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News, 15-21/7/01 (2)

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 Ritterıs 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.ı This wasnıt 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.ı 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]


by Mary Russell
Irish Times, 16th July

When a group of people met in London recently to discuss their concern about
the effects of UN sanctions on the people of Iraq, it was no coincidence
that they did so in a building where, sixty years previously, the political
activist Mohandas Gandhi had stayed. Kingsley Hall is within earshot of Bow
Bells and is situated in Tower Hamlets, currently the third poorest ward in
the country, where 40 per cent of the population is Bangladeshi and where
you can hear 50 different languages spoken.

The hall was built by a couple of philanthropic sisters, Muriel and Doris
Lester, who, as young women, abandoned their comfortable, middle-class
lifestyle to set up a place where the people of Bow could come to pray, to
get something to eat and receive medical care, and their children could
learn to read. Bow - 15 stops eastwards on the Underground and a world away
from London's West End - has a history of people such as the Lesters. George
Lansbury MP, Labour Party leader in the 1930s, represented Bow for 20 years
and Sylvia Pankhurst worked there also.

In 1926, Muriel Lester, in India to meet Tagore, visited Gandhi's ashram.
Four years later, receiving an invitation to London to discuss Home Rule for
India, Gandhi agreed to accept on condition he did not have to go to a hotel
but could stay at Kingsley Hall. His room, little more than a cell, can
still be seen, bare of furniture but for a bedroll on the floor.

He lived there for three months - with a goat in residence also to provide
him with milk. From the window, looking southwards towards the river, the
only thing different now is the silhouette of the ill-famed Millennium Dome
outlined against the sky.

In the workaday meeting place downstairs - parquet floor, windows too high
to see out of, a wash of yellow on the walls - the keynote speech was given
by Denis Halliday, UN Humanitarian Aid Co-ordinator to Iraq until his
resignation in protest at the indiscriminate nature of the sanctions. Three
years on, his tone was one of righteous anger. He had just returned from
another visit to Iraq, and he chose not to indulge in the euphemisms of war.
"We are not simply talking about children suffering," he said. "but of
children being killed." Many in the audience had visited Iraq and some had
engaged in their own sanctions-busting programmes, including the Italian
organisation Bridge to Baghdad which had shipped into Italy, by means as
ingenious as they were illegal, a consignment of the famed Iraqi dates.

This exercise brought into focus one of the many side-effects of the
sanctions, said Denis Halliday for, without an import/export trade, there is
no foreign currency coming into the country and without imports, the
government is deprived of an income from import duties.

Taking the stage alongside Halliday was Kathy Kelly, Chicago-based founder
of Voices in the Wilderness, an organisation which campaigns to end the UN
sanctions. A former high school teacher - she had no need to use the
microphone - she emulated Gandhi by dossing down on the parquet floor for
the night. As someone who has spent a year in prison for her principles, she
probably found it superior to a prison cell. Strangely, the conference -
dedicated to conflict resolution - provoked its very own area of conflict.
When people divided into groups to discuss different aspects of concern, two
men were excluded from the women's group. One of them was Halliday. It was a
moment of supreme irony as the keynote speaker was told he was not welcome.

Halliday, however, is an experienced negotiator, a veteran Aldermaston
marcher and a Quaker; though clearly discountenanced by the rejection, he
accepted it with grace.

In the 1960s, Kingsley Hall was used by the psychiatrist R.D. Laing in his
experiment in living for people suffering from schizophrenia. Laing's
philosophy of total tolerance resulted in so much damage being done to the
building that it was rendered almost inhabitable, something that shocked the
working-class, God-fearing people of Tower Hamlets.

It wasn't until Richard Attenborough used Kingsley Hall as a set for his
film Gandhi and subsequently raised the money to pay for its rebuilding that
it was once again restored to its former self.

A bust of Gandhi was donated to the hall and throughout the conference it
stood on the stage as a reminder of the principle that the impossible is
possible, a theme used by Denis Halliday: "We need dialogue and an end to
alienation and maybe even we need to listen. We should develop a strategy of
friendship towards the Arab world," he said, calling on Arab countries to
use their influence and their potential for power to deal with the 11-year
impasse and calling also on Iraqis themselves to initiate change. "What is
needed," he said, "is the courage to take on the impossible."

At the end of the conference, Kathy Kelly sang a song for the children of
Iraq and someone read a poem declaring that "compassion is a spiritual
tool". It was a thought that could have come from Gandhi himself.

Yahoo, 19th July

UNITED NATIONS (Associated Press) - In a new documentary film, a former U.N.
weapons inspector accuses the United States of manipulating the United
Nations to provoke a confrontation with Saddam Hussein as a pretext for U.S.
airstrikes on Iraq.

Scott Ritter, a former U.S. Marine intelligence officer, says in the
90-minute documentary that he did not provoke the confrontation the
Americans wanted in March 1998, but fellow inspector Roger Hill - an
Australian - did have a confrontation in December of that year.

Days later, chief U.N. inspector Richard Butler declared that Iraq was not
cooperating with weapons inspectors and the United States and Britain
launched airstrikes against Iraq in punishment. U.N. inspectors pulled out
of the country ahead of the bombing raids, and Iraq has barred them from
returning for more than 21/2 years.

Butler, who was Ritter's boss, called the allegations ``completely false''
and accused Ritter of making ``a propaganda film.'' The U.S. Mission to the
United Nations said in a statement Thursday that allegations of collusion
were ``baseless and false.''

The documentary traces the history of the U.N. Special Commission, known as
UNSCOM, which was created by the U.N. Security Council after the 1991
Persian Gulf War to oversee the destruction of Iraq's biological and
chemical weapons and the missiles used to deliver them. The council replaced
it in December 1999 with a new agency, the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission.

By 1995, Ritter said both he and former chief weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus
believed Iraq was ``fundamentally disarmed.'' 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.

Butler said Ritter had always claimed to him that Iraq's banned weapons had
not been destroyed. ``Either he was misleading me when on the job or he is
now misleading the public in his role as a film producer,'' Butler told the

But Ritter said the Security Council is now focused on better targeting
sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait - not on returning
U.N. inspectors so they can resume monitoring and prevent any rebuilding of
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

``This film will hopefully compel people to start ... taking a harder look
at Iraq's disarmament'' and then confronting the issue of lifting sanctions,
he said.

Ritter resigned from UNSCOM in August 1998, denouncing the Clinton
administration for having withdrawn support for the U.N. agency and
undermining weapons inspection.

He has since said Washington used UNSCOM to spy on Iraq - a longtime charge
by Baghdad. In the documentary, he repeated the spying charge and made new

On either Feb. 28 or March 1, 1998, Ritter said he and Butler attended a
meeting with then U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson at the U.S. Mission to the
United Nations, hours before he left for Baghdad to lead an inspection

Ritter said Butler drew a line on a blackboard with the UNSCOM timeline for
the inspection on one side and the U.S. timeline for military action on the
other side, and then told him: ``You have to provoke a confrontation ... so
the U.S. can start bombing'' before March 15, a Muslim holy period.

In Baghdad, Ritter said the Iraqis at first refused to allow his team to
carry out orders to search the Ministry of Defense.

At that moment, then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was
attending a meeting in Paris, prepared to tell the French why the United
States was undertaking military action, he told reporters later. But the
military strikes were called off when the Iraqis later allowed the
inspectors in, he said.


*  U.S. to Keep Patrolling Iraq for Now
by Thom Shanker New York Times Service
International Herald Tribune (from New York Times), 17th July

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has assured Iraqi opposition leaders that it will
not let Saddam Hussein use Iraqi airspace to attack the Kurds or to threaten
Baghdad's neighbors, according to a Defense Department official.

But a review of the Iraq policy is still under way, officials said, and the
administration may decide that the two no-flight zones over southern and
northern Iraq could be enforced with fewer jet-fighter patrols.

President George W. Bush ordered the review of U.S. strategy to isolate and
disarm Iraq, a strategy that includes economic sanctions and support of
opposition groups.

The review of the no-flight zone policy was driven by escalating dangers to
American and British pilots. Iraqi air defense stations are increasingly
effective in targeting the patrols, and Pentagon officials wanted to measure
the threat against the benefits of continuing the low grade war.

Senior Pentagon officials, including Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of
defense, met Friday with four members of the Iraqi National Congress, an
opposition group based in London, to discuss the no-flight policy.

"We regard the no-fly policy as extremely important," said Sharif Ali ibn
Hussein, a member of the leadership council of the Iraqi National Congress.
Mr. Ali and a Pentagon official said that the Iraqis were reassured that the
policy would be maintained. But the methods may be revised.

"The principle of maintaining the no-flight zones is not in question," said
an administration official. "The question is how you do that."

Military commanders have listed four options. One is to leave the operation
unchanged, and another is to eliminate enforcement of the no-flight zones
entirely - which is not under consideration. Another proposal is for
American and British pilots to step up their attacks on Iraqi radar and
anti-aircraft positions. The fourth proposal would sharply reduce patrols,
instead relying on satellite and high-altitude reconnaissance to monitor
Iraqi use of the no-flight zones.

Dawn, July 18th

WASHINGTON, July 17: Aircraft belonging to a US-British coalition monitoring
the "no-fly zone" in southern Iraq struck an anti-aircraft artillery site on
Tuesday, US Central Command said in a statement.

"In response to recent Iraqi hostile acts against coalition aircraft
monitoring the southern no fly zone, Operation Southern Watch coalition
aircraft used precision-guided weapons today to strike an anti-aircraft
artillery site in southern Iraq at approximately 2.45am EDT (0645 GMT)," the
statement said.-Reuters

Los Angeles Times, 19th July

A U.S. F-16 fighter jet heading for a patrol over northern Iraq crashed in
Turkey apparently due to engine problems. It was the first U.S. warplane to
go down in more than 200,000 flights over the "no-fly" zones.

The pilot, Lt. Michael A. Nelson Jr., parachuted from the plane safely and
was in good health at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, said Maj. Scott Vadnais,
spokesman for the allied patrols over northern Iraq.

The F-16 went down near the town of Diyarbakir, 60 miles from the Iraqi
border, and U.S. officials said there was no hostile fire directed at it.

Washington, Reuters, 20th July

U.S. military forces in the Gulf region are on various states of alert
following recent "terrorist" threats, U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
said yesterday.

"There have been some threats in recent weeks, and different forces in
different areas and different circumstances have different threat alert
situations," Rumsfeld told reporters on Capitol Hill after meeting members
of Congress.

The State Department on Wednesday said there were "strong indications" that
"imminent terrorist actions" may be planned against U.S. interests on the
Arabian Peninsula. That region includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain,
Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen.

"As always, we take this information seriously. U.S. government facilities
remain at a heightened state of alert," State Department spokesman Philip
Reeker said on Thursday. U.S. embassies in the Gulf were already on high
alert and have not beefed up security after the latest warning, U.S.
diplomats said.

"While I don't have any further information on specific targets, timing or
method of attack, we felt it necessary to share this information with the
public so that people can be reminded of their security and take precautions
as necessary," Reeker said.

Last month U.S. forces in the Gulf were put on the highest alert based on a
nonspecific but credible threat that U.S. officials said was linked to Saudi
dissident Osama bin Laden.

U.S. officials said they believed the latest threat warning was linked to
associates of bin Laden. The United States has accused bin Laden of
masterminding the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

The latest threats appeared to be focused on Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, U.S.
officials said on condition of anonymity. "We pay attention to threats to
our forces every day, around the world," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig
Quigley said.

As to whether the military was taking extra precautions in the Gulf region,
Quigley said: "We always take a look every day at what is appropriate." The
United States has more than 11,700 military personnel on the Arabian
peninsula. Saudi Arabia has about 5,200, the largest number, and Kuwait
about 4,500, the Pentagon said.

Las Vegas Sun. 20th July

WASHINGTON (AP) - Iraq apparently fired a surface-to-air missile at a U.S.
surveillance plane in Kuwaiti airspace, Pentagon officials said Friday. The
U.S. plane was not hit.

The crew of a Navy E2-C surveillance aircraft flying in Kuwaiti airspace on
Thursday reported seeing the plume of a surface-to-air missile apparently
fired from inside Iraqi territory, according to a senior defense official
who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

The official said the sighting could not be immediately confirmed through
other means. He said it was possible the missile was fired ballistically,
meaning it was not guided by radar and in which case could not be tracked by
its electronic emissions.

