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News, 12-18/8/01 (1)

News, 12-18/8/01 (1)

I think the most interesting articles this week are, as so often the case,
in the Kurdish supplement. Gradually a clearer picture is emerging of how
that complicated situation actually works. And without feeling any sympathy
for the efforts of M.Rubin I still don¹t think the anti-sanctions movement
have adequately explained what we would suggest to guarantee the position of
the Kurds, in both zones, under and not under the control of the Iraqi

Otherwise there is the suggestion (*  U.S. Operation Against Iraq Underway)
that the recent bombings are part of an unstated longterm strategy; that a
major part of US intentions is to prevent a successful Shi¹i uprising in the
South (*  Daily: US-British efforts to bolster Saddam); and for lovers of
art and culture, there are Saddam¹s new mosque and a URL directing you to
information of the forthcoming stage production of his novel ...


*  How Some Iraqis Would Slam Saddam [To put you all in a good mood we start
with two articles by Michael Rubin though both this and the next article
could also have gone into the Kurdish section. Here he advocates that the US
should do something very tough, but its not clear what. He says: Œby
preventing the Iraqi opposition from operating in portions of Iraq
controlled by Hussein, the U.S. is effectively embargoing the opposition and
protecting the Iraqi leader.¹ But Œthe Iraqi opposition¹ ARE operating in
territory controlled by Hussein. The Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution are very active and they aren¹t waiting for any permission from
their US minders. Rubin seems to be advocating that the Kurds should be
allowed to invade territory controlled by Hussein. We wonder if many of his
Kurdish friends would thank him for that particular suggestion]
*  The Iraqi people want to know when Mr Bush will get tough [This
duplicates some of the above with a different emphasis, notably much less
emphasis on the interest of Israel. Interestingly, the article attacks
Œsmart sanctions¹ (too soft) and when he says ŒI shared a house in
Sulaymaniyah with a visiting professor from Baghdad ...¹ (a rather
indiscreet reference I would have thought) and ŒMany Iraqis travel
frequently to Baghdad to visit friends and family ...¹ he gives the
impression, rightly or wrongly, of surprisingly relaxed relations between
the Kurdish areas and the rest of Iraq.]
*  Iraq holds control over its own fate [The Bangkok Post thinks its all
Iraq¹s fault for disregarding Œlargely impartial¹ UN arms inspectors,
threatening its neighbours (who never do anything to threaten Iraq, of
course) and (unlike said neighbours, we must suppose) trying to acquire
*  Middle East violence, Arab nations' anger restrict U.S. options on Iraq
{very short extract indicating that the timing of US raids on Iraq has been
largely determined by events in Israel/Palestine]
*  U.S. Funds Satellite TV to Iraq [Well, it gives the ŒOpposition¹
something to do]
*  Unpaid dues threaten U.N. staffers' salaries [the US owes $298 million
for this year alone. Iraq, we remember, has been deprived of its seat in the
General Assembly because of its failure to pay its dues]
*  U.S., Britain ready renewed Iraqi sanctions effort [Very short extract
suggesting that Russia might be won over to the smart blockade if any
clampdown on oil smuggling were removed. Which, if I¹m not mistaken, would
mean ending the blockade, so I think its a good idea ...]


*  U.S. planes bomb Iraqi radar site [Tonto doesn¹t get a mention in this
particular account]
*  U.S. Operation Against Iraq Underway [ suggests that the
recent raids may be part of a longer strategy building up to an all-out
effort to destroy Iraq¹s military infrastructure]
*  U.S. Warplane Strays Into Syria


*  Road accident kills 7 Iraqi aliens, injures 3
*  Daily: US-British efforts to bolster Saddam [interesting Iranian thesis
that the real purpose of US policy is to prevent a successful Shi¹i uprising
that would create a united Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian-Lebanese-Palestinian
alliance against Israel]
*  Royal Jordanian to increase flights to Baghdad [from three to four a
*  Israel and Saddam Put Damper on U.S.-Saudi Relations [US allies, Bahrain
and Saudi Arabia, unhappy about Israel and Iraq. Prince Sultan of Saudi
Arabia says he is opposed to the air attacks - Œeven the smallest military
operation¹ - against Iraq]
*  Iraq, Syria sign agreements in diplomatic breakthrough [Syrian PM Mustafa
Miro¹s visit to Baghdad]
*  On President al-Assad's visit to Kuwait [Assad himself to visit Kuwait on
the 18th August, just to show there¹s no hard feelings]
*  Monument for suicide bombers [to be built by the S.Hussein]
*  Iranian- Iraqi agreement concerning prisoners, Moscow calls for lifting
the sanctions on Baghdad

URLs ONLY:,5744,2572876%255E27
*  Middle East conflict threat widens
by Uzi Mahnaimi, Cairo
The Australian (from the Sunday Times?), August 13, 2001
[Not specifically on Iraq but suggests the possibility that Egypt could
re-occupy the Sinai Desert, which would presumably have repercussions on the
situation of Iraq]
*  A Fearful Potentiality
by John K. Cooley
ABC News, 17th August
[Suggests the possibility that Israel could expel the Palestinians into
Jordan, which would also, presumably, have repercussions on the situation in
Iraq. Mentions the dilemma of Jordan which has closed its borders to
Palestinian refugees]

