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News, 9-16/2/02 (2)

News, 9-16/2/02 (2)


*  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
Œmoderate¹), Charles Krauthammer and Wiliam Kristol (less moderate)]


*  Iraq Calls Bush's Bluff on Weapons Scrutiny [by Scott Ritter: ŒBaghdad
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 ŒSaddam¹ 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 ŒSaddam¹. 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 ŒDiplomatic 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
Œinternational 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 Œinternational law¹: Œ"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 [Œin 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


*  Iran informs UN it tried to intercept contraband Iraqi oil [Shame on
*  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 Œsmart 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.]

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

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

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.

*  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

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

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

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.

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

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.



 by Scott Ritter
Los Angeles Times, 10th February
[ŒBaghdad 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 ŒSaddam¹. 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

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

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

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

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).

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.

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.

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."

*  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 Œinternational law¹: Œ"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.

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

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

"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.

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.

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

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

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.




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

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.


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."

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).


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.

"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

"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.

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