The E2-C was not hit by the missile, he said, and there were no other
reported incidents.

If early reports of the incident are correct, it would be the first known
instance of Iraq firing a missile into Kuwaiti airspace since the 1991
Persian Gulf War.



*  Iraq denounces delay of Gulf War health study
Baghdad, Reuters, 16th July

Iraq denounced yesterday the delay of a World Health Organisation visit to
investigate the health effects of depleted uranium used during the 1991 Gulf
War, the official Iraqi news agency INA said.

INA quoted Health Minister Umeed Madhat Mubarak as saying postponement of
the WHO team "reflects the United States' hegemony over the international
body...and a continuation of its hostile policy against Iraq". "This strange
stand comes after the failure of the United States and Britain to pass their
wicked plan to impose stupid sanctions (on Iraq)," Mubarak said.


Mubarak blamed a rise in cancers and cases of mental disturbances,
miscarriages and congenital defects in Iraq to the use of depleted uranium
munitions by the United States and Britain in the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait.

A WHO letter to the Iraqi government said the visit had been delayed "by the
lack of necessary United Nations security clearances to visit Baghdad". A UN
official said he had no details on what the security clearances entailed. 
"As soon as this problem is resolved we can establish the dates for the
mission," the letter said. UN officials blamed administrative and procedural
delays and said they hoped the mission could take place in August or

Baghdad has insisted for years that there was a link between depleted
uranium used in armour-piercing weapons during the Gulf War and growing
incidence of leukaemia and other cancers in Iraq. Baghdad's health ministry
says cancer cases increased from 6,555 in 1989 to 10,931 in 1997, especially
in areas bombed by U.S.-led forces during the war.

NATO's use of ammunition containing depleted uranium in the Balkans has
sparked a parallel furore across Europe over allegations that some allied
peacekeepers in Bosnia and Kosovo contracted leukaemia from exposure to
uranium. WHO and the 19-nation alliance have insisted there is no evidence
that depleted uranium munitions cause cancer.

by David Brough

ROME (Reuters): Deadly Rift Valley Fever is threatening livestock and even
people in Iraq, the United Nations world food body said on Tuesday.

"The disease is usually found in Africa, but it has recently been diagnosed
in the Middle East," Roger Paskin, animal health officer of the Rome-based
UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said in a statement.

"There is a real danger that the virus could spread into Iraq," Paskin said.
"There is a need to monitor the situation very closely in order to control a
possible outbreak."

Yemen and Saudi Arabia are already battling an outbreak of Rift Valley
Fever, which was first identified in the Rift Valley of Kenya in the early

About 120 people in Saudi Arabia and at least 97 people in neighbouring
Yemen have died from the disease.

Rift Valley Fever is a highly contagious disease spread mainly by mosquitoes
and the movement of animals. It causes abortion and mortality in sheep,
goats, cattle, buffalo and camels. In humans, it can cause flu-like
symptoms, which can sometimes lead to death.

Peter Roeder, another FAO animal health officer, told Reuters that if Rift
Valley Fever infected livestock in Iraq, the country could face many
thousands of livestock abortions and risked human fatalities.

All the animals at the Western borders of Iraq with Saudi Arabia are at
risk, FAO said. That is slightly more than 4 million sheep and goats in
addition to about 200,000 cattle.

FAO is starting an emergency project in Iraq to find out if Rift Valley
Fever has spread to Iraq or not.

Iraq's government has sent four teams of veterinarians to the Saudi border
zone. FAO will help the government and send a laboratory specialist as well
as materials for blood sample collection and laboratory analysis.

The Iraqi veterinary services currently lack the necessary laboratory
supplies to carry out effective monitoring and diagnosis, according to FAO.

"By the end of the 6-month project, we expect the collection of around
14,000 blood samples from animals that give us a clear idea if the Rift
Valley Fever virus has spread to Iraq or not," Paskin said. "We strongly
urge other countries in the region to take similar precautionary measures."

Roeder said that vaccines for eradicating Rift Valley Fever were not very
effective. Another way of tackling the disease was to restrict animal

"You should not move infected animals into areas where they could spread the
disease," he said.

He also said it was vital to raise awareness of Rift Valley Fever among

Saudi Arabia and Yemen have cooperated in using planes to spray
mosquito-infected areas across border zones.

Roeder said FAO hoped to work with Saudi Arabia and Yemen to help develop
longer term plans to combat the disease.

Ananova, 17th July

Archaeologists in Iraq have discovered an Assyrian temple and statues of two
winged lions dating back nearly 3,000 years.

The monuments were uncovered during excavations at Nimrud, an ancient city
north of Baghdad.

Text on the lions indicates they date from the time of Ashurnasirpal II, a
famous Assyrian conqueror who ruled from 884 to 860 BC.

Iraq's Antiquities and Heritage Department say the temple is still being
unearthed and was designed for worshipping Ishtar, the goddess of love and

The lions are three metres high and five metres long and stand at the
entrance to a temple. The site's chief archaeologist, Mizahm Mahmoud Hassan,
said the heads had been destroyed, perhaps by ancient invaders or because
they were near the surface.

The Assyrian empire was the major power in the ancient Middle East from
about 900 to about 600 BC and its capitals were Nimrud and Nineveh.



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN, 16th July) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein called on
Kurds in their northern Iraq autonomous region to kick out ''spies'' and to
engage in dialogue with Baghdad.

Speaking on Iraqi Television, Hussein said his government has so far left
the northern area alone to let the Kurds solve their own problems.

Hussein told Kurds that when they are ready, they should sit down with the
Baghdad government and prevent what he called ''foreigners and spies'' from
dividing Iraq.

Northern Iraq has been outside Baghdad's control since the end of the 1991
Gulf war. U.S. and British jets enforce a no-fly zone over the area, to keep
Iraqi forces out.

By Michael Rubin
Jerusalem Post, 17th July

The supermarket in Dahuk was apologetic: the shipment of Coca-Cola had not
yet arrived, but would Pepsi be okay? There was plenty of fruit and
vegetables, several different cuts of meat and many brands of breakfast
cereal. There was no shortage of cheeses or ice cream. There were also over
30 choices of shampoos, and a similar selection of toothpaste. Infrared
scanners made checkout quick and efficient.

None of this is remarkable, except that Dahuk is in Iraq, and has been under
international sanctions since 1990. So why is Dahuk so different from images
of Iraq broadcast by BBC and other Western news outlets? Iraq's President
Saddam Hussein's media handlers cannot operate in Dahuk, since Dahuk is not
under Saddam's control. Neither is Qaladiza, a small town with stacks of
baby formula in the market. Nor is Halabja suffering from food shortages,
though people exposed to the 1988 Iraqi chemical bombardment of the town are
still developing strange cancers. 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.

The Iraqi governorates of Dahuk, Irbil, Sulaymaniyah and portions of Kirkuk
have been free from Saddam's control since the Kurdish uprising in 1991. The
same area that suffered the destruction of 4,000 villages, chemical-weapons
attacks and the murder or disappearance of 182,000 Kurds and Turkmans, is
actually flourishing. Since the implementation of United Nations Security
Resolution 986, the so-called "oil-for-food program," the Kurdish regional
government in northern Iraq has rebuilt 20,000 houses, 800 water systems,
600 schools, and 2,300 kilometers of new access roads.

While the oil-for-food program allocated northern Iraq 13 percent of revenue
generated from Iraq's legal oil sales, an amount proportional to the north's
population, only half the money has been spent. According to a 1999 UNICEF
report, infant mortality in northern Iraq has actually dropped since the
imposition of sanctions. A doctor in a maternity hospital reported that
fertility has skyrocketed; fewer babies are being born underweight, and
fewer mothers are dying in pregnancy.

The United Nations program does not work perfectly. While everyone in theory
has ration cards, some people do go hungry. Families fleeing Saddam's Iraq
into the northern safe haven told me that Iraqi security had confiscated
their UN ration cards after accusing family members of disloyalty to the
Ba'ath party; Egyptian employees of the UN's World Food Program regularly
refuse to intercede.