AND, IN NEWS, 12-18/8/01 (2):


*  Sanctions against Iraq [more of the ongoing Irish Times correspondence.
Rather a good letter, this, I thought]
*  Airstrikes on Iraq [brief letter to The Times]


*  Saddam regaining political strength [Pakistani article suggesting that
most Iraqis - presumably most Sunni Iraqis - are well disposed towards
*  Iraqi oil production in July plunged on power cuts
*  Iraq exports $265m worth of oil under UN 'oil-for-food' scheme
*  Thai soccer team flies to Baghdad for world cup qualifying match [Does
this explain the Bangkok post¹s interest in Iraqi affairs?]
*  Iraq, UAE win in Asian World Cup qualifying [and its hostility?]
*  'Sky' translates an East-West struggle [review of novel about life in
*  Iraqi mosque to preserve Saddam's legacy [Minarets shaped like Scud
missiles and a Koran written using 28 litres of Saddam Hussein¹s blood.
Taste is decidedly not S.Hussein¹s strong point]
*  Iraq hosts a new session for the people's Islamic conference
*  Letter on litter

*  Saddam's romantic novel to hit Iraqi stage
Times of India, 13th August


*  Government [of the Philippines] eyes upstream investment in Iraq
*  Pakistan, Iraq satisfied with progress of Joint Ministerial Commission


by Michael Rubin
Los Angeles Times, 12th August

WASHINGTON -- In 1981, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was near completion of
a nuclear reactor in Osirak capable of producing nuclear weapons. Shortly
before the reactor began operation, Israeli warplanes destroyed it in a raid
roundly condemned throughout Europe and the United States. A decade later,
in 1991, Hussein invaded Kuwait, and a U.S.-backed coalition responded. Dick
Cheney, then secretary of defense, gave David Ivry, director of the Osirak
raid, a satellite photo of the destroyed nuclear plant inscribed with this
message: "With thanks and appreciation for the outstanding job you did on
the Iraqi nuclear program .... which made our job much easier in Desert

Fast-forward 10 years to 2001. Hussein cynically starves his people as he
again strives to build nuclear weapons. Just as Israel's preemptive strike
probably saved many lives in 1991 92, the Bush team now faces much the same
choice. As soon as Hussein conducts a nuclear test in the Iraqi desert, the
ability of the United States to contain him will be severely constrained.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan will lay open to Iraqi aggression.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration does not appear up to the task. By
pursuing a "smart sanctions" approach to constrain the Iraqi president, it
seems dead set to make the same mistake again. The Bush administration's
sanctions policy targets military materiel while allowing civilian goods to
flow more freely. Iraq's neighbors, it is hoped, will agree to crack down on
smuggling. This approach, the State Department says, will ease civilian
suffering in Iraq but still keep the pressure on Hussein to fulfill his
international commitments.

Ordinary Iraqis don't buy it. I recently returned from a nine-month visit to
Iraq. Unlike journalists and activists who arrive with Hussein's blessing, I
wasn't escorted about under watchful eyes. I entered the country without a
visa, a capital offense according to Iraqi law. I stayed in the northern
safe haven, but had the opportunity to talk to Iraqis from across the
country. Only in the approximately 10% of Iraq that Hussein does not control
do Iraqis speak without fear of reprisal.

One elderly Iraqi farmer, who had never been more than 100 miles from his
home, had heard about the smart-sanctions proposal on the radio the previous
day. "Why do they [the U.S. and Britain] talk about war crimes one day and
reward Saddam the next?" he asked. Many other Iraqis pointed out that
facilitating the flow of civilian goods would multiply Hussein's
opportunities to cheat, but do nothing to force him to feed his people.
Hussein can simply continue to withhold rations and blame sanctions for
doing so.

No matter how hard the State Department tries, there is no magic formula to
both contain Hussein and protect Iraq's neighbors. By working feverishly for
short-term stability, the Bush administration is merely continuing the
muddle-through approach of former President Clinton's years, while
broadcasting both to Hussein and U.S. regional allies--namely, Turkey,
Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait--that Washington neither has a serious plan
nor understands that its allies are truly between Iraq and a hard place.

U.S. allies in the region aren't going to wait indefinitely for the Bush
administration to formulate a viable Iraq policy. Turkey and Jordan have
both sustained huge financial losses because of U.S. sanctions policy.
Turkey has lost some $20 billion in trade with Iraq; before the Gulf War,
Jordan's trade with Iraq amounted to approximately $1 billion annually. With
their losses mounting, Iraq's neighbors are unwilling to prolong the
confrontation indefinitely.

The Bush administration essentially has two choices: Allow sanctions to
collapse and Hussein to win, putting Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel
at greater risk, or remove Hussein's ability to brutalize his people and
blackmail his neighbors.

Iraqis in the northern safe haven favor a more forceful approach. When
Hussein ordered his army into their region last December, U.S. and British
warplanes flew over the Iraqi lines. As a result, 138 Iraqi troops threw
down their weapons and surrendered. Iraqis simply do not want to die for
Hussein, but they need an alternative. The administration can provide one.

