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News, 26/1-2/2/02 (3)

News, 26/1-2/2/02 (3)


*  China advises Iraq to co-operate with UN {Aziz¹s visit to China]
*  Iraq asks EU for dialogue on UN sanctions
*  Russia Strongly Opposes Using Force Against Iraq: Duma Leader [Repeats
the figure we saw in last week¹s news of 1,854 holds on goods for South and
central Iraq as against 2 for the Kurdish Autonomous zone]
*  Iraqi diplomats leave Sweden amid accusations
*  Iraqi diplomats expelled from Sweden
*  Paris opposes toppling Saddam Hussein by means of force
*  Putin takes tough line on Iraq, nuclear arms cuts
*  Iraq deputy prime minister shortens visit to Russia [This seems an odd
decision, attributed in the article ŒPutin takes a tough line¹ to a Œfit of
pique¹ brought on by Bush¹s speech. But the Iraqis must know that at the
present time Russia is very important to them.]
*  Mail to Iraq cleared [From New Zealand. Only two sentences, but the
nicest piece of news we¹ve had for a very long time.]


*  U.N. watchdog wants Iraq to engage in rights dialogue
*  UN "oil-for-food" chief ends tour of Iraqi Kurdistan


*  Unwelcomed take another spin on a crazy carousel [More on the sad fate of
asylum seekers in Australia]
*  Businessman from Iraq, bank settle bias suit [Apparent end to saga that
began in last week¹s news]
*  Iraq native's business raided day after suit ends [Unexpectedly the saga
starts up again and becomes very interesting. Like the closure of the Somali
Barakat Wire Transfer, this seems to be using the Œwar against terrorism¹ -
very crudely - as a weapon to prevent people helping their relatives left
behind in countries that have fallen into disfavour with the US government]


*  Baghdad Airs Kurdish TV to Win Over Iraqi Kurds


*  Iraqi women's panel presents paper on role in public life [Argues that
Iraq was a pioneer in the field of women¹s rights since the beginning of the
*  Iraqi oil sales resume average levels


*  U.S. to give $2.4 million to Iraqi opposition group
*  U.S. Restores Funding for Iraqi Opposition [A couple of weeks ago,
readers may remember, Ahmed Chalabi was saying there were great
possibilities because the Iranians were going to back the INC. Now he says
he¹s greatly encouraged by Mr Bush¹s speech even though this declared Iran
to be part of an Œaxis of evil¹. He¹s turned his affections back to the
Kurds. He says that there are 40,000 of them ready to take up arms. Which
indicates a modest, cautious approach. William Safire (Incitement: ŒThe Gun
is on the table¹), tells us there are 70,000]


*  Iraqi Dates Sales Make a Symbolic Breach in Sanctions [A heartening item,
all the more heartening for the role of Plaid Cymry in selling Iraqi dates
in the Parliament building in Brussels. Next stop the Welsh Assembly? Or


Times of India (from AFP), 28th January

BEIJING: China on Monday told visiting Iraqi Vice Premier Tareq Aziz his
country should co-operate with the United Nations to end UN sanctions
against Baghdad, state media said.

Such co-operation could also help avoid new and complicated situations
arising from a potential extension of the US-led war against terrorism to
Iraq, the official Xinhua news agency quoted Chinese Vice Premier Qian
Qichen saying to Aziz, a day after he arrived from Moscow.

Qian told Aziz, the right-hand man to Saddam Hussein, that China sympathised
deeply with the suffering caused by sanctions, and believed that relevant
resolutions by the United Nations Security Council formed the basis for
solving the issue.

"China does not support the expansion of anti-terror military action, (but)
at the same time hopes that Iraq will co-operate with the UN to avoid new
and complicated situations which might emerge," Xinhua quoted him as saying.

China has far closer ties with Baghdad than the West, but says its leaders
should bring an end to sanctions by cooperating with UN weapons inspectors.

For his part, Aziz said the sanctions, which were imposed after Iraq's
invasion of Kuwait in 1990, had caused extreme hardship to the Iraqi people,
and that he hoped they would be lifted as soon as possible, Xinhua said.
Aziz is expected to return to Russia following his talks in China, the
Russian ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

There, the Iraqi official is expected to discuss a Russian proposal on
lifting international sanctions on Iraq in exchange for Baghdad allowing a
resumption of visits by UN weapons inspectors.


Times of India (from AP), 29th January

UNITED NATIONS: The Iraqi government has asked the European Union for a
high-level dialogue on UN sanctions and other policy issues, an EU diplomat
has said.

