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News, 25/5-1/6/02 (2) NO FLY ZONES * US Drone Crashes in Return From Iraq * 18 Iraqis Hurt in Allied Airstrike * US jets strike air defence sites in southern Iraq * Iraq says it 'Forced down' Spy drone * Wisdom of Aerial Gameı With Hussein Comes Into Question [Interesting to note that the Turks too, like the Saudis, impose limitations on the behaviour of US patrols from their territory.] * Iraq Says Over 1,140 Killed in US, British Air Raids * U.S. Planes Bomb Radar Site in Iraq IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * Report: Iraq Earned $6B Illegally [Best news of the week. We may be getting back to the pre-September 11th pattern in which with painful slowness and considerable skill on the part of the Iraqi administration sanctions fall away of their own accord as Iraqıs neighbours summon up the political courage to break them discreetly. If only they could summon up the political courage to break them openly ...] * Iraq-U.N. Oil Price Dispute Bankrupts UN Goods Plan [This was forwarded to the list by Drew Hamre who tells us that the full text of the document referred to can be found at http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/background/latest/bvs020529.html] * U.N., Iraq to Focus on Inspections IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ * Iraqis end hunger strike in Denmark IRAQI/UK RELATIONS * Battle of SAS Gulf patrol gets bloody [Battle over veracity or otherwise of A.McNab.] * British MP predicts revolution in Middle East [Very outspoken views from G.Galloway, who makes clear his belief that to a large extent the Arab leaders are to blame for the present mess: ³Once you allow the elephant through the door, you are no longer in a position to tell the elephant where to sit.²] * Navy frigate stops Iraqi smugglers [Mighty victory by crack teamı of specialist Royal Marinesı over shabby tankerı. And all in spite of the heat.] IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Indonesian, Indian cos to carry out gas exploration in Iraq INSIDE IRAQ * Saddamıs men kill 40 in mosque fight [There has been some dispute about this on the list, but it seems to me a perfectly possible consequence of the state of paranoia which is being deliberately and irresponsibly fostered in Iraq by the US and UK governments.] * Saddam cries victory [Further to the list dispute over whether the article LITTLE BY LITTLE, IRAQ SHOWS SIGNS OF ECONOMIC LIFE by Howard Schneider (Washington Post, 17th May) is US propaganda or not. Schneider quoted the CIA World Factbook as saying that per capita income in Iraq now stands at around $2,500 annually -- double that of Egyptı. And here is Saddam saying that that proves what a good government Iraq has got, to achieve this under such difficult circumstances.] NO FLY ZONES http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=13801284&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * US DRONE CRASHES IN RETURN FROM IRAQ The Associated Press, 25th May WASHINGTON: An unmanned Air Force aircraft returning from a routine surveillance mission in Iraq crashed Saturday as it was preparing to land at an airfield in Kuwait, the military said. The cause of the drone's crash was under investigation, said Lt. Cmdr. Bruce Erickson of U.S. Central Command, based in Tampa, Fla. The crash was not the result of enemy fire, he said. The Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, which crashed at about 8:30 a.m. EDT, had been on a mission in support of Operation Southern Watch, part of the international response to Iraqi noncompliance with a U.N. Security Council resolution passed after the Gulf War. U.S. and British warplanes have been monitoring ``no fly'' zones over southern and northern Iraq since shortly after the war to protect Kurdish and other minority and opposition groups. The Predator is an unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance system designed to provide military commanders with high-resolution, real-time imagery. Erickson said ground support personnel had retrieved the drone that crashed. At least six of the propeller-powered Predators now have crashed since the United States began its anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan in October. http://www.sunspot.net/news/custom/attack/sns-ap-iraq us0525may25.story?coll=bal%2Dhome%2Dheadlines * 18 IRAQIS HURT IN ALLIED AIRSTRIKE Baltimore Sun, 25th May BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Eighteen civilians were injured in a U.S. and British aircraft bombing run in southern Iraq, Iraq said Saturday. An unidentified Iraqi military spokesman said allied warplanes bombed "civil and service installations" late Friday in Dhi Qar province, 210 miles south of Baghdad, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. No official U.S. comment was immediately available. The Iraqi spokesman said 18 civilians were wounded, but did not elaborate on the extent of their injuries. Iraq challenged the planes with its "courageous ground resistance" and the planes left the area, the report added without giving the time of the attack. [.....] http://www.dailystarnews.com/200205/26/n2052613.htm#BODY9 * US JETS STRIKE AIR DEFENCE SITES IN SOUTHERN IRAQ Daily Star, Bangladesh (from AFP), 26th May US warplanes struck air defence sites in southern Iraq Friday in retaliation for "recent Iraqi hostile acts" against aircraft patrolling a no-fly zone, the US military said. The strike was the second in southern Iraq this week, following a US air attack Wednesday on a surface-to-air missile site and a communications facility. The US Central Command said precision guided weapons were used in the strikes on "three components of an offensive integrated air defence system in southern Iraq." It followed "the fourth verified attempt by Iraq to destroy a coalition aircraft in the last 17 days," the command said. It gave no details but said the raid was "in response to recent Iraqi hostile acts against coalition aircraft monitoring the southern no-fly zone." US and British warplanes enforce the no-fly zones that were imposed over southern and northern after the 1991 Gulf War. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=11169195 * IRAQ SAYS IT 'FORCED DOWN' SPY DRONE Times of India (from AFP), 27th May BAGHDAD: Iraq said on Monday it forced down a pilotless "enemy" reconnaissance plane in the north of the country on Sunday. "The drone was forced down in our territory by our own means," at 0930 GMT in northern Iraq, a military spokesman said, without further explanation. Iraq reported that it shot down three unmanned US spy planes in 2001, confirming official US fears that Baghdad had upgraded its previously-ineffectual air defence systems. Kuwait's Arab Times newspaper reported Sunday that an unmanned US drone had crashed Saturday in the emirate as it was flying back from a "surveillance operation." http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/ny woiraq0527.story?coll=ny%2Dnationworld%2Dheadlines * WISDOM OF AERIAL GAMEı WITH HUSSEIN COMES INTO QUESTION by Craig Gordon Newsday, 27th May Incirlik Air Base, Turkey -- Slicing through the sky over northern Iraq in his F-15E fighter jet, Air Force Capt. Wayne Straw never saw just how close he came to being hit by Saddam Hussein's artillery on a recent mission. A fellow pilot spotted the explosive bursts barely 500 feet beneath Straw's Strike Eagle -- "uncomfortably close,² Straw acknowledged dryly. Hussein's forces play a cat-and-mouse game virtually every time U.S. or British air crews patrol northern Iraq, as part of a mission to keep the Iraqi military from flying there. Iraqis fleck the skies with artillery fire -- "popcorn,² the pilots call it -- then tow their guns away almost before the pilots know what happened. Straw scrambled to get his jet away from the fire, but no retaliatory strike was possible, for the U.S. pilots couldn't spot the artillery piece that menaced him. Rules demanded by Turkey, which hosts the pilots and planes at this air base, strictly bar U.S. and British fliers from retaliating against anything but the weapon or site that shot at them. While the 11-year-old mission called Operation Northern Watch has never lost a plane to Iraqi fire, Straw's close call underscores the continued risk to U.S. pilots. The challenges facing this little-known operation highlight the difficulties that U.S. forces would face in any invasion to topple Hussein. President George W. Bush said last week he had no plans on his desk to invade Iraq. Some U.S. officers, active and retired, have called for an end to, or a scaling-back of, the no fly zone patrols, saying they risk too much, gain too little and help Iraq hone its defenses against any eventual real U.S. attack. Straw, 35, of Altamonte Springs, Fla., also patrolled the no-fly zone in 1999 and said of the Iraqi gunners, "If anything, they're more accurate² now. "They're getting a lot of practice in what they're trying to do.² Northern Watch's home at this air base in southern Turkey, about 570 miles from Iraq's capital, Baghdad, would be essential for launching any invasion of Iraq, say analysts, particularly if Saudi Arabia withholds use of its bases, a possibility that Pentagon officials have included in their planning. Yet Turkish leaders publicly have urged the Bush administration not to make war on Iraq, and commanders say the United States could not count on winning Turkish support. Commanders of the northern Iraq patrols say Hussein is adept at placing anti-aircraft guns and missiles near mosques and playgrounds, hoping to draw U.S. forces into a strike that might kill civilians and play to Arab sympathies. U.S. pilots frequently forgo strikes on approved targets because a town, a farm or a moving car is too close by and could be hit accidentally, said the Northern Watch commander, Brig. Gen. Edward Ellis. "No innocent Iraqi citizen deserves to die because they have a knucklehead leader,² Ellis said. In April, Hussein made his biggest shift of missiles to the north in several years, U.S. officials say. U.S. warplanes patrolling a similar no-fly zone in southern Iraq bombed three air defense sites there in the past week after coming under attack by surface-to-air missiles. Hussein has made a standing offer of $14,000 to the man who brings down an American or British flier. Still, Hussein seems to be preserving his limited resources in case of a U.S. attack, withholding his best anti-aircraft equipment, which he keeps closer to Baghdad. To be sure, many military analysts believe an invasion of Iraq would devastate Hussein's anti-aircraft weaponry in less than the five weeks needed during the Persian Gulf War. Hussein's remaining weapons are aging and lack spare parts, due to United Nations sanctions that block military supplies. Yet pilots and commanders at Incirlik voice respect for a man they call a wily foe. They worry about what they call Hussein's "science projects,² experiments to push the accuracy and lethality of his limited weaponry. Artillery cannons are kept mobile, towed behind trucks. Iraqis have tried firing air-to-air missiles from the ground, or surface-to-air missiles with their guiding radars turned off. That tactic is meant to evade U.S. missiles that can track the radar beams back to the missile launchers. Those experiments increase the dangers to U.S. fliers in Northern Watch, or any new mission that may come their way. "If it does escalate at all,² said Capt. Sean Gustafson, an F-16 pilot, "it could get real ugly, real quick.² Patrols of a no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel in Iraq began after the Gulf War ended in 1991, and the southern no-fly zone was added the following year. The two cover about 60 percent of the nation. The northern patrols were designed to monitor Hussein's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and to protect the ethnic Kurds, whose rebellion against Baghdad after the Gulf War was brutally crushed by Hussein. Northern Watch officials would not release the number of sorties, but missions comprising several dozen fighters, tankers, communications planes and other aircraft fly on average 12 times a month, at a cost of $750,000 per mission, Ellis said. More than 1,200 U.S. service personnel run Northern Watch. If Northern Watch gives Hussein's troops practice, it does the same for U.S. forces. On one recent mission, F-15 and F-16 fighter jets going into Iraqi airspace refueled from KC-135R tankers over eastern Turkey. The crews danced their aerial ballet of multiton machines at 400 mph, flying in tandem just 50 feet apart, but said the repetition could make it feel routine. "There's always a risk, but this runs smoother than the day-to-day stuff back home when we do practice missions,² said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Rose, 32, of Riverside, Calif., a boom operator on the tanker, nicknamed Sweet Sixteen. After more steady and serious attacks on patrolling aircraft in 1999 and 2000, Iraq appears content these days to harass Northern Watch crews with anti-aircraft fire. Ellis said pilots are fired upon an average of once an hour while on patrol, yet Northern Watch has reported just four strikes against Iraqi installations so far this year, compared with four dozen reported in 2000, a decline also attributable to Turkey's tight restrictions on attacks. A Turkish diplomat in Washington said, on condition of anonymity, that if strikes by Northern Watch "went beyond self-defense and initiated bombing from Turkish territory, that will cause trouble for Turkey.