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News, 23-29/9/01 (2)

News, 23-29/9/01 (2)


*  Iraq: Iranian forces use missiles to attack mujahedin near Baghdad [Was
this Œterrorismı?]
*  Rafsanjani says Iraq is blocking implementation of UN resolution ending
imposed war [and some Iranian responses to Sept 11, including Ayatollah
Khameini: "America does not have the competence to guide a global movement
against terrorism, and...Iran will not participate in any move which is
headed by the United States."]
*  Egyptian- Iraqi telecommunications
*  Israeli jets in Turkey to bombard Iraq
*  4 Alleged Iraqi Spies Reportedly Arrested


*  Iraq urges OPEC not to increase oil output
*  UN to keep tabs on alleged Iraq oil kickbacks [Question of shortening
price setting period still rages]
*  Rilwanu Lukman is OPEC new president [with OPEC reactions to Sept 11
*  War-risk cover hits Iraqi crude competitiveness [Adverse effects of Sept
11 attacks on Iraqi economy]
*  Shaky Foundations: The US in the Middle East [Short extract from
interesting MERIP analysis outlining Iraqi strategy to become an economic
power even under Oil for Food]


*  U.N. Approves $365 Million in Gulf War Reparations [The sorry tale
continues. It includes Palestinians forced to flee Kuwait. By the Iraqis? Or
by the Kuwaitis? And why does the article seem to suggest that there were
only 1,200 Palestinians in Kuwait at the time of the invasion?]


*  Iraq says it fired on US, British warplanes [Raids on Dohuk, Erbil and
Nineveh on Monday]
*  Western Warplanes Hit Iraq Targets-US Spokesman [Raids on Sahban and
Nassiryah, Thursday]


*  Iran's under-20 basketball team arrives in Iraq
*  Thai, Iraqi World Cup campaigns end


*  Fearing strike, Iraq dismantles refineries, rations fuel [Economic
effects of Iraqi security measures on the Kurdish autonomous zone]
*  PUK Kicks Islamic From Halabja , Iran Interferes


Hoover's (Financial Times), 23rd September
Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Several Iraqis were wounded in a missile attack by Iranian forces on a
Mujahedin base northeast of Baghdad and close to the Iranian border, AFP
reported on 14 September. The Iraqi-backed Mujahedin-e Khalq said that five
missiles were fired on the Mujahedin base in Jalaula, but added that the
missiles missed their targets and hit a residential district instead,
wounding several Iraqi civilians and damaging many houses and public
buildings. Those who fired the missiles, they said, fled back into Iranian
territory. The Mujahedin forces are believed to number 50,000.


Tehran, Sept 27, IRNA -- Former president and Chairman of the State
Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, here Thursday said that the
Iraqi regime has been resisting complete implementation of the UN ceasefire
resolution which ended the 1980-1988 Iraqi imposed war against the Islamic

He also criticized international organizations for "not taking a single step
in favor of the country (Iran)," which has been declared entitled to war
reparations by the United Nations for having been unjustly engaged in a
disastrous war by the Iraqi Ba'ath regime.

"To implement the resolution (598), we have either to use force or continue
our negotiations via international channels. The use of force is not
expedient and international organizations such as the Red Cross and the
United Nations do not cooperate with us," he said.

The Iraqi regime, Rafsanjani said, continues to ignore a provision of the UN
resolution which demarcates the two countries' borders and, likewise,
refuses to acknowledge Iran's rights to the Arvand Roud at the mouth of the
Persian Gulf.

It has also refused to release all Iranians held in Iraqi jails despite
repeated calls and presentation of evidence by the Islamic Republic to show
that some Iranian soldiers are still being held in Iraqi prisons, he said.

The head of the Committee for Prisoners of War and Soldiers Missing in
Action, Brigadier General Abdullah Najafi, said Wednesday that the Iraqi
government has thus far refused to give an explanation on the fate of some
3,000 Iranian soldiers still held in Iraq.

According to the official, Iran has unilaterally freed 12,000 Iraqi POWs in
the course of the past seven years, while Iraq has during the same period
freed merely 400 Iranian prisoners.

Rafsanjani, talking to a group of university teachers on the anniversary of
the Iraqi invasion, singled out the Islamic Republic's heightened "security
and defense fortifications" as the biggest achievement of the country since
after the war, adding, "Iran today is to meet its defensive needs without
reliance on foreign powers."

Iran's enemies, he added, are craving for another war with which to immerse
the Islamic Republic.

Rafsanjani referred to efforts by the West to find "pretexts" by which to
implicate the Islamic Republic in the recent terror attacks on U.S. trade
and defense centers, insisting that "Iran has always been opposed to

He urged the nation and the government to stay vigilant in the light of the
current delicate situation prevailing in the world. Iran was quick to
condemn the September 11 attacks that left over 6,000 people dead or missing
at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon despite the fact that it does not
have diplomatic ties with the United States since U.S. Embassy staff were
held captive for 444 days in 1980 by Iranian revolutionary students.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said that "the Islamic
Republic of Iran will not provide any help to America or its allies in case
they attack" the ruling Taliban militia in Afghanistan, accused by
Washington of harboring the mastermind of September 11's attacks on U.S.
trade and defense centers, Osama bin Laden.

"America does not have the competence to guide a global movement against
terrorism, and...Iran will not participate in any move which is headed by
the United States," the leader said.

Iran says the campaign against terrorism should be led by the United

President Mohammad Khatami, in a meeting with the visiting EU delegation on
Wednesday, called for a fundamental campaign against terrorism in which all
world nations will stand prominent in the struggle.

He said the international community is justified to deal with terrorists in
a manner it sees appropriate provided there was sufficient evidence of the
guilt of the suspect or suspects.

Arabic News, 28th September

The Iraqi minister of transport and communications Ahmad Murtada Ahmad has
called on the Egyptian companies working the field of communications from
both the private and public sectors to discuss prospects of cooperation with
Baghdad in order to meet the country's need in these key fields.

Upon opening the first fair for information, communication and transport
information technology, organized by the Egyptian international market and
Fairs commission in collaboration with the Iraqi ministries of transport and
commerce, the Iraqi minister said that there is a great opportunity for the
Egyptian companies to contract for deals in the areas of communications and
transport with Iraq.

The Iraqi minister said during the opening of the Fair which was also
attended by the Iraqi minister of commerce Muhammad Mahdi saleh and the
Egyptian charge de affairs in Baghdad, several industrialists and
businessmen and heads of diplomatic missions accredited in Baghdad, that
cooperation with Egypt in the field of transport is enlarging continuously,
noting that the number of contracts so far signed with Egyptian companies to
this effect reached 40 contracts at a cost of more than USD 700 million in
the framework of the bilateral memorandum of understanding.

For his part, the Iraqi minister of commerce Muhammad Mahdi Saleh praised
the Egyptian exhibits. He said that this fair will contribute to developing
relations between Egypt and Iraq and strengthen trade exchange in the
future. He also indicated that his successful visit to Cairo and meetings
with the Egyptian officials, foremost being the prime minister Atif Obeid
would have a positive outcome during the coming phase.

Arabic News, 28th September

The London- based " Foreign report" said in its Thursday's issue quoting
Israeli military sources as saying that Israeli jet fighters have positioned
in Turkey over the possibility of launching air strikes against Iraq as
might be ordered by the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

The source said that Sharon might order the launching of such air strikes if
Iraq would fire missiles against Israel as it did (Iraq) during the Gulf war
(the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.).

Worthy mentioning that Israel did not retaliate to the Iraqi missiles at the
request of the US, but Sharon announced that the reply this time (If Iraq
attacks Israel) will be without an early consultation with the US, according
to " foreign report" which is established by " Janes" group which is
specialized in defense issues. The magazine did not explain were the Israeli
planes are stationed in Turkey.

Worthy mentioning that Turkey and Israel signed a defense agreement that
provides for permitting the two countries warplanes to station in the other.

Los Angeles Times, 28th September

Authorities in Kuwait have arrested alleged Iraqi intelligence agents trying
to sneak into the country to survey U.S. targets in the Gulf Arab state, a
newspaper reported.
Al-Rai Al-Aam said four Iraqi agents were arrested in the last week in two
separate incidents while they were trying to cross the closed border.

It said two of the four confessed that their mission was to "survey American
installations in Kuwait and a number of other military targets. And also
recruit people and spread rumors." Kuwaiti officials were not immediately
available to comment.



Irish Times (from AFP), 25th September

Iraq has urged the organisation of leading oil exporters (OPEC) not to
increase output.

It said a decision to change quotas should be taken at the cartel's
extraordinary meeting at the end of this year.

"OPEC must not yield to external pressures aimed at increasing production
and flooding the market for political and economic interests that are not
those of its member states," an oil ministry spokesman told the INA news

He warned these pressures were "aimed at destabilising the market", which he
urged OPEC to study in an "objective and fair way".

