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NEWS SUPPLEMENT, 25/5-1/6/02 (2) Articles by Jon Sawyer on Iraq [INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY ST LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: Washington Bureau Chief Jon Sawyer returned last weekend from a 10-day trip through central and southern Iraq, the first extended trip in that country by an American newspaper journalist since before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. He traveled with two American groups opposed to the United Nations sanctions against Iraq, the St. Louis-based Veterans for Peace and the Chicago group Voices in the Wilderness. The two groups permitted Sawyer to accompany them on trips to hospitals, water treatment plants, schools and markets. Iraqi government officials were usually present but not always, reflecting an apparent relaxation in control of foreign journalists. Sawyer conducted independent interviews in Baghdad, Basra and Fallujah. He also spent a day observing journalists from the al-Jazeera satellite network, as they covered a story on demolitions experts collecting cluster bombs dropped by U.S. and allied warplanes. ] * Inside Iraq * Stories of privation, signs of improvement [in Baghdad] * Inside Iraq: In Basra, effects of Gulf War linger, and U.S. is blamed * Sprinkled across Iraqi desert, "bomblets" fuel anti-American sentiment * Inside Iraq: Gulf War left water supply compromised * Iraqi bureaucrats can be roadblocks - even to those bringing aid * Iraq's road to rage [even at the end of his trip Sawyer is still puzzled as to why there should be such deep rooted anti-American feeling in Iraq. And though conceding that there may be some grounds for it he seems to conclude that on the whole its because of relentless propaganda from the government media]. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/B5D01E5909F5EB1386256 BC400605A58?OpenDocument&Headline=Inside+Iraq * Inside Iraq by Jon Sawyer St Louis Post-Dispatch, 26th May BAGHDAD - To President George W. Bush, Iraq is part of the axis of evil. He's prepared to go to war, if necessary, to topple its leader. Iraqis say we're at war already. U.S. and British warplanes enforce no-fly zones through much of the country, and United Nations sanctions, now in their twelfth year, extract a cruel penalty of malnourished children and preventable disease. Yet a 10-day tour through central and southern Iraq finds a country that is surprisingly relaxed - hopeful that recent economic gains will continue, optimistic that a new U.S. invasion can somehow be averted. In Baghdad, the nation's biggest city, bustling shops and restaurants are full of customers on weekend nights. An American visitor is greeted warmly by all, even by those who denounce American policies. Which is not to suggest that Iraq is a normal place. It sits on what may be the biggest oil reserves in the world. But the payment pipeline for all that crude runs through Turtle Bay, New York - headquarters of the United Nations, instrument for the most stringent sanctions any country has ever endured. It is also in most respects a police state, marked by a cult of personality that is eerily reminiscent of Stalin's Soviet Union or Mao's China. At the desert border crossing from Jordan, a reporter's satellite phone is promptly seized, to be recovered only on exit. Cell phones remain taboo, Internet access restricted mostly to upscale business hotels. The only currency in circulation is the 250-dinar note, worth 12.5 cents. The simplest transactions require wads of cash. Guests at Baghdad's best hotel, the Al-Rasheed, tramp over an entrance mosaic that portrays a snarling George Bush, the elder, and the slogan "Bush is criminal." Iraq satellite TV produces an English-language news program each evening at midnight. The United States is not referred to as the U.S. or Washington; it's always "the American administration of evil." Saddam Hussein, the man who has ruled Iraq with an iron hand since 1979, is almost never seen in public. The risk of assassination is said to be too great. He is at the same time ubiquitous. His image is displayed in every office and in oversized billboards at key intersections that show him both young and old (he turned 65 this month) and in a variety of poses: a pious Muslim, a gardener pruning flowers, an earnest young writer taking notes from a telephone call. His statue, double life size, stands triumphant at the foot of Saddam Tower, a 600-foot telecommunications facility with a revolving rooftop restaurant that replaced a building destroyed by U.S. bombers during the 1991 Gulf War. The statue portrays Saddam in an open-collared military shirt, pistol at his side, gesturing triumphantly at the gaudy new tower. At his feet: shards of American cruise missiles. In the distance behind are cranes towering over Rahman Mosque, which at completion is supposed to be the second-largest Islamic worship site in the world. The largest? Saddam Mosque, also under construction in Baghdad, with a projected capacity of 40,000. The message is unmistakable: I'm still here - unvanquished, unrepentant and undeterred. Backstage at Iraq's National Theater, the lead actors in the theatrical epic currently in performance said that as always they sweated over the reviews on opening night. "Of course we worried, like any actors," said Karim Muhsin. "Luckily the reviews were good." Muhsin had special reason for relief, and no doubt the reviewers did too: The play in question was "Zabibah and the King," based on a novel by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and Muhsin was charged with portraying a most Saddam-like king. Welcome to Baghdad, a looking-glass city where every encounter - even a night at the theater - holds the promise of startling revelation. In the Karata district, between downtown and Baghdad University, you can find upscale Italian restaurants, the latest fashions from Paris and Milan, a cornucopia of pirated CDs and DVDs. There's a billboard for Benetton and a store that calls itself Disney Island, complete with Disney-type logos, stuffed animals and toys. On Thursday and Friday nights, weekends in this predominantly Muslim country, the streets are jammed with automobiles, most of them 1970s- and 1980s-era U.S. makes. It's like downtown Havana, another longtime target of U.S. sanctions; the main difference is that the cars are a couple of decades newer. Across the Tigris River at the Saddam Tower, a waiter takes an American visitor by surprise. "The little Bush wants to destroy everything," he says, disparaging the policies of George W. Bush. "Don't worry, we're on your side," a guest dressed in a loose-flowing caftan confides on the elevator ride down from the restaurant. "I'm from Kuwait," he adds with a grin, the country that Iraq invaded in 1990, setting off the Gulf War and sealing Iraq's pariah status. Three receptionists at the Iraq Travel and Tourist Office burst into laughter when a visitor stops to inquire for a city map. "We saw you outside and we thought, a tourist!" one of the women exclaims. "We don't see many tourists." (They don't carry maps, either.) Saddam's regime, by all accounts, is profoundly corrupt. How corrupt? A disaffected professional relates his purchase of a black-market television satellite dish, how for a few weeks he relished access to all the world's channels. Then the police showed up, ripped out the dish and socked him