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[casi] News, 6-13/7/02 (3)

News, 6-13/7/02 (3)


*  Still a bad idea / A leaked plan for a possible attack on Iraq
*  The Iraqi mutiny
*  Bush plan to invade Iraq challenged by senators
*  Take a better route to regime change
*  Iraq visit shows weapon sites 'destroyed'


*  Farrakhan warns against U.S. attack on Iraq
*  He may be banned from entering Britain, but he's going to save the world
*  Farrakhan denies 'Iraqi victory' quote


*  Iraqi opposition to form military council to fill post-Saddam  vacuum -
*  Exiled generals prepare for march on Baghdad
*  Iraqi dissident spells out his post-Saddam policy on oil
*  Magnificent Seventy gun for Saddam
*  Ex-Iraq Officers, Groups Talk Saddam
*  Iraqi exiles plot Saddam's fall


*  Most staff for U.S. have left Iraqi capital
*  Iraq told to let Polish envoys travel
*  Saddam hated, but wins the blame game


Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 9th July

U.S. intentions toward Iraq came front and center again last week with an
informed leak from a U.S. military planning document including some detail
on the subject. The leak and the document itself present at least two
issues. The first is the indication the leak gives of the division of
opinion within the U.S. government on the subject. The second -- again -- is
the basic wisdom of an Iraq attack, now or later.

That the United States has prepared a concept paper for an attack on Iraq is
perfectly normal. The Defense Department would be remiss if it weren't
making and constantly updating such contingency plans, for China and Russia
as well as for "axis of evil" states like Iraq.

The fact that a version of the contents was revealed to the press is subject
to various interpretations. One theory has it that it was leaked in hopes
that the level of difficulty involved in such an invasion would serve to
head off the pro-Iraq-attack group within the Bush administration,
mobilizing opinion against such a war.

The concept paper indicates that 250,000 U.S. troops would be needed and
that the attack would include an air, sea and land assault on Iraq itself.
In fact, 250,000 is probably low, given that the United States amassed
550,000 troops in the region before attacking Iraq in 1991. The plan
envisages support from eight other countries, none of which has been
formally approached. The United States had 31 coalition partners in the
1990-91 Gulf war.

Two weeks of Pentagon war games in March revealed the strains such a war
would put on American military capacity worldwide. Hundreds of thousands of
members of the National Guard and the Reserves would need to be called to
active duty, for example.

A second theory as to why the plan was floated has it serving as an
incentive to the United Nations to put more heat on Iraq to agree to a
return to weapons inspections, suspended three years ago. Iraq has tied a
renewal of weapons inspections to removal of economic sanctions. The U.N.
Security Council eased sanctions May 14, keeping them in place on items with
military uses but removing them on nonmilitary products. Saudi Arabia opened
its border with Iraq -- closed since 1990 -- to normal trade in late May.
Two days of talks between the United Nations and Iraq about weapons
inspections ended unsuccessfully July 5, but will resume later in the

An attack on Iraq at this time, in our view, remains a bad idea. Iraq is not
Taliban Afghanistan. None of America's allies in the Gulf war supports the
idea of a new attack. No one has a coherent idea of a successor regime in
Iraq to an overthrown Saddam Hussein, now 65. Even the Kurds, traditional
enemies of the Baghdad regime, oppose a U.S. attack, recalling how the
United States under President George H.W. Bush encouraged them to revolt
against the Baghdad regime in 1991, then sat on its hands while Saddam
Hussein mounted a crushing retaliatory attack against them.

Finally, to attack Iraq is to mobilize all Arab nations against America,
putting off for some time any chance of reaching a settlement between the
Israelis and the Palestinians. At that point, it would be the United States
and Israel against the house, without even the Europeans on the American
side. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon advocated this approach during his
recent visit to Washington.

