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News, 6-12/4/02 (3) IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (China, Australia, Ukraine) * Jiang Speaks Out in Favor of Iraq * We can't help US in Iraq: Labor [in Australia] * Kuchma 'arranged radar for Saddam' [Looks as though the Ukraine is getting a prostitute parliament. On a point of detail: do the UNSC resolutions really forbid Iraq from acquiring radar equipment which is, quite clearly, purely defensive?] NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Al Qaeda terrorists target Iraqi Kurds [William Safire, now that the Czech connection seems to have fizzled out in ignominy, is pushing the Kurd Islamic fundamentalist connection for all it is worth.] * Status Quo Is Least Of Evils [Interesting extract suggesting that the removal of S.Hussein might not have much to offer the Kurds in the autonomous zone, though there is no mention of the Kurds still living under Baghdad.] * Norwegians stuck in Iraq IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/03/25/10170047 66319.html * A sea of blood ... a sip of coffee [Sydney Morning Herald account of the distribution of Iraqi largesse to Palestinians which should have appeared about a couple of weeks ago] * Syria - Iraq irrigation cooperation * Interview suggests better Iraq relations [Iraqi Vice President in the Kuwaiti paper As Seyassah. Unfortunately very few details are given] * Saddam pledges $8.7 million aid to Palestinians [Includes the following memorable quotation: ‘"The end of the Jews will be at the hands of the people of Babylon (Iraq) and they (Israelis) well know it," Uday said. The Palestinians "are twisting the arms of the Jews, but sooner or later we, the inhabitants of Babylon, will break their necks," he added.'] * Pentagon, citing Iraq, plans radar sale to Jordan [A bizarre piece of news. Any normal observer would think Jordan was much more threatened by Israel than it is by Iraq (which has been keeping it alive despite the malice of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, by supplying it with free oil). Unless the fear is of a general Iraqi push against Israel through Jordan? In which case could the US really entrust such equipment to Jordanian hands? Or are they really protecting Jordan against Israel without admitting it?] REFUGEES * Iraqis win refugee status but no guarantees REMNANTS OF DECENCY * Local couple [in Vancouver] aims to end Iraqi sanctions IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://cgi.wn.com/? action=display&article=12909784&template=baghdad/i ndexsearch.txt&index=recent * Jiang Speaks Out in Favor of Iraq The Associated Press, 7th April BERLIN: Chinese President Jiang Zemin urged the United States in remarks published Sunday to refrain from military action against Iraq, while stressing his support for combating terrorism. ``International disputes cannot be solved by force,'' Jiang, who begins a five-day visit to Germany on Monday, told the weekly Der Spiegel. ``Like Germany and most other states, we want to solve the Iraq question under the conditions of the U.N. resolutions.'' Chinese officials have consistently urged Iraq to cooperate with the United Nations to end economic sanctions. The sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors verify that Iraq has dismantled its weapons of mass destruction, and Baghdad is refusing to let the inspectors return to the country. Jiang is expected to discuss the U.S.-led anti- terror campaign when he meets Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Tuesday. Other stops include Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg, where the Chinese leader is due to sign a deal extending the automaker's joint venture in China. Jiang's swing across Europe, Africa and the Middle East will also take him to Libya and Iran, both suspected by the United States of promoting terrorism and violence abroad. But responding to a question about President Bush's description of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an ``axis of evil,'' Jiang told Der Spiegel: ``We favor dialogue.'' http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,408950 2%255E401,00.html * We can't help US in Iraq: Labor News Interactive, Australia, 7th April THE federal government today said it would consider its position if the US struck against Iraq but Labor warned Australia could not afford to help. [.....] But opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said Australia could not afford to join the fight against terrorism in Iraq because its defence budget was grossly overstretched. Australia was already heavily committed to forces in Afghanistan and East Timor, Mr Rudd said. "There is extreme crisis within the system," Mr Rudd told the Seven Network. "The overrunning of our operational budget at present within Defence to the complete detriment of our capital acquisition budget ... is such that we have on our hands at the moment a real medium-term crisis in terms of proper defence expenditure and preparedness. "Therefore to add an additional burden in terms of a move into Iraq ... would probably be unsustainable." Treasurer Peter Costello is reportedly putting defence at the top of priorities in next month's federal budget. The government is believed to have spent $320 million this year on the deployment of troops in Afghanistan, with an extra $19 million covering the cost of intercepting the asylum seekers. But before a commitment was made to move into Iraq, Labor would need to see evidence from the US that it was warranted. "The question of Iraq should be approached with extreme caution," Mr Rudd said. "The case from our point of view has yet to be made as far as what US president George W Bush has been saying, namely that the object of its policy is regime removal. "The case has to be made in terms of linking Iraq with the events of September 11 and the specific actions of al-Qaeda at that time." http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc? pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3C3J08YZC&live=true& tagid=ZZZ AFZAVA0C&subheading=europe * Kuchma 'arranged radar for Saddam' by Tom Warner in Kiev Financial Times, 12th April Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma was directly involved in planning the delivery of $100m worth of high-tech radar systems to Iraq, one of his former guards has told a US federal grand jury in San Francisco. Mykola Melnychenko, who received political asylum in the US last year, told German radio on Friday that his testimony in the closed grand jury hearing had focused on a recording he said he made of Mr Kuchma and his then arms-export chief, Valery Malev, discussing the delivery of a "Kolchuga" radar system to Iraq. Mr Melnychenko further claimed that a CIA official also spoke during the grand jury hearing and said the US government had located a Kolchuga radar in Iraq. The Kolchuga is a sophisticated passive radar system particularly useful for targeting so-called "stealth" planes. There was no way to independently confirm what transpired in the closed hearing, which is part of an investigation led by US assistant attorney general Martha Boersch. People who have heard the recording say it portrays Mr Kuchma telling Mr Malev in detail how to carry out the delivery, including specific instructions to conceal the radar as truck parts and provide false passports to the installation technicians. Mr Kuchma has strongly rejected the allegations, and he and other top officials insist that Ukraine rigorously observes the UN ban on the sale of military technology to Iraq. When asked at a press conference last month if a Ukrainian radar might have helped Iraq shoot down the unmanned US spy plane that fell in southern Iraq last August, Mr Kuchma reacted angrily, calling the suggestion "dog shit". However, Alexander Zhyr, the head of an investigative commission formed by Ukraine's outgoing parliament, says Mr Kuchma is trying to hinder his inquiries. Mr Zhyr, who announced in a speech to parliament last month that he had obtained the controversial recording, says he was cheated out of victory in the March 31 parliamentary elections. Mr Zhyr wants to continue the commission's investigation in the new parliament and expand it to include Mr Malev's death in a car crash last month. NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://www.iht.com/articles/53975.html * Al Qaeda terrorists target Iraqi Kurds by William Safire International Herald Tribune (from The New York Times), 9th April WASHINGTON Sixty Islamic terrorists, trained in Afghanistan by Osama bin Laden, are holed up in the town of Biyara in northern Iraq, guests of Saddam Hussein. Their assignment is to infiltrate the no-flight zone and to kill the Kurdish leaders, who Saddam assumes will be allied with the United States in his overthrow. This is the same assignment that Al Qaeda performed for the Taliban last Sept. 9, when a terrorist suicide team murdered the most popular Afghan leader, Ahmed Massoud. That assassination was intended to weaken anti-Taliban forces if the United States responded to the Sept.11 attacks by hitting bin Laden's base in Afghanistan. . Ten days ago, a suicide team of three terrorists was dispatched by Saddam's Qaeda affiliate into the Kurdish area of Iraq protected by the U.S. and British air forces. A Kurdish leader, Jalal Talabani (no kin to the Taliban), was meeting in Sulaimaniya with two U.S. diplomats, Ryan Crocker and David Pearce. With that meeting guarded by scores of Kurdish pesh merga fighters, the terrorists targeted the home of Barham Salih, 41, the pro-Western regional prime minister. Their grenades and gunfire missed his appearance at his front door by 10 seconds. Five Kurdish guards were killed and two of the assassins died in the return fire. The third terrorist was wounded and caught. "I came to kill and be killed," he pleaded, but the pesh merga - many of whose relatives were ambushed, captured and beheaded by Saddam's Islamic surrogates two months ago - saved him for interrogation. He is the source of the intelligence about the 60 Qaeda terrorists in Biyara carrying out Saddam's assassination plans. . That intelligence seems of little interest to the Central Intelligence Agency, which failed to inform members of the National Security Council of this incident until my query last week. . Maybe it has no agents on the ground (though U.S. diplomats were); maybe its director is distracted by his high-visibility diplomatic chores; maybe it is sulking because the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker went where no spook had gone before. . Whatever the excuse, it's unlikely that one dollar of the $30 billion intelligence budget (which includes covert operations) has gone to provide one automatic rifle, one mortar, or one anti-tank rocket to the 70,000 Kurdish fighters who would make up the most dependable indigenous ally in any coalition to overthrow Saddam. . President George W. Bush constantly evokes Saddam's poison gas attack in 1988 on the Kurds in Halabja, which killed many thousands of innocents, as evidence of the dictator's willingness to use weapons of mass destruction. . Understandably, neither Bush nor Colin Powell wants to recall the elder Bush's blunder that allowed Saddam to keep his gunships and slaughter Kurds who trusted the United States to support their uprising after the Gulf War victory. Ever since that debacle, America has protected the Kurds and they are grateful for U.S. air cover. . As a result, they have built the only democratic government and rudimentary free-enterprise system in the Middle East since the birth of Israel. Contrast the Kurds' recent progress with that of Palestinians - a people burdened with corrupt leaders, kept in squalid refugee camps for generations by Arab despots and fed a diet of hatred. . Afflicted by tribal tensions at the start of their decade of freedom, the two Kurdish factions have come together. After Saddam's recent assassination attempt, the urbane Jalal Talabani was embraced by Massoud Barzani, as 100,000 Kurds marched through a heavy rain at the murdered guards' funeral. . Kurds now dream of an autonomous region within a democratic Iraq, which would be acceptable to Turkey with its large Kurdish minority. If Bush is serious about overthrowing Saddam before that avatar of arrogance gets the power to obliterate Washington, he cannot count on a colonels' coup or a coat-holding coalition of craven caliphs. America has already had to begin abandoning its bases in Saudi Arabia. Joining in liberating Iraq will be the British, Turks and Kurds. . The Kurds, though fierce fighters, cannot be provided with modern arms and trained to use them overnight. Saddam, allied with bin Ladenesque cadres, has begun his offensive - diplomatic at the United Nations, economic with oil-embargo threats, terrorist to his north. Time is short for a counterattack. http://www.kurdistanobserver.com *Status Quo Is Least Of Evils by Jean-Christophe Peuch, Sami Shoresh Kurdistan Observer, date unknown (7th April?) [.....] David McDowell is a U.K.-based historian and an expert on Kurdish affairs. He told RFE/RL that there is no guarantee the situation will change for the better under new Iraqi leaders, even if Washington backs them. "Although I am sure [the Kurds] would be very happy to see Saddam's regime disappear, they also have to be very realistic. And realism implies quite strongly that even if [Saddam] personally disappears, his apparatus is unlikely to. And that's because the [ruling] Baath [Party] regime under Saddam Hussein is not really replaceable. It's only replaceable in terms of changing a few names. But basically, the intelligence network [and] the armed forces will remain [no matter] who takes control in Baghdad. And [the Kurds] know perfectly well that any ruler in Baghdad will view [them] with immense distrust." In a February interview broadcast on Turkey's NTV private television channel, KDP leader Barzani -- who says he is negotiating with Baghdad to create a federative state that would legitimate Kurdish autonomy -- said he saw "no guarantee that the alternative will be better than Saddam." And in comments aired on NTV that same day, PUK leader Talabani said: "We prefer the current situation to a change we cannot accept. At least, Saddam is now under pressure and contained, isolated, and powerless, and we are under international protection." Bozarslan of EHESS [the Paris-based School of Higher Studies in the Social Sciences] believes that four decades of war have exhausted the Kurds' fighting spirit and that the population of northern Iraq longs for peace. Therefore, he says, they might consider relinquishing their dream of an independent state, provided they can secure their autonomy: "They [now] consider the creation of a Kurdish state with extreme caution. My impression is that they would content themselves with changes in Iraq -- not [necessarily] democratic changes, because I think they're not the kind of people to be fooled -- but with more or less pacific changes, provided their current status is preserved. I believe they would prefer to live in a modified Iraq rather than in an independent state squeezed between Turkey and Iran." McDowell also dismisses the possibility of a landlocked independent Kurdistan coming into reality because of the stiff opposition such an outcome would raise in neighboring countries, which he says would not allow the new state to survive. "Although I am very sympathetic to the Kurdish feelings about self-determination, I actually think that if they would have a state of their own, that would turn into a nightmare. And, ultimately, it would be a nightmare because Iraq, Turkey, and Iran would, in fact, compete to dominate this rather weak -- economically weak -- state and to control it. The pressure would be absolutely intolerable. I think life might be easier for Kurds, quite honestly, within the states that exist if only they could achieve a kind of recognized basis, on which they would be allowed to operate as Kurds." http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article.jh tml?articleID=309659 * Norwegians stuck in Iraq Aftenposten, 11th April Ten Norwegian students have been forced to extend their stay in the city of Dahok. Iraqi authorities will not let them out since they lack a visa to travel from the Kurdish north back to Baghdad and Iranian and Turkish officials will not take them in. One of the Norwegians has written in an e-mail that the experience has given them an inkling of what it is like to be a refugee. "No country will take us. We are in no physical danger, but for many of us there is a psychical strain," the mail said. The group had no trouble getting in. The trip was organized by the Committee for Palestine and had the goal of meeting representatives from different organizations in the war-battered country and to develop a feeling of how the Middle East is perceived from different nations in the region. No barriers arose until they tried to leave North- Iraq for Iran. Iranian authorities refused to believe that the group are on holiday and do accept the validity of their tourist visas. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said that the Kurdish territories in the Middle East are often a source of such disputes and that the ministry has several times needed to intervene to help Norwegians out. IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/03/25/10170047 66319.html * A sea of blood ... a sip of coffee Sydney Morning Herald, 26th March Saddam Hussein milks support through gesture politics. Herald Correspondent Paul McGeough writes from Tulkarm in the West Bank. The grieving mothers seemed comforted when the man from the Arab Liberation Front told them: "Don't think that the martyrs are dead - they are alive and in the heavens and they are close to God." Noura Ayesh Al Jalab, 47, was crying for the loss of her nine-year-old boy, Mohammed. She said: "He was armed with only an ice cream and he was trying to say 'hello' to the Israeli soldiers when they shot him. I'm not sad that he's martyred, but I'm sad and angered by the behaviour of the Israeli soldier who killed my son." Sixty-year-old Fatheyeh Abu Asala's face was swathed in sorrow and a white scarf as she spoke of her 23-year-old suicide-bomber son, Murad Abu Al Asal, who went to meet the Israeli secret police as a collaborator. He injured two of them and killed himself when he detonated a device hidden in his trousers. She said: "It is very expensive for us to get our homeland. We have to pay with our blood. We are grateful to Saddam because he helps us as though he was a Palestinian too." The wife of a Palestinian emergency medical worker, killed when an ambulance came under fire, quietly collected her cheque and left. This was Saddam Hussein's meeting. The Middle East crisis is the stage on which he plays to the so-called Arab street, that body of seething sympathy for the Palestinians that frightens regimes across the Muslim world. He blames the United States for the predicament of his people and that of the Palestinians, and then makes grand gestures to ease the pain. Last year he proposed diverting hundreds of millions of dollars from the oil-for-food program under which Iraq is allowed to sell oil to buy food for its desperate population, to the Palestinian people: he flew some of their injured to his hospitals for treatment; and he sends food and medical aid convoys across the Jordanian desert to be given to the Palestinians. And it works. His name is chanted at demonstrations, his poster is everywhere, his money is in the bank and in the coming days thank- you advertisements will appear in the local Arab press bearing his picture - not that of the martyrs. And while he can champion the intifada it will be difficult for other Arab countries to go along with the US campaign for their support for an attack on Iraq. Just down from the Abdul Nasser roundabout in Tulkarm, where the air is filled with the aroma of shwarma lamb and chicken cooking at the cafe doors, about 200 members of families who had lost a father, a brother or a son climbed the three flights of stairs to the chamber of commerce meeting hall. Public gatherings here are usually dominated by men, but yesterday morning the men were dead and the widows, the mothers and the sisters came out. Patiently, they sat through the mantra speeches - Saddam is great, Israel and the US are evil, the war will be won, solidarity with Iraq, the US wants peace in the Middle East only so that it can then attack Iraq. And the families joined, in a subdued way, with an overly enthusiastic cheerleader as he prowled the aisle in loud praise of the Iraqi President: "We bare our souls and our blood for the sake of our youth and for you, Saddam." And they had a thimble-sized plastic cup of cardamom-flavoured coffee before being called forward to have their identity checked by the men of the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), sign or mark a receipt with a thumb-print, collect their cheque and shake hands with a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. It all took place on a dais decorated with flags of Palestine and Iraq and under the gaze of posters of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat. The ALF, like the other PLO factions, was banished from Lebanon in a US-brokered deal when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. The fighters sailed off to Tunis and many later ended up in Baghdad. And with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, some of them have been coming home. One of them is Rakad Salem, a silver-haired 58- year-old, who is secretary-general of the ALF. These days he can be found in a spartan fifth- floor office in the teeming West Bank city of Ramallah, the same floor as the Palestinian Liberation Front, the faction of Abu Abass, the man who masterminded the 1986 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship. Salem insisted that the ALF's work was political and social - like handing out Saddam's money. He looked at me as though I were an idiot when I asked how the money got to Ramallah. "It's transferred by the banks - from the Iraqi banks to the banks in Palestine," he said. And he confirmed that since late 2000, more than 800 families had received martyr payments of $US10,000 ($18,800) and that $US1000 had been given to Palestinian fighters with serious injuries and $US500 to those with light injuries. But didn't the people of Iraq need this money? "Despite the difficult conditions in Iraq, Saddam insists that he must stand side by side with the Palestinians," he said. And asked if he saw himself as a terrorist or a freedom fighter, Salem rose from his desk and drew back the curtains to reveal the biblical landscape of the West Bank, and said: "In 1948 I was dismissed from my land here. Now I'm back and every day I look out that window at an Israeli settlement on our land. It is my duty to join the struggle." On the day of our interview, Salem said the most recent martyr family in Ramallah to enjoy Hussein's largesse was that of the new hero of the cause - Wafa Edris, a 28-year-old ambulance volunteer who a few weeks ago became the first woman suicide bomber to detonate her backpack in Israel. Hussein has ordered a memorial in her honour in one of Baghdad's main squares, and he has proclaimed her to be a symbol who "raises the standing of Arab women and affects the enemy's morale in favour of our nation and the Palestinian issue". His party-controlled newspapers are honouring her with poetry: "You have sparked in us a craving for beautiful death; you made us passionately in love with the impossible." And Hussein is winning gratitude for all this effort. Wafa Edris's brother, Khalil, told the Herald that although he missed his only sister in his life, he was proud of her and he saw her death as justified revenge against the Israelis. And Saddam's money? "It is a good donation because we have lost many things in our house, because the Israeli soldiers came through it. My family have had no work for 12 months and we need to buy furniture. It is good moral support. "And the Baghdad memorial to my sister is a great thing, because they only have such monuments for high-ranking leaders. When we have stability and peace, the first country I want to visit is Iraq so I can thank Saddam for helping the Palestinians." http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020408/2 002040829.html * Syria - Iraq irrigation cooperation Arabic News, 8th April Syrian Irrigation Minister Mohammed Radhwan arrived in Baghdad on Saturday and told reporters that this visit aimed at strengthening fraternal ties and cooperation in the field of irrigation, water resources, ways of establishing joint projects and exchange expertise., INA reported. http://www.iht.com/articles/53839.html * Interview suggests better Iraq relations International Herald Tribune, 8th April A Kuwaiti newspaper published Sunday the remarks of the most senior Iraqi official to be interviewed by a Kuwaiti daily since before the Gulf War. . The Iraqi vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, said in an interview with Kuwait's As Seyassah newspaper that a reconciliation deal at an Arab summit in March had been the right first step toward forging ties between two countries that have been at odds since Iraq's 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait. . "In my view, what has been achieved is a first step on the right path toward what ties between Kuwait and Iraq should be like," he told the newspaper in an interview conducted during a visit. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp ?art_id=6527437 * Saddam pledges $8.7 million aid to Palestinians Times of India (from AFP), 11th April BAGHDAD: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein Wednesday pledged $8.7 million in aid to the Palestinians to support their 18 month uprising or intifada, the state news agency reported. Saddam ordered the money's "rapid transfer" to the Palestinians in order "to support their resistance and struggle," INA reported. The money would go to "the Palestinian fighters, their leader Yasser Arafat and the great Palestinian people." INA said the Palestinians had not received contributions promised at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo last weekend. Arab countries had pledged $330 million in immediate aid to the Palestinians. The money had initially been pledged in installments at an Arab summit in Beirut last month. Earlier, Saddam's elder son Uday boasted Wednesday that all Iraqis are prepared to fight alongside the Palestinians to chase Jews out of Israel. "All Iraqis, led by 'Saddam's fedayin' (fighters), are ready to join the fight against the (Israeli) forces of occupation," Uday said on the Youth Television channel he runs. "The geographic situation of Iraq has unfortunately prevented Iraqis from taking part (in the fight) with their Palestinian brothers, but all the men of Iraq are ready to go, if President Saddam Hussein gives the orders," he said. Uday commands the fedayin volunteer force set up in 1994 to defend Iraq against external threats at a time when the United States strengthened its military presence in the Gulf as Baghdad massed troops near Kuwait. "The end of the Jews will be at the hands of the people of Babylon (Iraq) and they (Israelis) well know it," Uday said. The Palestinians "are twisting the arms of the Jews, but sooner or later we, the inhabitants of Babylon, will break their necks," he added. [.....] http://biz.yahoo.com/rb/020412/arms_jordan_usa_2.h tml * Pentagon, citing Iraq, plans radar sale to Jordan WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department told Congress on Friday it was set to sell an advanced long-range radar to Jordan, which it said was threatened by Iraq, a ``hostile neighbor with credible air and land forces.'' Jordan shares its easternmost border with Iraq and ``provides a critical buffer between potential adversaries and U.S. allies,'' the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a notification to lawmakers. Amman has requested a Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT - news)-built AN/FPS-117 3-D long-range radar that could be worth as much as $22 million if all options are exercised, the notice said. ``Jordan requires a radar capable of detecting an adversary's activities at long ranges in order to protect its sovereign territory, population and infrastructure,'' the Pentagon agency added. The sale was the second proposed this week to shore up states facing Iraq and Iran. The Defense Department said on Wednesday it was prepared to sell up to $42 million worth of bombs and bullets for F-16 fighter jets to Oman, which lies opposite Iran and adjacent to the Strait of Hormuz, a potential choke point for crude oil shipments. President George W. Bush has placed Iran, Iraq and North Korea in what he calls an ``axis of evil'' threatening the peace of the world. Under the laws governing U.S. foreign military sales, Congress has 30 days to block a proposed sale if a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate voted to do so. Congress has never voted to kill such a sale. REFUGEES http://canberra.yourguide.com.au/detail.asp? class=news&subclass=national&story_id=139817&categ ory= General+News&m=4&y=2002 * Iraqis win refugee status but no guarantees by KIRSTEN LAWSON Canberra Times, 9th April Nearly 200 Iraqis on Nauru have been granted refugee visas, but the Government has hosed down their hopes of coming to Australia. The approval rate looks set to be far lower among the Afghans, only seven of whom were accepted as refugees when the first decisions were handed down yesterday, with the rest forced to argue their case again now the Taliban has been defeated. Despite the approval of 186 Iraqi visas, the Government does not know when the refugees will be moved from Nauru and says it will only allow those with strong family links into Australia. The first boat people were shipped to Nauru six months ago, after the arrival of the Tampa, and the island now holds 1155 detainees. But the deadline for moving them is fast approaching, with Australia agreeing to have them all off the island by the end of May. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said he was in talks with other countries about taking the refugees, but he would not be held to a time frame. "We're under no obligation to find resettlement places in a particular time frame," he said. "These people are safe and secure now." Nearly half the Nauru detainees are being processed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which said it had approved the claims of 126 of the 201 Iraqis and just seven of the 292 Afghans. The rest of the Afghans would be given the chance to present new information in light of the defeat of the Taliban. The Department of Immigration said it had approved the claims of 60 Iraqis in its case load and rejected the claims of 18. "It is important to note that being found to be a refugee does not give a person a right to select their preferred country of protection and that people may not necessarily be resettled in Australia," the department stressed. Mr Ruddock has failed to say whether he is pushing for an extension to the May deadline on Nauru, saying he would "continue to talk to Nauru about the arrangements and I am sure as they see numbers of people being resettled we'll be able to work those matters through". If Nauru insists on them being moved, the Government introduced new laws last month that will mean the detainees can be brought to the mainland or Christmas Island while waiting to be sent home or resettled elsewhere. Also yesterday, the Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace said Australia had bullied Nauru and Papua New Guinea into violating the human rights of detainees by ignoring their own constitutions. The constitutions of both countries prevented arbitrary detention by providing for the right to a lawyer and requiring detainees to be charged before a court, commission executive officer Marc Purcell said. The honorary Afghan consul in Canberra, Mahmoud Saikal, urged Australia to show compassion, saying "a good percentage" of those whose Afghan nationality could be established were likely to be "genuine refugees who have suffered a lot". The department also handed down some Manus decisions, approving 104 claims, almost all Iraqi, and rejecting 12. REMNANTS OF DECENCY http://www.nsnews.com/issues02/w040802/042102/livi ng/042102li5.html * Local couple aims to end Iraqi sanctions by Karen Mackintosh North Shore News (Vancouver), 8th April North Vancouver residents David and Linda Morgan have witnessed the effects of economic sanctions on Iraq's social conditions. The couple are two of the five original founders of the Campaign to End Sanctions Against the People of Iraq, which began in the Lower Mainland in 1998. The following year, the couple joined six other Canadians to travel to Iraq with a group of American doctors. "It's incredible, the cruelty of the system," said David Morgan. "While we were in a hospital, a child died for the lack of a tube, a 20-cent tube." Morgan added that children are dying in this manner, mostly from waterborne diseases, at a rate of approximately 100 per day. The trip to Iraq led to the creation of a cross-Canada network of people and organizations opposed to the sanctions. "Our motivation is total indignation and disgust with a policy that Canada supports and has done so right from Day One." Ted White, Canadian Alliance MP for North Vancouver, doesn't agree. He said that the official opposition supports the Canadian government's position which is consistent with that of the United Nations. "It's a problem with the Iraqi leadership, not our government's leadership," said White. The sanctions should remain in place until Iraq allows nuclear inspectors into the country, he added. "It's a shame that while they were there they didn't visit Saddam Hussein," said White of the Morgans. In August of 1990 the UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Canada will support the UN sanctions until the country ends its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, said Marie-Christine Lilkoff, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. "UN sanctions are the best way to achieve their elimination," said Lilkoff. The oil-for-food program was introduced in 1996 to meet humanitarian needs until Iraq complies with UN conditions including nuclear inspections, according to a 1998 report of the Secretary- General of the United Nations. "Although he is undoubtably a monstrous dictator, he is a dictator who gave them medical care up to the level that Canada has," said Morgan about Hussein. "Our position is that George Bush is American business, Jean Chrétien is Canadian business and Saddam Hussein is Iraqi business." The local campaign is connected to an international coalition that ran a full-page petition against the sanctions in the International Herald Tribune on March 20. The petition was led by Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, former UN humanitarian co-ordinators in Iraq who resigned to protest the sanctions. In the past two years, both Halliday and von Sponeck have spoken in Vancouver by invitation of campaign organizers. ------------------------------------------------- This mail sent through UK Online webmail _______________________________________________ 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