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News, 19-26/1/02 (1) The main development is that the air strikes have resumed after a pause since November. And aggressively three strikes in the week. One of the articles in the Incitementı section (Turkish security circles and Iraqı, but its a piece of BBC gossip) suggests that this is part of a strategy of provocations leading up to a final war. There are other indications that a decision has been made to go to war, but they may just be wishful thinking on the part of the authors. From the US point of view, S.Hussein is under control whereas the likely beneficiaries of his overthrow - Syria and Iran may not be. We can assume that the US establishment knows that the weapons of mass destructionı arenıt likely to amount to very much despite the absurd rhetoric that abounds at the present time. And that they probably wonıt amount to anything at all unless Mr Hussein really has his back to the wall. So the only serious reason they could have for going to war is that it is the only way (short of restoring full control over the Iraqi economy into the hands of the Iraqi government) of ending the murderous policy of sanctions. This should be borne in mind. Those in the US and British establishments who are arguing against military intervention are arguing for the indefinite prolongation of sanctions and the continued steady death by starvation and preventable disease of hundreds of thousands of people. INCITEMENT TO HATRED * Complexities of Islamic tolerance [Conor Cruise OıBrien, reviewing a book on the status of Christians and Jews under Islam, thinks the United States and Israelı are going to launch a joint attack on Saddam Hussein's Iraqı and that on the whole itıll all be all right and the Arabs wonıt really mind. In passing he gives a very interesting quotation from Diodoros, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Palestine and Jordanı, by whom he presumably means Diodoros, Patriarch of Jerusalem. * Tribal Lessons for Dealing With Saudis and Iraqis [The central idea of understanding these countries in terms of networks of tribal loyalties rather than as peopleı or rulersı is important, but the article in the end doesnıt get anywhere.] * Secret plan to topple Saddam [Summary of an article in Newsweek which suggests that there will be an attack on Iraq within six months. But nothing is given that we donıt already know] * Turkish security circles and Iraq * Bush Holding Off on Iraq Decision * Don't fumble on Iraq [Jerusalem Post getting nervous that the US mightnıt seize the time to attack Iraq but instead go running off after Somalia and Philippines and other places in the world that are of no earthly use for the security of Israel. Madeleine Albright is quoted as saying recently that It is hard to see that deposing Saddam] is feasible.ı the article states: When the UN inspectors left Iraq, they believed that Saddam had enough VX precursors to produce 200 tons of the poison, and had 41 sites capable of doing so in a matter of weeks.ı Does anyone else remember that? or does it perhaps just appear in R.Butlerıs book? * Rhetoric Fails to Budge Policy on Iraq [Extracts. The core of the article is a complaint that the US isnıt supporting any terrorist (they prefer the word lethalı, perhaps because it sounds a bit like legalı) activity inside Iraq. It goes on to give details about the auditing complaints against the INC. It also mentions a letter to Bush by former senior military and intelligence officialsı arguing against a war on Iraqı] URLs ONLY: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1011481303993&call_page=TS_World&call_pageid=96833218 8854&call_pagepath=News/World&col=968350060724 * THE TROUBLE WITH SADDAM by Olivia Ward Toronto Star, 20th January Long rambling article which reads like a not very competent cut and paste compilation of all the articles that have been written recently for and against the INC, and on the evidence for Iraqi involvement in Sept 11. Records the Mohammad Atta/al-Ani meeting in Prague as if it is an established fact, and Milos Zemanıs statement that they discussed attacking Radio Free Europe without mentioning that he later withdrew this as a mere speculation. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi 0201210171jan21.story?coll=chi%2Dnewsnationworld%2Dhed * U.S. SPLIT ON EXILES' ROLE VS. HUSSEIN by Howard Witt Chicago Tribune, 21st January Another standard account of the INC except that the description of anonymous, seedy premises in Knightsbridge here becomes a description of anonymous, seedy premises in the shadow of the Capitolı in Washington. MILITARY MATTERS * US can't halt Arabs buying arms: Iraq [though one doubts if the Iraqi paper, Ath-Thawra really asserted in so many words a right to acquire weapons of mass destructionı as the article claims. * Citing 'hostile Iraqi threats,' U.S. strikes anti-aircraft site [First strike] * Coalition Forces Strike Iraqi Site, U.S. Says * Coalition Warplanes Bomb Iraq Site [Second strike] * U.S. warns Baghdad as jets bomb again [Third strike. Note the statement - from Reuters - that it (Iraq) forced UN (sic) inspectors to leaveı and later, the more slippery formula inspectors had to abandon the country in 1998ı.] * Iraq says U.S. planes attacking sites in the south for 3 days [Extract specifying where the latest attack took place] * Nuclear team [IAEA] heads for Baghdad OIL FOR FOOD * Iraq got only half of medicines it needs in the frame of oil-for-food program * UK accused of impeding Iraqi oil programme [The emphasis here is on the effect of the US/British imposed pricing policy on Iraqi oil sales.] * Oil sales rise sharply, below average [Here the emphasis is on those holds that sabotage the infrastructure of the oil industry] * Oil-for-food' [Benon Sevan] chief in Iraqi Kurdistan [Although it seems fairly obvious, I think this is the first time Iıve seen it said in so many words that, whereas 1,854 contracts are on hold for Southern and Central Iraq, only two are on hold for the Kurdish Autonomous Zone. Might this not have something to do with the perceived superiority of the KAZıs performance under Oil for Food?] IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ * Bank discriminated in closing account, Iraq-born man says [Closure of an account used by Iraqis to wire money to relatives in Iraq. The bank says it wasnıt done on racial grounds, ie the fact that Hussain Alshafei is an Iraqi had nothing to do with it. Um.] AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/1/02 (2) IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Kuwaiti min describes ties with Tehran as rapidly expanding * Iraq: Iran to free 697 Iraqi prisoners of war * Iraqi call for exchange of visits with Kuwait * Saudis and Americans may adjust US presence * A chill wind from Teheran [Long Jerusalem Post discussion of