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News, 12-18/8/01 (2) CAMPAIGNING * 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] INSIDE IRAQ * Saddam regaining political strength [Pakistani article suggesting that most Iraqis - presumably most Sunni Iraqis - are well disposed towards S.Hussein] * 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 postıs 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 Iraq] * Iraqi mosque to preserve Saddam's legacy [Minarets shaped like Scud missiles and a Koran written using 28 litres of Saddam Husseinıs blood. Taste is decidedly not S.Husseinıs strong point] * Iraq hosts a new session for the people's Islamic conference * Letter on litter URL ONLY: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=118231298 * Saddam's romantic novel to hit Iraqi stage Times of India, 13th August IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Government [of the Philippines] eyes upstream investment in Iraq * Pakistan, Iraq satisfied with progress of Joint Ministerial Commission CAMPAIGNING http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/letters/2001/0816/index.htm#9 * SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAQ Irish Times (Letters), 16th August Sir, - Sir Ivor Richards states (August 2nd) that Hans Von Sponeck has "missed the point". I fear it is Sir Ivor that has failed to grasp a fundamental point with regard to the 11 years of UN Security Council sanctions against Iraq - which is that no one who has studied the history of Iraq would expect the Iraqi regime to respect the fundamental human rights of its own people. What people do expect is that an organisation such as the United Nations, which was established to protect the most vulnerable in our world, would retain enough integrity not to become the instrument of Britain and the United States in their bid for world economic dominance. Death, starvation, disease and abject poverty are being inflicted on innocent Iraqi children who were not even born when the invasion of Kuwait took place. The children whom I have seen dying in agony, with no form of pain relief, from curable and preventable diseases such as typhoid, polio and dysentery in Iraqi hospitals, are dying because the UN Security Council, dominated by Britain and America, has not allowed chlorine, vital for water sanitation, into Iraq. So the water system, once the most sophisticated in the Arab world, is now the major cause of death to children under the age of five. Sir Ivor states that "we want to achieve our objectives with the minimum effect on ordinary Iraqi people getting on with their lives". Firstly, at a conservative estimate, 1.5 million "ordinary Iraqis" who were getting on with their lives despite the Iraqi government and the sanctions regime are dead as a direct result of the sanctions. How could this represent "minimum effect"? Secondly, what are these objectives? Iraq and its people have already been bombed and starved back to a "prehistoric age", while its substantial oil resources remain in the control of the UN Security Council. Sir Ivor says that "sanctions protect Iraq's neighbours and they protect us". I would remind him of the close ties which Britain and the US enjoyed with Iraq during the 1970s and 1980s. It was a time of financial and military support for a regime which was helped to its rise by the very countries which are now justifying sanctions for our own protection and that of Iraq's neighbours. The grotesque irony is that both America and Britain have made billions of dollars from the sale of weapons of mass destruction to Iraq's neighbours; Saudi Arabia, a rich country, is now in debt due to its avid buying of weapons from Britain and the US, among others. I put it to Sir Ivor that the major threat to "regional security" is not Saddam Hussein but the current arms race which the British arms trade has had a major hand in creating. If this is the "liberal Western" morality that Sir Ivor speaks so eloquently about, then God help us. - Yours, etc., SUZIE FLOOD, Campaign to End Iraq Sanctions, Foxhill Park, Dublin 13. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,59-2001285355,00.html * AIRSTRIKES ON IRAQ Letter to The Times, 18th August Sir, Todayıs report by Michael Evans of the RAF still being used in airstrikes over Iraq should be of concern. What is being achieved with sporadic attacks on Iraqi air defences? They have been completely ineffective over the last two years or so, according to the quoted statistics. And how many civilians were killed over the same period? Collateral damage is the euphemism. Michael Evans says the current airstrikes are ³further evidence of the determination to reduce the threat faced by coalition pilots². The alleged ³threat² would be zero if no provocative over-flights were made. What is our PM up to still being a camp-follower to America? Yours faithfully, JAMES CLARKE, INSIDE IRAQ http://dawn.com/fixed/subs/dinasub.htm * SADDAM REGAINING POLITICAL STRENGTH by Kim Ghattas Dawn (Pakistan), 12th August [.....] Throughout the years, Saddam has relied heavily on the intelligence services to run the country. In the process he has created generations of people with a mentality of "mukhabarat," as the intelligence is known in Arabic. In the streets of Baghdad, though, pictures of Saddam always show him smiling, feeding the poor or holding children. They are very different from the cold, imposing posters of late Syrian President Assad that were plastered over buildings and gave Syrian cities an oppressive feel. Most Iraqis believe that Saddam is their only hope for survival. Western aid agencies say the distribution of food for the whole Iraqi population of 23 million is very well organized. An underlying fear of what would happen to food rations if the regime were suddenly toppled is also thought to be a reason for the lack of a grassroots opposition inside Iraq. "The ordinary Iraqi is not thinking in political terms, he's just running after food and medicine and hoping to keep his family alive," says Wamid Nathmi, political science professor at Baghdad University. "The situation has not changed a lot. Those who supported the president and thought the war against Iraq was a US plot still think the same and those who thought it was the fault of the regime, still think that way," he says. But according to one diplomat from the region based in Baghdad, the Iraqi population still feels in debt towards the Baathist regime for past times. "The embargo has not been enough of a reason yet for Iraqis to completely reject the regime. They are conscious that by nationalizing oil (in 1972), the regime provided people with a lot of opportunities, education, health care," he says, pointing out that ordinary Iraqis are also wary of foreign powers eying Iraq's oil. Except for the chaotic popular uprising of 1991 against the regime, Saddam's power has not been seriously challenged since the imposition of sanctions. The fact that the US and the allied coalition did not do much to support the 1991 rebellion fuels the theory that Saddam was kept in power because of the fear of an unknown alternative. There is also less and less willingness in Arab countries to host Iraqi opposition groups. In Jordan, the Iraq National Accord was discreetly asked to pack its bags with the realization that if sanctions ended with Saddam still in power, friendliness to the current regime might pay off. Regardless of how a change in leadership would occur in Iraq, most diplomats believe it will bring little change in the actual system and the type of leadership. "The United States' obsession with wanting to get rid of Saddam Hussein is unrealistic. It is very difficult to find a scenario to replace him," says a diplomat. Although there are occasional reports of health problems the Iraqi president is facing, most diplomats in Baghdad who meet Saddam agree to say he looks very healthy. "After 11 years of sanctions the regime has not been weakened," says professor Nathmi. "We cannot wait another ten years for this to happen while we are in those circumstances." http://18.104.22.168/feeds/worldoil/new/article_e.asp?energy24=239319 * IRAQI OIL PRODUCTION IN JULY PLUNGED ON POWER CUTS Energy 24, 13th August BAGHDAD (AFP): Iraqi oil production during July plunged to as low as 1.43 million bpd amid frequent power outages that knocked out a major pumping station, a specialist newsletter reported Monday. "There was a sharp decline in Kirkuk crude exports in the second half of July, attributed mainly to the failure of a pumping station because of lack of power in the Kirkuk district," the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) said. "The situation is expected to deteriorate further, as much of the equipment that has been ordered has been put on hold by the US representative in the (UN) sanctions committee," the Cyprus-based MEES said. A severe regional drought for the last three years has curtailed the power Iraq has been able to generate from hydro units for use in the oil sector, and the problem has been compounded by the non-availability of spare parts. MEES added the situation had been further complicated by the "imprisonment of several former senior power officials on corruption charges, which has discouraged new senior officials from taking the initiative." Iraq halted oil-for-food exports on June 4 for five weeks in protest at a one-month rollover of the programme ordered by the Security Council instead of the usual six-month extension. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/24142510.htm * IRAQ EXPORTS $265M WORTH OF OIL UNDER UN 'OIL-FOR-FOOD' SCHEME Tehran, Aug 15, IRNA (Iranian News agency): The Baghdad Government has earned an additional $265 million under the U.N. oil-for-food program, the office running the effort announced Tuesday. Iraq garnered the revenue over the past week by exporting 13.9 million barrels of crude for an average price of approximately $22.77 per barrel, the UN Office of the Iraq Program said. Over the course of the week, UN oil overseers approved six new oil purchase contracts covering 17 million barrels of petroleum, bringing to 78 the total number of contracts approved since the current phase of the program began on 4 July, a press release issued by the U.N. Information Center in Tehran said Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Security Council panel monitoring the sanctions against Baghdad has released from hold 15 contracts worth $77.5 million, according to the Office of the Iraq Program. However, the panel placed 51 new contracts worth $208.7 million on hold, raising the total value of contracts on hold to $3.5 billion. Altogether, 1,450 contracts are currently on hold, including nearly 1,000 worth over $3 billion relating to the provision of humanitarian supplies. The newly placed "holds" include a large number of trucks and various types of vehicles, the Office said. Contracts are generally put on hold because they lack technical specifications or because the goods in question have the potential to be used for purposes other than those stated. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/24094822.htm * THAI SOCCER TEAM FLIES TO BAGHDAD FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFYING MATCH Kuala Lumpur, Aug 15, IRNA [Iranian news agency]: The Thai national soccer team left on Tuesday night for Baghdad for the Asian World Cup qualifying match scheduled on Friday, with assurances that its safety will be ensured, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) reported on Wednesday. AFC quoted team manager Virat Chanpanich as saying its football association had written to world body Fifa expressing concerns about the team's safety in Iraq, following reports of an attack by US and of Iraqi air defence installations last Friday. But it did not request for a change in venue, as reported by wire agencies. Said Virat: "We wrote to ask Fifa for its opinion about how safe it is to go. "And Fifa replied that it has received assurances from the Iraqi football association that our safety is ensured. We didn't ask for a change in venue," Virat said. His team will face Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Bahrain in Group A of the qualifying tournament. The United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Qatar, Oman and China make up Group B. The winner of each group in the Asian competition will qualify automatically for the World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea next year. http://sports.yahoo.com/m/sow/news/ap/20010817/ap-wcuprdp.html * IRAQ, UAE WIN IN ASIAN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING Yahoo, 17th August Iraq and the United Arab Emirates picked up easy victories Friday in Asian qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. Iraq beat Thailand 4-0 in Group A behind two goals from Husham Mohammed and one each from Emad Mohammed and Laith Hussein. The United Arab Emirates beat Uzbekistan 4-1 in Group B. Also, Saudi Arabia drew 1-1 with Bahrain. http://cgi.usatoday.com/usatonline/20010816/3548435s.htm * 'SKY' TRANSLATES AN EAST-WEST STRUGGLE Review of A Sky So Close by Betool Khedairi, Pantheon, 256 pp., $23 by Yasmine Bahrani USA TODAY, 16th August Iraqi children sing a song to coax a snail out of its shell, writes Betool Khedairi. The 36-year old Iraqi writer has done something similar with her first novel, A Sky So Close, first published in Arabic in 1999. Khedairi's sweet descriptions sing to Iraqis as if to coax them out of the shells they've formed to protect themselves from their recent history. Shells that have come to suffocate them. Iraqi writers and artists, for example, practice a form of self-censorship when they choose to avoid controversial subjects, such as sex or racism. For Westerners, her newly translated tale sings a different but just as moving song. It's a coming-of-age novel about an unnamed young woman, who, like Khedairi, was born in Baghdad to an Iraqi father and a British mother. That alone evokes problems to which many Iraqis are heir. The middle-class girl's life is a daily struggle between her father's Eastern ways and the Western style of her mother. (In much the way that the nation's culture bears the marks of a split identity.) Khedairi illustrates the tensions between the two worlds on a personal level. The girl's mother can't adjust to life in the East and is contemptuous of everything. The lotus jujube, a tree dear to Baghdadis, drops too many leaves, she complains, creating rubbish in the garden: The tree must come down. She discourages her daughter from playing with neighborhood children, saying they'll give her lice. Yet she writes beautifully about the girl's mixed feelings toward her mother: ''I'm watching my mother. As she opens her lips to answer back, she reveals teeth, little bulges, the size of almonds in a row. When she talks, her tonsils move like those of a soprano; they resonate and seem to me like two vibrating tamarind seeds.'' Such tensions exacerbate otherwise normal family conflicts. ''As long as you live in this house,'' her father tells her mother one day, ''you'll respect its traditions . . . If this is what you want, then I'll divorce you . . . The child is mine, she'll stay with me, I promise you that. The law is on my side.'' Meanwhile, the girl has inherited her father's dark complexion, and in a color-conscious Baghdad, that works against her socially and psychologically. To write about such a family is also to describe a complicated, stratified Iraq, one that many observers -- East and West - don't acknowledge. Khedairi's examples of East-West differences may strike some as tedious, but she is attempting to expose societal practices rarely questioned. Her work caused a stir in the Arab world because of its message and its detailing of the main character's love relationships and premarital sex, subjects many conservative Middle Easterners do not care to acknowledge. What saves the protagonist's girlhood is, tellingly, her study of Western ballet. ''Even my skin color no longer displeased me. . . . I leapt upward performing a low jeté. Then another one, higher, and then a third one, even higher! My body felt as light as my shadow.'' The second half of Khedairi's book is about survival. Her main character watches her country deteriorate as she grows up. Iraq is devastated by a never-ending war with Iran, then sinks to unimaginable depths of deprivation in the wake of the Persian Gulf War. The woman fares no better than her country. She is left alone in London to deal with a failed relationship and an abortion. Her life, too, is devastated. The novel ends on a sad note, and, unfortunately, Iraqis are likely to identify with it. Even so, the work is an invitation to Iraqi readers to face the horror of a country in tatters and a middle class in exile. Its value for Western readers lies not only in a brave tale. It offers a human Iraq, stripped of the politics that have made the country opaque to the world. This is not the Iraq of the front page; it is the Iraq of the heart. Perhaps the most moving aspect of A Sky So Close is that the heart's Iraq is a sadder, more suffering place than the Iraq reflected in newspapers. http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?f=/stories/20010817/650962.html * IRAQI MOSQUE TO PRESERVE SADDAM'S LEGACY by Philip Smucker National Post, Toronto, 17th August BAGHDAD (Reuter's): At Saddam Hussein's new Mother of All Battles Mosque, the towers resemble missiles and the holy book is written in blood -- Saddam Hussein's blood, his spokesmen boast. A 605-page Qur'an has been penned, they say, using 28 litres of the ruler's own blood. The holy book, whose swirling, deep-red text was handwritten by Sheikh Abbas Al-Baghdadi, is housed in a marble rotunda and displayed page by page behind polished glass in the Umm El-Mahare (Mother of all Battles) Mosque outside Baghdad. The holy site bears the imprimatur of a man keen to preserve his legacy in blood and stone. But, how did Saddam Hussein contribute so much blood? "Over three years, the President gave us a total of 28 litres of his own blood which has been mixed with special chemicals to produce this handwritten Qur'an of 605 pages," said Dahar Al-Ani, information director for the mosque, named after Saddam Hussein's description of the Gulf War. Short of a DNA test, the assertion remains about as believable as the Iraqi strongman's claim he won the war. Still, his signature is there to back it up: "Giving my own blood for this Qur'an, is the least I can do," he writes in the preface. The mosque is guarded by immense minarets, built to look like ballistic missiles. The four largest Scud-like towers shoot up into the skies alongside their own launch platforms. Closer to the central dome, four more minarets bear an uncanny resemblance to the barrels of machine guns. The exterior minarets are 37 metres high; the four on the inside, 28 metres high. Taken together, the numbers 37-4-28 give the date of birth of the Iraqi leader. A guided tour of the mosque reveals pristine marble walls and gold-plated chandeliers, which contrast sharply with the squalor of inner-city Baghdad. Along the mosque's western wall is a massive water and stone relief map of the Arab world. Iraq is highlighted by a granite rock carved with faces of martyrs who gave their lives in the "Mother of all Battles." Children, mostly boys, jump up and down on Jerusalem, shouting it will someday belong to Saddam Hussein. If there were any doubt as to the Iraqi leader's point in building the mosque, which opened just weeks ago, the huge gold-plated dome reading "La!" (Arabic for "No!") may be a clarification. "No one has ever said 'no' to the United States as loud as Saddam," said Mr. Al-Ani, a slight man living on a paltry salary and not adverse to taking a small tip after a guided tour of the mosque. "The building of this great mosque during Washington's embargo against us is proof of that." Not everyone in Iraq is impressed. Some religious leaders say in private they are disgusted with the idea of a mosque whose minarets convey a not-so-subtle sense of Islamic militancy. Western diplomats based in Baghdad say the building is just another of the dictator's outlandish pet projects even as the masses edge closer to starvation. "Saddam has never been religious in the true sense of the word," said one diplomat. "He presents a classic case of a leader desperately trying to use 'religion' as an opiate for the masses. He is just using his own crazy ideas of religion to try to build up his own personality cult." In Baghdad, yet another sprawling presidential palace is almost complete, with four huge busts of Saddam Hussein staring out over the city's squalor. An even larger mosque is also being built. The diplomats say such grandiose undertakings are the latest phase of the Iraqi government's Faith Campaign, intended to assure spiritual loyalty to the dictatorship, but which, they insist, opposes religious freedom at all levels. After the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein, who is a Sunni Muslim, suppressed a revolt led by the dominant Shiite groups in the South. Then in 1994, to bolster his image as a good Muslim, he banned alcohol and encouraged the building of more mosques. Western diplomats say he has tried to co-opt Islam with a "born again" devotion that permits him to present himself as a role model to the pious. Large murals and bronze statues of the leader praying are as common across Iraq as pictures of him shooting guns and patting small children on the head. One of the priorities of the Faith Campaign is to fend off unrest in Shiite religious centres. Government officials admitted this month that armed factions supported by Iran have been responsible for rocket attacks on the capital this summer. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010818/2001081803.html * IRAQ HOSTS A NEW SESSION FOR THE PEOPLE'S ISLAMIC CONFERENCE Arabic News, 18th August Iraq will host a new session for the people's Islamic conference on August 20 through 23rd during which a call will be advocated for Jihad in order to liberate al-Aqsa mosque from the Israeli occupation and releasing a " Fatwa " regarding positions of certain Arab regimes which are accused of collaborating with " the US and Israel." The secretary general of the people's Islamic conference Organizaion Sheikh Abdul Razzaq al-Sa'dawi said in press statements on Friday that the 10th people's Islamic conference will hold its conference in Baghdad in the presence of more 350 figures representing Arab and Muslim intellectuals from the Arab and Muslim states, and countries of Europe, the US and Africa. He added that the conference will discuss conditions of Muslims who are facing the repression of the aggressive forces. He continued that in the forefront of issues to be dealt with in the conference are the question of Palestine, the tortured Palestinians under the hands of the Israeli forces, the violations practiced against al-Aqsa mosque and the embargo on Iraq. Worthy mentioning that the people's Islamic conference was founded in Baghdad in 1983 and includes non- governmental Islamic societies. http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,537762,00.html * LETTER ON LITTER Letter to The Guardian, 18th August Alexander Chancellor (August 11) has my sympathy. With the Festival, we in Edinburgh are buried under litter. When I was in Iraq, I remarked on the amazing absence of litter in Baghdad. I learned Saddam Hussein had decreed that litter louts must suffer the humiliation of being paraded on television. Being spared worse punishment, I was told, was a most effective deterrent. Marion Woolfson, Edinburgh IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://22.214.171.124/feeds/worldoil/new/article_e.asp?energy24=239454 * GOVERNMENT EYES UPSTREAM INVESTMENT IN IRAQ Energy 24, 15th August (Source - Dow Jones) MANILA: The Philippine government and a visiting delegation from Iraq will discuss Philippine participation in oil exploration and production in Iraq during two days of talks starting Wednesday, a Philippine National Oil Co official has revealed. Rudolph Dimen, external relations officer for PNOC-Exploration Corp, said the Philippines has "strong interest" in Iraq's upstream sector. The Philippines has been in talks with Iraq since 1997 about Philippine investment in developing oil Block 9, in southwestern Iraq, he said. The Philippines has sent three technical missions since 1997 to Iraq to study the area. But he said no energy-related agreements will be signed at this week's meeting. "This meeting is to sustain existing cooperation, interest, and discussions between the two countries." PNOC currently has no investments in Iraq. During this week's talks, PNOC will present results of its review of oil Block 9. "Our due diligence review indicates potential for large petroleum deposits." Dimen said. "It's an attractive project for us, because Iraq holds reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia." Dimen said no schedule has been set for Philippine investment in Iraq's oil exploration sector. He said the Philippines is aware of and abides by United Nations restrictions on Iraq's oil industry, including the upstream sector. "We can't avoid those restrictions." he said. "We're confident that we can continue to maintain our interest, but we don't have a timetable or deadline for investment." http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20010817670.2 _92310003fa7eba35 * PAKISTAN, IRAQ SATISFIED WITH PROGRESS OF JOINT MINISTERIAL COMMISSION Hoover's (from Financial Times) 16th August KARACHI : The minister of state and chairman, Export Promotion Bureau, Tariq Ikram, held a meeting with the visiting Iraqi Housing and Construction Minister Dr. Ma'an Sarsam here. They reviewed the progress achieved in the implementation of the decisions of the meeting of the 8th Session of Pak-Iraq Joint Ministerial Commission and expressed satisfaction on the pace and progress. Tariq Ikram briefed the Iraqi minister about the potentials of construction industry and conveyed the readiness of Pakistan firms to participate in the construction projects in Iraq. The Iraqi minister appreciated the high standards of Pakistan firms and expressed his government's desire to further broaden the bilateral relations especially in the construction sector. They also agreed to increase the exchange of technical delegations to benefit from the technical expertise of each other in different fields. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk