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News, 1-8/6/02 (2) NO FLY ZONES * 3 reportedly injured in US-British air attack * Radar system bombed in Southern Iraq * Coalition Forces on Alert as They Patrol Northern No-Fly Zone in Iraq [Last week (Wisdom of Aerial Gameı With Hussein Comes Into Questionı, News, 25/5-1/6/02 (2)), we were told that the Turkish government wouldnıt allow bombing raids out of Incirlik. But here, in an article on pilots operating out of Incirlik, weıre told that the F-16 pilot's main objective is to hunt down active Iraqi launch sites for surface-to-air missiles, known as SAMs, and to destroy these sites if possible.ı The Kurds are almost reproached for their reluctance to act as a proxy force in the event of a US invasion despite being willing to shelter behind the protectionı offered by their kindly big brotherı - the phrase is used by the commanding general of Operation Northern Watch. The article begins with a reference to The U.S., British, and Turkish coalition enforcing the no-fly zone over northern Iraqı. Does this mean that the Turkish military effort to bomb the Kurds is now fully incorporated into the US/British pretense at protecting them?] * Iraq reportedly steps up bid to down U.S., British warplanes [Geoff Hoon, justifying an earlier statement that Iraq is more of a threat than it used to be.] OIL/GAS POLITICS * BAGHDAD: Exports on hold * Pracsi set to commission $7m project in Iraq [Long overdue refurbishment of the oil infrastructure. How long before it all gets blown up again? Not that Pracsi will mind, so long as they get the contract to build it up again.] * Iraq oil flows again * Interfax: Gazprom, SIBUR win tender to develop Iraqi gas field * Factors Pushing Iraq on Surcharges IRAQI OPPOSITION * Iraqi Exile Groups Wary of U.S., Each Other [Usual conflicts as to who best represents the Iraqi opposition. Usual failure to make sense of the divisions. Includes reference to 1996, when the Clinton administration abandoned a CIA plan to support an invasion of central Iraq by Kurds in the north. Hussein's forces then invaded Kurdish areas with impunity.ı We really need a coherent account of the events of 1995/6 in the Kudish autonomous zone, but it has to be constantly stressed that Husseinıs forces entered at the invitation of the KDP because the whole area was about to be overrun by the PUK in alliance with Iran. And that the US was perfectly happy to see the Iranian invasion stopped by the only means possible - Iraqi counter-attack - despite the small detail of the number of US sympathisers who got killed as a result.] * US drifts into chaos in Iraq [Nick Cohen defends the INC but one wonders why the INC, unlike nearly every other substantial opposition group throughout the world (the IRA for example) is so hopelessly reliant on US financial support and so utterly unable to find its own sources of income.] * US plans meetings with anti-Hussein Iraqi group [The group in question is the so-called Group of Four. No-one is yet explaining to us why the KDP, PUK and SCIRI - 3 out of the 4 - are no longer connected to the INC. Or what is left of the INC without them. Or what the Iraqi National Accord is. Or why the KDP and PUK are publicly identified with this group which seems to want war on Iraq when their public position is still that they donıt want war on Iraq ...] * U.S. plans for Iraq after Saddam [Money for the Iraqi Jurists Associationı and for the Iraqi National Movementı, or is the INM another name for the Iraqi National Accord? One wonders what kind of creatures these can be who are prepared to accept money from the government that has destroyed the industrial infrastructure of their country and reduced millions of their fellow citizens to penury ...] IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ * Ethnic Kurd is not a refugee [Rather confusing and intriguing account of recent Court of Appeal decision on refugee status of Kurd from the Autonomous Zone. He is not deemed to be at risk, even though the US is planning to use his homeland as a base to launch a new war against Iraq, and even though the KAZıs legally recognised government is still in Baghdad, and the Kurds cannot defend themselves against an Iraqi invasion and are being given no guarantee of any defense from anyone else (the patrolling of the No Fly Zones offers nothing as can be seen from the case of the Marsh Arabs in the No Fly Zone in the South). Nonetheless, the only available route of return to the KAZ is via Baghdad, and it is conceded that that that might be dangerous. But the British government has given him a guarantee that he wonıt be returned by that route (the only route available). So heıs in no danger. So he isnıt a refugee. Got it?] * Immigrant plan assailed [US policy for fingerprinting and keeping tabs on immigrants from the ever expanding axis of evil.] REMNANTS OF DECENCY * UW student groups plan Albright protest [Interesting anti-Allbright alliance between Muslims and Latinos in the University of Washington.] * MP berates Blair's leadership [Tam Dalyell reminds us that: "Harold Wilson, alright he weaved and ducked, but he kept Britain out of the Vietnam War."] IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * UN appoints humanitarian official in Iraq * Iraq 'has no terror weapons' [Denis Halliday praises Boutros Boutros Ghali above Kofi Annan. And at last someone says what I believe is most important thing to say at the present time: "We have to reform the Security Council. At present it's an old boys' club of the world's major arms traders.² But when he adds ³"It needs a permanent voice from the developing world, and probably only one European Union member. So either France or the UK should go.", he seems to imply that the permanent member system should remain. It should be abolished. But if it remains and if one European power has to go then it should obviously be the UK, which isnıt in any meaningful sense a European power.] NO FLY ZONES http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/152/nation/3_reportedly_injured_in_US_Brit ish_air_attack+.shtml * 3 REPORTEDLY INJURED IN US-BRITISH AIR ATTACK Boston Globe, 2nd June BAGHDAD - Iraq said yesterday that three people were wounded when US and British planes struck targets in the south of the country, while Washington said it had launched a raid after Western jets were threatened. US officials said attack aircraft had bombed a radar system in southern Iraq on Thursday in the latest incident involving warplanes patrolling a no-fly zone. The US Central Command in Tampa said aircraft from the force of US and British planes used precision-guided weapons to hit ''components of an offensive radar system.'' (Reuters) http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20020602670.2 _82540002162b3365 * RADAR SYSTEM BOMBED IN SOUTHERN IRAQ Hoover's (source unclear, perehaps Albawaba.com), 2nd June United States or British warplanes bombed a radar system in the southern area of Iraq early Friday after three surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) were fired at coalition aircraft patrolling a no-fly zone, the US military said. "SAMs were fired at them and they responded immediately," said Lieutenant Commander Frank Merriman, a spokesman in Tampa, Florida with the United States Central Command. Merriman conveyed the air strike targeted a radar system near An Nasiriyah southeast of Baghdad, that was on an approved target list. The radar was bombed with precision guided weapons, the command added, according to AFP. It was the latest in a series of strikes against Iraqi air defenses in both southern and northern Iraq. The strikes are usually carried out by US warplanes based on aircraft carriers in the Gulf or land bases in the region. However, US military spokesmen have adopted a policy of not saying whether the attacking aircraft were US or British, which also patrol the no-fly zones. Baghdad has actively challenged the no-fly zones since December 1998, but the pace of activity has picked up in recent weeks from a lull that followed the September 11 attacks. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=1CBB40CB-868F-4A72-9E16DFF9894EA EA3&title=Coalition%20Forces%20on%20Alert%20as%20They%20Patrol%20Northern%20 No%2DFly%20Zone%20in%20Iraq * COALITION FORCES ON ALERT AS THEY PATROL NORTHERN NO-FLY ZONE IN IRAQ by Alisha Ryu Voice of America, 3rd June The U.S., British, and Turkish coalition enforcing the no-fly zone over northern Iraq says it has so far not been given any orders to prepare for a larger campaign against Saddam Hussein. For weeks, the international media has been speculating that the Bush Administration is planning some type of military action to remove the Iraqi leader from power. VOA's Alisha Ryu recently visited the coalition's air base in Incirlik, Turkey, to assess the mood and the obstacles ahead if the United States did decide to attack. As part of the Operation Northern Watch, enforcing a no-fly zone above the 36th parallel, the F-16 pilot's main objective is to hunt down active Iraqi launch sites for surface-to-air missiles, known as SAMs, and to destroy these sites if possible. The pilot's second objective is to come back alive. The Pentagon says Baghdad in recent months has been quietly moving a significant number of SAMs into no-fly zone areas in northern and southern Iraq to harass patrolling fighters. Some U.S. officials speculate that Saddam Hussein is now fixated on shooting down an allied jet to bolster his popularity among anti-Western Arabs and to generate opposition in the United States against putting U.S. troops and pilots in harm's way. The commander of the operation's center at Incirlik, U.S. Air Force Colonel Buck Burgess, will not say how many SAMs Baghdad may have moved but he confirms the missiles pose an enormous threat. "They are not always up north. But most of these are mobile systems and he moves them around and places them at different places at different times to complicate our ability to find them, not because we're going to bomb them, but because he wants to shoot one of us down," he says. "That's his whole goal." The northern no-fly zone was created in 1991 to protect ethnic Kurds against Saddam Hussein, who brutally crushed them at the end of the Gulf War for rising up against Baghdad. A year later, the southern no-fly zone was set up to keep the Iraqi leader from launching operations against the Muslim Shi'ite population there. The two no-fly zones cover about 60 percent of the country. More than a decade later, Operation Northern Watch commanders say the mission still performs a vital role. While fighter jets keep the Iraqi military out of allied-patrolled air space, communication and surveillance planes constantly search for clues showing Saddam Hussein trying to build weapons of mass destruction. Since international weapons inspectors were forced to leave Baghdad four years ago, the West has been unable to effectively monitor Iraq's attempts to revive its nuclear and biological weapons development. Baghdad says it will readmit the inspectors only if their return is linked to an end to the 12 year-old international economic sanctions and a halt to U.S. military patrols over northern and southern Iraq. The United States has rejected the idea. Under allied protection, the Kurds in the northeastern corner of Iraq have flourished - enjoying relative prosperity and autonomy. According to Kurdish officials, 70 percent of the villages now have a clean water supply and infant mortality rates are half those in the rest of Iraq. The commanding general of Operation Northern Watch, Edward Ellis, says those statistics show the allied operation has been able to achieve its primary goal. "Are we a Kurdish bodyguard? Nah. But does someone know that they've got a big brother if they needed it? Yea," he says. Ironically, that very success is now hampering efforts for the Bush Administration to rally popular support in the region for its next possible move in the war against terrorism: removing Saddam Hussein from power. Senior U.S. officials in recent weeks have reportedly stepped up talks with Kurdish opposition leaders to discuss how the Kurds could help oust the Iraqi president. Opposition members contacted by VOA in Turkey declined to be interviewed about the talks. But they hinted at some major obstacles ahead. While the Kurds, whose forces number about 85,000. could act as a proxy army in northern Iraq, most are reluctant to hand over their new-found autonomy in exchange for a vague promise of a better future or even the creation of their own country. They fear that a U.S. attack could end the oil-for-food program the United Nations adopted in 1995 to ease the effects of the international embargo on Iraq. The U.N. program buys oil from Iraq so that the government can buy food and other humanitarian goods. Right now, the Kurds receive 13 percent of that oil money from Iraq, which accounts for 60 percent of their economy. They worry that a war could severely disrupt that cash flow. They also note the possibility that the next Iraqi leader could end the oil-revenue sharing arrangement altogether. Still, if Washington is planning some kind of military action against Iraq, the men and women conducting Operation Northern Watch say they are ready to shift into high gear. Colonel Marc Felman is the man responsible for combat readiness of U.S. forces at Incirlik. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a strategic location. In some ways, we are the last bastion before you get to the anti-Western forces that we're most worried about," he says. "Our job is to be ready and to listen to what our civilian bosses tell us to do." But those orders may be difficult to execute out of Incirlik if the United States' Operation Northern Watch partner, Turkey, decides to reject allied requests to use its base as a staging area for the war. While the government in Ankara strongly supports the air patrols, it has deep concerns about the creation of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq. Turkey has had a long-standing conflict with insurgents among its own Kurdish minorities, who often took refuge in northern Iraq. The Turkish government also fears that a war just across the border could badly damage the country's lucrative tourism industry and plunge the nation into economic chaos. Earlier this month, President Bush denied that his administration has a war plan for Iraq. But calling Iraq a part of an "axis of evil," he has also made it clear that he will not allow Saddam Hussein to build weapons of mass destruction. The United States is turning its sights on Iraq partly because it fears the Iraqi leader already has stocks of nuclear and biological weapons and partly because he might supply them to followers of terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1441040 * IRAQ REPORTEDLY STEPS UP BID TO DOWN U.S., BRITISH WARPLANES Houston Chronicle, 5th June BRUSSELS, Belgium -- After a significant lull in Iraq's efforts to shoot down U.S. and British warplanes patrolling two no-flight zones over its territory after Sept. 11, those efforts have increased again to worrisome levels in recent weeks, the British defense secretary, Geoff Hoon, said Wednesday. "Immediately after September the 11th, there was quite a falloff in the incidents over the no-fly zones," said Hoon, who spoke to reporters aboard Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's plane on the way to a NATO defense ministers' meeting here. "Indeed, we judged that the regime in Iraq seemed to have got the message, that military action would follow if they were not very, very careful," Hoon said. But he added that recently "there has been an increase in the number of attacks on aircraft" flown by British and U.S. pilots over the northern and southern no-fly zones set up a decade ago by the United Nations. Hoon declined to say whether the attempts to shoot down allied warplanes were being matched by any other kind of war footing in Iraq, in particular in its program to acquire and field weapons of mass destruction. "But clearly, they are feeling a little more confident than they have in the recent past, and that's obviously a concern for our people, for the very important job that they're doing," he said, referring to the British and U.S. pilots. After a day of talks in London, Rumsfeld and Hoon emphasized that no decisions had been made on military action to topple President Saddam Hussein. But Hoon said, "We both believe that Iraq would be a much better place" if Saddam were no longer ruling. Hoon emphasized the importance of allowing U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq with the freedom to roam the nation. "Unless and until we have U.N.