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News, 19-26/4/02 (1) MILITARY MATTERS http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_571031.html * RAF and US warplanes bomb Iraq Ananova, 19th April British and US warplanes bombed air defence systems in northern Iraq in response to anti-aircraft fire within the no-fly zone. The bombs were dropped after Iraqi forces east of Mosul fired on a routine air patrol. It is the first bombing of northern Iraq since February and the third this year. "All coalition aircraft departed the area safely," a US military statement says. [.....] http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,3- 277340,00.html * British pilots face more Iraqi missiles by Michael Evans The Times, 24th April THE increased deployment by President Saddam Hussein of surface-to-air missiles in the north and south of Iraq poses a greater threat to American and British combat aircraft engaged in patrols to protect the Kurdish and Shia communities from Iraqi attacks. General Richard Myers, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that it was the first time in two years that Baghdad had significantly reinforced the number of mobile Sams for use against the coalition aircraft involved in the no-fly zone operations. Iraq has made regular ground-to-air attacks on overflying American and British aircraft since the combat patrols began after the end of the 1991 Gulf War. The scale of the attacks, using anti-aircraft artillery and Sam missiles, has varied year by year. The deployment of more missiles in the south and north could herald an intensification of Iraqi attacks. In the past two months, Iraqi air defence units have attacked coalition aircraft five times in the north and three times in the south. RAF aircraft retaliated once against an air defence site in the north. General Myers said that the extra missiles had been moved into place over the past few days, which ‘obviously increased risk to the pilots’. The latest deployment of Sams could be part of Saddam’s attempt to prepare for a possible attack by the United States after President Bush’s declaration that he intended to confront the Iraqi leader over his clandestine weapons-of-mass- destruction programme. Mr Bush’s policy, supported by Tony Blair, is to effect a ‘regime change’ in Baghdad. Already there had been signs of other forms of Iraqi military preparations, including the construction of concrete bunkers to protect soldiers, equipment and aircraft. According to reports, the building began soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. At a press conference at the Pentagon, General Myers said that there had been ‘more activity in the last couple of days than we have seen in the last couple of years’. Iraq is known to have rebuilt its fibre-optic communications links, which connect the air defence systems to a control centre in Baghdad. The fibre-optic cable facilities were attacked by the US early in Mr Bush’s presidency because of the perceived growing threat they posed to coalition aircraft. ‘They have a very good fibre-optic system,’ General Myers said. The disclosure by General Myers came as Baghdad announced that it was intending to start an initiative to try to prevent the United States from persuading the United Nations to enforce ‘smart sanctions’ against Iraq. The sanctions are proposed because Iraq is continuing to refuse access to arms inspectors to check on Saddam’s programme to develop weapons of mass destruction The inspectors have been barred from Iraq since 1998. Naji Sabri, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, visits Moscow next week at the invitation of Sergei Ivanov, his Russian counterpart. Russia is the current holder of the presidency of the UN Security Council. The United States wants to replace the present sanctions, which have operated over the past 12 years, with measures that would allow the import of civilian goods but continue to ban any product that had a military application. Baghdad has called for the sanctions to be lifted unconditionally. http://asp.washtimes.com/printarticle.asp? action=print&ArticleID=20020426-41274916 * Size of force on ground key in plan for Iraq war by Rowan Scarborough THE WASHINGTON TIMES, 26th April The commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf has told senior Pentagon officers that a new war against Iraq would likely take five divisions and 200,000 troops. Top Stories Gen. Tommy Franks "wants to do a Desert Storm II," said one official, referring to the 550,000 troops deployed to the region in 1990-91 to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Two defense sources said the briefings by Gen. Franks, who heads the U.S. Central Command that oversees U.S. forces in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, came as the Bush administration is moving closer to deciding on a general military campaign to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Officials say it likely will rely on fewer ground troops than suggested by Gen. Franks and call on extensive use of air power and indigenous rebel forces. "Less ground-centric and more air-centric," is how one official described the emerging consensus. Sources said that several weeks ago Gen. Franks provided face-to-face briefings on his ideas for combating Saddam. The sources said Gen. Franks believes four or five divisions of ground troops are needed, with a total strength of about 200,000 land, sea and air forces. Officials said President Bush met with some of his top national security advisers at Camp David last weekend and discussed war options. Gen. Franks, a