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News, 16-23/2/02 (2)

News, 16-23/2/02 (2)


*  Between Two Extremes [Joschka Fischer would like the USA to treat him
with respect]
*  Patten assails 'unilateralist' U.S. [Another little bleat from a European
collaborator begging to be treated with respect: "The lesson of Sept. 11 is
that we need both American leadership and international cooperation ...²]
*  Simplistic Criticism of U.S. Overlooks Complex Realities [The Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung argues that Europe will only be deserving of respect when
it has increased its military budget sufficiently to be able to make a
significant contribution to the fulfilment of US foreign policy objectives.]
*  German official predicts growing US-EU differences over Iraq policy
[Germany pretends to have a mind of its own]
*  Germany urges int'l pressure on Iraq to let in UN inspectors [Germany
gives up pretending that it has a mind of its own.]
*  Italy Sticks to Policy of Dialogue With Iraq [We¹re not going to have to
start liking Silvio Berlusconi, are we?]
*  Patten seeks to calm rift with US [Europe, having uttered its little yelp
of alarm, settles back into its customary Œgood dog¹ mode of existence.]
*  France's Constructive Critic [Thoughts of Hubert Védrine put in the best
possible (to American eyes) light. Extracts.]
*  European Union alleges U.S. companies sent black-market cigarettes to
Iraq [Most of this is about smuggling to Europe but the sting comes in the
tale when it is suggested that the cigarettes were smuggled into Iraq
through the good offices of the (recently renamed) Kurdistan Workers¹ Party]
*  France won't back U.S. attack on Iraq [Comparatively firm talk from the
French ambassador to the US]

by Leo Wieland
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 17th February
[More worthless ruminations from Germany.]
Southern Star, 18th February
[The Southern Star, apparently based in Skibbereen in Co Cork ­ is it the
successor to the famous Skibbereen Eagle? ­ denounces the evil of Al-Qaida
and weak kneed liberals with impressive, straght-faced solemnity: ŒAll the
actions in Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere, represent a Œfight for
freedom¹ the likes of which the world has never before experienced and as
our President said at the start, Ireland must Œstand shoulder to shoulder¹
with America, Britain and the civilised democracies in order to rid the
planet of such a horrendous evil.¹ etc]
by Peter Finn
Dawn (from Washington Post), 19th February, 06 Zilhaj 1422
[A round-up of opinions that have already been given elsewhere]
by Michael Naumann
International Herald Tribune (from The New York Times), 19th February
[More European handwringing and whingeing and inability to look evil in the
face and stand up to it, this time from Œa former German minister of culture
.... editor and publisher of the weekly Die Zeit¹. Who makes his timid
criticism of US terrorism then mumbles that: ŒA truly enforced policy of
serious sanctions against Iraq - and persuading Turkey to stop breaking them
- would be more useful.¹]


*  Kuwaiti minister denies a reported US attack against Iraq from Kuwait
*  Assad Warns US Against Attacking Iraq
*  Saudi, UAE oppose action against Iraq
*  Egypt urges rethink of sanctions against Iraq [No details given]
*  US to found a central leadership base in Bahrain [Strange to see the
Arabic News turning to The Sun for inside information about goings on in
*  Sudan opposes US strike on Iraq
*  Kuwait: we will not be the base to strike Iraq [Won¹t be the base ...]
*  The scenarios of striking Iraq [Will be the base ...]
*  Sudan urges Iraq to let U.N. inspectors return
*  Iraqi delegation holds talks in Turkey Ankara


*  Time to stop being America's lap-dog [An interesting article from Will
Hutton, which suggests rather naively that there is a good Œliberal¹ America
that has been swamped by a reactionary, ideologically motivated one. He
concludes: ŒThe Tories broke over Europe. Labour will break over too-slavish
fealty to this US.¹ But of course our basic problem is that there is no
worthwhile opposition in British politics. In this respect the people who
have usurped the honourable title of Tory (which once meant
anti-imperialist, anti-free trade, rural, Church and State monarchist) are
as bad as the people who have usurped the honourable title of Labour.]
*  Perhaps a Russian-British lobby against war on Iraq? [Hugo Young. A good
first sentence but it quickly runs out of things to say].
*  Bombing Baghdad: a failed option [Its taken a long time for someone to
come up with this - a developed satire on the analogy between Al Qaida and
the IRA - but its still good to see it finally in print. For example:
ŒAmerica, on the other hand, provides a bewildering number of targets.
Should the UK have bombed Washington, where the policies were formed? Or
should it have concentrated on places where Irishmen are known to lurk, like
New York, Boston and Philadelphia? The UK could have bombed any police
station and fire station in most major urban centres, secure in the
knowledge that we would be taking out significant numbers of IRA
sympathisers. ¹ What makes this good satire, as opposed to the mindless
obscenities of a Steve Bell, and the glutinous mass of eighth rate
cartoonists he has spawned, is that what is said here about IRA sympathisers
is EXACTLY what is being said everywhere at the present time about
sympathisers with those who believe in the establishment of an Islamic state
(as any serious Muslim must, just as most Irish people sympathise with the
aims of the IRA, whatever attitude they may have to their methods.)]
*  We must stand by Bush [Here¹s a clever little piece of special pleading.
Bush must put pressure on Sharon to be nice to the Palestinians. But he
can¹t do it while the Israelis have reason to be scared of Iraq and Iran (ie
while there¹s any suggestion that Muslims might have and be prepared to use
any sort of substantial military capacity). Iran will cease to be a scary
place when the democratic element replaces the clerical element (it being
well known that the Muslim Œstreet¹ wants nothing better than to make peace
with Israel). But that can¹t happen while Iran is scared of Iraq. Therefore
... And, as far as Britain is concerned: Œthe consequences of stepping aside
now from action to change the regime in Iraq would be devastating to our
international credibility. We would look like a beached whale, pretentious
and overblown.¹ After all, we are Tonto to the US¹s Lone Ranger. Without the
Lone Ranger, what would Tonto be?]

(1) EUROPE{14C3AAE4-F242-47D1

by Eckart Lohse
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 15th February

BERLIN. It was a delicate situation this time last year, when German Foreign
Minister Joseph (Joschka) Fischer went to Washington to meet the newly
appointed U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In Germany, the media were focused on Mr. Fischer's past as a militant
leftist, and the German foreign minister was paying his first formal visit
to the former general, who 10 years earlier led his country's forces in the
Gulf War, a campaign that Mr. Fischer had opposed.

The German minister's facial expression at an appearance with Mr. Powell
showed that the memories were not pleasant ones. Only when Mr. Powell calmly
dismissed the whole affair with "Amazing, isn't it?" did the atmosphere
improve. It was clear he would get on well with his new U.S. counterpart.

Mr. Fischer wanted to acknowledge this change publicly. So when talking
about U.S. air raids on Iraq at the time, he said it was an "action by our
ally" that he would not criticize. U.S. soldiers were at risk, he said,
adding that Iraq was working on weapons of mass destruction.

Among his party colleagues in Alliance 90/The Greens back home, there were
rumblings about such deference to the U.S. government. But now, there is a
growing impression that deference is finally at an end.

On Tuesday, in an interview with a German daily, Mr. Fischer said that even
though there were among allies differences in size and strength, an alliance
between free democratic nations should not be reduced to blind allegiance,
adding that "alliance partners were not satellites."

Iraq is again the issue, although no shots have been fired yet. But between
U.S. President George W. Bush's linking Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an
"axis of evil" in January and the growing number of signs this week that
Washington has not ruled out military action against Baghdad, anxiety in
Berlin and other European capitals is on the rise.

These are the two extremes between which the current government of the
Social Democrats and the Greens swings. German membership in NATO and its
commitment to the alliance, and therefore to the United States, are widely
accepted as the foundation of German foreign policy.

Even the Greens consider friendship with the United States vitally important
despite "differences or disagreements." The same is certainly true for the
Social Democrats, who never defined themselves as anti-American as the
Greens did.

Mr. Schröder and Mr. Fischer feel Germany's commitment to the United States
and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization so stable that they can criticize
the Americans repeatedly.

Mr. Fischer's short-lived and controversial suggestion that NATO give up its
policy of allowing first use of nuclear weapons was one key example, as was
the German government's decision, during the Clinton administration, to
oppose the U.S. missile defense program -- a view then reversed when it
became clear that the new Republican administration would whole-heartedly
pursue development of the system.

The revelation of Germany's powerlessness has also played an important role
in the current government's relationship with the United States.

One experienced hand in the German foreign policy establishment recently
voiced concern that Washington would give little attention to warnings from
European foreign ministers regarding unilateral U.S. action against Iraq.
But it is too easily forgotten here that the United States sees itself in a
state of war and is therefore even less prepared than usual to consult its

Optimists in Berlin find comfort in Mr. Powell's comments on Capitol Hill
this week. While he had harsh words for Baghdad, he still noted a clear
distinction between Iraq on the one hand and Iran and North Korea on the
other. It was after all Mr. Bush's inclusion of Iran in his "axis of evil"
that upset Berlin. Germany has been working hard to reduce tensions with

Less optimistic voices in Berlin, however, point out that Mr. Powell is
usually the only member of the Bush administration who says the kinds of
things Europe wants to hear.

International Herald Tribune (from Reuters), 16th February

The European Union's external affairs chief, Chris Patten, warned the United
States on Friday to curb its "unilateralist urge," as a war of words between
Washington and Brussels over President George W. Bush's "axis of evil"
comments intensified.

.Highlighting growing trans-Atlantic divisions over how to pursue the
campaign against terror that began after the Sept. 11 attacks, Patten said
it was vital that America did not set off on its own.

."The stunning and unexpectedly rapid success of the military campaign in
Afghanistan was a tribute to American capacity," Patten wrote in the
Financial Times on Friday. "But," he added, "it has perhaps reinforced some
dangerous instincts: that the projection of military power is the only basis
of true security; that the U.S. can rely on no one but itself, and that
allies may be useful as an optional extra."

.Speculation has increased that U.S. military action against Iraq was
imminent after Bush, in his State of the Union address last month, described
Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil" nuturing extremist groups.

.The U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, on Thursday repeated earlier
assurances that there were no plans for early strikes against Baghdad, but
neither did he rule them out. "The lesson of Sept. 11 is that we need both
American leadership and international cooperation on an unprecedented
scale," Patten wrote. "The unilateralist urge is not wicked. Simply that it
is ultimately ineffective and self-defeating."{3D65008E-A4ED-4D70

by Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 15th February


It was not without a certain astonishment that officials in Washington
watched the European underachievers getting so worked up. Then they reminded
Europe of the long list of its military shortcomings, accused it of
overlooking repression in the case of Iran and of a strategic naïveté that
virtually unmasked Europe's pretensions as a global actor.

What enrages many Europeans, who are in fact not as united as they like to
think, is perhaps not so much the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict or Iraq as the realization of their own powerlessness on the
questions that really count. Their reflexive indignation is directed at an
America that has already licked its wounds and gotten back to business, and
is now refusing to let anyone constrain it, least of all those who are
unwilling or unable to act on their own.

Conscious of its strength, the United States is pursuing a foreign policy
that shows little of the humility that Mr. Bush promised during his election
campaign. America has become vulnerable, but not timid, and there is
certainly no rival to the superpower in sight. What it needs militarily and
politically for the time being are emergency-relief assistants. Most, if not
all, of its partners and allies are not capable of much else.

Moreover, the Americans will have to maintain their own vision of what they
want to accomplish as the memories of Sept. 11 fade and the number of their
critics grows.

As for Europe, indignation and sentimentality do not compensate for its
unwillingness to commit sufficient resources. Clearly, Europe can only
become a partner to reckon with in Washington when it injects a huge dose of
vitality into its economy, and political demands are made in conjunction
with larger defense budgets. Up to now, however, this therapy has rarely
been applied. What the United States and Europe need is a framework in which
they can achieve consensus about their different perspectives and jointly
design common strategies. But where is there a political platform to discuss
such questions as the real dangers stemming from Baghdad's regime?

Those who are not indifferent to the transatlantic partnership will have to
find the right answers. Strong words originating at least in part from
simplistic anti-Americanism lead nowhere. On the other hand, if the
Americans allow themselves to become and to be seen as arrogant, it will
create opposition not just within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but
throughout the West and beyond.

The new honeymoon is indeed over.


Berlin, Feb 18, IRNA -- The coordinator for German-American relations at the
German Foreign Ministry, Karsten Voigt, said he anticipates growing
differences between the EU and the US over the handling of Iraq, DPA
reported here Monday.

"Once the US decides to attack Iraq, this could lead to differences with
European partners," Voigt was quoted as saying on the German public
television station ZDF. He called on Washington to present clear evidence
linking the Iraqi regime to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Earlier, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned against a planned US
military attack on Iraq, saying Washington had shown no proof linking Osama
bin Laden's alleged terrorist activities to the government of Saddam

"So far I haven't seen any evidence presented to me which links Osama bin
Laden's terror activities with the regime in Iraq," Fischer said.


Berlin, Feb 18, IRNA -- Germany here Monday called for international
pressure on the Iraqi regime to allow the return of UN weapons inspectors.

"The federal government is fully convinced that it would make sense to send
back UN arms inspectors to Iraq," said government spokesman, Uwe-Karsten
Heye, at a news conference at the Berlin-based Federal Press Conference

"We anticipate continued pressure on Iraq with regards to this issue," Heye

The spokesman also reiterated that 'there was no evidence linking Iraq to
terrorist networks'.

Heye refused to speculate on Germany's reaction in the event of a possible
US attack on Iraq, saying, 'the federal government would not participate in
theoretical debates'.

He referred to earlier assurances by US President George W. Bush during
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's recent visit to Washington to consult with
European allies regarding a planned military strike in Iraq.


ROME, February 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Italy is pushing ahead with its policy of
seeking dialogue with Iraq, Italian Prime Minister and acting Foreign
Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday.

"We hope that there is room for dialogue" with Iraq and Italy will continue
with this policy, Berlusconi said as he left a reception in Rome.

Berlusconi's remarks came after United States President George W. Bush said
in Japan Monday that he did not rule out any option in defending the U.S.
and its allies.

Bush's statement was seen as further proof of his administration's hardline
against three countries -- Iran, Iraq and North Korea -- he recently
described as an "axis of evil."

There has been intense speculation recently that the Bush administration is
planning to turn its anti-terrorist campaign against Iraq.

Berlusconi's position appeared in line with that of France and Germany,
whose foreign ministers both indicated opposition to an attack on Iraq.

by Stephen Castle in Brussels
Independent, 20th February

Transatlantic rifts over Iraq could play into the hands of Saddam Hussein, a
senior EU official warned yesterday, as a concerted effort was mounted to
damp down a damaging dispute between Europe and the US.

Chris Patten, European Commissioner for external affairs, told a gathering
of parliamentarians from Nato countries it "would be fatal to allow Saddam
Hussein, who is a genuinely evil political leader, to play off one group of
countries against another."

As the fall­out over President Bush's description of Iraq, Iran and North
Korea as an "axis of evil" continued to dominate EU­US relations, Mr Patten
highlighted the importance of US­backed moves to increase the pressure on
Baghdad over its chemical and biological weapons programme.

Mr Patten said that the United Nations Security Council resolution 1382
which covers the issue should be used as a "basis for much smarter and more
effective sanctions" in order to get the "inspectors back to Iraq to do
their job properly."

While that underscored Europeans' preference for sanctions, rather than
military pressure on Iraq, it lowered the tone of recent exchanges. For
their part US officials insisted that there is no suggestion of imminent
armed intervention against Baghdad.

Tensions between the EU and Washington have been evident since the Bush
"axis of evil" speech which ended the show of solidarity forged by the US
and Europe in the wake of 11 September.

Mr Patten warned of "unilateralist overdrive" and the German foreign
minister, Joschka Fischer also expressed their concern, while the French
foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine, described Mr Bush's characterisation as
"simplistic". That provoked a sharp rebuke from the US Secretary of State
Colin Powell responded by accusing Mr Vedrine of "getting the vapours".

Europeans were both alarmed by the speech's implication that Iraq might be a
US military target, and concerned that it struck at the heart of the EU's
"softer" foreign policy.

Mr Patten last year visited Pyongyang and held talks with senior figures in
the Iranian government as part of a policy of constructive engagement.
Yesterday the Commissioner pointed out that the US administration has
adopted a similar, more softly­softly approach towards China.

Divergences may also have been exacerbated by domestic political concerns,
with elections due in France and Germany pushing rhetoric in one direction,
and the onset of mid­term Congressional elections in America later in the
year pushing in the other.

The change of tone began with Mr Vedrine who, on Monday, stressed that there
was no Franco­American rift and called for UN inspectors to be allowed back
into Iraq. Javier Solana, the EU's high representative of foreign affairs,
also tried to tone down the differences arguing: "The relationship between
the United States and the EU is crucial and we should not play with that
relationship, and the US should not play with it either." He told a seminar
of the Centre for European Reform think­tank that the two sides had to
"coordinate and to maintain a good tonality in public as much as possible."

One diplomat said there was common agreement "that Iraq is a problem, it is
a long­standing one and that we have to go about deciding how to deal with

by David Ignatius
Washington Post, 22nd February


Vedrine made light of the put-down Powell fired his way last week when he
said that the French foreign minister must have been "getting the vapors"
when he made the "simplistic" remark. Vedrine knows that he was being
insulted -- being compared to a nervous menopausal woman. But he laughed it
off as "a virile exchange between friends."

Vedrine has been studying Powell this week, in a characteristically French
way -- by reading a translation of the secretary of state's autobiography.
He speaks of the rise of this African American to become secretary of state
as a classically American story of opportunity and success.

Vedrine wants to reassure the United States, first of all, that there is no
surge of anti American feeling in France or in Europe. Polls show that
anti-Americanism is feeble in France, he says, registering among no more
than 10 percent of the public. For that reason, he maintains, attacking the
United States is no longer a good political tactic here.

"There may be more anti-French feeling in the U.S. than anti-American
feeling in France," Vedrine says. And I suspect he is right. The reflexive
Gaullist mistrust of all things American is beginning to die out among the
French political class.

The Europeans know they will have to live for the foreseeable future in a
world dominated by the United States. "That is more a threat to our ideas
than our interests," Vedrine says. In a world where the most dynamic French
companies -- TotalFinaElf, Airbus, Vivendi -- are making English their
official language, it's hard to maintain the old Gaullist faith.

The imbalance in military power between the United States and Europe doesn't
seem to worry Vedrine much, either. The Europeans understand that American
wealth has purchased a kind of military power the world has never seen
before. France and Europe know they can't compete with it, and Vedrine says
they don't intend to try. "There is no reason for the Europeans to match a
country that can fight four wars at once," he says.

Vedrine accepts that, given this imbalance of power, the United States will
take more unilateral military actions. "When the Pentagon decided to wage
war alone in Afghanistan, I understood," he says, noting that he said from
the outset that NATO help wouldn't be needed.

The foreign minister says he understands that America is a different country
after Sept. 11. "The idea of America was invulnerability," he says. "The
people who came to America left a world of insecurity." They wanted to come
to a place where they would be safe, and now they are in danger. The
Europeans understand that sense of shock and anguish and vulnerability, he


The best way for Bush to advance America's broader anti-terrorism strategy,
in Vedrine's view, would be to announce that he is going to make peace in
the Middle East. "If he did that," says Vedrine, "everything would change."

"Bush has the power to impose a peace settlement in the Middle East," if he
will be tough with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, and not simply
with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Vedrine says. It is a unique
opportunity, he maintains, if only the White House will seize it.

My hunch is that the French, and most other Europeans, would in the end
support a well drafted U.S. plan for toppling Hussein -- but only if it was
backed by a solid international coalition that was rooted in real
consultation. The Europeans' nightmare is that America will take actions
that vitally affect their interests -- without bothering to consider their

News & Observer, 22nd February

NEW YORK (AP) -- The European Union has alleged that U.S. tobacco companies
participated in smuggling cigarettes into Iraq in violation of international
sanctions, according to documents filed in a federal court.

The allegations, first reported by the Center for Public Integrity on its
Web site Friday, were made as part of a lawsuit against tobacco giants
Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds and 11 related companies. The charges, filed
Feb. 1, focus primarily on Reynolds and related businesses.

The companies denied the allegations.

A spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem, N.C., said
the company sold its international operations, and virtually all their legal
liabilities, in 1999.

"Reynolds Tobacco has not done and does not do business in the EU or any
other international market," spokesman Seth Moskowitz said Friday. "To
suggest that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company has been involved in smuggling
activities in the European Union or elsewhere is unsupportable and untrue."

A Philip Morris attorney responded that the company would not dignify the
EU's "absurd" and "irresponsible" allegations with a response, the Center
for Public Integrity reported.

A federal judge in Brooklyn dismissed the lawsuit earlier this week, citing
a lack of jurisdiction, but the EU may file an amended complaint.

The EU lawsuit's central claim was that cigarette makers intentionally
oversupplied countries in eastern Europe and elsewhere. The surplus would
then be smuggled into the 15 nation EU, the lawsuit alleged, resulting in
billions of dollars in lost taxes over the years.

When he dismissed the lawsuit, U.S District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the
EU could pursue money-laundering charges against the tobacco companies.

In its Feb. 1 filing, the EU alleged R.J. Reynolds shipped millions of cases
of cigarettes through Spain, Cyprus, Turkey and into Iraq since the early
1990s. EU attorneys claim that shipments into Iraq were linked to the
Kurdistan Workers Party, a Kurdish rebel group fighting for autonomy from

by Steve Park
The Washington Times, 22nd February
[Comparatively firm talk from the French ambassador to the US]

The French ambassador to the United States says Europe will not support any
U.S. military action against Iraq without clear evidence that a military
response is warranted. Top Stories

"We would not pledge support. They (the United States) would be on their
own," Ambassador Francois Bujon said at a Tuesday evening forum sponsored by
Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International

Even Europe's most ardent supporter of the war against terrorism, British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, would not support the United States if it were to
attack Iraq in the near future, he said.

Since President Bush named Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran
and North Korea during his State of the Union address late last month, there
has been growing concern in Europe that the United States will invade Iraq.

Several European leaders have shown distress about the term "axis of evil."
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he does not wish to engage in a
"hypothetical debate" about whether the United States will attack Iraq.

Mr. Bujon stressed that Europe will not simplify "complex and
multidimensional problems" such as Iraq into a one-dimensional analysis. His
remarks echoed comments earlier this month by French Foreign Minister Hubert
Vedrine, who described Mr. Bush's "axis of evil" comment as "simplistic."

Nevertheless, Iraq has made conciliatory remarks since Mr. Bush's speech.
Last week, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told a German newspaper
his country might accept "some form of [international] inspection" to
monitor its weapons programs.

Mr. Bujon credited the Bush administration for being "well focused on al
Qaeda and Afghanistan," but said Iraq can be dealt with more effectively
though diplomatic and economic approaches, rather than war.

He stressed that it would be a mistake for the Bush administration to
believe that European nations will support a U.S. invasion once it became
clear the United States is committed.

"Europeans are very afraid that the United States will pursue its national
interest without heeding advice from its friends," Mr. Bujon said. If that
turns out to be case, in the end, no one will pledge support, he added.

Asked what conditions would have to be met before European nations could
support U.S. military action against Iraq, Mr. Bujon said, "There may never
be conditions for [Europe to support] attacking Iraq."

Mr. Bush seeks to sustain the support of European nations in the war against
terrorism, but there have been clear signals that the United States will
fight terrorism alone if it has to.

Last week, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said the president "does not
rule out the option of having to act alone if it becomes necessary."


Arabic News, 16th February

The Kuwaiti minister of defense Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak has denied the
reports stated by the British daily The Guardian on the readiness of 200,000
American troops to launch an attack from Kuwait at Iraq.

In a statement to the Kuwaiti daily al-Rai la-Am issued on Friday, Sheikh
al-Mubarak said that every body knows that the Americans do not fight by
their land forces, nor troops, rather they use their air force.

He added that what was published on that 200,000 soldiers will start from
Kuwait are information disseminated "by the Iraqi intelligence in order to
create confusion and to constitute a sort of pressure on Kuwait."

On the existence of agents for the American intelligence training Shiite
forces in Kuwait, al Mubarak said:" we do not have clients and Kuwait does
not interfere in the internal affairs of any country and does not want any
one to interfere in its affairs."

by Sabina Castelfranco
Voice of America, 17th February

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned the United States against
attacking Iraq. In an interview with an Italian daily, the Syrian leader
said such an attack could seriously affect stability in the region.

The Syrian leader's opposition to an attack on Iraq was spelled out in an
interview published in the Milan daily Corriere della Sera. His comments
were made two days before he pays an official visit to Italy, his first
foreign trip since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Any attack on Iraq, Mr. Assad said, would only attract more hatred for the
United States. Washington has said it is considering various options against
nations it believes could be developing weapons of mass destruction.

The Syrian president warned Washington that an attack against Iraq would
result in "a popular fury that would be more dangerous than the political
reaction." Such an attack, he said, would represent "an attack on justice
and human rights."

The Syrian leader noted that European states had expressed alarm at U.S.
threats of an attack on Iraq.

He said that Arab countries have more faith in the European Union than the
United States to act as a balanced broker and maintain stability in the
Middle East.

During his three day visit, which begins Tuesday, Mr. Assad, who is
traveling with his wife, will be seeing Italian President Carlo Azeglio
Ciampi. Italy is Syria's second-largest trading partner in Europe.

Times of India, 17th February

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia, the United States' closest ally in the Middle east, and
the United Arab Emirates have opposed any unilateral military action against
Iraq as unjustified and said violence is not the means to resolve disputes.

Saudi Arabia will not support "in any circumstance" an attack against Iraq
as disputes and differences cannot be settled through violence, Interior
Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz said in Mecca.

Echoing Riyadh's sentiments, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan said there was "no justification to strike

Nahyan, at the same time, called on Baghdad to implement the international
resolutions and release Kuwaiti prisoners, according to official news agency

The two countries made their stand clear following an American statement
that it would go it alone on Iraq as part of its anti-terror campaign if US
allies refused to cooperate.

Times of India (Reuters), 18th February

AIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said on Sunday it was time to
reconsider UN sanctions against Iraq, a Middle East News Agency report said.

"Now it is time to reassess the sanctions imposed on Iraq," the official
Egyptian news agency quoted Maher as saying at a meeting with the Egyptian
Businessmen's Association.

Iraq also should abide by international resolutions and take measures to
assure its neighbours that it would not repeat what took place in 1990,
Maher added, referring to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Maher repeated Egypt's rejection of any potential military strike against
Iraq, saying Egypt and other Arab countries were holding contacts to make
clear the danger of such a move, especially after Iraq expressed readiness
to comply with UN resolutions.

"We hope such a spirit will continue so that Iraq can avoid further
suffering," he was quoted as saying.


Arabic News, 19th February

The British Tabloid "The Sun" issued on Monday said that the US is intending
to found a central leadership base in Bahrain in order to supervise the land
war to be carried out by some 200,000 US soldiers from Kuwait under the
cover of intensive air bombardment operations against Iraq from Kuwait,
Saudi Arabia and Turkey as well as planes carriers in the Gulf.

The paper indicated that the countdown has started to carry out the strikes
against Iraq in May.

The paper added that London announced support for the American targets in
Iraq in order to topple the regime of the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein,
but noted that there is no plan of a nearby attack.

Times of India (from AFP), 19th February

BAGHDAD: Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail voiced his country's
opposition Monday in Baghdad to any US strike on Iraq as part of
Washington's "war on terror."

"We refuse any strike on Iraq. If Iraq is hit today, Sudan will be tomorrow
and other Arab countries the day after tomorrow," Ismail told reporters on
arrival in the Iraqi capital.

Ismail said he was carrying a message from Sudanese President Omar el-Beshir
to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "on bilateral relations and the current
situation in the Arab world."

US President George W. Bush charged in a January 29 State of the Union
address that Iraq, Iran and North Korea formed an "axis of evil" and were
seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and accused Baghdad of
continuing to "support terror."

Arabic News, 20th February

Kuwait on Tuesday announced it will not be the base for the American forces
to striking Iraq and stressed that what was stated of deploying 200,000
American troopers in Kuwait for this purpose is "just a rumor that aims at
increasing sympathy with Iraq and defaming Kuwait."

To this effect the Kuwaiti deputy premier and defense minister Sheikh Jaber
al-Mubarak al Hamad in a statement to the Saudi daily al-Watan issued on
Tuesday considered that the "Iraqi people are eligible to make the change in
their country but we do not encourage that to be taken place through us or
to take part in acts of this sort in any other country."

Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak said " we do hate this regime ( the Iraqi regime)
and believe it is the reason behind the blight in our region as a whole.

On what was stated by commentaries in western media that Kuwait will be the
focal place for American and western forces to strike Iraq, the Kuwaiti
minister said that the " effective weapon in the war against Iraq is the air
force. But as for what has been rumored on deploying 200,000 American
soldiers of Kuwait in preparations for the war against Iraq, they are mere
rumors aiming just to raise sympathy for the Iraqi regime."

Arabic News, 20th February

The Kuwaiti paper al-Seyasah said in its Monday's issue, according to Gulf
diplomatic sources that the scenarios of the American military strike of
Iraq have become clear and agreed upon.


The paper indicated that Saudi Arabia and Turkey will be alienated from
taking part in this war directly because of their internal conditions, while
Kuwait might play the role of Pakistan in the war in Afghanistan, Jordan to
play the role of Tajakistan and Uzbekstan as a an American warehouse for the
reserve troops and weapons in an attempt also to alienate the Israelis out
of this game.

CNN, 20th February

BAGHDAD, Iraq: Sudan urged Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to let U.N.
weapons inspectors back into his country to avert a possible U.S. attack,
Arab diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail met with Hussein to deliver a
message from Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir, the Iraqi News Agency said, but
it did not say what that message was. Other sources, however, described it.

Ismail, who said Sudan would oppose any U.S. military action against Iraq,
was in Baghdad for the opening of the new Sudanese Embassy.

"Sudan's government and people are standing in the face of the ferocious
aggression against Iraq and backing efforts aimed at lifting the embargo,"
the news agency quoted Ismail.


Arabic News, 20th February

Head of the Iraqi delegation to hold talks in Turkey told INA correspondent
in Ankara that the delegation's visit reflects the good ties between Iraq
and Turkey. "Iraq is seeking to strengthen these ties to serve interests of
the two Muslim peoples," he said, INA reported.

(3) BRITAIN,6903,651546,00.html

by Will Hutton
The Observer, 17th February

The most important political story of our time is the rise of the American
Right and the near collapse of American liberalism. This has transformed the
political and cultural geography of the United States and now it is set to
transform the political and cultural geography of the West. Britain's reflex
reactions to an ally with whom we apparently share so much and which has
served us well are going to be tested as never before.

The signals are all around. It takes extraordinary circumstances to produce
the kind of warnings voiced over the last week by Chris Patten, EU
commissioner for external affairs and former chairman of the Conservative
Party, but these circumstances are extraordinary. Patten has damned the
emerging US reliance on its fantastic military superiority over all other
nations to pursue what it wants as it wants as an 'absolutist and
simplistic' approach to the rest of the world that is ultimately
self-defeating. It is also intellectually and morally wrong. He is the first
ranking British politician to state so boldly what has been a commonplace in
France and Germany for weeks.

The most obvious flashpoint is the weight of evidence that after Afghanistan
George Bush intends a massive military intervention to topple Iraq's Saddam
Hussein. Dangerous dictator he may be, but the unilateral decision to
declare war upon another state without a casus belli other than suspicion
will upset the fabric of law on which international relations rests, as well
as destabilising the Middle East.

American loyalists shrug their shoulders; Tony Blair is reported to have
said privately that 'if we can get rid of Baghdad, we should', a
devastatingly naive remark which so far stands uncorrected. This is the
traditional British view that insists we stick close to the US. It remains
the same good America that has been on the right side of the great conflicts
of the last 100 years; worthwhile allies put up with the bad decisions as
well as the good.

But it's not the same good America. The postwar US that reconstructed Europe
and led an international liberal economic and social order has disappeared
completely. Its former leaders would no more volunteer the scale of defence
spending now contemplated in the US - a 12 per cent, $48 billion increase on
an already stunning military budget - while offering the less developed
countries close to nothing in increased aid flows, debt relief and market
access than fly to the Moon. Yet Bush has only agreed to attend next month's
crucial UN conference in Monterey on global governance and Third World
development strategies if it is understood that the question of money is not
be raised.

It is this essential stance, along with the tearing down of international
weapons treaties and last week's feeble move on global warming that tells us
how profoundly conservative the US has become. Unilateralism, as Patten
argues, is not in itself ignoble - states pursue their self interests - but
US unilateralism is uncompromisingly absolutist because it is ideological,
which is what it makes so dangerous.

American conservatism, following the teaching of the influential
conservative American political philosopher Leo Strauss, unites patriotism,
unilateralism, the celebration of inequality and the right of a moral élite
to rule into a single unifying ideology. As Professor Shadia Drury describes
in Leo Strauss and the American Right (St Martin's Press), Strauss's core
idea that just states must be run by moral, religious, patriotic individuals
and that income redistribution, multilateralism and any restraint on
individual liberty are mortal enemies of the development of such just élites
is the most influential of our times.

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of state for defence pushing for an
early invasion of Iraq, is a Straussian. So is John Ashcroft, the
attorney-general, who has legislated for military tribunals both to try and
execute suspected terrorists beyond the rule of law. Straussians build up
the military capacity of the nation while invoking the Bible and the flag.
This is not prejudice; this is a coherent ideological position.

The emergence of the largely reactionary south and west of the US as its new
economic and political centres of gravity; the weakness of its rules on
campaign finance which allow rich, usually conservative, candidates to buy
elections; the inability of American liberals to fight back; the embrace of
Straussian ideas, laced with traditional anti-tax, free-market nostrums -
these ingredients make a deadly cocktail.

They have transformed American politics, so that even an essentially
progressive President like Clinton found himself behaving, as he
acknowledged, like an Eisenhower Republican, while being the object of a
co-ordinated conservative conspiracy in first the Whitewater investigations
and later the Starr inquiry. The Supreme Court's suspension of the Florida
recount in December 2000, to gift the presidency to Bush, is part of the
same story.

This destructive conservatism is contested fiercely, especially on the
liberal, internationalist seaboards. Many good Americans are as bewildered
by their current leaders and ideas as we are. But they are not in control.
What the world has to deal with is not just the Bush administration, but the
internal forces that put it there and will continue to constrain the US even
without it. Iraq, the continuing defence build-up, disdain for international
law and total uninterest in the 'soft' aspects of security - aid, trade,
health, education and debt - are now givens in US policy.

Before this challenge, Britain, in its own self-interest, has to play the
same balance-of-power politics it used to do in eighteenth- and
nineteenth-century Europe. That means siding with the EU and no longer being
US conservatism's lapdog. We cannot, for example, be part of the US national
missile defence system if its purpose is to destroy the fabric of
international law or join America's war against Iraq.

Mr Blair should beware. Trying to be both pro-European and pro-American will
no longer work. There is a choice and, if he does not make it, ultimately it
will wreck his premiership. In an era of globalisation, it is international
affairs that determine the fate of governments, because party Whips cannot
contain the consequent passions. The Tories broke over Europe. Labour will
break over too-slavish fealty to this US. This is the new political drama.
Watch out.,3604,652528,00.html

by Hugo Young
The Guardian, 19th February

The word that describes Tony Blair's attitude towards George Bush is
insouciant. He seems worried about almost nothing. The main thing is that he
remains inside the loop.

The two men talk often. They have most intimate and honest dealings,
according to a senior Downing Street insider. These conversations underwrite
the British claim never yet to have been taken by surprise, in any phase of
the campaign against terrorism. They leave Mr Blair very sure of Britain's
relations with the US, which have been marked by concerted action as well as
words: a lot less crucial than Pakistan's but, as usual, more important than
that of any other European.

Mr Blair also accepts the shift that has smoothly taken place in
Washington's analysis, carrying the anti-terror targeting far beyond
al-Qaida and into the countries that are producing weapons of mass
destruction, or WMD. From global networks to an axis of national evils, in
one easy slide. Not all EU member states are so ready to agree with this,
though none of them, apparently, has conveyed as much to the prime
minister's office. He feels comfortable on all sides. The stories of
transatlantic rifts, in his opinion, are exaggerated. The possibility that
the most painful rift might cleave through his own person, as he becomes
less a bridge than an illusion linking America to Europe, does not arise.

Behind the scenes, in the ceaseless turmoil of diplomatic activity between
London and Washington, things are a little more complicated. The unevenness
of leverage is showing, starting in Afghanistan itself, where the
British-led peacekeeping force is desperately short of manpower. Though Mr
Blair was pleased that, after Christmas, the US offered more resources to
rebuild Afghanistan than it had done before, peacekeeping work by soldiers
is another matter. A senior British diplomat was sent to Washington last
week to press Secretary Rumsfeld to provide an American element for this
work, but got an adamantly dusty reply. There will be no US peacekeepers, he
was told.

There are also disagreements over Iran, which for the US is becoming a more
immediate source of rage than Iraq. Iran's nuclear supplies from Russia,
Iran's alleged arms deliveries to the Palestinians, Iran's double-talk about
not assisting al-Qaida operatives on the run have all fired up indignation
in Washington, which has not helped Britain's self-appointed role as
cultivator of the moderate politicians against the extremist clerics inside
the Iranian power elite. Jack Straw, the hapless exponent of that policy,
does not carry much clout with any of the US leadership.

The big challenge, however, is certainly Iraq, the main WMD state, where the
escalation of American threats to act is meeting continued British wishful
thinking that such action will not happen any time soon. Every relevant
politician and official I've heard from in London says the same neat thing:
that they will be shown a plan if an invasion is to happen, and have so far
not been shown one. The closest they've got to it is the intelligence that
several plans have been presented to the president, by the Pentagon and the
CIA, and he has rejected all of them, mainly on the grounds that he doesn't
yet believe there are indigenous forces on the Iraqi ground who can do the
job the Northern Alliance did as US proxies in the takeover of Kabul.

This is a highly relevant point. The stoking-up of the case for
regime-change in Baghdad has begun to make it seem inevitable that an attack
will be launched. The American press resounds with battle-plans. Colin
Powell seems to have come off the fence. The momentum builds. And yet,
without credible oppositionist forces in place, the strategy risks getting
muddled and therefore very dangerous.

For Bush, moreover, the stakes in Iraq will be much higher than they have
been against al Qaida, where the uncaptured Osama bin Laden, once the apex
of all targets, has been shuffled into pretended irrelevance somewhere in
Pakistan. Any attack against Iraq that allows Saddam Hussein to be spirited
into the mountains will be deemed a calamitous failure. If the attack
succeeded, Bush might prepare for glorious coronation to a second term in
2004. But this time there has to be no ambiguity. If an invasion was seen to
fail, whether by Saddam surviving or through the creation of an irresolvable
mess in Iraq and the Middle East, the voters of America would destroy the
president as soon as they had the chance. This is not a risk he will lightly
take, even on the back of his unremitting oratory since Kabul fell.

My reading of Mr Blair is that he fervently hopes that such hard-headed
assessments of political survival prevail. Parts of London, maybe including
himself, see an Iraqi invasion as a fearful distraction from the defeat of
global terror networks, a task that requires, above all, intelligence
collaboration from many Islamic states that would be far more opposed than
Europe to an invasion plan. Meanwhile, Mr Blair does have options,
improbable though it may be that he sees them this way.

One is to edge towards making common cause with continental Europe, and
especially with Vladimir Putin, the other great leader whom he once set out
specially to cultivate. Putin is taken for granted by the Americans almost
as condescendingly as are the British. Neither Britain nor Russia has yet
got much out of the concessions they've made in support of Washington's
post-September 11 demands. They benefit, of course, from the necessary
dismantling of al-Qaida that the US has achieved. But so far they've been
treated like reliable puppets, and Putin, for one, is showing signs that he
has had enough.

His delivery of a firm warning to Washington against attacking Iraq is
something other Europeans may want to latch on to, though so far they have
been relatively discreet. He's not obliged to tolerate forever the US bases
he allowed into the Russian sphere of influence in Uzbekistan and
Tajikistan. Assembling a united, pragmatic case against a violent,
destabilising attempt to depose Saddam is work that the British and Russian
leaders are well placed to do. If Mr Blair were to express even one-tenth of
Chris Patten's anguished critique of Washington, he could have twice the

He disagrees. If he did that, he thinks, he would be dealt out of the game.
So he will doubtless cling to the second option, which is to accept, without
any abrupt attempt to shape it, whatever Washington decides on. The bottom
line of British policy has invariably been drawn against the wall where
British imagination is permanently imprisoned. Any deviation from that,
conventional wisdom says, would create an earthquake in international

None the less, the Blair insouciance must surely be getting flakier. Though
it may dictate the need for compliance in exchange for all those special
one-to-one conversations, this looks like carrying a price. Instead of being
Europe's voice in America and America's in Europe, Britain runs the risk
some day soon of having a small voice, and smaller audience in either place.

by Terry Jones
Dawn [from The Observer], 19th February

LONDON: To prevent Terrorism by dropping bombs on Iraq is such an obvious
idea that one cannot think why no one has thought of it before. It is so
simple. If only the UK had done something similar in Northern Ireland, it
would not be in the mess it is in today.

The moment the IRA blew up the Horseguards' bandstand, the UK government
should have declared its own War on Terrorism. It should have immediately
demanded that the Irish government hand over Gerry Adams. If they refused to
do so - or quibbled about needing proof of his guilt - we could have told
them that this was no time for prevarication and that they must hand over
not only Adams but all IRA terrorists in the Republic.

If they tried to stall by claiming that it was hard to tell who were IRA
terrorists and who were not, because they do not go around wearing identity
badges, the UK would have been free to send in the bombers.

It is well known that the best way of picking out terrorists is to fly
10,000 metres above the capital city of any state that harbours them and
drop bombs - preferably cluster bombs. It is conceivable that the bombing of
Dublin might have provoked some sort of protest, even if just from James
Joyce fans, and there is at least some likelihood of increased anti-British
sentiment in what remained of the city and thus a rise in the numbers of
potential terrorists. But this, in itself, would have justified the tactic
of bombing them in the first place. The UK would have nipped them in the
bud, so to speak.

Having bombed Dublin and, perhaps, a few IRA training bogs in Tipperary, The
UK could not have afforded to be complacent. The UK would have had to turn
its attention to those states, which had supported and funded the IRA
terrorists through all these years. The main provider of funds was, of
course, the USA, and this would have posed us with a bit of a problem. Where
to bomb in America? After all, it is a big place and it's by no means
certain that a small country like the UK could afford enough bombs to do the
whole job. It is going to cost the US billions of dollars to bomb Iraq and a
lot of that is empty countryside. America, on the other hand, provides a
bewildering number of targets.

Should the UK have bombed Washington, where the policies were formed? Or
should it have concentrated on places where Irishmen are known to lurk, like
New York, Boston and Philadelphia? The UK could have bombed any police
station and fire station in most major urban centres, secure in the
knowledge that we would be taking out significant numbers of IRA

On St Patrick's Day, the UK could have bombed Fifth Avenue and scored a
bull's-eye. In those US cities the UK could not afford to bomb, it could
have rounded up US citizens with Irish names, put bags over their heads and
flown them in chains to Guernsey or, maybe, Rockall, where we could have
given them food packets marked `My Kind of Meal' and exposed them to the
elements with a clear conscience.

There are thousands of people in Sydney and Melbourne alone who have
actively supported Irish republicanism by sending money and good wishes back
to people in the Republic, many of whom are known to be IRA members and
sympathisers. A well-placed bomb or two Down Under could have taken out the
ringleaders and left the world a safer place. Of course, it goes without
saying that we would also have had to bomb various parts of London such as
Camden Town, Lewisham and bits of Hammersmith and the UK should certainly
have had to obliterate, if not the whole of Liverpool, at least the Scotland
Road area.,3604,654028,00.html

by David Owen
The Guardian, 22nd February

There is a logical sequence of events that needs to be understood for
countering international terrorism. There will not be stability in the
Middle East until the US puts considerable pressure on both sides for a
permanent Palestinian-Israeli settlement. It will be difficult for the US to
do since so many of its population fervently support the Israeli cause. No
US administration of any political hue can put such pressure on Israel while
the Israelis legitimately fear Iraqi missile attacks and Iranian
destabilisation through sponsored terror and the transfer of weapons. But
the Iranian people will not choose the moderate Khatami reforming wing and,
in the process of their own self-choice, defeat the Khomeini clerical
reactionary wing until they see the US enforce a regime change in Iraq.

Now we face a very grave challenge to British diplomacy - the chief ally of
the US in this war. When Secretary of State Colin Powell - acknowledged to
be, if these words mean much, a moderate or dove in the Bush administration
- can tell Congress, as he did a few days ago, about the need for a "regime
change" in Iraq, which the US "might have to do alone", he thinks there is a
real chance that Britain might on this occasion stand aside from any action.
Britain has been with the US right from the moment when the Iraqi forces
went into Kuwait in 1990; with them when we planned for and put troops on
the ground in 1991; and with them all through some of the failed policies
toward Iraq in enforcing the no-fly zone in the north, which protected the
Kurds and also the Marsh Arabs in the south and which have risked the lives
of our airmen together with those of the US.

Tony Blair told the US after September 11 that we were first in and would be
last out in its fight against international terrorism, and for Britain the
consequences of stepping aside now from action to change the regime in Iraq
would be devastating to our international credibility. We would look like a
beached whale, pretentious and overblown.

Unlike our differences over Vietnam, where opinion was deeply divided within
the US, America is remarkably united on the need to do something about
Saddam Hussein. The military risks are obvious, but the political gains are
also clear cut. Americans are ready to take casualties in what they rightly
believe is preventative action which, once done, will be widely supported by
public opinion in all the countries in the Middle East. We cannot expect
exposed governments to champion such an unpopular cause, but have no doubt
that there will be the same rejoicing as there was in the streets of Kabul
when the Taliban regime was overthrown.

It is hard to exaggerate the consequences for the UK if we were to step out
of our geo strategic alliance with the US and fail to participate in
military action if the UN weapons inspectors are not granted the unfettered
right to conduct searches throughout Iraq. The inspectors were put in by UN
resolution after the complete defeat of the Iraqi forces, and it was
specifically stated that inspectors would have the right to track down and
remove suspect weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, biological or
chemical. Iraq has used gas against its own people and against Iranian
troops. Iraq has put biological weapons on its warheads, though fortunately
they were not on the missiles Iraq fired against Tel Aviv during the Gulf

I turn to Iran. I don't share the view that Iran's record in recent months
has been wholly bad. There have been some welcome signs of cooperation in
relation to Afghanistan. It did help in the Bonn conference, which
established the concept of a coalition form of government. It did help in
getting Ismail Khan, who was someone it had previously supported, into the
frame of mind to accept the governorship of Herat province and not the other
four Afghan provinces that he wanted. It did help persuade Burhanuddin
Rabbani, the UN-accepted president, from coming back to Kabul with armed
forces, when everybody knew that this would not provide a measure of
consensus in Afghanistan. Though those are good signs, Iran still continues
to destabilise the Middle East, to support Hizbullah, to conduct training
camps, to supply arms (as we saw with the ship with weapons for Palestinians
that was stopped by Israel).

Those critics in Europe of President Bush's "axis of evil" speech would do
well to remember that there are millions of people in Iraq, Iran and North
Korea who will recognise that description just as there were many
liberal-minded people only too delighted to hear President Reagan call
Soviet communism an "evil empire".

Lord Owen was Labour foreign secretary from 1977-79 and cofounded the SDP in

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