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News, 24-30/11/01 (2)

News, 24-30/11/01 (2)


Arabic News, 24th November

A report issued on Thursday said that the Jordanian airlines is intending to
resume its flights to Baghdad by the beginning of this December after a
cessation of more than two months.

The Iraqi weekly al-Zawraa said that talks were recently held between Iraq
and Jordan to resume air flights to Baghdad and to run four flights per week
to be increased to seven flights in case a turnout is observed and at a rate
of one flight every day.

The paper stressed that the two sides agreed to reduce travel ticket prices
less that previous value.

Worthy mentioning that Syrian, Egyptian and Jordanian airlines are
organizing regular weekly flights to Iraq since one year after Iraq has
re-opened Saddam's international airport before international navigation
since more than one year.

Arabic News, 24th November

Iraq has ratified the two agreements it signed with Algeria and the United
Arab Emirates UAE recently to eliminate customs barriers and to establish a
common free market.

Worthy mentioning that Iraq's ratification comes " to expand economic
integration among the Arab states and increasing brotherly ties which
contribute to consolidating economic unity pillars among the Arab states."

During the visit held by the Iraqi vice- President Taha Yassin Ramadan to
Algeria by the end of October, Iraq and Algeria signed an agreement to
eliminate customs barriers and establish the free market.

The Iraqi minister of commerce signed with his UAE counterpart on November
2nd a similar agreement.

Worthy mentioning that since the beginning of the current year 2000, Iraq
signed agreements on eliminating customs barriers with Syria, Egypt, Tunisia
and Yemen. Iraq's agreements with Syria and Egypt have been materialized
after ratification by the governments of the countries concerned.

Financial Times, 25th November

A constitutional state or a Taliban state? was the highly-charged motion set
before hundreds of Kuwaitis crowded into the Graduates Society building to
be addressed by a selection of professors and liberal members of parliament.

Observers had not seen such a good turnout at meetings in support of the
liberals since the last parliamentary election campaign in 1999.

Since the September attacks on the US, liberals in Kuwait are enjoying a
rare moment in the sun and are exploiting subsequent events to take on a
powerful Islamist bloc active both in parliament and in society.

"We think of ourselves as being more principled. We think they (the
Islamists) are opportunist and that they use double standards - even
multi-standards," says Abdullah Naibari, a prominent liberal deputy. "They
create the atmosphere in which an Osama bin Laden can flourish."

In Kuwait, home to only 2.2m people and owner of 10 per cent of the world's
oil reserves, the debate between reformist thought and a conservative
Islamism is more public, if not more heated, than anywhere else in the Arab
world. In a country where political parties are forbidden, Islamists, with
the backing of their religious groups, have been better organised than their
liberal counterparts.

That even the most westernised reformist does not want to be labelled
"un-Islamic" by opponents has also provided the traditionalists with
powerful ammunition. However, Kuwaitis were shocked when Sulaiman Abu
Ghaith, one of their fellow countrymen, appeared on television as a
spokesman for Mr bin Laden.

Mr Abu Ghaith, a mosque preacher and latterly a teacher, was immediately
stripped of his Kuwaiti citizenship after he appeared on the Qatari
Al-Jazeera satellite channel.

The move attracted cross parliamentary support and since September's
attacks, liberal deputies, most of them academics, are visibly more
confident after years in which Islamists have made most of the political
running. The government has set up a commission to close down unlicensed
charities which might have been involved in channelling funds to Mr bin
Laden's al-Qaeda network.

The authorities have also removed collection boxes from public areas and
acted to ensure that all contributions in mosques are now managed by the
beit al-zakat, a state fund that gathers religious taxes.

Liberal deputies, who have long expressed frustration over the Islamists'
access to funds, say that much of the fund raising was channelled to the
domestic Islamist groups, although no one knows how much went to the
al-Qaeda network.

Diplomats in Kuwait City think the sums have been substantial if only
because Kuwait is such a rich state and charitable giving a well-entrenched

Before the events of September 11 the Islamists had been in the ascendant.
They hold about 20 seats in the 50-strong assembly, compared with about 12
held by avowed liberals and have scored a number of political victories in
recent years in Kuwait.

The most notable has been a law introducing segregation by gender into
Kuwait university. Earlier this year the Islamists also defeated by just two
votes a government-sponsored motion that would have given the vote to
Kuwaiti women in parliamentary elections.

The next battleground is the status of the sharia, or Islamic law,within the
Kuwaiti legal system. Kuwaiti Islamists want Islamic law to be the basis of
the penal code. "We believe that these laws are from God," says Nasser
al-Sane, a deputy of Ikhwan, one of the country's Islamist groups.

But the government, led by Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed, Kuwait's foreign minister
and acting prime minister, which had earlier appeared to support the
findings of a commission appointed to look into the whole issue, last week
said it would oppose the sharia proposal.

Liberal politicians say that they will fight the sharia proposals more
effectively than the battle over the segregation of Kuwait university.

"This is not a joke, this is a serious issue," said one senior liberal

But however heated the debate becomes in Kuwait, it is unlikely to lead to
heightened anti western or anti-US sentiment.

While 23 deputies signed a declaration condemning the US attacks on
Afghanistan, nearly all Kuwaitis recognise that their state would not exist
if it were not for the US and its continuing presence deterring Saddam
Hussein's Iraq.

"America is a friend of Kuwait," says Mr Sane. "The US presence in the
region is in the interests of both sides," he says.

by Margot Dudkevitch
Jersusalem Post, 26th November

JERUSALEM: The General Security Service announced the arrest in the West
Bank of at least 15 members of a terrorist organization who were trained,
funded and armed by Iraq.

The terrorists belong to the Palestine Liberation Front, headed by Muhammad
Abbas, who lives in Iraq. Abbas, who is also the chairman of the Palestinian
Authority's National Council, was the mastermind of the October 7, 1985,
Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking, during which disabled Jewish passenger
Leon Klinghoffer was killed in his wheelchair and thrown overboard.

According to details of the GSS action, released yesterday, plans to
perpetrate attacks at Ben-Gurion Airport and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were
foiled with the recent capture of some of the group's members. The GSS
investigation discovered the group's activities were funded by Iraqi
security agents, who transferred funds to banks in Jordan and thence to the
Palestinian Authority.

The GSS charged Abed Al Razak Yehiye, head of the PA's Monitoring Committee,
abused his VIP status granting him immunity from security checks at border
crossings to smuggle weapons into the West Bank.

Three of those arrested by the GSS participated in the abduction and
subsequent brutal murder of 18-year-old Yuri Gushchin of Pisgat Ze'ev on
July 24. They were identified as Matsaka Salah of Jidira, Nidal Ziad of
Kalandia and Ahmed Hadir of Atarot, who admitted to kidnaping Gushchin and
handing him over to his murderers.

Others admitted to shooting attacks at Israeli vehicles on bypass roads in
the areas of Ramallah and Jenin; planting a bomb that exploded at the Haifa
Checkpost, wounding five; planting a bomb near Um Tsafa detected before
detonating near soldiers; and attempting to place a bomb on a bus
transporting soldiers near Jenin, before being spotted by soldiers.

Others arrested in the GSS sweep were identified as Mahmud Kundos of Sinjil,
Mamoun Hamdan and Jalal Motsalah of El Bireh, and Alii Udeh of Dir Amar.
Hamdan revealed the whereabouts of 40 kilos of components used to make

In other developments, the GSS and IDF arrested a member of the Islamic
Jihad's military cell responsible for a number of shooting attacks at
Israeli vehicles and the wounding of motorist Yedidya Koren of Carmel in
September. Osama Masalem Ali Sharita of Yatta was arrested at the beginning
of this month and confessed to participating in a number of attacks against
Israelis in the south Hebron Hills.

Also, the IDF revealed yesterday paratroopers manning the Rama roadblock
foiled an attempt by a Palestinian truck driver to smuggle weapons and
ammunition from Nablus to Ramallah on Saturday. The IDF Spokesman said the
soldiers found ammunition and rifles hidden among bags of vegetables. The
driver was handed over to the GSS for questioning.

Bangladeshi Independent, 25th November

BAGHDAD, Nov 25: Iraq said on Saturday it had foiled a planned attack in a
Baghdad residential area by agents working for neighbouring Iran, reports

"Apparatus of the Iranian regime planned the attack in favour of the
American Administration and the Zionist entity (Israel),'' the official
Iraqi News Agency (INA) quoted a police statement as saying.

"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 statement said. INA gave no further details.

Iraq has in the past blamed Iran, its former foe in a 1980-1988 war, for
several bombings. Iran has denied the accusations.

Iraqi television on Saturday showed six Iraqis admitting they had worked for
Iran's intelligence service and carried out mortar and bomb attacks.

Ahmed Mahmoud, 31, a Kurd from northern Iraq, said he had been in contact
with Iranian intelligence and recruited five other Iraqis, mostly from
Baghdad, to work with him.

He said the group had attacked Iraq's intelligence headquarters, the oil and
interior ministries, a central Baghdad market and a residential area in the

by Norman Kempster
Los Angeles Times, 29th November

WASHINGTON -- Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said Wednesday that his
government--the closest U.S. ally in the Arab world--has received an
"understanding" that the Bush administration will not use military force
against Iraq or any other Arab government accused of harboring terrorists.

Describing Egypt as a staunch member of the U.S.-led coalition against
terrorism, Maher warned, "If we want to keep this consensus . . . we should
not resort, after Afghanistan, to military means."

In a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, Maher
conceded that some administration officials and some nongovernmental foreign
policy specialists are urging President Bush to expand the war on terrorism
to Iraq and perhaps other countries once the Taliban's hold on Afghanistan
has been broken. "It is our understanding that this will not happen," Maher

Although the clear implication was that Maher, who confers regularly with
top Bush administration officials, had obtained his understanding from the
highest level of the U.S. government, he would not elaborate when asked to
do so.

Nevertheless, Maher said the U.S. government and its allies would pay a high
price for using military force against governments that are not directly
implicated in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon.

If the United States carried the war beyond Afghanistan, he said, it would
"cause serious internal problems for friends of the United States" in the
Middle East. He said there are nonmilitary means, such as economic
sanctions, that can be used against countries that shelter terrorists.

Maher, Egypt's ambassador to the United States for almost a decade before
his appointment as foreign minister earlier this year, also urged Bush and
Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft to use restraint in applying extraordinary methods
against terrorist suspects in the United States.

He said the administration "should be very careful in applying these [new
counter-terrorism] laws not to tarnish its image as a country that believes
in democracy and diversity."

It was an extraordinary reversal of roles for the United States and Egypt.
In the past, U.S. officials have rebuked Egypt for human rights violations,
especially over Cairo's sometimes draconian crackdown on domestic terrorist

For years, Egypt waged its own war on terrorism "without the support of our
closest friends," Maher said. "Not only did they not support us, but their
contribution was criticism."

by Donna Abu-Nasr, Associated Press Writer
Yahoo, 29th November

KUWAIT (AP) - The questions on which religious scholar Khalid al-Mathkoor
rules reveal the dilemma many conservative Kuwaitis grapple with -
reconciling Islam with modern life in a country with a taste for
American-style malls and fast food.

For instance, are Barbie dolls with revealing clothes sanctioned by Islam?
Would vacationing in the United States and Europe, where women don't have to
cover up and alcohol is legal, conflict with a Muslim's faith? What about
flirting on the phone or the Internet?

Al-Mathkoor, a scholar who belongs to a government-run committee that issues
fatwas - nonbinding religious opinions - fields the questions on a TV
program. Such shows are common in the Arab world, but religious opinion -
old and new - is taking on added significance in Kuwait these days as the
tiny, oil-rich emirate goes through another debate between fundamentalists
who want to implement sharia, or Islamic law, and liberals who oppose it.

Liberals still fume over al-Mathkoor's opinion years ago that Barbie should
be banned. ``She's no innocent doll,'' said al-Mathkoor. ``She's a mature
woman who wears accessories and revealing clothes and has a boyfriend.''

The debate between forces of modernization and conservatism has always
existed in most of the Arab world, but it has been most vocal in Kuwait. The
emirate's parliament, the only elected legislative body in the Arab
countries of the Persian Gulf, provides a platform for both sides and is
increasingly influenced by the fundamentalists, who now hold 20 of the 50

To some in Washington, the rise of fundamentalism is worrying in Kuwait,
which was freed from a seven-month Iraqi occupation by U.S. forces in the
1991 Persian Gulf War.

