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News, 22-29/6/02 (1) ENFORCING THE BLOCKADE * [Australian] Navy ship heads for terror duty * Iraq Slams Turkey for Extending Mandate for U.S.-British Forces * Western warplanes hit Iraqi air defences [27th June] * U.S. planes attack Iraqi command center [28th June] * Iraq Says One Civilian Hurt in Western Air Raid * US says Iran no longer helping Iraq smuggle oil INSIDE IRAQ * How Saddam 'staged' fake baby funerals * Saddam's moment of truth * Sayyed Muhammad Taqi al-Hakim IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ * 35 Australia Asylum Seekers Break Out IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Iraq, Iran set timetable for repatriation of refugees * Iraq's culture minister to visit Iran * Iraq protests to UN at Iran truce breaches * Iraqi¹s message welcomed in Sidon [Lebanon] after marathon walk NEW WORLD ORDER * UN urged to oppose US immunity * Belgian court rejects war-crimes case vs. Israel's Sharon * Two world orders * A time for dissent in America OIL POLITICS * Opec job likely to stay with Venezuela * France Wants End to Iraqi Oil Policy * OPEC to hold steady on oil output * DJ. UN Panel Approves Iraq Oil Prices For Europe, June 1-15 * OPEC has new leader, plan ENFORCING THE BLOCKADE http://www.sundaytimes.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,7034,4568929%255E1557 4,00.html * NAVY SHIP HEADS FOR TERROR DUTY Sunday Times (Australia), 24th June NAVY frigate HMAS Arunta has left Perth for the Gulf, the seventh Australian ship to join the war on terror. More than 200 family and friends farewelled the 175 crew as the ship, which will replace the HMAS Canberra, left its home base of HMAS Stirling south of Perth today. Maritime Commander Rear Admiral Geoff Smith said the Arunta's involvement was the second rotation of Navy elements as part of the war on terror since the initial deployment of ships last September. Also as part of this rotation, the guided-missile frigate HMAS Melbourne, which left Sydney last month, will replace HMAS Newcastle. Rear Admiral Smith said Australian sailors had earned a reputation as extremely proficient at inspections of merchant traffic transiting in and out of Iraq. "I have no doubt Arunta and Melbourne will continue to perform at the high standard that has been set by our ships currently serving in the Gulf," he said. He said Arunta's company was a highly trained and professional team, and he was very proud of the continued effort and sacrifice by Navy personnel and their families to serve their country. The West Australian-based Canberra is due to return home from the Gulf in the coming month, although the Navy has not revealed when. The Newcastle is due back in Australia on July 15. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-06/27/content_460331.htm * IRAQ SLAMS TURKEY FOR EXTENDING MANDATE FOR U.S.-BRITISH FORCES Baghdad, June 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraq on Thursday blasted a decisionmade by the Turkish parliament earlier this month to extend the mandate for U.S.-Britain warplanes to continue to use its base to enforce the no-fly zone in northern Iraq. "Iraq denounces the Turkish decision, through which the United States and Britain have kept on their aggressions against Iraq," anIraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by theofficial Iraqi News Agency (INA). The spokesman said that the decision by the Turkish parliament "contradicts its deeds to enhance the good terms between the two neighboring countries." "Iraq holds Turkey wholly responsible for aggressions that may inflict more harm on the Iraqi people," the spokesman added. Iraq has repeatedly condemned Turkey's extension of the mandate of the U.S.-British planes in its territory as a violation of the United Nations Charter, the international law and norms of good neighborhood. The Turkish parliament on June 18 extended the mandate of joint U.S.-British forces in the Muslim country for another six months, starting from June 30. Turkey has been hosting U.S.-British planes to monitor Iraq's northern no-fly zone, set up by the U.S.-led Western coalition in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War with the claimed aim of protecting the Kurds in northern Iraq from the persecution of the Iraqi government. A similar air exclusion zone was also set up in southern Iraq toprotect the Shiite Muslims there. Iraq does not recognize the two no-fly zones for lack of clear authorization by the U.N. Security Council and has regularly fired at Western planes patrolling the two air exclusion zones. http://www2.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&eid=1209861 * WESTERN WARPLANES HIT IRAQI AIR DEFENCES by Charles Aldinger Swissinfo, 27th June WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Western warplanes have attacked an Iraqi air defence site in a northern "no-fly" zone of the country in the latest of a long series of skirmishes between the two militaries, the U.S. military says. The U.S. European Command said in a statement from its headquarters in Germany that Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery at American and British warplanes north of Ayn Zalah and they responded by dropping precision-guided bombs on an air defence target. The statement was not more specific, but said all of the jets departed the area safely. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1475051 * U.S. PLANES ATTACK IRAQI COMMAND CENTER Houston Chronicle (from Reuters), 28th June WASHINGTON -- U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi military command center today after aircraft patrolling a no-fly zone in the south of the country came under artillery fire, the U.S. military said. The incident followed a warning by the top U.S. general that Iraq had been making increased efforts to shoot down U.S. and British airplanes enforcing no-fly zones in the north and south of the country. A spokesman at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., said the aircraft "used precision guided weapons to strike facilities of a military offensive command and control center at approximately 3:50 a.m. EDT." In Baghdad, an Iraqi spokesman said one person was injured when U.S. and British planes conducted 32 sorties from Kuwait. He added Iraqi anti-aircraft guns fired at the planes and forced them to return to their bases. "The planes attacked our civilian and service installations in Amarah, wounding one citizen," said an Iraqi military spokesman in a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA). [.....] The statement by Central Command, which overseas U.S. military operations in the Gulf, did not say where today's attack took place. "This facility was struck because it helped direct anti-aircraft artillery attacks today against coalition aircraft authorized by the U.N. Security Council to enforce the no-fly zone in southern Iraq," it said. The last U.S. attack was on June 20, when Iraq said four people were killed and that "service and civilian installations" had been hit. That was the second such bombing in two days. On Wednesday, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Washington that Iraq had in recent days increased attempts to shoot down U.S. and British warplanes. He said anti-aircraft guns had fired at patrolling warplanes about 10 times in the previous three days in northern Iraq. "That's a significant number," he said. Myers did not give special significance to the spate of firings, noting simply that Iraq -- which does not recognize the no-fly zones -- was "firing at our pilots and putting them at risk." Iraqi resistance to the policing aircraft has waxed and waned over the years. Iraq was placed under United Nations sanctions after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/reuters20020628_292.html * IRAQ SAYS ONE CIVILIAN HURT IN WESTERN AIR RAID ABC News, 28th June BAGHDAD (Reuters): Iraq said one