There are also occasional shortages in medical supplies. Children's vaccines
sometimes run dangerously low, often because the Iraqi authorities in
Baghdad forget to order them on time. (Under terms of the 1995 Memorandum of
Understanding which governs relations between Iraq and the United Nations,
all contracts must be issued through Baghdad, which then distributes
materials to the provinces). Some medicines are in short supply for other
reasons. A pharmacist in Sulaymaniyah said that 20% of his medicines come
from the portion of Iraq controlled by Saddam. Ba'ath party guards at
warehouses in Baghdad simply sell the supplies to smugglers.

Iraqis living in the northern safe haven do not enjoy living under
sanctions. They would like to trade freely and regain normality.
Nevertheless, they acknowledge that they have flourished under sanctions
because their local governments spend the money to develop schools and
agriculture, rather than Scuds and amusement parks for Ba'ath Party
officials. Iraqis, living in both the safe haven and in Baghdad-controlled
portions of Iraq, know Saddam. They insist Saddam will interpret loosening
sanctions as a reward for obstructionism.

Rather than tighten the grip on Saddam, any revisions in the sanctions
regime will simply encourage Saddam to further flout international law.

The lesson is clear. Sanctions do not harm Iraqis; Saddam does.

(The writer, a Carnegie Council Fellow, is currently a visiting scholar at
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He recently returned from
nine months in northern Iraq.)

Tunceli, Turkey, Reuters, 20th July

Expansion by separatist Turkish Kurds in northern Iraq could spark renewed
fighting in the enclave protected by U.S. air patrols, a senior Turkish
security official said yesterday.

The United States has pushed for peace among feuding Kurdish factions in
northern Iraq in order to unite the region against Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein, who has not controlled the north of his country since just after
the 1991 Gulf War.

The official warned that expansion by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK) into areas controlled by Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union
of Kurdistan (PUK), could spark new fighting.

"The PKK has taken over 46 villages in northern Iraq that had been aligned
with Talabani's forces," the official told Reuters. "Fighting between the
PKK and PUK could break out at any time in the region because of this." PUK
officials in Ankara declined to comment.

Turkey has said it provides Talabani and the Kurdistan Democratic Party
(KDP) "technical assistance" to fight the PKK, which has fought an armed
campaign for self rule in Turkey's southeast. Turkish soldiers regularly
pursue PKK fighters across the border into northern Iraq. U.S. air patrols
protect the region from Iraqi forces.

The PKK has largely withdrawn from Turkey to bases in northern Iraq,
straining the fragile balance of power between the PUK and KDP. The parties
have jointly administered a regional government in the breakaway enclave
since 1992, but have not yet fully implemented a U.S.-brokered ceasefire
signed in 1998.

Meanwhile, the Europe-based Ozgur Politika newspaper, often used by the PKK
leadership to make statements, said yesterday the guerrillas had begun
efforts to rebuild their forces.
The high council of the PKK's People's Defence Forces (HPG) held talks in
northern Iraq this month, it said on its website.

"One of the important decisions made (during talks) was to enlarge the HPG
to meet the criteria of a professional and modern army," it said.

The PKK's 16-year-long armed struggle for autonomy in Turkey's
mainly-Kurdish southeast has killed more than 30,000 people, but fighting
has largely dropped off since rebel commander Abdullah Ocalan was sentenced
to death in 1999.

"If our leader suffers any kind of physical harm, every HPG member will
fight at the highest level with his entire heart and soul," the council said
in a statement.

Ocalan, the lone inmate on a Turkish island prison, now awaits a European
Court of Human Rights ruling on his death sentence. He has called on
followers to leave Turkey and instead seek cultural rights through political
means for the country's 12 million Kurds. Turkish authorities dismiss
Ocalan's peace overture as a ruse to escape the gallows.

VOA News, 20 Jul 2001

Security officials in the Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq are
questioning a United Nations employee after finding a bomb in a vehicle he
drove into the region.

Kurdish authorities, in the area controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic
Party, are trying to determine the origin of the bomb and why it was in the

Sources told a reporter for VOA that the UN worker is Tunisian and that he
entered the Kurdish-controlled region from areas under control of the Iraqi
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