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News, 9-16/2/02 (2) WARMONGERING (contd) * US needs boots on ground for Iraq war * Cheney: Allies Will Back US on Iraq [In detail this turns out to be less definite than the headline would suggest] * US split with allies grows [Guardian again] * Uncle Sam does not need you [Extracts giving views of John Nye (a moderate¹), Charles Krauthammer and Wiliam Kristol (less moderate)] DOUBTS AND QUERIES * Iraq Calls Bush's Bluff on Weapons Scrutiny [by Scott Ritter: Baghdad now has raised the question as to whether U.S. support for inspectors has been merely rhetorical, a verbal foil designed to support the primary policy objective of removing Hussein from power.¹ Though in fact everyone has known the answer to this question for a very long time - long before the weapons inspections stopped. And after weapons inspections, there¹s still the little matter of reparations to keep the sanctions going (all these things that were decided in the truce signed between Iraq and ... who? Norman Schwarzkopf, wasn¹t it? In a bit of a hurry in order to let Saddam¹ back to the business of suppressing the Kurds and Shi¹ites, as I remember.) Actually I don¹t think the Americans actually ever really cared very much about removing Saddam¹. They just wanted to wipe the grin from his face. And so far they haven¹t succeeded. Which is why they¹re going mad.] * Use words, not war, to puncture inflated Iraqi threat [also by Scott Ritter. He argues that its nonsense to say Iraq¹s wmd capacity poses a great threat to the world in general or America in principle; but it would be a good thing if it were checked, so Diplomatic engagement intended to return U.N. inspectors back to Iraq, in exchange for lifting economic sanctions that have punished the people of Iraq but have done nothing to hurt the Iraqi regime, offers a path toward peace and stability that should be vigorously pursued before any act of war.¹] * Bush has no plans to attack Iraq: Schroeder [So that¹s OK] * Russian Defense Minister Warns U.S. [Compendium of international opinion against attack on Iraq. And Ari Fleischer¹s response. Which is to say, so what? And given the generally craven nature of what passes for international opinion¹, we can hardly blame him.] * Bush govt planting seeds of its own undoing [The gist of this is that the Americans are no longer even remotely pretending to have any interest in or concern for international law¹: "We all have to start using the 'H' word - hegemony - now to describe US policy," says Michael Klare, a national-security expert at Hampshire College in Massachusetts.¹] * Chrétien cautions U.S. against targeting Iraq; Putin backs PM in seeking limits to terrorism war [in international politics, before you invade a sovereign country, there has to be a process or else there is international chaos," Graham (Canadian Foreign Affairs secretary) said.¹ He doesn¹t seem to have noticed Panama, Nicaragua, Serbia ...] * The Right Has Put W On Wrong Warpath * Straw warns against early attack on Iraq EMBARGO * Iran informs UN it tried to intercept contraband Iraqi oil [Shame on Iran] * Ship suspected of running Iraqi oil seized [Shame on Canada] * Sanctions discussed [The article makes plain what we all know to be the case that the US is using its power to impose holds on goods to Iraq, without having to justify its decisions, as a means of exercising pressure on Russia. And no-one complains?] * U.S. Avoids Confronting Syrians on Iraqi Oil [This article makes the observation - interesting if true - that the US has given up on the idea of tightening border controls on Iraq as part of the smart sanctions¹ deal. They know that Iraq¹s neighbours won¹t wear it. Since this was the most objectionable part of the smart sanctions deal it leaves me wondering if its still worth opposing it. What is left, though far from what is needed, might still be an improvement on the existing system of sanctions.] http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3F620HQXC&liv e=true&tagid=ZZZOMSJK30C&subheading=US * US NEEDS BOOTS ON GROUND FOR IRAQ WAR by Alexander Nicoll Financial Times, 15th February A war against Iraq could require mobilisation of US air power and ground troops on an even greater scale than for the 1991 Gulf war. Colin Powell, secretary of state, this week denied military action was imminent. Defence experts believe him. But they say General Tommy Franks, who heads the US command responsible for the Gulf region, would have drawn up plans in case President George W. Bush wanted them. Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, says Lt Gen Paul T. Mikolashek, commander of the US Third Army, has had his headquarters in Kuwait since December. The Third Army would play an important role in a war against Iraq, and Kuwait would be the main launchpad for a ground action. In a campaign against Iraq, Mr Heyman says, "you would have to put boots on the ground". US forces have kept a substantial presence in Kuwait since 1991. Building up to another war, however, would take time - just as it did before the Gulf war, when five months were needed to assemble half a million troops and their equipment for the more limited task of retaking Kuwait. Defence experts say the US would need to be prepared to deploy at least as many troops, and to support them for a long time - a formidable challenge in terms of logistics, transport, personnel and training , even for the US. The military strategy is predictable, based on the evidence of the Gulf war, Bosnia, Kosovo and especially Afghanistan. It would involve an air campaign, support for elements hostile to President Saddam Hussein, and - eventually - ground forces. Professor Michael Clarke of the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College, London, said that if political constraints were ignored, "it's a reasonably straightforward staff college exercise". After Iraq's command structure and air defences had been weakened by bombing, US troops would carry out a pincer movement from Kuwait and Turkey. Initially, the US would be more aggressive in patrolling the southern and northern no-fly zones. Efforts to knock out air defences and surface-to-air missile sites would be stepped up. Meanwhile, Washington would try to build a coalition and to orchestrate a diplomatic confrontation over Iraq's refusal to admit United Nations weapons inspectors to look for evidence that it is developing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and the means of delivering them. This could be difficult, with allies in Europe and elsewhere worried about US "unilateralism". Bill Graham, Canada's foreign minister, said: "Nobody is supporting Saddam Hussein, but everyone recognises in international politics you have to have a process where, before you invade a sovereign country, there has to be a reason for it, or we are going to lead to international chaos." The US had not shown that Iraq was linked with the September 11 attacks or was planning to use weapons of mass destruction, he said. Support in the Gulf for US military action would be limited, with Saudi Arabia probably reluctant to allow use of its bases for another war on Iraq, given that the apparent trigger for Osama bin Laden's fury with Saudi rulers was the US use of Saudi soil in 1991. Turkey could also be unwilling. This means the US may have to operate almost entirely alone. As with Afghanistan, it would have to use remote air bases such as Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Cyprus or possibly central Asia, or the UK. Naval forces would be massed in the Gulf. A full-scale campaign would begin with a massive air assault, similar to the Gulf war when coalition aircraft flew more than 1,000 sorties on the first night and continued to pound Iraq for five weeks. Command and control bunkers, government buildings, military installations, barracks, air defences and radar sites would be attacked with remotely fired precision weapons such as cruise missiles and satellite-guided bombs. Intelligence would be vital. US satellites will have gathered a huge bank of data on Iraqi sites over the past 12 years. The next phase would depend on the extent to which US commanders felt there were pockets of opposition to Mr Saddam that they wished to exploit, as they did with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. If so, special forces soldiers could be inserted as military advisers to try to marshal military forces to help topple Mr Saddam. However, the Iraqi National Congress, which some US politicians want to foster, has suffered setbacks and defections since it was formed in Vienna in 1992. The US could be wary of identifying itself too closely with Kurdish factions in the north or marsh Arabs in the south. Finally - and as a last resort - the US could launch a ground offensive, involving several hundred thousand troops who perhaps would have to occupy the country for some time. Iraq has 424,000 men under arms and about 650,000 reserves, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. After the devastation wrought on Iraqi armoured forces by Apache tank-killing helicopters in 1991, Iraqi troops would be well aware of the might arrayed against them. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/bw-wh/2002/feb/15/021508977.html * CHENEY: ALLIES WILL BACK US ON IRAQ [In detail this turns out to be less definite than the headline would suggest] Las Vegas Sun, 15th February WASHINGTON- Vice President Dick Cheney, vowing to "use all the means at our disposal," said Friday he believes U.S. allies would support aggressive action against Iraq and other rogue nations to fight terrorism. Cheney said Iraq is "very much of concern" to President Bush and one of the focuses of the U.S. war against terrorism because of its drive to develop weapons of mass destruction and its past support of terrorists. "Not only do they have a robust set of programs to develop their own weapons of mass destruction, this is a place that's used it," said Cheney, who was defense secretary during the 1990-91 Gulf War. During a question and answer session before the Council on Foreign Relations, Cheney spoke bluntly about both Iraq and Iran, the two nations along with North Korea that Bush singled out last month in his State of the Union address as representing an "axis of evil." A questioner told Cheney that there seemed to be a growing consensus in Washington that the time was coming to take on Iraq. He asked the vice president how the administration planned to overcome international objections to a more aggressive U.S. policy against Iraq. Cheney said that the administration intended a multifaceted approach against terror with some of it "visible and public" like the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan and some of it not. "Other aspects of it may never see the light of day - probably shouldn't," Cheney said. "You're clearly going to have to deal in the shadows to some extent on some of these areas." But in pursuing the fight against terrorism, Cheney said the administration planned to "use all the means at our disposal, meaning military, diplomatic, intelligence, et cetera to address these concerns." Cheney said while the administration does not talk about what future actions it might take, "I think if aggressive action is required, I would anticipate there would be the appropriate support for that, both from the American people and the international community." Bush has asked his advisers and various agencies, including the military, for a wide-ranging review to develop options for dealing with Iraq. After months of avoiding public appearances, Cheney plans a 10-day trip in March to 10 states in the Gulf region and Middle East. On Iran, Cheney said that the country's "conduct in recent weeks has not been encouraging." Early in the U.S. war on terrorism, American officials spoke of better cooperation with Iran after it tacitly approved their campaign to topple the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan. But recently, U.S. officials have accused Tehran of trying to undermine Afghanistan's new government and of smuggling weapons to the Palestinians. Iran has denied involvement in the arms shipment. "I've been deeply disappointed in the conduct of the government of Iran," Cheney said. He cited Iran's apparent commitment to destroy the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and "unstinting efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction." Cheney said he hoped the Iranian government of President Mohammad Khatami "would understand the strength of our feelings" and that both sides could find a way to resolve U.S. concerns. He also added that "there is a great yearning on the part of the Iranian people to restore and re-establish relationships with the U.S. and the West." U.S. officials reacted skeptically to a report from Tehran on Thursday that Iranian authorities have arrested some 150 people and are questioning them about possible links to the Taliban or al-Qaida. CIA Director George J. Tenet said last week that Tehran has failed "to move decisively against al-Qaida members who have relocated to Iran from Afghanistan." http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,650599,00.html * US SPLIT WITH ALLIES GROWS by Julian Borger The Guardian, 15th February A senior Pentagon adviser confirmed last night that the US was prepared to topple Saddam Hussein with or without the backing of Washington's allies, despite a chorus of criticism from around the world. Richard Perle, the chairman of the defence policy board and an influential Washington hawk, made the defiant remarks in an interview with Channel 4 News amid increasingly clear signs that the Pentagon and CIA are preparing to remove Saddam. Mr Perle said: "Naturally, we hope that our friends who recognise the danger that he presents to us will join with us." He added: "But I think this president has made it clear that if it comes to a choice between action to protect the American people without allies or [with] allies but no action, we'll go without allies." Mr Perle is on the extreme hawkish wing in Washington, but since a war cabinet decision was taken in principle to eliminate Saddam's regime in January, other members of the administration have echoed the hawks' unilateralist tone. The secretary of state, Colin Powell, said US allies would be consulted when a decision was made on how to force a change of regime in Baghdad, but he added "we have to preserve the option to act alone". However, Chris Patten, the EU's external affairs commissioner, who criticised US policy in the Guardian on Saturday, returned to the fray yesterday, saying that the US "instinct" for unilateralism was profoundly misguided. He told the Financial Times the US success in Afghanistan "has perhaps reinforced some dangerous instincts: that the projection of military power is the only basis of security; that the US can rely on no one but itself; and that allies may be useful as an optional extra". The Canadian foreign minister, Bill Graham, who met Mr Powell in Washington yesterday, added his voice to the expressions of concern from Europe and criticised the bellicose tone he had found within the US administration. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, also warned the US. "We know which nations' representatives and citizens were fighting alongside the Taliban and where their activities were financed from," he said. "Iraq is not on this list." In Britain, a spokesman for Tony Blair did not "rule out" action against Saddam but the point had not yet been reached where it should be taken. "In relation to Baghdad, we agree that the regime there is one of the most abhorrent in the world and share concerns about Baghdad's support for terrorism and desire to develop weapons of mass destruction," he continued. "We do not rule out action if the regime oversteps the mark but we are not at that stage yet." US and diplomatic sources have said that the Pentagon and the CIA had begun preparations for overt and covert action against Saddam in anticipation of an Iraqi refusal to allow weapons inspectors back into the country in May. http://www.smh.com.au/news/0202/16/review/review5.html * UNCLE SAM DOES NOT NEED YOU by Gay Alcorn. Sydney Morning Herald, 16th February [.....] John Nye, the dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, believes there was a fleeting revival of multilateralism after September 11 when the US quickly agreed to pay the $US1.67 billion it owed the United Nations, and the Senate rushed to confirm the Ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, whose appointment had been held up for six months. Bush's father, former President George Bush, said on September 14 that just as Pearl Harbour had awakened Americans to the idea that they could not avoid World War II, "so too should this most recent surprise attack erase the concept in some quarters that America can somehow go it alone in the fight against terrorism or in anything else for that matter". But the moment - and the father's gentle rebuke to some in his son's Administration - soon passed. "The military success in Afghanistan," said Nye, "encouraged a number of people to believe that essentially we did it ourselves. The Brits helped a bit, but it was basically an American action, and that gave resurgence to the unilateralist idea. It has definitely swung back." Nye is no unilateralist - his new book is The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go it Alone - but he understands the instinct. The unilateralists worry about the "flagging of internal will and confusion of goals", and want as a main aim the ousting of dangerous regimes in Iraq, North Korea, Iran and elsewhere. They see the US's hegemony as a force for peace in the world, because it is well intentioned and "benign", and because its values of democracy and freedom are universal. They believe America should fight to remain the world's lone superpower because that is in America's, and the world's, best interests. Nye worries that such views reek of "hubris and arrogance". Influential conservatives such as Charles Krauthammer are triumphant now. For them, the "coalition" in Afghanistan was more political than strategic, and the coalition partners did what they were told. "We made tough bilateral deals with useful neighbours: Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia," Krauthammer wrote. "The Brits and the Australians added a sprinkling of guys on the ground risking their lives and we will always be grateful for their solidarity. But everyone knows whose war this is. The essence of unilateralism is that we do not allow others, no matter how well-meaning, to deter us from pursing the fundamental security interests of the US and the free world. It is the driving motif of the Bush foreign policy. And that is the reason it has been so successful." Although he differs from Krauthammer in his emphasis on co-operation with allies, William Kristol is equally delighted with the mood in Washington. Kristol was chief of staff to former vice-president Dan Quayle, and is now editor of the widely respected conservative magazine The Weekly Standard. In 1997, at the height of Clinton's multilateral rhetoric, he established the Project for the New American Century, a think tank that supported a proud American imperialism. America was a colossus militarily, economically and culturally, and it shouldn't be ashamed of it, went the thinking. It should use the opportunity to do good, spreading democracy and human rights, and overturning regimes such Saddam's in Iraq. "The President has chosen to build a new world," Kristol told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. That went beyond rooting out Al-Qaeda terrorist cells. Not for Bush, said Kristol admiringly, was the status quo world of "containing" Iraq, of dealing with North Korea as a proliferation problem, of the "realist" view that the character of regimes did not matter. Kristol believes the foreign policy shift is revolutionary. "The Bush Doctrine rests on a revived commitment to the principles of liberal democracy and the restoration of American military power." Kristol, and many other conservatives, believes Bush has revived Reagan's Republican Party, with a moral underpinning to his foreign policy, and his "distinctly American internationalism", as Kristol puts it. Nye is an influential thinker who introduced the notion of "soft power" as opposed to "hard" military and economic power. Soft power is America's cultural power, the reach of its media and film industries, the influence of its values and the example of its prosperity. He worries about the Administration's renewed emphasis on military power alone to achieve its objectives, and argues that to solve terrorism and the conditions that breed it requires an acknowledgement of the role of "soft" power. Instead, the US has slashed foreign aid budgets, cut State Department spending on diplomacy, and largely paid lip service to encouraging democracies, which are the best protection against terrorism. [.....] DOUBTS AND QUERIES http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la 000010235feb10.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dcomment%2Dopinions * IRAQ CALLS BUSH'S BLUFF ON WEAPONS SCRUTINY by Scott Ritter Los Angeles Times, 10th February [Baghdad now has raised the question as to whether U.S. support for inspectors has been merely rhetorical, a verbal foil designed to support the primary policy objective of removing Hussein from power.¹ Though in fact everyone has known the answer to this question for a very long time - long before the weapons inspections stopped. And after weapons inspections, there¹s still the little matter of reparations to keep the sanctions going (all these things that were decided in the truce signed between Iraq and ... who? Norman Schwarzkopf, wasn¹t it? And actually I don¹t think the Amercians actually ever really cared very much about removing Saddam¹. They just wanted to wipe the grin from his face. And so far they haven¹t succeded. Which is why they¹re going mad.] The past week has seen an unprecedented diplomatic offensive on the part of Iraq. This appears to be driven by the harsh rhetoric emanating from the Bush administration since the president's identification of Iraq as an integral part of an "axis of evil." Whether or not Iraq is sincere, Baghdad's burst of diplomacy appears to be designed to derail a drive for war from within the Bush administration that has been gaining momentum at a startling rate. Iraq has dispatched representatives to Europe, Russia, China and the Arab world to distance itself from President Bush's characterization of it as evil and to discourage the war like undertones of such a label. These efforts have borne instant fruit. The "axis of evil" formulation has been criticized in almost every corner of the world as ill-conceived and counterproductive. There was, however, one issue that caused trouble for Iraq: the return of United Nations weapons inspectors. The focus by Bush on the matter of weapons inspections prior to his State of the Union address resonated in many capitals around the globe, even those sympathetic to Iraq or overtly opposed to renewed military conflict. The ambiguities that exist concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs are troubling. The shadow cast by Sept. 11, combined with the specter of weapons of mass destruction, made the issue of the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq suddenly relevant. Russia, China and Turkey all have urged Baghdad to allow the inspectors back to work. Iraq was cool to these overtures until, in a stunning recent reversal, Baghdad communicated to the U.N. secretary general its willingness to engage in discussions on the matter. In so doing, Iraq has exposed the Achilles' heel of Washington's policy: Is the U.S. truly serious about weapons inspections? While Iraq has stated that it has set no preconditions for any discussions regarding inspectors, it is widely recognized in the United Nations that the issue of economic sanctions is firmly linked to weapons inspections. Any discussion of sanctions is the last thing the Bush administration would want. Economic sanctions have been the cornerstone of a policy of containment pursued by three consecutive administrations. Sanctions are essential to Bush's plan to destabilize and eventually overthrow Saddam Hussein. The resumption of serious weapons inspections would, by their very nature, open the door for the eventual lifting of the sanctions, which in turn would signal an end of containment. This could mean the de facto recognition that Hussein would retain power. Such a process certainly flies in the face of the strong language of confrontation coming from such proponents of the Hussein regime's removal as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Sens. Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Joe Biden. The Iraqi diplomatic offensive has thrown the administration into a quandary. Although the Iraqi offer was given short shrift by Secretary of State Colin Powell, the machinery of international diplomacy has been actively engaged and will prove hard to stop. By showing a willingness to discuss the issue of inspectors, Iraq has trumped those who have maintained that Hussein would never permit their return. Baghdad now has raised the question as to whether U.S. support for inspectors has been merely rhetorical, a verbal foil designed to support the primary policy objective of removing Hussein from power. How the Bush administration answers this new challenge will do much to shape the nature of any global support for future actions against Hussein. Scott Ritter, a former U.N. weapons inspector, is the author of "Endgame: Solving the Iraqi Problem, Once and For All" (Simon & Schuster, 1999). http://www.sunspot.net/news/opinion/oped/bal op.iraq11feb11.story?coll=bal%2Doped%2Dheadlines * USE WORDS, NOT WAR, TO PUNCTURE INFLATED IRAQI THREAT by Scott Ritter Baltimore Sun, 11th February ALBANY, N.Y. - The recent statement by Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri that Iraq was not opposed to dialogue with the United States has gone mostly unreported, largely because there seems to be no desire on the part of the Bush administration for a diplomatic resolution to the rapidly worsening crisis with Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, prefers bombing to dialogue. Richard Perle, an assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan, together with James Woolsey, former CIA director under President Bill Clinton, have undertaken a concerted public relations campaign to lobby for a U.S.-led military attack to oust Saddam Hussein. They have been joined by Richard Butler and Charles Duelfer, the former executive chairman and deputy, respectively, of the U.N. Special Commission, or UNSCOM, that oversaw the disarming of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs from 1991 to 1998. Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and, most recently, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York have spoken out in strong support for immediate military action to topple Hussein. To hear the proponents of war tell it, the Iraqi regime presents a clear and present risk to U.S. national security. This thinking is accepted at face value by major U.S. media outlets with barely a token effort to dig deeper into the actual state of affairs in Iraq. Such terms as "grave," "imminent," "dire" and now "axis" conjure up images of the Japanese fleet cruising off the coast of Hawaii or German Panzer divisions charging across Europe. However, no comparable threat like these exists. Iraq today is, by all accounts, a "defanged tiger" in terms of conventional military force. Its status as a "state sponsor of terror" hinges on Baghdad's continuing to harbor Palestinian terrorists, its sponsorship of a Marxist Iranian opposition army and a plot to assassinate President George H.W. Bush in 1993. All of the above are offensive activities that the United States rightly condemned. But none of these constitutes a clear and present danger to America or the American way of life. The remaining issue often cited as a war-worthy threat is Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. The programs, outlawed by a U.N. Security Council resolution in 1991, were tracked down and largely dismantled by U.N. weapons inspectors from 1991 to 1998. But the final disposition of the programs remains unresolved since the departure of the inspectors from Iraq in 1998. While it is impossible to know what, if anything, has transpired inside Iraq since 1998, the lack of knowledge does not constitute a justification for war. When one takes into account the considerable level of disarmament achieved by the United Nations in Iraq - more than 90 percent of Iraq's WMD programs were dismantled, according to Rolf Ekeus, who headed the U.N. weapons inspections from 1991 to 1997 - the picture of Iraq's WMD capabilities becomes less threatening. Yet, according to the rhetoric put forth by those lobbying for war, Baghdad continues to pose a threat similar to those of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. A war with Iraq without the cover of international legality, such as the invocation of Article 51 of the right to self-defense outlined in the U.N. Charter, might well succeed militarily, but it would be a political defeat. International condemnation would be widespread, with the resultant anti-U.S. sentiment encouraging the emergence of more al-Qaida-like terrorists. While Iraq's WMD programs may not pose an immediate threat to U.S. and regional security, they remain a concern. Diplomatic engagement intended to return U.N. inspectors back to Iraq, in exchange for lifting economic sanctions that have punished the people of Iraq but have done nothing to hurt the Iraqi regime, offers a path toward peace and stability that should be vigorously pursued before any act of war. If President Bush is serious about the resumption of U.N.-led weapons inspections, he should instruct Secretary of State Colin Powell to pick up the phone and give Baghdad a call. Mr. Sabri is waiting and willing to talk, so we should call his bluff before getting mired in a bloody and costly war. Scott Ritter is a former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq and currently is a contributing analyst for Fox News Network. He lives in Albany, N.Y. http://www1.timesofindia.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=604841 * BUSH HAS NO PLANS TO ATTACK IRAQ: SCHROEDER Times of India (from AP), 11th February BERLIN: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said President George W. Bush has told him the United States has no intention of attacking Iraq, despite naming the country as part of an "axis of evil" and warning Saddam Hussein to allow UN inspectors back in to check for weapons of mass destruction. In remarks published today by a German newspaper, Schroeder did not say when Bush gave him the assurance, but the German leader appeared to refer to a meeting he had with Bush at the White House on Jan 31. Schroeder was replying to the question of whether his professed solidarity with the United States since the Sept. 11 terror attacks would extend to actions against Iran, Iraq and North Korea - countries Bush named as an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union speech last month. "We all know the language used differs," Schroeder said. "Bush told me that he harbours no attack plans. I am relying on that." The reply illustrated growing friction between European leaders and Washington over ther next steps in the war on terrorism and how jittery some US allies in Europe and Asia are about Bush's combative stance. There was no immediate comment from the White House. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-eur/2002/feb/11/021100461.html * RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER WARNS U.S. Las Vegas Sun, 11th February MOSCOW (AP) - Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov warned the United States on Monday against expanding the war on terrorism to other nations without absolute proof of their involvement in terror activities - and approval from the U.N. Security Council. The stern warning came shortly after a similar admonition from President Vladimir Putin about Iraq, which Russian leaders fear may become the next target in the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign. Russia has close ties to Iraq and has repeatedly warned Washington against taking on Baghdad, saying it would break apart the coalition that formed after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States. "There was no doubt as to who was masterminding terrorist acts all over the world and not only in the United States," Ivanov said, referring to Osama bin Laden, who was being harbored by the Taliban in Afghanistan. But for the United States to justify an attack on another nation, there must be "incontrovertible evidence and a corresponding resolution from the U.N. Security Council," Ivanov said. "Without that ... there can be no attack," Ivanov told reporters after meeting with the defense minister of Afghanistan's interim government, Mohammed Fahim. Russia has found itself in an awkward position since President Bush declared Iraq, Iran and North Korea part of an "axis of evil" and hinted they might be future targets of the anti terror campaign. Russia has supported the war in Afghanistan, but it has close ties with all three nations identified by Bush. Putin, in an interview Monday in The Wall Street Journal, said the situation in Iraq was different from Afghanistan and that any attack would be subject to approval from the U.N. Security Council, where Russia has veto power. He also objected to Bush's "axis of evil" characterization. "We oppose the drawing up of black lists," Putin said. He admitted Iraq presented a "problem," but said, "Such problems cannot be solved by one country alone." European allies, Arab nations and even NATO have expressed concern about U.S. plans for the anti-terror campaign and have said they would not necessarily support military attacks on Iraq. In NATO-member Turkey, whose volatile stock market has plunged nearly 20 percent in the past week amid fears of an attack on neighboring Iraq, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit nervously warned against such an attack. "We don't want a military action against Iraq," Ecevit said, his hand fidgeting at a hastily called news conference. Turkey was a launching pad for strikes against Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War. Several Russian officials have warned the United States against searching for an excuse to attack Iraq. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told U.S. officials this month that Washington should work with Moscow to "identify dangers, real dangers rather than imaginary" ones. In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday that the Bush administration plans to continue working with Russia - including in the U.S. effort to revamp U.N. sanctions against Iraq to impede its capability to develop weapons. But Fleischer suggested Moscow's warnings about expanding the war were causing little concern in the White House. "From the very beginning, the president has made clear that different coalitions will be formed with different nations for different objectives," Fleischer said. "The president knows that on some issues, he'll have the support of many nations. On others, he'll have the support of a differing number of nations." http://www.dawn.com/2002/02/12/int20.htm * BUSH GOVT PLANTING SEEDS OF ITS OWN UNDOING [The gist of this is that the Americans are no longer even remotely pretending to have any interest in or concern for international law¹: "We all have to start using the 'H' word - hegemony - now to describe US policy," says Michael Klare, a national-security expert at Hampshire College in Massachusetts.¹] by Jim Lobe Dawn, 12th February, 28 Ziqa'ad 1422 WASHINGTON: Five months after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, President George W. Bush appears more determined than ever to forge a new world order based on unrivalled US military power. But a growing number of voices, here and abroad, are expressing concern that his administration has not only failed to think through the implications but may also, by the very aggressiveness with which it pursues its "war on terrorism", be planting the seeds of its own undoing. That Bush's aim is US hegemony, at least with respect to Eurasia, appears increasingly accepted abroad, if not quite yet at home. It was, after all, the explicit premise of a strategy paper drafted in 1992 by the current Deputy Secretary of Defence, Paul Wolfowitz, and Vice President Dick Cheney's national-security adviser, I. Lewis Libby. While the paper was substantially toned down after it was leaked to the press ten years ago, there is no evidence that either Wolfowitz or Libby or their bosses, whose influence within the administration has risen sharply over the last three months, have changed their views. "We all have to start using the 'H' word - hegemony - now to describe US policy," says Michael Klare, a national-security expert at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Since Sept 11, the administration has given notice in a number of ways that foreign nations should adjust to a world in which Washington will simply not suffer constraints on its power or freedom of action. Its withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, widely seen as the cornerstone of nuclear arms control, was only a first step, albeit near-nirvana for the staunch unilateralists on the far right and neo-conservative wings of the Republican Party. Step two came with the announcement that Washington was ready to deploy, or was already deploying, Special Operations Forces (SOF) units far and wide - to the Philippines, Somalia, and Yemen - to help local forces fight or capture suspected Al Qaeda associates or even local bandits. Steps three and four came two weeks ago with the release of Bush's proposed 2003 budget and his State of the Union address in which he re-defined the war on terrorism to include the newly-coined "axis of evil" - Iraq, Iran, and North Korea - states alleged to have ties with terrorists and to be building weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Bush's budget called for a virtual freeze on all federal spending in order to finance a whopping 14 per cent increase in defence spending which, at $331 billion this year, was already greater than the combined defence budgets of the next nine most militarily powerful nations. He also made clear that next year's increase would be just the first. Similarly, Bush's declarations about pre-emptive defence against the new "axis of evil" as the next stage in the war against terror confirmed what had already become clear: in the admiring words of Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, "to seek support for more war - far wider, larger and more risky." The anti-terrorism war has become an open-ended struggle, presumably justifying - with virtually no public debate to date - military intervention from the Philippines to Somalia, the threat of imminent war from Baghdad to Pyongyang, and record increases in the defence budget that has thrown the federal treasury into deficit. And this is just the beginning, according to the administration. But the question which is beginning to percolate up into policy circles in Washington is whether this strategy is even remotely sustainable, driven, as it is now, primarily by the lingering trauma of Sept 11, the virtually effortless ouster of the Taliban government, and Bush's stratospheric standing in the public-opinion polls. For most of the past two decades, those same polls have consistently shown that the public rejects by a substantial margin the notion that Washington should act as the "world's policeman" or even as the "first among equals" in international affairs. In that respect, Bush's policy and the current mood represent a serious aberration. Remarkably, such views are being expressed less by Democrats, who by and large remain unwilling to take on the president in foreign policy at the moment, than by moderate Republicans who this week began publicly questioning where the administration is taking the country. Similarly, voices are being raised about the costs of Bush's grand strategy, particularly given evidence of continued weakness in the economy and the projected deficits which increased defence spending will create. "There really is a question of imperial overstretch here," says Klare. "I don't think they've thought through how much this is really going to cost to maintain."-Dawn/InterPress Service. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1013727733585&call_page=TS_World&call_pageid=96833218 8854&call_pagepath=News/World&col=968350060724 * CHRÉTIEN CAUTIONS U.S. AGAINST TARGETING IRAQ; PUTIN BACKS PM IN SEEKING LIMITS TO TERRORISM WAR by Tim Harper The Star (Toronto), 15th February MOSCOW Prime Minister Jean Chrétien says Canada opposes any move by the United States to expand the current terrorism fight to Iraq or other countries. Canada is fully committed to the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, but "it's a different problem" if the conflict is extended to other countries, Chrétien said yesterday after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin. In his strongest statements yet about suggestions that Washington wants to expand its war on terrorism, Chrétien said: "If there are other problems elsewhere, we will look at every case on a one-by-one basis, but at the moment we're not implicated in any plans for Iraq or for other nations." Chrétien joined the Russian leader in cautioning against any move by U.S. President George W. Bush, saying Ottawa is comfortable as a member of the American-led coalition in Afghanistan but has no stomach for backing U.S. strikes in other countries. Putin said the world has an extensive list of the states involved in sponsoring and fostering terrorism. "Iraq is not on that list," he said bluntly. Bush has hinted in recent weeks that the U.S. might try to build an international coalition for its fight against Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which he called an "axis of evil." Moscow, while supportive of the Bush-led global war on terrorism, has cast a wary eye on Washington's threats to expand the campaign. Chrétien and Putin spoke to reporters at the palatial St. Vladimir's Hall in the Kremlin and both issued a strong note of caution to Washington. Chrétien said Canada has backed United Nations efforts to monitor weapons production by Iraq. "The question of the production of unacceptable armament in Iraq is a problem that is ... under the authority of the United Nations and it is completely different than the problem of terrorism," Chrétien added. Chrétien, his wife Aline, and Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, met privately after an extended trade meeting which included Canadian premiers and territorial leaders and Russian regional leaders, cabinet ministers and the mayor of Moscow. The meetings took place on the first full day of a so-called Team Canada business mission in Russia, headed by Chrétien. The Canadians head to Germany next week. Meanwhile in Washington yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham agreed to disagree on Iraq. In a meeting at the U.S. State Department, Graham forcefully noted that Canada does not support unilateral U.S. action against Iraq. "Nobody is supporting Saddam Hussein. But in international politics, before you invade a sovereign country, there has to be a process or else there is international chaos," Graham said. He said the case against Iraq should be made through the U.N. and before any military action is taken, there needs to be proof that Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction or that Iraq had clear ties to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. If the latter were proved, "that would certainly cause us to look at what measures would need to be taken along with the U.S.," Graham noted. Powell said Bush has made no decision with respect to any military action. "But we continue to believe in a regime change in Iraq to benefit the people of the region and the stability of the region," he told reporters. "We will take steps to act alone if necessary, as the president has noted, but the (war against terrorism) coalition is not breaking up... in my view it's getting stronger." Powell said concerns raised by Chrétien and Putin in Moscow do not mean they are at odds with U.S. policy. He said the Bush administration will work with both countries on new "smart sanctions" against Iraq to be in place by May. If Iraq does not adhere to those new conditions by May, "then the Iraqis at that point will have no one else to blame but themselves" for the fallout, Powell said. Putin made it clear Russia sees no need for any sabre-rattling directed at Iraq. "We are well aware of the citizens and subjects of what states do participate in the Taliban movement in Afghanistan with arms in their hands and we do know who funded those activities," Putin said. But he said he was aware that other countries, including Canada, had problems with Iraq and said Russia was actively working with the U.N. Security Council to resolve the problem of access to the country by U.N. arms inspectors seeking evidence of a stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction in Baghdad. "The question of the production of unacceptable armaments in Iraq is a problem which is under the authority of the United Nations," Chrétien said, "and it is completely different than the problem with terrorism." Chrétien also said the terrorism fight must be waged multilaterally. To go it alone, the Prime Minister said, would lead nowhere. All premiers except British Columbia's Gordon Campbell have accompanied the Prime Minister on this mission. Quebec's Bernard Landry arrived a day late, landing just before the wreath-laying ceremony, after dealing with a crisis at home, following the resignation of his natural resources minister Gilles Baril. Mike Harris is here representing Ontario. http://www.nydailynews.com/2002-02-14/News_and_Views/Opinion/a-141308.asp * THE RIGHT HAS PUT W ON WRONG WARPATH by Chris Matthews New York Daily News, 14th February A month ago, I knew exactly why we were fighting. You knew exactly why we were fighting. We were getting the killers of Sept. 11 before they could get us again. What happened to that gutsy war of bringing the World Trade Center and Pentagon killers to justice? Who hijacked that clear-eyed, all-American front of September-to-January and left our leaders mouthing this "axis of evil" line? Who hijacked the firefighters' war of righteous outrage and got us now reciting this mantra about Iran, Iraq and North Korea, of all places? Let me lay it out for you. Before this year's State of the Union address, America was doing what we'd set out to do: Bring the killers to justice or justice to the killers. Since Jan. 29, we seem to have lost our way. A presidency that found a fresh voice surrounded by New York firefighters now speaks in the practiced lingo of D.C. ideologues. In place of the streetcorner straight talk, we have President Bush talking about some "axis of evil" extending from Tehran to Pyongyang. We're watching Secretary of State Powell pledge "regime change" in Baghdad. Who's writing this script? A coterie of neoconservative thinkers led by Weekly Standard publisher William Kristol and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Out of the ashes of Sept. 11, they and their rightist associates found what they've long yearned for: an American government heading toward war in the Middle East. They have diverted the hunt for Osama Bin Laden much as the Crusades of a millennium ago were diverted from saving the Holy Land to idiotic conquests of Belgrade, Constantinople and any number of targets along the way. Kristol and Wolfowitz have been wanting this for a long time. "We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding," they demanded in an open letter to then-President Bill Clinton in January 1998. They urged him to use his State of the Union address to back "the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime." Kristol and his unmerry band could hardly have expected Clinton to accept their help in toppling Saddam, given Kristol's upfront role in trashing Hillary Clinton's 1994 national health-care scheme. In January 2001, though, Kristol and Wolfowitz had a new President to recruit. And Sept. 11 gave Kristol a new opening. "Any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq," he wrote in an open letter to Bush on Sept. 20. On Oct. 1, Kristol used his Weekly Standard to resume the drumbeat. "Evidence that Iraq may have aided in the horrific attacks of Sept. 11 is beginning to accumulate." On Jan. 26, Weekly Standard writer David Frum, now a speechwriter for Bush, authored the term "axis of evil." With Kristol working the outside and Wolfowitz on the inside, the campaign against Saddam was officially on mark. Finally, a President was speaking from the script. What good has it done? It has scared the hell out of the South Koreans, who wonder if the nuts in the North will use the "axis" language to cross the 38th parallel. It has driven Iran's President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate, into the arms of the zealots and sent millions of Iranians into the streets with shouts of "Death to America." It has given Saddam a golden chance to pledge support for Iran. It has driven a wedge between the U.S. and Russia, with President Vladimir Putin railing against global "blacklists." Worse yet, it has robbed America of its No. 1 priority: bringing justice to the killers of Sept. 11. I don't write open letters to Presidents. But if you're reading this column, Mr. Bush, please stop listening to the Washington Beltway intellectuals and start recalling the cause of the New York firefighters. Don't let what happened to the last crusade happen to this one. http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3EYV3EQXC&liv e=true&tagid=ZZZPB7GUA0C&subheading=UK * STRAW WARNS AGAINST EARLY ATTACK ON IRAQ by Andrew Parker Financial Times, 15th February Britain on Friday signalled its opposition to early military action against Iraq because of concerns that it could destabilise the international coalition against terrorism. George W. Bush, the US president, has fuelled speculation about early action after he denounced Iraq in his State of the Union address. But Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, said efforts to rein in Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq, were being pursued at a diplomatic level. "You only take military action where there is overwhelming evidence pointing in that direction and you are convinced there is no alternative," he told the BBC. Britain has repeatedly stressed there is no evidence linking Iraq to the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The UK is concerned that precipitate military action would alienate moderate Arab countries that had co-operated in the campaign against terrorism, particularly given the breakdown of the peace process between the Israel and Palestine. Mr Straw tried to avoid a row with the US by insisting that Britain shared Washington's analysis of Saddam Hussein, and its desire to be rid of him. "The threat posed by Saddam Hussein is a very very serious threat," he said. "For the moment what we are doing is pursuing this matter at a diplomatic level." Mr Straw said Britain had not closed off any options for dealing with Iraq, but insisted it was too soon to discuss the use of force. The foreign secretary was speaking in Kabul, before talks with Hamid Karzai, leader of Aghanistan's interim administration. Mr Straw arrived in the country just after the murder of Abdul Rahman, the aviation minister. [.....] EMBARGO http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/20151233.htm * IRAN INFORMS UN IT TRIED TO INTERCEPT CONTRABAND IRAQI OIL United Nations, Feb 9, IRNA -- Tehran has informed the United Nations it had tried to intercept an Iraqi tanker carrying smuggled oil in the Persian Gulf. Iranian Ambassador to the UN Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian announced the report in a letter addressed to the UN committee in charge of supervising the "oil-for-food" program for Iraq, saying "the tanker containing the contraband Iraqi oil was tansiting Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf on January 4." The letter, which was circulated in the United Nations by the committee on Friday, said that the tanker refused to honor an Iranian marine patrol's demand to stop and, instead, fled to the Al-Bakr port in the northern Persian Gulf. [.....] http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi 0202100469feb10.story?coll=chi%2Dnewsnationworld%2Dhed * SHIP SUSPECTED OF RUNNING IRAQI OIL SEIZED Chicago Tribune, 10th February ARABIAN SEA. -- Crew members from a Canadian frigate last week boarded and seized a tanker in the Arabian Sea suspected of smuggling Iraqi oil in violation of United Nations sanctions, a Canadian naval commander says. Jim Heath said Friday in Ottawa the MV Zakat was intercepted when it left territorial waters near the Iran-Pakistan border. There was no indication if illegal oil was found. But the navy said the search turned up evidence "associated with seasoned smuggling operations." http://www.worldoil.com/news/newsstory.asp?ref=http://220.127.116.11/feeds/wo rldoil/new/article_e.asp?energy24=247277 * SANCTIONS DISCUSSED World Oil (from AFP), 11th February Russian and US experts will meet soon to discuss contracts struck by Russian companies with Iraq blocked under UN sanctions, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported on Monday citing an official in Moscow. These discussions should take place before the next official round of US-Russian consultations, the third, over a new "smart" sanctions regime for Iraq, due in mid-March, the official said, who asked not to be identified. During the second round of talks which took place last week in Geneva, the United States agreed to unblock a series of Iraqi-Russian contracts, according to ITAR-TASS. Moscow considers that "progress was made" in Geneva and that the Russians and the Americans have found "common ground," the news agency added. A UN Security Council resolution that was passed at the end of November called for the adoption by May 30 of a goods review list designed to prevent Baghdad from importing goods with a military potential. The aim is to lift the UN embargo on purely civilian items. Currently, under the UN oil-for-food programme, Iraq can import food, medicines and other goods needed for the country's shattered infrastructure. However Moscow, a major Iraqi trading partner, in December "expressed its concern" that the value of Russia-Iraq contracts frozen by the United Nations had grown to 860 million dollars (995 million euros). [.....] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A7333-2002Feb13.html * U.S. AVOIDS CONFRONTING SYRIANS ON IRAQI OIL by Alan Sipress and Colum Lynch Washington Post, 14th February The Bush administration, seeking to nurture a growing intelligence relationship with Syria in the war on terrorism, has refrained from confronting Damascus about its illicit imports of Iraqi oil, despite what industry analysts say is a sharp increase in volume. A year after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said he won assurances from Syrian President Bashar Assad that his government would not buy Iraqi oil in violation of U.N. sanctions, Syria has boosted its imports, according to industry analysts and administration officials. Syria is now receiving between 150,000 and 200,000 barrels of oil daily through a pipeline it opened in late 2000, paying as much as $1 billion a year to Iraq, these analysts and officials said. This makes Syria the single largest source of money to Baghdad outside the U.N. oil-for food sanctions program, which sharply restricts how Iraq can spend oil revenue. The United States favors a British initiative at the United Nations to bring the pipeline into compliance and, if not, to shut it all together. But U.S. officials have applied little direct pressure on Damascus to do so, even though this revenue is one of the few ways Iraqi President Saddam Hussein can pay to maintain his military and finance any efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. President Bush has declared that Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction poses one of the most dangerous threats to the United States. Yet the administration has chosen not to actively try to plug the largest leak in the Iraqi embargo, arguing the timing is not opportune. "Make no mistake about it, the pipeline issue is a serious topic and a point of contention," said a U.S. official. "Are we willing to make it a sticking point so that it affects the relationship between our two countries? No. We have to be pragmatic." John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, restated the U.S. opposition to the Iraqi oil purchases during a trip to Damascus last month, but diplomats said he did so only in passing. When the State Department's top Middle East diplomat, Assistant Secretary William J. Burns, visited Damascus in December, he briefly noted the administration's unhappiness with the oil imports but focused much of his discussions on U.S.-Syrian cooperation in the war on terrorism, administration officials said. Although it remains on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, Syria has stepped up its sharing of intelligence with the United States concerning militant groups linked to Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said. In its early days, the Bush administration sought to reinvigorate economic sanctions on Baghdad, which were imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Powell proposed streamlining the restrictions while working with Iraq's neighbors to adopt new border controls to prevent the smuggling of oil out of the country and other goods into the country. The emphasis on tightening border controls, however, has faded. The U.S. "smart sanctions" initiative, which was designed to ease restrictions on Iraqi civilian imports while tightening those on goods bound for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's military and weapons programs, has run into resistance. The administration has refocused its energies and is concentrating on winning Security Council agreement on a new, refined list of goods that Iraq could be barred from importing because there is a possibility they could be used for military purposes. Last February, while touring Middle Eastern capitals to build support for his sanctions proposal, Powell stopped in Damascus for a meeting with Assad. Powell told reporters afterward that Assad had made a commitment to bring the oil imports and the revenue they generate in compliance with U.N. sanctions. "I have high confidence that will work out because we went back to the point with the president three times . . . and three times there was a solemn agreement," Powell said. "I think the Syrians are serious about this, but of course the ultimate test of seriousness is when we see something happen." Powell left open whether the 552-mile pipeline, which connects Iraq with Syria's Mediterranean port of Banias, would be brought under U.N. control immediately or when the sanctions were scheduled for renewal last June. But neither occurred, and shortly after Powell left Damascus, the Syrian government said it had never made a pledge. Damascus also denies importing significant amounts of Iraqi oil, saying it is merely testing the pipeline, which was closed for 19 years during the Iran-Iraq War. Syria's ambassador to the United States, Rostom Zoubi, said his country has received "some quantities" of Iraqi crude in the course of checking out the pipeline and did not pay for any oil. When the pipeline is ready to go into service, Zoubi said, Syria will apply to the U.N. Security Council for permission to operate it under the auspices of the oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell oil to pay for food, medicine and other civilian needs. He added that Syria plans to establish a second, more economical pipeline for Iraqi oil and will also operate that one in accordance with U.N. requirements even though Damascus believes that sanctions should be lifted to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people. "Syria has always complied with United Nations Security Council resolutions," Zoubi said. "Syrian trade with Iraq is always based on the oil-for-food program." In the months after the existing pipeline reopened, Syria received about 120,000 barrels a day of Iraqi crude, vastly more than testing would require, according to industry analysts. The volume increased last year until the fall, when the flow slackened. "After September 11, the Syrians wanted to take a somewhat lower profile," said James Placke, a senior associate at Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Analysts attributed that in part to Syrian apprehension that it could be caught up in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. But Syria accelerated its pumping of Iraqi crude this winter. Some oil experts, such as Placke and Leo Drollas, chief economist at the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London, estimate the pipeline is moving about 150,000 barrels daily. By contrast, the Middle East Economic Survey, a weekly newsletter that covers the oil and gas industries, says the amount is between 180,000 and 200,000 barrels. U.S. intelligence puts the figure in the broader range of 150,000 to 200,000 barrels. It is difficult to measure precisely the amount of Iraqi oil crossing the border. Analysts can only gauge the volume of Iraqi oil entering Syria by observing increases in Syria's own exports. The oil from Iraq is used for domestic Syrian consumption, freeing higher quality Syrian-produced oil for the international market. Analysts also are not sure what Syria pays for Iraqi oil. But they speculate that Iraq is offering discounts of $2 to $3 per barrel to entice Damascus to flout the U.N. restrictions. Calling this the most "flagrant violation of sanctions against Iraq," British diplomats said in a statement that the oil sales could be providing Baghdad with up to $1 billion in illegal revenue. And unlike oil sales under the sanctions program, the money generated is not deposited in controlled U.N. accounts used for humanitarian imports and to compensate Kuwaiti victims of the 1990 invasion. Syria is not the only offender cited. Analysts said that Jordan imports at least 82,000 barrels a day of Iraqi crude and oil products outside the U.N.-sanctioned program, and that Turkey receives between 10,000 and 40,000 barrels a day of black market Iraqi diesel and fuel oil. Unlike Syria, these two countries are American allies and have faced little U.S. criticism. Though President Bush has highlighted Iraq as a member of an "axis of evil," it remains unclear whether tougher U.S. diplomacy could choke off the flow of oil in the absence of agreement at the United Nations on a new sanctions regime. "When there is so much economic benefit to be gained by both parties, what they say to Powell is one thing, and what they do is another," Drollas said. For Syria's struggling economy, the discounted oil is particularly attractive. As a further reward, Baghdad has steered millions of dollars in trade to Syrian merchants. Syrian exports to Iraq through the oil-for-food program have tripled over the last six months to $900 million, making Syria Baghdad's second-largest source of imports, after Russia. Drollas said the increased volume moving through the Syrian pipeline also reflects a heightened Iraqi need for cash that reflects the trouble it has encountered with its other schemes for dodging U.N. restrictions. Iran has increasingly blocked the smuggling of Iraqi oil into the Persian Gulf, where a U.S.-led interdiction force has become more vigilant, analysts said. Only about 10,000 barrels a day now slip through the Shatt al-Arab waterway that separates Iraq and Iran, Drollas estimated. The United States and its allies have also redoubled efforts to block Iraq from winning illicit surcharges from oil purchasers, analysts said. The Bush administration, however, has not tried to plug the leak to Syria with the same vigor. "Our priorities have changed since 9-11," said Henri J. Barkey, a professor and expert on Iraq at Lehigh University. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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.