civilian was wounded on Friday when U.S. and British warplanes attacked civilian targets in the south of the country. "At 10:50 a.m. today American and British planes carried out 32 sorties from bases in Kuwait," an Iraqi military spokesman said in a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA). "The planes attacked our civilian and service installations in Amarah, wounding one citizen," the spokesman said. [.....] http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/07125804.htm * US SAYS IRAN NO LONGER HELPING IRAQ SMUGGLE OIL Tehran, June 28, IRNA -- Iran has recently stopped allowing tankers carrying smuggled Iraqi oil to dodge international monitoring ships in the Persian Gulf by staying inside Iran's territorial waters, the DPA quoted the Pentagon as saying on Thursday. The loss of the Iranian safe haven has led smugglers to change tactics, loading the oil from the large tankers onto smaller vessels in hopes of evading US Navy ships trying to enforce United Nations sanctions against Iraq, said General Richard Myers, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to DPA, closing its territorial waters to Iraqi smugglers could be an overture to the United States from Iran, which was branded by US President George W. Bush as part of his "axis of evil" allegedly for supporting terrorists and trying to attain weapons of mass destruction. On Tuesday, Iran accepted Bush's offer of humanitarian assistance to victims of Saturday's earthquake in northern Iran. Myers said there were "indications...fairly recently" that the smugglers are no longer using Iranian waters to evade inspection. For years, US officials have complained that tankers were able to traverse the length of the Persian Gulf by hugging Iran's long coastline while US and other naval vessels enforcing the sanctions are required to remain in international waters. Over the past week, the US and allied ships have diverted 21 vessels found to be carrying Iraqi oil, Myers told reporters Wednesday at the Pentagon. "While this is an increase, most of these vessels were dhows, not tankers," Myers said. "The owners of the tankers have resorted to trying to put the oil on the dhows, believing that these smaller vessels will have a better chance of sneaking past our maritime interception operations." [.....] INSIDE IRAQ http://observer.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,742303,00.html * HOW SADDAM 'STAGED' FAKE BABY FUNERALS by John Sweeney The Observer, 23rd June The witness against the government of Iraq walked stiffly into the room, metal callipers buckled to heavy medical shoes. They had tortured her two years ago. She is now four. Her father had been suspected of involvement in a plot to kill Saddam Hussein's psychopathic son, Uday. He fled to the north of Iraq, but the secret police, the mukhabarat, came for his wife, still in Baghdad, and tortured her. When she wouldn't break, they tortured 'Anna' in front of her. Her father, 'Ali', is a thick-set Iraqi who worked in Saddam's privileged inner circle. He described what they did to her: 'They had a wooden stick. They would squeeze her feet and ask "Has Daddy called you?" - she understood - "Does Daddy contact you?"' She is a victim of Saddam's brutality, proof that he is prepared to dispense violence against even his country's children. By a cruel irony, her father is also witness to Saddam's efforts to portray those same children as victims of Western sanctions, which he claims have cost hundreds of thousands of young lives. Osama bin Laden justified the 11 September attack on America by referring to a million dead Iraqi children - killed by sanctions. But there is a belief among many Iraqis that Saddam is inventing the numbers. Ali, outraged that Saddam's torturers may have crippled his daughter for life, spoke openly about how the regime's propaganda has faked mass baby funerals - 'evidence' of the 7,000 children under five the regime claims are being killed each month by sanctions. Small coffins, decorated with grisly photographs of dead babies and their ages - 'three days', 'four days', written usefully for the English-speaking media - are paraded through the streets of Baghdad on the roofs of taxis, the procession led by a throng of official mourners. There is only one problem. Because there are not enough dead babies around, the regime prevents parents from burying infants immediately, in the Muslim tradition, to create more powerful propaganda. The taxi drivers do what they are told - as everybody does in Saddam's Iraq - to their evident disgust. Before Ali defected to the north, one friend of his, a taxi driver, explained how it worked: 'I went to Najaf [a town 100 miles south of Baghdad] a couple of days ago. I brought back two bodies of children for one of the mass funerals. The smell was very strong.' Ali continued: 'The taxi driver didn't know how long they'd been in freezers, perhaps six or seven months. The drivers would collect them from the regions and would be informed of when a mass funeral was arranged so they would be ready. Certainly, they would collect bodies of children who had died months before and been held for the mass processions.' A second, Western source, went to visit visited a Baghdad hospital and, when the official Iraqi minder was absent, was taken to the mortuary. There, a doctor showed the source a number of dead babies, lying stacked in the mortuary, waiting for the next official procession. Anna was the youngest witness to child torture by the Iraqi government in an investigation, The Mother of All Ironies, to be broadcast by BBC2's Correspondent today. It found six other adult witnesses in the Kurdish safe haven in the north - the only part of Iraq where people are free to speak. The most chilling witness was one of Saddam's torturers, who was captured spying against the Kurds this year. 'Kamal' told us: 'They would bring the son in front of his parents, who were handcuffed or tied, and would start off with simple methods of torture, such as cigarette burns. Then they started using other methods of torture, more serious ones. 'They would tell the father that they'd slaughter his son, and they'd bring a bayonet out, and if the parents didn't confess they'd kill the child. 'The interrogator has the right to kill the child, or perform any other butchery, whatever's necessary.' And then Kamal chuckled. It is an absolute of the government of Iraq - and others - that thousands of Iraqi children are dying every month because of sanctions. We managed to get a cameraman to accompany a fact-finding trip into Iraq this year by the Great Britain-Iraq Society, led by its chairman, Labour MP George Galloway. At the start of the trip Galloway, in Iraq for the ninth time in two-and-a-half years, said: 'Every six minutes an Iraqi child will have died under the embargo. That's every six minutes of every day, of every night, every year for 12 years.' In 1999 Unicef, in co-operation with the Iraqi government, made a retrospective projection of 500,000 excess child deaths in the 1990s. The projection is open to question. It was based on data from within a regime that tortures children with impunity. All but one of the researchers used by Unicef were employees of the Ministry of Health, according to the Lancet. The dead babies are blamed by Saddam's regime on cancers and birth defects which first appeared in 1991 and were, it says, caused by depleted uranium weapons. While no one should underestimate the lethality of these weapons and the stupidity of the US military machine, the claim does not make radiological sense. According to Dr Nick Plowman, head of clinical oncology at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, the claim 'is ridiculous. It flies in the face of everything learnt from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.' Cancers do not develop overnight. Bombs that fell in 1991 could not have caused cancers or birth defects in that year. Fast leukaemias might occur in four or five years, heavy tumours around now, said Plowman. Richard Guthrie, a chemical weapons researcher at Sussex University, said: 'It's much more likely to be chemical weapons. There are serious clusters of cancers in the south of Iraq near Basra. In the late Eighties, Basra was almost taken by Iranian human-wave offensives, and Saddam stopped these by dropping chemical weapons on them and, by accident, on his own people. http://www.sundaytimes.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,7034,4566325%255E401, 00.html * SADDAM'S MOMENT OF TRUTH Sunday Times (Australia), 23rd June BAGHDAD: Iraq will hold a popular referendum on October 15 to decide whether to renew President Saddam Hussein's mandate for a further seven years, an official newspaper reported. "The previous referendum on October 15, 1995, and the upcoming referendum on October 15, 2002, show the close relationship between the faithful Iraqi people and the great leader Saddam Hussein," Al-Qadissiya said. "What was achieved in the previous referendum and what will be achieved in the upcoming one will signal the failure of the aggressive and terrorist policy of the US administration," the paper said. The United States has repeatedly threatened to take military action against Iraq, including toppling Saddam's regime, for allegedly developing weapons of mass destruction. Saddam, who has in his 60s and has been in power since 1979, won a 99.96 per cent "yes" vote in the unprecedented referendum held in 1995, according to official results. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-339096,00.html * SAYYED MUHAMMAD TAQI AL-HAKIM TheTimes, 27th June AYATOLLAH Sayyed Muhammad Taqi al-Hakim was a prominent Shia Muslim religious leader and scholar in Iraq. He managed to combine a conventional religious education with an often iconoclastic commitment to reform of the religious institutions of which he played an integral part. In a period that witnessed the consolidation of the Baath Government¹s repression over the Shia religious establishment, he struggled against the odds to produce a lasting progressive legacy. Steeped in a thousand-year-old tradition of theological inquiry and home to the shrine of the Imam Ali, Najaf, his birthplace, was the cradle of Shia Islam in which al-Hakim foresaw the need for change. He pursued his advanced studies under the guidance of his cousin, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Muhsin al-Hakim, and Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Abualqassim al-Khoei, both in turn the pre-eminent marja, or highest spiritual authorities, of the late 20th-century Shia world. Earlier, the well-known Sheikh Hussain al-Hilli had taught al-Hakim philosophy. But it was in this traditionalist environment that al-Hakim was to begin dedicating himself to the work of engaging the teachings of the religious schools and colleges with the secular modern world. As a boy, unusually for the time, al-Hakim had had private English tuition which may have had some influence over his subsequent interest in pursuing a broader approach to the existing framework of study. In Najaf he met colleagues who shared his reformist sentiments and with them founded the religious school Montada al-Nashr, based on this modernist vision. Meanwhile, his professional life was taking him further afield and in the 1950s his lectures on Islam and human rights delivered in Karachi were already attracting attention. By expanding the curriculum in the College of Jurisprudence ‹ which he was involved in establishing in 1958 ‹ to include the social sciences and humanities, the grounds were laid for a greater degree of intellectual emancipation from which Najaf¹s religious elite benefited. In 1964 he became a professor at Baghdad University¹s Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies. Al-Hakim¹s intellectual vision was matched by his extensive and eclectic personal friendships and encounters, being just as much at home in the company of Arab literary and intellectual circles as with students of religion. The well-known Arab novelist Taha Hussein was one. He was also an active member of several professional institutes. Al-Hakim chose to remain outside the realm of political power-play and intrigue and to focus his energies on internal institutional matters within the Shia establishment and, importantly, on cementing ties with the Sunni world. Bridging understanding in the interests of creating mutual tolerance between Sunni and the Shia Muslims played a central role in his work and he had fostered particularly close relations with the al-Azhar University in Cairo. Al-Hakim also had a deep commitment to forging good interfaith relations and had made lifelong friendships with some key Christian personalities in Iraq including Father Yusuf Hibbi, a well-known Christan theologian, and Michael Awwad. But much as he displayed a distinct disinclination towards politics, as a Shia in Baathist Iraq he could not be spared the luxury of ignoring it: there always remained the lurking probability of being on the receiving end of the Iraqi Government¹s all-pervasive and repressive security network. The brutal security clampdown by the Government following the post-Gulf War civil uprisings in March 1991 had targeted the Shia religious establishment in the shrine cities of the south. In its wake, more than 100 Shia clerics and religious students were imprisoned and still remain unaccounted for. Among them were 14 members of al-Hakim¹s family. Ayatollah al-Hakim had himself been imprisoned for a time in the early 1980s with 71 other male members of his family, 16 of whom were executed. Al-Hakim will be remembered most, however, for his contribution to the wider process of modernising the religious schools and for remaining dedicated to forging ties, both personal and professional, between faiths. He is survived by his wife Badriya, three sons (one son predeceased him) and four daughters. Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammad Taqi al-Hakim was born in Najaf, Iraq, in July 1924. He died there from lung disease on April 29, 2002, aged 77. IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-aus/2002/jun/28/062805297.html June 28, 2002 * 35 AUSTRALIA ASYLUM SEEKERS BREAK OUT Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 28th June CANBERRA, Australia- Thirty asylum seekers were at large in the Australian desert Friday after a daring escape from the nation's most notorious detention center. Thirty-five people escaped the Woomera detention center just before midnight Thursday after activists used a car to pull down a fence topped with razor wire, the government said. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said 15 asylum seekers were allegedly involved in the mass breakout. The other 20 took advantage of the confusion and fled into the desert surrounding the camp at Woomera, a former missile testing base in central Australia. "This is a deliberate, organized breakout by people who have been in contact with detainees," Ruddock told Melbourne radio station 3AW. Ruddock said five of the detainees were recaptured. Police were using a helicopter, an airplane and dogs on the ground to search a 80,000-square-mile area for the rest of the escapees. Ruddock said members of an activist group drove a car up to one of the camp's fences, pulled a portion of it down and ferried away the asylum seekers. Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio said it had received an e-mail from a group calling itself Our Sacred Country, which claimed responsibility for the breakout. Kate Denman, a South Australian state police spokeswoman, said police had arrested and charged three men and a woman with assisting the breakout and were searching for others. All of them were in their 20s. Their identities were not released "It's very cold out in the desert (at) night and we have concerns for their welfare," said Denman. An angry Prime Minister John Howard said helping people escape was "inflammatory and unhelpful and potentially criminal." He said the government would pursue the culprits. The detention center at Woomera is one of five camps where hundreds of mostly Middle Eastern boat people are held while authorities consider their requests for asylum. The policy has been criticized by human rights activists but is popular with most Australians. Woomera has been the most troublesome of the camps and has been plagued by riots, hunger strikes, arson and self-mutilation by inmates. About 160 of the 200 Woomera detainees had been on a hunger strike for four days. Two of them had sewed their lips together. Earlier this year, 47 inmates escaped when hundreds of people protesting Australia's policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers tore down part of the fence. Most of them were later recaptured. Most of the people now detained at Woomera are from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. Almost all have had their applications for refugee status refused but cannot be returned home because Australia does not have repatriation arrangements with their home countries. Some have been in the camps for more than three years. IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.iranmania.com/news/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=10812&NewsKin d=CurrentAffairs&ArchiveNews=Yes * IRAQ, IRAN SET TIMETABLE FOR REPATRIATION OF REFUGEES IranMania.com, 24th June BAGHDAD, June 23 (AFP) - Iraq and Iran have set a timetable for the "voluntary repatriation" of Iraqi and Iranian refugees hosted by either country, the Iraqi foreign ministry said on Sunday. The timetable was agreed during a meeting in Baghdad this week of a joint commission on humanitarian affairs, the ministry said in a statement. The agreement provides for drawing up lists of the refugees hosted by each of the two countries since their 1980-1988 war who wish to return home. A first batch of 138 Iranian refugees are due to return home from Iraq on July 13, and a group of 295 Iraqi refugees will be repatriated from Iran soon. Iranian Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Ali Ebrahimi said in January there were 220,000 registered Iraqi refugees in Iran, but that the total number of refugees was "close to 300,000" - a figure below more common estimates of 400,000 to 450,000. Ebrahimi said there were some 20,000 Iranian refugees in Iraq, "1,600 of whom have asked to be repatriated." In July 1999, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein amnestied Iraqis living in Iran, and several thousand of them have since returned to Iraq. Iraq and Iran have yet to sign a formal peace treaty 14 years after the end of their devastating conflict which cost around one million lives. http://www.iranmania.com/news/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=10871&NewsKin d=CurrentAffairs * IRAQ'S CULTURE MINISTER TO VISIT IRAN Iranmania.com, 26th June TEHRAN, June 26 (AFP) - Iraqi Culture Minister Hamad Yussef Hammadi is set to visit Iran Thursday on a five-day trip, the latest sign of a thaw in relations between the once bitter foes, an official Iranian source said Wednesday. Hammadi, who was invited by his Iranian counterpart Ahmad Masjed-Jamei, will visit the holy Shiite city of Mashaad in the northeast and Isfahan in central Iran. Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi met Tuesday in Khartoum with Iraq's top diplomat Naji Sabri on the sidelines of a summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Iran and Iraq were at war from 1980 to 1988, and never signed a formal treaty ending the conflict that cost around one million lives. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=55953 * IRAQ PROTESTS TO UN AT IRAN TRUCE BREACHES Gulf News, 29th June Iraq has protested to the United Nations at what it calls Iranian breaches of a ceasefire agreement reached at the end of the two countries' 1980-88 war, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) said. The agency, in a despatch from New York late on Thursday, said a letter from Iraq's UN Amba-ssador Mohammed Al Douri to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan documented "violations by the Iranian side over the period from February to May 15, 2002." The violations included "numerous overflights of Iraqi positions by Iranian planes and helicopters ... and firing by Iranian troops (at Iraqi territory) that left a number of Iraqi citizens wounded," Douri wrote. "The letter includes 41 breaches covering flights by Iranian helicopters over a number of Iraqi sites and building sand barriers and erecting new towers," the agency said. It added that the letter also accused the Iranian side of "seizing Iraqi vehicles and opening fire by Iranian forces, hurting a number of Iraqi civilians." INA gave no further details. A thaw in relations between the two countries started late in 2000 with an agreement to patch up differences remaining from their 1980-88 war. Despite the end of the eight-year war, Iraq and Iran still have disagreements over many issues, including the repatriation of prisoners of war. Other problems include that of Iraqi warplanes and civilian aircraft grounded in Iran since the 1991 Gulf War, as well as the issue of who pays war reparations. Baghdad accuses Tehran of providing refuge for Shi'ite dissidents who mount hit-and-run attacks on southern Iraq. Tehran, in turn, accuses Baghdad of arming the exiled People's Mujahideen organisation and providing it with military camps along its border. Although Baghdad and Tehran have gone some way toward burying the hatchet, they have yet to sign a formal peace treaty 14 years after the end of their devastating conflict which cost around one million lives. Obstacles to normalisation of ties include the issue of war prisoners and the hosting of each other's dissident groups. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/28_06_02/art29.asp * IRAQI¹S MESSAGE WELCOMED IN SIDON AFTER MARATHON WALK Daily Star, Lebanon, 28th June South Governor Faisal Sayegh welcomed the Thursday arrival at the Sidon Serail of an Iraqi national who came to Lebanon by foot from his native country to bring a message calling for unity and solidarity. Rahab al-Duraji, who left Iraq on May 23, said he came to southern Lebanon to congratulate the people on their victory over the ³Zionist enemy.² Sayegh praised Duraji¹s ³nationalistic initiative.² Duraji said he also wanted to ³promote bilateral relations between the Iraqis, who were suffering hunger, and the Lebanese, who pride themselves for their victory over Israel.² He added that his journey was meant to consolidate solidarity between both governments as a prelude to lifting the UN embargo imposed on the Iraqis since 1990. NEW WORLD ORDER http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_2069000/2069059.stm * UN URGED TO OPPOSE US IMMUNITY BBC, 27th June A coalition of groups supporting the new International Criminal Court (ICC) has urged the United Nations Security Council to reject American demands to exempt US peacekeepers from its jurisdiction. Approval would have a "far-reaching and devastating" effect on international law, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court said in an open letter to the security council. Sixty-nine countries, including all members of the European Union, have ratified the treaty under which the court comes into being next Monday to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The United States says its troops and citizens would be vulnerable to frivolous or politically-motivated prosecution. Supporters say the Rome Treaty governing the court already has safeguards against this - the ICC will step in only when countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute suspects themselves. The US has signed, but not ratified the Rome Treaty. Last week Washington introduced a draft resolution in the security council that would provide blanket protection from prosecution by the court for all personnel taking part in all UN operations. The Coalition for the International Criminal Court - which brings together more than 1,000 organisations - says the exemption would set a "disastrous precedent". "No person should be immune from prosecution for genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes," the head of the Coalition, William Pace, said in the open letter. "The US proposal would send a very dangerous signal that peacekeepers are above the law if they commit one of (these) grave crimes." The dispute over immunity could have serious implications for the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. Last week, the deadline for renewing mission's mandate was extended by nine days to allow discussions to continue, in the hope of reaching a compromise before the court comes into being. The US has said it could pull out of the force in Bosnia if American peacekeepers are not granted immunity. The US cannot veto the continuation of the peacekeeping operation, but its withdrawal from the force could have serious consequences. The country provides 3,100 peacekeepers to the 17,000- strong force. Officials say all of the US members carry out necessary work, and would need to replaced if they were removed. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/178/nation/Belgian_court_rejects_war_crime s_case_vs_Israel_s_Sharon+.shtml * BELGIAN COURT REJECTS WAR-CRIMES CASE VS. ISRAEL'S SHARON by Constant Brand, Boston Globe (from Associated Press), 27th June BRUSSELS - A Belgian appeals court dismissed a war crimes complaint against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel yesterday in a decision that cast doubt on whether actions against other world leaders under a controversial Belgian law can go forward. The ruling was the second setback this year for the 1993 law granting Belgian courts ''universal jurisdiction'' over war crimes committed elsewhere. A decision by the Netherlands-based World Court in February blocked Belgium from prosecuting a former foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo. While that ruling turned on diplomatic immunity, the three Belgian appeals court judges said the case against Sharon could not proceed because he does not live in Belgium. The verdicts make it unlikely that similar complaints in Belgium against other international figures - including Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, President Fidel Castro of Cuba, and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq - can be successful, said Jan Wouters, director of the Institute of International Law at the University of Leuven. ''The law has already suffered a few hits,'' he said. ''Today's decision ... adds to that.'' The ruling means an end to the investigation into allegations that Sharon was responsible for a 1982 massacre in two Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Belgian prosecutors opened an investigation last July into a complaint filed by 23 survivors of the camps, but it was suspended in September while Sharon's lawyers challenged Belgium's jurisdiction. The investigating magistrate then referred the case to the appeals court. ''If a person is not found on the territory, we find [the complaint] inadmissible,'' the court said in its 22-page ruling. Sharon's lawyers welcomed the court's ruling and said it ended what they perceived as a political court case meant to embarrass Sharon. ''Belgium has become the judge of the world,'' said Michele Hirsch, one of Sharon's lawyers. ''This ruling has set limits.'' Meanwhile, lawyers for the Palestinian survivors, who launched their case last year, indicated they would appeal. ''We are not satisfied with this,'' said attorney Michael Verhaeghe. http://independent-bangladesh.com/news/jun/28/28062002pd.htm#A1 * TWO WORLD ORDERS by Ayman El-Amir Bangladeshi Independent, 28th June [.....] The new supreme power has substituted the "rule of law" by a doctrine of "ruling above the law". Two landmark developments defined the new world order. First, in October 1999, the United States Senate, acting against the recommendation of President Bill Clinton, refused to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), thus weakening the underpinnings of global security arrangements. This gave existing and aspiring nuclear powers the green light to resume nuclear testing and undermined the principles of non proliferation. Successive US administrations, wanting to maintain the prevailing monopoly on nuclear arms, had consistently bullied the US¹s non- nuclear allies into endorsing the CTBT, and refused to tolerate any questions on the matter of Israel¹s nuclear arsenal. The Bush administration has recently announced its withdrawal from the 1972 SALT II treaty with the former Soviet Union, which limited the deployment of anti- ballistic missiles. Last week, the Russian government responded by abolishing the treaty. Successful medium- and long-range missile tests by Pakistan and Iran last month were defensible in light of US actions. China, Russia, Israel and India will probably now feel free to undertake nuclear and missile testing to fine tune their nuclear arms systems. According to Western military sources, Israeli nuclear-armed submarines have been deployed in the Persian Gulf, having previously been based in the Red Sea for easy deployment near Iran. The probable outcome of these developments is that the nuclear arms race will once again proceed at full swing. The other major development, which occurred six months earlier, was the NATO member states¹ ratification in Washington of a US proposal to modify the defensive nature of the organisation. In accordance with the US proposal, NATO gave itself the right to intervene militarily in the affairs of any sovereign state without authorisation of the UN Security Council. This changed mandate provided advance justification for the bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a "humanitarian intervention". Although NATO¹s new role clearly violates one of the cardinal principles of the UN Charter‹resort to the threat of or the use of force unless authorised by the Security Council‹it was comfortably endorsed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. After the recent expansion of NATO to incorporate the former countries of the Eastern Bloc and the associate status bestowed upon Russia, NATO¹s mandate was further strengthened when it adopted the fight against terrorism as its principal mission. Following a consultative meeting last week, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that NATO might launch strikes against targets without having incontrovertible evidence of their involvement in terrorism. This suggests that the US might launch preemptive strikes on the mere suspicion that a terrorist plot is afoot‹a new turn in international relations. If there had been anything left of the post-1945 world order, it was shattered by the terrorist attacks of 11 September. Since the world¹s superpower suffered a blow it has been obsessed with retaliation. Consequently, in the new spirit of international relations, the global fight against terrorism is the highest order. Neither dissent nor even critical discussion of the matter are permitted. In its pursuit of terrorism, the new superpower is both extraterritorial and extrajudicial. The new world order is very much a divided entity. A wide gap separates the superpower, which has renounced all checks and balances, from an underdeveloped world that largely suffers from political, economic and social injustice. This gap is to an extent bridged by a group of manipulative countries with shifting allegiances. At the beginning of the third millennium, the global picture is dismal. Of the world¹s six billion