-mandated inspectors on the ground, freely going where they want to in Iraq, we can only be deeply suspicious as to what is happening there," he said. "We obviously have to take appropriate action to deal with that threat." Rumsfeld was in London and then Brussels on Wednesday, opening a 10-day tour that will also take him to Estonia, for a meeting with Nordic and Baltic defense ministers, and to three Persian Gulf states before visits to India and Pakistan. OIL/GAS POLITICS http://www.worldoil.com/news/newsstory.asp?ref=http://22.214.171.124/feeds/wo rldoil/new/article_e.asp?energy24=251148 * BAGHDAD: EXPORTS ON HOLD World Oil, 3rd June Iraq has reportedly halted its oil exports due to consternation over new UN pricing proposals. The last cargo of oil left the port of Ceyhan on Sunday. According to a report from Reuters, a senior Iraqi official revealed that nothing at all would be loaded on Monday, due to what he termed 'the UN's retroactive pricing'. He stressed that customers could not load oil without knowledge of the price. It is hoped that exports will resume on Tuesday. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=53483 * PRACSI SET TO COMMISSION $7M PROJECT IN IRAQ by Saifur Rahman Gulf News, 6th June Dubai-based Process Automation Consultants and Systems Integrators (Pracsi), is going to install and commission a $7 million control system project in northern Iraq's three oil refineries under the UN Food for Oil Programme, next month. Officials of Pracsi, a leader in providing control system to oil and gas industry with a $20 million annual turnover, said this is the single largest technology transfer to the sanction-hit country under the programme, which will make the three refineries in Iraq's northern Baiji more efficient, improve the quality of production and integrate and manage the process in a state-of-the-art computerised control system. "It has been an extremely challenging project in all aspects. Implementing technology projects in Iraq requires focus, dedication and exceptional technical skills. When Pracsi won the project, we committed to work closely with the UN for approval," said Nikolas Petrakos, managing director of Pracsi. "We have already shipped two consignments to Iraq and the balance shipment of equipment and logistics will be transferred in two weeks time. We hope to install and commission the control system by early next month." The system was fully designed, integrated and executed in Dubai at Pracsi's manufacturing facilities and is one of the largest DCS systems to be fully integrated in the Middle East. It was completed in 420 days. As Pracsi's technology partner, Yamatake of Japan provided the infrastructure technology while the engineering, construction and testing was executed by Pracsi. In terms of size, this is the largest of its kind project to be installed in the Middle East and built locally in the UAE, Petrakos claimed. "Pracsi has completed in excess of 40 projects under the UN Oil for Food programme all focused on providing the Iraqi oil industry with an approved technology solutions for the operational and production needs. This project is a major proof and milestone in confirming that the UAE can provide complete solutions to complex industrial problems of the Iraqi industry," Petrakos said. Pracsi has set up an office in Iraq to service the installed systems and tap opportunities in the market. Pracsi is currently working on to receive orders for the remaining refineries. "Under the sanctions, Iraq could not upgrade its system for a long time. Iraqi oil industry, one of the largest in the Arab world, is running on a numatic control system, which is old and outdated. Our project will make it much more efficient and modern. "With our current project, only 20 per cent will be covered. The remaining 80 per cent is yet to be done. So there are a huge scope of work for us in Iraq." "We are closely working with the region's oil and gas industry and have joint projects with Saudi Aramco. Currently we are making forays in the Irani oil fields." http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=53596 * IRAQ OIL FLOWS AGAIN Gulf News (from Reuters), 7th June Iraqi crude oil was flowing again yesterday at the Medit-erranean port of Ceyhan after a three-day stoppage, but the Gulf port of Mina Al-Bakr remained idle since the weekend, a Western industry source said. But supplies may begin to trickle out again as Iraq has cut the illegal surcharge on its UN-monitored exports to 15 cents from 25-30 cents, industry sources said earlier yesterday. Some viewed this as a step toward an elimination of the fee. At Ceyhan, where the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Olympic Breeze arrived on Wednesday, the vessel was due to complete loading two million barrels of Kirkuk bound for North America by the late evening, industry sources said. But no further liftings were scheduled for the following several days, meaning another halt was likely amid an ongoing dispute over pricing. The next lifting may be around June 18 when one million barrels could sail for Morocco. The Gulf port of Mina Al-Bakr, Iraq's only other UN-authorised export point, was still idle with no liftings expected until around June 10, when a vessel should load a contract left over from the previous phase. Iraq said its oil exports ground to a halt on Monday - just days into a new six-month phase of the UN oil-for-food deal, which permits Iraq to sell oil in exchange for food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. Unlike in April, when Baghdad halted oil exports in April to protest against Israel's military offensive into Palestinian areas, this stoppage appears to be a kind of boycott by oil traders who are fed up with retroactive pricing and the surcharge that Iraq has been charging for the last 18 months. http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20020607670.4 _98dd00069300629a * INTERFAX: GAZPROM, SIBUR WIN TENDER TO DEVELOP IRAQI GAS FIELD Hoover's, 7th June 7 MOSCOW. June 6 (Interfax) - Gazprom and Siberian-Ural Oil and Gas Chemical Company (SIBUR) have won a tender to develop a gas field in Iraq at a cost of EUR 60 million, SIBUR Chairman and Gazprom Deputy CEO Alexander Ryazanov said at a Thursday press conference in Moscow. "The contract to develop this field is supported by the United Nations and is promising," he said. However, he was unable to state the exact level of gas reserves at the field. Ryazanov noted that Gazprom plants would supply the equipment to develop the field. http://cgi.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=14016068&template=worldnews /search.txt&index=recent * FACTORS PUSHING IRAQ ON SURCHARGES The Associated Press, 8th June LONDON (AP) Iraq is reducing the surcharges it makes customers pay for its oil as the United Nations intensifies pressure on Baghdad to forego this illegal source of cash, energy analysts said Friday. Hurt by plummeting sales of crude, Iraq also is believed to have halved the surcharges in an effort to lure back wary traders and avoid further pain for its long-battered economy. Since its defeat in the Gulf War, Iraq has sold the bulk of its crude under close U.N. supervision. The U.N. oil-for-food program is designed to keep Iraq, one of the biggest OPEC producer countries, from using its oil revenues to pay for imports that it could put to military use. The Iraqi government introduced surcharges as a way of partially circumventing U.N. control over its only source of hard currency. The country has illegally earned at least $2.3 billion in illegal surcharges on oil and commissions from commodities contracts, according to a report released last month by the U.S. General Accounting Office. The United Nations, which seemed earlier to have turned ``a blind eye'' to the practice, has recently cracked down in an effort to stem the flow of what it considers illegal funds into Iraqi government coffers, said Michael Rothman, a senior analyst at Merrill Lynch in New York. As a result, oil trading companies that buy Iraqi crude and then sell it to refineries in the United States and other third parties have started making themselves scarce. Some traders have expressed fear that the United Nations might penalize them for paying the surcharges, Rothman said. Iraq exported 2.1 million barrels of oil a day as recently as two weeks ago. Last week, its daily sales plunged to 370,000 barrels as buyers looked for crude elsewhere. ``Traders do not like to be seen in the light of day as paying the surcharges,'' said Peter Gignoux, head of the petroleum desk at Salomon Smith Barney in London. Iraq initially sold its oil at a discount to the prevailing market price and then levied a surcharge that was roughly equal to the amount of the discount. Analysts estimate that the surcharges ranged from 25 cents to 35 cents per barrel of oil, although precise details are hard to come by. As business has dried up in recent days, anecdotal evidence suggests that Iraq has slashed the surcharge to 15 cents a barrel or even less as a sales incentive. Contracts of light, sweet crude for July delivery were trading Friday at $24.75 a barrel, down 4 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The United Nations began last year to try to quash Iraq's surcharges by imposing a system of retroactive pricing on Iraqi oil. Under this system, buyers of Iraqi crude don't know until the end of each month what price they will end up paying. The U.N.-imposed price leaves Iraq less room to levy a surcharge, and it makes Iraqi oil less attractive because buyers can't be certain of locking in a profit when they take possession of the crude. Iraq's reputation as an unreliable supplier hasn't helped its standing with customers. Iraq has abruptly interrupted crude shipments in the past, most recently on April 8, when it announced a 30-day boycott on oil exports to countries that support Israel. Raad Alkadiri of The Petroleum Finance Co., a Washington consultancy, suggested that by reducing or even eliminating its surcharges, Iraq might be able to secure political support from key trading partners in exchange for granting hassle-free access to its crude. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is eager to keep oil flowing to its Arab neighbors and to the Russian trading firms that have typically bought more than a third of the nation's crude. ``It makes perfect sense, with Iraqi strategy right now,'' Alkadiri said. In addition to its official, U.N.-monitored exports, Iraq is widely believed to smuggle a large share of its oil across its land borders and by ship through the Gulf. Iraq smuggled out as much as 480,000 barrels of oil a day in March, according to the GAO report, which estimates Iraq has earned $4.3 billion from oil smuggling since 1997. Most of this oil went across the long borders Iraq shares with Syria, Jordan and Turkey, the GAO said. IRAQI OPPOSITION http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45512-2002Jun1.html * IRAQI EXILE GROUPS WARY OF U.S., EACH OTHER by Daniel Williams Washington Post, 2nd June LONDON -- Ahmed Chalabi, the perennially beleaguered Iraqi exile leader, put down the phone after a recent call from Washington, happily informed that State Department money would flow again to Liberty TV, the station he runs to beam propaganda to his homeland. "Another episode in the Battle of Washington," he said, sighing. "That battle has to finish before the battle against Saddam Hussein begins." Chalabi runs the Iraqi National Congress (INC), nominally the umbrella organization of Iraqi groups opposed to Hussein's rule and long expected to play a prominent role in toppling the Baghdad government. But recent disputes suggest that the issue of his organization's role is far from settled. That's not Chalabi's only problem. A trip through London, the base for many Iraqi dissidents, suggests that the INC is an umbrella that covers hardly anyone. Groups that have operated under its shelter come and go with the changeable winds of U.S. and Iraqi exile politics. The disarray is testimony to the decade-long failure of the United States to forge a united front against Hussein. That failure is now more urgent as the Bush administration turns up its rhetoric about the need for "regime change" in Iraq -- although it has reportedly put off any invasion until at least next year. What role will dissident groups and their followers in Iraq play in any battle? Who will replace Hussein if there is a war? Among Iraqi exile leaders, neither question has been resolved. The exiles' experience with the United States makes them wary of signing on to a new project. They believe they have been betrayed twice by the United States since 1991: first, when President George H.W. Bush encouraged the Iraqi people to rise up after the Persian Gulf War but withheld military support; and in 1996, when the Clinton administration abandoned a CIA plan to support an invasion of central Iraq by Kurds in the north. Hussein's forces then invaded Kurdish areas with impunity. Chalabi, who has been an opposition figure for three decades, concurs with reports from Washington that the Bush administration is divided on what to do. The State Department and the CIA are trying to marginalize him, he and others said, against the wishes of the Pentagon and allies in Congress. The latest example, in Chalabi's view, is the flap over television money. In January, the State Department suspended many of its grants to the INC, alleging widespread accounting problems, including lack of documentation for almost $578,800 in cash payments. The INC acknowledged a need to strengthen internal financial controls but denied that any U.S. government funds were improperly used. For several months, Liberty TV had been operating under monthly grants of $1.3 million while the INC negotiated new, longer-term funding with the State Department. Chalabi attributes the cutoff to "personal animus" and old disagreements on how to topple Hussein. Chalabi has spoken out against proposals to back a coup led by Hussein's own military. "The roots are decades of American foreign policy," he asserted. A State Department official in Washington said that talks are underway with the INC over funding. "We're almost there on negotiating a grant," the official said. Chalabi aides perceive a further move to sideline the INC in a recent meeting between administration officials and top representatives of two Kurdish components of the INC, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The Americans approached the two Kurdish groups about setting up CIA offices in northern Iraq, where they command separate territories under the threatening barrels of Hussein's tanks. Although both groups are ostensibly aligned with the INC, the Kurdistan Democratic Party openly expresses discontent. "We still belong to the INC, but we are not active in it. I'm not sure the INC is an effective tool for change," said Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurdish group's international relations director. Yet another exile grouping, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), has dropped out of the INC altogether. The council represents elements of the restive Shiite population located throughout southern Iraq and parts of central Iraq. Hamid Bayati, a member of the council's central committee, complained that the INC was overly dependent on U.S. money. "It's not an Iraqi opposition force, it's an employee of the Americans," Bayati said. The council is headquartered in Iran and takes a dim view of an U.S.-dominated liberation of Iraq. Officially, it wants the Americans to operate under the aegis of the United Nations. Nonetheless, it has been in contact with U.S. officials. Now a contest over who collectively represents the anti-Hussein opposition seems to be shaping up, a continuation of a long game of musical chairs. The KDP, PUK, SCIRI and a Shiite-based organization with strong CIA connections, the Iraqi National Accord, have created yet another alliance, called the Group of Four. (In Chalabi's office, the arrangement is called the Gang of Four.) Bayati said the Group of Four represents the "core" resistance against Hussein. The INC, he added, is just "one of many groups." "No one accepts being represented by the INC," he added. Missing from the lineup is any significant representation from Iraq's third ethnic group, the Sunni Muslims. The Sunnis, who make up about 20 percent of the population, are the traditional governmental elite in Iraq. Many Sunnis fear being overwhelmed if Hussein, himself a Sunni, is ousted. At least half of Iraqi citizens are Shiites. Despite the divisions, the Iraqi exiles concur on several deep concerns. One is that even the smallest sign of new cooperation between the Kurds and Washington might provoke Hussein into military action. In the past 10 years, northern Iraq has achieved a level of stability through creation of a quasi-independent Kurdish state. The PUK and KDP, while wary of each other, permit movement between their enclaves and cooperate on the delivery of humanitarian goods. "We fear losing what we have achieved. This worry is always at the back of our minds," said Zibari. "If we sign up with the Americans, it would be the point of no return." The Iraqis share suspicions that the United States eventually would be content to impose a new dictatorship, rather than a democratic alternative to Hussein. "A new dictatorship can't be installed," Chalabi advised. Bayati, the Shiite representative, warned that his community opposed a continuation of Sunni domination in Iraqi life. "A new Sunni dictatorship is not what we want," he said. Bayati and others are especially worried that the United States might opt to replace Hussein with an officer from the Iraqi military. "No more generals!" said Chalabi. "We need a new slate, not a repeat Saddam." http://www.dawn.com/2002/06/03/int12.htm * US DRIFTS INTO CHAOS IN IRAQ by Nick Cohen Dawn (from The Observer), 3rd June, 21 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1423 LONDON: The Middle East, as several former spooks have stated since September 11, is hostile ground for Western intelligence agencies. For obvious reasons, Iraq is the most hostile territory of all. Which makes it very strange is that the US government, in the shape of the State Department, is currently doing all it can to shut down the only reliable pro-Western source of intelligence on Saddam's dictatorship; the clandestine "information collection programme" run by the Iraqi National Congress (INC). Whatever Bush may say about the 'axis of evil', the INC is anathema in much of Washington because it wants to replace Saddam not with another military strongman (the State Department's preferred option) but a pluralist democracy. I have seen the INC information network in action in several countries bordering Iraq and it is pretty impressive. Equipped with digital cameras, satellite phones and laptop encryption software, its agents run regular missions inside the country. Some of the resulting intelligence is shared with journalists, some with Western authorities - usually not the CIA, but the Defence Intelligence Agency, run by the INC's main US allies in the Pentagon. This work is done on not much more than a shoestring budget. Since September, the State Department has repeatedly cut the INC's grant, approved by Congress in 1998. Last week, after yet another inspection at the INC London headquarters, US officials said further funds would be paid only if the INC stopped all intelligence-gathering immediately. They could carry on with their TV station, but spying was out. That, says INC leader Ahmad Chalabi, is totally unacceptable. It would "disembowel" his organization, turning it into precisely the posturing, irrelevant body its US government critics frequently claim that it is. That, supposedly, is the point. Some war on terror. Drifting and divided, the US Administration is wilfully seeking to make sure it continues to grope in the dark. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/157/nation/US_plans_meetings_with_anti_Hus sein_Iraqi_group+.shtml * US PLANS MEETINGS WITH ANTI-HUSSEIN IRAQI GROUP by Anthony Shadid Boston Globe, 6th June WASHINGTON - A coalition of Iraqi groups that some US officials have touted as an alternative to Saddam Hussein's government will meet for the first time in Washington with Bush administration officials, US officials and opposition leaders said yesterday. Word of the meetings, which are planned for tomorrow and Monday, comes amid growing concerns among some Iraqi dissidents that US policy toward the country has become mired in bureaucratic infighting and that Washington may be wavering in its initial commitment to overthrow Hussein. The meetings are being arranged in Washington to coincide with a conference on Iraqi Kurds that will bring together leaders of the so-called Group of Four, a coalition of Iraq's sometimes antagonistic ethnic and religious groups. Leaders of the coalition will meet with officials from the State Department, National Security Council, Congress, and possibly the Pentagon, US officials and Iraqi dissidents in London said yesterday. The meetings mark a significant step forward in Washington's strategies to remove Hussein from power, but the administration remains divided over the best way to accomplish that. ''This is a new dimension,'' said one of the group's representatives in London, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ''The Americans and the Europeans are interested in having more contact with the Group of Four. It is encouraging. Realistically they feel these are the people on the ground who can do something in Iraq in the near future.'' Among those scheduled to meet the coalition is Marc Grossman, the US undersecretary for political affairs, US officials and dissident leaders said. The coalition has particularly appealed to the State Department, which is openly disdainful of the Iraqi National Congress. US officials helped set up that group after the 1991 Gulf War, and it still has supporters in Congress and the Pentagon. But the State Department and many in the opposition consider its leader, Ahmed Chalabi, a divisive figure and complain that it lacks real influence inside Iraq and, more importantly, within the Iraqi military. The Group of Four answers some of those concerns, but creates others. The group's representatives include the main Kurdish groups - the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan - which hold sway in the Kurdish-dominated north and represent the most formidable political and military force among the opposition. The group promises inroads, as well, to two other key constituencies: The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution represents Shiite Muslims, who make up the religious majority in Iraq and are supported by Iran; and the Iraqi National Accord, longtime CIA favorite believed to have connections with the military elite, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims. ''Is it an alternative? I don't know what we have out there to have an alternative to,'' said one US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ''This is what the INC was designed to do and it didn't seem to work.'' While the broad meetings suggest growing US acceptance of the coalition, some officials and coalition representatives seem hestitant about developing too close a relationship. One US official said the Group of Four's emergence was more a sign of State Department maneuvering than a viable strategy for overthrowing Hussein. No strategy would work without a clearer signal from the US administration on its plans for Iraq, the official added. ''This is the State Department effort to sidetrack Chalabi and create a new vehicle that is basically the INC minus Chalabi,'' he said on condition of anonymity. ''I don't think this is a project that would have gotten very far without the positive signals from the State Department.'' US officials acknowledge that the opposition is worried about what they see as mixed signals from the administration. Earlier this year, many opposition leaders said they believed military action against Iraq was imminent. They are less sure now and US officials recently have said there are no immediate plans to attack. ''It's cooled off completely,'' said a senior administration official, adding that top Pentagon officials have expressed their opposition to an invasion at this time. ''There were so many other considerations around the world that the military couldn't even begin to think about it. You could say cooler heads prevailed.'' Another official said those divisions were more important than the politics of the long-fractured opposition. ''It's every government agency for itself. Every agency has its own policy and they're not working in tandem,'' he said. ''You're not going to expose yourself to risks without reason to believe the United States is really serious.'' In the end, the more influential role of the coalition may be in deciding what follows Hussein. One step in that direction may be a conference the coalition wants to organize in Europe, possibly in September. While the State Department has endorsed a similar idea, officials from the Group of Four have said they want to avoid US funding and overt US support. That way, they can bring in groups like the Shiite opposition whose patrons in Iran might balk at participation in a US-organized meeting. Al Hayat, a leading Arabic newspaper, reported yesterday that Germany, France, and the Netherlands have expressed willingness to host the meeting. John Donnelly of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-iraq06.html * U.S. PLANS FOR IRAQ AFTER SADDAM by ELI J. LAKE Chicago Sun-Times, 6th June WASHINGTON--The United States is drawing up extensive and detailed plans for a post-Saddam Hussein government in Iraq, intending to fund Iraqi exile organizations to draft legislation for a transitional regime and establish formal relationships with Arab governments. Documents obtained by United Press International reveal the State Department plans to allocate $410,000 over the next year to the Iraqi Jurists Association. One aim of the group, according to a State Department summary of its activities, is to "focus on the drafting of key legislation and legal decrees, to be readily available to a post-Saddam administration." Dr. Tariq Ali Saleh, the chairman of the organization who is a former civilian and military judge in Iraq, said Wednesday, "Our organization has done a lot of work regarding many investigations into the many crimes of the Iraqi regime; for the next phase we will do transitional justice." A State Department budget justification for an organization called the Iraqi National Movement--formed this year--says the group of primarily Sunni exiles intends to "liaison with governments in the region." Indeed, that document reveals that U.S. funding "will specifically support an INM representative in Syria, travel to the Middle East for meetings with the Iraqi expatriates and regional governments, and media outreach, focusing on Arabic language TV, radio and printed media outlets." Thair al-Nakib, a Washington representative of the organization, said Wednesday, "In the last few years, Arab governments in the region not have not had good relations with the Iraqi opposition. Our plan is to show these countries that working to remove Saddam from power will lead to stability in the region." While the $315,000 the State Department has asked Congress to approve this year for the Iraqi National Movement pales in comparison to the $8 million the department intends to provide to the Iraqi National Congress for the next eight months, Nakib's organization appears to pose a direct challenge to the Iraqi National Congress--the umbrella opposition group publicly funded by the United States since 1999. But these budget figures may be deceptive, and the Iraqi National Congress says it may never get much of the money. To get the money, group officials said, they must abandon information collection programs inside Iraq and end political contacts with Arab governments. "The $8 million is a 45 percent slash on our current budget," an official said. "The State Department is attempting to make the INC into an armchair organization that sits in London running a newspaper and TV station. That is not acceptable." But a State Department official familiar with the negotiations over the funding said Wednesday this characterization is wrong. Whitley Bruner, a former CIA operations officer in the Middle East and informal adviser to the Iraqi National Movement, said: "We know the State Department has been looking at ways to expand the scope of the opposition with which the U.S. government is dealing. This is a case where they are providing a modest amount of money for one of those groups to allow it to continue organizing itself." The principal vehicle for organizing the planning for a new Iraqi government will be a series of meetings in the coming months and a conference this summer in Europe of about 50 to 60 Iraqis and 10 to 20 international experts on Iraq. According to a State Department summary of the plans for this conference titled "Future of Iraq Project," the U.S. government will sponsor smaller meetings in either London or Washington for five working groups on: public health and humanitarian needs; water, agriculture and the environment; public finance and accounts; transitional justice, and public outreach. "Each working group will initially have 10 to 20 members, to be determined by the Department," the summary says. "Groups would hold an ongoing dialogue among members and with the U.S. government and other supportive governments and institutions." IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2021-315062,00.html * ETHNIC KURD IS NOT A REFUGEE The Times, 3rd June [Gardi v Secretary of State for Home Department. Before Lord Justice Ward, Lord Justice Keene and Sir Martin Nourse. Judgment May 24, 2002] Refugee status was not established by ethnic Kurds in need of protection from the government in Iraq but who had a safe and autonomous part of their country to return to and an undertaking from the Home Secretary that they would not be removed from the United Kingdom until a supervised and safe method of travel could be made available. The Court of Appeal so held in a reserved judgment upholding the decision by the Immigration Appeal Tribunal (Mr Justice Collins, Mr C. M. G. Ockleton and Mr G. M. Warr) that the claimant, Azad Gardi, was not a refugee for the purposes of article 1 of the Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) (Cmd 9197) and (1967) (Cmnd 3906). However the court ordered the case be remitted to the tribunal for rehearing on factual issues because of a significant procedural error that had deprived the claimant of presenting his case in full. Mr Nicholas Blake, QC and Mr Raza Husain for Mr Gardi; Mr Robin Tam for the Home Secretary. LORD JUSTICE KEENE said that the claimant was a national of Iraq and an ethnic Kurd who had lived in the Kurdish Autonomous Region. In August 2000, together with others, he illegally entered the UK and claimed asylum. His claim was refused and he was given notice of removal by scheduled airline to Iraq via the only Iraqi airport at Baghdad. An appeal against that refusal was allowed by a special adjudicator who concluded that although the claimant had no fear of persecution in his Kurdish home area he would, because of the continuing conflict between the Iraqi government and the Kurds, be at risk of harm if returned by air, Baghdad being under government control. The Home Secretaryıs appeal was allowed by the Immigration Appeal Tribunal who, having cited the House of Lordıs decision in Adan v Secretary of State for the Home Department (The Times April 6, 1998; (1999) AC 293) and having referred to the Home Secretaryıs undertaking given in March 2001 entitled "Enforced returns to Iraq" and which provided that the claimant would not at the present time be returned to his home area via Baghdad, held that he had failed to establish any real risk of persecution and thus was not a refugee. To be a refugee the claimant had to satisfy article 1A(2) of the Convention and Protocal on the Status of Refugees by showing (i) that owing to a well founded fear of persecution for a Convention reason he was outside the country of his nationality and (ii) unable or, because of that fear unwilling, to avail himself of the protection of that country. The claimantıs case was that the court had to look at the whole of Iraq to determine the issue and not just his home area. He accepted that mere inability to get back safely to a safe home area was not sufficient to satisfy (i). But that under (ii) he argued he would be a refugee until he could obtain access to effective protection by a stable state-like authority for which the Kurdish Autonomous Region did not qualify, but even if it did, he could not currently gain access to it. However, his Lordship said, a person was not a refugee if there was a safe part of his country to which he could reasonably be expected to relocate. So long as the claimant was not put at risk in the process of getting to his safe home area he was not a refugee. The removal directions had specified Iraq but had given no date. They had to be read in the light of the Home Secretaryıs March 2001 undertaking making it clear that it was not proposed to remove the claimant to his home area via Baghdad or to any other part of Iraq that was controlled by its government unless a Convention-compliant method of so doing could be achieved. Thus the claimant could not have a fear that he would be returned to a part of Iraq where he would be persecuted. However, the claimant had shown that there had been a significant procedural error that had deprived him of the opportunity to present his case in full. Accordingly, the appeal should be dismissed so far as it related to the meaning of "refugee" under the 1951 Convention but the case should be remitted for rehearing to the tribunal on factual issues as to whether the claimant had a well founded fear of persecution in the Kurdish Autonomous Region. http://www.detnews.com/2002/nation/0206/06/a06-507687.htm * IMMIGRANT PLAN ASSAILED by Oralandar Brand-Williams The Detroit News, 6th June DEARBORN -- Muslim and Arab-American activists Wednesday decried a Justice Department proposal to fingerprint immigrants, most of whom would be from Middle East nations, as another form of racial and ethnic profiling. Under the proposal, new immigrants will be fingerprinted at airports and other points of entry into the United States. The plan also would require them to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service after a month in the country, justice department officials said. The proposal is part of the war on terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon by Middle Eastern hijackers. Imad Hamad, the regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Dearborn, condemned the plan saying his organization is against "any selected approach making racial profiling a way of life." "We ... support any advancement of the capabilities of law enforcement but any selected approach is wrong," Hamad said. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the proposal Wednesday in Washington. "On September 11, the American definition of national security changed and changed forever," Ashcroft said. "A band of men entered our country under false pretenses," Ashcroft said, saying their intentions were "murderous acts of war." Ashcroft said the heightened security checks would apply to those from countries that the United States believes harbors or encourages terrorists, but "no country is totally exempt." The countries affected would include Libya, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba. The proposal does not require congressional approval, but U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Detroit, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, condemned it. "It is shocking that the freest nation on Earth could engage in a system of racial and ethnic profiling," Conyers said. "It is as though the equal protection clause had no meaning or context whatsoever to the authors of this Orwellian proposal." Conyers called the new immigration guidelines a "feel good" policy designed by the Bush administration to distract from its failure to prevent the terrorist attacks. Huntington Woods attorney Shereef Akeel added that Ashcroft is setting a "dangerous precedent." "Secret profiling is now being legitimized," said Akeel, who is Muslim and who represents other Muslims and Arab Americans who have complained about being singled out at airports and jobs because of their religion or ethnicity. Haaris Ahmad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, charged the United States is "moving closer and closer to a police state." REMNANTS OF DECENCY http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/134469010_uwprotest06m.html * UW STUDENT GROUPS PLAN ALBRIGHT PROTEST by Tan Vinh Seattle Times, 6th June Several student groups plan to protest during the University of Washington's June 15 commencement ceremony over the selection of Madeleine Albright as graduation speaker and honorary-degree recipient. Student leaders from Middle Eastern and Latino groups and the International Socialist Organization are among those campaigning for graduates to turn their backs on the former U.S. secretary of state when she delivers her speech at Husky Stadium. Protesters are offended over Albright's actions, including what they described as support of bombings and sanctions against Iraq, said members of La Raza Commission, a group of leaders from several campus Latino groups. "That is not a person I want my university honoring with a degree and speaking at my graduation," said La Raza spokeswoman Sandra Herrera. Administrators said there will be increased security at the ceremony, although that is due more to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks than to the protesters. "If students wish to express themselves, that is their right. My hope is they would do it in a courteous and civil way," said Norm Arkans, associate vice president of university relations. Organizers also plan to picket in front of Husky Stadium before the ceremony. The number of protesters is still unclear to UW administrators, though some student leaders and administrators fear it could be large enough to be a distraction. "These student groups are adamantly opposed to Albright. They are going to make an impact at the ceremony," said Danica You, UW student-body president. "These are a group of students who are very vocal and strong." Other groups involved include the Filipino American Student Association, Arab Student Union and Muslim Student Association. Protesters say the threat of a disruption could have been avoided if the UW had sought more student input before selecting Albright. UW administrators had known since last fall that Albright would be the commencement speaker but only recently released the name. The school traditionally announces the speaker close to the graduation date, university officials said. Two students were on the committee that selected Albright but were told not to disclose that Albright had accepted. University administrators said that was out of concern over terrorism rather than concern that she would be considered controversial. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/scotland/newsid_2029000/2029934.stm * MP BERATES BLAIR'S LEADERSHIP BBC, 6th June Scottish MP Tam Dalyell has labelled Tony Blair the worst leader and prime minister he has ever worked under. The member for Linlithgow, who celebrates 40 years in the House of Commons next week, claimed Mr Blair had adopted a "presidential style" that ignored parliamentary democracy. He criticised the prime minister over his decision to commit British troops in Afghanistan and his apparent support for a military strike on Iraq. Mr Dalyell, who is Father of the House of Commons, made the comments during an interview for Grampian Television's political programme Crossfire. During the course of the interview he was asked where he would place Mr Blair in terms of the seven Labour leaders he had served under. Mr Dalyell replied: "Number seven". When asked to expand the MP said: "Because of his attitude to parliament. "I would be much happier if he realised that that we live in a parliamentary democracy and not a presidential system." Mr Dalyell also said he would place Mr Blair "at the bottom" of the list of eight prime ministers during his time in the House of Commons. He added that while he believed the prime minister had not "got it wrong in every respect" he fundamentally disagreed with Mr Blair's military decisions. "I think he's deeply wrong on Iraq, on the bombing of Afghanistan and on the bombing of Belgrade," he went on. "I'm not anti-military at all, in fact I'm an honorary member of the mess of the Scots Dragoon Guards. "But I passionately disagree with him and it's all very well to say that we have to go along with the Americans. "Harold Wilson, alright he weaved and ducked, but he kept Britain out of the Vietnam War." Mr Dalyell said he was an admirer of Wilson's leadership and that of former prime minister Jim Callaghan. IRAQI/UN RELATIONS http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=53032 * UN APPOINTS HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL IN IRAQ Gulf News (Reuters), 2nd June A UN official in Baghdad said yesterday the United Nations had appointed a new humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, a sensitive post responsible for supervising the UN "oil-for-food" programme. "(U.N.) Secretary-General Kofi Annan has decided to appoint Ramiro Armando de Oliveira Lopes da Silva of Portugal as the new United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq," Adnan Jarrar, UN information officer in Iraq, said. Under the "oil-for-food" deal, Iraq is allowed to sell oil to buy supplies meant to offset the impact of UN sanctions imposed in August 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Last month, the UN Security Council unanimously approved the biggest overhaul of the sanctions regime in years in an effort to speed up delivery of civilian goods for ordinary Iraqis suffering under the embargoes. Da Silva will replace Tun Myat who was recently appointed UN security coordinator, Jarrar said. Myat, 60, of Myanmar and a 22-year veteran of the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP) was appointed in March 2000 after his two predecessors resigned in protest over the punishing impact of the sanctions. Hans von Sponeck of Germany quit the post in February 2000 under strong U.S. pressure over his outspoken criticism of the effects of the sanctions. His predecessor, Denis Halliday of Ireland, left in 1998 for similar reasons. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_2029000/2029457.st m * IRAQ 'HAS NO TERROR WEAPONS' by Alex Kirby BBC, 6th June A former United Nations official who worked in Iraq says he does not believe it possesses weapons of mass destruction. The official, Denis Halliday, was the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq in 1997-98. Mr Halliday said he thought a US attack on Iraq was likely later this year, and people there were deeply concerned. Any attack could mean appalling losses of Iraqi civilians and US troops. Mr Halliday worked for the UN for 34 years, and was an assistant secretary-general when he was sent to Baghdad. But he resigned from the UN to have the freedom to criticise the international sanctions policy directed at Iraq. In an interview with BBC News Online, Mr Halliday said: "I don't think Saddam Hussein possesses any weapons of mass destruction. "There'd be no doomsday option for him in the event of a US attack. But it could mean horrific casualties among Iraqis, who I think would fight, and for the Americans. "I think we'll probably see the Americans bombing Iraq before their November elections. An invasion could come early next year." Mr Halliday was scathing about the present UN, which he said many people in Europe and the Middle East now regarded as effectively part of the US State Department. "The removal of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the last secretary-general, was an outrageous undermining of the UN," he said. "He had courage and guts - he was independent. But Kofi Annan was handpicked as his successor because he was seen as friendly to the US. "Mr Annan has squandered his opportunities to stand up and be counted. "He hasn't used his moral authority, for example by using Article 99 of the UN Charter to draw matters of concern to the Security Council's attention. He could have got them to discuss the Rwandan genocide, or Chechnya, but he didn't." Mr Halliday, an Irish citizen, lives in the US, and says he is not anti-American. "There are some good people in Washington who realise that rejecting international law is not in the US' own long-term interests," he said. "But rejection is what the administration is about - the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the land mines convention, the international criminal court, and so on. "The only way to change the US is through its friends, not its enemies. "It's Blair, Schroeder and Chirac who'll change George Bush's mind, not Osama bin Laden. "I'd like to see Tony Blair nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize if he could influence US foreign policy towards non-aggressive goals. But he's silent, he has this habit of disappearing. What's the point of having access and influence if you don't use them?" Mr Halliday argues that "a sole hyper-power is dangerous", but does not want to return to a world where two great blocs confronted each other. "A balance of power is very important", he said. "But that won't come from confrontation. "We have to reform the Security Council. At present it's an old boys' club of the world's major arms traders. "It needs a permanent voice from the developing world, and probably only one European Union member. So either France or the UK should go." _______________________________________________ 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