The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
News, 1-8/6/02 (1) FINGER POINTING AT IRAQ * Lesson of Iraq's Mass Murder [This article is an expression of indignation over Iraqi use of chemical weapons and concern for its victims, so long as they happen to be Kurdish. Iranian victims are only mentioned in passing, but Iran, as we all know, is part of the axis of evil (so, presumably, were the Kurds when they were allied with Iran in the Iran/Iraq war). The authors complain that the gassing of the Kurds has never been properly investigated because of the UNıs respect for Iraqıs sovereignty over Southern Kurdistan. Which begs the question why the Americans and British who, we all know, are protectingı the Kurds, havenıt conducted their own investigation. And also why Iran hasnıt requested an investigation, though perhaps most of the Iraqi chemical attacks on Iranian soldiers occurred in Iraq, ie they were done in self defence. What means, we wonder, would the US or British deploy if the Martians actually succeeded in invading our territory? The indignation and concern (and frustration at the lack of adequate investigation) expressed in the article rather resembles the indignation and concern we express over US/UK use of conventionalı (!) weapons, including the consequences of depleted uranium. Perhaps we should get together ...] * Czech Ambassador Defends Meeting [The Czech insistence on maintaining this story is strange since none of these statements ever seem to bring forward any new evidence. One feels its part of a need to render themselves indispensable to the New World Order] * Report: Iraq Offered to Hand Over Terror Suspect [This and the next have already been sent to the list by Drew Hamre, who makes the relevant comment: Television journalist Leslie Stahl strikes again ... Stahl, you'll recall, was the journalist who elicited then-UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright's infamous "price is worth it" comment about the death of 500,000 Iraqi children associated with sanctions ... The 1993 WTC bombing is relevant to current attack-Iraq hysteria, because several proponents - chiefly Laurie Mylroie - has argued that Iraq was behind the bombing, or that it's sheltered conspirators. Stahl's report rips a hole in these arguments.ı The full transcript can be found on http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/06/02/60minutes/main510847.shtml] * US names 'mastermind' of twin tower attacks [This will almost certainly reactivate the Laurie Mylroie thesis of an Iraqi connection to Sept 11 via the 1993 WTC bombing. On the other hand it could imply the intriguing possibility that OBL and Al-Qaida werenıt in fact responsible for the US Embassy bombings or for Sept 11.] * Delhi company fuelled Iraq's weapons system: Daily [This is the closest Iıve yet seen to evidence that Iraq is developing a WMD facility. Why is more not being made of it?] IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Iraq Says Kampala Government Paid US $1m Out of $10m Debt * Russia can't please Iran, Iraq and America [How Russia can crawl to the US, betray its friends and still preserve some shreds of an appearance of national dignity.] IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Iraqi aid money wins Palestinian hearts * MPs lead delegation on trip to Iraq * Pentagon to sell advanced missiles to Kuwait [A flagrant example of weapons proliferation, justified because "Kuwait is threatened by hostile neighbors with credible air, land and sea forces." Well, yes, it does seem that Iraq still has two Scud missiles that havenıt been accounted for ... But perhaps the reference is to Iran. is there any sign that Iran hjas any aggressive intentions against Kuwait? Why should the Kuwaitis allow themselves to play this idiotic and dangerous game?] * IRAN DIARY, Part 7: It's the economy, Ayatollah [Pepe Escobar. Description of how the Iranian economy works and why it is unlikely that Khatami will get very far in reforming it.] * New trade rules will transform Arab economyı [On the efforts to build an Arab free trade zone] * Saddam Sends Telegram of Condolences to Syria Over Dam Collapse FINGER POINTING AT IRAQ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42671-2002May31.html * LESSON OF IRAQ'S MASS MURDER by Christine Gosden and Mike Amitay Washington Post, 2nd June (sic. posted 31st May?) The Sept. 11 attacks and anthrax aftermath have forced Americans to confront the terrible reality that we are vulnerable to chemical, biological or radiological weapons. Enormous resources are being allocated to help law enforcement, health officials and local communities devise effective responses to unprecedented threats. Public health vigilance and responses to threats from infectious agents have advanced, but chemical agents, radiological weapons and biological toxins pose different threats and can cause severe long-term effects, such as cancer. We should be better prepared for threats these weapons pose, especially since we are not the first people terrorized by such weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and his advisers repeatedly remind us that Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the people of Iraq. Indeed, from April 1987 to October 1988 the Iraqi regime attacked 4 million people in Iraqi Kurdistan (northern Iraq) by using combinations of nerve agents, mustard gas and possibly biological and radiological weapons on scores of Kurdish towns and villages. The attacks aimed to subjugate and punish those who supported Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. In the most publicized attack, the town of Halabja was bombarded with mustard gas and nerve agents, killing 5,000 people immediately and severely injuring tens of thousands of others. Today, 14 years later, the attacks continue to exert long-term effects through cancers, congenital malformations and infant deaths. Yet not only have the United States and the international community failed to address the humanitarian and environmental consequences of the attacks, they have also failed to consider the implications for their own domestic preparedness. Four fundamental questions should have been answered following these tragic exposures to weapons of mass destruction (WMD): What agents were used? What are the most effective means of monitoring environment and people to remove threats from persistent weapons agents? What are the most effective means of researching immediate and long-term effects of different agents? What are the most effective means of developing effective therapies for victims? Only when these questions are answered can we respond effectively to WMD threats. A first priority is to establish which agents may have been used in Iraq. Although this seems a fundamental step, in practice it is more complex. The keystone of the U.N. system is respect for the sovereignty of governments, and international agencies charged with testing must await requests from governments to investigate possible WMD use. Since the government of Iraq has not requested an investigation into attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan, there is only fragmentary forensic evidence, rather than systematic test results. A small U.N. team examined sites along the Iran-Iraq border, and Physicians for Human Rights gathered samples from a single site near the Turkish border. These confirmed the presence of mustard gas and the nerve agents sarin and tabun. But for Halabja, the site of one of the world's largest WMD attacks, there has still been no systematic testing. A second step is to monitor attack sites and surrounding areas to determine persistence of any weapons agents in the environment. All told, some 250,000 civilians may have been directly exposed during attacks and many more affected by contamination of the environment and water table and by lasting effects on animals and food chains. Many others may have been exposed at varying levels during the Iran-Iraq war and in punitive attacks against dissident groups in southern Iraq. The attacks occurred as the Iraqi military was testing, weaponizing and stockpiling a wide range of agents, including anthrax, smallpox, plague, botulinum toxin, aflatoxin, mustard gas and nerve gases such as sarin and VX. Some chemical weapons and biological toxins, such as nuclear and radiological weapons, damage the human genome, causing cancers in those exposed and birth defects and cancers in children born years later. Severe health problems reported throughout Iraq and in neighboring countries suggest environmental damage may be widespread. Yet there is an appalling lack of detailed scientific information on damage to people and their environment. A third priority is to identify the short- and long-term medical problems associated with each weapon. The terrible long-term effects of mustard gas have been observed in World War I victims, World War II poison gas factory workers, U.S. military test chamber volunteers and Iranian soldiers exposed during the Iran-Iraq war. Long-term effects include laryngeal, pharyngeal and lung cancers, corneal burns causing blindness, severe skin burns predisposing to skin cancer, neurological and psychiatric disorders, infertility and birth defects. A significant proportion of survivors of nerve gas (sarin) attacks on the Tokyo subway suffer from long-term neurological disorders. Immediate deaths from WMD are the tip of a lethal iceberg; the 90 percent or so who survive, face slow and lingering deaths or severe disability. The fourth lesson, vital to overcoming threats, is to develop effective methods for treating victims. Civilian populations, as the Kurds exemplify, are extremely vulnerable to WMD attacks, lacking gas masks, other protections and effective methods for personal and environmental decontamination. The major contrast between Iraqi Kurds and potential survivors of WMD in the United States is that in Kurdistan, the survivors are currently dying from cancers without benefit of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or pain relief in terminal stages, whereas in the United States such treatment would likely be available. Yet even if treatment responses were available, it is unclear whether conventional approaches are effective in exposed populations, as few evidence-based studies have been conducted among civilians exposed to WMD. Before the answers to these important questions can be found, adequate medical and humanitarian assistance must be extended to survivors, without which it would be unethical to conduct studies, environmental assessments and medical research necessary to learn from this tragedy. The experience of people in Iraqi Kurdistan is a terrifying example of what happens when a civilian population is unprepared for a chemical weapons attack. The people there continue to live in terror of Iraqi unconventional weapons attacks, just as they live with death and disease resulting from their previous exposures. Now is the time not simply to cite them as victims but also to question the wisdom of our own shortsightedness and lack of compassion, because to aid their survival is to benefit all those at risk from threats of WMD. Christine Gosden is a professor of medical genetics at the University of Liverpool who works at Liverpool Women's Hospital. Mike Amitay is executive director of the Washington Kurdish Institute. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-eur/2002/jun/04/060407870.html * CZECH AMBASSADOR DEFENDS MEETING Las Vegas Sun, 4th June UNITED NATIONS- Despite U.S. denials, the Czech government stands by its account that a suspected Iraqi intelligence agent met Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta in Prague last year, a senior Czech diplomat said Tuesday. Czech officials revealed details about the meeting shortly after the terrorist attacks on the United States. But U.S. intelligence officials said in April that they no longer believed Atta met with Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, who served at the Iraqi embassy in Prague before he was expelled. "Atta and al-Ani met," Czech U.N. Ambassador Hynek Kmonicek said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The meeting took place as confirmed by the interior minister last fall," he said. Kmonicek also spoke with the Prague Post in an interview which was published on the newspaper's Web site on Tuesday. Some Czech officials said initially that Atta had contacted al-Ani to discuss an attack on the Prague building that serves as the headquarters for U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Czech authorities appeared to backtrack at the end of last year, but now stand by the story. In Prague, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil said Kmonicek's remarks were consistent with what the government has been saying since October - that it has information that Atta and al-Ani met at least once in Prague. "The ambassador only repeated the position held by Czech authorities, which is based on an analysis available to the interior ministry," Pospisil said. Some observers said the meeting suggested Iraq's complicity in the Sept. 11 attacks - providing the United States with a reason to attack Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi government denied the meeting occurred and said the reports were fabricated to justify making Iraq a target in the U.S.