Kuwait's constitution says Islamic sharia is a ``main'' source of
legislation, a phrase fundamentalists for decades have been trying to change
to: ``Islamic sharia is the only source of legislation.''

This summer, two fundamentalist legislators introduced a bill in parliament
that calls on the government to revise the country's penal code to conform
with sharia. That means, murderers would be beheaded, thieves would have
their right hand cut off and adulterers would be stoned.

Recently, an Ethiopian folk dance show was canceled after opening night
because fundamentalists deemed the dancers' outfits too revealing. The
fundamentalists also pressured the government not to air some Olympics
competitions because they thought the female athletes dressed too scantily.

The confrontation between fundamentalists and liberals intensified after the
Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. Liberal lawmakers accused several
Kuwaiti charities of funneling part of their donations to groups like Osama
bin Laden's al-Qaida organization and pressured the government to control
the funds they raise. The fundamentalists deny the charges, and the liberals
have not provided detailed evidence.

Unlike in other parts of the Middle East, Kuwait's fundamentalists do not
have armed wings. The charities have helped fundamentalists increase support
- and the groups are also active running summer camps, drug rehabilitation
centers and sporting events in the community.

``I respect the fundamentalists,'' said Shamlan Issa, a liberal university
professor who writes some of the strongest antifundamentalist newspaper
editorials. ``They are organized, they help each other, and when they want
to do something, they go out and do it.''

The U.S. bombing in Afghanistan has been unpopular here, and there are fears
it will push more people toward the fundamentalists.

The rise of Kuwait's fundamentalists began in the 1960s, when Kuwait's
parliament was packed with supporters of the pan-Arab nationalist movement
sweeping the Arab world then.

To counter such a liberal force that mostly belonged to the country's
wealthy merchant class, the ruling family began accepting as citizens the
more conservative bedouins. Following the Arabs' defeat against Israel in
the 1967 Mideast war, many Kuwaitis, disillusioned with the nationalist
movement, turned to fundamentalism.

Liberals began seeing their opponents' influence everywhere. For instance,
in the 1960s, students had one religious class a week; today they have
three. Movie censors allowed kisses to be shown; today, they cut them out.

Following the Persian Gulf War, many Kuwaitis showed gratitude to the United
States, which led the anti-Iraq coalition, and began imitating Western
dress, hairstyle and mannerism.

That has waned, with many men returning to the traditional white robe common
in the Persian Gulf. Western clothes like shorts and t-shirts, common a
decade ago, are all but disappeared from Kuwaiti streets.

While the fundamentalists have been making headway, change has been slow.
Opinions like al-Mathkoor's, while respected, have not been adopted as laws.

Dolls are still on sale in Kuwait - an Arab boyfriend and girlfriend are
sold together as the ``Singing, Dancing Couple,'' the man in a long,
traditional white robe, a microphone in hand, his arm around the woman
dressed in a low-cut pink dress. At the touch of a button, the woman shakes
her hips to the strains of an Egyptian love song.

Al-Mathkoor says liberals' fears that conservative Islam would strip them of
their modern life are unfounded. Still, he said Muslims should be careful
how they use modern technology.

For instance, mobile phones and the Internet are good, but when used for
flirting, they become evil. As for vacationing in the West, al-Mathkoor said
it's allowed as long as it's ``to check out the sights and museums and not
the bars and beaches.''

Kuwait's liberals are not reassured by talk like al-Mathkoor's.

``We won't leave them alone,'' said Ahmed Bishara, head of the National
Democratic Movement - one of Kuwait's two liberal political parties.

``Either they take us back to the 7th century or we take them to the 21st
century,'' said Sultan.

Yahoo, 30th November

ANKARA (Reuters) - Iraq recalled its ambassador to Turkey on Friday after
media reports linked him to meetings with members of the al Qaeda network,
suspected of involvement in the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Ambassador Farouk Yahya al-Hijazi denied his departure from Turkey was in
connection with allegations that he was involved in contacts between
Mohammed Atta, a suspect in the attacks on New York and Washington, and
Iraqi intelligence.

``These (allegations) are baseless. I was recalled to my country after the
normal period of time,'' al-Hijazi was quoted as saying by Turkey's
state-run Anatolian news agency.

``I am returning because my time of duty has ended. I want to stress that my
return has nothing to with anything else.''

When asked about press reports tying him to Atta, al-Hijazi said: ``We
definitely do not have any such ties within Turkey or outside.''

Iraq has denied any contacts with Atta and Saudi-born militant Osama bin
Laden, accused with his al Qaeda network of masterminding the attacks on the
United States that killed nearly 4,000 people.

Turkish investors have wobbled this week on fears U.S.-led attacks on
Afghanistan would spread to neighboring Iraq, which refuses to allow the
return of U.N. weapons inspectors.

Ankara has worked to revive commercial and diplomatic relations with Baghdad
after losing billions of dollars in trade revenues since U.N. sanctions
against Iraq were set in 1991.

But NATO member Turkey has also allowed U.S. warplanes to patrol northern
Iraq's no-fly zone from its Incirlik airbase.


Reuters, 25th November

WASHINGTON: Navy divers have found the body of an American sailor, missing
since a tanker he was checking for smuggled oil sank in the Gulf six days
ago, a Pentagon official said.

Benjamin Johnson was part of a U.S. team, enforcing United Nations oil
sanctions against Iraq, that boarded a tanker suspected of smuggling 1,700
metric tons of oil.

Two Iraqi crew members died when the overloaded Samra tanker sank and
another U.S. seaman and two Iraqis are still missing.

"U.S. Navy divers recovered the body of Benjamin Johnson, who was lost at
sea. The search is continuing for the other sailor," Lieutenant Colonel
David Lapan told Reuters.

Officials still do not know what caused the sinking but U.S. National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said last week there was no hostile
incident and bad weather may have been to blame.

The eight-man team from the USS Peterson boarded the tanker and found
contraband oil hidden under piled-up bags of grain. They ordered the
tanker's Iraqi captain to move to a holding area for ships carrying
contraband goods but the vessel sank en route.

The incident follows a spate of accidents involving ships carrying Iraqi oil
in the Gulf. Since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq is only allowed to sell
oil under close U.N. supervision.

Baltimore Sun (Associated Press), 25th November

BAGHDAD, Iraq - It is 10 in the morning. Akil Abdel Zahra is up to his waist
in the Tigris River under a fierce sun, searching for gold.

For years, the 20-year-old has been scavenging the river, abandoned jewelry
shops, wells and even dumps for gold, silver, bronze or copper that may have
clung to the waste jewelers threw away back in Baghdad's heyday.

With the Iraqi economy in tatters, many people eke out a living on the
leftovers of a glorious past.

The present is a harsh reality: a country impoverished by two wars and more
than a decade of economic sanctions. Gold-domed mosques built centuries ago
tower over streets bearing the names of Abbasid caliphs who built Baghdad on
a site settled by cultures already ancient. Some Iraqis wonder whether their
nation will ever recapture its past grandeur.

President Saddam Hussein, who has ruled Iraq for two decades, says the
sanctions imposed to punish him for invading Kuwait are to blame for the
deterioration of Iraq. The United Nations, whose sanctions cannot be lifted
until it is assured that Iraq has surrendered weapons of mass destruction,
blames Hussein.

Regardless of who is to blame, a rich and promising Iraq, sitting on the
world's second largest oil reservoirs, has been reduced to a country whose
name brings to mind images of people begging on the streets, dying in
hospitals or standing in long lines waiting for monthly food rations.

Gold scavenger Abdel Zahra has been in the business since he was 11. Today,
he supports a wife and child on the money he makes from his unusual labors.

Like Abdel Zahra, renowned sculptor Mohammed Ghani Hikmat also has been
reduced to scavenging. The 72-year-old searches for old doors and windows to
get wood. He also recycles wooden columns from Iraqi homes and frantically
looks for scraps of metal he can reshape.

Hikmat has turned bronze, marble and stone into colossal monuments that
often depict historical characters or were inspired by legends from 1,001
Nights, the ancient tales associated with Baghdad. But for the last 10
years, he has only been able to sculpt miniatures.

"Compared to before, Iraqi artists produce less now, but the important thing
is that they never stopped. We may stoop before the storm, but we never
fall," said Hikmat in his brick walled studio.

Before the sanctions, Hikmat worked with imported metals. Some of the
memorials he sculpted were completed in Europe and then shipped back to

Hikmat remembers an Iraq that was an artistic and cultural hub in the Arab
world. "People used to come from abroad and hold exhibitions here," he said.
"We Iraqis used to travel a lot. In recent years, all this stopped."

He knows he's luckier than many other artists. Unlike most Iraqis, he can
afford to travel from time to time. He still displays work abroad.

Young art students who revere the silver-haired sculptor flock to his studio
and help him with his work. Hikmat has faith that despite their isolation
from the international world of art, they can grow as artists by drawing on
their own rich traditions.

Others have a bleaker vision of the future. "The economic problems that
evolved because of the sanctions have prevented us from ... having our own
futures, raising our children the way we want and giving them the positions
we hope for," said Nasra al-Sadoon, editor-in-chief of the state-owned Iraq

While many older Iraqis speak more than one foreign language and are
Western-trained, many young people in the city that once housed one of the
Muslim world's greatest libraries cannot read.

In the academic year before sanctions were imposed on Baghdad, the Iraqi
government spent $230 million on education. Average spending during the past
six years has been $23 million per year.

Government study-abroad scholarships have disappeared, and the underfunded
schools at home are in bad shape. Some parents complain that students in
secondary school can barely write their names. Dropout rates have
skyrocketed as children increasingly join the work force to help their
struggling families.

"We hope to compensate with the experience of those who have traveled
abroad. We opened new horizons, looking inside instead of outside, like
gaining experience from the past," al-Sadoon said.

Washington Post (Reuters), 28th November

U.S. warplanes attacked an air defense target in southern Iraq yesterday in
response to continuing Iraqi threats against U.S. and British jets
patrolling a no-fly zone, the Defense Department said.

The announcement, which came as Baghdad rejected a call from President Bush
to allow U.N. arms inspectors back into Iraq, said only that an air defense
"command and control system" had been struck.,4273,4309594,00.html

by Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday
The Guardian, 29th November

A major shift is occurring in US policy on Iraq. It is obvious that
Washington wants to end 11 years of a self-serving policy of containment of
the Iraqi regime and change to a policy of replacing, by force, Saddam
Hussein and his government. The current policy of economic sanctions has
destroyed society in Iraq and caused the death of thousands, young and old.
There is evidence of that daily in reports from reputable international
organisations such as Caritas, Unicef and Save the Children. A change to a
policy of replacement by force will increase that suffering.

The creators of the policy must no longer assume that they can satisfy
voters by expressing contempt for those who oppose them. The problem is not
the inability of the public to understand the bigger picture, as former US
secretary of state Madeleine Albright likes to suggest. It is the opposite.
The bigger picture, the hidden agenda, is well understood by ordinary
people. We should not forget Henry Kissinger's brutally frank admission that
"oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the

How much longer can democratically elected governments hope to get away with
justifying policies that punish the Iraqi people for something they did not
do, through economic sanctions that target them in the hope that those who
survive will overthrow the regime? Is international law only applicable to
the losers? Does the UN security council only serve the powerful?

The UK and the US, as permanent members of the council, are fully aware that
the UN embargo operates in breach of the UN covenants on human rights, the
Geneva and Hague conventions and other international laws. It is neither
anti-UK nor anti-US to point out that Washington and London, more than
anywhere else, have in the past decade helped to write the Iraq chapter in
the history of avoidable tragedies.

The UK and the US have deliberately pursued a policy of punishment since the
Gulf war victory in 1991. The two governments have consistently opposed
allowing the UN security council to carry out its mandated responsibilities
to assess the impact of sanctions policies on civilians. We know about this
first hand, because the governments repeatedly tried to prevent us from
briefing the security council about it. The pitiful annual limits, of less
than $170 per person, for humanitarian supplies, set by them during the
first three years of the oil-for-food programme are unarguable evidence of
such a policy.

We have seen the effects on the ground and cannot comprehend how the US
ambassador, James Cunningham, could look into the eyes of his colleagues a
year ago and say: "We (the US government) are satisfied that the
oil-for-food programme is meeting the needs of the Iraqi people." Besides
the provision of food and medicine, the real issue today is that Iraqi oil
revenues must be invested in the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure
destroyed in the Gulf war.

Despite the severe inadequacy of the permitted oil revenue to meet the
minimum needs of the Iraqi people, 30 cents (now 25) of each dollar that
Iraqi oil earned from 1996 to 2000 were diverted by the UN security council,
at the behest of the UK and US governments, to compensate outsiders for
losses allegedly incurred because of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. If this
money had been made available to Iraqis, it could have saved many lives.

The uncomfortable truth is that the west is holding the Iraqi people
hostage, in order to secure Saddam Hussein's compliance to ever-shifting
demands. The UN secretary-general, who would like to be a mediator, has
repeatedly been prevented from taking this role by the US and the UK

The imprecision of UN resolutions on Iraq - "constructive ambiguity" as the
US and UK define it - is seen by those governments as a useful tool when
dealing with this kind of conflict. The US and UK dismiss criticism by
pointing out that the Iraqi people are being punished by Baghdad. If this is
true, why do we punish them further?

The most recent report of the UN secretary-general, in October 2001, says
that the US and UK governments' blocking of $4bn of humanitarian supplies is
by far the greatest constraint on the implementation of the oil-for-food
programme. The report says that, in contrast, the Iraqi government's
distribution of humanitarian supplies is fully satisfactory (as it was when
we headed this programme). The death of some 5-6,000 children a month is
mostly due to contaminated water, lack of medicines and malnutrition. The US
and UK governments' delayed clearance of equipment and materials is
responsible for this tragedy, not Baghdad.

The expectation of a US attack on Iraq does not create conditions in the UN
security council suited to discussions on the future of economic sanctions.
This year's UK-sponsored proposal for "smart sanctions" will not be
retabled. Too many people realise that what looked superficially like an
improvement for civilians is really an attempt to maintain the bridgeheads
of the existing sanctions policy: no foreign investments and no rights for
the Iraqis to manage their own oil revenues.

The proposal suggested sealing Iraq's borders, strangling the Iraqi people.
In the present political climate, a technical extension of the current terms
is considered the most expedient step by Washington. That this condemns more
Iraqis to death and destitution is shrugged off as unavoidable.

What we describe is not conjecture. These are undeniable facts known to us
as two former insiders. We are outraged that the Iraqi people continue to be
made to pay the price for the lucrative arms trade and power politics. We
are reminded of Martin Luther King's words: "A time has come when silence is
betrayal. That time is now."

We want to encourage people everywhere to protest against unscrupulous
policies and against the appalling disinformation put out about Iraq by
those who know better, but are willing to sacrifice people's lives with
false and malicious arguments.

The US Defence Department, and Richard Butler, former head of the UN arms
inspection team in Baghdad, would prefer Iraq to have been behind the
anthrax scare. But they had to recognise that it had its origin within the

British and US intelligence agencies know well that Iraq is qualitatively
disarmed, and they have not forgotten that the outgoing secretary of
defence, William Powell, told incoming President George Bush in January:
"Iraq no longer poses a military threat to its neighbours". The same message
has come from former UN arms inspectors. But to admit this would be to nail
the entire UN policy, as it has been developed and maintained by the US and
UK governments.

We are horrified by the prospects of a new US-led war against Iraq. The
implications of "finishing unfinished business" in Iraq are too serious for
the global community to ignore. We hope that the warnings of leaders in the
Middle East and all of us who care about human rights are not ignored by the
US government. What is now most urgently needed is an attack on injustice,
not on the Iraqi people.

Hans von Sponeck was UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq from 1998 to 2000;
Denis Halliday held the same post from 1997 to 1998.


Communicated to list without date or URL

by Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS (URL): After lobbying by Washington, the General Assembly
rejected yesterday an Iraqi proposal that the UN study the effects of the
depleted-uranium shells used by US-led forces in the Gulf War.

Baghdad has insisted for years that there is a link between the depleted
uranium used in armor-piercing weapons during the 1991 war and an increase
in the number of Iraqis with leukemia and other kinds of cancer.

Iraq's Health Ministry has said that cancer cases rose to 10,931 in 1997
from 6,555 in 1989, especially in areas bombed during the war, in which a
US-led coalition drove Iraq out of Kuwait after it invaded its oil-rich

The 189-nation General Assembly voted down the Iraqi plan 45-54, with 45
abstentions. The assembly's committee on disarmament and international
security had approved the plan earlier this month, 49-45.

Diplomats credited a lobbying campaign by Washington for the turnaround.

Acting at Baghdad's request, the World Health Organization began an in-depth
study this year of the health impact of depleted-uranium munitions used in
Iraq. Baghdad has cited studies saying that coalition forces used 944,000
depleted-uranium shells against Iraq during the Gulf War.

A resolution drafted by Iraq said the shells had spread radioactive
particles and chemical dust over large areas and contaminated ''animal and
plant life and the soil.''

It asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to survey UN member nations and
relevant outside groups ''on all aspects of the effects of the use of
depleted-uranimum armaments'' and submit a report on his findings to the
assembly next year.

The use of ammunition containing depleted uranium sparked a furor across
Europe earlier this year, after some allied peacekeepers in Bosnia and
Kosovo said they had developed leukemia because of exposure to the material.

NATO and many health officials have denied that the munitions cause cancer.

by Andy Kershaw
The Independent, 1st December

I thought I had a strong stomach - toughened by the minefields and foul
frontline hospitals of Angola, by the handiwork of the death squads in Haiti
and by the wholesale butchery of Rwanda. But I nearly lost my breakfast last
week at the Basrah Maternity and Children's Hospital in southern Iraq.

Dr Amer, the hospital's director, had invited me into a room in which were
displayed colour photographs of what, in cold medical language, are called
"congenital anomalies", but what you and I would better understand as
horrific birth deformities. The images of these babies were head-spinningly
grotesque - and thank God they didn't bring out the real thing, pickled in
formaldehyde. At one point I had to grab hold of the back of a chair to
support my legs.

I won't spare you the details. You should know because - according to the
Iraqis and in all likelihood the World Health Organisation, which is soon to
publish its findings on the spiralling birth defects in southern Iraq - we
are responsible for these obscenities.

During the Gulf war, Britain and the United States pounded the city and its
surroundings with 96,000 depleted-uranium shells. The wretched creatures in
the photographs - for they were scarcely human - are the result, Dr Amer

He guided me past pictures of children born without eyes, without brains.
Another had arrived in the world with only half a head, nothing above the
eyes. Then there was a head with legs, babies without genitalia, a little
girl born with her brain outside her skull and the whatever-it-was whose
eyes were below the level of its nose.

Then the chair-grabbing moment - a photograph of what I can only describe
(inadequately) as a pair of buttocks with a face and two amphibian arms.
Mercifully, none of these babies survived for long.

Depleted uranium has an incubation period in humans of five years. In the
four years from 1991 (the end of the Gulf war) until 1994, the Basrah
Maternity Hospital saw 11 congenital anomalies. Last year there were 221.

Then there is the alarming increase in cases of leukaemia among Basrah
babies lucky enough to have been born with the full complement of limbs and
features in the right place. The hospital treated 15 children with leukaemia
in 1993. In 2000 it was 60. By the end of this year that figure again will
be topped. And so it will go on. Forever.

(Depleted uranium has a half-life of 4.1 billion years. Total disintegration
occurs after 25 billion years, the age of the earth.)

In any other country, in which the vital drugs are available, 95 per cent of
these infant leukaemia cases would be treated successfully. In Basrah, the
figure is 20 per cent. Most heartbreakingly, many children on the road to
recovery go into relapse part way through treatment when the sporadic and
meagre supply of drugs runs out. And then they die.

By the United Nations' own admission 5,000 Iraqi children die every month
because of a shortage of medicines created by sanctions imposed by ... the
United Nations.

Tony Blair, on numerous occasions, has misled Parliament and the country
(perhaps unwittingly) by saying that Saddam Hussein is free to buy all the
medicines Iraq needs under the oil-for-food programme. This is not true. Oil
for food amounts to just 60 cents (40p) per Iraqi per day and everything -
food, education, health care and rebuilding of infrastructure - has to come
out of that. There simply is not enough to go around.

And has Mr Blair heard of the UN Security Council 661 Committee? If he has,
then he keeps quiet about it. The committee was certainly unknown to me
until I toured the shabby hospitals of Basrah.

This committee, which meets in secret in New York and does not publish
minutes, supervises sanctions on Iraq. President Saddam is not free to buy
Iraq's non-military needs on the world market. The country's requirements
have to be submitted to 661 and, often after bureaucratic delay, a judgement
is handed down on what Iraq can and cannot buy. I have obtained a copy of
recent 661 rulings and some of the decisions seem daft if not peevish. "Dual
use" is the most common reason to refuse a purchase, meaning the item
requested could be put to military use.

So how does the 661 committee expect Saddam Hussein to wage war with "beef
extract powder and broth"? Does 661 expect him to turn on the Kurds again by
spraying them with "malt extract"? Or to send his presidential guard back
into Kuwait armed to the teeth with "pencils"? Pencils, you see, according
to 661, contain graphite and therefore could be put to military use. (Tough
on the eager schoolchildren of Basrah who have little with which to write).

Across town at the Basrah Teaching Hospital, the whimsical rulings of 661
are not so comical. Dr Jawad Al-Ali, the director of oncology, trained in
the UK and a member of the Royal College of Physicians, talked of an
"epidemic" of cancers in southern Iraq. "The number of cancer cases is
doubling every year. So is the severity of the cancers, and there has been a
big increase in cancer among the young," he said.

Last week he was struggling to treat 20 cancer patients with "a huge
shortage of chemotherapy drugs" and just two days supply of morphine. "We
are crippled," he said, "by Committee 661." The doctor applied for, but was
denied, life-saving machinery - deep X-ray equipment, blood component
separators, even needles for biopsies. All, said 661, could have military

Tell that to Mofidah Sabah, the mother of four-year-old Yahia. The little
boy has both leukaemia in relapse and neuroblastoma, a cancer behind the eye
that has bulged and twisted his left eyeball in its socket. Ms Sabah travels
miles every day to sit and cuddle her son on his grubby bed. If Yahia lived
in Birmingham, his chances of survival would not be in much doubt. But not
in Basrah. "I'm afraid he will not live very long," Dr Amer whispered.

Ms Sabah said: "I will leave everything to God, but I want God to revenge
those who attacked us." Yahia's illness is not her first brush with tragedy.
She lost 12 members of her family during an Allied bombing in 1991. Her
husband, a soldier, fought in the Gulf war. He is still in the Iraqi army
and has just been reposted, to Qurna, 50 miles north of Basra and among the
contaminated former battlefields. Qurna, according to legend, was the site
of the Garden of Eden.


Communicated to list without URL

by Said Aburish
New Statesman, 26th November

President Bush, beware: if you really want to extend the Afghan war to
Iraq, you should know that the nightmarish internal politics of  Afghanistan
are as nothing compared with those of Iraq. The Northern  Alliance may not
be a very palatable alternative to the Taliban, but it  has a certain rough
credibility. There is no equivalent in Iraq.

Over the two years I spent writing his biography (Saddam Hussein: the
politics of revenge), I got to know Saddam's opponents. They are such a
corrupt, feckless and out-of-touch lot that they make the Butcher of
Baghdad look good.

The four million Iraqi Kurds are divided into two tribes, the followers  of
Massoud Barazani (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and those of Jalal  Talabani
(Patriotic Union of Kurdistan). Together, they occupy a large  enclave in
northern Iraq where they have conducted an on and-off civil  war for years.
Barazani and Talabani disagree, often bloodily, over how  to divide the
money they get from the CIA, which pays them to keep  Saddam off balance.
They fight over the proceeds from smuggling goods,  including oil, between
Iraq and Turkey. And they compete for the bribes  Saddam offers them.

Their hostility to each other keeps them from doing anything to bring  down
the Iraqi regime. In fact, they choose to forget that Saddam used  chemical
weapons against them, and shamelessly accept financial and  military support
from him. They even accept financial help from Iran.

Iraq's Shi'as, 60 per cent of the population, are equally split. Some  want
an Iraq with close ties to Shi'a Iran; others insist they are Arabs  and
that, to succeed, they should depend on fellow Arabs, namely Kuwait  and
Saudi Arabia. A third group believes in co-operating with the US,  and
accordingly gets paid for it. The US and UK are reluctant to help  the two
Shi'a groups that command real followings inside Iraq, largely  because
Daawa and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq are  Islamic

In addition to the Kurds and Shi'as, there are more than 70 other
"opposition" parties. Some are made up of Saddam's old cronies, people  who
turned against him after they lost their jobs. To make a living,  they
accept the backing of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. They publish  newspapers and
magazines no one reads. They have no offices or  followers. In private
conversation, they admit that their cause is  hopeless.

Other anti-Saddam parties are led by former Iraqi army officers; some  are
Saddam appointed generals, people who rose through the ranks because  of
their loyalty to him, rather than any military competence. Their  reasons
for opposing him are also mostly personal - demotions or  sackings.

The last anti-Saddam faction is made up of old politicians who left Iraq  in
the 1950s, when the monarchy was overthrown. Having lived abroad most  of
their lives, the leaders of these groups know very little about Iraq  and
its people. According to one of them, Saddam should not rule Iraq  because
he came from a poor background and "we don't even know who his  father is".
Another claims that Saddam is an undercover Mossad agent,  part of "a Jewish
conspiracy to destroy Iraq".

These are the groups the United States is trying to unite under one  command
capable of toppling Saddam, as the Iraqi National Congress  (INC). Over the
past ten years, they have met in Vienna, Salahuddin in  northern Iraq, at
Windsor and, most notably, in New York in October  1999.

The participants frequently walk out during these meetings; the men  quarrel
over who got most of the $96m allocated by the US to Saddam's  opponents
under the Iraq Liberation Act. One of the delegates at the New  York meeting
told me about the former INC chairman Ahmad Chalabi: "He  takes more than
his share, much more than his share, and I get nothing.  Just look at the
way he dresses. They say Saddam has 300 suits; well,  this guy has 400."

Last year, both Frank Ricciardone, the former head of the Iraq desk at  the
US State Department, and General Anthony Zinni, the former head of  the US
Central Command, stated that the Iraqi opposition to Saddam was  incapable
of toppling him. Yet now, with 11 September and the war on  terror,
Washington's commitment to overthrow Saddam is growing stronger  by the day.
As a result, the United States is re-energising the idea  that these groups
can replace a regime which runs one of the most  tightly organised security
systems in the world.

But this is a fiction. Recently, I examined my notes of the lengthy
interviews I conducted with 82 Iraqi opposition leaders. I began
identifying those on my list whose thinking resembles Saddam's. To my
horror, I decided that 75 of the people I interviewed were men who would
kill to achieve their goal.

Poor Iraq. Even if Saddam goes, Saddamism, corruption and violence are
there to stay.


Arabic News, 26th November

Adel Murad, the representative of the Kurdistani national federation in
Syria has announced that his organization which is led by Jalal al-Taliban
is preparing during the few coming days to launch a large- scale attack at
Jund al-Islam ( soldiers of Islam) group which he considered as linked to
Osama Bin Laden.

In statements issued by the Kuwaiti daily al-Rai al-Am on Saturday, Murad
indicated that this attack will be at a direct support by weapons and money
from the Kurdistani democratic party led by Meosut al-Barazani and in
co-ordination with the Iranian government.

Murad said that the " Jund al-Islam" organization which declared itself by
the beginning of last September and declared the " Kurdish citizen" Warya
Holery, better known as " Abdullah al-Shafe'" as a ruler ( prince ) for it
had committed an ugly crime when it attacked Shamal village to the " East of
Iraq" in an area falls under the control of the Kurdish militias which
declared rebellion at Baghdad and he also killed 25 persons.

Murad continued that striking Bin Laden's group in Afghanistan will be
reflected on the " Jund al-Islam movement and will result in its collapse,
noting that the Kurdistani federation party will not wait until the collapse
of all Taliban, rather will work to settle the situation concerning what is
called " the Kurdistan of Iraq." Murad said that the national federation led
by al-Taliban did not make contacts with the US concerning the elimination
of " Jund al Islam " organization.


by Dina Pyanykh, Dmitry Vinitski

MOSCOW, Nov 26, 2001 (Itar-Tass via COMTEX) -- An international round- table
conference on Russian-Iraqi economic cooperation in the conditions where the
U.N. sanctions against Baghdad are still in effect opened in Moscow Monday

The conference has been organized by the committee for cultural, scientific
and business cooperation with Iraq in a bid to consolidate the efforts of
Russia's political, public and business quarters in defending Russian
economic interests in Iraq.

The conference gathered in the run-up to the December 3 meeting of the U.N.
Security Council that will discuss the situation around Iraq and a possible
extension of the Oil-for- Food program.

Yuri Shafranik, Russia's former minister of fuel and energy who now chairs
the committee, says the program will be deadlocked altogether if the
Security Council passes a version of the resolution drafted by the U.S. and

The U.S. and British proposal boils down to a further toughening of
sanctions against Baghdad. Its adoption by the Security Council may force
Russian businesses to suspend all operations on the Iraqi market.

The round-table conference is attended by Russian diplomats, officials from
the industrial ministries that have interests in Iraq, members of
parliament, public figures, and also executives of large Russian companies
that have contracts in Iraq.

The Iraqi delegation is headed by the Chairman of the Organization for
Peace, Friendship and Solidarity with Foreign Countries, Dr Abdel Razzak

Officials from the Iraqi ministries of oil, industry, commerce and
agriculture plan to inform the participants on the situation in the Iraqi
economy and to comment on the Iraqi government's steps to make business
environment in the country favorable for Russian companies.

Economic Times (PTI), 29th November

IRAQ is looking at doubling its trade with Indian companies in electrical
goods from the existing $350 million in the next two years, Iraqi minister
of commission of electricity Sahbaan Mahjoob has said.

Speaking at a meeting with Indian electrical and electronic manufacturers
association, Mahjoob said there was a large potential as Iraq is rebuilding
its power generation plants.

Mahjoob held a round of talks with the IEEMA members to discuss increased
trade prospects with India, an IEEMA release said.

The talks covered wide ranging issues including supply and installation of
power generation plants, exporting transmission and distribution equipment
and supply and installation of production plants for electrical equipment.

In the last three years Iraq has imported electrical equipment worth over
$750 million, out of which $350 million worth of products were supplied by
Indian companies.


by Ashraf Mumtaz
Dawn 25th November, 09 Ramazan 1422

LAHORE, Nov 24: Renowned American scholar Dr Noam Chomsky said on Saturday
that the United States did not seek authorization for launching air strikes
on Afghanistan from the United Nations because the involvement of the world
body could have limited its unilateral power to act.

Delivering a lecture and then answering questions from a packed hall at a
hotel as well as an on-line audience in Karachi, he said Russia and China
were happy because of their own interests.

Hundreds of people had come to listen to the scholar, many of them without
invitation with the result that most of them had to sit on the floor. They
gave a standing ovation to Prof Chomsky as he stepped into the hall.

Prof Chomsky said that except for standing on the side of the international
coalition, Pakistan had few options in the situation - partly because of
Islamabad's role in the past, especially its support for the CIA and then
the Taliban.

He said the Muslim world as a whole was in serious trouble. Making an
obvious reference to the Arab states, he said they were surviving on oil
wealth which would not last long. Resources of these countries were being
drained to the West and in case the situation remained unchanged, the future
of next generations would not be good.

He did not agree with the suggestion that the American people had supported
US attacks on Afghanistan, or that the results of the opinion polls in this
regard were reflective of their thinking. In fact, he said, the response by
the American people depended on the questions put to them. If they were
asked whether action should be taken against the perpetrators of the Sept 11
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, their response would be
in the affirmative. But if they were asked whether innocent people should be
targeted, their answer would be quite different. When a questioner tried to
support the US action against a 'repressive' regime in Afghanistan, Prof
Chomsky said it was not for America to take action against repressive
regimes. He said the governments of India and Pakistan were "highly
repressive" but this did not mean that they should be destroyed.

In his opinion the US system was most fundamentalist in the world, more
fundamentalist than even that of Iran. He said a fundamentalist system could
be possible even in a democracy.

Answering a question, the American dissident said that going by the
definition of terrorism, the US itself was a terrorist state.

He did not agree with the suggestion that American people were supporting
what their government was doing in Afghanistan. He said the media was not
portraying the entire picture because of which people were not fully aware
of the ground situation. He recalled a UN agency's request that US should
withdraw the threat of bombing of Afghanistan as it was obstructing
humanitarian assistance in that country and creating danger for starvation
of millions of people there. But, he regretted, it was ignored by the media.
The paper which carried the report made only a passing remark at the tail of
some other story.

In reply to a question about the US establishment's assertion that after
Afghanistan they would target more countries, Iraq being one of them, Prof
Chomsky said the US had said at the outset that they would go after
everyone, every defenceless.

He said the US would not touch countries where its own interests were hurt.
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia, he added, was one example.

He pointed out that statements by Osama bin Laden and President Bush and
Prime Minister Blair were identical, although both sides interpreted them
differently. While Osama said he would use force to drive aggressors out of
Afghanistan, Bush and Blair meant that they would drive such people from the

Prof Chomsky said the US was pressing Afghanistan to "hand over" Osama and
not "extradite" him as in the latter case the US would have required the
Security Council's sanction.

He said it was strange that war against terrorism was being led by a country
which was condemned by the world for terrorism. Referring to American plans
for militarization of space, he said no other country was in race with the
US and it alone was its competitor.

He was critical of the US support to Israel, saying when an Israeli
helicopter killed somebody, it should be taken as an American helicopter
because the Jewish state did not manufacture helicopters.

Prof Chomsky paid glowing tributes to Dr Eqbal Ahmad, saying he never
wavered from his cause despite reversals and always supported good
neighbourly relations between Pakistan and India. He also wanted an end to
religious and secular fanaticism in the two states.

The race for nuclear arms between the two countries and cycle of repression
was yet another matter of serious concern for Dr Eqbal, Prof Chomsky said.

The lecture was organized by The Friday Times and Eqbal Ahmad Foundation.
This was the fourth lecture of the series and the next year's guest speaker
will be Prof Edward Said.

Dr Pervaiz Hoodbhoy, Najam Sethi and Jugnu Mohsin also spoke.

Ministers, politicians, diplomats, etc., attended the lecture and the
proceedings were also relayed to a hall in Karachi.

by Dan Balz
Washington Post, 26th November


William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and co-author of a number of
articles challenging the administration's war policies, said that, for many
Americans, Sept. 11 represents "a challenge we need to beat back
competently," but not much more than that.

"For us, more is at stake," he said. "If this war is fought right, the
benefits will be huge, but if it's fought wrong, the costs will be huge. If
you think what's at stake is the shape of the world order, if you think
about threats of weapons of mass destruction in the future . . . then you're
likely to be engaged in how this war ought to be fought."

The flash point in the debate remains Iraq and whether the administration
decides that its war against terrorism requires a new effort to drive Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein from power and wipe out his capability to develop
weapons of mass destruction.

"Iraq is not just a tactical issue of how we manage the situation," Kristol
said. "Whether we take on Iraq has huge implications for the U.S. role in
the world, and fundamentally, it's whether we're going to take it upon
ourselves to shape a new world order."

In recent days, Bush's critics on the right have seen signs that the
administration is swinging toward their view of how the war on terrorism
should be fought. They cite remarks Bush made several weeks ago about
weapons of mass destruction and recent comments from national security
adviser Condoleezza Rice and other senior administration officials as
evidence that Iraq may be the next target in the war.

Kristol summedup what he and others on the right have been advocating as the
outlines of "an American liberal, imperial role" in the world. That is
likely to provoke a huge debate and could prompt the first serious dissent
from the left. Since Sept. 11, the left has chosen to embrace Bush's
policies in Afghanistan while criticizing policies at home that they say
will undermine civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. Bush has
escaped criticism, but Attorney General John D. Ashcroft has not.


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