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News, 2-9/3/02 (4) IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Iraq demands action from Arab summit * Turkish Delegation in Iraq to Boost Trade Ties * US likely to press Egypt over Iraq action [Apparently Egypt is, rather conveniently, once again in economic difficulties. All the Œhelp¹ they received from the US since the war on Iraq doesn¹t seem to have helped very much.] * Iran takes part in Iraq's Int'l Electrical Industries Exhibition * Baghdad wants Turkey to act openly in relations with Iraq * UAE urges clear Arab stand on threats against Iraq * Saddam blasts Arab peace plans for ME * Mideast Escalation Puts the Squeeze on Sharon [Desire for war on Iraq leads to pressure for peace in Israel/Palestine. But as pointed out last week (Attack on Iraq means peace talks in Mideast), all that is really wanted is a ceasefire that will conveniently coincide with the Iraqi campaign. Then when that¹s finished, Sharon can be let off the leash again ...] * Iraq, Pakistan denied entry to warlord [Gulbuddin Hekmatyar] OIL * Politics undermining Iraq oil industry: Report [from MEES] * Bula cancels Iraqi consultancy contract * Attack on Iraq to bring gas-pump gloom [Brief account of oil geopolitics, including this: ŒThe Central Asian bases are explained as necessary as the US plans for an extended global war on terrorism. But Baker (George Baker, oil analyst) says they can also be explained in the context of oil - and the potential for disruption in the Gulf oil-producing region if the US attacks Iraq. "Why are we building bases in the Caspian? Because we're trying to protect the stability of Caspian oil production," he says. "And why are we doing that? We need to have that oil production in place if we're going to risk losing Saddam Hussein's oil."¹ Which implies some rather long term planning.] IRAQI OPPOSITION * Iraqi opposition to Saddam [More experts telling us what we already know. Extracts on likely US support for the Iraqi army and for General Naguib Salihi, who, we are told Œis the least tainted by association with the Iraqi regime¹ though he only left the upper echelons of the Iraqi army in 1995 and must therefore have been involved in most of the crimes imputed to SH. And does Fiona Symon realise, we wonder, how profoundly shocking her first sentence is?] URL ONLY: http://www.ctnow.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc will0304.artmar04.story?coll=hc%2Dheadlines%2Doped * How Brittle Is Hussein's Regime? Hartford Courant, 4th March [Interview with Ahmed Chalabi. Nothing new, except perhaps, the ŒSamson option.¹ SH sends a bomb with VX poison gas which kills 100,000 Israelis. Problem is it would also kill thousands of Palestinians so it seems unlikely. The article gives the impression Chalabi is making it up as he goes along.] INSIDE IRAQ * Renowned Iraq Poet Killed * We will fight to the finish: Tariq Aziz [One of the very rare occasions in which any Iraqi leader is allowed to express himself at length. Needless to say its in a French newspaper.] * Iraqi Kurdish Leader Against US Intervention in Iraq * American talks with Kurdish sides to topple Saddam * Explosions at broadcasting center near Baghdad [Since it appears that the INC have claimed responsibility for this act of terrorism we expect the immediate arrest of all their leading representatives and the freezing of their assets.] ENFORCING THE EMBARGO * Trial for a Swiss company over selling pipes to Iraq * Warship returning home after Iraq mission ["Our successes in the Gulf are testament to the professionalism, enthusiasm and tremendous team spirit of my ship's company. I expect them to receive a terrific welcome home from their friends and family - they certainly deserve nothing less." for having boarded 10 ships in two years and having stolen £4 million worth of Iraqi oil.] * Iran Protests U.S. Interception of Tanker REMNANTS OF DECENCY * Merchants hope to help hungry by selling dates from Iraq [in Canada] * Protesters fear war against Iraq [Protest in London, 1st March] * German peace movement to demonstrate against US attack in Iraq IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ * Iraqi refugees strike back at Australia [Story of refugees accused of threatening to drown their babies] IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=2582266 * IRAQ DEMANDS ACTION FROM ARAB SUMMIT Times of India (from AFP), 2nd March BAGHDAD: Arab leaders must come up with "action not words" when they hold a summit in Beirut on March 27, an official Iraqi daily said on Saturday, referring to a Mideast peace initiative floated by Saudi Arabia. "As the summit nears, the Arabs need action not more words. They must free themselves of the will of foreigners to achieve Arab solidarity," Al-Qadissiya said. "The Arabs must understand each other and forget their rancour spread by colonialists and enemies to achieve the objectives of the nation by liberating Palestine and its holy sites and ending the injustice done to Iraq and other Arab countries," the newspaper said. The summit "must bring the Arab nation out of crisis, preserve its dignity ... and remain true to the blood spilled in Palestine and in Iraq. "The Arabs at their summit can force the American and Zionist aggressors to respect and not undermine their rights." Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz said on Wednesday he would try to detail the initiative -- welcomed in much of the Arab world, praised by the United States and cautiously approved by Israel -- at the summit. Abdullah has suggested that Arab countries normalize relations with Israel in exchange for a full withdrawal from occupied lands. NO URL * TURKISH DELEGATION IN IRAQ TO BOOST TRADE TIES BAGHDAD, Mar 2, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Turkish Trade Secretary Kurshad Tuzman, heading a 150-member industrial and business delegation, arrived in the Iraqi capital on Saturday afternoon for a visit aimed at boosting bilateral trade ties. Upon arrival at Baghdad's Saddam International Airport, Tuzman told the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) that during the visit, he will hold talks with Iraqi officials to explore new fields of cooperation and expand bilateral trade volume. Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammad Mehdi Salah, who welcomed the Turkish delegation at the airport, appreciated the bilateral trade ties and expressed will to enhance them, the INA said. Tuzman, who visited Baghdad in March last year, said that Turkey hoped to increase its trade volume with Iraq to the pre-1990 level of an annual 2.5 billion U.S. dollars. Turkey's trade exchange with Iraq now stands at some 1 billion dollars yearly under the United Nations oil-for-food program, which has been in effect since 1996 and allows sanctions-hit Iraq to sell oil and buy food, medicine and other necessity to offset the impact of the decade-long sanctions. Iraq has been under stringent sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Turkey has complained that the sanctions have cost it more than 30 billion dollars in lost trade with Baghdad and called for lifting the sanctions. http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3PPOF9DYC&liv e=true&tagid=ZZZINS5VA0C&subheading=middle%20east%20and%20africa * US LIKELY TO PRESS EGYPT OVER IRAQ ACTION by James Drummond Financial Times, 3rd March US President George W. Bush is likely to use the parlous state of Egypt's economy to ratchet up pressure on Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian leader, to support US policies in the Middle East when the two men meet in Washington on Tuesday, according to diplomats in Cairo. A likely resumption of US hostilities against Iraq is likely to top the agenda although it seems that Mr Mubarak has little room for manoeuvre on the issue. Egyptians have little affection for Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, but there is widespread sympathy for the suffering of Iraqi civilians during the years of US-led sanctions following the first Gulf war in 1991. Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, is due in Egypt next week as part of an international tour, which is viewed as paving the way for possible renewed action against Baghdad. Also on the agenda in Washington is likely to be the spiralling conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Egypt has voiced support for the peace plan put forward by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to break the deadlock of 17 months of violence. But there is little disguising the fact that Cairo has been a spectator during the latest round of diplomatic activity. Washington, however, is likely to expect Egypt to play its traditional moderating role at an Arab summit in Beirut at the end of March, which will examine the initiative, diplomats said. As far as Mr Mubarak is concerned, Egypt currently finds itself in an unusually weak position in negotiations with Washington. With a floundering economy, Cairo currently needs all the financial support it can find. A proposed fast-disbursing, compensatory financing facility from the International Monetary Fund is making only slow progress, officials say. Pressure on the Egyptian pound has eased with the end of the haj pilgrimage and subsequent holiday period but widespread reports of difficulties in the payments system persist. Meanwhile, Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has become the first Arab leader to publicly oppose Prince Abdullah's plan. Mr Gaddafi, speaking on Saturday, also threatened to leave the Arab League, the umbrella grouping of 22 countries of the Arab world. The latest outburst by the Libyan leader prompted Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, to hurry to Libya on Sunday to placate Mr Gadaffi. Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, who was paying his first official visit to Lebanon on Sunday, also implicitly played down the Saudi initiative by stressing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/14001142.htm * IRAN TAKES PART IN IRAQ'S INT'L ELECTRICAL INDUSTRIES EXHIBITION Ilam, Ilam Prov, March 5, IRNA -- Iran took part in Iraq's International Electrical Industries Exhibition that opened in Baghdad Monday, according to Iraq's state TV, monitored here in Ilam The exhibition in which 18 foreign countries have put on display their latest achievements in electrical industries filed is organized at Baghdad's Permanent Fairs Ground According to the Iraqi TV report, the participating companies at the exhibition are among the world's leading firms in the field and have brought along their most advance, latest achievements to Baghdad The economic commentator of the said TV claimed that the exhibition, the first of its kind in Iraq, was quite "unique and unprecedented" in terms of the level of participation and the type of facilities Electrical engineering firms from such countries as Russia, Iran, India, the UAE, Turkey and China had a vaster presence at the exhibition according to the said report. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/14021527.htm * BAGHDAD WANTS TURKEY TO ACT OPENLY IN RELATIONS WITH IRAQ Ilam, Ilam Prov, March 5, IRNA -- Iraq's Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan in a meeting with Turkey's Minister of State in Foreign Trade Kurshad Tuzman in Baghdad Monday, asked for transparency in Istanbul's foreign policy towards Baghdad. Ramadan claimed that Baghdad's request is made on the ground that Iraq itself is acting quite openly in its relations with the Ankara government. Iraq's state television announced the news, quoting Ramadan, as further adding that the "trouble-maker US administration due to its evil nature keeps trying to create obstacles in the way of improvement of the Baghdad-Ankara relations." He set example of the period of the second Persian Gulf war, when due to the obstacles created following the end of the US led western invasion against Iraq, Turkey's trade with Iran did not improve for a long period, which resulted in acute negative effects in Turkish economy. The Iraqi vice president added, "it is all up to the Ankara government to seriously and effectively eliminate the elements that have resulted in deterioration of the commercial ties with Iraq in order to secure the interests of both neighboring nations. "That will also be a positive move towards restoration of the historically excellent ties between the two major regional countries," added Ramadan. The high ranking Iraqi politician also asked for more frequent visits between the two countries' officials, particularly between the economic offiicals of Turkey and Iraq. "Iraq has already taken long strides towards strengthening friendly ties with Turkey, and expects to see positive moves on the part of the Ankara government," he concluded. Tuzman, too, assured Taha Yasin Ramadhan that restoration of commercial transactions with Iraq is of great importance for Turkey. The Turkish minister of state arrived Baghdad atop a commercial delegation sunday night, which is a sign of the Ankara's will to restore economic ties with Baghdad at this very odd time, when Iraq is under heavy pressure of a pending US attack in an unknown near future. According to an informed political commentator in Iran, who spoke on condition of anonymity, one of Tuzman's major tasks in his trip to Baghdad under the present conditions must be carrying a message from Turkey's close ally, the US administaration. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=43015 * UAE URGES CLEAR ARAB STAND ON THREATS AGAINST IRAQ Gulf News, 5th March The UAE yesterday called for a clear Arab position towards threats by the United States and other Western powers to attack Iraq on the grounds it possesses weapons of mass destruction. Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, said preparations for a possible strike against Iraq "pose great dangers which could lead to unimaginable repercussions on regional and global security." "There should be a clear Arab stand in this respect," he told reporters after receiving participants in a two-day seminar on dialogue among civilisations. "Is it in the interest of the Arab world that Iraq is destroyed?... there should be a clear policy towards Iraq and we should think well of the dangerous consequences to the Arab national security if there is any military operation against the Iraqi people." Sheikh Sultan urged Arab states to begin discussing threats of an attack against Iraq and "adopt a common stand in this regard." "Arab states are called upon to identify the right approach for their future positions and adopt a new pan-Arab policy that will allow them to have a dialogue with others," he said. "They should also chalk out a new policy to face the developments in the Middle East. The Arab situation in this regard needs to be clarified because it is foggy." Sheikh Sultan termed the Pales-tinian problem the central Arab cause and said a new approach is needed to deal with it. http://independent-bangladesh.com/news/mar/06/06032002ap.htm#A3 * SADDAM BLASTS ARAB PEACE PLANS FOR ME Bangladeshi Independent, 6th March BAGHDAD, Mar 5: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has criticised Arab peace plans for the Middle East and urged Arabs to support the Palestinian uprising against Israel, Iraqi newspapers reported today, reports Reuters. The newspapers quoted Saddam as saying that Arabs should not offer plans on behalf of the Palestinian people, in a clear reference to a Saudi peace plan. "Not one of us, not even Saddam Hussein, has the right to act on behalf of Palestine and its people," Saddam said during a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Farouq Qadoumi and other Palestinian officials. "The Palestinian people do not need projects, and we do not care for projects, and our essential project now is to support the Palestinian people in their armed struggle," he said. "Anyone able to support the Palestinians with money, men and weapons should do that," Saddam said. The Saudi plan, floated by Crown Prince Abdullah in mid- February, offers full Arab normalisation of ties with Israel in return for complete Israeli withdrawal from Arab land occupied in the 1967 Middle East War. The initiative is expected to be the highlight of the March 27-28 Arab summit in Beirut and has drawn a warm international response. Israel has expressed interest with reservations. Some Arab states have welcomed it, while others, like Lebanon and Syria, have also voiced reservations. Libya is the only Arab country that has so far rejected the plan. Saddam, maintaining his hard line towards Israel, said: "Any attempt to stop the uprising from outside is a blasphemy, a crime and a conspiracy against the Palestinian people." "I am pleased that suicide bombings began to be carried out by Fatah," Saddam said of the two deadly ambushes on Sunday carried out by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah faction. He affirmed Iraq¹s full support for the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian uprising. Saddam said at the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000 that Iraq was ready "to put an end to Zionism" if Arab rulers did not defend the Palestinians against Israel. He has ordered the formation of military units to fight with the Palestinians against the Israelis, and financial support for families of Palestinian victims of the uprising. Government figures say nearly seven million Iraqis have volunteered to fight alongside the Palestinians. More than 1,200 people have died in the 17-month Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,214423,00.html * MIDEAST ESCALATION PUTS THE SQUEEZE ON SHARON by Tony Karon Times, 5th March [.....] As disastrous as the current uptick of violence is proving for Sharon, it's actually working to Arafat's advantage, for a number of reasons: ‹ It highlights both to Israelis and the international community the fact that Sharon's tactics have failed to calm the situation; ‹ It creates a unity of purpose between his own Fatah organization and the more radical Islamists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, putting on the backburner differences that have recently sparked intra-Palestinian violence; ‹ It reinforces (Palestinian-backed) calls for international peacekeepers, as the rising toll of child casualties on both sides raises the danger of a descent into uncontrolled savagery; and ‹ It stokes a brushfire that will ultimately force the U.S. to renew its mediating role, not least because of the Bush administration's own need for Arab support in any campaign against Iraq. The Iraq factor may actually intensify diplomatic pressure on Sharon to take steps he'd consider counterintuitive. Already, Washington has expressed interest in a Saudi proposal to offer normalization of Arab relations with Israel if it retreats to its 1967 borders ‹ a prospect bluntly rejected by Sharon on Sunday as a threat to Israel's security. The Bush administration reportedly wants the Saudis to press for adoption of the proposal at the Arab League summit in Beirut later this month. But having been drawn into the game, the Saudis have an agenda of their own. They indicated Monday that they would not raise the proposal in Beirut unless Arafat was present ‹ a direct challenge to Washington to press Sharon to end the Palestinian leader's confinement to Ramallah. More diplomatic discomfort for the Israeli leader emerged Monday, when Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak called for a Sharon-Arafat summit meeting in Egypt. Sitting down with Arafat would require a 180 degree turnabout by Sharon right now. But Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed interest in the idea. Of course, that's not the same as President Bush endorsing it, but the Israelis will be watching his reaction with interest when he meets with Mubarak Tuesday. A decade ago, the diplomatic fallout of Gulf War I saw Israel being dragged reluctantly into negotiations with Palestinian representatives that laid the foundation for the Oslo Accords. Sharon can be counted on to do everything in his power to avoid history repeating itself. http://www.washtimes.com/world/20020306-956200.htm * IRAQ, PAKISTAN DENIED ENTRY TO WARLORD by Ben Barber The Washington Times, 6th March Anti-American warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was refused entry by Iraq and Pakistan before he left Iran for Afghanistan, where he is expected to resist the interim government, a report said. Mr. Hekmatyar, who shelled Kabul in the 1990s during a power struggle after the Soviet army left Afghanistan, is now in the western province of Herat, according to the Afghan envoy in Washington, Haroun Amin. Agence France-Presse said he arrived there from his exile headquarters in Tehran on Saturday. Mr. Amin told The Washington Times that Mr. Hekmatyar's supporters in Afghanistan were given weapons by the Taliban after he voiced support for the since-deposed militia during the U.S. bombing campaign in October. "Hekmatyar crossed the border yesterday with his friends and arrived in Herat province. He will see if it's possible to stay," an independent Afghan source told Agence France-Presse. Mr. Hekmatyar, under pressure from Iran to pull up stakes after making harsh anti American statements, tried to enter Iraq with eight associates, Agence France-Presse reported. He decided not to go to Iraq after that country insisted he could not bring anyone with him, the wire service said. The Iraqi charge d'affaires in Tehran, Abdulsattar al-Rawi, denied that report. Pakistan also refused entry to Mr. Hekmatyar. So he chose to re-enter Afghanistan, where Afghan officials hope to put him on trial for crimes during the siege of Kabul in the early 1990s. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi would not confirm that the Afghan warlord had left for Afghanistan but said, "Our position is that Hekmatyar must leave Iran, and we don't mind where he goes." State Department spokesman Richard Boucher yesterday refused to confirm the reports that Mr. Hekmatyar had returned to Afghanistan. The United States has said Iran has been meddling in Afghanistan since the Taliban was driven from power in November. Intelligence officials told The Times recently that Iran sent weapons, advisers and cash to support some tribal and Shi'ite religious leaders ‹ and to undermine the pro-American interim government in Kabul of Hamid Karzai. Iran denied the accusations and has pointed out that it agreed to assist downed U.S. pilots in the campaign against the Taliban ‹ which Iran detested as much as the Americans did. Iran also pledged a large sum to rebuild Afghanistan at an international conference in Tokyo and detained dozens of suspected al Qaeda members fleeing Afghanistan before deciding there were no terrorists among them. Iran then ordered Mr. Hekmatyar to close his Tehran office, opened in 1996 after the Taliban seized power and ended his bloody feud with the Northern Alliance for control of Kabul. Mr. Hekmatyar, 60, headed Hizb-i-Islami, a mujahideen group, which received a major portion of U.S.- and Saudi-supplied weapons and cash during the 1980-89 war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. OIL http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=2581815 * POLITICS UNDERMINING IRAQ OIL INDUSTRY: REPORT Times of India (from AFP), 2nd March NICOSIA: Threats to overthrow the regime in Baghdad and a confusing UN pricing structure threaten Iraq's ability to export crude oil at capacity, the Mideast Economic Survey reports in its Monday edition. The industry newsletter said February exports under the UN oil-for-food programme were again expected to be low, at about 1.56 million barrels per day, or 640,000 bpd less than the target of 2.2 million bpd. In January exports were 1.55 million bpd and 1.4 million bpd in December. MEES said a similar shortfall was expected in March. "This should not come as a surprise since European and some US-end users are shying away from Iraqi crudes because of the market uncertainties resulting from the retroactive pricing system being applied by the UN sanctions committee." This was compounded by growing fears of a US military attack to topple the Baghdad regime, the weekly underlined. "Several senior oil industry officials have also recently been arrested on corruption charges, delaying the normal procurement of oil equipment and services," it added. MEES noted that speculation about US military intervention, an early March meeting between the UN Secretary General and Iraq's Foreign Minister on the return of arms inspectors and the May 31 deadline for a new UN programme for Iraq -- "all these developments have rattled the oil markets generally and customers of Iraqi oil specifically. "Several end-users are under such circumstances reluctant to rely on Iraqi oil supplies, preferring instead to switch gradually to other sources of sour crudes for their refineries in order not to be short of supply when a new crisis erupts." The head of the UN's humanitarian scheme for Iraq, Benon Sevan, warned the Security Council last week that excessive blocks on imports threatened to paralyse the programme. The programme was established in December 1996 to soften the impact of a total trade embargo imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Iraq is allowed to export crude oil under UN supervision and to use part of the revenue to import food, medicine and other necessities. Sevan told the council that Iraq's oil exports were "some 35 percent lower than the assumed sustainable rate of export of 2.1 million barrels per day." Unless exports picked up, revenue for the six-month phase of the programme that runs up to the end of May will be about one billion dollars short of budget, he said. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2002/0304/breaking23.htm * BULA CANCELS IRAQI CONSULTANCY CONTRACT by Cathal Hanley Irish Times, 4th March Bula Resources has terminated its consultancy contract with Mr Riad el Taher and Petcon Limited effective immediately. Mr el Taher had been employed by Bula to oversee Bula¹s bid for an drilling licence in the Block 4 oilfield in Iraq. Mr el-Taher is chairman of the London-based Friendship Across Frontiers organisation, which campaigns for a lifting of sanctions against Iraq. In a statement released to the stock exchange this morning, Bula said its managing director, Mr Thomas Kelly, will take over the co-ordination of the company's efforts in Iraq to secure the Block 4 licence. The terms of the exploration and development contract for Block 4 have been agreed with Iraq¹s oil ministry, and the contract has been submitted for signature since June 2001. Bula is awaiting Iraqi government signature of the contract. http://dawn.com/fixed/subs/dinasub.htm * ATTACK ON IRAQ TO BRING GAS-PUMP GLOOM by Howard LaFranchi Dawn (from Christian Science Monitor), 7th March WASHINGTON: Waging war means sacrifice. But so far, at least concerning the gas pump, the 'war on terrorism' hasn't asked much sacrifice of America's consumers. Gasoline is cheap and plentiful, as America's gas-guzzling SUVs, proudly flying the Stars and Stripes, testify. Gas remains inexpensive because the world oil market is stable and relatively well supplied. But happiness at the pump could change as the United States contemplates taking the 'war on terrorism' to the Gulf region to force a regime change in Iraq. One fact is worth keeping in mind: Iraq is back as America's sixth-most-important crude-oil supplier - exactly where it was in 1990, before the Gulf War. That conflict took out Iraq as a source of crude, and it sent oil surging to 40 dollars a barrel, about double today's price. With the world oil market's excess capacity lower than what it was at the time of the Gulf War, any disruption of supplies could "have an important impact on the world economy," says George Perry, an oil-economics analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "A clumsy intervention in the (Gulf) region could end up causing quite a bit of trouble." President Bush may characterize Iraq as part of an "axis of evil," but its oil is sweet: Iraq is now the fastest-growing source of imported oil to the US, supplying between a half- million and 1 million barrels a day. As the Bush administration moves toward action against Saddam Hussein, it leads a country that offers a mixed picture in terms of oil. The US is considerably more dependent on imported oil now than it was at the time of the Gulf War - from about 37 per cent to more than 52 per cent imported today. A greater diversification of sources, on the other hand, means the US is less dependent on one region - the Persian Gulf - than it was a decade ago. The US today is either importing more of its energy - or gearing up to import more - from sub-Saharan Africa, other points in the Western Hemisphere, and the former Soviet republics around the Caspian Sea. "Production in the Americas is on the uptick. Production around the Caspian is on the uptick," says George Baker, an oil analyst with Baker & Associates in Houston. Mexico - the fourth-biggest supplier to the US last year, according to the Energy Department - is well ahead of where it was in 1991 in terms of daily production. And it's planning for even more. Noting that one example, Baker says that global suppliers coming into production "mean we have quite a bit of potential for making up Middle East oil that might be lost." This diversification of US suppliers may help explain why the Bush administration wants to spend nearly 100 million dollars to train and equip a Colombian Army battalion to protect a key oil pipeline that is constantly being bombed by the country's Marxist rebels. Or why the US military, in the wake of Sept 11, is building new bases or other facilities in Central Asian countries including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The Central Asian bases are explained as necessary as the US plans for an extended global war on terrorism. But Baker says they can also be explained in the context of oil - and the potential for disruption in the Gulf oil-producing region if the US attacks Iraq. '"Why are we building bases in the Caspian? Because we're trying to protect the stability of Caspian oil production," he says. "And why are we doing that? We need to have that oil production in place if we're going to risk losing Saddam Hussein's oil." The US is expected to make other decisions that will affect to some degree its access to oil. The Bush administration will likely renew a prohibition of US energy investment in Iran and Libya. The sanctions, in place on Iran since 1995 and on Libya since 1996, take US oil firms out of the running for big oil- development contracts in the two countries. Some US analysts had speculated that the ban on business might be dropped after the US renewed contacts with both the Libyan and Iranian governments in the wake of the Sept 11 attacks. But Bush's inclusion of Iran in his "axis of evil" appears to have dashed those hopes. Perry of Brookings says such sanctions, while they may sound tough, have absolutely no impact on the global oil price because neither Iran nor Libya lacks for other consumer countries to sell to. Perry says it would take disruption of Persian Gulf supplies to cause instability in the oil market. And Houston's Baker says that perhaps the best thing the US could do to ward off instability - especially if it's contemplating military action in the Gulf - would be to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Doing that could help reduce a lot of animosity toward the US in the Muslim world and some of the adverse forces the oil- producing governments in the region face. "Even if you're only thinking about oil," he says, "that's the first fire to put out." IRAQI OPPOSITION http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1853000/1853522.st m * IRAQI OPPOSITION TO SADDAM by Middle East analyst Fiona Symon BBC, 4th March As the only Arab regime that failed to offer immediate condolences to the United States after the events of 11 September, it is perhaps no surprise that the Bush administration should turn its attention to Iraq for phase two of its war on terrorism. [.....] Leith Kubba, an Iraqi analyst at Washington-based think-tank the National Endowment for Democracy believes the Bush administration is distancing itself from the "tribal" opposition groups, the Kurds and the Shia Muslims. "They are the most relevant on the ground but their political agenda is so problematic in the long term that they are not being taken on board," he said. Dr Kubba believes the Iraqi army will be the most important partner on the ground for the US. [.....] Washington has recently courted several former Iraqi army officers. Of these, General Naguib Salihi is the least tainted by association with the Iraqi regime. The author of several studies on the Iraqi army, including a book on the failed uprising of 1991, he left Iraq in 1995 and came to prominence when he revealed that he had been sent a videotape showing the rape of a female relative by intelligence personnel. His refusal to be intimidated, publicly denouncing the brutal tactics of the regime, has won him admirers. However, he does not appear to have ambitions for political leadership and has argued that the military should not be directly engaged in politics. [.....] INSIDE IRAQ http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/look/2002/mar/04/030405714.html * RENOWNED IRAQ POET KILLED Las Vegas Sun, 4th March CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The renowned Iraqi poet Mahmoud al-Brekan, a pioneer of free verse in Arabic literature, has died - apparently at the hands of burglars. He was 73. The Iraqi Writers Union said in a statement that al-Brekan died at home in the southern city of Basra in "a regrettable incident" on Saturday. It did not elaborate, but Al-Thawra newspaper, the mouthpiece of Iraq's ruling Baath party, reported Sunday that he was killed by thieves who had broken into his house. Al-Brekan is remembered both for the quality of his verse and his reluctance to publish it. Among his best-known works are the collections of verse titled "The City's Depth and the Silent Starvation," "The Slaves Market" and "Dancing in Graveyards." Al-Brekan refused to publish these collections, but photocopies circulated widely in Arabic literary circles. At the beginning of his career, he published poems in Iraqi and Arabic literary publications in the early 1950s. But then he stopped publishing and never gave a reason. The exiled Iraqi writer Hussein Shaban said Monday that al-Brekan preferred not to publish "to avoid political, ideological and literary bickering." "His silence was a resistance to the domination of one voice, one party and a protest against coercion," Shaban told The Associated Press in a phone call from London. The leading Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat described al-Brekan on Monday as "a legend" and demanded that all his works be published. Al-Brekan worked as a teacher until his retirement after the 1991 Gulf war. http://www.dawn.com/2002/03/05/int1.htm * WE WILL FIGHT TO THE FINISH: TARIQ AZIZ by Paul Michaud Dawn, 5th March PARIS, March 4: In an exclusive full-page interview in the French daily Le Figaro, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has characterized the United States as the "dictator of the world," and noted that "Iraq has no other option but to defend itself. It will not choose to surrender with the sole objective of surviving." Surrendering under the present circumstances, notes Mr Aziz, who was interviewed in Baghdad, "would be contrary to our traditions. Iraq is a proud country, and the Iraqis have always been fighters for freedom." Moreover, notes Mr Aziz, the recent desire expressed by President George W Bush to bring about a change of government in Iraq "is illegal in terms of international law. Nobody has the right to impose on a sovereign state a political system that it doesn't want. Iraq will refuse to buckle under." "When Hitler invaded his European neighbours," says Mr Aziz, "it wasn't because he had the right to do so, but because he believed he had more might. Still, in the end, Hitler lost anyway." And, continued Mr Aziz, just as Charles de Gaulle refused to accept the German occupation of his county in 1940-44, "Iraq will also refuse to submit to the American tyrant." Mr Aziz took particular aim at British Prime Minister Tony Blair for having accused Iraq of reconstituting its stocks of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. "It's a lie to say that we've taken advantage of the absence of United Nations inspectors to reconstitute our stockpile of arms of massive destruction. All our stocks (of such arms) were destroyed under the control of Unscom. Today, Iraq is 100 percent clean." But, noted Mr Aziz, "since Mr Blair says this isn't true, it must mean he knows where and how we've reconstituted our stocks. We are therefore ready to receive a British delegation which will make its way to those areas designated by Tony Blair. We'll send along to accompany the delegation the international media and diplomats who will serve as witnesses." Mr Aziz went on to challenge news reports according to which Iraqi's civilian population was under-nourished and living in misery. "We supply our citizens with a daily ration of 2400 calories: rice, bread, dried beans, sugar and tea. We are certainly the only country in the world which feeds its population with public funds. As for the United States, they're very well incapable of providing food to their poor, their hungry and their homeless." "If in Iraq, people die from sickness," said Mr Aziz, "it's because sanctions (imposed by the United States) deprive us of equipment with which to filter our water, or because our children are contaminated by the uranium contained in the (depleted uranium) weapons used by the United States during the Gulf War. Nobody in our country dies from hunger." Added Mr Aziz, "If the Iraqis were not satisfied with their regime, we wouldn't have been able to survive two wars and eleven years of sanctions." Asked about the inclusion of Iraq in President Bush's "axis of evil," Mr Aziz retorted by noting that "it's a bizarre slogan and it demonstrates how much Bush is ignorant about History. The word "axis" as used in the context of the Second World War corresponds to a reality, Germany, Italy and Japan were effectively allies, and their political systems similar. But there is no resemblance with the three countries cited by Bush." As for Osama Bin Laden, Mr Aziz noted that "I cannot speak of a man whom I do not know. Iraq has never had any relations with Bin Laden, I can't therefore pass judgement on him. Queried whether Iraq had been able to replace the artillery and armoured vehicles lost during the Gulf War, Mr Aziz responded that "we have sufficient means with which to defend our independence." Mr Aziz then compared the situation of his country to that of Vietnam . "We have the same determination," noted Mr Aziz who went on to say that like the Vietnamese, "the Iraqi will fight in the streets and in each house (if necessary). Against the Americans, each village (in Iraq) will become for them another Vietnam." http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=CB659BD9-6D8C-4FEE A9B977C4C19E829B&Title=Iraqi%20Kurdish%20Leader%20Against%20US%20Interventio n%20in%20Iraq&CatOID=45C9C78D-88AD-11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C * IRAQI KURDISH LEADER AGAINST US INTERVENTION IN IRAQ VOA News, 5th March A prominent Iraqi Kurdish leader says he prefers democratic change in Iraq involving forces within the country instead of U.S. military intervention. During talks with Turkish government officials in Ankara Tuesday, Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan that controls parts of northern Iraq, says he does not support the idea of a U.S. military ouster of Saddam Hussein without a sound democratic alternative to replace his regime. Mr. Talabani says he does not want to replace one dictatorship with another. He did say, however, that outside support for Iraqi democratic forces would be welcomed. His views are shared with the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Massoud Barzani, who, along with Mr. Talabani has controlled much of northern Iraq since it has been outside Baghdad's control following the 1991 Gulf war. Turkey also is concerned about U.S. military action in Iraq, fearing it could lead Iraqi Kurds to form an independent state and thus encourage separatist action by Kurds in southeast Turkey. Mr. Talabani stressed to Turkey that he is against dividing Iraq. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020305/2002030508.html * AMERICAN TALKS WITH KURDISH SIDES TO TOPPLE SADDAM Arabic News, 5th March The Turkish daily Hurriet said that Ankara has recently disclosed that an official at the US CIA official in Turkey and north Iraq had made secret talks with Kurdish officials of a high ranking level in Irbeil and al-Suleimaneyah, relating to means of toppling Saddam Hussein. The paper said that well-informed sources said that Turkey confirmed this news which was issued by the US daily "Boston Globe" a matter which "had shaken the Iraqi side." The paper indicated that a delegation representing the American military experts had recently visited Ankara and held talks with the Turkish officials on the future of Iraq and its infrastructure. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=2905701 * EXPLOSIONS AT BROADCASTING CENTER NEAR BAGHDAD Times of india (AFP), 6th March DUBAI: A series of explosions wreaked extensive damage on transmission and jamming equipment used by the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi opposition group claimed on Tuesday. A huge fire broke out at a compound west of Baghdad housing the equipment following six explosions overnight Sunday, the London-based Iraqi National Congress (INC) said in a statement faxed to AFP in Dubai. There was no independent confirmation of the claim, which did not elaborate on the nature of the explosions but implied they were an act of sabotage. There were no reports of casualties among workers at the broadcasting center, which was vital to the Baghdad regime, the INC said, adding authorities had launched an investigation into the blasts. The same dissident group claimed on February 12 that anti-Saddam forces had carried out a series of acts of sabotage against Iraqi oil installations starting last August. ENFORCING THE EMBARGO http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020302/2002030217.html * TRIAL FOR A SWISS COMPANY OVER SELLING PIPES TO IRAQ Arabic News, 2nd March The Swiss authorities are investigating with a company in Zurich suspected to have had sold equipment to Iraq used in manufacturing of artillery pipes, illegally. Informed sources quoted the Swiss radio which said on Friday that the investigations emerged from a German investigation about weapons purchases by six companies to Iraq. A matter which constitutes a violation to the international sanctions imposed on Baghdad. The radio added it is suspected that the said company had sent especial equipment to Iraq in 1999 at a cost of USD 1.3 million. On the other hand, a spokesman for the Swiss federal attorney office confirmed these information saying that the authorities in his country are giving legal aid at a request by the German authorities and these relate to monitoring laws on war items and exports. http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_536427.html * WARSHIP RETURNING HOME AFTER IRAQ MISSION Ananova, 5th March One of the Royal Navy's newest warships is to return home after a five-month mission blocking Iraqi smuggling operations. HMS Kent has seized more than £4 million worth of oil and illegal cargo from ships in the Gulf destined for or leaving Iraq. Now the Type 23 frigate is to set to return to its home base at Portsmouth on 8 March. HMS Kent, whose crew boarded 10 vessels while stationed in the Gulf, is one of the navy's newest warships. She joined the fleet in 2000. Lieutenant Commander Gary Harvey said: "This has been a hugely successful operation. In all we seized 40,000 tons of illegal cargo, mostly oil. "This was certainly a challenging tour for the whole of the ship's company and also a memorable one. Now with the mission completed, we are all looking forward to coming home." The ship's commanding officer, Commander John Clink, said his crew were happy to be returning home after the busy tour of duty. He said: "We return to Portsmouth with our heads held high as we mark the closing of the first chapter in the life of HMS Kent. "Our successes in the Gulf are testament to the professionalism, enthusiasm and tremendous team spirit of my ship's company. I expect them to receive a terrific welcome home from their friends and family - they certainly deserve nothing less." http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=politicsnews&StoryID=669404 * IRAN PROTESTS U.S. INTERCEPTION OF TANKER Reuters, 6th March TEHRAN: Iran's foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Switzerland's ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in Iran, to protest the interception of an Iranian oil tanker by U.S. forces in the Gulf. U.S. forces regularly intercept ships suspected of carrying Iraqi oil in violation of U.N. sanctions imposed on Baghdad for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Newspapers said U.S. ships stopped a tanker leased by the National Iranian Oil Company bound for the southwestern Iranian port of Abadan on Sunday. "Iran considers such illegal and unconventional measures contradictory to international regulations on free shipping in international waters," the foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by the official IRNA news agency. The ship, carrying feedstock for unleaded petrol, was intercepted and inspected by the U.S. Navy for the third time in as many months and allowed to proceed after its Indian crew was interrogated for seven hours, the agency said. The foreign ministry called on the United States to stop such actions and said: "Tehran holds the American government accountable for such actions and keeps its right to follow up the issue through legal channels." U.S. naval forces in the Gulf attacked an oil tanker bound for an Iranian port in December and injured two people. Washington broke diplomatic ties with Iran after Iranian militants seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took its staff hostage. Tension has risen between the traditional foes since President Bush accused Iran of being part of an "axis of evil," allegedly bent on pursuing weapons of mass destruction, which Iran strongly denies. REMNANTS OF DECENCY http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?f=/stories/20020302/213687.html * MERCHANTS HOPE TO HELP HUNGRY BY SELLING DATES FROM IRAQ by Jeff Heinrich National Post (Canada), 2nd March MONTREAL - A display of imported dates catches the eye at the entrance to a health-food store on Rachel St. in the Plateau Mont Royal. "Be a good citizen -- disobey!" the packaging label exhorts shoppers. And in bold letters: Made in Iraq. Iraq? Isn't Canada part of a United Nations embargo barring trade with Iraq since it invaded neighbouring Kuwait in 1990, sparking the U.S.-led Persian Gulf War the following year? "I could face a big penalty for doing this, but I took the risk," said René Lavoie, buyer for the Rachelle-Bery grocery chain, where the gift baskets and little boxes of dates have been on sale since just before Christmas. "I did it to lend a hand to the families over there [in Iraq]." According to estimates last year by Columbia University analyst Richard Garfield, 350,000 Iraqi children under age five died in the 1990s -- double the number in the 1980s, mostly due to the embargo but also the war. In December Mr. Lavoie bought $2,000 worth of dates -- 100 baskets and 200 boxes each containing half a kilogram -- wholesale from a Montreal non-governmental organization called Voices of Conscience. The volunteer group got the dates from a pro-Iraqi NGO in Rome called A Bridge for Baghdad, which smuggled them from Iraq. The Italians have also exported the dates to England. To get into Canada, the dates were falsely labelled as originating in the United Arab Emirates, against which there are no sanctions, said Voices spokesman Julie Mongeau. In all, the organization brought in 1,600 packages of the dried fruit. The shipment arrived at Dorval Airport on Dec. 17 and passed customs inspection. Another shipment is expected in the next few weeks. Three of Rachel-Bery's five stores carry the product, as does the 10,000 Villages import store on St. Denis St. The dates were also available until recently at the Café Rico coffee house on Rachel St. E., which gave them away free to try to avoid possible fines or jail. "We ran out of all our stock, and we're now trying to change our logistics to import them a second time," said Stephane Kordahi, who runs Café Rico. Like others helping with the smuggling, Mr. Kordahi prefers to call the clandestine operation "civil disobedience," not lawbreaking. But Ottawa sees it differently. Canada Customs is looking into how the dates got into the country and who is distributing them, an official said yesterday. "Certainly we'll have to review what happened," Brian McGruther said from Ottawa after being told the dates are on sale here. "I would say it's very uncommon." http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/england/newsid_1850000/1850879.stm * PROTESTERS FEAR WAR AGAINST IRAQ BBC, 2nd March Thousands of anti-war demonstrators have marched through central London in protest at the threat of military strikes against Iraq. Supporters of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) were addressed by speakers including Tony Benn and Yvonne Ridley, the Sunday Express journalist captured and detained by the Taleban for ten days. Police estimates put the number attending at 7,500 but organisers say the figure was 20,000. StWC convenor Lindsey Graham said marchers were also protesting against the continued detentions in Cuba at Guantanomo Bay. "We feel that the war in Afghanistan makes things worse. "It looks like they are going to attack Iraq and we want the British government to know 'you are not doing this in our name' if they go ahead." Ms Graham said the prospect of military action against Iraq would lead to further protest marches being organised around the UK. "The USA and Britain say Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. "But the real weapons of mass destruction are held by the West who have already used sanctions and bombing against Iraq." Veteran anti-war campaigner Tony Benn called for non-violent resistance against the government in the wake of action against Iraq. "The moment that bombing begins, we go to where we are and we stop for an hour. "Stop the buses, stop the trains. It's got to be something we take up in every town and village. "Go home today, talk to your schools, raise it in the churches, the temples, the mosques, the synagogues and at work, because we could well be heading for a Third World War because of stupid men who are in government and are governing in our name." The demonstrators gathered in Hyde Park before marching on to Trafalgar Square. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/17175437.htm * GERMAN PEACE MOVEMENT TO DEMONSTRATE AGAINST US ATTACK IN IRAQ Berlin, March 8, IRNA -- The German peace movement here Friday called on its supporters to join mass demonstrations against likely US military actions in Iraq, DPA said. Demonstrations are planned during the US president's May 23 visit to Germany and on Easter, peace movement spokesman, Peter Strutynski, was quoted as saying in the northeast German city of Kassel. He referrred to US "war preparations" in the Middle East which are focusing on Iraq. Strutynski stressed that Washington's plans posed serious threats not only to the Mideast but also global peace. IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ http://www.reuters.co.uk/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews&StoryID=661916 * IRAQI REFUGEES STRIKE BACK AT AUSTRALIA by Andrea Hopkins Reuters, 5th March CANBERRA: Iraqi asylum seekers falsely accused of throwing their children overboard have struck back at their Australian accusers, saying the government demonised them for political gain in last year's election. The would-be refugees, who have been detained at an Australian-run detention camp in Papua New Guinea since being rescued from their sinking boat last October, said Australia's conservative government painted them as criminals. The complaint, detailed in an undated letter received by Reuters on Tuesday, is the first communication from the asylum seekers since the government last month admitted a military mix-up had caused them to falsely accuse the boat people of throwing children overboard. "This accusation put our lives and the life of our innocent women and kids in political election struggle," the asylum seekers said in the two-page letter. The letter, which also included two drawings of their sinking boat, was signed "Iraqi prisoners, Manus Island, PNG". It was distributed to the media by the International Organisation for Migration, which runs the PNG detention camp. Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill offered a partial apology to the asylum seekers last week for accusing them of throwing their children overboard in what the government claimed was an attempt to blackmail Australia into accepting them. But said he was not to blame for the communication mix-up which led to the accusations and also took a jibe at the boatpeople for allegedly holding their children over the water. The government seized on the allegations during last year's election campaign to bolster its hard line against illegal immigrants, saying parents who would throw their children overboard were "not the sort of people" welcome in Australia. The government continues to assert that some boatpeople held their children over the side of the boats in a threatening way. Prime Minister John Howard's conservative coalition went on to win a third term at a November 10 election amid broad public support for his tough stand on illegal immigration. In their letter, the asylum seekers said the government tried to portray them as "terrorists" when in fact they had simply held their children up while their boat was sinking in a plea to an Australian warship on the scene to rescue them. "(The government tried) to paste the accusation to us and show us as criminals throwing our kids from the overboard to the sea, we are terrorist we do not deserve entering Australia... (when really we) lift our kids appealing for aid and gain their sympathy," the letter said. The boat sank the next day, dumping the asylum seekers into the sea, where they were rescued by the navy. In their letter, the asylum seekers asked the government to deal with their situation "in humanity" by transferring them from the "hot and wet" tropical camp to mainland Australia. "As a result of these bad circumstances many kinds of disease spreaded in the camp like some hysteric shock, which push some people to commit suicide," the asylum seekers wrote. Doctors have warned the asylum seekers were at risk of getting malaria. A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said there have been no suicide attempts at the camp and said the detainees have access to doctors and air conditioning. She dismissed claims they held their children up to win sympathy, saying it was clear the children were being threatened. "The fact is they sank their boat, so people ended up in the water anyway. I mean they did endanger the lives of the people on the boat, and that included women and children," she said. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk