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[casi] News, 22-29/6/02 (1)

News, 22-29/6/02 (1)


* [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


*  How Saddam 'staged' fake baby funerals
*  Saddam's moment of truth
*  Sayyed Muhammad Taqi al-Hakim


*  35 Australia Asylum Seekers Break Out


*  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


*  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


*  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,7034,4568929%255E1557

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

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.


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.

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.

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

"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.

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.



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,11581,742303,00.html

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.,7034,4566325%255E401,

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.,,60-339096,00.html

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

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

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

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

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.

June 28, 2002

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

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.



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

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.


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

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.

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

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.         

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.


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

"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.

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

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.

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

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.

by Richard Reeves, 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


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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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