Iraq launched the diplomatic initiative in Madrid as Spain currently holds
the rotating EU presidency.

The Iraqi charge d'affaires in Madrid went to the Spanish Foreign Ministry
on Friday and informed the director-general for the Middle East that Baghdad
was interested in initiating a high-level dialogue with the EU, the diplomat
said yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The move follows several other overtures by Saddam Hussein's government in
recent days. The EU diplomat called it part of Iraq's "charm offensive"
ahead of an Arab summit in March in Beirut.

But the EU official stressed that the 15-nation bloc has long-standing
policy calling on Baghdad to comply with Security Council resolutions,
including calls for the return of inspectors.

In recent actions, Iraq allowed international nuclear experts from the UN
atomic energy agency to begin "limited" inspections of a nuclear research
centre. The inspectors arrived in Baghdad on Friday.

In China, Premier Zhu Rongji Monday urged Iraq to cooperate with the United
Nations to end crippling economic sanctions, the official Xinhua News Agency
reported. China and Russia are Iraq's closest allies on the Security

Xinhuanet, 29th January

MOSCOW: Russia will strongly oppose any use of force against Iraq as an
expansion of the ongoing international anti-terror campaign, Russian State
Duma's International Affairs Committee Chairman Dmitry Rogozin said here

"The United States is hardly prepared to act tough as regards to Baghdad,"
said Rogozin, who met Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz in Moscow last

The question of a possible geographical expansion of military operations by
the anti-terror coalition is essential for Russia, Rogozin said.

There were reasons for the anti-terrorist operation against the Taliban
movement and the organization al Qaeda in Afghanistan, " but the situation
with Iraq is different," he remarked.

"Russia will strongly object to possible attempts by international
inspectors to pick on Iraq and therefore provoke a tougher attitude to the
presence of international observers on its national territory," said the
Duma leader.

It is impermissible to use this policy (of weapon inspection) as a reason
for strikes on Iraq, he stressed.

If the United States uses force against Iraq, "the Americans will lose the
support of its European allies, including Russia, he warned.

It is impossible to find a local Northern Alliance (agent) in Iraq that
would oppose the incumbent administration, the parliamentary deputy said.

"It is senseless to strike Iraq, to bomb or to fire missiles. We have
witnessed such actions, but they give nothing but a possible strengthening
of the regime of President Saddam Hussein and a disappointment to
Washington," he stated.

CNN, 30th January

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Two Iraqi diplomats left Sweden after the
government accused them of "activities inconsistent with their diplomatic
status," the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

Iraqi charge d'affaires Muhsen A. Muhsen al-Haidari and another diplomat,
identified only as Hussein, were summoned to the ministry on January 2,
spokesman Bertil Jobeus said.

"After a discussion, the parties agreed that the two diplomats would leave
the country within 12 days," Jobeus said. He said the men had not been

The diplomats left Sweden on January 12. A new charge d'affaires was
appointed immediately and has arrived in Sweden, Jobeus said.

He declined to give further details.

Arabic News, 31st January

The London- based al-Hayat daily said in its Wednesday's issue that the
Swedish authorities have expelled the Iraqi charge de affairs in the Iraqi
embassy in Stockholm Mohsin al-Haidari and the attache at the embassy Abdul
Qader Hussein on charges of spying.

The paper added that al-Haidari might have asked political asylum in a
western state, noting that al-Haidari and Hussein tried to approach Iraqi
figures, residents in Sweden to get information from the Iraqi community
which is considered the largest Arab communities in Sweden.

Arabic News, 1st February

Paris announced on Thursday its opposition to the attempts made by
Washington to topple the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by means of force.
An option stated to have been accepted by several regional sides.

In an interview with the International Herald Tribune, the French minister
of defense Allen Richard said many of Washington's allies might not support
the launching of strikes at Iraq in the context of expanding the American
military act to fighting terrorism.

Richard said there will be a vast negative reaction among the allies of the
US if the administration of President George Bush will try to topple the
regime of the Iraqi President by means of military force.

The French defense minister explained "what so ever the result the US has to
evaluate the possible changes in its alliances with other several states."

Times of India (from AFP), 1st February

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin issued a thinly-veiled warning to
Washington on Thursday against using strong-arm tactics in global diplomacy
while confirming that Moscow demanded nuclear arms cuts be enshrined in a
formal treaty.

Putin's tough message came amid signs that Moscow and Washington were making
only limited progress in their ongoing negotiations over arms cuts and
missile defense.

It also followed the firmest indication yet that US President George W. Bush
was willing to strike against Russia's Middle East ally Iraq after
describing Baghdad as part of "an axis of evil" in his State of the Union
address Tuesday.

Receiving the credentials of five new ambassadors to Russia, Putin described
as hopeless a pattern of international relations "based on the domination of
one center of force."

Instead Putin said he favored the creation of "a truly fair international
system, based on law and respect for the interests of each state, and
capable of ensuring equal security for all nations."

He failed to address Iraq specifically in his remarks, but they appeared
aimed directly at Bush's vow to strike -- on his own if need be -- against
so-called rogue states that have been befriended by Moscow in the past
years, and who stand in heavy financial debt to Russia as a result.

Bush's address threw a wrench into Moscow's bid to mediate an end to the
stalemate between Baghdad and Washington over Iraq's refusal to comply with
international inspections of its weapons program.

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, who had been expected to hold a new
round of talks on the issue with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, cut
short his Moscow stay Thursday and flew to Baghdad in what Russian news
reports was a fit of pique over Bush's message.

Turning to another dispute that has cooled Moscow's warm embrace of
Washington that followed the September 11 terrorist attacks, Putin told his
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov that he was dissatisfied with the US approach
to arms cuts.

Ivanov agreed that Russia was prepared for "real, radical, verifiable and
transparent arms reductions," insinuating that the United States -- which
wants a loose framework agreement but no binding treaty -- does not want the

Putin's comments came one day after the Russian foreign ministry called for
"a binding legal document" to be agreed by Washington and Moscow that would
establish a ceiling of 1,700 to 2,200 nuclear warheads 10 years from now.

Ivanov is likely to voice Moscow's anger at suggestion that the United
States might keep some of its decommissioned warheads in reserve -- rather
than simply destroying them like Russia -- during a meeting with an official
US delegation expected to be led by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz at this weekend's security conference in Munich.

The disarmament issue has shaken relations between Moscow and Washington,
with Putin calling "a mistake" Bush's unilateral decision to withdraw from
the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty to pursue the development a missile
defense system.

The United States on Wednesday declined to comment on Moscow's demand for
cuts within the context of a binding legal treaty saying only that it had
held "productive" and "substantive" arms control talks this week with

The talks are expected to resume in Moscow on February 19.

The two sides are hopeful that the disarmament issue can be resolved before
Bush makes an official visit to Russia, which diplomatic sources in
Washington said has been scheduled for May 23-25.

Arabic News, 1st February

The Russian Itar Tass said, according to Iraqi diplomatic sources that the
Iraqi deputy premier has shortened his visit to Moscow and canceled the new
consultations he had intended to make with the Russian officials and
returned back to Baghdad.

The agency explained that Aziz shortens his visit so as he will be able to
take part in Baghdad in the meetings held following the accusations
addressed by the US President George Bush against Iraq in his recent speech
before the US Congress.

It was schedule that upon his arrival on Wednesday in Moscow coming from
Beijing, Aziz would have held talks with the Russian foreign minister Igor
Ivanov with whom he met as he stopped in Moscow last week.

Moscow, however, seeks to convince Baghdad to permit the return back of the
UN weapons inspectors, and this will be for suspending the UN sanctions
imposed on it. To this effect, Russian - American consultations on the so
called "smart sanctions " on Iraq are expected to be held in Geneva on
February 6 to 8.

New Zealand Herald, 2nd February

Small parcels of humanitarian aid can now be sent to Iraq without
ministerial consent, the Government said yesterday. United Nations sanctions
imposed on the country in 1991 meant New Zealand's Iraqi community had to
obtain consent before sending food, medicine and clothes to family.


CNN, 30th January

NICOSIA, Cypress (Reuters) -- A U.N. human rights investigator for Iraq said
on Wednesday he hoped to engage Baghdad in dialogue during a mid-February
visit, the first such trip by a human rights monitor permitted in a decade.

Rapporteur Andreas Mavrommatis, from Cyprus, said he planned to meet
officials and prison authorities during his visit.

"This is going to be an exploratory mission during which we will lay the
foundations for future cooperation. We are going to make suggestions and try
to engage the government in a dialogue on the human rights situation,"
Mavrommatis, a soft-spoken former judge and career diplomat, told Reuters.

He said that he had asked to visit a prison and hoped to visit with Shi'ite
Muslims, but that his schedule was not finalized. Shi'ite Muslims form a
slight majority over Sunni Muslims, but Sunnis have traditionally ruled

Mavrommatis said he planned to leave Cyprus on February 10 and spend three
to four days in Iraq.

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights appointed a special investigator for
Iraq in 1991, the year a U.S. alliance ended Iraq's seven-month occupation
of oil-rich neighbor Kuwait.

After an initial visit to Iraq in 1992, the special rapporteur was not
allowed to return despite requests to do so.

Mavrommatis, appointed in 1999, said the invitation was issued last week.
Baghdad's invitation came as it stepped up a campaign for an end to
crippling international economic sanctions imposed after the Gulf War.

Mavrommatis will be accompanied by two Geneva-based officers from the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights.

The U.N. rights commission has regularly accused Iraq of abuses. At a
session in April 2001, it said Iraq was guilty of "all-pervasive repression"
and "widespread terror."

World Oil (from AFP), 29th January

The head of the UN "oil-for-food" program in Iraq, Benon Sevan, has returned
to Baghdad after spending a week in Iraqi Kurdistan, where he explored ways
of improving the humanitarian situation, a UN spokesman said Tuesday.

Sevan toured the provinces of Suleimaniyah, Erbil and Dohuk in the northern
enclave and "held intensive discussions with local officials and UN agencies
involved in implementing the oil-for-food program," Adnan Jarrar told AFP.

He said Sevan, who was accompanied by UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq
Tun Myat, examined ways of "accelerating the implementation of the
oil-for-food program and rendering it more effective."

Sevan also inspected several facilities, including a hospital, a health
center, a power station and a water treatment plant, built within the
framework of the program, the spokesman added.

The Western-protected Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq has been off limits
to the central government since the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait.

The oil-for-food chief, who arrived in Iraq on January 14, is scheduled to
continue discussions with Iraqi officials in Baghdad until he leaves in
early February, according to Jarrar.

Sevan heads up a program introduced in 1996 to soften the impact of UN
sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990.

It allows Baghdad to export crude oil under strict UN supervision and to use
part of the revenue to import food, medicine and other necessities.

Sevan has been a critic of the number of contracts blocked by the UN
sanctions committee, which oversees the program.

In a January 8 letter to the committee, he said a total of 1,854 contracts
were now on hold, worth a total 4.956 billion dollars. They included orders
for 4.28 billion dollars worth of humanitarian supplies and for 676 million
dollars worth of oil industry equipment.

Almost all the holds applied to areas of southern and central Iraq under the
control of President Saddam Hussein's government. Only two were for imports
to the northern Kurdish region where goods are distributed by UN agencies.


by Christopher Kremmer in Adelaide
Sydney Morning Herald, 26th January

They call it freedom, but it's really just another instalment in the odyssey
of Australia's unwanted asylum seekers.

They emerged yesterday into the blinding glare of an Adelaide summer day, a
handful of Afghans, Iraqis and Iranians - the men decked out in Department
of Immigration-issue civvies, the women in their traditional dress. All were
released on Wednesday from Woomera's detention centre on three-year
temporary protection visas.

Their quest for a new life, which foundered on Ashmore Reef and fell in a
black hole at Woomera, now faces the challenges of the welfare system.

It starts at Centrelink, queues at the bank, passes time at the Housing
Trust and checks in at Medicare. Help will be drip-fed - just enough to keep
people going, but not enough to get them there.
One Iraqi refugee, "Abu Rashid", left behind his son, Detainee No1531, a
27-year-old arts graduate from Baghdad who was ruled ineligible for release
from Woomera.

"The officials came to me one morning last week and said: 'Quickly, pack
your things.' But, when my eldest son tried to join his brother and me, they
said: 'No, he must stay,'" Abu said.

Officials tried to split another Iraqi family of three women. But, after a
nine-hour ordeal in which two of the women became hysterical, officials

The odour of policy-making on the run has hung over Woomera all week.

The freed detainees have landed in a spartan lodging house on the fringes of
Adelaide's Hindley Street red-light district.

Their first taste of freedom is a stroll down the strip, peopled by those
who defy Adelaide City Council efforts to shift them to less conspicuous
hang-outs and lined by strip joints.

The asylum seekers take it all in with polite bemusement, averting their
eyes from the lurid shopfronts and deranged drunks.

In the communal kitchen at the Princes Arcade Motel, they prepare their
first meal in freedom - fried sheep's heart and eggs cooked Iraqi-style.

Brett Heath, 30, a long-term guest from Port Pirie, quizzes them about their
adventures, then gives them an Australian serve of matey praise mixed with
dour reserve.

"We can't have a flood of refugees breaking down the walls and getting into
Australia. It'll put too much pressure on our infrastructure," he says.

But in the next breath he says that "from what I've seen, these people would
make ideal migrants. They're intelligent, well-dressed and unfailingly
polite and considerate."

You wonder what these arrivals make of Australia, this big land that's not
big enough to grant them permanent protection - a nation proud of its
freedoms but reluctant to share them, and which struggles to balance its
charitable and xenophobic urges.

Next morning, in the motel lounge, the Iraqi women sift though piles of
forms they've been given at Centrelink, along with $180 each in cash.

They're not sure what the money's for, how long it will last or what comes

They'll pay for their own first two nights' accommodation, then get Housing
Trust support for five days, after which another week's support is paid, but
deducted from a bond the department gives them.

Others are on their way to Sydney and Melbourne, armed with the names of
people, usually former detainees, who can help them get on their feet.

Samar, a qualified nurse from Iraq, specialising in anaesthetics, hopes to
find work in a hospital.

But their futures are limited by temporary visas.

It is the uncertainty that is hardest to bear, says Mr Rashid.

"If I commit a crime, and am sentenced by a court, I know how long I must
spend in prison. But at Woomera you never know, and it makes you crazy," he

"Now we are free, but, if you don't know whether you can stay for more than
three years, how can you build a future?"

by Florangela Davila
Seattle Times, 31st January

An Iraqi-born Seattle businessman, who alleged Bank of America discriminated
against him because he was Arab and Muslim, has settled his claim.

Hussain Alshafei will receive no money from Bank of America, but he will
continue to use it for his money-wiring service through March 25. The bank
had threatened to close Alshafei's account last month.

Alshafei also agreed to pay his own attorney fees, and, as part of a
settlement agreement, he won't be able to file any subsequent lawsuits.

Bank of America, according to a spokesman, feels vindicated. "It is our view
that such claims were unfounded and we believe the terms of the settlement
speak to that fact," said spokesman Todd Rosin. "Bank of America did not,
does not and will not discriminate."

Alshafei, said his attorney, Jon Rosen, wanted only to keep his account open
and never desired any long-term litigation.

"We believe the evidence would have sustained the findings in Mr. Alshafei's
favor ultimately," said Rosen.

Alshafei, a U.S. citizen, operates Alshafei Family Connect, a money-wiring
service that allows Iraqi immigrants in the U.S. to send money to relatives
in Iraq.

Last month, however, the bank notified Alshafei that it was closing his

Alshafei had been a customer for more than three years and said he had never
had any problems with his account.

When the bank gave no initial reason for its decision, Alshafei attributed
it to post-Sept. 11 hysteria, and said the bank was practicing a form of
racial profiling. He sued in King County Superior Court this month, alleging
violation of state and federal civil-rights laws.

The bank argued it did not discriminate against Alshafei. Rather, it had
decided to close his account, in part, after noticing several wire transfers
were just under $10,000 ‹ the amount required by federal law to be reported
to the federal government.

Bank officials, according to court documents, regarded Alshafei's account as
a risk, believing he may have been trying to evade the reporting

Alshafei, said his attorney, is making other banking arrangements.

by Florangela Davila
Seattle Times, 1st February

Just one day after the business owner of a Mountlake Terrace money-transfer
company settled a racial-discrimination lawsuit with the Bank of America, a
swarm of U.S Customs agents raided his office yesterday, alleging that he
laundered money and wired funds to Iraq in violation of a federal embargo.

A dozen agents searched and seized items from Alshafei Family Connect Inc.,
or AFCI, located on the third floor of the Terrace Village Professional
Office building.

They arrived about 10 a.m. in unmarked sedans and vans. A guard was posted
outside the lobby entrance until about 4:30 p.m., when agents left with
several computers and about two dozen boxes of records.

"It was all very smooth," said a receptionist at the Efim Tulchinsky Family
Dentistry office, a business neighbor.

AFCI was created in July 1998 by Hussain Alshafei, 34, an American citizen
born in Iraq, to serve Iraqi refugees in the U.S. who wanted to send money
to family members in Iraq.

In a Jan. 9 declaration filed in his civil lawsuit, Alshafei said his
customers made deposits into the AFCI bank account and identified people in
Iraq to whom they wanted the money sent. Every two to three days, Alshafei
said, he would pool the deposits and wire them to a bank in Jordan.

Once the money arrived, Alshafei faxed a list of the intended recipients to
his agent in Jordan. Iraqi family members then collected the money from the
agent, Alshafei said in the declaration.

