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News, 3-10/11/01 (2) IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Kuwait seizes Iraqi oil tanker: newspaper * Gulf War radicalised bin Laden - ex-spy chief [Interview with ex-Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. It seems the Taliban may have been about to give OBL over to the Saudis in 1998 but the project was aborted when Clinton launched his missile attacks. If this is the case then Sept 11 can be pinned on Clinton]. * Iraqi oil smuggling through Persian Gulf down by 50 percent, U.S. admiral says [Unexplained Iranian crackdown on Iraqi oil exports] * Iraq, Syria to set up nine joint venture cos * On Syrian- Iraqi relations [Rather obscurely worded article which suggests that Syrian Socialists, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution and Syrian - I think - Kurds are all in favour of closer Syrian/Iraqi relations. So thatıs all right.] INSIDE IRAQ * Hussein Putting His Mark on Islamic Faith [Faith campaignı, which began in Iraq in 1994] * As Saddam builds his monuments, mothers abandon their babies [Contrast between wealth of Baghdad and misery of Basra, to convey the impression that the suffering is the fault of the Iraqi government not of the blockade] * The changing face of Iraqi marriage * Fair to help fight sanctions: Iraqis [Major trade fair taking place in Iraq] * Iraq: a quiet time during another Middle East war [Rather vague evocation of UN efforts to encourage individual economic initiatives in Iraq] * Saddamıs son [Qusay] targeted in attempted assassination * Iraq discovers major gasfield IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * UN General Assembly adopts Iraqi proposed resolution [on depleted uranium] URLs ONLY: http://www.worldoil.com/news/newsstory.asp?ref=http://188.8.131.52/feeds/wo rldoil/new/article_e.asp?energy24=243808 * UN programme faces 1.63-billion-dollar shortfall World Oil (AFP), 6th November http://ogj.pennnet.com/articles/web_article_display.cfm?Section=OnlineArticl es&ARTICLE_CATEGORY=TOPST&ARTICLE_ID=125944 * US expected to delay Iraq oil-for-aid reform plan proposal Oil and Gas Journal, 8th November Nothing of any interest in the article that isnıt in the title. GENERAL INTEREST * Contextualizing Afghan War [Fine critique of the US terror campaign from a democratic, secularist, anti-Taliban Pakistani position. Argues, probably rightly in broad outline, that the US wants to keep S.Hussein in power as a means of justifying their continued military presence in the region] * Shameful affair that exposed a secret world [I reproduce this piece of trivia just for the amusing suggestion that during the Iran/Iraq war Britain favoured Iraq ... because of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie! The article attempts to convey the impression that Matrix Churchill war profiteering was really courageous espionage on behalf of MI6] IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1942124007 * KUWAIT SEIZES IRAQI OIL TANKER: NEWSPAPER Times of India, 3rd November KUWAIT CITY ( AFP ): Kuwait's coast guard has seized an Iraqi oil tanker suspected of busting the UN embargo slapped on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of the emirate, a newspaper reported on Saturday. The Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-Aam said the Iraqi vessel was smuggling 1,200 tons of oil when it was seized in Kuwait's territorial waters on Friday. The tanker's crew were arrested and the vessel towed to Kuwait's Shuaiba port, south of Kuwait City, the newspaper added. Kuwait last year seized more than 20 vessels and small tankers of various sizes carrying oil and goods from Iraq to the Gulf Arab monarchies. The ships and goods are normally sold at auction. Crew members, mostly from the Indian subcontinent, are detained and fined before being deported to their home countries. Baghdad has been under embargo since its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait and is authorized to export crude only under strict UN control to buy food, medicine and other essential goods. http://www.reuters.co.uk/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews&StoryID=350082 * GULF WAR RADICALISED BIN LADEN - EX-SPY CHIEF Reuters, 6th November A former Saudi intelligence chief said in remarks broadcast on Tuesday Osama bin Laden turned radical after Saudi Arabia invited U.S. troops to end Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Prince Turki al-Faisal said in a rare television interview bin Laden had offered to organise an army of Muslim volunteers to fight Iraqi troops and avert the need to use U.S. forces, a move he viewed as a desecration of the birthplace of Islam. "First of all, he considered that he was able to raise an army to repel the forces of (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein," Prince Turki told the London-based Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC). "Secondly, because he opposed what the government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia had initiated in terms of inviting friendly forces to expel Saddam Hussein. "Here, the signs of change began to appear in his personality...There is no doubt the change that led to what he is now occurred at this stage," he said. Prince Turki stepped down in unexplained circumstances in August after nearly 25 years. His interview is being broadcast in instalments over several days. Afghanistan-based bin Laden was named by the United States as prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. He has denied any link to the attacks but praised those who carried them out. The Saudi-born dissident was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 for his activities against the royal family. He has said he wants U.S. forces -- stationed in the region since the 1991 Gulf War -- to leave Saudi Arabia, where Islam was born more than 14 centuries ago. Prince Turki said bin Laden had gone against the opinions of Muslim clerics in the kingdom who had issued religious edicts approving Western help to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Prince Turki was earlier quoted as saying Saudi Arabia had rejected a conditional offer by Sudan to hand over bin Laden several years ago. He told the Saudi daily Arabi News Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir offered to hand over bin Laden before 1996, when Sudan expelled him, on condition no legal action was taken against him. "President Bashir asked for guarantees regarding bin Laden's prosecution, that he would not be tried by any legal authority in the kingdom. Bashir was told that no one is above the law and that we could not give such guarantees," Prince Turki said. Prince Turki, who took up his post in 1977, had earlier said the Taliban had twice agreed to hand over bin Laden, but had reneged after the United States bombed Afghanistan in 1998 in response to attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Prince Turki said he had two brief meetings with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, with whom Saudi Arabia previously had diplomatic ties. It broke relations in September because the group continued to harbour "terrorists". "In my first meeting with Mullah Omar, he was very cordial, but in the second meeting he turned hysterical in his attacks on the kingdom," the prince said. During the first meeting, he said Mullah Omar had not objected to proposals for the extradition of bin Laden to Saudi Arabia. "In the second meeting, Mullah Omar was not in a mood to listen to anyone," he said. Prince Turki said U.S. interest in Afghanistan initially dwindled after the Soviet occupation ended in 1989, but revived amid contacts between foreign oil firms and the Taliban. Washington began monitoring the activities of oil companies seeking to establish a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea through Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said. http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/ap20011106_1907.html * IRAQI OIL SMUGGLING THROUGH PERSIAN GULF DOWN BY 50 PERCENT, U.S. ADMIRAL SAYS The Associated Press, 6th November Iran's more aggressive enforcement of U.N. sanctions against Iraq has led to a nearly 50 percent decline in Iraqi oil smuggling through the Persian Gulf over the last year, a U.S. admiral said. Iraq has smuggled an estimated 11.6 million barrels of oil through the Gulf this year, down from an estimated 20 million barrels over the same period last year, according to diplomats who heard the report of Vice Admiral Charles Moore, commander of the Multinational Interception Force in the Persian Gulf. Norway's U.N. Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby, chairman of the committee, called the report very thorough and detailed. Iran is not a part of the U.S.-led multinational force enforcing sanctions against Iraq, and diplomats couldn't explain why Tehran has turned more aggressive in cracking down on oil smugglers. Last April, Moore accused Iran of allowing tankers carrying illegal Iraqi oil to move through its territorial waters out the reach of the multinational force in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. Moore didn't take questions from reporters after briefing the committee, but diplomats said he lauded recent Iranian cooperation with his force's efforts to intercept ships carrying illegal Iraqi oil through Persian Gulf waters. Iraq has been under sweeping international sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Under the U.N. oil-for-food program, which is an exemption to sanctions, Iraq is allowed to sell unlimited quantities of oil provided revenues are kept in a U.N.-controlled account and spent mostly on humanitarian supplies. http://www.dailystarnews.com/200111/06/n1110605.htm#BODY14 * IRAQ, SYRIA TO SET UP NINE JOINT VENTURE COS Bangla Desh Daily Star (AFP), 6th November Iraq and Syria will set up nine joint-venture companies, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Sunday at the Baghdad Trade Fair. "We are on the way to setting up nine joint companies," Ramadan told reporters at the Syrian stand, but gave no further details. The vice-president described economic ties between the two neighbours as a "common market... in all sectors, without any restriction", following the launch of a free trade agreement in April. Lebanon and Iraq will also sign a free trade deal shortly, Lebanon's minister of state Beshara Meherej told Iraq's Al-Jumhuriya daily. He said the long-announced deal would be signed as soon as Ramadan visits Beirut. Lebanon, which broke off diplomatic relations with Iraq in 1994 after the assassination in Beirut of an Iraqi opposition leader, decided to resume them in March at the level of charge d'affaires. Relations had already picked up in 1997 when Syria, which wields great influence over Lebanon, improved ties with Iraq. In September, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi Saleh announced that Iraqs imports from Syria were set to triple in 2001 to reach 1.5 billion dollars. Iraq and Syria, governed by rival branches of the Baath party, froze diplomatic relations in 1980 over Syrian support for Iran in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, but have since stepped up economic relations. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/011108/2001110808.html * ON SYRIAN- IRAQI RELATIONS Arabic News, 8th November The secretary general of the Socialists Unionist Party in Syria Faez Ismael has stressed in a statement to the United Arab Emirates UAE daily al-Bayan issued on Wednesday that what is taking place between Syria and Iraq is into the right path of a political conviction that Syria has no way but to meet with Iraq and vis a vis. For his part, reserve member of the party's regional leadership Fadel al-Insari ( from Iraq) said that Syrian- Iraqi relations are a might for the two countries and for the Arabs, alike. The Iraqi trade minister Muhammad Mahdi Saleh said that trade contracts with Syria might reach USD 1.5 billion by the end of the current year and Iraq's policy is proceeding towards openness on all Arab states without exception. Meantime, member of the central council for the Islamic revolution in Iraq Bayan Jaber said that the exchanged visits between Syria and Iraq did not affect the work of the Iraqi opposition in Damascus. Member of the political bureau for the Call "al-Dawa" party in Iraq Abu al-Sarra al-Maliki said that Damascus's justifications to meet with Iraq are acceptable for us as an Iraqi opposition and we do clearly understand them. For his part, the Iraqi writer Amer Bader Hassoun said that Syrian- Iraqi relations have not been at any time stable relations. The official in charge of Arab relations in the Kurdistani democratic national federation Adel Murad said that relations between Syria and Iraq will not affect the Iraqi forces existed on the Syrian arena, rather might be ( these forces) used as a means to open a direct dialogue with the Iraqi regime at the support of Syria. INSIDE IRAQ http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la 000088268nov04.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dworld * HUSSEIN PUTTING HIS MARK ON ISLAMIC FAITH by Michael Slackman Los Angeles Times, 4th November BAGHDAD -- Muslims believe the Koran is the literal word of God, a divine revelation received by the prophet Muhammad centuries ago. In Iraq, the faithful can read those sacred words written in the blood of their president, Saddam Hussein. That, at least, is what officials say: that over a period of three years the president donated 50 pints of blood that was mixed with preservatives and used to pen the more than 600 pages of the holy book. "His excellency, when he donated this, he intended to sacrifice himself to God," said Abdul Razzak Harbi, director of religious teaching in the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The red lettered text sits in a display case beneath the grand dome of the Mother of All Battles Mosque just outside this capital, another of the president's recent religious donations to his people. Surrounding the dome are eight towering minarets--in Arabic, there are eight letters in "Saddam Hussein"--four shaped like Scud missiles sitting on a launch pad and four resembling huge machine-gun