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News, 22-28/12/01 (2)

News, 22-28/12/01 (2)


*  Iraq Reports a Hit on 'Enemy' Craft
*  Iraqi FM: Iran-Iraq relations have roots in history
*  Iraq hits out at Turkey over no-fly zone mandate [Some good advice to
Turkey from Baghdad]
*  Iraqis [which is to say in this case the Iraqi Football Federation] cut
ties with UAE
*  Abu al-Ragheb [Prime Minister of Jordan] to visit Iraq [The article seems
to suggests that King Abdallah is willing to act as Bush¹s messenger boy to
*  Amman endorses construction of Jordan-Iraq oil pipeline
*  Egyptian- Iraqi talks [on energy supply]
*  Egypt refuses American request to minimize trade relations with Iraq
[Here¹s a little piece of good news I seem to have missed a couple of weeks
*  Malka [Israeli Intelligence chief]: Iraq to target Israel if US attacks
*  Turkey's Hand Forced if U.S. Hits Iraq [Broad summary of current
Turkey/Iraq relations]


*  Sanctions Thwart Iraqi Trade [Encouraging article from Uganda which tells
us that: Œshrewd business people, who defy the UN sanctions, ply between
Jordan and Iraq, doing brisk business. "Although Iraq is under UN-imposed
sanctions, its industries are in full production. They produce textiles,
footwear and have plenty of foodstuffs in markets."¹]


*  Iraq presents UN with oil-for-food programme


*  Hain says Iraq action must be U.N.-backed
*  Kennedy warns against Iraq attack [Charles Kennedy sees La Vie en Rose]


*  What really has been won in Afghanistan [rather interesting expression of
contempt for the American way of making war: Œthere will undoubtedly be more
famous victories. Until, that is, Iraq is included. That is a nation with a
government and an army, and it might well fight back. Can Dubya work up
courage in a way his father could not to get Saddam? On the evidence, the
answer would be no. Despite the drum-beating back home, America has fought a
timid war in Afghanistan, mostly from about 6000m in the air.¹]
*  Next terrorism war target likely Yemen or in Africa [We learn something
new every day. Some time ago we learnt that it was Al Qaida, not, as we had
fondly imagined, General Aideed, who chased the Americans out of Somalia.
Now we learn that when the US bombed Sudan in 1998, Al Qaida, not Sudan¹s
leading pharmaceutical manufacturer, was the target.]
*  Precision bombing shows new kind of power

*  US needs to tread warily as it takes the war on terror into Middle East
by Tony Parkinson
The Age (Australia), 23rd December
The title more or les says it all but its quite a good roundup of middle
Eastern opinion. mentioned that the Palestinian spokesperson Dr Hanan
Ashrawi has Œrecently completed a short-term assignment aimed at producing a
more cohesive public diplomacy for the 22 member-states of the Arab League¹
which could be interesting.
*  NATO: Proof needed about Iraq
by John Innes
Scotsman, 27th December
Good to know that we have that tough, independent minded Scotsman Lord
Robertson at the NATO helm, keeping the Americans from doing anything rash.
*  Keep the Nuclear Sword Sharp
by John Foster
Los Angeles Times, 27th December
ŒFor all the uncertainties our world presents, this much is certain: The
world will be a safer place with the continued existence of an ample U.S.
nuclear arsenal.¹ [John Foster, chairman of the independent Panel to Assess
the Reliability, Safety and Security of the U.S. Stockpile, is the former
director of the Livermore Laboratory and the Defense Department's former
director of defense research and engineering.]


*  Americans donate blood for Iraqi children [Voices in the Wilderness]
*  ŒWeapons of mass destruction¹ going nuclear in Iraq [Article largely
about DU from Ramzi Kysia]


*  Unmasking puts Iraqi on guard [This is the case of the Iraqi Œunmasked¹
by the NZ Herald as Saddam¹s stepson. The indications are that, true or not,
this has come as as much a surprise to him as to anyone else]
*  Iraqi Christians get caught up in security web of Miami INS


*  From cockpit to wheelchair [The article gives the astonishing firgure
that of 690,000 troops sent to the War against Iraq, 200,000 have applied
for disability compensation. It gives as likely cause of the problem the
blowing up of Iraqi chemical weapons stores. It does not mention the
possibility that Iraqi civilians living in the vicinity of these stores
might also have been effected. Or what arrangements are being made to
provide them with compensation. It gives this high casualty rate as an
argument for not renewing the war against Iraq, thus strengthening the
perception that under the conditions of the New World Order any country that
wishes to preserve its independence has an interest in developing large
stocks of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.]

International Herald tribune (from Reuters), 27th December

BAGHDAD: Iraq said Wednesday its anti-aircraft defenses had hit one of a
group of Western planes patrolling a no-flight zone in southern Iraq. The
U.S. Defense Department dismissed the claim as baseless.

Iraqi brave men in the missile forces hit one of the enemy's planes," the
Iraqi news agency INA quoted a military spokesman as saying. "The plane was
seen retreating toward the Saudi space after it was hit," the spokesman
said. He did not say if the plane was a piloted aircraft or an unmanned

But a Pentagon spokesman said all planes returned safely to base Wednesday
with "no indication that any were hit."


Ilam, Ilam Prov, Dec 27, IRNA -- Iraq's state TV quoted that country'
Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Wednesday evening as saying that the Iran and
Iraq relations have deep roots, long ago in the history.

In a meeting with visiting Head of the Refugees Affairs Office of the
Iranian Interior Ministry Hojjatoleslam Hassan-Ali Ebrahimi, the Iraqi
foreign minister added, "besides the geographical proximity of the two
countries, their shared religious and historic backgrounds are among strong
reasons for closeness between the two neighboring countries.

Sabri added, "The joint Tehran-Baghdad efforts aimed at finalizing the
long-time-suspended Iran-Iraq war file will definitely have their extremely
positive effects on normalization of ties between the two neighboring

The Iraqi official praised the activities of the Iranian and Iraqi refugees
committees, that are working under the Tehran-Baghdad Agreements.

"Acceleration of the humanitarian efforts on the part of both countries,
particularly those that have to do with the refugees, the POWs, the
prisoners, the MIAs and exchanging the dead corpses of the two countries'
combatants can play an important role in improvement of the two countries'

Hojjatoleslam Ebrahimi, too, said during the meeting in Baghdad that Iran
and Iraq have opened a new chapter in the history of their mutual ties.

Ebrahimi added, "Tehran and Baghdad are determined to do all within their
capabilities to secure the interests of both nations."

Times of India, 27th December

BAGHDAD (AFP): President Saddam Hussein's Baath party on Thursday accused
Turkey of "short-sightedness" for renewing the mandate for US and British
warplanes to impose a no-fly zone over northern Iraq.

"The Turkish decision to maintain the presence of US forces under the
mandate to monitor the aerial exclusion zone is short-sighted," the ruling
party daily Ath-Thawra said.

Turkish leaders "are throwing themselves into the arms of the devil and
volunteering to carry out the plots woven by America, using the events of
September 11 as a pretext."

