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News, 9-16/2/02 (3) INSIDE IRAQ * Iraq Says Over 1,400 Killed in U.S.-British Raids of No-Fly Zones * Oil-For-Food Program Needs Adjustments: U.N. Official [This should have been an interesting article, but it doesn¹t give any details] * Mass grave found in northern Iraq [ŒInternational organisations estimate that 182,000 people, mostly men, were forced from the Kurdish areas and buried alive in mass graves in the southern deserts.¹ Wonder if its the same southern desert that holds the mass grave of all the Iraqis we murdered on the road to Basra in 1991.] * U.N. Rights Expert Arrives in Iraq * Save the Children UK warns of potential humanitarian crisis in Iraq [Strictly speaking this doesn¹t belong in the collection since I haven¹t seen it anywhere as a news item. Which is of itself scandalous because only a few months ago the newspapers were full of the success of the Kurdish autonomous zone as proof that it was ŒSaddam¹, not sanctions, that was responsible for Iraqi sufferings. But here we learn that: ŒAccording to the report, large sectors of the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq are dependent on relief rations for over 90 percent of their food -- with over half of the population living in poverty. Most have no household assets, and therefore nothing to fall back on in the event of a decrease in their food rations, as they were forced to sell their possessions in order to survive in the early 1990s.¹] * Opposition forces target oil installations [Terrorist activities in Iraq] * War brought misery to Iraqi town [Basra. A little glimpse of reality in the midst of the fog] * In Iraq, cult of Hussein thrives IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Myanmar sends economic mission to Iraq [Talk of the devil. Was it only last week I was wondering where Myanmar had got to in all this talk about axes of evil?] * Haider trip to Iraq embarrasses Austria [He has a sense of humour: Œ according to his political allies, he is undertaking "mediation in favour of Israel" with the Iraqi leadership.¹] * US wants Austrian government to report Haider's Iraq trip to UN * Austria's Haider Vows to Pull Back * Nakatani [Japanese Defense Agency chief] Disputes Remark Linking N.Korea To Iran And Iraq * Iraq Threatens to Sue Foreign Firms For Unfulfilling Contracts IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Saudi companies in the exhibition for rebuilding Iraq [Some good news] * First Syria production exhibition opened in Baghdad [More good news] * Bahrainis wait for missing kin to return from Iraq * Iraq, Iran Criticize 'Axis of Evil' Policy [at a conference of European and Islamic foreign ministers in Istanbul] * Turk PM Says Iraq May Be Ready to Compromise NEW WORLD ORDER * Iranians Rally Against United States [Good to see there¹s still some spirit left in the world] * Afghan, Iraqi refugees renew allegiance with ideas of Islamic Revolution INSIDE IRAQ http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-02/10/content_275354.htm * IRAQ SAYS OVER 1,400 KILLED IN U.S.-BRITISH RAIDS OF NO-FLY ZONES BAGHDAD, February 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraq said on Saturday 1,476 people have been killed and over 1,330 others injured in the U.S.- British air raids of the two no-fly zones in northern and southern parts of the country since the 1991 Gulf War. In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anna, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Ahmed said that in addition to the heavy human casualties, the U.S. and British bombings have also destroyed " numerous civil and service installations," the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported. Accusing the U.S. and Britain of committing "terrorism" and " interference in Iraq's internal affairs," the minister urged the U. N. chief to live up to his responsibility and "demand the governments of the U.S., Britain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to immediately halt their aggressions against Iraq." [.....] http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-02/10/content_276378.htm * OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAM NEEDS ADJUSTMENTS: U.N. OFFICIAL BAGHDAD, February 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Benon Sevan, executive director of the United Nations oil-for-food program, said on Sunday that the program needs "constant adjustments" to meet the needs of sanctions-hit Iraqis. "It is essential for the U.N. Security Council and the SanctionsCommittee to look at the present regulations and procedures and to make the necessary adjustments for the purpose of meeting the needs of the Iraqi people," he said. Sevan made the comments after concluding his month-long visit to Iraq. He arrived in the Iraqi capital on January 14 for the fact-finding mission. During the visit, Sevan held talks with senior Iraqi officials, such as Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, Oil Minister Amir Muhammad Rashid, Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi Salah and Health Minister Umid Medhat Mubarak, who complained that the program had failed to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people. [.....] Iraq has complained that a total of 2361 contracts, with a value of 7.3 billion U.S. dollars, have been put on hold by the SanctionsCommittee. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1813000/1813203.st m * MASS GRAVE FOUND IN NORTHERN IRAQ by Hiwa Osman BBC, 11th February Six bodies were found yesterday in a mass grave outside the city of Sulaymaniyah in Iraq's Kurdish region. Sulaymaniyah-based satellite TV KurdSat reported that initial evidence indicate that the six young men, who were wearing traditional Kurdish costume, were executed by firing squads in 1983 Forensic experts were working on identifying the bodies, which showed signs of bullet wounds. The Kurdish authorities in the region said that the grave, discovered two days ago, was the fourth mass grave to be found in the ground of Sardaw military camp - set up by the Iraqi Army in 1982. Bakhtiar Amin, the head of the Washington-based International Alliance for Justice (IAJ), told BBC News Online that the discovery of this new mass grave "is additional evidence of Saddam Hussein and his regime's crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity". The IAJ is an alliance of more than 260 non-governmental organisations from 120 countries and is calling for an expert commission under a UN mandate to study the available evidence and decide whether there is a case for crimes against humanity in Iraq. The discovery of this new mass grave is additional evidence of Saddam Hussein and his regime's crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity According to news agencies, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iraq, Andreas Mavrommatis, is expected to arrive in Iraq this week to spend several days on an "exploratory mission". "We condemn this atrocity", said Bakhtiar Amin, "and call upon Andreas Mavrommatis to visit the mass grave and to bring up the fate of the disappeared people with the Iraqi Government." The Kurdish region of Iraq has been controlled by the Kurds since 1991 when the US and UK established the safe haven. Before the Gulf War, the area was under Baghdad's control and the government suppressed the Kurdish population through summary executions, forced disappearances and use of chemical weapons. Drawing on eyewitness accounts and documents seized from Iraqi security during the Gulf War uprising, international organisations estimate that 182,000 people, mostly men, were forced from the Kurdish areas and buried alive in mass graves in the southern deserts. The Iraqi Government refuses to confirm the fate of the missing people, despite repeated requests from Kurdish officials. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/feb/11/021100674.html * U.N. RIGHTS EXPERT ARRIVES IN IRAQ Las Vegas Sun, 11th February BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A U.N. human rights expert on Iraq arrived Monday to begin talks with Saddam Hussein's government in the first visit of its kind in 10 years. Andreas Mavrommatis of Cyprus said he would meet with several Iraqi officials and may visit prisons, adding that Iraq has been "quite cooperative" regarding his five-day visit. "I am here to have a look myself ... and to start a dialogue with the government on the situation of human rights," Mavrommatis told The Associated Press. The United Nations' previous human rights expert handling Iraq, Max van der Stoel of the Netherlands, was only allowed to visit the country once - in 1992. His report, which accused Iraq of brutally stifling political opposition, so angered Iraqi authorities that he was not permitted to return. Van der Stoel prepared subsequent reports based on a variety of sources, including Iraqi exiles and opposition groups. Iraq accused him of being a "dishonest observer" who obtained his information from U.S., British and Israeli sources in addition to "traitors and agents." Mavrommatis said he hopes his visit will bring about closer cooperation between Iraq and the United Nations about rights. Mavrommatis, scheduled to leave Friday, was expected to seek permission to carry out another, longer visit to the country. In a report to the U.N. General Assembly in October, Mavrommatis, maintained Iraqi citizens face arbitrary execution, religious persecution, torture and forced relocation. On Monday, Mavrommatis refused to talk about the human rights situation in Iraq, saying he first wanted to examine matters here. "I know the difficulties, but I have to persevere," he said. http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/6686f45896f15dbc852567ae00530132/bd49958a 0e96e03f85256b56005f55c1?OpenDocument * SAVE THE CHILDREN UK WARNS OF POTENTIAL HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN IRAQ Source: Save the Children Fund (SCF), 4th February As talks about the future of sanctions against Iraq quietly progress, Save the Children, the UK's leading international children's charity, met today with the Department for International Development (DfID) to present the findings of a new study into Kurdish livelihoods in Northern Iraq, and to urge the UK Government to consider the economic and humanitarian impact of any change to the sanctions regime. The Save the Children UK study concludes that sanctions and the Oil for Food program have almost totally impoverished the population of Northern Iraq -- raising dependency levels to internationally unprecedented levels - and that the Government of Iraq is a major beneficiary of the Oil for Food program, as it manages food distribution. The organisation warned, however, that any scaling back of the Oil for Food program currently associated with sanctions could "send Kurds living in Northern Iraq over the edge into a humanitarian catastrophe." According to the report, large sectors of the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq are dependent on relief rations for over 90 percent of their food -- with over half of the population living in poverty. Most have no household assets, and therefore nothing to fall back on in the event of a decrease in their food rations, as they were forced to sell their possessions in order to survive in the early 1990s. "The irony is that while the Oil for Food program is what is keeping these people alive, it is also what put them in this situation to begin with," said Alastair Kirk, Save the Children UK's research officer based in Northern Iraq. "Any change to the Oil for Food program needs to be very well-thought through, as the current situation is a disaster waiting to happen." "The conditions we witnessed in Northern Iraq are comparable to some of the worst we have ever seen - including in sub-Saharan Africa," said Gary Sawdon, a Save the Children food security advisor who has assisted in several humanitarian crises. "These people are in an incredibly vulnerable situation - any external 'shock', such as a internal or external conflict, price increases, drought, or other natural disaster - could spell tragedy." While sharing their findings with DfID on Kurdish livelihoods, Save the Children UK also sought assurances from the Department that they will urgently consider conducting a full economic analysis of the situation in the whole of Iraq. "As bad as the situation is for the Kurds, all indications are that after nearly 11 years of sanctions, Iraqis living in south and central Iraq are even worse off," said Kirk. "The fact is, sanctions - as they are currently being implemented - simply do not work. They have a disproportionate effect on those who are most vulnerable in Iraqi society - particularly children." "We urge the UK government, in all of its bilateral dealings and particularly at the UN, to use its influence to help avoid the possibility of a deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in Iraq," Kirk. "Regardless of international politics, surely all can agree that the children of Iraq deserve no less than our utmost attention to their development and well-being. The international community, together with the Government of Iraq, shares the responsibility for ensuring that the Iraqi people cease to be the primary victims of the sanctions and Oil for Food programs." Save the Children UK's recommendations are, amongst others, that: ‹ if the sanctions regime is to continue, military and economic objectives must be delinked, as a first step towards safeguarding the health and welfare of the civilian population of the whole of Iraq; ‹ there be an urgent assessment of the economic impact of Oil for Food programme on households throughout Iraq, as evidence suggests that the situation in the central and southern areas is even worse than that in Northern Iraq; ‹ the Memorandum of Understanding between the UN and the Iraqi Government be rewritten to allow for the development of services for children and informal market economy structures in Iraq, including the local procurement of agricultural goods. For more information or to receive a copy of The Household Economy: Understanding the situation of Kurdish livelihoods, contact the Save the Children Press Office at: tel: 020 7716 2280 (out of hours: 07831 650 409), Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.worldoil.com/news/newsstory.asp?ref=http://188.8.131.52/feeds/wo rldoil/new/article_e.asp?energy24=247328 * OPPOSITION FORCES TARGET OIL INSTALLATIONS World Oil (from AFP), 12th February Forces opposed to the regime of President Saddam Hussein have carried out six acts of sabotage against Iraqi oil installations since last August, the opposition Iraqi National Congress said Tuesday. The London-based INC said two targets at the Biji refinery, 190 kilometres (120 miles) north of Baghdad, were "hit by missiles resulting in a huge blaze" on January 23 "After this attack, over 300 oil workers were arrested for interrogation. All workers of Kurdish and Turkoman ethnic origin were dismissed," it said. Two explosions rocked the Biji refinery, Iraq's largest, on January 17, and "one of the key pieces of equipment in the refinery and products unit was sabotaged," it added. The INC added that between August and November 2001, a series of explosions hit pipelines in the northern Kirkuk oilfields and the southern Basra province, as well as a truck-fuelling stop in western Iraq. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2002/02/15/MN10714.DTL * WAR BROUGHT MISERY TO IRAQI TOWN by Hadani Ditmars San Francisco Chronicle, 15th February Basra, Iraq -- The view from the Basra Sheraton would be downright romantic if it weren't for the statues of dead Iraqi pilots pointing accusingly across the bay at Iran. The latticed windows reveal a scene of ships and fishermen, palm trees and sea promenades that could easily convince one that this ruined city is still the beautiful resort town it once was. But underneath the charming visual surface lie tales that would chill the bones of any tourist. Iraq's wealthiest and most exotic city before the Iran- Iraq and Gulf wars, Basra today bears the scars of two decades of warfare. With its sewage, water treatment and electrical facilities heavily bombed during the Gulf War, Basra's canal system is a huge sprawl of raw filth mixed with muddy rain waters. Those waters spawn diseases that are the prime factor in the city's high infant mortality rate. Because of the lack of maintenance and the absence of new investments, Iraq's drinking water supply systems and sewage evacuation networks have constantly deteriorated since the end of the Gulf War. In many areas they have broken down completely. The Red Cross has made an admirable effort to repair Basra's central Hamdan sewage treatment facility. But contracts to obtain the needed spare parts have often been subjected to "holds" under the terms of the United Nations' "oil for food" humanitarian program, slowing progress to a crawl. If the water doesn't get you here, the depleted uranium (DU) might. An estimated 300 tons of the stuff -- a heavy metal used in armor-piercing munitions that is a less radioactive byproduct of natural uranium -- was dropped on Iraq during the Gulf War. No conclusive link has been established between DU exposure and cancer, and radiation testing equipment needed for recording proper data on DU poisoning is unavailable in Iraq because of the international sanctions. But physicians at the Basra Maternity and Pediatrics Hospital have kept shocking photographic records of what they say are the effects of inhaling or ingesting DU contaminated dust. In his sunlight-flooded office, hospital director Amr Issa al-Jabari graciously offers tea and then pulls out a book of photographs of "monster babies" -- some born without brains, or with their intestines outside their bodies, or with their nose where their eyes should be. "We have experienced seven times the normal number of birth defects and pediatric cancers since the end of the Gulf War," he said. Seated beneath a idyllic pre-war photo of Basra's waterfront, al-Jabari explained the theory of "radiation transference," or how radiation is spread by wind. Since DU, also known as Uranium-238, has a half-life estimated at over 4 billion years, the Basra area may be fighting poison virtually until the end of time. Even the palm trees suffer from mysterious diseases from the pollution and a sanctions-related lack of pesticides. "This is not just a local problem," al-Jabari added. "The border areas in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were also affected by the bombing." He is convinced that authorities in those countries are deliberately suppressing DU-related health statistics for political gain. "How would it look if they point the finger at their ally -- the U.S.?" His voice rising to an emotional pitch of indignation, al-Jabari added, "What about all the American servicemen who are suffering from DU poisoning?" DU poisoning is often cited as a possible cause of the mysterious malady known as Gulf War syndrome, which afflicts an estimated 100,000 American veterans. Jinan Ghalib, the hospital's specialist in pediatric cancer, arrived to lead a tour of her wards. She is a petite woman with a pretty face, but her voice was a low monotone as she recited in near-automatic fashion a list of the cancer-treating drugs the hospital lacks. Her clinical tone might have reflected either stringent training or a kind of moral exhaustion. "We have fewer drugs available this year than we had last year," Ghalib said. "But the real problem is that we don't have consistency, so that a patient may not have a full course of, say, antibiotics or other drugs, and therefore will not heal properly with an incomplete course." She blamed the oil-for-food program, which comes up for renewal every six months and thus shortens the length of medical supply contracts to that span. A patient with high blood pressure, for example, must switch to a new medication every half year. Many families sell their last remaining possessions to pay for medicine that will only have a limited effect. Ghalib moved on to a ward where a young mother held her baby -- 42-day-old Ali, who is swathed in blankets and tubes and hooked up to an oxygen tank. The doctor said the baby had pneumonia complicated by marasmus (severe malnutrition). The mother is also suffering from anemia and malnutrition -- health issues in Basra, whose primarily oil-based economy was harder hit than Baghdad's after the Gulf War and whose rebuilding has lagged behind the capital because of its provincial location. The mother gently rocked her tiny boy in a slow, hypnotic rhythm. Her eyes were hollow as she glanced up at the visitors. In another ward, a better-fed and slightly older mother comforted her pale infant son, his head bald from chemotherapy treatment. The woman introduced herself as Rawdha Kadhim, a 30-year-old mother of three. She seemed to want to talk. "My child is suffering from leukemia," she said. "Just a few months ago, he started to have fever and flu-like symptoms. Then we took him to the hospital." The eventual diagnosis was a huge blow. In Basra, cancer usually means death. The doctor says that the child's chances of survival -- with the incomplete course of medicine available - are slim. "We borrowed money from friends to buy medicine on the black market," Rawdha said, "but we couldn't find all that we needed there." Her eyes flashing with anger, Rawdha spoke of her family's pre-Gulf War existence: "We had a good life before. My father was a civil servant who earned a decent salary. "My childhood was beautiful. We used to have fun, play games, go on picnics. The lives my children have now are not the same. "I blame the Americans. I wish they would just leave us alone. We just want to be free to live normal lives." But a normal life in Basra is almost impossible -- even for the small percentage of sanctions profiteering nouveau riche, whose villas stand out gaudily among the garbage-strewn streets. The sounds of Julio Iglesias emanated from an upscale restaurant in the new- money neighborhood of Bradhiya, where a huge outside generator ensures a plentiful supply of electricity (normally unavailable except at night). But the cuisine leaves something to be desired. A patron complained, "You see, the food has no flavor -- or if it does, it has a strange kind of aftertaste." "The rice we get in our monthly rations we just throw out; it tastes like cardboard," said another diner. Chewing on her lamb and rice, a foreign reporter pondered the grass that local sheep eat and the soil that it came from -- and the water used to boil the tasteless rice and the soil it grew in. The way back to the Sheraton takes visitors through the central market, where a huge portrait of President Saddam Hussein presides over a sign screaming Basra Shopping Centre. The area, a square kilometer or so of shops selling everything from food to football uniforms, bisected by a filthy canal of fetid water, was once middle class -- before that class disappeared in the early '90s. A distorted, warped-pitch version of the Beatles' "Yesterday" fills the Sheraton's cavernous lobby. The suites retain a faded grandeur, but the brown water that flows from the bathroom pipes is cut off at least once a day. The television offers a pirated Schwarzenegger film. Arnold -- a big star in Iraq -- arrives home one day to find that a clone has replaced him and taken over his life. He must spend the rest of the movie struggling to get back home, fighting to get his life back. Basrans still seem stuck in the last bit of the movie, before Arnold defeats the villains and arrives safely home. And they might never get back. Canadian journalist Hadani Ditmars recently returned from a monthlong reporting trip to Iraq. http://www.detnews.com/2002/nation/0202/15/a09-417565.htm * IN IRAQ, CULT OF HUSSEIN THRIVES by Hadani Ditmars San Francisco Chronicle, 15th February BAGHDAD, Iraq -- One image has him wearing a Panama hat, another a natty-looking Tyrolean cap. In front of the state telephone company, he is rather ominously holding a receiver to his ear. On the back of a downtown building, he appears in multiple, Warholian images like some would-be Arab Marilyn Monroe. He is Saddam Hussein, and in Baghdad he is everywhere. He also is once again in America's sights. As part of President Bush's "axis of evil," Hussein seems to have moved up on the U.S. agenda. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that there must be a "regime change" in Iraq and that the United States "might have to do it alone." The administration has also given a fresh infusion of money to the opposition Iraqi National Congress. Inside Iraq the cult of Hussein remains strong. The 11 years of international sanctions have in many ways strengthened his grip on power, mainly by destroying Iraq's middle class and forcing many intellectuals and technocrats to emigrate. Iraq's 22 million citizens have long retreated behind a curtain of either silence or rote praise for their leader, who has led his nation into two disastrous wars and, by all accounts, has survived as long as he has by ruthlessly suppressing all opposition. In line with typical siege mentality, many Iraqis today back Hussein as their only defender against Western-imposed privation and continued bombings. But in private, a significant number call him "son of the USA" and accuse him of being Washington's "agent." A new generation of angry, unemployed young Iraqi men who came of age during the last decade see him as being "soft" on America and harbor a much more hard line stance against the West. And there are increasing signs of change in the regime's hard-line stance toward the world. At this year's national Army Day on Jan. 6, celebrations were understated, reflecting Iraq's relatively weak post-Sept. 11 position. Said Aburish, the author of A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite Against the Arab People as well as a biography of Hussein, suggests that the toned-down image is a vintage Hussein deception. "Saddam Hussein has never been predictable," he said. "One of the reasons for his survival is that he's always two steps ahead. His invasion of Kuwait caught people by surprise." IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://home.kyodo.co.jp/all/display.jsp?an=20020210075 * MYANMAR SENDS ECONOMIC MISSION TO IRAQ Kyodo News (Japan), 10th February [Talk of the devil. Was it only last week I was wondering where Myanmar had got to in all this talk about axes of evil?] YANGON: Myanmar on Saturday sent an economic mission to Iraq apparently to start a barter trade for low-priced crude oil in exchange for farm products, diplomatic sources in the country said Sunday. The 11-member mission, led by Aung Phone, forestry minister, and including Tin Tun, vice minister for energy, and other key government and business officials, is scheduled to stay in Iraq until Tuesday, the sources said. Myanmar, currently under economic sanctions by the United States and European Union, does not have enough foreign currency to import sufficient crude oil, the sources said. Iraq needs U.N. permission to export oil, although it is only allowed to do so in exchange for food and medicine under an amendment to U.N. sanctions that were put in place after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which sparked the Gulf War. http://www1.timesofindia.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=812832 * HAIDER TRIP TO IRAQ EMBARRASSES AUSTRIA Times of India (from AFP), 13th February VIENNA: Austria was left red-faced Tuesday by a trip by populist strongman Joerg Haider to Iraq -- notably since it comes on the eve of a visit by the country's far-right vice-chancellor to the United States. Vice-Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer, who succeeded Haider as head of the Freedom Party two years ago, may face questions about Haider's trip to Baghdad, which US President George W. Bush considers part of the "axis of evil," when she travels to Washington on Wednesday. "We don't know in which capacity Mr Haider is in Baghdad," said foreign ministry spokesman Harald Guenther. "He has not told us if he went there as governor of Carinthia, or if he is on a private trip," he added, referring to the southern Austrian province which Haider governs. "We weren't informed about this trip," said a spokesman for President Thomas Klestil, declining all other comment. Haider, former leader of the Freedom Party which governs in a controversial coalition with the conservative People's Party, arrived on Monday in Baghdad where, according to his political allies, he is undertaking "mediation in favour of Israel" with the Iraqi leadership. "He will try to mediate and, if these conversations take place, he will tell us about it when he returns," Freedom Party Secretary General Peter Sichrovsky told AFP. Israeli diplomats were perplexed at the claim. "We are not aware of any goodwill mission by Mr Haider to Iraq," said a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Vienna, Ilan Ben-Dov, recalling that Israel withdrew its ambassador to Austria after the far-right took office in 2000, and has "for years" had no links with the Freedom Party. In Baghdad, Haider met Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz for talks focused on the "current international situation and the US-Zionist plot against Iraq, calling on Europe to oppose it," newspapers reported. Haider was invited to Baghdad by an Iraqi non governmental Organisation for Friendship and Peace. The US embassy in Vienna meanwhile declined comment on Haider's trip, saying he was "regional politician" and not in national government. Riess-Passer will travel to Washington Wednesday, a week after Bush accused Iraq, Iran and North Korea of being an "axis of evil" seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction and supporting international terrorism. "In their talks there will be more talk about Mr. Haider's trip to Iraq than the successes of the Austrian government," commented the conservative daily Die Presse. Last October, conservative Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel was received in the White House by Bush, in a further sign of Austria's normalization since Haider joined him in forming a coalition government in February 2002. Schuessel at that time -- a month after the September 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington -- highlighted Vienna's solidarity with Washington in the fight against terrorism. The latest trip by Haider comes after the far-right strongman travelled to Iran and Syria last November. He was also recently seen in Vienna with the son of Libyan leader Moamar Kadhafi -- who he has in the past visited in Tripoli. Such trips could "call everything into question again" for the Austrian government, said Die Presse. http://www1.timesofindia.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1020107 * US WANTS AUSTRIAN GOVERNMENT TO REPORT HAIDER'S IRAQ TRIP TO UN Times of India (from AFP), 15th February WASHINGTON: The United States said Thursday it wanted Austria to look into the visit to Iraq this week of far-right politician Joerg Haider and report its findings to the United Nations to determine whether the trip violated any sanctions. "UN member states are responsible for enforcing UN sanctions so we could expect, we would trust that the Austrian government would follow up on this matter and report its findings to the UN sanctions committee," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "They would find out the facts and report the facts and their opinion on anything to the sanctions committee," he said, repeating Washington's position that Haider's trip was "totally inappropriate." On Wednesday, a State Department spokeswoman said the United States wanted the sanctions committee to look into Haider's visit to Iraq during which he met with US arch-foe Saddam Hussein. Boucher declined to specify what UN sanctions Haider might have violated by taking the trip but said there were "issues of money, of travel, of other things that probably need to be looked into." He refused to say whether Washington believed the visit had in fact violated the sanctions. "Our opinion is that we look forward to seeing what the Austrians have to say on it," Boucher said. Earlier Thursday in Vienna, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel branded Haider's visit "unhelpful," but insisted that the far-right political figure had undertaken it on his own. Haider has justified the three-day trip to Baghdad by saying it was a humanitarian mission. Schuessel said this was laudable, but misplaced. "Humanitarian engagement is always welcome," he reporters. "But God knows it doesn't need a handshake with a dictator who has blood on his hands like Saddam Hussein." Schuessel said Haider had not informed the government of the trip and that if he had, officials would have told him such a visit was "not valuable and unhelpful." http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-eur/2002/feb/15/021509006.html * AUSTRIA'S HAIDER VOWS TO PULL BACK Las Vegas Sun, 15th February VIENNA, Austria- After broad international criticism for a trip to Iraq earlier this week, Austrian right-winger Joerg Haider said on Friday he quit a national policy-making committee in the coalition government. Haider said complaints from party colleagues drove him to leave the national position. Though not a member of the government, membership on the policy committee gave Haider considerable political power. Haider, former head of the far-right Freedom Party, told state television Friday night he would focus on his job as governor of the southern province of Carinthia. In Washington, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Austria's visiting Vice Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer that Haidar's visit was inappropriate and counterproductive. She is a member of the Freedom Party. The Freedom Party shares power with the center-right People's Party in a coalition government. In an interview with ORF, the Austrian state broadcaster, Haider appeared embittered. "I am of the opinion that you should make a clear stand. I am already gone," he said. Using xenophobic and anti-European Union rhetoric, Haider helped his party grow from a minor organization to an influential group that won 27 percent of the vote in the last parliamentary elections in 1999. Within weeks, the EU slapped diplomatic sanctions on the Austrian government because of the party's isolationist and anti-Europe policies. The sanctions were lifted after seven months. Haider's trip to Iraq was only the latest controversy surrounding the outspoken politician. He described that trip as a humanitarian mission aimed at setting up a blood bank in Baghdad. Haider recently apologized to the head of Vienna's Jewish community, Ariel Muzikant, for a disparaging remark. He has come under fire for praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's "orderly" employment policies. http://www3.bernama.com/world/wo1502_2.htm * NAKATANI DISPUTES REMARK LINKING N.KOREA TO IRAN AND IRAQ TOKYO, Feb. 15 (Bernama-Kyodo) -- Defense Agency chief Gen Nakatani indicated Friday that North Korea should not be seen as an equal of Iran and Iraq, referring to recent remarks by U.S. President George W. Bush labeling the three nations as an ``axis of evil.'' Nakatani said at a press conference, ``I think North Korea is not on an equal footing with Iran and Iraq, as (North Korea) has no links with (the terrorist group) al-Qaida and the Taliban.'' On Bush's remarks accusing the three nations of developing weapons of mass destruction in his State of the Union address in late January, Nakatani said he does not understand what Bush is driving at. As for speculation that the United States is considering launching military strikes against Iraq, Natakani said he wants to wait for the outcome of upcoming talks between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Bush in Tokyo on Monday. ``The Japanese government has not heard anything from the U.S. government. I want to keep an eye on the talks between President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi,'' he said. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-02/13/content_278091.htm * IRAQ THREATENS TO SUE FOREIGN FIRMS FOR UNFULFILLING CONTRACTS BAGHDAD, February 13 (Xinhuanet) -- The head of the Iraqi Electricity Commission on Wednesday threatened to sue foreign companies that failed to implement contracts of power switchboards maintenance signed with Iraq, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported. Faisal Sahban Mahjoub, director of the Iraqi Electricity Commission, said that Iraq would raise the issue at international levels to reveal those foreign firms that failed to complete their work in Iraq. The Iraqi official also slammed the United Nations Sanctions Committee for blocking Iraq's power contracts signed with other countries under the U.N. oil-for-food program and urged U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan "to swiftly intervene" to release them, the INA said. [.....] IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020209/2002020915.html * SAUDI COMPANIES IN THE EXHIBITION FOR REBUILDING IRAQ Arabic News, 9th February It was announced in Baghdad that more than 30 Saudi companies showed readiness to take part in the exhibition to rebuild Iraq and "Iraq's 2002 project" which will be held at the ground of the Iraqi International Fair in March, by the International Limited Group for works and the International Company for Fairs. The representative for al-Riyadh Fairs company said that this participation comes in line with the development of the economic relations between the two states and the efforts made by the Saudi companies and businessmen to obtain contracts within the program of rebuilding, estimated at a cost of USD 17 billion. Worthy mentioning that the rebuilding Iraq fair is attended by some 20 Arab and foreign countries as well the ministries of commerce, industry, and housing in Iraq. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020209/2002020916.html * FIRST SYRIA PRODUCTION EXHIBITION OPENED IN BAGHDAD Arabic News, 9th February [More good news] Activities of the first Syrian productions exhibition will start tomorrow at the ground of the Baghdad International Fair and will continue until February 18 under the slogan "Directly, from the producer to the consumer." The director of the Syrian trade center in Baghdad, Muhammad Seifi said in a statement to journalists that more than 100 specialized Syrian companies in food, chemical, electronic, construction, engineering and textile companies will take part in the exhibition which will be attended by a huge delegation representing the federation of the chambers of commerce, businessmen and industrialists in Syria. The Iraqi vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said that the march of joint work with Syria in the past years had drawn a serious example of the nature of cooperation that should be followed between the Arab states. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=40617 * BAHRAINIS WAIT FOR MISSING KIN TO RETURN FROM IRAQ by Latheef Farook Gulf News, 10th February The families of the nine Bahrainis, who have not returned from Iraq since 1991, pray and hope that their loved ones are still alive and will return some day. They were all arbitrarily arrested by the Iraqi regime in the indiscriminate swoop during the massive unrest in the immediate aftermath of the war. Since then, nothing has been heard about them and they and their families are suffering in silence. A meeting was organised recently by the Islamic National Wefaq Society between the families of the missing Bahrainis and the local media representatives as part of a plan to build up public opinion to help solve the issue and try to end the sufferings of the missing Bahrainis and their families. The meeting began with Dr Abduljalil Al Sangees, head of the society's information committee, reading out a letter sent by the society to the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa urging him to follow up the matter especially following the recent visit to Bahrain by his Iraqi counterpart. During the meeting Hajjah Zahra, who is the mother of the 39-year-old Sheikh Fadhel Ali Al Omani Al Sa'adi who wanted to become a clergy and serve his people, said she felt that her son is still alive and would join the family soon. Mohammed Ali Abbas said his brother Shaikh Jaffar, who went to Iraq in 1987 to study Sharia and married an Iraqi woman, was in contact with him until he was arrested during the uprising and since then nothing has been heard of him. Hajj Abdullah Al Mout's 39-year-old son Shaikh Ahmed, who went to Iraq in 1986 to study Sharia and sent his pregnant wife to Bahrain in 1991, was planning to return home after his examination in Najaf. Before the uprising in 1991 he rang up and he was told that his wife had given birth to a son. That was the last contact the family had with him and to trace him Abdullah Al Mout went to Iraq where he was told by a clergy that hundreds of Sharia students, including his son, were arrested. Ammar Isa Muslim said his brother Osama was studying engineering at Baghdad University while he studied law at the University of Mosul. On the eve of the U.S.-led attacks on the Iraqi forces, Ammar asked his brother and his friends to move to Mosul from Baghdad and was told that they couldn't do so as they had to sit for their examinations. On return from Mosul in 1991 he found his father dead and Osama still missing. "A Saudi citizen who fled Iraq told us that Osama and a number of Bahrainis went to Najaf, accompanied by Sheikh Mohammed Jawad Abdulrasoul, thinking that would be safer as the Americans may not hit a holy place . But all of them were rounded up by an Iraqi security patrol," said Ammar. Yaseen Ahmed Abdulkarim Shehab went to Jordan in 1992 and sent a number of Iraqis and Jordanians to look for his brother Shaikh Redha, but to no avail. Two years later, he went to Iraq and met officials of the school where he studied and when he asked Iraqis to search for him their response was "we cannot ask about our missing people , so how can we ask about strangers?" Last year, however, he went to Iraq again, but without any success. The missing Bahrainis include Hassan Sayyed Ali Kadhem, Fadhel Al Omani Al Sa'adi, Ali Al Hori, Jaffar Al Mukhtar, Ahmed Abdullah Al Mout, Isa Hassan Abdulhussein, Redha Ahmed Abdulkarim Shehab, Osama Isa Muslim and Mohammed Jawad Abdulrasoul. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=E804838E-D752-4FE7 833F041BB5C5CF6B&Title=Iraq%2C%20Iran%20Criticize%20%27Axis%20of%20Evil%27%2 0Policy * IRAQ, IRAN CRITICIZE 'AXIS OF EVIL' POLICY by Amberin Zaman Voice of America, 12th February The U.S. campaign against global terrorism came under attack during the first day of a conference between European and Islamic foreign ministers in Istanbul. Most of the criticism came from Iraq and Iran, two of the countries recently named by President Bush as part of the axis of evil in the world. The conference is aimed to foster dialogue and tolerance between Islamic and European Nations, following the September 11 attacks against the United States. But soon after the meeting began, the United States came under verbal attack from various Islamic foreign ministers angry over the U.S. approach to fighting terrorism and its position on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Some of the harshest words came from Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharazi, who accused the United States of what he called a unilateral and militarist approach to world affairs. He also accused the U.S. government of embarking on "a misguided campaign of misinformation and allegations against other countries." Mr. Kharamzi was referring to recent remarks by President George Bush describing Iran, as well as Iraq and North Korea, as countries that make up an axis of evil that threatens the peace of the world. Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, said the United States and Britain were guilty of state terrorism for their bombing of Iraqi territory. The Iraqi foreign minister added that he hoped Turkey would do its utmost to help avert U.S. military action against his country. His remarks came shortly after Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit repeated his government's firm opposition to any attack against Iraq. He said such action would destabilize not only Turkey, but also the region as a whole. The conference, which is being hosted by Turkey, brings together ministers and officials from more than 70 European, Arab, Asian, and African nations that belong to the European Union or the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Turkey became the first Muslim-majority country to be added to the EU list of official candidates in 1999. It is a founding member of the OIC. No delegation from the United States is at the conference. [.....] http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews&StoryID=590833 * TURK PM SAYS IRAQ MAY BE READY TO COMPROMISE Reuters, 12th February ISTANBUL: Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said Tuesday Iraq's foreign minister had signaled Baghdad may be ready to seek a compromise to avert possible U.S. military strikes for Iraq's refusal to accept arms inspectors. "Words that could be understood as meaning Iraq is ready to find a compromise were said," he told the state-run Anatolian news agency. "The Arab League's general secretary confirmed these. "I had the impression of movement but what kind of result this will give and what can be given in return, these are not yet clear," he said. Ecevit met Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri on the sidelines of an international conference in Istanbul. U.S. President George Bush said this month Iraq helped make up an "axis of evil" with Iran and North Korea that threatens U.S. interests. Monday Bush said the United States would stop nations that were developing weapons of mass destruction from teaming up with terrorists. Ecevit exchanged letters last week with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, urging him to allow U.N. inspectors to return to the country or face "serious consequences," but said last week that the reply he got showed no signs of compromise. "We want a military operation against Iraq to be out of the question," Ecevit said Monday. "We are doing our best to solve our region's problems without war." NATO ally Turkey has said it opposes the United States expanding its "war on terrorism" to Iraq for Saddam's refusal to allow visits by U.N. weapons inspectors. Ankara fears a military reprisal against its neighbor Iraq would batter its already ailing economy and spur its restive Kurdish minority to relaunch a campaign for self-rule. Sabri said before his meeting with Ecevit that Baghdad expected Turkey would work to prevent any U.S. strikes on Iraq. "An attack on Iraq would not be to Turkey's or any country's advantage," Sabri said ahead of the summit of European Union and Organization of the Islamic Conference foreign ministers. Baghdad has criticized Ankara for allowing U.S. and British warplanes to patrol a no-fly zone over northern Iraq from an airbase in southern Turkey. Turkish military support would probably play a role in any strike on Iraq, Ecevit said. "It is very difficult to stage an operation without Turkey," he said Monday. NEW WORLD ORDER http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/feb/11/021100601.html * IRANIANS RALLY AGAINST UNITED STATES Las Vegas Sun, 11th February TEHRAN, Iran- Angered by the United States' labeling of Iran as part of an "axis of evil," hundreds of thousands of Iranians chanted "Death to America" on Monday during demonstrations to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The gathering was much larger than last year's commemorations as Iranians used the occasion to show their anger with President Bush's condemnation of their country in his State of the Union address. Many Iranians who said they rarely join such celebrations spoke of taking to the streets to show solidarity. Men, women and children poured into Tehran's Freedom Square carrying anti-U.S. banners and burning effigies of Uncle Sam. "This year, despite insults to the great Iranian nation and the trumped-up charges against it, the Iranian nation has commemorated the anniversary of its revolt on a greater scale than before," President Mohammad Khatami said. State television reported that millions of people took part in rallies in all major Iranian cities. Khatami said the United States should understand the message of Iran's revolution: independence, freedom and an Islamic Republic. His speech was repeatedly interrupted by chants of "Death to America!" - a phrase dating to the days of the 1979 revolution that lost its edge in recent years as the idea of a gradual rapprochement with the United States gained a following among Khatami's reform-minded supporters. In Washington, the Bush administration said Monday it would talk to and work with Iranian government officials despite the demonstrations and a suggestion by Khatami blaming U.S. policies for the Sept. 11 attacks. But it demanded that Iran stop sponsoring terror and trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. "If Iran wants to set a clear course toward the modern world, we're happy to talk to them, work with them," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. [.....] Bush's words have drawn strong condemnation across Iran's political spectrum. They have pushed the nation's domestic political troubles - a long-standing power struggle between moderate and conservative clerics - into the background, at least for now, as people pull together against what was perceived as an unwarranted insult. Khatami acknowledged there were "many differences" among Iran's leaders, a reference to the power struggle, but said the country is united in supporting the cause of the 1979 Islamic revolution. "Let's not conceal that there are deficiencies and dissatisfaction, but undoubtedly the whole nation is united in supporting the revolution and the path it has chosen," he said. The reformist president also suggested U.S. foreign policy bore responsibility for the terror attacks on New York and Washington - a widely held view in the region. "The American people have every right to ask their leaders how long should they pay the price for their faulty policies. What policies and what reasons caused the Sept. 11 attacks?" he said. In Baghdad, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Monday his country opposes any U.S. attack on Iran, adding the U.S. description of Iraq and Iran as part of an "axis of evil" proves the United States considers Muslims and Arabs evil. Iraq and Iran fought a 1980-88 war and continue to accuse each other of harboring opponents of their respective governments. But Saddam told his Cabinet any harm to Iran and its security negatively affects Iraq, according to the official Iraqi News Agency. One of those taking part in the demonstration, the chief of the elite revolutionary guards, Gen. Rahim Safavi, told state television: "Today's rallies are the biggest deterrent to U.S. threats. The people have shown they have remained faithful to the objectives of the revolution." The streets were awash in color as people carried placards and balloons in the red, white and green colors of the Iranian flag. Helicopters dropped red flowers over the crowd. Banners written in Farsi and English read "We still follow the ideals of the Islamic revolution" and "America cannot do a damn thing" - a favorite expression of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the revolution. One placard read in English: "Bush is a Dracula." "Outside threats only result in greater national unity," said Zahra Dowlatabadi, a 40-year old homemaker who said national pride after Bush's speech led her to attend her first mass demonstration in years. Monday's demonstration marked the final day of festivities commemorating the 1979 revolution, which swept the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi from power. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/22215000.htm * AFGHAN, IRAQI REFUGEES RENEW ALLEGIANCE WITH IDEAS OF ISLAMIC REVOLUTION Mashhad, Khorassan prov, Feb 11, IRNA -- Afghan and Iraqi refugees living in Mashhad, capital of Khorassan province, took part in the marches marking 23rd anniversary of triumph of 1979 Islamic Revolution to renew allegiance with the ideals of Iran's great revolution. Thousands of Afghan and Iraqi refugees carried banners with anti-American slogans in the main streets of Mashhad. They were angry with the interference of the United States in their country's internal affairs. They also expressed hatred toward the Israeli Zionist regime and called for immediate stop to bloodshed and the Israeli massacres of the innocent Muslim people in Palestine. According to statistics, there are some 400,000 foreign refugees in the Khorassan province. [.....] -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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.