barrels. The blood-inscribed Koran and the military-style mosque demonstrate how the ironfisted leader of this impoverished and weary country has tried to manage a deepening sense of devotion that has spread across Iraq after two wars and 10 years of sanctions. While other regimes have sought to suppress or promote fundamentalism, Hussein has decided to co-opt it. "When a society is in crisis like we are, with the embargo and all, religion plays a greater part in soothing the psyche of the people and giving people greater strength to face the crisis," said Ihssan Hassan, a sociology professor at Baghdad University who said he meets with Hussein every few months. The Iraqi strongman borrowed religious symbolism during the Persian Gulf War when he decided to inscribe the Iraqi flag with "God is great." Officials said the script used on the flag is a duplicate of the president's handwriting. But the full-scale "Faith Campaign" began in earnest in 1994, when Iraq was suffering from chronic shortages of food and medicine. Many people were beginning to pray five times a day, as prescribed in the Koran, and women were increasingly veiling themselves. This was threatening to a regime that promoted its leader with religious devotion, plastering the country with his image in paintings, mosaics, statues, even clocks. "We are really against this," Hassan said of the increasingly popular religious practices, such as women wearing head coverings. "It is a backward thing. If we could ban it, we would. We can't." Even a ruler like Hussein, who has demonstrated a willingness to use force to keep his people in line, recognized he could not hold back faith. But the president, who is a Sunni Muslim, was concerned that majority Shiite Muslims would be encouraged to rebel by neighboring Iran. Hussein had already suppressed a revolt led by Shiite groups in the south after the war a decade ago. The regime also was worried that neighboring Saudi Arabia, which subscribes to a strict form of Islam known as Wahhabism, would find fertile ground in Iraq. "Iraq was very keen to fortify the mentality of the people not to get involved with these imported ideas," said Harbi, the ministry director of religious teaching. To that end, Harbi said, the president single-handedly designed the religious campaign. It is being waged on many fronts: All schoolchildren are expected to complete studies of the Koran by the end of secondary school. Local radio broadcasts an all-Koran channel 18 hours a day. Iraq opened Saddam College for preparing preachers and imams. Saddam International Islamic University opened as well, providing religious training to foreign students. And of course there is the construction. The Mother of All Battles Mosque--named after the now-famous description Hussein used for the Gulf War--a huge complex that on a recent trip was made off limits to reporters, is the smallest of three mosques being built. One where construction is just beginning is supposed to be the largest mosque in the world. It will be called the Saddam Hussein Mosque. "When you find mosques named after the president, or you see his pictures, or maybe some preacher says his name during Friday prayer, it is when you find such a leader . . . has done something good for you, you must reward him," said Harbi, whose own office and reception area has six pictures of the president, including a floor-to-ceiling portrait. Many here say they are happy to adopt their president's version of Islam. In this once cosmopolitan city, now lined with row after row of rundown, low-slung concrete buildings, many women walk around with their heads covered--a relatively rare sight before the war. Hend Tawfik, 19, says she and her mother began wearing head scarves in 1994, at the start of the religious campaign. "The difficult circumstance we face after the embargo has reflected on our mentality by making us close to religion," said Tawfik, who continues to wear makeup. "Before, we have faith in our hearts, but we did not implement it. Now we get closer to Islam." http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/11/04/wiraq04.x ml&sSheet=/news/2001/11/04/ixhomer.html * AS SADDAM BUILDS HIS MONUMENTS, MOTHERS ABANDON THEIR BABIES by Hala Jaber Daily Telegraph, 4th November THEY look dead. The seven babies, little more than bundles of torn sheets, lie malnourished and motionless in a bare, filthy back room of Basra's main children's and maternity hospital. The oppressive air, filled not with the usual antiseptic odour of medical facilities but the foul stench of human waste, is stirred only by the occasional entrance of the cleaner, who bustles in between mopping wards to quickly wash each infant in the basin. Otherwise, they are all but left alone. The doctors and nursing staff are already overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of seriously ill children in their care. The hospital is doing all that it can, but it is neither equipped as a nursery nor an orphanage. "We do our best, but I believe they suffer more for the lack of their mother's care and love. Nothing can supplement that," one doctor, a consultant gynaecologist, said sadly. The babies, the victims of a regime more obsessed with building monuments than feeding its people, were abandoned on the roadsides or at the entrances of mosques by poverty stricken families who can no longer feed them even another mouthful. They had arrived with nothing, after being picked up from the streets by passers-by. A carton containing a few old pieces of cloth - which served as clothes - was on the floor near them. They are, perhaps, the lucky ones. Many more don't make it this far. Doctors at the hospital, which The Telegraph has chosen not to identify to protect the staff, are horrified by the number of abandoned infants who die on the streets of Iraq's second biggest city before reaching their wards. "Their mothers cannot take care of them," the doctor tells me. "They have no money and no means to feed them, so they are now dumping these children. Sometimes the babies are adopted, other times, like now, nothing happens and suddenly we have a roomful of them. It is heartbreaking and we really do our best for them, but we do not have full-time staff and the proper facilities to take care of them. I have seen good days and some beautiful days in this hospital, but these are really the bad days." The hospital wrote to the Iraqi authorities several months ago, outlining the predicament of the infants and seeking help in having them placed in institutions. There has been no reply. The first baby to arrive, aged 12 weeks, was named Sarah by the nurses. She is six months old and recognises only the faces of the doctor, the cleaner and one of the nurses who struggles to find time for the babies. "The nurse is torn between her duties for the patients of the hospital and the needs of the babies," said the doctor. "It is extremely tiring for a mother to look after one child under normal circumstances on any given day, so can you imagine what it is like in here when seven babies are all awake and crying at the same time seeking attention, food or merely a need to be