The U.S. and Britain should supplement the no-fly zones with no-drive zones.
Hussein must not be allowed to use tanks and heavy weapons against his own
people. The U.S. must be willing to use airpower to stop any movement of
Iraqi armor into prohibited zones. When Hussein does test red lines, the
U.S. should not strike cosmetically at buildings shuttered for the evening;
it should not punish Iraq's cleaning ladies for the sins of Hussein. Rather,
the U.S. should target the brains and muscle of the regime: the intelligence
apparatus, the Republican Guard and the Baath Party.

Unlike the democratically elected politicians in the safe haven, Hussein
carries neither electoral mandate nor popular legitimacy. If the Iraqi
people, safe from heavy Iraqi weaponry, wish to rise up against him, the
U.S. should do nothing to stop them. However, by preventing the Iraqi
opposition from operating in portions of Iraq controlled by Hussein, the
U.S. is effectively embargoing the opposition and protecting the Iraqi

Some specialists contend that Hussein has already won; with the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process in disarray, the U.S. is less able to act
in the Middle East. Quite the contrary: It was the constraints in the 1993
Oslo accords that prompted the Clinton administration to respond with kid
gloves when Iraq's neighbors began eroding sanctions. When push comes to
shove, Iran, Turkey and the Arab world will do what is in their national
interests. A hands off policy by the U.S. will only embolden Hussein later.
Similarly, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia know their national survival is at stake
when Hussein gains a nuclear deterrent. The Bush administration must not
give him a chance.


by Michael Rubin
Daily Telegraph, 13th August

On May 18, the day after Great Britain proposed lifting United Nations
sanctions on all civilian goods in Iraq, a taciturn Iraqi farmer asked me:
"Why does the West talk about Saddam's war crimes on one day, but reward him
the next?"

Such is the perception of ordinary Iraqis, who understand Saddam, and are
incredulous at how the Western press and public so readily accepts Saddam's
propaganda. Saddam Hussein wants the West to believe that sanctions are to
blame for suffering in Iraq. He spares no effort to control the spin from
Iraq: his party controls all the television stations and newspapers.
Journalists visiting Iraq accept Iraqi government escorts; even when
reporters escape from their minders, most Iraqis hesitate to speak
critically, since they know others are watching.

The Iraqi government bans those who report critically. Even the United
Nations is not immune. The Baghdad government controls visas for UN
officials to enter Iraq. For many UN workers from poor countries, a UN Iraq
position is the best job they will ever have. But they must regularly renew
their visas. If they do anything to displease Baghdad, they simply lose
their UN jobs. At present, the Iraqi government is refusing more than 280 UN
workers visas to do their jobs. High level UN officials live in isolated
compounds or neighbourhoods, seeing other UN employees and political
officials, but seldom ordinary people.

I was not subject to Saddam's restrictions. I entered Iraq illegally,
without a visa. I spent nine months in the northern portion of the country,
an area still under sanctions but free from Saddam's control for a decade. I
taught more than 500 students at the region's three universities. I walked
and drove without guards or drivers, doing my own shopping, and talking both
with Iraqis from the safe haven and the portion of the country under
Saddam's control. Free to speak while in the north, the ordinary Iraqis had
startling things to say.

I shared a house in Sulaymaniyah with a visiting professor from Baghdad. He
talked about how the Iraqi government organised anti-sanctions
demonstrations. The dean of his college would order him to lead his students
to the site of a protest; the names of any who failed to attend had to be
given to security agents. If any demonstrator got airtime with foreign
television, he would receive a monetary bonus. Following the protest, the
Iraqi government would bus the poor to a reception hall for a fancy dinner.
The professor was incredulous that people would assume that such protests
had anything to do with popular sentiment.

Iraqis, likewise, could not believe that London and Washington did not
understand the message of Saddam's 13-hour military parade on December 31.

"Don't you see that he's just thumbing his nose at the West?" one university
friend asked. Saddam Hussein started two previous wars, and murdered 182,000
civilians (many with chemical weapons) in a 1988 orgy of violence and ethnic
cleansing. Most Iraqis think Saddam will do it again if given the chance -
especially once he develops a nuclear deterrent.

So what do Iraqis want? I was at a gym in Dahuk, Iraq, on February 16 when
word came of the US bombing of Iraqi radar installations near Baghdad.
People were excited. "Finally, the US shows it is serious," a businessman
remarked as we sweated in the sauna. The euphoria did not last though. When
I left Iraq, the mood was dark. Not only were American and British officials
publicly discussing weakening the no-fly zones in response to Saddam's
pressure, but they were also talking of easing sanctions.

Proponents of smart sanctions mean well, but then again so did Neville
Chamberlain. They argue that by loosening controls on civilian goods, the
West can ease the suffering of the Iraqi people still living under Saddam.
While good in theory, sanctions revisions do nothing to force Saddam to
actually feed his people. Many Iraqis in the north told of Iraqi government
officials confiscating their UN ration cards. Unless the West addresses the
root cause of the problem - Saddam - suffering in Iraq will continue.

