurdistan, this
time from the Jerusalem Post, to be compared with *A No-Fly, Yes-Democracy
Zone from the Washington Post last week. Contains this monstrous sentence:
ŒThere are simply no starving children in Iraq as a result of sanctions; the
only children dying for lack of food or medicine are those whom Saddam wants
to die.¹ But its also intriguing for all the strange anomalies that arise
because the sanctions regime is still being applied to this area which is
also being treated as part of Iraq]
*  PKK destabilising northern Iraq, Turkish official warns
*  UN Employee Questioned in N. Iraq [for carrying a bomb into the region]


VOA News, 16 Jul 2001

The U.S. navy has blocked a cargo ship from reaching Iraq because the
boarding team was not able to fully inspect the cargo, but U.S. military
officials deny an Iraqi claim the ship has been detained for two weeks.

A U.S. Navy spokesman said Monday the U.S.-led maritime interception force
boarded the vessel July 3 and found 13,000 tons of sugar. The spokesman said
the vessel was released, but not authorized to proceed to Iraq. He said the
ship's crew was given a recommendation to rearrange its cargo to allow a
full inspection of all areas. The official said the cargo ship is believed
to be somewhere in Gulf waters.

The maritime force patrols the Gulf to enforce an embargo imposed on Iraq
after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Ships are often intercepted leaving Iraq,
to guard against smuggling of oil products not covered by the U.N. "oil for
food" program. This program allows Baghdad to export crude oil in exchange
for humanitarian supplies.

ISN, Fri 20 Jul 2001

G8 foreign ministers on Thursday called on the United Nations and the
international community to come up with what they described as a new
approach towards Iraq.

While urging Baghdad to allow inspectors into the country to check whether
weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed, ministers from the Group of
Eight (G8) nations said in their final communiqué: "We call on the
international community and the UN Security Council to build a new approach
to Iraq."

The communiqué, issued after two days of talks in Rome ahead of a weekend
summit of G8 leaders in Genoa, did not expand on what ministers meant by the
words "new approach". But one US official said later it was a reference to
US-British proposals over so-called smart sanctions. "It means (the
approach) by the US, British and other members of the Security Council is
the way to go, but the Russians disagree," the official said.

On Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin said the system of sanctions
against Iraq was not productive. He said the top priority was to make sure
Iraq does not produce weapons of mass destruction but that sanctions have
failed to convince Iraq to allow international observers in.

The US-British plan is aimed at revamping 11-year-old UN sanctions imposed
after Iraq invaded Kuwait by easing Iraqi purchases of civilian goods, but
tightening controls on oil and goods with military uses. The burden of
implementation of proposed 'smart' sanctions would rest on Iraq's neighbors,
who are increasingly lukewarm in their support of any sanctions. (Reuters,

Arabic News, 21st July

The embargo enforced against Iraq is an obstacle hampering this country from
conveying its message to the world public opinion, said an official at the
Iraqi information ministry.

General manager of public relations at the Iraqi information minister, Salam
Khattab Naciri, said media enterprises are not allowed to import equipment
needed to carry out its information task and respond to the US-engineered
western media lies on the situation in Iraq. Naciri said at a press
conference in Rabat deplored that before 1990 his country's news agency
"INA" which used to have 85 offices abroad, now has only 6 offices.
US-British air raids target mainly radio and TV transmission stations in
order to maim information in Iraq, he further deplored.

Asked on his country's information and communication strategy, he explained
that despite the unfair embargo, his country has succeeded in promoting
awareness among the international public opinion on the situation in Iraq,
mainly through its satellite TV station, the Internet and press

He also lauded Morocco's support to the embargo lifting.



BAGHDAD, July 16, Kyodo (Japan): The Russian minister of special assignments
arrived on Baghdad on Sunday on a surprise visit for talks with leading
Iraqi officials on boosting Russian efforts to support Baghdad's desire to
end decade-old U.N. economic sanctions imposed after the 1990 Gulf War.