people, more than two billion live in abject poverty. Less than 10 per cent of the world¹s population lives comfortably, while 5.5 billion persons live in constant need. More than one billion of them are unemployed or under employed and 300 million children live and work in conditions of unprecedented brutality, reminiscent of the early days of capitalism. Globalisation is wreaking economic, social and political havoc. It is destabilising political regimes and social systems. It has turned countries and peoples into businesses to be bought, held or sold. The new era is supposed to mark the triumph of justice, freedom and democracy. However, the world is dominated by totalitarian regimes, media censorship is appearing in new forms and individual freedoms and civil liberties are increasingly proscribed. News reports this week that Israel¹s three Dolphin-class submarines are equipped with nuclear-armed cruise missiles give the appearance of being messages destined for Iran and Pakistan. Both countries have recently tested new long-range missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads and which put Israel within their reach. The reports on the submarines undermine Egypt¹s decade-long effort to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, and they mark the dawn of a new phase in the post- Berlin Wall world order: the revival of the nuclear arms race. Once again, the world is on a razor¹s edge. But this time, in the context of a unipolar world; responsibility for the direction of the world order rests squarely with the United States. The preoccupation with the all-out war on terrorism has circumscribed the global agenda. A number of explosive regional crises are being given only the most limited attention. The crisis in the Middle East, the impending war between India and Pakistan, the deteriorating international financial situation, the rise of transnational crime and the explosion of crushing global poverty and pandemic diseases are but few examples. Only the most urgent of crises‹the Indo-Pakistani situation and that in the Middle East‹have captured the attention of the world¹s sole superpower, but only from the narrow perspective of combating terrorism. The new world order is at a crossroads. The Clinton administration had divided it into "allies" and "rogue states", leaving some space in between for countries with other political opinions. The Bush administration has defined the world as comprising a "coalition against terrorism" and an "axis of evil", with nothing in between. Washington¹s insistence on a high-powered militarism and political hounding is creating a new class of "rebel states" in the Middle East and elsewhere‹a loose alliance that is determined to halt US extraterritorialism. These factors appear set to define a new system of international relations in which the rebel states and the superpower are continually at loggerheads. Samuel Huntington, who developed the controversial clash of civilisations theory, said as much in his article "The Lonely Superpower" (Foreign Affairs, March-April 1999). However, this dangerous course of action is neither desirable nor inevitable. If it wishes, the world¹s sole superpower could lead a drive towards establishing a new global contract for peace and development aiming to realise the objectives stated by the UN Charter. A new and courageous dialogue is needed‹a dialogue that will not shy away from giving weight to the causes of terrorism and not only the "war" against it. The dialogue should not be monopolised or manipulated by governments, but should be led by the genuine voices of civil society. It¹s only when the world¹s superpower begins to listen, rather than talk, to heed rather than instruct, that the promise of a new, just and equitable order could begin to be realised. The writer is former correspondent for Al- Ahram in Washington DC. He has also served as director of United Nations Radio and Television in New York. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/020629/79/1rpg7.html * A TIME FOR DISSENT IN AMERICA by Richard Reeves Yahoo.com, 29th June WASHINGTON -- The presidency seems to be going to George Bush's head. With each morning's paper or evening's news, depending on your preference, our leader is jumping up and saying truly extraordinary things, some of them preposterous, some stupid, some terrifying. Ariel Sharon, he says, is "a man of peace." I must have missed something. If Yasser Arafat, that other sometimes man of peace, wins an election, the election doesn't count. Nothing counts unless we like it. We are now in the first-strike business, ready to launch pre-emptive or preventive strikes against countries or groups judged hostile to our interests by someone at Central Intelligence or the Republican National Committee. Frankly, I prefer what a bit more experienced Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, said on that subject in 1954: "Preventative war ... I don't believe in such a thing, and frankly I wouldn't even listen seriously to anyone that came in and talked about such a thing." Ah, what did he know? Now, the United States can do anything it wants, right? World's only superpower and all that. We define morality now. We decide who's naughty and who's nice. The Saudi royal family, there's a good bunch, even if they are the greatest exporters of terrorism in the world, getting out of their country and into Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kashmir and lower Manhattan. We are, since Sept. 11, a nation without dissent -- and a little weak on common sense, too. If the president says it, it must be true. Whether you agree with his pronouncements or not, you are supposed to keep your mouth shut in the name of patriotism and solidarity. Among other things, you have to pretend we actually have the capability to do what we say we're going to do to the axis of evil or anyone else, including corporate America, who gets bad numbers in Republicans' polls. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Foreign Policy magazine, hardly a hotbed of anti-establishment thinking, in its July-August edition has a cover story titled "The Incredible Shrinking Eagle: The End of Pax Americana," a harsh left-wing analysis asserting that the United States' best days are behind us. I would disagree with that, but I am impressed that someone out there has a clear enough head to point out that with all our big talk, the United States has fought three wars since 1950 and has lost one and tied two. The author, Immanuel Wallerstein, a roving intellectual now a senior research scholar at Yale, counts Vietnam as a defeat, and Korea and Iraq as draws. "One of the most influential scholars of the American left," say the magazine's editors in what appears to be a bit of nervousness. "He argues that the victory over the Taliban is just another milestone in a gradual U.S. decline that began in the 1970s with defeat in Vietnam. ... More damningly, he accuses the most aggressive proponents of U.S. power of actually hastening the collapse of the American empire, thanks to military outreach that has busted the U.S. economy and a global backlash against American arrogance that has left the United States increasingly isolated." "Unexamined triumphalism" is Foreign Policy's justification for printing the kind of questioning and skepticism that has been lost in larger journals and electronic news -- to say nothing of the president's head. "The Powerless Superpower" is one of the subheads in the Wallerstein article. We look best, he declares, when we attack countries without armies, triumphing in Panama and Grenada. "In the Balkans and the Middle East alike," he argues, "the United States has failed to exert its hegemonic clout effectively, not for want of will or effort, but for want of real power." President Bush does not seem to understand that. He is making threats and promises he cannot deliver on, because