-led war on terror. Kmonicek, who once directed the Foreign Ministry's Middle East department, was acting foreign minister when al-Ani was expelled from the Czech Republic on April 22, 2001. "He was engaging in activities beyond and outside his diplomatic duties," Kmonicek said. He said he called in the Iraqi charge d'affaires and informed him al-Ani was being kicked out of the country. The expulsion took place just weeks after Atta and al-Ani met but Kmonicek said the connection was only discovered after Sept. 11. Atta is thought to have been the ringleader of the 19 hijackers who carried out the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/news/news-iraq-usa-suspect.html?pagewanted=pr int&position=top * REPORT: IRAQ OFFERED TO HAND OVER TERROR SUSPECT New York Times, 2nd June WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq is holding accused World Trade Center bomber Abdul Rahman Yasin in jail and has made two offers to hand him over to the United States but was rejected both times, the CBS News program ``60 Minutes'' reported on Sunday. CBS broadcast excerpts of an interview with Yasin, who is on the FBI's list of 22 most wanted terrorists, which it conducted last month at the Baghdad prison where the Iraqis told the network he had been held for eight years. Yasin, born in the United States of Iraqi parents, moved to Iraq days after being questioned and released by the FBI in connection with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in which six people were killed. His presence in Iraq has been cited as possibly bolstering any case the Bush administration might make for a military attack on the country, which the U.S. president has accused of being part of an ``axis of evil.'' Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told ``60 Minutes'' Baghdad had made two offers to return Yasin to the United States, first in 1994 during the Clinton administration and again after the Sept. 11 attacks. ``Twice, we ask them to come and take him. They refused,'' Aziz said. He said Iraq wanted to give up Yasin as proof that it had no involvement in either the 1993 bombing or the Sept. 11 attacks that killed about 3,000 people. Yasin, who has a $25 million reward on his head, was the only suspect in the 1993 case to elude the U.S. justice system. The man believed to have been the mastermind of the bombing, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, has been jailed for life in Colorado. Aziz said Iraq made its second approach to Washington through a third party ``in October 2001 to tell the Americans that Yasin is in Iraq'' to counter U.S. suspicions that it had a hand in the Sept. 11 attacks. He said the Iraqis themselves were suspicious about why U.S. authorities had allowed Yasin to leave the country after questioning him. ``We fear that -- sending Yasin back to Iraq, after ... interrogating him, was a sting operation,'' Aziz said. ``To tell people later on, look, this man who participated in that event now is in Iraq, etc., and use it as they are doing now, using many false pretexts, you see, to hurt Iraq in their own way.'' CBS quoted an FBI agent who was involved in the 1993 bombing probe that Yasin had provided useful information but had been released because the agency did not have enough evidence against him. Aziz said Yasin, who has not been charged with a crime in Iraq, had not been turned over to the United States because Washington refused to sign a receipt for his delivery. CBS said neither the White House or the State Department had agreed to comment on Aziz's remarks. But a U.S. intelligence official told the network that Iraq's offer came with ``extreme conditions,'' including demands that the United States sign a lengthy document concerning Yasin's whereabouts since 1993. ``We refused to sign because we believe their version was inaccurate,'' the official said. Yasin told CBS that Ramzi Yousef's original plan had been to plant bombs in Jewish neighborhoods in the New York borough of Brooklyn. ``I am very sorry for what happened,'' he said. ``I don't know what to do to make it up. My father died because of pain and sadness. It caused many troubles. I don't know how to apologize for it.'' http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=302573 * US NAMES 'MASTERMIND' OF TWIN TOWER ATTACKS by Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles Independent, 6th June American officials said yesterday they had identified a new candidate as the possible mastermind of the 11 September attacks. He was identified as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Kuwaiti-born member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida organisation who is a blood relative of Ramzi Yousef, who was involved in the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Centre in 1993. The officials said they believed Mr Mohammed was at large somewhere in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He had previously been implicated in the thwarted attempt by Yousef and others to blow up 12 airliners above the Pacific Ocean in 1995 and there were suspicions he was involved in the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. It was, however, never previously known for sure that Mr Mohammed was involved with al-Qa'ida, let alone at such a high level. New information, suggesting he was deeply involved in the operational and financial planning of the 11 September attacks, came largely from captured al- Qa'ida members, including Abu Zubeida, one of Osama bin Laden's lieutenants who has been talking to US authorities since being captured in Pakistan in March. It is now believed Mr Mohammed had more to do with 11 September than Mr bin Laden. "It looks like he's the man, quite honestly," a Bush administration official told the Los Angeles Times. "We believe he is probably the leader of this. We have reason to believe it was his idea to create the plan for the four hijackings and discussed the plan with ... bin Laden." If the officials are right and they say they have cross-checked their information since first hearing about Mr Mohammed's role from the captured fighters then they will have discovered the first truly compelling link between al-Qa'ida and Ramzi Yousef, who is in a maximum-security prison in America. There was always a tremendous amount of circumstantial evidence to suggest