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News, 17-24/11/01 (2)

News, 17-24/11/01 (2)


*  Navy Searching for Sailors, Iraqis
*  2 US Sailors, 3 Iraqis Presumed Dead [Sinking of unseaworthy vessel, oil
slick in Gulf, predictable consequences of the embargo]
*  Iraq accuses US navy of sinking ship in Gulf [Iraqi view of the story]
*  Malaysian oil tanker seized for violating UN sanctions
*  A Hard Look at Iraq Sanctions [An apparently objective, even-handed
account which ends up with a rose-tinted spectacle view of Oil for Food and
Smart Sanctions. Some sensible suggestions for improving smart sanctions
which in themselves, by the fact they¹re not already agreed, make up a quite
severe critique: Œpermitting foreign investment in Iraq, eliminating
restrictions on non-oil exports, and providing cash for the purchase of food
and other goods from local producers rather than foreign suppliers¹.


*  Saudi suspicions [General account of Saudi/US relations. Nothing we
haven¹t seen before. I¹ve just given extracts relating to Iraq]
*  Gulf war fresh in its mind, Kuwait keeps eye on Iraq [Account of life on
the Kuwaiti side of the Iraq/Kuwaiti border]
*  Two Iraqis sentenced to death in Jordan
*  U.S. troop buildup in Kuwait sends signal to Iraq
*  Iraq Says It Foiled 'Terrorist' Attack in Baghdad


*  Ottawa individuals, businesses believed to have terrorist links to Iraq
[This is about the anti-Iranian Mujaheedin Khalq and some of its members
operating in Canada. But should the US decide (and it has been suggested) to
expand the war against terrorism to Iran, surely the Mujaheedin Khalq (who
are to Iran what the INC can¹t quite bring itself to be to Iraq) will turn
into Freedom Fighters.]
*  Russian Ural plant builds 60 big tractors for Iraq


*  Iraqi Opposition Rejects Money Offer [Difficulties of establishing
terrorist cells in Iraq without money from the US government]


*  Major-general Miguel Angel Moreno Appointed Force Commander In United
Nations Iraq Kuwait Observation Mission
*  UN doles out Gulf War reparations
*  Revenue for U.N. Iraq Plan Plummets
*  Iraq to consider return of weapons monitoring


*  U.S. says Iraq, N. Korea have biological weapons [Conference on the
proposed Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention. Sabotaged by US desire to
protect its pharmaceutical industry from prying eyes. The US is now
proposing among other things international rules to combat biological
weapons production by Œmaking it easy for those accused in another country
to be extradited¹. Extradited where, we wonder.
*  Arms Experts Say Anthrax Attacks a Wake-Up Call [Argument that EVERYONE,
including the US and Israel, should be subject to inspection. This is the
argument that should be at the centre of the debate, if it can be called
that, over weapons inspections and Iraq]
*  Iraq Rebuts U.S. Claims on Violating Germ Arms Ban [Hypocrisy of US
accusations that Iraq has biological weapons]
*  US will use Iraq arms threat as pretext for attack ­ Baghdad [Similar to
previous but with different emphasis and details]


*  Former Iraqi envoy denies rift with Saddam
*  Hussein invites Iraqis for Ramadan [To his palaces. You see, he¹s not
really such a bad guy after all]


*  Kurds 'caught in the crossfire' [Uneasiness over position of Kurds in the
event of an attack on Iraq]


*  Return of the H-Block [Well written polemic against the new terrorist
legislation. Begins by evoking the case of Iraq students rounded up at the
outbreak of the Jihad against Iraq]


Las Vegas Sun, 18th November

MANAMA, Bahrain- Navy helicopters searched Monday for two U.S. sailors and
three Iraqi crew missing after a run-down tanker stopped by a U.S. destroyer
sank in the northern Persian Gulf.

U.S. sailors had boarded the Samra, a United Arab Emirates-flagged ship,
because it was believed to be smuggling Iraqi oil in violation of
international sanctions. It sank shortly afterward before dawn Sunday.

The Navy rescued six U.S. sailors and 10 Iraqi crew members on Sunday and
recovered the body of one Iraqi sailor.

Lt. Melissa Schuermann, spokeswoman for the U.S. Naval Forces Central
Command in Bahrain, said the tanker was in "overall poor condition" and
"grossly overweighted."

It was not clear whether oil was leaking from the sunken tanker.

In Washington, a Pentagon official identified the missing Americans as Petty
Officer 1st Class Vincent Parker, 38, of Preston, Miss., and Petty Officer
3rd Class Benjamin Johnson, 21, of Rochester, N.Y. The official spoke on
condition of anonymity.

The U.S. sailors had boarded the tanker from the USS Peterson, a destroyer
based in Norfolk, Va.

Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, told CNN there
was no reason to believe the sinking was "a hostile incident of any kind."
It may have been weather-related or due to overloading, she said.

The Navy said the tanker was carrying an estimated 1,900 tons of Iraqi oil.

This year, the U.S.-led Maritime Interception Force has boarded hundreds of
ships and diverted 99 vessels while enforcing U.N. sanctions. The sanctions
imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait prohibit Iraq from exporting
oil without U.N. approval.

The search was being conducted with the help of helicopters from the
Peterson, the USS Ingram and the USS Leyte Gulf. An Australian frigate, the
HMAS Sydney, also was helping in the search.

Las Vegas Sun, 20th November


The 40-year-old ship "should have been scrapped a long time ago," said
Captain Abdul Munem al-Janahi of the Bahrain-based Marine Emergency Mutual
Aid Center. The single deck general cargo ship was not designed to carry
oil, he said.


Meanwhile, strong winds hampered efforts Wednesday to stop the sunken cargo
ship from leaking oil, al-Janahi said.

"We have spotted oil patches, but it's very difficult to determine how big
they are, or conduct any operations to control the leaks," he said. "We will
have to wait until the weather calms down."

The Samra was lying at the bottom of the sea, some 40 yards down.


New Zealand Herald, 23rd November

BAGHDAD (Reuters): Iraq has condemned what it calls "piracy" by the US navy
in the Gulf which it says was to blame for the sinking of an overloaded

The ship sank on November 11 after being boarded by a US team enforcing UN
sanctions. The Pentagon said it believed the tanker was smuggling 1700
metric tonnes of Iraqi oil.

"The US pirates caused the ship Samra to sink... after seizing it off the
Iranian oil field of Nawruz in a very bad weather, a matter which
contravenes recognised navigation rules," an Iraqi Foreign Ministry
spokesman said.

"After forcing it to stop, the ship and its 11-member crew were put under
control of two heavily armed soldiers in bad weather conditions," the
spokesman said.

"Strong wind and high waves caused the ship to sink after the destruction of
its body due to pressure of the wind and waves against it," he said.

The spokesman did not give details of the cargo being carried by the Samra,
which was flying the flag of the United Arab Emirates, but said the ship was
carrying different goods and commodities.

The UAE said the 1734 tonne Samra was flying its flag illegally and the ship
was actually registered in Panama.

The spokesman held the United States responsible for "hostile conduct by its
troops in the Gulf which caused the death of innocent people while doing
peaceful trade, which does not violate peace in the region or threaten
navigation in the Gulf".

He urged the United Nations to protect freedom of navigation in the
territorial and regional waters in the Arabian Gulf.

Condoleezza Rice, US national security adviser, had said the sinking may
have been caused by bad weather. A US Navy spokesman had said there was no
indication of violence before the sinking and no shots had been fired.

Another US Navy spokesman said on Wednesday that US forces in the Gulf found
on Tuesday the body of an Iraqi who was among five people missing since the
sinking of the tanker.

The remaining four missing seamen are now presumed dead. Two Americans
aboard the Samra when it sank were part of an eight-member boarding party
from the USS Peterson. Three Iraqis were among the Samra's 14-member crew.

The Pentagon said the Navy rescued 10 Iraqi crew members and recovered the
body of another Iraqi.

The Star (Malaysia), 18th November

KUWAIT CITY (AFP): Kuwait¹s coast guard has seized a Malaysian oil tanker
carrying 1,500 tonnes of Iraqi oil in violation of the UN embargo imposed on
Baghdad for invading the emirate in 1990, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Sources told Al-Anba that the Malaysian-flagged ship, which is owned by an
Iraqi identified as Ahmad Ali al-Shaikh, was smuggling the oil to Malaysia.

The tanker¹s crew of eight Iraqis and five Indians were arrested and the
ship towed to Shuwaikh Port near here.

Kuwait last year seized more than 20 vessels and small tankers carrying oil
and goods from Iraq to the Gulf Arab monarchies.

The ships and contents are normally sold at auction. Crew members, mostly
from the Indian subcontinent, are detained and fined before being deported
to their home countries.

Under the embargo, Baghdad is authorised to export crude only under strict
UN control to buy food, medicine and other essential goods.

<> >

by David Cortright
The Nation, 3rd december (sic)

The humanitarian disaster resulting from sanctions against Iraq has been
frequently cited as a factor that motivated the September 11 terrorist
attacks. Osama bin Laden himself mentioned the Iraq sanctions in a recent
tirade against the United States. Critics of US policy in Iraq claim that
sanctions have killed more than a million people, many of them children.
Saddam Hussein puts the death toll at one and a half million. The actual
numbers are lower than that, although still horrifying.

Changing American policy in Iraq is an urgent priority, both for
humanitarian reasons and as a means of addressing an intensely felt
political grievance against the United States. An opportunity for such a
change may come soon, as the UN Security Council considers a "smart
sanctions" plan to ease civilian sanctions. As we work to change US policy
and relieve the pain of the Iraqi people, it is important that we use
accurate figures and acknowledge the shifting pattern of responsibility for
the continuing crisis.

The grim question of how many people have died in Iraq has sparked heated
debate over the years. The controversy dates from 1995, when researchers
with a Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) study in Iraq wrote to The
Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Society, asserting that sanctions
were responsible for the deaths of 567,000 Iraqi children. The New York
Times picked up the story and declared "Iraq Sanctions Kill Children." CBS
followed up with a segment on 60 Minutes that repeated the numbers and
depicted sanctions as a murderous assault on children. This was the program
in which UN ambassador (and later Secretary of State) Madeleine Albright,
when asked about these numbers, coldly stated, "The price is worth it."

Albright's comments were shocking, as were the numbers, but doubts were soon
raised about their validity. A January 1996 letter to The Lancet found
inconsistencies in the mortality figures. A follow-up study in 1996, using
the same methodology, found much lower rates of child mortality. In October
1997 the authors of the initial letter wrote again to The Lancet, this time
reporting that mortality rates in the follow-up study were "several-fold
lower than the estimate for 1995--for unknown reasons." While the initial
report of more than 567,000 deaths attracted major news coverage, the
subsequent disavowal of those numbers passed unnoticed in the press.

The two most reliable scientific studies on sanctions in Iraq are the 1999
report "Morbidity and Mortality Among Iraqi Children," by Columbia
University's Richard Garfield, and "Sanctions and Childhood Mortality in
Iraq," a May 2000 article by Mohamed Ali and Iqbal Shah in The Lancet.
Garfield, an expert on the public-health impact of sanctions, conducted a
comparative analysis of the more than two dozen major studies that have
analyzed malnutrition and mortality figures in Iraq during the past decade.
He estimated the most likely number of excess deaths among children under
five years of age from 1990 through March 1998 to be 227,000. Garfield's
analysis showed child mortality rates double those of the previous decade.

Ali, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and
Shah, an analyst for the World Health Organization in Geneva, conducted a
demographic survey for UNICEF in cooperation with the government of Iraq. In
early 1999 their study surveyed 40,000 households in south-central Iraq and
in the northern Kurdish zone. In south-central Iraq, child mortality rates
rose from 56 per 1,000 births for the period 1984-89 to 131 per 1,000 for
the period 1994-99. In the autonomous Kurdish region in the north, Ali and
Shah found that child mortality rates actually fell during the same period,
from 80 per 1,000 births to 72 per 1,000.

Garfield has recently recalculated his numbers, based on the additional
findings of the Ali and Shah study, to arrive at an estimate of
approximately 350,000 through 2000. Most of these deaths are associated with
sanctions, according to Garfield, but some are also attributable to
destruction caused by the Gulf War air campaign, which dropped 90,000 tons
of bombs in forty-three days, a far more intensive attack than the current
strikes against Afghanistan. The bombing devastated Iraq's civilian
infrastructure, destroying eighteen of twenty electricity-generating plants
and disabling vital water-pumping and sanitation systems. Untreated sewage
flowed into rivers used for drinking water, resulting in a rapid spread of
infectious disease. Comprehensive trade sanctions compounded the effects of
the war, making it difficult to rebuild, and adding new horrors of hunger
and malnutrition.

Sanctions opponents place the blame for Iraq's increased deaths squarely on
the United States and the continuing UN sanctions. Certainly the United
States bears primary responsibility for the war and unrelenting sanctions.
Washington has pursued a punitive policy that has victimized the people of
Iraq in the name of isolating Saddam Hussein. The United States has
continued to bomb Iraq over the years, and if some in Washington get their
way, it will soon launch new military attacks in the name of antiterrorism.

The government of Iraq also bears considerable responsibility for the
humanitarian crisis, however. Sanctions could have been suspended years ago
if Baghdad had been more cooperative with UN weapons inspectors. The
progress toward disarmament that was achieved came despite Iraq's constant
falsifications and obstruction.

Also significant has been Iraq's denial and disruption of the oil-for-food
humanitarian program. UN officials proposed the relief effort in 1991 when
evidence was first reported of rising disease and malnutrition. The idea was
to permit limited oil sales, with the revenues deposited in a UN-controlled
account, for the purchase of approved food and medical supplies. Baghdad
flatly rejected the proposal as a violation of sovereignty. Concern about
worsening humanitarian conditions led the Security Council to develop a new
oil-for-food plan in 1995. It increased the level of permitted oil sales and
gave responsibility for relief distribution in the south-central part of the
country to the Iraqi government. Again Iraq rejected the program, but after
further negotiations, Baghdad finally consented in 1996, and the first
deliveries of food and medicine arrived in 1997.

The oil-for-food program was never intended to be, and did not provide, the
needed economic stimulus that alone could end the crisis in Iraq. But it was
a bona fide effort by the Security Council to relieve humanitarian
suffering. If the government of Iraq had accepted the program when it was
first proposed, much of the suffering that occurred in the intervening years
could have been avoided.

The Security Council has steadily expanded the oil-for-food program. In 1998
it raised the limits on permitted oil sales, and in 1999 it removed the
ceiling altogether. Production has risen to approximately 2.6 million
barrels per day, levels approaching those before the Gulf War. Oil revenues
during the last six months of 2000 reached nearly $10 billion. This is
hardly what one would call an oil embargo. Oil exports are regulated, not
prohibited. Funds are still controlled through the UN escrow account, with a
nearly 30 percent deduction for war reparations and UN costs, but Baghdad
has more than sufficient money to address continuing humanitarian needs.
Said Secretary General Kofi Annan in his latest report, "With the improved
funding level for the programme, the Government of Iraq is indeed in a
position to address the nutritional and health concerns of the Iraqi

Not only are additional revenues available, but the categories for which
funds can be expended have been broadened to include oil production, power
generation, water and sanitation, agriculture, transportation and
telecommunications. The program is no longer simply an oil-for-food effort.
The emphasis has shifted from simple humanitarian relief to broader economic
assistance and the rebuilding of infrastructure.

Despite these improvements, Baghdad has continued to obstruct and undermine
the aid program. Iraq has periodically halted oil sales as a way of
protesting sanctions. During the first half of 2001, oil sales were
approximately $4 billion less than in the previous 180-day period. According
to Annan, the oil-for-food program "suffered considerably because...oil
exports...[have] been reduced or totally suspended by the government of
Iraq." In June and July 2001, as the Security Council considered a new
"smart sanctions" plan, Iraq again withheld oil exports to register its
disapproval of the proposal. The result was a further loss of oil revenues
and a reduction of the funds available for humanitarian needs.

The differential between child mortality rates in northern Iraq, where the
UN manages the relief program, and in the south-center, where Saddam Hussein
is in charge, says a great deal about relative responsibility for the
continued crisis. As noted, child mortality rates have declined in the north
but have more than doubled in the south-center. The difference is especially
significant given the historical pattern prior to the Gulf War. In the 1970s
child mortality rates in the northern Kurdish region were more than double
those in the rest of the country. Today the situation is reversed, with
child mortality rates in the south-center nearly double those in the north.
The Kurdish zone has enjoyed a favored status in the relief program, with
per capita allocations 22 percent higher than in the south-center. The
region contains most of the country's rain-fed agriculture. Local
authorities have welcomed the continuing efforts of private relief agencies,
and have permitted a lively cross-border trade with surrounding countries.
But these differences alone do not explain the stark contrast in mortality
rates. The tens of thousands of excess deaths in the south-center, compared
to the similarly sanctioned but UN-administered north, are also the result
of Baghdad's failure to accept and properly manage the UN humanitarian
relief effort.

Despite the evidence of Baghdad's shared responsibility for the ongoing
crisis, sanctions opponents have continued to direct their ire exclusively
at the United States and Britain. To parry this criticism, and to further
expand relief efforts, Washington and London have developed a
smart-sanctions plan to lift most restrictions on civilian imports, while
retaining a tightly enforced arms embargo. Under the US/British plan,
civilian imports would be permitted to flow freely into Iraq. Weapons and
military-related goods would continue to be prohibited, and dual-use items
would be subject to review. Oil revenues would still flow through the UN
escrow account, but there would be no limits on the volume or range of
civilian goods that could be purchased with these funds. While not a formal
lifting of sanctions, the proposed restructuring plan would further remove
restrictions on the civilian economy and provide additional relief for the
Iraqi people. Most governments have supported the plan, and fourteen of the
fifteen members of the Security Council were prepared to vote in favor when
it was considered in July. Russia balked at the proposal, however, primarily
out of economic self-interest, with Baghdad promising lucrative contracts to
Russian oil companies in exchange for Moscow's support for a complete
lifting of the sanctions. The plan was shelved, but it is expected to come
up again at the Security Council in December.

Many peace and religious groups opposed the smart-sanctions plan when it was
proposed. Some condemned the proposal even before the details were
announced, flatly asserting that smart sanctions kill children. A more
effective response would be to highlight the shortcomings of the plan and
urge further steps toward the easing of civilian sanctions. Such steps would
include permitting foreign investment in Iraq, eliminating restrictions on
non-oil exports, and providing cash for the purchase of food and other goods
from local producers rather than foreign suppliers. It is also important,
peace and human rights groups surely would agree, to maintain military
sanctions until Iraq complies fully with the UN disarmament mandate and
permits a final round of weapons inspection.

We can and must do more to help the Iraqi people. The more credible we are,
the more effective we will be.


by Roula Khalaf
Financial Times, 15th November


President George W. Bush's administration and the Saudi leadership got off
to a bad start. Officials close to both sides say Saudi Arabia banned US
bombers from taking off from its territory after February's military strike
against Iraq.


Some US analysts say public criticism of the Saudis has been fomented by
hawks in the administration who want to discredit Saudi Arabia to prevent it
standing in the way of future US action against Iraq. "It is beginning to
dawn on some people who want phase two that the Saudis won't be a strong
ally," says one US foreign policy specialist.


An alternative would be a return to a more comfortable relationship similar
to that before the Gulf war. The US would retain naval access to the kingdom
but remove the 5,000 troops who have caused tensions with militant clerics.
The main obstacle to such an accommodation is Saddam Hussein and the fear
that he would again threaten his neighbours. "It is in America's interest,
and that of our friends," says an analyst. "But we and the Saudis are not
sure that it's a step to take while Saddam Hussein is still in Baghdad."

The solution of some US hawks would be to topple Mr Saddam first. An
alternative would be a Saudi reconciliation with Baghdad. For now, the
Al-Sauds remain mistrustful of Mr Saddam. He has sent envoys to Riyadh who
were heard by Saudi officials but not received by Crown Prince Abdullah.


by Bill Glauber
Baltimore Sun, 18th November

ABDALY, Kuwait - Wind, sand and swarms of flies keep company with a Kuwaiti
border guard named Khaled, who between sips of tea lifts a metal gate when
United Nations four wheel-drive vehicles pass on a road that cuts to the
heart of a cold peace.

Dressed in dark shades and a khaki uniform, with a pistol wedged in a
shoulder holster, he looks north across the desert and a demilitarized zone
that separates Kuwait from Iraq. Khaled points to a tiny flame - it's an oil
refinery inside Iraq. He points to a crossroad in the distance - also in

"They are no problem for us," he says. "My friends, the Americans, are

But like many in Kuwait, Khaled wonders about the future, wonders about the
Americans, who have a few thousand troops stationed inside Kuwait, and of
Iraq, which is still ruled by Saddam Hussein.

While much of the rest of the world focuses on the United States' war
against global terrorism in Afghanistan, people in Kuwait keep their eyes on
their neighbor.

For Kuwait, the gulf war is not some distant memory - it is a part of modern
history, a swirl of invasion and liberation, rolling tanks and burning oil
wells, fear of Iraq and appreciation of the U.S.-led coalition.

Hussein and his troops may be out of sight, but they are not out of mind in
a country where war memories and mementos are never far away.

Artifacts from the 1990 Iraqi invasion can be seen while riding through a
Kuwait City neighborhood, coming upon an old Iraqi T-55 tank, rusting on a
slab of concrete placed in front of burned-out cars and a ruined home
preserved as a "martyrs museum."

They can be found, too, in the shimmering marble lobby of the Sheraton
Hotel. Near the elevator are pictures of what the hotel looked like after
the gulf war - the hotel's facade was scorched, the lobby charred.

Old passions are kept alive inside the country's National Center for
Prisoners of War, an ornate marble hall with a prayer mat in one corner, POW
pictures on the walls and a gallery of POW photos behind symbolic black

Kuwait contends that 605 prisoners are still unaccounted for from the gulf
war. Iraq maintains that it has no more prisoners.

The standoff leaves many families in a state of limbo as they wait more than
a decade for news from loved ones.

"If they are alive, we need information. If they are dead, we need corpses,"
says Abdul Hameed E. Al-Attar, spokesman for the National Committee for
Missing and Prisoner of War Affairs. His son Jamal, then 24, was jailed by
the Iraqis in September 1990 and hasn't been seen since.

Beyond the personal, there are the political and economic issues, such as
bickering over which country controls a vast oil field that straddles the

Old fears have a way of resurfacing again in the local newspapers, which
provided front page coverage last week about alleged border incidents - a
couple of Iraqis in uniform firing weapons and the explosion of what seemed
to be a single mortar shell.

Before that, it was Iraqi political insider Tariq Aziz roiling local
emotions when he was quoted as claiming that Kuwait was still part of Iraq
and could be taken back with just part of a battalion.

And earlier this year, local sensibilities were easily unsettled by an Iraqi
parliamentary proposal to redesign its flag to include Kuwait as part of the
country's outline.

Add the recent talk by some Washington pundits to expand the war against
terrorism and settle unfinished business in Iraq, and it's no surprise that
Kuwaitis are focused on Iraq.

"I find it far-fetched the way people in the United States talk," says
Abdulla al-Nibari, a liberal legislator in Kuwait's National Assembly. "It
sends shivers, talking as if they want the justification [to attack Iraq].
Although we would very much like to get rid of Saddam Hussein, I don't think
attacking Iraq would do that. It would give him popularity."

Despite the history and rhetoric, the border is an oasis of calm, a
peaceful, if desolate, place in a region scarred by long-simmering hatred.

It's an hour by car to the border from Kuwait City, which spreads like a
phoenix on the gulf, dotted with homes, malls, high-rises and high-speed

A few thousand U.S. troops are based at Camp Doha, a military facility on
the city's northwestern outskirts. The occasional armored personnel carrier
can be seen on the roads.

Urban sprawl gives way to desert past Jahra as the six-lane highway sweeps
past a few camel herds, white tents and flecks of garbage and old tires that
dot the landscape.

Allied warplanes on patrol streak across the blue sky, their noisy engines
heard even while one sits in a car with its air conditioning on full blast.

Few signs of war damage remain, although the twisted steel and scorched
wreckage of an old electrical facility can be seen on the side of the road
next to a rebuilt bottled-water plant.

The Abdaly farming area is the last stretch of inhabited land in the
country. Amid the farms sit chicken-processing plants, enormous buildings
the length of several football fields.

To live here, to be nearly alone with the desert and the chickens, takes a
certain amount of toughness.

One such man is Ghulam Naba, a native of Pakistan who, past noon, emerges
sleepy-eyed from his living quarters to greet visitors. It's not a work day,
but Naba prefers to stay at the plant, where he works in maintenance.

"We work, we sleep, we watch television," Naba says. "We feel safe here. No

A few miles up the road is Kuwait's last border checkpoint, near a U.N. base
in the DMZ. The collection of trailers includes offices and some housing,
even a mosque.

The U.N. Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission was established in 1991. Its
mission includes monitoring the DMZ, deterring border violations and
reporting hostile actions.

UNIKOM is a success, said its commanding officer, Irish Maj. Gen. John A.
Vize, whose two-year appointment concludes this month.

"This is a good, stable mission, well-facilitated by the U.N.,
well-supported, discharging its mandate fully," Vize says during a telephone
interview from his headquarters inside Iraq.

Vize oversees 1,300 troops and civilians from 57 nations who oversee the
DMZ, which stretches 125 miles and extends six miles inside Iraq and three
miles inside Kuwait. He says violations are minimal.

It's virtually a no man's land, other than oil fields and two towns inside

Vize, raised in the lush splendor of rural Ireland, now appreciates the
desert scenery that has blossomed over the past decade as humans have left
the land to nature.

"Initially, you get the idea that it is an empty, uninhabited area," he
says. "But it grows on you. The place is full of wildlife, some magnificent
eagles and falcons."

Meeting with officials from both countries about every six weeks, Vize has
come to understand the concerns of the one-time combatants.

"In Kuwait, I'd have to say they still remember vividly what happened 10
years ago," he says. "Any rhetoric coming out of Baghdad can cause a little
bit of excitement."

Vize says that what bothers the Iraqis are the air patrols by coalition
forces enforcing the southern no-fly zone. They also are concerned about
being under an international embargo.

"They are under sanctions for the last 11 years, and they see no end to it,"
he says.

Without any apparent thaw in relations, it's likely that the mission will
last for years to come.

"Obviously there are a number of obstacles to normalization between the two
countries - prisoners of war, the return of stolen property," he says. "That
is just to mention two of them. There is the question of the oil, both
countries taking oil from the one oil field. After those issues are settled
and [the countries have] the political will to live together, obviously
UNIKOM will stay until then, and perhaps a little bit longer, to ensure that
it is a genuine and sustained peace."

Until then, Kuwait will keep its eyes on its neighbor.

Arabic News, 21st November

The Greater criminal court in Amman had sentenced to death two Iraqis who
killed a Kuwaiti student who was studying at the Philadelphia university in

The Kuwaiti student Majed al-Hazzal ( 30 year old ) was found on September
5th killed inside a tunel in Jarash to the north of Amman and the Jordanian
security accused the victim's two friends of killing him and they are of the
Iraqi nationality: Ali Haidar Khuder al-Yasiri and Ahmad Hamid Majid.

The court's judge said that the two persons will be re-tried when they are

The judge said that al-Yasiri, who is cars trader escaped to Syria by
al-Hazzal's passport after carrying out the killing operation because of
financial differences between them and that the Syrian forces detained
al-Yasiri while Majid is still free.

However, Jordanian security sources said that criminal al-Yasiri admitted
before the Syrian investigators that he and Majid killed al-Hazzal by a
pillow and a blanket before escaping to Damascus and put his body in a
tunnel in Jarash district and that the Jordanian security department asked
the Syrian authorities to hand over to it al-Yasiri.

Houston Chronicle, 21st November

KUWAIT (Reuters) - An extra 2,000 U.S. troops have begun arriving in Kuwait
to take part in desert war games and act as a deterrent to Iraq, officials
said today.

"Their arrival is continuing over the next few days," a U.S. source said.

The United States, which already has around 5,000 troops in the conservative
Gulf Arab state, is preparing for a training exercise code named "Desert

The reinforcements are expected to draw military hardware from stores at the
Americans' Camp Doha on the outskirts of the capital, Kuwait City, and head
to the desert area close to the frontier with Iraq for the manoeuvres.

Officials said the U.S. show of force was a message to Iraq, demonstrating
Washington's readiness to defend Kuwait despite Washington's preoccupation
with its military offensive against the Taliban and the al Qaeda network in

The United States has kept ground troops, warplanes and heavy weapons in
Kuwait since the 1991 Gulf War, when it led an international military
coalition to drive out Iraqi forces which had occupied Kuwait for seven

"Desert Spring" will take place against a backdrop of calls by some U.S.
politicians for action against Iraq as part of Washington's "war against

Arab states have said the U.S.-led strikes in Afghanistan should not be
expanded to embrace targets in the Arab world. Many Arabs already uneasy
about the presence of U.S. forces in the Middle East are bothered by the
bombing of Afghanistan and what is seen to be Washington's partisan support
of Israel and its hardline Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

Although a Western attack on Iraq from bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait
could place the host countries in a very awkward position, Kuwait expressed
its concern this month about shooting incidents along its U.N.-patrolled
border with Iraq.

An Iraqi anti-aircraft round landed in Kuwait on November 11, missing U.S.
and British warplanes enforcing a no-fly zone over southern Iraq, the United
Nations said.

Kuwait also said that two Iraqis in military fatigues allegedly fired
assault rifles across the border.

Kuwaiti and U.S. officials have underlined that the U.S. troop reinforcement
in Kuwait is a defensive deployment and not a signal that Washington is
about to attack Iraq.


Reuters, 24th November

BAGHDAD: Iraq has foiled a "terrorist" attack in a densely populated area of
Baghdad which was about to be carried out by agents of the Iranian
government, the Iraqi News Agency INA reported on Saturday.

"Security police have arrested a group of criminal elements while trying to
carry out a terrorist and sabotage act in a residential area in Baghdad,"
the agency quoted a statement issued by the Iraqi police as saying.

INA gave no further details but blamed Iran for planning the attack.

"Apparatus of the Iranian regime have planned the attack in favor of the
American Administration and the Zionist entity (Israel)," the statement

The statement did not say how many had been arrested but it said they
confessed "criminal acts and the terrorist parties they belong to."

Iraq has in the past blamed Iran, its former foe in a 1980-1988 war, for
several bombings, including a device planted between two buses earlier this
year at a garage in Baghdad that killed two people.

Iran has denied the accusations.


by Aaron Sands
The Ottawa Citizen, 17th November

The deadly tentacles of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein are said to reach into
Ottawa, where several Iranian-born Canadian citizens and two downtown
businesses reputed to have terrorist connections in Iraq continue to operate
under the watch of Canadian intelligence agents.

The Mujahedeen Khalq, a heavily armed Iranian extremist group with military
bases in Iraq, is classified by U.S. and Canadian authorities as a terrorist
organization known to operate in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and
the U.S.

Its alleged covert mission is to raise funds, recruit terrorists and spy on
western targets for Iraq.

Canadian intelligence reports link two downtown Ottawa merchants, along with
a taxi driver and a Bell Canada engineer, to the Mujahedeen Khalq cell in
Ottawa, which is said to consist of more than 100 members.

An RCMP officer with the force's national security division, expanded in the
wake of Sept. 11, says detectives keep a cautious eye on the Mujahedeen
members in Ottawa with regular surveillance of their homes and businesses.

According to disassociated members of the Mujahedeen, several of whom still
live in Ottawa, the dissident group meets weekly at secret locations in the
capital to strategize.

Individuals known to support the Mujahedeen in Ottawa contend that those who
purport to be former members of the Iraq-based group are in fact spies for
the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence -- agents sent to Canada to publicly
discredit the oppressive Iranian regime's largest opposition group.

The U.S. government's designation of the group as a terrorist organization
is condemned by Mujahedeen leaders as part of a political plan to curry
favour with the Iranian government.

Terrorism experts dismiss those claims as propaganda, saying Mujahedeen
members and supporters typically denounce those who criticize the group as
Iranian spies or allies.

The Mujahedeen's stated goal is the violent overthrow of the Iranian
government. Though the group has more than a dozen bases in Iraq, its
leaders have always denied they are either controlled or funded by Saddam
Hussein. The group promotes itself as a viable alternative to the Islamic
Republic of Iran.

Still, annual U.S. reports on global terrorism list the Mujahedeen Khalq,
and its military wing, the National Liberation Army of Iran, as active

Despite the damning allegations by U.S. authorities, the Mujahedeen
maintains strong political support in North America and Europe. Sympathetic
politicians rallied behind Mahnaz Samadi, a Mujahedeen military commander
who was arrested in Ottawa in December 1999.

With the help of Ottawa police, the RCMP and CSIS, Immigration officers
arrested Ms. Samadi, who had entered Canada illegally, in an apartment near
the U.S. Embassy on Sussex Drive.

She entered Canada illegally in November. In a previous application for a
visitor's visa, which Immigration Canada rejected, Ms. Samadi said she
worked part-time as a secretary in the United States, where she was granted
refugee status in 1996. Though she claimed to have limited funds, her
travels were far and wide.

She visited Jordan and Germany in the months before sneaking into Canada at
a border crossing in British Columbia.

Initially denying any association with the Mujahedeen, Ms. Samadi testified
under oath that she was a human rights activist who had been imprisoned and
tortured by the Iranian regime. Only when Ms. Samadi was presented with
evidence to the contrary did she admit to her prior military position in
Iraq. As a commander with the NLA, Ms. Samadi trained female fighters at a
desert military base outside Baghdad.

Ms. Samadi's deportation hearing prompted CSIS to intensify surveillance on
the Mujahedeen members and supporters in Ottawa. Fearing retaliation for the
controversial arrest, CSIS agents offered safe houses to informants who
helped expose Ms. Samadi's illegal presence in Canada. Former Mujahedeen
members in Ottawa reported receiving threatening phone calls after Ms.
Samadi's arrest.

Ms. Samadi was deported from Canada to the U.S. in April last year. U.S.
authorities arrested Ms. Samadi at the border, and detained her for several
months on charges she misrepresented herself on her refugee application. She
did not mention her association with the Mujahedeen on the application.

Hailed as a human rights activist by U.S. politicians who called for her
release, Ms. Samadi was freed after spending 98 days in various southern

While the Immigration and Naturalization Service held power to remove her to
a third country, a U.S. court ordered Ms. Samadi not be deported to her
native Iran, where she would face certain execution.

Ms. Samadi has reportedly returned to Iraq.

by Yevgeny Tkachenko

CHELYABINSK, Nov 22, 2001 (Itar-Tass via COMTEX) -- A company in the Russian
Ural city of Miass will supply 60 big tractors to Iraq.

It is the biggest contract to be carried out by the Iveko-Uralaz company
since the beginning of this year.

The carrying capacity of each of the tractors is 35 tonnes.

According to the Chelyabinsk regional economy committee, it is not the first
example of continuing upsurge of the region's machine-building industry.

A plant in Chelyabinsk has produced a new model vehicle of increased
cross-country travelling ability. The vehicle has a diesel engine of 180
horse power capacity, multi-purpose equipment and a cabin with protection
for an operator. The mass production will be launched in the next few

The region's machine-building sector on the whole gave an industrial growth
of more than 13 percent over the past ten months.


by Steven Mufson
Washington Post, 15th November

The Iraqi National Congress said it has turned down a State Department offer
of an additional $8 million in funding because the State Department said in
a letter that it "is not prepared to fund INC activities inside Iraq at this

INC leadership council member Sharif Ali Bin Al Hussein said the group wants
to be able to use the money to build a communications and safe-house network
in Iraq.

"The time has come in our development that we should enhance our activities
inside Iraq," he said.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Ryan C. Crocker, of the Bureau of Near Eastern
Affairs, wrote to INC officials that the $8 million could be used to pay
administrative costs for INC offices in London, Washington, Tehran,
Damascus, Prague, Cairo and Paris and for satellite TV broadcasts. The money
would cover five months' costs, he said.

The INC had requested $23 million for five months for a broader range of

Crocker urged the INC to take the money to avoid a gap in funding. He also
urged the INC to implement recommendations contained in a State Department
audit of the group's finances. Ali said the INC was told Monday it had
fulfilled the audit requirements.



Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced today the appointment of
Major-General Miguel Angel Moreno of Argentina as Force Commander of the
United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) with effect from 1
December 2001.

Major-General Moreno has served in the Argentine Armed Forces for 36 years. 
He has held several command and staff appointments and is presently
Commander of the XII Jungle Brigade.  From 1999-2000, he was Assistant
Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, and from 1996-1998, he served as
Commander-Director of the Argentine Army Military Academy.  From 1995-1996,
Major-General Moreno was Military Adviser to the Permanent Mission of
Argentina to the United Nations.

In 1993, Major-General Moreno was Commander of the Argentine Battalion in
Croatia in the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR).  In 1995, he
participated as an observer in the deployment of the Multinational Force
headed by the United States in Haiti.  He also served the United Nations as
a military observer in the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group
(UNIIMOG) in 1988.

In 1998, General Moreno was decorated by the Government of Hungary with the
³Vitez² Military Cross and by the Government of Bolivia with the ³Simon
Bolivar² Cross.

*  UN DOLES OUT GULF WAR REPARATIONS, 20th November (from Reuters)

The UN Gulf War reparations body said last Thursday it had paid out a
further US$892.79 million to companies and governments which proved losses
caused by Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Kuwaiti companies and ministries
received US$797.7 million, the bulk of the latest payments, which officials
said would be the last round for this year. It brought the total paid out to
date worldwide to nearly US$13.7 billion, including some US$4.1 billion this
year, according to a statement by the UN Compensation Commission.

Companies in 17 countries are to receive payments through their governments.
In addition to the Kuwaiti firms, companies in Bosnia, Russia, Thailand and
the US topped the list of successful corporate claimants. Kuwait and Israel
were the only two successful claimants in the government category paid in
this batch. The Geneva-based fund, which is handling a total of US$300
billion in claims for damages due to Iraq's invasion and seven-month
occupation, has approved awards of US$35.4 billion to individuals, companies
and governments.

Payments to claimants depend on its income. It currently receives 25 per
cent of the funds generated by the UN oil-for-food program. The program
allows Baghdad to sell unlimited quantities of oil to buy, food, medicine
and other civilians goods, an exception to sanctions imposed in 1990. The
oil revenues are controlled by the UN, which pays suppliers of goods Iraq

Las Vegas Sun, 21st November

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Revenue to fund the U.N. humanitarian program for Iraq
has plummeted, primarily because of the recent drop in world oil prices,
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a report Wednesday.

The oil-for-food program allows Iraq to export as much oil as it wants,
provided that payments go into a U.N.-controlled escrow account. The money
is used mainly to buy humanitarian supplies for 22 million Iraqis living
under sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The United Nations had projected $5.5 billion in spending on food, medicine
and other humanitarian goods during the current five-month phase of the
program which ends Nov. 30. But as oil prices have sharply dropped and Iraq
has exported less oil, the program is now expected to generate only $3.77
billion for humanitarian purposes during the current phase, Annan said.

"Program implementation has ... suffered considerably because of the
substantial reduction in revenue from oil exports," Annan said in a report
to the Security Council on the latest phase of the oil-for-food program.

Oil prices have plunged nearly 30 percent over the last two months amid a
sharp downturn in the global economy and a slump in petroleum demand.

The drop follows significant Iraqi revenue declines over the summer when
Iraq suspended its oil exports of some 2 million barrels a day for five
weeks in June and July to protest a proposal by the U.S. and Britain to
overhaul sanctions.

When it halted exports, it said there was enough money in the escrow account
to keep the oil-for-food program running.

But Annan said in the report that only $1.2 billion was left in the account
to buy humanitarian goods, and the program would need more than $6 billion
in extra funds to pay for the goods already ordered by Iraq.

As a result, the secretary-general urged the Iraqi government to submit a
revised plan for humanitarian needs during the current phase "in order to
ensure the funding of priority sectors."

New Zealand Herald, 22nd November

BAGHDAD (Reuters): Iraq said it would consider accepting monitoring of its
weapons program if trade sanctions imposed by the United Nations were

"We will consider a return of the monitoring (of weapons) after the lifting
of sanctions," Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said in an interview with
the London-based Arabic language Alhayat newspaper published on Wednesday.



Houston Chronicle (Reuters), 18th November

GENEVA- The United States today accused Iraq, North Korea and possibly Iran
of violating an international treaty banning weapons of germ warfare and
said Syria might also be able to produce biological weapons.

U.S. Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton
said that Iraq had "developed, produced and stockpiled biological warfare
agents and weapons" despite having signed the 1972 Biological Weapons

"We are also quite concerned about Iran, which the United States believes
probably has produced and weaponized BW (biological weapons) agents in
violation of the Convention," he told a Convention review conference here.

The conference aims to evaluate progress in agreeing steps to tighten the
30-year-old ban, a move given new impetus by the recent anthrax attacks in
the United States that followed the September 11 mass killings by suicide
plane hijackers in New York and Washington.

Earlier this year the United States rejected as "unworkable" a proposed new
protocol for the treaty which should have made it easier to check if member
states were abiding by it.

Although the United States was heavily criticised for blocking the protocol,
the result of more than five years of negotiations, Bolton said the plan
would have done nothing to deter states bent on arming themselves with
weapons of germ warfare.

"Countries that joined the BWC and then ignored their commitments and
certain non-state actors would never have been hampered by the protocol,"
Bolton said.

Washington has tabled a number of alternative proposals for tightening the
Convention, including a call to member states to pass laws imposing severe
penalties on anybody involved in activities violating the treaty as well as
making it easy for those accused in another country to be extradited.

Bolton told the opening session of the three-week conference that Washington
believed North Korea had developed and produced and may have weaponized germ
warfare agents, while Syria could be capable of producing small quantities
and Sudan had displayed interest in doing so.

Neither Syria nor Sudan has signed the treaty.

by Richard Waddington
Yahoo, 21st November

GENEVA (Reuters) - Germ warfare experts said on Wednesday anthrax attacks in
the United States were a wake-up call and criticized Washington's stance on
an international treaty outlawing biological weapons.

``The anthrax attacks demonstrated the incredible potency of weaponized
disease...But this was only a taste of what is possible,'' said Barbara
Hatch Rosenberg, director of the chemical and biological weapons
verification project of the Federation of American scientists.

A 94-year-old woman from Connecticut Wednesday became the fifth fatal victim
of inhalation anthrax that has sown panic in the wake of the Sept. 11
suicide hijackings in New York and Washington.

Representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and scientist groups
addressed a review conference of the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention
(BTWC), which aims to agree on ways of tightening the 30-year-old treaty
banning the making or stockpiling of arms of germ warfare.

Unlike other pacts, the treaty has no mechanism for checking whether member
states are abiding by the rules.

But hopes the 144 signatory states could approve a new protocol to include
powers of inspection of suspect sites, negotiated over the previous five
years, were dashed when the United States branded the plan unworkable.

It has put a package of alternative ideas to the three-week review
conference, but the measures -- including a call to states to make it a
crime to be involved in germ weapon production -- steer clear of the
mandatory checks that Washington says could expose its industrial and
military facilities to spying.

``Measures such as national legislation and codes of conduct cannot replace
a verification mechanism of the kind used successfully to monitor...other
agreements on weapons of mass destruction,'' Oliver Meier, senior arms
control and disarmament researcher at the London based Vertic group, said.

Washington and arch foe Iraq have traded accusations at the conference over
who has been guilty of breaking the 1972 convention.

Iraq has admitted to having a biological weapons program in the past but
says its stocks have been destroyed. However, Baghdad continues to refuse
access to U.N. experts.

The United States recently admitted that it had operated what it called a
defensive program to produce small amounts of chemical and biological
warfare agents to develop protection against them.

Such programs are permitted under the treaty, but the fact that the United
States did not come clean until the existence of the program was leaked to
the New York Times over the summer only stirred mistrust, scientists said.

``If ... American officials believe that Iraq, North Korea (news - web
sites), Iran, Libya and others have biological weapons programs, then it
should be obvious to these officials that voluntary measures won't work,''
Rosenberg said.

Besides Baghdad, Washington has also pointed the finger at these states,
plus Syria and Sudan which are not signatories.

Rosenberg said all the evidence suggested the anthrax used in the deadly
U.S. incidents came from an American defense establishment.

``(It was) almost certainly from a U.S. defense laboratory,'' she said.

Washington has acknowledged that the anthrax is probably ''home grown,''
although it has not ruled out involvement of groups close to Saudi-born
dissident Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), blamed for the plane attacks
on New York and Washington.

Reuters, 22nd November

BAGHDAD: Iraq on Thursday denied U.S. accusations that it has developed and
produced biological weapons and said it is Washington that has been
researching germ warfare.

"Iraq ended its biological program in 1991 in compliance with the Convention
that it has joined in the same year," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

"The United States has unleashed in the past few years a new program for
secret researches for biological weapons and not Iraq," he added.

The spokesman said U.N. weapons inspectors affirmed that Iraq no longer
possessed biological weapons or any other banned weapons.

On Monday, the opening day of the three-week conference in Geneva aimed at
strengthening the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, the United States
accused Iraq and North Korea of having such weapons.

"The U.S. official has affirmed double standards adopted by America by
directing false accusation against a group of states, the majority of them
are Arab and Muslim countries, without presenting any evidence to these
accusations," the Iraqi spokesman said.