with a $1,500 fine. What followed was the uniquely Iraqi twist: The arresting officer split the fine with the store, which took the dish back and sold it again. A camera shop worker on Saduun Street, Baghdad's main business drag, volunteers that a relative lives in California. Does he like it? "Of course, he loves it - It's America!" he replies. When a visitor says he regrets the trouble between Iraq and the United States his reply is equally blunt. "The only trouble," he says, "is our regime." Another Baghdad resident agrees: "We all want this regime to end." Like all critics of Saddam, he was willing to express his views only on condition that his identity be protected. Saddam, he says, "is a dirty big-mouth dog," prone to empty boasts, including his oft expressed desire for weapons of mass destruction. "Everyone here knows he doesn't have them," the man said. "It's just propaganda." Another view often encountered in Baghdad, especially among the better educated and professional classes, is that Saddam is a creation of the United States itself. For example, the United States backed him during the 1980s war against the Islamic fundamentalists of Iran, and his invasion of Kuwait, as one critic put it, "gave the pretext for asserting American control over all the petrol in the Persian Gulf." At the National Theater, Saddam's vanity production is playing to good reviews, but poor attendance. In the play, the noble king struggles to break free from the isolation of the palace and falls in love with the equally noble Zabibah, a peasant woman said to represent the soul of Iraq. Zabibah converts the king to Islam and inspires him to fight for the forces of good, especially after Zabibah is raped by her evil husband on Jan. 17 (the day that U.S. and allied forces opened war on Saddam in 1991). The production's choreography is startling - especially a scene that features a macabre dance of dueling soldiers in gas masks, an unexpected touch in a play penned by someone accused of gassing his own people in the 1980s. The tickets were priced at about a dollar, steep in an economy where many survive on $10 or $20 a month but within the reach, presumably, of Baathist party functionaries keen on supporting their leader's artistic endeavors. If this had been a production favored by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, the theater would have been standing-room-only every night, with apparatchiks working double-time to fill every seat. But in Iraq, Saddam's play looks to be a bust. At a recent performance, a mere 190 customers were scattered through a theater built for 10 times more. No matter, says Sami Abdul Hamid, 74, the director who trained at the Royal Academy in London and holds a doctorate from the University of Oregon. The author of "Zabibah," he coyly notes, has seen the production - on videotape. And the reaction? "I'm told he liked it very much." http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/FDEA18E2AABCCE5286256 BC40061CB40?OpenDocument&Headline=Stories+of+privation,+signs+of+improvement * STORIES OF PRIVATION, SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT by Jon Sawyer St Louis Post-Dispatch, 26th May BAGHDAD - Western diplomats and many Iraqis predict that Saddam Hussein will agree this summer to permit the return of United Nations weapons inspectors, ending nearly four years of defiance and removing one of the factors President George W. Bush has cited as grounds for war. The inspectors would go after Iraq's alleged persistence in attempting to develop and stockpile nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Certification that Iraq had abandoned such programs would permit the end to U.N. sanctions that were imposed in August 1990, three days after Iraq invaded Kuwait. The sanctions were modified in 1997, under an oil-for-food program that let Iraq sell oil under tight U.N. controls that denied access to goods of military value and channeled the bulk of proceeds into the purchase of food, medicine and other goods needed to sustain Iraq's civilian population. Just this month, the U.N. Security Council modified the sanctions program again, approving a "goods review list" of items requiring special review and pledging much faster processing of everything else. The U.N. officials who administer the program in Baghdad say they would much prefer to lift the sanctions entirely. "This program, no matter how much you try to modify it, can never be a substitute for normal economic life," said Tun Myat, director of the U.N.'s office for the coordination of humanitarian programs in Iraq. "If people are looking for real meaningful progress in the overall humanitarian situation, then of course you will have to allow normal economic life to return." Myat explains that every Iraqi citizen receives a ration for food that is supposed to provide a minimum of 2,215 calories per day. He says the Iraqi government has been extraordinarily effective in making sure that every individual receives the allotted ration. But for many unemployed Iraqis, especially among the poorest third of the population, the food ration is the only source of household income - and much of the food gets sold in exchange for clothes and other necessities. "Some parts of the population have become so poor," Myat said, "that they cannot afford to eat all of the food that they get for free." Who pays the price? The United States and the United Kingdom have dropped thousands of bombs on Iraq over the past 12 years. But the soldiers who man Iraq's anti-aircraft batteries and collect deadly cluster bomblets scattered across the desert aren't the only ones on Iraq's front line. So is Mohammed Hudaya, the hard-pressed chief engineer at the Al-Ghazaali sewage treatment plant in the Safaa district of Baghdad. The filters here are inoperable, and so are three of the five pumps. The machinery was ruined by the destruction of power plants during the war; replacement parts have repeatedly been held up, he says, by wrangling over sanctions rules. This substation runs at only 60 percent of capacity, Hudaya said; overflow sewage backs up in people's homes or on the streets. In theory, sludge is separated at this facility and the remaining sewage is cleaned further at a refining station downstream. But because that station doesn't work at all, the sewage is simply pumped directly in the Djala River, Hudaya said - like 80 percent of the sewage produced daily in Baghdad. Also on the front lines: Hadil Mohammed, a dark-haired baby who at seven months weighs less than 9 pounds, half the normal size. The doctors at Fallujah General Hospital say she is severely malnourished, to the point that she no longer has any body fat and is beginning to consume muscle tissue as well. The cause? Bad water mixed with the infant's formula. Prognosis? Poor. Or consider 7-year-old Bilal Kasim, a wide-eyed leukemia patient who spends his mornings staring out a fourth-floor hallway window at the Al-Mansur Pediatric Hospital. Shatha Rahim says she is unable to get the chemotherapy her son needs because of restrictions on radiation-related goods; the sanctions also prevent her from taking her son to consult with specialists in Beirut. In a 1999 report, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF concluded that at least a million Iraqis, half of them children, had died as an indirect result of damage caused by U.S. and allied bombing during the Gulf War and in enforcement