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News, 29/6-6/7/02 (1) FINGER POINTING AT IRAQ * Israel¹s submarine menace raises stakes * The real case against Saddam * Iraq using new mobile missile launchers: Jane's * A shameful attack * BBC was fair on Iraq IRAQI LIFE AND CULTURE * Iraqi President Discharges 3 Elderly Ministers * Baghdad slams UNESCO over World Heritage List * Diverse Iraqi painting revealed in all its richness IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (South Africa, Pakistan, India, Czech Republic, Europe, Eritrea, Russia) * Iraqi Deputy Minister Visits SA * Baghdad accepts 31,000 tons wheat * India's FICCI [Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry] to send delegation to Iraq * Iraq denounces the Free Europe radio * EU approves aid package to Iraq * Eritrea eager for U.S. military partnership * Iraqi Ambassador Talks the Talk NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Kurds grit teeth for US strike * Restaurant Explosion Injures 20 in Kurdish-run northern Iraq * '88 gassing still killing Iraqi Kurds * Iraq Turns Up Heat on Ethnic Kurds, Non-Arabs in Kirkuk FINGER POINTING AT IRAQ http://www.dailystar.com.lb/29_06_02/art15.asp * ISRAEL¹S SUBMARINE MENACE RAISES STAKES by Ed Blanche, The Daily Star (Lebanon), 30th June [.....] In 1995, Tariq Aziz, then Saddam Hussein¹s foreign minister, disclosed that during the 1991 Gulf War the Iraqi military loaded nearly 200 Scud-type missiles with chemical and biological warheads, but never fired them. He said that was because the Americans had threatened nuclear retaliation if they did. In January 1996, Rolf Ekeus, then head of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) charged with dismantling Saddam¹s weapons programs, said that 191 weapons were armed with anthrax agent, botulinum toxin and aflatoxin: ³Their use, which seemed to have been possible at any time, would have killed millions of people.² He also said his inspectors came across an Iraqi document dated 1990 that explained the procedures for authorizing the use of biological weapons. ³If Baghdad had been destroyed by weapons of mass destruction, then the decision to use biological weapons was delegated to the local commanders,² Ekeus said. ³In other words, the document envisages biological weapons being used in retaliation, and not as a first strike. But that document refers only to circumstances in which local commanders can use weapons. We know there was also an option for a thunder strike,¹ a surprise attack which seems to mean a first use of the weapons. I assume that a thunder strike¹ would have had to be authorized by the top political officials.² Saddam and his cronies are still in power in Baghdad and no one knows for sure what weapons he still has, or could assemble quickly. But there is clearly a danger that he would strike out in the event of a US military operation intended to topple him. Israel would be a likely target and missile-armed submarines probably wouldn¹t be much of a deterrent to a doomed tyrant. http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/51474.htm * THE REAL CASE AGAINST SADDAM by Joshua Micah Marshall New York Post, 1st July EVER since 9/11, commentators who support war to overthrow Saddam Hussein have been trying to strengthen their case by tying the Iraqi dictator to al Qaeda terrorism. But this hurts their cause - unnecessarily. The charges keep coming. In the wake of 9/11 came the suggestion that Saddam might have played some role in assisting, if not directing, the attacks. After the anthrax assault, these same voices more plausibly pointed to Saddam's bioweapons facilities as the ultimate source of the lethal spores. And only last week the Washington Times reported that Iraq was giving safe passage or even safe haven to al Qaeda fugitives fleeing Afghanistan and that this might itself be a new justification for an American attack. The problem is that there is very little solid evidence that any of these claims are true - certainly not the sort of proof that justifies an invasion. Czech intelligence still claims that it monitored Mohamad Atta meeting with a top Iraqi intelligence officer in April 2001. But the report stands against mounds of other evidence pointing in quite a different direction. You don't have to be a dove to cast doubt on these theories. Even Danielle Pletka - Jesse Helms' former chief Iraq staffer, and no slouch when it comes to taking a hard line against Saddam - says, "Nobody credible makes the case that there's some connection between Saddam Hussein and what happened Sept. 11." On anthrax, the FBI still hasn't tracked down the culprit. But there is as yet no plausible evidence of Saddam's involvement. None. The hawks who keep leveling these charges seem to be following that old theory that if you throw enough mud at a wall, some of it will eventually stick. But they're sullying themselves more than Saddam. Tossing off claims that don't stand the test of evidence makes the case for ousting Saddam seem just like what its opponents say it is: Mindless or dishonest warmongering, an effort motivated by some never quite-stated ulterior motive, or simply a goal in search of a rationale. In short, the campaign gives the public the idea that the case against Saddam must not be very good. What's maddening about this is that you don't need any of these theories to make a very strong case for regime change in Iraq. There are several strong arguments for removing Saddam's regime by military force in the near future. Iraq hawks just need the courage and patience to make case honestly. That argument has essentially four pillars: 1) Saddam and his regime are demonstrably evil-minded. Even more important, he is demonstrable reckless. 2) He not only continues to develop weapons of mass destruction, but does so with an astonishing single-mindedness, subordinating almost every other national priority to that aim. If we don't act, he'll get them. 3) Given Iraq's size, wealth and strategic location, Saddam's Iraq is the long-term threat to U.S. interests in region. 4) Our current policy of sanctions and containment has not worked and our ability to maintain even the current policy diminishes by the day. This isn't as eye-catching or as exciting an argument as pinning the anthrax attacks on Saddam. It's complex and sometimes difficult to explain. And it doesn't overwhelm all the rationales for caution and restraint, as pinning 9/11 or anthrax on Saddam obviously would. But it's a very good argument. And it has the added virtue of being provably true. Saddam Hussein really is a threat to the United States. And now is the time to deal with him. But leaving the case against him to be made by unscrupulous polemicists and yahoos helps Saddam more than it hurts him. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=14684077 * IRAQ USING NEW MOBILE MISSILE LAUNCHERS: JANE'S Times of India (from AFP), 2nd July LONDON: Baghdad is using new mobile missile launchers against British and US planes that monitor "no-fly" zones in the north and south of Iraq, the specialist Jane's Intelligence Review reported in its July edition. Jane's said the weapons system comprised two S-125 Neva missiles capable of being fired from a truck. "By mounting the missiles on mobile launchers the Iraqis have complicated US and UK efforts to monitor Iraqu's air defences," Jane's said. The S-125s originally supplied by the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s were static missiles fired from fixed launch pads. Almost daily skirmishes are reported in the skies of Iraq, which Washington and London patrol to impose a policy of containment on President Saddam Hussein's forces. Iraq does not recognise the two air exclusion zones, which are not covered by any UN Security Council resolution. According to Baghdad, US and British air strikes have killed 1,477 people and wounded 1,367 since the two zones were set up after the 1991 Gulf War. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4451725,00.html * A SHAMEFUL ATTACK by Mark Seddon Guardian, 1st July 'Advocacy journalism" is the phrase used by US rightwing polemicist David Brock to describe the tactics he employed to pursue the Clintons throughout the 90s. In his new book, he describes how he regularly mixed fact with allegation to serve up a heady cocktail of innuendo designed to fatally undermine a Democratic presidency that the right could never accept. To attack advocacy journalism risks falling into a trap set by professional politicians. After all, Labour party chairman Charles Clarke recently rounded on political journalists, accusing them of being "pious and hypocrical". Immediately and predictably he ran into a storm. Those who live by media management, it would appear, are destined to die by it when the new breed of advocate journalists bite back. Or as a North American trade unionist once advised Labour MP and former journalist Denis MacShane, "never get into a pissing match with a skunk". But the problem with advocacy journalism is it frequently doesn't come with a health check. Newspapers and current affairs programmes increasingly labour under tight budgets. The temptation therefore is to cut corners and sometimes seek opinion before fact. In the Gadarene rush for ratings, the headline-grabbing potential is sometimes valued more than the cool, studied approach of such veterans as the BBC's John Ware or David Sells. Objectivity matters more in the broadcast media; the public expect it especially in the BBC and impartiality features prominently as a cornerstone value in the corporation's impressive guidelines on impartiality and fairness. It follows that the BBC, the guardian of objectivity in an increasingly cut-throat, cost-cutting world, will be under closer scrutiny than other broadcast medium. That objectivity was sadly lacking in the BBC Correspondent's film Iraq - Mother of all Ironies, which was broadcast on June 23. It would matter less that such a partial programme had been made had there not been similar and serious complaints aimed at another two recent reports from Correspondent. The complaints of lack of objectivity that have been levelled by commentators and some viewers have greater weight when it is remembered that less and less space is devoted to serious foreign reporting at a time when domestic policy is hugely influenced by what goes on beyond our borders. The programme examined the effects of alleged Iraqi sanctions on Kurdistan. It highlighted the appalling suffering of the Kurds under Saddam Hussein during the 1980s, but failed to make use of facts and footage from Baghdad which might have shown that ordinary Iraqis continue to suffer and die in their thousands less as a result of embargoed medicines, but because of a collapsed sanitation system. The programme's central claim was that the Iraqi authorities, through the United Nations health programme, refuse to allow cancer-treating drugs into Kurdistan. But the shortages in the north are mirrored in the south - in cities such as Basra - which remain under Baghdad's aegis and are affected by sanctions. Little attempt was made to hook up with Unicef and those other international bodies responsible for adminstering the funds from the United Nations' "oil for food programme", and "advocacy journalism" found its target in the shape of Labour MP and anti-sanctions campaigner George Galloway. At no time was he allowed to directly answer the charges flung towards him by the reporter, John Sweeney. The Mother of all Ironies was that Galloway has facilitated entry into Iraq for numerous BBC reporters - as he did on this occasion for Correspondent. He has since issued a formal complaint to BBC director-general Greg Dyke, claiming that footage of him was gathered under false pretence. I declare an interest. I was the "Baghdad producer" for the Correspondent programme. I had no idea of Sweeney and Galloway's long antipathy, nor even that Sweeney was reporting for Correspondent from Kurdistan. I was promised that the "editorial line would be agreed between producers and reporters". It was not. And the end result, I believe - in common with many others who have since written and emailed the programme - was an authored, polemicised report that was a classic case of "advocacy journalism". An important opportunity afforded by rare access to Iraq and Kurdistan to report objectively on the effects of economic sanctions was, I believe, lost. There is a strong case for authored reports - and for a campaigning journalism that is capable of reaching a different conclusion if the facts suggest it. Sadly, without the budgets and enough trained staff needed to produce them, many current affairs programmes are falling wide of the mark. Mark Seddon is editor of Tribune. http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,748776,00.html * BBC WAS FAIR ON IRAQ Letter from Mark Damazer, Deputy director, BBC News The Guardian, 4th July Mark Seddon's article (A shameful attack, Media, July 1) about BBC2's Correspondent on Iraq, in which he alleges a lack of impartiality, contained a number of serious inaccuracies. Every argument in the film about Saddam's manipulations was backed by the evidence we found. The World Health Organisation's food and medicine programme is being administered through Saddam. There