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News, 13-22/12/01 (2) REMNANTS OF DECENCY * "A Message From a Learned Scholar to US President" [Denunciation of President Bush from an Egyptian cleric. It may have lost a bit in the translation but its a powerful piece of writing: ŒI say, rest assured, there is no Muslim on earth who loves you, even if he donates blood to you or let you set up intelligence stations or let you design curricula for his people. Everyone on earth who claims to love you - and none of the Muslims can make such a claim - only loves you in the sense that the frightened prey loves the predatory beast.¹ * Say no to Saddam this Christmas - turn down a date [Buying or selling dates from Iraq is a criminal offence liable to up to five years imprisonment. Or perhaps now indefinite internment without trial if one happens not to be a British citizen. I hope we¹re all taking advantage of the opportunity offered ...] * ...An attack adds to Iraqis' misery [Article by US academic. Recounts entertaining story that shows the amiable, easygoing nature of the Iraqis and suggests, but very mildly and politely, that torturing them even further isn¹t a good thing to do] LIGHTWEIGHT NATIONS OF THE WORLD * Regimes seek way to support attack on Iraq [Egypt and Turkey haggle over their price. Turkey is still whining about all the money it lost because of the Gulf War and the embargo. But if they were sincerely in favour of the war and embargo they should be ready to pay the price; if they were opposed to them, they should have expressed their opposition publicly. They are, to say the least of it, not deserving of any sympathy] * SAS may fight in Iraq [The SAS in question comes from Australia which is trying to get in on the act] URLs ONLY: http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/26151817.htm * Putin opposed to US extending war to Iraq IRNA, 17th December Given what Putin represents in the world, his remarks would only be of interest if they were, in some way, intellectually stimulating. Which they aren¹t http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/26193954.htm * Schroeder warns Bush against attacking Iraq IRNA, 17th December Ditto for Schroeder http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/18/international/middleeast/18ARAB.html?pagew anted=print * The other shoe by Neil MacFarquhar New York Times, 18th December On the attitudes of various Arab governments. Pretty predictable. http://www.iht.com/articles/42432.html * A Lonely Crusade Against Saddam by Thomas L. Friedman The New York Times, 20th December On the reasons Middle Eastern countries and Russia might have for not wanting to support a US attack on Iraq. INSIDE IRAQ * Internet in Iraq: Limited, appreciated * New 'Saddam' novel hits the stands REMNANTS OF DECENCY http://allafrica.com/stories/200112190341.html * "A MESSAGE FROM A LEARNED SCHOLAR TO US PRESIDENT" by Safar ibn 'Abd al-Rahmaan al-Hawali Weekly Trust (Kaduna), 19th December [.....] Is it not sufficient for you to destroy an entire people because of an unsubstantiated accusation against one man - or one organization - who had no option but to live in that land? Is this aggression, which is undermining every kind of values and morals and shaking the conscience of the whole world, no more than a drop in the ocean of your vengeance? Has the Messiah (peace be upon him) delegated you to do this? No, he is far above such a thing. Even Machiavelli himself did not instruct you to go to such an extent. Your predecessor in this regard is Samson and his modern-day son, Sharon. Do you not fear God? you who have in recent days taken as your slogan "God bless America?" How can God bless and protect America when your messenger, the Messiah (peace be upon him) has taught you to do the opposite: "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." (Matthew 5:39-41 NIV) Do you not realise that when you made the desire for never-ending vengeance the attribute of civilised people, you are ascribing to the Messiah (peace be upon him) the attributes of uncivilised barbarians? But he is far above such a thing. You, Mr President, have effectively expressed disbelief in God and in the Messiah, and you have followed the path of the popes of the Middle Ages, who issued indulgences and excommunicated people at will. You have given yourselves, the Zionist state and every wrongdoer and aggressor a certificate of eternal forgiveness and you have effectively excommunicated everyone who has refrained from taking part in your unlimited aggression, by describing them as terrorists or supporters of terror. You look through the telescope at what you call terrorist groups in Somalia, which has been devastated by poverty, or in the Palestinian camps in Lebanon, where those peaceful nests are threatened by the Zionist terror everyday. but you forget that the most terrifying terrorists are with you, holding your hand, indeed they are you and only you. If you do not believe that then tell me, by your Lord, if your most sincere friend were to come to you ten years from now and congratulate you on the victory that you hope to achieve against mysterious assumed enemies, what would he be congratulating you for? Suppose he were to say, Mr President, you have killed a million Afghans, a million Iraqis, a million so and so " to the end of your evil secret list. Would this be a victory for civilization, noble values, freedom and democracy? No doubt among the victims, there would be widows