² "We have our red lines, and we believe U.S. authorities share the same with us,² the diplomat said. The Northern Watch mission has grown complicated in other ways. For one thing, the no-fly zone is no longer airtight. Two commercial flights, from Baghdad to Mosul, and several international flights enter the zone regularly. The Iraqis even flew a crop-dusting helicopter over northern Iraq last year without incident. The head of the military's European Command, Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, recommended last May that routine patrols be scrapped in favor of a standing alert on the ground, to reduce the risk to U.S. pilots. Beyond the immediate risks, one retired top Air Force general, Richard Hawley, the former head of the Air Combat Command, shares the pilots' concerns that the no-fly patrols are giving Hussein's forces a dangerous leg up for whatever might lie ahead. "We're providing for them a great adversary force, so they can make sure they're on a sharper edge, their procedures are well-honed, their people are well-trained,² Hawley said. "If we had to do something [against Iraq], my view is... that we are doing things that will make them a more credible air defense system on day one of that fight than they otherwise might be, and I don't think the political gains adequately offset the price we might pay if we have to go back into Iraq.² http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200205/30/eng20020530_96759.shtml * IRAQ SAYS OVER 1,140 KILLED IN US, BRITISH AIR RAIDS Peoples Daily. 30th June U.S. and British air raids on the two no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq since their setup have left 1,142 Iraqis killed and 1,261 others wounded, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Ahmed said in a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday. U.S. and British air raids on the two no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq since their setup have left 1,142 Iraqis killed and 1,261 others wounded, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Ahmed said in a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday. Ahmed accused the United States and Britain of violating the U. N. Charter and the International Law, and practising "state terrorism" against Iraq, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported. Ahmed affirmed Iraq's rights of self defense against "the continuous and hostile terrorist acts" by the United States and Britain, the INA said. The two no-fly zones were set up by the U.S.-led Western allies after the 1991 Gulf War to allegedly protect the Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south from the persecution of the Iraqi government. Iraq has never recognized the two air exclusion zones for lack of clear authorization from the U.N. Security Council and has regularly opened fire at the patrolling Western planes. U.S. and Britain have intensified attacks on the two air exclusion zones recently. Iraq said five civilians were injured when its northern part was bombed on Tuesday. This was the fourth time in the past 10 days that U.S. and British jets raided the two no-fly zones. Four civilians were injured when U.S. and British jets bombed the southern Muthana Province on May 20. Iraq said two were killed and two others injured when the Western planes bombed Thi-Qar Province on May 23. U.S. and British air strikes in southern Iraq on May 25 left 18 people wounded, according to Iraqi sources. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/may/31/053100870.html * U.S. PLANES BOMB RADAR SITE IN IRAQ Las Vegas Sun, 31st May WASHINGTON- U.S. warplanes bombed an air defense radar site in southern Iraq Friday after coming under attack by Iraqi surface-to-air missiles, U.S. military officials said. It was the fifth U.S. airstrike against Iraq in less than two weeks. The latest incident happened early Friday, Iraq time. U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in the Persian Gulf area, said allied aircraft responded immediately after reporting that three surface-to-air missiles were fired in their direction. The planes were not hit. The attack was in Nasiriyah, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, Central Command said. In Baghdad, the official Iraqi News Agency said three Iraqis were injured in the airstrikes. It said "civil and service installations" were attacked. U.S. planes attacked air defense sites in the vicinity of Nasiriyah or elsewhere in southern Iraq on May 20, 22 and 24. Each time Central Command said the attacks were in self defense. On May 28 U.S. planes came under fire by anti-aircraft artillery in northern Iraq and responded by attacking an air defense site. U.S. and British warplanes have been monitoring no-fly zones over southern and northern Iraq since shortly after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurdish and other minority and opposition groups. Iraq frequently tries to shoot down the allied planes; it considers the zones illegitimate violations of its sovereignty. IRAQI/UN RELATIONS http://cgi.