A foreign ministry source said Monday that Nicolai Kortuzov had already met
Deputy Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister Tareq Aziz.

The official Iraqi News Agency said later the minister handed Aziz a letter
from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov dealing with Russia's efforts at
the U.N. Security Council on Iraq's behalf and on improving bilateral ties.

by Jim Hoagland The Washington Post
International Herald Tribune (from Washington Post), July 16, 2001

WASHINGTON: What does one world leader see when he looks into the soul of
another? Not everything, if President George W. Bush's self-proclaimed
peering into Vladimir Putin's spiritual makeup last month is any guide.

Hidden away in one corner of Mr. Putin's soul was the intention to derail
Mr. Bush's diplomatic offensive to streamline UN sanctions on Iraq. Mr. Bush
and Secretary of State Colin Powell were blindsided on Iraq before and after
the Bush-Putin meeting in Slovenia.


As a candidate last year, Mr. Bush made a cogent case that the Clinton
administration had repeatedly failed to draw a clear line around important
U.S. goals abroad and to deal forcefully with nations that challenged those
goals. His Genoa meeting with Mr. Putin, on the sidelines of the Group of
Eight summit talks, tests him against his own campaign standard.

This is the larger issue that emerges from Russia's determined and
transparent campaign this month to block General Powell's "smart sanctions"
plan in the UN Security Council. The repercussions in and between Washington
and Moscow outweigh any fallout in Baghdad from this diplomatic dispute.
Credibility - of Mr. Putin, Mr. Bush and/or General Powell - is at risk.
Saddam Hussein and the neighboring states that he has bought off with oil
exports were never going to cooperate with General Powell's essentially
unworkable sanctions plan, which was strongly debated inside the
administration. The White House offered only tepid support, and General
Powell has been left to cope with the stigma of its failure on his own.

In a series of prickly responses to adroit questioning on Iraq from Tim
Russert on the NBC television program "Meet the Press" on June 3, General
Powell blasted "critics" for not understanding that he had already secured
agreement from Russia and other Security Council members that a new system
of smart sanctions would go into effect on July 4. But the UN resolution he
cited did not support that unequivocal statement. And diplomatic sources
aware of the Security Council negotiations disputed General Powell's
interpretation as well when I asked them. Russia was still backing Saddam's
objections to the plan, in private as well as in public.

Richard Boucher, General Powell's spokesman, reiterated to me on June 4 that
the United States had obtained commitments from the "highest levels" that
Moscow would vote with the United States for the new system in early July.
"This distances the Russians and the French from the Iraqis," Mr. Boucher
said when I expressed continued skepticism. "We are united on this, and
pointed in the right direction." Equally positive administration statements
continued after the Bush-Putin meeting.

Those statements and Mr. Bush's lavish praise for Mr. Putin in Slovenia
counted for naught when the vote came on July 3. Russia threatened to use
its veto. The United States folded and accepted a five-month continuation of
the sanctions system that General Powell had denounced and set out so
vigorously to sweep aside.


Mr. Putin seems to have read Mr. Bush at their first meeting as a man whose
forgiving nature, enhanced by a strong desire for a deal on missile defense,
gives the Russians room to maneuver on Iraq, and perhaps elsewhere. He goes
into the Genoa meeting with momentum, and more firmly in Saddam's corner
than ever. That is a dark spot that should jump out on any soul X-ray.

Yahoo, 18th July

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Wednesday received a
letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin dealing with Russia's stance on
the Anglo-American ``smart sanctions'' plan, state news agency INA said.

It said the letter handed to Saddam by Russian envoy Nicolai Kortozev also
expressed Russia's desire to develop bilateral relations with Iraq in all

The agency said Saddam affirmed Iraq's desire to ``develop economic and
commercial ties,'' expressing appreciation for Russia's rejection of the
sanctions plan.

