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News, 29/7-4/8/01 (2)

News, 29/7-4/8/01 (2)


*  Iran's opposition rises against "religious dictatorship" [On the
activities of the Iraqi based Mujaheedin]
*  Iraqi gas supply for Turkey [proposed pipeline from Kirkuk to southern
Turkey. Bad news for the Kurds.]
*  Iraq urges refugees stranded in Saudi Arabia to come home [3,000
refugees, out of 33,000 in Saudi Arabia at the end of the war, have returned
to Iraq. It would be interesting to know what has happened to them]
*  Smuggler operating in Iraqi border killed
*  Iraqi official: Rehabilitation of the Iraqi planes landing at Amman's
airport very soon
*  Kuwait Says Iraq Still a Threat to Region [³Kuwait has no role in any
military strikes against Iraq ...², according to the Kuwaiti Information
Minister. Saudi Arabia have been claiming this for some time but this is the
first time I have seen it coming from Kuwait. Is it new?]
*  Algiers: Contracts worth over US$100 million signed
*  Iraq defends invasion of Kuwait, 11 years on
*  Turkey, Syria seek to advance cooperation [more bad news for the Kurds]
*  Lebanese- Iraqi economic relations


*  Iraqi Minister Rasheed speaks to the TDN: 'Even the CIA knows the truth'
- Iraqi Oil Minister [Despite the title, this is mainly about the opening of
a second crossing point between Turkey and Iraq. the interviewer tries to
press the point that this creates problems for the Kurds, but the Iraqi
minister refuses to acknowledge that they have an existence distinct from
that of the rest of Iraq]
*  Liberated and safe, but not yet free [David Hirst on the unenviable
position of a people surrounded by enemies and reliant on the very
unreliable broken reed of Western goodwill]
*  The Kurdish dream: emigration to Europe [Hirst again on the painful,
costly and often fruitless business of emigration]
 * Archer 'used charity role in bid for Iraqi [or, if you prefer, Kurdish -
PB] oil¹


*  UK envoy fails to justify Iraq sanctions {letter from H.Von Sponeck to
Irish Times]
*  Sanctions on Iraq [reply from British Ambassador to Dublin.
Congratulations to our Irish colleagues for putting the Ambassador in a spot
where he has to do this sort of thing]


*  Iraqi President's Son Says He Has No Intention Of Converting to Shia
Islam [As rumours go this was a corker!]
*  Iraq renovate the flower producing sectors
*  Saddam Appoints Foreign Minister


*  Iraqis, Afghans Lead World in Asylum Requests [Unpleasant as the Iraqi
and Afghan regimes may be, is it a coincidence that both these countries -
like Vietnam at the time of the boat people - are subjected to particularly
vicious sanctions?]
*  German embassy resumes its activities in Baghdad [This may prove to be
significant if I am right in thinking that under a cover of slavish loyalty
to the New World Order, Germany is developing the capacity to act as an
independent, purposeful and powerful force in the world]


Times of India, 29th July

BAGHDAD ( AFP ): The coalition of Iranian opposition, dominated by the armed
People's Mujahedeen movement, ended here Sunday three days of meetings on
the 20th anniversary of the umbrella organisation's establishment, saying it
remained determined to overthrow Iran's "religious dictatorship".

The grouping of five opposition movements, the National Council of
Resistance of Iran (NCRI), reiterated its "commitment to overthrow the
religious dictatorship in Iran and bring about freedom and popular
sovereignty in the country."

The NCRI was founded in July 1981, shortly before the Mujahedeen, which had
been tolerated by the Islamic regime, fled Iran and started to conduct its
rebellion from abroad.

Baghdad sponsors bases for the Mujahedeen, who launch frequent attacks on
neighbouring Iran.

The council said 552 members attended the session of the NCRI, which is
headed by Massoud Rajavi, leader of the Mujahedeen.

The council said "the resistance had carried out 261 military operations
inside Iran during the past year," including 180 in 2001.

"Military operations exacerbated the mullahs' factional strife and deepened
its internal crisis, thus creating a greater opportunity for the spread of a
social protest movement against the regime," it said in a statement.
According to the Mujahedeen, Iran has fired 77 missiles at the group's bases
in Iraq.

ISN (International Relations & Security Network), Mon 30 Jul 2001

(Reuters): Iraq's Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed has said that his
country has agreed with Ankara to build a pipeline to supply Turkey with
gas. "We have agreed with Turkey to construct a gas pipeline to supply
southwest Turkey with gas," Rasheed said. According to the agreement Iraq
would supply Turkey with 11 billion cubic metres of gas a year, an amount
that could be increased. Iraq and Turkey signed in 1997 a preliminary deal
to build a gas pipeline between them.

According to Iraqi officials the gas pipeline would be 1'300 km long and
would cost a total of US$2.5 to 3 billion. It would extend from the Iraqi
oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the southwest of Turkey. Rasheed said the second
stage of the project would be connecting the pipeline to Turkish ports in
the Mediterranean. The Iraqi minister said the restructure of Turkey's
economy had delayed work on the pipeline. "Now we hope work in the pipeline
will start soon," he said. Apart from an oil-for-food concession that allows
Baghdad to sell oil to buy relief needs, Iraq is banned from exporting oil
or gas under UN sanctions imposed on it for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Most of Iraq's gas production consists of associated gas in oilfields, but
Iraq also boasts several gas fields -- among them al-Anfal which came on
stream in May 1990 at a rate of 200 million cubic feet a day.


Baghdad, Reuters, 30th July

Iraq yesterday appealed to thousands of Iraqi refugees, stranded in Saudi
Arabia since the 1991 Gulf War, to return home. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry
also accused the Saudi authorities of "inhuman and immoral practices"
against more than 5,000 Iraqis living in Rafha camp near the Iraqi border
and demanded they allow the Iraqis to leave.

