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News, 24-30/11/01 (1)

News, 24-30/11/01 (1)

Apologies for the late delivery of the following due to a bit of travelling.
News still dominated by the possibility that Iraq will be next, in this case
structured by an interview and speech Bush gave on Monday (ŒBush warns Iraq
on weapons inspectionsı). The best articles are those that have already been
circulated: ŒThe hostage nationı (Von Sponeck and Halliday, under Enforcing
the Embargo), ŒA chamber of horrors so close to the 'Garden of Eden' (under
Depleted Uranium) and ŒA tale of 70 factions and 400 suitsı (under Iraqi
Opposition). Thereıs also (under New World Order) ŒUS a terrorist state:


*  War has only just started: Bush [Extracts. According to an ex-Clinton
adviser, Iraq is the Œheadquartersı of world terrorism though, considering
the wrong that has been done to it, it seems that, on the face of it, Iraq
has shown remarkable patience and restraint, especially when compared with
the US. Since it appears, however, that patience and restraint are not to be
rewarded, perhaps they will change their policy ...]
*  Bush warns Iraq on weapons inspections
*  Bush turns America's fury towards Saddam
*  Smiles in Kabul, Then in Baghdad, Tel Aviv, Gaza [Touchingly naive
article which informs us that the Iraqi people are longing to be blown to
smithereens by the people who have been starving them and depriving them of
the means to make a living or heal their sick for the past ten years. The
article contains one curious phrase: ΠJust last month the Iraqis are said
to have secretly executed nine pro-Syrian members of the Ba'ath Party.ı Has
the idea of a union with Syria (speed the day!) been surfacing again in the
ranks of the Iraqi Baıath Party?
*  Not the Most Urgent Goal [Article by ex-national security adviser to Al
Gore. The US should continue to starve the people of Iraq until the army has
had a chance to rest from its exertions in Afghanistan. Then go in and bomb
the place to pieces]
*  Bush Iraq Comments May Set Stage for Showdown [Extracts giving views of
ex-arms inspection team member Tim McCarthy and his ŒMonterey Instituteı]
*  Americans want a war on Iraq and we can't stop them [Hugo Young on our
future as just one poodle among many]
*  Saddam in the crosshairs [Israeli argument that anyone who possesses
weapons of mass destruction must be crushed. Well. Perhaps not everybody,
exactly ...]
*  Turkey Hints It Could Back Iraq Strikes [Though the hint is so delicate
as to be almost imperceptible]
*  War on terror will enter second phase: Tony Blair [Just in case anyone is
hoping Tony might put up opposition to anything Bush might want to do]
*  Demand for Iraq Inspections Could Be Ploy for Attack [The myth of a
feeble UN weapons inspection team consistently outfoxed by wily Iraqis until
having to leave with a cry of despair is now being presented everywhere as
fact. The real history is of a series of deliberate provocations and insults
by a gang of US intelligence agents designed to prolong the sanctions regime
indefinitely, despite an historically unprecedented degree of compliance on
the part of the Iraqi government, who eventually concluded, rightly, though
rather late in the day, that the game just wasnıt worth playing].
*  Powell Downplays Talk of U.S. Action Against Iraq
*  . . . And Now to Iraq [Extracts. Afghanistan proves that massacre from
the air can work (actually that was proved in Japan in 1945) and that Muslim
opposition to US adventurism is just a lot of hot air. So go after Iraq. The
only reason to hesitate is that he may possess nasty weapons. Moral: self
defence under the New World Order requires the possession of nasty weapons]
*  Iran Warns U.S. on More Attacks
*  A Lonely Battle Against Terror [The lonely battle is in fact Spainıs
battle against ETA. The Spanish Prime Minister recommends (rather late in
the day) that the US should abide by the law. As if the US cares what the
Spanish PM thinks. The article goes on to an account (not given here) of
Afghan refugees in Iran]
*  Blair rejects Tory call for action on Iraq [a little finger pointing at

*  Anthrax trail leads from Iowa to Iraq
by Steve Fainaru and Joby Warrick
Sydney Morning Herald (from Washington Post), 26th November
Despite the headline, the article gives not the slightest hint of a trail
leading to Iraq.
*  Experts Sure Iraq Has Bio-Weapons
by Dafna Linzer, Associated Press Writer
Yahoo, 29th November
Nothing new in this. It reflects the Richard Butler rather than the Scott
Ritter version of the history of the weapons inspectors.


*  Oil sales are not enough for buying the food for the Iraqis
*  Changes would nullify UN oil-for-food accord-Iraq
*  UN Security Council Approves Iraq Sanctions Plan
*  Reducing the risk of war with Iraq [Seems to suggest that the Russians
have agreed to implement - rather than just to consider - the full Œsmart
sanctionsı policy next Summer]

AND, IN NEWS, 24-30/11/01 (2)


*  Air flights resumed between Jordan, Baghdad
*  Iraq ratified the free market agreement with Algeria, UAE
*  Kuwaiti liberals enjoy moment in the sun
*  Iraq-backed terror cell nabbed in West Bank [The connection with Iraq is
rather nebulous]
*  Iraq foils Iran-linked attack
*  Egypt Says U.S. Vows Not to Attack Iraq
*  Kuwait Debates U.S.-Islamic Life [After all weıve done for them, there
are still some of them who dare to disapprove of Barbie dolls]
*  Baghdad Recalls Ambassador to Turkey


*  Rescuers find body of U.S. seaman in Gulf
*  Impoverished Iraqis struggle to survive on past's leftovers [Back to the
reality on the ground. Though the sculptor Mohammed Ghani Hikmat, who wants
to do Œcolossal monuments that often depict historical characters or were
inspired by legends from 1,001 Nightsı but is obliged instead to do
miniatures does not greatly excite my sympathies.]
*  U.S. Bombs Iraqi Air Defense Site
*  The hostage nation [Powerful denunciation of current UN policy by Hans
von Sponeck and Denis Halliday]


*  Going Backwards ­ US Wins Defeat of Depleted Uranium Study [This was
communicated to the list and I have been unable to find a URL or date for
it, but it seems very important that the US should be preventing a proper
investigation of the whole question of the use of depleted uranium]
*  A chamber of horrors so close to the 'Garden of Eden' [Powerful
description from the Independent of the health effects of the Gulf War and
its aftermath]


*  The Kurdistan's national federation and Jund al-Islam group


*  A tale of 70 factions and 400 suits [An unkind but probably accurate
description of what the US Imperialist press like to call the Œdemocratic
oppositionı in Iraq. Points to the problems but doesnıt say much about the
reasons for those problems. But as in the case of S.Hussein himself what is
interesting is the causes - why such a person should get into such a
position - not the badness of otherwise of the individuals concerned]


*  Round-table conference on Russia-Iraq trade opens in Moscow
*  Iraq to double its trade with India


*  US a terrorist state: Chomsky [Not much about Iraq but included just for
the pleasure of reading someone able to see what is going on in front of his
*  In Role Reversal, War Criticism Is Mostly From Right [Extract on views of
William Kristol, editor of the US paper the Weekly Standard, on he need for
an ŒAmerican liberal, imperial role in the worldı. In case anyoneıs
wondering, the terms Œliberalı and Œimperialı are not at all, historically
speaking, contradictory.]

*  Now Arab and Muslim Societies Need to Wage a War of Ideas
by Thomas L. Friedman
International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 24th November
Moral teachings from the most enlightened and peaceloving nation in the
world. A treat for the masochists in our midst.

FINGER POINTING AT IRAQ,5936,3307649%255E15802

by Stephen Romei
The Mercury (from The Australian), 24th November


Iraq tops the US's list of terror-sponsoring states. Hussein has developed
weapons of mass destruction and used them, in the form of chemical agents,
on Iraq's Kurdish population.

"Iraq is the crucial question which looms before Bush. He must decide
whether or not to repeat the error of his father," Dick Morris, former
adviser to president Bill Clinton, told The Australian.

"Terrorism is like cancer ­ if you don't stop it everywhere, you haven't
stopped it anywhere. If Bush leaves Saddam in control, he has only defeated
a branch office of terrorism, not its headquarters."

Hawks such as Morris ­ and there are like minds in the Bush administration ­
argue that crushing Hussein would send a powerful message to incubators of
terrorism such as Libya, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan.

"If we attack Iraq, it will show the war against terror is more than just a
revenge killing for the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. It will be a
war against terrorism wherever we find it," Morris said.


But some observers believe this is precisely the wrong time to take on Iraq.
Indeed, they fear a gung-ho US will squander a rare opportunity to persuade
the Arab world to stand up to its militant elements.

Martin Indyk, the Australian-raised former US ambassador to Israel, has
tracked the number of demonstrations in 21 Arab nations since the war began.
In week one there were nine. In week two there were three and by week five
there were none.

Indyk, a senior fellow at the Washington think-tank the Brookings
Institution, concluded: "The reality is that the Arab street does not want
to be identified with terrorism."


by Patrick Smyth
Irish Times, 27th November

President George Bush yesterday appeared to signal an escalation in US war
ambitions by pledging to "hold to account" countries which "develop weapons
of mass destruction that will be used to terrorise nations".

And, as media commentators increased their speculation about a possible next
phase of the campaign against terrorism, he had a specific warning for
President Saddam Hussein of Iraq: "He needs to let inspectors back in his
country to show he is not developing weapons of mass destruction."

What would the consequences be if he failed to do so?

"He'll find out," the President said during a brief press conference in the
White House Rose Garden.

But journalists attempting to pin down the President on a perceived "shift
of definition" in his war aims were told by a puzzled Mr Bush that "I've
always held that definition".

His spokesman, Mr Ari Fleischer, later insisted that the President's current
focus was still on the Afghan phase of the war and that the comments,
prompted by a journalist's questions, were merely the reiteration of
"longstanding policy".

Mr Bush was deliberately unspecific about consequences, Mr Fleischer said,
and did not have a timescale for compliance in mind, insisting that
accountability could take many forms.

The US campaign against terrorism included financial sanctions,
international arrests and the trading of intelligence, he said.

In an editorial yesterday entitled "The Wrong Time to Fight Iraq" the New
York Times responded to calls by many hawkish commentators for a war to
topple President Saddam.

The paper argued that the US should instead continue to apply "maximum"
pressure on Iraq and help develop a real opposition.


by Stephen Robinson in Washington
Daily Telegraph, 26th November

LOOKING beyond what Washington now regards as an assured victory in
Afghanistan, President Bush yesterday publicly laid out American strategy
for tackling the terrorist threat from Iraq and beyond.

"Saddam is evil," said Mr Bush, the first time he had applied that adjective
to the Iraqi dictator. "I think he's got weapons of mass destruction, and I
think he needs to open up his country to let us inspect."

Mr Bush said it was obvious from Saddam's previous use of chemical weapons
that he was a threat and harboured ambitions towards mass terrorism. "It's
up to him to prove he's not," said Mr Bush, reversing the onus of proof.

Mr Bush used an interview with Newsweek magazine to identify Saddam as a
target, and appeared to relish the prospect of finishing the job of
neutralising the Iraqi dictator, which his father did not achieve after the
Gulf war 10 years ago.

In effect, under a policy known within the administration as "coercive
diplomacy", the Iraqi leadership will be told to readmit the expelled United
Nations weapons inspectors or face military attack.

The next military assault would be much wider than the occasional air
strikes launched by US and British jets enforcing the no-fly zones over
northern and southern Iraq.

Mr Bush also cited Syria as a state that needed to "take a hard look at some
of the groups in their country".

Other military objectives in the widening of the campaign against terrorism
include a suspected al-Qa'eda training camp in Somalia detected by
reconnaissance planes.

The CIA continues to believe that there are al-Qa'eda cells in Yemen and
Sudan, despite public moves by both governments to satisfy Washington that
they were taking action. Strikes against those countries could follow the
completion of the Afghanistan mission.

Speaking at length for the first time since the attacks on September 11, the
president appeared determined and confident about the course of the war.

He acknowledged that it could take time to capture or kill Osama bin Laden,
but he was adamant that "we're going to get him one way or another".

Mr Bush said the primary goal had always been to disrupt bin Laden's
activities, and that had been achieved now that he was on the run.


by David Ignatius
International Herald Tribune, 26th November

PARIS: A simple way to assess U.S. policy choices over the next few months
is to apply the smile test. Ask yourself what American actions would bring
smiles to the faces of ordinary people in the Middle East like those we have
seen from Afghan men and women in the past week. Photographs don't lie.
Anyone could see the joy and relief as Afghans celebrated the collapse of a
Taliban government that had governed by chopping off people's limbs and
destroying thousand-year-old works of art. People could breathe again. Women
could show their faces if they chose, and men could cut their beards. Thanks
to foreign intervention, the hold of a small clique of religious fanatics
had been broken.

So where does this war of liberation go next? I share the view of many in
the Bush administration that the right goals are to replace Saddam Hussein's
regime in Iraq and to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian problem. On the smile
test, these two would be off the charts. But to succeed, the United States
will need a solid coalition of support that includes Israel, Turkey, Syria,
Egypt and perhaps also Iran. This next campaign will require time and
patience. It should not begin until victory in Afghanistan is complete. But
now is the time to lay the groundwork.

A joyous celebration in Baghdad would greet Saddam's demise. Ordinary Iraqis
loathe their leader with a passion most outsiders probably can't appreciate.
This is a man who has governed for 30 years by torture. He has presided over
what the Iraqi dissident Kanan Makiya rightly calls a "republic of fear" - a
place where, according to human rights reports, children are thrown out of
helicopters to terrify their dissident parents into submission.

Iraqis have been praying that the United States and its allies would finally
turn this odious page in their history. That task won't be easy, but it is
time to begin building the coalition of support, overt and covert, that will
someday make it possible.

An early opportunity will come this week when the UN Security Council again
takes up a U.S. proposal for "smart sanctions" against Iraq. Saddam hates
the idea because it would help the people while hurting his regime.

The plan was scuttled last time by a Russian veto. After his amiable visit
to George W. Bush's Texas ranch, it is time for Vladimir Putin to help make
smart sanctions work. Presidents Bush and Putin should also join in
demanding a return of inspectors to Iraq to search for weapons of mass
destruction. If Iraq refuses, the world will better understand what is at

Turkey seems eager to play a Pakistan-like role anchoring a new push against
Saddam, but the Turks won't be enough. America will also need support from
Arab nations such as Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It is precisely because
these countries are often hostile toward the United States that their
support against Saddam will matter.

Why would Syria want to help oust Saddam? Just last month the Iraqis are
said to have secretly executed nine pro-Syrian members of the Ba'ath Party.

Iran presents an interesting dilemma. Although a terrorist state itself for
most of the past 20 years, it has quietly allied with the United States
against the Taliban. An Arab official told me recently that the Iranians
have been allowing U.S. jets to fly through their airspace on the way to
bombing Afghanistan. And French intelligence sources report that Iranian
militiamen helped drive the Taliban from Herat.

The other American effort that can bring smiles to the Middle East - in Tel
Aviv as much as in Gaza - is to get Israeli-Palestinian negotiations back on
track. "I have spent my whole life anguishing over this problem," an Arab
intellectual complained to me. "Can't the United States do something to
solve it?" Many Israelis would say the same thing.

Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations last week was
a good start. He said publicly some of what the United States has been
saying privately, in secret letters to Saudi Arabia outlining its commitment
to a Palestinian state.

The American motto toward Israelis and Palestinians right now should be
"tough love." That means putting teeth into long-standing U.S. policy
opposing Israeli settlements - and making a stink when the Sharon government
announces plans to harden settlements, as it did last week.

Tough love also means working harder, through the CIA's growing intelligence
network, to stop Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

Change comes slowly in the Middle East, but it is coming. A small sign was a
statement on Friday by Lebanon's Shiite leader, Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah -
who 18 years ago was blamed by the United States for inciting the terrorist
bombing that killed 241 Marines in Beirut. "Bin Laden is not the leader of
the Muslim world and does not represent Islam," Sheikh Fadlallah told the
Lebanese weekly Al Moharrer. He said bin Laden was merely "profiteering"
from oppression in the Arab world. If Sheikh Fadlallah can denounce
terrorism, perhaps the iceberg that has frozen politics in the Middle East
is finally beginning to break up. This is a war of liberation - in part,
from history itself - and this is no time to stop. More struggle, more
victories, more smiles.

by Leon Fuerth
Washington Post, 27th November

In Afghanistan the Taliban have been driven out of power, and Osama bin
Laden's apparatus is disrupted and hunted. Iraq, however, is coming up as
the next major piece of unfinished business. There are reports of strongly
held views within the administration that the United States should strike
while we have the opportunity.

Those who hold this view are right in believing that neither the region nor
the United States itself will be safe until both Saddam Hussein and the
Baath political regime are gone. This is a man who was coming perilously
close to having nuclear weapons capability before he made his disastrous
misstep in Kuwait. He is believed to have developed chemical and possibly
biological weapons, and he used chemical weapons on a massive scale against
the Kurds in 1988.

It is possible that he has concealed numbers of Scud ballistic missiles and
their launchers. No one was certain about the status of weapons of this type
even when U.N. inspectors were ensconced in Baghdad, and the inspectors have
been gone now for three years.

Meanwhile, Saddam has been trying to loosen the economic sanctions that bind
him and has managed to use the sufferings he imposes on his own people to
build sympathy worldwide for Iraq's plight. Illegal oil sales have given him
access to hundreds of millions of dollars. Time is not weakening Saddam
Hussein. Rather, his potential for rising again to threaten the interests of
the United States is growing. But the tremendous risk involved in turning on
him must be thought through.

It is likely that immediately targeting Iraq would be more than the
anti-terror coalition could sustain, not just because of the effect on the
Arab "street" but because France and especially Russia have invested deeply
in efforts to preserve Saddam Hussein as a man worth doing (oil) business
with. If so, then Saddam's luck still holds. The first Bush administration
might have destroyed him in 1990 but held back because it thought Iraq under
Saddam was necessary as a counterweight to Iran. The Clinton administration
could not generate international support for anything much more forceful
than limited airstrikes. And at the end of the day, the current
administration may also find that it cannot destroy Saddam without causing
grievous damage to other, more urgent priorities.

If persuasive evidence existed linking Iraq to the use of anthrax as a
biological weapon in this country, that would create an open-and-shut case
for finishing him. But without such a link, or some other fresh, major
provocation, it would be difficult to build our case for dealing with
Saddam. We would need to reheat the chilled and congealed crisis over his
ejection of U.N. arms inspectors, and we would have to make (justified)
demands for maximum access, given the length of time Iraq has been able to
enjoy privacy. The administration would also have to revive its effort to
refocus sanctions: perhaps setting up the equation "smart sanctions or smart
bombs, take your pick."

It would have to avoid notions of breaking up Iraq. Our goal should be to
establish a federal, democratic state with a weak central government and
strong local governments in the Kurdish, Sunni and Shia regions. We
certainly ought to cooperate with the Iraqi National Congress, but not be
swept up in romanticism about its ability to operate effectively inside

All this will take time to develop, and that is just as well. U.S. forces
will need to be rested after the campaign in Afghanistan. There are also
more urgent priorities than Iraq: carrying the campaign against terror to
other parts of the world by whatever combinations of means turns out to be
best suited in each location -- but above all, maintaining the initiative so
that the ability of terrorists to network is dismantled, and they are
reduced to isolated cells to be finished off by local authorities, with
massive help from others.

But when the moment comes, the United States must avoid half-measures. Given
the changed climate produced by Sept. 11, we should aim from the beginning
to destroy the Iraqi regime, root and branch. That is the only way to secure
the logistically and politically indispensable support we need from the Gulf
states. And finally, we must avoid a major ground war unless Saddam forces
it upon us by massing forces against his neighbors. It could be that the war
in Afghanistan will turn out to be a proving ground for the kind of tactics
that would give us the means to take Saddam Hussein down once and for all.
That is another reason to avoid haste. There are still lessons to be

The writer was national security adviser to former vice president Al Gore
and is now Shapiro visiting professor of international relations at George
Washington University.

by Randall Mikkelsen
Reuters, 27th November


"We're laying the groundwork for some activities against Iraq," said Tim
McCarthy, a former member of the U.N. arms inspection team in Iraq and a
senior researcher for the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

A showdown could begin within six months, he said. A telltale sign of
impending action would be if U.S. Navy carriers remained in the region after
the battle in Afghanistan winds down.


A summary of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities compiled by the
Monterey Institute says Iraq has the expertise to build nuclear weapons, and
it may have retained stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. It is
also rebuilding missile-production facilities destroyed in 1998 by U.S.
bombs and may retain several missiles.


by Hugo Young
The Guardian, 27th November

President Bush's prime purpose now is gearing up America for a wider war.
"It's not over. It's not over," he told Newsweek, concerned that the people
might think otherwise. "Afghanistan is just the beginning," he roared to an
audience of soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. "America has a message for
the nations of the world. If you feed a terrorist or fund a terrorist,
you're a terrorist."

In Newsweek, he amplified this with reference to one man. "Saddam is evil,"
he declared for the first time. It could take years to catch Osama bin
Laden, he allowed. But many other targets are now on notice of merciless

You do not hear a single word of similar intensity from any European leader.
Even Tony Blair, while regularly reinvoking the global campaign against
terror, seldom talks about the enemy with Bush's slavering passion for
specific eliminations. The president is mobilising an American national will
such as we have not recently seen.

During the cold war it was unquestioning, but static. During Vietnam, it
disintegrated. Now the enemy, though invisible, is unmistakable, and the
national stirring is deep against him. For the first time, the US was
attacked: for the first time, the US doesn't mind if casualties are taken in
the name of vengeance or self-protection. For the first time, therefore,
public opinion is unambiguously ready to come in behind whatever
intervention a president decides he must propose.

One proof of this is what encroachments on their liberties Americans are
willing to put up with. Protests against the repressive gospel according to
the attorney general, John Ashcroft, are few and far between. A country that
guards its constitutional freedoms with meticulous passion is prepared to
surrender them with pious indifference. So easy is such submission to raison
d'état that the quiet torture of recalcitrant suspects surely cannot be far

Europeans should reflect on this as a measure of the hard-eyed national
commitment that differentiates the American mood from that of any other
country. This, rather than the diplomatic niceties of coalition building,
will mainly determine what happens next.

Though a division over policy is not yet visible among the allies, the gulf
of perception seems likely to become significant. The temper of the times
will remain sternly hot in the US while, barring more terrorism, it
eventually cools in Europe. Far from this campaign yielding a new concert of
civilised nations, it will emphasise the deafening control of the trumpeter
and conductor. The British piccolo, in particular, will find it harder to be
heard. The band continues to play in rough harmony, but only on condition
that it follows the unilateral beat of the big bass drum.

In three theatres, you can see this starting to happen. Afghanistan itself
has become an American operation. Sure, they needed allies in all adjoining
countries, and worked to get them. There's been a huge amount of
transatlantic traffic. When aspiring partners, from Italy to Japan, thirsted
to get in on the action and prove their manly commitment, they were
nominally accepted, their troops probably never to be used. When even the
German Greens, at the weekend, voted to take part, a Rubicon of lasting
importance to Germany and Europe was crossed.

But Washington remains in unimpeded charge. Behind coalitionist talk, that's
how they want it. They speak, moreover, for a different aftermath. Again the
verbiage tries to soften this. But when Mr Blair talks about rebuilding
Afghanistan and not forgetting it in the peace, it's plain he is sincere
whereas Bush's people mouth the words and do not really mean them.

There's nothing wrong with nation-building, but not when it's done by the
American military," said Condoleezza Rice not long ago, speaking as the
president's closest foreign policy aide. Though Washington is pledged to a
large chunk of the $10bn aid Kabul has been promised, it's unlikely to stay
and oversee the maintenance of a stable, semi-decent regime to spend it.
That's not what the new Bush doctrine, a results-oriented, short-vision
construct, is all about.

Second, the world itself will not, I now guess, benefit from a new
internationalism. After September 11, many of us wrote optimistically
otherwise. A unilateral foreign policy was surely dead and buried. When it
comes to collaborating against terror, that may remain so. Washington's
withdrawal from the Middle East peace process is also no longer an option.
But the other litmus tests seem likely to be failed.

Swift smashing of the Taliban can't plausibly be seen as a platform for
reneging on Republican hostility to either the comprehensive test ban treaty
or the international criminal court. On the contrary. Seen from Washington,
what's being achieved is, among other things, the triumph of an American
view of the world that can now be amplified elsewhere.

Third, and most delicately, comes Bush's promise that Afghanistan is not the
end but the beginning. Again, many countries are signed up to that.
Organised commitment to strangle the finances of terrorism should make a
difference. But a choice presents itself, in which it's clear where every EU
country, not to mention Russia and most of the Middle East, stands: on the
slow road of economic and diplomatic action, rather than the fast track of
bulldog threats followed by instant bombing.

Though Iraq may not be the first place that comes under fire, it's by far
the most sensitive, and now the president, talking to Newsweek, gives Saddam
his warning: let the UN arms inspectors back in, or face the consequences.

The American mood will tolerate this, perhaps demand it. Not long ago,
speculation about the Iraqi option was linked to an anxious need for
incontrovertible proof of al-Qaida connections. Now, the test is becoming
looser. What looks like a speedy victory in Afghanistan is galvanising US
ambitions to be the world's super-enforcer, whatever the problems, for a
global cause Americans believe in more clearly than they've believed in
anything since the second world war. It's hard to identify a single voice
that might be loud enough to stop it.

Least of all Tony Blair's. Though Mr Blair has done a good job as a major
builder of the coalition, is it credible that he will count for more than
the deep-throated thunder from of the Republican right, smarting with rage
to complete the job Bush's father failed to do on Saddam? Most Europeans
know which side they're on after the criminal obscenity of September 11. But
as time passes, they're drawn ineluctably into a campaign over which they
will have ever less influence.

Their support is an essential token, and their networks are vital to the
political and economic effort. But when it comes to calling the shots,
Washington cannot be denied, at least by Britain. It's impossible to write
the speech one could believe Blair might give to defend his withdrawal of
support. Maybe he wouldn't want to. But, helplessly drawn along, we will not
walk taller in the world.

Jerusalem Post, 13 Kislev 5762, 28th November

(November 28) - It is still not definitively known, and may not even be
decided, who America will target in "Stage 2" of the war against terrorism.
It is, however, known which regime must be toppled before this war can be
considered provisionally won: Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

In his appearance on Monday with two American missionaries rescued from
Afghanistan, President George Bush did not mince words: "Afghanistan is
still just the beginning. If anybody harbors a terrorist, they're a
terrorist. If they fund a terrorist, they're a terrorist... If they develop
weapons of mass destruction that will be used to terrorize nations, they
will be held accountable. And as for Mr. Saddam Hussein, he needs to let
inspectors back in his country, to show us that he is not developing weapons
of mass destruction."

With this, Bush has deftly and correctly dismissed a line of argument that
even America's close European allies have used to exempt Saddam from the
coalition's crosshairs. These allies, including even Britain's so far
stalwart Tony Blair, have acted as if the only targets in this war will be
those responsible for September 11 itself. "Show me the evidence," the
Europeans say, "and we're with you." But Bush's point is that there is no
need to link Saddam directly to September 11, even though it is hard to
believe that Saddam provided no assistance to Osama bin Laden. What matters,
says Bush, is that Saddam's megalomania is no less dangerous than bin
Laden's, and Saddam is developing much more dangerous weapons to carry out
his plans to dominate the Middle East and terrorize the world.

Ten years ago, Bush's father gave Saddam an ultimatum: Get out of Kuwait or
we'll push you out. Today's Bush ultimatum is give up your weapons or give
up power.

It should be clear that the logic of the war on terrorism leads inexorably
to Bush's conclusion. Not reacting seriously against lesser attacks led to
September 11. If Saddam's regime survives this war, the West will be
inviting attacks and intimidation that make September 11 look relatively

Given the stakes, the counterarguments seem incredibly feeble. Some argue
that the threat from Saddam is exaggerated. But evidence from the Gulf War
demonstrates that Saddam was much closer to building a nuclear weapon than
Western intelligence had estimated. The idea that Saddam can be "watched
closely" and indefinitely prevented from adding to his already dangerous
chemical and biological arsenals is irresponsible in the extreme.

Some speculate that the elder Bush and some of his former advisers,
including the current secretary of state, are reluctant to admit that they
made a mistake by leaving Saddam in place a decade ago. Indeed, some in this
group may still believe that Saddam should not be toppled because of the
danger of "instability" in the Gulf.

Here too, however, it is inconceivable that Bush would let the goals of the
war be limited by the need to protect his father's pride. In retrospect, the
senior Bush's determination and leadership far outweigh his mistakes. The
eviction of Iraq from Kuwait was far from predetermined, and a strong case
can be made that the first Bush administration had started working on
Saddam's removal before leaving office. It is the Clinton administration,
not Bush I, that should bear the primary burden for abandoning the Iraqi
opposition in 1995 and letting Saddam "out of the box." The more serious
charge against the current administration is that it is sympathetic to Saudi
Arabia's desire to replace Saddam, but not his regime. In this scenario, the
Saudis fear a democratic Iraq almost as much as they do Saddam, and the Bush
administration is loath to risk instability in Saudi Arabia.

We can only hope that September 11 dealt a mortal blow to a realpolitik
based on the "stability" of corrupt Arab despotisms. America stands for a
revolutionary form of freedom; that is why the bin Ladens of the world hate
it so. Freedom need not be pursued recklessly, but it is reckless not to
pursue it at all. It was a "stable" Saudi Arabia that helped produced not
only bin Laden, but millions of people to cheer him on. It would be a
bizarre twist of fate if America is so bent on preserving the current Saudi
arrangement that effective support for the democratic Iraqi opposition
continues to be withheld, and the threat from Saddam remains unchecked.

by Steve Bryant
Excite, 28th November

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's defense minister hinted Wednesday that the NATO
member might drop its long-standing objections to a U.S. attack on Iraq if
circumstances changed.

"We have officially said again and again that we do not want an operation in
Iraq but new conditions could bring new evaluations onto the agenda,"
Anatolian news agency quoted Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu as
telling a seminar on the defense industry in Ankara.

Asked to elaborate on his remarks, Cakmakoglu said:

"I said that with a general meaning, it is not based on any specific
information or meaning."

Turkey's defense minister does not wield as much influence as Prime Minister
Bulent Ecevit or officers of the military General Staff, but Cakmakoglu's
comments were the first sign from a senior politician that Turkey could
change its position.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to visit Turkey next week during a
tour of Russia and other European countries.


Fears that Powell could seek Turkey's support for a strike against Iraq
contributed to falls of more than six percent on the Istanbul stock exchange
Wednesday morning also fueled by concerns over the economy and discord with
the EU over Cyprus.

Brokers said the imminent Powell visit and a visit on Tuesday by Prime
Minister Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, which holds the EU's rotating
presidency, increased the feeling that something was up in the diplomatic

"The fact that the EU term president and the U.S. foreign minister are
coming in the same period point to talks on Cyprus and getting support for
Iraq. Since both are negative, the market is tense," said Cem Kulahci of
Meksa Securities.


Times of India, 29th November

LONDON ( AP ): The war on terrorism will enter a "deliberative and
considered" new phase that will take it beyond the current campaign in
Afghanistan, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday.

"I have always said there would be two phases of this operation. The first
is in Afghanistan and our military action is focused in Afghanistan," Blair
told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

"The second is, in a deliberative and considered way, to take what action we
can against international terrorism in all its forms," he said.

Blair was responding to a lawmaker who asked him to rule out military action
by the U.S. led coalition against other countries such as Yemen, Somalia or

Blair did not say whether future "action" against terrorism would be
military, but noted that countries that harbored terrorists or developed
weapons to be used by them would be treated as terrorists.

"That has been the position from the beginning," he said. "It is the
position of myself, the American administration and everyone else in the
international coalition and that remains the case."
000094999nov29.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2DworldNovember 29, 2001

by Ronald Brownstein
Los Angeles Times, 29th November

WASHINGTON -- In demanding the resumption of U.N. inspections inside Iraq,
President Bush is advancing a solution that many experts consider incapable
of preventing Saddam Hussein from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Indeed, national security analysts are so pessimistic that renewed
inspections could effectively deter Iraq that many believe Bush is hoping
Hussein will continue to reject the offer--and thus provide a justification
for a military strike against his regime.

"We may be laying the groundwork here for actions against Iraq," said Sen.
John McCain (R Ariz.). Bush's call earlier this week for renewed inspections
has drawn praise from some Middle East experts, who maintain that the United
States must offer the Iraqi president a chance to cooperate now if it is to
build a coalition for tougher steps against him later.

Others worry that Hussein--who so far has unequivocally rejected Bush's
demand--may outfox the United States by eventually accepting it. That could
begin another round of inspections that probably would prove inconclusive
while preempting any effort to assemble support for military action to
overthrow him.

"The folks in the administration who are supportive of going after Saddam
are taking somewhat of a risk in that the focus becomes inspections, which
implicitly leaves Saddam as the legitimate government," said Gary J.
Schmitt, executive director of the Project for a New American Century, a
hawkish think tank.

Yet the demand for inspections offers the administration a way to further
isolate Hussein while delaying decisions on possible military action until
the campaign in Afghanistan is closer to completion. "What it gets us is
showing that we are prepared to work with the international community to try
to deal with the threat of Saddam," said James B. Steinberg, the deputy
national security advisor under President Clinton.

The difficulty the Bush administration would face in achieving international
backing for military action against Iraq was underscored Wednesday when
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, during an appearance in Washington,
said his government has been given an understanding that the United States
does not intend to launch such a campaign. Maher did not specify the source
of his information.

The history of the international efforts to uncover and destroy Iraqi
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in the decade since the
Persian Gulf War is a story of virtually unremitting frustration.

The United Nations imposed the inspections in the resolutions ending the war
in 1991. But from the start, investigators faced relentless Iraqi resistance
that undermined their efforts.

Although the inspections did produce some important discoveries over the
years, the larger lesson of the experience was that "when a determined
criminal flouts international law under cover of the principle of state
sovereignty, the world system, as currently constituted, appears unable or
unwilling to stop him," said Richard Butler, the former chief U.N. weapons
inspector, in his memoir "The Greatest Threat."

Iraq used an assortment of tactics to block the investigators. It ignored
U.N. mandates to provide an accurate roster of weapons facilities. It began
a systematic program of revealing portions of its weapons programs and
concealing the rest--a ruse that was unearthed when one of two Hussein
sons-in-law who defected in 1995 revealed details about the policy.

Frequently, Iraqi officials simply stalled inspectors at the gates of a
facility while other Iraqis raced from the site with documents, literally in
view of the investigators. Later, Iraq unilaterally barred inspectors from
"presidential sites" such as palaces that the investigators believed were
hosting weapons research.

Khidhir Hamza, who directed Iraq's nuclear weapons program before defecting
in 1994, said at a forum last year that Hussein's regime had grown expert at
hiding its biological weapons program from inspectors. "Much of the work was
being moved specially during the inspections. . . . [It] would move around
in hospitals, factories, military areas, bunkers, anywhere," he said.
"They've learned to do it with smaller units working in more or less mobile

Finally, in December 1998, the obstruction reached the point that Butler
reported to the U.N. that the commission he headed was no longer able to
verify the status of Iraq's weapons programs. The United States and Britain
launched several days of airstrikes against Iraqi facilities believed to be
producing weapons of mass destruction and other military targets.

No international inspectors have been allowed back into Iraq since, though
the U.N. demanded their return in a December 1999 resolution. Earlier this
month, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said the only reason
Hussein could be blocking the return of inspections was "so that he can
build weapons of mass destruction."

Given the bleak history of weapons inspections, few analysts are optimistic
that such efforts would prove more effective now.

Even Steinberg, the former deputy national security advisor, who is a
persistent skeptic as regards unilateral military action against Hussein,
agrees that inspections are unlikely to stop Iraqi weapons programs.

"I'm not confident at all that they can," he said. "If you take for granted
[that Hussein] is going to preserve some capacity [for weapons of mass
destruction] as part of his regime survival strategy, he is only going to
let the inspectors do that which doesn't interfere with his ability to do

Further complicating the equation, Butler and other experts believe that the
monitoring system the U.N. called for in December 1999 would allow Iraq even
greater leeway to block inspections than it had before. "The new proposed
[inspection program] is not as intrusive, at least on paper, as [the old
one] was," said Geoffrey Kemp, a National Security Council aide under
President Reagan who co-chaired a recent commission on Iraq policy.
"Inspectors are needed in Iraq, but if they have even less access . . . it
will become a farce."

Yahoo, 29th November

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) on
Thursday downplayed talk of possible U.S. action against Iraq that has moved
markets in Turkey, a country he is due to visit next week.

``I don't know what people think is about to happen,'' he told a small group
of reporters at the State Department.

``This sort of suggestion out of the media right now that something is on
the verge of happening has no particular underpinning substance to it,'' he

He was responding to a question about a slip in Turkish stocks, bonds and
its currency amid fears that U.S. strikes on Afghanistan (news - web sites)
might spread to Turkey's neighbor Iraq.

President Bush said this week that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein should let
weapons inspectors back into his country. Asked what would happen if Saddam
refused, he replied, ``He'll find out.''

Asked whether Turkey would be crucial to any military campaign against Iraq,
Powell said, ``The president has all of his options with respect to what he
might do to deal with the Iraqi danger to the region.''

``But I think it is highly inappropriate, speculative and hypothetical of me
to talk about a war that nobody has declared.''

He made clear the Iraqi president could not rest easy however, saying, ``We
are keeping an eye on Saddam Hussein. He develops weapons of mass

Powell, who is due to visit Turkey next week during a tour of several
countries to boost support for the U.S. operation in Afghanistan, noted a
vote was due to take place later at the United Nations that is expected to
revise sanctions against Iraq within six months and extend the existing U.N.
''oil-for-food'' program until then.

``We continue to support the U.N. sanctions regime against Iraq and I am
pleased that we have a rollover vote that will lead to an imposition in due
course of a new way of determining what items may be allowed to go to
Iraq,'' he said.

Powell, who heads first to Romania on Tuesday, said he was in constant
contact with U.S. friends in the region including Turkey, with which the
United States has a close relationship underscored by Ankara's support for
Washington's bombing campaign in Afghanistan.

``I don't want to go so far as to say that we have to get permission from
anybody to take action. That's not the case,'' he said.

``But we recognize that we have close friends in the region who have
equities in the region and we would be in close consultation with them,'' he

*  . . . AND NOW TO IRAQ
by Richard Cohen
Washington Post, 30th November

Saddam Hussein is not having a good war. One by one, the myths and concerns
that have long protected him from outright American attack have fallen like
Taliban in the Afghan sun. Truth may still be war's first casualty, but the
second, surely, are hoary preconceived notions.

In this case, they include the mantra that air power does not work, that the
Muslim world will go berserk and that regimes such as the Taliban will be
supported by their people if only to battle the infidel. It turns out,
however, that your average male Afghan would prefer a good shave in the here
and now to the promise of virgins for eternity.

It is now absolutely clear that air power works. The evidence has been
accumulating in recent years -- the Gulf War, Kosovo -- but it has taken the
war against the Taliban to show just what can be done from the wild blue
yonder. The use of air power coupled with proxy fighters -- the Northern
Alliance -- has meant that American casualties have been minimal. We all
have our fingers crossed on that one, but even when that changes -- and it
will -- the zero casualty rate that stood for some weeks will still have
been a major accomplishment.

At the same time that the United States was waging war on a Muslim nation,
the rest of the Muslim world did not rise up, take to the proverbial street
and topple the authoritarian regimes of our dear friends and -- not that it
matters any -- oil suppliers. Not a single one has been imperiled by mobs
cursing Uncle Sam. In some countries, the inventory of unburned American
flags must be a real drag on the economy.

The big surprise -- even within the Bush administration -- is Pakistan. Not
only did it do a reverse twist off the highest board in geopolitics -- going
from being the Taliban's pal and supporter to Uncle Sam's most dutiful
nephew -- but it has remained virtually calm in the wake. There have been
occasional demonstrations, but none has amounted to much.

How does all this relate to Iraq? (I'm glad you asked.) Iraq, too, is a
largely arid country where air power can be used to maximum advantage. It,
too, is ruled by a deeply unpopular regime. Just as it didn't take much for
various Afghan tribal leaders to start shouting, "Hello, Yank," so it may
not take much before Iraqis abandon Hussein. After all, they loathe him.

As with Afghanistan and its Northern Alliance, Iraq, too, comes equipped
with opposition forces -- the Kurds in the north, the Shias in the south.
The Afghan war suggests that these forces don't have to be exactly crack
units if (1) the United States is in the skies and (2) the regime's forces
are lacking enthusiasm. The trick is for the opposition to draw out
Hussein's armor -- and then for the United States to hit it from the sky.


by AMIR ZIA, Associated Press Writer
Yahoo, 30th November

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Iran's foreign minister cautioned the United
States against striking militarily beyond Afghanistan in the fight against
terror, saying Friday the Islamic world would oppose attacks against Muslim

``There is no excuse to justify any military operation against any Islamic
country,'' Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told a news conference in
Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

The statement came amid growing concerns among Muslim countries that after
its fight in Afghanistan was over, Washington might attack Saddan Hussein's
regime in Iraq or another Islamic nation accused of supporting of terrorism.

``If any country ... attacks another country just with allegations. This
would be a chaos,'' Kharrazi said. ``Nobody in the Islamic world or outside
the Islamic world would accept this.''

Shiite Muslim Iran is a staunch opponent of the Afghanistan's mainly Sunni
Muslim Taliban and waged a bitter war against Iraq in the 1980s.

It supports the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism. But, unlike some other
countries in the region, it has not opened its military bases or airspace to
U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said the United States had made no
sign that it would strike militarily at other countries. Even so, he said
that ``terrorism cannot be equated with Islam.''

The ministers from Pakistan and Iran said they supported U.N.-sponsored
talks now being held in Germany with rival Afghan factions to promote a
broad-based, multiethnic government.

by Nora Boustany
Washington Post, 30th November

Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, warned yesterday against
taking surprise action against Iraq in the next phase of the war against

"We have to convince ourselves whether an extension of that conflict is
desirable and feasible, and you have to determine what your objectives and
goals are," he said at a breakfast with Washington Post editors and
reporters. "One has to look at the connections. . . . I would aspire to end
the Afghan problem first," he said, reflecting the view of European powers
opposed to opening up a new front.

Aznar laid out Spain's philosophy in dealing with terrorism, saying patience
and keeping within the rules of democracy and freedom are paramount. "Only
if we take this long path to strengthen democracy will we be successful," he
said. He compared the tactics of ETA, Spain's Basque separatist movement, to
Nazism in Europe and said Spain has waged a lonely battle against the group.
"We have felt alone for a long time in our fight," he said, noting that he
had lost several friends in ETA attacks.


by Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Indpendent, 30th November

Tony Blair rejected calls from Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative leader,
for new international pressure on Saddam Hussein yesterday, and distanced
Britain from American demands to widen the war against terrorism to Iraq.

The Prime Minister, speaking after an Anglo-French summit in London, said:
"The military action is focussed on Afghanistan. We've not finished that
action yet. What is important is that we should complete it militarily." He
said that the terrorist network in Afghanistan still had to be closed down
properly and "other issues" could be discussed later.

British Government sources said Britain and France agreed that action should
only be taken outside Afghanistan if there was "incontrovertible evidence"
of another country's involvement in terrorism.

Earlier Mr Duncan Smith dismissed claims that steps against Iraq would split
the delicate anti-terrorism coalition put together by President George Bush.

Mr Duncan Smith was in Washington for his first foreign trip since being
elected Tory leader in September. He held talks with senior US
administration officials including the Vice President, Dick Cheney, and the
National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, as well as Paul Wolfowitz, the
Deputy Defence Secretary and a leading advocate of military strikes against

Mr Duncan Smith said: "Iraq has clearly been involved in a whole series of
activities." A top priority of his discussions was to learn the American
assessment of the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons threat posed by

If Iraq had used the three-year absence of United Nations inspectors to
develop weapons of mass destruction, "then we need a clear course of action
graded up to military action", he said. He insisted that this would not
necessarily fracture the coalition.

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, poured cold water on speculation
that America was about to make a military move against Iraq. "This sort of
suggestion that something is on the verge of happening has no particular
underpinning substance to it," he said.


Arabic News, 24th November

The US has stated the recession in oil prices and the decrease in exports
violate the UN food for oil program which permits Iraq to sell its oil for
financing buying food, medicines and other commodities in order to alleviate
the impact of sanctions imposed on it since 1990.

The UN humanitarian program has expected to get USD 5.5 billion out of the
oil sales during the past five months but it could only achieve USD 3.77

This is according to a report submitted by the UN secretary General Kofi
Annan to the UN Security council.

Annan explained that the shortage which is estimated at USD 1.73 billion is
considered a source of great concern. The program, however, could only
distribute 2129 nutritional calories and 50.5 grams of protein per
individual every day. The UN recommends to distribute at least 3642 calories
and 36.6 grams of protein per person every day.

Iraq says that the sanctions have tightened its economy, undermined the
health care system and this resulted in increasing the sufferings of the
Iraqis, especially children among them.

World Oil (AFP), 26th November

If the UN Security Council makes any unilateral changes to Iraq's
oil-for-food programme, the deal will no longer be valid, Iraqi Foreign
Minister Naji Sabri has warned.

"Any modifications carried out without Iraq's consent will signal the
programme's cancellation," Sabri told AFP in an interview.

"The programme was an accord between Iraq and the UN secretary general and
if one of the two parties wishes to modify its clauses, it must obtain the
consent of the other party beforehand, Sabri added.

Iraq expects the United Nations this week to roll over the latest phase of
the oil-for-food programme designed to alleviate the impact of sanctions on
ordinary Iraqis.

But the process could be upset by Baghdad's rejection of any new British or
US bid to revise the 11-year-old embargo with a revamped set of "smart"

The Security Council in July put off indefinitely a vote on such a
US-British plan after Russia threatened to use its veto and opposition from
Iraq's neighbours.

However, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on November 15 that the
United States and Britain were studying with Russia and other nations a
proposal to revise the embargo.

Iraq wants to see the United Nations renew for a new (six-month) period the
oil-for-food programme -- established in late 1996 -- without any changes.
Iraq suspended its oil exports last June, to obstruct the last US and
British bid to restructure the sanctions regime.

And Sabri was confident Sunday no changes were on the immediate horizon.
"The general trend in the UN is going towards a renewal of the accord
without modification," he said.

"Nobody has told us until now of any modifications or amendment." Explaining
his opposition to the tinkering, he added: "Logically all changes decided
upon must be for the better, that is to say for the lifting of the embargo
and not towards a reinforcement of the unjust sanctions regime."

Iraq has existed under sanctions since its ill-fated invasion of Kuwait in

by Evelyn Leopold and Richard Valdmanis
Excite, 29th November

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on
Thursday in favor of a U.S.-Russian compromise resolution that pledges to
revise sanctions against Iraq within six months and extends the existing
U.N. oil-for-food program for Baghdad until then.

The vote signified an unusual show of unity between the Washington and
Moscow, which have been feuding for years on policy over Iraq but have drawn
closer since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

"I am satisfied with the resolution as adopted. It is an important event --
that we have consensus on something that is very important," Russian
Ambassador Sergei Lavrov said.

Said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte: "It's an important step forward in
terms of the unity of the Security Council vis a vis Iraq and I think it
should send a signal to Iraq that we are determined to press forward with
this program."

Under the oil-for-food program, Iraq can sell oil and use the proceeds to
buy food, medicine and many other supplies, an exception to the sanctions
imposed in August 1990 when Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait. But oil
revenues must be deposited in a U.N. account out of which suppliers are

The program, which would have expired on Friday, must be renewed every six

In the resolution adopted on Thursday, Russia agreed to approve by May 30 a
new "goods review list" that council members would have to approve
separately and a key element of earlier U.S.-British proposals to revise the

All civilian goods not on the list do not have to go through such

In return, the United States agreed to look again at gaps in a December 1999
resolution that outlines vague steps toward suspending the 11-year-old
sanctions -- providing Iraq allows U.N. weapons inspectors to resume their

The United States and Britain have tried three times since June to revise
the program with the aim of streamlining imports of civilian goods to Iraq
but tightening restrictions on items that can be used for military purposes.

One purpose is to counteract worldwide criticism that the sanctions have
caused civilian suffering -- a notion the United States strongly disputes.

Moscow stands to lose lucrative contracts if it opposes Baghdad and
previously balked at any change in the program. About 40 percent of Iraq's
oil contracts go through Russian middlemen.

Iraq shut off oil supplies for a month in June until it was sure Russia
would reject an overhaul of the sanctions, which it believes only make them
more permanent.

Baghdad's U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Aldouri, said he had no instructions yet
on his government's reaction to the resolution and expected a decision once
it was adopted.

Despite threats from Washington, Iraq has repeatedly refused to allow U.N.
weapons inspectors back into the country, insisting sanctions be suspended

Although there is broad council agreement on the need for inspections,
Russia, France and China disagree with the United States and Britain on how
to achieve it. Russia wants the sanctions suspended shortly after the
inspectors return, a position rejected by the United States and Britain.

The only way to radically solve the situation in Iraq is to make sure
international monitoring resumes in conjunction with suspension and the
lifting of sanctions," Lavrov said.

He said criteria-easing sanctions "must be unambiguous," adding: "We intend
to work in this direction parallel with the goods review list which has to
be finished in six months."

Nevertheless, with Russia having become a key player in the U.S. war in
Afghanistan, the new deal papers over the sharp differences on Iraq until
next year.

"Because of what is going on in Afghanistan we are taking this in stages,"
said British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock. "While everything else is
going on, there is no need to have a fight on this."

The Toronto Star, 30th November

Saddam Hussein has launched two Middle East wars, sacrificed 1 million
Iraqis, attacked Israel and has tried to obtain nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons. He's been a threat to peace for two decades and more.

And for the past three years he has refused to let United Nations weapons
inspectors into Iraq, even as he schemes to get the U.N. to ease military
and economic sanctions imposed after the Gulf War in 1990/91.

But there's less tolerance for reckless despots following the Sept. 11
terror attacks on the United States.

U.S. President George Bush has threatened to turn his guns on Saddam once
the Taliban are toppled in Afghanistan.

And yesterday, all 15 U.N. Security Council countries agreed to crank up the
military sanctions on Iraq, beginning June 1, unless the weapons inspectors
go back in.

This is a political coup for Bush, who favours a tougher approach. It's also
good news for the world, which has no appetite for a U.S.-Iraqi war.

The Bush administration will have less reason to confront Saddam militarily
now that the U.N. has decided to make it harder for him to rearm.

Russian President Vladimir Putin deserves credit for agreeing to support
American and British proposals for better-targeted "smart sanctions"
starting next year. Last summer, Russia vetoed the idea. But recently, Putin
has been trying to work with the U.S., not at cross-purposes.

The "smart sanctions" will intensify direct pressure on Saddam and his
military supporters, while easing the hardship facing 23 million civilians.

The Security Council partners have agreed to begin by expanding the current
list of military goods that Baghdad is not permitted to import. In future
more "dual use" goods that can be put to both military and civilian use will
be on the restricted list. This will tighten the squeeze on Iraq's defence
industry, and on the military, by limiting their access to advanced

Moreover, as the June 1 deadline draws near, Turkey, Syria and Jordan will
be invited to stop pouring $2 billion a year into Saddam's coffers by
flouting the U.N. trade embargo and purchasing Iraqi oil and goods. This
will hit the regime in the pocket.

Washington will continue to investigate whether Saddam has links to the Al
Qaeda network that destroyed the twin towers or to those who engineered the
anthrax attacks, and whether he's developing new weapons. That would invite
a devastating U.S. attack.

But barring a crisis, Saddam has six months to reconsider inspections.

Mindful of Iraqi civilians, the Security Council voted yesterday to extend
its oil-for-food program, allowing Baghdad to sell as much oil as it can
pump, but requiring that the cash be spent only to purchase food, medicines
and other humanitarian goods, and to repair infrastructure.

The council agreed, as well, to consider clarifying the conditions under
which sanctions would be lifted altogether, if and when inspectors can
resume their work.

Saddam should not mistake this U.N. concern for Iraqi civilians as weakness.
Life will get harder for him and his cronies on June 1, unless the
inspectors go back in.

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