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[casi] News, 19-26/4/02 (3)

News, 19-26/4/02 (3)


*  Top 2 Kurdish factions in Iraq met with U.S.
on Hussein ouster
Baltimore Sun, 23rd April

CAIRO, Egypt - Leaders of the two main Kurdish
parties that control northern Iraq met with
U.S. officials last week to coordinate efforts to
remove Saddam Hussein from power,
according to Iraqi dissidents and Arab news

Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish Democratic
Party, and Jalal Talabani, leader of the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, also discussed
plans for a government that would replace
Hussein's regime once the Iraqi leader is ousted,
the Iraqi dissidents said.

Officially, the Kurdish groups - the only armed
Iraqi opposition groups - have said nothing
about the meeting, perhaps out of fear of being
accused by other Iraqi factions of working
unilaterally with the United States.

On Sunday, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat
newspaper reported that Barzani and
Talabani met officials from the Pentagon, the
State Department and the CIA in Germany last

Quoting a Kurdish source, the paper said both
sides met for three days near Berlin and
reviewed coordination "to launch a strike against
Saddam most likely by the end of this year."

The Iraqi dissidents said Sunday that Barzani and
Talabani also discussed with U.S. officials
plans for merging their two governments ahead of
a possible move against Saddam.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas
Michaelis confirmed yesterday that the two
Kurdish leaders were in Germany last week but
declined to provide further information.

A spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin said
the United States never comments on
intelligence matters.


*  Islamic militants find haven in Iraq
Associated Press, 26th April

ANKARA, Turkey -- Islamic militants, including
fighters who have trained in Osama bin
Laden's camps, have carved out a small haven in
northern Iraq, where they are apparently
arming and have carried out attacks, Kurdish
officials said Thursday.

The militants share a radical Islamic ideology
with bin Laden, but it is not clear if they are
loyal to him or if they just trained in his
camps, said the officials, who spoke on condition
anonymity. The radicals include Iraqi Arabs,
Iraqi Kurds and Jordanians, they added.

There are fears that the militants could
destabilize northern Iraq -- an area run by two
Kurdish groups that have opposed Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein. The groups are considered
key to any possible U.S. offensive aimed at
overthrowing Saddam.

Kurdish officials said Islamic militants control
an area of several small villages on the Iranian
border near the town of Halabja. Estimates of the
number of militants range from about 100 to
several hundred. Kurdish officials said dozens of
these fighters are believed to have trained in
bin Laden's camps.

Western diplomats could not confirm those reports
or others that Taliban fighters fled to the
region through Iran after the U.S. began bombing

Kurdish officials also said that some al-Qaida
trainees may have fled to northern Iraq via Iran
and may be using it as a haven that is under the
control of no central authority.

The radicals are divided into several groups and
their aims are not clear.

Officials with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
say the militants carried out an April 2 attack
on a top PUK official hours after he met with a
U.S. delegation.

In that attack, militants armed with assault
rifles and grenades opened fire on Barham Salih,
killing five of his bodyguards before they were
killed or captured.

Salih, a pro-Western politician, is head of the
PUK's regional government and was attacked in
northern Iraq. State Department officials based
in Turkey regularly travel to northern Iraq to
consult with Kurdish officials.

PUK fighters say they have captured 10 militants
who trained in al-Qaida camps and based in
a heavily mined, mountainous area.

The PUK spotted the militants last year and has
agreed to work with its rival, the Kurdistan
Democratic Party, to coordinate action against
the group.

The Kurdish groups say they have not made any
specific requests from Washington but both
emphasized that the fight against terrorism
should be a global effort.

The two main Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani of
the KDP and his rival, PUK leader Jalal
Talabani, met in Germany last week to discuss
issues including a possible U.S. military
offensive against Iraq.

"We want to see a united and democratic Iraq but
we are not interested in changing a dictator
with a dictator," said Salih who was in Ankara on
Thursday for meetings with Turkish

Salih said that the PUK was looking for more
details from the United States on its plans for a
possible offensive in Iraq.

"We need to know the details before we can be
committed," he said.

