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[casi] from today's papers: 09-03-02

A. Envoy's role linked to Arab backing on Iraq, Guardian, 9 March
B. Allied dossier links Saddam to al-Qa'eda, Daily Telegraph, 9 March
C. Inspecting Iraq, Telegraph, 9 March [leading article]
D. UN to question use of Iraqi no-fly zones, The Times, 9 March
E. Foreign Editor's briefing: March 9, 2002, The Times
F. Letter from the Times, March 9
G. Letter from the Financial Times, March 9
H. Cheney to shore support for war on terror, FT, March 9


Financial Times:

The Telegraph has the most coverage today with a piece on the 'intelligence'
dossier alleging links between
al-Qa'eda and the Iraqi Government and a leading article. Anti-war /
anti-sanctions letters in today's Times and Financial Times. Because it's a
Saturday, letter writers have a little bit more time to get their responses
in (I'd use 12 noon tomorrow as a deadline).

The latest Seymour Hersh article is now available in the shops.Hersh writes
that the support of Tony Blair 'is considered essential' for an attack,
which is good news for folks here in Britain since we're able to do
something about this.

Best wishes,


A. Envoy's role linked to Arab backing on Iraq

About-turn as Bush tries to keep consensus

Julian Borger in Washington
Saturday March 9, 2002
The Guardian

The decision to dispatch the US special envoy General Anthony Zinni to the
Middle East was the price Washington was forced to pay for the tacit
compliance of its Arab allies with an eventual offensive on Iraq, diplomats
and analysts said yesterday.
President George Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney resisted calls from the
Arab world and from US secretary of state, Colin Powell, for direct
intervention in the Middle East conflict until an unheralded about-turn on

The White House believed that sending the retired marine general to the
Middle East for the third time when there was little hope of brokering a
ceasefire would undermine US credibility in the region.

But the messages delivered by President Mubarak of Egypt, who met Mr Bush on
Tuesday, and by the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who is sponsoring a
personal land-for-peace initiative, was that Mr Cheney's Middle East tour
next week to pave the way for action against Saddam Hussein, would be met by
a wall of resistance if there was no progress in curbing Israeli-Palestinian

"It was made clear that it would be much more helpful for the Cheney trip to
have this issue dealt with," an Arab diplomat in Washington said.

The vice-president is due to leave Washington tomorrow on a 10-day 12-nation
tour that will take him to London and much of the Middle East. Mr Cheney's
original mission was to convince US allies in the region - like Saudi
Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait and Jordan - that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
pose a serious threat and that the US is serious about ousting the Baghdad
regime, as well as tracking down terrorist threats elsewhere in the Arab

Any large-scale US military operation against Iraq would depend on access to
bases in the region, such as the Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia,
Incirlik in Turkey, and Camp Doha in Kuwait, and all three countries remain
anxious over the impact of an Iraqi campaign on their security and internal

Judith Kipper, a Middle East analyst on the Council on Foreign Relations,
said the Bush administration "was finally convinced that to send the
vice-president to talk about Iraq, the war, etc, while the fires were
burning in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, wasn't going to work".

However, the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, yesterday insisted that a
war with Iraq would not be made a hostage of Middle East peace.

Mr Rumsfeld said yesterday: "My whole adult lifetime there have been
problems between Israel and the Arabs and Palestinians in that region. It is
something that has gone on decade after decade after decade. In the
intervening period we've had a number of wars , and I don't know that that
is the determinant. "

Since being appointed special envoy, General Zinni, the former head of US
Central Command, has travelled to the region twice and both times was
obliged to leave open-handed in the face of escalating violence. Critics in
the Arab world and in Europe have suggested that part of the reason for his
failure lay in the White House's reluctance to put as much pressure on the
Israeli government to exercise restraint as it had on the Palestinian
leader, Yasser Arafat.

This week Mr Powell made unusually critical remarks about the Israeli prime
minister, Mr Sharon, calling him to rethink his policies and warning that
his declaration of war on the Palestinians would not work.

President Bush refused to be drawn on Thursday into explicitly echoing Mr
Powell's criticism, but Ms Kipper pointed out that it did not necessarily
imply a disagreement.

