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News, 16-23/2/02 (3) RINKY-DINK NATIONS (4) THE UNITED NATIONS * Iraq Says Over 2,400 Contracts Shelved by U.S., Britain * European banks jostle for Iraq's UN contract * Iraq: U.N. Special Rapporteur Concludes Visit, Prepares Report * Iraq Blasts U.N. Compensations Committee [which apparently has been illegally hearing claims from individuals and corporations which have not passed through their respective governments.] * Washington blocks $5bn supplies to Iraq [This one makes some attempt to explain the diparity between UN and Iraqi figures] OTHER RINKY-DINK NATIONS * Iraq seeks Pak expertise in power generation * [Canadian] PM stands firm on Iraq despite U.S. pressure * Baghdad backs anti-terror campaign in Chechnya [In the article, Alexander Rose puts the term ³anti-terrorist² in inverted commas, referring to the Russian campaign in Chechnya. No-one seems to have told him that a large number of the people blown apart in the Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan were Chechens, even though not once, so far as I remember, in all the literature we had to endure at the time of the Afghan massacre, were the rights and wrongs of the Chechen question ever discussed] * Russian Duma to Consider Draft in Support of Iran, Iraq, DPRK [Is the Russian Duma now standing alone as the only free and honourable institution left in the world?] * Self-interest should guide foreign policy [Unusually forthright approach to the problem from Canada. For example: ŒIn a few months, the U.S. will manufacture a causus belli for attacking Iraq, as by insisting on impossibly intrusive U.N. inspections. If Saddam agrees, he'll suffer a devastating loss of face as well as the loss of some of his weapons of mass destruction. If he refuses, down come the bombs with Canada saying, Aye, Aye.¹ Concludes that Canada¹s self interest means taking the moral high ground. And opposing the war (but not, apparently, sanctions).] * What they're saying about intervention in Iraq [Extracts from newspapers through the world. Too short to be very informative, but the one from the Daily Star in Lebanon is a cracker: "Saddam, in short, is the goose that continues supplying the US with fresh golden eggs every morning. Remove Saddam and US troops will be booted out of the Gulf before you can say 'Rumsfeld is a sucker.'"] * Go-slow approach makes sense [Another quite sensible article advocating independence for Canada but still falling short of opposing the existing murderous policy on Iraq.] * China warns Bush over bully tactics against Iraq INSIDE IRAQ * Hussein rejects development of weapons of mass destruction [He said Iraqi nuclear scientists' mission was to "increase Iraq's knowledge, bring happiness to men and to employ science to serve mankind." Pretty scary, eh?] * Alqanat [Arabic language daily] says Iraq buying advanced missiles * Saddam's Olympics * Iraq Decides to Distribute Money to Poor People * Iraq Roadtrip: Caught in the DMZ [This was sent to the list. I don¹t know if ŒCounterpunch¹ really counts as a newspaper but I thought it would be good to insinuate a little hint of the reality of things into the fantasy world of the newspaper cuttings service.] * Iraq sees 12 fold increase in cancer, depleted uranium cited * War tensions tough on Christians in Iraq [This article refers to the importance of Œ²cousin aid² from the outside¹, which connects interestingly with the stories about the suppression of attempts to send money to Iraq from the US, especially the one concerning Detroit in Michigan.] RINKY-DINK NATIONS (4) THE UNITED NATIONS http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200202/18/eng20020218_90527.shtml * IRAQ SAYS OVER 2,400 CONTRACTS SHELVED BY U.S., BRITAIN People's Daily (China), 18th February Iraq said on Sunday that 2,417 humanitarian contracts with a value of 8.139 billion U.S. dollars have been put on hold by representatives of the United States and Britain at the United Nations Sanctions Committee. This is the first time that Iraq reports the value of suspended contracts has surpassed 8 billion dollars. Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi Salah told the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) that Iraq's pivotal oil sector has been hit hard with suspended contracts totalling 591. Contracts for agriculture and irrigation sectors suspended account for 318, 303 for medicine, 228 for food, 222 for transport and communication, and the rest for other vital sectors such as trade, electricity, water and drainage, he said. Salah slammed the "hostile" behaviour of the U.S. and Britain as aiming at doing more harm to Iraq, the INA said. These contracts have been signed between Iraq and other countries under the five-year-old U.N. oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to bypass the U.N. sanctions to sell oil and use part of the oil revenues to buy food, medicine and other essentials to offset the impact of the sanctions. Iraq has been under sweeping U.N. sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The United States and Britain have been the dominant forces behind the continuation of the sanctions. http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3NBLKKUXC&liv e=true&tagid=ZZZAFZAVA0C&subheading=europe * EUROPEAN BANKS JOSTLE FOR IRAQ'S UN CONTRACT by Carola Hoyos Financial Times, 18th February While the US mulls bombing Iraq, Baghdad is trying to court European banks with the opportunity to compete for billions of dollars of business under the United Nations humanitarian programme. After insisting for five years that BNP Paribas was the only bank the UN could use for Iraq's closely-monitored financial transactions, Baghdad recently agreed to open the contract up for bidding. The UN Secretariat, which had been pushing Iraq to diversify the growing fortune it has amassed in the UN's escrow account at the New York branch of BNP Paribas, agreed to Baghdad's change of heart. European banks, including BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole of France; Deutsche Bank and Hypovereinsbank of Germany, Banco Bilbao of Spain, Rabobank of the Netherlands and Credit Suisse Group of Switzerland, are competing against each other to become one of few banks that will handle the money Iraq makes from its oil sales and issue letters of credit for companies wishing to do business under the UN's oil-for-food programme. The programme, an exemption to the UN's 11-year-old sanctions regime, allows Iraq to sell its crude oil and use the revenues to buy humanitarian items and repay its Gulf war debts. Iraq has E77bn ($67bn) plus $6.5bn in the escrow account, in part because it cannot import goods as quickly as it can export its crude oil because of restrictions on items that could be used for military purposes. The UN Secretariat has held several bids for the contract, but clear winners are yet to emerge. Diplomats say Baghdad's decision to diversify the funds came after France, one of the Security Council members typically more sympathetic to Iraq, joined the UK and US, Iraq's arch enemies, in refocusing the UN's sanctions more tightly on the regime of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president. The decision has given Iraqi officials the opportunity to play the banks off each other as the institutions compete to become one of the two banks that will be chosen by the UN to handle Iraq's crude oil accounts. "It will be easier for the Iraqis to play games and abuse the system after the diversification than it is now, when you are a customer of several banks you have more power than when you are the customer of just one bank," said one person close to the UN. Iraq has already proved its ability to abuse the UN's oil-for-food programme. Diplomats estimate Baghdad garners $2bn a year by smuggling crude oil over its borders, charging buyers illegal surcharges and demanding kickbacks. Diplomats who helped design the programme admit they did not anticipate the scope of Baghdad's ability to circumvent it. http://www.baghdad.com/?action=display&article=12050814&template=baghdad/ind exsearch.txt&index=recent * IRAQ: U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR CONCLUDES VISIT, PREPARES REPORT UN Wire, 20th February U.N. special rapporteur on the Iraq human rights situation Andreas Mavrommatis has completed an initial visit to the country, the first that Baghdad has allowed in a decade, and is drafting his report to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, slated to begin its annual meeting next month in Geneva (U.N. release, Feb. 18). Mavrommatis spent three days in Iraq last week in the hopes of setting a foundation for a full-scale, follow-up mission later this year. "In general, he had a meaningful exchange of views with the government on human rights issues," a U.N. statement said. "He expected that this dialogue might be continued in the future with a view to achieving concrete positive results. ... Given the nature and duration of the mission, only a preselected number of human rights issues were discussed during those meetings, including the question of missing persons and prisoners of war, the right to life, religious freedom, rule of law, the rights and status of minorities, the situation of women as well as economic and social rights." During his visit, the special rapporteur met with government ministers, lawmakers, religious leaders and lawyers and went to two prisons, a children's hospital, a food distribution center, a primary school and religious sites (Associated Press, Feb. 18). http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-02/21/content_285353.htm * IRAQ BLASTS U.N. COMPENSATIONS COMMITTEE BAGHDAD, February 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraq has accused the United Nations Compensations Committee of taking procedures contrary to the International law and accepting too many claims of war reparations, the official daily Al-Zawra reported on Thursday. An unidentified Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying that the U.N. committee has adopted regulations which entitle individuals, companies and organizations to bypass their governments and present war compensation demands to the committee. Consequently, the U.N. committee takes into account too many compensation demands from individuals, companies or organizations, instead of accepting reparation claims from countries as a whole, the official complained. "This is against the International Law," the official said. According to the official, Gulf War compensation claims have risen to 2.6 million from individuals, companies, organizations andgovernments with a staggering value of 322 billion U.S. dollars. The U.N. committee has approved 2.5 million compensation demandswhich are worth 35 billion dollars, and has paid a total of 13.67 billion dollars in war reparations, the official said. The U.N. committee was formed after the Gulf War, which drove Iraqi occupation troops out of Kuwait. The committee has been responsible for processing and paying governments and companies which suffered losses following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War. Under a U.N. oil-for-food program, launched in 1996, Iraq is allowed to bypass the sanctions imposed for its invasion of Kuwait and sell oil to buy food, medicine and other essentials. The U.N. Compensations Committee receives 25 percent of Iraq's oil proceeds for war reparations, while 72 percent of Iraq's oil revenues have been allocated for the sanctions-hit country to buy food and medicine. The remainder goes to covering U.N. activities in Iraq. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,653603,00.html * WASHINGTON BLOCKS $5BN SUPPLIES TO IRAQ Guardian (from Reuters in New York), 21st February The UN's humanitarian programme in Iraq has been hampered by a record $5.3bn (£3.7bn) worth of blocked supplies, mainly by the US, it was revealed yesterday. The contracts include some $4.6bn worth of humanitarian supplies and $703m for oil industry equipment, the UN office of the Iraq programme said in its weekly report. Many of the contracts are approved individually by a security council sanctions committee, any one of whose 15 members can block them. The US has put "on hold" nearly all of the blocked contracts while Britain shares objections on some $500,000 worth of contracts under the UN oil-for-food programme, committee members say. The programme allows Iraq to sell oil in order to buy essential supplies. But the oil revenues have to be deposited in a UN account out of which the goods Iraq orders are paid and reparations to Gulf war victims are made. Iraq sold nearly $11bn worth of oil last year under the programme. Baghdad routinely puts out higher figures for the blocked contracts, and this week reported $8bn worth of supplies, which it blamed equally on the US and Britain. UN officials say the figures are inaccurate. They claim that Iraq was including in its numbers every contract submitted, which UN officials had not approved or were still pending. These included contracts not yet processed by UN officials, those where information was missing and those drawn up improperly by a supplier and not yet resubmitted before reaching the security council's sanctions committee. OTHER RINKY-DINK NATIONS http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20020216670.2 _02cd000751ba6681 * IRAQ SEEKS PAK EXPERTISE IN POWER GENERATION Hoover's (Financial Times, from APP), 16th February 16, 2002 4:42am KARACHI : The leader of visiting Iraqi delegation, Abdul Al-Rahman Jadaan Theab, said on Friday that his country was interested in acquiring Pakistani expertise in power generation, installation and rehabilitation. He was talking to the Vice-Chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Ejaz Qureshi, during the visit of the Bureau. Theab, who is the Director-General, General Company of Electrical Energy Production, Iraq, said that the objective of the current visit was to explore possibilities for co-operation in the field of electricity generation, installation, rehabilitation and replacement of old equipment. He pointed out that there was great demand for other consumer products in Iraq and the Pakistani exporters could capture this potential market. He said that the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) had agreed to send a delegation of engineers and technical person to Iraq for providing assistance and help in the rehabilitation of power sector. Theab said that his delegation had held meeting with the Chairman and high officials of the Wapda, Heavy Mechanical Complex, Heavy Electrical Complex, etc. The EPB. Vice-Chairman said that the present government was focussing on forging links with Muslim countries, particularly Iraq. He said there was a lack of communication and awareness in Iraq about Pakistan's capability of supplying food and consumer items. The awareness about Pakistani consumer products had increased in Iraq with the help of couple of single country exhibitions of Pakistani products in Baghdad, he added. Ejaz Qureshi suggested Iraqi authorities to provide feed back to those Pakistani firms, which were participating in the bidding for various items. He was of the view that if Pakistani companies were provided with feed back on bidding, they would be competitive in pricing, adopt correct procedure and supply proper quality in the next bidding. The Chairmen, Pak-Iraq Sub-committee of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Haroon Suleman, who was also present on the occasion, said that bilateral trade had increased from seven million dollars to 150 million dollars in the past two years with the help of hectic marketing efforts. He said four Pakistani companies, including Siemens Engineering, Pakistan; Pak Cables and Alstom Ltd were actively involved in the bidding process in Iraq. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1013986926773&call_page=TS_News&call_pageid=968332188 492&call_pagepath=News/News * PM STANDS FIRM ON IRAQ DESPITE U.S. PRESSURE Toronto Star, 17th February BERLIN (CP) ‹ Prime Minister Jean Chretien is standing firm against U.S. unilateralism in Iraq, despite subtle but growing pressure from Washington. Chretien reiterated his position on Sunday in favour of joint action against terrorists based in Afghanistan ‹ but that doesn't extend to Iraq. "Our position is well-known. We are with the Americans on terrorism and ... it is based on (a) resolution of the UN and . . .NATO," Chretien said as he arrived in Berlin, mid-way through a 10-day trade mission to Russia and Germany. "We are with them on terrorism. And terrorism today is in Afghanistan." Similar comments made Thursday by Chretien in Moscow caught the attention of Washington, which has been subtly turning up the pressure on Ottawa to join the United States in its intensifying battle against a so-called "axis of evil." U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice went so far as to call her Canadian counterpart on Saturday and quiz him about news reports the previous day on Chretien's Moscow comments. "She seemed to be concerned by some of the headlines appearing in Canada," Claude Laverdure, Chretien's foreign affairs and defence adviser, told reporters. But Rice seemed "satisfied and pleased" with his explanation that Chretien wasn't trying to send a warning to Washington with his comments, added Laverdure. And he added he didn't feel pressured by Rice to bring Canada closer to the U.S. position. Still, U.S. President George W. Bush himself seemed to be turning up the pressure on Friday with comments made in Alaska. Bush said he would be telling his global counterparts, ``Either you're with us or you're against us. Either you stand for freedom or you stand for tyranny. "And the good news is many nations have heard that message," he said. Bush is beginning to brace the American public and world leaders for a lengthy war against terrorists around the globe, starting with Iraq, which is part of what he has called an "axis of evil." But following meetings Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, Chretien said he's not interested in supporting U.S. unilateralism. "We look at every case on a one-by-one basis, but at this moment we are not implicated in any plans for Iraq or other nations," Chretien said. Canadian officials noted that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has promised to consult America's allies, although Washington may ultimately decide to move unilaterally against Iraq. Canada has supported the United States in its war on terrorism so far, committing 750 troops to Afghanistan. But officials said Ottawa took that step only after proof was supplied showing it was a terrorist state ‹ and similar evidence against Iraq hasn't yet been produced. "Some people suggest that the Americans have proof but I don't think they have come forward to give any of that proof to any of their allies," a senior official said. "We have not been provided with confirmation or any documentation," said the official. "We are in Afghanistan, this does not automatically suggest that we are going into another country." Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said Canada doesn't support unilateralism. "Everybody recognizes that in international politics you have to have a process . . . before you invade a sovereign country there has to be a reason for it or we're going to lead to international chaos," Graham said. Chretien's caution about joining the new Bush campaign seems to be reflected in parts of Europe. And the issue will likely be raised when Chretien meets Monday with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has taken a strong stand against U.S. unilateral action. "The international coalition against terror does not provide a basis for doing just anything against anybody - and certainly not by going it alone," Fischer has said. It's similar to the views of Putin, who had what officials called a "leisurely, private family meeting" with Chretien on Sunday before the trade mission moved the Germany. http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?f=/stories/20020218/87084.html * BAGHDAD BACKS ANTI-TERROR CAMPAIGN IN CHECHNYA by Alexander Rose National Post (Canada), 18th February WASHINGTON - AS THE UNITED STATES DISCUSSES whether to forge ahead with attacking Iraq, Baghdad has set its cap firmly at the Kremlin in the hope of acquiring some diplomatic cover. In the past few weeks, Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and a long-time Saddam Hussein flunky, has visited Moscow several times, ostensibly to finalize business deals -- Russia, it seems, has quietly become Iraq's biggest trading partner. In fact, Iraq wants to buy Russian diplomatic support and has discovered a cheap way of doing it. n return for a boilerplate Russian "condemnation" of UN sanctions and any plan to attack Iraq, Baghdad has been backing Russia's "anti-terrorist" campaign in Chechnya. "Despite the fact that Iraq is an Islamic state, it fully backs Russia on Chechnya," Mr. Aziz declared after meeting Gennady Seleznev, speaker of the Duma, the Russian lower house. Mr. Seleznev, for his part, assured Mr. Aziz: "Russia is flatly against air strikes." Russia is expected to push for UN arbitration between Iraq and the United States, which it believes will tie Washington's hands. However, if the United States determinedly proceeds with a plan to attack Iraq, there is little Russia can do to stop it. The United States will be lining up its own ducks today when John Wolf, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, attends what would have otherwise been a routine meeting of the UN's new weapons inspection verification body. It is thought Washington will insist on having inspectors go to Iraq, attempt to enter identified weapons installations (as per UN Security Council resolutions) and call in air strikes if refused (as seems likely). http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200202/19/eng20020219_90540.shtml * RUSSIAN DUMA TO CONSIDER DRAFT IN SUPPORT OF IRAN, IRAQ, DPRK People's Daily (China), 19th February Russia's state Duma is expected to consider a draft resolution in support of Iran, Iraq and the Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday. The three countries were recently declared by the U.S. as an " axis of evil." The slogan of combating terrorism cannot be used by the U.S. to square accounts with Iran, the DPRK and Iraq, the so-called "axis of evil," the Duma says in its draft resolution. The parliament condemns "the actions of groundlessly labeling and raising barriers to the development of international cooperation," according to the draft resolution worked out by the Duma's International Affairs Committee. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1014159675605&call_page=TS_Opinion&call_pageid=968256 290124&call_pagepath=News/Opinion&col=968350116695 * SELF-INTEREST SHOULD GUIDE FOREIGN POLICY by Richard Gwyn Toronto Star, 20th February EVER SINCE President George Bush's "axis of evil" speech, America's allies, beginning with those in Europe and then some in Asia and with Canada now joining the queue, have been lining up to express shock, shock, shock. It's worth asking why. Why the surprise at U.S. behaviour? The obvious explanation is disquiet at Bush's presumption that because he wants to knock off Iraq's Saddam Hussein, everyone else should tag along behind in accordance with his rule, "those who are not with us are against us." Jean Chrétien has expressed this attitude as well as anyone by saying that proof of Saddam's complicity with terrorism must be produced, and the mission itself be sanctioned by the United Nations. But this kind of response is valid only up to a point. Demanding to be consulted and for the U.N. to have the chance to give its seal of approval is a process ‹ a string of diplomatic niceties ‹ rather than a policy. This argument will be won eventually by whichever side has a clear idea of what it actually wants to do. Which Bush does. Sooner or later the others, including us, will get dragged into accepting the brutal but appealing logic of Bush's policy, which is to force a "regime change" in Baghdad by whatever means it takes. The first step in this drearily predictable retreat has already been taken by Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham. He says Canada remains open to accepting all options, such as that "an emergency might arise" which would force Washington to take swift, military action. Already, that's almost a done deal. In a few months, the U.S. will manufacture a causus belli for attacking Iraq, as by insisting on impossibly intrusive U.N. inspections. If Saddam agrees, he'll suffer a devastating loss of face as well as the loss of some of his weapons of mass destruction. If he refuses, down come the bombs with Canada saying, Aye, Aye. What else to do? Copy Bush and the Americans. That sounds paradoxical. It is paradoxical. But it could be both the right way and the best way politically. Ever since Sept. 11, Bush has put U.S. national interest ahead of everything. In the initial counterattack against terrorism, that self-interest coincided with international interest: Al Qaeda and Islamic extremism are a menace to the world community. As time goes by, though, American national self-interest, and Bush's political interests, are becoming increasingly predominant. The Pentagon has just got a $48 billion budget increase. The U.S. is securing new bases in the Central Asia republics. Defence spending is functioning as a Keynesian-type economic stimulus. The mood of patriotism has united Americans wonderfully. Bush's personal popularity is sky-high. Knocking off Saddam will keep him up there, and, as important, leaving Saddam untouched would cause Bush Jr. to be tagged as a look-alike who'd blinked, as once did his father. That some of these motives are opportunistic doesn't at all negate the validity of U.S. policy on Iraq. There's a conviction in Washington these days that toughness against evildoers ‹ in the manner of Ronald Regan against Soviet communism ‹ is both the right policy and the best policy politically. It's that quality of conviction that we ourselves most need to copy. Canadians' convictions about international affairs are entirely different from the Americans'. Militarily we are irrelevant, and spending more money won't change our condition (we're just too small). We are relevant internationally only to the extent that we are seen as good guys. That sounds icky. And it is a bit. But it's a fact. It's why the U.S. wants our approval for its impending attack on Iraq (and also for its controversial anti-missile defence program). Even if we steeled our nerve to continue to say No to an attack on Iraq, this wouldn't be nearly enough. We need a comprehensive foreign policy suited to our national self-interests, just as Bush is waging a comprehensive military-diplomatic-financial war against terrorism (one in which we must still play our part). We'll need to pursue our convictions about being good international guys right through our foreign policy ‹ increasing our foreign aid, accepting more refugees, making our entire military into a peacekeeping force, arguing about Washington's treatment of prisoners. We shouldn't be doing all this only because it is the right thing to do. As much because it's all in our self-interest. Being seen to be doing good defines our distinctiveness. That's my point. We need to pursue our national self-interest in exactly the same bold and decisive way that Bush is now pursuing the U.S. national self-interest ‹ but in an entirely different direction because we are an entirely different country. http://www.nydailynews.com/2002-02-20/News_and_Views/Opinion/a-141947.asp * WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT INTERVENTION IN IRAQ by Sarah Kendzior NY Daily News, 20th February Eleven years ago, it all seemed so easy. Armed with unparalleled military technology and backed by a Gulf state coalition, The U.S. led a video-game war against Iraq that resulted in few allied casualties and even fewer voices of international dissent. After all, who could possibly support Saddam Hussein? The brutal Iraqi dictator's abominable policies and growing military arsenal frightened and disgusted even America's staunchest foes. By mid-1991, the nation formerly known as "The Great Satan" enjoyed international respect while idle chatter of scud studs and George H.W. Bush's soaring ratings dominated the homefront. Today, it's not so simple. UN-levied economic sanctions begun during the war have allegedly resulted in the deaths of untold numbers of Iraqi innocents, including children. Saddam Hussein has remained in power and developed a formidable array of biological and chemical weapons. Whose fault might this be? According to American allies, it's all Dubya's doing. Here's what newspapers around the world are saying about intervention in Iraq: "Baghdad beckons. But President Bush has to persuade the world that he is not acting like a global cowboy. He must make a persuasive case that military action is right, legal and imperative for global security." St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2/14/02 "The western media have demonized Iraq, so as any Iraqi was prevented from living a normal life because of the UN imposed sanctionsŠIraqi people have been mass murdered in cold blood as a direct result of the Security Council sanctions imposed for more than eleven years, and might continue as long as the US is not in complete control over Iraq natural resources, mainly oil." Iraq Daily, Published by Ministry of Information, 2/13/02 "The administration's recent conduct of the diplomatic aspects of the war on terrorism has been bizarre, to say the least. What was the purpose in alarming the world with talk of an 'axis of evil', when it was plain no such axis existed?" The Straits Times, Singapore, 2/16/02 "The risks pale next to a near certainty: An unchallenged Iraq will use weapons of mass destruction to hold hostage the world's oil supply, arm terrorists and other rogue nations, and threaten the United States. Mr. Bush, to his credit, has vowed not to let that happen." The Orlando Sentinel, 2/19/02 "An attempt by Mr. Bush to complete business left unfinished by his presidential father during the Gulf War would involve immense dangers. If Saddam Hussein does indeed have chemical or biological weapons, he would presumably try to use them. Neighbouring nations with bases vital to the US effort would face a terrible predicament. Traditional alliances would be severely strained. Worst of all ‹ a terrible irony ‹ the enraged reaction within Islam would surely bring recruits to terrorist groups." The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, 2/18/02 "Saddam, in short, is the goose that continues supplying the US with fresh golden eggs every morning. Remove Saddam and US troops will be booted out of the Gulf before you can say 'Rumsfeld is a sucker.'" The Daily Star, Lebanon, 2/14/02 "The reality is that the world would be a much safer place if Mr. Hussein were no more in power. Ordinary Iraqis suffering under political repression and economic sanctions would also be better off. America's allies, including Canada, should be doing all we can to help. That includes keeping an open mind about joining an eventual attack." The Vancouver Sun, Canada, 2/18/02 "An attack on Iraq will split the world coalition. Not only its Muslim components: even America's European partners, besides China and Russia, have opposed the moveŠOnly an enemy of America would recommend a second Gulf war." DAWN, Pakistan, 2/13/02 "The more the US hesitates, the more the world will question whether Saddam's removal is really so inevitableŠIf the Bush administration is not careful, the sense of inevitability it won by the victory in Afghanistan will begin dissipate, and will be difficult to reconstruct." The Jerusalem Post, Israel, 1/24/02 "It is troubling that some military analysts and hawks in the Bush administration make it sound as if it's no sweat to conquer IraqŠNo one should be lulled into thinking that Saddam's defeat automatically would be as easy as the rout of the Taliban in Afghanistan." The Las Vegas Sun, 2/14/02 "Sometimes gamblers bluff and threaten because they don't know what else to do. That, unfortunately, seems to be the way U.S. policy toward Iraq is being shaped." Toronto Globe and Mail, Canada, 2/15/02 http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1014203907898&call_page=TS_Opinion&call_pageid=968256 290124&call_pagepath=News/Opinion&col=968350116695 * GO-SLOW APPROACH MAKES SENSE by Jim Travers Toronto Star, 21st February JEAN CHRÉTIEN should leave home more often. Abroad only a few days, the Prime Minister is providing some of the direction often missing from a government content to drift through the years between elections. On the guns now pointing at the "axis of evil" and on the roses of the Kyoto environmental accord, Chrétien is putting down important markers on where Canada stands. More spine and less equivocation would be nice, but those emerging policies push Canada nearer the moral high ground of enlightened diplomacy and environmental protection. Chrétien's reluctance to automatically close ranks with the U.S. on Iraq is a particularly welcome relief from the beck and call relationship developing between a powerful country pursuing its own interests and one that is weak and unassertive. After arming the war on terrorism with the emotional, simplistic notions of good vs. evil, Washington hopes to settle old scores and prevent future attacks by strong-arming its allies into action against a state that is clearly rogue but not clearly linked to the horrors of Sept. 11. In effect, the U.S. is telling its friends to support a unilateral, made in the U.S.A. decision that may not be in anyone's interest and will certainly end peaceful efforts to neutralize Iraq. Riding the U.S. rocket into Baghdad is particularly problematic for Washington's Arab allies. No love is lost on a murderous leader who holds his people hostage, but a U.S. attack and subsequent power vacuum in Iraq could easily tip an already unstable region into chaos. Those realities haven't changed since the U.S. last stopped short of toppling Saddam Hussein. Canada's concerns are no less profound. At a time when Washington is in no mood for naysayers and a unified continental defence is on the table, Canada needs the security of international organizations. Unlike the current U.S. police action, the United Nations and NATO offer the cumbersome but necessary protection of international command and control when the world imposes its collective will. In that context, Chrétien's go-slow approach is an exercise in common sense. But there are more compelling reasons not to quickly let loose the dogs of war. Armed conflict may be unavoidable but should never be entered into lightly or mythologized. War is state-sponsored homicide. Bombs are not smart enough to save civilians. Bodies stink, hearts break and glory is largely a product of time, distance and Hollywood. Suffering is the only certain result. Chrétien owes it to Canadians not to be stampeded into such a monumental decision. This country stands firmly with the U.S. in Afghanistan and is committed to border security. Its loyalty should not be judged by blind willingness to join an adventure certain to shatter the rare unanimity of a world now joined in its abhorrence of terrorism. The similarities with the coming environmental crisis and the world's response are striking. By refusing to succumb to the theatrical, thuggish tactics of Ralph Klein who publicly ambushed the Prime Minister in Moscow, Chrétien is demonstrating more than characteristic toughness. Flawed as it is, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to limit carbon dioxide emissions is an essential first step toward a global solution to a global problem and, ultimately, sustainable prosperity. The alternative is dangerously myopic. While oil-soaked and polluting Alberta has every reason to worry about the competitive consequences of slipping out of economic phase with the U.S., Washington's response to the threat of potential worldwide environmental catastrophe is isolationist and ineffective. A Canadian government with broader responsibilities than just creating economic growth and investment opportunities can't in good conscience support it. What is needed is what Kyoto envisions: a tougher, more enforceable plan than Bush's grand-sounding, essentially toothless scheme to cut greenhouse gas "intensity," not emissions themselves, by 18 per cent over the next 10 years. Without mandatory industrial controls or a tax to discourage destructive consumer behaviour, the U.S., Canada and others at the top of the economic food chain will continue to trade long-term environmental health for short-term wealth. As a small economy living next door to the economic superpower, Canada has only two choices: It can accept an unacceptable course chosen by the president and former oil man environmentalists call the Toxic Texan, or it can cast its lot with the rest of the world. >From a distance, the Prime Minister has looked at the fist shaking at Iraq and the Kyoto Protocol and he has seen a future that can only be made more secure by an international community joined in the singular purpose of finding collective solutions to collective problems. It's a wise perspective the Prime Minister should stuff into his bag and bring home. http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=10&si=695872&issue_id =6945 * CHINA WARNS BUSH OVER BULLY TACTICS AGAINST IRAQ by Roland Watson Irish Independent (from The Times), 22nd February RECITING Chinese proverbs and Christian wisdom, President Jiang Zemin gave a subtle but firm warning to President Bush not to act the "bully" by rushing into unilateral military action against Iraq. Asked about America's intention of widening the war against terrorism, President Jiang cautioned his guest standing alongside him in the Great Hall of the People by saying that "peace is to be valued most". After two hours of talks, Mr Jiang, who will wield a potentially critical vote on the United Nations Security Council if the US seeks a UN mandate for action, concluded by recalling the age-old Chinese advice of "more haste, less speed". He said: "Despite the fact that sometimes you will have problems that cry out for immediate solution, patience is sometimes also necessary. Or perhaps I could quote another Chinese saying to describe the situation, 'One cannot expect to dig a well with one spade'." The wary note on expanding the war against terrorism, in which the US has so far lauded China as a useful ally, was in keeping with a summit in which Washington failed to clinch the deals over trade and missile exports that it had sought. However, a certain stiffness between the two leaders was dispelled later when Mr Jiang became the life of the party at a banquet. After a western meal, Mr Jiang and a Chinese accordionist took Mr Bush by surprise by serenading him with 'O Sole Mio'. The Chinese leader also danced with Laura Bush, Condoleezza Rice, the President's National Security Adviser, and the wife of Clark Randt, the US Ambassador, as a People's Liberation Army band played American favourites such as 'The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You' and 'Moon River'. There were minor agreements to announce, including the launch of a joint initiative to help to combat HIV/Aids, Chinese agreement for the FBI to open a bureau in Beijing, and a future trade mission to China led by Don Evans, the US Commerce Secretary. On the 30th anniversary of Richard Nixon's ground-breaking visit to China, Mr Ziang also accepted an invitation to visit the US in the autumn, shortly before he is due to step down. But Mr Bush failed to persuade China to curb weapons proliferation with a law banning exports of dual-use items and technology, which White House officials had suggested was within reach. He also fell short of winning assurances from Mr Jiang that he would swiftly honour China's commitments, as a new member of the World Trade Organisation, to open Chinese markets to American produce, particular soy beans. Better access for US farmers was one of the issues pursued most vigorously by Washington in advance of yesterday's meeting. But Mrs Rice admitted afterwards: "There's not been any movement." The two sides also failed to close the gap on a series of broader, fundamental issues which divide them, such as the future of Taiwan and Mr Bush's plans for a missile shield. After Mr Jiang said that progress on bringing Taiwan under "one country" rule was "vital to the stability and growth of US-China relations", Mr Bush reiterated that Washington would come to Taipei's aid if Beijing used force. INSIDE IRAQ http://europe.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/02/16/iraq.nuclear/index.html * HUSSEIN REJECTS DEVELOPMENT OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION CNN, 17th February BAGHDAD, Iraq: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein told a meeting of atomic scientists Saturday that it is not in his country's interest to develop weapons of mass destruction. "Although weapons come as part of fortifying the country against the designs of foreigners and the elements of evil in their minds, it is not in your country's interest to enter the club of weapons of mass destruction armaments," Hussein said, according to the Iraqi news agency INA. He said Iraqi nuclear scientists' mission was to "increase Iraq's knowledge, bring happiness to men and to employ science to serve mankind." The comments marked the second time since President Bush named Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address that Hussein has said Iraq is not trying to develop nuclear weapons. The first time was in a February 8 letter to Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, in which he said Iraq no longer has weapons of mass destruction "and it has no intention to produce them." U.S. threats against Iraq have intensified since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan that followed. In his January 29 speech, Bush named Iraq, Iran and North Korea an "axis of evil" that were trying to build weapons of mass destruction capable of threatening the West. Since then, Iraq has told the United Nations it would consider allowing U.N. weapons inspectors back in. The inspectors left in 1998 just before a series of December 1998 bombing raids by U.S. and British forces to punish Iraq for failing to cooperate with inspections. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/28033052.htm * ALQANAT SAYS IRAQ BUYING ADVANCED MISSILES Tehran, Feb 17, IRNA -- Internet web-site of "Alqanat" Arabic daily Saturday reported informed authorities in Oman [sic. Amman], Jordan's capital as saying that recently a consignment of advanced missiles has been imported by Iraq to be used against a probable US attack. The consignment has directly entered Iraq and other consignments are supposed to be received by this country. The missile consignment has been delivered to Iraq either by Russia or North Korea. Iraq is not going to use the advanced missiles against the US and British fighters that routinely fly over Iraq's air apace everyday, because it does not intend to reveal its might before the US imminent attacks. The sources say that if Washington is ascertained about the import of such missiles by Iraq, it might revise its position against that country. Yet, knowing the extent of the US militray power that assumption sems a bit too optimistic. http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20020217670.4 _05380001873442d6 * SADDAM'S OLYMPICS Hoover's (Financial Times), 17th February Source: The Sunday Mirror, February 17, 2002 SADDAM Hussein is building a 100,000-seater super stadium complex in a bid to host the 2012 Olympics in Baghdad. News of the scheme comes as the US is believed to be planning to topple the Iraqi dictator. Saddam wants the stadium to meet standards set by the IAAF athletics federation and football's governing body FIFA. Saddam, who has insisted that a screened-off VIP area must be built to seat his entourage, also wants the stadium to "reflect Iraqi architecture in stages of history". The contract will attract bids from construction companies all over the world, although British firms may be deterred by the fact that Iraq is still subject to sanctions. But some UK firms may still bid. The British Contractors and Consultants Bureau said: "We have had a couple of tentative inquiries." http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-02/17/content_279839.htm * IRAQ DECIDES TO DISTRIBUTE MONEY TO POOR PEOPLE BAGHDAD, February 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has decided to allocate a total of 120 million Iraqi dinars (about 60,000 U.S. dollars) to the poor families in the Iraqi capital, an Iraqi official announced on Saturday. Aziz Saleh Numan, member of Iraq's ruling Arab Baath Socialist Party, told the state-run Iraq TV that the move comes ahead of the annual Greater Bairam, the most important festival in Arab countries. The Greater Bairam will start from February 22 in Iraq and is expected to last for four days. The Iraqi government distributed the same amount of money to the poor families in Baghdad during the Lesser Bairam (Festival of Fast-breaking), which fell in December last year. Long years of international sanctions, imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, have dilapidated the once-affluent country and caused millions of Iraqis live in poverty. http://www.counterpunch.org/ * IRAQ ROADTRIP: CAUGHT IN THE DMZ by Ramzi Kysia CounterPunch, 18th February [This was sent to the list. I don¹t know if ŒCounterpunch¹ really counts as a newspaper but I thought it would be good to insinuate a little hint of the reality of things into the fantasy world of the newspaper cuttings service.] The drive from Basra to Safwan, Iraq, is eerily apocalyptic. In the Demilitarised Zone, the Iraqi desert is an odd mix of greenhouse farms competing for space with decrepit and bombed-out concrete factories and mills. To the east run a series of rebuilt plastics factories whose stackfires bellow acrid, black smoke over the whole landscape. Burned, rusting cars dot the sides of the road on this, the northern tip of the infamous "highway of death". This is the road along which the US massacred thousands of retreating Iraqi soldiers after an armistice had been signed at the end of "Desert Storm". A stone's throw from the Kuwaiti border, Safwan was once a large farming town that traded with the whole Gulf. Today, the sight of strangers is enough to bring out seemingly every child for miles around to chase after our car and beg for money. Throughout Iraq, war and drought and sanctions have resulted in a 30 per cent drop in crop production. After the destruction of Iraq's vaccine facilities by UN weapons inspectors, hoof and mouth disease ran rampant, killing over 1 million cattle. Since 1980, half the date trees - over 15 million trees - have died. There are 14 new crop diseases, and, since 1998, the screw worm parasite, which is not native to the Middle East, has suddenly appeared in Iraq to devastate the remaining farms. Mohason Mehsen's home and farm in Safwan could almost be beautiful. His courtyard boasts a garden surrounded by old brickwork standing under a huge and stunning sky. But the bricks are patched with cheap concrete, and Mohason is an angry and depressed man. His wife refuses to leave the house, and spends her days crying. Their son, Nadham, is dying. Born just after "Desert Storm," Nadham has been seriously ill since he was a year old. It could have been exposure to war pollutants or depleted uranium while he was in the womb. It may simply be bad luck. Nadham's been diagnosed with Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a rare genetic disease that causes extreme sensitivity to the UV radiation in sunlight. He only has partial vision left in one eye. His face is a pockmarked ruin of open, bloody sores. His nose has rotted away. When he comes out of the house, he must hide from the sun under the black robes of his grandmother's abaya. Nadham's condition is treatable, but not in Safwan. There is medication that can help, but the family cannot afford it. Mohason has been to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, the Red Cross, ICRC, UNIKOM, UNOHCI, and others, but to no avail. Nadham's story has been told on Iraqi and French TV. NBC did a segment on him for American viewers. No help came. Mohason has no message to take to the rest of the world. He made no plea to me. Through our translator, he told me: "What are you going to do? Nothing. There's no help in America. There's no help anywhere. We are Muslim. We believe in God more than American people, more than European people. Only God can help us." As we left the Mehsen's home, their neighbour Hussein Sultan ran to our car carrying his baby daughter, Barah. She has a heart defect. She needs corrective surgery. When we told him we weren't doctors, his face fell. "Can't you help my child?" he quietly asked us. Our driver grimly informed us as we drove back to Basra that he was certain whatever homes we visited in Safwan, every one of them would have a Nadham, a Barah. Once, once upon a time, there was and was not a people on whom catastrophe after catastrophe were driven, and no help came. Ramzi Kysia is a Muslim-American peace activist who serves on the board of directors for the Education for Peace in Iraq Centre. He recently spent two months in Iraq as part of a Voices in the Wilderness peace mission trying to stop the war. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020218/2002021812.html * IRAQ SEES 12 FOLD INCREASE IN CANCER, DEPLETED URANIUM CITED Arabic News, 18th February Number of cancer cases (Leukemia and kidney, liver and lung cancer) reported has increased in Iraq especially in the southern Iraqi cities. Doctors from the environment and pollution control centers at al-Mousel university unveiled that types of cancers resulting from environmental pollution witnesses a notable increase following the second Gulf war, adding that the use of depleted uranium and other traces of war and the pollution of air and soil are among the first reasons for cancer. The surgeon at al-Nasareyah hospital Kamal Naeem al-Khafaji attributed the spread of kidney diseases among children, youths and elderly to the pollution of drinking waters and of containing the depleted uranium, while the two researchers at al-Basra university Amal Saleh and Mustafa Abdullah said that the grave environmental deterioration resulted in the increase in the number of cancer cases, especially in Basra as number of reported cancer cases increased to more than 12 folds over the figures of 1991. A specialized European delegation visited Iraq in April 1998 from the south to the north and was briefed on the negative health conditions resulting from the American attacks and the use of internationally banned weapons. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2002/02/20/MN99941.DTL * WAR TENSIONS TOUGH ON CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ by Hadani Ditmars San Francisco Chronicle, 20th February Baghdad, Iraq -- At St. Teresa's Church, a woman kneels to pray. Making the sign of the cross, she offers up silent benedictions as the priest leads a prayer for the peace and prosperity of his congregation, their country and their president, Saddam Hussein. Although its interior -- with candles, icons and crucifixes -- would be familiar anywhere in the Catholic world, St. Teresa's is in central Baghdad, where the power of God should never try to rival that of the president. Iraq is a land steeped in biblical history. It was the birthplace of Abraham, claimed to be the site of the Garden of Eden, and a place where apostles such as St. Thomas sojourned en route between Jerusalem and India. Iraq's 800,000-strong Chaldean Christian community enjoys a relatively important place in a mainly Muslim society, exemplified by prominent figures such as Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. There are also another 200,000 Christians -- Roman Catholics and members of eastern churches. All are afforded government protection as religious minorities. But since the international embargo against Iraq began more than a decade ago, Iraqi Christians -- who can trace their roots back to Babylonian times -- have been slowly disappearing. The largest Chaldean community outside of Iraq is now in Detroit, and many Christians are using family connections to emigrate in search of a brighter economic future than the one offered in embargoed Iraq. Some observers express concern that the exodus is helping create an increasingly Islamicized culture in what has long been a secular society. As rural migrants from Iraq's predominantly Muslim south flood such major cities as Baghdad and Basra, urban cosmopolitanism is gradually giving way to a more fundamentalist outlook. In Baghdad, more and more women don't leave home without donning chadors -- a combination head covering, veil and shawl -- and streets in many neighborhoods are empty of women after sunset. Since Sept. 11, the role of Christians in Iraqi society has been put into even sharper relief. With President Bush's "with us or against us" rhetoric and threats of U.S. military attack emphasizing the boundaries -- usually benign -- between Iraqi Christians and Muslims, it is not an easy time to be a Christian in this country. The state-appointed Chaldean patriarch, Raphael Bidawid, said that although Iraqi Christians strongly identified themselves as "Iraqis first and then as Christians . . . we are sometimes accused of being agents of the West." "But when the bombs fall," he noted dryly, "they are not especially for Christians or for Muslims. They're for everyone." Bidawid's flock feels abandoned by the "Christian" nations that they believe are persecuting Iraq, he said. "No country in the Western world can call themselves Christian," he said. "They do not act according to the Christian principles of peace and justice." Without addressing issues of moral relativity, he added: "Those who point the finger at Iraq should not forget Hiroshima and Vietnam. They should not forget that they are starving a whole generation of children here." >From Detroit, Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim, the top Chaldean Catholic religious figure in the United States, said: "It's very hard to see a bright future for Christianity in the Middle East. "On the one hand, there is the rise in Islamic fundamentalism; on the other there is the U.S. position on Israel, which causes many Christians to be blamed as co-conspirators with the West. Both issues have a real impact on Christian populations in the whole area. We are really caught in the middle." Ibrahim says there are now 250,000 Iraqi Christians in the United States, about 150,000 of them Chaldeans. "We must follow the faithful, and that's why I'm here in Detroit," he said. Despite their growing isolation, the Iraqi Christians do not stand alone. Though the visit of a delegation of U.S. Episcopal bishops around Sept. 11 was postponed indefinitely, Archbishop Djibrael Kassab of Basra spent Christmas Day with some Christian anti-sanctions advocates who came from the United States to express their solidarity with Iraqis. "The fact that they spent Christmas with us means they have not forgotten us," he said. "There are some who care about what's going on here. "We love our enemies. During Mass on Christmas Day I delivered a special message to Mr. Bush, saying that we are both men of faith and that we are praying for our leader and for him. We are praying that he will come to know that sanctions come from a place that is evil." There are only about 1,000 Christian families left in Basra, down from three times that before the Iran-Iraq war began in 1980, but Kassab says they get along well as a minority. "We are living here like brothers with Muslims," he said, adding that at least 70 percent of the people who benefit from his parish's free pharmacy, day care center and home for the elderly are Muslim. The Christian community in Basra is actually quite well off, a nugget revealed by the archbishop's guileless comment that "Iraq is an egalitarian society. My houseboy and I both receive the same amount of rations." Besides benefiting from "cousin aid" from the outside, the community also prospers in the liquor business, something reserved only for Christians in Iraq. It is not uncommon to hear stories about Christians who literally help keep their Muslim neighbors alive by providing financial assistance. At St. Teresa's in Baghdad, a group of women stopped to chat after Mass. In the presence of a government "minder," they answered a question about Christian emigration with an emphatic denunciation of "those who abandon their country." "I would never leave," said 25-year-old Rana, an attractive young woman dressed fashionably in a faux-Chanel suit. "I love my country. And besides, those people in the West are not friendly; they don't like us." (Pope John Paul II, whose supportive anti-sanctions stance is much appreciated by Iraqi Christians, is excepted.) But later on Rana confided, "Even if I wanted to leave, where would I get the money? How would I get the visa?" And eventually she asked in a more curious tone, "How would I get the visa?" When the group was asked whether they had any concerns about the growing Islamicization of society and the increase in women wearing the hijab, or veil, 53-year-old Amira said, "Well, it says in the Bible that women should dress modestly. It's the same thing." As for the United States, Amira said, "Those people who embargo our country are not true Christians. They do not love peace and justice." "I want to tell the Americans that Christ came for peace, not for war," she said. Canadian journalist Hadani Ditmars recently returned from a monthlong reporting trip to Iraq. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.