"Iraq is ready to welcome Iraqi refugees living in Rafha camp who want to
return back to their country," the ministry said in a statement carried by
the official Iraqi News Agency INA. "Iraq will grant amnesty to those who
want to return back to their homeland and will facilitate their return," it

The refugees are the last of 33,000 Iraqis stranded in Saudi Arabia after a
U.S.-led coalition ended Iraq's seven-month occupation of Kuwait in February

Many of them were Iraqi prisoners of war or Shi'ites who fled the country,
some with their families, after Iraqi government forces crushed a post-war
rebellion in the southern part of the country.

Earlier this month a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) in Saudi Arabia told Reuters dozens of the Iraqi refugees
had staged a hunger strike to press for resettlement abroad.

About 25,000 of them had moved to Europe, Australia or North America before
host countries closed their resettlement programme in 1997, the UNHCR
spokesman said.
Some 3,000 others have voluntarily returned to Iraq, and the rest remain in
Saudi Arabia.

The spokesman said most of the refugees still in Saudi Arabia have been
refusing to return to Iraq despite financial incentives of up to 10,000
Saudi riyals ($2,700) offered by the Saudi government for voluntary return

IRNA (Iranian news agency), 30th July

Oshnaviyeh, Kurdistan Prov: Iranian security forces have shot dead a
smuggler operating along the western border with Iraq, a local source said

"The incident occurred Saturday when three cars carrying contraband goods
were illegally entering Iran from Iraq," he said, adding, "The security
forces fired salvos at them after they did not heed calls to stop."

The victim, identified as Yassin Nasrin-Khoresht, was the driver of one of
the cars.

Many residents of Oshnaviyeh, in this border province, are involved in the
illicit traffic of goods.

Officials say Iran loses some two billion dollars each year from smuggled
goods which are largely imported by influential groups or individuals within
state organizations.

Arabic News, 31st July

An Iraqi diplomat in Amman has stressed that a technical team from his
country will start very soon the rehabilitation of the Iraqi planes, landed
at Amman's International airport since the year 1990.

The diplomat indicated that the technical team will decide the possibility
of rehabilitation of planes that were suspended from work since more than 10

For his part, the director general of the civil aviation authority in Jordan
Captain Jihad Arsheed said it is difficult to rehabilitate the Iraqi planes
landed at the Amman's airport because they have many defects, stressing that
the ability of these planes to fly is impossible.

He added that the rehabilitation of these planes require very huge sums of
money and exceed the value of buying it for several times, and this is
according to technical tests made recently on these planes.

So far, the total cost of rehabilitating the 6 Iraqi planes, owned by the
Iraqi airlines, has not been estimated yet.

The Iraqi authorities seek to restore back its planes which are stationed in
airports of other countries and is facing political problems with Iran
because of this matter.

However, the smart sanctions project which the US and Britain tried recently
to perpetuate stated to obligate the countries on whose territories there
are Iraqi planes, to sell these planes and allocate its price at a special
account run by the Secretary General of the UN.


Yahoo, 1st August

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait still sees former occupier Iraq as a threat to the
oil-rich Gulf region, Kuwait's foreign minister said in remarks published on
the eve of the 11th anniversary of Iraq's invasion.

``Iraq's regime still represents a danger and a threat not only to Kuwait,
but also to the states of the entire region,'' Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad
al-Sabah told Wednesday's al-Qabas newspaper.

Baghdad continues to carry out a ``policy of enmity'' against Kuwait, he
said in an interview.

Sheikh Sabah reiterated his country's call for the release of 605 missing,
mainly Kuwaitis, whom it says are detained in Iraq. Baghdad denies knowing
their whereabouts.

``We still live the tragedy of our missing (people) in Iraqi prisons... We
will not rest until they return to their country,'' Sheikh Sabah said.

Officials and diplomats say the fate of the missing is one of the most
emotive legacies of Iraq's seven-month occupation.

Kuwait has so far refused to deal directly with Baghdad and often describes
its much larger neighbor as a security threat. But it denies a role in
Western allies' strikes against Iraq.

``Kuwait has no role in any military strikes against Iraq...but if the Iraqi
regime continues to cause crises then other concerned parties would not
stand on the sidelines,'' Kuwait's Information Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd
al-Sabah told a news conference on Wednesday.



Algeria and Iraq 12 contracts worth $100 million under the U.N.-backed
oil-for-food deal, the official APS news agency reported on Wednesday.

The contracts were signed last week during a visit to Baghdad by Algerian
Industry Minister Abdelmajid Menasra, it said quoting the minister.

It gave no details of the different agreements. Under the oil-for-food deal
which went into effect in December 1996, Iraq is allowed to sell oil to buy
food and medicine for its people.

Algeria is one of several Arab countries which have called for the lifting
of United Nations sanctions imposed on Iraq since its 1990 invasion of
Kuwait. Menasra led a 100-strong delegation of businessmen and government

He announced during the visit the creation of a free trade zone with Iraq,
which APS said would come into effect at the end of October or early
November this year.

Iraq signed free trade agreements with Syria, Egypt and Tunisia early this
year. Last month it signed a wider free-trade agreement with Egypt, Syria
and Libya. (Reuters)

Times of India,2nd August

BAGHDAD: Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was necessary to defend Baghdad against a
Kuwaiti "plot", the official news agency INA said Wednesday on the eve of
the 11th anniversary of that aggression.

The August 2, 1990 invasion "was aimed at aborting a colonialist and Zionist
plot against Iraq and the Arab world," INA said.

The agency accused Kuwait of having "set out, in the framework of this plot
and in collusion with the US administration, on a perverse policy of
flooding the oil market and lowering the price of crude with no

"Kuwait reacted to Iraqi warnings by continuing to fill the role the United
States gave it and refusing all serious dialogue with Iraq to settle the
issue," INA said.

"Ulterior developments, notably the US-Zionist military aggression and the
continuing embargo, have demonstrated the accuracy of the Iraqi position and
the hatred for it from imperial and Zionist forces.

"Iraq is today more determined than ever to follow jihad (Islamic holy war)
under the leadership of President Saddam Hussein to break the embargo," INA

Ahead of the invasion, Baghdad accused Kuwait of sabotaging the Iraqi
economy with low oil prices.

The Iraqi army was driven from Kuwait in February 1991 by a US-led
multinational coalition. A wide-ranging UN embargo imposed on Iraq just days
after the invasion is still in place.( AFP )

Times of India, 3rd August

ANKARA: Former arch-foes Turkey and Syria concluded two days of talks here
on Thursday aimed at further improving recently thawed bilateral ties and
evaluating developments in the conflict-torn Middle East.

The two neighbors had come to the brink of war three years ago when Turkey
threatened military action if Syria continued to shelter Kurdish rebel
leader Abdullah Ocalan and his militants.

Tension eased in October 1998 when Ocalan left Damascus, his long-time safe
haven, and Syria signed a security cooperation accord with Turkey, opening
the door to a thaw in relations and an exchange of visits.

During meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, Syrian diplomats, led by Deputy
Foreign Minister Seba Nasser, discussed with their Turkish counterparts the
text of a so-called "friendship and cooperation document" outlining
principles to guide bilateral cooperation.

Nasser said the document was to be formally adopted following a visit by
Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem to Damascus, expected to take place in a
few months, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported.

Ankara reportedly wants Damascus to publicly declare that it has no claims
over the southern Turkish province of Hatay, often shown as a Syrian
territory on Syrian maps.

Asked whether the issue would be a part of the planned document, Nasser said
"the document will include only the process of bilateral cooperation."

In a February interview with a Turkish television channel, Syrian Foreign
Minister Faruq al Shara had said that "maybe several years" were needed to
settle the problem.

Turkish diplomats told AFP the talks concentrated on improving bilateral
cooperation in the security, economic and cultural realms.

The two sides also discussed escalating violence between Israel and the
Palestinians as well as suggestions to ease the United Nations sanctions on
Iraq, Nasser said.

The parties made no statement on another major bilateral dispute, the
sharing of the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris, which originate in
Turkey and flow down to drought stricken Syria and Iraq.

Damascus and Baghdad accuse Turkey of monopolizing the waters by building
dams over the rivers.

The Syrian delegation was scheduled to leave Turkey on Friday. ( AFP )

Arabic News, 4th August

The economic sides in Lebanon have welcomed appointing Wafiq Ruheimi as the
first Lebanese diplomat at the rank of a consultant for the charge de
affairs of the Lebanese embassy in Iraq. This decision was taken after
Beirut had decided in march this year to resume diplomatic relations with
Iraq following a suspension of 7 years.

On July 17, the Lebanese minister of the economy Bassel Fleihan announced
that Lebanon and Iraq will sign " shortly" an agreement on free exchange.

Moreover, the steps taken by the Lebanese government was greatly welcomed by
the Lebanese economic bodies which have been calling since several years to
restore back diplomatic relations between the two states to normalcy and to
accelerate the convening of an agreement for free trade similar to the
agreements held between Syria and Jordan and Syria and Egypt.

In a statement, chairman of the board in charge of promoting exports at the
Lebanese industrialists society Ahmad Kabarah said that " nominating the
Lebanese diplomat in the Lebanese embassy in Iraq is considered a basic and
an important step to strengthening relations between the two countries,"
noting that is one of the most important elements for enabling the signing
of the free trade agreement between the two countries very soon.

Recently the Lebanese government decided to take several steps of
raproachment with Iraq. It extended an invitation to the Iraqi vice
President Taha Ramadan to visit Beirut later this year.


Hoover's, July 30, 2001, Financial Times Information Limited - Asia Africa
Intelligence Wire [I don't know what TDN is. Is it a Turkish news agency? -


TDN - Firstly, I would like to ask about the second border gate. There are
different messages from Turkish officials and you. While you are saying that
there is a consensus between the Turkish and Iraqi sides about the second
border gate, it is not the same for Turkish officials ... Could you explain
the plans for the second gate?

Amir Muhammed Rasheed - First of all there is an increase of trade between
Turkey and Iraq. Now taking this volume of trade into account, one can see
that the present way is totally insufficient, but also we cannot broaden it.
In principal, we agreed for a second gate, but of course, there must be
technical studies and technical preparation.

TDN - The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Kurds, they give signals
that they are there ... So will you cooperate with the KDP?

Rasheed - First of all, we have Iraq and Turkey. Of course there are groups,
political parties in the northern parts of Iraq, but we should see that
there are not three parties, but just two parties. Secondly, the first gate
is similar to the second gate.

TDN - But the KDP is in charge of Habur and Halil Ibrahim Customs point.

Rasheed - Such details are not important. There is already a bridge and
another bridge will be constructed a few kilometers away in the same area.
This is not through Iran or Syria, this is again through Iraq.

TDN - But the border revenues, which is one of the main reasons of dispute
between the Kurds in Iraq ...

Rasheed - I am answering questions within the framework of the agreements
between Turkey and Iraq.

TDN - Now, what about the reality in northern Iraq? The Kurds ... They are
controlling three big cities in this area.

Rasheed - The problem, what is called as the Kurdish issue, can only be
solved within the borders of Iraq. Of course in 1991 there was an agreement
between Iraqi Kurds and the Iraqi government on a local government within
Iraq. (Note by TDN: Kurdish sources deny such an agreement. They say that
Kurdish leaders went to Baghdad in April, but Baghdad withdrew from the
dialogue in October and imposed an embargo). The United States or
particularly the State Department asked to see the plan and they misled the
Kurdish groups into having a separate entity.

TDN - The Kurds were cautious towards your offer. They say that the United
Nations should be ready at the table, as well.

Rasheed - This is their opinion.

TDN - How do you evaluate the Turkish position?

Rasheed - We have a sort of a coordinating committee between the Turkish and
Iraqi government, a sort of discussion is going on concerning this issue.
(He refuses to elaborate on this coordination between Baghdad and Ankara).

TDN - Turkey is a close ally of Israel and the United States and these two
states have been complaining about Iraq developing weapons of mass

Rasheed - A big lie ... Scott Ritter's book and the film say that the CIA
was certain that Iraq had dismantled all weapons of mass destruction. All
these (claims) have political aims and have no connection with reality. The
Jewish lobby is behind the political agenda to promote that policy against
Iraq. They use such things to mislead and to confuse international public
opinion. This is a big lie which was fully exposed in 1997 and 1998 when
there was a discussion at the Security Council. For more than
three-and-a-half years, there has been no inspection. They use it as a
vehicle to manage and promote policies against Iraq. The United States don't
like to see a strong government, not only in Iraq, but also in Turkey. A
strong government in any country, even in Europe, will care for the
interests of their people and will plan to improve ties with neighbors, and
this is contrary to American interests.

The main reason fighting against Iraq is this, and regarding the economical
part of it, Iraq has some of the largest oil reserves in the world. As I am
saying now, there is a strong wish and political will on both sides to
develop economic relations. One of these targets is related with the second
border gate.

TDN - How do you see the future of discussion on the smart sanctions and the
embargo at the U.N.?

Rasheed - The resolution on the smart sanctions failed. Does that mean that
the British and the Americans will give up? I am sure that they will
continue to modify the draft resolution, but international public opinion
has been so clear that this is an imperialistic offer which also threatens
the sovereignty of neighboring countries. The essence of it is poisonous and

TDN - How do you see the future of the regime in Iraq?

Rasheed - I think the interview is over. This is a regime which came from
the Iraqi people and Arab nation. It has proved its wisdom politically and
militarily, and the nationalistic leadership of Iraq has been an example to
the region and for this the United States sees Iraq as a threat.,3604,530407,00.html

by David Hirst in Sulaymaniyah
The Guardian, 1st August

The Kurds have a national flag. The red, green and white tricolour with a
sun at its centre is the emblem of a people who, numbering about 40m, are
the Middle East's fourth-biggest ethnic group. Their mountainous heartlands
describe a great arc through some of the richest and most strategic regions
of the four states - Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria - among which they are

In 1920 the Treaty of Sévres recognised the Kurdish right to statehood. But
the rise of the Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk and the 1923 the Treaty of
Lausanne, by which Turkey renounced sovereignty over Mesopotamia, put paid
to their dreams: they have been rising in revolt after bloody,
uncoordinated, unavailing revolt ever since.

In 1946 the flag flew in the small but short-lived "Mahabad Republic" before
it was suppressed by the Shah of Iran. Nowhere has it flown officially
since, not even here in "liberated" Iraqi Kurdistan.

It is 10 years since the Iraqi Kurds, or a large segment of them, acquired a
sort of self mastery. It was the fruit of a long struggle and great
suffering and, typical of the Kurdish experience, it was great upheavals
beyond their control that finally brought their self-ruling enclave into
being: Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait; the great Kurdish and Shi'ite
uprisings; the panic flight of an entire people; and the creation of the
western-protected "safe haven", subsequently expanded, which persists to
this day.

This juridical no man's land was to have been a strictly provisional affair,
pending a final settlement of the whole Iraqi question. But of all the
unfinished business of the Gulf war, "liberated" Kurdistan looks like being
its most important legacy: the longer it endures, the harder it is to undo.

The Kurds dare not fly their flag, but in this swath of territory the size
of Switzerland a community which, at 3.6m, outnumbers many UN member states
is surreptitiously acquiring the attributes - functional, political,
cultural and economic - of independence.

It adds up to the greatest success in the annals of pan-Kurdish struggle.
Yet it remains a deeply vulnerable one. Iraqi Kurds are a people in waiting,
suspended as never before between ultimate triumph and renewed calamity. For
they know that, just as their curious entity came into being by a
geopolitical accident, another could just as easily extinguish it.

The ultimate triumph would be formal, internationally recognised
independence. "That goes with the self-determination which is the natural
right of all peoples," said Nerchivan Barzani, one of the Kurdistan regional
government's (KRG) two prime ministers. "Ask any Kurd if he wants a state."
They virtually all do.

Saedi Barzingi, president of Irbil University, said: "It's time to correct
the injustices of the post world war one settlement. We are not Arabs, Turks
or Iranians. Why shouldn't we have the same rights as a string of Gulf
tribes who declared themselves states?"

"Liberated" Iraq Kurdistan is self-consciously pan-Kurdish in its ultimate
aspirations. "We could be a model for all other areas of Kurdistan," said
Barham Salih, the KRG's other prime minister, contrasting its moderate,
gradualist, democratic approach to self-determination with the
all-or-nothing violence of Abdullah Ocalan and his Kurdistan Workers'
party's (PKK) failed bid to win independence for the Kurds in Turkey.

No Kurdish party holds independence as its official aim. "In spite of our
right to our own state, we don't raise this slogan," said Massoud Barzani,
leader of the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP). "We only seek federation
within a democratic Iraq."

What one official called "the lousy hand dealt us by history and geography"
dictates this caution. For the Kurds have no access to the sea, nor to any
neighbouring state without a potentially secessionist Kurdish minority of
its own.

Saddam Hussein's Iraq remains an ever-present, if wholly unpredictable,
menace. Having lost his northern provinces, he does not hide his ambition to
re-establish his gruesome tyranny over them.

Day of reckoning

Every day new families trickle into Kani Sheitan refugee camp, victims of a
slow-motion campaign to Arabise the oil-rich Kurdish regions still under
President Saddam's territory. Officials of the governing party, the Ba'ath,
mocked them with the choice: "Become Arabs, and join the fight for Palestine
- or get out."

Barham Salih said: "A regiment of tanks is only half an hour away; they
could sweep into Kurdistan at any time."

Nor will any regional powers connive at the emergence of an independent
Kurdistan in another's territory. The most they will tolerate is the
perpetuation of the status quo until the day of reckoning, when President
Saddam's removal opens the way for the new Iraqi order.

All the Kurds can do in the meantime is to be as strongly placed as possible
when the day comes.

They are steadily forging a distinct Kurdish polity. Irbil, the "capital",
has been renamed Hawler, and everywhere Kurdish signs have replaced those in
Arabic. They are kurdicising school curricula.

They have developed a reasonably efficient administration, with an elected
parliament and municipal councils. They have internal freedoms unimaginable
in Baghdad: there are 50-odd newspapers and unlimited access to satellite
television; in the remotest villages, dishes sprout from every other
mud-and-wattle rooftop.

They have NGOs and human rights groups and, whatever their politics, their
discourse is infused with a real concern for those ideals - democracy,
pluralism, tolerance - whose absence they suffered so grievously.

Two of the region's three universities have been established since 1991.
They are resettling the 4,500 villages destroyed by President Saddam,
replacing lost livestock, and recultivating the fertile, well-watered soil
that remains the backbone of their economy.

In Sulaymaniyah a new oil refinery is testimony to the self-reliance of
Kurdish technicians: they built it entirely from the cannabilised parts of
soft-drinks, sugar, and cementfactories and pipes left behind by the army.

>From Iraqi minefields they made explosive devices to open up a well in the
Taktak oilfield, turning Kurdistan into the world's latest oil producer.

There are two great threats to all this. One is the deep-seated rivalry
between the two main parties - Massoud Barzani's KDP and Jalal Talabani's
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The government is actually composed of
two geographically separate administrations, the KDP's centred on Irbil, the
PUK's on Sulaymaniyah.

They share the same general orientation, and collaborate harmoniously in
many ways. But on the day of reckoning a divided Kurdistan could be a
fatally weakened one.

The other threat is the machinations of the regional powers, Turkey above
all. Turkey is the most congenitally hostile to the notion of a Kurdish
identity, more even than President Saddam. It is the main reason the Kurds
fly no flag: they took it down in the one official place it did fly,
flanking a portrait in parliament of the late Mustafa Barzani, the hero of
the Kurdish struggle, when a Turkish delegation visited.

"For the Turks we are more dangerous than Saddam," a leading KDP executive
said. "They have a paranoid suspicion that our self-government is a
conspiracy to which the west is a party; they hate anything that smacks of
Kurdish progress. The more progress we make the more they must sabotage it.
And they will use any means to do so, such as the exploitation of our
Turcoman minority.

"In effect they are saying that if we Kurds are to have an entity of our
own, this community of 10,000 people should have an equivalent one. They
sponsor the Turcoman Front, a puppet body with no following; Turkish
officers control it and train its militia.

Puppet body

"We have given the Turcomans their own schools, radio and language teaching.
We offered them seats in parliament, but the Turks told them to refuse. On
his last visit to Ankara, Massoud Barzani told them: 'Why don't you give
your Kurds what we give our Turcomans?'"

But what really alarms the Kurds is the "second passage". Under this scheme,
already agreed in principle between Iraq and Turkey, the two countries will
establish a new crossing point in the north-western tip of "liberated"
Kurdistan where Iraq, Syria and Turkey meet, bypassing the lucrative
business that comes their way from the internationally tolerated "smuggling"
of Iraqi oil.

The Iraqi army would reoccupy a narrow strip of territory. It could only do
so with Turkish connivance. "It would be a strategic blow, a noose around
our neck," a KDP leader said. "And we would fight it by any means.
Fortunately, the US has made known its disapproval to the Turks."

Western protection remains the linchpin of the Kurds' security and
wellbeing. So long as it holds they hope for a win-win situation: building a
quasi-independent polity on the one hand, and on the other taking comfort
from the knowledge that the longer they have to build the better off they
will be when the reckoning comes.

It creates a contradiction in the Kurdish soul: they fear no one like Saddam
Hussein, yet they are in no hurry to expedite the day of reckoning, or turn
Kurdistan into the indispensable platform for a US-backed insurrection to
unseat him. Ever mindful of past US betrayals, they would demand cast-iron
guarantees of the outcome, and their own place in the post Saddam order.

Though the official aim is federation, it is, Massoud Barzani said, the
"content" of federation that counts. "We shall never give up our Kurdish
characteristics, or allow the return of a totalitarian system. A generation
is growing up that knows nothing of it."

In fact, the longer self-rule persists, the harder it will be to imagine the
return of Arab rule. So at the back of every mind is the hope that not just
federation, but independence, internationally endorsed, may really come to

"After all," said Falih Bakr, a Barzani confidant, "who really foresaw the
fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of communism before it actually

by David Hirst in Irbil
The Guardian, 2nd August

On the face of it the Sheikhallah bazaar is just the shabby little side
street in Irbil where you go to change money. But the whole of "liberated"
Kurdistan knows that another, more serious business is being conducted
behind those counters piled high with debased Iraqi banknotes.

Emigration is the Kurdish national obsession, and it is here that the
would-be emigrants begin the long, clandestine, perilous yet highly
organised odyssey in containers and ramshackle hulks to the Europe of
promise and plenty.

It is here that they acquire a false passport. For none of Kurdistan's 3.6m
inhabitants has a legitimate one.

As Iraqis they are entitled to one, but they dare not go to Baghdad to get
it. Saddam Hussein is the reason, above all, why they want to leave.

"We have had 60 or 70 years of war, or the laws of war," said Azar Barwari,
a Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) official.

"Saddam was the worst, the summit of chauvinism and brutality. It is enough
that he is still there, however weakened. We fear another Anfal [the
chemical attacks in which an estimated 180,000 civilians died], genocide,
liquidation. It is a fear inside every Kurd."

There are economic and social reasons too for wanting to migrate.

Unemployment is high and, for most, salaries very low. The recent coming of
satellite television has greatly enhanced the allure of exile.

"I know that if you really look carefully, it shows a negative as well as a
positive side of Europe," said Samar Fawzi, a law student at Sulaymaniyah
University, who tried and failed to get to Britain, "but lots see it as a
kind of paradise."

And some do make good and return - on holiday, to buy a house, or to marry a
local girl - with real money in their pockets.

But the most impressive evidence that the political imperative outweighs the
economic one is that this is a society where, unusually, the rich emigrate
as ardently as the poor.

Huge cost

The decision to go often involves an enormous investment, psychologically as
well as economically. Families may sell off most of their possessions to
finance it: it costs twice as much to get to Europe as it does to build a
modest house.

Partly because of the steadily growing web of contacts with the west,
"liberated" Kurdistan has become a main source of Kurdish emigration; more -
probably 30,000-plus last year - leave here than from Baghdad-controlled
territory, where conditions are infinitely worse, or from Iranian Kurdistan.

The Kurdish regional government (KRG) tries to discourage emigration,
through youth training centres, debates in parliament, and group marriages,
and television programmes highlighting the miseries of European asylum
centres, the difficulties of adjustment, and the exploitation of and
prejudice against immigrants.

"But you surely know that not just Kurds, half the Middle East would
emigrate if it could. We can't physically stop them," the deputy prime
minister Sami Abdul Rahman said.

So the KRG tolerates the semi-clandestine Sheikhallah passport bazaar, where
aspirant emigrants publicly loiter, gleaning the latest news, gossip and hot
tips from the underground travel circuits.

Like Europeans planning their summer holidays or stock market investments,
they know the exact price and risks of every route and destination.

The passports are smuggled from Baghdad with the help of corrupt officials.
The current price is $1 000 (£700) for a virgin one, $400 for a used one
that has been "cleaned".

The passport serves one purpose only: legal entry into Turkey. After that it
is thrown away. Turkey offers the Kurds 40 visas a day, half of them through
Massoud Barzani's KDP, which sells them for $90, half through the Turcoman
Front, a Turkish created party ostensibly representing "liberated"
Kurdistan's 10,000 Turcomans, which sells them for $600.

The cheap visa means a long wait, the expensive one is "express". With a
virgin passport the fugitive stands a much better chance at the frontier
than with a used one. But the supply does not match demand. The alternative
is to be smuggled over the frontier, often through Iran. That is cheaper -
$350 - and quicker but, with mines and the Turkish army, it is perilous.

"My brother went that way," Mahdi Abdul Rahman said. "He only lost his
kidney, but nine of his companions were killed when a helicopter, thinking
they were PKK guerrillas, attacked them near Van."

The next stop on the standard route is Istanbul, where contact is made with
a representative of the international smuggling network, almost always a
Kurd, who arranges the sea or land crossing to Greece. The current cost is
$2,000 to $2,200.

At this point it is not only those who are captured, drowned, or asphyxiated
in containers who fail to make it. Some, like Ary Ahmad, an unemployed
technician in Sulaymaniyah, just grow too dispirited to continue.

"After five days hiding in a seaside building site at Bodrum and waiting for
a boat that never came, I called it off," he said. "I had a valid passport
and Turkish visa, after all."

His companions eventually fetched up on a Greek island near the Turkish
coast, and from there took the regular tourist ferry to the mainland.

On arrival in Athens they phoned their families back home and the $2,000
already deposited with a third party was handed over to the network.

>From Athens the fugitive can take a plane to western Europe. But that is the
deluxe route, only possible with a stolen European passport, whose bearer
requires no entry visa; and at $6,000, only a tiny handful can afford it.

The other, normal, route is across the Adriatic by Albanian fishing boat, or
secreted inside a long vehicle on a ferry. Current cost: between $1,000 and
$1,200. The rest, by train, bus or car from Italy to France, Britain or
Germany, is relatively cheap - $400 - and easy.


The great drawback now, however, is that asylum itself has become much more
difficult to acquire as Europe clamps down on the traffic. There are 9,000
unaccepted Kurdish asylum seekers in the Netherlands alone.

"I hear that in Britain there is now a rejection rate of 90%," the
humanitarian affairs minister, Shafiq Qazzaz, said. "There is more and more
talk of 'voluntary repatriation'. And the point of view is developing that
our safe haven is, after all, safe."

But the upshot of a recent debate in the Swedish parliament was that, in
truth, it is not safe. There lies the nub.

"In my view more and more Kurds will try to get to Europe, if only because
there are so many already there," said Fakhir Barzani, of the ministry of
humanitarian affairs. "The only solution lies here in Kurdistan, and it
requires western and UN involvement."

Obliging Baghdad to respect resolution 986 and spend oil-for-food money on
development and income support is the lesser part of it, because solid
long-term investment will only come when there is political security. And
that, Kurds say, can only come with the completion of what the world left
incomplete when, under resolution 688 of April 1991, it created the safe
haven and the US and Britain added their no-fly zones.

The world may have largely forgotten about 688, a call for the Kurds' "human
and political rights" to be respected. But to them it is holy writ, a vital
legitimisation of their cause which should be built on until they achieve a
secure, legal and internationally recognised status, either the independence
they dream of or the federation within a post-Saddam Iraq they realistically
aim for.

Without that, they fear, the worst will happen again. "And believe me,"
Fakhir Barzani said, "next time you could have millions clamouring at the
gates of Europe."

by Kim Sengupta, 4th August

Scotland Yard is being asked to investigate allegations that Jeffrey Archer
secretly used his fund-raising position for the Kurds in an attempt to
secure exclusive rights to energy reserves in northern Iraq.

The former Tory deputy chairman is alleged to have set up a Panama-based
company to exploit oil and gas fields in Kurdistan with the contacts he made
during his Simple Truth charity appeal for the region. The allegation adds
to the mystery surrounding the fate of the £57m which Archer claims the
appeal raised.

Documents seen by The Independent show that Archer is named as chairman of
Systems Engineering and Technology Company (Setco), which was set up at the
same time as the appeal. Setco wanted the "exclusive authority to explore
for, produce, export and sell oil, gas and other mineral resources on, under
and within the area known as Kurdistan... for 25 years", according to
company documentation.

According to Kurdish sources, Archer used a visit to northern Iraq in 1992,
carrying a letter from the prime minister at the time, John Major, to
Kurdish leaders, to gather information about the oil and gas deposits.
Meetings were later held at Archer's flat at Alembic House, on The
Embankment, with representatives of two Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani and
Jalal Talabani.

But the Kurds believed that Setco's demands were too greedy. One of the
Kurdish representatives who took part in the talks at Archer's flat recalled
this week: "Lord Archer always led us to believe that he had the support of
the British government. But the terms Setco were asking for were too harsh,
we felt. We asked the Foreign Office for advice and they told us to be
careful." The negotiations came to nothing.

The oil and gas deals fell through with a change of policy by the US and
British governments, when they moved to a wider Iraq scenario. The Simple
Truth appeal has since been beset by allegations that only a tiny proportion
of the £57m claimed to have been raised found its way to the Kurds.

Sardar Pishdare Rostam, a Kurdish leader and businessman, is preparing to
present police with a dossier of evidence of Archer's alleged dishonesty
over the oil reserves. Archer's actions, claims Mr Pishdare, cost him
$250,000 (£175,000) he had sunk into the energy scheme. Millions more were
lost in future projected earnings from the sale of oil and gas.

Mr Pishdare had met Archer in 1992, soon after the Simple Truth appeal,
along with the late Lord Ennals of Norwich, a former Labour minister who
campaigned for the Kurds.

Mr Pishdare asked Archer if money from the Simple Truth appeal could be
loaned to carry out research into the oil resources in the Kurdish areas of
Northern Iraq. The peer however, maintained that all of the £57m had been

Mr Pishdare then sought investment in the US but, on his return, discovered
the existence of Setco and that it had started negotiations with Iraqi
factions. He told The Independent: "I contacted Jeffrey Archer at the time
about the matter. He told me that he was a writer not involved with any
business enterprises. I knew this was false.

"Jeffrey Archer was a very powerful man at the time... I knew that Archer
had stolen my ideas and he had gone behind my back... Now Jeffrey Archer has
been exposed as a criminal I feel the police should look at what happened."

Last night Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, a former vice-chairman of the
Conservative Party and Liberal Democrat MEP, whose formal complaint to the
police started the Kurdish Appeal investigation, said the account of
Archer's Panamanian company was "highly significant".


Irish Times, 28th July

On January 27th, 2000 the British House of Commons released a document.
Prepared by a group of MPs from all parties, it concluded that the "blunt
instrument" of economic sanctions against Iraq essentially had failed to
achieve its objectives. Instead it had inflicted enormous human costs on
innocent civilians.

Since then much evidence from reputable institutions such as the Red Cross,
Caritas, Care, UNICEF and others has been added to substantiate what the MPs
had pointed out and what had caused two UN officials in charge of the
oil-for-food programme in Iraq, Denis Halliday and myself, to resign. Our
resignations were in protest over a flawed international Iraq policy and the
conversion of the UN from an instrument of conflict resolution to an
instrument of conflict promotion.

This reality makes it hard to understand why the British Foreign Office does
not equip its ambassadors better to argue their case. The British
ambassador, Sir Ivor Roberts, in his letter (The Irish Times, July 21st)
uses the same misleading and easily refutable lines of past British argument
read elsewhere.

It is correct that $23.5 billion was approved for humanitarian supplies.
What Sir Ivor does not mention is that less than $11 billion had actually
arrived in Iraq during a four-year period - only about $100 per person per

Sir Ivor's government also knows that the unusually complicated procurement
mechanism maintained under sanctions causes delays and slippage in the use
of funds. His government knows why allocations for health and education
budgets fluctuate from phase to phase. Sir Ivor repeats what his government
has often and simplistically advanced as an explanation for better
conditions of life in the Kurdish areas outside Baghdad's control.

The British Foreign Office knows, too, that it is not simply a case of
Baghdad's absence. Sanction regulations are applied in these areas much more
loosely. Cash can be disbursed and local procurement is possible. The
Kurdish areas on a per capita basis get a larger share of oil revenue for
their programmes.

The hilly Kurdish region has a more temperate climate and therefore a better
epidemiological situation. There are many NGOs active, unlike elsewhere in
Iraq, and there is substantial cross-border trade with Turkey and Iran. Sir
Ivor should have mentioned these factors when explaining why the Kurdish
areas are better off.

He refers to Iraq's "illegal" income from the sale of oil outside the
oil-for-food programme. He is correct in his criticism that some of these
funds are spent on luxuries and not on education and health. These, however,
are minimal amounts. His government is surely aware that in Iraq, like
anywhere else, it costs money to run a nation.

Sanctions make no provision for any recurrent cost budget. I am not at all
an apologist for the government of Iraq when I ask where should funds come
from for the payment of civil servants, teachers' salaries, for the up-keep
of schools and hospitals, for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

But depriving Iraq of such "extra" income to defray legitimate national
costs, as proposed by the UK/US "smart" sanction resolution, would have
indeed done what Sir Ivor argues it would not: choke legitimate civilian
trade and humanitarian assistance. Fortunately, the UN Security Council last
month decided to shelve this initiative.

My hope is that this will clear the path for dialogue and end the dreadful
battle between Iraq and a US/UK-led UN Security Council, fought on the backs
of the Iraqi people. Until this happens, I am afraid, Sir Ivor, the UK will
be rightly blamed for prolonging an agony.

Hans von Sponeck is a former Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq


Sir, - Hans von Sponeck's article in your edition of July 28th will no doubt
act as a clarion call to all opponents of sanctions on Iraq.

Mr von Sponeck claims to refute several of my arguments and we could no
doubt fill pages arguing the toss over exactly how much money Iraq has
received from the oil-for-food programme, or debating down to the last cent
how much the regime has stashed away from illegal oil sales. I have my
briefing and he has his.

But Mr von Sponeck has missed the point. He has not denied that by far the
most acute suffering is inflicted on Iraqi people by their own government.
He has not denied it, because he cannot. The UN or the UK is not responsible
for the daily torture, rape and murder of Iraqi people. Even the most
vehement opponent of sanctions cannot claim that these acts of barbarism are
the result of sanctions. But they are endemic in a regime that has time and
again displayed remarkable cruelty and disdain for its own people.

Secondly, he cannot offer any alternative to sanctions. This is the nub of
the debate. We all know, as the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee
stated (and Mr von Sponeck quoted) that sanctions are not a surgical
instrument. They are not ideal.

That is why we have spent so much time and effort trying to refine them. We
want to achieve our objectives with the minimum effects on ordinary Iraqi
people getting on with their lives.

But sanctions protect Iraq's neighbours and they protect us. How else can we
ensure that Saddam cannot threaten regional stability by rebuilding his
arsenal or developing new weapons of mass destruction? How else can we seek
to ensure the safety of minority populations in Iraq? Attacking the
sanctions policy and trying to tear it down without any consideration for
what will f ollow is irresponsible.

Saddam Hussein knows this. I'm sure that if he subscribes to The Irish Times
the recent opposition to sanctions will delight him. It shows he has
successfully nurtured this opposition by gulling liberal consciences and
appealing to the moral standards of Western liberal democracies - standards
that his regime has never begun to meet. - Yours, etc.,

Sir IVOR ROBERTS, British Ambassador, Dublin 4.


VOA News, 1st August

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's elder son Uday says reports that he has
converted to Shia Islam are not true.

In a statement carried by his Babel newspaper, Uday Hussein says he is a
Sunni Muslim like his father and family. He says he has no intention of

Britain's Guardian newspaper said Monday there were reports the 38 year-old
Uday had converted in a bid to rally the support of Iraqi Shi'ites in a
power struggle with his younger brother Qusay Hussein. The paper said Uday's
influence has been on the wane and that the 35 year-old Qusay is close to
securing his position as successor to his father.

Opposition Iraqi Shi'ites have described Uday Hussein's recent gestures
toward the Shia as gimmicks. Shi'ite Muslims make up more than half of
Iraq's population but they are generally marginalized and treated with
suspicion by the Sunni-dominated power structure.

Arabic News, 2nd August

The Iraqi foreign minister Muhammad Mahdi Saleh said on Tuesday that Iraq,
at the meantime is carrying out an operation to renovate the sector of
producing flower after it had imported 22 modern mills in the context of
modernizing the flower- production technology and to maintain a high
standard quality of this material.

Yahoo, 4th August

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - President Saddam Hussein appointed Minister of State
for Foreign Affairs Naji Sabri as the new foreign minister Saturday, the
official Iraqi News Agency reported.

The post had been vacant since April, when Saddam reassigned Mohammed Saeed
al Sahhaf, who had served as foreign minister since 1993, as information

Deputy Prime Minster Tariq Aziz had been serving as acting foreign minister.

Saddam frequently reshuffles his Cabinet, giving no reason for dismissals or


VOA News, 3rd August

The United Nations released statistics Friday indicating that in the first
six months of this year, the largest groups of refugees seeking asylum in
Europe and North America have come from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Afghans made up the largest single nationality, with 24,000 applications for
asylum in European countries. Iraqis were the next largest group, with
21,000 refugees.

The total number of asylum seekers from all groups was about 250,000, a
slight increase over the same period last year, according to the U.N. High
Commissioner for Refugees.

It says Germany has received the most applications for asylum this year with
41,000, while Britain has 40,000 applications and the United States has

Arabic News, 4th August

The Iraqi minister of state for foreign affairs Naji Sabri al-Hadeithi said
that the few coming days will witness the opening of the German embassy in
Baghdad after Germany used to send its diplomats representatives through

In press statements he made, the Iraqi minister said that the economic and
technical cooperation committee between the two countries will resume its
works " very soon." The statement of the Iraqi minister coincided with a
statement of a German official source, following a meeting held by the
German- Arab chamber for trade industries in Cairo which said that Germany
intends to revitalize its economic and trade relations with Iraq in the
current phase and in future and there are vast prospects for increasing and
expanding trade and industrial relations between Iraq and Germany in the
framework of the memorandum.

Al-Hadeithi explained that this development " has a great significance,
because Germany is one of the greatest countries in the world." He continued
that Iraq is interested in supporting its embassies in various countries of
the world after resuming back diplomatic relations with these countries,
noting that Iraqi embassies were recently reopened in Ukraine, Armenia,
Belarus and south Africa.

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