four-star Army officer, is partial to the use of large numbers of ground forces. In the planning for the war in Afghanistan, he initially proposed three divisions to oust the Taliban but then settled on relying greatly on special-operations troops and air power. Officials say Pentagon civilian policy-makers are skeptical of Gen. Franks' Iraq outline. They want him to rely less on conventional ground troops and incorporate more features of the Afghan conflict: Army Green Berets organizing anti-Saddam forces in the north and south, and extensive use of air power unleashing a new generation of precision-guided munitions. Air advocates say the Navy and Air Force could generate up to 1,000 sorties, or air strikes, daily over Iraq. While less than 10 percent of munitions used in the 1991 Gulf war were "smart bombs," up to 90 percent would be precision-guided ordnance in a new war against Baghdad. The officials said, however, that a full-blown debate on strategy inside the Pentagon has not yet begun. They said Central Command is drafting several war options. "There is the beginning of a debate going on in Central Command and in the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the merits of a larger U.S. ground force versus a small U.S. ground force supporting Iraqi opposition troops, a la the Afghan model," one official said. Mr. Bush on numerous occasions has threatened Saddam with military action. His aides talk openly of how Washington cannot allow Saddam, whose regime has ties to terrorist groups, to achieve his goal of building nuclear weapons. Some weeks ago, the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council agreed to seek Saddam's removal sooner rather than later. But the administration has not settled on how to do it. CIA Director George J. Tenet is said to favor covert action to undermine Saddam's regime and instigate a coup. But Pentagon civilians argue that such measures have failed in the 11 years since the Gulf war. "All options are on the table," Mr. Bush said recently. "But one thing I will not allow is a nation such as Iraq to threaten our very future by developing weapons of mass destruction." The administration is also undecided whether it can deploy forces and launch an attack while the Arab world is upset with Mr. Bush over his tilt toward Israel in its war against Palestinian terrorists. The Pentagon is planning to work around Saudi Arabia's opposition to launching strike aircraft from its soil. Air Force planners believe adequate air strips will be available in countries such as Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. Vice President Richard B. Cheney conducted an 11- nation tour of the region last month. Administration sources said that although Arab leaders publicly voiced opposition to going to war against Saddam, in private some delivered a completely different message. One senior official called the trip "very successful" on the issue of gaining support for moderate Arab states for ousting Saddam. "All the stuff you heard publicly, turn it upside down," this official said. "The Cheney trip was a very good trip. Look where Prince Abdullah is today." This was a reference to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah traveling yesterday to Crawford, Texas, for more than five hours of talks with Mr. Bush. Also, the administration is mulling its policy on having U.N. arms inspectors re-enter Iraq. Mr. Bush in the past has said Iraq faces some type of action if Saddam refuses to let in inspectors. But his advisers are split on the issue. The State Department wants to give inspections another try, arguing that it is a way to build global support for deposing Saddam. Pentagon policy-makers believe inspections are a waste of time. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters earlier this month: "I just can't quite picture how intrusive something would have to be that it could offset the ease with which they had previously been able to deny and deceive, and which today one would think they would be vastly more skillful, having had all this time without inspectors there." OIL POLITICS http://www2.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html? siteSect=143&eid=1113091 * Senate kills Bush's plan for Alaska drilling by Tom Doggett Swissinfo (from Reuters), 19th April WASHINGTON: In a big defeat for the Bush administration's national energy plan, the Democratic-led U.S. Senate has killed a White House proposal to let oil companies drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Republicans fell 14 votes short of getting the 60 needed under Senate rules to end debate on the controversial proposal and move to final passage of the measure. The 54-to-46 vote also showed that a majority in the Senate did not support the proposal, the centrepiece of the Bush administration's energy initiative. Five Democrats crossed party lines and supported the ANWR drilling amendment, while eight Republicans went against their party's position and backed keeping the refuge closed. Independent James Jeffords of Vermont voted against drilling. The administration and many Senate Republicans framed the ANWR debate as a national security issue, saying the refuge's potential 16 billion barrels of oil was crucial to reduce U.S. dependence on crude from unfriendly countries like Iraq. ANWR is roughly the size of South Carolina, sprawling over 19 million acres (7.7 million hectares), on Alaska's northeast coast. Republicans offered to keep any drilling in ANWR limited to just 2,000 acres (800 hectares) at any one time. With congressional elections seven months away, Democrats said