cleaned, picked up or cuddled." In common with the rest of the country, Basra's hospitals have suffered 10 years of shortages. Their wards are constantly filled with children dying of cancer, with little medicine and outdated equipment to meet the demands. The often repeated claim by Left wing critics such as Tony Benn, the former Labour minister, that 500,000 children have died unnecesarily since United Nations sanctions were imposed after the Gulf war, is a matter of dispute. It has been claimed by opponents of the war on terrorism - in this country and Iraq - that the sanctions, which ban any items that could be used for military purposes, are preventing the Iraqis from buying all the medicines and equipment needed by their hospitals. Even common vaccines used to innoculate children against polio are blocked because they contain tiny amounts of potassium, which can be used in explosives. Those who argue against the claims of a 500,000 infant mortality figure point out that it is based on highly questionable statistics in a 1999 Unicef report. Whatever the true figure, there is no doubt that infant mortality rates have soared in the past decade, and the West is adamant that the Iraqi regime bears full responsibility. A Foreign Office aide said: "We don't deny that there is a great deal of human suffering in Iraq, but the direct cause of this is the regime not sanctions." Last year, Saddam Hussein's revenue from the oil-for-food programme amounted to $11 billion - money earmarked by the UN for the relief of the human crisis. Since the beginning of the oil-for-food deal in December 1996, a total of $38.6 billion has been generated. Western governments are adamant that the oil revenue is more than sufficient to feed the population. They charge Saddam with causing the increasingly poverty-striken majority, many of whom are on the brink of starvation. As supporting evidence, they cite the stark contrast between neglected cities such as Basra and parts of Baghdad, where Saddam is building monuments to his own glorification and the markets are overflowing with food. Earlier this year, one of Saddam's personal projects, the Mother of all Mosques - a beautiful white, blue and gold mosque which sits on an enormous artificial water feature designed in the shape of the Arab world map - was completed. The mosque, in the centre of Baghdad, is estimated to have cost tens of millions of dollars and took three years to complete. Another ambitious mosque to be built on 200,000 square yards of land nearby has just begun. The money poured into the capital is also evident in the abundance of new boutiques, electronic retailers and marketplaces, where only foreigners and rich Iraqis can afford the exotic wares on display. The majority of Baghdad's residents have to satisfy themselves with their monthly food rations, which consist of basic staples such as rice, sugar, tea, fat, grains, flour and soap. Red meat and chicken have become luxury items, with many families going for weeks without either. The middle class has all but been wiped out and has become part of the underclass that forms the bulk of Iraqi society. Meanwhile, the rich frequent Baghdad's plentiful new restaurants and nightclubs. On the roads, the latest model BMWs and Mercedes of Saddam's new elite compete with battered and ancient Volkswagens. The funfairs and zoos, too, are thriving - but a distant dream for the children of Basra. Instead, they play in the flooded streets and alleyways flooded with puddles of raw sewage. The city, which is 350 miles south of Baghdad, bore the brunt of the 1980-88 Iran Iraq war on the shores of the disputed Shatt-al-Arab waterway, where the rivers of the Euphrates and Tigris meet before running to the Gulf. Once, it was a regional trade centre and a magnet for rich Gulf Arabs drawn by its casinos, nightclubs, mild weather and palm-filled parks. Now its nightclubs have closed and its dusty roads are filled with beggars. Every afternoon, hundreds of people gather in the marketplace to sell what little belongings they still possess. Women offer their children's broken toys, bicycles and clothes, while men bring in their television sets, air conditioners, refrigerators and car parts. Walid, a 14-year-old who was mending shoes in the market, said he had not been to school for five years because he had to earn money to support his family. He toils from seven in the morning to seven in the evening, earning the equivalent of 50p a day. In what was once the third largest oil producer in the world, such is the poverty now that many families are selling the monthly food rations they receive from the government to buy shoes for their children and bus fares to find work. Yet there is still so much oil under the city that it sometimes bubbles up out of the ground spontaneously. Recently, the marble flooring of Basra International airport had to be removed for cleaning because oil was seeping through and causing damage. Whereas most of Baghdad has regular access to electricity and parts of it shimmer like a Christmas tree, Basra languishes in darkness as a result of severe power cuts of up to 16 hours a day. In the hospital, the protracted blackouts plunge the city's abandoned babies into darkness. It is a grim symbol of their fragile grip on life. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1747622922 * IRAQI REJECTS AC MILAN IN FAVOUR OF TURKEY Times of India, 5th November BAGHDAD ( AFP ): Iraqi teenager Imad Mohamed Ridha has rejected an offer from Italian giants AC Milan in favour of talks with Turkish clubs Fenerbahce and Gaziantepspor, it was reported here on Sunday. Ridha, 19, told the Al-Iraq newspaper he had been unhappy with the length of the contract reportedly offered by the five-time European champions. "One of the clauses of the contract would have prevented me leaving the club for 20 years," he said. "I've received several other offers, including from clubs in the United Arab Emirates, from Qatar and from Egyptian team Al-Ahli, but I'd prefer to sign for Turkish clubs Fenerbahce or Gaziantepspor, who have contacted me," he added. On Wednesday, the Iraqi press said that the player was on the verge of signing for AC Milan. Ridha, who plays for the Al-Zawra club, was the outstanding player in Iraq's victory in the Asian junior championships in Tehran a year ago and he scored four times for the Iraqi senior team in their unsuccessful qualification campaign for the 2002 World Cup. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1641000/1641309.st m * THE CHANGING FACE OF IRAQI MARRIAGE by Caroline Hawley BBC, 6th November Traditionally in Iraq, women have tended to marry in their 20s at the latest, but now, according to government officials, difficult economic conditions as a result of a decade of international sanctions have forced a change in marriage patterns. In Iraq, there are now said to be one million women over the age of 35 who are not married. At a wedding party in central Baghdad, the bride, resplendent in white frills, poses for the camera, as family and friends cheer the new couple on. Among the watching women is Regiha. At 35 she is way past the once traditional marriage age. "It is very difficult in Iraq nowadays because of the economic situation and the costs. Getting married isn't at all easy," she says. Not at all easy, she means, for the women waiting for marriage proposals and for the men who are expected to pay for the dowry, the marital home and the costs of bringing up a family. It is very difficult in Iraq nowadays because of the economic situation and the costs The problem is that after eleven years of sanctions most Iraqis are now desperately poor, relying on government food rations to survive. Many men feel they have little to offer a potential bride. Hassan is a 50-something civil servant who says he was on the verge of marrying when the sanctions were imposed. Now, he says, he cannot afford to. "Our life in Iraq before the sanctions was very good and the government made houses and gave land, salaries were very good," he said. "I decided to marry before the embargo. I delayed to prepare everything, suddenly the embargo destroyed all my dreams. My salary for one year isn't enough to buy a kitchen or a refrigerator." Help is sometimes at hand for a few lucky couples. At a mass wedding couples can be seen dancing beneath pictures of Saddam Hussein. It is all organised and paid for by the Iraqi authorities, with a three-day honeymoon in a Baghdad hotel thrown in as well. Held on special national occasions, mass weddings are an acknowledgement of what is increasingly seen as Iraq's marriage problem. However it is not just the embargo that is to blame for the large number of single Iraqi women over 35. In the corridors of a Baghdad University, many women students say they now want a decent career before they will consider marriage. Doctor Bathenal Hilu, head of the psychology department, believes the high rate of unmarried women is, in fact, a positive phenomenon. "I see this as part of development, women now want to prove themselves and anxiety about success is diminishing," he said. "The embargo is part of the reason for the low number of marriages, but I don't think it's the main reason. Now it's not a problem if you're 40 and you want to get married, and this is not just in Iraq." "In all societies there are lots of single people." Among Iraq's new class of unmarried women is Dima Amin, an English teacher still single at 31. "I'm thinking of having someone maybe with characteristics which are not really available, that's why," she says. However she denies that she is simply being more choosy. "No, it's not like that really, but actually I'm not worried about it," she said. "People are not thinking the same way like before, 10 years before it was something different." It seems, therefore, that it may be Iraqi men most of all that need the sympathy. After more than a decade of sanctions, many feel they can barely afford marriage and if they do strike up the courage to propose, they could find themselves snubbed by a newly empowered woman determined to put her career first. http://www.dawn.com/2001/11/06/int10.htm * FAIR TO HELP FIGHT SANCTIONS: IRAQIS Dawn (Pakistan), 6th November BAGHDAD (Reuters), Nov 5: Businessmen and trade officials from 48 countries including several from Western Europe were attending Baghdad's annual trade fair on Monday, seen by organizers as helping to erode UN trade sanctions. Iraq, whose oil reserves are the second largest in the world after Saudi Arabia's, was a booming international trade hub before invading Kuwait in 1990. But UN trade sanctions imposed after the invasion of Kuwait restrict Iraq's use of its oil revenues to buying food, medicine and other goods for humanitarian purposes under a so-called oil-for-food agreement. "There are more than 5,000 foreign businessmen representing 1,650 companies and some 14 trade and industry ministers attending this year's fair," the director of the fair, Fawzi al- Dhahir, told Reuters. "This great number of participants means that many world countries are in favour of an immediate end to the unjust embargo imposed on Iraq." Oil sales are expected to generate around $6 billion for Iraq in the current six-month phase of the oil-for-food agreement, opening the door wide for more trade. Dhahir said $450 million worth of contracts had been signed during last year's fair, in which some 45 countries and 1,500 companies took part. He expected the figure to rise this year. Official trade delegations from France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Turkey, Russia, China, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Spain and Austria are all attending, with Finland and Denmark taking part for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait. Dhahir said almost all Arab countries were taking part in except Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, although some private Saudi companies were present. The United Arab Emirates has sent its economy minister, Sheikh Fahem bin Sultan al Qassimi, for the first time since the Gulf War. On Friday he signed a preferential trade agreement with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, a first with a Gulf Arab state since the Gulf War. Bahrain and Libya are taking part for the first time since 1991. Syria, whose relations with Baghdad were cut for 17 years until 1997 when trade contacts resumed, sent its minister of economy and foreign trade, Mohammed Imadi. Jordan, Iraq's biggest trade partner, sent Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Mohammad Batayneh, who said Baghdad had agreed to supply his country with 5.5 million tons of crude oil and petroleum products. Amman has a special arrangement with Baghdad that is exempt from the UN sanctions. Jordan imports around 100,000 barrels per day of Iraqi crude in exchange for goods. Ministers from Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Pakistan were also attending the fair. http://www.earthtimes.org/nov/terrorismiraqaquietnov6_01.htm * IRAQ: A QUIET TIME DURING ANOTHER MIDDLE EAST WAR by Jay Newton-Small Earth Times, 6th November Despite Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's warnings last week that the war in Afghanistan would spread to other countries in the Middle East, life for most United Nations agencies in Iraq is unchanged. UN day, on October 24, was celebrated in the UN Development Program (UNDP) garden in Baghdad, like most other UN offices around the world: with children's songs and speeches from local officials and expatriate UN staff. "We are here tonight to celebrate, once again the work of the Organization, which for 56 years has been striving to alleviate the sufferings of people in the hope of a better world, an organization present in every part of the world whether at peace or at war," said Francis Dubois, UNDP Resident Representative in Iraq. "The United Nations family is at task; we are all working, hand in hand with government counterparts, to improve the situation in the Land of the Two Rivers. I am sure that I speak on behalf of all my colleagues when I say: we are all committed to do our utmost in that respect, and we all hope that together we shall succeed." Children from the Baghdad International School then sang the "Song of Peace," in English, French, and Arabic. While Iraq has so far stayed out of the fray in Afghanistan, and says that all of its deadliest weapons have been destroyed by almost 11 years of sporadic US and British bombing, Iraq is one of three countries in the world that is capable of producing the quality of anthrax that has been infiltrating the US postal system. Just three days after UN day, on October 27, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz told Britain Daily Telegraph in a Baghdad interview that the US and Britain would use the excuse of the War against Terrorism to oust Hussein. "We know they are preparing for such an attack," Aziz said. "We are watching what is being said and what is being done in the United States and Britain and we know that it is just a matter of time before such an attack." Such matters are watched anxiously by the UN and the recipients of their aide programs. One such person is Hawra Adel, the first woman to own a shop in the Iraqi city of Hilla. She received a grant for 1.5 million Iraqi Dinars (about USD$750.00), and with her degree in Computer Science opened a computer services and stationary store. She has now repaid about 30 percent of the loan, and owns two computers, a fax, a photocopying machine, a scanner, and a spiral binding machine. She earns between 50,000 and 200,000 Iraqi Dinars a month (about USD$25 to USD$100), which helps feed her family of six. "The shop has become a sustainable source of income for us," she said. "My family has been so supportive, without them I could not have done it." She has also become something of a leading woman in her community, about 100 kilometers from Baghdad. After she started her store in 1999, two other women have begun working in shops in her town, and college girls go to her for academic advice. But while small achievements such as Aziz's store, only one of 546 across Iraq, become more common in daily life, Iraqi is still a country living under sanctions and the threat of political instability or even fresh bombings. The sanctions will not end until Hussein allows weapons inspectors back into the country. At the same time Iraq has said that inspections will not be allowed until the sanctions end. And, although Hussein has not directly involved Iraq in the War Against Terrorism, the Czech Republic confirmed earlier this month that one of the September 11 bombers had met an Iraq agent in Prague just before the agent was expelled from Prague for activities in disagreement with his diplomatic status. The agent had worked at the Iraqi embassy in Prague. Just last week Hussein issued a letter of warning to the US and Western governments. In it he called US and British bombing and military action in Afghanistan a spark that could "set the world on fire." "The world now needs to abort the US aggressive schemes, including its aggression on the Afghan people, which must stop," he said. In the mean time Aziz's brother, who like Hawra is disabled, is trying to finish his Bachelors degree in Computer Science and follow in his sister's footsteps. He hopes to apply for a UN loan once he's graduated and start another store, a kind of family chain, unless of course, there is a war. http://www.thescotsman.co.uk/world.cfm?id=121669&keyword=the * SADDAMıS SON TARGETED IN ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION by Tim Cornwell The Scotsman (with material from Reuters), 7th November SADDAM Husseinıs younger son and likely successor was the target of an assassination attempt inside the presidential palace in Baghdad, an Iraqi opposition leader claimed yesterday. Two officers in Iraqıs special security intelligence unit tried - and failed - to kill the Iraqi leaderıs younger son Qusay last month, according to Hamid al-Bayati, of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Major Kamel Abbas Hadidi and Lieutenant-Colonel Hussein al-Dowri were executed on October 19 after their plan failed, he claimed. While Mr Bayati lives in London, his group is based in, and backed by Iran. A degree of mystery surrounded the story yesterday. Other opposition groups claimed it was highly exaggerated. But if nothing else the story was a mark of Qusayıs rising prominence in a family that is no stranger to assassination attempts. The two men, according to Mr Bayati, "wanted to crash their car into his to stop the car and then shoot him afterwards but [Qusay] noticed they were speeding up and he changed direction. They were caught and executed." Mr Bayati said SCIRI, a Shiıite Muslim group that has close ties to the Islamic leaders of Iran, had learned of the assassination attempt through its "very good sources" in Iraq. But one reputable Iraqi opposition group, which asked not to be named, said Mr Bayati was an unreliable source and the story was only "20 per cent true". Instead a new officer at the palace, they said, had moved his car at the same time as Qusayıs - violating strict security rules that no other vehicle could be in motion when Qusayıs car was moving. He was immediately arrested and questioned - but not executed. The Iraqi newspaper Babil, which is owned by Saddamıs eldest son, Uday, yesterday published a news agency report of the execution and assassination attempt under a headline of a question mark and two exclamation points. Saddam has steadily promoted Qusay within the ranks of the Iraqi military and ruling Baath party. He heads the armyıs élite Republican Guard. His rise is often dated back to 1996, when Uday was badly injured in an apparent assassination attempt, left with wounds that are being treated to this day. Sources describe it as an revenge attack on Uday by a member of the Iraqi army whose daughter he had raped. Uday was left with more than a dozen wounds in his legs and groin - the clear mark of an attempted punishment shooting. [.....] http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=31934 * IRAQ DISCOVERS MAJOR GASFIELD Gulf News (Reuters), 9th November A large gasfield has been discovered in Iraq's western desert near the border with Syria, a local newspaper said yesterday. The weekly Al-Zawra newspaper quoted an Iraqi oil ministry official as saying the gas reserve in the field was more than 60 billion cubic meters. The paper, which is run by President Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday, said the field is situated in the Akkas region near the Syrian border. It quoted the official as saying the discovery had increased the possibility of finding more gas fields in that area. "Staff of the Iraqi Oil Exploration Company are combing the area to unleash more fields in the region," the official added. According to 1997 figures, Iraq has a proven gas reserve of 3,000 billion cubic meters. Zawra said Baghdad was planning to set up a network of gas pipelines to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey in order to sell gas to the rest of the world. Iraq and Turkey signed in 1997 a preliminary deal to build a gas pipeline between them with annual capacity of 10 billion cubic metres. The pact was concluded in Turkey. Iraq supplies Jordan with its gas and crude oil requirements, an exemption from the U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The U.N. sanctions bar the country from investment in the oil sector. But the U.N. has allowed Baghdad to sell unlimited quantities of oil to buy food, medicine and other needs for the Iraqi people. Domestic demand for the gas, to run power stations and for household use have increased over the last years. Iraqis also use gas for domestic cooking and heating. Since the 1991 Gulf War, gross gas production has recovered steadily but remains well below the levels of the late 1980s. IRAQI/UN RELATIONS NO URL SUPPLIED * UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS IRAQI PROPOSED RESOLUTION Iraq Daily, 8th November Iraq had scored a strong diplomatic victory when the 1st Committee on disarmament has adopted the Iraqi proposal concerning the effects of using depleted uranium in armament in spite of the strong opposition of the US, Zionist entity and European states. The Resolution was adopted after 49 countries voted with, 45 voted against and 39 abstained. The Arab voice was effective when most Arab States supported the Iraqi proposal, along with the backing of other countries among which Cuba, Indonesia, Malaysia and India. The proposal calls on the Secretary General of the United Nations to survey the points of view of states and specialized organizations about the effects of using depleted uranium in armament from all sides and to report to the 57th Session of the General Assembly. The resolution takes into consideration the facts unveiled about using depleted uranium during the US led military aggressions in several regions of the World, as these ammunitions, when fired, is transformed into ionized particles and chemical dust that is transported to large areas and contaminates the soil, fauna and flora. GENERAL INTEREST http://www.dawn.com/2001/11/08/op.htm#4 * CONTEXTUALIZING AFGHAN WAR by Kaiser Bengali Dawn (Pakistan), 8th November [.....] The war has nothing to do with Islam or Christianity. The US government represents the interests of multinational corporations, whose profit motive drives them to exploit and oppress all the people, regardless of their religion. After all, the US bombed the Christian Serbs to save the Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. It did so because it served their strategic interests. Moreover, the ulema can hardly claim to represent the interests of the Muslims. After all, during the conflict in Afghanistan during 1979-89, the same religious leaders served the US faithfully and caused over 20 lakh Muslim men, women and children to die or be maimed for life. The resort to war by the US and the targeting of Afghanistan is totally unjustified. Not a single hijacker in the September 11 attack was an Afghan. Yet, it is Afghanistan that is being made to pay for the crimes of other nationals. The war is not against terrorism or for the defence of freedom. Rather, it is itself an act of terrorism and it is an aggression against the freedom of the people of countries which happen to own vast natural resources. The objective of netting the terrorists could have been achieved by political means. These were never tried. This is because the achievement of strategic objectives required a war. The US government has no political morality as far as its international conduct is concerned. It does not present a principled opposition to terrorism. It is quite comfortable with terrorism, provided it is directed on its behalf against its opponents. It is only opposed to terrorism if it is directed against itself or against its interests. After all, it is actually guilty of introducing terrorism in our region. If Osama bin Laden is a terrorist today, he was also a terrorist in the 1980s as an ally of the US. If Mulla Omar is guilty of harbouring him, Ronald Reagan was guilty of sponsoring him. Both stand condemned in equal measure. The US is also quite comfortable with religious fundamentalism if it serves its interests. Had the Taliban played according to the rules set down by the US, they would not have been faulted to the point of vicious bombardment. After all, social and political conditions in Saudi Arabia are only marginally better. Yet, they have never stirred the conscience of the US government. But then, the Saudi regime agrees to play by US rules. US objectives are far more strategic than elimination of terrorism. Ten years ago, the US assembled an international coalition to attack Iraq and forced it out of Kuwait. However, the bombing of Iraq continues as a periodic routine on the grounds that Saddam Hussein is still a danger. US electronic intelligence is sophisticated enough to know which palace and which bedroom Saddam Hussein is sleeping on any particular night. It would take just a click of a mouse to exterminate him. Yet, he lives on; because a live Saddam is a threat to the monarchist regimes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf and they continue to need US military protection - for a price, of course. Needless to say, the price is continued flow of oil to the West at prices determined by the buyers! In a similar vein, the bombardment of Afghanistan can also go on for another 10 years. The attack on Afghanistan is a repeat of the Gulf War and the Balkan wars in terms of its objectives. The placement of US troops in the Gulf since 1991 has secured oil supplies for the present. And the fragmentation of Yugoslavia has enabled the US to secure a corridor for a projected oil pipeline for the future. The thousands of lives lost was acceptable collateral damage for the US. Likewise, the assault on Afghanistan has enabled the US to force Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to grant it military facilities, if not bases. The war is intended to secure a corridor for a projected oil pipeline for the future. The bases will also be crucial in the future confrontation with the emerging superpower - China. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan are merely intermediate inputs towards achieving US policy output. The economic sovereignty and political independence of our entire region is at stake. The fragmentation of Afghanistan - a la Yugoslavia - is a real danger and will cause havoc for the entire region, including India. That will merely be acceptable collateral damage for the US; for us, it will be our lives and our future. [.....] Democracy in Pakistan would never have led to the situation that has arisen in Afghanistan. The vast majority of the people of Pakistan have never countenanced religious bigotry. Unlike India, the Pakistani electorate deserves to be credited with the fact that, in all the elections that have been held since 1970 to date, the religious political parties have never been given more than eight per cent of the vote. A democratic government in the 1980's would never have found it in its interest to mobilize the most retrogressive elements on behalf of the US to fight in Afghanistan. And an effectively democratic government in the 1990s would never have promoted an 11th century minded force like the Taliban. Even today, an effective democratic government - unencumbered by intelligence agencies - would ensure that the Taliban government is denied official funding, arms and other support and that the madrassahs - the fountainhead of Taliban support - are denied official patronage and support. But a democratic government would not be amenable to US needs for taking care of its dirty laundry in the region. The US needs monarchist and military regimes in the region and cannot be expected to support democratic movements. The second reason for opposing the US war in Afghanistan is its fallout on Pakistan. The war has already strained the socio-political fabric of the country. The Bahawalpur massacre is merely an opening move in the unravelling of the social and political entente. The removal of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is an objective of all liberal, progressive Afghans and of the free world. However, whether the current move and the method to dislodge them is advisable is a moot point. Whenever there is foreign aggression, moderates within a government and opponents outside it lose their political ground and have to line up behind the hard-liners. This is precisely what happened in the US in the aftermath of September 11. This is precisely what the US bombing of Afghanistan is doing and will do in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. The goal of effectively removing the Taliban has become all the more remote. It is also pertinent to ask who and what will replace the Taliban? Two decades of ravages that Afghanistan has suffered at the hands of the Soviet army, the American CIA, and the Pakistani ISI has torn their political fabric apart. Post-Taliban Afghanistan will fracture into different regions under the control of different warlords, leading to a repeat of the 1989-96 situation; with one very significant difference. This time one of the elements in the new civil war will be the Taliban. Pushed out of Kabul and the cities, they will retreat to the mountains of Afghanistan and the mosques and madrassahs of Pakistan. They will wage their war in Afghanistan along with an attempt to gain a political and military foothold in Pakistan. Unlike during 1979-89, Pakistan will become part of the active war zone. The battle for the re-Talibanization of Afghanistan will also become the battle for Talibanization of Pakistan. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=103976 * SHAMEFUL AFFAIR THAT EXPOSED A SECRET WORLD by Chris Blackhurst Independent, 9th November Exactly nine years ago today, on 9 November 1992, the trial collapsed at the Old Bailey of three businessmen charged with breaking embargoes on the export of arms to Iraq. The defendants, Paul Henderson, Peter Allen and Trevor Abraham from a hitherto obscure machine tool company, Matrix Churchill, walked free after a government minister, Alan Clark, admitted in the witness box that he had given a "nod and a wink" to their trades. So began a political storm that ran and ran. It all seems such a long time ago, belonging to a bygone age, a different political landscape, populated by characters such as Mr Clark, William Waldegrave, Geoffrey Howe, John Major and of course, Margaret Thatcher. The following day, Mr Major, who was Prime Minister, announced the setting up of the arms to Iraq inquiry, headed by Sir Richard Scott. Three years later, after receiving evidence from more than 200 witnesses and studying 200,000 pages of written material, Sir Richard published his report. It was a sensation, revealing the workings of Whitehall in a way they had never been disclosed before, exposing the lengths to which ministers and civil servants would go to cover their backs, highlighting the inability of one side of government to communicate with the other, reinforcing the impression gained from the television comedy series Yes Minister that what politicians say in public is often different from what is said in private. And then, nothing. The politicians, who for a period, seemed touched by scandal, brushed aside the criticism and carried on as if nothing had happened at least, in the case of the Tory ministers, until the 1997 election defeat. The civil servants, thanks in the main to astute lobbying from their union and senior Whitehall colleagues determined they did not suffer while their ministerial masters walked away unscathed, were able to continue their careers. Assurances were given that from now on, Customs would talk to the security services and vice versa, that publicly declared sanctions would be obeyed, that foreign policy would not be changed on the hoof in secret without informing Parliament and promptly forgotten. For some people, though, the arms to Iraq saga left a permanent wound. Finally, at last, some of them are getting a degree of recompense. Mr Henderson, the boss of Matrix Churchill, had to watch as his company, tainted by scandal, went to the wall. No matter that Mr Henderson argued the Government and MI6 knew what he was doing and actively encouraged him to supply his products which had a dual, civilian and military use, to Iraq. Guidelines banning the export of weapons to Iran and Iraq, who fought a bitter eight-year war, had been relaxed in Iraq's favour. Hard to imagine now but, of the pair, Iraq had been regarded by the Foreign Office as a potential friend of sorts. Iran had imposed the fatwa on Salman Rushdie and was seen as more extreme than its rival. Not for nothing did Mr Henderson's MI6 handler, "John Balsom", refer to him as "a very brave man" in court. Mr Henderson always claimed he was approached by MI6 to supply it with information about Iraq's weapons programme. At the time, Matrix Churchill was owned by the Iraqis so Mr Henderson was being asked to spy on his bosses and, on his frequent visits to Baghdad, to keep his eyes and ears open. It was a remarkably risky exercise anyone suspected of spying in Iraq faced death (Farzad Bazoft, a journalist for The Observer, was hanged for espionage in 1990). Yet, bizarrely, Mr Henderson faced prosecution, not in Iraq, but in Britain, after Customs raided his premises. Matrix Churchill was not alone. It was a mad, frenetic period. Customs had taken upon itself to launch a single-department assault against what it perceived as Iraqi sanctions busting. Shortly before Customs swooped on Mr Henderson's factory in June 1990, officers had seized pipes at Teesport, which they claimed were heading to Iraq for use in a "supergun" project. Proving other branches of the Government knew what he was doing and even condoned it (not just MI6, the Department of Trade and Industry signed export licences knowing the machine tools were to be used to make fuses for shells) was an uphill task, not helped by the obfuscation of politicians. Four ministers signed public interest immunity certificates to block vital defence evidence from being submitted to the trial. It was a shameful episode and one that was fully deserving of political and media approbation. But the condemnation had no lasting effect and was forgotten. Mr Henderson was left to pick up the pieces. Only now, is he on the point of receiving any compensation. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.