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News, 21-27/10/01 (2)

News, 21-27/10/01 (2)


*  Russian oil company develops cooperation with Iraq, Iran
*  Migrant Ship Sinks Near Indonesia [More victims of the US/British
sanctions policy]
*  Obituary: Ismat Kittani [This man seems quite extraordinary, representing
Iraq through several changes of regime and achieving high office in the UN
while remaining faithful to Saddam. Was this Iraq¹s Talleyrand?]
*  Malaysia, Iraq to Enhance Bilateral Ties
*  JETRO [ Japan External Trade Organization] pulls out of Iraq trade fair
*  And what about the other prime suspect? [The state of the debate in
Australia as to the desirability of going after Iraq]


*  Iran-Iraq Air Service to Resume
*  Rich Harvest of Mines Near Turkey's Iraqi Border
*  Kuwait denies air bases used for Afghan strikes [Suggests that Kuwait¹s
backing for the US war against Afghanistan is less than whole hearted]
*  [Syrian vice-president Abdul Halim] Khaddam confers with Moroccan
premier, Iraqi trade minister
*  Iraqi accusations against Kuwait
*  US paying for giving it to Iraq: Rafsanjani [Rafsanjani thinks Iraq is
the source of the anthrax in the US]
*  On Syrian- Iraqi trade exchange


*  War May Help Women in Iraq
*  Iraqi Archaeologists Find Ancient Temple to Ishtar
*  U.N.: Iraqis Face Persecution, Torture [Human Rights report to General
Assembly from Andreas Mavrommatis. Refers to apparent murder of Shi¹i leader
Ayatollah Hussein Bahr Al-Aloom]
*  Iraqis ponder Afghan conflict


*  [Irish minister for Foreign Affairs] Cowen says Saddam fails to feed
people [on strength of UN Sec Gen¹s report. Ireland is currently chairing
the UN Security Council]
*  UN Gives First Evidence of Illegal Iraqi Oil Sales


*  US wants global command against terrorism [The US prepares to take over
military management of the world]
*  Media's role in war [Eric Margolis points out the obvious pro-Israeli
orientation of many of those who have been pushing for war on Iraq]
*  Interview with the Prime Minister [Very short extracts from a very long
interview. Need to do away with civil liberties; attempt to differentiate US
policy and Israeli policy; International Criminal Court; importance of armed
forces to our well-being independent of actual defence needs. And the
following outrageous exchange: ŒHave the Taliban actually tried to negotiate
at any point? Not as far as I am aware, no.¹]
*  The last oil rush [Interesting article speculating on what should be done
if Saudi Arabia closes the oil tap - as they should have done a long time
*  The United States Ought to Be Applauding Israel's Self-Defense [William
Safire argues that it is hypocritical to be tough on the Afghans and
criticise Israel for being tough on the Palestinians. One can see that he
has a point ...]
*  An unholy alliance [An interesting and coherent view of a pan-Arab
anti-US alliance which is centred on domestic struggles in Saudi Arabia and
successfully manages  to turn the tide which had been running in the US¹
favour until 1995/6]

URL ONLY:,,56-2001371246,00.html
*  A man alone
The Times, 25th October
Tony Blair appears as a lonely, heroic figure while The Times gives us a
rundown of the debate as to whether or not a new round of terror attacks
should be launched on Iraq. The Times thinks it should.


Hoovers (Financial Times), from Tatar-Inform news agency, Kazan, in Russian
0556 gmt 18 Oct 01, 21st October

Kazan, 18 October: The work on Tatneft projects in the Middle East is going
as planned, company's deputy general director for international cooperation
Khamit Kaveyev said. The company is going to participate in the exhibition
Oil and Gas 2001 in Baghdad in November.

[Omitted: Tatneft is monitoring the political situation in Iraq and is ready
to evacuate its personnel in case of emergency]

Tatneft is implementing two big projects on drilling 78 oil wells in Iraq.
The necessary equipment will be shipped in late November. Specialists will
head for Iraq in December.

About 200 Iraqi oil and gas specialists underwent training with Tatneft in
the last three years. Another group of 18 specialists finished the course
several days ago.

[Omitted: Tatneft also mulls supplying drilling equipment and technology to

A delegation from National Iranian Oil Company recently visited Almetyevsk
[centre of oil industry in Tatarstan]. The guests were familiarized with
company's technical and expert potential. They were mostly interested in
technology of extraction of heavy sour crude.

Tatneft delegation headed by the head of its research unit, Doctor of
Technical Sciences Ravil Ibatullin, will participate in the 11th
International oil, Gas and Petrochemical Industry Congress in Tehran on
29-30 October.

The Associated Press, 22nd October

More than 350 people ‹ most of them Iraqis ‹ drowned when their boat sank
off the coast of Indonesia, the International Organization for Migration
said today.

The organization said it was looking after 44 survivors who were rescued
from the sea on Saturday, a day after the boat went down off the island of

The survivors told IOM workers that the ship left Java on Thursday with 421
people on board, mostly illegal migrants, IOM spokesman Jean-Philippe Chauzy

Later that day, 21 passengers asked to get off the boat and were put ashore
on an island in the Java Sea.

Early Friday, the captain announced that the engine had stopped and the ship
was taking on water. "The boat sank in 10 minutes," said Chauzy, from the
offices of the non governmental agency in Geneva.

He said the 44 survivors were being cared for in the town of Bogor in Java.
They included an 8-year-old boy who lost 21 relatives.

Chauzy said most of the migrants on board were Iraqis, but there were also
Iranians, Afghans, Palestinians and Algerians.

He said he did not have any information on where the ship was headed.

Every year thousands of migrants pass through the waters of Southeast Asia
in their search for better lives. Many leaving Indonesia are headed for

In August, a Norwegian freighter rescued more than 400 people from a sinking
Indonesian ferry off the coast of Christmas Island. Australia refused entry
to the asylum seekers and they were eventually sent to New Zealand and to
the remote Pacific island of Nauru.,,60-2001371936,00.html

The Times, 26th October

ISMAT KITTANI was a great diplomatic survivor who, despite representing
Saddam Hussein¹s unsavoury regime at the United Nations, managed to acquire
substantial power and influence there. As Iraq¹s chief delegate to the UN
from 1985 until 1989 he defended his country¹s invasion of Iran and the
poison gas attacks on his fellow Iraqi Kurds. But despite his nation¹s
international record, he was elected President of the UN General Assembly.

Diplomats were much surprised that Kittani became President, given Iraq¹s
invasion, only a year before, and Baghdad¹s open hostility towards Israel.
The President of the United Nations Association, Ed Luck, referring to
Kittani¹s Kurdish origins, said that ³the fact that he could represent
Baghdad at the time when the regime was persecuting the Kurds shows him to
be a very worldly figure indeed². He was a smooth diplomat, with a gentle,
low-key approach to his profession.

Kittani was loaned to the UN from 1965 to 1979 and became a person to be
reckoned with when he was taken up by the Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim.
He ended up as keeper of the gate, and ran Waldheim¹s executive offices. He
then served in a series of diplomatic posts under Secretary-General Javier
Pérez de Cuéllar, and later became very close to his successor, Boutros
Boutros Ghali, who appointed him as special envoy and troubleshooter in the
Balkans, Tajikistan and Somalia.

Kittani¹s survival as a long-term member of the Iraqi foreign service was
just as remarkable. He joined in his early twenties in 1952 at the time of
the Iraqi monarchy, and served the regimes of a series of dictators who
followed after its overthrow.

He had grown up barefoot in a Kurdish village in western Iraq, and led a
charmed career, switching back and forth between the Foreign Ministry in
Baghdad and key posts at the UN, where in the words of Kofi Annan, another
Secretary-General whom he served, ³he performed many sensitive missions with
the utmost skill and judgment². Given his links with the regime of Saddam
Hussein, his activities were treated with suspicion, however, by American
and British diplomats in New York.