of the no-fly zone since. The mortality rate for children under the age of 5 more than doubled in the decade after the war, UNICEF concluded, jumping to a rate of 131 per 1,000 in 1999 from 66 per 1,000 a decade earlier. The principal cause? A surge in preventable waterborne diseases, typhoid, dysentery and the like, resulting from the war-related destruction of Iraq's electric power grid, water treatment and sewage systems. U.N. officials note that Iraq's government bears responsibility as well for the breakdown in water, sewage and health. Funds distributed through the oil-for-food program too often have gone to transportation and construction projects instead of health and education. Benon Sevan, executive director of the oil-for-food program, notes that in the past two years, Iraq has failed to use 31 percent of oil revenue that his office had pegged for water and sanitation programs and 50 percent of the recommended allocation for health care. "With the funds available, the government of Iraq is in position to address the nutrition and health care situation of its people," Sevan says. "They should make the money available for that purpose." The Code of Hammurabi was compiled just 50 miles southwest of Baghdad, in the ancient kingdom of Babylon. Hammurabi said the code was intended to ensure that "justice prevailed in the country" and that "the strong may not oppress the weak." Few Iraqis would challenge the notion that Saddam Hussein's Baathist party regime has broken that ancient code. Most would say that he's not alone - that the international campaign against Iraq over the past decade, driven mostly by the United States, has oppressed the weak as well. But the stories of privation don't capture, at least not fully, the current situation in Iraq. Many major streets in Baghdad are currently ripped open, for example, as the government races to complete installation of new sewage lines. The Fallujah General Hospital has drinkable water for the first time in over a decade, thanks to a chlorination plant installed at the site six months ago. Medicines previously unavailable are beginning to trickle in, some under liberalized sanctions rules and some through Iraq's booming parallel market in smuggled goods from Jordan, Turkey and other neighboring states. Richard Garfield, a professor at the Columbia University School of Nursing and a specialist in damage to civilians in Iraq, has visited the country six times since 1996. He was there earlier this month, surprised by the unaccustomed signs of progress. "When you think of how it was, in the worst of times, 1994-96, in almost every area there's been improvement since," Garfield says. "None of it is as good as before the war. But there's a world of difference between now and 1996." Garfield cited the sewage work, improvements in the electricity grid, the greater availability of medicines. The most encouraging sign of all, he said, was that university students were taking their courses with a renewed sense of purpose. "For the first time in years, you see university students milling around," he said, "thinking of their future, like normal people." The real issue now, Garfield said, is what lies ahead: A gradual further loosening and perhaps even the lifting of sanctions, paired with a weapons inspections program that ends the country's diplomatic isolation? Or Desert Storm, Round Two? No one should be under any illusions, Garfield said, as to what such a war would mean for the people of Iraq. All that's needed is to assess what happened in 1991. "If the goal were to destroy Saddam's government, it would require air and ground troops and widespread attacks on all social infrastructure," Garfield said. "That's illegal by the international laws of warfare, but it proved acceptable to the world community. That was the lesson the United States learned in 1991 - that from an attacking country's point of view, any target is fair game. "I think we could expect large-scale attacks on rail, bridges, the water system and electricity, the same targets hit in 1991," he said. "And once again, we'd send the country to a pre industrial state." http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/0D13531F0EBBAC3086256 BC6000A3F72?OpenDocument&Headline=Inside+Iraq%3A+In+Basra,+effects+of+Gulf+W ar+linger,+and+U.S.+is+blamed * INSIDE IRAQ: IN BASRA, EFFECTS OF GULF WAR LINGER, AND U.S. IS BLAMED by Jon Sawyer St Louis Post-Dispatch, 27th May BASRA, Iraq - When you fly Iraq Air Lines from Baghdad to Basra, you think about more than whether you'll arrive on schedule. Every time one of Iraq Air's green-and-white Boeing 727s heads south, it defies the no-fly zone imposed on 60 percent of Iraq's territory after the 1991 Gulf War and enforced ever since by warplanes of the United States and the United Kingdom. In theory, one of the F-18 Hornets that patrol these skies could swoop in at any moment and bring your plane down, though they've never attacked commercial airliners. If the airline bears an anti-U.S. grudge, it wasn't apparent during a trip earlier this month to Basra, the country's second-largest city and a major port. As travelers, most of them Iraqis, settled into their seats, the plane's public-address system welcomed them with Peter, Paul and Mary's pop classic, "Leaving On a Jet Plane." And that was just a warm-up. Every other selection played during the hourlong flight celebrated a specific American locale - from "Georgia On My Mind" to "Kansas City," from "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" to "Chicago." Upon landing, passengers were treated to the King himself, Elvis Presley, belting out "Viva Las Vegas." You won't find Vegas-style glitter in Basra, a city reeling from two decades of war, sanctions and the destruction of much of its economic, health and social-services infrastructure - and wondering when U.S. warplanes might strike next. For most Americans, the Gulf War is a fast-receding memory. The sanctions and no-fly zones, a hard-to-follow piece of arcane foreign policy. Iraq itself is reduced, for many, to the threatening persona of Saddam Hussein. What's striking in Basra is the Gulf War's continuing impact on civilians, more than a decade later, and the fact that so many of them hold the United States - not Saddam Hussein - responsible. It was Saddam who in 1980 plunged Iraq into a reckless and bloody war with Iran, one that ultimately cost the combatants nearly a million lives. His equally reckless 1990 invasion of Kuwait triggered the Gulf War, and in the turbulence that followed Iraq's defeat, he brutally suppressed a Shi'ite rebellion that began in Basra. Yet when residents of Basra cite their troubles today, it is U.S. actions they blame most. Electricity here is routinely off for 10 or more hours a day, thanks to a power grid crippled by U.S.-led attacks in 1991 that also knocked out water and sewage treatment plants. Clean water is available by bottle only, not through local pipes. Half of the primary health clinics have shut down, according to estimates from UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency. Hospitals are scrambling - coping with mortality rates up 80 percent since 1990, an incidence of congenital birth defects that is 2 1/2 times the prewar rate and doctors salaries that have shrunk to $10 or less per month. Before the war, Abbas Wasmy made enough money on his date farm south of Basra to support three families. Date prices have plummeted since, from $3 a kilogram in 1990 to 1 cent a kilo. Today all family members work second jobs off the farm. In Basra's al-Jumhuriya neighborhood, the drop in status is especially pronounced for the former middle class. One teacher there recalled for visitors the old days: a freezer full of meat, an Italian bed, a couple of television sets, weekly trips to American-style groceries to stock up on food. The freezer, furniture and televisions have long since been sold, the visitors reported. What's left are mats for sitting and sleeping in mostly bare rooms, six of them for an extended family of 24. The al-Jumhuriya neighborhood suffered a further blow on Jan. 25, 1999, when an errant 2,000-pound bomb from a U.S. plane landed, killing 11 and wounding dozens. The Pentagon said the bomb had been intended for an Iraqi air-defense system. Twenty-two other families in Basra, having lost their homes, now live in buildings owned by the local Catholic church, which also runs two kindergartens where Muslim students predominate. "All Iraqi people are war victims," said Archbishop Djibrael Kassab. "So many of them have no jobs, no food, no medicine. It all comes from the war, and for 12 years now they have suffered." Kassab's mother and all of his seven brothers and sisters emigrated to America in the 1970s; most of them now live in the Detroit area. Although Kassab visits frequently - he spent a week in St. Louis last year at a church conference - he has no desire to leave his native land. "Thank God I'm still Iraqi," he says with a smile. "Since 9/11, all Americans have trouble," Kassab says. "But the troubles are small. They have seen a small bit of what we have experienced for more than 20 years." With President George W. Bush's administration considering military action against Iraq again today, the issue of what targets are acceptable has more than academic relevance for people in places like Basra. Shortly after the Gulf War ended in 1991, a key U.S. policymaker said that it was "perfectly legitimate" for U.S. warplanes to have targeted facilities like electric power plants and water treatment facilities that were critical to civilian life. The official was Dick Cheney. During the Gulf War he served as defense secretary under Bush's father, President George Bush. "If I had to do it over again, I would do exactly the same thing," Cheney told reporters several months after the war ended. "There shouldn't be any doubt in anybody's mind that modern warfare is destructive, that we had a significant impact on Iraqi society that we wished we had not had to do," Cheney said. "While you still want to be as discriminating as possible in terms of avoiding civilian casualties," he added, "your number one obligation is to accomplish your mission and to do it at the lowest possible cost in terms of American lives." On that score, the Gulf War was a spectacular success, producing a rapid American victory and virtually no casualties. The story was different on the Iraqi side. A team from the Harvard School of Public Health visited most of Iraq's 20 electric generating plants a few months after the war ended. It found that 17 had been damaged in allied bombing, with 11 deemed a total loss. Pentagon officials said they believed 80 percent of the country's overall electrical capacity had been destroyed. Targeting the power grid crippled Iraq's command, control and communications system, no doubt shortening the war. It also assured long-term, adverse consequences for every Iraqi civilian, in a domino sequence where systemic power failures fouled machinery and led to the breakdown of sewage, water treatment and hospital services. The United Nations sanctions, first imposed in August 1991 and since modified to permit the importation of humanitarian goods, made the situation worse, according to senior officials at the United Nations itself. Iraq's purchase of replacement pumps, generators, chlorinators and other items essential to reconstruction were blocked for years, almost always by the United States or the United Kingdom, on the grounds that Iraq might divert them to military use. The proscribed items in Basra included even firetrucks and other safety vehicles, because of the possibility that they might be converted for use as mobile rocket launchers. The result today: a fleet of just 10 aging fire and emergency vehicles serving a population of more than 1 million. Anapuma Rao Singh, regional director for UNICEF, returned to New York last year after a frustrating two-year tour in Iraq. Singh recalled holdups in shipments of vaccines, the blocking of essential components and rules that barred the use of dollars to pay salaries of health care workers and teachers. "In many of these sectors, the timely arrival of everything is key," she said. "You need vaccines, syringes and needles all at the same time. Often we'd find that where seven contracts were needed, three had been put on hold - so what you got with the other four couldn't be used." Questions, too, have been raised about Saddam's use of oil-for-food money to prop up his regime rather than help his people. The U.N. Security Council earlier this month liberalized the sanctions, agreeing to expedite the processing of goods and services for Iraq that are not considered of military use. Singh said she remains skeptical, noting that U.S. officials have been quick to cite "dual-use" military potential in many civilian-sector goods. "As of April, we had 172 contracts for water and sanitation supplies worth $730 million that are still on hold," she said. The total includes contracts worth $30 million where the U.N. sanctions committee is waiting for technical information from suppliers. "All the rest," Singh said, "the sanctions committee in its wisdom has placed on hold because they consider them to be dual-use items." A U.S. official at the United Nations said the latest modifications in the oil-for-food sanctions are intended to answer critics who say U.S. policies have harmed Iraqi civilians. But he said the United States will continue to take a tough stance when it comes to imports that might aid Iraq's work on chemical, nuclear or biological weapons. "We are the ones who hold up the most," this official said. "We make no bones about it. We would ask other countries to be as aggressive as the United States and the United Kingdom in making sure that items that could be used for weapons of mass destruction will not end up in Iraq." http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/3BA28AAE7D7008F586256 BC6000BEB4E?OpenDocument&Headline=Sprinkled+across+Iraqi+desert,+ * SPRINKLED ACROSS IRAQI DESERT, "BOMBLETS" FUEL ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENT by Jon Sawyer St Louis Post-Dispatch, 27th May AL-TUBAA, Iraq - The hostility toward the United States in much of the Arab world starts in places like this, a desolate stretch of desert southwest of Basra where a brightly painted yellow canister sparkles in the midday sun. The canister is no bigger than a soda can, but it packs a fearsome wallop, courtesy of the U.S. government. Here to record the story, and broadcast it to the Arab-speaking world, is Diyar al-Amiri, an Iraqi journalist who works for al-Jazeera, the satellite television news service based in Qatar that reaches more Muslims than any other broadcast. Al-Jazeera was terrorist Osama bin Laden's chosen outlet for videotapes assailing the West. Its blanket coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict displays a distinct pro-Palestinian bias. In Iraq, its reporting often focuses on the human cost of sanctions and what are viewed as U.S. military excesses. Which is why, a couple of weeks ago, al-Amiri and his al-Jazeera crew were in the desert, taking close-ups of Iraqi civil defense bombs expert Qusi Mutasher as he went about the deadly business of collecting those harmless-looking soda cans. Back home it's called a BLU-97B, one of 202 "bomblets" packed inside each of 1,000-pound CBU-87 (for "cluster bomb units"). They're known generically as CEMs, for "combined effects munitions," because they are designed to kill people, pierce armored vehicles and set off fires. During the Gulf War in 1991, U.S. and allied forces showered Kuwait and Iraq with from 24 million to 30 million of the bomblets, more than was used in any previous war. The Pentagon confirms that we are dropping them still, usually on Iraqi air-defense sites to enforce the U.S.