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News, 9-16/2/02 (3)

News, 9-16/2/02 (3)


*  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


*  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


*  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


*  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



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."    



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

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


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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

"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:

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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."


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.

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

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

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

"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.

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

``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.


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.   



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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.


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

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.


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

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

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


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

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


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.


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