Iraqi opposition groups are scheduled to meet
again in May or June to discuss the future of


*  US forces ouster of UN body's chief
Dawn, 23rd April

THE HAGUE, April 22: The head of a global body
policing a chemical weapons ban was
ousted on Monday in a victory for a campaign by
the United States to replace him over a row
on arms inspections in Iraq.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons (OPCW) voted to remove its
Brazilian director Jose Bustani after delegates
from some of the organization's 145-member
states gathered in The Hague to consider his
future, a spokesman said.

"The DG (director-general) has been dismissed
with immediate effect," spokesman Peter
Kaiser said.

The U.S. proposal to oust Bustani secured 48
votes, while 43 countries abstained. Six voted
against the proposal from the 145-member

The United States was determined to oust Bustani
over his attempts to woo Iraq into joining
the organization and submitting to new weapons

U.S. officials say those inspections would be too
soft on Baghdad, and analysts believe
Washington was concerned they might created an
obstacle to a possible U.S. military attack on

The OPCW's director vowed not to bow to U.S.
pressure to resign at a three-day crisis meeting
which started on Sunday, and accused Washington
of riding roughshod over the independence
of a global organisation.

The bid to get rid of Bustani was the second such
campaign by the United States in quick
succession. It succeeded last week in bringing
about the replacement of the head of the U.N.'s
climate advisory body.

The United States, Japan, Germany, France,
Britain and Italy contribute the lion's share of
OPCW's 60 million-euro ($55 million) annual
budget. France was the only major donor which
did not officially back the U.S. proposal before
the vote.

Washington says Bustani's efforts on Iraq were no
substitute for U.N. Security Council
resolutions calling for Baghdad to allow free
access for U.N. weapons inspectors.

Bustani, who was unanimously re-elected for a
second four-year term in May last year,
survived a no-confidence vote last month after
Washington accused him of mismanagement
because of his overtures to Iraq

"The choices that you make during this
session...will determine whether genuine
multilateralism will survive or whether it will
be replaced by unilateralism in a multilateral
disguise," Bustani told delegates in a speech on

He had accused the White House of seeking to push
him out because of his independence
from Washington.

Under the convention, member states must provide
data on their chemical weapons
programmes and are subject to challenges and
inspections from other members.

Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed
earlier this month to tackle Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein over the threat they say he poses
with weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq was subjected to U.N. arms inspections after
the 1991 Gulf War over its invasion of
Kuwait, but the inspectors left in 1998. The
United States and its allies say Baghdad has since
pursued chemical, biological and nuclear weapons

The OPCW special session was the first in the
body's five-year history and representatives
from member nations would continue meeting behind
closed doors, an official said.

Bustani, 59, told a Brazilian newspaper on April
9 it was "very probable" he would not
survive the meeting because of U.S. influence,
but was determined not to resign.

After intense U.S. lobbying, a scientist who
advocates action against global warming was
ousted on Friday as head of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change. Robert Watson,
an American, was replaced by Rajendra Pachauri of

Watson is a strong supporter of the Kyoto
Protocol, an international agreement to reduce
industrial nations' net emissions of greenhouse
gases such as carbon dioxide. Washington has
refused to join the pact.-Reuters

*  Anti-Chemical Chief Sacked
Radio Netherlands Wereldomroep, 23rd April


The US accused Mr Bustani of mismanagement, ill-
conceived initiatives, and general
incompetence. Although the OPCW is in dire
financial condition, with only a few weeks of
operating budget remaining, an independent audit
found nothing amiss with its books.

Dutch political scientist Ko Colijn says OPCW's
financial problems are a direct result of
Washington's own reluctance to pay its bills on
time. The US is by far the biggest sponsor of
the OPCW, contributing 22 per cent of its 45-
million euro budget. As well as the financial
objections, Mr Colijn says the Americans were
afraid Mr Bustani's efforts were hazardous to
US security.

"As regards the ‘ill-conceived initiatives'
sources point at the Chemicals for Peace Program,
which funds third-world countries' scientists to
follow courses in the handling of disasters,
which the Americans think could help [the third-
world countries] in acquiring weapons."

Even more damning in US eyes were the overtures
Mr Bustani made to Iraq, Syria and Sudan
regarding OPCW membership.

"That would have given these countries,
especially Iraq, an excuse to drag its feet in
UN inspectors to resume their work in stripping
Iraq of all its weapons of mass destruction,"
Mr Colijn says.

Since last month, the US has engaged in an
unusually frank campaign against the Mr Bustani,
even suggesting that his personal expenses were
abnormally high in relation to the fortunes of
his organisation.

 Ko Colijn speaks to Newsline´s Perro de Jong
3´45"Last month the US led a failed
no-confidence vote against Mr Bustani at the UN.
Since then, it has been lobbying countries to
vote against the Brazilian at Monday's special
OPCW session.

"Of course the US has a lot of leverage. You
might ask what would have happened if they
didn't get Mr Bustani out. In that case, I think
the US would probably have stopped their
payments . . . that could have meant the end of
chemical weapons arms control . . . and that
was too high a price for the 100 or so countries
casting their vote."

When Washington's displeasure with Mr Bustani
first emerged, Brazilian politicians claimed
that the Americans were afraid he would make real
progress with destroying Iraq's chemical
weapons, thereby interfering with military plans
against the Middle East state.

*  UN-Iraq talks to start on May

Tehran, April 24, IRNA -- The next round of talks
between United Nations Secretary General
Kofi Annan and senior Iraqi officials will be
held at UN Headquarters in New York in early
May, a UN spokesman announced quoted by UN
Information Center (UNIC) in Tehran on

Spokesman Fred Eckhard told a press briefing that
the discussions would open on May 1 and
span three days instead of the anticipated two
because the Secretary-General may be called out
of town on May 2. The talks had originally been
scheduled for April 18-19.

Mr. Eckhard said the Secretary-General's
delegation would include Hans Blix, the Executive
Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and
Mohammed El Baradei, Director General of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Iraqi delegation will be headed by Foreign
Minister Naji Sabri.

The talks will follow on meetings between the
Secretary General and Foreign Minister Sabri
held in New York on March 7. Mr. Blix had
attended that round while Mr. El Baradei had not,
according to the spokesman.

"The objective is for Iraq to come into full
compliance with Security Council resolutions
which specifically -- and probably first and
foremost as far as these talks are concerned --
means allowing UN inspectors to go back to Iraq
to finish the verification of disarmament in
terms of weapons of mass destruction," said Mr.

UN inspectors have not been able to operate in
the country since 1998.

In another development, the UN Office of the Iraq
Programme, whichruns the 'oil-for-food'
humanitarian scheme, reported that Iraq had
maintained its suspension of petroleum exports
over the past week.

The suspension is expected to result in a dlrs
1.3 billion revenueloss for the effort, which
allows Baghdad to use a portion of its crude
export earnings to purchase relief supplies.


*  Brown accuses PM over ‘gung-ho’ Iraq policy
The Scotsman, 21st April

GORDON Brown has launched a withering attack on
Tony Blair’s role on the world stage ‘
and questioned the Prime Minister’s ‘gung-ho’
support for war on Iraq, it was alleged last

The Chancellor has revealed deep misgivings about
the possibility of Britain being led into
military action against Saddam Hussein to veteran
Scots MP Tam Dalyell. Brown’s patience
has finally snapped, amid fears that war could
inflame the Middle East crisis, push up oil
prices and damage the British economy, according
to a Sunday newspaper report.

‘Gordon has let it be known he has grave
misgivings about what is happening and the way the
government is handling these issues,’ Dalyell,
the Labour MP for Linlithgow, is quoted as

‘His view is that if our policy on Iraq leads to
an escalation in the Middle East, oil prices will
go through the roof and that will skewer the
British economy. His approach to Iraq is as
prudent as his approach to financial affairs.’

The suggestions that the heavyweight Brown sits
firmly among the Cabinet sceptics when it
comes to considering extending the war on terror
to Iraq are an explosive development in the
government’s foreign policy ‘ and in his stormy
relationship with the Prime Minister.

Blair has struggled to win over Labour
backbenchers concerned that he is following too
closely the belligerent stance taken by US
President George W Bush over claims that Iraq
retains weapons of mass destruction.

Within the Cabinet, the Prime Minister has
already faced the prospect of a ‘mutiny’ ‘
involving senior figures like International
Development minister Clare Short and former
foreign secretary Robin Cook ‘ over the issue,
while more than 150 Labour MPs have signed a
motion opposing any military action against

Brown has so far remained silent on the issue,
although it has been previously suggested he
was urging caution.

His alleged concerns over Blair coincide with
continuing complaints ‘ from colleagues and
opponents ‘ that the Prime Minister was becoming
obsessed with world events after
September 11 and neglecting domestic issues.

‘He is not pleased with the way the Prime
Minister is going off on his own with President
Bush,’ said Dalyell, the Father of the House of
Commons and the longest-serving Westminster

‘He thinks it is too gung-ho and is worried where
it is going to lead.’,3604,688

*  Iraq dossier not pulled, says PM
by Lucy Ward
The Guardian, 22nd April

Tony Blair yesterday denied that a dossier of
evidence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction
had been "pulled" from publication amid
speculation that it was inadequate to convert
wary of military intervention.

The prime minister insisted that the document,
whose release by the government was expected
before Easter, would be made available "at the
appropriate time", but refused to specify a date.

The evidence that the Iraqi leader, Saddam
Hussein, is building weapons of mass destruction,
in defiance of the United Nations, was "simply
vast", Mr Blair told BBC1's Breakfast with

Stressing that nothing had been decided on
potential military action against President
Mr Blair also rejected reports that he was at
odds with the chancellor, Gordon Brown, over his
stance on Iraq.

A spokesman for the chancellor yesterday
dismissed claims by the veteran Labour MP Tam
Dalyell, a fierce opponent of a military assault,
that Mr Brown believed the prime minister
was too "gung ho" over Iraq. "This is utter
rubbish and absolutely untrue," the spokesman

The deferral of plans to publish the dossier on
Iraq's military arsenal was interpreted at the
time as a recognition by Downing Street of the
political impossibility of further open
contemplation of a war against Iraq.

There were fears that the report could increase
speculation among already concerned
backbenchers of an imminent attack, while critics
claimed it had been held back through lack
of hard evidence proving that President Saddam
was close to developing weapons of mass

Mr Blair said yesterday: "It wasn't pulled. We
will publish it at the appropriate time, and when
that's going to be I simply do not know. The
evidence of Saddam Hussein on weapons of mass
destruction is simply vast."

Nothing had been decided in terms of what action
should be taken against President Saddam,
he insisted, stressing again that the world would
benefit if he was removed from power.

"We have not taken any decisions on Iraq at all.
We've identified weapons of mass destruction
as a crucial issue, and it is," Mr Blair said.

"Saddam Hussein is a threat and the world would
be better off without Saddam Hussein in
power. But we will take no decisions until we
have looked at all the options."

Iraq is negotiating with the UN over the terms on
which weapons inspectors might return to
the country. Government sources argue that, if
President Saddam ultimately refuses entry, their
attempts at first to seek a peaceful resolution
to the Iraqi threat will help win over Labour
critics of military action.

Despite reservations voiced by Clare Short, the
international development secretary, Mr Blair
insisted there were no fundamental splits among
cabinet ministers. Those who had raised
issues of timing, military options and the role
of the UN were asking "perfectly sensible

Mr Blair said it was difficult to be sure how
quickly President Saddam could create a nuclear
arsenal, but it would be wrong to wait until he
had done so before taking action.

"What we know from our experience of September 11
is that it's sensible to try to deal with
these threats before they become fully

Meanwhile, the leftwing Labour MP George
Galloway, a longtime critic of government policy
towards Iraq, claimed an attack on the country
would split the government "down the middle",
and could even topple Mr Blair's leadership.

He told Scottish Television's Seven Days
programme: "There's already a lot of unhappiness
with Tony Blair ... If he led us into such a
disaster as this behind the generalship of George
Bush it could be the last straw for Tony Blair."

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