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=13847521&template=worldnews /search.txt&index=recent * REPORT: IRAQ EARNED $6B ILLEGALLY The Associated Press, 29th May WASHINGTON: Iraq earned more than $6 billion in illegal revenue from oil smuggling and surcharges on commodity imports from 1997 to 2001, a congressional agency said Wednesday. President Saddam Hussein's government uses the money to buy goods prohibited by U.N. Security Council sanctions, said a report by the General Accounting Office, the watchdog arm of Congress. The world body imposed the economic sanctions in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Illicit items are smuggled into Iraq from neighboring states or through the Persian Gulf, the report said. It did not specify what goods. The United States and Britain have sought to stop Iraqi oil smuggling, contending that it helps finance Saddam's efforts to rebuild his military and banned weapons programs. Iraq forced U.N. weapons inspectors to withdraw from the country in 1998. In their absence, the ``United Nations cannot ensure that Iraq has stopped developing weapons of mass destruction, and there are indications from multiple sources that it continues to do so,'' the GAO report said. The Security Council allows Iraq to sell oil legally, provided the revenue goes into a U.N. escrow account to buy food and other humanitarian supplies for civilians. The GAO said this program produced $51 billion in revenue from 1997-2001. ``We conservatively estimate that Iraq has illegally earned at least $6.6 billion since 1997 $4.3 billion from smuggling and $2.3 billion in illegal surcharges on oil and commissions from its commodities contracts,'' the report said. For example, in 2001, the GAO estimated that Iraq earned $1.5 billion by smuggling oil through Jordan, Syria and the Persian Gulf. ``Oil industry experts estimate that Iraq smuggled out as much as 480,000 barrels of oil per day in March 2002,'' the report said. Syria, a Security Council member, repeatedly has denied it is importing Iraqi oil through a pipeline that has been closed for 18 years. In addition to revenues from oil smuggling, the GAO report quoted Security Council and U.S. officials as saying the Iraqi government has been levying a surcharge against oil purchases and commissions against commodity suppliers participating in the oil for food program. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=586&ncid=586&e=7&u=/nm/20020 529/wl_nm/iraq_un_sanctions_dc_1 * IRAQ-U.N. OIL PRICE DISPUTE BANKRUPTS UN GOODS PLAN by Evelyn Leopold Yahoo, 29th May UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - With a new overhaul of U.N. sanctions about to begin, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday the Iraq-U.N. humanitarian program was nearly bankrupt because of an oil-pricing dispute with the United States and Britain. "Without funds, the whole exercise will be meaningless," said Benon Sevan, the U.N. undersecretary-general in charge of the program after briefing the U.N. Security Council. He said at least $2 billion more in revenue was needed. Under the oil-for-food program, which includes the new sanctions regulations, Iraq can sell oil in order to buy food, medicine and a host of supplies to ease the impact of the embargoes, imposed when Baghdad invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Iraq stopped shipping oil for a month earlier this year to protest Israeli-Palestinian violence, costing the program $1.2 billion in oil revenues. Iraq's oil revenues are put in a U.N. escrow account out of which suppliers of goods are paid. But still ongoing is Iraq's dispute with Britain and the United States on setting the price of crude oil, resulting in an average reduction in exports of some 500,000 barrels a day or another $1.2 billion over the past six months, Sevan said. The United States and Britain want to reduce the number of small trading firms buying Iraqi oil, contending they are making illegal payments of 20-30 cents a barrel directly to the Iraqi government, outside the U.N. program. Consequently, both nations insist Iraq set prices retroactively to ensure they conform to world rates. Iraq, which denies it imposes a surcharge, says this system is scaring away customers. "Unless the question of the pricing mechanism ... is resolved urgently, all other efforts and decisions taken to expedite the approval of humanitarian supplies for Iraq may unfortunately remain academic," Sevan told the council. The new sanctions regulations, approved by the Security Council earlier this month, take effect on Thursday but will not be totally in place until July 15. They aim to expedite civilian goods to Baghdad but at the same time require reviews by U.N. officials and Security Council members of supplies on a 300-page list that could have military uses. But Sevan raised apprehensions that some of the goods on the list could endanger the program if the council did not approve them, such as laboratory equipment used in hospitals. "It is not enough to say medicines will flow in freely if certain items for hospitals are kept out," he told reporters. "We will not be able to achieve our objectives unless all parties approach it with the proper spirit." Baghdad objects to the new sanctions procedures or any change in the complicated program it said has inflicted untold harm on its population. But it implicitly accepted the new regulations by renewing on Tuesday the 1996 oil-for-food program for another six months, until Nov. 25, Sevan said. Sevan briefed the council on the new procedures, which require all contracts to go to two U.N. disarmament commissions to see if they are banned outright or are on the new list. If they are on the list, the council's sanctions committee reviews them. If they are not, Sevan's department expedites the goods. Previously, the United States was virtually the sole guardian of blocking supplies it suspected of having military uses, with a council committee having control over a large variety of contracts. The new system gives more power to U.N. officials and disarmament agencies. Ideally, these procedures are to be completed within 30 days, providing suppliers have submitted required information. Currently, the United States has blocked $1.3 billion worth of contracts, some of them for years. A number of them will have to be released under the new system. http://cgi.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=13894186&template=worldnews /search.txt&index=recent * U.N., IRAQ TO FOCUS ON INSPECTIONS The Associated Press, 31st May UNITED NATIONS: A new round of U.N.-Iraq talks seeking the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to the Mideast nation will be held in Vienna on July 4-5, a U.N. spokesman said Friday. Since March, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have held two rounds of talks at U.N. headquarters in New York on the return of the inspectors, who left Baghdad before U.S.-British strikes in December 1998 and have been barred from going back. The return of the inspectors is a key demand of the U.N. Security Council and especially of the United States, which has accused Iraq of trying to rebuild its banned weapons programs and of supporting terrorism. U.N. sanctions imposed by the Security Council against Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq's programs to build nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been dismantled, along with the missiles to deliver them. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan and U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard announced the site for the third round of talks last week and the time frame, but the dates were not disclosed. President Bush has warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that he faces unspecified consequences if he fails to heed American demands that inspectors be allowed into Iraq to verify whether it has dismantled its weapons of mass destruction. Bush has also made clear that the United States wants Saddam removed from power. When the last round of talks ended on May 3, Annan reported progress but no breakthrough and said he hoped that in the next round of talks Iraq would have ``some positive news.'' Iraq wants sanctions lifted, saying it has complied with all U.N. requirements. ``Iraq will continue holding talks with the U.N. secretary-general in order to reach a working mechanism aimed at lifting the unjust embargo and ending the suffering of the Iraqi people,'' Iraq's Ramadan said in comments aired by Iraqi satellite television late Sunday. During the second round of talks, Annan was accompanied by chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. Eckhard said they will also take part in the upcoming Vienna talks. IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_2016000/2016965.stm * IRAQIS END HUNGER STRIKE IN DENMARK BBC, 30th May A group of 27 Iraqi refugees in Denmark have ended a week-long hunger strike after being told their claims for political asylum will be given serious consideration. The Iraqis, who are staying in Copenhagen's cathedral, began the hunger strike after their asylum requests were turned down. A church spokesman said the refugees called off the action after receiving assurances that their claims will be looked at again and handled fairly. On Tuesday, the Danish immigration minister, Bertel Haarder, said those refugees whose requests were rejected would not be forced to leave. "If they want to stay in the country, we will provide them with bed and board but they will not receive any money or be allowed to work," Mr Haarder said. Danish aid organisations have offered to help move the Iraqis to refugee holding centres throughout the country. The hunger strike began on 23 May. Cathedral authorities allowed the group to stay inside provided they did not disturb church activities. The refugees came from the government-controlled part of Iraq. Correspondents say that in past years, they would have been granted asylum because of fears that they might face persecution at home. But earlier this month, Denmark's new centre-right government approved a bill aimed at restricting immigration and reducing public assistance to refugees. The legislation also includes plans to abolish de facto refugee status, thus giving asylum to refugees only in accordance with international conventions The bill is due to be discussed in Parliament shortly. In the past five years, Iraqis have been one of the largest groups of asylum seekers in Denmark. More than 4,000 Iraqi refugees have arrived there in the past two years. IRAQI/UK RELATIONS http://observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,722590,00.html * BATTLE OF SAS GULF PATROL GETS BLOODY by Jason Burke Observer, 26th May It is one of the most famous episodes of recent British military history. An eight-man SAS patrol nearly 200 miles behind enemy lines fighting its way, if not to safety, then at least to glory, killing scores along the way. But for the survivors of the SAS's Bravo Two Zero patrol the battles did not stop when the Gulf war ended in 1991. First came the struggle to tell their stories. Then the campaign to defend their reputations in the face of detractors. This weekend troopers on the famed patrol launched a counter-attack on another SAS member who questioned their accounts. Michael Asher, a former Territorial SAS man and desert explorer, claimed that interviews with eyewitnesses in Iraq had shown that the stories recounted by men such as Andy McNab, who led the Bravo Two Zero patrol, or Chris Ryan, the only one of its members to reach safety in Syria after the patrol was 'compromised', were flawed. Asher, in a film broadcast last week on Channel 4, accused the pair of vastly exaggerating the number of Iraqis they killed and 'embellishing' their accounts. Others - including SAS members in the Gulf at the time - have joined Asher to accuse McNab and others of 'embellishing' their stories. 'I'd have been very happy to find that they were all true, but rigorous investigation showed they were not,' Asher said at his home in Morocco. Last week Ryan, who is working as a bodyguard, expressed 'contempt and disgust' for 'what Asher had said about [him]'. He went on: 'If he wants to come and meet me face to face, alone somewhere, we can sort this out in the way that SAS men do. All I will say now is that I know I killed a number of Iraqi soldiers. I am not proud of having killed - it still gives me nightmares - but I am proud of having... evaded capture.' Ryan, who was decorated for his role in the mission, said Asher had been naive and had handed the Iraqis a 'propaganda victory'. Friends of McNab, who is in America working on the film of his second book, said that he had found Asher's allegations 'infuriating'. One point of argument is how many men the patrol killed. Asher says that, despite accounts of a series of bloody firefights with Iraqi troops, the SAS troopers did not come up against substantial numbers of soldiers and claims that 250 Iraqi soldiers were killed are false. McNab's allies say the figure came from US military intelligence. Mark Lucas, McNab's agent, said: 'The great British public set a great deal more store by accounts by men who were there than by the evidence of highly unreliable Iraqis with extraordinarily clear memories.' The Bravo Two Zero patrol was one of several SAS teams sent deep into Iraq on 22 January 1991 to target Scud missile launchers. But things went wrong very early on. Faulty intelligence meant the eight-man patrol was dropped in the middle of 3,000 Iraqi troops. McNab says the team marched through the night to an observation post near a key road. Asher says they walked, with 200lb loads, only a few hundred yards. Within 48 hours McNab's men were spotted by a shepherd boy. However, where the SAS men claim there was a vicious firefight with Iraqi troops, Asher, having interviewed Bedouin tribesmen who remember the events, says the patrol was merely challenged by a small group of lightly armed locals. Asher also points out that the patrol members' accounts of the action diverge radically. The patrol split into two groups. Two men died of exposure, and one was killed in a firefight. Four, including McNab, were captured and tortured by the Iraqis. Ryan was 'the one who got away'. McNab had tried to get to Syria by hijacking a taxi. He describes fighting his way through a checkpoint. But Asher, who says he interviewed the policemen who stopped the car, gave a very different account. 'The policemen later knew McNab's real name, not his pseudonym. There were many, many similar details that backed up what I heard from the Iraqis,' said Asher, who speaks fluent Arabic and has twice received awards from the Royal Geographic Society in a 22-year career exploring deserts. 'I won't meet Ryan for a punch-up. That's just being childish. I will meet him for a debate.' Supporters of McNab and Ryan point out that Asher, 49, was accompanied by Iraqi minders during his inquiries and lacks combat experience. But a further attack on McNab's credibility may come from a former comrade. The British Government has failed to stop Mike Coburn, a New Zealand-born member of the patrol, publishing his own account. It is expected to accuse McNab of exaggeration. Bravo Two Zero's battles are clearly not over yet. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/27_05_02/art4.asp * BRITISH MP PREDICTS REVOLUTION IN MIDDLE EAST by Rime Allaf Daily Star, Labanon, 27th May LONDON: George Galloway does not chew his words and leaves few people indifferent: They either love him or hate him - so much, in fact, that American actor John Malkovich wishes he could kill him. In an interview with The Daily Star following his return from Iraq and Palestine at the head of a delegation of British and Canadian MPs and journalists, the Labor MP discussed the recent events in the Occupied Territories and his prospects for the future of the region. Known for his outspoken condemnations of British foreign policy, especially in the Arab world, Galloway is undeterred by accusations of sympathy to some Arab regimes, which he is the first to criticize. Galloway has always campaigned against the 12-year old ³sanctions of the Anglo-American axis² on Iraq, but does he think that the new deal is better? ³Itıs old wine in new bottles and will fool no one,² he said, arguing itıs a vindication of what heıs been saying, an admission that the existing sanctions were stupid, although he finds the new ones no smarter. ³Itıs a pity that a million people had to die needlessly to prove it,² he said. Conferring criticism on both partners in this ³axis,² he reserves the lionıs share for America. ³We have an extremely dangerous world in which America roams around like a giant with the mind of a small child. A giant with the mind of a small child is a danger not only to everyone else, but also to himself, and you donıt get a mind much smaller than (US President) George W. Bushıs.² Bush represents ³small-town Christian fundamentalist right-wing Republican values, ignorant, and boastful about their ignorance, brutal, prejudiced, bigoted.² And Gallowayıs depiction of Bushıs election to the presidency illustrates the MPıs intolerance of the regimes some have accused him of supporting. ³Itıs a very Arab event when your brother, the governor of a state, steals the presidency of the country for you by fraudulent means, when you win in a court packed by your fatherıs judicial appointments,² he said. Tony Blairıs association with Bush does not fare well with Galloway. ³For a prime minister of a great country to be described as the ambassador of a foreign country is a deeply insulting and demeaning characterization,² watching ³Mr. Blair being passed grinning from one right-wing Republican figure to another, rolling around the jungle of the American right from Bush to Bush.² As for Blairıs alleged disclosure to some Labor MPs that he would seek UN approval before committing Britain to an invasion of Iraq, Galloway replied: ³I have yet to find a Labor MP to whom he told it.² For Galloway, the war on Afghanistan is no different from one on Iraq. ³Itıs not an a la carte menu, you canıt pick and mix which imperialist wars youıre going to support, and which youıre not Once itıs established that in the name of anti-terrorism America can get away with killing thousands of Afghans who had nothing whatsoever to do with Sept. 11, then youıve already conceded the principle that America can use its vast military might against civilian populations wherever it likes. You canıt say I supported you last time but Iım opposing you this time.² Galloway argued at length about the sheer folly of invading Iraq, but would the Arabs allow this anyway? He thinks they donıt have much choice: ³Once you allow the elephant through the door, you are no longer in a position to tell the elephant where to sit.² Still, an invasion of this scale is easier said than done when considering local, regional and international dimensions, and Galloway feels it is not inevitable. ³What will it do if the entire region boils over with rage, having already pocketed its rage over the intifada and the systemic failure of the Arab regimes? Is there only a regime change in Baghdad, or are there other regimes which now have to change because of popular anger in Arab countries? And if they change, will they be replaced by Nassers, free officers, or will they be replaced by Khomeinis and bin Ladens?² Arab people have finally had enough and there is eventually going to be a revolution, says Galloway, quoting Lenin to explain that ³there are decades when nothing happens, but there are weeks when decades happen, and I think that in these weeks decades have happened,² he said. The last straw would be an attack on Iraq: ³From the Atlantic to the Gulf, Arab public opinion can now see that despite 50 years of independence in most cases, despite a bounty of uncountable billions of dollars, despite having built up armed forces which aggregated are amongst the worldıs most significant, their system is incapable or unwilling or both of fulfilling even the minimum national duties.² Israelıs latest assault on the Palestinians had only given the latter more resolve. While Galloway had seen bigger crimes in Lebanon, he felt Jenin was distinctive, describing the bravery of the defenders ³who fought until they could fight no more, not because they ran out of courage or ran out of men, but because they ran out of ammunition. And they ran out of ammunition because the Arab regimes sealed and double-sealed their borders to stop a single bullet, or a single weapon, or a single volunteer from the millions that were on the streets of the Arab cities demanding of their governments that if you canıt do anything to save the Palestinians, open your borders and let us go.² Galloway feels that the Palestinian people, far from defeated, are even more committed than before. ³I liken it to a woman who enters upon a process of labor. Once labor has begun, it must go forward, it canıt be reversed. It either goes forward to death or to new life. And thatıs the process on which the Palestinian millions are embarked. It may lead to death, they may never have their state, because nothing in history is guaranteed, but I am absolutely convinced that they will go forward trying until death if necessary.² But how did he find the Palestinian people felt about the circumstances which ended the siege of Bethlehem and (Palestinian President) Yasser Arafatıs own in Ramallah? Despite his friendship with him, Galloway could not possibly support ³his recent decisions of handing over the heroes of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who in the gloriest operation of the intifada, no suicide bomb, no pizza parlor, no collateral damage, cleanly executed a criminal fascist on occupied land, who was part of a Cabinet who had just murdered in cold blood their leader, Abu Ali Mustafa.² While handing these men over to British and American jailers had created bitterness, the decision on the Church of the Nativity was even more resented. ³This is the first time Palestinians themselves have negotiated the deportation from their own land of people whose only crime,ı and I use the word crime in quotes, was to defend their little town of Bethlehem and the birthplace of Jesus from an illegal, overwhelming violent occupation by foreign soldiers.² For Galloway, this now legitimized Israelıs deportation of captured Palestinian fighters. Such views seem to have irked John Malkovich, who decided he wanted to kill Galloway (and The Independentıs Mideast correspondent, Robert Fisk). Gallowayıs reaction was to pass the matter over to the Speaker of the House of Parliamnent and wonder whether Malkovich had been questioned by the police. ³It is remarkable that in the middle of a war on terrorism, an American citizen can get a visa to come to Britain, go to one of our ancient institutions, the Cambridge Union, and threaten to murder a member of British Parliament.² Such a threat will not make him any less outspoken, for ³it is a sine qua non of this democracy that members of Parliament must be free to speak their minds without fear of being killed,² a freedom that Galloway will surely continue using as long as he has causes to defend. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_2016000/2016044.st m * NAVY FRIGATE STOPS IRAQI SMUGGLERS BBC, 30th May Navy frigate HMS Portland has stopped an Iraqi ship trying to smuggle illegal oil supplies out of the country. It is the second such seizure by the warship in just over a month, while patrolling the Persian Gulf. During Wednesday night's operation Royal Marines boarded the Iraqi vessel hunting for weapons of mass destruction. They immediately took control, with the smugglers putting up "passive resistance", said the Ministry of Defence. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Commanding Officer Jonathan Handley of HMS Portland, said intelligence information first revealed the suspected smuggler was at large. He said: "I am really thrilled that we have a crack team on board and a very good intelligence network to detect these vessels leaving." A team of specialist Royal Marines went on board the "shabby tanker" first. It was their job to check for "arms, parts and weapons of mass destruction", said Mr Handley. They were followed by a second Royal Navy boarding team who conducted a full search and verified the occupants were smugglers. The vessel, MV Devo, had 3,100 tons of contraband diesel oil on board, the MoD said. It had broken the UN embargo which prohibits Iraq from selling its oil on the open market. Mr Handley said Iraqi smugglers were "trying to get some money for Saddam Hussein's private use". The seizure is the second the warship has made in just over a month while on patrols part of the International Maritime Intervention Force. In April it stopped a vessel carrying 1,500 tons of diesel fuel. Mr Handley told the Today programme he believed "very few" smugglers were now getting through, thanks to his teams' detection and intervention. "This is routine stuff but tiring, given the intense heat that they are experiencing," he added. An MOD spokesman said the vessel captured on Wednesday night would be handed over to the UN who would sell it for scrap and also sell its cargo to cover its costs. IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://www.dailystarnews.com/200205/28/n2052805.htm#BODY8 * INDONESIAN, INDIAN COS TO CARRY OUT GAS EXPLORATION IN IRAQ Daily Star (Bangladesh), 28th May Reuters, Baghdad: Iraq has signed contracts with Indian and Indonesian companies to carry out gas exploration in the country, Iraq's Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed said in remarks published on Sunday. "India's ONGC (Videsh Ltd) and Indonesia's Pertamina will start exploration work of natural gas in an area near the Iraqi border with Saudi Arabia and the area between Najaf and Kerbala in southern Iraq," Rasheed told the local weekly newspaper al-Raee. He said the two companies had already signed contracts with Iraq under an oil-for-food deal with the United Nations. The deal allows Iraq to sell oil to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian needs for the Iraqi people suffering from 12-year-old sanctions imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Rasheed gave no further details on the value and size of the two contracts. Last year an Indian industry official said that ONGC would sign a contract with Iraq for exploration of Block No. 8 in Iraq's western desert. INSIDE