"For centuries, Turkey has been using the wrong remedies for its economic,
social and political ills by putting its fate in the hands of the West,
particularly the United States and its accountants at the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund," the newspaper charged.

Ankara should have "strengthened trade relations with Iraq because these
relations help to resolve its economic problems without building up debts."

"By carrying out what America asks, Turkey is putting its reputation at
stake and compromising its internal security and its interests with Iraq,"
Ath-Thawra said.


The Star (Malaysia), 27th December

BAGHDAD (AFP): The Iraqi Football Federation (FIF) have severed links with
their United Arab Emirates counterparts following the refusal of an Emirates
club to play an official match in Baghdad, INA news agency reported on

The FIF action follows the refusal of Emirates club Al-Wehda to play their
Asian Club Championship tie this week against Al-Zaoura in the Iraqi

INA reported the FIF decision also includes ³the stopping of transfers of
players and coaches to Emirates clubs and the end to in-club placements and
friendly matches in the United Arab Emirates.²

Arabic News, 27th December

Jordan's prime minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb will visit Iraq this month at a
time when Jordanian- Iraqi relations have witnessed a tangible progress at
all political, economic, cultural and trade levels.

Jordanian sources said Abu al-Ragheb will meet during his visit with the
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and will convey a message to him from the
Jordanian Monarch Abdullah II on current international conditions.

According to the sources the message includes the vision of the Jordanian
King for the forthcoming phase of the war against terrorism, especially in
relations to Iraq, noting that the Jordanian King learnt the reality of the
American position towards Iraq from the US President George Bush and his
administration especially in regard to the need of the return back of the UN
inspectors to Iraq.

In addition to the situation in Iraq, the message includes the American
message towards solving the Palestinian question the US administration
informed to Jordan.

In his capacity as chairman of the recent Arab summit, the Jordanian King
urged the US administration not to direct a blow to any Arab state in the
framework of the international campaign against terrorism.

Hoover's (Financial Times. Source: Jordan Times web site, Amman, in English
28 Dec 01) 28th December

Amman: The Prime Ministry late Wednesday [26 December] endorsed the
construction of the Jordan-Iraq crude oil pipeline project, government
spokesperson Minister of State Salih Qallab said.

The kingdom will cover the cost of the section of the pipeline (around 300
km) which will lie within its borders, and Iraq will cover the remainder.

ILF Consulting Engineers of Germany will help the government study the
bidders' offers - expected to be submitted by mid-April - and determine the
project developer(s).

Addressing reporters after a cabinet meeting Wednesday night, Qallab said
the government also approved establishing a representative bureau in Amman
for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

According to Qallab, the cabinet ratified its Development Committee's
recommendation related to the agreement signed between the Ministry of Post
and Telecommunications and D and C, an international firm. "The company will
be entrusted with delivering Jordan Telecom bills to citizens," said Qallab.

Another committee proposal endorsed by the government was to fund housing
projects for limited-income employees with JD [Jordanian dinars] 1,300,000.
"The funds will be allocated out of the privatization proceeds in Jordan
Cement Factories Company (JCFC)," said Qallab...

Arabic News, 28th December

An Egyptian delegation will head for Baghdad today in an official visit to
Iraq, chaired by the minister of electricity and energy Hassan Younis. The
Egyptian minister said he will hold talks with his Iraqi counterpart on the
possibilities of technical cooperation between the two states in the fields
of electricity and untraditional energy.

The Egyptian minister said that several meetings will be held between heads
of the Egyptian companies specialized in producing electrical equipment and
the Iraqi officials to meet the requirements of new projects for electricity
generation in Iraq.

The Egyptian minister also noted that the Egyptian electrical and mechanical
installations and contracting company will put all its capabilities before
the Iraqi side to take part in the implementation of energy projects in the
areas of production; transport and distribution and the Egyptian experience
in investing renewable energy to generating electricity will be considered
especially investing the winds to this effect.

The Egyptian minister also said that during this visit the project of
electricity grid of the Iraqi network with the Arab Mashreq electricity
network will be discussed with the objective of availing Iraq the
opportunity to exchange electrical power with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and
Turkey after completing the Syrian- Turkish electricity grid project in

Arabic News, 13th December

Egypt has refused an American request to minimize the volume of trade
relations with Iraq and not to implement the free trade zone agreement
signed by Cairo and Baghdad on January 18 when the Iraqi vice President Taha
Yassin Ramadan visited Egypt.

The US foreign department secretary for the economy and agriculture affairs
Allen Larsen has started a visit to Cairo and met with its prime minister
Atif Ebeid and the foreign trade minister Youssef Boutrous Ghali and
discussed both of them the future of Egyptian- American relations.

An Egyptian official source said that the government hurries the People's
Assembly ( parliament) to ratify the trade agreement with Iraq, seeking to
implement it by the end of the current year.

Egypt is considered the first Arab trade partner for Iraq and the third
international trade partner after Russia and France.

The volume of trade contracts between Egypt and Iraq until the 10th phase of
the memorandum of understanding reached USD 3.680 billion.

At the meantime, preparations are underway to hold the 4th session of the
Egyptian production exposition in Baghdad which is organized by the
exposition affairs commissions and the international markets to be held in
March 2002.

by Arieh O'Sullivan
Jerusalem Post, 28th December

TEL AVIV (December 28) - Outgoing OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Malka
warned yesterday that if Iraq's Saddam Hussein feels an American strike aims
to topple his regime, then he would likely order an attack on Israel.

"The strategic warning we give is that, if the Americans decide to attack
Iraq in a way that would appear as a strike aimed at toppling the regime as
it did in Afghanistan, then the probability that Saddam Hussein will try to
involve us is high," Malka said.

"You won't get any bombastic statements from me that will serve our enemy to
understand how much warning we will be able to give Israel," Malka said.
"When it comes to warning of war, I think we have intelligence which knows
how to give a good warning both in time and scenarios.

"It is clear that Saddam Hussein wants to keep the non-conventional weapons
he still has. We assess that he has a few launchers, a few missiles, and
even conventional and non conventional warheads," Malka said.

Malka, who steps down today and is in competition to replace Lt.-Gen. Shaul
Mofaz as the next chief of General Staff, said he had initially been
"skeptical and cynical" regarding America's declaration of war on terror.
But this quickly changed after US forces showed they were prepared to carry
through with their threats to get rid of regimes that support terror, and
were willing to strike out regardless of coalition ties.

He does not believe the United States has made up its mind yet about Iraq.

As far as Syria is concerned, Damascus understands the US is considering it
as a state supporting terror, Malka said, but it still thinks the fence is
wide enough to remain sitting on it for now.

He said Damascus has still not given Hizbullah a red light against attacks,
but possibly an orange one.

Furthermore, Malka said Hizbullah has decided to preempt any crackdown on it
by Syria or Lebanon by hunkering down and refraining from carrying out
attacks. Instead, it is using the time to stockpile weapons.