The decline in infant mortality, the increase in fertility, and the general
improvement in health in northern Iraq despite sanctions, show that
sanctions are not the problem. It is hard for people to starve when, every
month, the oil-for-food programme gives each individual nine kilograms of
flour, three kilograms of rice, as well as sugar, tea, oil, milk, cheese,
salt and meat and vegetable protein. Fruit, meat and vegetables are
plentiful in the markets. While there are humanitarian tragedies in parts of
the south, sanctions have little to do with it.

When Slobodan Milosevic went about the ethnic cleansing of Muslims, the West
did not respond by giving him money or business contracts. It is curious
that they do in Iraq.

Many Iraqis travel frequently to Baghdad to visit friends and family and
hear the latest news. When they return, they speak with unanimity: Iraqis
want Saddam ousted. People remember the pre-Saddam years when Iraq was a
wealthy, cosmopolitan country, before Saddam's two disastrous wars and
massive spending on palaces. They know that the morale of Saddam's army is
very low. When Saddam's troops last entered the safe haven last December,
138 elite Iraqi troops threw down their weapons and surrendered the instant
an American or British war plane flew low over Iraqi lines. No Iraqi wants
to die for Saddam; they just want an opportunity to escape his regime.

Iraqis who have lived under Saddam's rule and have fought in his forces say
that a change of regime can only happen from inside Iraq. While some in
Washington may hope for a coup, it will not happen. In order for Iraqi
divisions to move, the military and political commissars and intelligence
apparatus must all sign them off. Even then, ammunition has to travel
separately. The only promising option that will avert an humanitarian crisis
is insurgency. Soldiers and people on the street say the only thing Saddam
understands is force - he interprets negotiation as both weakness and an
encouragement to threaten his neighbours.

Iraqis will support any group that has Washington and London's unequivocal
backing, but they do not want a paper tiger. Washington and London could
start by creating an atmosphere where internal opposition could develop.
No-fly zones should expand to become no-drive zones, so that Saddam cannot
use tanks against his own people. A muddle-through approach may be popular
in the Foreign Office and the State Department, but it does not amount to
leadership, nor does it solve the problem, nor does it make Saddam less of a
threat to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Iran or the Iraqi people.

The Bush and Blair administrations must end the debate and take action. If
America and Britain are serious, Saddam Hussein could be sharing a prison
cell with Slobodan Milosevic tomorrow.

Michael Rubin, a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East
Policy, has just returned from nine months in northern Iraq where he was a
Carnegie Council fellow.

Bangkok Post (editorial), 13th August

Allied warplanes have pounded Iraq yet again. Last week's raids by US and
British jet fighters and bombers targetted anti-aircraft sites. For once,
there was no dispute over the targets. Two days before the raids, President
Saddam Hussein bragged he was building up anti-aircraft defences. There are
disputes over the flights. But as long as they remain legal under UN
sanctions, pilots who fly the patrols over the north and south of Iraq have
the right to defend themselves.

Iraq's rights are even murkier. More than a decade ago, the country was
defeated and kicked out of neighbouring Kuwait. As a condition of gaining a
cease-fire, Iraq agreed in writing to a string of conditions. These ranged
from respecting the rights of its Shiite and Kurdish citizens in the south
and north of the country, to disarmament of all strategic arms, as well as
weapons of mass destruction.

Virtually everyone wishes the violence would stop in Iraq. But it is vital
that Iraq join the world's civilised nations. The cycle of aerial
bombardment, Iraqi weapons building and more bombing could be broken by the
United Nations. But that would be the wrong decision. Iraq has pledged to
stop threatening its neighbours in word and deed, but continues its
intimidation of Kuwait and weapons development.

Last week's raids emphasise the need for a new and, one hopes, positive
approach to the Baghdad government. Mr Saddam and supporters have rejected
the British proposal for "smart sanctions". Yet these are clearly the best
first step in recent years that could lead to the necessary reform in Iraq.

Under the British proposal, the United Nations would basically end its leaky
and uneven economic embargo. At the same time, a new system of controls
would be imposed on the Iraqi government to ensure Mr Saddam does not ever
get his hands on nuclear, biological or other terrible weapons parts again.
Iraq rejected the proposal out of hand, but even Baghdad's best
friends-Russia, China and France-have it under study. Iraq wants all
restrictions lifted; no other member of the UN agrees with that.

Iraq does, however, control its own fate to a large extent. The United
Nations and the most anti-Iraq countries-the United States and Britain-must
live up to the 1991 treaty that ended the Gulf war. If Iraq were to live up
to its signed agreement, the question of sanctions would be largely moot.
Iraq has gone through a series of largely impartial UN arms inspectors. All
of them agreed that Iraq continued to violate both the spirit and the law of
its agreements to disarm. Iraq openly abuses neighbours in propaganda
attacks, and has just directly threatened to invade Kuwait again, if given
the chance.

Iraq should never have such a chance. Most countries of the world live with
their neighbours in peace, even if there is not great friendship. Iraq's
continual and continuous threats and attempts to build up its offensive
forces and weaponry demand great caution from the world. The no-fly zones
have been credited with stabilising Kurdish areas in the north, and making
the abused Shiites of the south more secure. They must continue until the
Iraqi government demonstrates it will protect its own citizens.

The situation in Iraq is unacceptable and must change. Iraq should be
encouraged in many ways to join the rest of the world. Yet, only Iraq can
change its insistence on making threats and on instigating violence in the
Gulf and Mideast regions. Iraq has the right to be an important nation in
the Middle East. It does not have the right to create violence against
neighbours and threats against the world. When it stops doing both, Iraq can
be welcomed back to the world community.

by Bill Nichols and Andrea Stone
USA TODAY, 13th August


Experts say that even the timing of Friday's raid indicated the sensitive
nature of the administration's dilemma. Coming one day after a suicide
bombing that killed 15 people and wounded about 100 at a pizzeria in
Jerusalem, the timing was ''opportune, because there wasn't the kind of hot,
anti-Israel attitude that translates sometimes into animus against the
United States,'' says Patrick Clawson, director of research at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

''If this strike had come the day after the Israelis made a large strike
that killed kids, people would say the Americans are as bad as the
Israelis,'' he says.


Washington Post, 15th August

The Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella for groups opposed to President
Saddam Hussein, yesterday began U.S.-funded satellite television broadcasts
designed to reach the population inside Iraq, INC adviser Francis Brooke

TV Liberty will be on the air 24 hours a day, offering eight hours of Arabic
programming repeated three times daily, Brooke said. It will include world
news and news about Iraq, based in part on the INC's own reports, as well as
talk shows and international call-in programs. The station will also air
entertainment, including coverage of soccer games unavailable in Iraq, and
movies, in particular those that depict the struggle against dictators, he

The INC broadcasting program, approved earlier this summer by the Bush
administration, will be run from studios in London, home to the group's
exile leadership. The tab is $2.7 million a year, including $1.2 million for
satellite time and $1.5 million for programming and studio use, Brooke said.

In addition to broadcasting, the INC is engaged in U.S.-funded programs to
collect information for humanitarian and intelligence purposes, as well as
to develop a program for relief assistance to Iraqis, he said.

The group's more ambitious aspiration, to mount a political and military
challenge to Hussein's government, is on hold, pending the outcome of the
Bush administration's review of its Iraq policy.

Washington Times, 16th August

NEW YORK -- The United Nations said yesterday it is in danger of being
unable to pay staff salaries from its regular budget because the United
States and some other major contributing nations have failed to pay their
dues for the year.

Most of the unpaid dues are owed by five countries. The United States owes
$298 million, Japan $152 million, Brazil $17.6 million, Argentina $11.5
million and China $7.3 million. The figures do not include arrears on
previous years' contributions.

CNN, 17th August


One way the Russians could be convinced, said one diplomat, is to allow Iraq
to use oil-for food funds to repay debts, including its hefty one to Russia.

Removing any clampdown on oil smuggling could also tempt Russia to remove
its resistance, said another diplomat on the council.



by Pauline Jelinek
Salon, Aug. 14, 200

WASHINGTON (AP): For the second time in a less than a week, U.S. warplanes
bombed a radar site in southern Iraq Tuesday in another attempt to disable
increasingly effective air defenses used against allied pilots, the Pentagon

Tuesday's strike was much smaller than an attack by dozens of British and
American allied planes against three sites Friday and a strike by 24 allied
planes against five targets in February, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan

The 8:15 am. EDT strike Tuesday targeted only one site, a fire-control radar
that helps Iraq guide its missiles and is located near An Nasiriyah, about
170 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Friday's strike was against Iraqi military communication, radar and missile

Air Force F-16s bombed the site with precision guided munitions and returned
safely to their base, Whitman said.

"This radar has been an element of the Iraqi air defense system that has
been directly contributing to effectiveness of their integrated air defense
system," he said.

In Iraq, the air defense spokesman, quoted by the Iraqi News Agency,
confirmed the raid but made no mention of casualties. He said the U.S. and
British planes flew out of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with the support of the
governments of those countries.





The United States has embarked on a strategy of knocking out the air
defenses of Iraq one at a time in an effort to pave the way for a major
strike against Baghdad's military at a later date.

U.S. aircraft have struck Iraqi air defenses repeatedly in the past few
days. Although these seem similar to previous tit-for- tat retaliations
after Iraqi air defenses have fired on U.S. air patrols, these strikes are
different. Sources indicate that U.S. forces are engaged in an open ended
bombing campaign to systematically destroy Iraq's air defenses, which have
been rebuilt in recent weeks with aid from China.

The American effort is aimed at preparing the battlefield for a much larger
military operation later that likely will target the rest of the Iraqi
military and its weapons of mass destruction (WMD). But the U.S. effort is
limited by regional politics right now, particularly the conflict between
Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The United States is trying to avoid
triggering a backlash in the Arab world at this time.

Destroying air defenses, known inside the military as Suppression of Enemy
Air Defenses, is the classic first step in any air campaign. The campaign
will make it easier for U.S. forces to hit the Iraqi military, particularly
in and around Baghdad. The larger U.S. operation will probably be similar in
size and scope to Operation Desert Fox in 1998. That operation was believed
to have been capable of knocking back Iraq's WMD program by two and a half
years; that period has now elapsed, and the Iraqi military is making strides
in rebuilding various organizations.

The Bush administration has weighed a major military operation against Iraq
for the past several weeks. The current political and security situation
suggests a strike would aim to cripple air defenses and then go after Iraq's
military infrastructure in order to interrupt its renewed efforts to develop
WMD. An attack would likely use retaliation for threats to U.S. aircraft as
a pretext. It is unclear when a U.S. attack will take place, but it is fair
to say that a strike can come at any time now that the United States is
suppressing Iraqi air defenses.

Regional politics have apparently forced the Bush administration to adopt a
limited strategy. The situation in Israel and the territories has
complicated reactions in the Arab world. As Israel's major ally, the United
States is deeply involved in negotiations between Israel, the Palestinians
and Arab states. Turkey and Saudi Arabia would probably have to approve of
the use of their bases to mount a major military campaign and neither are
likely to consent right now. Egypt has opposed a U.S. attack on Iraq; only
Kuwait, which U.S. and British jets use as a base of operations, has
suggested it would back an operation.

A U.S. air campaign is unlikely to alter Iraq's political leadership. But
the United States is running out of options with which to deal with Baghdad.
Recent events have left the United States in a relatively weak position in
the Persian Gulf. Russia's veto of U.S.-backed "smart sanctions" last month
at the United Nations combined with Washington's continuing attempts to
prevent full-scale war between Israelis and Palestinians undercut U.S.

A series of recent reports indicate Iraq is attempting to rebuild its
program for making weapons of mass destruction. The program's infrastructure
was heavily bombarded in four days of U.S.-U.K air strikes in December 1998
after Iraq turned out U.N. weapons inspectors. Inspectors are not expected
to return. Meanwhile, the Iraqi regime has been able to reconstitute
elements of its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons development
programs, according to intelligence sources.

In addition, Baghdad has recently deployed significant numbers of troops
toward Kurdish enclaves in the north, The London Daily Telegraph reported on
June 26.

Yahoo, 15th August

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - A U.S. F-16 warplane accidentally strayed into
Syrian airspace for more than 20 minutes Wednesday as it flew toward
northern Iraq to patrol a no-fly zone, the U.S. military said.

The F-16 flew through Syrian airspace unopposed, said Maj. Scott Vadnais,
spokesman for the allied patrols over northern Iraq. Syrian planes did not
intercept the aircraft and there was no immediate information as to whether
the F-16 was monitored by Syrian radar.

The F-16 entered Iraq from Syrian airspace and later began its patrol of the
no-fly zone, Vadnais said.

U.S. F-16 and F-15 fighters routinely take off from Incirlik air base in
southern Turkey and fly north of the Syrian border before entering Iraq.

Vadnais said the flight over Syria was an accident.

``We want to make sure it never happens again,'' Vadnais said.

He said the warplane flew over Syria for 23 minutes, then entered Iraq 5
miles below the 36th parallel and turned north toward the no-fly zone.

For the past decade, U.S. aircraft have patrolled a no-fly zone above the
36th parallel to protect Kurds from the Iraqi air force. A separate no-fly
zone in the south was established to protect rebellious Shiite Muslims.

Patrols over Iraq are normally several dozen aircraft. Vadnais said the
aircraft that strayed over Syria was flying alone and was not with the main
patrol group because it took off later than the other aircraft due to
maintenance problems.

Iraqi gunners shot missiles at the U.S. patrols Wednesday, but did not hit
any of the aircraft, Vadnais said. The planes did not fire back.

The shooting incident was the 70th time this year that Iraqi gunners have
targeted U.S. aircraft.

On Tuesday, U.S. warplanes bombed a radar site in southern Iraq, the second
such strike in less than a week.



Sardasht, Iran, Aug 12, IRNA [Iranian news agency]: A pick-up truck,
carrying 10 Iraqis who managed to cross the border into the country, on
Sunday plunged into Zab river in northwestern Iran killing seven and
injuring three others, the local police chief announced.

Colonel Dariush Zolfaqari told IRNA that the accident occurred in Alan
region, some 20 kilometers from the border with Iraq.

"The illegal Iraqi migrants, crammed in the pick-up truck, had just crossed
the border and were heading for Sardasht," he said.

Zolfaqari blamed the fatal accident on the driver's "negligence" and

He said the injured were instantly taken to nearby hospitals.

Iran is home to one of the world's largest refugee population which is a
direct result of a long drawn-out war plaguing neighboring Afghanistan.


Tehran, Aug 12, IRNA [Iranian news agency]: -- Friday's bombardment of three
air defense sites in southern Iraq by as many as 50 US and British warplnes
is being seen as another colonial effort to bolster the minority Ba'thist
regime of Saddam Hussein, wrote the English language daily `Kayhan
International' on Sunday.

Although Saddam tried to sound "brave" and "patriotic" against the fresh
violations of Iraq's airspace, the ordinary man in the streets of Baghdad,
know very well that no personal animosity exists between Abu Uday and Uncle
Sam, noted the article.

And even though "both love to hate each other in public", in private, if it
had not been for the support of the White House, the person responsible for
the worsening plight of the Iraqi people, would have long been part of
history," it added.

Therefore, Washington's main intention, as demonstrated throughout the
carpet bombing of southern Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and in its
aftermath, when both the U.S. and Britain have carried on periodic raids of
the so-called no-fly zones for a decade, the paper warned is "to make sure
that Iraq's infrastructure remains in perpetual shambles."

The message is loud and clear that Washington shares Saddam's nightmare of
power passing one day into the hands of the Shiite-Arab majority, pointed
out the daily, adding that representative rule in Iraq will not serve the
interests of the US, its European allies as well as some regional Arab

If at all Saddam was to be dispensed with, before the Americans find a
substitute for him, "Iraq might see the repetition of the events which
occurred in Iran in the shape of the Islamic Revolution and the rule of the

However "a strong, independent, rich, resourceful and Islamic Iraq, run by a
representative government, is sure to team up with neighboring Iran, not
only for keeping foreign forces out of the Persian Gulf but for making
common cause with the Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians for liberating
Bait-ul-Moqaddas from Zionist tentacles," it pointed out.

This explains why the Iraqi people, who have been suffering the catastrophic
consequences of two unwanted wars over the last twenty years, should be kept
well below the poverty line, believed the article.

According to US calculations, if per chance the Shiite-Arab majority happens
to ever succeed in coming to the helm, the paper believed, "it would inherit
a chaotic and underdeveloped state, which might not last unless fundamental
compromises were to be reached with the West."

Another reason, the paper believed, why US and Britain is trying to keep
Saddam in power through UN sanctions and air raids, is "to have a
Frankenstein monster at hand, whose presence justifies the foothold of the
US navy in the Persian Gulf and ensures speedy sales of more British and
American arms to the states of the region," it concluded.

CNN, 12th August

AMMAN, Jordan (Reuters) -- Jordan's national carrier, Royal Jordanian (RJ),
will increase the number of its regular flights to Baghdad to four a week
from three as of next month, Transport Minister Nader Dahabi said on Sunday.

Dahabi told Petra news agency that RJ hoped eventually to fly to Baghdad
daily after Iraq offered facilities to the airline.

He did not say what the facilities were, but Iraqi officials had said they
were supplying fuel to RJ aircraft free of charge.

RJ resumed scheduled flights to Iraq in June for the first time in a decade
with two flights a week. The number of flights increased to three earlier
this month.

All commercial flights to and from Iraq were halted shortly after the United
Nations imposed sanctions on Baghdad after its August 1990 invasion of

Jordan was the first Arab country to send a humanitarian flight to Baghdad
last year.

Dahabi said RJ were giving Iraqi nationals discounts on the Baghdad-Amman
route and would charge them $200 for an economy-class return ticket compared
to a normal price of $315.

 by John K. Cooley
ABC News, 13th August


Last week, the ruler of Bahrain, where the U.S. military maintains a strong
naval and air force presence, urged "the international community to
intervene immediately and to take serious steps to bring about a fair and
comprehensive peace."

Emir Sheikh Hamed bin Isa al-Khalifa's statement echoed commentaries in the
official and private news media of Bahrain's neighbor and major ally Saudi
Arabia, and in Kuwait and other Gulf states.

In his unprecedented "congratulations" to about 2,000 demonstrators, who
burned Israeli and U.S. flags, chanting slogans against U.S. "bias" towards
Israel and waving flags of Hezbollah, the radical Lebanese guerilla group,
the Emir spoke of Israeli "massacres."

In an unusually forthright interview with Asharq al-Awsat, a London-based
Saudi newspaper earlier this month, Senior Saudi minister, Prince Sultan bin
Abdul Azziz said the kingdom was mobilizing "pressure groups in the United
States that painstakingly defend the rights of the Palestinians." He was
referring to pro-Palestinian lobby groups in Washington and in U.S.
corporate and academic circles.

"We will not stop until we see Jerusalem liberated and the Palestinian flag
flying over liberated territories," Prince Sultan added. He recalled that
the kingdom had applied similar ‹ and effective ‹ pressure in the past to
intervene in support of Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Since last November, Saudi Arabia has given Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat's Palestinian Authority $30 million in aid, mostly in the form of
medicine, medical treatment and relief supplies. It has also pledged $250
million to Palestinian aid funds approved by the Arab League and totaling $1

However, Palestinians have complained bitterly that they have yet to see
very much, if any, of this cash, or benefits accruing from it. By contrast,
Palestinians in the occupied territories confirm that Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein, who constantly encourages the Palestinian uprising, has put his
money where his mouth is.

Relief agencies in the territories confirm that Iraqi emissaries, operating
through the pro-Iraqi Palestine Liberation Front, regularly distribute
$25,000 in cash to family survivors of each "martyr" killed in the fighting.

About $500 to $1,000 is given to men, women or children who are wounded,
with the amount varying according to severity of their wounds.

Over the past few months, there has been evidence of tougher Saudi and Gulf
Arab policies toward Washington and its attitudes on Israel and Iraq's
Saddam Hussein.


In his interview with Asharq al-Awsat, Prince Sultan said Allied air sorties
over Iraq, using aircraft based in Saudi Arabia, must be limited to
"surveillance" and must not include attacks, "even the smallest military


Times of India, 13th August

BAGHDAD (AFP): Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan and Syrian Prime
Minister Mustafa Miro on Monday signed a series of cooperation agreements,
heralding a new period for bilateral relations broken more than two decades

The accords cleared the way for the establishment of seven joint companies
in the industrial, pharmaceutical and telecommunication fields as well as
cooperation in transport, health and trade sectors.

The two neighbours are aiming to double their bilateral trade from $500
million to $1 billion.

"We're convinced that Iraqi-Syrian relations will become a model for other
Arab countries to follow on the way to economic unity," Ramadan said at the
signing ceremony.

Iraq, which has been under a sweeping UN trade embargo since invading Kuwait
in 1990, signed a free-trade accord with Syria effective from April 1, and
both countries have set up trade offices in each other's capitals.

Iraq has committed to supporting Syria "in all fields, including military"
in case of any armed conflict with Israel, Ramadan stressed.

Miro for his part restated Syria's opposition to "all hostile pressures and
moves against Iraq and attempts to interfere in its internal affairs."

"Syria and Iraq are joining up to face up to challenges and bring about
victory," said Miro, the first Syrian premier to visit Baghdad since 1980.

His trip crowns efforts since 1997 by Iraq and Syria, governed by rival
branches of the pan Arab Baath party, to start to normalise relations that
were broken off in 1980.

The two countries had been locked in hostility since Syria backed Iran in
its 1980-1988 war with Iraq. Syria also fought in the 1991 international
coalition that ousted Iraq from Kuwait after seven months of occupation.

While Miro's visit has been dominated by economic matters, its timing, with
the region gripped with tension over the Palestinian territories, carries an
important political dimension with both nations considered sworn enemies of

"Improved Iraqi-Syrian ties strengthens Syria in the face of US and Israeli
threats and supports the Palestinian intifada," charged Babel newspaper, run
by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's elder son Uday.

Arabic News, 15th August

The London- based al-Hayat daily said on Tuesday that the Kuwaitis are
looking forward to the visit to be made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
to Kuwait on August 18 in order to get from him a clearer picture about the
extent Damascus will proceed in boosting relations with Baghdad.

The paper said that the Kuwaiti mass media were inclined to margin the visit
recently held by the Syrian prime minister Muhammad Mustafa Miro to Baghdad
and his statement during his meeting with the Iraqi President that any
aggression against Iraq is an aggression on Syria.

The paper added that certain Kuwaiti politicians show understanding to the
conditions besieging Syria, which led to large closeness strides with
Baghdad. Member of the Kuwaiti Ummah council ( Parliament) Abdullah
al-Neibari said that Syria is facing challenges from Israel, Turkey and the
US besides the internal and economic conditions, noting " I think that
Damascus's closeness with Baghdad should be understood within this context."

On the price that Baghdad will get for that and if this will be at the
expense of Kuwait and the Gulf, al-Neibari said in his statement to the
paper, " for the Iraqi regime any breakthrough of the isolation Iraq lives
is a gain for it, but I do not think that Syria will give the Iraqis matters
that will violate her obligations towards the Gulf region nor its position
towards the Iraqi case.

Al-Neibari added " In Kuwait we have certain demands which are: Iraq to stop
threats, to release the prisoners, pay the compensations approved by the
UN," He added that Syria supports these demands.

He indicated that the Syrian step towards Iraq is in line with a general
Arab attitude towards eliminating the trade sanctions imposed on Iraq.,1113,2-10_1066143,00.html

News 24 (South Africa), 15th August

 Baghdad (AFP): Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ordered the construction of a
monument dedicated to Palestinian suicide bombers and the "martyrs" of the
intifada against Israeli occupation, the official INA agency reported on

"Saddam Hussein has given instructions for the construction of a monument
dedicated to the Palestinian heroes who carried out suicide attacks against
the forces of Zionist occupation," INA reported.

"The names of all the Palestinian martyrs of the intifada must be inscribed
on this monument", the agency added.

Earlier, Saddam Hussein had called on Iraqis to demonstrate on Wednesday in
support of the intifada, and hailed Palestinian suicide attacks.

Iraq says it has mobilised more than 6.5 million volunteers for "the
liberation of Palestine" and wants the countries bordering Israel, including
Jordan, to reopen their borders to anti Israeli fighters.

Arabic News, 17th August

Iraq and Iran have agreed to resume talks over the exchange of remains of
the soldiers killed during the Iraqi- Iranian war in 1980- 1998.

The Iraqi daily al- thawra on Thursday quoted a source at the Iraqi foreign
ministry as saying that the few coming days will witness the convening of
the of the joint Iranian- Iraqi committee in search of the remains of the
victims of the war, the prisoners and the missing from both sides in the two
countries, noting that the talks will last for five days.

As for the question of lifting the embargo imposed on Iraq, the Russian
ambassador for special missions Nicolai Katozove said in a statement on
Thursday that the Arab states support the efforts made by Russia aiming at
lifting the embargo imposed on Iraq and to cancel it completely. He
described his recent tour on many Arab states as very fruitful.

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