the only way to control cantankerous little countries with their own history is by occupation. So it is ridiculous for Bush to say, "The outcome is certain." And the prospects for the future are not helped by threats such as, "You are either for us or against us." The truth is, most countries, with Israel and Saudi Arabia as examples, are not with us; they are paying lip-service waiting to see whether and where we succeed. They are -- surprise -- for themselves. This is heresy in mobilizing Washington, but in fact, more argument, more dissent would be a great help to Bush. He is talking nonsense a good deal of the time, dangerous nonsense if he means it, and it is past time to talk openly about that. OIL POLITICS http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1024578170198&p=1012571727179 * OPEC JOB LIKELY TO STAY WITH VENEZUELA by David Buchan in London and Andy Webb-Vidal in Caracas Financial Times, 24th June The Opec oil producers cartel is expected this week to choose Venezuela's energy minister, Alvaro Silva, as its next secretary- general, partly to try to prevent the Latin American oil producing country sapping cartel discipline and oil prices. Oil prices fell on Friday on reports of increased Venezuelan production, with the Brent benchmark crude for August delivery closing 32 cents down on the day at $24.73 in London and West Texas Intermediate ending 13 cents down at $25.82 in New York. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who has been a loyal supporter of Opec, this weekend dismissed as "rumour" reports that Venezuela was producing more than its current Opec quota of 2.5m barrels per day. But Mr Chávez is under financial pressure to make up production lost during the strikes at the state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), that culminated in the failed coup against him in April. In the wake of the 48-hour coup, Mr Chávez recalled Ali Rodríguez, the former Venezuelan energy minister who is formally resigning as Opec secretary-general this week, to head PDVSA. Mr Rodríguez is reported to have already ordered a 200,000 barrels a day output increase at PDVSA. With world oil supply rising still apparently faster than overall oil demand, Opec ministers are likely, at their regular meeting in Vienna this week, to leave unchanged production quotas that have been slashed over the past year. However, they are expected to keep a Venezuelan as the head of their Vienna secretariat by appointing Mr Silva to serve out the last 18 months of Mr Rodríguez's term. Mr Silva, whose candidature was announced by Mr Chávez, is the only formal runner in the field. Mr Rodríguez has used a recent farewell tour of several Opec capitals in the Middle East to lobby for Mr Silva. None of Venezuela's 10 Opec partners has named a candidate, perhaps fearing a repeat of 2000 when Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq blocked one another's candidates and eventually compromised on Mr Rodríguez. However, while there may be agreement that a Venezuelan may replace Mr Rodríguez, there are some reservations over Mr Silva, who speaks little English and no Arabic. Aged 73, Mr Silva is a dour and serious character compared with his predecessor. The choice of Mr Silva, according to one Opec source, is less personal than "a strategic imperative to keep Venezuela on board to secure compliance with Opec quotas". Oil industry executives in Venezuela remark on his limited diplomatic charm and ideological rigidity. As energy minister, Mr Silva last year drafted a new hydrocarbons law, which raised royalty taxes. In the 1990s, he opposed the opening up of the oil sector to foreign capital. He was also involved in preparing the nationalisation law of 1976 that created PDVSA. http://cgi.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=14321719&template=worldnews /search.txt&index=recent * FRANCE WANTS END TO IRAQI OIL POLICY The Associated Press, 26th June UNITED NATIONS: France has proposed that the U.N. Security Council replace its current policy for pricing Iraqi oil with stricter registration standards for the oil buyers, Western diplomats said Tuesday. Those stricter standards include evidence of capital, creditworthiness and experience in the oil market, diplomats said. The proposal is similar to one proposed by the United States and Britain last year but rejected by Russia, they said. The proposal is expected to be discussed Wednesday by experts from the sanctions monitoring committee. ``We're going to give it serious consideration,'' a U.S. official said. The proceeds from Iraqi oil sales are the main source of revenue for a 5-year-old U.N. humanitarian program to alleviate the suffering of Iraqi civilians living under sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The program allows Iraq to sell unlimited quantities of crude oil to purchase food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. Currently, prices for Iraqi oil are approved at the end of the month, rather than the beginning. That's because the Iraqi government in 2000 introduced surcharges as high as 50 cents on every barrel of oil as a way of partially circumventing U.N. control over its only source of hard currency. The United States and Britain initially tried to crack down on this illegal revenue by proposing strict registration criteria for companies to buy Iraqi oil. But that was rejected by Russia, whose companies lift the bulk of Iraqi crude under the oil-for-food program. Britain and the United States then pressed the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Iraq to change the pricing policy so Iraq could not take advantage of market fluctuations to impose an illegal surcharge. That change ‹ which meant oil prices were approved at the end of the month rather than the beginning ‹ was agreed to in October. But critics, including U.N. officials and other diplomats, maintain that the pricing method has caused a 25 percent drop in Iraqi oil exports. U.N. officials warn that the drop has caused a financial crisis for the oil-for-food humanitarian program. Under the French proposal, Iraq would be required to propose prices for its exports under oil-for-food every 15 days rather than every month. Committee members would have to approve them five days before the shipping period. Britain remains open to discussing alternative and equally effective ways of getting rid of illegal Iraqi surcharges, a British official said. But Western diplomats said the French proposal's success depends more on Russian reaction. Currently, more than 1,000 companies from at least 80 countries registered with the United Nations lift the oil. The vast majority of those companies are one-man operations. Britain has 106 companies registered, Russia 37 and France 20. No U.S. companies directly purchase oil from Iraq, although Iraq has been the fifth-largest supplier of crude to U.S. refiners, U.S. government data show. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/business/1471739 * OPEC TO HOLD STEADY ON OIL OUTPUT Houston Chronicle (from Reuters), 26th June VIENNA, Austria - OPEC today agreed to keep tough oil output limits intact for another three months, raising fears that crude prices might spike to $30 a barrel later this year. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries left production unchanged at 21.7 million barrels a day, keeping some six million barrels daily of spare capacity in mothballs. The cartel will wait until its next scheduled talks on Sept. 18 to decide whether more oil is needed to prevent extra demand sending crude prices spiralling higher. Outgoing OPEC Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez said production then could be lifted by a million barrels a day if rising seasonal consumption justified the addition. "If it goes to $30 then we'll do something," said OPEC President Rilwanu Lukman. Market analysts say there's a good chance that prices, already near OPEC's central target of $25 a barrel, are heading in that direction. "What they have in front of them now is a wall of new demand and they may well have to increase production before the September meeting, by calling a snap meeting, or the price could well go above $30 a barrel," said Roger Diwan of Washington consultancy Petroleum Finance Corp. "With OPEC not increasing output and demand rising both seasonally and to meet economic recovery oil prices should continue to strengthen, moving high enough to signal the need for more OPEC oil," commented Gary Ross, chief executive of New York's PIRA Energy. Such forecasts will ring alarm bells among industrialised consumer nations hoping a sluggish global economic recovery is not hampered by rising energy costs. Always happy to delay a decision that might threaten a fall in prices, caution is the watchword for OPEC before it lifts supply again, despite the pressure of record spare capacity. "We need to look at more than just the price, there are other factors such as crude and gasoline stocks and economic recovery," said Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi. Brent blend in late afternoon London trade was off 25 cents at $24.95 a barrel while U.S. crude added three cents to $26.33 a barrel. The extent of any fresh price gains will depend partly on OPEC's success in the coming weeks in clamping down on the quota cheats in its ranks. Independent estimates are that some 1.5 million bpd is being pumped in excess of official limits. "As output capacity rises then compliance is an issue we have to follow closely," said Naimi. "If there is non-compliance all of us will lose very soon and the market will punish any violators," warned Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh. Alleged Venezuelan efforts to bridge a fiscal deficit by selling more oil have drawn particular attention with a report that Caracas plans to lift production 400,000 bpd over its 2.48 million quota. Worries over the Latin American nation's output policy did not prevent Venezuelan Oil Minister Alvaro Silva's election to succeed his fellow countryman Ali Rodriguez as cartel secretary-general. Silva was appointed for 18 months. While that was being read as a good sign for OPEC unity, some Venezuelan experts said it was not certain that Caracas could afford any longer to maintain its record of sticking closely to its output quota. "The hard line on OPEC quotas has finished because the realities no longer allow it. It's not a 180 degree policy change, but more of a 45 degree move," said Orlando Ochoa, an economics professor and consultant in Caracas. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is trying to stave off financial difficulties and still struggling to contain military discontent after April's failed coup attempt against him. The temptation to leak extra crude has grown this year among many producers, who combined are holding back six million barrels a day of spare capacity from the 75 million bpd world market. "They will need to increase output by about a million barrels a day but the problem is that they're already cheating by more than that so they'll have to try to bring the meter back to zero," said Diwan. Producers have found some leeway to leak because of a slump in exports from Iraq under the United Nations oil-for-food exchange. Buyers discouraged by the U.N.'s policy of setting prices after ships load, Baghdad's sales so far this month are running at just 650,000 bpd, one third normal capacity. http://quotes.freerealtime.com/dl/frt/N?art=C2002062600177r9147&SA=Latest%20 News * DJ. UN PANEL APPROVES IRAQ OIL PRICES FOR EUROPE, JUNE 1-15 by Masood Farivar NEW YORK, Jun 26, 2002 (ODJ via COMTEX) -- (Dow Jones)--The U.N. Sanctions Committee has retroactively approved Iraq's proposed prices for its U.N.-monitored crude oil exports to Europe during the first half of June, a U.N. source said Wednesday. The price of Basrah Light crude was set at Dated Brent minus $3 a barrel, while the price of Kirkuk crude was approved at Dated Brent minus $2.15 a barrl, the source said. Prices for June crude oil exports to the U.S. and Asia remain on hold, the soruce added. The Sanctions Committee, in line with a de facto policy of retroactive pricing, is expected to approve them in July. http://atimes.com/global-econ/DF28Dj01.html * OPEC HAS NEW LEADER, PLAN by Andres Canizalez Asia Times (from Inter Press Service), 28th June CARACAS - The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will maintain caps on its production with the aim of pushing up prices to about US$25 a barrel, after a sharp slump that began to be reversed in April. Venezuelan Energy and Mines Minister Alvaro Silva Calderon was appointed secretary general of OPEC on Wednesday in a unanimous decision reached by the 11 member states: Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Silva Calderon will complete the three-year term initiated in January 2001 by his countryman Ali Rodriguez, one of the main architects of OPEC's policy of supply cutbacks, which non cartel oil exporters have also joined. Rodriguez resigned as OPEC secretary general when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called him back to head the state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela, to overcome conflicts that helped trigger a short-lived coup that briefly overthrew Chavez in April. The strategy put in place by Rodriguez puts priority on achieving, and maintaining, "fair" international oil prices. Calderon said he would seek "market stability, to avoid a price collapse like the one we experienced in 1998, through concerted policies agreed on with non OPEC members". OPEC will have to work hard to ensure strict compliance with the production quotas assigned to each country, which have been exceeded in recent months, oil-industry experts say. The latest cut in production, in effect since January 1, removed 1.5 million barrels a day from the market, and brought the organization's production to 21.7 million barrels a day, 10 percent down from the beginning of the year. Qatari Energy Minister Abdallah Ben Hammad Al Attiya said it would be possible to hold production at 21.7 million barrels a day until year-end. The cartel was also successful in its bid to get Angola, Mexico, Norway, Oman and Russia to join in the strategy, committing themselves to an additional cutback of 500,000 barrels a day. Qatar is opposed to any increase in supplies, and wants to see a price of $25 a barrel, which benefits producers as well as consumers, Al Attiya said. Oil prices averaged $27 a barrel in 2000. In September of that year, OPEC adopted a system by which supplies would be increased or cut as needed to keep prices between $22 and $28 a barrel. A year later, in the midst of an international recession aggravated by the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the average price per barrel began to drop, and declined steadily for six months until hitting $19.88 a barrel in the first quarter of this year. But prices began to recover in April, to a level near OPEC's desired price range. Last week, for example, the average price of the OPEC basket closed at $23.88 a barrel. Calderon commented that his designation to serve out Rodriguez' term "is a recognition of the role played by Venezuela, and of our country's commitment to the strengthening of OPEC". Since the Chavez administration took office in February 1999, it has made every effort to bolster OPEC, through a campaign that has included personal meetings between the president and his counterparts in the rest of the organization's member states, and with the leaders of non-member oil producers. In September 2000, Caracas hosted the second OPEC summit ever, on the organization's 40th anniversary. The first such meeting took place in Algeria in 1975. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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