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[casi] News, 12-19/4/02 (3)

News, 12-19/4/02 (3)


*  IRAQ DIARY, Part 8: Ghosts
by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 18th April

BAGHDAD - "People here are afraid even of
their own shadow," says the Ghost Man. He
should know. He's dead scared.

Saddam International Airport boasts its own
VVIP (very VIP) terminal - for government
ministers, ruling Baath Party notables and
high-roller traders profiting from the United
Nations trade embargo. Mere mortals use the
Babylon terminal, the only one not idle among
others with suggestive names (Ninive,

Saddam International - an impeccably neat
and very modern airport by developing-world
standards - is basically a green-and-white
ghost town for most of the day because of the
embargo - it is fully equipped with nowhere to
go. International flights depart only to Amman
and Damascus, and domestic flights to Basra
and Mosul. The solitary midnight Royal
Jordanian flight to Amman barely alleviates
the boredom of customs and security officials.

Mrs Shukur, wearing black pants and an
elegant blue blazer, is bewildered in front of a
bilingual instruction panel telling Iraqis that
they are allowed to leave the country carrying
only US$50 - roughly the rate for one night at
an Amman hotel. Mrs Shukur, Iraqi-born,
hadn't been back since 1989. She stayed for
only 10 days, attending the seventh
conference under the official motto "Roots
remain home wherever we are" - during
which, according to official government
newspapers, "expatriates express support for
their country's legitimate demands".

As an expatriate, secular, upper middle-class
woman living in the United Arab Emirates, Mrs
Shukur prefers to declare herself "shocked" -
basically with the resurgence of Islam in Iraq.
"My cousin forces his nine-year-old daughters
to go around wrapped in veils." She boards
her plane to Amman with her family decked
out California-casual style, mumbling that her
relatives in Baghdad have at least "somehow"
managed to survive.

Saddam International Tower is a ghost tower -
absolutely off-limits to any cameras. A
Saddam Hussein statue sits at the base of
the tower, pointing to the sky and surrounded
by scraps of American missiles that fell during
the "Mother of All Battles". On the top of the
tower there is a slowly revolving restaurant -
absolutely off-limits to 99 percent of the Iraqi
population: a tough steak costs 6,500 Iraqi
dinars (about $3.50), more than the average
person will see in weeks. At lunchtime in the
middle of the week, the only busy table was
occupied by a delegation from the Russian

>From the top of Saddam Tower, Baghdad
looks like a Los Angeles suburb, with a lot
more sand, and mosques instead of gas
stations. Less than a kilometer from the tower
lies the huge, gray, grim mass of half-finished
domes of the Al Rahman mosque, being built
by the government. Mansions ranging from
$400,000 to $1 million apiece are visible
closer to the tower: this is the embassy
quarter, and also home to families lucky
enough to bypass completely the hardships
caused by the trade embargo and the UN

The main reason for the strict no-photo policy
lies 500 meters away - visible only from
above, never from street level: Saddam
Hussein's Islamic-high-tech presidential
palace. Entrances are far away from the main
building, all of them protected by heavily
fortified watchtowers.

Any other top-of-the-tower revolving restaurant
on the planet is an instant photo opportunity -
but not in Iraq: foreign spies might sell their
snaps of the palace to enemy security
agencies. Instead, one can have one's photo
taken beside a huge Saddam Hussein
painting and buy a "Made in China" doll at the
tower shop. No Saddam toys are on sale just

Saddam City during the day is - what else - a
ghost city. Locals say it's home to at least 4
million people, which unofficially would
compose 40 percent of the population of
Baghdad, roughly estimated at 10 million.
Saddam City owes its name to a visit by the
president himself: the last of these visits was
three years ago.

Saddam City is a dirty, derelict, depressing
sleeping-bag city: during the day everybody is
out trying to make ends meet, in the formal or
mostly the informal economy. That's why
locals say there is no unemployment. Part of
the city is off-limits even to locals: it's the
realm of petty crime. Almost everybody is
Shi'ite: most of their parents came to Baghdad
from the south in search of a better life.
Whenever there are siren calls announcing
American bombing raids, special police
reinforcements are sent to Saddam City: the
"system" takes the possibility of a Shi'ite
rebellion of the masses very seriously.

Saddam City is where the Ghost Man lives.
The Ghost Man lives in fear. He fears the
system, he fears the government, he fears
fear itself. In another land and under different
historical circumstances, he could have been
a contender. He is not a hollow man: he is
educated, he reads, he's been to Europe. But
the Ghost Man is a victim of every strike of bad
luck - or Allah's wrath - that has fallen over
Iraq since the 1980s.

The Ghost Man may live in Saddam City. But
he's never been to Saddam Tower. And
there's no point going to Saddam Airport either
because he cannot find the money, or the
connections, to board that precious flight to
Amman. So he keeps slouching around the
streets of Baghdad, chain-smoking, eating the
odd kebab, lucky to keep an odd job for a few
weeks to feed his family of four.

He may abhor "the system", but he is too
weary even to try to fight back. He persistently
asks whether the Americans will attack again -
as if it might be the coup de grace capable of
relieving him from his misery. Paraphrasing
Bob Dylan, he's not busy being born, and he's
not busy dying. But the Ghost Man of Saddam
City is not totally defeated. Not yet. Until then,
he remains a Dead Man Walking.

*  IRAQ DIARY, Part 9: The voice of a Baghdad
by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 19th April

BAGHDAD - He just lost two sisters - two
civilians killed in Palestine by the Israeli
military machine, two more victims of the
Palestinian tragedy. Maybe he should be
grieving, and gloomily accepting condolences.
But he remains unbreakable - and he only
accepts "congratulations". Let's call him the
Baghdad Palestinian.

After duly accepting congratulations, he
receives the foreign visitor into his own house
and, speaking in Arabic through an interpreter,
he agrees to talk. It's not an easy decision. For
a Palestinian living anywhere in the Middle
East, "we don't know who is a friend or an
enemy anymore. The situation is frozen in the
countries that surround Palestine."

His two sisters lived in Nablus, in the same
family house, since the 1960s. He says "they
were assassinated" in the beginning of the
latest Israeli invasion, "maybe by a rocket,
maybe by a missile shot from an Apache
helicopter". The house was destroyed. He
learned about his sisters' death in Amman,
where he was reached by some Nablus
friends. "They are still there, under the rubble."
But he is quick to emphasize, "We believe that
martyrs do not face death, they ascend to life
in Paradise."

He is technically a Palestinian refugee in Iraq.
He had been working as a Palestinian militant
in 1969, until he was arrested and had to
spend two years in jail in Nablus. He was then
deported from Palestinian territory and forced
by the Israelis to sign a "declaration of no
return". Even his request to see his ailing
mother was "refused for security reasons".
Also for security reasons, he cannot say
directly whether he carried out political
activities. "Every Palestinian does. Every
Palestinian proudly carries with himself the
spirit of the revolution."

He is proud to live in Baghdad, which he
defines either as "the country of the honest" or
"the country of the militants". "I'm proud to be
living on the soil of a nationalist regime. Our
problem and the Iraqi problem are intimately
linked. I support the Iraqi jihad in Palestine."
He refers to the Jerusalem Liberation Army - a
campaign through which many thousands of
Iraqis receive basic military training in the
context of a possible order to fight a jihad in
Palestine. Videos of the training campaigns
are constantly shown on Iraqi television.

The Baghdad Palestinian is unmistakably
pan-Arab. "Every country that displays a
national will, the US regards them as a target.
We Arabs live in 22 different states. We need
to have a single nation. The closest to this
objective is the slogan of the Baath Party 'A
single Arab nation with an eternal mission'."
He adds, "Our civilization constitutes a unity.
The union of the Arab world is the ultimate
objective. At the popular level, these daily
demonstrations everywhere in the Arab world
mean that we can express ourselves as
citizens in an unique way."

Edward Said, one of the most prominent
spokesmen of the Palestinian cause in the
United States, has repeatedly pointed out how
the US administration - and Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon - use the word
"terrorism" in a uniform way every time the
Palestinians react against Israel. Said himself
finds the suicide bombing raids unacceptable:
but by branding them as terrorism, and
insisting that Yasser Arafat stop the
Palestinian violence, US President George W
Bush and Sharon "totally lose sight of the
context, meaning the illegal military
occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel for
35 years now, the longest period in modern
history (side by side with the occupation of
Korea by Japan between 1910 and 1945)".

The Baghdad Palestinian couldn't agree more
with Said, one of the leading Palestinian
intellectuals of our times. "Ariel Sharon says
that the kamikaze operations come from
desperate people. On the contrary: injustice
forces them to act. We believe this is our
territory. The Zionists used to be dispersed:
then they came to live here in our place. The
Palestinian territory is a sacred territory." He
then quotes a hadith  (saying) from the
Prophet Muhammad, according to which Allah
ordered a jihad against infidels. The
translation reads, "You who are my friends,
living beside al-Aqsa, I command you to a
jihad against the Zionists and the infidels." He
says that the Koran accuses Zionists of being
"killers of prophets" such as Zachariah and

For the Baghdad Palestinian, there is no
difference between Jews and Zionists. "As
Muslims, we do not incite people to kill other
people. Our religion represents peace and
tolerance." He illustrates the point with the
situation in Bethlehem. "We, Muslims, we
respect Bethlehem as a sacred place for
Christians. They have bombed the church
where Jesus Christ was born. There are many
Palestinian militants who are Christian. The
Jews are here to kill, they do not differentiate
between Muslims or Christians." He sincerely
expects that "Christians should be deeply
involved with us to save Palestine".

The Baghdad Palestinian places "total
confidence" in Palestinian Authority president
Yasser Arafat; "All the Palestinian people do."
He considers Iraq "the country that best
represents the Arab nation. The enemy is
always the same: the United States -
manipulated by the Zionist lobby - is the
enemy of all the peoples who fight for their
freedom." And once again he absolutely
rejects the label of terrorism. "We are not
terrorists. We are involved in a jihad to recover
our sacred land."

The Baghdad Palestinian is not exactly
optimistic about the future of Saudi Crown
Prince Abdullah's proposal - land for peace -
discussed at the recent Beirut summit by Arab
leaders. "The Arab countries in Beirut have
accepted the Saudi Arabian initiative. How did
Israel answer? They attacked our houses." So
the liberation struggle will go on. "We believe
in life. We believe that peace is based on
justice. British colonialism and later American
colonialism cannot uproot Arab territories. If
you see an Iraqi and a Syrian fighting
alongside a Palestinian, this is what Arab
unity is all about."

One of the astonishing videos constantly
played on Iraqi television shows Palestinian
youths throwing stones coated with fire
against the Israeli army. The Arab expression
is hijarah men sejil  - literally "stone on fire".
Everybody knows what it means: according to
the Koran, the fire comes right out of hell. The
Baghdad Palestinian, as he takes the visitor to
the front door, seems to imply that these
stones will be burning for a long time to come.

news/2002 /04/14/ixnewstop.html

*  Iraq warnings prompt rush to order vaccine
by David Bamber and Chris Hastings
Daily Telegraph, 14th April

TONY BLAIR rushed through an order for 16
million  doses of the smallpox vaccine after
Dick Cheney,  the American Vice-President,
warned him that a  military attack on Iraq
would be met by a  biological terror onslaught
on Britain.

The two leaders met at Downing Street on
March 12  and exchanged intelligence about
the possible  threat from Iraq.

Mr Cheney told the Prime Minister that
intelligence experts had warned that the
United  States and Britain would be the two
main targets  of biological warfare in the event
of a conflict.

American security reports suggested that
Saddam  Hussein would use all the weapons
at his disposal  if he was attacked. Unlike the
Gulf war, where he  showed some restraint,
this time he would know  that the military
action is intended to end in  his death or

Two days after Mr Blair and Mr Cheney met, six
health ministers including Alan Milburn
gathered  in London and took the decision to
order  inoculations against smallpox.

Health ministers from Japan, Mexico, France,
Germany and America met to share
intelligence on  vaccine stocks and methods
of responding to a  bioterrorism attack.

Three weeks later, the British Government
placed  a £32 million order for 16 million
smallpox  vaccines with PowderJect of Oxford.

It is believed that in the event of a war being
launched by the West, Iraqi special agents will
attempt to smuggle smallpox into Britain and
release it in confined spaces such as the
Tube or  cinemas.

The worst case would be suicide terrorists
infected with smallpox.

This would spread the virus throughout the
population rapidly, causing the deaths of up to
a  third of the people infected.

Earlier this year, American scientists projected
how smallpox infections would spread after a
single terrorist strike.

They found that an attack on a train on April 1
would result in 15,000 cases of smallpox,
including 2,000 deaths, by June. The disease
would also spread to four foreign countries,
they  calculated.

Last year another computer model suggested
that  the introduction of smallpox in three
American  states during the winter would
result in three  million cases and one million
deaths by the  following February.

According to American intelligence, Iraq is
believed to have developed stocks of the
smallpox  virus, which is highly contagious
and cannot be  cured once contracted, during
the early Eighties.

During the Gulf war, Iraq prepared to use
missiles tipped with smallpox and other
deadly  diseases against Allied troops and
was only  dissuaded by threats of nuclear

It is believed that Saddam’s dictatorship
capitalised on a natural outbreak of smallpox
disease in the Seventies, which happened
when it  was developing its own weapons of
mass  destruction.

The United Nations Special Commission
(Unscom),  which was set up to inspect
weapons in Iraq, has  grown more concerned
about the country’s  biological weapons

Richard Sperzel, a specialist, told the US
House  of Congress committee on
international relations  in December that
Unscom believed it was prudent  to make the
assumption that Iraq possessed the
necessary necessary facilities, expertise and
equipment for smallpox production, he said.

A number of other clues strongly suggested
that  it had an interest, if not an active
programme,  in such weapons development.

Iraq has also developed a vaccine for
“camelpox”,  which is similar to smallpox, that
will give its  own population some protection
in the event of  military use of the virus.

The regime has admitted developing
camelpox but  has failed to say why. Roger
Roffey, a former  United Nations weapons
inspector in Iraq, said in  January: “The
bioterrorism threat in the United  States and
also for the United Kingdom has  increased
since September 11.

“Experts estimate that Britain has stocks of
about three million doses of smallpox vaccine,
which was made in the Seventies. Routine
vaccination stopped in 1971 when the number
of  cases declined to zero. Almost everyone
over 35  will have been vaccinated.

*  Iraqis 'could turn camel virus into
by Charles Arthur
The Independent, 18th April

Iraqi scientists could turn a smallpox-style
disease that infects camels into a deadly
weapon, a British researcher says.

Camelpox, a non-lethal disease that causes
fever and skin rash in camels, has been found
to be so similar to smallpox that only a few
changes would be needed in its genetic
make-up to create a harmful agent. Such a
change could happen naturally or be
engineered, New Scientist magazine reports

In 1995, Iraq admitted to UN weapons
inspectors that it was working with camelpox
with a view to using it as a weapon, because
its own troops were frequently exposed to the
camel virus and would be immune.

The inspectors were dubious about the claim,
because camelpox does not cause disease in
humans, but they thought Iraq could be using
it for research prior to developing a smallpox

Such fears recently prompted Britain to order
£32m worth of smallpox vaccines in a contract
awarded to a company run by a Labour Party

Fresh research, though, suggests that
camelpox itself could pose a threat. Geoffrey
Smith, of Imperial College, London, who
sequenced the DNA of a camelpox strain
isolated from camels in Iran in 1970, told New
Scientist he was surprised how similar the
virus was to smallpox. "It could be that only a
small set of changes would be necessary for
camelpox virus to infect people," he said.

Both viruses come from the same family,
known as "orthopox". They have common
central DNA structures, used for their
replication. The new evidence shows they are
also similar towards the ends of their
genome, where genes determine what
animals they infect, how quickly and with what
effect, raising fears camelpox could evolve to
infect people.


*  Washington’s Chavez dilemma
by Michael Buchanan
BBC, 15th April

Hugo Chavez’s return to power is both an
embarrassment and an annoyance for the
United States.

The maverick populist has frequently angered
Washington and his fall from power on Friday
was welcomed by the White House.

President Bush’s official spokesman, Ari
Fleischer, said on Friday that Mr Chavez had
been the author of his own downfall.

“We know that the action encouraged by the
Chavez government provoked this crisis,” said
Mr Fleischer.

“Government supporters, on orders from the
Chavez government, suppressed peaceful

Those comments put the Bush administration
at odds with most other countries on the
continent, and left many Latin American
nations wondering if Washington had a
different approach to democracy depending
on whether or not they liked the leader.

And while Washington most certainly does not
like Hugo Chavez, the CIA - which in the past
has had its fingerprints on other coups in the
Americas, most notably in Guatemala in 1954
and Chile in 1973 - does not, at this stage at
least, appear to have had any role in the
Venezuelan upheaval.

Hugo Chavez has angered the United States
many times.

 Chavez has embraced America’s foes

His close relationship with Cuban leader Fidel
Castro, long the bane of successive American
administrations, is in Mr Chavez’s case
arguably the least of his sins.

He has paid highly controversial visits to Libya
and Iraq, becoming the first foreign leader
since the Gulf War in 1991 to travel to

And his neutral stance on the FARC
insurgency in Colombia has also annoyed

So his dramatic return to power has put the
Bush administration onto the back foot.

The national security adviser, Condoleezza
Rice, urged Mr Chavez to use his new
opportunity to reconsider his policies.

“I hope he takes advantage of this opportunity
to right his own ship which has been moving
in the wrong direction frankly for quite a long
time,” said Ms Rice.

The problem for Washington is that it has no
choice but to develop some sort of
relationship with Mr Chavez.

Venezuela is the third largest supplier of oil to
the United States, responsible for about 13%
of all US imports, and the situation in the
Middle East - with its potential to disrupt even
more crucial American oil supplies - puts Mr
Chavez in a strong position.

*  Oil rises as OPEC champion Chavez
returns to power
by Richard Mably
Reuters , 15th April

London - Oil prices staged a modest recovery
on Monday as President Hugo Chavez
returned to power, reassuring the market that
Venezuela would remain one of OPEC’s most
disciplined members in abiding by cartel
output quotas.

Calls again from Iran for an Islamic-wide oil
embargo on the West to protest Israeli
incursions into Palestinian territories also lent
support to crude.

Brent blend for June in late afternoon London
trade gained 70 cents to $23.86 a barrel. U.S.
light crude for May added 69 cents to $24.19.
Brent remains well below a recent $28 high.

“Hugo Chavez is back in power and that
matters for the oil market,” said analyst Paul
Horsnell of J.P. Morgan. “On Friday the
petroleum market was on the brink of deciding
that (Venezuelan policy) was that of producing
oil at very low prices.”

Brent slumped nearly $1.50 on Friday after
Chavez was ousted by military officers and
arrested following a general strike. A
counter-rebellion secured his return on

Executives at state oil company Petroleos de
Venezuela (PDVSA) had said on Friday they
wanted to change policy and set output
according to market conditions rather than
OPEC quotas.

But as Chavez resurfaced, Venezuelan Oil
Minister Alvaro Silva told Reuters that Caracas
would continue its strict adherence to
production limits.

“It will be the same,” Silva said of policy.

OPEC expressed relief at Chavez’s return.

“We have every reason to be pleased that the
political crisis is now over,” said an official at
OPEC headquarters in Vienna, as cartel
Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez, a former
Venezuelan oil minister, left to visit Caracas.

Under Chavez, the world’s fourth biggest
exporting nation emerged as one of OPEC’s
committed members, honouring output limits
after years of quota cheating helped spark a
slump in oil prices in early 1999 to under $10
a barrel.

On Sunday, PDVSA executives said the
conciliatory tone struck by Chavez would help
settle the six-week stand-off between PDVSA
and the government which saw exports to the
United States disrupted last week.

“President Chavez opened the possibilities for
dialogue. We have to believe he is sincere, so
we are going to proceed with the
normalisation of operations,” said Edgar
Paredes, PDVSA’s head of sales and refining,
one of the dissident executives.

Shippers said Venezuelan exports, 13 percent
of U.S. oil imports, were returning to normal
and that crude and refinery output was

The appointment by Chavez of his political
allies to top posts at PDVSA led to protests by
some staff that sparked last week’s three-day
general strike, prompting the President’s
temporary overthrow.

Also supporting crude prices on Monday was
a reminder that Iran wants an Islamic-wide
one-month embargo on oil exports to Israel’s

State television said Iran’s President
Mohammad Khatami on Monday called for
Islamic states to declare a ban in support of
the Palestinians.

The call by the moderate president echoed
that by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei 10 days ago.

Neighbouring Iraq last week announced a
unilateral embargo, cutting off output of nearly
two million barrels daily, four percent of world
crude trade. Baghdad criticised Iran for not
following its lead.

Libya also said it would support an embargo
but only in the event of an Islamic-wide ban,
something already ruled out by leading OPEC
producer Saudi Arabia. Saudi Oil Minister Ali
al-Naimi said Riyadh would guarantee world

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has
underpinned oil markets for fear that unrest
might spread across the oil-rich Middle East.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel’s
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday but
reported little headway in easing tensions in
the region.

*  U.S. Planes Met With Iraqi Fire
The Associated Press, 15th April

WASHINGTON (AP) — American aircraft
attacked an air defense site in southern Iraq
Monday in response to hostile Iraqi fire, U.S.
officials said.

It was the first U.S. airstrike in the southern
``no-fly’’ zone, where U.S. and British air
patrols prohibit Iraqi aircraft from flying, since
Jan. 21, according to U.S. Central Command.

A Central Command announcement said the
incident happened at 7:15 a.m. EDT near the
city of Tallil, about 170 miles southeast of
Baghdad. It did not identify the type of U.S.
aircraft that conducted the attack.