"Their storehouses are full. The question is, for what purpose? For them to
wage any kind of conflict against us for a few days or weeks, their
warehouses are full. They have new weapons. If we are talking of an arsenal
of large numbers of Katyushas and rockets and more, they are mainly for
escalating the situation and increasing their stamina. Today their stamina
is for between a few weeks and a few months," Malka said.

He said there has been a reduction in the airlift of weapons to Hizbullah
from Iran through Syria, but noted there are other ways to smuggle weapons
to Hizbullah.

He also warned there could be attacks orchestrated by Hizbullah but carried
out by Palestinian groups in order to give them legitimacy.

by Ayla Jean Yackley
Reuters, 28thDecember

ANKARA: Turkey would be hard put to withhold support if Washington makes
Baghdad the next target in its "war on terror," despite fears turmoil next
door would inflict further economic pain and threaten its own frontiers.

"A war in Iraq is something Turkey desperately wants to avoid," one
Ankara-based diplomat said. "Iraq is not Afghanistan and the stakes here are
far higher."

Turkey, fearing violence could spark a flood of refugees similar to the tens
of thousands seen after the Gulf War, has repeatedly said it opposes
military reprisal against Iraq over its refusal to allow U.N. weapons
inspectors to return.

Chief of General Staff General Huseyin Kivrikoglu made the views of the
powerful military more explicit this week. Turkey, he said, would face
"great adversity" if Washington turned its forces on Iraq after victory over
the Taliban in Afghanistan. "An independent Kurdish state would be on the
agenda," he said.

His words raised a deep-rooted Turkish nightmare of anarchy on the eastern
borders and the emergence of a Kurdish state; a state could have its genesis
in the Kurdish enclave of northern Iraq but take in Turkish and even Iranian

President Bush warned Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein recently to allow weapons
inspections to resume or "find out" the consequences.

Some in Turkey fear the Pentagon could turn to Iraqi Kurd factions in the
north to rise up against Saddam, much as it relied on opposition forces in
Afghanistan to unseat the Taliban. This would strengthen their hand in any

Turkey has fought its own Kurdish separatists since 1984. Fighting has eased
since the army broke the back of rebel forces and guerrilla leader Abdullah
Ocalan was captured in 1999. The prospect of that victory being sacrificed
now is not edifying to the General Staff, who have a strong say in Turkish

However, Turkey could be seen as owing a debt of loyalty to Washington in
its "war on terrorism" -- it has given key support to Turkey over
multi-billion dollar loans to tackle a financial crisis, provides military
backing to NATO's only Muslim member and gave diplomatic help in Ankara's
war on separatists and the capture of Ocalan, Turkey's most wanted

Turkey wasted no time in opening its airspace and bases to U.S. forces after
the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. It also gave Washington
valuable intelligence and pledged troops for a peacekeeping force in

Iraq, however, is not Afghanistan.

Turkish forces are a constant presence operating against Turkish Kurdish
guerrillas in northern Iraq, an area beyond Baghdad's control since the 1991
Gulf war. There lurks the fear that if a broader conflagration breaks out,
troops may be drawn directly into large-scale fighting.

"If the U.S. intervenes in Iraq, Turkey cannot refuse to support the U.S.
because the Turkish American strategic partnership is too important to
Turkey," says Mehmet Ali Kislali, a military affairs expert.

To hit Iraq, the Pentagon would look, at least, to Turkish bases to fly
sorties and could ask Turkey to deploy troops to its border as in 1991.

U.S. warplanes patrolling a no-fly zone from southern Turkey have protected
Iraqi Kurds since wresting control of the region after the Gulf War.

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit will seek assurances from Bush at talks
next month that Turkish interests will be respected if Washington acts
against the state it suspects of developing weapons of mass destruction that
could be used by the likes of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Turkey, in the throes of its worst recession since 1945, estimates U.N.
sanctions imposed on neighboring Iraq a decade ago have cost it some $30
billion in trade revenues.

A sanctions-busting diesel trade ground to a halt after the attacks on the
United States when Saddam cut off the oil to northern Iraqi Kurds who had
smuggled the fuel to Turkey.

Turkey has sought to revive commercial links, sending trade and humanitarian
missions to Baghdad and winning a U.N.-approved tender to drill in Iraq's
oil-rich Kirkuk fields. Ankara has also restored full diplomatic relations
with Iraq.

"Turkey's relations with Iraq have reached a high point," Kislali says.
"Ecevit has to explain...the economic dimensions of how difficult war in
Iraq will be."

"The status quo is really not so bad," he says. "Turkey's hands are free in
northern Iraq...(The area) will leave Turkish control in the event of an
American victory."

Turkey has learned to live with Saddam. His removal could leave a power
vacuum or, if secular Turks' worst fears are met, a hard-line Islamist
regime with dangers for Turkish security.

Active involvement in a campaign to remove Saddam would reap scorn from the
Arab world. A European Union candidate, Turkey's relations with the rest of
the Muslim world are often shaky, and it has taken flak for close military
and diplomatic ties to Israel, as well as the presence of U.S. forces on its

Ankara has shown signs of accommodating Washington in recent weeks. Foreign
Minister Ismail Cem said the U.S.-led coalition must fight "terrorists"
wherever they are. The defense minister has signaled Turkey may rethink its
position on Iraq if there is compelling evidence of a danger.

The vast majority in Turkey hopes it will not come to that.


by Yunusu Abbey
New Vision (Kampala), 28th December

PRESIDENT Saddam Hussein's UN sanctions-hit Iraq, wants to restore trade
ties with Uganda, which was its close ally in the seventies.

Hajji Nsereko Mutumba, the director, Foundation for Islamic Development in
Uganda (FIDU), told The New Vision, the Iraqis made the request when he
visited Baghdad recently.

"A cross-section of Iraqis we met in Baghdad, including some government
officials, expressed willingness to trade with Uganda in various fields,"
Mutumba said.

Mutumba revealed that shrewd business people, who defy the UN sanctions, ply
between Jordan and Iraq, doing brisk business.

"Although Iraq is under UN-imposed sanctions, its industries are in full
production. They produce textiles, footwear and have plenty of foodstuffs in
markets," Mutumba said.

Mutumba said he was in Iraq with Sheikh Hassan Kirya where they attended an
international Islamic conference. Kirya is the acting director, Munazzamat
Da'awa Al Islamia, an Islamic charity.

During the visit, they met Iraqi's minister for endowment, Dr. Abdulmuniem
Ahmad Swaleh, with whom they discussed several issues. Including exploring
trade links.

Mutumba said despite communication difficulties, there are goods Ugandans
can obtain from Iraq at lower prices. He cited textiles, and footwear.
Mutumba said the main problem facing Iraqis is lack of adequate medical
facilities, including drugs.



BAGHDAD (AFP): Iraq has presented to the United Nations a plan on how it
will distribute revenues from the 11th and latest phase of its
"oil-for-food" program, the official INA news agency said Tuesday.

The plan, which allocates oil revenues to different sectors such as food,
health and infrastructure, was presented to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
by Iraq's acting UN envoy Abdel Moneim al-Qadhi on Monday, INA said.

Iraq signed an agreement with the United Nations on December 3 renewing the
"oil-for-food" program for another six months until end-May 2002.

The program allows Iraq to sell crude under UN supervision to meet the
humanitarian needs of its people, who have been hard hit by the sanctions
imposed on the country since Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.


Reuters, 23rd December

LONDON: Foreign Office minister Peter Hain says any unilateral action
against Baghdad will have little impact and that steps to address "the Iraqi
problem" should be taken under a U.N. umbrella.

"Any unilateral action would not take us very far," Hain said on Sunday. "It
would need to be done in terms of the United Nations framework."

"I think that everybody serious about tackling the problems that confront
the world, very dangerous problems including from Iraq, need to move
together," the junior minister told BBC radio.

There has been widespread speculation about whether the U.S. success in
Afghanistan would embolden it to move against Iraq to punish President
Saddam Hussein for blocking the return of United Nations weapons inspectors
to his country.

President George W. Bush has warned Saddam he would "find out" the
consequences if he did not readmit the inspectors.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has stood firmly by Bush in his military
campaign in Afghanistan, has been warned by his military chief of staff that
an attack on Iraq may splinter international support for Washington's
declared "war on terror".

But Hain said the speculation which predicted a reckless U.S. response to
the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington had been confounded by
the "considered, careful, international and highly successful response".

"The Iraqi problem is being addressed, not just by the United States and
Britain, but also by the Russians who have (discussed)...a detailed common
approach towards Iraq, towards Afghanistan, towards other problem areas in
the world," he said.

He said U.N. weapons inspectors must be allowed back into Iraq because
Saddam "has capability in biological, chemical (weapons) and we believe too
a developing nuclear capability".

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell downplayed speculation in an interview
published on Friday that Iraq might be Washington's next target.

But he said Saddam was "very much always on our agenda".

BBC, 28th December

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has warned against any strikes on
Iraq in the absence of concrete evidence of its involvement in the 11
September attacks.

In his New Year message he said there had been positive international
developments since 11 September, and that the new coalitions should be
developed to promote peace, humanitarian aid and economic development.

Events have emphasised as never before the shortcomings of a narrow
nationalist approach and the necessity for internationalism

Charles Kennedy The past year had been a landmark year for the world, he

"Historians may see it as significant as 1945 when the Second World War
ended or 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell.

"On 11 September, we saw terrorism of a completely new order. And in the
weeks since then, we have seen a coalition of nations mustered on an equally
unprecedented scale, with Russia working closely with the Western allies and
states like Iran being brought in from the cold.

"These events have emphasised as never before the shortcomings of a narrow
nationalist approach and the necessity for internationalism. "

Mr Kennedy stressed that the party's support for action in Afghanistan did
not amount to a blank cheque.

"We have particular concerns, at the turn of this new year, about the
prospect of an attack on Iraq in the absence of clear proof of an Iraqi link
with the events of 11 September.

Since the election, more and more voters are turning to the Liberal
Democrats. Some are high profile

Charles Kennedy "Such an attack would not only break apart the coalition but
could also easily lead to retaliation by Saddam Hussein against Israel."


NEW WORLD ORDER,5936,3476724%255E1

Daily Telegraph (Australia), 22nd December

LONDON: Robert Southey (1774-1843) wrote a poem about the 1704 battle of
Blenheim when English forces led by the Duke of Marlborough, with his ally
Prince Eugene of Savoy, beat the French of Louis XIV, England's first away
win since Agincourt in 1415.

"Now tell us all about the war, And what they fought each other for . . ."
the poem goes, and famously ends, when a child asked a veteran what good
came of this great triumph: "Why that I cannot tell," said he. "But 'twas a
famous victory."

Marlborough was an ancestor of Winston Churchill, and the English like to
believe the bloodline played a major part in winning World War II, the last
great struggle against a universal evil. The difference was, after World War
II we knew what had been won.

Now, as a study, let us take the Bush dynasty. The first comparison is

George Herbert Walker Bush, the father, devised the Gulf War against Saddam
Hussein and declared a famous victory. But what was won? The liberation of
the oil wells of Kuwait and the ongoing flow from Saudi Arabia and the
Emirates and the preservation of flaky dynasties of undemocratic and
profligate Arab tribal princes.

Saddam really won the war. Iraq still produces oil, he still lives the same
life he did. He is the threat now he was then, whatever that means. Only his
people suffer, and their suffering is increased by regular bombing by the US
and Britain. G.H.W. Bush blew it, for the most cynical of reasons.

Baghdad was at the mercy of fresh French, US and British troops. Bush Sr ­
oil always in the back of his Texan-based mind, body bags in the front of it
­ cried off, and declared a famous victory.

Here we are now, under G. Dubya Bush, with another famous victory, in which
the growing toll of Afghan civilians killed will soon meet the dropping toll
of those dead in the September 11 atrocities. Winter will redress the

No bin Laden. No Zawahiri. No Mohammed Omar. Just a bedraggled bunch of
corpses and prisoners that would hardly fill a troopship. The next targets
are already on the drawing board, and include the usual suspects.

Somalia seems likely to be visited, then maybe the high, desolate, beautiful
hills of Yemen, and then the Sudan or wherever. These are countries without
real government of any kind in their remote territories. It is rather like
attacking Pitcairn Island.

But there will undoubtedly be more famous victories. Until, that is, Iraq is
included. That is a nation with a government and an army, and it might well
fight back. Can Dubya work up courage in a way his father could not to get

On the evidence, the answer would be no. Despite the drum-beating back home,
America has fought a timid war in Afghanistan, mostly from about 6000m in
the air.

It has used Afghans to fight for it, sending them into battle without even
warm clothes or decent boots. Afghans have done the hard grind. America has
done the high-level hi-tech.

Apart from a handful of "special forces" Bush Jr has committed no Americans
to serious combat. There is no sign he will. Most US casualties have come
from "friendly fire". Bush calls endlessly for allies, but his forces fight
this war from high above the combat zone, fearful still of war's byproduct:
the dead.

Yet, there are American commentators with the gall to challenge the rest of
the world for being cautious about joining in this Pentagon-planned fight.

On their performance so far, no proper army would join anything led by the
Bush family without a cast-iron guarantee that it had total tactical and
strategic equality in planning the campaign.

Afghan rubble has been rearranged, and a nasty government overturned.
Hooray. But that was not the aim. The bad guys are still at large and the
Bush family still cannot tell us what really has been won.

by Edward Epstein
San Francisco Chronicle, 23rd December

Washington -- The clamor for quick U.S. military action to unseat Iraq's
Saddam Hussein and destroy his capacity to build weapons of mass destruction
has given way to calls for rooting out terrorist cells associated with Osama
bin Laden's al Qaeda network in Somalia, Yemen and Sudan.

The emphasis has shifted as bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of
Afghanistan's deposed Taliban regime, remain at large. Al Qaeda cells could
still be operating in some 60 other countries. And the United States has
found little international support so far for a military strike against

"My feeling is that what's likely to happen after Afghanistan is that we'll
tackle Yemen, Sudan and Somalia, and then Lebanon and Syria, and then we'll
go after Iraq with an ultimatum," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, ranking
Democrat on the House International Relations Committee.