"The U.S. official exempted the Zionist entity (Israel) from any criticism
or accusation, though it has refused to sign the Biological Weapons
Convention and despite that evidence indicating its possession of mass
destruction weapons were known to the whole world," the spokesman added.

Iraq has said it once had a program to develop germ warfare weapons, but
says that all stocks have been destroyed.

But it has refused to allow access to United Nations inspectors since 1998.
Washington says it has since strengthened its biological arsenal.

Jordan Times, 23rd November. Thanks again to Salwa de Vree

BAGHDAD (AFP): Baghdad on Wednesday rejected US accusations that it
possesses biological weapons, saying the charge was aimed at paving the way
for a US attack on Iraq once Washington had wrapped up its war on

'This campaign ... aims at preparing the climate in and outside the United
States for an aggression against Iraq after the end (of the war) in
Afghanistan'' Salem Al Kubaisi, who heads the Iraqi parliament's Arab and
international relations committee, told AFP.

Washington's claim was also aimed at setting the stage at the UN Security
Council for issuing a resolution hostile to Iraq when the council discusses
the renewal of Baghdad's 'oil for-food' programme with the UN later this
month, Kubaisi said.

The United States this week accused Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan
and Syria of violating the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which
bans the development, stockpiling and use of biological weapons, by
developing a germ warfare capability.

'The United States strongly suspects Iraq of having profited from an absence
of UN inspectors for three years to step up a gear in all the stages of its
programme for offensive biological weapons'' US representative John Bolton
told the convention's 144-member states in Geneva on Monday.

Even the reports drafted by 'the spies of the buried Special Commission
confirm that Iraq is free of (biological) weapons'' Kubaisi said in a
reference to the now-defunct UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) that was in
charge of Iraq's disarmament until its inspectors pulled out of the country
in December 1998.

Iraq consistently accused some of UNSCOM's experts of spying on behalf of
the United States.

US claims that Iraq is developing a germ warfare capability follow
Washington's 'failure to establish a link between the anthrax attacks (in
the US) and Iraq'' according to Kubaisi.

All US statements indicate that 'their aggressive acts in Afghanistan are
but the first phase that will be followed by other phases'' the Iraqi
official said.

'They (Americans) are looking for a state ... whose interests clash with
those of the US administration' to be their next target, and 'it is only
normal that Iraq, whose interests clash with the Americans' aggressive
schemes, should be among the first countries targeted in future'' he added.

Washington has indicated it will pursue its anti-terror campaign after the
end of the war in Afghanistan.


Times of India, 18th November

AMMAN (AFP): A former Iraqi ambassador and advisor to President Saddam
Hussein living in Vienna denied on Saturday a claim by his country's Shiite
opposition that he refused to return to Baghdad for fear of reprisal from
the president's youngest son.

"This is complete nonsense. I am in Vienna with the agreement of the
president, God bless him, Saddam Hussein, to be with my wife who is
receiving anti-cancer treatment," Neema Fares al-Mihyawi said in Amman.

Calling from Vienna, Mihyawi confirmed he had been Iraq's ambassador to
Austria from 1995 to 1998. When his mandate expired, he went back to Iraq
for eight months before returning to Austria, where his wife is being
treated, he said.

The Tehran-based opposition Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in
Iraq said in a statement on Thursday that the former ambassador had rejected
Baghdad's demand that he return to the Iraqi capital.

In Austria, he was in charge of "commercial transactions for the Iraqi
regime and amassed huge sums of money," the statement said, adding that he
feared reprisal from Hussein's son, Qussay, and found refuge in an
unspecified Western country.

The opposition group did not mention why he feared reprisal from Hussein's
son, Qussay.

"It is shameful that the Iraqi opposition would seek to spread such lies. I
have never been a commercial intermediary between Iraq and Austria," Mihyawi
said, adding that he had "never attempted to seek refuge in any country
other than Iraq, where I belong and to which I am faithful."

In his phone call to AFP, he certified that he was currently in Austria with
his wife and five daughters, who study in Austrian universities.

Mihawi was named advisor to Hussein in 1990 after serving as a general
during the 1980 1988 Iran-Iraq war. From 1991 to 1995, he served as
ambassador to the Philippines, he said.

CNN, 20th November

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Hundreds of ordinary Iraqis who temporarily took up
residence in President Saddam Hussein's palaces four years ago as "human
shields" have been returning to the Iraqi leader's homes this week to break
the daily fasts during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The official al-Iraq newspaper Tuesday said the Iraqis have been invited
back to the palaces by Hussein, but did not say how many were invited or
give the name and location of the palaces.

Devout Muslims abstain from food, drink, sex and smoking from dawn until
sunset during Ramadan, which began last week.

In 1997, approximately 2,000 Iraqis, including women and children, responded
to a call by the Iraqi leader to stay in his palaces at a time when a
military strike by the United States and Britain was widely expected.

Hussein's palaces have been a point of contention between Iraq and the West
since U.N. sanctions were slapped on the Arab nation following its invasion
of Kuwait 11 years ago. The United States accuses Hussein of using scarce
funds to build palaces instead of improving the lot of Iraqis.

But al-Iraq newspaper said ordinary Iraqis taking the fast-breaking meal
known as iftar at Hussein's palaces have expressed support for the Iraqi
leader and pledged to "confront" any possible U.S.-British attacks against
their country.

"We are determined to foil the American scheme aiming at undermining Iraq's
dignity and integrity," Jamal al-Azawi, one of those eating iftar at a
Hussein palace, told the daily.

aught crossfire.html

by Hiwa Osman 
Kurdistan Observer (20th November, from BBC)

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein recently received a delegation of Kurds in
which he told  them that the only way to solve problems betwen the Kurdish
and Arab "sons of the  homeland" was through dialogue and wisdom. 

But he also vowed to cut out the tongue of whoever refuses to enter a "calm
dialogue" with  him. 

As Saddam Hussein was speaking, his troops were massing at the dividing line
between the  Kurdish-controlled area in the north and the areas still under
his control. 

These developments are taking place at a time when the US has accused Iraq
of developing  biological weapons in violation of an international ban. 

And US Secretary of State Colin Powell has also warned of warned of possible
military  action against Iraq. He said that after defeating al-Qaeda: "We
will turn our attention to  terrorism throughout the world, and nations such
as Iraq, which have tried to pursue  weapons of mass destruction." 

An important factor in such attack could be the role of the northern Kurds,
who have the  only fighting force on the ground among possible opposition

But they view the latest developments with anxiety. 

The Kurds are caught between the threat of an attack by the Iraqi troops if
they decide to  co-operate, and the risk of losing US protection if they
remain on the sidelines. 

The Prime MInister of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Government (PUK) Dr
Barham  Salih said: "The political scene in the region is about to undergo
major changes. Sooner or  later, these changes will affect our area. 

"It is vital that we prepare ourselves and seize this opportunity to secure
a future for our  people." 

Kurds have been in control of their area since 1991. The Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK)  and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) share power. They
enjoy Western protection  since the establishment of the UN safe haven.

Fearing reprisals from Baghdad in the event of an unsuccessful US attack on
Iraq, the Kurds  seem to be wary about co-operating with Washington. 

Mas'ud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) which
shares power  with the PUK, said: "We will not take part in any plan to
change the regime unless our rights  are taken into consideration." 

Since 11 September, Iraqi Kurds and Baghdad have expressed opposing
positions. Iraq is  one of the few countries that has not condemned the
attack nor expressed support for the  "war on terrorism". 

On the other hand, the Kurds in the north have extended sympathy for victims
of the attack  and expressed support for the US-led response. 

If the US decides to attack Iraq, the Kurds will be faced with a critical

So far the Kurds have not ruled out the possibility of talks with Baghdad. 

Leading PUK figure Adel Murad told BBC News Online that dialogue between the
Kurds  and Baghdad is possible if it is conducted "on the basis of democracy
and federalism for Iraq  and an end to ethnic cleansing in the Baghdad-held
Kurdish areas". 

But the Kurdish terms of dialogue are unlikely to conform with the Iraqi
president's - he has  said that no-one can stop him from going to the
Kurdish cities. 

Dr Mahmoud Osman, an independent Kurdish politician, said: "The Kurds will
have to be  very careful not to become once more a victim of regional and
international deals."

GENERAL INTEREST,6903,596718,00.html

*  Return of the H-Block
by Nick Cohen
The Observer, 18th November

In 1991, during the Gulf War, David Blunkett showed political courage under
fire. He was, he said, 'very worried that some people are now being detained
and threatened with deportation who not only pose no threat to security, but
who themselves would be at considerable risk if they were deported'. The
people he was fretting about were 50 Palestinians, interned because of their
'links to terrorism', and 35 Iraqi 'soldiers', captured in Britain and held
as prisoners of war in a camp on the Salisbury Plain.

Blunkett's language may have been cautious, but his bravery wasn't in doubt.
Britain was at war with Iraq. The defining feature of Saddam Hussein's
tyranny was its willingness to murder opponents at home and abroad. To say
that the arrested 'terrorists' were nothing of the sort laid him open to
accusations of appeasement, treachery even. The well-briefed media had
applauded the round-up as a triumph for the vigilant MI5. True, the
internees had not been charged with any crime. But who bothers with such
niceties in times of fear? Sober commentators ruled that it was ridiculous
to hobble MI5 with wet demands to produce evidence which would stand up in a
court. The security services knew who was a clear and present danger and
were preventing atrocities.

I was a reporter on the Independent at the time, who generally believed that
the representatives of the state were honest and competent. (Forgive the
foolishness of a young hack.) I don't know about Blunkett, but along with
most others who watched the arrests I promised I was never going to make
that mistake again. The Gulf War was one of those clarifying moments when
the artifice of authority became transparent.

The internees were innocent. Not just in the legal sense of not being guilty
beyond reasonable doubt, but irrefutably innocent. The Iraqi 'soldiers'
weren't a fifth column. They were engineering and physics students whose
scholarships came from the Iraqi military. Their arrest wasn't the great
espionage coup the press had hailed. Iraqi assets in Britain had been frozen
at the start of hostilities. Before he returned to Baghdad, the Iraqi
ambassador sent the Bank of England the students' names and addresses. He
asked that their grants be paid until the fighting was over. They were
locked-up instead, and many showed their loyalty to Saddam by asking for
political asylum. 'To the best of my knowledge,' said their lawyer, 'these
are the first PoWs to be captured at their home addresses or in their
university libraries in a country thousands of miles from the war.'

The interned Palestinians included those rare moderates the Foreign Office
dedicates so much time to finding in the Middle East. Abbas Cheblak was an
advocate of Arab-Israeli rapprochement who had written a sympathetic study
of the Jews of Iraq and criticised the invasion of Kuwait. The Home Office
may have got a clue that MI5 had blundered when it heard that the campaign
to free him was being organised by the editor of the Jewish Quarterly .

The behaviour of the state confirmed that the arrests were a PR operation
designed to gull a mulish press and public into thinking all was well. The
'terrorists' homes weren't searched. Interrogations were perfunctory or
non-existent. Although the internees weren't told why they were in jail, MI6
leaked that MI5 was arresting people on the basis of information in files
which were 20 years out of date. The case against Ali el-Saleh, a computer
salesman from Bedford, seemed to be that his wife's sister had married a man
whose uncle was Abu Nidal. El-Saleh and Cheblak spoke with embarrassing
sadness of how they had lost their homes in Palestine and had hoped to make
a new life for themselves and their children as free and grateful British

At the end of the war, the Home Office released all the detainees. It might
still have deported them if there was a hint of a suspicion that they were
terrorists. Ministers quietly allowed anyone who wanted remain in Britain to
do so. There was no disciplinary action against the MI5 officers involved.
The judiciary, which hadn't squeaked while the principles of English law
were assaulted and battered, was briefly criticised, but the complaints died
away. The scandal was all but forgotten as the childish need to believe in
benign authority reasserted itself.

A few people did wonder what would have happened if Iraqi hit squads had
been in Britain. The legal maxim that it is better for 99 guilty men to go
free than for an innocent man to be convicted has its converse: when the
forces of law and order waste their time pursuing the innocent, the guilty
are free to do what damage they can.

ten years on and Blunkett is Home Secretary. He insists that the destruction
of 11 September justifies yet another anti-terrorist bill. We had one last
year which defined terrorism so broadly that it allowed Greenpeace beardies
to be treated as the moral equivalents of Osama bin Laden if they dug up, or
merely threatened to dig up, GM crops. The 2000 Act is as harsh on exiles.
Plotting the overthrow of any foreign government became a crime. Fighting
dictators is now 'terrorism'. Iraqis in London trying to bring down Saddam
had better watch themselves.

The criminalisation of everyday protest was not enough for the Home Office.
However bad the present anti-ter rorist law is, it is still a law in the
normal meaning of the word. Suspected terrorists have to be brought before a
judge and jury and have a case made against them. This is too great a burden
for the security services to accept. Ministers last week assured the MPs
that their plans to intern again wouldn't reproduce the mistakes of the Gulf
War, or the campaign against the IRA, when internment was the Provos best
recruiting sergeant, or for that matter the Second World War, when German
Jews were interned as Nazi sympathisers. New Labour would fight with smart

Don't believe a word of it. The Government is carpet bombing the liberties
which can, despite everything, give you a quiet pride in being British. We
may no longer have the freedom to speak robustly against religion, including
the religion which inspired the men British troops are fighting in
Afghanistan, for that could be 'inciting religious hatred'. The police will
be able to trawl internet and email records without a warrant from a judge.
The Home Secretary won't abandon his faith in identity cards which do
nothing to deter serious criminals, and often make their lives easier. The
Ministry of Defence Police will become an armed and unaccountable national
force free to harass civilians.

I could go on, but it is the revival of internment which sticks in the craw.
The security services are frustrated. Despite all the talk about London
being the terrorist capital of the world, they have failed to fill the cells
with suspects. I don't doubt that the demand for internment is based on
genuine fears - you have to be mad not to be frightened at the moment - but
it also justifies a huge and largely fruitless police operation. The likely
targets include Omar al-Bayoumi and Abu Qatada. The Americans suspect
Al-Bayoumi was an associate of two of the 11 September hijackers. He was
arrested in Birmingham, but released without charge. Qatada, who lives in
West London, is a theocratic apologists for jihad and therefore an
intellectual enemy of all who believe in secular values. To the best of
public knowledge his ideas are all we can hold against him. He, too, has
been arrested and then released for the want of evidence.

The enormity of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon provokes
cowardice. Al-Bayoumi may be damned by association and Qatada may be guilty
of nothing more than thought crime. But, whispers a seductive voice, why not
bang them up, just to be on the safe side?

If you can't accept the arguments on principle against internment perhaps
the practice of the current investigation will make you think twice.
Everything that has come out of the security services and anti-terrorist
squad suggests that they were unprepared for an Islamic conspiracy. Rather
than reform the bureaucracy, Blunkett will take more liberties and pose a
learning difficulty for the Civil Service in the process.

As Education Secretary, Blunkett decided that children should attend civics
classes. As Home Secretary, he has ordered foreigners to study British
traditions before they receive citizenship. Will the young and the alien now
learn that Britain is a country where the presumption of innocence and
habeas corpus are dispensable fripperies, where the police can search
without a warrant and where you can be jailed without a judge, let alone a
jury, hearing your case?

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