Putin said on Wednesday that U.N. sanctions against Iraq, imposed to punish
Baghdad's 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait, were counterproductive.

But he also called on Baghdad to allow arms inspectors into Iraq to certify
the country as free of banned weapons of mass destruction. Only then can
U.N. sanctions be lifted.


Yahoo (from Newsweek), 22nd July

NEW YORK, July 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Russian oil interests forced President
Vladimir Putin to back off supporting a U.S. plan to refashion sanctions
against Iraq, Newsweek has learned. The Russians had committed to the new
sanctions regime at a June summit in Slovenia between Putin and President
George W. Bush, but abruptly backed off, reports Moscow Bureau Chief
Christian Caryl in the July 30 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, July

There were ``explicit words, explicitly expressed,'' says a miffed senior
U.S. official. ``We felt we had agreement to move. Something happened
between then and New York,'' -- where Russia threatened to vote no in the
U.N. Security Council. What likely happened, Russian analysts say, was that
Russian oil companies pressured Putin to renege after Saddam Hussein
threatened to withhold all oil-for-food contracts.

Russia's oil industry is increasingly becoming a source of leverage on the
international scene. After the Russia-Chinese summit in Moscow last week
where Putin and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin signed a 20-year friendship
treaty, most people focused on statements the leaders made on missile
defense, Caryl writes. But in Russia, attention was on energy sharing
between Moscow and Beijing. Putin persuaded the Chinese to let natural gas
monopoly Gazprom bid on a $6 billion pipeline project inside China. And the
leaders also signed another $1.7 billion deal for a pipeline that would
carry 219 million barrels of Russian oil a year from Siberia to the Chinese

The U.S.'s own interests in Russian oil have increased. Vice President Dick
Cheney's energy strategy envisions the former Soviet republics -- over which
Putin still exercises economic influence -- as important new sources for


Manila Bulletin (Philippines), 17th July

THE Iraqi people are celebrating today the 33rd Anniversary of the Iraqi
Revolution which took place in 1968. Iraq is endowed with one of the world's
important commodities: oil. But Iraq also prides itself in having wealth of
a far more lasting kind - its 8,000 year old history and culture. It was the
site of the Mesopotamian civilization. The later cultural heritage of Iraq
has been primarily Arabic, with the advent of Islam in the 17th century.

After the 1968 revolution, Iraq focused its attention on the development of
its petroleum industry. From 1972 to 1975, Iraq fully nationalized, with
compensation to all foreign oil companies operating within its borders. It
enjoyed a massive increase in oil revenues starting in late 1973 when
international petroleum prices began a steep rise. The discovery of major
oil deposits in the vicinity of Baghdad was publicly announced in 1975.

Philippine-Iraqi relations have significantly improved with the signing of
several agreements regarding commercial affairs and deployment of Filipino
manpower in Iraq. An Iraqi-Filipino Joint Committee was established and an
executive agreement on Education, Scientific, and Technical Cooperation was

In 1994, the Iraqi-Philippine Joint Committee held its third session in
Manila, resulting in an agreement for cooperation in commerce, industry,
housing, construction, and science and technology.

The Philippines participated in the Baghdad International Fair and Babylon
Festival. It was followed by a visit of a Philippine delegation from the
commercial and oil sector to Iraq. Four years ago, Minister Adnan Abdul
Majid of the Ministry of Industry and Minerals visited Manila to discuss
industrial, technical, and commercial cooperation.

We congratulate the people and government of Iraq on the occasion of their
historic Revolution.

by John K. Cooley

ABC News, July 20 ‹ Even as Saddam Hussein vows to use his country's oil as
a weapon in the Middle East conflict, American companies are buying most of
Iraq's U.N.-approved oil exports, oil industry sources tell

An authoritative Iraqi source says that as much as 90 percent of the actual
amount of Iraq's estimated 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) are going to
U.S. Gulf coast refineries.

"Most of Iraq's oil exports in July are destined to the U.S., with a few
going to Europe," reported the authoritative oil journal Middle East
Economic Survey.

