The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] News, 9-16/3/02 (3)

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


*  Belgium calls on EU to send mission to Iraq
*  German FM unaware over US plans for post-Saddam summit [See ŒIraqis
search for a successor to Saddamı under Iraqi Opposition. Someone had the
bright idea that if the conference was held in Bonn it would like the
conference to choose a government for Afghanistan. They neglected to inform
the German government.]
*  Germany Says Would Need UN Mandate for Iraq Action [Though since Germany
was behind the rogue attack on Serbia ­ launched without a UN mandate ­ this
is a matter of choice, not of respect for the law.]


*  Iraqi Baath Party Criticizes U.S. Campaign Against Iraq [Account of a
delegation to Indonesia.]   
*  New Zealand Unlikely to Join Any Action Against Iraq
*  Vietnam VP leaves for tour of Iraq, India [Letıs hope sheıs able to pass
on a few tips ...]
*  Russia rethinks its support for Iraq [This is just speculation but given
the nature of V.Putin and the fact that he has now secured the support of
the ŒInternational Coalition against Terrorı aka the US for his war against
the Chechens, it is credible.]
*  Russia denies it might accept anti-Iraq strikes


*  Some 3000 Iranian refugees to return home shortly: UNHCR[Iranian refugees
in Iraq. Difficult to understand this unless they are supporters of the more
secular Iranian tendencies.]
*  Jordan warns of catastrophe if US attacks Iraq
*  Jordan: tap line reopening reviewed by Saudi team [We are often told that
Jordan has been Œsympatheticı to Iraq because it is dependent on Iraqi oil,
which Iraq supplies free (which is really a very remarkable arrangement that
doesnıt get enough attention, but it probably explains why Jordan has still
managed to retain some shreds of sovereignty despite the malice of the US,
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait at the end of the Gulf Massacre). This article
reminds us that prior to the Massacre, they got their oil from Saudi Arabia
as well as from Iraq, and had to pay for both. The Saudis turned the tap off
and forced Jordan into Iraqıs embrace because of Jordanıs attempts to find a
peaceful solution in the midst of the 1990/91 atmosphere of hysteria, which
is now developing again.]
*  Cheney finds skepticism toward U.S. Iraq strategy on first Mideast stop
*  Syrian President Meets Senior Iraqi Officials
*  Egypt says Iraq may OK weapons inspectors
*  Iraqi Delegation to Visit Lebanon
*  Saudis to take hard line with Cheney against war on Iraq
*  Turkey Says Iraq No Threat, Should Not Be Attacked


*  Iraq wants equal treatment in U.N. talks [ie Iraq makes the obvious point
that if its possession of trucks that could be converted into rocket
launchers is a problem, the sanctions that have killed hundreds of thousands
of people is also a problem.]
*  Iraq: no weapons inspectors
*  U.N. approves in payments of $1.8 billion for Iraq invasion of Kuwait


*  Make war, not politics [Pepe Escobar continues to be disappointing on the
subject of Iraq. A fairly average account of the countryıs tribulations
picks up at the end with mention of the big profits there are to be made,
notably by Alliant Techsystems, Raytheon and L-3 Communications, out of the
war on Iraq.]
*  An Iraqi Campaign Faces Many Hurdles [Mostly views of ex-CIA men Kenneth
Pollack and Whitley Bruner. Short extract giving reasons for hesitation.
Including the weather. Too hot in the Summer, too rainy in November.
Planning a war is almost as difficult as planning a holiday.]
*  Extending the war on terror: Prudent or paranoid? [Short extract from
Bangladeshi article, expressing splendid contempt for the US victory in
*  It's Washington vs the united state of Iraq [Pepe Escobar again. Makes
interesting point - if true - that Iraq after the Baath coup of 1968 was the
first Middle East country to secure full competence in  operating an
independent oil industry. And the man responsible was one Saddam Hussein.
Which helps to explain why they donıt like him.]
*  Dubious Iraqi Link [David Ignatius would probably prefer to find himself
in the Idiotic Paranoia section, but he seems to have an odd, and wholly
inappropriate, penchant for telling the truth ­ and for treating lesser
peoples (Europeans, Arabs) with respect. So here he is blowing the gaffe on
the Czech connection. Or is he just trying to divert some of the paranoia
away to Iran? Extracts.]
*  The inevitable war [Pepe Escobar on the irrelevance of the new UNSC
resolution on a Palestinian state and the immorality of the proposed action
against Iraq.]


Times of India (from AFP), 12th March

BRUSSELS: Belgium suggested on Monday that the European Union quickly
dispatch a high-level mission to Baghdad to convince Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein to let UN arms inspectors back into his country.

Such a mission ‹ proposed in a letter from Belgian Foreign Minister Louis
Michel to his Spanish counterpart Josep Pique ‹ would give Saddam a last
chance to avoid an attack by the United States.

Spain, which holds the agenda-setting EU presidency, is to host a summit of
EU leaders in Barcelona this Friday and Saturday where developments in the
Middle East are to be discussed.

Pique told reporters at the end of an EU foreign ministers' meeting in
Brussels on Monday that the Belgian idea "deserves our attention," but he
stopped short of saying it would be on the agenda in Barcelona.

"We have to continue to insist that UN resolutions be respected,
particularly with regards to the return of inspectors," he said, reiterating
the European Union's long-standing policy on Iraq.

Baghdad has banned the inspectors since they pulled out of the country on
the eve of a December 1998 US-British bombing blitz.

Diplomatic sources said the letter was also sent to EU foreign policy high
representative Javier Solana, and to Britain and France ‹ the two EU member
states with permanent seats on the UN Security Council.

"It is essential that the union act without delay," Michel wrote in his
letter to Pique, a copy of which was seen by AFP.


Berlin, March 14, IRNA -- The German foreign ministry said it was unaware
over US plans for an Iraqi grand opposition conference, tentatively
scheduled for May in Bonn, the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said
here Thursday.

The summit is aimed at finding a consensus among major Iraqi opposition
groups on a new leader to replace Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who is
facing an imminent US military attack.

The May conference coincides also with the UN Security Council's half-a-year
review of sanctions against the Iraqi government.

The former German capital Bonn became the site of a UN Afghan peace
conference last December where Pashtun leader Hamid Karzai was nominated as
the new head of the interim government in Kabul.

Reuters, 15th March

BERLIN: Germany would only engage in further U.S.-led military strikes, such
as against Iraq, under the auspices of the United Nations, a government
spokeswoman said on Friday.

She said Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had discussed the aftermath of the
September 11 attacks when he met a group of intellectuals and publishers on
Wednesday evening.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday that Schroeder, who has often
declined to comment on what he describes as a hypothetical scenario, had
said Germany would not join a purely U.S. attack on Iraq.

Deputy government spokeswoman Charima Reinhardt confirmed Schroeder's view
that any expansion of operations against what Washington have called "rogue
states" would need United Nations approval for Germany to take part.