-imposed no-fly zone that covers 60 percent of Iraqi territory. An estimated 7 percent are duds; they fail to explode on impact but remain highly dangerous. Human Rights Watch and other international organizations have called for a freeze on their use, on the grounds the bomblets are inaccurate when first deployed and remain a menace to civilians for years to come. A Human Rights Watch report last year estimated that 1,600 civilians had been killed and another 2,500 injured in incidents involving the approximately 1.2 million bomblet duds sprinkled across Iraq and Kuwait. Just in the region southwest of Basra, officials say, eight people have been killed and 20 wounded so far this year. Mutasher's job is to gather the canisters, pile them in shallow holes and blow them up. He is 29 years old, married with three children, and has worked at this daily for the past seven years. He says that in the past five months alone, he has physically handled 3,000 bomblets, often digging them out of the sand with a screwdriver. Mutasher goes about the work in an open-collared military uniform and soft black loafers. He says he has no fear and shows it, flicking a cigarette casually to the side as he inserts a fuse in the stick of TNT he uses to set the bomblets off. "You get used to it," he says, "but I lost my two best friends doing this kind of operation." Iraqi civil defense authorities had promised an interview with a victim of the cluster bomblets to provide evidence of how U.S. policy is still hurting civilians. It turns out to be an exercise in either inept public relations or second-rate propaganda. The victim, Hamza Abbas, 35, lives 30 miles away, on the outskirts of Basra. He is missing most of his right foot; he says he lost it when he stepped on a cluster bomblet out near al Tubaa, while tending his sheep. The only problem with Abbas' account is that the incident he described happened in 1992. The age of the anecdote would discourage Western journalists from making much of it. But the al-Jazeera crew films away, shrugging off the absence of a current victim. A "generic" victim suits their story just as well, especially one with Abbas' sad-faced eloquence. Back in the desert, al-Amiri, the al-Jazeera reporter, says that in his opinion, this is a scene that speaks for itself. He goes for understatement in the intro he records for a piece that millions of Arabs soon will watch. "Officials here say that U.S. and British warplanes have dropped hundreds and thousands of bombs," he says, "in this empty place." http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/news/43AFD82E2A099F2586256 BC7000EF5E5?OpenDocument&highlight=2,iraq?opendocument&headline=Inside%2BIra q%3A%2BGulf%2BWar%2Bleft%2Bwater%2Bsupply%2Bcompromised * INSIDE IRAQ: GULF WAR LEFT WATER SUPPLY COMPROMISED by Jon Sawyer St Louis Post-Dispatch, 28th May HIBHIB, Iraq - The health of 7,000 people who live in the farming region of Hibhib, 50 miles north of Baghdad, depends on the one good eye of Abdul Rahman Hussein. Several times a day he climbs up the bamboo ladder perched precariously against one of the rusted storage tanks of the Mansouria al-Shatt water treatment plant. If the water pumped in from the tributary of the Tigris River looks reasonably clear, Hussein says, he pours in a tin bucket full of liquid chlorine. If it's unusually clouded, he'll goose up the dose with two or three buckets more. Hussein has been the custodian here for 25 years. Over the cot in his room below, you see the electric switch box and the gauges for measuring chlorine content and other tools of water purification. The gauges don't work anymore - not since U.S.-led attacks in the 1991 Gulf War knocked out most of Iraq's electrical grid and with it most of the motors, gauges and pumps that drove the country's 1,400 water treatment plants. U.S. insistence on the letter of United Nations sanctions against Iraq have stymied efforts to rebuild the water treatment plants. Gas chlorinators have often been banned, for example; they might be diverted to chemical weapons programs. Earlier this month, thanks to an eclectic group of American military veterans and like minded supporters, repairs began at the Hibhib plant. As Hussein climbed atop the tanks and eyeballed the water, he took in as well an unusual sight: half a dozen Americans shoveling dirt, taking notes and drawing up a list of parts, everything from filters to pumps, chlorinators and a new intake line out to the river's main channel. One of the Americans pitching in to clear a drainage ditch that morning was Art Dorland, 59, a Vietnam War vet who now works construction in Cleveland. He was making his second trip in two years to rebuild damaged water treatment plants in Iraq. Dorland says that raising questions about U.S. policy toward Iraq at a moment of unprecedented support for President George W. Bush's war on terror brings to mind a memory from his days in the Navy - that "in the snappiest, smartest, most robotic military review, there's always some damn fool out on the parade ground who just can't make his step follow the drumbeat." "If the newspapers are telling it right, we are a united country," Dorland adds. "The American war eagle is high aloft, swooping on prey, scarcely ruffling a handsome pinion, and we're all loving it." Except, that is, for Veterans for Peace - Dorland's outfit - which marches to the beat of a distinctly different drum. Let others talk of war, Dorland said. "We just want to fix water pipes." Nearly four out of five Americans support the decisions Bush has so far made in the campaign against terrorism, according to recent surveys. Those polls also suggest that 60 percent or more would support deploying military troops to back up Bush's call for removing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power. Among the minority of Americans who take a different view, and the even smaller minority willing to put their views on the line, is Veterans for Peace. The group has its national headquarters in St. Louis, in the World Community Center building on North Skinker Boulevard that houses a collection of like-minded activist groups. Its national administrator is St. Louisan Woody Powell, a Korean War veteran who has accompanied Veterans for Peace delegations to Colombia, Mexico and North Korea. "We feel the more people know about the conditions we address with our projects overseas the less likely they will be able to ignore them," Powell said. "Perhaps we can help activate the generosity most Americans would like to think is part of our culture." The trip this month was the third to Iraq in the past two years, each focused on rebuilding specific plants. The targets this time were the treatment plant in Hibhib and another in Fallujah, on the Euphrates River 50 miles west of Baghdad. Total cost to make the two plants fully operable is estimated at $60,000; the veterans had raised about three-quarters of that before the trip. Not your average tour The half dozen members of the veterans group who crossed the desert from Jordan into Iraq, traveling in GMC vans, were breaking U.S. law. Travel or business in Iraq without express prior authorization is banned. (The law exempts journalists.) Potential penalties run as high as 12 years in jail and $1 million in fines, although prosecution has been rare. What sort of people would take such a risk, not to mention the hassles of low-budget travel through a country with no credit cards, no Pizza Huts and a leader who is clearly No. 1 on Bush's axis of evil? Besides Dorland, the other military veteran on this delegation was Trish Kanous, 44, a former member of the Army National Guard in Idaho. She's a pharmacist in St. Paul, Minn., recently returned from a year teaching English in Yemen. She's also a convert to Islam, someone who keeps her head covered but is pressing to win greater equality for Muslim women. Co-leader with Dorland was Tom Sager, 59, a retired professor of computer science at the University of Missouri at Rolla. Sager has been to Iraq twice in the past two years and has traveled to Cuba to protest the U.S. embargo there. His work on peace causes goes back more than four decades, he says; his initiation was marching in ban-the-bomb demonstrations in 1959. Michael Lessard, 30, joined the group from Quebec City, Canada, where he is a graduate student in international relations. Robin Wagar is a real estate broker from Dallas and an active Presbyterian. She was making her first trip to Iraq but has been to Israel and the West Bank several times. She showed up for the trip with hand-stenciled T-shirts, black with bold white letters proclaiming "Stop the occupation - Peace and Justice for Palestinians." Dorland has been a wanderer, professionally and intellectually, for most of his life. He dropped out of college to join the Navy, did a tour in Vietnam, came home to a variety of jobs - telephone lineman, church custodian and, for several years in West Virginia, "a groundhog farmer - because that's about all I grew." He's traveled throughout the former Yugoslavia, to Cuba and in the Middle East, with previous veterans trips and also with the group Pastors for Peace. The group's responses to the contradictory realities of Iraq - part victim, part police state - varied. When it was suggested at various meetings that Iraq would be a swell place if only the United States left it alone, Kanous and Dorland were generally more skeptical, Sager and Lessard more accepting. On an evening at the theater, Wagar was the only person in the group - or in the audience - to give a standing ovation to a play based on Saddam Hussein's novel "Zabibah and the King." Also traveling with the group was Amira Matsuda, 44. She lives in Dallas now but grew up in Hilla, a city southwest of Baghdad adjacent to the ruins of ancient Babylon. She married a Japanese engineer and took Japanese citizenship after leaving Iraq in the late 1980s. One of this trip's more memorable moments was a visit with her family. The family has suffered much. One son, a soldier fighting in the Iran-Iraq war, has been missing for 17 years. Hilla was hit hard during the Gulf War and completely cut off; Matsuda had no word from her family at all until six months later. She has been unable since to obtain U.S. visas so that her family might visit Dallas. Schools and clinics in Hilla were heavily damaged by allied bombing, Matsuda says, as was the town's power grid. Matsuda rejects Pentagon assertions that the targets in Hilla had military value. "People from Hilla know that's not the case," she says. Yet there's no hint of resentment as Matsuda's family lays out a feast of homemade buffalo cream cheese, date preserves and tea. Her mother, Noria Ahmed Arra, 85, sets the tone. The daughter of a Turkish provincial governor, she came to Hilla in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire. She is nothing if not a survivor. Arra casts a teasing glance on Tom Sager, the ex-professor from the University of Missouri, saying she has her eye on him as a potential spouse. "The problem is that you've still got your teeth," she laughs. "You might bite me - and I couldn't bite back." It was that combination - of suffering, generosity and a willingness to look beyond the deep divisions between two countries - that left the strongest impression on members of the veterans delegation. Art Dorland said he was especially struck by a visit to a water treatment plant not far from the Mansouria al-Shatt site. This facility was on a small canal, its shabby tanks set against a lush backdrop of date palms, figs and pomegranate. The manager here was Adnan Fadhil Tarhur, who said he also owned the surrounding farm. He retired from the army three years ago, after 31 years that included service throughout the Iran-Iraq war and in the 1991 Gulf War against the United States. Tarhur said that he was part of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. He still doesn't understand why it triggered such a fierce response. "Kuwait is part of the Arab area," he said. "Whether we entered Kuwait or not - that was an Arab matter. It had nothing to do with America." The sanctions regime has crippled not just water services but also farming, Tarhur said. The spare parts he needs to keep his tractor and plow running are either blocked or overpriced. Tarhur lives in a one-room mud-brick hut adjacent to the water tanks. The room is mostly bare: a cot, some pots in the open-fire cooking area, a couple of magazine photos tacked to the wall. The exception is the intricately crafted bamboo cage that holds what Tarhur calls a date palm finch. As the veterans group prepares to leave, Tarhur says he'd like to give them a small gift. He ducks into the darkened hut and comes back out, clutching the bird and cage. Dorland says no, that of course they won't take the bird. But the offer leaves him deeply moved, he says later - touched by a gesture that he called characteristic of an Iraqi people that too few Americans have had the chance to know. "It's the only thing of value he had," Dorland says. "He offered it to us." http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/95C14FDC40165D9386256 BC7000E838C?OpenDocument&Headline=Iraqi+bureaucrats+can+be+roadblocks+-+even +to+those+bringing+aid * IRAQI BUREAUCRATS CAN BE ROADBLOCKS - EVEN TO THOSE BRINGING AID by Jon Sawyer St Louis Post-Dispatch, 28th May (?) HIBHIB, Iraq - It's not always easy helping Iraq, even for those willing to bend over backward to see the Iraqi point of view. Consider a meeting earlier this month between the Veterans for Peace delegation and Abdullah Hassan Ali, Iraq's general manager of water services. Ali's office is on the fourth floor of the Department of Public Works, a building that was bombed during the Gulf War and only recently reopened. At the time of the meeting, the air conditioning still didn't work and neither did the elevator. Ali's patience appeared to be running short, too, as he sorted out the details on two water treatment plants the veterans group is raising nearly $60,000 to repair. "But these projects are so small," Ali said, cutting the briefing short. "What about big projects?" He cited two big plants, serving 150,000 people. They need at least $250,000 in repairs, now. Ali's frustration is understandable. He's an engineer who has spent his entire career, 28 years, in the Iraqi water services sector. In the beginning, before the Gulf War, this country set the standard in the Middle East for producing drinkable water. Now this senior bureaucrat in a country that is unimaginably rich in oil finds himself begging for dollars - courtesy of the havoc wreaked on Iraqi infrastructure by U.S. warplanes and by U.N. sanctions. Throughout the meeting, a television set in the corner had been playing on mute; then it segued, as if on cue, to an Arab-language version of the show, "Who wants to be a millionaire?" Tom Sager, co-leader of the Veterans for Peace delegation, explained to Ali that this was a small group, volunteers only. Their purpose was not just in raising funds for immediate repairs, he says, but in telling the story back home. The idea is to educate other Americans so that they'll demand a change in U.S. policy. Ali wasn't biting. "Over the past 10 or 11 years, many humanitarian groups from all over the world have come here, for the same purpose," he said, "to try and bring the true picture of Iraq back to their countries. The problem always remains - that the media, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, tries to block completely the message from here." This was a point that Sager and others had made themselves, in informal conversation with the Post-Dispatch reporter they had invited to tag along. But then Ali shifted from the undeniable to the insupportable: from detailing the huge continuing costs to Iraq's infrastructure by past U.S. attacks to asserting, without substantiation, that the U.S. is continuing to target water treatment plants today. U.S. warplanes enforcing the no-fly zone in Iraq, Ali insisted, were bombing such plants "daily - daily! - this year." Since he had just been poring through a ledger listing every water treatment plant in the country, and the extent of damages at each, the reporter asked for a list of the times and places of attacks on water treatment plants this year. "I wish we had known of your interest earlier," Ali replied, saying he did not have such a list ready at hand. Would it be possible to put together a list before the group left Iraq, three days later? No again, he replied. Was he absolutely sure that the United States was attacking water treatment plants on a "daily" basis? Ali, scanning the ledger again, said he could say with confidence that there had been "at least 10" attacks on "major" treatment plants in the past five months. Would it be possible to get a list of just those 10? No, yet again. "I think it's hopeless even if I get all the figures," Ali said, smoothly back on message. "Even if I do the media will block the information." http://home.post dispatch.com/channel/pdweb.nsf/42ebeea693b5c24585256a0d00791dde/86256a0e0068 fe5086256bc8003ed3ad?OpenDocument * IRAQ'S ROAD TO RAGE by Jon Sawyer St Louis Post-Dispatch, 29th May FALLUJAH, IRAQ - Distortion, courtesy of the state-run media, is an ever-present reality: Iraqis get a daily dose of talk about the "American administration of evil." And the wounds from the Persian Gulf War of a decade ago are still raw. In the midday heat of this town on the Euphrates River, 40 miles west of Baghdad, local boys mug for the camera in front of a bakery shop window that is decorated with a benign image of terrorist Osama bin Laden. No one speaks English, but these boys have no trouble understanding "World Trade Center." The phrase elicits thumbs up and excited talk. When a visitor mimes what happened on Sept. 11 in New York City, showing with his hands how two airplanes toppled the twin towers, the boys erupt in cheers. How can they hate us so? For months the question has troubled Americans -- appalled that people far away could be so cavalier about the loss of innocent lives, mystified that so much rage could be focused on Americans. It turns out that Fallujah is a place that knows something about cavalier attitudes, distant rage and the cost in innocent lives. On Feb. 13, 1991, in the fourth week of the U.S.-led air war against Iraq, a British Tornado warplane dropped a bomb that was intended to take out a key river bridge at Fallujah. The bomb veered 800 yards off target because of a faulty directional device, British officials later said, and landed in a market instead. The civilian toll in Fallujah was 130 dead, according to Iraqi estimates later confirmed by human rights organizations and not disputed by British or U.S. officials. The damage to civilians got scant coverage outside Iraq, either at the time or since. So did an even bigger incident that happened the same day - a U.S. attack on a bomb shelter in the al Amiriya neighborhood of Baghdad that killed about 400 Iraqi women and children. Who in America knows about the Fallujah Martyrs' Market? Who remembers the story of the al-Amiriya bomb shelter? The boys in Fallujah, those unreflective followers of bin Laden, know the stories well. One way to understand Iraqi attitudes is by juxtaposition to what most Americans hear most of the time about Iraq. In Berlin last week, President George W. Bush compared Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler - skipping over the fact that one man leads a country we've handily defeated once already and that the other was one of the great mass killers of the 20th century. U.S. officials paint grim scenarios of what Saddam might do with chemical or biological or nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, what is barely reported in the United States gets banner play in Iraq: that U.S. warplanes are dropping bombs over Iraq almost every week. Pentagon officials stress the warplanes' role in responding to Iraqi provocation as they enforce the no-fly zone that was imposed on 60 percent of Iraq to protect Iraq's Kurdish and Shiite populations from government attacks. Iraqi media point out consequences on the ground - such as the 18 civilians they say were wounded in U.S. attacks on southern Iraq just last Friday. Right or wrong, the policies pursued by the U.S. government over the past dozen years have left a deep imprint on the views of average Iraqis. So has what is perceived to be U.S. bias in favor of Israel and against the Palestinian people. The tension bubbles up over lemon tea in Fallujah's open-air market. Mohammed al-Falahi runs a repair shop, specializing in televisions, VCRs and DVDs. While he chats with a visitor, a television is playing what under the circumstances is an especially ludicrous selection - "Mr. Bean's Christmas," a British spoof film in which the baby Jesus escapes the manger scene by helicopter to get away from noisy sheep. Al-Falahi said in this neighborhood there's no division of opinion when it comes to terrorist Osama bin Laden. "We all think he is defending our homeland," he said. "He's not looking for anything other than that." Al-Falahi says that he believes bin Laden was behind the attacks on the United States. He questions the choice of a civilian target, not the overall goal. An agitated friend, Shlash Ahmed, bursts into the shop when he hears that foreigners are about. "How can America stand with Israel?" Ahmed demands, the crowd gathering behind him shouting assent. "How can America stand against the Palestinian people?" The complicated nuances of U.S. policy toward Israel and the West Bank - a decade's worth of negotiation with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Bush's pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - simply don't register. What Iraqis get instead, on state-controlled television and newspapers, is a daily dose of distortion. It's the "American administration of evil" that gives Israel its arsenal, newscasters proclaim. America alone is keeping Iraq from resuming normal relations with the world, they say. The disinformation is so pervasive, so constant, that it leaves even the well-informed uncertain what to believe. A post-graduate professional desperate to leave Iraq is quick to assail the mess that Saddam's regime has made of a once-prosperous country. University salaries of as little as $100 a month, denial of travel privileges, the fear of mandatory military service and bribes paid to escape the draft - his list of outrages is so long, so heartfelt, that a reporter can barely keep up. He supports the U.S. war on terror. "But there is one thing I do not understand," he adds, tentative, almost apologetic to be bringing the subject up. "I do not understand why so many Jews who worked in the World Trade Center stayed home from work on Sept. 11." The young dissident is polite but unpersuaded when told that no shred of evidence has surfaced to support the claim that Jewish workers stayed home on the day of the attack. "I'm sorry," he insisted. "This fact has been reported many times." Facts are also problematic at the al-Amiriya bomb shelter in western Baghdad, a place where the Iraqi government takes pains to keep memories raw of what U.S. warplanes did in 1991. Intesar Ahmed is the Ministry of Culture guide who shows visitors through a grisly scene - a cratered roof and floor, twisted bits of concrete-reinforcing bars, rows of photographs showing the women and children who came here for shelter and the burned corpses removed after the U.S. bomb struck. In previous years, visitors were told that many victims were boiled alive when a second bomb burst the shelter's water-storage tanks. No longer, Ahmed says; Iraqi researchers have determined that those reports were false. But she asserts something equally improbable - that the U.S. bombs targeted on al-Amiriya were laced with napalm. No evidence to back such a claim has been produced. To Ahmed, the detail is beside the point. "The only documents you need are these photographs of victims," she said. "It is a crime, whether it was napalm or a cruise missile. It is a crime." The undisputed facts are bad enough. The shelter was targeted because U.S. military planners believed it was an important command-and-control center. When it turned out later to have housed hundreds of civilians instead, the Pentagon said that they were the families of Iraq's governing elite. Interviews suggested that was not the case, that in fact this was simply one of more than two dozen shelters around the city. The Pentagon then said - supplying no proof - that Iraq had deliberately placed the civilians there, to lead the United States into an embarrassing mistake. Today, the al-Amiriya site has become a national shrine, a place of pilgrimage where schoolchildren come to reinforce their anti-American views. This month, the visitors included a class of ninth-graders from the Baghdad International School. Among the group was Marwan Rokan, 16, the son of a former Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations. Rokan lived in Manhattan from 1996 to 2000, attending Robert Wagner Junior High and the High School of the Humanities. He had been with his parents on several occasions to Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of one of the Trade Center towers. He liked it very much, he said - and America, too. So what did he think, back home in Baghdad, as he watched live television footage of the attacks on New York and Washington? "I was happy when they hit the Pentagon because that's mainly a military place," Rokan said. "I wasn't so sure about the Trade Center; that's mostly economic." But in any case it wasn't Arab Muslims who did the deed, Rokan said. "I think it was the Jews." "For nearly a dozen years, ever since its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Iraq has been quarantined, subject to the most comprehensive set of sanctions the United Nations has ever imposed. U.S. policy-makers have defended the policy on the grounds that it has helped to box in Saddam, a clearly dangerous man. Yet the 23 million people of Iraq have been boxed in, too - denied participation in normal economic activity, cut off from communication with the outside world, easy prey to the manipulations of a one-party state. At the al-Mustan Sariya University in Baghdad, students gathered this month for the performance of a play, written and performed by students majoring in English. The play was intended to address the gaps in American-Iraqi attitudes. Set in New York City on Sept. 11, the play depicts a group of visiting Arab students. Posters on the set show the Backstreet Boys and Michael Jackson, but the talk on stage is all politics: One student denounces U.S. support for Israel while another says it was wrong for Palestinians to target innocent Israelis. There's a rumble then in the distance and cries of alarm. "Oh my God," a student standing at the window said. "The towers are coming down." "The Arabs did it," his friend replied. "Who told you?" the first student shouted. "Let me guess. It came from the BBC, the Voice of America, CNN. You judge them after 30 seconds, without any proof or evidence? That's not justice. "America, stop!" he added, speaking directly to the audience. "There's been enough injustice already, against all the world." Zena Raza, the 19-year-old playwright, said afterward that the point of her play is twofold: to show that not all Arabs or Muslims are terrorists and that America itself, in her opinion, is most to blame for what happened on Sept. 11. "The policy of your government is to be in control of everything," Raza said. "If Americans were not murderers, making enemies, no one would attack. But it seems that American governments hate the world." Khalid Abdullah, the dean of the university's college of liberal arts, said it was the students' choice to perform Raza's play. Last year's selection? "Julius Caesar." Abdullah says that to him the play speaks to mutual misperceptions, the ways in which Americans, Arabs and Muslims misread each other - and how those misperceptions have deepened during a decade in which there has been virtually no contact between the Iraqis and Americans. "In the 1970s and 1980s thousands of us studied in the United States, in the United Kingdom, all over Europe," Abdullah said. "Today the answer is always a big No, because you're an Iraqi. You're crossed out. "I don't know why (the Americans) hate us so much," he said. Because of the policies of Iraq's government and its leader, a visitor suggested. "Not all Iraqis are the same person," he replied. "What about us?" _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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