and barefoot, naked, starving children. Does this satisfy your desire for vengeance? And as far as the living are concerned, you will use the fact that they are alive as evidence to show that you limited yourselves to destroying their houses of mud and their wooden huts because they were a strategic target in your clean war with your smart weapons which do not kill human beings! At this point, the world, which you made sad and depressed, will laugh. Yes, you will tell this civilised joke in which you will mention the dazzling smartness that characterised your missiles, when you aimed at Iraq and Iran screamed in pain, and when you aimed at Afghanistan - in your first act of aggression - and wounded Pakistan, and when one of your smart missiles woke up the yellow giant by hitting the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. To be fair, I will admit that one of your missiles was really smart, namely the good Patriot which saw one of the dumb scud missiles headed in a certain direction, so it struck it to correct its course, and it became the dinner guest of American intelligence officers in al Khobar. As far as the cleanliness of your war is concerned, the entire world bears witness to its cleanliness, with just one small point to be made, which is that when you cleaned Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you left a little bit of garbage behind - without any intention on your part. Hopefully you will not make the same mistake in Afghanistan and the surrounding countries. Maybe you will be generous and paint the place with a bit of cheap American paint. But to be fair, we also say that there is little doubt concerning the cleanliness of your war in Iraq. for those who say that it was not clean are children, and the law does not accept the testimony of children even if there are two million of them, whereas those who say that it was clean are adults the size of a dictator and the generals around him. Mr President, do you think that your list in which you announced the names of terrorist organizations and the states that sponsor terrorism will serve your interests, or does it confirm that the world is against you? What advisor told you to publish this list at the time when people have started to realise that your house is made of glass and is still broken? Why are you inciting them to throw stones at you, from Japan in the east to Peru in the west? Wasn't one country and one region enough for you at this moment of security crisis in your own country? Or do you want to incite everyone, so that then if any incident occurs, you can blame the Muslims alone so that you can continue your crusade against them forever? Mr President, do not think that I want only to count your few faults and forget the many faults that we have in your eyes. No. I shall remind you of one serious fault that we Muslims have, which is that we do not forget the disasters that have befallen us no matter how much time has passed. Imagine, Mr President, we are still weeping for the loss of Andalusia and we still remember what Ferdinand and Isabella did to our religion, our civilization and our honour there. We still dream of taking it back. We will never forget the destruction of Baghdad, or the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of your crusader forefathers. In other words, in your eyes, we are unable to attain the level of civilization enjoyed by the Germans and Japanese who are supporting you in this aggression, forgetting your past treatment of them. What is more, the African Muslims who became Muslims after the fall of Andalusia weep with the Arabs, as do the Indonesians who only heard of Andalusia recently. This may be a problem for us, but who is going to pay the price later on? Mr President, your problem with the Afghans - and with the Muslims in general - is that you are stronger than you should be and they are weaker than they should be. The more you go to extremes in using force, that indicates some weakness in your power. This is a great divine secret that reminds us of what happened to mighty Pharaoh at the hands of the weak and oppressed children of Israel. Listen to what it says in the Book of God (the Qur'aan): "Taa-Seen-Meem [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur'aan, and none but Allaah (Alone) knows their meanings.] These are the Verses of the manifest Book (that makes clear truth from falsehood, good from evil). We recite to you some of the news of Moosa (Moses) and Fir'awn (Pharaoh) in truth, for a people who believe (in this Qur'aan, and in the Oneness of Allaah). Verily, Fir'awn (Pharaoh) exalted himself in the land and made its people sects, weakening (oppressing) a group (i.e. Children of Israel) among them: killing their sons, and letting their females live. Verily, he was of the Mufsidoon (i.e. those who commit great sins and crimes, oppressors, tyrants). And We wished to do a favour to those who were weak (and oppressed) in the land, and to make them rulers and to make them the inheritors, And to establish them in the land, and We let Fir'awn (Pharaoh) and Haamaan and their hosts receive from them that which they feared" [al-Qasas 28:1-6 - interpretation of the meaning] Do not say, "What has Pharaoh got to do with me?" You have demanded something from the Muslims that Pharaoh did not demand of Moses (peace be upon him) and the Children of Israel, which is that they should not hate you in their hearts no matter what you do and what acts of tyranny you commit. But this is one of the qualities of divinity, for it is God alone Who is able to take vengeance on those who do not love Him. We do not know of any dictatorial empire in history that wanted to control what is hidden in the heart and conscience of man, let alone a democratic state in the twenty-first century. You may say, "All we are trying to do is to eliminate everything that may incite hatred in sermons, curricula, newspaper articles and media discourses." We say that if this is your democracy, you can make whatever demands you want. but rest assured that you will never succeed, for that which teaches us to hate wrongdoing and to love the truth is our religion and our Qur'aan, and that is stronger than all your means and firmer than your mountains. If you insist on behaving arrogantly based on power and the insanity of might, then you have no means other than total annihilation of all the Muslims, using nuclear or biological weapons, or whatever else you wish from your infernal arsenal. You may ask, why all of them, when there are some among them who love us? I say, rest assured, there is no Muslim on earth who loves you, even if he donates blood to you or let you set up intelligence stations or let you design curricula for his people. Everyone on earth who claims to love you - and none of the Muslims can make such a claim - only loves you in the sense that the frightened prey loves the predatory beast. You may say that you are going to give assurances to the Muslim peoples by changing their governments into tolerant and democratic systems. We say, keep your evil away from us and that is enough. Based on these false promises, you have destroyed the Iraqi people and others. We do not want any freedom or democracy from you and we will not accept it, for the enemy of freedom cannot bestow freedom. Mr President, I advise you to fear God and refrain from committing aggression. Deal with this matter justly and with deliberation, and you will find us with you, with no reservation. If you change now, at the beginning of the road, that will be easier for you and better for the world at large, otherwise an easy beginning is usually followed by a difficult end. So I hope that you will think, Mr President, for if you destroy every country you have included in your terror list, will this be the end, or will it be the beginning, unless you want to go down in history as the instigator of bloody Armageddon? In which case there will be no history at all. Hence I offer you this advice and I say: Fear God, and think long and hard. Peace be upon those who follow true guidance. Shaykh Safar ibn 'Abd al-Rahmaan al-Hawali wrote in from Egypt. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,622017,00.html * SAY NO TO SADDAM THIS CHRISTMAS - TURN DOWN A DATE by Ewen MacAskill The Guardian, 20th December Making their appearance in shops throughout Britain from today: thousands of packets of dates from al-Masoori, a village in Iraq, just in time for the Christmas market. Dates have become part of the festive tradition in Britain, something to be passed round, though not necessarily consumed. But the dates from Masoori are special. Buying or eating them will be an act of civil disobedience. Half a tonne of them were brought into Britain this week in breach of international sanctions. They were imported by a group opposed to the United Nations sanctions in force against Iraq since its leader tried to annex Kuwait 10 years ago. Richard Byrne, a spokesman for the group, Voices in the Wilderness, said yesterday: "This is the biggest overt breach of sanctions yet." Theoretically, selling or consuming the illegal dates could carry a jail sentence. But the government, still smarting from its unsuccessful attempts last year to stop the resumption of commercial flights to Iraq from a range of countries, is unlikely to risk ridicule by prosecuting. Told that a consignment of dates had arrived and was being distributed, customs said it would investigate. Under the sanctions regime in place since the Gulf war of 1990-91, only oil can be imported from Iraq, and that is under the strict supervision of the UN. The oil revenue is supposed to be used to buy food and other goods for Iraq, whose people have suffered under a combination of the sanctions and their government's machinations involving key commodities. The Masoori dates, grown in the date belt near Basra in the south of Iraq and packed in Baghdad, were shipped first to Naples. The port of origin was given as the United Arab Emirates. Once within the European Union they were easily brought to Britain. Voices in the Wilderness said its members had spent yesterday distributing the dates to stores in more than 30 cities and towns. They are retailing at £4 a packet. The group put on stickers labelling the packets as "sanctions-breaking Iraqi dates" and attached a leaflet stressing that it was against the law to be involved in the sale of any goods from Iraq. Mr Byrne said: "Everyone who buys this will be engaged in an act of civil disobediance." A spokesman for the law enforcement section at customs said of the dates yesterday: "If they have entered the European Union illegally, it would be up to the country they entered to take action." Customs, he said, would contact Italy and ask what the authorities intended to do. A Foreign Office spokesman struck a note of sarcasm: "We hope that these imports are not depriving the Iraqi people of food supplies." http://www.newsobserver.com/friday/news/editorials/Story/846800p-832206c.htm l * ...AN ATTACK ADDS TO IRAQIS' MISERY by John M. Riddle, Ph.D. News Observer, 21st December RALEIGH - U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms has joined those in the Bush administration who urge our country to attend to Iraq. Some officials see this moment of victory in Afghanistan as an opportunity to finish with Saddam Hussein, likening him to Osama bin Laden. But if without strong and persuasive evidence that the government of Iraq was involved in the outrageous acts of Sept. 11 or in the anthrax murders, we would be both injudicious and acting contrary to our own interests were we to attack him. When I reflect on Iraq, I recall my own minor, personal involvement in diplomacy in 1974. I remember an incident with some anonymous, faceless Iraqi who hid in a bush and to whom I talked without ever seeing him. The man in the bush was on an island in the Tigris River near the center of Baghdad. I was among a small group of professors from N.C. State and other universities that had been invited by Iraqi government to send a complex message to the U.S. government. When the invitation came from Iraq to visit, our State Department encouraged us to accept because, not having an ambassador there, they wanted to know what the Iraqis wanted us to hear. Each morning for five days we took notes while high Iraqi officials told us why America should cease aiding the Kurds by funneling aid through Iran (then our ally). When reflecting on my trip to Baghdad, I think more about the man in that bush than I do on my venture with international diplomacy. One evening our host wanted us to see how "typical" Iraqis spend their leisure by taking us to an island where fish were roasted on spits around open fires. Around the island were Iraqi families, but we were not free to wander among them. Armed guards cordoned off our fire from those of the "typical" Iraqis. The night was dark, and I stood alone perhaps 50 feet from the fire -- about 30 feet from the nearest guard with a machine gun. I heard a "p-ss-sst" sound. I was mystified. Then a whispering voice said, "P-ss-sst, are you American?" "Yes," I answered fearfully expecting that the guard would see and hear me. "You do me a favor?" said the voice. "What is it?" I asked almost shaking with fear that some international secret was about to be transmitted and I would be in more trouble than university tenure could protect. The voice in the bush spoke, "You know American TV program 'Fugitive'?" Yes, I answered. "Who killed man's wife?" "The one-armed man," I replied. Long pause. "No, please, tell me truth," said the voice in the bush. "I am telling the truth," I said in a whisper, all the time looking to see whether the soldier with the machine gun did not see me speaking to a bush. Obviously, when the Ba'thist revolution had occurred that brought in the government now ruled by Saddam Hussein, the program was airing on Baghdad television. The anonymous speaker hiding in the bush wanted to find out the ending. Our Iraqi policy is based on a false premise: if we put enough pressure on the Iraqi people, they will rise up and overthrow the government. The premise is Western. The notion of tryannicide -- the right of resistance -- is a venerable Western political concept. Islam has different concepts of the relationship between governors and governed. When a governor is bad, the condition is the will of God who has a purpose to enact and the people should accept God's will; so says Islamic tradition. U.N. Resolution 661 imposed sanctions on Iraqi. We maintained steady pressure on the Iraqis. The Iraqi people never voted Saddam into office; they suffer under him. He says their suffering is because of America's policy. Truly Saddam is a brutal and evil ruler. But he is regarded as defending Iraqi people against a foreign enemy. Ironically our policy sustains him in power. In the absence of proof that he supported the al-Qaeda attack against us, were we to attack him, we would be regarded throughout the Islamic world as attacking innocent Muslim people. We would couple a great victory in Afghanistan with a disaster. There are two reasons not to attack him: one, it is wrong because the Iraqi people will suffer even more by our actions; two, it is against our own self-interest. The Iraqi people are like that anonymous man in the bush who wanted to know the outcome of a television series. They just want to live. The solution to Saddam Hussein is the same as that for Fidel Castro: wait and one day he will be dead. John M. Riddle is professor of history at N.C. State University. LIGHTWEIGHT NATIONS OF THE WORLD http://www.washtimes.com/world/20011219-795903.htm * REGIMES SEEK WAY TO SUPPORT ATTACK ON IRAQ by Nicholas Kralev The Washington Times, 19th December Some centrist Muslim and Arab governments are considering what concessions to demand of the United States in exchange for supporting ‹ or at least not opposing ‹ an attack on Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, diplomats from the region said yesterday. Emboldened by the U.S.-led military victory in Afghanistan and the self-implicating Osama bin Laden tape released last week, those governments are exploring ways to take advantage of a positive ‹ though not completely favorable ‹ shift in public opinion, diplomats said. They said the Muslim and Arab states most likely would ask the Bush administration to consult with them on both military operations and an exit strategy for an attack on Iraq, as well as seeking generous economic assistance. "Our concern is not a war against Iraq, but an exit strategy after the war," one Turkish official said in an interview. "We are against any division of Iraq and change of borders in the Middle East. "We are fully aware that we'll have no veto power" on Washington's decision to go after Saddam, "but we would like to be kept in the loop in terms of strategy," the official said. "We wouldn't shed a tear when he is gone, but we need to see a strategy." An Egyptian official said his government is confident the United States would consult Cairo "at every step" and "we have to study it very well." A decision whether to support Washington publicly would be based on what "pretext" it has to topple Saddam and how that would affect the "strategic balance in the region." While bin Laden's involvement in the September 11 attacks gave President Hosni Mubarak's government a solid justification for its support for the U.S.-led campaign against the Taliban, the Egyptian public would be harder to convince in case of an attack on Iraq, the official said. "Egyptians wouldn't be happy without strong evidence of indictment," he said. Public opinion in other countries, such as Turkey and Jordan, could also be influenced by Washington's willingness to commit economic assistance, diplomats said. Egypt is already the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel. The Turkish people, for example, can't easily forget the way the United States treated them after the 1991 Gulf war, the Turkish official said. Turkey lost more than $35 billion as a result of being part of the anti-Iraq coalition ‹ both during and after the war ‹ yet it received less than $3 billion in compensation, he said. "This is still vivid in the public mind and would become a problem when potential operations are being contemplated," he said, referring to possible action against Saddam. The United States and Britain currently use Turkey's Incirlik military base to enforce the northern no-fly zone in Iraq. Although the Bush administration claims it hasn't yet decided on the next stage of its war against terrorism, the State Department says a U.S. policy calls for a change of the regime in Baghdad. Yesterday, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer warned of a possible Iraqi chemical or biological attack on Israel if the United States extends its war on terror to Iraq. "If he has his back to the wall, Saddam Hussein will renew his attacks on Israel, and there is no guarantee that it will not be biological or chemical weapons, or even both at the same time," he said. But two former prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, said a U.S. attack against Saddam was almost inevitable. "There is no way to avoid confrontation with Iraq," Mr. Barak said. "There is no possibility of a stable new world order if, at the end of this war, Saddam Hussein is still in office, as if nothing had happened." Mr. Netanyahu said he had no doubt Washington would "end up taking the decision to attack Iraq, because the mixture of terrorist mentality and military capacity in unconventional weapons put the future of civilization in danger." http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,3460638%255E662,00 .html * SAS MAY FIGHT IN IRAQ by Ian McPhedran Herald Sun, 19th December SAS troops have been earmarked for operations to destroy terrorist cells in Somalia and Yemen. Military sources expect the anti-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan to end soon, freeing up forces to move on other al-Qaeda strongholds, which might also include Iraq. Australia's contingent of troops from the Special Air Service Regiment are equipped for a deployment of up to six months. Defence Minister Robert Hill yesterday left the door open to an Australian push against terrorism beyond Afghanistan. "We're specifically engaged in addressing that in Afghanistan at the moment but, if al-Qaeda cells, for example, exist beyond Afghanistan, then one way or another they need to be addressed," he said. "Otherwise we wouldn't have successfully responded to the problem. "I think most people would accept that not only is there a need to combat the scourge of terrorism, but we've got to combat it wherever we find it." Talk of extending the coalition came as Australia's top brass advised the Government against any long-term involvement in a British-led "stabilisation" force in Afghanistan. The chief of the Defence Force, Admiral Chris Barrie, and army chief Lieutenant General Peter Cosgrove briefed Cabinet's National Security Committee in Sydney yesterday. They told Prime Minister John Howard and his security team, which includes Senator Hill, Attorney-General Daryl Williams, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, Treasurer Peter Costello and Deputy PM John Anderson, the military was "heavily extended". "There are some uncertainties about operational issues," a government source said. In other developments: TWO Australian warships, HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Adelaide, have been transferred from the war against terrorism and will join an international interception force in the Persian Gulf. DIPLOMATS in Iran, Russia and Pakistan are searching for a 25-year-old Australian reportedly missing in Afghanistan. THE CIA continued to interrogate Adelaide al-Qaeda fighter David Hicks on board the USS Peleliu. There has been no formal approach from the British about a planned stabilisation force for Afghanistan, but informal discussions are occurring. Those talks include possible options for an Australian contribution. "A decision will be made in the near future," a source said. Senior military officers are fearful of a "black hole" situation developing whereby soldiers are deployed for a long time far from home and the national interest. Mr Downer travels to London today for talks on the force's options. The Australian Defence Force has 1550 personnel committed to the war on terrorism, 1500 in East Timor, and three large warships and its entire patrol boat fleet, plus two maritime patrol aircraft, on the lookout for boat people. Small numbers are also working in Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Bosnia, Middle East and Africa. INSIDE IRAQ http://europe.cnn.com/2001/TECH/internet/12/15/iraq.internet.ap/index.html * INTERNET IN IRAQ: LIMITED, APPRECIATED CNN, 16th December BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Sitting in an air-conditioned Internet cafe with an American pop song blaring in the background, Ziad Abdel Hady escapes from Iraq's isolation. Abdel Hady surfs his way to knowledge about everything from what life is like in neighboring Arab countries to the latest breakthroughs in engineering and medicine. The 45-year-old engineer, who has never traveled abroad, says he'd sell his car to buy a computer if he could access the Internet from home. But private links to the Internet have yet to be introduced in Iraq. Abdel Hady goes to one of the five or so government-run Internet cafes in Baghdad, where browsers can only access government-screened sites, many pages are not available and the connection is slow. A first-time surfer, Abdel Hady was looking especially for work-related information about pumps. Iraqis live in a controlled world. Satellite dishes and modems are banned and special permission is needed to install a fax. Local media are either state-run or sponsored by the ruling party and present the official version of the news. The Internet provides a window to other worlds, albeit a small one and for few people. Users in Iraq browse the Internet under the watchful eyes of government employees and are unlikely to tap into opposition sites or other banned Web pages, no matter how benign their content. Verginie Locussol, a Middle East expert with Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, said controlling the Internet is typical of all "dictatorships" that "try to keep people in complete isolation from the world." Iraqi officials blame the war-ravaged state of the country's communications sector on the West. Abdel-Razzak al-Hashimi, a senior member of the ruling Baath party, said it's the sanctions and the countries that support them, not the Iraqi government, that keep Iraqis behind. Alan Mauldin of TeleGeography, a Washington-based Internet and telecommunications consultancy, said Iraq, with 22 million people, is either the last or one of the last countries in the Middle East to join the Internet community. Iraq's ".iq" Internet domain suffix counts just 225 subscribers, he said. By the estimates of TeleGeography, Iraq has a tiny amount of international Internet bandwidth, less than 10 megabits per second. Iraq may have less bandwidth than Syria, whose estimated 4.3 mbps is otherwise considered lowest in the Arab world. Neighboring Jordan hosts about 75 mbps. Whatever the limitations, the Internet is prized by those Iraqis with access. Engineering student Talib Dagher Kathim sees the Internet as the only gate to a better future. A Baghdad University senior, Kathim searches the web for Canadian universities that may give him a scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies. "Sanctions have isolated the country .. but the Internet opened a new door for knowledge and my ambition has no limits," said Kathim, who wants to study abroad because of "the scientific development there." "I wish I could go study there and come back to benefit the country and to bridge the gap between us and other countries," Kathim said http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=240423444 * NEW 'SADDAM' NOVEL HITS THE STANDS Times of India, 16th December BAGHDAD (AFP): A new Arabic novel thought to have been penned by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has won acclaim from critics after hitting the bookstands. Intellectuals in Baghdad said they were convinced the Iraqi strongman had written "The Impregnable Fortress," even though the book does not bear the name of its author. The 712 page novel, published by al-Hurriya (freedom) publishing house, tells the story of a son of farmers and holder of a law degree who takes part in both the 1980-1988 war with Iran and the 1991 Gulf War "to defend his country." The author also relates that "the aberrant situation" in Kurdish-held northern Iraq prevented Sabah al-Hajj Hassan from marrying his Kurdish sweetheart, Shatrin. This is the second novel attributed to Saddam after "Zabibah wal-Malik" (Zabibah and the King), published in November 2000. Iraqi state television, which has afforded huge publicity to the new novel, said it was a story of the "fight against evil" and comprised "episodes of a journey in the world of virtue." According to newspapers, revenues from book sales will go to "the poor, orphans and the needy, as well as works of charity," as was the case for Saddam's first novel -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.