Reinhardt added that Schroeder's comment did not mean there were any
concrete plans to launch an offensive against Iraq. The comments were part
of a "philosophical discussion," she said.




JAKARTA, March 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Leader of the delegation of the Iraqi Arab
Baath Socialist Party, which is paying a visit to Indonesia, Wednesday
criticized the United States for being the world's biggest terrorist nation.

"The U.S. threatened to take military campaign on Iraq for allegations of
producing mass destructive weapons. The fact is we have no weapon. We are no
terrorist. However, we have prepared for the worst in dealing with the U.S..
We need our counterparts in Indonesia to understand the situation," leader
of the delegation Latief M. Saif Jasim told reporters after meeting with
Vice President Hamzah Haz here.

Latief was quoted by the Antara News Agency as saying that the delegation's
visit was aimed at improving inter-party relationship between the Arab Baath
Socialist Party and major political parties in Indonesia.     

"The Arab Baath Socialist Party has very close relationship with Islamic
parties in Indonesia, including Hamzah Haz-led United Development Party
(PPP). We also tried to explain that Iraq and Indonesia in some degrees are
facing similar threats from international community," he said.

The delegation explained to the vice president unfair treatment they had
received from the United Nations. The U.N. has imposed economic embargo on
Iraq for around 11 years, leaving the country in serious problem of lacking
food and cash.

The delegation was sent by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to seek support
from Indonesia.

On Tuesday, the delegation members had a brief conversation with President
Megawati Soekarnoputri in the sidelines of internal meeting of the
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in South Jakarta.

PDI-P Secretary General Sutjipto told reporters that the delegation brought
a mission to gain support from friendly countries including Indonesia, to
help Iraq end the international suppression. "They asked for moral and
political supports from Indonesia, that's the point of the meeting,"
Sutjipto said.


WELLINGTON, March 14 (Xinhuanet) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark
has said there are no plans for New Zealand to widen its military
contribution in the war against terrorism beyond Afghanistan.

The Dominion, a Wellington-based newspaper, Thursday quoted the prime
minister as saying New Zealand's commitment to the international coalition
against terrorism is linked to the terrorist attacks of Septemer 11 and the
actions of the al Qaeda network and those who harbored them.

"No links have ever been provided between Iraq and that, so it' s a
completely different issue," she said.

Her statement was a response to reports that the United States may target

New Zealand offered Special Air Service troops for the war in Afghanistan
and they are understood to have been there since late last year. New Zealand
has also sent peacekeepers to the region.

Helen Clark suggested it is unlikely the United States would expect New
Zealand to be involoved in a compaign targeting countries like Iraq.

"I think they know New Zealand's commitment has been around the events and
people and state of Afghanistan and anyone associated with al Qaeda," she

Times of India (from AFP), 14th march

HANOI: Vietnamese Vice-President Nguyen Thi Binh left Hanoi for Baghdad on
Thursday as she launched a 10-day tour of Iraq and India, foreign ministry
officials said.

She will be in Iraq until Sunday and in India until March 24.

India has long been a close ally of Vietnam and was the only non-communist
state to recognise the regime Hanoi installed in Cambodia after its 1978

Along with other radical Arab states, Iraq has maintained good relations
with communist Vietnam since the days of the Cold War and awards it some 600
million dollars of business a year in imports under the UN oil-for-food

by Scott Peterson
Dawn (from The Christian Science Monitor), 15th March

MOSCOW: Whenever Washington set its sights on Baghdad, Iraqi strongman
Saddam Hussein knew he could count on Moscow for support. Before American
bombs began to drop in the 1991 Gulf War , for example, then-Soviet Foreign
Minister Yevgeni Primakov met Hussein at his presidential palace.

Then months later, with the heaviest air campaign in American history under
way, Primakov made a risky run for Baghdad - his convoy smeared with mud,
and headlights off - to help Hussein find a face-saving way out. But now,
despite Russia's continuing support for Iraq - Russia routinely backs Iraq
in the UN Security Council, and mediated in the 1997 and 1998 US-Iraq crises
- the Kremlin's view is changing.

As Vice President Dick Cheney embarked on a tough-sell Mideast tour, to
build support for Washington's expansion of its "war on terrorism" to
include toppling Iraq's Hussein, analysts say the Kremlin is adjusting its
priorities and maximizing its opportunities to collect billions in debt and
oil deals.

That result says as much about evolving US-Russia relations - and Putin's
not-always popular, pro-West strategy - as it does about Moscow souring on
Baghdad. "Russia's first objective is not to allow this military action in
Iraq - whatever it might be - to jeopardize the level of US-Russia relations
that has been achieved," says Oksana Antonenko, a Russia specialist at the
International Institute of Strategic Studies in London.

"Russia is quite fed up with (Saddam) anyway," Ms Antonenko says. "The
judgment in the Kremlin is that if the US commits very strongly to action
against Iraq, Russia would work within the broader coalition."

Moscow's key demands will be to ensure that up to 20 billion dollars in debt
arrears, current oil deals, and other contracts are respected; that Russia's
interests are respected by any post- Hussein regime; and that any action is
given at least a fig leaf of international legitimacy by the UN.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov - arriving in Washington for a
three-day visit on Monday - made clear that "Baghdad must accept weapons
inspectors under the UN aegis, to stop the concern of the world community."

"September 11 really did mark a Rubicon in Putin's strategy," says Strobe
Talbott, former deputy secretary of state and head of the Yale Center for
the Study of Globalization in New Haven, Conn.

Putin has "seized upon" the subsequent tolerance in Russia to build
US-Russia ties "because of the common threat." "(Russians) also see Saddam
Hussein as dangerous," Talbott says. "But they also have very real economic
interests." Even more important, Talbott adds, is that Russia "not be yet
again left aside, while Uncle Sam struts his stuff."

Before Sept 11, Russia was fingered as a key proliferator of
weapons-of-mass-destruction expertise, it opposed NATO expansion, and fumed
at Washington's determination to pull out of cornerstone arms-control
treaties. After Sept 11, the Kremlin barely whimpered when Bush announced
the US was abandoning the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty.

With 15 billion to 20 billion dollars at stake - some 8 billion dollars in
Soviet-era military debt, and billions more in oil deals - Russia is now
calculating that a new regime could ensure a payback.

That may be the Kremlin plan. "Putin believes that Russia's destiny is with
the West," says Talbott. "That is where the money is. And he knows he needs
that investment and support for Russia to make it as a modern economy."

Times of India (from AFP), 16th March

MOSCOW: Russia Friday described as "absolutely groundless" a report in the
British daily The Times that Moscow might not object to possible US attacks
on Iraq.