He first went to the United States at the age of 17 on a scholarship and
studied political science and English at Knox College in Galesburg,
Illinois. After joining the Iraqi Foreign Service he became Iraq¹s
Ambassador to the UN in Geneva from 1961 until 1964, and he then worked his
way through the UN bureaucracy, under Secretary-General U Thant and his four

He was elected President of the UN General Assembly from 1981 to 1982, and
left Iraq¹s Diplomatic Service in 1989. Although Kittani played key roles in
UN diplomacy under Waldheim, Pérez de Cuéllar and Dr Boutros Ghali, Kofi
Annan used his skills only occassionally and did not keep him in his

He is survived by a son.

Ismat Kittani, President of the United Nations General Assembly, 1981-92,
was born in 1929. He died on October 23, 2001, aged 71.

People's Daily (China), 25th October

Malaysia and Iraq held the Sixth Joint Commission meeting Wednesday, aimed
at enhancing bilateral ties.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed
Hamid Albar said the two sides focused on how to enhance economic and trade
ties between them.

The Iraqi delegation was led by Industry and Minerals Minister Muyassar Rija

Syed Hamid said Malaysia had agreed to the Iraqi request for the setting up
of a vegetable oil factory in Iraq, a project which would be undertaken by
an unnamed party from the private sector.

He said Baghdad would like Malaysia to provide training courses in the
medical field apart from expressing interest to buy medicinal products from
the country.

Furthermore, he said Iraq was keen to procure more Malaysian- made cars. He
also urged Iraq to buy palm oil direct from Malaysia and not from third

Syed Hamid said given that Baghdad had accorded Malaysia a " favored nation"
status in trading, Malaysians should tap the various business opportunities
in Iraq including in the field of infrastructure.

The minister said Baghdad was also keen on conducting counter- trading with

Japan Times, 27th October

The Japan External Trade Organization has canceled plans to participate in
an international trade fair to start in Baghdad on Thursday, as a result of
last month's terrorist attacks in the United States, officials said Friday.

The fair is one of the leading trade expositions in the Middle East and
JETRO had planned to open a booth for the first time in 12 years in response
to a request Iraq made around June.

The quasigovernmental organization decided to cancel because many Japanese
companies have come to regard Iraq as risky since the Sept. 11 attacks and
have also canceled participation in the fair. FEATURES  

by Tony Parkinson
The Age (Australia), 27th October

Naji Sabri was appointed Iraq's foreign minister only six months ago, and
does not care for the genteel language of diplomacy.

When journalists sought his response to the accusation that Saddam Hussein's
regime was behind the campaign of terror in America, he offered a brusque
response: "Bullshit." Perhaps more in hope than expectation, many in the
international community will be praying that, this time, Iraq's leaders
might be telling the truth.

As the US-led coalition proceeds with its military campaign, public pressure
is building within the US for the Bush administration to declare Saddam's
regime the next target.

But a decision to extend hostilities westwards to Iraq would inflate many
times over the military dangers and diplomatic risks for all involved,
including Australia as a close and committed US ally.

This week, Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Laurie Brereton, joined the
chorus of international voices counselling the US to exercise extreme
caution. Although he did not specify Iraq, he said a Labor government would
want to see "compelling evidence and wide international support" before
endorsing any US military attacks beyond Afghanistan. advertisement

It was the first hint of a divergence between Labor and the Howard
Government on the extent to which Australia is prepared to support US war
aims. Brereton has positioned the ALP closer to Britain, Europe and moderate
Middle Eastern leaders, desperate that the conflict should not flare into a
wider regional conflagration.

In contrast, Prime Minister John Howard appears more accepting of the
argument that, if the campaign against terror is to ultimately succeed, the
hills of Afghanistan cannot be the only battleground.

In a speech in Melbourne on Thursday, Howard gave his formal explanation of
Australia's decision to make a military commitment to the US coalition. The
Prime Minister said long term success would hinge on the world community's
preparedness to demonstrate it has zero tolerance for "state-sanctioned

He pledged a Coalition government would carefully consider requests from the
US to increase its military contribution if the nature or scale of the
conflict was to change "substantially".



VOA News
21st October

Iranian newspaper reports say direct airplane flights from Tehran to the
Iraqi capital, Baghdad, will resume shortly.

The reports quote Iraq's charge d'affaires in Tehran as saying the flights
are being resumed to facilitate visits by pilgrims to Shiite religious sites
in Iraq.

The Iraqi envoy, Abdul Sattar al-Rawi, said the direct flights could begin
within a month. He said Iraqi authorities have begun constructing a site
close to Baghdad to house Iranian pilgrims.

Flights between Iran and Iraq have been suspended since the two countries
fought a bloody, eight-year war in the 1980s.

Since then, there have only been two direct flights from Tehran to Baghdad -
last year when Iran's foreign minister flew to Baghdad for a visit and last
month when Iran's national soccer (football) team played Iraq in a World Cup
qualifying match.

by Osman Senkul
Yahoo, 21st October


``There are thousands of land mines in the remote areas and roads of
southeast Turkey,'' said Hanefi Isik, land mines committee member of the
Turkish Human Rights Association.


Figures show some 200 people have been reported dead and several hundred
wounded in land mine explosions in southeast Turkey. The statistics reflect
the sheer eagerness of people impoverished by years of conflict to return

Hakkari province governor Orhan Isin said he had halted the Return to the
Villages campaign for communities high in the mountains and in remote areas
by the Iraqi and Iranian borders.

``Unfortunately we have had many casualties from land mines in our region
and we have closed certain areas for villagers.''

Turkey has yet to sign the 1997 Ottawa Convention banning mines, which are
estimated to kill some 26,000 people throughout the world every year, many
of them non-combatants. But Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said this year
Ankara planned to accede -- a move coming far too late for many.


Isik of the human rights association says neither the soldiers nor the
guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) know any more where many of
their mines lie buried.

``During the clashes, troops from various parts of Turkey were deployed in
the area and mined the surroundings of settlements to cut the logistical
support of PKK fighters,'' he said. ``But later they went back to their
original bases with the land mine maps, or the maps were lost.''

The land mines could prove an additional danger if, as Turkey fears, the
United States turns its focus from Afghanistan to Iraq in pursuit of the
perpetrators of September's attacks on Washington and New York. The United
States has said it could act elsewhere but made no express reference to any
military action against Iraq.

Ankara fears a repetition of the flood of refugees that crossed from Iraq
into this area after a U.S.-led coalition drove an Iraqi invasion force from
Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites).

``We are very sensitive on this matter and our allies are aware of our
sensitivity,'' said state minister Sukru Sina Gurel.

Isik said the danger for outsiders could be as great as for those seeking
only to return, at long last, to their homes.

``There remains an unknown number of land mines on the routes that would be
used by refugees, especially from Iraq,'' Isik said.

Times of India, 23rd October

KUWAIT CITY ( AFP ): Kuwait denied on Monday that US and British warplanes
were using Kuwaiti military bases for the ongoing American-led strikes
against Afghanistan.

"We did not deny that there are British and American aircraft (here), and
this is in accordance with an agreement between us," foreign minister Sheikh
Sabah al-Ahmad al Sabah told reporters in parliament.

"But reports that they flew combat missions from Kuwait to Afghanistan are
false and this speculation is a cause of regret," he said.

Sheikh Sabah was responding to press reports that allied warplanes were
using the emirate's bases in the strikes on Afghanistan, which have entered
their third week.

Around 4,500 US military personnel are stationed at Camp Doha, a base west
of Kuwait City and where the US military stockpiles prepositioned equipment.

An undisclosed number of US aircraft and crew are also deployed at Ahmad
al-Jaber air base, from where - together with British warplanes - they
police a "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq.