There's such demand for Iraqi crude in the United States, the report says,
that Saddam is banking on it to mitigate the Bush administration's enmity
toward his dictatorship in Iraq, and therefore, any attempts to oust him.

Works Great, Less Taxing

Sources say American refiners prefer the Iraqi Kirkuk and Basrah oil
varieties, because of their low sulfur content. When they can remove the
sulfur more easily, refiners can make higher profits.

Many refiners have been investing heavily in special equipment to remove
sulfur from crude oil, after the Environmental Protection Agency and the
Justice Department reached agreements with nine refineries last March to
reduce air pollution.

As part of the deal, they also agreed to collectively pay a $9.5 million
civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and spend $5.5 million on
environmental projects in communities affected by the refineries' pollution,
the newsletter Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections reported.

The companies are required to spend an estimated $400 million for installing
pollution controls.

American refiners' thirst for Iraqi oil has been ongoing. Reuters reported
on May 12, 2000, that since 1998, U.S. imports of Iraqi crude oil have
doubled to 750,000 bpd, 9 percent of total U.S. oil imports.

Oil industry sources tell ABCNEWS that the U.S. companies most heavily
involved at present are Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Bayoil and Koch Petroleum,
which use it in their refineries in Louisiana and Texas.

Getting it to Market

The U.S. refiners largely obtain their crude oil from Russian firms, or
middlemen working through Russian firms.

"Everyone makes a commission or gets a rakeoff at every step between the
Iraqi oil fields and the U.S. refineries, mostly in [the] southern U.S.
states," said a knowledgeable oil industry source.

Most of the U.N.-authorized oil sales have gone to Russian private trading
firms as a reward for Moscow's pro-Iraqi positions in the U.N. Security
Council, MEES editors said.

"Large volumes of crude are being taken away from previous customers and
assigned to new [Russian] ones," MEES reported July 16.

This month, Russia stymied a U.S. attempt to revise U.N. sanctions against
Iraq to focus on blocking military imports by vetoing it in the Security

Watching the Money Trail

Iraq's preference for Russian traders is becoming evident from the region's
oil tanker traffic, sources say.

Of the two main ports used by Iraq to exports its "legal" oil, the one used
by Russian traders has been seeing much more use.

America's refiners are getting most of their Iraqi oil from Ceyhan, Turkey,
the terminus of a pipeline between Kirkuk and Ceyhan, because loading Iraqi
crude oil there cuts out the need for supertankers to steam all the way
around the Arabian Peninsula.

The other port, Mina-al-Bakr, a big offshore loading platform in the Persian
Gulf off the Iraqi port of Basrah, has seen use decline sharply in recent

That port is mainly used by supertankers bound for Asia. Iraq's main
customers using this port include India, China, Japan and Malaysia, oil
industry sources say.

by Ella Shanahan
Irish Times, 21st July

Exploration company Petrel Resources is hoping the relaxation of sanctions
against Iraq would lead to a formal approval for the exploration company to
start work on its allocated oil block between Baghdad and the Jordanian

At the a.g.m. of Petrel Resources in Dublin yesterday the company's
chairman, Mr John Teeling, said that for humanitarian reasons, as well as
Middle East peace and world economic well being, it was imperative that a
workable solution to the problem should be found. "Petrel is ready to move.
We await the word," he said. Petrel would maintain an active presence in
Iraq and was ideally placed to be a key player when sanctions were lifted,
he said.

He said an exploration deal had been agreed in principle with Iraqi oil
officials covering a 10,000 square metre block in the western desert but
formal approval of agreement was still not forthcoming.

He told The Irish Times that Petrel, a listed company on the London Stock
Exchange, had been involved in Iraq for three years and "had spent a pile of
money" and it had taken two years of negotiations to get a proposal for the
exploration block. "We know what we want to do and they know what we want to
do," he said. "There are large quantities of oil. Iraq has the second
biggest oil reserve in the world and fields tend to be very large by world
standards. "They have made only nine blocks available, not in the best
areas. "We are the only stock exchange company in the UK that is in Iraq,"
he added.


by Thanaa Imam

DAMASCUS, Syria, July 16 (UPI) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad on Monday
congratulated Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Iraq's National Day -- the
first such gesture after a 20-year political break between the two

Assad, who became president last year after the death of his father,
President Hafez Assad, sent a cable conveying "the good wishes of the Syrian
people to President Saddam Hussein and Iraqi people," according to the
official Syrian News Agency.

Iraq and Syria had severed relations in the early 1980s after they exchanged
accusations of threatening each other's security and because of a
longstanding conflict between the rival wings of their ruling Baath Party.

But under Bashar Assad, Syria has established representation in Baghdad.
Under the senior Assad, Syria's relations with Iraq were limited to economic

Syria and Iraq resumed ties in mid-1997 and have since adopted several steps
to boost economic cooperation. An Iraqi official has estimated the volume of
trade between the two countries as part of the U.N. oil-for-food program and
the private-sector dealings at some $1 billion last year.

Syria, which also secured revenue from Iraqi oil flowing through its
pipeline, was to be given priority by Iraq under the oil-for-food program as
a reward for rejecting the U.S.-British proposed "smart sanctions."

Smart sanctions were aimed at preventing Saddam from acquiring materials,
including dual use ones, that could be used for weapons manufacturing, while
allowing the free flow of other goods for commercial use.

Arabic News, 17th July

Morocco's King Mohammed VI sent President Saddam Hussein of Iraq a
congratulations message on the occasion of his country's national day. "I
avail myself to this opportunity to recall the civilizational capital of
your brave people, its faith in its Arab identity, in its rights and in its
dignity that time will only reinvigorate," King Mohammed VI said.

The message carried the king's best wishes of good health and happiness to
President Saddam and of more progress and prosperity for the people of Iraq.

"I pray the Most High to assist you in achieving your people's aspirations
to more progress and prosperity, in carrying on the development process, in
preserving its national integrity, dignity and sovereignty and in taking up
all challenges," he added.

Arabic News, 17th July

The Jordanian weekly al-Majd said in its Monday's issue that certain Arab
countries adjoining Iraq have taken tough security measures along their
borders and airports and crossing of fears that the secretary general of the
Fatah movement, the revolutionary Council, Abu Nidal ( know as Sabri
al-Banna ) will cross these countries into one of the European states to
complete medical treatment there.

The paper added that according to Lebanese security sources that more than
one Arab and foreign countries bordering Iraq, where Abu Nidal lives, since
he had left Egypt in the year 2000, put their border security into a state
of alert after information leaked saying that Abu Nidal intends to travel
with his wife and any of his children and friends to a European state to
resume his treatment from " blood disease," as no successful medical
treatment will be useful for him in besieged Iraq.

by Amos Harel
Ha'aretz, 18th July

The Shin Bet security service yesterday lifted a gag order imposed on the
arrest of an activist in a pro-Iraqi Palestinian organization that recently
restarted operations in the territories. A group of activists from the
organization last week tried to detonate a car bomb at Ben Gurion
International Airport.

The arrested Palestinian is Mohammed Kandas, a resident of Sanjil village in
the area of Ramallah.

Kandas told interrogators he had been recruited into the Popular Front for
the Liberation of Palestine in 1988, during a stay in Iraq.

In May this year he had returned to Iraq for a brief visit and had been
entrusted with the task of maintaining ties between the organization's
headquarters in Baghdad and its members in the West Bank.

The interrogation also revealed that Kandas had taken part in smuggling arms
for the organization and had also been a part of a terror cell that laid
explosive devices near an Israel Defense Forces base in the Jenin area.

Last week, the cell tried to get a car bomb onto the grounds of Ben-Gurion
Airport, but intelligence reports that led to increased security and
intensified searches foiled the attempted attack. The cell then planned to
switch the terror strike to Tel Aviv but Kandas was arrested before the
operation could go ahead.

The Shin Bet and IDF also announced yesterday the arrest of two Tanzim
activists in the area of Jenin as well as the capture of two members of
Islamic Jihad near Tul Kar.

Daily Star (Bangla Desh), 19th July

AFP, Beirut. 19th July: Lebanon will sign a free trade agreement with Iraq
in the "near future, Economy Minister Bassel Fleihan said Tuesday. "We will
witness the signing of the deal between Lebanon and Iraq for a free trade
zone in the near future," Fleihan said at the opening of the second annual
exhibition of Iraqi products held at the Beirut Hall.

"We are ready to pursue the issue of the free trade zone. The Lebanese
government has taken the decision and is ready for that and we have agreed
on all the clauses," he said.

Last month, the chief of the Lebanese industrial association, Jacques
Sarraf, said the deal was expected to be signed in July.

Earlier this month, the head of the Beirut chamber of commerce, Adnan
Kassar, said Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri had "assured us that Lebanon is
ready to sign a free trade deal with Iraq, similar to agreements signed with
Syria and Egypt."

A number of leading businessmen and politicians are urging the Hariri
government to speed up the process of normalisation between Lebanon and
Iraq, to develop economic and trade exchanges and to import Iraqi crude oil
that Baghdad is offering at half price, as is the case for Syria, Jordan and

Lebanon, which broke off diplomatic relations with Iraq in 1994 after the
assassination in Beirut of an Iraqi opposition leader, resumed them in March
but only at the level of charge d'affaires.

Relations earlier picked up in 1997 when Syria, which wields great influence
over Lebanon, improved its ties with Iraq.

Before the 1990 international sanctions on Iraq, Baghdad was the main buyer
of Lebanese products and Lebanon was the prime destination of Iraqi tourists
and businessmen.

Ain-al-Yaqeen (Saudi Arabia), 20th July

A Saudi military official has stressed that the Government of the Custodian
of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, has been taking good care
of Iraqi refugees in Rafha region, who are on hunger strike in protest at
the stoppage of their resettlement program in other countries by the United
Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

In a statement to the French news agency "AFP," the Director of the Joint
Forces Affairs, Prisoners and Refugees at the Ministry of Defence and
Aviation, Major General Atiah Abdul Hameed Al Tore, said, "We are continuing
to provide food for the hunger strikers whether they accept it or not."

"Moreover, the refugees are protesting and are showing their dissatisfaction
with the stoppage of their resettlement program in other countries by UNHCR,
which had earlier benefited thousands of refugees of the Rafha camp." he

"It is not our responsibility to meet the demand for resettlement by these
(remaining) refugees. It is a matter for the UNHCR." the official explained.
The Ministry of Defence and Aviation is the supervisor of the camp.

Major General Al Tore denied that there was any riot in the camp, which
accommodates 5,000 Iraqi refugees, and that any one of them is kept in

He also denied the allegations that the Saudi authorities have beaten,
insulted or tortured any one of these refugees.

He described a statement issued in London on Sunday by the "Committee of
Supporting Refugees of Rafha" as "a mere fabrication and falsification by
hostile people who live far away from the camp."


He said Saudi authorities had provided the refugees with all facilities
including food and medical and educational services. Saudi Arabia has spent
more than $800 million to host the refugees at the Rafha camp over the past
10 years.

Major General Al Tore added that the refugees are not only treated in the
hospital affiliated to the camp but also in major cities. He said we have a
building in Riyadh and another in Jeddah, adding that we do not impose on
anyone to return to Iraq against their will, but whoever wishes to return
would be helped with a sum of SR 10,000 ($2667) so that they can improve
their living conditions.


The Saudi official denied the infiltration of some Iraqi elements into the
camp and said the camp has been established since 12 years and there not a
single case of infiltration. It is surrounded by fences and well guarded.