IRAQ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-307392,00.html?gavalidate * SADDAMıS MEN KILL 40 IN MOSQUE FIGHT by Marie Colvin Sunday Times, 26th May IRAQIS worshipping at one of Islamıs holiest shrines were attacked by Saddam Husseinıs security forces earlier this month in one of the worst recent examples of the oppression suffered daily by civilians living under his regime. While international attention remains largely focused on Saddamıs chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes, which threaten those outside his borders, little is known of the suffering of his population because the Iraqi president controls the countryıs media with his characteristic iron grip. However, news of his forcesı onslaught against worshippers at the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, which left up to 40 people dead, has filtered out because some survivors escaped to the relative freedom of Kurdistan, the no-fly zone patrolled by American and British planes in northern Iraq. The attack happened on the anniversary of the death of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Hussein was killed in the city of Karbala in the 7th century with 72 of his followers. He is particularly revered by followers of the Shiıite branch of Islam, who mark the anniversary with mourning rites that include beating themselves publicly to show their sorrow. Thousands of Iraqis travel each year to the blue-tiled mosque in Karbala, where Hussein is buried. This year, security forces were out in strength as worshippers converged on the city, which Iraqi observers believe is a sign of Saddamıs increasing worry about his restive Shiıite population. Saddam and his regime are Sunni, the minority branch of Islam in Iraq. In 1991, after Iraqıs defeat in the Gulf war, the Shiıite Muslims, who predominate in the south, led a revolt that was brutally crushed by the Republican Guard. Abu Fadi, whose full name is being withheld for fear of reprisals against his family, said by satellite telephone from Kurdistan that the security forces had made the journey to Karbala difficult before the violence at the mosque. Other Iraqi sources independently confirmed the events he described. He left his neighbourhood of Baghdad, a poor, largely Shiıite area, at 6am with his two sons, aged seven and five, and joined other men packed into a private minibus that was to travel to Karbala. The bus was twice stopped at checkpoints manned by a mixture of regular soldiers, members of the ruling Baıath party in their distinctive uniform and plainclothes security officials. Everyone in the bus was searched, as were others in the flood of vehicles heading south to Karbala, a journey that usually takes about an hour. Abu Fadi and his sons got as far as Aoun, seven miles short of Karbala, when they reached a barricade made with barrels and a long pole. It was manned by security forces, who barred the vehicles and told passengers they would ³continue at their own risk². ³I thought maybe I should turn back, because I had my two young sons with me,² Abu Fadi said. ³But we had already travelled so far, and I wanted to touch the shrine of Imam Hussein, so I said, Let us continue walking.ı Thousands of people did the same. The road was very crowded.² After little more than half a mile, the road became difficult to walk upon security forces had spread a thick layer of sand sprayed with water. Military vehicles drove by on the edge of the road, but did not turn people back. Abu Fadi and his sons finally reached the mosque at 1pm, after stopping to rest several times. As he neared the shrine, he grew frightened. Inside the mosque, soldiers were stationed with guns, a sacrilege that angered many in the crowd. When young men began beating their chests as a sign of the emotion they felt at nearing the burial place of Hussein, the soldiers attacked. ³They began beating the people with the butts of their Kalashnikovs and megwaor (sticks with nails embedded at the end),² Abu Fadi said. ³Everyone panicked. It seemed to me there was blood everywhere screams and blood.² He said he managed to crouch in an alcove where men leave their shoes when they enter the mosque. He saw at least seven people who he believes had been killed. ³One young man looked like he was sitting with his back to the wall but you could tell he was dead,² said Abu Fadi, whose shocked sons escaped with him. ³His head was bloodied and his eyes were staring open. He was not breathing.² Not a word of the incident was officially reported, but several sources in Karbala and Baghdad put the death toll at 40, based on reports from the hospitals in the city. ³The whole country has to celebrate the birthday of Saddam Hussein whether we want to or not,² said Abu Fadi. ³Why should I be prohibited from celebrating the death of my Imam Hussein, this holy man?² Iraqi sources said hit-and-run attacks on Saddamıs forces in the south had now increased to the point where even heavily armed Iraqi military convoys had stopped travelling at night. Opposition groups such as the Iraqi National Congress are working in exile to unseat Saddam. However, they believe that the population will need a firm sign of American military support before risking a general revolt. http://www.hindustantimes.com/nonfram/270502/detfor07.asp * SADDAM CRIES VICTORY Hindustani Times (from AFP), 26th May THE United Statesı policy on Iraq has failed and Baghdad has succeeded in rebuilding its infrastructure damaged in the 1991 Gulf War, President Saddam Hussein said in remarks published on Sunday. The United States "is starting to recognise its defeat because it wants, in fact, to finish off not only the economy but also the spirit of endurance of the Iraqis" by maintaining the embargo slapped on Baghdad for invading Kuwait in 1990, Saddam told the official press. Saddam, who was speaking on Saturday during a reception of navy officers and experts from the military industrialisation authority, added that the US "wanted to destroy this spirit, but it has failed." "All that has been destroyed has been rebuilt with our own means," he said in reference to the infrastructure damaged in bombing by the US-led international coalition during the 1991 Gulf War. This was recognised in the "leading American and British media," Saddam claimed, referring to articles which, according to him, put the standard of living in Iraq higher than that in Egypt. _______________________________________________ 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