Iran-Palestine-Israel relations, expressing apprehension about an Iranian/Arafat rapprochement. Only extracts given here, mainly on Iranıs nuclear potential. A worry for Israel. If they succeed in persuading their protector to go after Iraq, the beneficiary may prove to be Iran. Who may turn out to be worse than Iraq.] * Iraq calls on Annan to unblock oil contracts, seeks Tunisia deal * Iraq to sign free trade agreements with three Arab states in the first quarter of 2002 * First Iraqi prisoners go home [As is always the case these stories concern prisoners being returned to Iraq from Iran, never the other way round (Iraq denies that it has prisoners). One wonders what, apart from the dead, the Iranians are getting in exchange] * Geostrategic gambit nets Turkey little [Some small satisfaction to be had in the fact that all Turkeyıs twisting and bowing and scraping in the courts of the mighty isnıt doing her any good. For years Turkey has been on the verge of EU membership, expected to follow all the fashions of EU governmentsı policy. Now, ending state control over banking, transport and communications have become the necessary conditions of entry. They will do all that and the chances are they still wonıt be let in. If they had any sense of dignity, theyıd tell us to take a running jump and form an alliance with their fellow Muslims ...] * Mousa says he will visit the US on January 30th * Arab League Chief Visits Kuwait * Iran Frees Hundreds of Iraqi Prisoners of War * Direct Iran-Syria air link via Iraq to start soon: Mazaheri * Air flights to be resumed shortly between Iraq, Iran [extract] * Arab League chief: A strike against Iraq unacceptable * Arab League Comments on Iraq Draw Criticism [from an Egyptian commentator who says Moussa is merely reflecting what the Arab people think, not what the people that count - the rulers - think] * Oil accord signed [with Tunisia] * The Arab view: The way Syria sees it [Extract on Iraqi/Syrian relations. The article, published in the Jerusalem Post, seems to come from a journal published in the United Arab Emirates but is written by someone with an Anglo Saxon name.] * US anxiety drives Saddam to seek new Arab allies [Financial Times account of recent Iraqi diplomatic initiatives, placing them in the context of the forthcoming Arab League summit.] * Iraqi foreign minister arrives in Tehran URL ONLY: http://atimes.com/front/DA26Aa03.html * Syria turns to Iraq in moment of need by George Baghdadi Asia Times (from Inter Press Service), 26th January Makes much the same points about Syria/Iraqi relations as The way Syria sees itı above. IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * India to build railway network for Iraq * Iraq to seek Russian support over UN sanctions [Aziz visiting Moscow and China] * Russia Warns U.S. Against Military Strike on Iraq * Iraq defies US 'smart sanctions' REMNANTS OF DECENCY * Troublesome priest? [The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Rowan Williams, who was near the twin towers on Sept 11. He compares what he felt then to what people in Baghdad and elsewhere must have felt when the bombs were falling on them.] * 46 Busted in Iraq Protest NEW WORLD ORDER * Clinton: U.S. policies not to blame for terror by Muslim radicals [Debate on America and Islamı organised by W.Clintonıs own presidential foundation] * Pipelineistan, Part 2: The games nations play [I donıt know what this is (Part 1 of Part 2 of what appears to be a speech) but its a splendid birdıs eye view of the geopolitics of oil, centring on Central Asia, but taking in China and Kosovo. Its here because I like it, not because it has much to do with Iraq, but it does state confidently that Saddam will not be attacked, because Saddam is the ultimate reason for American military bases in the Gulf - a splendid affair because on top of it all it is a free ride, the expenses being paid by the ultra flush sheikdoms.ı And this is a man who seems to know what heıs talking about.] INCITEMENT TO HATRED http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=36&si=674137&issue_id =6745 * COMPLEXITIES OF ISLAMIC TOLERANCE by Conor Cruise O'Brien Irish Independent, 20th January [.....] Arab anti-semitism was, of course, mainly Muslim but Arab Christians, concerned for their own status within a mainly Muslim culture, were determined not to be outdone. Thus in May 1990 at an emergency Arab League Conference in Baghdad, after Saddam Hussein had threatened to incinerate half of Israel, Saddam was fervently thanked by Diodoros, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Palestine and Jordan. According to Diodoros: "Allah [sic] sent Saddam Hussein as the commander to receive a victory for Iraq and the liberation of Palestine, and if God wills, the liberation of Palestine will come through Saddam Hussein. The war against Israel is not on behalf of one convent or one building but for the homeland and it will continue until the liberation of the entire homeland. This subject has proven the unity of the Palestinian people, Christian and Muslim." [.....] The next important test in this context seems likely to come when the United States and Israel launch a joint attack on Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It does not seem likely that Saddam can long survive such an attack, so it is likely that the anti-American and anti-Israeli demonstrations will continue to be low key. But the terrorist movements have still fanatical partisans, and considerable backing from among young Arab males. If, as seems to be the case, the Americans are firmly bent on extirpating terrorism, wherever it is to be found, they will have their work cut out. http://www.iht.com/articles/45407.html * TRIBAL LESSONS FOR DEALING WITH SAUDIS AND IRAQIS by David Ignatius International Herald Tribune, 21st January 21, 2002 PARIS: Richard Helms, the former CIA director, once made a trenchant observation about the Arab world. "Forget all that newspaper stuff about presidential speeches and cabinet appointments. Pay attention to the things that are hundreds of years old - the religious sects, the clans, the tribes." That admonition encapsulated the essential secret learned over the centuries by the British, which allowed them to govern a global empire: To understand and, when necessary, manipulate another society, you must identify its true centers of power and their linkages, loyalties and pressure points. In traditional societies, these are usually tribal groups with the kinship ties of an extended family. The intensity of tribal bonds has been on display the past few months in Afghanistan. The reason the Taliban "government" collapsed so fast was that it didn't actually control the nation. Indeed, Afghanistan was not a nation at all in the modern sense. It was a collection of tribes and clans whose loyalty to the Taliban disappeared in a few days when it became clear that the United States was serious about winning the war. Loyalties were quickly transferred to - or perhaps it would be better to say rented by - a new governing group. There is much talk in Washington these days about extending the Afghanistan lesson to other areas of the world that harbor terrorism. By this the strategists usually seem to mean using special forces or satellite-guided bombs or pilotless reconnaissance planes. But on the political level the real lesson of Afghanistan is about the importance of tribal loyalties. And it has special relevance for Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The master player of this game was Jordan's King Hussein, and it is why he proved to be the most durable ruler in the modern history of the Middle East. It was his practice to pay small retainers to the leaders of each of the key Bedouin tribes and clans of his country. For help in funding these tribal payments, he is said to have turned to the United States. One man who keenly appreciates the tribal factor in Arab politics is the new, de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Abdullah. His power base for many years has been the National Guard, a military unit created by King Faisal in the 1960s to give greater power to Saudi Arabia's Bedouin tribes. Prince Abdullah remained rooted in this traditional power structure even as other members of the royal family, led by King Fahd and his defense minister, Prince Sultan, embraced the modernizing ethos of the United States. The new Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Nawaf, is also a man who understands the world of the tribes. It is said that during the reign of King Faisal, Prince Nawaf helped distribute the royal payments to Saudi tribal leaders. It was his appointment last August, in place of the pro-American Prince Turki, who had run Saudi intelligence for more than 20 years, which signaled that Prince Abdullah was really in charge. Prince Abdullah's traditional approach to power may not reassure Saudi Arabia's critics in the Pentagon, who were said last week to want to pull U.S. military forces out of the kingdom. Many Saudis seem eager for them to leave, even though that would effectively grant Osama bin Laden's main demand. But before abandoning Prince Abdullah, critics should consider that his tribal-based approach to internal stability is similar to that of America's old friend, the late King Hussein. Iraq is the Arab nation where the tribal substructure matters most - especially to those who harbor dreams of replacing Saddam Hussein. By one estimate, roughly three-quarters of Iraqis are members of one of the country's roughly 150 tribal clans. Among the most famous of these are the Dulaimis, the Jaburis and Saddam's own clan, the Takritis. If the United States is serious about toppling Saddam, the place to begin is a careful analysis of the tribes. Their loyalty to the ruling junta is conditional. They obey Saddam now because they are forced to, but many would welcome a change. In the past decade several tribal revolts have been reported, all brutally suppressed. A former air force general from the Dulaimi clan was said to have attempted a coup in January 1995, and there were reports of widespread unrest by the Dulaimis in the army and the countryside in May and June 1995. A Dulaimi general and 38 followers were reported to have been executed in February 1999 on suspicion that they were plotting a coup. And members of the Jaburi tribe were said to have planned a revolt among Republican Guard officers in 2000. Before tribal leaders risk their lives again, they will have to be certain that the United States is as committed to toppling Saddam Hussein as it was to overthrowing the Taliban. America's past efforts to play the covert action game in Iraq have got a lot of people killed for nothing. The levers are there, rooted in the traditional structure of Iraqi society, if America is serious. http://www.nypost.com/news/worldnews/39454.htm * SECRET PLAN TO TOPPLE SADDAM by John Lehmann and Vincent Morris New York Post, 21st January President Bush's war Cabinet is drawing up a secret plan to topple Saddam Hussein as soon as six months from now. A new Afghanistan-style strategy is being finalized to use Iraqi freedom fighters, backed by U.S. military forces, to oust the Baghdad butcher, a Bush administration adviser is reported to have said. The adviser is quoted as saying that a "general consensus" has emerged among members of Bush's inner circle that the dictator must be ousted. As the likelihood of a new attack grew, Saddam yesterday chaired an emergency meeting in Baghdad of his two most powerful bodies to discuss the mobilization of Iraqis, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. The meeting of the Revolutionary Command Council and the Regional Command of the ruling Baath party discussed means to "confront the malicious, hostile plans that the rulers of America are brandishing against our people," the news agency said. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are finalizing a strategy based on building an international military coalition, sponsoring Iraqi freedom fighters, and having the United States lead a military invasion, Newsweek is reporting, quoting a Bush administration adviser. Under the strategy, the United States will continue pressuring Saddam to re-admit U.N. arms inspectors into Iraq, rather than launching a military attack "tomorrow or unilaterally," the adviser said. Bush's military chiefs do not expect the dictator to comply fully, enabling the United States to win international support by demonstrating his intransigence and the immense global threat he poses. Former Air Force Lt.-Gen. Tom McInerney told The Post, "Saddam has got to go - but we have to move quickly, because we are racing against him getting a nuclear weapon." McInerney, a former assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force, said the campaign against Saddam would be easier than the war in Afghanistan because the terrain and weather in Iraq are not as severe, boosting precision military attacks and the use of ground forces. He said Iraqi freedom fighters who despise Saddam would rally against him - as long as "they know we mean business." "You would get a cascading effect of resistance among the general people and his military," he said. "But vacillating does not help the problem - actions speak louder than words." Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the main resistance group Iraqi National Congress, said last month that Saddam could be toppled with a campaign using 3,000 U.S.-trained Iraqi rebels, an Afghanistan-style bombing campaign, the insertion of several thousand U.S. special forces and assistance from Iran. "What happened in Afghanistan is basically what we want to do in Iraq?" he said. But U.S. plans to recruit and support freedom fighters in Iraq have been widely criticized in the past. In 1997, after Congress allocated $97 million to Iraqi National Congress, U.S. envoy to the Middle East Anthony Zinni - who was then still in the Marine Corps -said such a plan would end in failure, like the 1961 attempt to overthrow Cuba's Fidel Castro. "What will we have? A Bay of Goats, most likely," he said. Attempts after the Gulf War to spark a popular uprising also failed, with the United States being accused of betraying Iraqi freedom fighters by not offering enough support. White House spokesman Scott McClellan would not comment yesterday. But a renewed campaign against Saddam received support from Sen. Richard Shelby (R Ala.) and presidential aspirant Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). "I'm for focusing on Saddam Hussein - I've been saying that for a long period of time," Kerry told CNN. "We know, through intelligence, of increasing activities that Saddam Hussein has been involved in with respect to weapons of mass destruction. "His policies are dangerous, he is dangerous." http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020121/2002012115.html * TURKISH SECURITY CIRCLES AND IRAQ Arabic News, 21st January The BBC correspondent in Ankara has states that security and diplomatic circles in Turkey incline to the conviction that Washington will seek within the few coming days to create internal problems in Iraq in order to topple the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein through a coup or causing a people's rebellion. The correspondent added that Washington is to intensify its air military operations over the strategic military positions in Iraq through launching new air attacks that will start from Ancerlic base to the South of Turkey. The correspondent explained that it seems that Turkey has prepared for such possibilities after it has started talking about recognizing the Turkman's minorities for a self- rule, in the phase that would follow getting rid off Saddam Hussein. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/bw-wh/2002/jan/23/012300075.html January 23, 2002 * BUSH HOLDING OFF ON IRAQ DECISION Las Vegas Sun, 23rd January WASHINGTON- President Bush said Wednesday that U.S. action against Iraq remains an option but he is in no hurry to make a decision about it. In an interview aired on NBC Nightly News, Bush repeated warnings of possible action because Saddam Hussein continues to block arms inspections mandated under United Nations sanctions slapped on Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait. Inspectors have not been allowed into Iraq since departing ahead of U.S. airstrikes in late 1998. "Iraq is on the screen," Bush said. "I mean, after all, they're not letting our inspectors in." But Bush said he is not as adamant as some in his administration, who want action because they say Saddam is trying to rebuild chemical and biological weapons programs that U.N. inspectors tried to dismantle after the 1991 Gulf War. "I don't feel the impatience that some might feel. I really don't," Bush said. He said he is satisfied with the progress of the anti-terrorism campaign underway in Afghanistan. "We've achieved a significant series of objectives in Afghanistan," Bush said. "We're cutting off a lot of money. And the world knows that we're very serious and intent upon holding people to a standard." http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2002/01/24/Opinion/Editorial.42219.html * DON'T FUMBLE ON IRAQ Jerusalem Post, 24th January, 11 Shevat, 5762 According to a report in the current Newsweek, a consensus has developed in the Bush administration to move toward a "regime change" in Iraq. Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman has come out strongly in the same vein, stating that, "This war will not be over until Saddam Hussein is removed from power in Iraq." A senior US official said, however, not to expect Iraq to be attacked "tomorrow or unilaterally" - and therein lies the rub. These two questions - of timing and of hinging American action on international support - threaten to bedevil and endanger the most critical component of the war on terrorism. The idea that Saddam cannot be containedâ and must be removed if the war on terrorism is to mean anything, has become all but impossible to resist. Saddam's regime has become a cornucopia for weapons of mass destruction, according to the testimony of defectors who were directly involved in these programs. Adnan Saeed, a civil engineer who personally worked on over 20 secret sites, recently told The New York Times that these facilities were hidden in underground wells, private villas, and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad. "Money was no object," said Saeed, who said that duplicate facilities were built in case some were destroyed. During the Cold War, it was common to ridicule the destructive capacity of both superpowers by saying that all those extra nukes would do is "make the rubble bounce." Saddam seems to have a similar belief in redundancy. Just one drop of the chemical VX can kill a person. When the UN inspectors left Iraq, they believed that Saddam had enough VX precursors to produce 200 tons of the poison, and had 41 sites capable of doing so in a matter of weeks. Saddam, always a believer in better-safe-than-sorry, is capable of producing 350 liters of weapons-grade anthrax a week, according to the Federation of American Scientists. Not satisfied with his arsenals of poisons and diseases, we must assume that Saddam is working feverishly at building nuclear weapons and that it is a matter of a few years, if that, before he succeeds. No one disputes these facts and that Saddam is a menace who could make Osama bin Laden pale in comparison. There are, however, major flies in this consensus that could be costly even if they do not change the final outcome. The first is the fact that Sen. Lieberman seems somewhat isolated in his own party in advocating the ouster of Saddam. Senior Democrats, such as Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, seem to agree with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joseph Biden, who said that attacking Iraq would be "a disastrous mistake." A string of former foreign policy advisers to Bill Clinton have also chimed in. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, for example, said that, "It is hard to see that [deposing Saddam] is feasible," and Al Gore's former national security adviser, Leon Feurth, has fretted that a US effort against Iraq could prove "a fatal diversion." The best guess is that President George W. Bush will not be swayed by those whose idea of prudence is leaving Saddam in power. But there is a strange hesitation, almost procrastination, in US behavior at the moment. The State Department even went so far as to temporarily cut off what little financial support the US gives to Saddam's opponents, the Iraqi National Congress, citing accounting irregularities. This move, and US hesitation, smacks of fighting a war at a leisurely pace and according to a bureaucratic timetable. The idea that the Qaida network has to be wiped up in places such as Somalia and the Philippines before taking on Saddam does not wash. Like it or not, the United States is leading a world war against terrorism, and the other side will not wait patiently for their turn to be confronted. It would have been ludicrous to suggest during World War II that the US finish off Germany before taking on Japan, yet now it has become conventional wisdom that much lesser enemies should be confronted sequentially. The more the US hesitates, the more the world will question whether Saddam's removal is really so inevitable. Arab League leader Amr Moussa, perhaps smelling a lack of Western resolve, said in Cairo this week, "Iraq is an Arab country and Arabs will not allow Iraq to be struck." Moussa's rhetoric is on the flamboyant side, but Saddam and his friends do have a strategy: a charm offensive with the help of the United Nations. According to The Wall Street Journal (January 18), "Saddam Hussein is considering complying with UN resolutions [including] allowing weapons inspectors into Iraq." He is also reportedly seeking to patch up ties with Saudi Arabia and even with Kuwait. Bush has been hinting at an ultimatum to Saddam linked to UN inspections. But if the UN is the arbiter of whether Saddam must go, the record indicates it will be tough to force Saddam into a test he cannot pass. If the Bush administration is not careful, the sense of inevitability it won by the victory in Afghanistan will begin dissipate, and will be difficult to reconstruct. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28324-2002Jan23.html * RHETORIC FAILS TO BUDGE POLICY ON IRAQ by Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus Washington Post, 24th January Despite fierce rhetoric from senior Bush officials against Saddam Hussein, the administration's policy toward Iraq remains largely frozen where it was left by President Bill Clinton. After a year of top-level internal review, the administration has yet to lift a Clinton prohibition against lethal aid for Iraqi opposition groups. The opposition, principally the London-based Iraqi National Congress (INC), continues to be barred as a matter of policy from using U.S. funds to carry out activities inside Iraq. A State Department slot designated to coordinate with the Iraqi opposition has been vacant since last summer. [.....] In a letter to Bush yesterday, a group of former senior military and intelligence officials urged him not to take action against Iraq. Last month, nine leading Republican members of Congress, where support for the INC is strong, wrote to remind Bush of his campaign pledge to "fully implement" the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. The act authorized as much as $97 million in U.S. military equipment and training for Iraqi opposition groups, and $43 million in cash to be disbursed by the State Department for opposition humanitarian, broadcasting and information-collection activities. [.....] "Our position is, we don't believe there is a reasonable way to oust him," said Marwan Muasher, Jordan's ambassador to Washington. A military assault would "result in the immediate withdrawal of Arabs from the [anti-terrorism] coalition," Muasher said. "Considering what's going on in the West Bank, there is no way to justify another front in an Arab country." As for attempts to strengthen Iraqi opponents to challenge Hussein, he said, "no plan has ever been presented to us that made sense." The policy review came under renewed scrutiny this month when the State Department announced it had withheld some of the $19 million remaining in grants earmarked for the Iraqi opposition after a government audit found fault with the way the INC has spent and accounted for U.S. funds it has received. Completed last summer but released Jan. 16 by the State's Department's inspector general, the audit deals with funds spent on the INC's "information collection" program. Among other things, it questioned $2.2 million of $4.3 million in expenditures between March 2000 and May 2001, including items such as $2,070 to pay for a Washington health center membership, money paid to the Burson-Marsteller public relations firm, and lack of documentation for $101,762 spent on travel and badge distribution for attendees at a human rights conference. The INC was found to have made $578,795 in cash payments unsupported by documentation. These included per diem payments to the seven-member INC Leadership Council and an additional $112,733 in cash or money transfers from the London office to "teams in the field" that the INC said gathered information in countries around Iraq. The Washington office spent an additional $353,207 without what the inspector general considered "support documentation." Francis Brooke, the INC spokesman here, said the group could not reveal the names of the teams working in countries around Iraq because "it would place them in dangerous circumstances. It is part of a covert war." State Department officials have said funding for other INC activities is also in danger of suspension under U.S. aid accounting rules. In a 200-page response to the audit, the INC agreed with "the need to strengthen internal [financial] controls," but denied in detail that any U.S. government funds were improperly used. INC Washington office director Entifadh K. Qanbar called the financial issues a "smoke screen" behind which the administration is hiding its refusal to develop its own policy on Iraq. "There is a sense that the INC will make Saddam very angry if we are allowed to conduct aggressive actions inside the country," Qanbar said. "That will drag the United States into a war. They are not prepared to go to war against Saddam. This is why the review is stalled." Unless the Iraq Liberation Act is "fully implemented," he said, the INC has no interest in receiving any more U.S. money. What full implementation would mean is open to interpretation. The act does not specify the nature of U.S. military equipment and training; restricting it to nonlethal aid has been a matter of policy through two administrations. State Department funds are authorized only for opposition operations outside the parts of Iraq controlled by Hussein. Although Congress, in a rebuke to Clinton policy, specifically ordered funding under the act for opposition activities "inside Iraq" in its 2001 appropriation bill, that language was removed when the current year's appropriation was passed last month. MILITARY MATTERS http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,3632633%255E401,00 .html * US CAN'T HALT ARABS BUYING ARMS: IRAQ Herald Sun [Australia, from AFP), 22nd January THE US will not be able to prevent Arab nations from acquiring weapons of mass destruction "whether overtly or covertly" in order to offset Israel's arsenal of such weapons, an Iraqi government newspaper said yesterday. "The Zionist entity, founded on usurpation and aggression, possesses various weapons of mass destruction, and this has prompted more than one Arab country to seek to acquire one or more such weapons in order to deter (Israel)," said Ath-Thawra, mouthpiece of the ruling Baath Party. "Acquiescing to Israel's, but not Arab, possession of such weapons is a case of double standards. But no matter how much those who pursue double standards try to obstruct the Arabs, they will not stop their efforts to achieve this goal, be they overt or covert, in future." Acquiring weapons of mass destruction is consistent with "the right to self-defence and the requirements of national security", irrespective of the nature of a ruling regime, Ath-Thawra said. While sanctioning Israel's possession of weapons of mass destruction, the US had reacted as if Iraq had committed "an unforgivable sin" when Baghdad "thought of acquiring something of such weapons". "And what did Iraq acquire except for a limited number of missiles, all of which were destroyed under the supervision of the Special Commission?" Ath-Thawra asked, referring to the now-defunct UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) that was in charge of overseeing Baghdad's disarmament. Moreover, Iraq gave UNSCOM all information about its other "incomplete programs" to develop weapons of mass destruction and "all the equipment and material needed" to build such arms were dismantled under its supervision. [.....] http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1220596 Jan. 21, 2002, 10:18PM * CITING 'HOSTILE IRAQI THREATS,' U.S. STRIKES ANTI-AIRCRAFT SITE Houston Chronicle, 21st January WASHINGTON -- U.S. warplanes struck an anti-aircraft artillery site in southern Iraq on Monday in response to "hostile Iraqi threats" against pilots and aircrews patrolling the skies over the region, American defense officials said Monday. The raid amounted to another in a long series of low-level skirmishes with Iraqi forces that have taken place since 1992, when the United States established "no-fly" zones over northern and southern Iraq after the Persian Gulf War. U.S. officials have tended to portray the air attacks, which often involve British planes, as routine responses to Iraqi provocations. Spokesmen for the U.S. Central Command provided few details about Monday's strike, which they said occurred about 12:50 p.m. CST against an anti-aircraft site in Tailil, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad. They said all the aircraft involved returned safely, and the amount of damage done in the raid was still being assessed. "Today's coalition strikes in the no-fly zones were executed as self-defense measures in response to Iraqi hostile threats and acts against coalition aircrews and their aircraft and are not related to the president's campaign against terrorism," Central Command said in a statement. "If Iraq were to cease its threatening actions, coalition strikes would also cease." Providing a measure of the frequency of these actions, the statement went on to say that Iraq had fired anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles against U.S. and British aircraft on more than 1,050 occasions since December 1998. It also said that Iraqi aircraft had violated the southern no-fly zone more than 160 times in the same period. No figure was given for the number of northern zone violations. [.....] http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=topnews&StoryID=532448 * COALITION FORCES STRIKE IRAQI SITE, U.S. SAYS Reuters, 21st January [.....] The strike was the first against an Iraqi anti-artillery site in the southern no-fly zone since Nov. 27, the command said. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/jan/23/012309847.html * COALITION WARPLANES BOMB IRAQ SITE Las Vegas Sun, 23rd January MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) - U.S. and British warplanes attacked anti-aircraft batteries in southern Iraq Wednesday, the second raid on the site this week, the U.S. Air Force said. The planes struck near Tallil, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, at about 9 p.m., said a Saudi Arabia-based Air Force official, speaking on condition of anonymity. On Monday, allied aircraft fired on the same site after being threatened by ground fire from Iraqi air defenses. There was no immediate word on the strikes from Iraqi officials. He said the Air Force was still assessing damage to the Iraqi defenses. No allied planes were hit. [.....] http://www.reuters.co.uk/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews&StoryID=542809 * U.S. WARNS BAGHDAD AS JETS BOMB AGAIN by Charles Aldinger Reuters, 24th January WASHINGTON: U.S. warplanes have bombed Iraqi air defence targets for the third time this week, and a senior U.S. official has warned Baghdad that time is running short to allow U.N. arms inspectors back into the country. The official spoke with reporters in Geneva as the top U.S. military officer told a Pentagon briefing in Washington that Baghdad could not take advantage of the U.S. military's focus on Afghanistan. "At the same time that we are looking at Afghanistan, in the last three days we have reacted as we will any time that we can ascertain where it (Iraqi ground fire) is coming from," said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers. "We will react to those threats to our patrolling aircraft" over no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq, added the chairman of the U.S. military Joint Chiefs of Staff. Myers spoke as the senior U.S. official warned in Geneva that time was running short for Iraq to let United Nations inspectors return to check whether Baghdad was developing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. The official, who declined to be identified, said there was every indication Iraq had been "aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction capability" in the three years since it forced U.N. inspectors to leave. "We are coming to a critical point with Iraq," the official told reporters. He said Washington was not prepared to let the situation drag on, although he declined to say what its response might be. "They (the Iraqis) ... need to let the weapons inspectors back in. If they do not, there are going to be consequences," the official said. Iraq admits that it once sought to develop biological weapons but says that it no longer has any such program. Baghdad was forced to accept the U.N. inspectors following its defeat by a U.S.-led international force in the 1991 Gulf War, but inspectors had to abandon the country in 1998. Despite Iraq's denial, the official said Baghdad had used the last three years to press ahead with weapons development. "They are clearly trying to get back to where they were before the (Gulf) war. I don't think they are there yet but there is a lot of activity," the official said. The U.S. military's Central Command said on Thursday that precision-guided bombs were used against an anti-aircraft artillery site in southern Iraq after threats against warplanes patrolling a "no-fly" zone in the south. U.S. and British warplanes have patrolled such zones in northern and Iraq for a decade since the 1991 Gulf War. They are periodically challenged by anti-aircraft guns and surface to-air missiles. Such tit-for-tat attacks have slacked off in recent months, but Myers said that three bombing attacks have occurred this week despite the intense U.S. military focus on the war against terrorism in Afghanistan. "What we see is what they've been doing over some period of time," he told reporters. "And that is that aircraft that patrol both in the north and in the south supporting U.N. resolutions are fired upon by Iraqi air defences." In Baghdad, an Iraqi military spokesman was quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency as saying that both U.S. and British warplanes flying from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on Thursday attacked civilian and service installations in the southern provinces of Basra and Nassiriya. The spokesman said warplanes had also struck targets in Basra and Nassiriya on Monday and Wednesday. http://home.kyodo.co.jp/all/display.jsp?an=20020125015 * IRAQ SAYS U.S. PLANES ATTACKING SITES IN THE SOUTH FOR 3 DAYS Kyodo (Japan), 25th January [.....] U.S. officials say U.S. warplanes on Thursday struck an antiaircraft artillery site in Al-Faw Peninsula, about 464 kilometers south of Baghdad. http://europe.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/01/25/iraq.nuclear/index.html * NUCLEAR TEAM HEADS FOR BAGHDAD CNN, 25th January BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A team of nuclear experts is due to arrive in Baghdad for an annual inspection of Iraq's uranium stockpiles. The International Atomic Energy Agency's team is unrelated to U.N. weapons inspections blocked by the Iraqi government since the end of 1998. But it is essential in verifying that Iraq is not diverting uranium stocks left in the country for use in weapons. The seven-member team will examine low-enriched uranium sealed by the IAEA after it dismantled Iraq's nuclear programme following the Gulf War. High-enriched uranium, which could more easily be used in weapons, was removed from Iraq by the agency. The team will also examine stockpiles of depleted and natural uranium. For the first time the team includes safety experts who will ensure that the uranium is being properly stored and the containers are not leaking radiation. The IAEA, the world's nuclear watchdog, conducted more intrusive inspections after the Gulf War under the same mandate as U.N. weapons inspectors. Those inspections stopped when all the weapons inspectors pulled out of Iraq in December 1998 just hours before a major U.S. bombing. Iraq is demanding that U.N. sanctions against it be lifted before the inspectors return. The IAEA had declared Iraq's nuclear program essentially dead. But since the standoff over allowing nuclear and other inspections to resume, the agency says it cannot certify that Iraq is not trying to revive that programme. OIL FOR FOOD http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020119/2002011904.html * IRAQ GOT ONLY HALF OF MEDICINES IT NEEDS IN THE FRAME OF OIL-FOR FOOD PROGRAM Arabic News, 19th January Iraq announced on Friday it only got half of the medicines and medical items it asked foreign companies for in the framework of the oil-for-food program. The Iraqi minister of health Omid Midhat Mubarak said during his meeting with the executive director of the Iraqi program at the UN Beinoun Seifan [sic - PB] that Iraq only received during the 10 phases of the oil-for-food program 45% and that 15% of these items are no more valid especially advanced medical instruments because they do not have matching equipment. He added that the health situation in Iraq has been greatly damaged because of the continued sanctions on Iraq and the measures taken by the American and British representatives in obstructing the arrival of medicines and medical needs contracted for with world companies and the pressures on these companies to prevent the arrival of the medicines to Iraq. Worthy mentioning that more than 31,000 Iraqis including more than 21,000 children under five year old died during September, October and November 2001 because of various diseases resulted from malnutrition and medicines shortage. http://www.reuters.co.uk/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews&StoryID=530806 * UK ACCUSED OF IMPEDING IRAQI OIL PROGRAMME Reuters, 21st January BAGHDAD: Iraq has accused the United States and Britain of creating problems to impede the oil-for-food programme with the United Nations. "Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri met with Benon Sevan, executive director of the programme and a U.N. undersecretary- general, and informed him of the obstacles placed by America and Britain to impede the humanitarian programme," said a statement issued by the Iraqi foreign ministry on Sunday night. The statement did not elaborate. The oil-for-food programme allows Iraq to sell oil to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian goods for Iraqis suffering under 11-year-old U.N. sanctions imposed after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The statement said Sevan promised to "exert more efforts to solve setbacks hindering the implementation of the plan." Iraqi officials have criticised the sluggish arrival of goods bought under the programme, saying it has done little to alleviate the suffering of Iraqi people. Iraqi Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed has blamed sluggish oil sales under the deal over the last five weeks on a U.S.-British imposed retroactive crude oil price scheme. Security Council powers the United States and Britain have for several months effectively imposed de facto retroactive pricing to eradicate alleged illicit payments to Baghdad via oil sales. Iraq denies requesting any extra fees. Sevan said on arrival in Iraq last Monday for a three-week visit that he would be discussing problems facing the oil pact. The U.N. spokesman for the programme in Baghdad, Adnan Jarrar, told Reuters on Monday Sevan had also met Rasheed, Health Minister Omeed Madhat Mubarak and other Iraqi officials. He said Sevan would travel on Tuesday to northern Iraq, which has been outside the control of the Baghdad government since soon after the 1991 Gulf War to "improve the effectiveness of the programme." U.N. officials in New York have said that among the issues Sevan expects to discuss are Iraq's refusal to grant visas to U.N. staff or firms contracted by them for mine clearance in the northern provinces of the country, where the United Nations rather than Baghdad controls the humanitarian programme. http://www.worldoil.com/news/newsstory.asp?ref=http://126.96.36.199/feeds/wo rldoil/new/article_e.asp?energy24=246535 * OIL SALES RISE SHARPLY, BELOW AVERAGE World Oil (from AFP), 22nd January The volume of oil exported by Iraq under UN supervision rose sharply from three million barrels to 10.8 million barrels last week, but remained below average, the United Nations said Tuesday. The total was equivalent to just over 1.5 million barrels a day, compared to an average of about 2.0 million barrels a day during most of the second half of last year. In the week to January 18, there were five loadings at Iraq's Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr and two at Ceyhan, on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, the office administering the UN oil for-food programme said in its weekly update. The two terminals are the only outlets for Iraqi crude permitted under sanctions imposed after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The price of Iraqi oil dropped from an average 20.80 euros (18.55 dollars) a barrel to 18.65 euros (16.50 dollars) last week and sales netted an estimated 200 million euros (180 million dollars). Total estimated revenue since December 1, the start of the current six-month phase of the oil-for-food programme, stands at just over one billion euros or 922 million dollars for 64.5 million barrels. http://www.worldoil.com/news/newsstory.asp?ref=http://188.8.131.52/feeds/wo rldoil/new/article_e.asp?energy24=246519 * OIL-FOR-FOOD' CHIEF IN IRAQI KURDISTAN World Oil (from AFP), 22nd January The director of Iraq's "oil-for-food" program with the United Nations, Benon Sevan, has gone to Iraqi Kurdistan for a week-long visit to follow up the implementation of the program, a UN source said Tuesday. Sevan, who is accompanied by UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Tun Myat, will discuss the implementation of the program with local Kurdish officials and UN agencies, the source said. The Western-protected Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq has been off limits to the central government since the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait. Sevan started a visit to Iraq on January 14 to discuss with Iraqi officials ways of improving the implementation of the oil-for-food program. The arrangement was established in December 1996 to soften the impact of UN sanctions imposed on Iraq since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait by allowing Baghdad to export crude under UN supervision and to use part of the revenue to import food, medicine and other necessities. Sevan earlier rang alarm bells at the number of contracts blocked by the UN sanctions committee, which oversees the program. [.....] Baghdad regularly accuses US and British representatives on the sanctions committee of blocking contracts for imports into Iraq, a charge repeated by Foreign Minister Naji Sabri on Monday. IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/134394511_lawsuit23m.html * BANK DISCRIMINATED IN CLOSING ACCOUNT, IRAQ-BORN MAN SAYS Seattle Times (from The Associated Press), 23rd January Attorneys for Bank of America said yesterday its decision to close the account of an Iraqi born businessman living in Seattle was based on potential risk to the bank and not because of the customer's race, creed, religion or nationality. The bank's attorneys appeared before King County Superior Court Judge Richard Eadie, presenting for the first time its side of a case plaintiff Hussain Alshafei has alleged is racial profiling. In December, the bank notified Alshafei by letter that it was closing his 3-year-old account. It cited no reason for its decision. Alshafei operates Alshafei Family Connect. He said Iraqi immigrants in the U.S. use it to wire money to relatives in Iraq. Alshafei is Arab and Muslim, as well as a naturalized U.S. citizen. He alleges the bank discriminated against him, violating both state and federal civil-rights laws. But Bank of America, according to court documents, said Alshafei's account first drew concerns in February 2001 when a bank employee at the Lynnwood branch noticed an unusual pattern of daily wire transfers of money to foreign countries. Federal law requires all banks to report any daily deposit of $10,000 or more in cash. Bank officials suspected Alshafei may have been trying to evade reporting large cash deposits, according to court documents. They also noticed some wire transfers had been made to a bank in Syria, a country listed by the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control as subject to certain restrictions. Bank investigators recommended closing the account, but Lynnwood-branch employees decided against that. Then, in September, bank employees in Boise noted several non customers of the bank were making cash deposits just under $10,000 to Alshafei's account. A recommendation to close Alshafei's account was made a second time because "the risk of loss or problems to the bank had to be considered seriously," according to court documents. The letter of closure was subsequently sent. Bank officials pointed out it does not owe a customer an explanation for its decision only that its reasons cannot be illegal. Yesterday, Eadie extended a temporary restraining order prohibiting the bank from closing Alshafei's account until the next scheduled court date, Feb. 5. But Eadie also stipulated that the bank does not have to wire transfer money on behalf of Alshafei if it is concerned Alshafei is operating an illegal business. That concern, bank representatives noted, has been raised after Alshafei's lawsuit and his description of his business. Federal law prohibits any U.S. citizen from transferring money or economic resources to anyone in Iraq unless an exemption has been obtained. Jon Rosen, Alshafei's attorney, says he will be able to prove the bank's actions were discriminatory even if there is no direct evidence linking the decision to close the account to Alshafei's national origin. In court documents, Rosen argued that the bank's actions were motivated in part by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and its desire to distance itself from any activity remotely associated with terrorism. Since the attacks, government investigators have been looking into U.S.-based foreign money transfers or exchanges called hawalas, alleging some may be used to finance terrorist groups abroad. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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.