``Coalition aircraft attack Iraqi anti-aircraft
systems in self-defense to neutralize hostile
threats endangering our air crews and
inhibiting monitoring in support of
humanitarian aims,’’ it said.

The Iraqi government does not accept the
legitimacy of the southern and northern
``no-fly’’ zones monitored by American and
British aircraft and occasionally challenges
them by firing air defense guns.

*  European peace delegation arrives in
Times of India (fromAFP), 15th April

BAGHDAD: Some 120 people, including
Belgian senators and doctors, British and
French Gulf war veterans and representatives
from European NGOs arrived Sunday in
Baghdad for an “enquiry and testimony

Collon Michel, the head of the delegation
which flew from Brussels, said “the French
and British soldiers who contracted diseases
linked to depleted uranium used (by the US
and Britain) during the Gulf war, will present
an apology to the Iraqi people.”

Michel added the delegation’s two-week visit
was aimed at “expressing the rejection by the
peoples of the European Union of US threats
against Iraq.”

Doctor Colette Moulaert, one of the
delegation’s leaders had said Friday that the
mission’s purpose was to “enquire and testify
on the war threats facing Iraq again, on the
effects of depleted uranium and on the
consequences of the embargo on the
population’s health and daily life.”

The United Nations imposed an embargo on
Iraq in 1990 after its invasion of Kuwait. The
United States has issued repeated warnings
that Iraq might be the next target of
Washington’s “war on terror.”
2_news13.h tml

*  Jasmine rice for Iraq
Bangkok Post, 15th April

Baghdad plans to purchase Thai jasmine rice
under  a proposed oil-for-food deal, PM’s
Office  Minister Krasae Chanawong said

The minister, who made an official visit to Iraq
from March 14-22, said Baghdad planned to
buy  300,000 tonnes of rice annually under the

Iraq has to date traded about six million
barrels  of oil for rice from Thai exporters.

Mr Krasae said Baghdad may in the future
deal  directly with the Thai Farmers

Iraq would also send senior officials to
inspect  agricultural work in Thailand, he said.
The Iraqi  government sought investment in its
transportation and telecommunications
sectors,  particularly mobile-phone networks,
during his  trip to Baghdad, he said.

*  60,000 tons wheat being exported to Iraq
by Parvaiz Ishfaq Rana
Dawn, 17th April, 03 Safar 1423

KARACHI, April 16: More than 60,000 tons of
wheat is being shipped to Iraq in two vessels
late this month and next month following an
approval of the samples by the Iraqi
authorities, officials said on Tuesday.

These two shipments replace the ones Iraq
has rejected last year on the grounds that the
wheat does not conform to their

Sources said that a two-member team of
Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Supplies
Corporation (PASSCO) carrying wheat
samples recently visited Baghdad for getting
approval from the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi government, after testing the
samples in a laboratory, gave its consent
because the wheat was fulfilling their
specification in term of its contents and

Pakistani wheat, which is of “hard milling”
quality met the Iraqi specifications, which
demands 28 per cent gluten and 14 per cent
moisture. However, Baghdad gave some
relaxation by allowing average gluten of 26 per

Baghdad has urged Pakistan that it should
ensure that elements such as stones and
mud should be checked strictly and the
process of cleaning the produce should be
undertaken with utmost care.

According to tentative schedule the first
ship-load of 35,000 tons would leave Port
Qasim by end of this month or early next
month and the second ship of equal load
would be leaving by end-May, the sources

The sources said that under the new
arrangement, PASSCO and government of
Punjab have been asked to arrange and
prepare 31,000 tons each for timely wheat
shipment to Baghdad.

In order to ensure proper sieve and cleaning
of the wheat consignments to Baghdad the
Punjab government has installed 26
machines for de-stoning which was being
done manually so far, official sources said.

Early last year Pakistan entered into
agreement with Baghdad for supply of
100,000 tons of wheat under UN programme
of oil-for-food. Under this agreement three
ship-loads of equal quantity were to be
shipped for Baghdad.

After accepting first ship load of 34,000 tons of
wheat in August last year, the following two
consignments of wheat loads were rejected
by Baghdad on the ground that percentage of
foreign elements in the wheat was little higher
than the Iraqi specifications.

Import of wheat by Iraq helped Pakistan to
appear on the world wheat export map for the
first time.

Much of food grains to rich Middle Eastern
countries, including Iraq are supplied by
Canada, USA and Australia which are
technically well advanced and have proper
infrastructure to handle entire shipments.

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