The newspaper said in its Friday edition that Russian Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov hinted in an interview that Moscow would not back out of the US-led
anti-terror coalition if Washington launched unilateral strikes on Iraq as
part of its anti-terror campaign.

"It would not be expedient to issue any ultimatums to say that we would
withdraw from the coalition," The Times quoted him as saying in what the
paper saw as a hint that it might not cut off its help in the US-led

But foreign ministry spokesman Sergei Yakovenko said that Ivanov "spoke
unambiguously against any unilateral armed action against Iraq," the
Interfax news agency reported.

He quoted Ivanov as saying that the strikes would "make not only the Iraqi
settlement process but also the general situation in the region more
difficult," Interfax said.

Washington, and to a lesser extent London, has stepped up warnings that the
alleged Iraqi development of weapons of mass destruction must be "dealt
with," raising fears that the war on terror could soon be broadened to

As quoted by The Times, Ivanov insisted that only the United Nations was
authorised to take action against a country, and said Russia "cannot but be
concerned" by unilateralism in US foreign policy.



Mashhad, Khorassan prov, March 9, IRNA -- Spokesman for the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Mohammad Nouri said on Saturday some
3000 Iranian refugees living now in Iraq would return to Iran early next
Iranian year.

In an interview with IRNA, Nouri quoted Head of the Baghdad-based UNHCR
Office Daniel Bellamy as saying that the group of Iranians wishing to return
home are part of 23000 Iranians living in the refugees camps in Iraq.

The repatriation of the Iranians is part of a program developed jointly by
the Iranian and Iraqi officials in collaboration with the UNHCR officials in
March 2001.

The Iranians are to return home voluntarily, Nouri noted.

Iran announced earlier that it has provided, in cooperation with Iraq,
necessary facilities for voluntary repatriation of Iraqi refugees.

Director General of Foreign Nationals and Expatriates Affairs Department
Hojjatoleslam Hassanali Ebrahimi said the formation of an Iran-Iraq joint
committee on refugees has facilitated the voluntary return home of Iraqi
refugees residing in Iran by offering necessary documents.

The committee had reached important agreements on voluntary repatriation of
refugees, he noted.

He put the total number of registered Iraqi refugees in Iran at 220,000 and
said the figure would rise to 300,000 if the unregistered refugees are taken
into account.

Irish Times, 10th March

Jordan's King Abdullah said today that any US attack against Iraq would have
catastrophic repercussions on the oil-rich country and the Middle East

The monarch held talks with a senior envoy of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
in Amman on the eve of a regional tour by US Vice President Dick Cheney that
includes stops in Jordan and three other countries bordering Iraq.

Speculation that Iraq is to be the next target of the US-led war on
terrorism has mounted since President George W. Bush included Iraq as part
of what he called "an axis of evil" in his State of the Union address in

Mr Cheney is expected in Amman on Tuesday for discussions with King Abdullah
the following day, with Iraq high on the agenda.

Mr Cheney, who will also visit Britain, Kuwait, Egypt, United Arab Emirates,
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, Oman, Israel and Yemen, wants to rally
support for eliminating what Washington sees as a threat of weapons of mass
destruction posed by Iraq.

The king expressed hope that the talks, which resume next month, would
resolve all outstanding issues between the two sides and lead to a lifting
of UN sanctions imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Hoovers (Financial Times), 10th March

According to "Jordan Times", a Saudi technical team will prepare a report by
the end of the year on the possible restoration of Tap line, a pipeline
linking oil fields in eastern Saudi Arabia with Mafraq, unused since the
Gulf War in early 1990s. The team, representing ARAMCO, the Arab-American
oil company, will test the pipeline and study the cost of renovation and
maintenance, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Mohmmad Batayneh
said. The daily maximum capacity of the pipeline is around 350,000 barrels.

It was originally constructed in the 1940s to export Saudi oil to the West
(via Jordan to the port of Haifa, now a major Israeli port city). Following
the establishment of Israel in 1948, Tap line's terminal was diverted from
Haifa to Sidon in Lebanon. The Tap line continued supplying oil to Jordan
until Saudi Arabia cut off its oil supply to Amman in 1990. The official
reason given at the time was Jordan's unpaid bills, but the move was
generally seen as linked to Jordan's position during the Gulf War. Since
early 1990s, and with UN permission, Jordan has depended totally on Iraq for
its oil supplies - around 85,000 barrels per day.

Late last year, Jordan and Iraq renewed the oil protocol under which Baghdad
meets the Kingdom's needs in crude oil and its derivatives, estimated at
over five million tons in 2002. Iraq sells the Kingdom oil at preferential
prices, which are below market rates. However, if the Tap line is reopened,
Saudi Arabia is expected to charge international market prices, according to
a ministry source. (Source: Info-Prod (Middle East) Ltd.)

Boston Herald (from Associated Press), 12th March

AMMAN, Jordan - Vice President Dick Cheney received a public warning Tuesday
from Jordanian King Abdullah II that expanding the terrorism war to Iraq
could destabilize the region and undermine gains in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials had hoped for a more muted message from the king, whose
comments came as Cheney began a whirlwind tour of the Middle East.

Abdullah has been a top ally in the terror war, but like many Arab leaders
he has been openly skeptical of U.S. hints of hostile action against Iraq.

During a private meeting with Cheney, Abdullah ``expressed hope for a
solution to all outstanding problems with Iraq through dialogue and peaceful
means,'' said a palace statement.

It also said Abdullah voiced Jordan's concern about ``the repercussions of
any possible strike on Iraq and the dangers of that on the stability and
security of the region.''

The meeting with the king was the vice president's first stop on a tour of
nine Arab nations, Israel and Turkey.


The United Nations ``is the only way to resolve all outstanding issues,''
Abdullah said in an interview with the Saudi Al-Watan newspaper. He also
spoke of ending ``the sanctions on brotherly Iraq.''

The remarks were carried by Jordan's official Petra news agency shortly
before Cheney's arrival.

Bush administration officials have suggested that much of the recent
rhetoric from Arab states is for domestic consumption. Jordan, for instance,
has a large Palestinian population and borders Iraq.

U.S. officials hope that they can at least win private assurances from Arab
leaders that they will not attempt to stand in the way of possible military

Cheney was welcomed at the airport by Jordan's prime minister, Ali
Abul-Ragheb, who suggested that spiraling Israeli-Palestinian violence was
one of the most urgent issues affecting the region and hoped the Cheney
visit could help in ``getting the process of peace back on track.''



DAMASCUS, March 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Tuesday
discussed with visiting Iraqi Revolution Command Council Vice Chairman Izzat
Ibrahim and Foreign Minister Nagi Sabri Ahmed the Mideast situation and the
agenda of an Arab summit to be held later this month.

The meeting tackled the situation in the region, especially the massacres
and aggressions committed by the Israeli occupation forces in the
Palestinian territories as well as the issues to be discussed by Arab
leaders at the summit in Beirut, Lebanon, on March 27-28, Syrian Arab News
Agency reported.

Both the Syrian president and Iraqi officials stressed the need to come out
with a single Arab stand that upholds Arab solidarity and safeguards Arab
national security, the report said.

Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Faruk Shareh was present at the meeting.

The Iraqi officials arrived here on Monday for a three-day visit to Syria.

by Tom Raum
Baltimore Sun (fromThe Associated Press), 13th March

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt ‹ Vice President Dick Cheney said today that Israel
and the Palestinians share the burden of ending Middle East bloodshed.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met with Cheney and promised to apply
pressure, too.

At a news conference with Cheney at this Red Sea resort, Mubarak also
addressed another difficult Mideast issue, saying he believes Iraq's Saddam
Hussein is close to agreeing to allow the return of U.N. weapons inspectors.

One of Cheney's missions on his trip to the region -- to make a case for
widening the war on terrorism to include Iraq -- has been overshadowed by
the spiraling loss of life in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.


Some 865 Americans are part of the 1,836-member force of observers
patrolling the desert between Egypt and Israel. Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld is trying to sharply cut back the U.S. participation, a fact Cheney
did not bring up.

Mubarak voiced public opposition to any U.S. plan to topple Saddam in Iraq,
just as Jordan's King Abdullah II had during Cheney's visit to Jordan the
day before.

"It is of vital importance to maintain the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of Iraq. This is a must for preserving regional stability,''
Mubarak said.

He suggested that Saddam be given a final chance to comply with U.N.
resolutions, including those demanding the return of U.N. weapons

"And I think, as far as my knowledge is that he is going to accept the
inspectors,'' Mubarak said, without elaboration.

"We are going to meet some of his special envoys and tell them that this is
a must,'' Mubarak said. "We will try in this direction as far as we can.
Then after that, if there is nothing happening, we'll find out what could be



BEIRUT, March 12 (Xinhuanet) -- A high-level Iraqi delegation headed by Vice
Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council Izzat Ibrahim is due to arrive
in Beirut on Wednesday for an official visit to Lebanon, the official NNA
news agency reported.

Ibrahim will deliver a letter from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to his
Lebanese counterpart Emile Lahoud on the upcoming Arab Summit due to be held
in Beirut on March 27-28.

The delegation, which also includes Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Ahmed will
hold talks with Lebanese leaders on the Mideast situation, especially the
Palestinian-Israeli escalating violence.

The talks will also focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the U.S.
threat to carry out military action against Iraq.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is currently on a 11-nation Mideast tour to
rally Arab support for U.S. strike against Iraq, that is accused by
Washington of developing mass destruction weapons.

Iraq has refused to allow U.N. arms inspectors to resume work in Iraq.,3604,667729,00.html

by Brian Whitaker, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian, 15th March

Saudi Arabia is to deliver an uncompromising message to the US
vice-president Dick Cheney that it opposes attacking Iraq and will not
cooperate in military efforts to remove Saddam Hussein.

The Saudi move - which represents a huge groundswell of Arab opinion against
a looming war with Iraq - will be a blow for Mr Cheney, who is touring the
Middle East to drum up support for an extended "war on terrorism".

Western diplomats had expected Arab leaders to be more supportive, at least
in private. One predicted that four would give tacit backing to Saddam's
removal if the US could guarantee to accomplish it smoothly.

Saudi support proved vital in the 1991 war to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi
occupation and the kingdom has been used as one of several bases for
US-British patrols of the southern no-fly zone over Iraq.

Saudi Arabia last year refused to let the US use its territory as a base for
the war in Afghanistan.

The kingdom's position in the Muslim world would be untenable if it provided
bases for US aircraft bombing Iraq, Whitehall officials said yesterday. But
its opposition to an all-out assault on Baghdad is not based only on these
sensitivities. Saudi diplomatic sources say there are fears that ousting
Saddam will prove more difficult than the US imagines.

One claims that about 1 million Iraqis are so closely tied to the fate of
Saddam's regime that they will not switch sides as readily as the Afghans
and may fight to the death. Saudi Arabia is better placed to adopt a robust
position than Egypt, Jordan and Yemen - Arab countries visited earlier by Mr
Cheney which are all heavily reliant on US aid.

The Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, in his talks with Mr Cheney on
Wednesday, promised new efforts to persuade Iraq to accept weapons
inspectors. King Abdullah of Jordan said after meeting Mr Cheney that he
hoped for "a solution to all outstanding problems with Iraq through dialogue
and peaceful means".

In Kuwait, where many are grateful to the west for rescuing their country
from Saddam in 1991, there is more public support for military action. But
even there, it is not necessarily seen as the best option.

Reuters, 15th March

BARCELONA, Spain: Turkey, a key NATO ally, urged the United States on Friday
not to attack Iraq, saying the country did not pose a threat to its

"We feel that Iraq should not be the subject of military attacks because it
would upset the whole Middle East," Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit
told reporters after meeting European leaders at an EU summit in Barcelona.

"Since the Gulf War, Iraq has been under strict control...It is under
constant surveillance so it is not in a position any more to inflict any
harm on its neighbors or even against its people," Ecevit said.



by Hassan Hafidh
Reuters,10th March

BAGHDAD: Talks between Iraq and the United Nations should put as much
importance on lifting sanctions and ending no-fly zones as on sending back
weapons inspectors, according to the Iraqi deputy prime minister.

"Singling out the question of inspectors is wrong," Tareq Aziz told
reporters on Saturday night.

"There are many items (the United Nations should discuss): the sanctions,
the no-fly zones and the continuous aggression and violation of
international law by the United States and United Kingdom," Aziz said.

"All these matters should be addressed, not just one item. The focus is on
one subject (the return of inspectors) as if it were the only concern."

The U.S. and Britain are enforcing no-fly zones in northern and southern
Iraq, set up soon after the 1991 Gulf War to protect a Kurdish enclave in
the north and Shiite Muslims in the south from possible attacks by Baghdad

Sanctions were imposed on Iraq in August 1990 as punishment for its 1990
invasion of Kuwait.

Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
ended a meeting in New York on Thursday which aimed to allow inspectors back
into Iraq. Another meeting is set for April.

Asked whether Iraq would let the inspectors return, Aziz said: "As far as
our position (is concerned) nothing has changed."

Iraq has banned U.N. arms experts, hunting for weapons of mass destruction,
from returning since they left on the eve of a U.S. and British bombing
campaign in December 1998.

The United States wants the U.N. inspectors to return to check if Baghdad is
developing weapons of mass destruction. Speculation is mounting that an
Iraqi refusal could trigger a U.S. assault on Iraq aimed at toppling
President Saddam Hussein.

Aziz told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday that the United
Nations was not interested in weapons inspection but rather in overthrowing

"The American president has made clear that the case of Iraq is not about
the fight against terrorism and not about arms control," he said. "In
disregard for our sovereignty, he wants to eliminate the regime of President
Saddam Hussein and create an armed opposition to fan a civil war."

The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that the U.S. administration has
told the Defence Department to prepare, on a contingency basis, plans to use
nuclear weapons against at least seven countries including Iraq.,5478,3927863%255E401,00

Herald Sun (Australia), 11th March

IRAQ, vowing to thwart any US attack, insisted today it would not allow UN
arms inspectors back into the country, following talks on the matter with UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"Iraq's positions, barring the return of the spy teams, are firm and will
not change," Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said, quoted by the official
INA news agency.

Ramadan, who yesterday had implicitly ruled out the inspectors' return, said
Iraq's experience with the UN Security Council proved "the futility of the
return of the spy teams, who spied on Iraq for eight years".

Iraq, under the leadership of President Saddam Hussein, was "now stronger
and more determined than ever to stand up to any US aggression", Ramadan
also told an Egyptian delegation taking part in an Arab conference being
held in Baghdad in solidarity with Iraq and the Palestinians.

"Iraq is capable of repelling and thwarting any American-Zionist plot
targeting its national sovereignty," he said.

Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri on Thursday held what he described as
"constructive" talks with Annan on the possible return of the inspectors,
who have been barred from Iraq since pulling out in December 1998 before a
US-British bombing blitz.

The talks, the first high-level encounter between the two sides in a year,
are due to resume in mid-April.

The United States has dropped broad hints that it might take military action
against Iraq and try to overthrow the Baghdad regime unless it allows arms
inspectors back into the country to check that it no longer has weapons of
mass destruction.

Ramadan told the opening session of the conference of "Arab popular forces"
yesterday that international monitoring of Iraq's weapons programs was only
acceptable if applied to all countries of the region, including Israel.

"As for talk of the return of UN inspectors, the search for and dismantling
of Iraq's (prohibited) weapons was completed by the (now defunct UN) Special
Commission and the spy teams affiliated to it," he said, referring to the
inspectors who operated in Iraq from the end of the 1991 Gulf War until

Their return would be aimed at "spying (on Iraq) and contriving crises" that
would lead to "fresh US and British attacks" on the country, Ramadan added.

Yahoo (from Associated Press), 13th March

GENEVA: A United Nations panel Wednesday approved $1.8 billion in payments
to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other claimants for losses resulting from Iraq's
1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Of the total the bulk -- $1.5 billion -- is for Kuwaiti business, government
and individual claimants, said spokesman Joe Sills. Of the remainder, most
is for Saudi Arabia.

The U.N. Compensation Commission also set up a review process for 1,318 late
claims from Palestinian-owned business that say they suffered losses in the
invasion, said Sills.

"These people are claiming they did not have an effective opportunity for a
timely filing," he said.

"A panel has now been constituted," Sills added. "They will begin work in
May on judging these claims and deciding whether they should receive awards
or not."

He said the Palestinian Authority had been given until July 1 to submit
further late claims.

Nearly $1 billion was approved for Kuwaiti ministries and other government
operations, and the Saudi government is to received $159 million for similar
claims, said Mojtaba Kazazi, chief of the commission secretariat.

So far the panel has awarded compensation of $37.7 billion to victims of the
invasion -- most of which has been for Kuwait.

The awards are funded through the U.N. oil-for-food program. The
compensation fund currently receives 25 percent of the revenue Iraq earns
through the sale of oil. Iraq is allowed to use the rest for humanitarian
goods for Iraqis suffering under sanctions.

The commission is made up of representatives of the 15 U.N. Security Council
members and is currently headed by Norwegian Ambassador Sverre Bergh


by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 9th March

PARIS - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and Iraqi Foreign
Minister Naji Sabri have had their first one-on-one meeting in more than a
year in New York. There was no acrimony. They'll meet again in April. In May
the Security Council will get together to discuss the tightening of
sanctions against Iraq.

Hawks in the Pentagon are obviously against any possible dialogue since Iraq
has recently been promoted to the status of one-third of the George W Bush's
axis of evil. This term was the expression chosen by some Hollywoodish
ghost-writer to link the late US president Franklin Roosevelt's "axis" of
Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II and Ronald Reagan's "evil
empire", his definition of the Soviet Union. But as a geopolitical entity,
the axis of evil is as empty as a catch phrase hurled in the middle of a
talk show to amuse the galleries.

But it's lethal. It involves the nexus of US foreign policy for at least the
next 10 years. It involves the Pentagon spending US$1 billion a day on
defense from October onward. It involves no mercy for Iraq - the first
country on the list to be attacked, sooner rather than later. It involves
the Pentagon accusing Iraq of converting donated aid trucks into rocket
launchers just as the New York meeting was about to start (no proof was

The US wants just one thing: the return to Iraq of the nuclear-weapons
inspectors thrown out in 1998. Iraq might even comply, as long as it is not
subjected to an embargo that bleeds it dry and accomplishes nothing.

The now almost-forgotten Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 - a million Iranians were
killed, along with more than 200,000 Iraqis - was the direct result of the
clash of two expansionist policies. Subsequently, the Gulf War was provoked
by the Baath Party in Iraq, which tried to get hold of the "province" of
Kuwait and its enormous oil reserves to increase Baghdad's economic power
and reinforce its regional hegemony. The Western reaction and the reaction
of many Arab capitals was not as much dictated by the necessity of
protecting the sovereignty of an independent state (Kuwait) as by the
widespread desire to restrain the unrelenting geopolitical and geostrategic
rise of Iraq.

The embargo against Iraq follows exactly the same logic. It is meant to
prevent Iraq from once again taking Kuwait, and to prevent its rise as a
military power. The great dream of the Baath Party in Iraq has always been
to reunify southern Mesopotamia and then play a central role in the Persian
Gulf after the inevitable "retirement" of British colonialism. The Baath
Party's strategy was also effective in offsetting Iraq's eternal enemy Iran,
and in propping up Iraq against the oil monarchies of the Arab peninsula.
This whole geopolitical configuration couldn't be anything but unacceptable
to London, the former colonial power, or to Washington, which had its heart
set on replacing London as the hegemonic power in the Gulf.

So more than 10 years after the Gulf War, London and Washington are still
bombing Iraq - every week, like clockwork. Nobody knows what they are
bombing, and nobody knows who the victims are or and where they are: the
bombing is now invisible in the world media. UN Resolution 986 - the "oil
for food" program - was supposed from its start in 1996 to ease the pain of
the Iraqi population, but now its implementation is increasingly
problematic. Iraq's oil terminals, heavily bombed, are not capable of
assuring the necessary volume of exports.

The director of the UN program himself, Benon Sevan, told the Security
Council a little more than a week ago that "Iraqi oil exports in the current
phase [of six months] reveal a drop of 35 percent in relation to the
previous 10 phases". This is due in part to the slow pace of Iraqi exports:
most are transported by an immense serpent of trucks slouching toward the
Jordanian border. But it is also due to many contracts "waiting" at the
doors of the sanctions committee at the UN. Until last week, no fewer than
2,089 contracts, valued at $5.3 billion, were blocked. Most of them,
according to European sources, involve Russian companies. What is blocked is
essentially Iraqi access to the money placed in an account managed by the

European diplomats and the Iraqi diaspora in Europe deplore in private the
limitations of Resolution 986 - a basket of extremely mean and intolerant
measures that cause distress to the bulk of the Iraqi population, especially
in terms of public health and the general rhythm of social life. Even Benon
Sevan is urging a revision of the program. Technologically, Iraq stopped in
the very early '90s. The strategy of the embargo plus sanctions seems to be
clear: to plunge the country into a long-lasting underdevelopment. This
policy is all the more absurd when viewed through the prism of history:
Mesopotamia has been one of the most fertile regions in the world for

Meanwhile, the boys at Merrill Lynch are cracking open the Chateau Lafitte.
The Lynch gang is assuming Iraq is the next country on America's list, so
it's time to examine the fortunes of the defense industry. The conclusion is
crystal-clear: "A military campaign in 2002 and 2003 against Saddam
Hussein's regime should profit the stocks of companies producing weapons and
ammunitions." This means war will be extremely profitable to Alliant
Techsystems, Raytheon and L-3 Communications. Forty-two percent of Alliant's
sales are related to ammunition and missile engines. Raytheon produces the
Tomahawk missile - a superstar both in the Gulf War and the New Afghan War.

The boys at Merrill Lynch double as military strategists. They suggest an
air war at first. Ground war means problems - although this phase would be
excellent for Alliant Techsystems and General Dynamics, because these
companies provide ammunition for tanks and attack helicopters. The boys are
careful to predict "non-conventional reactions" from Iraq, such as chemical
and biological attacks. And if Iran and Russia are involved in any way in
the war against Iraq, there could be "more losses in terms of American
planes and combat vehicles".

The boys come close to admitting that Boeing and Lockheed Martin, builders
of commercial and military planes, would be the greatest beneficiaries of a
probable extension of the war. Lockheed Martin has already bagged the
greatest contract in history - $200 billion to build the joint strike
fighter: 4,500 of these mean attack machines will be in use by 2025.

For the United States there's no business like war business. America may
have learned from the Gulf War that a conflict is not resolved without a
political solution. The Afghan War is still going on. Saddam Hussein and the
Baath Party are still thriving. Al-Qaeda's aura is still intact among
millions of dispossessed because Osama bin Laden and the leadership are
still alive - and plotting. But why solve conflicts politically when war can
go on, profitably, forever?

by Robin Wright
Los Angeles Times, 10th March


The issue is important because the impact of a regime change in Iraq is far
more extensive than in Afghanistan, Pollack said. If Afghanistan's
transformation collapsed, the country would become what it was before: a
broken state. But if Iraq collapsed, that could destabilize the entire
oil-rich Persian Gulf region, with a rippling impact around the world.

"It could become the Lebanon of the Gulf, with widespread impact on Kuwait,
Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, all countries we care about," Pollack said.

Complicating this process will be the diverse visions Iraqis and their
neighbors have for post-Hussein rule.

Economically, preparations are needed to keep oil markets from being
disrupted, especially as the world struggles to pull out of a recession,
analysts say. That requires an array of moves, from ensuring that other
countries will make up for any cutoff of Iraqi oil to deploying troops
quickly around the oil fields near the city of Kirkuk in the north and near
the Kuwaiti border in the south to prevent Hussein from ordering their
destruction, as he did in 1991 to Kuwait's fields.

None of which takes into account the wild cards, such as the weather in Iraq
and politics back home.

The scorching summer heat, particularly in the south, could affect weapons
systems and troops. Heavy rains that begin in mid-November could slow
armored vehicles.

And with the approach of November's U.S. congressional elections, neither
major American party may want to see the early stages of a military campaign
weighing on voters' minds when control of both the Senate and the House is
up for grabs.

M Abdul Hafiz
Daily Star (Bangladesh), 13th March


PRESIDENT George W. Bush who cowered at the news of terrorists' attack on 11
September 2001, zig-zagged his way back to Washington and hid himself for
hours in an airforce bunker in far-off Nebraska is now described as a
'redeemer', a man of 'gut instinct' and one having 'core belief', thanks to
his great military victory in Afghanistan. It is a different matter that it
brought in its wake pre-Taliban chaos and warlordism, cost 5000 plus Afghan
civilian lives, made possible the resumption of booming heroin trade and
provided the Russians chance for fresh inroad in their beaten ground in
alliance with old Afghan communists. However, the President believes that
the victory can be duplicated against other malefactors like Iraq, Iran and
North Korea (it supplies missile components and technology to several Arab
countries) who resist American will.


by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 14th March

PARIS - A top Iraqi diplomat in Europe, recently arrived from Baghdad,
assures Asia Times Online that the whole Iraqi population will rally behind
Saddam Hussein if and when the country is attacked by the United States.
This means, obviously, a new attack under the Bush "Axis of Evil" doctrine
because Iraq is still being regularly bombed by US and British planes. These
bombings - unlike those in Afghanistan - have simply vanished from the world
media. Nobody knows who or what is being bombed, or who and where are the

Iraq is subjected to a crippling embargo and UN sanctions (to be reviewed
and possibly extended next May), and it has fallen victim to a humanitarian
crisis that is largely forgotten by the international community. But the
diplomat talks about a population that has refused to surrender, has found
ways to dilute the terrible effects of the embargo and sanctions, and is not
dying of hunger.

While Ariel Sharon's tanks occupy Ramallah and reduce to dust any possible
success of US special envoy Anthony Zinni's mission in the Middle East, Vice
President Dick Cheney has in fact already secured Tony Blair's support in
London for an attack against Iraq. Blair - refered to privately as "lapdog
Tony" by cynical analysts - is extremely embarrassed to be the only European
leader to be put in such a position by the Americans.

Intellectuals of the Iraqi diaspora offer a very plausible explanation for
the boundless Anglo American hatred. It inevitably has to do with oil. The
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was created in Baghdad
in 1960. The first secretary general was an Iraqi. The great Iraqi ambitions
in the '60s were independence and economic development. To really achieve
these goals, the country had to have full access to its main source of

When the Baath Party took power in 1968, its main thrust was to provide Iraq
with the technical, managerial and human resources to accomplish a full
process of the nationalization of the oil industry. This mission was to be
carried out by the party's number two, none other than Saddam Hussein. Years
later, Saddam said that nobody believed in it. But in 1972, Iraq was an oil
power - and 100 percent independent from the Western oil cartel.

Iraq has the second-largest oil reserves in the world. The US will never
forgive Iraq for providing the example, and then leading OPEC in its 1973
dismantling of Western control of the world's oil at the time. In doing so,
OPEC destroyed the absolutely essential axis of American strategic control.
And Britain will never forgive the Baath Party for ending more than half a
century of British dominance in the region, and on top of that, opening the
doors of Iraq and the Gulf to France in the form of contracts with Elf-Iraq,
established in 1974.

Since December 1998, Iraq has refused to allow UN inspections related to its
supposed arsenal of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons. The US
assumes - with no proof - that Iraq is dissimulating a vast modernization
program of its military arsenal. The UN was insisting in 1998 that Iraq had
at least 6,000 chemical weapons in stock. Iraqi sources reiterate that these
do not exist, and that under the surveillance of the American intelligence
apparatus the country has absolutely no way of rebuilding its nuclear

The Pentagon, on the other hand, is considering all options for an attack on
Iraq, from internal rebellion to nuclear bombing. Ahmed Chalabi, the main
leader of the Iraqi National Congress - the opposition in exile - is still
making waves at the Pentagon, even though he is now banned by the CIA.
Chalabi's old Republican pals are none other than ultra-hawks Donald
Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, numbers one and two at the Pentagon. Chalabi's
latest political concoction is the building of an enclave in Nassiriya,
southern Iraq, which would be a starting point for a Shi'ite rebellion
against Baghdad. The Pentagon is apparently considering this latest plan as
a viable option: it would be, in the minds of the ultra-hawks, an equivalent
of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban in Kabul.

But, even after the coining of the "Axis of Evil", close cooperation between
the US and Islamist Iraqi Shi'ites seems far-fetched. According to Hamid
al-Bayati, a representative of the Supreme Assembly of the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq, a Tehran-based organization, "it's unacceptable to put
Iran and Iraq in the same bag".

The Iraqi opposition - a myriad of groups with clashing agendas - is
actually in shambles, the realm of gangsters only interested in personal
profit. It desperately needs a unifying leader. There is only one possible
candidate: Najib al-Salhi, a former general of the Republican Guard, Saddam
Hussein's elite corps.

Al-Salhi has been in exile since 1995, first in Jordan and then in the US.
He actually leads a movement of so-called "free" officers, and claims to
still have very good connections inside the Iraqi army. He is not in favor
of a coup in Iraq, but is in favor of what could be described as a popular
and military rebellion staged simultaneously with American intervention.
>From his comfortable position in exile, he believes the Iraqi population
would rally behind the Americans.

But the top Iraqi diplomat, recently arrived from Baghdad, says it's a
matter of national unity: if Iraq is attacked, no one would even imagine
being a traitor by being in cahoots with the aggressor.

*  Dubious Iraqi Link
by David Ignatius
Washington Post, 15th March


In the first months after Sept. 11, some prominent U.S. commentators pushed
the idea that al Qaeda terrorist Mohamed Atta had met in Prague with an
Iraqi intelligence officer named Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani. The key
meeting supposedly took place in April 2001, as Atta was plotting the deadly
operation that was to destroy the World Trade Center five months later.

New York Times columnist William Safire, for example, wrote last November
that the alleged Atta-al Ani meeting was "the undisputed fact connecting
Iraq's Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11 attacks." Similarly, former CIA
director James Woolsey wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal last
October headlined "The Iraq Connection," which cited the reputed Prague

The problem, according to senior European officials, is that the hard
intelligence to support the Baghdad-bin Laden connection is somewhere
between "slim" and "none." A senior European official said that Atta did
visit Prague once, in 2000, but there is no solid evidence he met with Iraqi

What's more, according to these European officials, there is strong evidence
to the contrary  - directly undermining the theory of an "Iraq connection."
The officials said intelligence reports indicate that Saddam personally
decided against allowing bin Laden and al Qaeda to use Iraq as a base
because he feared they might destabilize his regime.

According to the European officials, the CIA now shares their skepticism
about the Atta-al Ani connection -- although they said some Pentagon
officials continued to believe it's true.

Even the Czechs, who initially put out the reports about Atta's meeting with
al-Ani, have gradually backed away. The Czech interior minister, Stanislav
Gross, said in October that the two had met in April 2001. That version was
altered slightly by Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman when he told CNN in
November: "Atta contacted some Iraqi agent, not to prepare the terrorist
attack on [the twin towners] but to prepare [a] terrorist attack on just the
building of Radio Free Europe" in Prague. Then, in December, Czech President
Vaclav Havel retreated further, saying there was only "a 70 percent" chance
Atta met with al-Ani.


The hideous irony is that the most likely state sponsor for what's left of
al Qaeda's networks is actually Iraq's historical nemesis, Iran. There, too,
lies an intriguing story, recounted by the European officials. They say the
mullahs, after initially supporting the U.S. war in Afghanistan, got nervous
that they were becoming too cozy with the Great Satan. They then began
allowing key al Qaeda operatives to escape across their border from
Afghanistan. Among the al Qaeda leaders who may now be in Iran is the
group's chief of operations, the Egyptian Ayman Zawahiri. He has visited
Iran in the past, and Iranian newspapers recently have carried stories
speculating that he's in the country.


When you realize that U.S. officials go to sleep at night worrying about
nuclear or biological attacks on Washington, you begin to understand their
odd decisions: why they planned what amounted to an office of strategic
deception in the Pentagon, why they began rewriting U.S. nuclear weapons
doctrine, why they created a secret "shadow" government to carry on if the
capital were obliterated. Most of these are bad ideas, but at least they
become more comprehensible.


by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 16th March

PARIS - Bush says "Let's do it." The Pentagon says "Let's do it." National
Security Agency types say "Let's do it." Cole Porter says "Let's do it.
Let's fall in love."

The current American diplomatic turbo-offensive in the Middle East is a
marvel: an exercise in how to coordinate two simultaneous missions - make
peace (Anthony Zinni) and make war (Dick Cheney) - and at the same time
demonstrate that there's no link between Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian
tragedy. To say the least, this is - in the words of a top negoatiator in
Brussels - "an insult to the intelligence".

US Vice President Cheney insists to all his interlocutors that Iraq's fabled
weapons of mass destruction must be dismantled before Saddam Hussein forms
an alliance with al-Qaeda. You don't need to be the King of Jordan or the
Emir of Qatar to know that such an alliance is extremely far-fetched.

Cheney's tour has only one aim: to muster Arab support for an attack on
Iraq. It all has to do with the Bush family's pathological obsession with
Saddam Hussein, and involves practically the same players, Cheney included.
Zinni's tour had to have outside help - which happened in the form of a
carefully timed, US-framed United Nations resolution proclaiming the
Palestinians' right to have their own state.

Palestinians themselves are not exactly encouraged by lofty declarations
about a virtual state: the voice from the street in occupied Ramallah, for
instance, is: We want the tanks out, we want the end of the occupation. Saeb
Erakat, the top Palestinian negoatiator, says it's "illogical to talk about
a ceasefire while Israel has 20,000 soldiers and 150 tanks in the center of

The Palestinian people took the UN resolution for what it is: words, words,
words. There is absolutely no reference to the occupation of the West Bank
and Gaza. The original resolution was from Syria - and it specifically
mentioned Israel as an "occupying power", a truth that every stone around
al-Aqsa Mosque is aware of. There is no mention of illegal Jewish
settlements on Palestinian land. There is no mention of East Jerusalem as
Palestine's capital. There is no mention of the right of return for
Palestinian refugees.

Syria abstained from the final vote. Israel called the resolution
"balanced": no wonder, because the final text proposed by the US was
previously "approved" by Israel.

The now 35-year-old UN Resolution 242 defines what needs to be done in terms
of a political solution - much more so than the bland brand-new Security
Council resolution. The recent proposal by Saudi Prince Abdullah - Israel
back to 1967 borders in exchange for normalization of relations with the
Arab world - plays around a softer version of nothing else than Resolution

Meanwhile - in a development that obviously has nothing to do with the
Middle East, as they would say - rabid dogs in Washington have nothing on
their minds other than to nuke Baghdad. This is a direct consequence of the
fact that the US has no strategy for the Middle East. Sending Zinni as an
errand boy once in a while is nothing but a minor diplomatic initiative.
Baghdad is accused of possessing or trying to acquire weapons of mass
destruction; but the US would never admit that Israel itself is loaded with
chemical, biological and atomic weapons, and it's been violating UN
resolutions for more than three decades now. And it gets paid for it, too:
US$3 billion from Washington, annually, like clockwork.

At the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, any researcher can tell that the
situation in the Arab world now is completely different from what it was in
post-Gulf War 1991. The US pro-Israeli bias is viewed in the Arab world as
an unbearable injustice - and compassion toward the Iraqi population is

Europe continues to insist on a more civilized approach toward Iraq. General
Michel Roquejeoffre, formerly the commander of the French forces in the Gulf
War, says all diplomatic avenues must be tested before one starts
contemplating war against Iraq. The general wonders whether "the best way to
end the suffering of the Iraqi people would not be to run the risk of a
priori suspending the embargo against Iraq". But selling that to Washington
is hard - especially when Iraq is already listed for all the world to see in
the "axis of evil".

Europe, meanwhile, is also trying to show the intellectually handicapped
Bush administration that it's possible to rally behind a war against
terrorism and at the same time consider very delicate nuances in relations
with the Arab-Muslim world.

Take the example of Iran - one-third of the axis of evil. This past week,
Iranian President Muhamad Khatami was given the red-carpet treatment in
Vienna. Austria was the first European country to receive him after Bush's
"axis of evil" speech. Khatami - as a man who had proposed, before the end
of the millennium, a "dialogue among civilizations" - was not bitter: he
left the door open to resume dialogue with America. "The key is in the hand
of the Americans," he told an Austrian newspaper.

Javier Solana, the European foreign-policy chief, also made a point of going
to Vienna specifically to offer a cooperation agreement between the European
Union and Iran, as long as Iran confirms its "constructive engagement" in
the Middle East and in Afghanistan. Needless to say, Europe is totally
behind Khatami's reformist movement in Iran.

Bush and Washington hawks threw Iran and Iraq into the same bag. But while
dialogue with Iran is a possibility - and the US administration might even
catch up with Europe's constructive approach - as far as Iraq is concerned,
catastrophe is inevitable.

A former director of Gulf Affairs in the US National Security Council made
the case in Foreign Affairs magazine for an invasion of Iraq and the
elimination of the present regime. As far as American unilateralism is
concerned, this article is the icing on the cake. It certainly reflects the
"intellectual" mood in Washington.

The author in question favors the embargo, and criticizes "ludicrous Iraqi
propaganda about how the economic sanctions are responsible for the deaths
of more than a million people since 1991". Since 1991, the fact - verified
by UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - is that one Iraqi
child dies every six minutes, a victim of sanctions or bombing. The author
considers it normal that Iraq, a sovereign country, has no right to have its
own fiber-optic communication network, so the key nodes have been destroyed
by US strikes. Iraqi society is being condemned to irreversible
technological underdevelopment.

The author says an Afghan-style campaign won't work in Iraq (in fact it did
not work in Afghanistan either: the war goes on). So he suggests a kind of
Gulf War replay. The magic formula? Invasion: "It would not cost much more
while making success a near certainty." This way, Saddam Hussein would not
threaten the world's supply of oil again, the US would return to its
pre-Gulf War presence, and the US would rebuild Iraq. At least one of these
propositions is a fallacy.

To accomplish all these marvels, the US needs no support from anybody except
Kuwait. The author says it would be "much easier" if the Saudis helped - but
that's unlikely. The author also assumes that the emirates of the Gulf
Cooperation Council and Jordan would follow the US - but Jordan's King
Abdullah would not sanction such adventurism. The author says that Egypt and
Turkey are in the bag: Egypt might be, if offered some financial carrots,
but certainly not Turkey, which is worried about the Kurdish problem.
France, Russia and China would "object strongly to the whole concept", but
"they could not stop a US invasion".

So the US needs only to "smash Iraq's ground forces with a single corps
composed of two heavy divisions and an armored cavalry regiment". "Some
light infantry" may be needed, as well as "airmobile forces to seize Iraq's
oil fields". The force should have "between 200,000 and 300,000 people" -
that's what Pentagon generals estimate, anyway: between four and six
divisions for the invasion, and 700 to 1,000 aircraft for the air campaign.
Building up this force would take "three to five months".

So easy. And from now on, semi-official: Iraq will certainly be atacked
before October. But wait! Iraqis could be so frightened by the massive
American build-up there might be a coup d'etat to topple Saddam Hussein.
Bingo! Great savings! No need for an invasion!

What do do after that? So simple. The US "gets to decide the composition and
form of a future Iraqi government". The Foreign Affairs author cannot but be
puzzled by the "bewildering array of local and foreign interests involved".
So the best thing is to turn the whole hot potato over to the UN, thus
"spreading some responsibility for the outcome". But the US would have to be
"prepared to contribute several billion dollars per year for as much as a
decade" to rebuild Iraq. Not really: the fact is the European Union would be
asked to pay the bill, according to the current motto, "US bombs, UN feeds,
EU funds".

The message then is clear: invade and conquer before October. The reason,
admits the author, has "little or nothing to do with Iraq's connection to
terrorism". In fact, the whole operation will follow only two dicta: "I
suspect you, therefore you're guilty," coupled with "I bomb, therefore I
control." This is what American foreign policy is all about at the beginning
of the 21st century. How civilized.

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]