Alshafei's profits came from collecting a service fee on his end.

Executive Order 12724, signed by then-President Bush on Aug. 13, 1990,
prohibits any unauthorized "commitment or transfer, direct or indirect, of
funds, or other financial or economic resources by any United States person
to the Government of Iraq or any other person in Iraq."

Customs officials said that AFCI was responsible for 344 wire transfers
totaling $14.6 million to nations around the globe during 1999 and 2000.
Approximately $6.9 million of this sum went to Jordan in 112 wire transfers
by AFCI. Customs officials did not say how much money eventually ended up in

Alshafei was not arrested. Reached last night on his cell phone, he said, "I
can't talk right now."

Then his attorney, Jon Rosen of Seattle, got on the phone and said: "We're
not going to be making any statement ‹ although we're fully cooperating with
the government agents that are here."

Elsewhere in his court declaration, Alshafei asserted that he had never
conducted any business in Iraq nor sent any funds to any person in Iraq.

"It is not possible to send the money directly to Iraq because of the trade
embargo," he said in the declaration. He estimated that 80 to 90 percent of
Iraqi refugees in the U.S. use his business to send money to their family
members in Iraq, often to support their survival.

On Wednesday, Alshafei dropped his lawsuit that said Bank of America
discriminated against him when it said it wanted to close his account in

Alshafei had been a customer for more than three years and said he had never
had any problems with his account.

When the bank gave no initial reason for its decision, Alshafei attributed
it to post-Sept. 11 hysteria and said the bank was practicing a form of
racial profiling.

He sued in King County Superior Court last month, alleging violation of
state and federal civil-rights laws.

Bank officials argued they simply regarded the account as a risk: Alshafei
made several deposits of just under $10,000, which would have required the
bank to report the transaction to the government.

As part of its defense against Alshafei's lawsuit, bank officials alleged
Alshafei's business was illegal because he was transferring funds to people
in Iraq.

Alshafei dropped the case after the bank agreed to allow him to continue to
use his account through March 25.

A Bank of America spokesman last night said he couldn't confirm or deny
whether the bank had alerted federal authorities about its suspicion that
Alshafei's business was illegal.

The raid was the second involving a local money-wiring transfer business
that sent money overseas. In November, federal authorities closed Seattle's
Barakat Wire Transfer, a Somali owned business, as part of a nationwide raid
on such "hawalas." Authorities believed the businesses were fronts for a
fund-raising operation for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.


Yahoo, 26th January

TUNCELI, Turkey (Reuters) - Baghdad has begun airing Kurdish-language
television broadcasts in a bid to win over Iraqi Kurds as fears mount the
U.S. ``war on terrorism'' could spread to Iraq, Kurdish officials told
Reuters on Saturday.

Kurds wrested control of northern Iraq from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War and are protected by U.S. and British
warplanes based in Turkey who patrol a no-fly zone over the enclave.

``Saddam Hussein is using this method to win over and influence Kurds before
a U.S. attack on Iraq,'' a Kurdish official said on condition of anonymity.

The station has launched trial broadcasts from a studio in the town of
Kirkuk near the Kurdish enclave and will begin airing regular programming in
the coming weeks, he said.



Gulf News, 29th January

Abu Dhabi:  A women's delegation from Iraq will participate in the
activities of Arab Women's Day on Saturday to be held under the patronage of
Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the President's wife and
Chairperson of the UAE Women's Federation.

A paper presented by the delegation at a forum says that Iraqi women were
actively involved in public life as early as the last century as part of the
country's resistance against the british colonisation, breaking centuries of
women's isolation caused by the circumstances imposed on Iraq by the
domination of occupying forces.

Women's involvement in the struggle was in various capacities. They
contributed in the June 30, 1920 revolution, by supporting fighters and
rejecting injustice and oppression.

In 1899 the first primary and secondary school for girls were established
and 90 female students were registered.

The paper said the visions of intellectual leaders such as poets Maarouf Al
Rusafi and Jameel Sedki Al Zehawi, played major roles in the process of
women's liberation in Iraq.

The paper added that the atmosphere helped women to establish associations
and entering the world of media which gave them the opportunity to express
their ideas as well as their political and social stances through direct
speeches and poetry in women gatherings as well as through publishing
articles in Iraqi and Arab newspapers dealing with issues of women's freedom
and rights.

Some women journalists began their duties by using nicknames such as poet
Salma Abdul Razzak, who published her poem in Al Subh magazine using the
name of Um Nizar Al Malaeka.

Iraqi women established their own magazine called Layla which focused on
issues of women's development. The first edition of the magazine was
published on October 15, 1923. The monthly magazine continued its
publications for two years.

Other women magazines emerged until year 1936. The following are some of
women magazines which were published in Iraq. Al Subh magazine published by
Nihad Al Zehawi in year 1936, Fatat Al Iraq (Iraqi Girl) by Hassiba Raji in
1936, Al Mar'aa Al Hadetha (Modern Woman) by Hamdiyaal A'araji in 1936,
Fatat Al Arab (Arab Girl) by Maryam Narmah in 1937, Sawt Al Mar'aa (Woman
Voice) in 1943.

The latest Iraqi women publications are: Shahrazad magazine issued in year
2000, Al Jandar newspaper issued in 2001 by Iraqi Women's Federation, Woman
Bulletin issued in 2001 by Woman Research Unit from Baghdad University for
Women and Afaq magazine issued in 2002 by Iraqi Women's Federation.

World Oil (from AFP), 29th January

The volume of oil exported by Iraq under UN supervision rose last week from
10.8 million to 14 million barrels, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The total was equivalent to 2.0 million barrels a day, the average amount
exported in the UN oil-for-food programme during most of the second half of
last year.

In the week to January 25, there were nine loadings at Iraq's Gulf port of
Mina al-Bakr and two at Ceyhan, on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, the
office administering the 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 slipped from an average 18.65 euros (16.50 dollars) a
barrel to 18.60 euros (16.40 dollars) last week and revenue was estimated at
230 million euros (200 million dollars).

During the week, UN oil overseers approved nine new oil purchase contracts
for the current six-month phase of the oil-for-food programme, which runs
from December 1 to May 29.

A total of 106 contracts, covering 263 million barrels of oil, have so far
been approved for the phase, but Iraq has exported only 78.5 million barrels
for revenue estimated at 1.36 billion euros (11.8 billion dollars).


CNN, 31st January

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department reached a stopgap agreement
Wednesday to give $2.4 million over three months to the leading Iraqi group
working against President Saddam Hussein.

The agreement was based on "a good-faith effort" by the Iraqi National
Congress to deal with weaknesses found by the department's inspector general
in an audit of the INC's accounting system for money it has received from
the United States, said State Department spokeswoman Brenda Greenberg.

The opposition group shares a longtime and unfulfilled U.S. hope to weaken
Saddam's rule. The agreement, reached at the end of daylong negotiations,
also specifies new negotiations for U.S. money for next year.

In the meantime, the inspector general's review of the Congress' accounting
system will continue, Greenberg said.

The Iraqis had been scheduled to lose their financial support Thursday
unless they could convince the State Department that their accounting system
was tracking its funds adequately. The payments are to help the London-based
group in its anti-Saddam activities.

The aid program for the anti-Saddam group was suspended in early January in
a dispute over a system to account for its spending.

Leaders of the opposition group met Wednesday with Undersecretary of State
Marc Grossman. Afterward, Iraqi National Congress spokesman Sharif Ali told
reporters: "We developed some very good ideas."

Additional meetings were planned with Assistant Secretary of State William

Organization leaders also met Wednesday with officials at the Pentagon.
Asked by reporters whether the session indicated an acceleration of military
planning against Saddam, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he was
not involved in the meeting, and it carried no special meaning.

At the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher said: "The inspector
general raised several questions that needed to be addressed." He said care
was necessary when "dealing with taxpayers' money."

Ali said his session with Grossman "was a very fruitful meeting."

The opposition group faced the possibility of losing American financial
support at the end of the month unless it developed an acceptable accounting

In the interim, the National Congress was assured it would receive $500,000
to cover operational costs, department spokesman Richard Boucher said
January 7.

The INC reacted angrily to the suspension, calling it politically motivated.

Spokesman Ali subsequently declared: "Pre-emptive efforts by the Near East
Bureau of the State Department to discredit the INC served no purpose other
than to undermine the U.S. president's declared policy of regime change in

Ali seemed satisfied with developments Wednesday, however, and with
President Bush's State of the Union speech and what it might mean for Iraq.

"We look forward to the day the United States will increase our ability
inside Iraq," he said.

However, Ali said, there was no decision yet on such operations.

As for the organization's accounting system, he said leaders had discussed
some good ideas with Grossman. "It does take time to work out our budget,"
Ali said.

by Jonathan Wright
ABC News. 31st January


An INC delegation, speaking at the State Department after talks on the
auditing problems, welcomed the speech.

"We feel that things are going our way," said the INC spokesman, Sharif Ali
bin al Hussein.

"We were very, very encouraged by the president's speech here yesterday on
Iraq. ... The message was very clear -- that as long as (Iraqi President)
Saddam Hussein's regime supported terrorism ... that the United States would
not tolerate that, and we regard that as a very good position for us," he

Sharif Ali said the United States was not yet ready to finance INC
activities inside Iraq, one of the opposition group's main requests from

"That is something that we will continue to discuss. ... We have no decision
as yet on actions inside Iraq but I think we are encouraged by what was said
today and we look forward to a time when that will be possible," he said.

The delegation met Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc
Grossman and William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near East

The delegation also has appointments with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton, Sharif
Ali said.

Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the INC leadership, said on Tuesday the time had
come for U.S. forces to overthrow Saddam as they overthrew the Taliban in

He said the opposition had 40,000 men under arms in the Kurdish-controlled
north of Iraq but needed U.S. guarantees of protection before they took the

"There is territory (under opposition control). ... This can provide a
significant base for our operations," he told a discussion at the American
Enterprise Institute.

"What can be done in Afghanistan can be done much more easily in Iraq. Given
the opportunity ... the Iraqi people will rise up against the tyrant," added
Sharif Ali.

Critics of the idea say the task in Iraq is far harder than ridding
Afghanistan of the Taliban. Even after its defeat in the 1991 Gulf War, the
Iraqi military has had little trouble defeating uprisings by opposition

Another obstacle is that the Kurdish leaders in control of northern Iraq
have refused to permit military sorties against the Iraqi army until they
are sure Baghdad cannot retaliate.


by Daniel Nelson, OneWorld UK
Yahoo, 1st February

The audience at a forthcoming London talk by the brother of a victim of the
September 11 attack on Washington D.C. will be offered the chance to buy
Iraqi dates as a symbolic way of breaking sanctions against a country
President George W. Bush this week identified, alongside Iran and North
Korea, as part of an "axis of evil."

Anti-sanctions group Voices in the Wilderness plans to auction packs of an
11-ton consignment of dates from Iraq at a public meeting later this month,
when Ryan Amundsen will talk about the death of his brother, Craig Scott, in
the Pentagon. He will emphasize the need for "Justice Not Vengeance", the
central theme of the meeting.

The dates, which sell at around US$7 dollars per pack, were brought out of
Iraq last year by the Italian group Un Ponte per (A Bridge To), a non-profit
organization set up in 1991 to help Iraqi children and innocent people badly
affected by the Gulf War.

Selling or consuming the dates is illegal in Britain and could carry a jail

Last week two members of the European Parliament, Eurig Wyn of the Welsh
nationalist party Plaid Cymru, and Caroline Lucas of Britain's Green Party,
sold some of the dates from a stall at the parliament building in Brussels.

"We oppose sanctions," Wyn said Thursday. "They were imposed to force Saddam
Hussein to allow United Nations inspectors to check on potential
weapons-making plants. They have not worked and have hit the ordinary people
of Iraq hard."

Wyn said the sale had aroused a lot of interest among other
parliamentarians, many of whom had been concerned about the issue since the
United Nations Children's Fund estimated that sanctions had been a factor in
the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

Under the sanctions regime, in place since the Gulf war of 1990-91, only oil
can be imported from Iraq, and that is under the strict supervision of the
UN. The oil revenue is supposed to be used to buy food and other goods for

One of the organizers of the forthcoming London event, Mil Rai, who recently
returned from a visit to Iraq, said sanctions should be scrapped to allow
the economy to be revived. People could then get jobs and money in their

Dates were a symbol of economic revival, said Rai, because they were the
second largest export before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Kathy Kelly of "Voices in the Wilderness" in the United States, who also
visited Iraq recently, said Thursday that she found a sense of resignation
in the country. "Virtually everyone I met expects a massive attack," she

There was little awareness of the continuing impact of sanctions on ordinary
people's lives, she said. "The U.S. public has been exposed primarily to a
cartoon version of good guys and bad guys and of a quick fix solution."

A relative of the main speaker at the anti-sanctions meeting February
21--Craig Scott's widow, Amber--led the "Walk for Healing and Peace" from
Washington to New York last November.

In an article in the Chicago Tribune, Amber told political leaders, "If you
choose to respond to this incomprehensible brutality by perpetuating
violence against other innocent human beings, you may not do so in the name
of justice for my husband."

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