the two attacks on the World Trade Centre were conceived by the same group of people but no concrete link. Yousef has never talked, and there has been much speculation about his true identity whether he is a Kuwaiti-born Pakistani, as Mr Mohammed appears to be, or whether he stole the identity of a Kuwaiti-born Pakistani during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990-91 and is, in fact, somebody completely different. Some hawks in the Bush administration, anxious to launch a military invasion of Iraq, believe Yousef is an Iraqi agent and that the man ultimately responsible for many of the terror plots of the past decade is Saddam Hussein. The decision to go public with their information might have been prompted by the criticisms levelled at the Bush administration and intelligence services over their failure to prevent the 11 September attacks and the slow progress made in the investigation. Mr Mohammed, who is believed to be 36 or 37, has been on the US list of most wanted terrorists since Decemberalthough he was initially mentioned only in connection with the 1995 airliner plot. The officials did not specify what his relationship was to Yousef, who is serving a life sentence in the federal "super-maximum security" prison in Florence, Colorado, for his part in the earlier terror attacks. http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/16155913.htm * DELHI COMPANY FUELLED IRAQ'S WEAPONS SYSTEM: DAILY New Delhi, June 6, IRNA -- Iraq is suspected to have bought a huge quantity of weapons-grade titanium and aluminum for its chemical weapons and missile program from India, press said Thursday. According to Hindustan Times, a New Delhi-based English daily, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence's (DRI) investigations reveals that the exports were illegally made by the Delhi-based NEC Engineers Pvt. Ltd. The general manager of the company K.C.Dhir has been remanded in judicial custody. India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and experts consulted by the DRI are believed to have said that the quality and quantity of the exports indicate they were meant for weapons production. Between September 1998 and February 2001, the firm exported 10 consignments worth $7,91,343. The shipments comprised of titanium vessels, titanium centrifugal pumps, atomized and spherical aluminum powder and titanium anodes. Exports of these products are banned without the government's permission. Beside exporting the metals without permission, the company is also alleged to have wrongly declared the contents of the consignments and had floated front companies to evade customs. While the company declared the consignments were bound for Dubai and Jordan, they were diverted to Iraq. Teams of technicians from NEC Engineers regularly visited Baghdad when shipments were sent. Dhir's counsel says the allegations are baseless. "The company had permission to export," he says. IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://allafrica.com/stories/200206040197.html * IRAQ SAYS KAMPALA GOVERNMENT PAID US $1M OUT OF $10M DEBT New Vision (Kampala), 4th June THE Iraq Fund informed court recently that the government paid back US$1,960,278.00 (about sh3,518,699,010) on a loan obtained in 1975 for industrial development. Juliet Nankinga reports that Iraq sued the government for the recovery of an outstanding loan of US$10,964,354 given in two phases 27 years ago. In its defence, the Government claimed that the outstanding loan was US$5,847,507.90 and not US$10,964,354 (about sh17b). the case is before Commercial Court Judge Okumu Wengi. Cheborion Barishaki, a Commissioner for Litigation and Charles Odere representing the Iraq Fund, closed their case and are due to file their submissions. Youssouf Moussa, an Iraqi representative in Africa based in Dar- es-salaam, Tanzania, told court that his government extended a loan facility on soft terms for the purpose of financing industrial projects in Uganda but it has never been paid back. Court heard that the Iraq government sought to have the loan repaid through the export of locally produced goods to Iraq but the Ugandan government rejected the proposal. http://www.iht.com/articles/59987.html * RUSSIA CAN'T PLEASE IRAN, IRAQ AND AMERICA by Stephen Sestanovich International Herald Tribune (from The New York Times), 4th June WASHINGTON:Iran and Iraq have created problems in Russian-American relations for years. In the last decade both have had good relations with Russia while the United States has considered them enemies. U.S. officials have long complained that Russian diplomats shield Iraq from pressure in the United Nations. George Tenet recently told Congress that Iran still gets "significant" Russian help on long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. The new amity between Moscow and Washington, which Vladimir Putin surely wants to preserve, gives him reason to help George W. Bush. So Putin is repositioning himself - but only a little. Russian diplomats, who last year blocked revisions to the international sanctions imposed on Iraq, have joined with the United States to put a revised program in place. Where they used to say Iraq needs assurances that sanctions would be lifted if Iraq met international demands, the Russians now emphasize Iraq's obligation to show that it has no weapons of mass destruction. Russia's handling of Iran also hints at change. After Bush's "axis of evil" speech in January, Putin quickly canceled a visit to Moscow by the Iranian foreign minister. Recently he broke with Tehran on territorial control of the Caspian Sea, siding for the first time with other energy-producing states in the region. And in Moscow, Putin offered what Bush called "comforting" assurances about safeguards for the nuclear reactor that Russia is building in the Iranian city of Bushehr. These steps are a start, but they do not wrest control from Russian domestic interests that benefit most from keeping Russian policy on Iran and Iraq as it is. Russian companies have by far the largest share of Iraqi trade under the United Nations' oil-for-food program, and Iraqi officials admit that this favoritism has only one purpose: to buy Russian support. Saddam Hussein has also offered Russian companies the rights to vast future energy development projects - worth, Russians boast, as much as $60 billion. That is why Russian oil and gas companies and major exporters to Iraq want Putin to maintain Iraq's favor by making sure that inspections do not threaten Saddam. Meanwhile, the Russian nuclear power industry wants him to keep Iran's favor by making sure that restrictions at Bushehr do not block covert nuclear cooperation. So far both groups are getting what they want. Russian officials tell Americans they are ready to discuss ways to ensure that the Bushehr reactor does not help Iran's nuclear weapons program. But the offer is irrelevant as long as Russia provides Iran dangerous nuclear assistance outside of the Bushehr project - and denies it. The Bush administration may not be willing to put up with double-dealing on this issue for very long. Putin can't be happy with the box he is in. If he yields to pressure from Bush, he gives an opening to critics who say he lets Washington push him around. But rejecting U.S. concerns, which some of his advisers clearly favor, takes the shine off a relationship that is now the centerpiece of Russian foreign policy. There is a way to ease Putin's predicament that could help him avert a clash with Washington without seeming to embrace American policy outright: He can close the gap between Russian actions and Russian rhetoric. If Russian diplomats became unyielding advocates of an exhaustive and unconditional inspections regime in Iraq - and showed they meant it - they would not be doing Washington's bidding but carrying out their own stated policy. And if Putin stopped letting the nuclear power establishment provide dangerous technology to Iran - something he says he opposes - he would be enforcing official Russian policy. Neither Tehran nor Baghdad will like Russian policies that mean what they say. Saddam may retaliate by ending the favoritism that Russian companies now enjoy. The Iranians may say that if the flow of illicit technology is cut off they will cut back their legitimate trade with Russia, too. Standing up to Russian business interests will carry political costs for Putin. But by doing so, he can enhance American confidence in the new partnership with Russia - perhaps enough to get Washington to discuss how Russia's economic sacrifices should be recognized. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor of international diplomacy at Columbia. He contributed this comment to The New York Times. IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www2.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&eid=1176122 * IRAQI AID MONEY WINS PALESTINIAN HEARTS by Nidal al-Mughrabi Swissinfo (from Reuters), 1st June RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's popularity has soared among Palestinians thanks to the millions of dollars he has funnelled to families who have lost menfolk waging an uprising against Israeli occupation. Many Palestinians fault Arab leaders for failing to extend them practical support in their 20-month-old revolt, and Saddam is regarded as a tyrant in Israel and the West, but he gets high marks from people like Rawheya Elian. Elian, a mother of seven whose husband was killed last September near a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, typifies thousands of bereaved Palestinians getting money from Iraq. "It's an unfair world," said Elian, who plans to use her $10,000 compensation (6,890 pounds) to renovate her two-room house in the Rafah refugee camp, scene of frequent Israeli-Palestinian violence. "I want to know who is the terrorist," she said. "Is it Saddam Hussein, who helps the orphans, or (Israeli Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon and (U.S. President) George Bush, who kill the children of Palestine and Afghanistan?" Pro-Iraqi Palestinian officials say Iraq has paid at least $5 million to Gaza families whose relatives have been killed. Israel has accused Saudi Arabia and Iraq of compensating the families of suicide bombers who have killed scores of Israelis. It says this amounts to incitement to kill Israelis and regards Iraq as one of the main threats to stability in the Middle East. Palestinian officials say the money goes to the families of all people killed, whether they are militants or civilians. Ahmed Bahar, chairman of a main Islamic charity in the Gaza Strip, said it receives money from non-governmental charities worldwide, including some based in Saudi Arabia, and it goes to orphans, the wounded, prisoners and needy families. "The target is orphans, all orphans, even those whose fathers had been killed because they collaborated with Israel," he told Reuters. "Therefore the accusations by the Zionists are unfounded and baseless." The Saudi government, along with other international donors such as the European Union, provides financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Israel says President Yasser Arafat diverts some of this money to factions involved in violence. Iraqi flags and posters of Saddam, popular with Palestinians for his defiance of Israel's main ally the United States, are a common sight at Palestinian rallies in support of the uprising. Saddam won acclaim among Palestinians and many other Arabs during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis when he fired Scud missiles at Israel and sought to make any Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait conditional on an Israeli pullout from occupied Arab land. Apart from providing money for the relatives of suicide bombers, Iraq has financed the re-housing of dozens of families whose homes were demolished deliberately by the Israeli army. Ibrahim al-Za'anin, an official of the pro-Iraqi Arab Liberation Front, said every family that looses a son in battle with Israeli troops gets $10,000. Relatives of a Palestinian who carries out a suicide attack get $25,000. "President Saddam made clear that (such) attacks must be considered the utmost act of 'martyrdom'," Za'anin said. "Iraq is not looking for fame. With these gifts, Iraq wants to tell Palestinians that it stands beside their struggle for freedom." Za'anin said Iraq had paid $25,000 to each family that lost its home when the Israeli army bulldozed scores of buildings in the Jenin refugee camp in a battle with militants last month. "Usually every homeless family gets $5,000 but Jenin won special status because of its steadfastness and now-legendary resistance to Israeli occupation forces," Za'anin said. The payments represent fabulous sums relative to the abject poverty into which many Palestinians have been thrust since the uprising flared in September 2000. A recent World Bank study found that half of the people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were living below a poverty line defined as an income of less than $2 a day. The Arab Liberation Front has distributed money at ceremonies to honour the dead in Gaza and the West Bank, such as one on May 20, when its representatives handed out $500,000 to 48 grieving families in Khan Younis and Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Each family received $10,000 except for $50,000 divided between two families whose sons died on a joint suicide mission against a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. The crowd waved Palestinian and Iraqi flags and held posters of the Iraqi leader. "Dear Saddam, bomb Tel Aviv," they chanted. The father of Musa'ad Daoud, who was killed attacking soldiers guarding a Jewish settlement, said he would spend his $10,000 cheque on medical treatment for himself and his brother. "We wish all Arab leaders acted like Saddam. It is not an issue of money but respect and appreciation for our struggle," he said. Every family of a "martyr" also gets a certificate of honour from Iraq's ruling Baath party that reads: "The enemy will be defeated in the face of your blessed will." Sharon told Bush when they met earlier this month that Saudi Arabia funded the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Ahmed al-Kurd, chairman of al-Salah Islamic association, said such claims were intended to deter charities in the Arab world and in the West from supporting the Palestinians. "Just like Christians and any international charity in the world, Islamic charities have only one humanitarian goal -- to help the needy regardless of their identity, nationality or religion," he told Reuters. He recalled that before the creation of the Palestinian Authority under the 1993 interim peace accords with Israel, similar social and humanitarian work was carried out by Israel's civil administration of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Kurd said Sharon's accusations against Saudi Arabia were "fabrications and lies". Saudi Arabia has been a key financial backer of Palestinians during their 54-year-old conflict with Israel and raised its diplomatic profile recently when Crown Prince Abdullah proposed a peace plan offering Israel normal ties with Arab states if it vacated occupied lands. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/04_06_02/art25.asp * MPS LEAD DELEGATION ON TRIP TO IRAQ Daily Star (Lebanon), 4th June A Lebanese delegation on Monday left for Iraqon a six-day trip during which it is expected to hold talks with Iraqi officials, including that countryıs parliamentary speaker, Saadoun Hammadi, and other officials. The delegation included Metn MP Antoine Haddad, Rashaya MP Faisal Daoud, Akkar MP Mohammed Yehya, Jezzine MP George Najm, and Beirut MP Ghinwa Jalloul as well as two consultants - Fares Saad and Joseph Sebaali. The visit is aimed at ³strengthening relations between the two countries with regard to various legislative issues,² Haddad told reporters before leaving for Baghdad. During the visit, the delegation will also work to consolidate³Lebanonıs solidarity with Iraq and condemn the siege it has been facing² under UN sanctions, Haddad added. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2002/06/04/kuwait-missiles.htm * PENTAGON TO SELL ADVANCED MISSILES TO KUWAIT USA Today, 4th June WASHINGTON (AP) The Pentagon is planning to sell Kuwait advanced air-to-air missiles to help the country protect itself against what the Defense Department called "hostile neighbors." The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Tuesday it had notified Congress that it plans a $58 million deal that would include 80 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), launch equipment, training missiles, software updates and other related equipment and services. The system allows a fighter pilot to launch the weapon from beyond visual range of his target. It also provides a greater capability to attack low-altitude targets. "Kuwait is threatened by hostile neighbors with credible air, land and sea forces," the DSCA said in a statement. "While the nation depends on external support, the Kuwaiti Air Force must have adequate ... capabilities to protect its vital resources during the early part of a possible invasion until allies can arrive with reinforcements." Small, oil-rich Kuwait is a strong ally of Washington, which led the international coalition that fought the 1991 Gulf War to end the seven-month Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Kuwait still depends on its Western allies, mainly the United States and Britain, for defense. U.S. and British war planes fly from Kuwait to patrol a no-fly zone over southern Iraq established after the war to protect the Shiite Iraqi opposition from Iraqi troops. http://atimes.com/front/DF05Aa03.html * IRAN DIARY, PART 7: IT'S THE ECONOMY, AYATOLLAH by Pepe Escobar Asia Times, 5th June TEHRAN - Iran holds about 9 percent of proven world oil reserves. Twenty-three years after the Islamic revolution in 1979, the main problem of the Iranian economy remains its dependence on oil revenues. The state is ubiquitous - and mostly inefficient - as it distributes the revenues generated by a highly concentrated industrial sector. The bottom line is that the whole Iranian economy still depends on the price of a barrel of oil. Gas and gasoline cost practically nothing in Iran. But internal consumption is increasingly absorbing more production - now more than a third of the total. And oil installations need to be modernized. The only way to do it is with the help of foreign investment. After the revolution and the eight-year Iran-Iraq war that followed soon afterwards, industrial production was roughly cut in half, and so was the oil revenue per person - because of the demographic explosion. The war was literally a disaster for Iran. Most of the oil revenue went to the war machine - a factor that also justified high state centralization. Meanwhile, the industrial structure was falling to pieces. There was absolutely no investment. The traditional private sector in Iran has always been what Iranians as a whole call the bazaar. But the bazaar never invested in production. The bazaar is pure speculation: so how could it not be in favor of state centralization, which handed the bazaar endless opportunities for increasing speculation. The bazaar never wanted less, but more state support, including low taxes, so that it could feel free to speculate with gold, with the dollar, with real estate, with products imported from the West or those made in Iran, such as Peykan and Peugeot cars. The state in Iran subsidizes basic products sold in state-sponsored malls - available to the general public or to a particular sector of the population, like families of martyrs. This redistribution sort of compensates the social revolution that in fact never happened in Iran. One of its side effects is that it does not offer any incentives for productive investment. A lot of people in Iran - about 35 percent of the active population - seem to be state employees. According to professors who agreed to speak to Asia Times Online off the record, these people have no other option than to settle for these low salaries because after the revolution the regression of industrial development was nothing less than drastic. There are many causes for the regression: the effects of the war; massive state intervention; speculation; bureaucratic corruption; and the brain drain of intellectuals, engineers, captains of industry. More foreign investment would be an excellent solution. But comparing Ministry of Industry numbers with other developing countries, one finds out that foreign investment per person is 35 times as high as in Mexico, almost 120 times as high as in Malaysia, and almost 170 times as high as in China. The "Islamic economy" has not really transformed the Iranian economy. It's more like a code to apply more state control or to develop certain parts of the private sector. No less than 40 percent of the Iranian gross national product (GNP) is under the control of the so-called foundations - bonyad - which themselves are outside any government control. One of them - the Foundation for the Disinherited - controls more than 400 companies, and is the largest conglomerate in the Middle East. It is not public, nor private. In fact, it is public, but not state-controlled. This foundation is responsible for nothing less than 28 percent of textile products, 42 percent of cement, 45 percent of non-alcoholic beverages, 28 percent of tires and 25 percent of sugar consumed in Iran. The bonyad were created immediately after the revolution to manage confiscated wealth. They used to be the ultimate instrument of social and economic advance for the revolutionary elite. They operate like holding companies - managing hotels, airline companies, publications. No institution in Iran even today would be able to force then to be more transparent: this would require tremendous political mobilization. The people who direct these foundations are more or less invisible. They don't belong to an economic elite, like in many European countries, but among those who were involved in the war in the Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran). The foundations are under the direct control of the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Ali Hoseini Khamenei. So no wonder that they are in direct contradiction with the reformist movement of President Mohammad Khatami, and even with the bazaar. Parts of the bazaar want to reinvest in the productive sector. But they simply cannot compete with what they consider the unfair privileges of the foundations. Khatami was elected president in 1997, promising, among other things, economic liberalization. But Khatami is not exactly interested in economics. And neither are those who support him. The Islamic left may be pro-democracy, but still believes in the economic power of the state. Technocrats threaten at the most to increase taxes to force the private sector to move. And the more liberal parts of the bazaar are still very cozy with the conservatives. An informal inquiry in the bazaar will reveal that merchants are most of all against the absurd privileges enjoyed by the foundations. They also want a more calibrated foreign policy - and the end of the American sanctions. This is exactly what the Iranian diaspora in the US also wants - because they are itching to invest again in Iran. More liberalization will inevitably lead to more realistic prices - and thus further and brutal impoverishment of a population that at least now has access to subsidized oil, gas, bread and a few basic products. But even with more liberalization there won't be a group of Iranian entrepreneurs capable of driving the economic development train. And to increase the state budget - apart from oil revenues - Iran would need to collect more taxes. Seventy percent of the productive population simply does not pay taxes - and this includes all of the crucial foundations. Critics - internal and external - may complain that reforms in Iran are too slow. In fact, the reformists are not in a position to dismantle a whole system of collusion - involving the foundations, a plethora of subsidies and access to foreign currency. This system is operated by the social base of the Islamic regime - the conservatives. So far, liberal initiatives have been only cosmetic - like the possibility for nouveaux riches to have access to new markets, such as the pleasant island of Kish in the Persian Gulf, one of the new Iranian free zones. Mousa Ghaninejad is an economics teacher at the Oil University. His analysis confirms all the main points of this survey. He says, "For years we have been producing below capacity and wasting our assets - especially in the energy sector. Currently, the economy is in a relatively good shape only due to high oil revenues." Mousa recognizes that certain reforms at least took place, "such as the amendment to the taxation laws, the formation of the single-tier hard currency system and the establishment of a private banking system". But he acknowledges that the pace of reform is excruciatingly slow. "They only now have reached the conclusion that we must pursue a free market economy." There is a lot of hesitation in moving forward "because the reformists are short of planning schemes and merely give out the slogan of freedom", Mousa says, adding, "the spirit of competition does not have any place and everything is summed up in oil revenues". For the moment, he does not believe it is possible to change the mentality of Iranian officialdom. So the winds of liberalization in Iran are still not blowing towards the productive sector. Pure speculation is still king - like real estate speculation in Tehran, where land is very expensive, although with no relation with the degree of economic activity. The foundations, above all, are benefiting from privatization. Is there a solution? Yes: more political opening, which would attract foreign investment, and investment from the Iranian diaspora. This is the only way to undermine the privileges enjoyed by the elite of the Islamic regime. The ball, once again, is in President Khatami's and the parliament's court. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/business/05_06_02_c.htm * NEW TRADE RULES WILL TRANSFORM ARAB ECONOMYı by Dania Saadi Daily Star, Lebanon, 5th June Some people call it AFTA while others refer to it as GAFTA, and now the agreement will probably be known as PAFTA. But these acronyms share a common denominator - an effort to create an Arab free trade zone by 2005. The series of understandings which first began in the 1980s with the Arab Free Trade Agreement are all a bid to ultimately create a united Arab economy - with some 14 countries enjoying the liberalization of the industrial and agricultural sectors. In the last Arab summit, which took place in Beirut earlier this year, Arab leaders agreed to include a wide range of new issues on the Arab economic agenda, such as the liberalization of services. Now officials from the public and private sectors are preparing for 2005 and are working to resolve a list of obstacles that have slowed down the economic integration process. ³By the end of this year, we hope to conclude the detailed identification of the country of origin rules and remove all exemptions on tariffs cuts,² said Muatasem Suleiman, director of the Finance, Trade and Investment Department at the Social Economic Council in the Cairo-based Arab League. The country of origin rules, which define the origin of raw materials that go into making a product, are important because they allow Arab goods to enjoy tariff-free access in the Arab trade zone. The Arab countries who have started to implement tariff reductions on industrial goods, which are expected to reach zero by 2005, have agreed on a general formula to provide preferential treatment for Arab goods that have a 40 percent value-added component. ³We need country of origin rules to prohibit foreign (non-Arab) goods from benefiting from preferential treatment inside the Arab free trade area,² explained Suleiman. The rules also define the power of regional blocs. The European Union, which started off with a coal and steel coalition in 1950s, has developed into a global bloc selling its rules and standards to former Soviet-bloc countries. ³We need to have our own country of origin rules that serve our interests and adopting European Union rules does not necessarily work for us,² said Suleiman. For instance, officials overseeing the Arab free trade area have chosen a different set of rules for coffee beans. In the European Union, just roasting an imported bean inside the union gives it EU origin, but in the Arab world, the bean should be imported from an Arab country. ³The EU does not grow beans so it makes sense to just demand a simple roasting process,² Suleiman explained. ³However, in the Arab world, we need to protect Yemenıs bean production. If we were to use the EU rule, our markets could be swamped, letıs say by Brazilian beans, at the expense of our industry.² But agreeing on country of origin rules for products that are to enjoy tariff-free access inside the Arab free trade zone does not appear to be the only contentious issue. When the 14 countries agreed to drop their tariffs to zero, they chartered a wide-ranging list of exemptions to allow certain sensitive industries to acclimatize to free market access. ³By September of this year all exemptions should be dropped and countries will not be allowed to introduce new ones without a detailed explanation,² said Suleiman. ³Anyway the exemptions granted to Arab countries were temporary and were not allowed to exceed 15 percent of total inter-Arab trade volume on the ground, only 6 percent of total inter-Arab trade was subject to exemptions.² He argued that the World Trade Organization, which allows for the creation of regional blocs, allows exemptions for up to 20 percent of total inter-trade within regional blocs. ³For instance, the exemptions granted to Egypt on textiles within the Arab free trade area have already been secured from the WTO,² he added. He also brushed off official figures that put inter-Arab trade as low as 7 percent. ³This figure does not include Arab trade with (sanctions-hit) Iraq,² said Suleiman. ³If we are to take into consideration trade with Iraq, which is at least $2 billion, the figure would jump to over 10 percent. This figure will also increase if we are to exclude oil products.² Despite all criticism, the Arab free trade area has scored points in a number of countries, according to Suleiman. ³Omanıs trade volume with the Arab world has increased by 75 percent over the last three years due to the agreement,² he said. ³Can you believe that Oman is exporting fish to Tunisia, a marine-rich country?² The steps being taken for an eventual free trade area may be helping, but there still exists lingering problems within Arab countries, which would probably remain until 2005. ³Problems of standards and technical barriers will remain until the transitional period is over and we enter the free trade area in 2005,² said Suleiman. ³They will disappear completely with the creation of an Arab customs union.² http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200206/07/eng20020607_97323.shtml * SADDAM SENDS TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES TO SYRIA OVER DAM COLLAPSE People's Daily, 7th June Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Thursday sent a telegram of condolences to his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad over the human and material losses caused by the collapse of the Zeyzoun dam in Syria's northern Hama Province on Tuesday. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Thursday sent a telegram of condolences to his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad over the human and material losses caused by the collapse of the Zeyzoun dam in Syria's northern Hama Province on Tuesday. "We received with great sadness the news of the collapse of the Zeyzoun dam which caused the deaths of a number of our Syrian brothers as well as material losses," Saddam said in the telegram carried by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA). Saddam expressed in the telegram condolences to the Syrian president, the Syrian people and the victims' families, the INA said. Syrian media reported on Thursday that at lease 20 people were killed and four others missing in the dam collapse. Although Syria joined the United States-led multinational coalition army against Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, relations between the two countries, ruled by rival branches of the pan-Arab Baath party, have witnessed rapid development in recent years. _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk