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RE: very interesting

> And many would like to blame Iraq for the attacks. But Iraq played no role
> in the September 11 kamikaze attacks in the United States, Foreign
Minister Naji Sabri
> said in an interview published Wednesday. And I believe that. "The United
States, Great
> Britain, the Western states and the rest of the world know full well that
Iraq has no
> link, near or far, with the attacks against American interests," the
minister told the
> Al-Iqtissadi weekly.
> I think this is a very clear statement.

Yes, there's certainly a constituency in the US that sees Saddam lurking
behind every bush.  While I have no privileged information, I find it
unlikely that there's an Iraqi government connection here.  The Iraqi
government knows that it's on America's most wanted list, and it knows that
it had a pretty good chance of staying ahead of the game as long as no
crisis occurred.  While the "smart sanctions" proposals were a threat to it,
it saw off the first round of them, and may have seen off the second.  The
attacks, though, have almost certainly worsened the Iraqi regime's position.
Perhaps the Iraqi regime didn't anticipate this; it has made bad decisions
in the past.  I find this unlikely: it would have been fairly easy to
predict that hijacking four airplanes, crashing two into the WTC and one
into the Pentagon would not prompt an American confession to having run a
harmful foreign policy in the Middle East, and a decision to repent.

I also find Osama bin Laden (whose connection to these events are not well
established in my mind) and Saddam Hussein unlikely allies.  A bin Laden
"promotional video" apparently denounces various enemies of Islam, and
refers to Saddam, who rose to power as a militantly secular figure, as a
kafir, disbeliever.  Yes, politics make strange bedfellows, but if bin Laden
is the religious fundamentalist that he's portrayed to be, I find it
unlikely that he would ally himself with Saddam.

One piece of information that did cause me to start wondering about this
connection again was the claim that there was unusual stock market activity
before September 11.  I've yet to see a good source on this, but the claim
seems to be that individuals may have purchased futures contracts that
became very valuable after September 11, thus making a lot of money.  The
Iraqi government has apparently used its knowledge of its future production
decisions to take positions in the oil futures market to make money as well,
a similar modus operandi.

If the Iraqi government was involved in the attacks in some way, then I
think it very unlikely that they would wish to publicise this as it opens
them to the risk of attacks that have not been possible for nearly a decade.
Thus, when Foreign Minister Naji Sabri denies Iraq's involvement, I am not
surprised: it is in his interests to do so.  More generally, while some
statements issued by the Iraqi government are accurate (e.g. the claim that
Unikom is failing to report border violations between Iraq and Kuwait by US
aircraft) they, like British and American statements, are intended to
advance interests.  Failing to recognise these interests is dangerous for
two reasons: we risk allowing ourselves to be misled and, in the case of
Iraqi government statements, we risk looking - correctly - like dupes to
those that we are trying to convince of the wrongness of the current
sanctions policy.

Colin Rowat

work | Room 406, Department of Economics | The University of Birmingham |
Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK | 0121 414 3754 |

personal | 07768 056 984 (UK mobile) | (917) 517 5840 (USA mobile) | (707)
221 3672 (US fax) |

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