Instead, the presence of both Mr Powell and Mr Cheney at the president's
side as he announced General Zinni's new mission, was intended to portray

However, neither observers nor diplomats in Washington yesterday knew what
sticks and carrots General Zinni would carry in his briefcase when he leaves
late next week.

"If he has a strong mandate from the president he can do a lot," Ms Kipper
said. "The question is are we ready to say who's doing what, and to name
names, and to say there will be consequences."

B. Allied dossier links Saddam to al-Qa'eda
By David Graves and Neil Tweedie

Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 09/03/2002)

BRITAIN and America have compiled an intelligence-based dossier alleging
that Saddam Hussein has developed increasingly close links with the
al-Qa'eda terrorist group, it was disclosed yesterday.

The move marked part of an accelerating campaign on both sides of the
Atlantic to prepare public opinion for a campaign to overthrow the Iraqi

The two governments will claim that Saddam has given shelter to hundreds of
al-Qa'eda and Taliban fighters in northern Iraq and helped others to find
refuge in Lebanon.

Firm evidence linking Saddam to Osama bin Laden's network has proved elusive
since the September 11 suicide attacks. Britain has indicated that it would
be willing to join an American-led campaign to topple Saddam if a September
11 link is established.

The dossier will also point to Saddam's increasing involvement in the
turmoil in the Middle East, where Iraqi military intelligence officers are
said to be assisting extreme Palestinian groups in terrorist attacks on

The document could be used to overcome public scepticism in Europe and the
Middle East about the need for war with Saddam. It is not yet clear when the
information might be released.

America has continued its military build-up in the region by moving 24
Apache attack helicopters to Kuwait.

The deployment is the latest signal that Washington feels that it may need
to defend Middle Eastern allies from a pre-emptive Iraqi strike.

A plan to overthrow Saddam has not yet been agreed, but President Bush is
reported to have decided that the Iraqi leader must be removed.

The New Yorker magazine suggested that he had set a deadline to planning
staff of April 15, about a week after Tony Blair meets him in Texas.

In the meantime, in addition to continuing the military build-up, some
senior British and American diplomats will begin a campaign to link Iraq
with al-Qa'eda.

The development will dismay several Cabinet ministers, who warned Mr Blair
on Thursday that America could drag Britain into a new Gulf war and urged
the Prime Minister to quieten talk of military action and press for a
diplomatic solution through the United Nations.

It also appears to conflict with statements by Jack Straw, the Foreign
Secretary, who has consistently argued that there was no link between Saddam
and al-Qa'eda before the September 11 attacks, although he did maintain this
week that the Iraqi regime was rebuilding its nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons programme.

The dossier against Saddam is being compiled from US spy satellites and
intelligence sources, including Israeli material. These claim that large
numbers of al-Qa'eda and Taliban fighters were seen in northern Iraq after
fleeing Afghanistan.

It contains some surprising allegations, including the suggestion that
Saddam's former arch-rival, Iran, is now helping him to re-arm.

Saddam is also said to have connived with Iran, another state described by
President Bush as a member of the "axis of evil", to allow al-Qa'eda
fighters to use Iraqi airspace to fly from Iran to Lebanon after the fall of
the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

As preparations continue for an attack on Iraq, Washington has been unable
to discover Saddam's whereabouts.

It is suspected that, fearing a US assassination attempt at the start of the
campaign, he is hiding in one of four underground bunkers built to withstand
nuclear attack.

C. Inspecting Iraq

Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 09/03/2002)

MORE than three years after United Nations weapons inspectors left Iraq, the
two sides have reopened negotiations on their return. This week's meeting in
New York between Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, and Naji Sabri,
Iraq's foreign minister, was inconclusive.

However, there is no doubt that pressure on Iraq to let the inspectors back
will grow. In his State of the Union address in January, George W Bush
accused Baghdad of having developed anthrax, nerve gas and nuclear arms for
more than a decade, and said that indifference towards the spread of such
weapons would be catastrophic.

Refusal to re-admit the inspectors, or to permit them unfettered access when
they were there, would present the United States with its clearest casus
belli against Saddam Hussein. We should therefore expect the dictator to
accede to Mr Annan's demand, and then, exploiting divisions within the
Security Council, play for time over the inspectors' modus operandi. Baghdad
and the outside world would be engaged in a diplomatic minuet familiar from
the 1990s.

The UN Special Commission (Unscom), set up after the Gulf war in 1991, was
initially effective in eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But
differences of opinion among permanent members of the Security Council, with
America and Britain taking a harder line than France, Russia and China,
allowed Saddam to become ever more obstructive. In 1998, Scott Ritter, an
experienced Unscom member, concluded that the council no longer had the will
to implement its own resolutions. Later that year, the inspectors left.

A successor team, under the Swede Hans Blix, is ready to resume the work.
But Saddam has had plenty of time to cover his traces, and Mr Blix is
unlikely to be a match for his wiles.

What is more, Security Council divisions have been exacerbated by Mr Bush's
designation of Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" and his determination to
topple its president. Even Tony Blair, Washington's staunchest military
ally, is facing a Cabinet revolt. In such circumstances, a new inspection
regime will be hard put to complete Unscom's unfinished business.

Washington will rightly insist that there should be no procrastination by
Baghdad; in the meantime, it is compiling, with the British, a dossier on
Saddam's alleged links with the al-Qa'eda terrorist network, thus advancing
another casus belli. It is equally certain that France and Russia will
accuse the Americans of acting like cowboys and not giving peace a chance.

But the state in which Bill Clinton left the containment of Iraq was a
disgrace; as his second term wore on, he simply did not want the issue to
impinge on his domestic agenda. Mr Clinton's successor has now boldly
stigmatised Iraq, along with Iran and North Korea, as beyond the pale.

The second President Bush is determined to complete what his father left
unfinished in 1991. Whether that will be done by engineering a coup d'etat,
or through proxy ground forces backed by air power, as in Afghanistan, or
through a large-scale American invasion is not yet clear.

Whatever the methods used, the stakes are very high. The toppling of Saddam
in favour of a leader ready to comply with UN demands would greatly boost
the standing of America and its allies, and open the way to a long-term
settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. A botched operation would
have the opposite effect, leaving the Israelis more besieged and
transatlantic divisions wider than ever. Washington is fully aware that
nothing succeeds like success.

D. UN to question use of Iraqi no-fly zones
by James Bone

The Times
March 09, 2002

New York: Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, is to question
Britain and the United States about the no-fly zones over northern and
southern Iraq, which are enforced by British and US aircraft, before his
next meeting with Iraqi officials next month.
British and US officials had urged Mr Annan to limit his discussions with
Iraqi officials to the implementation of UN resolutions demanding free
access for inspectors checking for proscribed nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons. But Naji Sabri, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, presented a
list of 20 questions on concerns ranging from US threats of “changing the
regime” in Baghdad to the risk that future UN inspections would again by
used to spy on the country.

Mr Annan said he would try to provide the answers.

E. Foreign Editor's briefing: March 9, 2002
by Bronwen Maddox

Bush cannot afford to ignore Middle East quagmire any longer

The Times

WHY has the US suddenly decided to engage in the Israeli quagmire? Three
reasons loom above the rest: the bloodshed is worse; interest within the US
for the Saudi peace initiative is growing; and Vice-President Dick Cheney is
about to tour the region to drum up a coalition for a strike on Iraq.
The Administration’s about-turn, after two months in which it kept the
Middle East at arm’s length, was set out by President Bush himself on
Thursday. Announcing that he was sending his special envoy Anthony Zinni
back to the region, he said: “I’m deeply concerned about the tragic loss of
life and escalating violence in the Middle East”, adding “this is a matter
of great importance to the United States.”

Since January both of those statements have seemed in doubt. Zinni’s last
mission on January 7 was overshadowed and undermined by Israel’s seizure of
a shipment of arms it said was intended for Palestinians. His mission later
that month was then scrapped.

Some argue that in the ebb and flow of US-Middle East relations, the latest
initiative is not a radical change. Anthony Cordesman, a former State
Department official and Middle East expert at the Centre for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington, says that a “major peace initiative”
was planned in August, but September 11 got in the way.

However, since the attacks, the Administration has gone to some lengths to
keep the Middle East from the top of its agenda. It has not wanted to be
thought even to countenance the Arab world’s argument that the conflict must
be addressed if any solution is to be found to Islamic terrorism. When Tony
Blair in early November urged Bush to do more in the Middle East, he
received a very cool response.

The Administration hasn’t changed its position on “linkage”. But its
priority now is getting support for action on Iraq. For all the accusations
of unilateralism hurled at it from abroad, it does recognise it needs
support for this action, and that it cannot avoid the Middle East question.

Hence Cheney’s trip, a 10-day tour beginning in London on Sunday night,
moving to Israel on Tuesday (where Zinni is likely to join him), and said to
include stops in Kuwait, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia,
Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, Oman and Jordan.

It is “a big deal”, say those familiar with the plans. Bush sees the
Vice-President as a heavyweight specialist in the region, with experience
from the oil industry, from the Gulf War and from his stint as Defence
Secretary. Cheney will be taking a “huge team”, including many specialists
who have been working behind the scenes with the Secretary of State, Colin

The nominal theme of the trip is “Six Months On” from September 11, but the
core is Iraq. For all the talk of Phase Two, Cheney’s trip marks its real
start, in the Administration’s eyes. He will lay out the US’s roadmap for
Arab governments. First, the US will see whether Iraq will accept United
Nations weapons inspectors; despite the apparent civility of this week’s
UN-Iraq talks in New York, the US is still planning on the basis that Saddam
Hussein will refuse. If he does, it will strike.

As part of the change of tone, the Administration will take a distinctly
tough line with Sharon, particularly after yesterday’s death toll. Powell
has deliberately been cool to the Israeli Prime Minister in public, and
critical about him in congressional testimony this week.

Britain is expected to back that line on Monday. Blair, after meeting Cheney
on Monday (Sharon was due to be in town, too, but cancelled), is expected to
issue a statement which, while balanced in structure, is expected to be
tough towards Sharon.

The Bush team hopes that these noises, together with Zinni’s mission, will
help to prevent Cheney being harangued throughout the Arab portion of his
tour by Arab leaders calling for US engagement in the Middle East. But in
turn, the Cheney roadshow is set to be tough on Arab leaders, and to tell
them to get their own house in order.

This means two things. Unsurprisingly, the US will tell them again to get a
grip on Islamic militants. But more pointedly, it will tell them to make
something useful of the Saudi peace initiative by the time of the Arab
League summit at the end of the month. The Administration is “fed up”,
observers say, with Arab leaders turning up in Washington, as President
Mubarak of Egypt did last week, and as it sees it, complaining about the
Middle East without offering a practical contribution.

The Saudi initiative emerged three weeks ago in a dinner between Crown
Prince Abdullah and Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times. It
repeats the old “land-for-peace” formula, under which Israel would withdraw
to its pre-1967 borders in return for security and Arab recognition. It
leaves many obstacles unaddressed, including the status of Jerusalem and the
return of refugees.

But the novelty of its authorship and the worsening bloodshed have fuelled
interest in the plan in the US. This Administration is not particularly
sensitive to newspaper editorials, but it is unlikely to have been entirely
deaf to the many calls to try again.

The US hopes that the violence may have opened a new opportunity, by
bringing many Israelis and Palestinians to the view that violence will not
bring peace, even though Sharon is not of that persuasion, as yesterday’s
events made clear.

The traditional position of American diplomacy on the Middle East is that
“we cannot want peace more than the two sides do”. But the message Cheney is
carrying, in unsparing tough language to both sides, is that it is past time
that they did.

F. Letters to the Editor

The Times
March 09, 2002

Intervention in Iraq
>From E. T. Finn

Sir, It is not Saddam Hussein who will suffer the consequences of refusing
international inspection of his weapons programme (letters, March 7),
whatever those consequences might be, it is the unfortunate Iraqi peoples
who will be further targeted by the West. The Prime Minister was emphatic in
stating that no evidence connected Iraq with September 11 (report, October
11, 2001); however, in support of the unfortunate rhetoric employed by
President Bush in respect of that country the Government is now resurrecting

Iraq’s flouting of United Nations resolutions and international law as
justification for intervention, thus avoiding the necessity of seeking UN
approval for further action. The Israeli flouting of UN resolutions is,
presumably, acceptable behaviour.

Jack Straw (Comment, March 5) might like to consider the causes which foster
such hatred against the West, particularly America, instead of seemingly
trying to broaden the gap between Islam and this country. We need to
distance ourselves from aspects of American foreign policy which fuel rather
than extinguish.

Yours faithfully,

Letters to the editor

FT, 9 March 2002

It is difficult to believe that the current military threats against Iraq
are rooted in a genuine concern about Iraq's WMD capabilities (Iraq faces
Hobson's choice over UN arms inspections, 7th March).

Indeed, according to the former head of UNSCOM's concealment unit Scott
Ritter, 'it was possible as early as 1997 to determine that, from a strictly
qualitative standpoint, Iraq had been disarmed' of WMD and that 'as long as
monitoring inspections remained in place, Iraq presented a WMD-based threat
to no one.' If the US and Britain had any serious interest in dealing with
these issues - as opposed to exploiting them for their own purposes -
economic sanctions would have been lifted at this stage, whilst maintaining
monitoring to ensure that Iraq did not rearm.

Instead the US chose first to undermine UNSCOM, by infiltrating it with
members of its intelligence services, and then (with Britain) to destroy it
by launching an illegal military assault against Iraq, knowing full well
that this would bring an end to inspections and monitoring.

For over a decade now ordinary Iraqis have been forced to pay a horrific
price on the grounds that Iraq 'had to be disarmed.' Such a cynical and
wicked policy cannot be allowed to continue.

Milan Rai
voices in the wilderness uk

H. Cheney to shore support for war on terror MIDDLE EAST US VICE-PRESIDENT
Financial Times; Mar 9, 2002

Dick Cheney, US vice-president, leaves tomorrow on a 10-day trip to the UK
and the Middle East during which he will "look into the eyes of our
coalition partners so they will see our resolve," according to a senior US

The trip, aimed at shoring up support for the US war on terrorism, will take
Mr Cheney to most of the key US allies in the region, among them Turkey,
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The US is hoping that the trip will help stiffen the resolve of the allies
amid mounting concern over the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the widening
US war on terrorism.

Mr Cheney had been expected to focus heavily on building support for US
plans to increase pressure on Iraq. But US officials played down that
prospect yesterday, saying that while the administration supports "regime
change" in Iraq, it had made no decisions about how it might try to remove
Saddam Hussein.

Instead, the trip is likely to be dominated by the revived US effort to
mediate a ceasefire amid rising violence between Israel and the
Palestinians. President George W. Bush announced on Thursday that the US
would send mediator Anthony Zinni back to the region in an effort to
re-start peace negotiations.

Mr Cheney said yesterday that the Israel-Palestinian issue "has taken on a
little bit of added significance" with the decision to send General Zinni

A senior official said that Mr Cheney, who will visit Israel, is also hoping
to meet officials from the Palestinian Authority but would likely not meet
with its leader, Yassir Arafat.

Iraq, meanwhile, appeared yesterday to have avoided a US bombing campaign at
least until mid-April, when talks backed by the UN Security Council are
scheduled to resume.

The US yesterday said it supported the UN's efforts to find a diplomatic
solution to the three-year impasse over weapons inspections and backed a
further meeting between Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, and Naji Sabri
al-Hadithi, Iraqi foreign minister.

Washington has repeatedly threatened to bomb Iraq if it did not allow UN
inspectors back into the country. Washington observers have said it is
unlikely the US would be able to launch such a campaign before summer.

In a briefing yesterday, Mr Annan told security council members that Iraq
had not set preconditions for the return of inspectors, but had raised
concerns about the bombing of no-fly zones and 1000 missing Iraqi persons
from the Gulf War.

In spite of the positive reaction to this week's discussions, the US and UK
warned Iraq they would not allow the diplomatic process to be strung out

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