the ANWR vote showed they would not allow Republicans to weaken environmental protections. "We are just not going to allow Republicans to destroy the environment," Majority Leader Tom Daschle told reporters. "We believe that this is a dividing line between Republicans and Democrats, and we're willing to take it anywhere in the country. We feel that strongly about it." Environmental groups praised the Senate vote. "It's a great victory for wildlife over (oil prospecting) wildcatters," said Mark Van Putten, head of the National Wildlife Federation. Democratic lawmakers said they were worried that with ANWR off-limits, the Bush administration will push to open more federal lands to drilling, particularly in western states. President George W. Bush, a former Texas oilman, made drilling in ANWR the most important component of his proposed U.S. energy policy. The White House plan also encourages more U.S. production of natural gas, coal and nuclear power. "At a time when oil and gas prices are rising the Senate today missed an opportunity to lead America to greater energy independence," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. The administration may try to revive ANWR drilling in a conference committee to resolve differences between an eventual Senate energy bill and one passed earlier by the U.S. House of Representatives, Fleischer told reporters. "The president will continue to fight for the tens of thousands of jobs that are created by opening ANWR," he said. The Republican-led House last year approved an energy bill that would allow drilling in the refuge. If the Senate finishes a bill, lawmakers from both chambers would work out differences before a final plan could be sent to the president. Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska said he was not giving up on ANWR drilling. Stevens said he would offer a new amendment to allow native Americans living in ANWR the right to drill on the 92,000 acres they own. If that fails, Republicans will try to include the provision in other legislation. "We'll be voting on energy until this Congress is over," Stevens said. During a two-day Senate debate on ANWR, Democrats said the refuge does not hold enough to oil to significantly reduce U.S. imports. Also, ANWR is home to polar bears, caribou and other wildlife that would be threatened by oil drilling and its heavy equipment, roads and buildings, they said. Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John Kerry of Massachusetts led the Democrats' move to kill the measure. Both are expected to be Democratic presidential hopefuls in 2004. The ANWR issue stirred heated debate. "The so-called environmentalists are not interested in science, they are not interested in the health of the planet," said Republican Frank Murkowski of Alaska. "They know if we win ANWR -- and we will some day -- their chief fundraising issue goes away." Other Republicans insisted that ANWR's oil reserves were needed more than ever because of the volatile Middle East. "This is a great loss for American security and a big victory for (Iraq's) Saddam Hussein and other nations which sell to us their oil and export back to us their terrorism," said Republican Conrad Burns of Montana. Separately, the Senate voted 88-to-10 for an amendment to ban U.S. imports of Iraqi oil until Baghdad allows United Nations weapons inspectors back in the country, stops smuggling oil, and ends its policy of paying $25,000 each to the families of Palestinian suicidal bombers against Israel. http://www.worldoil.com/news/newsstory.asp? ref=http://188.8.131.52/feeds/worldoil/new/ar ticle_e.asp?energy24=249824 * Iraq to propose OPEC candidate World Oil, 23rd April Iraqi Oil Minister, Amer Mohammed Rashid has announced the nation's intention to nominate a candidate the OPEC secretary general post, to replace Ali Rodriguez when he leaves to take up Presidency at PDVSA on June 26. "Iraq will look into the situation in light of the departure of the incumbent secretary general Ali Rodriguez and will nominate a candidate for the post," newspapers quoted him as telling visiting Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro yesterday. Iraq has suspended oil exports for a month from April 8 in retaliation for Israel's insurgence into the Palestinian West Bank. http://atimes.com/global-econ/DD23Dj01.html * Iraq Diary Part 10: Using the oil weapon by Pepe Escobar Asia Times, 23rd April BAGHDAD - Three days after Saddam Hussein's landmark April 8 speech which spelled out Iraq's decision to halt exports of oil for one month, Minister of Oil Amir Muhamad Rasheed said this was in agreement with the official motto "Iraq and Palestine is one cause and trench to confront the joint foe represented by the US- Zionist administration". The measure was supposed to "hurt the US economy and put pressure on the Zionist entity to withdraw from occupied Arab territories". According to Iraq's Oil Ministry, the proportion of Iraqi crude imported by the US is between 10 percent and 15 percent, "through a number of companies Iraq is dealing with". According to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly, Iraq is the sixth largest oil supplier to the US. The ministry swears the oil market has been affected by Iraq's decision, "because of the withdrawal of more than 2 million oil barrels a day". Oil sources in Jordan say that Iraq is currently producing around 2.6 million barrels a day, of which 2 million are exported: these account for 4 percent of internationally traded supplies. According to the Iraqi oil minister, "The ugly crimes perpetrated by the Zionist entity against Palestinians will prevent OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] states from increasing their production." He is right on this one. He also hopes OPEC states "will adopt more active measures, decreasing or halting oil exports, to support the Palestinian cause and halt savage massacres". On this one, he is wrong. The massacres perpetrated by Israel's army - already being compared around the Arab world and in China to the Holocaust - may have ceased, at least for a while. But no OPEC member dared follow Iraq's steps to withdraw, even temporarily, from the oil market. In another widely broadcast speech last week, titled "Arabs shouldn't submit to American-Zionist blackmail" by Iraq Daily, Saddam emphasized that "all means are legal to a people whose land is occupied" and who are suffering from aggression. He says "Iraq has stopped its oil flow for one month after it heard from Iran its suggestion to halt oil flow for one month. It is worthy that those who suggest something should apply it." Iran though, has not followed Iraq's move. Saddam also appreciates Iran's suggestion that oil countries should provide "one month of oil export revenue out of twelve for the Palestinians". His main point is that when "America and the Zionist entity realize that Arabs are supporting Palestinians in solidarity with the region's countries, including the neighbors of Arabs, then it is as if we have sent armies to support Palestinians". Asia Times Online was repeatedly assured by Iraqi authorities in Europe and then in Baghdad that a visit to oil industry installations in Basra or Kirkuk would be approved. The oil minister was in principle in favor of a face-to-face interview - "the next day". On one of these "next days" we finally learned that everything was cancelled: the visits, of course, and even the pre-agreed interview. It's virtually impossible for a regime like the Ba'ath Party's to understand that this paranoia about all foreign media certainly does not advance the Iraqi cause. No OPEC member country joined - or will join - an oil embargo. Libya and Iran gave only rhetorical support. They would join the embargo only if it were backed by all Arab oil producers. Since the Gulf War, the largest OPEC member, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait have totally abandoned the use of oil as a political weapon. Oil prices did indeed rise, but only marginally (a dollar or two), to around US$25 a barrel due to the Iraqi move. Saudi Arabia (10 percent of world production), Kuwait (2.6 percent) and the Emirates (2.7 percent) have an enormous excess capacity of 6 million barrels a day. They could easily step up their production to compensate for the Iraqi loss. But they won't. The Arab street would never forgive them, after watching the destruction in Jenin, Ramallah and Bethlehem on al-Jazeera or Abu Dhabi TV. After the Iraqi decision, US oil giants which have contracts to import Iraqi oil took no time to request extra supplies from Saudi Aramco: they were all turned down. Middle East oil analysts like Henry Azzam, from Jordinvest, suggest that to put pressure on the US to press Israel to behave in a civilized manner, "the best strategy to follow is to keep the lid on oil production in order to push oil prices higher". An oil embargo - although very unlikely - would be suicidal for the Arab oil producers and hurt "the noble cause they are defending". Fuel prices have already risen 20 percent since the Israeli army started rampaging through the West Bank. The Arab capitals know that if there ever was an oil embargo, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon would be able to say he is the one and only friend of the West in the Middle East. And to top it all, history shows that the 1973 oil embargo did not work: Israel did not leave Arab territories occupied in the 1973 war. Oil prices certainly won't go down after the Iraqi decision or the failed, cartoonish coup d'etat against Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, which the US, embarrassingly, was quick to endorse. Venezuela is the fourth largest OPEC producer, and the world's fourth largest exporter (2 million barrels a day). It competes with Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Canada as the leading oil exporter to the US. American hawks certainly haven't forgotten that Chavez was one of the brains behind the OPEC supply cuts that helped oil prices recover from their very low $10 a barrel in 1998. But the question remains: what is Iraq doing with all these non-exported barrels of oil? A thorough examination of the labyrinth of Iraqi oil sales - documented or not, and subjected or not to the UN "oil for food" program - yields ... another labyrinth. But there's no doubt Iraq will be trying to sell and smuggle to its neighbors at least part of the oil not available on the international market. It is impossible to exactly ascertain how much oil Iraq exported in the first months of 2002. The figure of 2 million barrels a day from Jordan oil sources is contradicted by a figure of 1.7 million barrels a day from industry sources in Southeast Asia. Tragic irony or not, the US is itself Iraq's main oil client: 74 percent of its Iraqi imports come from Basra, and 36 percent from Kirkuk - a total of no less than 700,000 barrels a day. By comparison, it is fair to assume that at least 400,000 barrels a day are consumed internally in Iraq. In the past few years since the implementation of the United Nations' "oil for food" program, 59 percent of Iraqi revenues from oil sales went to an escrow account in the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) in New York, controlled by the UN. Only 13 percent of the money actually went to Iraq. The Iraqis are trying harder and harder to avoid using the UN-controlled (but in fact US-controlled) BNP account. The Russians, meanwhile, are closing in: a crucial Russian delegation was recently in Baghdad. >From Kirkuk, a pipeline carries oil to Turkey - at least 700,000 barrels a day. This pipeline is subject to Iraq's one-month embargo. But the bulk of Iraqi oil is usually exported from Basra, by ship, to the Persian Gulf and beyond: around 1.2 million barrels a day. So-called "semi-legal" sales go to Jordan - as much as 200,000 barrels a day, transported by a serpent of tanker trucks that use a special road parallel to the Baghdad-Jordan border highway, and then a hairy Jordanian side road. Fifty percent of this oil is practically "donated" to Jordan at a huge discount. The UN Security Council more or less tolerates the practice, because it alleviates Jordanian economic problems. The Iraqis' biggest coup to date to escape the backbreaking UN sanctions is an arrangement with Syria. Hundreds of import contracts are on hold in New York - blocked by the US and Britain. In the past six years, Iraq had access to only 16 percent of the revenues of its sales. But when the Iraq-Syria pipeline was reopened, the UN allowed it, "as a test". The "test" still goes on, at a rhythm of 250,000 barrels a day. It's a swap: Syria exports its own oil. For each barrel sold at around $18 - the price during the first two months of 2002 - Iraq actually only gets $6. Syria, for instance, can pay $10 a barrel in cash. So the UN infernal machine obviously encourages smuggling. There is indeed a lot of smuggling - and not only of oil. Between 40,000 and 100,000 barrels a day float to the Gulf toward Dubai on small cargo ships. An unimpeachable source told Asia Times Online that the reason we did not get our visit to the oil fields and refineries in the south is that Basra is a base for Iranian smuggling boats. They sail at night from Iraq, carrying no flag, and as soon as they are in international waters they start displaying the Iranian flag. The days of the Iran-Iraq war are long gone. Today Iran suggests an oil embargo, Iraq applies it, and a lively smuggling interchange keeps on going between the two. Call it the axis of business. http://www.news24.com/News24/Finance/Economy/0,418 6,2-8-25_1172952,00.html * Iraq oil deal not probed by Jaco Leuvennink News 24, 24th April Imvume clinches a R1bn oil dealCape Town - The Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs will not carry out an investigation into the R1 billion contract granted to black empowerment group Imvume Resources by the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF), a spokesperson for Minerals and Energy Affairs Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on Wednesday. Spokesperson Kanyo Gqulu said although the delivery of the last 2 million barrels of the Iraqi order is affected by the current Iraqi ban on exports in protest again events in the Middle East, South Africa can easily purchase oil elsewhere. Mlambo-Ngcuka was earlier asked by DA minerals and energy spokesperson Ian Davidson to order an investigation into the Imvume contract to buy 4 million barrels of Iraqi oil, because previously intermediaries with whom Imvume had done business allegedly had to repay to the United Nations (UN) the profits from the illegal sales of Iraqi oil. The conditions of the UN's food-for-oil programme with Iraq were apparently violated. The companies that were named are Glencore International, which allegedly previously belonged to the controversial American commodity dealer Marc Rich, and Montega Trading, whose directors include Imvume chairperson Sandi Majale. Rich fled from the US in the Eighties and was last year given a free pardon from criminal charges in controversial circumstances by President Bill Clinton. Davidson also asked questions about why the contract was given to Imvume, which has no experience in commodity trading. Gqulu said on Wednesday the transaction with Iraq is fully in agreement with the UN's prescriptions. "After all, we underwrite the UN's decisions on oil trading with Iraq and we will of course ensure that the prescriptions are complied with." He went on to say the Imvume contract is fully in accordance with the rules, and people with questions should simply go and look at the tender documents, which are available at the SFF. They show why Imvume and not other tenderers was granted the contract. Dr Renosi Mokate, chairperson of the Central Energy Fund (CEF), which also controls the SFF, said on Wednesday negotiations are still under way on the delivery of the last 2 million barrels of Iraqi Basrah Light oil in the Imvume contract. It is intended for storage at Saldanha, and that is why the SFF wants to stay with the Basrah oil, which is suitable for storage. It is possible that the oil will only be delivered after the Iraqi oil ban ends. She repeated there is nothing unusual about the Imvume contract. The SFF cannot buy oil directly from the Iraqi State oil company, Somo, and must make use of intermediaries, because it places relatively small orders. Somo only sells directly to large commodity dealers who place regular orders and with whom a long-term relationship is built up. These dealers therefore actually market and distribute Iraq's oil. The international oil market operates through intermediaries, she said. ------------------------------------------------- This mail sent through UK Online webmail _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk