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[casi] News, 6-12/4/02 (3)

News, 6-12/4/02 (3)


*  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


*  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


*  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
*  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?]


*  Iraqis win refugee status but no guarantees


*  Local couple [in Vancouver] aims to end Iraqi


*  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

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.'',4057,408950

*    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

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."
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

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


*  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
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.

*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

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

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."

*  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

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.


*  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

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

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

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

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

*  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.

*  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

*  Saddam pledges $8.7 million aid to
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

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

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.


*  Pentagon, citing Iraq, plans radar sale to

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

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.

ory= General+News&m=4&y=2002

*  Iraqis win refugee status but no guarantees
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

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

"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.


*  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

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

"It's a shame that while they were there they
didn't visit Saddam Hussein," said White of the

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

"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

"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.

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