Lantos was a driving force behind a House resolution approved by a 392-12
vote last week calling on the Bush administration and the United Nations to
give Hussein this ultimatum: Allow U.N. inspectors unrestricted access to
seek evidence of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons programs or face
the consequences.

But a showdown with Iraq would take time, and the president's methodical
approach seems to dictate going after al Qaeda first. This position was
boosted last week when Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Washington
Post that Iraq, whose military was routed by the U.S.-led coalition in the
1991 Persian Gulf war, is still a formidable foe.

"You can't take the Afghanistan model and immediately apply it to Iraq," he

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, perhaps the administration's
foremost hawk on Iraq, also said the war against al Qaeda isn't over. After
Afghanistan, he said, the focus will be on places "where senior al Qaeda is
trying to escape to and places where al Qaeda is hanging out."

Leaders of countries on the list of Washington's possible targets seem to
have gotten that message.

They are pledging cooperation in the new strategy, which the United States
also hopes will prevent bin Laden or his minions from finding a haven.

The strategy will use diplomacy, law enforcement and small-scale and largely
secret military operations in the targeted countries:

-- Somalia: Small CIA teams already have been reported in Somalia, the poor,

civil war-torn nation in the Horn of Africa where al Qaeda has been active
for years. Abdulkassim Salat Hassan, president of the country's transitional
government, has pledged cooperation with Washington, but warlords still
control much of Somalia.

Given the previous tragic experience in Somalia's civil wars, including the
deaths of 18 U.S. Army soldiers in 1993, the administration seems wary of
large-scale operations.

"I think we have had enough involvement in Somalia to know that the
potential for us to go in and sort of create a stable functioning government
and civil society in Somalia is perilous," said James Steinberg, deputy
national security adviser in the Clinton administration who is currently
director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, a
Washington think tank.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the
Associated Press this past Friday, "Things . . . are being worked on"
concerning Somalia, although he wouldn't specify whether that meant military

"We are doing the kind of planning required, but I'm not going to get into
that," Myers said.

-- Sudan: Bin Laden lived in this African nation in the early 1990s, and
Clinton ordered unsuccessful cruise missile strikes in 1998 against al Qaeda
forces. President Omar el-Bashir was quick to condemn the Sept. 11 attacks
on the United States and pledged to help counter terrorism.

That cooperation reportedly includes the recent handing over of intelligence
files on al Qaeda activities.

-- Yemen: The government of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh last week
sent troops to seize suspected al Qaeda fighters and lost 18 soldiers. U.S.
special-operations troops were reportedly involved, but no American
casualties were reported.

The United States remains suspicious of Yemen, the poorest country on the
Arabian peninsula where 17 sailors were killed aboard the destroyer Cole in
a suicide bombing last year blamed on al Qaeda terrorists.

-- Lebanon and Syria: If Bush is serious about battling global terrorism,
then these two nations must be targeted, say Lantos and other analysts.

"Apart from Afghanistan, no country has more terrorist training camps and no
country has terrorists that have killed more Americans," said Larry Johnson,

a former State Department counter-terrorism official. "We've allowed Lebanon
a pass and that must come to an end," he said recently at a Senate hearing.

Syria has deep influence in Lebanon, where anti-Israeli and anti-U.S. groups
operate. But the administration has been largely silent on this front,
fearing public pressure on Lebanon and Syria could worsen the Israel-
Palestinian conflict.

-- Iraq: Hussein remains on the minds of Washington policymakers, but Iraqi
links to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks haven't surfaced.

"We know it is a rogue state. . . . Regime change in Iraq should remain a
United States goal. But so far I have not seen evidence that has directly
tied Iraq to Sept. 11," said Michelle Flournoy of the Center for Strategic
and International Studies in Washington.

But sentiment runs high for a confrontation with Iraq, which since 1998
hasn't allowed U.N. weapons inspectors on its territory.

"There's every reason to believe Saddam Hussein has taken advantage of the
absence of weapons inspectors" to work on weapons of mass destruction, said
Rep. Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

"We're not calling for war," Hyde added. "We're calling for adherence to U.
N. resolutions."

by Eric Schmitt and James Dao
Chicago Tribune (from New York Times News Service), 24th December

WASHINGTON -- At a pivotal moment in the siege of Kunduz late last month, a
Northern Alliance commander urgently requested American air strikes against
several hundred Taliban soldiers and tanks massing on a ridge more than a
mile from the city. He pleaded that the attack be launched within 24 hours.

A special operations ground spotter immediately radioed an American command
center in Saudi Arabia, which ordered a nearby B-52 to rain 16 cluster bombs
on the enemy forces. Flying at 30,000 feet, the bomber never saw its prey.
But the spotter used a laser pointer to guide the bombs, which carried new
devices that kept them on course through buffeting winds, enabling them to
spew anti-armor bomblets with deadly precision.

The Taliban force was hit not in 24 hours, but in 19 minutes.

"That really was another turning point," said a senior Air Force official
deeply involved in the air campaign in Afghanistan. "All these things gave
confidence to the Northern Alliance, and it really was a shock to the

The swiftness and accuracy of that attack illustrated a new kind of American
air power, where high-technology precision weapons, guided by aircraft and
ground commandos, enabled a ragtag opposition to rout the once-feared
Taliban army. Just as World War II opened the Atomic Age and the 1991
Persian Gulf war introduced stealth technology to combat, Afghanistan will
surely be remembered as the smart-bomb war.

New guidance systems have been strapped onto older weapons, like the cluster
bombs dropped near Kunduz, making them devastatingly accurate. Pilotless
Predator drones for the first time fired Hellfire anti-tank missiles and fed
live battlefield video to nearby AC-130 gunships, which are prowling the
Pakistan border for fleeing Al Qaeda fighters.

Satellites, electronic-eavesdropping planes and human ground spotters worked
together more reliably than ever, enabling distant commanders to direct
warplanes to targets with stunning speed and accuracy.

The result was a relentlessly accurate bombardment conducted day and night,
under clear and cloudy skies alike, that triggered the collapse of Taliban
and Al Qaeda forces, air power experts say. Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners
have confirmed that the precise bombing from planes they often could not
hear or see broke the will of battle-hardened troops.

Moreover, the relatively small number of civilian casualties made possible
by the pinpoint bombing helped the United States maintain the support of
friendly Islamic nations. And the air campaign's deadly effectiveness helped
embolden opposition commanders who had doubted the American strategy.

"This is a new pattern of warfare that is focused and directed against
individuals we're trying to defeat," said Richard Hallion, the historian of
the U.S. Air Force and an authority on air power. "There's not that image of
uncaring, rampant destruction."

The implications of this kind of air campaign loom large not only for the
next phase of the war on terrorism but also for Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld's vision of overhauling the armed forces to respond more quickly to
emerging threats. Only the United States can marshal this kind of air power
and wield it anywhere in the world.

It was Rumsfeld and top military aides, along with Gen. Tommy Franks, the
commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, and Lt. Gen. Charles Wald, the
former air commander, who largely developed the war plan and managed it from
the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command in Tampa and a
new air operations center at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.

The ability to bomb targets with precision could be a potent weapon against
terrorist safe houses and command centers hidden among schools, hospitals
and homes in crowded urban areas, Pentagon planners say. Indeed, satellite
images from Afghanistan show bomb craters circling mosques and homes--a
clear indication of the Pentagon's confidence about striking near civilian

"We didn't just drop bombs," said Capt. Dave Mercer, commander of the
Enterprise-based Carrier Air Wing 8, which dropped the first bombs of the
war. "We always had a precise aim point."

Precision bombing could also enable carrier-based fighters or long-range
bombers operating from the United States to strike terrorist training camps
in far-flung regions where American bases and troops are not wanted. And it
could do those things with smaller numbers of aircraft, without endangering,
or even moving, large numbers of American forces.

"The enemy's sanctuary is being decreased more and more all the time," a
senior Air Force official said.

Still, administration officials warn against assuming that the exact formula
used to such great effect in Afghanistan would work against other potential
foes, especially Iraq. The Taliban military is a shadow of the Iraqi army,
they said. Baghdad's air defenses, while battered and jury-rigged, would
still pose a threat to lumbering B-52s and AC-130s. And there is no
organized Iraqi opposition army comparable to the Northern Alliance.

"They're two different countries with two different regimes, two different
military capabilities," Secretary of State Colin Powell said last week.
"They are so significantly different that you can't take the Afghan model
and immediately apply it to Iraq."

More broadly, air power experts said, the Afghan campaign underscores that
air power, to be effective, still requires ground forces to either flush an
enemy into the open or force the opposition to congregate in a mass, where
it can be attacked more easily. And without spotters on the ground, American
bombs damaged residential areas, especially early in the war, killing and
wounding an unknown number of civilians.

"Air and ground forces work like a hammer and anvil to put the enemy in a
pincer," said Robert Pape, a political science professor at the University
of Chicago who has written extensively on air power. "But there's a danger
in thinking that it's all hammer and no anvil, that air power alone with
maybe only a few special forces, is the key. You need the ground element."

Finally, the current stock of bombs still cannot destroy the deepest, most
sophisticated caves and bunkers--a problem that could haunt the military in
Iraq or North Korea, which have many underground command centers.

The Pentagon acknowledged the limits of its current "bunker-busting" bombs
when it announced plans last week to ship to Afghanistan a new kind of
laser-guided "fuel-air" bomb, which creates an enormous blast capable of
sucking oxygen out of caves by detonating a billowing cloud of fuel.

Still, the advances in American air power since the Persian Gulf war, and
even since Kosovo, have been dramatic. Less than 10 percent of the bombs
dropped in the gulf war were precision-guided. In Afghanistan, nearly 60
percent of the 14,000 missiles, bombs and other pieces of ordnance were
steered to their targets by laser beams or satellites.


Times of India (from AFP), 26th December

AGHDAD: Five Americans from a US anti-sanctions group handed over blood bags
and donated their own blood on Thursday to help Iraqi children suffering
from leukemia at Baghdad's al-Mansur children's hospital.

Voices in the Wilderness spokeswoman Kathy Kelly told reporters the cure
rate for childhood leukemia approaches 80 percent in the United States and
10 percent in Iraq.

"Both the still-increasing rate of cancers in children and the low cure rate
are directly due to the Gulf War and the sanctions," she said.

Iraq blames in particular depleted uranium shells fired by US forces during
the 1991 war for the high rate of cancers.

"One after another the children die because some element for chemotherapy is
not available having been refused or delayed in the long, death-dealing
process Iraq must go through to buy even the simplest medicines," Kelly

Voices in the Wilderness has sent over the years 41 delegations to Iraq to
demonstrate opposition to the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq after Baghdad's
ill-fated 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 27? december

by Ramzi Kysia
Jordan Times, 28th December

BAGHDAD: Dr Alim Abdul-Hamid's office at Al Mustanseriya Medical College in
Baghdad is decorated in bright, cheerful colours, but what he has to say is
anything but cheerful. Formerly Dean of Basra Medical College, Abdul-Hamid
has had plenty of first-hand experience with Iraq's unprecedented plague of
cancers and birth defects.

'We have seen cases of breast cancer among women in their 20s. In their
20s!,' says Abdul Hamid. 'This is really tragic, because, you know, in
America, probably when you come across a case of breast cancer in a woman in
her late 30s, you would consider that this is a young age for cancer, while
we see cases of breast cancer in the 20s. There are increased incidences of
colon cancer, thyroid cancer, in addition to, of course, leukaemias and

What's the source of this epidemic? According to Abdul-Hamid the problem is
depleted uranium. Depleted uranium, or 'DU', is an extremely dense, heavy
metal, and a waste product of atomic bomb production. It has a half-life of
over 4 billion years. It contains trace amounts of plutonium and is 60 per
cent as radioactive as naturally occurring uranium. The US military uses it
as ballast in their missiles, and they use it to coat shells and pellets.
Because of its density, it is armour piercing so it is used as an anti-tank
weapon. DU is also aerosolising. When a shell coated with DU hits, it burns,
releasing uranium oxide dust. This dust then rises in the air, is carried by
the winds, and contaminates the entire surrounding environment.

The Pentagon admits to dropping 320 tonnes of DU in Iraq. The environmental
organisation Greenpeace puts the estimate at over 800 tonnes. Hospitals
throughout Iraq have reported as much as a 10-fold increase in overall
cancer rates and birth defects over the last 11 years.

Abdul-Hamid points to an epidemiological study he headed in Basra,
demonstrating the connection between DU and cancer in Iraq. The study looked
at five factors: biological plausibility, strength of association, incidence
rate, increased incidences of cancer among younger children, and the
dose-response relationship. According to Abdul-Hamid, all these factors
point to a strong, causal link between DU exposure and cancer in Iraq.

To test the biological plausibility of their hypothesis, the team of
scientists studied the types of cancer being reported, most notably
leukaemias, and explored their relationship to DU. The results strongly
indicate a radioactive, rather than chemical, contaminant. Explains
Abdul-Hamid: 'Leukaemia is known to be related to radiation. We don't have
evidence that leukaemia is related to chemicals.'

Additionally, if the source of the epidemic were chemical, there would have
been a sharp spike in cancer rates following the Gulf war, followed by rapid
decreases as the source of the contamination disappeared. In contrast, with
radiation the strength of association increases as time passes. The fact
that cancer rates are still increasing at an exponential rate in Iraq
strongly implies a radioactive source.

This increase is enormous. According to the study, malignancies and
leukaemias among children under the age of 15 have more than tripled since
1990. Whereas in 1990 young children accounted for only 13 per cent of
cancer cases, today over 56 per cent of all cancer in Iraq occurs among
children under the age of 5. Abdul-Hamid explains that it isn't just direct
exposure of the children to the radiation still present in the environment;
it's also the cumulative exposure of their parents over time. This
cumulative exposure does permanent damage to parental genes, damage which is
then passed on to their children.

Finally, pointing to a map of Basra, Abdul-Hamid highlights the
dose-response relationship between DU and cancers. 'If we look at the map of
Basra, southern Iraq, and monitor the incidences in different districts over
time, we can come out with a very important conclusion. And that is that
areas which have got the higher level of background radiation have higher
levels of cancers.' These factors overwhelmingly point to DU as the source
of Iraq's current cancer plague.

Iraqi doctors aren't the only ones complaining about DU. US veterans are
upset as well. DU may be a leading cause of the unprecedented levels of
illnesses effecting Gulf war veterans. 'The Pentagon claims that there are
no significant health effects from exposure to depleted uranium, but their
own research and documents show that this is not true,' says Charles
Sheehan-Miles, a Gulf war veteran and former president of the National Gulf
War Resource Centre. Almost 25 per cent of US soldiers who fought in the
Gulf war are currently receiving disability benefits from the US Veteran's
Administration. This is twice the rate of disabilities as among Vietnam

Unfortunately, DU remains an integral part of the American military arsenal.
According to Sheehan-Miles, 'Depleted uranium, like landmines and cluster
bombs, is a weapon with effects far beyond the battlefield, with innocents
and children as the frequent victims. I resent this. As a former American
soldier, I was trained to protect the innocent, not to kill them.'

As the United States gears up for a new 'Desert Storm' against Iraq, using
weapons like DU, that is a lesson that more American soldiers, and the
politicians who command them, should be reminded of.

The writer is a Muslim-American peace activist, and serves on the board of
directors for the Education for Peace in Iraq Centre
( He is currently in Iraq as part of a Voices in
the Wilderness ( peace delegation trying to end the war . He
contributed this article to The Jordan Times.


New Zealand Herald, 24th December

An Air New Zealand engineer whom authorities believe is a stepson of Iraqi
despot Saddam Hussein is worried about his job and family after being
unmasked in the Weekend Herald.

Mohammad Saffi continued to deny a family link with Saddam when approached
again at his North Shore home yesterday, but said everyone had to be related
to someone.

A long-time resident of the quiet Glenfield cul-de-sac where 35-year-old Mr
Saffi has a modest home said his wife had mentioned to her in passing that
they came from royal lineage in Iraq.

But Dawn Levert said the couple and their teenage son and daughter were
always very polite and friendly to her, worked hard on home maintenance and
she could not wish for better neighbours.

"I only take people as I find them and I find them excellent."

She said she did not care who their relatives were.

Mr Saffi indicated concern about the viability of his position at work,
given that Air New Zealand is a large public company, and about his
children's future at high school after living a quiet life for six years in
New Zealand.

The Air New Zealand vice-president for public affairs, David Beatson, said
he could not comment on security steps taken by the airline, or matters
concerning individual staff.

However, he said no further action was in progress as a result of publicity
given to the case.

A similar comment last week, while the Weekend Herald was making its
inquiries, was understood to indicate that authorities and the airline no
longer consider Mr Saffi's case to be of concern.

This follows intense multi-agency scrutiny of his background, given that he
works in a secure area at Auckland International Airport and occasionally
flies with aircraft, after the security sweep sparked by the September 11
terror attacks.

A woman the police believe is Mr Saffi's mother, Samira Shahbandar, is
reported by Iraqi opposition groups to have been forced to divorce Mr
Saffi's father and marry Saddam in 1986.

by Andres Viglucci and Alfonso Chardy
Miami Herald, 26th December

Two Iraqi women, one accompanied by her husband, came to Miami seeking
political asylum and expecting an understanding reception from U.S.
authorities. Instead, they ran smack into the government's domestic war on

All three have been held by the Immigration and Naturalization Service for
months, as the agency -- already leery about releasing any man with an
Arabic-sounding name in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks -- appears to
be extending the policy to women, at least in Florida.

The detention of the women, who under normal circumstances likely would have
been freed by now, is the latest element in a strict new regimen of
sharpened scrutiny and prolonged detention for foreign nationals from the
Middle East and South Asia. The government is holding more than 500 men who
were detained after the attacks, most of them on immigration violations.

The women's experience also lends weight to claims that some of those new
measures, intended to strengthen the government's hand in rounding up
terrorism suspects and safeguarding intelligence information, are being
applied to Middle Easterners even when no connection to terrorist groups has
been alleged -- which is the case with the women and the husband, who are

In at least one other local case, that of three Iraqi men detained when they
tried to visit a friend working on a cruise ship at the Port of Miami-Dade,
the INS used special post-Sept. 11 powers to close usually open hearings in
immigration court, even though the FBI has publicly cleared the trio of any
connection to terrorism.

The government alleges the men, who were legally in the country as refugees,
were trying to smuggle in their friend, a charge they deny.

For one of the two detained women, 46-year-old Chaldean Christian, the new
regimen has meant nearly four months of separation from her husband and
imprisonment at a Miami Dade County jail, where she is subjected to body
searches and handcuffing for trips to court.

Her husband is being held at Krome.

Because she speaks Arabic, the only person at the Turner Guilford Knight
Correctional Center with whom she can communicate is a distant cousin of her
husband, 24, also a Christian, who arrived in Miami a month ago.

She, too, is being held by the INS, which uses the jail to house detained

The women were hoping to join relatives in Michigan.

The younger woman's sister is a U.S. citizen and her mother a permanent U.S.

Both say they were in trouble with Saddam Hussein's regime -- the first
woman because her 51-year-old husband, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war,
refused an order to rejoin the military; the younger woman, a university
student in computer science, because she refused to join Hussein's Baath
political party as most college students are expected to.

The women also said they faced discrimination as Christians in a
majority-Muslim country.

Neither of the women speaks much English.

They weep frequently and say in a phone interview that they don't understand
why they are being treated harshly when they fled an oppressive regime
hostile to the United States.

They complain they get bad food and little sleep at the jail because of
noise and frequent checks of their cells at night.

``We are very scared,'' said the younger woman, speaking through an
interpreter, who asked that her name not be published for fear of
retaliation against relatives back home.

``I thought the American authorities would help me. We were shocked at this
treatment. We never dreamt of being in jail. We are not criminals.''

During their detention, they say, they have seen dozens of women of other
nationalities released from INS detention after just a few days -- normal
agency practice when it comes to asylum-seekers.

Both of the Iraqi women and the husband weeks ago cleared the first hurdle
to asylum, an interview in which they persuaded an INS officer they have a
``credible fear'' of persecution at home.

INS policy is to release asylum-seekers who show credible fear while an
immigration court makes a final determination in the case, a process that
can take a year or more.

``In cases where an arriving alien asserts an asylum claim, INS policy
favors release from custody if the alien is found to have a credible fear of
persecution,'' said Joseph Greene, the INS's acting deputy executive
associate commissioner for operations, speaking Wednesday before the U.S.
House Subcommittee on Immigration.

The INS publicly insists it has not singled out Middle Easterners or Arabs
for special treatment.

The acting INS district director for Florida, John Bulger, declined a
request for an interview on his office's detention policies, even after The
Herald provided, at his request, a letter outlining the subject.

Agency policy is not to discuss individual cases.

But federal officials concede that INS officers and agents who deal with
aliens have been instructed not to let any Middle Easterner or South Asian
out if they are not fully satisfied that they are clean -- even if it takes

``There is a heightened state of awareness that each person seeking entry
into the United States needs to be checked out as thoroughly as possible, so
people who arrive without proper documents or without documents are detained
while their stories are checked out, and if we need to hold them while we
are checking them out, then we are going to hold them,'' one official
familiar with INS practice said.

Another federal official familiar with immigration enforcement said: ``No
one is going to let someone go unless they feel absolutely sure the person
they are releasing is not going to go out the next day and hijack a plane.''

The INS is also making it harder for journalists to visit Middle Eastern and
other detainees since the attacks.

The Iraqi women were interviewed by phone because an INS spokesman in Miami,
Rodney Germain, said it would take at least two weeks to respond to a Herald
request to visit them.

Before Sept. 11, such requests were handled by the local office and
routinely approved within days.

Now the requests must be approved at the regional level and in Washington.

Immigration lawyers and advocates, while conceding the need for stepped-up
security measures after the attacks, say the INS is needlessly jailing
people who pose no threat.

``I can understand that policy for my Islamic clients, even if I don't agree
with it,'' said Wilfredo Allen, a Miami immigration attorney representing
the younger Iraqi, noting that Christian women are unlikely to join a jihad
against the United States.

``I can't understand it for the Iraqi Christians. It's nonsensical.''

The agency is releasing at least some Middle Easterners.

Last week, a male Iraqi asylum-seeker was released from Krome.

The agency has also been willing to release an Iranian woman who came to
South Florida seeking asylum with her two teenage sons.

All three, converts to Christianity, have been detained since September --
the mother and her 17-year-old son at a guarded motel the INS uses to
confine families, and her 18-year-old son at Krome.

The agency set bond for the family, a total of $15,000, but they have been
unable to come up with the money so far.

Advocates say it's rare for a family to be held so long at the motel.

``Most people go very quickly through the hotel,'' said Charu Newhouse
Al-Sahli, detention advocacy coordinator at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy
Center in Miami.

Immigrant rights groups say they don't know of other cases of Middle Eastern
women held for inordinately long periods by the INS.

But at least two other women were held for several weeks in one of the
oddest episodes after the attacks. The two women were among 11 young Israeli
Jews picked up in Ohio, apparently because tipsters and agents may have
mistaken their Sephardic names for Arabic ones.

Their lawyer, David Leopold, said one of the first questions that federal
agents asked his surprised clients is whether they were Muslim.

The Israelis were charged with working illegally, put into closed court
proceedings reserved for national security cases and denied bond.

Nine, including the women, were eventually freed under a promise to leave
the country.

Two others agreed to leave but are being held until their departure.

Leopold said one of the women, 23, was ``terrified'' to find herself in a
jail cell. He blamed what he called INS's ``institutional incapacity'' for
the apparent mix-up.

``It raises serious questions about the quality of the investigation,'' he


Miami Herald, 28th December

Finally, someone has shown the courage to do right by our Gulf War veterans
and warn those who would send our servicemen and women back into Iraq.

Overcoming a decade of disinterest and denial at the departments of Defense
and Veterans Affairs, VA Secretary Anthony Principi is moving quickly to
provide disability and survivor benefits to Gulf War veterans with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

His decision is based on a recently concluded epidemiological study showing
that those serving in the Gulf were twice as likely to fall prey to this
terminal disease than those who did not serve there. This conclusion is not
a surprise to those who have been paying attention. VA research chief Dr.
John Feussner, testifying before a Senate committee on Oct. 12, 2000,
reported that Gulf War veterans ``report a variety of chronic and
ill-defined symptoms, including fatigue, neuro cognitive and musculoskeletal
problems at rates significantly greater than nondeployed veterans.''

What is new is Principi's decision to confront entrenched attitudes at the
Pentagon and his own department and do something about it. Dr. Bill
Winkenwerder Jr., the Pentagon's top health official, has conceded publicly
that the new study's conclusions are ``not the study results we'd like to
report.'' Until now, the official Pentagon line has been that no specific
illnesses have been identified as having been caused by service in the Gulf.

Of the 690,000 troops sent to the Gulf in 1990-91, the great majority is now
separated from service and thus eligible to apply for disability
compensation. More than 200,000 have done so.

The recent findings come too late for the 20 Gulf War veterans who have
already died from ALS. At least 20 others are now in various stages of

The disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects every
muscle in the body, usually starting with an arm or leg, or with speech or
swallowing problems. Head and eye control are the last to succumb; the mind
remains alert to the end.

Michael Donnelly, a decorated Air Force major who flew 44 combat missions
over Iraq during Desert Storm, returned home with ALS and to an indifferent
Air Force and Defense Department. With the help of his sister, Denise, he
authored Falcon's Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir, in which he recounts not only
his combat missions but also his dismaying battle with the Pentagon

Donnelly is now in the later stages of the disease, with motor control over
only his eyes. He breathes with a ventilator. A robust 31-year-old, 6-foot-4
fighter pilot when he went to the Gulf, Donnelly is now skin and bones.
Normally, ALS is rare in people under 50.

The recent study determined that the incidence of ALS for Army troops
deployed to the Gulf is twice that of troops elsewhere. But the rate for the
Air Force was 2.7 times higher. Why should this be, I wondered. Donnelly
wrote of his observations after a pilots' briefing just before the war broke
out in mid-January 1991: ``We were informed of the nature of the targets we
would be hitting, many of which were the chemical- and biological-weapons
production and storage facilities the Iraqis were known to possess.'' Quite
a cocktail to fly through.

The jury is still out on the precise causes, but Principi has promised to
pursue research to identify what brought ALS and other nervous disorders to
so many Gulf veterans. What is already clear is that our troops had to
operate in one of the dirtiest chemical environments in military history.

In July 1997, the Pentagon announced that 99,000 troops may have been
exposed to low levels of nerve gas downwind from Khamisiyah in southern
Iraq, where U.S. soldiers in March 1991 blew up hundreds of rockets loaded
with nerve agent. Of those 99,000, about 35,000 have applied for disability
compensation, according to the VA.

Last March 27, the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that some
Special Forces troops in Iraq may have been exposed to nerve gas in February
1991. This was the period when Donnelly and other pilots were ordered to
attack Iraqi chemical-weapons storage facilities before the major U.S.
ground offensive was launched.

Let the veterans' benefits for ALS and other nervous disorders begin and the
research into causes intensify. As for those who sip cocktails at home while
talking glibly about ``taking out'' Iraq's Saddam Hussein, let them ponder
whether they would be prepared to send their sons and daughters into a far
more noxious cocktail environment.

Ray McGovern, a veteran Army intelligence officer and former CIA analyst, is
co-director of the Servant Leadership School, an inner-city outreach
ministry in Washington, D.C.

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