Kuwait has binding defense pacts with the US and Britain, and defense
agreements with China, France and Russia. The emirate has renewed for
another 10-year term its defense pact with Washington.

The Gulf monarchies are close allies of the US and have granted Washington
military facilities, notably since the 1991 Gulf War to evict Iraqi
occupation forces from Kuwait.

But the presence of foreign troops in the Arabian peninsula, the cradle of
Islam, is a highly sensitive issue.

Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 terror attacks on New
York and Washington, has made the ouster of Western troops from the region a
rallying cry of his campaign against the West.

Arabic News, 23rd October


Later in the afternoon, Khaddam received the Iraqi trade minister Muhammad
Mahdi Saleh and discussions dealt with relations between the two countries.

The Syrian prime minister Muhammad Mustafa Miro received the Iraqi minister
and discussions dealt with co-operation relations and means of developing
them in various economic and trade areas for the interests of the two

Arabic News, 24th October

The Iraqi foreign minister Naji sabri said in a message he addressed to the
UN secretary general Kofi Annan that the Kuwaiti navy in September carried
out five attacks inside the Iraqi territorial waters against Iraqi fishing
boats and intercepted the Iraqi fishermen and confiscated their personal
properties and spoiled their official documents.

The Iraqi minister added that the Kuwaiti attacks are to be added to the
other practices conducted by the Kuwaiti authorities including Kuwait's
participation in the daily attacks carried out by the American and British
planes against Iraq from the territory of Kuwait as well as supporting and
financing terrorist groups with the aim of destabilizing Iraq.

He called on the UN to shoulder its responsibility and to interfere with the
Kuwaiti authorities to prevent these acts as well as to hold Kuwait
responsible for them.

Bahrain Tribune, 27th October

TEHRAN (Reuters): Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, chief adviser to Iran's supreme
leader, said yesterday the US was paying the price for supplying anthrax to
Iraq, which fought a bitter war with the Islamic Republic in the 1980s.
'They knew anthrax was not a conventional weapon of war, but they supplied
it to Iraq...Now anthrax which they themselves sent to this region is back
to haunt them,' Rafsanjani told worshippers gathered for weekly prayers at
Tehran University.

Anthrax has been detected at mail facilities in the US in a scare that the
US Government says may be linked to Osama bin Laden. Western diplomats have
said Western companies, wittingly or unwittingly, supplied Iraq with 'dual
use' materials and equipment used in its chemical and biological warfare
programmes during and after the Iran-Iraq war.

Arabic News, 27th October

The London- based al-Hayat daily in its Friday's issue quoted information
stated in Damascus that the level of Syria's caution in dealing with the
Iraqi file has increased following the terrorist attacks took place in the
US on September 11.

The paper stressed, according to a study prepared by "Syrian economy expert"
issued on Friday, the paper indicated the recession in the confidence
entrusted by the Iraqis in the Syrian goods because some Syrian traders
committed mistakes like their non abidance to a united price for

The study indicated that the governments of Syria and Iraq had interfered at
the chambers of commerce and industry in the two countries to prevent such
incidents from being repeated.

The study warned that the Syrian traders such continued attitude will lead
to loss in the Iraqi market.


*  Iraq reports firing missiles at US, British jet
Times of India, 23rd October

BAGHDAD ( AFP ) : Baghdad on Monday said that it had fired surface-to-air
missiles at US and British warplanes overflying northern Iraq, forcing them
to "flee."

"Enemy warplanes that flew sorties over the provinces of Dohuk, Erbil and
Nineveh fled to their bases in Turkey after coming under missile and
anti-aircraft fire," said a military spokesman, quoted by the official INA
news agency.

"Enemy warplanes" also overflew several provinces of southern Iraq, the
spokesman said without reporting that they came under anti-aircraft fire.



Las Vegas Sun, 21st October

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - When Zeinab Hussein's husband was killed in Iraq's war
with Iran, the housewife found herself alone with no income, no education
and three young children to feed.

She had to work. Hussein turned a room in her already too-small ground floor
apartment into a sweets store. With the earnings from the shop and a
government pension of $11 every three months, she was able to help pay for
her eldest daughter's wedding, take a younger, blind daughter to doctors and
keep the family afloat.

In a way, wars and economic woes have been a gate to freedom for Iraqi
women, much as World War II opened doors to the workplace and a measure of
independence for American women.

Some, like Alia Mazayed, enjoy the independence that comes with work.
Elsewhere in the Arab world, many women are sequestered or subjugated under
conservative interpretations of Islam.

"Making money gives a sense of freedom. You don't ask for anyone's help or
need anyone," said Mazayed, who took a loan from Iraq's Women's Federation
to start a small glass painting project.

Others, like Hussein, think the responsibility is too much.

"I lived comfortably before and didn't use to worry about anything. Now I
don't stop thinking all day: How to buy this and how to fix that with no
money?" Hussein said, sitting on the floor on a rug she had patched together
out of old clothes.

The concept of makeup wearing, car-driving, working women may be taken for
granted in many places. The Arab world is not one of them.

In neighboring Saudi Arabia and Iran, women must be covered head-to-toe
whenever they leave their homes. Saudi women can't travel without a male
chaperone or drive. In Kuwait, another neighbor of Iraq, women can't vote or
run for office.

In Iraq, however, the sight of women in skintight pants or short skirts is
not uncommon. Iraqi women hold high ranks in the governing party, run
newspapers and train for war.

During the 1980-88 war with Iran, the front line swallowed men. Women were
left to run homes, businesses, government offices.

"This gave women confidence in themselves, consolidated their positions in
the family and in society and convinced men of women's potential," said
Iftikhar Ahmed Ayoub, vice president of the Women's Federation.

Then came the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations to punish
Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Sanctions and war have crippled the
Iraqi economy.

Men could no longer support their families by themselves. Outside their
homes, women had to work more, inside they had to learn to be economical,
make meals from scratch instead of serving expensive convenience foods, sew
clothes and make do without appliances or even pieces of furniture that many
families had to sell to afford to put food on the table.

Hussein, the widow, sold the family's refrigerator, television and wardrobe.
Her house has only one bed.

The burden of extra housework pales into insignificance when compared to
psychological suffering, said Nasra al-Sadoon, editor in chief of the
state-owned Iraq Daily.

But women did not cower at home lamenting their fate, she said. They found
the courage "to face difficulties, work more and give more of themselves and
their lives to society."

But many women are clearly under great hardship. Some turned to prostitution
- a truth the government tries to hide, but which is all too noticeable on
the streets of Baghdad. Clients are plentiful among the many Iraqi men who
are too poor to get married.

Some Iraqis point to that as a sign the sanctions are tearing society apart
and corrupting the morality of women.

Critics argue that to appease conservatives and deny extremists an
opportunity to gain influence, the government is turning down the volume on
its campaign for women's rights, a tenet of the ruling socialist Baath

State-run media, President Saddam Hussein and other officials still often
brag about gender equality. But observers point to signs such as an
increasing number of female Baathists donning veils.

Yahoo, 21st October

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi archeologists in a new find have uncovered a
temple dedicated to the goddess Ishtar at the ancient city of Babylon, 56
miles south of Baghdad, the weekly Tikrit newspaper reported on Sunday.

``Cuneiform inscriptions on the 25 artifacts found at the temple indicate
that the building dates back to the old Babylonian era, and to the reign of
King Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) in particular,'' Tikrit quoted a source at the
Antiquities and Heritage Department as saying.

Ishtar was the goddess of love in Babylonia and Assyria. Under various
names, the cult of the mother goddess was universal in the ancient Near

Tikrit reported that excavation teams had also discovered a house with an
open courtyard, a number of rooms and graves inside the house in the temple

``Artifacts included a relief on a clay tablet of a woman breast-feeding her
child, the first ever to be found,'' it quoted the source as saying.

The excavations also yielded a number of jars, clay tablets, seals used at
that time, and toys. A well and two canals used to carry water to the temple
and the houses and clay basins to collect water were uncovered.