He added that the Saudi government has secured the occasion to perform Hajj
for 200 refugees. They were accompanied by guide who helped them accomplish
the rituals.

On the other hand the Head of UNHCR in Saudi Arabia and GCC coordinator Dr
Mostafa Omar stressed that no complaints were received from the refugees in
the Rafha camp against the Saudi authorities.

He said he never received any complaints or heard about any abnormal cases
in the camp except that the refugees are protesting and are showing their
dissatisfaction with the stoppage of their resettlement program in other
countries by UNHCR, adding that UNHCR is exerting continuous efforts in
order to re-install the program.

He clarified that the concerned authorities are providing very humane
treatment to the refugees and that there are strict directions from the
Command to provide the best treatment to those people. He said in case of
any complaints we would investigate the matter.


On the other hand, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called upon the UN Security
Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan, for the second time, ''to urge the
Iraqi authorities to stop the encroaches into Saudi territories, and
confirmed that a exchange of fire took place at the borders.''

In a message conveyed by Saudi Ambassador to the United Nations Fawzi
Shubokshi to Annan and the Chairman of the Security Council, the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia said that ''the Iraqi violations aim to shake security and
stability in the region.''

The message said that on 11th of June, a patrol of Saudi border guards
exchanged fire with seven persons at the borders between the two countries.

The Saudi border guards had found an Iraqi vehicle inside Saudi territories,
and ''there were seven people inside the vehicle and three of them were
about 500 meters inside the Saudi territory,'' the Ambassador said.

Fawzi Shubokshi said the Iraqis fired at the Saudi officers, adding that
"the Saudi border guards found 44,653 kg of hashish in 45 cases at the

The Saudi Ambassador registered a request from the government of the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia, ''to urge the Iraqi authorities to stop such breaches and
violations of the Saudi borders and illegally enter its territories.''

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had protested to the United Nations and Security
Council for Iraqi assaults against Saudi border guards and injuring some of
them on May the 12.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi opposition organization, claimed responsibility for the
Katusha missile attack. In a statement issued by the Higher Council for the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Council said that its elements launched 16
missiles, and not three as claimed by an Iraqi security source, against four
targets, among which was the Republican Palace, and not an inhabited area as
claimed by the official story.

In London, the representative of the Higher Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq, Dr Hamed Al Biaty, said that 4 Katusha missiles (122 mm)
were launched at the Republican Palace in Karadet Mariam, the building of
the General Intelligence Department at Al Mansour district, the Ministers
Compound in Cadisia district near Al Nesour Square and the Radio and
Television building in Salheya district.

The Council said that these attacks are in revenge to the blood of religious
Olama and martyrs, whom it said the Baghdad's regime has killed, and in
revenge of the regime because of its wide acts of suppression against the
Iraqi people in the north, middle and south.

It is worth mentioning that six persons were injured on March 21st in
Baghdad in an explosion of which the Iraqi authorities accused Iran. This
explosion took place after five days of another one caused the death of two
persons and the injuring of 27 in Baghdad.

Arabic News, 21st July

The first Iraqi passengers train started its trip on Friday to transport
passengers to Turkey through the Syrian territories following a suspension
that lasted for 20 years.

The director general of the Iraqi railways Abdul Razzaq al-Ani told
reporters before the train had started its trip that resuming transportation
of train came as a result of an agreement between the railways
establishments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

Al-Ani explained that the train will run an area of 1100 kilometers as from
the starting point in Baghdad to the Turkish Ghazi Intab railway station at
a time not to exceed 23 hours. He continued that the train will run three
regular trips and it included two accommodation caravans with each of 24

On May 9 this year, the director general of the Turkish railways
establishment Jahed Sweller announced in Baghdad that Turkey and Iraq agreed
during talks held in Ankara in January this year to resume regular train
trips between the two countries to transport persons and commodities.

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