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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 Anti-Sanctions Campaign¹), though its sure to be more interesting than the Associated Press account would have us believe. There¹s also the piece, under International Relations¹ about the amount of Iraqi oil that is going to the US. SANCTIONS * 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 THE ROLE OF RUSSIA * 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 General 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?] IRAQI-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * 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 IRAQI-MIDDLE EASTERN/ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * 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): ANTI-SANCTIONS CAMPAIGN * An Irishwoman's Diary [on meeting in Kimgslay Hall addressed by D.Halliday] * 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: He 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] MILITARY MATTERS * 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 airspace] INSIDE IRAQ * 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 NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * 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: There 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] SANCTIONS http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=6EFBF390-7A00-11D5 841D00508BF9712A&Title=US%20Navy%20Blocks%20Cargo%20Ship%20From%20Reaching%2 0Iraq&CatOID=45C9C78F-88AD-11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C * US NAVY BLOCKS CARGO SHIP FROM REACHING IRAQ 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. http://www.baghdad.com/?action=display&article=8356955&template=baghdad/inde xsearch.txt&index=recent * G8 FMS CALL FOR NEW IRAQ STRATEGY 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, Pravda) http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010721/2001072119.html * IRAQI OFFICIAL SAYS INTERNATIONAL EMBARGO STOPS IRAQ FROM CONVEYING ITS MESSAGE TO THE WORLD 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 correspondents. He also lauded Morocco's support to the embargo lifting. THE ROLE OF RUSSIA http://home.kyodo.co.jp/all/display.jsp?an=20010716169 * RUSSIAN ENVOY PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO BAGHDAD 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. http://www.iht.com/articles/26217.html * IRAQ:WHEN BUSH'S FRIEND PUTIN TURNS OUT TO BE UNFRIENDLY 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. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010718/wl/iraq_russia_dc_1.html * IRAQ'S SADDAM RECEIVES PUTIN LETTER ON SANCTIONS 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 fields. 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. [.....] http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/010722/nysu002a.html * RUSSIAN OIL INTERESTS FORCED PUTIN TO BACK OFF FROM SUPPORTING A U.S. PLAN TO REFASHION SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAQ 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 23). 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 interior. 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 energy. IRAQI-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://www.mb.com.ph/OPED/2001-07/OE071707.asp * 33RD ANNIVERSARY OF THE IRAQI REVOLUTION 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 signed. 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. http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/iraq010720_cooley.html * TRADING WITH THE ENEMY: U.S. REFINERS REPORTEDLY BUYING MOST OF IRAQ'S OIL 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 ABCNEWS.com 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 Council. 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 months. 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. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/finance/2001/0721/fin1.htm * PETREL HOPES CENTRE ON IRAQ 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 border. 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. IRAQI-MIDDLE EASTERN/ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.vny.com/cf/News/upidetail.cfm?QID=202909 * SYRIA MAKES POLITICAL OVERTURE TO IRAQ 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 countries. 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 dealings. 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. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010717/2001071718.html * KING MOHAMMED CONGRATULATES IRAQ'S HUSSEIN OVER NATIONAL DAY 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. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010717/2001071708.html * ABU NIDAL MAY TRY TO LEAVE IRAQ 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. http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/scripts/article.asp?mador=14&datee=7/18/01&id= 124540 * PRO-IRAQI TERROR CELL LEADER CAPTURED HERE 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. http://www.dailystarnews.com/200107/19/n1071905.htm#BODY16 * LEBANON TO SIGN FREE TRADE DEAL WITH IRAQ SOON 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 Turkey. 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. http://www.ain-al-yaqeen.com/issues/20010720/feat7en.htm * 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. 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 noted. "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 detention. 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 site.'' 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. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010721/2001072110.html * IRAQI TRAIN TO TURKEY THROUGH SYRIA 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 beds. 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. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk