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News, 12-19/1/02 (2) IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST/ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Iraqi Minister in Iran for Talks - Radio * Iraqi FM: Iraq wants full scale relations with Iran * Iraqi FM to visit Bahrain on Sunday: Report * Iraqi FM meets Bahrain's emir * Iraq Launches Diplomatic Initiative With Saudi Arabia, Kuwait [in visit to Bahrain] * Turkey Worries Iraq Is Next on U.S. List of Targets * Turkish border measures to deter 'Iraq, Iranian missiles' [Building of a US missile shield¹ in a Southern - presumably Kurdish - province of Turkey] * Barzani and the Kurdish state [Turks accuse Barzani of behaving as if there is a Kurdish state in northern Iraq] * Jordanian, Iraqi foreign ministers meet in Amman * Turkish Leader Softens on Iraq [Includes the following interesting angle on the situation of the Kurds in Northern Iraq: Turkish journalist, Derya Sazak said the Turks are floating the idea that alongside the autonomous Kurdish region, an autonomous area for Iraq's Turkmen minority should be created. Turkey would want the oil-rich area of Kirkuk to be under control of the Turkmen, with whom Turkey has close ties.¹] * Dollar-chase for Turkey [Ecevit will try to get relief for military debts, support for more IMF help¹] * Ecevit opposes strikes on Iraq * Moroccan business delegation explores investment opportunities in Iraq * Kuwaiti- Sudanese parliamentary agreement to strengthen bilateral cooperation [This rapprochement between the best behaved Muslim state and the international pariah seems less surprising in the light of the remarkable news of a US brokered truce between the two sides of the Sudanese civil war.] * Saudis may ask US military to leave: Report * Sources say Saudis want U.S. military presence ended [Extracts giving some details missing from the preceding article. Including this: The two governments never signed an agreement about their presence in the country.¹] IRAQI NATIONAL DEFENCE * U.N. inspectors at arm's length [Account of Hans Blix and UMNMOVIC] * IAEA team to visit Iraq, inspect nuclear facilities * Saddam has super-gun, report says * Iraq At It Again? [CBS news at it again. We¹ve had this story before (Iraqi defector says he renovated secret weapons labs¹ in News, 13-22/12/01) - defector Adnan Ihsan al-Haideri who claims to have worked on heavily protected, sealed chambers. Now, why would a country that is constantly under threat of unimaginably terrible attack from the most powerful country in all human history want heavily protected sealed chambers?] IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Iraq to send ambassador to Thailand [This article says Thailand sent an ambassador to Iraq early last year] * Iraq, Thailand exchange ambassadors [This one says Thailand will send an ambassador to Iraq this year] * Australia commits, and the navy bears the burden [Michael O¹Connor, executive director of the Australia Defence Association¹, argues that imposing a new form of colonial rule¹ in very distant parts of the world is by any measure ... not an illegitimate use of the right of national self defense¹ and if Australians want to get in on the act they had better spend more on their - er, um - defence¹ forces. We learn some interesting things, as for example, that three of Australia¹s nine frigates are devoted to catching asylum seekers¹, that new form of international criminal. We get a mention too, as dupes in the West who regurgitate his [S.Hussein¹s] claims of starvation and greatly increased infant mortality. Iraq is perfectly capable of providing adequate nutrition and health care provided it diverts money away from its military and regime protection programs.¹ So it seems that Iraq, unlike Australia, doesn¹t need a self defence capacity. Who, after all, is threatening it? What sort of threat is it facing from hordes of starving and desperate asylum seekers?] * Russia Is Top Iraqi Importer [Extract which indicates that the US is very blatantly using its power to impose holds¹ on goods going into Iraq as a means of exercising political pressure on Russia] * Zhirinovsky Cleans Up His Act, Loves America * Oil smugglers keep cash flowing back to Saddam * Baghdad urges Moscow to foil US plans * Russia to press Iraq for inspections * Russia introduces new export mechanism [Puzzling item, because the new¹ mechanism for exports to Iraq seems to correspond to what one assumed was Russia¹s legal¹ obligation under the terms of the UN embargo] IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST/ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews&StoryID=511090 * IRAQI MINISTER IN IRAN FOR TALKS - RADIO Reuters. 12th January BAGHDAD: Iraq's transport minister left for talks in Iran on Saturday on boosting trade relations, Baghdad radio reported. The visit by Ahmed Murtada Ahmed Khalil is the latest move to improve ties between the two countries, who fought a 1980-1988 war. The radio did not say if Khalil planned to discuss with Iranian officials the return of Iraqi aircraft grounded in Iran since the Gulf War more than a decade ago. Baghdad radio said Khalil went to Tehran to "further boost relations, expand the volume of trade exchanges and...bilateral business," it said without elaborating. Meanwhile, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri met Iran's foreign ministry adviser Ameer Hussein Zamani in Baghdad and discussed with him those missing in action and prisoners of the Iraq-Iran war. The fate of thousands of prisoners of war is among the thorniest issue hindering ties between the two neighbors. Iraq says Iran still holds several thousands of its soldiers. Tehran says it has freed all of them. Tehran accuses Iraq of still holding several thousand Iranian POWs, but Iraq says it holds none. An Iraqi newspaper said on Tuesday Baghdad wanted to discuss with Tehran the return of Iraqi aircraft. Iraq said in 1991 that 140 Iraqi warplanes and civilian planes were moved to Iran to escape U.S.-led bombing. At the time, Iran said only 22 Iraqi planes had landed and that it would not give them back without U.N. Security Council approval. [.....] http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/23050002.htm * IRAQI FM: IRAQ WANTS FULL SCALE RELATIONS WITH IRAN Ilam, Ilam Prov, Jan 13, IRNA -- An advisor to Iranian minister of foreign affairs General Hossein Zamaninia met and exchanged viewpoints with Iraq's Minister of Foreign Affairs Naji Sabri Saturday, according to Iraq TV, monitored here. [.....] General Zamaninia is in Iraq at the top of an Iranian delegation commissioned to finalized the talks on the fate of the remaining Iranian POWs and MIOs of the eight-year Iraqi imposed war. Later in the night, in an interview with the Al-Shibab (The Youth) TV of Iraq, Sabri said, "Iran and Iraq are in need of trust building, kind relations and good will, following an eight year war. Answering a question on the current quality of the the Tehran-Baghdad relations, he said, "the two countries should not be merely pleased with elimination of the causes of tension, but to aim for the establishment of strong foundations for a comprehensive cooperation." He added that Iraq has already started building up such foundations. Sabri said that both President Saddam Hussain and the whole leadership of Iraq want final resolving of all the remaining problems and disputes with Iran and resumption of cooperation with Tehran. The Iraqi foreign minster said, "the Tehran-Baghdad ties are more important now that we have a shared Zionist enemy than during the (ousted) shah's time. He said, "in my meeting with doctor Kharrazi (Iranian minister of foreign affairs), I realized that Tehran, too, is clearly quite determined to solve all the reaming problems and to set the foundations of a broad and vast cooperation." The top Iraqi politician said that Iranian immigration authorities have recently met (the majority of) Iranian refugees in Iraq, whose number is very high (many of them MKO dissidents) distributing voluntary repatriation forms among them. He added that Iraqi officials, too, are scheduled to meet with Iraqi refugees in Iran and distribute similar repatriation forms among them. Sabri said that according to the agreements reached between the two countries, return of the refugees to their own countries should be voluntary and in most convenient possible manner. The Iraqi minister once again claimed that in 1990 Iraq freed the last Iranian POW based on an order by President Saddam Hussain, except for Iranian pilot Ashkari (first name unmentioned), and informed the then president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani of the matter. He said, "we still have some POWs in Iran, whom we hope to be able to gain their freedom based on our ongoing talks with Iranian officials." Sabri hoped with the finding of the remainders of the MIOs [sic. MIAs? - PB] of both countries one of the most disputed files of the two countries, namely the POWs' issue, too, would be properly settled. He said that following the meeting between deputy Iraq president with Iran's President Khatami, both countries are now quite determined to solve all existing problems and ready to set the foundation of a durable cooperation. Sabri concluded his remarks by announcing that he will visit Tehran on the 26th of January to end all existing disputes and to set the foundation of a new era of cooperation with Iran. Iran has in numerous occasions freed Iraqi POWs unilaterally, ever since the end of war with Iraq, filing complaints at international organizations and direct requests from Iraq for the freeing of the remainder of the Iranian POWs, but the Iraqi government has always denied the existence of any more such prisoners. Iran's claims are based on International Red Cross reports, including video films that have scenes in which still un-freed Iranain POWs are seen in Iraqi POW camps. [.....] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1882885861 * IRAQI FM TO VISIT BAHRAIN ON SUNDAY: REPORT Times of India (from AFP), 13th January BAGHDAD: Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri announced he would travel to Bahrain on Sunday for a trip he said demonstrated the warming relations between Baghdad and Gulf countries. "Tomorrow I will visit Bahrain. This visit comes as part of the evolving relations between Iraq and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)," Sabri told state television. "Our economic and political relations are good with the four GCC countries," said the minister, adding that he expected to meet with his Bahraini counterpart, Mohammad bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, who invited him. Relations between Baghdad and the GCC countries remain fragile more than 10 years after the 1991 Gulf War. The war was sparked after Iraqi troops invaded GCC member Kuwait late the previous year, and fellow Gulf country Saudi Arabia was instrumental in helping the US military strike the country. An Iraqi official said on January 3 that Sabri would visit Bahrain, but a government spokesman in Manama would only say they were "studying" a request for a visit and that no date was set. Bahrain hosts the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet which oversees the international embargo slapped on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait. During the fighting Iraqi missiles landed in Bahrain. Iraqi newspaper reports said earlier this week that Iraq and Bahrain were discussing the possibility of signing a free trade accord within three months. Iraq also last November signed an accord to set up a free trade zone with the United Arab Emirates, another of Bahrain's GCC partners. The GCC also called at the end of a recent summit in Muscat for a resumption of dialogue between Iraq and the United Nations to work to lift the 11-year-old UN embargo on Baghdad. Earlier in the day, an Iraqi newspaper also said Sabri will visit Iran on January 26 for talks between the countries which have yet to normalise ties after their 1980-88 war that left nearly one million dead on both sides. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1904139059 * IRAQI FM MEETS BAHRAIN'S EMIR Times of India (from AFP), 16th January Bahrain's emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Issa al-Khalifa, met here on Tuesday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, who delivered a message from President Saddam Hussein on the prospects for bilateral cooperation, an official source said. The message also covered "the latest developments on the Arab and international scenes," the official BNA news agency reported. Sabri's visit to Bahrain is aimed at speeding up a thaw between Iraq and the Gulf Arab monarchies, an official source in Manama. [sic - PB] The Iraqi official and the emir discussed the issue of missing Kuwaitis and the means of lifting the UN embargo enforced on Iraq since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the sources said. Sabri also met with Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa Bin Salman al-Khalifa and Foreign Minister Mohammad Bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, BNA reported. During the talks, the Bahraini government stressed the need for Iraq to "cooperate with the UN and conform with the resolutions" of the Security Council in order to obtain a lifting of the embargo. On Monday, a Bahraini spokesman had said Sabri's "visit, which comes at the request of the Iraqi government, will focus on opening the door to a dialogue between Iraq and the Gulf states." "This is a valuable opportunity (for Iraq) to use its good relations with Bahrain to promote better ties with the Gulf countries, particularly Kuwait and Saudi Arabia," he added. A Baghdad newspaper reported last week that Iraq and Bahrain were discussing the possibility of signing a free trade accord within three months. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=A5A82A8E-CFCE-4950 8786827D23F4F3F0&Title=Iraq%20Launches%20Diplomatic%20Initiative%20With%20Sa udi%20Arabia%2C%20Kuwait * IRAQ LAUNCHES DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVE WITH SAUDI ARABIA, KUWAIT by Greg LaMotte Voice of America, 17th January Diplomatic observers say Iraq's foreign minister was trying to enlist the help of Bahrain in smoothing Iraq's relationship with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. It was the highest level Iraqi visit to Bahrain since the 1991 Gulf war. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri al-Hadithi wants Bahrain to relay a message to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia that Iraq wants to repair relations. However, Bahraini officials told the foreign minister that Bahrain, like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, expects Iraq to comply with all U.N. Security Council resolutions dealing with the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iraq. U.N. inspectors, who went to Iraq after the Gulf War to monitor the destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, left in December of 1998 and have not been allowed to return. Taha Abdel Alim is the deputy director of the al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, a research center for Arab studies in such areas as politics, economics and religion. Mr. Alim has said Iraq's interest in rebuilding relationships is an attempt to forge an Arab alliance against the possibility of the U.S. expanding its war on terrorism into Iraq. "That's understandable that they try to make some kind of support from all the Arab governments, from all the Arab countries, against any potential American attack against Iraq. But, I say, this depends on some kind of confidence building measures, which would be acceptable from Iraq and Saudi Arabia," he said. The United States has given no indication of any American plans to attack Iraq. Even so, on the 11th anniversary of the Gulf war, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein said his country was prepared for and would foil any U.S. military attack. A massive air campaign by a US-led international coalition began on January 17, 1991 to oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait. In a televised speech, the Iraqi President said his country had gained experience from the Gulf war. Mr. Alim believes Saddam Hussein's comments only indicate the Iraqi leader has learned very little since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. "This means that he learned nothing from this war. The price, which has been paid by Iraqi people and the Iraqi economy and even the Arab world, was too high and without any just cause and so saying that we are ready to face another war and we will not be defeated, this is only irresponsible," he said. On Friday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa will travel from Cairo to Baghdad. Aides to Mr. Moussa say the Secretary-General will urge President Hussein to comply with all U.N. Security Council resolutions, including allowing the return of U.N. inspectors to Iraq. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la 000003283jan13.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dworld * TURKEY WORRIES IRAQ IS NEXT ON U.S. LIST OF TARGETS by Amberin Zaman Los Angeles Times, 13th January INCIRLIK, Turkey -- With a deafening roar, a U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet streaks across the sky above this drab town about 320 miles west of the Iraqi border. "The Americans are heading for Afghanistan again, but soon they will be hitting Iraq," says Adem Yavuz, whose souvenir shop caters to about 3,000 American military personnel and their families at the U.S. air base here. "More American soldiers will come. It will be great for business." His enthusiasm is not shared by Turkey's leaders. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, scheduled to meet Wednesday with President Bush in Washington, is expected to convey his unease over the prospect that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will be the next target of the U.S. war on terrorism. One concern is that such an effort, whether it succeeds in toppling Hussein, might fragment Iraq. That might create a breakaway Kurdish state along Turkey's border and revive separatist unrest among the nation's 12 million Kurds. The Turkish army fought for 15 years before taming a Kurdish insurgency in 1999. Another worry is that Hussein will point his weapons of mass destruction at Turkey if U.S. forces use bases on Turkish soil to attack Iraq. Ecevit is expected to seek the return of Patriot missiles that were deployed at Incirlik after U.S. airstrikes against Iraq in 1998 but were withdrawn in 2000. Bush administration officials and U.S. senators have begun sounding out Turkish leaders and Iraqi Kurds about supporting a drive to oust Hussein, who survived the 1991 Persian Gulf War after his army was driven out of Kuwait. With U.S. encouragement, Kurds in northern Iraq rebelled against Hussein during that war, then felt betrayed when U.S.-led forces stopped short of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. The outcome left Turkey uneasy as well, and both parties have been noncommittal about supporting a new offensive. "The Turks fear that the Americans will create a situation of chaos and turmoil in Iraq and then not end it in some definitive way," said professor Dogu Ergil, a Middle East specialist at Ankara University in the Turkish capital. "Bush will need to persuade Ecevit as well as the Iraqi Kurds . . . that this time [the Americans] are going to finish the job." The challenge for Washington is that the Ecevit government wants assurances that Iraqi Kurds will not gain independence, said a senior Western diplomat in Turkey, and the Kurds want "guarantees that they will get something pretty close if not independence." Ecevit can expect a sympathetic hearing at the White House thanks to Turkey's unwavering support for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan. About 260 Turkish troops are heading to South Asia this week as the first predominantly Muslim force in a British-led peacekeeping mission. Since October, Afghan-bound U.S. bombers and transport planes have refueled at Incirlik. The base was a staging point for allied airstrikes during the Persian Gulf War, and U.S. and British warplanes stationed there have since monitored a "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq to protect 3 million Iraqi Kurds from attack by Hussein's forces. If Turkey is asked to back a new assault on Iraq, use of the base will be an issue. In an hourlong meeting this month between Ecevit and nine U.S. senators, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) said he told the Turkish leader that the war on terrorism will not be over "until the toppling of the Saddam regime in Baghdad," but that "everything will be made in consultation with Turkey vis-a-vis Iraq." Since that assurance, some Turkish officials have softened their public misgivings about targeting Iraq. "We are not concerned about Saddam Hussein; we want a democratic Iraq," Gen. Huseyin Kivrikoglu, Turkey's armed forces chief, said Monday. "It is Iraq's territorial integrity that concerns us." "The Americans will need Incirlik again if they really want to get rid of Saddam, and the signs are that they do," said another senior Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "If so, we cannot stand in their way, we can only try to extract maximum compensation." Such were Turkey's expectations during the Gulf War. Turkish leaders now complain bitterly that, after Iraq, their nation was that conflict's biggest loser. Turkey has lost an estimated $40 billion in trade because of U.N. sanctions against Iraq. The Kurdish-dominated provinces bordering Iraq have been the hardest hit. Their losses have been softened somewhat by the region's sale of about $250 million a year in food, construction materials and humanitarian supplies to Iraq under a U.N.-approved "oil-for food" program, but a new war would kill that trade. "Before the war we used to be able to bring bread to our table. Now we can barely survive. A second war will make us starve completely," said Bedrettin Karaboga, chairman of a regional entrepreneurs' lobby in Turkey's largest Kurdish-dominated city, Diyarbakir. Unemployment in the impoverished Kurdish provinces prompted thousands of youths to join the uprising against the Turkish army. The vacuum left by Hussein's forces in northern Iraq drew the rebels there to set up bases, from which they staged cross-border raids against Turkish security targets. In Incirlik, the idea of going after Hussein is popular. Yavuz, the souvenir seller, said, "I don't like war, but I like Saddam even less. I hope the Americans get him this time." http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020114/2002011413.html * TURKISH BORDER MEASURES TO DETER 'IRAQ, IRANIAN MISSILES' Arabic News, 14th January The Turkish daily " Zamaan " ( the Times) said on Sunday that the Turkish defense ministry has officially asked officials of Malatia province, to the south of Turkey which is close to the Syrian border for the need that citizens have to get official licenses to carry out construction works, in the villages close to Malatia airport. The paper indicated that this measure raised several inquiries on the possibility of US installation of " missile shields " in the Turkish military base. The paper in this respect, noted what was stated recently by the US " Defense News magazine" on Washington's desire to put this project into actual implementation in the southern eastern part of Turkey in order to challenge the Iranian and Iraqi missiles. The paper added that news reports indicate the continued secret works in the outskirts of " Aktchadagh" city which belongs to Malatia province. Works which are linked to the " missile shields" plan noting that such news are backed by the fact that the NATO has established an observatory base in " Hukim Han" district which also belongs to the same province. The paper said that rumors indicate that the Turkish " Ancerlic" military base will be moved from Adanah province to Malatia and that the " state" will seize the lands in " Aktchadagh" province and this resulted in the hesitation of citizens to farm the agricultural lands and building houses. http://www.kurdistanobserver.com/ * BARZANI AND THE KURDISH STATE Kurdistan Observer (from Arabicnews.com), 15th January The Turkish daily Hurriet unveiled in its Monday's issue that the Turkish intelligence has prepared a report on violations made by the chairman of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Masoud Barazani in behaving like the head of state for Kurdistan. The paper said that the report indicated that Kurdistan stamp is put on the official passports and documents in the area controlled by the party, while flags of the party were hoisted on official buildings and schools there. The report which was prepared on the wake of the visit to be made by the Turkish prime minister Bulent Ecevit to Washington said that Barzani stressed to his close sources the need of establishing the state of Kurdistan and not to maintain the unity of the Iraqi territories. The Turkish mass media said that Ecevit will renew during his visit to Washington Turkey's opposition to found a Kurdish state in northern Iraq and its support to the Iraqi territories' sovereignty and unity. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020115/2002011509.html * JORDANIAN, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN AMMAN Arabic News, 15th January A meeting was held on Monday in Amman between the Jordanian foreign minister Abdul Illah al-Khatib and the Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri during which they exchanged view points regarding several regional and international issues. The two ministers also discussed bilateral relations between Jordan and Iraq in all fields and means of strengthening and developing them in the interests of the two countries. Al-Khatib stressed Jordan's unwavering stand towards maintaining Iraq's unity, territorial integrity and the need of lifting the sanctions imposed on it. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20020115/wl/us_turkey_3.html * TURKISH LEADER SOFTENS ON IRAQ by Harmonie Toros Yahoo (from AP), 15th January [.....] The new Turkish position is: ``We don't want Iraq to be broken up as part of a military action, but we're not committed to the integrity of Saddam Hussein,'' said Bulent Aliriza of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. All Turkey insists on, if the United States should intervene in Iraq, is that it have an important role in northern Iraq after any intervention, according to Derya Sazak, a columnist of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, who recently published a book on Ecevit's visits to Iraq just before and after the Gulf War. Sazak traveled with Ecevit on those visits. Sazak said the Turks are floating the idea that alongside the autonomous Kurdish region, an autonomous area for Iraq's Turkmen minority should be created. Turkey would want the oil rich area of Kirkuk to be under control of the Turkmen, with whom Turkey has close ties. Turkey's importance as an ally of the United States has increased significantly since the Sept. 11 attacks. Ankara is sending troops for the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan and has offered to take over its leadership when British troops leave. In his 30-minute meeting with Cheney at the White House, Ecevit stressed the importance of long-term reconstruction aid to Afghanistan, Turkish officials said. He particularly recommended establishment and training of a national army, which NATO member Turkey is willing to help do. Cheney told Ecevit the United States would not walk away from Afghanistan and stressed that Washington regards its relationship with Turkey as strategically important, not just for the war on terrorism but beyond. Analysts said Turkey is trying to translate this new significance into economic aid. Ecevit told Cheney that Turkey wants to see more U.S.-Turkish trade and in particular would like the United States to ease tariffs on Turkish exports, the officials said. ``It has always been our objective to bring our economic and trade relations with the United States up to the level of the existing strategic alliance between our two countries,'' Ecevit said in his speech at the chamber. The premier said he wants to negotiate establishment of Qualified Industrial Zones, as Washington established in Jordan. Output from the zones enters the United States free of tariffs or quotas. Ecevit thanked Cheney for U.S. support for loans granted by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF has lent $19 billion to help Turkey out of a serious financial crisis and is expected to lend another $10 billion this year. Turkey also is seeking help with $5 billion in military debts it has with the United States. http://www.ekathimerini.com/news/content.asp?id=114682 * DOLLAR-CHASE FOR TURKEY by Suzan Fraser Katherimini (from Associated Press), 15th January [.....] Ecevit was an ardent opponent of military strikes on Iraq during the Gulf War and maintained good relations with Hussein. Ecevit has since signaled that Turkey's main concern is Iraq's territorial integrity, not Hussein's survival. Ecevit, accompanied by some 100 businessmen, will seek trade privileges for Turkey similar to those the USA grants allies such as Jordan and Israel, and European Union member countries. "We think it is necessary to develop our trade and economic relations in addition to our political relations, which have (already) developed positively," Ecevit said before his departure, which was delayed about an hour by an engine problem. "We will convey our expectations in the matter to US officials during our meetings." Turkey will try to obtain relief for the more than $5 billion in Turkish military debts, and continued support for Turkey's request for some $10 billion in additional International Monetary Fund assistance. Washington, which regards Turkey as an important strategic ally, has already backed some $19 billion in IMF loans for Ankara to support a series of market-oriented reforms. The USA last year granted Turkey $20 million to offset some of the costs incurred from the country's participation in the campaign in Afghanistan, a US Embassy official said yesterday. Turkey's bases are being used as a transport hub for planes taking part in operations in Afghanistan. [.....] http://www.washtimes.com/world/20020118-6627474.htm * ECEVIT OPPOSES STRIKES ON IRAQ by David R. Sands The Washington Times, 18th January Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit yesterday said that a military strike against neighboring Iraq would be "catastrophic" for his country, even though it strongly supports the U.S. war against terrorism. The Muslim-majority nation has taken a lead role in the security force for Afghanistan, and its acquiescence if not outright support is considered vital for any major military move against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Private analysts have said they detected a softening in recent days of Ankara's opposition to a military strike against Iraq, which many in Turkey fear could seriously devastate the country's battered economy, strain relations with its Middle East neighbors and encourage Kurdish separatists operating in both Turkey and Iraq. But Mr. Ecevit appeared to strike a tougher line as he wrapped up a four-day visit to Washington that included meetings with President Bush and top State and Defense Department officials. "A way can and should be found out" of the problem posed by Saddam, Mr. Ecevit said at a National Press Club news conference. "But I hope it will not include a military operation, because such an operation could be catastrophic for Turkey, even if Turkey did not participate in it," he said. Mr. Bush and Mr. Ecevit discussed at the White House on Wednesday the problem posed by Iraq's weapons programs, and Turkish officials said the prime minister and Assistant Secretary of State Marc Grossman discussed Iraq in detail during their private meeting. But "nobody mentioned a military action during my visit in the United States," Mr. Ecevit said, adding that the well-publicized internal divisions within the U.S. administration over Iraq were "normal in a democracy." Mr. Bush said Wednesday he discussed with the Turkish leader Iraq's refusal to allow U.N. weapons inspectors into the country, and promised to consult with Ankara about any U.S. decisions on Saddam. U.S. fighters rely on Turkish air bases to enforce a "no-fly zone" in Iraq's north. "No decisions have been made beyond the first theater and the first theater is Afghanistan," Mr. Bush said. [.....] http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020116/2002011648.html * MOROCCAN BUSINESS DELEGATION EXPLORES INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN IRAQ Arabic News, 16th January The Moroccan business delegation which started Monday a three-day visit to Iraq held a series of meetings with Iraqi officials on investment opportunities in Iraq and on ways of reactivating partnership between the two countries. The Moroccan delegation, led by secretary of state for foreign trade, Abdelkrim Ben Atiq, thus conferred with Iraqi-Vice-President, Taha Yassine Ramadane, with the ministers of trade, finance, and the interior as well as with the director of the electricity utility. The Iraqi officials said the Iraqi leadership gives priority in its economic and investment cooperation to Arab countries and endeavors to enhance this cooperation. The Iraqi Vice-President said this option will be materialized through the projected signing of free trade areas agreements with several Arab countries and the dismantling of customs barriers. The Moroccan delegation members, representing the sectors of construction, urbanism and basic infrastructure, voiced determination to promote a genuine partnership with Iraq. The Iraqi interlocutors expressed readiness to extend all necessary assistance to Moroccan businessmen wishing to do business in Iraq and surveyed the sectors that were damaged in the 1990 war and that might interest Moroccan investors. The two sides convened to hold technical meetings between Moroccan businessmen and executives of concerned Iraqi ministerial departments to further explore investment opportunities. Between October 2000 and May 2001, Morocco sold Iraq US$ 55 million worth of products, in the frame of the oil-for-food program. The Moroccan delegation had renewed upon arrival in Baghdad Morocco's call for the lifting of the embargo imposed on Iraq for more than 11 years. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020118/2002011806.html * KUWAITI- SUDANESE PARLIAMENTARY AGREEMENT TO STRENGTHEN BILATERAL COOPERATION Arabic News, 18th January The Kuwaiti nation's council ( parliament) and the Sudanese national council have signed a memorandum of understanding stated in particular to urge the governments of the two states to push economic, technical and trade cooperation through investment in available areas and the exchange of experiences and expertise in issues of mutual concern. The Kuwaiti News agency said that the memorandum was signed during a visit held by the chairman of the Sudanese national council Ahmad al-Taher to Kuwait. This is, however, the first visit carried out by a chairman for the Sudanese national council to Kuwait since its invasion of Iraq in 1990. The memorandum which was co-signed by al-Taher and the chairman of the Kuwaiti nation's council Jasem al-Khurafi:" urged the two countries's governments to give a push forward to economic, technical and trade relations through investment in available areas in Sudan." It also stated that the two councils to work for " calling on accelerating the setting up of joint technical ministerial committee to draw the agreements, urge the private sector to carry out its due role in developing economic and trade relations and all areas of investment." The agreement called on the Sudanese side to:" exert all efforts in order to release the Kuwaiti prisoners and detainees by Iraq," stressing the need of developing parliamentary cooperation through auditions and legislation and the importance of exchanging experiences and consultations in issues of mutual concern. Worthy mentioning that relations between Kuwait and Sudan in the two last years witnessed improvement with the resumption of diplomatic relations between them after the tension took place during the Gulf crisis ( 1990- 1991), when Khartoum was accused of supporting Baghdad's position. In September 2001, the two sides agreed to resume air flights after freezing them in 1990 following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Kuwait used to be one of the largest states which had large investments in Sudan prior the Gulf war. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1558869664 * SAUDIS MAY ASK US MILITARY TO LEAVE: REPORT Times of india (AFP), 19th January WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia is increasingly uncomfortable with US military on its territory and may soon ask that they leave and devise a less conspicuous form of military cooperation, the Washington Post said on Friday. One reason for ending the US military's 11-year presence, an unnamed senior Saudi official told the daily, was that top Saudi rules believe the United States has "overstayed its welcome." The Saudis want to appear self-reliant and not dependent on US military support, Saudi officials told the daily. US presence has become a political liability in domestic policy and in the Arab world and Riyadh has become uncomfortable with its role in US efforts to contain Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, they added. On this point, a US Defence Department official who worked closely with the Saudis said they want to hold the United States to the promise it made in 1990, before the 1991 Gulf War, that it would withdraw when the job was done. The Saudis, the US official said, interpreted the end of the US military commitment to mean when Iraq was expelled from Kuwait, but US officials believe the job remains undone because Hussein is still in power in Baghdad. The senior Saudi official made it clear the US military should continue in Saudi Arabia until the war in Afghanistan was over. Then, he added, other forms of less conspicuous military cooperation should be devised. US officials said a military withdrawal from Saudi Arabia would complicate US-Saudi relations since it would appear to reward suspected terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, who has called for all US troops to leave Saudi Arabia, his country of birth. Saudi officials stressed that nothing would be done precipitously and that Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz was sensitive to the need to avoid creating the impression that he was responding to pressure from Bin Laden. Asked if the Saudis had told the United States of its intentions, Assistant Secretary of Defence for public affairs Victoria Clarke declined to answer, the daily said. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1216679 * SOURCES SAY SAUDIS WANT U.S. MILITARY PRESENCE ENDED by David B. Ottaway and Robert G. Kaiser Houston Chronicle (from Washington Post), 18th January [.....] Senior Saudi rulers believe the United States has "overstayed its welcome" and that other forms of less conspicuous military cooperation should be devised once the United States has completed its war in Afghanistan, according to a senior Saudi official. The United States has been using a state-of-the-art command center on the Prince Sultan base that was opened last summer as a key command-and-control facility during the Afghan conflict. [.....] Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said this week that United States should consider moving its forces out of the kingdom. "We need a base in that region, but it seems to me we should find a place that is more hospitable. ... I don't think they want us to stay there." "The Saudis actually think somehow they are doing us a favor by having us be there helping to defend them," he added. [.....] U.S. troops went to Saudi Arabia in 1990 to fight the Persian Gulf War against Iraq at a moment when both countries feared that Iraq might march from Kuwait into the kingdom. The two governments never signed an agreement about their presence in the country. IRAQI NATIONAL DEFENCE http://sunspot.net/news/nationworld/bal te.iraq13jan13.story?coll=bal%2Dnews%2Dnation * U.N. INSPECTORS AT ARM'S LENGTH by Mark Matthews Baltimore Sun, 13th January WASHINGTON - Thirty-one floors above New York's East River, Hans Blix sits atop a United Nations agency with a skilled staff, plenty of money, a clear mission - and virtually nothing to do. Blix heads the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), created in 1999 to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and set up a system to prevent Baghdad from reacquiring them. For the past two years, he has striven to put together the most professional, best-prepared arms-inspection apparatus possible. But Saddam Hussein, defying a warning from President Bush, refuses to allow the inspectors into Iraq. So all Blix can do is wait. "I would have liked to be finished by now," he said last week in Washington. UNMOVIC embodies all the contradictory impulses in the United Nations' - and the United States' - 11-year confrontation with Iraq: toughness and determination backed by military force, alternating with attempts to appease Baghdad and placate its supporters on the U.N. Security Council. The first U.N. arms agency set up to monitor Iraq, called the Special Commission, or UNSCOM, disintegrated in 1999, eight years after it was formed in the wake of the Persian Gulf war. Hussein expelled its inspectors in late 1998. Then the Security Council consensus supporting the inspection system crumbled. Russia, eyeing its future relations with Iraq, turned against the agency's top leadership, accusing it of cowboy antics and of working for the United States. At times, France and China joined in the criticism. UNMOVIC was formed as part of a new U.N. approach to Baghdad. Instead of having to come completely clean on its nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs before breaking free of sanctions, Iraq can win a temporary lifting of sanctions if it "cooperates fully" with the inspections. Unlike UNSCOM, the new agency's staff members are hired and paid by the United Nations, not lent by the major powers, to avoid the appearance of dual loyalty. "We are getting a greater international mix, more of a normal U.N. composition. This is the world that is engaged," Blix said. UNMOVIC's funding comes from a portion of Iraqi oil revenue under U.N. control. The choice of leader reflects a new style. UNSCOM's last executive chairman, the blunt spoken Australian Richard Butler, confronted Iraq repeatedly in public, making skillful use of the world's media, and his inspectors drew charges of being highhanded and insulting toward Iraqis. Blix, 73, a former high-ranking Swedish diplomat who directed the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency for 16 years, is so soft-spoken and mild-mannered that he comes across as a kindly grandfather. He has instructed his inspectors to be "firm, demanding, but correct. We're not there to insult or provoke," he says. "We have to remember that inspectors are not an occupying army," he said in an interview. "We are not international police." He says he will avoid one of the UNSCOM tactics that enraged the Iraqis - attempts to trigger Iraqi reactions that would expose ways in which Baghdad concealed its prohibited weapons programs. "We have not pronounced any intention to look for a mechanism of concealment," Blix said. "We'd rather go for the prohibited items than the procedures." Apart from tactics, Blix insisted that fundamentally, UNMOVIC, working with the IAEA, has the same hardheaded purpose spelled out in U.N. resolutions after the gulf war: discovering whether Iraq continues to possess or develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and missiles that could reach neighboring countries. This is not UNSCOM-lite, he insists. Inspectors will insist on being able to look wherever and whenever they want and demand that Iraqi authorities ensure their protection, he said. "If we get a tip that there might be something hidden somewhere, then we'll go for it," he said. "If they do not cooperate, if they deny access, denial itself is a signal" of a refusal to cooperate, presumably because Iraq has something to hide. Still, a cloud hangs over Blix and UNMOVIC stemming from Blix's tenure as head of the IAEA. Despite years of inspections and safeguards aimed at preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons, the agency failed to discover that Iraq was steadily trying to develop nuclear weapons. There was at least one important clue along the way. In March 1990, Britain conducted a sting operation that uncovered an Iraqi plan to import krytrons, a triggering device for nuclear weapons. "I asked the Iraqi ambassador, 'What is this?' And he assured me that 'Well, you know, these are fast switches and they are for the University of Baghdad, and if you want to, we can arrange to have the invoices here and tell you what they are for,'" Blix recalled. Asked if he had followed up, Blix said, "No, we did not follow up on that. "The British must have had suspicions. But as far as I'm aware and have learned, none of the intelligence agencies were aware of the installations" where Iraq was working to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs, he said. Blix said he and the IAEA "learned a lot from that calamity." Safeguards were strengthened, and the agency resolved to report only what it could absolutely verify and not be lulled into a false sense of security. But the episode continues to reverberate in Washington, where skeptics wonder if Blix can be any match for the determined Iraqis. "He's a nice man. I don't think he's particularly tough or resilient," said Richard Perle, an outside adviser to the Pentagon and a leading voice in calling for a military campaign to end Saddam Hussein's regime. [.....] While Blix waits, he and his staff are planning their first project in Iraq: investigating what the regime might have done during the past three years to advance its weapons programs. Meanwhile, they look forward to June, when they will at last be able to undertake a small part of their mission. The Security Council expects in June to approve a list of what Iraq can and cannot import under new, loosened economic sanctions. UNMOVIC can turn questionable contracts for imports that might be used militarily over to the Security Council for review. Blix says he looks forward to pursuing UNMOVIC's real challenge, understanding that "the reality is still a very bloody one, a very serious one." http://home.kyodo.co.jp/all/display.jsp?an=20020116014 * IAEA TEAM TO VISIT IRAQ, INSPECT NUCLEAR FACILITIES Kyodo (Japanese news agency), 15th January BAGHDAD: An experts team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will visit Iraq on Jan. 25 for what the Iraqi government called a routine inspection of Iraqi nuclear facilities. An Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman said the visit is part of a guarantees system the IAEA performs throughout the world. ''This visit has got nothing to do with U.N. resolutions 687 and 715 of 1991,'' the spokesman said in reference to the two U.N. Security Council resolutions that require Iraq to allow U.N. and IAEA weapons inspectors to search and destroy mass-destruction weapons in Iraq. The Iragi government has refused to admit U.N. and IAEA weapons inspectors into the country. The IAEA launched an annual inspection of Iraqi nuclear installations in January last year ''within the framework of Guarantees System and the International Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Arms,'' the Foreign Ministry spokesman said. http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?f=/stories/20020117/1156763.html * SADDAM HAS SUPER-GUN, REPORT SAYS National Post, Toronto, 17th January A new report suggests Iraq has managed to build and deploy three or four of its fabled super-cannons, the giant artillery guns dreamt up by a Canadian genius in weapons engineering. The unconfirmed account resurrects a stranger-than-fiction tale of arms and politics that culminated in a mysterious murder 12 years ago. Dr. Gerald Bull, the gun's inventor, was shot dead in an operation allegedly masterminded by Israeli intelligence. The crime was never solved and the Iraqi project was thought to have died with Dr. Bull, who was born in North Bay, Ont. But DebkaFile, an Israeli on-line newsletter that covers Mideast security and intelligence stories, quotes sources as saying super-guns -- one of which is almost as long as three football fields -- were detected by U.S. and Israeli spy satellites recently. One version of the gun has a barrel 260 metres long and a diameter of one metre and can fire objects across 3,200 kilometres, according to DebkaFile. If true, such a gun based in Baghdad could hit southern Italy. There has been no independent confirmation of the report and Dr. Bull's son told the National Post he doubts it is true, but the Internet-based publication insists the story is accurate. "Our sources are positive," Diane Shalem, Debka's head of research, said in an interview from Jerusalem. "Saddam Hussein has got a toy shop [of weapons] over there." Mike Levi of the respected Federation of American Scientists, which monitors military developments worldwide, noted parts for one of the guns devised by Dr. Bull were destroyed by UN weapons inspectors in 1991. "It's not inconceivable that they got their previous programs that were hurt back up to speed," Mr. Levi said. "If the reports are correct, the important thing is that it shows that without intrusive inspection and verification, Iraq will be able to rebuild a lot of its programs that allied governments and military tried to stop." More crucial than the gun itself is whether Iraq has biological or nuclear weapons it could launch with the cannon, said Mr. Levi. The gun, if it exists, would not be a major concern if it simply flung conventional shells long distances, he suggested. DebkaFile said the guns are stored in pieces in an Iraqi underground bunker. A smaller version is 350 millimetres in diameter and 30 metres long, with a range of 400 km, the publication says. The longer one is even bigger and more powerful than the gun developed by Dr. Bull, it reports. Michael Bull, the inventor's son, said he doesn't believe Iraq, whose economy has been hobbled by international sanctions, could have built the cannon. "It's extremely unlikely," he said. "It's kind of sophisticated to be able to do that. You're talking about [needing] extremely precise equipment. I don't think a country that is in such a dire condition could do that." He also stressed his father envisaged the gun as a tool for launching satellites into orbit and that it would have limited usefulness as a weapon. The gun would have to be stationary, making it difficult to protect, he said. Its aim could be disrupted easily by explosions hundreds of metres away. It would require numerous test firings, something that would be easily detected by foreign powers. And loading the cannon would take a day or more, Mr. Bull said. "If [super-guns] have such strategic value, why isn't anybody else doing it?" Dr. Bull was an aerophysicist who began work in the 1960s on the U.S./Canadian High Altitude Research Program at McGill University, whose goal was to use artillery to fire shells containing scientific instruments into space. Despite some advances, the project, based in Highwater, Que., was cancelled in 1967. Dr. Bull later set up his own company and started to design artillery, developing a reputation as perhaps the most accomplished scientists in the arms field. His GC-45, for Gun Canadian, 45 calibre, is still considered one of the best howitzers ever invented. But when he began selling guns and ammunition to South Africa, he ran afoul of the U.S. arms embargo against the apartheid regime of the day and was sentenced by a U.S. court to a year in jail. Jane's International Defence Review recently published an article about a new generation of howitzers being developed by South Africa that will again put it ahead of any technology available to NATO countries. The new guns were partly inspired by Dr. Bull's designs, Jane's said. Dr. Bull began working for the Iraqis in the late 1980s on what was called Project Babylon, building the long-range space gun of which he had long dreamed. British customs investigators discovered lengths of pipe built at a British steel mill and apparently destined for the super-gun project. Reports suggested the gun under development could fling a 600-kilogram shell up to 1,000 km, or put a rocket-assisted projectile into orbit. Later, after the Persian Gulf War, UN teams destroyed a smaller super gun and parts for a larger one with a one-metre-diameter barrel. But before the project could come to fruition, one or more assassins fired five bullets from a silenced pistol into Dr. Bull as he entered his apartment in Brussels. Theories abound about the identity of the killer, but most fingers point to Israel's feared Mossad spy agency. The file is still open at the Brussels police department, Michael Bull said this week. However, when the family last had contact with detectives there, they hinted they had been under pressure to drop the case and that solving the crime was unlikely, he said. It makes no difference to Dr. Bull's children, who have long since reconciled themselves with their father's controversial life, which spawned three books, said Michael Bull, a financial portfolio manager. Dr. Bull was not a perfect man and "went astray on a number of occasions," but left his family with many fine memories, his son said. "Many times, I met people who said 'I know what you're going through,' " said Mr. Bull. "I don't think so. Unless your dad has been assassinated, you don't know. You don't know the pain that it creates. You have these images that stay in your mind. It's painful still. But we've come to terms." http://www.cbsnews.com/now/story/0,1597,324937-412,00.shtml * IRAQ AT IT AGAIN? CBS News (from AP), 18th January [.....] The U.S. has often been skeptical of similar Iraqi defectors in the past and the emergence of Adnan al -Haideri now is suspiciously convenient for those seeking the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But al-Haideri's claims seem plausible. And CBS News has learned he's now under the protection of and being questioned by U.S. intelligence officials. IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=601909414 * IRAQ TO SEND AMBASSADOR TO THAILAND Times of India (AFP), 12th January BANGKOK: Iraq will send its first ambassdor to Thailand since the Gulf War amid signs of an improvement in relations between the two countries, officials said on Friday. Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said an ambassador would arrive within six months. The decision followed a meeting with Iraqi Trade Minister Muhammad Mohdi Salih, he added. "Within six months, we will upgrade relations to ambassdor level," he told reporters. Early in 2001 Thailand sent Tawatchai Piyaratat, its first ambassador for five years, to Baghdad where Iraqis have endured 11 years of international sanctions enforced after the Gulf War. Surakiart also said he hopes the private sectors of both countries would be ready to work immediately if sanctions are eased. Thailand is interested in oil and supports the oil for food program. The program allows Iraq to sell oil under UN supervision to buy essential goods, but Baghdad complains that the program does not meet its people's needs and is demanding a total lifting of the embargo. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020112/2002011212.html * IRAQ, THAILAND EXCHANGE AMBASSADORS Arabic News, 12th January Officials concerned said that Iraq and Thailand agreed on Thursday on exchanging ambassadors for the first time since the suspension of relations between them more than one decade because of the Gulf war. The Thai foreign minister said that the Iraqi minister of trade Muhammad Mahdi Saleh currently visiting Bancock has expressed his intention to send an ambassador to Thailand during the current years ( 2002). The Thai foreign minister told journalists following a meeting with saleh:" I am happy that the Iraqi government has expressed its intention to return back its ambassador to Thailand." He said that Thailand will respond to that by sending its ambassador to Baghdad by the end of the current year. The Iraqi minister of trade arrived in Bancock last Monday in a mission to increase trade between Iraq and Thailand which reached USD 127.9 million in 2001 under the share- system imposed by the UN under the " oil for food program." He hoped that UN sanction imposed on Iraq will be lifted very soon. However, among issues suspended between Baghdad and Bancock is USD 80 million Iraq has to pay for the Thai rice exporters who sold this rice to Iraq before its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The Iraqi trade minister left Bancock on Friday. http://www.smh.com.au/news/0201/14/opinion/opinion4.html * AUSTRALIA COMMITS, AND THE NAVY BEARS THE BURDEN Sydney Morning Herald, 14th January The Australian Government has been quick to commit a large proportion of its available military power to the so-called war on terrorism. However, many have wondered what contribution the Royal Australian Navy could make other than by showing the flag in some international force. The question was answered in part last week by the redeployment of most RAN ships to the enforcement of United Nations economic sanctions on Iraq. Now an Australian officer will command the multinational force from on board HMAS Kanimbla. This switch in tasking for the force raises three key questions for Australia. Can the sanctions be effective in forcing acceptable behaviour on the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein? Can the RAN sustain the deployment? Does this commitment signify some change in the US-led response to the activities of rogue or failed states? The sanctions on Iraq have been in force for almost 11 years. Imposed by the UN Security Council, they have been singularly unsuccessful in preventing Saddam from rebuilding his shattered armed forces or in diminishing his capacity to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, Saddam has gained great propaganda advantage from the dupes in the West who regurgitate his claims of starvation and greatly increased infant mortality. Iraq is perfectly capable of providing adequate nutrition and health care provided it diverts money away from its military and regime protection programs. The clear lesson from this exercise is that economic sanctions do not work against a repressive authoritarian regime. Arguably, the expensive enforcement of no-fly zones over much of Iraq has been much more effective in modifying the regime's behaviour both internally and externally. So what does it mean for the Australian navy? Including the commitment to the Gulf force, Australia has deployed some 5000 military personnel on a range of operations extending from Africa to the Pacific. It insists it can do this in an apparently open-ended way without expanding its defence budget. This assertion is reminiscent of Norman Lindsay's fantasy of The Magic Pudding which continually replaced itself. The Australian Defence Force has been steadily reduced in size ever since the Vietnam War. Over the past decade personnel numbers have been cut by more than a quarter. Re equipment programs including the navy's frigates, airborne early warning aircraft, long-range radar, helicopters and light transports have been delayed to allow the Government to send troops to East Timor and elsewhere within a budget that has not even kept pace with the increase in personnel costs. It doesn't make sense but, then, peacetime defence policy in Australia has never made much sense - at least in real rather than declaratory terms. The navy is bearing a heavy burden. Equipped with only nine instead of its authorised 14 frigates, it has three committed to the Middle East, three more to catching asylum seekers and another to support peace operations in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands. Apart from the strain this places on crews and their families, the wear and tear on the ships plus cutbacks in training for replacements and for the submarine force, for example, reduce the time available for maintenance and modernisation. The impact of this will be felt for another decade regardless of any sustained or additional commitments that might be made by a government which seems to have little idea of how to provide a sustainable defence force. The US Government's response to Afghanistan's protection of Osama bin Laden has been determined and effective. But the rhetoric also suggests that its campaign could be extended to other state sponsors or havens of terrorism such as Iraq, Somalia and perhaps Sudan. By any measure, this is not an illegitimate use of the right of national self-defence. The real challenge, however, is to find a lasting solution that goes beyond mere military action. As the world discovered with the peacekeeping operations in places like Somalia, building a stable and viable state in a society riven with endemic tribal conflict demands a sustained commitment of money and experts akin to a new form of colonial rule. Like it or not, Australia is involved in this process in our immediate region. Michael O'Connor is the executive director of the Australia Defence Association. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51590-2002Jan15.html * RUSSIA IS TOP IRAQI IMPORTER by Colum Lynch Washington Post, 16th January [.....] Under the oil-for-food program launched in December 1996, Iraq can sell oil and use the proceeds to purchase food and medicine and to rebuild the country's infrastructure. But the United States and other Security Council members can place "holds" on contracts for items they suspect are intended for the Iraqi military. [.....] The Bush administration pledged last month to release more than $200 million in frozen Russian contracts as it sought Moscow's backing for an overhaul of U.N. sanctions policy against Baghdad, a senior U.S. official said. "We've cleared out a dozen contracts valued at over $200 million," the official said. The United States unfroze a $147 million deal between the Russian electrical power firm Technopromexport and Iraq on Jan. 9. Washington has assured Moscow that it will release an additional $60 million once it has provided additional paperwork on how the equipment will be used. It has also made it clear that Russian contracts will flow more swiftly if Moscow agrees to endorse a list of items with potential military applications that require Security Council approval before they can be sold. "The Russians will be rewarded by the Americans if they accept the goods review list," said a council diplomat. "But if they do, they will probably be punished by the Iraqis." Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told Powell last year that the new U.S. sanctions policy was "a major threat to Russian trade and economic interests. We cannot allow it to pass." Russian companies already control about one-third of Iraq's multibillion-dollar oil export market. The Russian government is trying to recover nearly $7 billion in loans made to Iraq in the 1980s for the purchase of Russian arms. Discussions between Moscow and Baghdad are underway for about $30 billion in future projects. And Russia recently signed a production sharing agreement to export more than 600,000 barrels a day from the West Qurna oil field, Khadduri said. "At today's prices, that's about $2 billion a year," he said. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20020115/lf/russia_zhirinovsky_dc_1.html * ZHIRINOVSKY CLEANS UP HIS ACT, LOVES AMERICA by Richard Balmforth Yahoo, 15th January MOSCOW (Reuters) - His anti-Western rhetoric, xenophobic utterings and appetite for the outrageous made him everybody's favorite whipping boy in the West. But after eight years of hating Uncle Sam, Russian nationalist bad boy Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky now says he's learning to love America -- and he's sounding cooler about his old friend, Saddam Hussein, too. In a political U-turn, the flamboyant populist, who once denounced U.S. policy-makers as ``hooligans and cowards'' under the influence of drugs, now declares: ``We want cooperation with the United States on all positions.'' Widely-regarded as a touchstone for Kremlin policy in spite of his clownish antics, Zhirinovsky's sudden conversion seems to be the surest indication yet that President Vladimir Putin's new pro-Washington line is here to stay. Between shots of ``Russky Standard'' vodka and forkfuls of salmon at an American fast food restaurant in Moscow, 55-year-old Zhirinovsky rapped out his message on the table top with the flat of his hand. ``We are removing all anti-Americanism from our program. We are removing the anti Western feeling,'' he told Reuters. With a radically changed mood in Russia after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and an eye to parliamentary elections in two years' time, he admitted he was driven by political expediency. ``There's no future in saying, like the communists: 'Down with NATO, down with the U.S., down with the West.' Let's be honest. Who are we going to be with in the future? With bin Laden? With the Chinese?,'' he asked. On the face of it, it is a huge turnaround for a politician who led his Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) of Russia to election triumph in 1993 after a campaign of vitriolic anti Western rhetoric and extremist comments that earned him the label of fascist and anti Semitic. That victory, in which the party took almost a quarter of seats in the State Duma, spooked the Kremlin and jolted world financial markets at the prospect of a far-right resurgence led by a man who had been dismissed as a publicity-seeking clown. Zhirinovsky's star has waned since then and his party now holds only 17 seats in the 450 seat assembly. But he remains a fixture on the political scene and is a deputy speaker in the Duma. His move to tap pro-American feeling in Russia is the more abrupt since he appeared to be anti-Washington even shortly after the September attacks. His faction refused to join other Duma deputies in standing in memory of those killed. Seated before a wall-poster of New York harbor and the Statue of Liberty, Zhirinovsky defended that move, saying foreign parliaments had made no such gesture toward Russia over the Kursk submarine tragedy or other disasters. But -- while losing none of his combative, fast-talking panache and his showman style -- he's decided he has to clean up his act if he is to survive politically. On his relations with Saddam Hussein whom he visits frequently, he said defensively that his courting of the Iraqi leader had been motivated by close economic ties. ``If Iraq did not owe Russia (so many) dollars, I would not have been friends with anyone,'' he said. Saying he wanted to help the West transform Iraq's ''dictatorial regime,'' he proposed sending Russian forces to Baghdad to help ensure a transition to a more democratic leadership. ``In two or three years' time, I can guarantee you the regime will be democratic, there will be a multi-party system, the economy will be free and Saddam will step down,'' he said. Equally, he is at pains to deny charges of anti-Semitism, though attacks on ``Zionists'' studded his Russian nationalist diatribes and he still says there are too many Jews holding top posts in Russia. ``My mother was Russian, my father was Jewish. His name was Eidelshtein,'' he said, jabbing his finger at black-and-white photographs of his parents in a copy of his latest book ``Ivan, Close Your Soul.'' ``There cannot be any anti-Semitism in the party when my father was Jewish,'' he added. Arguing that he reflects the views of ordinary Russians, he said: ``I don't say that Jews are bad, but simply there are not enough Russians around. Let's add a few more Russians, let's say, a few more Russian ministers. Jews are talented and clever. But there are very many of them at the top...'' Cold-shouldered by several Western countries, he said Britain had been sitting on a visa request from him for three months. Even under Boris Yeltsin, Zhirinovsky acted as a lightning rod to draw fire away from Kremlin policy and siphon off support for the communists. In the eight years that the LDPR has been an effective force, its deputies have rarely voted against Kremlin policy and Zhirinovsky describes his party as only ``half-opposition.'' ``We support 70 percent of what Putin is doing,'' he said. By that token, the Kremlin will want his party to perform well enough in the December 2003 elections to secure the five percent of the vote needed to maintain a presence in the Duma. Can Zhirinovsky, who has drawn much of his support by appealing to the gut instinct of the man in the street, clean up his act and, at the same time, retain his constituency? He thinks he can. ``In December 2003 any normal person will vote for the LDPR. I can get 25 per cent of the vote. I am not bluffing. In the present circumstances it is better for Russia to be with the West. My electors will understand me.'' He has made his political livelihood out of committing outrageous acts and voicing the politically incorrect. Does all this mean an end to Zhirinovsky the showman? That remains to be seen. http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT35IUFPJWC&liv e=true&useoverridetemplate=ZZZ99ZVV70C&tagid=IXLMS1QTICC&subheading=global%2 0economy * OIL SMUGGLERS KEEP CASH FLOWING BACK TO SADDAM by Carola Hoyos Financial Times, 16th January In Caribbean waters off the tiny Dutch island of Curacao, a tanker carrying more than 1m barrels of Iraqi crude oil has been circling for the past three months. Unable to dock or sell its cargo after US naval officials said the boat could be holding illegal oil, the Essex is costing its charterer, Trafigura, more than $40,000 a day. More than 1,500km away in Washington lawyers for Trafigura, a privately held commodities trader incorporated in the Netherlands, have been trying to explain to United Nations and US officials how two $6m (£4m) payments - made via a company called Ibex - for 500,000 barrels of Iraqi crude oil could have landed in a Swiss bank account. The money should have been deposited in a UN account in New York, the only legal destination under the UN's Iraq sanctions regime. Diplomats believe that at least some of the money is helping Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president, defy Washington's ambitions to have him removed from power and could be funding his weapons programme. Diplomats estimate that Iraq smuggles $2bn to $3bn of oil each year and that the Essex is a classic case of one of the many ways western companies wittingly or unwittingly help Iraq sell its oil illegally. While Iraq smuggles oil through a pipeline to Syria, in trucks to Jordan and on tankers through the Gulf, other ways have included kickbacks, paid directly to Mr Saddam. The story of the Essex emerged on September 21 last year when Chiladakis Theofanis walked into the US embassy in Athens, presented his credentials as the captain of the Liberian-flagged tanker and sat down to send a letter detailing two journeys that he believed involved his ship in sanctions busting. In both cases Trafigura chartered the Essex and bought oil from Iraq through Ibex, whose headquarters are registered in Bermuda and which has registered subsidiaries in France and the British Virgin Islands. Oil traders say the company has fewer than a handful of employees. Most of the oil was bought legally through the UN oil-for-food deal, an exception to sanctions that allows companies to buy oil directly from Iraq as long as the funds are sent to a UN-controlled account. The UN ensures that the money is spent on humanitarian goods.. Mr Theofanis stated in his letter that on August 27 last year the Essex illegally loaded 270,000 barrels of Basrah Light crude oil at Mina al-Bakr, the Iraqi port. The UN now believes that an hour after its inspectors had signed off the scheduled 1.8m barrels of oil that were pumped into the Essex that morning the spigots were reopened and more oil added. Trafigura in one of its lawyer's letters has countered that a UN inspector boarded the Essex after the completion of its final loading. The UN disputes the claim and says the company it has contracted to carry out the inspections does not intend to launch an investigation. According to the Mr Theofanis's letter,the same ship had repeated an almost identical procedure the previous May. US officials intercepted the August cargo when it reached its destination in the Caribbeanand before it could all be offloaded. After Mr Theofanis's testimony the US Treasury Department made clear to the cargo's two end buyers - Koch Oil, a US trading firm, and PDVSA, Venezuela's state oil company - that neither the crude oil nor the gasoline PDVSA hoped to make from it at the company's Curacao refinery would be allowed to enter the US. Trafigura has since been stuck carrying the costs of the Essex. One senior company director said extra shipping costs exceeded $5m. Koch was also one of the buyers, along with Marathon Oil, another well-known US trader, of the disputed Essex cargo that loaded in May. Together with PDVSA they are being investigated by their own countries. Though some of the funds associated with both the May and August cargoes have been frozen by the US Treasury, none of the companies has been formally accused of smuggling oil. UN diplomats say it will be up to individual countries where the companies are registered to take punitive action if necessary. France has already taken Ibex off the list of companies permitted to do business with Iraq. Investigations connected to the Essex cargo have been opened in six countries. Trafigura maintains it had no way of knowing that the money it paid for the oil was not destined for the UN account. Its lawyers wrote to the UN in November: "Given the facts known to us, it appears Ibex, with the complicity of several parties, simply purchased the second parcel outside of its allocation and did not remit the funds to the UN account . . . There would have been no way to know that Ibex lifted oil outside the oil-for-food programme." Trafigura says it has cancelled its purchase order for one cargo of Iraqi crude and does not plan to trade in Iraqi oil. But many other companies are keen to continue trading with Iraq for the profits and the need to maintain good relations with Mr Saddam, who controls the world's second largest known oil reserves. "It's like the Wild West: the oil reserves are still up for grabs once the sanctions are lifted," said one European diplomat. It is an incentive that is almost impossible to fight, UN diplomats say. The Essex, they say, will not be the last vessel to fall under investigation for carrying smuggled Iraqi oil, even if it means companies risk millions of dollars and many trips around Curacao. For more reports see www.ft.com/globaleconomy http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_ID=2001656853 * BAGHDAD URGES MOSCOW TO FOIL US PLANS Times of India, 17th January BAGHDAD: Iraq urged Russia on Wednesday to foil US attempts to perpetuate the UN embargo imposed on Baghdad since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. "Russia must play a major role in thwarting any attempt by the United States to tighten the sanctions regime on Iraq and in securing a halt to (US) aggression" against the country, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan told visiting Russian ultra-nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Iraq "does not fear US threats and is determined to stand up" to those threats, Ramadan said, quoted by the official INA news agency. Iraq is widely seen as a potential target of a future phase of Washington's "war on terror," launched in Afghanistan last October in retaliation for the September 11 attacks on the United States. Ramadan also said that a senior Iraqi delegation would visit Moscow soon to discuss efforts to secure a lifting of the sanctions regime. Iraq's ambassador to Russia, Mezhar al-Doury, was quoted by the ITAR-TASS news agency earlier Wednesday as saying that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tarek Aziz would visit Moscow in the middle of next week. Russian foreign ministry sources said Moscow would use Aziz's visit to press Baghdad to resume cooperation with UN arms inspectors in return for the suspension of UN sanctions. Moscow and Washington are soon to resume discussions on a new sanctions regime for Iraq. After initially refusing to support a UN sanctions review against Iraq, Russia in November said it would support the initiative while stressing the importance of persuading Baghdad to allow the United Nations to resume arms inspections. UN inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq in December 1998, on the eve of a bombing campaign by US and British warplanes, and were not allowed to return. http://www.dawn.com/2002/01/17/int10.htm * RUSSIA TO PRESS IRAQ FOR INSPECTIONS Dawn, 17th January, 02 Ziqa'ad 1422 MOSCOW , Jan 1 (Reuters/AFP): Russia will try to pressure Baghdad into allowing UN weapons inspectors to return to Iraq when Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz visits Moscow later this month, Interfax news agency said on Wednesday. The agency quoted sources in Russia's Foreign Ministry as saying Aziz was due to arrive in Moscow after Jan 20 for talks on easing international sanctions on Iraq in exchange for Baghdad's cooperation with the United Nations. Both the Foreign Ministry and the Iraqi embassy in Moscow declined to comment on the report. [.....] http://www.worldoil.com/news/newsstory.asp?ref=http://18.104.22.168/feeds/wo rldoil/new/article_e.asp?energy24=246400 * RUSSIA INTRODUCES NEW EXPORT MECHANISM World Oil (from AFP), 18th January The Russian government on Thursday published new rules governing exports of dual civilian-military use goods to Iraq under the UN oil-for-food programme. The regulations replace an earlier control mechanism introduced in 1997 and amended last year, said an official statement faxed to AFP. An order signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov instructed federal authorities "to cooperate with the United Nations Supervision, Control and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency." Under the rules, all companies which have Iraqi contracts for goods of potential military use must obtain an export license from the Russian Trade and Economic Development Ministry as well as pass Russian customs control. Information about all such exports must be passed onto the UN sanctions committee and IAEA. Russia and the United States are holding talks on a new Iraqi sanctions regime that would establish a list of goods with a military potential that would require authorisation from the UN Security Council before being sold to Iraq. The council in November extended the oil-for-food programme until the end of May, when it is to adopt the goods review list. Russia so far has not given its agreement to the new list, concerned that it will lose lucrative trade with its former Soviet-era ally. Under the current regime, Baghdad is allowed to export oil in exchange for food, medicine and unspecified other essential goods needed by the country. But US representatives on the sanctions committee regularly block contracts for imports into Iraq. The value of Russia-Iraq contracts frozen by the United Nations has grown to 860 million dollars (958 million euros). Russian officials responsible for trade with Iraq, which has been characterized as a rogue state by Washington, have condemned what they describe as an arbitrary trade sanctions regime with Baghdad. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.