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News, 19-26/4/02 (3) NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal- te.iraq23apr23.story?coll=bal%2Dnation world%2Dheadlines * 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 media. 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 week. 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. [.....] http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/138397 0 * Islamic militants find haven in Iraq by LOUIS MEIXLER 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 of 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 rival 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 Afghanistan. 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 officials. 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 Iraq. IRAQI/UN RELATIONS http://www.dawn.com/2002/04/23/int13.htm * 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 organisation. The United States was determined to oust Bustani over his attempts to woo Iraq into joining the organization and submitting to new weapons inspections. 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 Iraq. 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 the 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 Sunday. 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 programmes. 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 India. Watson is a strong supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce most industrial nations' net emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Washington has refused to join the pact.-Reuters http://www.rnw.nl/hotspots/html/opcw020423.html * 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 allowing 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. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/04201453.htm * UN-Iraq talks to start on May 1 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 Wednesday. 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. Eckhard. 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. IRAQI/BRITISH RELATIONS http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=427422002 * Brown accuses PM over ‘gung-ho’ Iraq policy by BRIAN BRADY 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 night. 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 saying. ‘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’ ‘ possibly 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 Saddam. 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 MP. ‘He thinks it is too gung-ho and is worried where it is going to lead.’ firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,688 278,00.html * 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 sceptics 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 Frost. Stressing that nothing had been decided on potential military action against President Saddam, 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 said. 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 destruction. 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 questions". 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 operational." 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 W Bush it could be the last straw for Tony Blair." ------------------------------------------------- This mail sent through UK Online webmail _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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