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which meets in
Vienna tomorrow, faces a tough balancing act to set crude output amid highly
volatile oil prices.

Western countries, where stock markets and economies have been hit hard
following the attacks in the US, are looking for OPEC to increase output to
keep oil cheap and help businesses and economies recover.

But OPEC's benchmark crude price has slumped below $21, following sharp
declines in London and New York yesterday.

Prices rebounded slightly today, recouping part of a heavy fall in the
previous session, after OPEC's president, Algerian oil minister Mr Chakib
Khelil, indicated a production cut could not be ruled out.

Gulf News (from Reuters, United Nations), 25th September

Oil experts told the UN Security Council yesterday that brokers were
charging high premiums for Iraqi crude, money the United States and Britain
say is funneled back to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in violation of
11-year-old sanctions.

But council members were still deadlocked on British-U.S. proposals to set
oil prices for 15 days instead of 30 days, with Russia questioning where the
UN-hired oil experts, called overseers, got their information, diplomats

Washington and London argue that the 30-day period enables middlemen to
charge a larger premium, part of which is then paid to Iraq as a kickback
outside of the UN system, which was established to supervise the oil sales
and set prices.

The council, however, did agree for the first time to keep weekly tabs on
Iraqi oil market prices, with regular briefings from the overseers to its
Iraqi sanctions committee, which has not reached any agreement for years on
substantive issues.

"The overseers will brief the committee on a weekly basis on where the
market price is compared to the official selling price," a diplomat said
after closed-door council consultations. "Its the first agreement the
committee has had in a long time."


The oil experts told the council that Iraqi crude oil prices had averaged 30
cents a barrel below the true market value since fall 2000, much higher than
the 5-cent-a-barrel maximum premium members say would be acceptable.

"It was made clear that there were substantial excess premia being charged
... at least six times above the maximum considered justifiable for the Iraq
market," said Britain's UN ambassador, Jeremy Greenstock.

The overseers steered away from making political recommendations, but said a
15-day pricing period would not affect the world oil market and might reduce
the scope for excess payments, diplomats at the meeting said.

In addition to Russia, China has had doubts about the U.S.-British proposal.
Its envoys on Monday did not raise objections, but said Beijing was still
considering it, diplomats at the meeting reported.

Twice in the last year, Iraq has suspended oil exports of about 2 million
barrels daily over pricing issues, but it will be the buyers and not
officials in Baghdad who are more likely to depress exports this time
around, industry sources said.

Alexander Kramar of Russia gave the main briefing to the council on behalf
of the overseers, with his colleagues, Michel Tellings of the Netherlands
and Morton Jensen of Denmark answering questions.

by Yakubu Lawal
Nigerian Guardian, 28th September

Vienna, Austria: NIGERIA's Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy
Matters, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, yesterday in Vienna, Austria, emerged the new
president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The
tenure is one year, beginning from January 2002.

The election by oil ministers of OPEC members also produced the Minister of
Energy and Industry of Qatar, Mr. Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, as
alternate president for the same period. The ministers reaffirmed their
resolve to maintain the current crude output of 23,203,000 barrels per day.


"It [the attack in the US] has left, in its wake, a trail of uncertainty,
insecurity, fears, and hatred that extends across many communities, which
had previously lived in harmony with each other for too long," said Kelil.

The president said the incident has affected the industrial sector where
over about 400,000 barrels per day across the world are currently under

He noted that the crisis had led to re-emergence of fears about security of
oil supply, stressing that such fears would have dire consequences for the
oil market, if they are allowed to prevail and influence the decision making
process. "They may also underline the considerable progress that has been
made in producer-consumer relations over the past decades, which has been to
the considerable benefit of the international oil market."

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's expressed willingness to cover any shortage in oil
supply following the September 11 attacks on the United States has been
blamed for the sharp decline of crude oil prices in the world market.

Iraqi Oil Minister, Amir Muhammed Rasheed, who made the allegation said:
"The Saudi minister has declared that his country is ready to pump an
additional three million barrels per day," according to Iraqi television

"The Saudi position is submissive and dependent on the United States," he
said, adding that Naimi's remarks, just two days before an OPEC meeting in
Vienna, caused oil prices to tumble by $3.50.

"The United States pressed Saudi Arabia to disrupt the oil market and make
prices volatile. The Saudi statement harms the economies of producing
countries, particularly OPEC member states and Saudi Arabia," Rasheed said.


Dr. Lukman, the new OPEC President, an Imperial College-trained engineer had
once served as Nigeria's oil minister under President Ibrahim Babangida. He
was subsequently appointed Secretary General of OPEC, the post he left to
become President Obasanjo's adviser on petroleum.

Gulf News, 29th September

London, Reuters: Hikes to war-risk insurance that underwriters imposed from
midnight on Wednesday for ships loading in the Arabian Gulf could make Iraqi
crude increasingly uncompetitive, tanker brokers said yesterday.

"The excitement of a fast strike on Afghanistan by the U.S. has died away
and the war-risk surcharges are starting to look a bit more sensible," a
leading tanker manager told Reuters earlier this week, but he said
surcharges for Iraq alone had been kept high.

"I heard from one VLCC owner that he had been quoted war-risk insurance
today for loading in (Iraqi port Mina) Al Bakr of one per cent of the ship's
insured value," a London tanker broker told Reuters yesterday.

On a new $80 million VLCC this would equate to a war-risk surcharge of
$900,000 for the one loading, which would add about 45 cents to the cost of
a loaded barrel of Iraqi crude. If loading onto the average 12-year old
VLCC, it would add 14 cents to each loaded barrel.

"It's a lot of money and would certainly make Iraqi crude less competitive
compared to other grades," said the broker. "A lot of people are trying to
figure out how to make the numbers work again."

Sales of October loading cargoes of Kirkuk crude have been slow, in part due
to worries bout supply security, but also because of the crude's relative
expense compared to benchmark Urals.

London insurance brokers said that although all rates were being quoted by
underwriters on an individual basis, one per cent sounded high. A list of
war-risk surcharges obtained by Reuters last week showed war-risk of 0.5 per
cent for the ports of Basrah, Umm Qasr and Mina Al Bakr.

Iran was also put in the one per cent bracket in the week of the September
11 attacks, but surcharges were dropped to "insignificant levels" after
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reported a successful visit to Tehran
on Tuesday.

War-risk surcharges for Saudi loading were indicatede at 0.5 per cent in the
week after the attacks, but have now fallen back to less than 0.175 per
cent, insurance brokers said. And large players can negotiate significant

Shipowners have vehemently opposed the added costs, while also attempting to
pass them on to charterers. "These very wide measures... gave the impression
that underwriters were using the marine sector to claw back catastrophic
losses sustained in other sectors," the International Chamber of Shipping
said on Thursday.

by Raad Alkadiri (Raad Alkadiri is senior country risk analyst for the
Petroleum Finance Company.)
Middle East Report 220, Fall 2001


Despite their reluctance, and Iraq's subsequent decision to shift its
investment offer from production-sharing agreements to less lucrative
"buy-back" service contracts, most foreign oil companies maintain tremendous
interest in investing in the country once the UN permits it. Even the most
demure oil executive is unlikely to shun dealings with the existing Iraqi
government if the embargo on oil investments is removed while it remains in
power. The Iraqi oil sector stands to be the great "Klondike" of the early
twenty-first century.

This black gold rush, when it happens, will only reinforce Iraq's emerging
position as a major trade hub in the Middle East. If Saddam Hussein's
government is in place, oil development will contribute significantly to its
survival‹which is precisely why Washington and London oppose unfettered
foreign investment in the Iraqi oil industry at present.(11) Merely the
prospect of the opening has bolstered the Iraqi regime, providing it with an
important political lifeline to the outside world over the past decade. Many
countries are forced to ask themselves whether a change of regime will
diminish the economic benefits that dealing with the present government
presents, and whether they want to pay these costs. In purely economic
terms, further normalizing relations with Baghdad, and cementing bilateral
economic relations, is an attractive option.

Saddam Hussein's regime does not like the Oil-for-Food program, but this has
not stopped it from using the deal to its own political advantage, assisted
of course by a willing clientele of trading partners. By targeting the award
of import and export contracts, the regime has positioned Iraq as an
important focus for regional trade and tied its own fortunes to local and
international states. This has contributed to the survival of the regime,
and ultimately to its gradual rehabilitation.