The Associated Press, 23rd October

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ‹ Iraq's citizens face arbitrary execution, religious
persecution, torture and forced relocation, a U.N. human rights investigator
said Monday.

Andreas Mavrommatis of Cyprus said in a report that he has also ``received
information suggesting that persons who had allegedly insulted the president
of Iraq have had their tongues amputated without trial.''

The 15-page report to the General Assembly noted that the Iraqi government
dismissed most previous allegations of human rights violations, claiming
they were based on information provided by hostile sources. Iraq's U.N.
Ambassador Mohammed al-Douri said, ``I cannot comment because I have to read
the whole report.''

Mavrommatis also cited the harassment of families of Iraqi refugees living
abroad in order to get them to stop anti-government activity.

He said that according to the April 12 issue of the Iraqi newspaper
Az-zawrah, an official decree allows the arrest of a woman with a family
member living abroad who is wanted by authorities in order to apply pressure
on the expatriate. Iraq's U.N. Mission in Geneva stressed that the paper was
not official but made no reference to the decree, he said.

Reporting on religious persecution, he singled out the death of a leading
Muslim Shiite scholar, Ayatollah Hussein Bahr Al-Aloom, on June 22.

According to allegations Mavrommatis received, Al-Aloom refused to publicly
express approval of the appointment of Qusai Saddam Hussein, son of the
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, to the regional leadership of the ruling
Ba'ath Party. He said he was informed that the ayatollah was found dead in
his library in Najaf and the body was buried without an autopsy.

Iraq's U.N. Mission in Geneva replied to the allegations stating the
ayatollah died of cardiac arrest, he said.

The human rights investigator said he also continues to receive information
about human rights violations against minorities and the mass relocation of

Mavrommatis called on the Iraqi government to examine all allegations of
human rights violations and continue its dialogue with the United Nations
``in a spirit of compromise.''

He urged the government to lift restrictions on the exercise of religious
freedom, to revise laws on the death penalty and consider a moratorium on
executions, to investigate the fate of missing persons, and to ensure that
no person is relocated against his will.

Mavrommatis also called on the Iraqi government to allow him to visit the
country. He has not been permitted to go to Iraq since he took office at the
beginning of last year. His predecessor also was barred from the country.

 by the BBC's Caroline Hawley in Baghdad
BBC, 25th October

Sabiha al-Dulaimi wipes her eyes, sighs heavily, and turns away.

For her, the scenes of wounded Afghan children being broadcast extensively
on Iraqi television are almost too painful to bear.

Abdul Razzaq al-Hashimi, former Iraqi diplomat They bring back too many
memories of her own tragedy a decade ago.

Mrs al-Dulaimi, who still dresses in black, lost four of her five children
when American bombs hit the el-Amiriya shelter on the outskirts of Baghdad
during US-led efforts to force Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991.

"May God destroy the Americans," she says.

"Not the people, of course, because they have good hearts, but the
government. It destroyed my life and now it's doing to those poor, helpless
Afghans what it did to us."

In the first few days after the American strikes began, there were angry
protests in Baghdad.

At one, demonstrators held up a banner in English saying: "USA, you reap
what you sow" - an echo of Saddam Hussein's first comments on the 11
September attacks.

But students at Baghdad's Mustansariyeh university take a different

"We were very sorry for what happened in the World Trade Center," said a
19-year-old girl.

"Those civilians didn't deserve to die. But now America is engaging in
terrorism against Afghanistan, and the civilians there. We want peace."

But many Iraqis believe that before long they, too, may find themselves in
the firing line again.

"When they finish with Afghanistan, it'll be our turn," said one man, aware
of talk in Washington of a "broad" war.

The Iraqi Government has denied any involvement in the 11 September attacks
and dismissed reports that one of its intelligence agents met one of the key
suspects, Muhammad Atta, in Prague.

"All these reports are false and biased and are being used as a pretext to
hurt Iraq," Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister, told the BBC.

He also denied any Iraqi involvement in the recent anthrax attacks.

"We worked on anthrax in the 1980s and we destroyed all our anthrax assets
in the 1990s," he said.

But Mr Aziz said Baghdad would not allow UN weapons inspectors back into
Iraq to verify that it is not developing weapons of mass destruction, even
if that means eventual confrontation with the United States.

He accused the US and, "to a lesser extent", Britain of seeking not the
co-operation of the Iraqi Government, but its overthrow.

But few in Iraq believe that that is a realistic prospect.

"Even if they attack Iraq again they will never achieve their objectives,"
says Abdul Razzaq al-Hashimi, a former Iraqi diplomat and member of the
ruling Baath party, who insists Iraq is winning its battle with the West.

"The victor is whoever can prevent the other side from achieving its
objectives. For 11 years Iraq prevented the Americans and the English from
doing that," he says.

"So Iraq is winning, even if it has paid a heavy price."

But it is ordinary Iraqis who have paid the heaviest price, and who are
likely to do so again, if there is new confrontation.

The mood of apprehension is already affecting local businesses, which had
just begun to recover after 11 years of sanctions.

"People are worried that there's going to be a stronger attack than we've
had in the past so they're holding onto their cash," says Faris al-Hadi, who
deals in electronic appliances.

"There had been a clear improvement but now it's been wiped out. We're only
selling 20% of what we were selling before 11 September."

Among America's allies, there is little appetite for military action against
Iraq and diplomats in Baghdad do not anticipate imminent confrontation.

But they expect tensions between Iraq and the United States to rise at the
end of November when the current phase of the UN sanctions regime comes up
for renewal.

Many suspect Washington will then step up pressure on Baghdad to allow UN
weapons inspectors back or risk being the target of American weaponry.


by Deaglán de Breádún, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Irish Times, 22nd October

The Iraqi government has been sharply criticised by the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, Mr Cowen, who said it had "deliberately failed" to co-operate with
the United Nations to feed and care for its people and this behaviour was

In an outspoken attack on President Saddam Hussein's regime over UN economic
sanctions, Mr Cowen said the reason the sanctions remained was "Iraq's
rejection of the Security Council demands to allow UN arms inspectors to
verify that it is not engaged in the production of nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons".

He said the oil for food programme was agreed between the UN and Baghdad to
provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people as long as the UN
sanctions remained. A report from the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan,
on the programme's operation for the previous three months had been
discussed at a recent meeting of the Security Council under Ireland's

"The Secretary-General's report has made it abundantly clear that, through
the programme, the government of Iraq is in a position to address fully the
nutritional and health requirements of its people, particularly children.
That Iraq has deliberately failed to co operate with the UN to fulfil those
needs is unacceptable," Mr Cowen said.

In a written reply to a Dáil question from Fine Gael TD, Mr Enda Kenny, he
rejected his suggestion to consider establishing "humanitarian delegations"
to visit Iraq to oversee the aid provided under the programme and verify
that food and medical care were available to all children and to determine
the factual position regarding children's health in that country.

"In the view of the Government the UN humanitarian programme in Iraq is in
the best position to verify that food, medical facilities and medical
attention are available to all children and to accurately determine the
factual position regarding children's health," Mr Cowen said. It would not
be "appropriate" for governments to send their own delegations.

He had discussed the situation with senior UN officials and was satisfied
with how the [plan] was being administered. It was the Iraqi government's
responsibility to draw up a distribution plan and to place the orders for
food and medical supplies. But for the first half of this year, "not a
single order was placed by Iraq for medicines".

Mr Annan had reported that "Iraq has made preparation of the distribution
plan unnecessarily cumbersome, that it has declined to revise the
distribution plan allocations, that it is responsible for slow contracting
for essential supplies and has created considerable delays in the opening of
letters of credit."

He called on Iraq "to co-operate honestly and effectively with the UN
humanitarian programme and to look after the interests of its own people".

At the same time Ireland was working in the Security Council to revise the
sanctions to alleviate the humanitarian situation "by providing for the
normal development of the Iraqi economy".

by Richard Valdmanis
Reuter's, 25th October

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations accused Iraq on Thursday of smuggling
some $10 million worth of oil outside the U.N. humanitarian program by
loading the petroleum into a tanker after U.N. inspectors left.

In 19 pages of documents submitted to the Security Council's Iraqi sanctions
committee, Benon Sevan, head of the U.N. oil-for-food program, said the
500,000 barrels of oil were loaded onto the tanker Essex last May and August
from the port of Mina Al-Bakr.

Iraq denied the accusations. In a written response, Baghdad's U.N.
ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, said the Iraqi oil marketing organization
found that all papers were in order and it had "no information on the
subject of your letter."

The incident is the first alleged proof Sevan's office has submitted on
illegal oil sales, which oil traders say has been occurring for about a
year. Most of the information came from Greek Captain Chiladakis Thofanis on
the tanker Essex and was sent to the United Nations and the American Embassy
in Athens.

Under the U.N. oil-for-food program, revenues from oil sales are to be
deposited in a U.N. account out of which the United Nations pays suppliers
of food, medicine and a host of other goods Iraq has ordered.

The program is designed to ease the impact of U.N. sanctions, imposed when
Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990.

"The ships involved first loaded the quantities of oil, which were
authorized under the program," Sevan said in his letter to the Security
Council's sanctions panel.

"Subsequent to this, and after United Nations inspection agents had
finalized their activities on board of the ships, the load pumps on the
platform were allegedly restarted in order to load additional volumes of oil
on the vessels," Sevan wrote, citing evidence received from the vessel's

Mina Al-Bakr is a major Iraq oil port, loading roughly 1.2 million barrels
of Basrah light crude every day, with most supplying the United States.

The United States has ships in the Gulf that attempt to inspect cargo coming
to and leaving Iraq. But the documents did not say if the Essex had been
stopped by U.S. vessels.

The U.N. Security Council has been at loggerheads in trying to stop the
smuggling, with Russia, an ally of Iraq, having insisted there was little

Moscow has also blocked a revision of sanctions, proposed by Britain and the
United States, which would ease civilian imports to Iraq while tightening
controls on smuggling oil and prohibited weapons. Instead it wants steps
toward lifting the sanctions entirely.

The oil-for-food program is up for renewal on November 30 when U.S.
officials say they will attempt to push through the measures again. But
unless Moscow has changed its policy, diplomats said Washington would
probably delay its efforts in November rather than risk the embarrassment of
another defeat.

"This might slip past November again," one U.S. official said in Washington.


Economic Times, 25th October

WASHINGTON (PTI) : THE UNITED States is considering to create a global
command to fight a lengthy war on terrorism, indicating that the Pentagon is
contemplating covert combat in countries other than Afghanistan,
administration officials said.

Defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld has discussed several times with General
Charles R Holland, who heads US Special Operations Command, forming an
anti-terrorism command at latter¹s headquarters at McDill Air Force Base in
Tampa, Florida, a media report quoting administration officials said.

The Bush Administration is in the early stages of discussing covert
intelligence operations or actions by US commandos or their foreign
surrogates, around the world, the Washington Times said.

These actions would not come likely until president George W Bush meets his
first objective ‹ ousting the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan and eliminating
Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.

The locations include the Philippines where Abu Sayyaf terrorists are linked
to bin Laden. Options include an all-out conventional attack, the use of
special operations troops or asking a surrogate to do the job.

South America in another location where the US is collecting evidence of al
Qaeda operatives involved in cocaine trafficking in Paraguay and Colombia.

Some Pentagon officials, notably deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz,
are also advocating going after president Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the paper

by Eric S. Margolis
Dawn, 25th October

In war, said Napoleon, the moral element and public relations are half the
battle. And that was before radio and television.

For the first time, a Mideastern antagonist of the United States - Osama bin
Laden - has not only mastered public relations, but is using the media as a
potent weapon against the world's mightiest military and media power.

Washington had planned to repeat in Afghanistan the success it enjoyed
during the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq, when the Pentagon monopolized,
filtered, and shaped all news coming from the theatre of operations. To this
day, the number of Iraqis killed by US bombing remains secret.

However, researchers have just learned through the Freedom of Information
Act that the US government expressly destroyed Iraq's sewage and water
treatment facilities, apparently knowing full well the result would be
widespread disease and epidemics. In short, biological warfare. The US
refuses to allow Iraq to import chlorine to purify water, claiming that the
chemical could be used as a military weapon. Iraq's inability to purify its
drinking water continues to spread sickness across that blighted nation.

According to the UN, 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children, have died from disease
and malnutrition caused by US sanctions. Thousands more Iraqis are suspected
to have gotten cancers from US depleted uranium munitions. When asked about
this huge toll, then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright memorably
replied, "the price is worth it." One cannot but wonder if the anthrax
terror now afflicting America is payback.

Israel's American supporters are currently beating the war drums over Iraq.
Such pro-Israel loudspeakers as 'The Wall Street Journal' and 'The
Washington Post' have been straining every sinew to link the September 11
attacks against the US to Iraq. Their intent is plain: to push the United
States into attacking Iraq, which is considered a major long-term threat to
Israel. The Israel lobby wants to see Iraq demolished, Saddam Hussein
killed, and partitioned into three weak mini-states. Israel's American lobby
is ready to fight to the last American to destroy Iraq.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban stole a march on the US by giving Al-Jazeera,
the Arab world's only uncensored TV station, exclusive coverage. Bin Laden
uses Al-Jazeera and Pakistani media to promote his anti-US cause and
challenge America's control of information. As a result, the White House is
trying to silence bin Laden by the disgraceful recourse of censoring
America's media.

The president of a democracy whose very essence is founded in free speech
has asked the media to silence bin Laden and his allies under the laughable
pretext that by wiggling an ear or rubbing a nose they communicate
information to Muslim terrorists lurking in the United States. This would be
comical were it not such a threat to the basic freedom of all Americans.

Almost as shameful, much of the US media has cooperated, reducing its role
from useful critics to public relations hacks.


by Charles Moore, John Keegan and George Jones
Daily Telegraph, 25th October


Interviewer Prime Minister how frustrating is it to you as Head of the
Executive that the Judiciary is putting so many obstacles in the way of
dealing with the tentacles of this organisation?

Prime Minister I hope very much that certain of the decisions recently have
indicated that people understand why we need to act against this. We of
course must always protect people's civil liberties, but one of the reasons
why we are determined to tighten up the law is that there is gap between the
reality of what we need to do and where the law is at the moment.


Interviewer What counts as terrorism which deserves full retaliation. Is
Israel entitled to do more or less, to respond very strongly indeed to
having one of its cabinet Ministers assassinated for example.

Prime Minister They are certainly entitled to respond strongly in those
circumstances, but again you have to make very difficult judgments in these
situations, but I think there is a big difference between a situation where
there is a genuine source of conflict, a political disagreement and
difference of a genuine sort, that it is best to try and resolve by dialogue
and negotiation, and a situation where you have got terrorists who have no
demands other than demands that are completely unrealisable in any shape or
form, and who are prepared to do anything at all in terms of the slaughter
of innocent people to further their ends.


I do believe when you compare Northern Ireland with the Middle East and
there are, despite all the obvious and huge differences, there are
similarities, I always think it is better to have a process where dialogue
and negotiation goes on even with all the difficulties and all the
inconsistencies and all the difficult compromises, than to have no process
at all because what happens is that into that vacuum step the killers.


And I honestly don't know in this situation what the argument against us
taking action is. What are we supposed to do? When 6,000 are killed in the
United States of America by an act of terrorism and we are expected to do
what, exactly, if not take action. I keep asking for the answer to this, but
I don't ever seem to get one apart from that we should negotiate with the
Taliban or bin Laden. Or we should bring him before the International Court
of Justice, or something.

Interviewer Have the Taliban actually tried to negotiate at any point?

Prime Minister Not as far as I am aware, no. And again in the weeks that
have passed since Sept 11 it is not as if even the Taliban could have been
in any doubt as to what was being asked of them, and they know where bin
Laden is. As for bin Laden, the one question I find I get asked really
nowhere in the world now is, well where is the evidence that he is guilty.
Because even the stuff that he said since Sept 11 makes it perfectly clear
that his organisation is behind this and indeed are happy to take advantage
of it.

Interviewer You said about bringing him, or others, before an International
Court of Justice. There is an awful lot of talk about transferring world
authority from alliances and coalitions with executive authority to a sort
of an international judicial system which personally I think would be
unworkable but that is just my own point of view. But it is clearly
something that has got a head of steam behind it. Is it something that that
you are aware of, and concerned about?

Prime Minister Well we support the notion of the International Criminal
Court as you know, but we are also aware of some of the logistical
difficulties that are involved with it. I have always thought in relation to
bin Laden that it is a bit of an academic question.

Interviewer I also support the International Court but it seems to me that
there are academic lawyers all of a sudden who have had a great deal of
influence, who seem to want a kind of world authority transferred to a sort
of global court which would be superior to the executive.

Prime Minister I think you have got to be very careful of that. It has its
place and its function but in the end it is important that democratically
elected leaders are able to take the measures that are necessary and then
they stand or fall at the Ballot Box on it.


I think there is still an under-estimation of the essential role of the
armed forces, not just in protecting and defending our country, but they are
a huge asset and strength to the nation as a whole and the part of the
different world we are entering is a world in which you have a contribution
to make through your armed forces it is an enormous help not just in
particular situations, but to the general standing and strength of your

I believe that it is not just important in defence terms. It is actually a
very important part of the country's overall position and standing in the
world. And I think these things matter in the end. They matter not often in
very direct ways to people, but they matter in a sense where a country is
and that is an impact which in the end flows through to all sorts of things
including investment, including trade, including our ability to get our own
way on certain issues in the world.

by Giles Whittell
The Times, 25th October

It is mid-February, 2002. North America is in the depths of a bitter winter.
Consumption of heating oil is at an all-time high and petrol use is back to
prewar levels thanks to a long slump in world prices, but the war on
terrorism drags on.

Contrary to most forecasts, Osama bin Laden has been captured alive and
airlifted to the USS Carl Vinson by triumphant US Marines. In line with
other forecasts, the terrorism has not stopped. The Strasbourg anthrax
outbreak appears to be contained but a smallpox scare is unfolding in Los
Angeles and well-sourced Pentagon leaks say that Saddam Hussein has
assembled a ³dirty² nuclear bomb with enriched uranium packed around a Scud
warhead. Range: 1,300 miles.

The Bush-Blair coalition is intact but under intense pressure from
Washington hawks who want to take the war to Baghdad. The nuclear leaks win
the argument for them and, with Blair¹s regretful non-cooperation, B2
bombers of the 509th air wing resume their 22-hour raids from Whiteman Air
Force Base in Missouri, this time on Saddam¹s revivified military
infrastructure and key Iraqi oil assets.

Saudi Arabia erupts. The new offensive persuades millions in Riyadh and
Jedda that the war on terror is in fact the war on Islam against which their
imams have railed for months. Following the lead of a prominent dissident
cleric, tens of thousands take to the streets to condemn the royal family¹s
tacit support of the American attackers.

To restore calm, the Saudi Government suspends oil sales to the US in what
it privately assures Washington is just a temporary move. But Iraqi exports
under the UN-approved oil for-food programme have already dried up and the
damage is done. With a third of the world¹s known oil reserves in jeopardy,
global prices zoom to $44 a barrel.

President Bush authorises an emergency withdrawal of 200 million barrels
from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve held in underground caverns in Texas
and Louisiana. It will make up the shortfall in US imports for barely a
fortnight unless he can persuade voters to switch overnight from conspicuous
consumption to manic conservation ‹ a trick he is loath even to try.
Instead, flanked by his energy secretary and an uneasy-looking clutch of oil
executives gathered in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, he announces
an historic ten-year plan to wean the US off Middle-Eastern oil and meet its
energy needs elsewhere.

³My proposals,² he says, choosing words that would have been unimaginable
six months earlier, ³will end the Arab world¹s unhealthy dependence on the
petrodollar. They will boost export-led growth for our friends elsewhere in
the world. They will bolster our national security and transform how we
define it. They may even transform the health of the planet we call home.²

This scenario could be triggered in any number of ways besides the bombing
of Iraq. Al Qaeda terrorists could sink a supertanker in the Strait of
Hormuz. Saudi Arabia could be overtaken by a full-blown revolution, or
slapped with embargoes for failing fully to condemn future atrocities.

The result would be a seismic shift in patterns of oil procurement that
would define the coming century. The losers, at least in the short term,
would be the Gulf states of the Middle East. The winner, in the supreme
irony of the post-Cold War period, would be Russia.

In fact, it is already happening. Immediately after the September attacks,
President Putin endeared himself mightily to President Bush by ordering his
armed forces to stand down from the heightened alert they would otherwise
have adopted in such circumstances. But he also offered to make up any
shortfall in Middle East oil exports to the West that might result from the
war on terror.

As if on cue, an Italian tanker left the Russian Black Sea port of
Novorossiysk last week with the first load of oil to flow through a new
990-mile pipeline linking the Tengiz field in Kazakhstan to the open seas.

To the west, a Russian oil terminal is to open before the end of the year at
Primorsk on the Gulf of Finland to bring more crude from western Siberia,
Russia¹s booming oil zone, to Europe via the Baltic. In the Far North,
Lukoil, Russia¹s biggest oil producer, is building an Arctic Coast terminal
from which to ship 250,000 barrels a day straight across the Arctic Ocean in
a fleet of icebreaking tankers.

Plans for former Soviet Central Asia are even more ambitious. Starting in
Azerbaijan, at least two pipelines will eventually carry oil and gas to the
outside world via Georgia and Turkey, and in Turkmenistan, a land of
scorching deserts and vast gas reserves bordering Afghanistan to the north,
the current fighting has paradoxically revived hopes of long-term stability
making possible the most Herculean undertaking of all: a gas pipeline over
the Hindu Kush to Pakistan and India.

These are the outlines of the last great oil rush; a race to open the
Caspian basin in the hope that it may replace the Middle East as filling
station to the world ‹ and the expectation that even if it doesn¹t, its oil
will find a market somewhere.

The stakes could hardly be higher. With America alone spending £100 million
a day on imported crude, oil remains the world¹s great wealth-creator. The
rise of the personal computer notwithstanding, it still drives every
industrial economy, provides profits for the world¹s largest corporations,
pays for most of the Middle East¹s armies, and funds a sprawling culture of
gilded vulgarity stretching from Dubai¹s seven-star Burj Al Arab Hotel to
the subterranean swimming pools of Kensington Palace Row.

³Access to large sources of oil has long constituted a strategic prize,²
writes Daniel Yergin in The Prize, his seminal study of oil politics. ³It
enables nations to accumulate wealth, to fuel their economies, to produce
and to sell goods and services, to build, to buy, to move, to acquire and
manufacture weapons, to win wars.²

It also forces importing nations to do business with regimes they would
otherwise condemn, and the race to the Caspian could lead the West into an
array of new strategic relationships every bit as problematic as those now
under strain in the Persian Gulf.

Azerbaijan, key to the Caucasus and the oil-drenched Apsheron Peninsula, is
one of the most corrupt nations on earth. At the start of the 1990s its
capital, Baku, was hailed as the next Houston and enjoyed a brief boom,
depicted with surprising accuracy by Robbie Coltrane and a host of dancing
girls in 007¹s The World Is Not Enough. More recently, the multinationals
have been pulling out in droves rather than adapt to Baku¹s rising violence
and bribery.

Kazakhstan is still run by its former communist chieftain, Nursultan
Nazarbayev, ten years after the Soviet collapse, while his three daughters
hold those levers of power that he does not. One is married to the son of
the President of neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, another to the head of
Kazakhstan¹s oil and gas monopoly. The third controls state TV. And
Turkmenistan has degenerated from its previous incarnation as a Soviet
Socialist Republic (something few thought possible in 1991) to a parody of a
Third-World dictatorship under the deeply eccentric guidance of Saparmurad
Niyazov, who likes to be known as ³Father of all the Turkmens² and has
anointed himself President for life.

Qualms over democracy and human rights have not impeded the hunt for oil in
the past. A more important question, as Western leaders reassess their
energy policies in the light of September 11, is whether the former Soviet
Union has enough of it.

Broadly speaking, it does. According to figures from the US Energy
Information Administration and the London-based Petroleum Argus, the Middle
East produces about 16 million barrels of oil a day, of which Saudi Arabia
pumps 7.5 million. The US relies on the region for 2.6 million, or about a
third of its imports.

The former Soviet Union pumps four million barrels a day, projected to rise
to seven million over the next five years and much more within a decade as
the Tengiz field and the even larger Kashagan reserves in the northern
Caspian come on stream.

Kazakhstan, by the most conservative estimates, is sitting on more than 20
billion barrels of recoverable oil. Russia has nearly 50 billion barrels,
and exploration has barely begun in some of the remoter reaches of Siberia.

For Putin and Nazarbayev, that is the good news. The bad news is that Saudi
Arabia¹s energy reserve remains the biggest and most accessible on the
planet by such a margin that it would take a full-blown revolution there to
end its dominance of Opec and the global oil business.

³Stick a straw in the ground there, and oil gushes,² says Ian Bourne, the
editor of Petroleum Argus. ³Then you put it in a tanker and ship it for $2 a
barrel. It¹s almost as simple as that.²

At 262 billion barrels, Saudi Arabia¹s known reserves are still biblically
huge. Its infrastructure is so extensive that if Iraq were to shut down
production altogether, it could summon enough reserve capacity within 90
days to make up the shortfall and stabilise world prices. Over time, its
shimmering sands have yielded so many new fields that successive predictions
of a peak in production followed by decline have turned instead into a
series of peaks ‹ a plateau, as Bourne says, with no horizon in sight.

Iran, Iraq and Kuwait are similarly blessed. This is why, despite the
region¹s record of war, sanctions, ecological devastation and grotesque
abuse of human rights, most major Western oil companies were returning there
before September 11 in the hope of winning new access to old but reliable

Before the world changed irrevocably, Western companies were competing
fiercely for new gasextraction contracts in Saudi Arabia that they still
hope to use as toeholds in the Saudi oil business. In Iran, the prospects of
an end to the national oil monopoly¹s supremacy were better than at any time
since the 1979 revolution that toppled the Shah. Even Iraq looked a good
long-term bet, as pressure from Russia and elsewhere mounted for a complete
end to sanctions.

Now Big Oil has fallen silent, sometimes to the point of hostility. No
company I phoned would comment publicly on what the war on terror might mean
for its business. Bourne says: ³They¹re holding their breath and crossing
their fingers.² One British spokesman insisted on anonymity before saying:
³Nothing will change.²

Analysts agree it is highly unlikely that Saudi Arabia will stop selling its
oil to the West, or that the West will stop buying it. Yet if nothing
changes within the world¹s only oil superpower, it could detonate a
demographic time bomb. The Saudi Royal Family has cleaved to power since the
1930s thanks to an unwritten social contract by which its subjects remain
politically submissive in return for free, oil-funded education and
healthcare and an average annual income of $7,000.

That contract is crumbling. Saudi Arabia¹s population is young,
fast-growing, underemployed and increasingly resentful of the
institutionalised corruption that is said to siphon the revenue from 600,000
barrels of oil a day to fund the louche lifestyles of the country¹s 15,000

The Saudi exchequer needs an oil price of $24 a barrel for the foreseeable
future to put the economy back on a sound footing. The price is now $19 a
barrel ‹ barely enough to meet the country¹s immediate expenses and service
its debts ‹ and Opec is loath to raise it for fear of being seen to profit
in a time of crisis.

Next to most Middle Eastern governments, Putin¹s Russia is a model of
progressive development, even if the same cannot be said of his Central
Asian neighbours. He has a vision of his country as a Eurasian commercial
behemoth selling its oil to the highest bidder and earning transit fees on
most of Kazakhstan¹s as it flows from Tengiz to the Black Sea. In this
vision, Moscow¹s profits are limited only by the bore of its pipelines and
the size of tanker that can squeeze through the Bosphorus.

There is a catch, of course. As James Bond learnt on his latest adventure,
every pipeline is a potential terrorist target. And as Hitler showed with
his murderous advance on Stalingrad ‹ and, he hoped, the ³oily rocks² of the
Caspian shore ‹ a thriving oilfield can drive the world to war even if it is
embedded in the heart of Russia.

It is February 2002 again. The pundits are digesting President Bush¹s brave
switch away from the Middle East in search of apolitical oil. They ask if he
has found the answer to America¹s latest energy crisis and conclude that he
has probably not, because oil, by its nature, will always be political.
Instead they paint a picture of an America turning away from oil altogether
in favour of liquefied natural gas, methanol, solar and wind power and
hydrogen, the holy grail of alternative fuels. The Wall Street Journal says
that America can lead the technological revolution that will lead the world
into the post-oil era. Al Gore, with beard, emerges from obscurity to note
that this might save the planet. This is a future that could work, the
pundits say.

Whether Bush is the man to embrace it is another matter.

William Safire The New York Times
International Herald Tribune, 26th October

WASHINGTON: To read the headlines, you would think a major rift was growing
between the United States and its only dependable ally in the Middle East.

The State Department "demands" that Israel end its forays into West Bank
terrorist centers and promise never to respond punitively again. Israel
"rebuffs" this angry order and "defies" the U.S. spokesman. Then Colin
Powell brushes aside President George W. Bush's cautious "as quickly as
possible" and escalates the call for withdrawal to "immediate."

But the Bush administration knows full well that Israel cannot turn the
other cheek when one of its cabinet ministers is assassinated. And it knows
that at a moment when the United States is dispatching bombers and soldiers
to kill the assassins harbored by the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is the
height of hypocrisy to demand that an ally refrain from hunting down killers
harbored by the PLO. Mr. Bush's advisers are also well aware that to insist
publicly that Ariel Sharon do as America says, not as it does, begs for a
"rebuff." Even Israel's dovish former foreign minister sees through it:
"Imagine now that Sharon says, 'Well, all right, I withdraw,'" notes Shlomo
Ben-Ami. "Then what will be the image of Israel in the Arab world? Its
deterrent capability, its steadfastness would be seriously eroded."


Such buck-passing won't work. With logic, followers of Osama bin Laden will
say: "By killing thousands of Americans, we got the U.S. to put pressure on
Israel. In the same way, by panicking Americans with the threat of germ
warfare, we will force the infidels to abandon their Jewish ally. And then
... "


The proper response to the ally's self-defense is to understand Israel's
lonely anguish and applaud its resolve. Such a principled expression of
presidential steadfastness should be, in General Powell's word, immediate.

by David Wurmser, director of Middle East studies at the American Enterprise
Institute. Adapted from the Oct. 29 Weekly Standard.
New York Post, 27th October

IF Osama bin Laden opposes the Saudi regime, why has he never struck Saudi
targets? And why has the Saudi government taken the lead in recognizing and
funding the Taliban government of Afghanistan, which is entwined with bin
Laden's al Qaeda organization?

The answer: The bin Laden problem is deeply embedded both in Saudi religious
and dynastic politics and in an effort by Iraq and Syria to shift the Middle
East balance of power.

To begin to unravel this murky business, go back to the mid '90s, when a
succession struggle was starting in Saudi Arabia. This struggle pits the
octogenarian king, Fahd bin Abdel-Aziz, and his full brothers in the Sudairi
branch of the family (especially the defense minister, Prince Sultan)
against their half-brother, Crown Prince Abdallah. Fahd and the Sudairis
favor close ties to the United States, while Abdallah prefers Syria and is
generally more enamored of pan-Islamic and pan-Arab ideas.

Abdallah is closely allied with the puritanical Wahhabi religious
establishment that has underpinned the Saudi government for over a century.
The Wahhabis are strident and hostile to a continued U.S. presence in the
Middle East.

CROWN Prince Abdallah has long challenged the Sudairi branch by pushing an
anti Western agenda.

In mid '95, numerous Arab newspapers reported that the crown prince was
working with Syria and Egypt to sabotage Jordanian-Saudi rapprochement. The
same year, the Turkish weekly Nokta reported that Abdallah had blocked
Turkish-Saudi ties by ordering the execution of some Turks, incarcerated for
drug-dealing, after King Fahd had assured Turkish emissaries that they would
be spared.

In late 1995, King Fahd became ill and feeble, passing power temporarily to
Abdallah. Shortly afterward, Abdallah briefly visited a neighboring state -
and his Sudairi rival, Prince Sultan, asserted power in Riyadh. Abdallah
returned to reclaim his dominance, but to do so he employed his wife's close
family ties to the Assad clan and invited Syrian intelligence operatives
into the kingdom. This is essential background to the major terrorist
attacks of recent years, including Khobar Towers, the USS Cole and Sept. 11.

When Abdallah invited Syrian intelligence into Saudi Arabia, he created an
opportunity for Syria to foster a terror network on Saudi soil. Its
handiwork surfaced first in a minor attack on an American bus in Jeddah in
1995, then in the major attack on Khobar in June 1996 in which 19 U.S.
servicemen died.

The Washington Post reported that the Khobar bomb had originated in
Syrian-controlled Lebanon, and just this month, members of the Syrian-backed
Hezbollah were indicted in a U.S. court for this attack.

THE years 1995 and 1996 were watershed years in the Middle East. Before
then, hopeful developments (from the U.S. point of view) had seemed afoot in
the region.

Saddam had faced a viable, advancing opposition movement; and Jordan had
become the vanguard of an anti-Saddam grouping after the defection in Amman
of Saddam's son-in law, Hussein Kamal. Pro-Western elements of the Saudi
royal family pushed to reestablish Jordanian-Saudi ties, solidify
Saudi-Turkish ties and anchor Saudi Arabia in this emerging, powerful,
pro-Western regional bloc.

This was a time when the Palestine Liberation Organization averted near
collapse only by the generosity of Israel. And the Iranian revolution was
floundering. The memory of America's twin victories in the Gulf War and the
Cold War was fresh and Israel's image of invulnerability earned in half a
dozen wars still loomed large. Syria, Iraq and the PLO faced the prospect of
a loose-knit pro-U.S. coalition of Turkey, a post-Saddam Iraq, Jordan,
Israel and Saudi Arabia.

BUT tyrants like Saddam and Assad, and tyrannical regimes like Iran's and
the PLO's, never accept defeat, which can mean only disgrace or death.

Survival demanded action. It took many forms but crystallized when Syria and
Iraq turned from enemies to bedfellows against America; when the Palestinian
Authority became sufficiently established to host a smorgasbord of terror
groups; and when Abdallah invited Syria into the kingdom.

The bin Laden network developed inside this Wahhabi/Abdallah-Syria-Iraq-PLO
strategic bloc and became its terrorist skeleton, unifying hitherto
separate, isolated and strategically uncoordinated groups.

While al Qaeda from the start was rooted in the Wahhabi religious
establishment, it sprouted and flourished parasitically wherever Iraqi
intelligence felt secure: Sudan, then Yemen and Qatar. Bin Laden himself
left Saudi Arabia in 1991 for Sudan, where he lived until his removal, via
Yemen and Qatar, to Afghanistan in 1996.

For Syria, the new terrorist super-network had the virtue of absorbing and
channeling Sunni fundamentalist fervor. For Iraq, the network offered a way
to defeat America.

AT its core, al Qaeda is a product of Saudi dynastic politics. Its purpose
is to swing Saudi politics toward the Wahhabi establishment and Crown Prince
Abdallah, but not necessarily to destroy the royal family, at least not at

The most virulent of Saudi dissident groups, such as al-Masari's Committee
for the Defense of Legal Rights, call for violence, but they pointedly
direct their wrath against the Sudairis, the only targets they mention by
name. Bin Laden seeks to destroy the Sudairis indirectly, by separating them
from America.

In August 2001, King Fahd fired his director of intelligence, Prince Turki
al Faisal. It was a blow to bin Laden.

The bin Laden and Faisal families have longstanding ties: Osama's father
helped install King Faisal, who reigned from 1964 to 1975. Since the mid
'90s, Turki had anchored the Abdallah faction, and under his leadership
Saudi intelligence had become difficult to distinguish from al Qaeda.

Here too, family ties are important. Thus, Turki's brother heads a key Saudi
"philanthropic" organization (originally headed by Osama) that funds the
Taliban and al Qaeda, according to the Lebanese weekly East-West Review. And
the Central Asia operations officer in Saudi intelligence is the brother of
bin Laden's chief case officer on Saudi Arabia, according to a former CIA
official in Iraq.

The same former official also reports that Turki was instrumental in
arranging a meeting in Kandahar, Afghanistan, between the head of Iraq's
terror network, Faruk Hejazi, and bin Laden in December 1998. More recently,
Turki bin Faisal's full brother, Saudi foreign minister Saud bin Faisal,
unleashed his diplomats to write shrill and caustic attacks on the United
States, such as the article a few weeks ago by Saudi Arabia's ambassador in
London, Ghazi al Qusaibi, calling President Bush mentally unstable.

BUT like Frankenstein's monster, bin Laden is becoming a problem for his
creators. It is unclear whether Saudi royal factions now control al Qaeda,
or bin Laden has become a kingmaker - or aspiring king. His lieutenants, far
from hailing from the margins of society, are products of its elite, with
whom they maintain relations. The mastermind of Arab terrorism in the 1980s
and '90s, Imad Mughniyeh, a godfather-like figure with links to the PLO,
Hezbollah and al Qaeda, comes from an illustrious family. His father was a
cleric renowned among Shiites.

And bin Laden's second in command, the Egyptian al-Zawahiri, is the grandson
of the head of al-Azhar mosque in Egypt.

It is impossible to avoid concluding, then, that the bin Laden phenomenon is
about politics and conflicts within and among states. Some states in the
region - such as Jordan and Kuwait - can truthfully deny employing and
abetting terror. But many Arab states refuse to consent to America's
expanding the war beyond Afghanistan because they know the trail of terror
will eventually lead to them.

THEY have trafficked in terror, believing they could harness it and use it
to their advantage - none more than Saudi Arabia. This is why the Saudis
blocked the American investigation into the Khobar attack, never
investigated the December 2000 hijacking of a plane from Jeddah to Baghdad
by two men from Abdallah's security forces, and now, according to press
reports, lag in providing access to possible culprits and relevant

Al Qaeda must be dealt with not only in Afghanistan, but also at its source
- in the strategic triangle of Syria, Iraq and the Wahhabi/Abdallah alliance
whose interests it serves and whose structures and politics brought it to
life. To fail to strike at the roots of al Qaeda will only lengthen the war
and make it more deadly.

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