is money in a WHO account to pay for vital medicines in northern Iraq - and Saddam is the obstacle. Further, it was absolutely right for the programme to challenge George Galloway's claims about the number of children dying as a result of sanctions. It was Mr Galloway's choice not to answer. Correspondent also examined the effects of sanctions. The reporter, John Sweeney, explained how "dual use" sanctions are still causing hardship. We heard from doctors who despair because they cannot get radiology equipment to treat cancer because such machinery is deemed to have a dual use - in other words, Saddam may make weapons with it. I regret Mr Seddon felt unhappy about the programme. But it was a fair report on a matter of real concern Mark Damazer Deputy director, BBC News IRAQI LIFE AND CULTURE http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200206/30/eng20020630_98822.shtml * IRAQI PRESIDENT DISCHARGES 3 ELDERLY MINISTERS People's Daily, 30th June Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has issued decrees to discharge three ministers "because of their age," the state-run Iraq TV reported Saturday. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has issued decrees to discharge three ministers "because of their age," the state-run Iraq TV reported Saturday. The relieved officials include Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Saadi Tohma Abbas and two ministers of state, Abdel Wahab al-Atrushi and Samal Majid Faraj, the report said. The decision is expected to take effect as from Monday, the report said, without mentioning who will fill in the vacant posts. The three above-mentioned ministers are believed to have reached the retirement age, which is 65 in Iraq. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=14694707 * BAGHDAD SLAMS UNESCO OVER WORLD HERITAGE LIST Times of India (from AFP), 2nd July BAGHDAD: Iraq has charged that "political reasons" were behind UNESCO's failure to add five archeological sites in the country to its World Heritage List, an Iraqi weekly reported on Monday. "UNESCO's refusal to include five Iraqi archeological sites in its World Heritage List was due to political reasons," said an official from the department of archeology and heritage, cited by Nabdh Al-Shabab. UNESCO's World Heritage Committee on Thursday added nine new sites to the World Heritage List and extended two sites already on the list. Iraq contains more than 10,000 archeological sites, many in the northern region of Kurdistan, and most of which have not yet been uncovered, according to official statistics. Another official from the department of archeology and heritage was quoted as saying the department had recently discovered two temples, one Babylonian and the other Sumerian. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/features/02_07_02_b.htm * DIVERSE IRAQI PAINTING REVEALED IN ALL ITS RICHNESS by Bill Rashleigh Daily Star (Lebanon), 2nd July ³It¹s my dream to see deep purple,² confides Delair al-Khattat, manager of Baghdad¹s Qais al-Sindy art gallery, as he gazes at a particularly psychedelic painting in Hamra¹s Galerie Zamaan. Really? Does this affection spring from the color¹s emotive qualities, or perhaps its association with a certain mood? A puzzled look: ³Their drumming is just amazing,² he says of the rock group Deep Purple. This hard-rockin¹ art manager, who drums in a Baghdad-based band, has now set his sticks aside for a month to oversee a new exhibition of some 50 paintings by 22 of Iraq¹s finest contemporary artists. Entitled Palettes Irakiennes III, the display is a medley of styles and techniques. ³It¹s a collective exhibition showing a full panorama of the art currently being produced in Iraq. All the paintings have their own personality and nothing is similar,² says Moussa Kobeissi, director of Galerie Zamaan. The walls of the gallery are lined with a huge variety of artwork. Watercolors depicting Baghdad street scenes by Jassem al-Fadhl jostle for space with more audacious optical assaults by Ayad al-Douri. There is even a romantic riverside scene - complete with fishing boats and huts - which wouldn¹t look out of place in a 19th-century English drawing room. Not far off hangs an anarchic piece of abstract art, its great chunks of primary color peppered with Arabic script. Some of these you would choose to hang on your wall, others might frighten the cat. But the variety of work is undeniable, and demonstrates the current vibrancy of Iraq¹s art scene. The country has long been home to some of the Arab world¹s most important artists. It was here that the epic poem Gilgamesh was carved in clay 1,500 years before Homer, and where the Abbasids honed their calligraphy skills. But while this reputation for artistic virtuosity has been carried into the modern era, recent world events have left their mark. In 1993 Leila al-Attar, doyen of Iraqi painting and director of Baghdad¹s most prestigious gallery, the Saddam Art Center, was killed by a US cruise missile. Some claim she was deliberately targeted following her less than flattering portrait of then-President George Bush. True or not, her death offered the grim potential of a decline in the Baghdad art scene. Instead, she has now become a ³glorious symbol,² says Qais al-Sindy, director of the eponymous Baghdad galley, inspiring an increasing number of young Iraqi artists to attack the canvas. Delair estimates there are currently around 100 internationally respected painters plying their trade in the capital. But underneath this rich veneer of artistic prosperity, the cracks caused by 12 years of economic embargo are clear. Lifting a painting off the gallery wall, he points to the frayed edges of a cotton sheet that was varnished to form a makeshift canvas. ³It is really difficult for artists to get hold of materials like brushes and paint, and when they can, it costs a lot,² he says. You¹d expect that artists, forced to chop up their bed sheets just to acquire the basic materials, would express a sense of frustration in their work. But there¹s really nothing of the sort, says Kobeissi. ³Do you see any interaction with depression, poverty or negativity? Do you feel sadness when you look at these paintings?² he asks. ³I think the artists are not showing the present. They are showing the future, and it¹s positive.² He points by way of example to an oil painting by Ali Abbas, depicting black candles, their wicks burning bright yellow. ³Look at this,² he says. ³There is sadness, but it¹s very important that it then shows hope.² Sindy believes the economic hardships have fostered a new style in Iraqi art, ³merging social traditions and folklore with how the Iraqis suffer through missing medicine and food.² Even so, the paintings on display show no representations of Iraq¹s current plight. Nor, for that matter, does the strong arm of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein exert an obvious influence. Mustachioed images of the leader, or overt government propaganda, are absent. Instead the work is liberated - with some pieces finding room for a spot of naked flesh. This is the first time these works have been displayed outside Iraq. And unlike most international exhibitions of Iraqi art, the work hanging in Galerie Zamaan is produced almost entirely by artists still living in their home country. Given the number of Iraqi artists now in exile, this is something of a rarity. The result is the work on display is comparatively inexpensive. Not dirt cheap, but substantially less than you¹d pay for similar pieces by Western or Lebanese artists. Palettes Irakiennes III runs at the Galerie Zamaan through July 20. For more information call: 01/745571 IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (South Africa, Pakistan, India, Czech Republic, Europe, Eritrea, Russia) http://allafrica.com/stories/200207030388.html * IRAQI DEPUTY MINISTER VISITS SA by Trevor Gozhi BuaNews (Pretoria), 3rd July Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz is expected to arrive in South Africa later this afternoon for a six-day visit, at the invitation of Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Mr Zuma extended the invitation to Mr Aziz, after South Africa sent humanitarian aid to Iraq in June last year. The Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, government would exchange views with Mr Aziz on the situation in the Middle East, and in particular, on the expected effects of the new sanctions regime for the people of Iraq. 'The people of Iraq have been subjected to severe suffering by more than ten years of stringent international sanctions.' There will also be discussions on ways of breaking the impasse on weapons inspections. The arms inspectors, key to suspending the 12-year-old UN sanctions against Iraq, left on the eve of a US-British bombing campaign in December 1998, and have since not been allowed to return to check on any remaining weapons of mass destruction programmes. During his visit, Mr Aziz will hold political discussions with Deputy President Zuma and with foreign affairs deputy minister Aziz Pahad. Health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and minerals and energy minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will also hold bilateral meetings with Mr Aziz. http://www.dawn.com/2002/07/03/ebr1.htm * BAGHDAD ACCEPTS 31,000 TONS WHEAT by Parvaiz Ishfaq Rana Dawn, 3rd July, 21 Rabi-us-Saani 1423 KARACHI, July 2: Iraq has accepted the second shipload of 31,000 tons of wheat, replacing the earlier one, and presently the cargo is being unloaded at the Iraqi port, official sources said on Tuesday. After winning a contract of 100,000 tons of wheat under UN programme of 'oil for food' for Baghdad, the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) had last year shipped the wheat but, on some ground, Iraq rejected two vessels of around 31,000 tons each. After re-negotiating the contract, Baghdad agreed to allow TCP to replace the same quantity at an fob price of 214 euro per ton, the sources said. However, the first vessel of around 31,000 tons, replacing last year's rejected consignment shipped early last month, was also rejected by Baghdad, and the TCP had to sell it to a private party of Dubai at c&f price of $115 per ton. The Iraqi wheat market is not only fairly large in size but it also gives good price for wheat. Entering the Iraqi wheat market was a major breakthrough for Pakistan. Traditionally, Iraq had been importing from developed countries like Australia, Canada and the US. The chairman, TCP, Syed Masood Alam Rizvi told Dawn that after deducting 17 euro per ton in freight charges and around 50 euro inland transportation cost taken by Iraqi government under the agreement in advance, the Trading Corporation of Pakistan would fetch around 147 euro per ton or $140 per ton. Though officially no decision was made with regard to the rejected vessels, Rizvi said, the TCP would like to complete the contract by sending another vessel of equal load. "It is encouraging that our second vessel has been accepted, and TCP could easily meet the required quality for replacing the earlier wheat consignment," the TCP chairman said. The country has already exported over 300,000 tons of wheat to some African as well as Middle Eastern countries, and is gradually trying to have a permanent place on the world wheat map. Rizvi said for ensuring quality wheat for exports the government has already initiated several projects, including setting up of silos as well as introducing mechanised system for cleaning wheat. He said that many Middle Eastern countries had been traditionally importing wheat from developed countries who have advance technologies, whereas Pakistan has just made its debut and would need some time to develop the required know-how as well as infrastructure. http://quotes.freerealtime.com/dl/frt/N?art=C2002070400185u1628&SA=Latest%20 News * INDIA'S FICCI TO SEND DELEGATION TO IRAQ New Delhi, Jul 04, 2002 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX, PTI) -- A high-powered 50-member delegation, led by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will visit Iraq for enhancing business relations and have negotiations on larger allocation for wheat, rice and sugar under the 'Oil for Food Programme'. The delegation, whose visit coincides with the India-Iraq Joint Commission meeting to be attended by Petroleum Minister Ram Naik, will focus on infrastructure, steel, diesel generating sets, oil engines, medical disposables, pharma products, hospital furniture and spares for oil companies apart from the traditional Indian exports to Iraq such as tea, wheat and soyabean meal, according to an FICCI statement Wednesday. FICCI said the share of Indian business in Iraq had dipped considerably while Saudi Arabia had received contracts for almost 70 millions Euros. One of the main objectives of this delegation would be to request for allocation of contracts for 400 million euros (US$390.89 million). Another issue to be raised during the deliberations, was the 10 per cent surcharge for all Indian contracts to Iraq even before the shipment reaches Um Qaser port. The delegation should also ask for double entry visas to be allowed to Indian businessmen for 6 months, which would enable them to visit Iraq even on a short notice, it said. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020704/2002070409.html * IRAQ DENOUNCES THE FREE EUROPE RADIO Arabic News, 4th July The Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri has denounced the programs broadcast by the "Free Europe radio" broadcast to Iraq, stressing that these programs constitute an act against Iraq. In a statement issued on Wednesday by a Czech daily, Sabri said that " The Czech provides a shelter for Iraq's foes and permits the CIA to disseminate anti- Iraqi campaign. A matter which is considered as damaging for the relations between the two countries." The Iraqi minister indicated that the radio's programs do not effect the situation in Iraq and mean nothing. Worthy mentioning that the said radio which is financed by the US Congress was established in the 1950s during the cold war in Munich, Germany and then transferred in 1995 to Prague and started broadcasting against Iraq in the autumn of 1998. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=14989660 * EU APPROVES AID PACKAGE TO IRAQ Times of India (AFP), 5th July BRUSSELS: The European Union plans to send 13 million euros in aid to Iraq to build up the country's crumbling health and food systems, the European Commission said on Thursday. "The situation in Iraq is still serious despite the fact that international media don't cover it a lot at the moment," said Poul Nielson, the commission's development and humanitarian aid official. "More than 10 per cent of Iraqi children die before reaching the age of five because of sickness or malnourishment," he added. Iraq has blamed its humanitarian crisis on a United Nations embargo, slapped on the country after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/20020705wo04.htm * ERITREA EAGER FOR U.S. MILITARY PARTNERSHIP by Anthony Sipher Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan), 5th July The U.S. Defense Department is considering establishing a military base in Eritrea. With newly established bases in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Pakistan, along with preexisting bases in Greece and Turkey, Eritrea would be the final geographical link in the administration of President George W. Bush strategy to create a military perimeter around the Middle East. Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command, has traveled to the country at least four times since Sept. 11 in an effort to work out details for such a plan. Girma Asmerom, the Eritrean ambassador to the United States, has confirmed that Franks has met with the president, defense minister and foreign affairs minister of Eritrea. The meetings have primarily focused on base issues. It has been learned that Franks is interested in the construction of a bombing and gunnery range in southern Eritrea. According to recent reports, officials within the department say that while there are no concrete plans to establish a base, Eritrea's strategic location would be beneficial. Currently, defense relations between the two countries consist of small training programs. High-ranking Eritrean government officials say their country is willing and able to host any type of military base the administration of Bush may want. Asmerom told The Yomiuri Shimbun, "It would benefit the U.S. government to set up a military base in Eritrea." Asmerom, who fought against Ethiopian forces during his country's war of independence, claims that Eritrea can greatly enhance the United States' position in the region. "We are perfect for America; we have deepwater ports for its navy, mountains very similar to those in Afghanistan that can be used for training purposes and airfields that can accommodate its aircraft," he said. According to diplomatic sources, Gen. Ephrem Sebhat of the Eritrean Defense Forces sent a letter U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, offering to stage U.S. troops in Eritrea. A subsequent letter to Franks from Eritrean President Afwerki Isaias applauded the use of force by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The letter hinted that the United States needs Eritrea to fight its war on terrorism in the Horn of Africa. Regarding the current troubles in Somalia and Sudan, the letter said, "I believe that the U.S. has no choice but to play a pivotal role." "The matter cannot certainly be relegated to regional actors--Ethiopia, Kenya or Djibouti," the letter continued. Fiona Hill, a foreign policy expert with the Brookings Institution, said although Eritrea would be advantageous, there are strong concerns within the Defense Department that U.S. forces are stretched too thin due to increased troop deployments to South Asia, the Philippines, and Colombia along with the U.S. commitment to various peacekeeping forces. Moreover, the department has to worry about potential repercussions in host countries. Hill said that locals employed by U.S. forces have raised the cost of living in some areas due to their higher salaries. Hill also said that the success of the strategy could depend on the outcome of other factors such as the situation between India and Pakistan. It has been reported that remnants of Al-Qaida are still operating in the vicinity of the Line of Control, where their actions add to the tensions between the two nuclear powers. If tensions were to flare, the envisaged boundary of containment might collapse. Despite possible problems associated with the newly created alliances, Eritrea could provide access to the rogue states of East Africa. According to George Friedman, chairman of Stratfor, Inc., a private think tank based in Austin, Texas, Eritrea would be an ideal place for the United States to fight the war on terrorism against countries such as Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. "The most important element that it will have is to suddenly allow the buildup of special operations forces," Friedman said. Friedman said this has been a new strategy developed by U.S. officials shortly after Sept. 11. "If you look at American strategy for the past six months, the U.S. has been deploying small numbers of troops in a number of strategic countries." "These countries are places were the U.S. can reach other countries fairly easily," he said. Eritrea could also serve a launching point for a future attack on Iraq, Asmerom said. His argument is that the United States would not have to conduct sorties from Saudi Arabia, a country whose population overwhelmingly opposes the presence of U.S. forces in its country. "You could do it easily from Eritrea and only have to ask for fly-over rights from the Saudis," he stated. The idea of a U.S. base in Eritrea has been warmly welcomed by members of the Senate and House armed services committees. In a recent meeting between Asmerom and Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., Smith expressed shock that the U.S. military had not established a base there earlier. "They are writing a letter to CENTCOM (Central Command) asking some questions," said a former staffer who was present at the meeting. "He could not believe that we were in Yemen when we had the possibility of being in Eritrea in the first place." The senator was referring to the bombing of the USS Cole while refueling in the Yemeni port of Aden. A Senate aide present at a meeting between Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo., and Asmerom, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the senator assured Asmerom that the next time Gen. Franks appeared before her committee, Carnahan would question him on the matter. Apart from a strategic and military standpoint, Asmerom also added that his country is willing to allow U.S. energy companies to explore Eritrea's natural resources. Recent surveys have confirmed that Eritrea has high deposits of gold, zinc, copper, salt, oil and natural gas. "We want them to come and invest in us," Asmerom said. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2002/07/05/011.html * IRAQI AMBASSADOR TALKS THE TALK by Natalia Yefimova Moscow Times, 5th July Iraq's new ambassador to Moscow, who served for a time as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's personal interpreter, officially took up his duties Thursday, saying that his 25-year relationship with the country of this, his first, diplomatic posting has left him "nearly Russified." Speaking in fluent Russian peppered with idioms, Abbas Khalaf told reporters that Baghdad considers Russia and Russian companies -- which do a brisk business with Iraq under the UN sanctions regime but say they stand to gain billions of dollars more if the sanctions are lifted -- a top priority, not a last resort in the face of international isolation. "Some press reports have said that Iraq wants to use Russia as a Trojan horse" to subvert the sanctions regime and then to abandon the relationship, but "this is not the case," said Khalaf, who holds a doctorate in philology and a journalism degree from Moscow State University. Russia's Foreign Ministry has said that in 2001 the two countries signed $2.3 billion worth of nonmilitary deals, not including oil trade contracts. Since the start of the UN oil-for-food program, in which Russia is a major participant, Russian-Iraqi trade turnover has reached a reported $6 billion. Asked about Moscow's new pro-Western stance in the wake of Sept. 11, Khalaf said Russia's foreign policy is its own business. But, in a momentary lapse of composure, he accused the United States and Britain of using the sanctions as a tool to hit Russia where it hurts -- its pocket. By keeping the sanctions in place, "the United States and Britain want to inflict the greatest damage on Russia," he said emotionally. Iraq owes Russia an estimated $8 billion in debt, which Khalaf said Baghdad is prepared to pay but can't because of the sanctions. Khalaf also cited an official letter from Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov saying that Russia's losses as a result of the sanctions totaled $30 billion. Russian oil companies that help Iraq export oil under the UN program now earn some $200 million to $400 million annually from the project, according to industry analysts. But their access to some major oil fields -- which they have rights to develop and which could be worth tens of billions of dollars in the long-term -- have been frozen pending the lifting of sanctions. Khalaf indicated Iraq would honor the Russian companies' rights, saying oil was a strategic issue and "we insist it remain in the hands of our friends." Despite his unreserved criticism of the sanctions, Khalaf said he was optimistic about the latest round of talks between Baghdad and the United Nations, which kicked off in Vienna on Thursday. While the UN aim is to clinch a deal allowing arms inspectors back into Iraq after a 3 1/2 year shutout, Baghdad has a much longer list of issues to discuss, including U.S. threats to oust Saddam and the future of the U.S.- and British-imposed no-fly zones. Khalaf brushed aside reports about a New Zealand national arrested in the United States and identified by FBI officials as Saddam's stepson, calling them "unworthy" of comment. He added that such sensational reports were a typical attempt by the Western press to derail the UN-Iraq talks. "This time the American media found some stepson of Saddam Hussein's. They know that the Iraqi president's real sons cannot leave the country, so they had to find an adopted one. Next there'll be a prodigal son," he quipped. NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_2074000/2074787.st m * KURDS GRIT TEETH FOR US STRIKE by Jim Muir in Iraqi Kurdistan BBC, 29th June The Kurds of northern Iraq find themselves, once again, facing an uncertain future, with the Americans vowing to bring about the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime in Baghdad. After the upheavals which followed the US-led war against Iraq in 1991, the four million or so Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed a quasi-independence under the protection of a western air umbrella which keeps Iraqi government forces at bay. Although it is a precarious existence, the prospect of change is one which raises anxiety as well as hope among the Kurds. They have a lot to lose, and are in no hurry to plunge into an adventure against Baghdad. Travelling through this beautiful land of towering mountains and fertile valleys and plains it is easy to see why. In recent times the Iraqi Kurds have never had it so good. They have been able to carve out what amounts, in almost all but name, to an independent entity. The people enjoy a freedom which is rare in the region. Many newspapers and radio and TV stations, reflecting different points of view, have sprung up. Alcohol is available for those who want it. Women are free to wear the Islamic hejab, or not, as they choose. There is still a lot of poverty. One recent study concluded that more than half the households had an income of less than $25 a month. But those same households are also given a monthly food basket worth $50, financed by Iraq's oil-for-food exports. And there is a lot of prosperity about. Much of it derived from trading, or smuggling. Gleaming Mercedes, BMWs and brand new four-wheel-drive vehicles are common sights, as are internet cafes. In the countryside there has been a bumper harvest after a winter of generous rainfall. Although they ultimately depend on western air protection, both the main Kurdish factions, who divided the area between them after clashing in the mid-1990s, have a kind of unspoken modus vivendi with the Baghdad government, from which they both buy the petrol they need. So why risk all this? Well, the Kurds may have little choice. Both the main leaders, Masood Barzani and Jalal Talabani, told me they had been informed by the Americans that Washington is serious about removing Saddam, though the timing and the exact manner are not yet decided. The Kurdish guerrillas, known as Peshmergas, are the only organised Iraqi opposition force in the country. They would obviously be expected to take part in some way. An active Kurdish role could also help to secure what both leaders say they want to see - a strong Kurdish say in a democratic, federal new Iraq. Nobody is interested in seeing one dictator replaced by another. The Kurds are also united in not wanting to see a military role played by any of their big brother neighbours, Syria, Turkey or Iran. They also want guarantees of protection against Saddam's retribution if things do go wrong. Memories of his use of chemical weapons against them in the last 1980s are still very strong. If all those conditions are met, the Kurds will join in, hoping to help build a more stable future, both for themselves and for Iraq as a whole. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=DFFC47DB-2E3B-4B8F 8BF65CA99D6D548C&title=Restaurant%20Explosion%20%20Injures%2020%20in%20Kurdi sh%2Drun%20northern%20Iraq&catOID=45C9C78D-88AD-11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C * RESTAURANT EXPLOSION INJURES 20 IN KURDISH-RUN NORTHERN IRAQ VOA News, 30th June An Iraqi Kurdish official says 20 people have been injured, two of them seriously, in an explosion at a restaurant in Kurdish-run northern Iraq. The official from the Kurdistan Democratic Party says no one was killed when the blast occurred in the town of Arbil. He says it is not clear who placed the bomb. But police are reportedly questioning members of Jand El Islam, a militant Islamic group. The group has clashed repeatedly with the Democratic Party's main rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan says Jand El Islam members have been trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/a/2002/07/01/MN210421.DTL * '88 GASSING STILL KILLING IRAQI KURDS by Joshua Kucera San Francisco Chronicle, 1st July Halabja, Iraq -- Omar Ali Mohammed has terminal skin cancer. His wife has a chronic eye problem, and their young nephew has a nasty growth jutting out of his neck. Doctors believe all three suffer from the aftereffects of the largest chemical attack on a civilian population in history -- the assault on this Kurdish town 14 years ago ordered by Saddam Hussein. As President Bush continues his campaign to topple the Iraqi strongman, he often refers to the 1988 poison gas attack here as an example of Hussein's willingness to use weapons of mass destruction. Bush has said, "He even gassed his own people." In 1987, Hussein intensified his fight against ethnic Kurds for their support of Iran during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, bulldozing some 4,000 villages and using a combination of nerve agents, mustard gas and possibly biological weapons on several towns. The 4 million Kurds living in northern Iraq have a different culture and language from Iraqi Arabs and have fought for independence for decades. Human Rights Watch estimates that 500,000 to 100,000 people died during the campaign. But the assault on Halabja and other Iraqi repression received little attention from the administration of then-President Ronald Reagan, which backed Iraq over Iran. "The Western countries in 1988 didn't do anything against the Iraqi regime, " said Dr. Adil Karem, director of the Halabja Martyrs Hospital. "Now they use the Halabja issue for their own benefit," he added, referring to Bush's citing of the incident. Indeed, the international community has long ignored the plight of victims of the chemical attack. On March 16, 1988, Mohammed was walking to a small plot of land just outside town to tend to his fruit trees and beehives when Iraqi jets dropped a variety of chemical weapons, which experts believe included mustard gas, sarin, VX nerve gas and aflatoxin dissolved in tear gas. Fortunately, nobody from Mohammed's family perished, but he saw "people die from the chemical weapons, and we knew it would hurt us too." Experts estimate that between 5,000 and 7,000 residents were killed immediately while tens of thousands more were exposed over the years by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. A photograph of a man shielding an infant with his body -- both were killed by the gas -- has become an icon of Kurdish suffering and a monument here. Halabja, a city some 150 miles northeast of Baghdad in the southern part of so-called Iraqi Kurdistan, is situated at the foot of mountains that separate Iraq from Iran. It is below the 36th parallel and thus outside the protected area of the American and British fighter-patrolled U.N. "no-fly" zone established after the Gulf War. Hussein, however, has not attacked any Kurdish- controlled areas since the war. Halabja was once a vibrant market town of 80,000. Today, the population has dwindled to about 43,000. Doctors say residents suffer from a range of cancers, respiratory disorders such as asthma and pulmonary fibrosis, skin rashes, birth defects, Down syndrome, infertility and mental health problems. Christine Gosden, head of Medical Genetics at Liverpool University in northwest England, is one of the few scientists to research the aftermath of the 1988 attack. She estimates that more than half the population suffers from respiratory problems and that major chromosomal disorders such as cleft palates and spina bifida appear in three times the number of people than in the nearby city of Sulaymaniyah, 10 times the size of Halabja. Karem complains that Halabja's remote location and political instability have thwarted research projects. Aside from individuals such as Gosden, he says there has never been a systematic testing of the lasting effects on the water table, air, food chain and animals. He says that Halabja hasn't even had its soil measured for chemical residue. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the levels of congenital malformations, sterility, cancer and mutations were comparable, some 3 feet of soil was removed after the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. Karem adds that most laboratories that specialize in such research belong to government defense departments. Since many of the chemicals were manufactured in the West -- including the United States -- companies there could face legal claims if the results were well documented. Karem and Gosden co-wrote a 1998 study of the aftereffects of the Halabja incident. It showed that the situation gets worse each year as the chemicals alter a victim's DNA. The Kurdish physician pointed out that in April, there were four stillborn and four anencephalic (born without most of the brain) babies out of 108 deliveries. "Even two years ago, it was not like this," he said. The report also showed that the gas attack had a profound psychological effect in a city that lacks even a single mental health worker. Depression and anxiety are common, and the rates of suicide are higher than average. It is not uncommon for some people to feel the need to keep a suitcase packed in case of another gas attack. In 1999, Karem asked the World Health Organization to do an environmental study but was told the subject was too "sensitive." Although the Kurds run the local government, U.N. agencies are here by invitation of the Iraqi government, and such research could alienate their hosts. Although new and clean, Halabja Martyrs Hospital lacks basic equipment such as surgical gloves and antibiotics, let alone chemotherapy to treat cancer or equipment to transplant a diseased lung. As a result, victims like Mohammed, now 84, receive no treatment and die slowly at home. Mohammed, however, will not die in peace. He has a new worry -- another chemical attack by Iraqi planes if the United States opts to take out Hussein militarily. It's a fear that is not uncommon in Halabja. "People here have a phobia for Saddam Hussein," said Karem. "And they have a phobia for the future." http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=F3B25DBD-3A76-4B72 B7A980F84B45B2D4&title=Iraq%20Turns%20Up%20Heat%20on%20Ethnic%20Kurds%2C%20N on%2DArabs%20in%20Kirkuk&catOID=45C9C78D-88AD-11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C * IRAQ TURNS UP HEAT ON ETHNIC KURDS, NON-ARABS IN KIRKUK by Amberin Zaman Voice of America, 4th July Iraq's government has recently stepped up its campaign to evict ethnic Kurds and other non-Arabs from Iraq's main oil-producing province, Kirkuk. For Jiyan Ahmad and her four children, home is a tiny mud hut with no running water or windows. She and her family have been living here for the past month and-a-half on meager rations of flour, rice, and sugar provided by the local government. Jiyan is like hundreds of other refugees at this rundown camp on the outskirts of the Kurdish-controlled city of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq. She said she and her family were forced at gunpoint by Iraqi security forces to leave their home in Iraq's main oil-producing province, Kirkuk, and to move to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Jiyan said she was expelled from Kirkuk after she and her husband Mahmoud repeatedly refused to sign papers presented to them by Iraqi officials that identified the couple as ethnic Arabs. Jiyan said her husband Mahmoud is in an Iraqi jail, and she has not heard from him since she arrived in northern Iraq. Western diplomats said as many as 150 families are driven out of Kirkuk every month. Such expulsions have continued for decades. Diplomats said the Iraqi policy apparently is to prevent the Kurds from claiming Kirkuk province for themselves. That is what they did during their failed rebellion against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Thousands of Kurds died after the U.S. led coalition failed to intervene against advancing Iraqi troops. An international outcry arose when televised images showed millions of Kurdish refugees camped in the mountains bordering Iran and Turkey. And the United States and its allies were prompted to declare a "no fly" zone in northern Iraq that is enforced by U.S. and British planes. Barham Salih is an official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, one of the two main Kurdish factions that have administered the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq for the past 11 years. Like most Iraqi Kurdish leaders, Mr. Salih insists that Kirkuk should be incorporated into the federal government the Iraqi Kurds said they want established in exchange for their participation in any U.S. led operation to overthrow President Saddam Hussein. "The Iraqi government continues with its policy of ethnic cleansing, evicting Kurds and Turcomens, dispossessing them of their belongings, properties and replacing them with Arabs. This is what the government of Iraq calls part of the Arabization campaign, which is a truly repressive ethnic cleansing policy aimed at changing the demographic characteristics of these areas of Iraqi Kurdistan," Mr. Salih said. Mr. Salih said the influx of refugees from Kirkuk is putting huge economic pressure on his administration. For example, he cites conditions at this refugee camp. A single pipe provides all the drinking and washing water for about 500 families. Snakes and scorpions are a constant threat to children. So are hepatitis and exposure during the icy cold Kurdish winter. However, some refugees say that despite the hardship, they are happy to be living in Iraqi Kurdistan, where they said they enjoy a degree of freedom that would be unthinkable in areas controlled by Iraq's government. Hassan Karim Fattah, an ethnic Turcomen, from Kirkuk is one of them. "After graduation, we are obliged if we are in the central government of Iraq under the authority of the central government, we are obliged to do the soldier serve in the military maybe one year or two years, so we lose our lives or lose our youth with being a soldier. I think it's a bad thing. Here, no one comes and pulls you from your hand and ask you to defend your country. There is no war that's a good thing for us," Mr. Hassan said. The PUK's Barham Salih expresses frustration at what he calls the failure of the international community to deter the Iraqi government from its current policies. "We continue to call for international action against the government of Iraq to end this policy of ethnic cleansing and to allow the refugees to go back to their homes. This must not be tolerated. Ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Kirkuk are the same, and the world community, the civilized community of nations, must act to stop it," Mr. Salih said. Like many Kurdish leaders, Mr. Salih said that ultimately, the most effective way to bring an end to ethnic cleansing and other rights abuses in Iraq is to topple President Saddam Hussein. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk