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News, 26/8-1/9/01 (1)

News, 26/8-1/9/01 (1)

The news compilations may be a bit disrupted over the next week or two. The
main news this week is the shooting down of an unmanned spy plane and the
talking out of Basra airport¹s radar facility. there were lots of articles
on these but none of them seemed to say very much. The shooting down of the
plane posed a problem for US apologists - how to make light of the Iraqi
victory while continuing to insist on the reality of the Iraqi menace, which
is what justifies the bombings. Recommended articles of the week: ŒA
passionate voice in the wilderness¹ and ŒWhere is our outrage over Iraq¹,
both in the Campaigning section.


*  Iraq Says It Shoots Down U.S. Spy Plane
*  U.S. Jets Attack 2 Targets in Iraq [with more details of the Predator spy
plane which was shot down]
*  Iraqis bury civilians killed in U.S.-British airstrike
*  Droning around and around [Predator drones are easy to shoot down and
don¹t cost a lot. Which may be true. After all $3m is only a tenth of what
it cost to produce Michael Jackson¹s new LP)
*  Iraq Says Western Air Attack Kills Three Civilians
*  American Jets Attack Iraqi Radar
*  Iraq Says Basra Radar Destroyed by U.S. Jets


*  Iraqi criticism for the conference of the Arab foreign ministers [This is
just included to register the fact that a conference of Arab foreign
ministers took place. Otherwise we mightn¹t have noticed]
*  Iraq says Saudi soldier killed in border clash
*  Company plans Syria-Iraq airlink
*  Syrian source denies on expected visit of President al- Assad to Iraq
*  Turkish army clashes with Kurds [Another Turkish incursion into Northern
Iraq. International Law, how are you?]
*  Jordan's King, Putin Urge End to Iraq Isolation
*  Yemen smooths Iraq-Kuwait row
*  DNA Tests Prove Identity of Gulf War Pilot - Saudi
*  Iraq accused of firing at Saudi forces


*  Return of archeological treasures from Europ sought
*  Satellite to beam anti-Saddam TV to Iraq
*  Saddam and the ministry of sound [The unpromising subject matter ­
ŒZabiba and the King¹ ­ turns into quite an interesting article on what is
left of social and cultural life in Iraq. Doesn¹t mention the hundred giant
statues pointing to Iran we learn about in the Œpassionate voice¹ article
below ...]
*  Iraq tops world 'disappeared' list [in a survey by Amnesty International]

AND, IN NEWS, 26/8­1/9/01 (2)


*  A passionate voice in the wilderness [on Kathy Kelly]
*  Where is our outrage over Iraq? [ŒWe're like the children of drug
kingpins who love living in big houses and having private planes, and
somehow manage to block out the fact that Daddy had to kill a lot of people
to get where he's at. And that Daddy has to kill a lot more people to
"protect our interests." Œ The author is a ŒFormer Denver Broncos player¹,
which seems to be as good a training ground for understanding the realities
of the world as any]
*  Leave Iraq Alone? [This comes from ŒMedia, which seems to
give ordinary folk like you and me the chance to have their say. This is a
defence of US policy ­ I couldn¹t track down the anti-sanctions article it
is replying to ­ but it states the problem rather as I see it: that it is
one of pride. He reproaches Saddam for allowing his people to suffer to
preserve his pride, while obviously being dimly aware that the Œpeople¹s¹
pride has something to do with it as well. It only takes a little more
thinking to realise that we have murdered hundreds of thousands of people
uniquely for the pleasure, which we have not yet been able to enjoy, of
crushing that pride]


*  Iraq submits Sep oil prices to U.N.
*  Iraq and France and the oil-for-food program
*  UN blocks 43 food contracts, says Iraq
*  Iraq sets up firm to oversee new oil finds


*  [Pakistan¹s] Trade volume with Iraq reaches $70m
*  India, Pakistan vying for Iraqi wheat market
*  Large delegation from India arrives in Baghdad
*  [Indian] Wheat exports to Iraq likely to resume


*  10 Iraqi Kurds Seized After Sneaking Into Israel From Lebanon [Surprising
to see the People¹s Daily using the word Œsneak¹ in this context]
*  44 Iraqis caught in chunnel [not surprising to see The Sun using the word
Œsneak¹ in this context]


*  The Thinking Man's Military [Jim Hoagland on Paul Wolfowitz. It seems
Wolfowitz has realised that justifying the SDI on the basis of the Œthreat¹
posed to the USA by Iraq or North Korea is ludicrous. So "We are trying to
move from a threat-based strategy to a capabilities based strategy." ie not
what we have to do, but what we can do. Extracts]
*  Editorial: "W;" confronts the world [Reproducing a whole article from the
Saudi paper Ain al-Yaqeen is a bit of self indulgence but it seems to me
that a quite perceptive and even, within its limits, witty attack on a US
President, written by a Saudi Ambassador is a bit of an event. It includes
the following: ŒFinally, the president's advisors would do well to let him
know that most of the credit for the "Bugaboo of Baghdad's" remaining in
power goes to US policy which throws billions of dollars on Israel every
year while throwing rockets at Baghdad.¹ Time to start getting the US
military out of Saudi Arabia, isn¹t it?

URLs ONLY:,2933,32966,00.html
*  Manned Combat Fighters Fall Prey to Evolution
by Matthew Baker
Fox News, 27th August
[For military technology enthusiasts]
American genocide continues
by Mike Schneider
Pravda, 21st August
[This is a summary of Thomas Nagy¹s article in The progressive, on the
policy of deliberately degrading Iraq¹s water supply]
*  Why Not Saddam
by Christopher Dickey
Newsweek International, 20th August
[Arguing for the idiotic policy of indicting S.Hussein as a war criminal,
i.e. invading Iraq, or continuing to torture the Iraqi people pointlessly
until S.Hussein dies]
*  Fools rush in
by Barry Rubin
Jerusalem Post, 29th August
[An unpleasant piece of Israeli sneering against Arabs as shifty cowards and
fools who need to be kept in their place by firm measures on the part of the
Master Race. Mainly directed against Bashar al­Assad, mainly because of his
apparently pro-Iraqi policy]


Excite, 27th August

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi army said Monday its air defenses had shot
down a U.S. reconnaissance plane while it was flying over southern Iraq.

"The air defenses in the Basra area shot down the plane when it was flying a
spy mission inside Iraqi airspace," a military spokesman told the Iraqi News

He did not say whether the aircraft was manned or not.

"This was an advanced plane which the Americans used during their aggression
on Yugoslavia," he added without elaborating.

Iraqi Information Ministry officials said they were expecting a video tape
from the Defense Ministry showing the wreckage of the downed plane and that
Iraqi television would air it as soon as it was received.

In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said he had no information about such an


The Associated Press, Tue 28 Aug 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) ‹ U.S. and British fighter jets attacked two military
targets in southern Iraq on Tuesday, Pentagon officials said.

The targets were facilities that provide command, control and communications
support for Iraqi air defense fighter aircraft, one official said. More than
a half-dozen U.S. and British strike aircraft carried out the attacks,
accompanied by more than a dozen jammer and other support planes.

The attack came one day after U.S. forces lost an unmanned reconnaissance
aircraft near Basra, in southern Iraq, but Tuesday's action was planned in
advance and not related to that incident directly, two U.S. officials said.
The officials discussed the attacks on condition they not be identified.

They described the attack as part of a continuing effort to counteract Iraqi
improvements to its air defenses.

Pentagon officials also said on Tuesday they had verified Iraq's claim that
it found the charred wreckage of the Air Force RQ-1B Predator aircraft that
was lost over southern Iraq a day earlier.

Two U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that
while it appears certain the wreckage is from the lost Predator, it remains
unclear whether the drone was shot down by Iraqi air defenses ‹ as Iraq
claims ‹ or crashed as a result of a technical malfunction.

The wreckage was found near the city of Basra, about 30 miles north of the
Kuwaiti border. Pentagon officials said a Predator was operating in that
area at the time its controllers lost contact on Monday.

Iraq said its air defenses shot down the Predator, and Pentagon officials
did not dispute that. They said they could not rule out the possibility that
the Predator went down on its own.

Images of the wreckage were broadcast on Iraqi state television, and
government newspapers trumpeted Iraq's first downing of a U.S. aircraft
since U.S. and British planes began patrolling ``no fly'' zones over Iraq in

``Iraqi skies are a death zone for the enemy,'' said the Al-Jumhuriya

A photograph released by the Iraqi News Agency on Tuesday showed a purported
piece of wreckage that bore two tags. A red label said ``Property of
U.S.A.F.'' A blue tag on an adjacent panel of the wreckage said ``U.S. Navy

The Predator is an Air Force aircraft, but some contain Navy components.

Also visible from Iraqi TV images was a piece of wreckage displaying the
name ``Sierra Monolithics.''

A California company, Sierra Monolithics Inc., makes communications
components for unmanned aerial vehicles. Calls to the company's headquarters
in Redondo Beach, Calif., seeking details were not returned Tuesday, and Air
Force officials at the Pentagon said they did not know whether Sierra
Monolithics makes parts for the Predator.

Army Col. Rick Thomas, spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, which is
responsible for U.S. military operations in the Persian Gulf area, said no
sensitive technology was compromised by the loss.

CNN, August 29, 2001

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Villagers buried two civilians Wednesday who had been
killed in a U.S.-British airstrike on southern Iraq, the official Iraqi News
Agency reported.

Giving the first Iraqi report on the raid, the agency said American and
British planes carried out a "treacherous aggression" against al-Ahrar
village in Nasiriya province, about 300 kilometers (188 miles) southeast of
Baghdad, at 10:30 p.m. local time (1830 GMT) on Tuesday.

"This peaceful village was far away from any military site," the agency

But the U.S. Defense Department said late Tuesday that allied planes had
attacked command, control and communications facilities of the Iraqi air

The strike came a day after the United States lost an unmanned
reconnaissance craft near the southern city of Basra, some 150 kilometers
(95 miles) southeast of Nasiriya. Iraq claims to have shot down the drone.
The Pentagon is not sure whether it was brought down by fire or malfunction.

The Iraqi News Agency said Tuesday's raid killed Dahiaf Ali and Eidan Jabur.

Government officials and "many people" attended their funeral, with people
shouting their condemnation of this "new ugly crime," the agency reported.


Cincinnati Post, 29th August

Downing a U.S. Predator - an unmanned spy plane - is hardly a difficult feat
of arms. The drones are slow and low, cruising at 85 mph and generally
operating at an altitude of 10,000 feet. They lack the sophisticated
features of manned warplanes.

A Predator went down over Iraq on Monday. The Iraqis probably shot it down -
they've been trying hard enough - but it could have just crashed.
Incredibly, it is the first fixed-wing aircraft to be lost in the 10 years
U.S. and British pilots have been enforcing the no-fly zone.

The loss of the Predator proves the value of drones. No lives were lost; the
$3.2 million replacement cost is cheap for a military aircraft; and it
denies the Iraqis a propaganda victory. Parading through Baghdad brandishing
pieces of what is basically an overgrown model airplane is hardly a triumph.

The real problem about enforcing the no-fly zone is that sooner or later a
manned aircraft is likely to go down in Iraq, either because of mechanical
malfunction or because the Iraqis finally succeed in hitting one. Saddam
Hussein's regime has spoken openly of using a captured American or British
pilot as leverage to have the U.N. embargo lifted or eased. Saddam is
calculating that a few American prisoners would cause the United States to
cave, perhaps even withdraw from the region. It is hard-hearted to say, but
he would have to be proved wrong.

The Iraqis - with Chinese help, it is alleged - have upgraded their air
defenses faster than the U.S. and British can take them out. If the no-fly
zone is to continue to be enforced, the Bush administration's only option
may be more and bigger air strikes.

The U.N. embargo has succeeded in neither its stated goal - stripping Iraq
of weapons of mass destruction and the means to make them - nor its unstated
goal - toppling Saddam from power. The embargo has succeeded in but one
respect: If it were not in place, Saddam would almost certainly again attack
one or more of his neighbors, Kuwait certainly and perhaps Saudi Arabia.

While the United Nations is stalemated over coming up with a more effective
embargo, U.S. policy is like those overflights of Iraq - going around and
around in circles in dangerous territory.

Yahoo, 29th August

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Western air raids on southern Iraq overnight killed
three civilians and wounded 15, the Iraqi army said on Wednesday.

``The enemy attacked civilian and infrastructure targets in Basra and Thi
Qar provinces, killing three citizens and wounding 15,'' a military
communiqu said.

Iraqi television showed the funerals of two men from the remote village of
al-Ahrar it described as victims of the raids.


The Associated Press, Fri 31 Aug 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) ‹ For the third time in less than a week, U.S. fighter jets
attacked a military target in southern Iraq that the Pentagon says posed a
threat to allied pilots patrolling Iraqi airspace.

Four Air Force F-16 fighter jets on Thursday attacked a long-range radar
stationed at Basra airport, Pentagon officials said. They said the airport
radar was not active at the time of the attack but had been used in the past
to coordinate Iraqi air defense targeting of U.S. and British aircraft in
southern Iraq.

The radar was considered a significant target because it had sufficient
range to ``see'' all of Kuwait's airspace, according to a senior defense
official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In a brief statement announcing the attack, the U.S. Central Command said
only that ``coalition'' aircraft used precision-guided weapons to strike the
radar at 1:30 p.m. EDT and that the damage was being assessed. It also said
the attack was ``in response to recent Iraqi hostile threats.''

The Central Command is responsible for U.S. military operations in the
Persian Gulf area.

The radar was located on Basra's main airport, which a Pentagon official
said serves both civilian and military aircraft. He said the radar was
located a sufficient distance from civilian airport facilities to ensure
that civilians were not hit. Another defense official said the F-16s dropped
500-pound laser-guided bombs ‹ smaller than what normally would be used
against such a target ‹ to further reduce the chance of civilian damage.

Thursday's attack was planned in advance, the Pentagon official said. He
spoke on condition of anonymity.

Last Saturday, U.S. and British warplanes attacked a mobile radar in
southern Iraq, and on Tuesday they hit an Iraqi aircraft command and control


According to the Pentagon's count, Iraq has ``provoked'' allied planes in
the south ‹ defined as incidents in which it has fired on planes, used radar
against them or sent fighters into the ``no fly'' zone ‹ 390 times this
year. That compares with 221 ``provocations'' in all of 2000. Allied planes
have struck at Iraqi air defense targets 23 times in the south so far this
year, compared with 32 times last year.

In the northern zone, the Pentagon counts 78 Iraqi provocations so far this
year, compared with 145 in 2000. The pace of allied strikes has fallen from
48 last year to 10 so far this year.


by Khaled Yacoub Oweis

BAGHDAD (Reuters, 31st August) - Iraq said on Friday a U.S. air strike on
radar at Basra airport in south Iraq had destroyed the installation and
wounded one civilian in the latest of a series of attacks by Western

Iraqi officials confirmed the attack on the Basra radar station, which U.S.
defense officials said took place on Thursday, following Baghdad's claim
this week to have shot down an unmanned U.S. Predator reconnaissance

"At 21:42 (1742 GMT) on Thursday, U.S. and British warplanes committed a
despicable crime by bombing the radar station of Basra International
Airport, which guides civilian landings and takeoffs," said a transport
ministry official.

"This device is registered with the International Air Transport Association.
It was fully destroyed," the official told the Iraqi News Agency (INA).

A military spokesman quoted by INA said one civilian was wounded in the

U.S. defense officials said on Thursday that F-16 warplanes attacked "a
military radar" as part of a concerted strategy to destroy Baghdad's air
defenses, which regularly fire at Western warplanes policing two "no-fly"
zones in northern and southern Iraq.

Air raid sirens rang in Basra city around the time of the attack. A Reuters
photographer who boarded a plane from Basra to Baghdad on Friday said the
airport appeared to be functioning normally.

The airport occupies a large area in the strategic Basra province, home to
Iraq's main port on the Gulf and major oil installations 300 miles south of


"The United States cannot tell Iraqis under siege for the past 11 years 'You
cannot improve your military tools'," said Foreign Minister Naji Sabri.

"We expect the United States and Britain to widen their aggression on Iraq
any time. We are ready for confrontation," INA quoted the minister telling
Qatar's al-Jazeera television.



Arabic News, 27th August

The Iraqi daily al-Thawra ( revolution) on Sunday strongly criticized the
decisions of the emergency conference of the Arab foreign ministers,
considering that these decisions constituted a step backward in
confrontation of Israel towards the Palestinian Intifada.

The paper said that the decisions of the emergency conference which was held
in Cairo last Wednesday which did not result even the simplest decision that
should be taken, which is to sever political and economic relations with
Israel showed the discrepancy and inability in the Arab lines.

The paper also criticized talking about secret decisions released by the
conference attributed by news agencies to several diplomatic observers,
calling for more diplomatic work in order to convince Washington to change
its position towards what is going place in the occupied Palestinian

Reuters, Baghdad, 27th August

Iraq said its border guards killed a Saudi Arabian soldier on Friday during
clashes with a Saudi armed group that had infiltrated the Iraqi border, the
official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported on Sunday.  INA quoted a letter
addressed by Iraq's Arab League envoy to League Secretary-General Amr Moussa
as saying the fighting took place on August 25 at Iraq's Slikhat and Dhaher
border posts.

"A Saudi armed group of 10 persons carrying light arms infiltrated the Iraqi
territory and engaged in an exchange of fire with units of Iraqi border
guards," the letter said.  It said the Saudis then withdrew, leaving behind
a wounded member, named in the letter as Saad Mutliq Slibi.

The letter said he died on his way to hospital in Samawa city, adding that
Iraq's Foreign Ministry had contacted representative of the International
Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad to take his body back to Saudi
Arabia.  The letter said a Saudi patrol of three vehicles had also entered
Iraq's territory and fired at Iraqi border outposts on March 25 last year.

It was the second time in as many months that an incident on Iraq's border
with Saudi Arabia has been reported. In June Saudi Arabia said its border
guards had killed an Iraqi soldier during clashes with an Iraqi patrol,
which had infiltrated the kingdom.


CNN, 28th August

DAMASCUS, Syria (Reuters) -- A private airline company is launching the
first direct daily flights between Damascus and Baghdad in two decades
following the restoration of relations after nearly 20 years of hostility,
sources said on Tuesday.

They told Reuters the flights, organized by an unnamed company, would start
on Saturday, September 1.

Several Syrian planes have already flown official delegations and aid to
Baghdad, despite international sanctions on Iraq, but no commercial flights
have been organized before.

The aviation sources said the company, which had already placed
advertisements in the Syrian capital, had no links with either the
state-owned Syrian Air Company or Iraqi Air.

Neither the advertisement nor the sources gave any name for the company.

"The planes will take off daily from Damascus airport at 2000 local time for
a direct flight to Baghdad starting from September 1," one source said.

Iraqi Air reopened its office in the Syrian capital early this year, but the
bureau is only being used to organize travel for Iraqi officials and
citizens through Damascus airport to other parts of the world.


Arabic News, 28th August

A well-informed Syrian source has denied news talking about an expected
visit by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Iraq, prepared for by the
Syrian prime minister Muhammad Mustafa Miro during his recent visit to

In a statement issued on Monday by the London- based al- Sharq al-Awsat
daily, the source described these news as totally groundless.

ISN [International Relations & Security Network], Tue 28 Aug 2001

(Reuters): Turkish security forces have clashed with Kurdish separatists in
northern Iraq, but it was not immediately clear how many casualties either
side suffered, a Europe-based Kurdish television channel said on Monday.
"Turkish soldiers have launched an intense operation in northern Iraq that
involves a group of at least 400 soldiers and a group of PKK [Kurdistan
Workers Party] fighters," the Medya channel said, quoting a PKK statement.

Medya said the fighting broke out on Saturday across the Iraqi border from
the Turkish province of Sirnak, the site of clashes between security forces
and the PKK that killed one soldier last week. Turkish forces regularly
pursue PKK fighters across the border into the breakaway region of northern
Iraq, outside of Baghdad's control since the end of the 1991 Gulf War.


Yahoo, 28th August

MOSCOW (Reuters) - King Abdullah of Jordan and Russian President Vladimir
Putin (news - web sites) called Tuesday for an end to the international
isolation of Iraq, saying it would help stabilize the entire Middle East.

During 90 minutes of one-on-one talks in the Kremlin the two men also
discussed spiraling violence between Israel and the Palestinians, whose
11-month revolt has seen more than 700 deaths.

The talks were later expanded to include ministers and discussions on trade
and investment.

Abdullah said he and Putin had agreed that a solution must be found to the
``tragic situation'' of the Iraqi people, now in the 11th year of U.N.
sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990.

But the king said ending Baghdad's international isolation also had a
broader purpose: ``The establishment of a comprehensive regional security
requires Iraq to come back into the fold of the community of states.''

Putin echoed those remarks, saying that only ''political-diplomatic''
efforts could resolve the long-running international standoff with Iraq over

``Arab countries should play a strong and positive role in unblocking the
situation as regards Iraq,'' Putin said. ``That would help stabilize the
situation in the entire region.''


BBC, 28th August

The foreign minister of Yemen has briefed the Emir of Kuwait about Yemen's
efforts to resolve Kuwait's dispute with Iraq over missing prisoners of war.

Yemeni foreign minister, Abubakr al-Qirbi, visited Kuwait to discuss
improving bilateral economic ties between the two countries.

But he also delivered a letter to the Emir from the Yemen president about
recent talks with Iraqi officials over the contentious issue of missing


Yahoo, 31st August

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Friday that laboratory tests had
proved human remains found in Iraq belonged to a Saudi pilot who had been
missing since his plane was shot down during the 1991 Gulf War.

The aviation and defense ministry said in a statement that DNA tests
conducted on the remains handed over by Iraq after they were found last year
showed they were those of Colonel Mohammed Nazerah.

``After verifying the laboratory data, the Ministry of Aviation and Defense
is now certain that the aforementioned pilot was martyred,'' a ministry
official said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The statement gave no further details.

Iraq said in January tests conducted in Geneva under the auspices of the
International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that the remains found
last October in the Iraqi desert close to the Saudi border were those of the

But Saudi media said at the time the kingdom had demanded a re-examination
to determine the cause and time of his death.

Iraq had said the pilot's plane was shot down in 1991. An Iraqi officer who
had buried the pilot in a minefield identified the burial site, and the
wreckage of a plane was found about half a mile away.

Hundreds of people were reported missing after the Gulf War. Accounting for
them is one of several conditions Iraq must meet before trade sanctions
imposed by the United Nations after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait can be

Saudi Arabia contributed to the U.S.-led international force that drove
Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

by Syed Rashid Husain
Dawn (Pakistan), 1st September 2001, 12 Jamadi-us-Saani 1422

RIYADH, Aug 31: In a memorandum submitted to the Arab League Secretary
General, Saudi Arabia has complained that encroaching Iraqis opened fire on
Saudi security forces late in the evening on Aug 25 and injured a Saudi
soldier, Saad Ali Al-Salby.

The Iraqi armed men then took the injured soldier to the Iraqi territory, it
was reported on Thursday. "We do not know whether the injured soldier taken
away by the Iraqi armed men is dead or alive," the Saudi Ambassador to the
Arab League, Mr Faisal ibn Hasan Tarad, was quoted here as saying.

Saudi Arabia has also refuted Iraqi claims that the Saudi border patrols had
infiltrated into the Iraqi territory and described it as contrary to the
fact and an attempt by the Iraqi side to spread misinformation in this

The Iraqi allegation that Saudi Arabia is taking part in the US-British
attacks was also vehemently denied by the Saudi ambassador. "We have replied
to such falsifications several times. They are totally baseless," he added.

He reaffirmed the Kingdom's commitment to the Arab League Charter and held
Iraq responsible for its continuous aggressive attacks against the Kingdom.

The Saudi memorandum was in response to an Iraqi statement on Sunday that a
Saudi officer was killed during a clash between Iraqi border guards and an
armed Saudi group.

The Saudi ambassador said the Kingdom has taken a photograph of the area
where the incident took place. "It shows the marks of the Saudi soldier
while he was being dragged along the ground and even blood (could be seen in
the photograph oozing out) from his injuries. We have also kept the bullets
they used to fire against the Saudi security personnel," he said.



BAGHDAD (AFP): Baghdad is seeking the return of looted Iraqi archeological
pieces from European museums, the head of Iraq's department of archeology
and heritage, Jaber Khalil Ibrahim, said in a report on Sunday.

"Iraq has made some diplomatic approaches in France, Britain and Germany in
an attempt to retrieve stolen pieces of art," Ibrahim told Al-Ilam weekly.

Ibrahim claimed museums in Britain, Berlin and the Louvre in Paris are
showing stolen Iraqi archeological treasures, and that their attendance
figures would suffer if Iraq got them back.

He said that Baghdad had previously managed to have some stolen pieces of
art returned from displays overseas, but was not specific.

Iraq contains more than 10,000 archeological sites, many in the northern
province of Kurdistan, and most of which have not yet been uncovered,
according to official statistics.

Baghdad alleges many archeological sites in Iraq were pillaged by US forces
in 1991 in the thick of the Gulf War in which Iraqi occupation troops were
expelled from neighbouring Kuwait.

Iraq has also repeatedly accused foreigners of financing the theft of
archeological pieces and pointed an accusing finger at diplomats posted in
Baghdad and UN employees.

Before the embargo imposed on Iraq in August 1990 for invading Kuwait, Iraq
played host to numerous foreign archeological expeditions each year.,3604,543610,00.html

by Brian Whitaker
The Guardian, 29th August

The US-sponsored propaganda war against Saddam Hussein will move into space
in the next few days when the first satellite TV channel run by Iraqi
opposition groups starts broadcasting.

Liberty TV aims to provide people close to the Baghdad regime with a mixture
of uncensored news, chat, music and - eventually - video footage filmed
secretly inside the country.

The channel has been set up by the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an
umbrella group for opposition movements funded by the United States.

"There will be a 20-minute news bulletin - not just news about Iraq but
things that might be of interest to the Iraqi people, or that might be
censored," said the INC's communications adviser, Zaab Sethna.

"There will also be a daily interview and either a chat section or a
phone-in - though obviously the callers will have to be from outside Iraq.
We have plans to show music videos by Iraqi artists, too."

Transmissions will initially consist of an hour-long programme, repeated
several times each evening.

With 30 staff in the US and up to a dozen at its London studio, the station
is expected to cost £700,000 a year to run. A similar amount has been spent
on start-up costs.

For its broadcasts, Liberty TV has rented a transponder on the Telstar 12
satellite, owned by Loral Skynet, an American communications company. This
will cost a further £900,000 a year.

Funds were provided by the US Congress and are administered by the state

The more dangerous second stage of the project, Mr Sethna added, will
involve filming secretly inside Iraq.

"We're training people to use Sony digital cameras, transfer the footage on
to a laptop and then send it back by satellite phone," he said.

He admitted that Iraqis would not want to be interviewed, for fear of
reprisals by the regime. "The aim is to collect footage that we can use in
our programmes. Food queues, military sites, areas of deprivation, mass
graves - that sort of thing."

Radio programmes attacking the Bagdad regime have been broadcast for several
years by Radio Free Europe, also funded by Washington.

But Mr Sethna argues that television is likely to have more impact, even if
it reaches a smaller audience.

"People who have dishes in the regime-controlled part of Iraq are generally
influential - often connected with the power structure, like an army
officer's family or a government official or a merchant," he said. "These
are the people we have to reach to make a change in Iraq."

About a quarter of the population in Iraqi cities are thought to have access
to satellite television. In the Kurdish north, access is higher - about 60%
- but much lower in the Shi'ite south, at around 20%.

Paul Goble, communications director of Radio Free Europe (RFE), said: "I
think TV probably is the way of the future, but there are some problems.

"If the Iraqi government discovers large numbers of people using satellite
dishes for things it doesn't like I would expect some effort to make people
hand in their dishes. You can't have an action without a reaction.

"With radio you can listen privately in your bedroom, but if you have to
have a satellite dish outside it becomes a whole lot easier to track it

He said RFE monitors the response to its radio broadcasts partly through
criticism from Iraqi officials - "which is one measure of success".

Independent, 30th August
by Rose George

First the book, then the TV series, now the musical. It seems the president
of Iraq's recent cultural output has no limits, much to the delight of
foreign editors everywhere. You may have heard about the book, which was
first gleefully written about in the West in May. Called Zabibah wal Malik'
(Zabiba and the King), it is a deeply meaningful love story that tells the
tale of beautiful Zabiba (or Everywoman), her cruel husband (or the Satanic
West) and the introspective and insecure King (or the Iraqi president). The
allegory is fairly well signposted, according to CIA operatives who have
been poring over the book: Zabiba gets raped on 17 January, the day the Gulf
War allies launch their attack on Iraq in 1991. The good King saves her and
dies in the service of his country. Along the way, he pours out his heart to
Zabiba, confessing his fears about his technique ­ "Do the people need
strict measures from their leader?" he asks her. "Yes, Your Majesty," Zabiba
replies. "The people need strict measures so that they can feel protected by
this strictness" ­ as well as thoughts about his succession. In a year when
Saddam's younger son Qusay has been promoted to the Revolutionary Council
before his brother Uday, clues to his thoughts, even if submerged in
allegory, are a delight for the spooks of the CIA's Iraq-watching

Later, it was reported that the book was to be made into a 20-part TV
series, no doubt to be shown on the trot, as happened with the 24-hour
broadcast of a Gulf War drama in January. Finally, some 10 days ago, word
was issued from the bottom floor of the Ministry of Information (where
Baghdad's handful of foreign correspondents sit) that Zabiba will be a
musical, and is already in preparation at the Iraqi National Theatre. Move
over Ewan McGregor.

Take one of the crowded elevators up to the ministry's fifth floor, however,
and the idea that the president should have cultural aspirations will not
seem so outlandish. In a corridor near the offices shared by the
English-language arts magazine Gilgamesh, the women's monthly Ishtar and the
multilingual El-Mamoun state publishing house, there is a table covered with
books, all written by the same author. Thrilling stuff: The Revolution and
the Woman in Iraq by Saddam Hussein; Thus we should fight Persians by Saddam
Hussein; and ­ my favourite ­ One Trench or Two?, a charming speech on "the
revolutionary experiment" and how to crush the Kurds.

"His obsession is his concern for learning," gushes the introduction to
Saddam's On Current Affairs in Iraq. "During his exile in Cairo, he found
time in midst of his frenzied activities [ie plotting to overthrow the
existing regime] to obtain his secondary school certificate." What's more,
it continues, the president's gifts in public speaking led to "Saddam
Hussein [being] compared by Christopher Hitchens of the New Statesman with
President Nasser." (Hitchens says he has no recollection of making such a

Inside the army uniform and Armani suits, we are to believe, beats the heart
of a cultured man, whose love of painting can be seen in the hundreds and
thousands of garish portraits bearing his image throughout the country, and
who regularly discourses on the importance of heritage and culture. The
English-language newspaper Iraq Daily ­ whose importance shouldn't be
underestimated, given that its CEO is Saddam's son Uday ­ carries regular
cultural bulletins, while ancient wonders such as Babylon and Hatra have
been reconstructed (to the fury of Unesco), with Saddam erecting a plaque in
his name right next to Nebuchadnezzar's. Roads have been built to cultural
treasures such as the Marmatti monastery near the city of Mosul ­ and the
northern no-fly zone. Baghdad's only major cultural centre is named after
the president (as are countless schools, missiles and rivers).

Such crude cultural imperialism ­ and the fairly unimaginative narrative of
the future Zabiba the Musical ­ may not impress Western sensibilities. But
that's not what Saddam's creative endeavours are about. Their purpose is to
raise and direct the spirit of his beleaguered nation, as part of a wider
attempt to fight back against the perceived cruelties of the West through
culture. The past year has seen an increasing defiance of sanctions in Iraq:
international flights now land with some regularity at Baghdad airport, and
Iraq has been revving up its attempts to shoot down US and British jets in
the no-fly zones. Now this defiance is being accompanied by a series of
measures designed to boost the nation's cultural efforts.

The publication of the Zabiba novel, for example, followed a pronouncement
from the president that feature films and plays should abandon the fluffy,
escapist themes they had followed since sanctions began in 1991 and instead
tackle weightier issues that would lift the spirit of the nation. Earlier
this year, the noted director Abdul Salam al-Adhami dutifully released Hafra
al-Batm, a Gulf War story about courageous Iraqi troops buried alive by US
soldiers (based on a CNN documentary on the incident). Two other Gulf War
themed films are reportedly in production, one a reworking of the SAS book
Bravo Two Zero, albeit with a new focus: instead of the captured and
tortured SAS soldiers hogging the limelight, the hero is a brave Iraqi
called Adnan, who leads the SAS men into a trap.

Some may be tempted to sneer at such efforts, but it's worth noting that a
US-sponsored satellite channel is to start beaming into Iraq a service
called Liberty TV, a mixture of news, chat and entertainment, by way of a
cultural counter-attack.

Saddam's regime is well prepared to respond. This year has also seen the
Ministry of Information and Culture split in two, and the direction of more
money (from Iraq's annual $3bn revenues in non-sanctioned oil sales) towards
cultural concerns. The Iraqi National Museum finally got a budget to pay for
armed guards at three archaeological dig sites, to put a stop to
catastrophic looting (10,000 artefacts have disappeared since 1991). As a
sweetener, the death penalty for illegal exports of artefacts was

Another request from the president pressed writers to produce work about
everyday Iraq, from home life to "the experience of those who crouch behind
their guns to resist enemy aircraft". However, as those who are crouching
behind their guns are increasingly busy firing at no-fly patrols, they don't
have much time to read or write.

Nor, probably, can they or anyone else afford to. "People are more occupied
with earning a living, not buying books," says Dr Khaduar Al- Dulaimi, head
of El Mamoun publishing house. Before sanctions, El-Mamoun used to publish
20 novels a year, translated from English, Spanish, Russian and German. Now
it's down to a couple. National literature fares even worse. "In the 1970s
we used to invite Arab writers to have their work published in Iraq free of
charge. People are doing self-publishing, but it's very discouraging." Books
are out of most people's reach: Even Zabiba and the King, priced at 1,500
dinars (60p), represents half of a monthly state salary. "Before sanctions,"
says Margaret Hassan, the British-born head of the aid agency CARE in Iraq,
"even the poorest were earning 200 dinars ­ then £380. If someone got that
now they'd think they'd died and gone to heaven. Maybe it wasn't paradise
lost, but..."

Now cultural splashes of colour ­ such as Saddam the Musical ­ take place in
what has become a "photocopy culture". People can't afford books, and
packages from abroad are classified as "trade" and banned under sanctions.
Many people have sold their libraries, and taking even a single book out of
Iraq now requires an export licence. You can always spot an Iraqi journalist
in a crowd of reporters: they're the ones carefully using the back of
printed sheets of paper, because they can't afford notebooks.

It's a sorry sight, in a country famed throughout the Arab world for its art
and civilisation, and well-known before sanctions for its highlife and party
spirit. These days, there's little entertainment on offer in Baghdad, since
the public consumption of alcohol was banned in 1995 (too many depressed
people were drinking away their £1 salaries). Bars and nightclubs are
non-existent. Even the wealthy ­ rich through the £2bn a year smuggling
trade ­ have to make do with restaurants and private members' clubs. On one
trip to Iraq, two French aid workers came to visit the annual Baghdad
international photographic exhibit ­ hardly the stuff of Magnum ­ and said
forlornly: "We've been looking forward to this for months."

Even so, in one area of cultural endeavour, Iraq is triumphing. Sanctions
keeps the borders pretty much sealed to Westerners, allowing pirating to
flourish ­ you can buy Encarta for a few dollars in Baghdad, and
PlayStations galore. Disrespect for copyright has become an art form. How
fitting, then, that the picture of Zabiba, who is depicted on the cover of
the president's novel with flowing gown and hair "against a backdrop of the
arches of Babylon", has been nicked. As the Canadian "goddess art" painter
Jonathan Earl Bowse complains on his website, "I did not authorise the Iraqi
president to publish my work in this way. A serious infringement has
occurred here, and I believe copyright is a principle worth defending. But
it seems unlikely anything can be done about it, so I am trying to view the
story in a humorous light."


Iraq has the world's worst record for numbers of people who have disappeared
and remain unaccounted for, says the human rights group Amnesty

Amnesty uses the term "disappeared" when it suspects that the authorities
have been involved in a person's illegal detention.

The group said hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims had disappeared before
the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war for allegedly being of Iranian origin.

Another 100,000 Kurds are believed to have gone missing in Iraq following
Operation Anfal in 1988.

Amnesty urged "all governments to conduct full investigations, in accordance
with international standards, into all cases of disappearances to bring
those responsible to justice."

The call coincides with the International Day of the Disappeared, aimed at
highlighting illegal detentions around the world.


Iraq: hundreds of thousands
Latin America: 90,000
Bosnia: 18,000
Kosovo: 3,000
Chechnya: thousands
Lebanon: thousands, since 1975-90 war

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