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News, 22-28/12/01 (2) IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS (contd) * 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 Iraq] * 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 ago] * 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] IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Sanctions Thwart Iraqi Trade [Encouraging article from Uganda which tells us 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."¹] IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * Iraq presents UN with oil-for-food programme INSIGNIFICANT NATIONS OF THE WORLD * Hain says Iraq action must be U.N.-backed * Kennedy warns against Iraq attack [Charles Kennedy sees La Vie en Rose] NEW WORLD ORDER * What really has been won in Afghanistan [rather interesting expression of contempt for the American way of making war: 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 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 URLs ONLY: http://www.theage.com.au/news/state/2001/12/23/FFXPI6Q9IVC.html * 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 recently 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. http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1729262001 * 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. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la 000102346dec27.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dcomment%2Dopinions * Keep the Nuclear Sword Sharp by John Foster Los Angeles Times, 27th December For 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.] REMNANTS OF DECENCY * Americans donate blood for Iraqi children [Voices in the Wilderness] * Weapons of mass destruction¹ going nuclear in Iraq [Article largely about DU from Ramzi Kysia] REFUGEES * Unmasking puts Iraqi on guard [This is the case of the Iraqi unmasked¹ 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 GULF WAR SYNDROME * 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.] http://www.iht.com/articles/43032.html * IRAQ REPORTS A HIT ON 'ENEMY' CRAFT 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 drone. But a Pentagon spokesman said all planes returned safely to base Wednesday with "no indication that any were hit." http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/06002707.htm * IRAQI FM: IRAN-IRAQ RELATIONS HAVE ROOTS IN HISTORY 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 countries. 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' relations. 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." http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1241013874 * IRAQ HITS OUT AT TURKEY OVER NO-FLY ZONE MANDATE 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. [.....] http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2001/12/27/sports/raq&sec=sports * IRAQIS CUT TIES WITH UAE 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 Tuesday. 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 capital. 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 http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/011227/2001122701.html * ABU AL-RAGHEB TO VISIT IRAQ 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. http://huknews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20011228670.2_ 54520004bd56589e * AMMAN ENDORSES CONSTRUCTION OF JORDAN-IRAQ OIL PIPELINE 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... http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/011228/2001122806.html * EGYPTIAN- IRAQI TALKS 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 2002. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/011213/2001121318.html * EGYPT REFUSES AMERICAN REQUEST TO MINIMIZE TRADE RELATIONS WITH IRAQ 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. http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2001/12/28/News/News.40767.html * MALKA: IRAQ TO TARGET ISRAEL IF US ATTACKS 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. http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews&StoryID=481468 * TURKEY'S HAND FORCED IF U.S. HITS IRAQ 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 territory. 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 settlement. 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 politics. 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 "terrorist." 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 Afghanistan. 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 soil. 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. IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://allafrica.com/stories/200112280124.html * SANCTIONS THWART IRAQI TRADE 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. IRAQI/UN RELATIONS http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1477136656 * IRAQ PRESENTS UN WITH OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAMME 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. INSIGNIFICANT NATIONS OF THE WORLD http://www.reuters.co.uk/news_article.jhtml?type=topnews&StoryID=474976 * HAIN SAYS IRAQ ACTION MUST BE U.N.-BACKED 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". http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk_politics/newsid_1732000/1732086.stm * KENNEDY WARNS AGAINST IRAQ ATTACK 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 said. "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 http://www.dailytelegraph.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,3476724%255E1 2634,00.html * WHAT REALLY HAS BEEN WON IN AFGHANISTAN 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 irresistible. 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 balance. 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 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. 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. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2001/12/23/MN119145.DTL * NEXT TERRORISM WAR TARGET LIKELY YEMEN OR IN AFRICA 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 Iraq. "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 said. 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 action. "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." http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/chi 0112240188dec24.story?coll=chi%2Dprintnews%2Dhed * PRECISION BOMBING SHOWS NEW KIND OF POWER 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 Taliban." 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 centers. "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. REMNANTS OF DECENCY http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1297215794 * AMERICANS DONATE BLOOD FOR IRAQI CHILDREN 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 said. 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. http://www.jordantimes.com/Thu/region/region1.htm28? 27? december * WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION¹ GOING NUCLEAR IN IRAQ 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 lymphomas.' 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 veterans. 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 (www.saveageneration.org). He is currently in Iraq as part of a Voices in the Wilderness (www.vitw.org) peace delegation trying to end the war . He contributed this article to The Jordan Times. REFUGEES http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=583707&thesection=news&th esubsection=general * UNMASKING PUTS IRAQI ON GUARD 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. http://www.miami.com/herald/content/news/local/dade/digdocs/056919.htm * IRAQI CHRISTIANS GET CAUGHT UP IN SECURITY WEB OF MIAMI INS 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 terrorism. 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 Christian. 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 women. 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. resident. 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 months. ``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 said. GULF WAR SYNDROME http://www.miami.com/herald/content/opinion/opcol/digdocs/012500.htm * FROM COCKPIT TO WHEELCHAIR 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 dying. 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 bureaucracy. 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. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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.