Indeed, by "hard-wiring" itself to its neighbors via regional trade, the
Iraqi government has made it much more difficult for the international
community to impose sanctions on the country with impunity. Baghdad's
opinion is important to a growing number of states. As the volume of trade
has grown, so the costs of upsetting the Iraqi government have risen for
these countries. The concern for many states in the Middle East is now not
whether to deal with Baghdad, but rather whether Baghdad will deal with

The Bush administration insists that smart sanctions are not dead. This
autumn will witness another UK-led campaign to get UN Security Council
approval for the new system; talks are already underway behind the scenes in
New York. However, in the absence of some major long-term financial aid
package to countries like Syria, Jordan and Turkey, their support for the
sanctions package will remain lukewarm at best, and the likelihood that they
will implement the new embargo is low. Washington's other alternative‹regime
change‹is even less popular with the frontline states, for reasons of both
regional public opinion and trade ties.

In the longer term, unless Baghdad suspends its cooperation fully with the
UN Oil-for-Food program, its economic magnetism is only likely to grow. The
more the regime can turn Iraq's lucrative commercial and oil-producing
potential into active trade relationships, the stronger its position will
be. While the promise of the Iraqi Klondike may not lead to a full and
formal lifting of sanctions, and may do little to ameliorate the
humanitarian crisis in Iraq, it will certainly make efforts to contain the
Iraqi regime more difficult.


Yahoo, 27th September

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations Gulf War reparations body on Thursday
approved payment of over $365 million to companies in 20 countries which
proved they were damaged by Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, a statement

Turkey's BOTAS Petroleum Pipeline Corporation is to receive the lion's share
of the latest awards, $176.3 million, far less than the $1.052 billion it
had claimed for revenue lost during the shutdown of its pipeline from Iraq,
officials said. Some 239 Kuwaiti companies will share $174.1 million also
approved by the Governing Council of the U.N. Compensation Commission
(UNCC). The body, made up of the same 15 states that sit on the Security
Council, ended a three-day meeting on Thursday.

Other successful claimants with large awards included companies from Britain
($4.4 million), Germany ($2.8 million) and Israel ($2 million).

The UNCC expects to make the next round of payments, including up to $5
million to each of the claimants in the latest batch, in November, officials
told a news briefing.

A lawyer representing the Palestinian observer mission to the United Nations
made a plea on behalf of the 1,200 Palestinians who were working in Kuwait
at the time of the invasion had been unable to file their claims on time.

The Palestinians, most of whom now live in the Gaza Strip, had been ``caught
by or between two occupations: the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and the
Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories,'' the Jordan-based
lawyer, Anis Kassim, said in a speech obtained by Reuters.

Kassim told the Governing Council that he would supply additional
information at the meeting set for December 11-13.

U.N. sources said that they expected him to request a formal extension for
the claimants. Individuals had until May 1998 to file claims for death of a
close relative, personal injury or loss of property, or being forced to flee

The latest batch of awards brings to $35.4 billion the amount of damages
awarded by the Geneva-based fund, which has paid out $12.7 billion to
governments so far for distribution.

The UNCC is handling a total of $300 billion in claims, including nearly $80
billion in corporate claims, for damage directly due to Iraq's August 1990
invasion of Kuwait and its seven-month occupation of the oil-rich emirate.

The UNCC currently receives 25 percent of its income from the U.N.'s
oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell a limited amount of oil. In
the last two months it has been receiving between $220 million and $250
million per month.


Times of India, 24th September

BAGHDAD ( AFP ): Iraq said it fired on US and British warplanes carrying out
sorties Monday over the north of the country, forcing them to flee to

"Enemy fighters were forced to flee under Iraqi missile and anti-aircraft
fire as they carried out raids on the provinces of Dohuk, Erbil and
Niniveh," said a military spokesman, quoted by the official INA news agency.


Yahoo, 27th September

DUBAI (Reuters) - Western warplanes struck at air defense targets in Iraq's
southern no-fly zone for the second time in a week on Thursday in the latest
in a flurry of raids since late August, the U.S. military said.

``The strikes were in response to recent hostile threats by the Iraqis,'' a
U.S. military spokesman in the Gulf said. He gave no details of the alleged

The strikes were carried out by coalition aircraft, a phrase normally used
by the Pentagon to describe British and U.S. warplanes, using
precision-guided munitions against anti-aircraft artillery and command and
control sites at Shahban and Nassiryah, he said.

The attack was the latest in a spate of raids by American and British
warplanes since late August, with three last week alone, amid attempts by
Iraq to shoot down aircraft patrolling no-fly zones in northern and southern

U.S. and British planes last hit southern Iraq on September 21.




Qasr-e Shirin, Kermanshah Prov., Sept 23, IRNA -- The under-20 basketball
team of the country arrived in Iraq on Sunday to take part in the West Asian

Talking to IRNA, Nosratollah Ja'farian said, "The Iranian team comprises 12
players to be accompanied by head, manager, two coaches, and a judge."

The head of the team added: "The teams of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and
Iran will compete in the event."

The first two teams of the tourney will cruise into the finals as the
representatives of West Asia.

Times of India, 24th September

BANGKOK ( AP ): Thailand and Iraq drew 1-1 in an Asian World Cup qualifying
match on Saturday night, ending both teamsı hopes of securing a slot in the
next yearıs tournament.

In Group B, the United Arab Emirates kept their hopes for qualification
alive, beating Uzbekistan 1-0. Iraq, who needed a victory to stay alive,
fell behind in the 38th minute when Thailandıs Sutee Suksomkit scored the
first goal of the match.
Emad M Ridha equalised in the 63rd minute, but it was all Iraq could muster
in front of the 20,000 Thai fans.

Seven minutes before half-time, Tawan Sripan crossed from the right flank to
Sutee, who headed it home. In the second-half, Ridha seized an opportunity
during confusion in in front of the goal to jab the ball in.

Thailand are in last place in the group with just three points from five
matches, one behind Iraq, who have four points. Saudi Arabia lead Group A
with 10 points from five matches, followed by Iran with eight.

In Tashkent, Mohammed Omar scored an early goal to give the UAE a narrow 1-0
win over Uzbekistan. UAE midfielder Abdul Ahmed was knocked down by Uzbek
defender Andrey Vlasichev several yards outside the penalty box. Omar fired
in the free-kick.

*  Soccer team off to Iraq
Bahrain tribune, 26th September

The Bahrain national football team will head for Baghdad to play Iraq in the
second-leg game of the 2002 World Cup Asian Zone Qualifier on Friday.

The team will be seen off at the airport by the President of the General
Organisation for Youth and Sports (Goys), Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al
Khalifa, and other other sports officials.

In a generous initiative, the team will be sending a cargo of medical
equipment to Baghdad in support to the people in Iraq which underlines the
strong relations which link both countries.

The cargo was arranged in co-operation between the Goys and the Bahrain
Crescent Society. The team will be accompanied by the societyıs
representative, Mubarak Al Hadi.

s rations.html

Kurdistan Observer, 21st September

Arbil, Iraq Press, Sep. 21 - The Iraqi authorities are rationing fuel and
disassembling the  countries refineries as the United States prepares for
war in retaliation for the devastating  terrorist attacks on New York and

Fuel supplies to the semi-independent Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq have
been slashed  amid reports that essential refinery equipment was being
removed and placed at unspecified  locations.

Bracing for war, the United States is building up troops in the Gulf region.
Iraq has not  officially condemned the attacks which are believed to have
killed more than 6,000 people.

Unidentified U.S. officials have implicated Iraqi Mukhabarat or intelligence
in  masterminding the attacks. Iraq has denied the charges.

But Iraq is on the U.S. list of countries sponsoring international terrorism
and the authorities  fear the country could be a target.

Meantime the authorities have intensified security measures on roads leading
to Iraqi  Kurdistan. They have also stopped supplying private companies with
crude and products  which they illegally sell to Turkey on government

The measures have led to a rise of about 25 per cent in fuel and gas prices
in cities in  northern Iraq and a decrease in the number of Turkish trucks
entering the country.

Iraqis are also said to have started stockpiling goods particularly food and

Kurdistan Observer, 26th September

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has taken full control of Halabja
town today  following heavy fighting against the militia of Islamic Movement
of Kurdistan (IMK),   reported Kurdish sources in southern Kurdistan today.

Many casualties have been reported on both sides. The IMK leader, Mula Ali
Abdolaziz,  and his group have joined the Jund Al-Islam forces in Sharazor

Halabja and its surrounding areas came under heavy bombardment by the
Jund-Al-Islam  following PUK control of the town.

A delegation from Iran has arrived in Kurdistan to mediate between the two
rivals, PUK and  IMK. Both parties have had help and support of the Iranian
government in the past.

It is believed that Iran was pressuring the PUK leadership to allow the IMK
leader and his  group to return back to Halabja. It is not clear yet whether
PUK party will agree with  Iranian demands. 

Yesterday, 43 PUK fighters were killed by a new fundamentalist group called
Jund Al-Islam  near Tapa Drozna, a strategic location that overlooks the
main road between Sulemaniya  and Halabja.
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