If avoiding such a trap means not attacking Iraq at this time, the United
States should continue to develop a good plan to keep on the shelf, close at
hand, but not unilaterally attacking. In the meantime, the U.N. effort to
renew its inspection of Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons
status should be pressed forward vigorously.,3604,751757,00.html

by Matthew Engel
The Guardian, 9th July

Iraq is back in the news again: last Friday the New York Times published a
story purporting to show how the Americans were planning to conduct their
invasion. This may not have been the Times's greatest ever journalistic
revelation, given that the scheme was months old, and had not been even
looked at by the military brass, the defence secretary or the president, let
alone the eight or so countries near Iraq who were regarded as essential to
the plot.

I am not decrying the plan itself, which appeared to be pretty similar to
the one I would draw up on the back of a packet of Woodbines given two or
three minutes for strategic planning. Clausewitz himself would probably
concur that it would be best to invade Iraq from the other countries in the
region rather than, say, Bolivia. Unfortunately, the story has to be what
you might call a self-denying prophecy, since it would be very bold
double-bluff indeed to launch any invasion once the plans for it had
appeared in the New York Times.

So, ruling out this particular option, let's try to consider where things
really might be going. What has happened in the past few months is that
President Bush has succeeded in assembling a coalition on this subject
comparable to the one that his father assembled after the invasion of Kuwait
a dozen years ago. Unfortunately for Bush junior, this coalition is arrayed
against him.

Two weeks ago, there was another story in the American press, but this
appeared in USA Today, which the elite doesn't bother with much, so it
hardly got noticed. It listed the views of various members of Congress: not
any old hobbledehoys either, but the party leaders, mostly Republican, whose
support would be crucial to the political viability of any Pentagon plan.
Their response to the idea of invading Iraq was tepid to the point of

"You hit the other guy first, but only if you know he's going to hit you" -
Henry Hyde, chairman of the House international relations committee. "Our
focus should be Israel" - Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House. "US forces
are already stretched to the limit" - Senate Republican leader Trent Lott.
Republicans, all of them. There was a further outburst of scepticism on CNN
just two days ago, from senior Democrats and one of the Senate's most
respected foreign affairs experts, Chuck Hagel, another Republican. "We need
friendships," he said. "We can't arbitrarily go after Saddam Hussein."

There is hardly a country on earth that the president can bank on to support
an invasion of Iraq. Even the Israelis, ever enthusiastic for a bit of
smiting under Ariel Sharon ("man of peace" - G Bush), may have the odd
qualm. There are certainly signs of queasiness coming from Turkey and
Kuwait, not to mention Britain, all of whom are presumed by Washington to be
in the vanguard. And then there is the US military itself, willing to bite
its lip and do its duty, but desperately anxious, like the senators, about
overstretch, unnecessary wars and a viable strategy. The word is that the
joint chiefs of staff are split.

But the president has a rhetorical commitment which is hard to ditch. If
Saddam is still in business in 2004, Bush is going to look rather silly,
having shot his mouth off to the extent that he has. He might hope that the
CIA or the Iraqi opposition might find a way of quietly bumping him off, but
you would not bet your political life on either bunch.

Curiously enough, as things stand, Bush's Iraq policy is doing fine. We have
not had a cheep out of Saddam since September 11. Having specifically
rejected a policy of containment, the president is actually executing a
remarkably successful one. But he has talked too much to continue on that
path, so he has to do something, which is the most likely way to ensure that
Saddam does fling down whatever last cards he might have: missiles,
chemicals, smallpox, whatever.

If the decision to invade or not has to be taken, let me give you the names
of those whose views might matter, to the point of possible veto. The first
is Tony Blair: the US is banking on his acquiescence, if not his support.
The second is Karl Rove, Bush's political consultant. The third is George
W's father, the first President Bush.

The fourth and fifth are Colin Powell, the secretary of state, and his
deputy, Richard Armitage. In contrast to the armchair warriors who run the
Pentagon, both happen to be genuine soldiers. When it comes to diplomacy,
they get overridden time and again. Paradoxically, if push really comes to
shove, the general might suddenly become the man whose counsel matters most.

by Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, 11th July

President George Bush's plans to oust Saddam Hussein are to be queried by
the powerful Senate Foreign Relations committee.

The chairman, Senator Joseph Biden, said he planned to ask Mr Bush's
advisers to explain how removing the dictator would be accomplished and who
would replace him.

"I want them to refine their objectives," he said. "I want to know what
scenarios there are for eliminating the biological weapons that Iraq might
use if we attack. I'd like to know how important our allies are in this."

Concern at Mr Bush's plans has grown for months. Last week The New York
Times reported that Pentagon planners were proposing to invade Iraq with up
to 250,000 troops, probably early next year, using American bases in a
number of countries in the region.

Mr Biden said the issue of an Iraqi successor was vital and was one reason
that allied forces did not push on to Baghdad in the Gulf War. He said Mr
Bush had asked him why he didn't agree with his methods. Mr Biden explained:
"I always kid him and say, 'Mr President, there is a reason why your father
stopped and didn't go to Baghdad ­ he didn't want to stay for five years'.",3604,753025,00.html

by Hugo Young
The Guardian, 11th July

The fiercest debates about war usually take place after the slaughter has
begun, and sometimes only when it's over. Vietnam crept up on Kennedy, and
then Johnson, and even in 1965 when their private deliberations concluded
with American military intervention, the public argument was nugatory. The
mainstream media gave it near-total support. Somewhat later, opinion turned,
and war fury both ways dominated the whole of politics. By then it was too
late to save anyone from catastrophe.

The case of modern Iraq is different. We can see war coming. A better
analogy is the second world war, which was preceded by epic argument between
appeasers and warriors here, and then by pro- and anti-war debates in
America both before and after Pearl Harbor. More telling still is George
Bush I's Gulf war against Saddam Hussein in 1991. This too had a long
build-up. In the course of it, the American debate was troubled. Despite the
obvious pretext supplied by Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, the Senate approved
military force by only 52 votes to 47. Among those who voted against
Operation Desert Storm was Senator Sam Nunn, the hard-nosed chairman of the
armed services committee.

George Bush II's Iraq war is being prepared in different circumstances. The
political build-up is intense and almost unchallenged. There are virtually
no naysayers in mainstream Washington, though they have plenty of
opportunity to speak. Last week the US seized on Iraq's rejection of a new
team of UN weapons inspectors, and with electric speed cast aside Kofi
Annan's offer of mediation. A detailed battle plan was leaked to the New
York Times, evidently by someone who thought it wasn't good enough. The
momentum towards war is palpable, and to anyone who read Bush's speeches
since he became a national politician it should not be surprising.

The absence of challenge can also be seen in Europe. The other day Jon Snow
pressed Tony Blair on this point, and extracted an extraordinary response.
Could you foresee yourself committing British troops to a ground war in
Iraq, Snow asked. "I suggest we have that discussion when the decisions are
actually about to be taken," Blair replied. In other words, when the
discussion can influence nothing. Blair's suggested timing is precisely
wrong. Any serious debate taking place after Washington has decided where
it's about to go can only be destructive to the alliance. The time when a
European argument might be useful is now, before the stone is set.

For a start, it would put salutary pressure on the Europeans. European
nations need to formulate some positions or, ideally, one position. What do
they propose to do about Saddam? How do they think about his weapons of mass
destruction? What is their view on the balance between terror and freedom?
How do they propose to counter the virulent American voices which remark
that Europe is simply failing to address the threats it faces from
terrorist-harbouring states? Europe slinks silent in the shadows of this
crucial discussion.

But in the absence of any real discussion in America, a more public European
debate could perform an urgent service to the world. Major European leaders
should be asking these questions in public places, even if one makes the
charitable assumption that none of the issues are lost on the American
actors. They fall into two categories. Might war work? And is it right?

There's more to hear, for example, about some of the working premises of the
warriors. Are they banking on Saddam caving in fast, and his armies
disintegrating? Since Washington is signalling scepticism about either an
internal coup or an effective local military force of dissidents, the more
likely plan envisages some 250,000 US troops, with Britain and few others
possibly alongside. Have they worked out the scale of the collateral damage
likely in such a big war? "No one can say whether a war will last five days,
five weeks or five months," the sceptical Nunn said in 1991. With a smaller
alliance to depend on, and a more tenuous casus belli , the question is more
urgently worth asking today.

What, then, of the region? Is it the case that Washington, after paying
lip-service to a Middle East peace process, will use the failure of its own
one-sided approach as justification for the real agenda of the Pentagon
hawks, who've been thirsting to devour Saddam ever since Bush I failed to do
so? If Saddam is dethroned but not destroyed, what then? How deeply have the
consequences of any failure in this enterprise been considered? Are such
questions inappropriate for mainstream European politicians to ask or,
instead, an essential contribution from allies who will be expected to go
along with anything that eventually happens?

Just as pressing are the issues of justice and proportionality. Even if one
accepts the contested claim that Saddam has deliverable weapons of mass
destruction (WMD), how valid are the scenarios that predicate their use? If
he can reach Israel, why would he dare to try if he knew the entire world
would then respond in kind? Some say the most convincing explanation of his
WMD is, as Tariq Aziz once confided, to prepare for revenge against Iran. It
seems at least possible that the only scenario in which these weapons become
a threat to America and her allies is in some last-ditch act of desperation
as the Iraqi tyrant faces the build-up of an invasion army. Is it not time
such perversity broke through the wall of acquiescent silence, and was
coolly evaluated by informed public people in the public realm?

More largely, how will the envisaged campaign fit into the frame of
international law? How stale is the thread of old UN resolutions that
America - and Britain - seem determined not to try to refresh? Where might
the unfolding of a long and bloody campaign fit into the doctrines of
morality? That question could be as inflammatory as it was at Suez, among
both officers and men. John Major, in his autobiography, recalls summoning
his Anglican archbishop and Catholic cardinal to secure their approval for
the Gulf war. They "gave me their public and private support", he writes,
"and in so doing their reassurance that this would be a just war". The same
blessing will be far harder to buy in 2003, even if the issues have been
properly explored beforehand.

Germany is precluded from such discussion until and perhaps after the
September election. France, on anything to do with the Middle East, has no
credence in Washington. But Britain has a position and a special voice, and
now is the time to make use of them, before these severe anxieties are
buried under the juggernaut of a son's revenge for what happened to his
father. To say that they're only worth discussing "when the decisions are
actually about to be taken" is to say that everything must be left to the
leaders. If these then suffer the fate of Lyndon B Johnson, booted out of
politics for a war the people decided they didn't want, they will deserve

byAndrew Mack
International Herald Tribune, 12th July


However, there is an alternative - a "passive aggressive" strategy that
shares the Bush administration's goal of ending Saddam's violent and
despotic reign but would pursue it by different means. These would include
abandoning the war option and lifting all but military related sanctions.

The logic is simple. In the past 40 years the number of authoritarian
regimes around the world has more than halved. In almost none of these cases
did the regime succumb to sanctions or external military assault.

Authoritarian regimes ultimately fail because, as societies become more
developed, complex and interdependent, they also become increasingly
difficult to govern by coercion. It is no accident that Spain's Franco,
Chile's Pinochet, Albania's Hoxha, Romania's Ceausescu, Serbia's Milosevic
and dozens of other autocrats have been evicted from office by what are
essentially exercises in people power.

Abandoning the draconian sanctions that have enriched Saddam's henchmen,
wiped out the middle class and caused appalling suffering would enable the
Iraqi economy, now a quarter of its size in 1990, to recover. This would
facilitate re-emergence of the middle class, the most effective potential
source of resistance to the regime in the long term.

With the threat of an American assault lifted, and without the sanctions
regime to blame for the suffering of the people, Saddam would lose support.

To the hawks such an approach is madness because it gives Saddam more time
to re-create his weapons of mass destruction. But possessing such weapons is
not the same as using them. Saddam will continue to be deterred from
attacking his neighbors by the threat of a devastating U.S. response, as he
has been for the last decade. If the use of weapons of mass destruction is
the primary concern, then Washington needs to consider the prospect that,
confronting military defeat at the hands of his hated enemy, Saddam would
resort to chemical or biological weapons in a last defiant gesture. The
writer, who directs the Human Security Centre at the University of British
Columbia, contributed this comment to the International Herald Tribune.

CNN, 13th July

BAGHDAD, Iraq: A former United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq said
on Friday he has seen no evidence that weapons of mass destruction are
currently being produced in Iraq.

Hans Von Sponeck, who quit his post in early 2000 to protest against U.N.
sanctions against Iraq, told CNN he had visited two sites which, according
to Western intelligence sources, had resumed the production of material for
weapons of mass destruction.

Von Sponeck said he first went to the Al-Dora plant on the outskirts of
Baghdad, which used to produce vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease but was
destroyed by U.N. weapons inspectors.

"There is nothing," he said. "It is in the same destroyed status. It is a
totally locked up institution where there is not one sign of a resumed

The other site was Al-Fallouja, a town 30 minutes west of Baghdad. Von
Sponeck said he saw plants there producing pesticides, insecticides and
material for hygienic purpose in households, on very minor scale.

"Most of the buildings are destroyed," he said. "No sign of anything but the
manufacture of legitimate items, but it is argued that it is another site
for the resumption of production of weapons of mass destruction."

Von Sponeck said he was concerned about the "power of disinformation
becoming stronger and stronger."

Iraq, he suggested, must open up more and be more flexible "to show ... that
Iraq is not what the United States and Britain allege it to be."

He also called on the United States and Britain not to go ahead with
anything based on assumptions and conjecture and to "choose the U.N.
Secretary-General and Security Council to discuss the issues, but not the

The visit comes as Iraqi military exiles are meeting in London to look at
ways ov overthrowing President Saddam Hussein. (Full story)

The main purpose of his current visit, he said, was to "get an update of the
situation in Iraq" so he can relay it abroad.

Commenting on his controversial resignation from the United Nations, he said
he had no regrets and that it was the only thing he could have done at the

"When you discover you are associated with a policy that makes life worse
for people in the long run, you can't be associated to that," Von Sponeck


CNN, 7th July

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- American Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan warned Sunday
that a U.S. strike against Iraq could backfire.

"If the United States attacks Iraq, that hatred will only be worse and the
cycle of violence that is now seen in acts that are called acts of terror
will only increase and become worse," the Nation of Islam leader told
reporters after meeting with high-level Iraqi officials on the second day of
a two-day visit.

He said Iraqi leaders are confident their country ultimately would prevail:
"They feel that nothing and no one will be able to destroy Iraq. It's been
here for 5,000 years."

Farrakhan, who also visited Syria, Qatar and Lebanon on his trip to the
region, said Iraqi government officials, including Vice President Taha
Yassin Ramadhan, appeared to be in high spirits, "despite the threat of
imminent war."

Though they expressed the desire for peace, "they will fight if they are
attacked," Farrakhan said.

He said he was visiting Iraq to encourage Muslim leaders to speak with one
voice to President Bush "against the war planned by the United States
against the government and people of Iraq."

A spokesman has said the White House does not comment on war plans, but Bush
has made clear his views toward the regime of President Saddam Hussein,
calling for new leadership in the country and including Iraq as part of
"axis of evil" along with North Korea and Iran.

Farrakhan, the controversial and outspoken minister of the Nation of Islam,
an African American Islamic ministry, has traveled to Iraq three or four
times over the last decade and arrived Saturday in Baghdad with an entourage
of about 15 people.

He decried U.N. sanctions that have been in place since after the Iraqis
invaded Kuwait more than a decade ago.

"This delegation believes that if the American people really understood and
knew the horror of sanctions and what these sanctions have produced -- of
suffering among the Iraqi people -- that the American people would rise up
against such a policy," he said.

"Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark said sanctions is a weapon of
mass destruction. More than one and a half million Iraqis have died since
the end of the war in 1991, 600,000 of these are children, and at least
5,000 Iraqis are dying each month that these sanctions continue."

Farrakhan said he would appeal to Bush and the Congress on his return to the
United States and urge that Iraq not be attacked.

"Before one American soldier is placed in harm's way, or one bomb is dropped
on Iraq, there should and must be a congressional hearing on this matter and
this proposed war must be debated in Congress," Farrakhan said.

"Those who want war must come before the American people to state their
reasons for such and allow scholars and scientists who disagree with the
administration position to testify before the Congress. Let the American
people hear both sides of this."

He urged Congress to invite Iraqi leaders to visit the United States and
defend their position that the country has no weapons of mass destruction.
The United States says Iraq is working on developing such weapons.

The United Nations has said the sanctions would not be lifted until their
inspectors certify that Iraq has no such weapons or the means of launching

Meanwhile, the government news agency said Sunday that Iraq's National
Assembly would hold a session beginning Saturday "to discuss means of
countering the evil plans of the evil American administration toward Iraq
and the Arab nations.",3604,751291,00.html

by Matthew Engel in Washington
The Guardian, 8th July

The Americans at last have an envoy in Baghdad negotiating directly with the
Iraqi leadership. The bad news is that he may not entirely represent the
views of the inner circles of US government.

Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, has spent the weekend
meeting senior Iraqi officials, though it appeared that he did not meet
Saddam Hussein. He said the aim was "to see what we can do to possibly stop
a war".

The official Iraqi news agency said the talks were aimed at finding "ways to
confront the American threats against Iraq", which is not quite the same

Those threats were underlined over the weekend with reports that the
Pentagon was planning an invasion of Iraq later this year using more than
200,000 troops. One report suggested 30,000 British troops would be among

Mr Farrakhan told a press conference in Baghdad yesterday that Iraqi leaders
should be invited to Washington to address Congress.

"We appeal to the fairness of the American people, that before one American
soldier should be put in harm's way, or one bomb dropped on Iraq, that there
should and there must be a Congressional hearing," he said.

"This proposed war should be debated and those who desire war with Iraq
should put before the American people the reasons that justify such action."

He said that hatred for the US and the cycle of violence would only increase
if the Americans attack Iraq.

This was a more conciliatory approach than the one Mr Farrakhan adopted
before leaving the US in June, when he called President Bush "the leader of
the lynch mob", and far more conciliatory than some of his past remarks, in
which he has referred to Jews as "blood suckers" who prayed in "synagogues
of Satan".

Mr Farrakhan will not be stopping in London on his way home. In April, the
appeal court supported a government order barring him from the country, on
the grounds that his "notorious opinions" might provoke disorder.

Washington Times, 12th July

CHICAGO (UPI) ‹ Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has denied a report
quoting him as saying he hopes Iraq wins any military confrontation with the
United States.

The Iraqi News Agency quoted Mr. Farrakhan as saying, "Muslim American
people are praying to the almighty God to grant victory to Iraq."

"That absolutely is not true," Mr. Farrakhan said Wednesday in a broadcast
interview from South Africa, the latest stop on his tour of the Middle East
and Africa. "The victory for Iraq, as well as for the United States of
America, would be peace so that no United States soldier would be put in
harm's way, or one bomb dropped on the Iraqi people. That would be a victory
for both sides, and that's the victory that I and those with me are praying
for ‹ not a war and a victory, but peace as the victory for both sides."

The Iraqi News Agency also said Mr. Farrakhan "expressed admiration for the
Iraqis' steadfastness against the aggression and continued embargo." A
spokesman for Mr. Farrakhan said that statement was, in part, correct.

"He said he has a higher appreciation of the way that the Iraqi people have
rebuilt their society and their steadfastness to see life go on, almost as
normal, even under the threat of an attack," spokesman Akbar Muhammad told
the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mr. Farrakhan, accompanied by Christian clergymen, a Muslim imam, reporters
and representatives of the Nation of Islam, visited Iraq last weekend as
part of a peace mission. While in Iraq, Mr. Farrakhan met with government
officials, including Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan, and religious

"I would never ask God to allow the American people, of whom I am one, to be
slaughtered in a war or to die in a war for really what I see is a vendetta
of our government against Saddam Hussein," Mr. Farrakhan said.

Mr. Farrakhan has met Saddam in the past and has expressed opposition to
reports of U.S. plans to topple the Iraqi leader.

In remarks posted on the Nation of Islam's Web site, Mr. Farrakhan said,
"The hatred for the American government and its policies ‹ not for the
American people ‹ is not subsiding, but increasing" in the Muslim world.


NO URL (sent in Mariam Appeal's Iraq Sanctions Monitor, Number 476)


Text of report by Ibrahim Humaydi in Damascus in London- based newspaper
Al-Hayat on 8 July

Iraqi opposition sources have told Al-Hayat that a number of  senior
military officers who are living in European countries are  holding
consultations at present to form a "military council" that  includes between
seven and 10 military officers who agree on  four principles. These include
sending a "national message to  the country and filling any military vacuum"
that happens if there  is a US military strike.

This development coincided with the first telephone contact  between Lt-Gen
Nizar al Khazraji, the former chief of staff who  lives in Denmark, and
Maj-Gen Wafiq al-Samarra'i, the former  military intelligence chief who
lives in London, since they left  Iraq. This contact was viewed as
"reconciliation" between the  two men following mediation undertaken by
several parties in  the past years which did not bear fruit.

Al-Khazraji and Al-Samarra'i told Al-Hayat they would not take  part in the
London meeting that Tawfiq al-Yasiri, leader of the  Iraqi National
Coalition, is organizing between 12 and 14 July  and which 70 officers will

Though the sources pointed out that there is "much  appreciation" for Lt-Gen
Al-Khazraji and that he and Al-Samarra'i  might play a role, the former
chief of staff refused to give any  details "because I prefer to work in the
field and in a concrete  way and not take part in public meetings". He
added: "I am a  military man and left my country for one single purpose,
namely,  to bring down (President) Saddam Husayn."

The "military council's" formation is not yet known but it will  include
between seven and 10 senior military officers whose  names will be announced
within two weeks following  consultations with around 300 opposition
officers. The sources  said that, apart from senior officers and the
symbols, "there is  the problem of ascertaining the officers' ranks because
some of  them have added the years they have spent in the opposition to
their years of service in the armed forces and therefore  promoted
themselves to higher ranks".

The sources went on to say that the preliminary consultations  held by a
number of officers reached agreement on four  principles, which are: "First,
the need to send a clear message  to the Iraqi Army in the country; second,
the military should not  promote themselves financially and politically with
the  Americans; third, reliance on the national and pan-Arab factors,
especially the stands of Syria, Jordan, and the Arab Gulf states;  and
fourth, the willingness to fill the vacuum inside the country if  Iraq
becomes the target of a military strike.",,3-352780,00.html

by Richard Beeston
The Times, 11th July

THEY may not have heard a shot fired in anger for years and many would have
trouble fitting into their old uniforms, but the 90 former Iraqi generals
and senior officers gathering in London this week insist that they are ready
for one last battle.

In the first meeting of its kind, the officers will file into Kensington
Town Hall, a chamber normally associated with debates about local traffic.
The three-day discussion will, however, be dominated by how to resolve one
of the thorniest issues in the Middle East ‹ the removal of President Saddam

Major-General Tawfiq Yassiri, whose Iraqi National Coalition is hosting the
conference, said: "The response has been amazing. People are coming from all
over the world to take part. We welcome any Iraqi who wants to contribute."

A year ago his plan to convene such a gathering might not have attracted
much interest among the notoriously fractious Iraqi opposition. This time,
however, there is a real sense that the regime, which has ruled for three
decades, may finally be coming to an end after repeated threats by President
Bush and the military preparations under way.

American and British diplomats will be attending the debate as observers.
They will not intervene, but any decision taken could have far-reaching
consequences on the future shape of a post-Saddam regime. "This is entirely
their own show," one US source said. "They have organised it themselves and
are running it on a shoestring. Frankly, we are impressed with what they
have achieved."

For General Yassiri the Kensington meeting is the culmination of a long and
often lonely struggle. The former Iraqi Army commander took part in the 1991
uprising in southern Iraq against Saddam in the aftermath of the Gulf War.
The West allowed Saddam to crush the revolt and the general was injured in
combat. He fled to Saudi Arabia before settling in Surrey to plot his
revenge. He will be joined by an extraordinary collection of Saddam
opponents who, Western intelligence suspects, will almost certainly include
several spies relaying information back to Baghdad.

Prominent among the former officers is MajorGeneral Najib al-Salhi, a former
tank commander in the elite Republican Guards, who fought the coalition in
the Gulf War before defecting in 1995. Now living near Washington, he is
regarded as a potentially key figure in persuading serving members of the
Iraqi Armed Forces to rebel once America begins its assault.

On the question of what kind of regime would take its place, the organisers
want a firm declaration from the participants at the meeting that the
military will not take over control of Iraq and replace one dictatorship
with another. They want a democracy that reflects the country's three
dominant ethnic groups and confines the military to defensive duties.

That idea, however, is resisted by some officials in Washington and London
and among Iraqi exiles, who would prefer replacing Saddam with a strong
leader who could reimpose authority over the country and avert the threat of
chaos or ethnic civil war.

The most prominent figure is General Nizar Khazraji, the former Iraqi Chief
of Staff and the most senior defector from the military. Now living in
Denmark, he still commands loyalty in the officer corps and could be crucial
in any future rebellion. He will not be able to attend the London meeting,
however, because he is being investigated for his alleged part in war
crimes, in particular the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians
and Iranian troops in the Iran-Iraq War. One Western source said: "One of
the biggest problems faced by the opposition is the danger of making a pact
with the Devil."

Independent Online (from Reuters), 12th July

London - A government that could replace Iraq's President Saddam Hussein if
he were deposed would seek a new Opec quota of over 5 million barrels a day
to make up for output lost during sanctions, according to a leading Iraqi

Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, which includes the
main factions opposed to Saddam, said he would allow US companies access to
Iraq's upstream oil potential.

Chalabi said Iraq, which is a member of Opec, would want to make up for 2.2
million barrels of production lost daily since the UN imposed sanctions
after Saddam ordered the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

Iraq's Opec quota prior to sanctions was 3.14 million barrels a day, so an
extra 2.2 million would give Baghdad an Opec allowance of 5.34 million.

It has had no quota since 1990.

"We will have good relations and co-ordination with Opec. We will not take
action that would harm the organisation. But we want to repair 20 years of
damage done by war, and negotiate taking back Iraq's quota," Chalabi said.


Chalabi said production-sharing deals lined up by Saddam with companies from
France, Russia and China - the friendliest nations to Iraq on the UN
security council - could be renegotiated. Other international companies,
including those from the US, could be invited to replace them, he said.

"The next government of Iraq will act in the national interest," he said.,3604,753728,00.html

by Brian Whitaker
The Guardian, 12th July

Exiled Iraqi officers are gathering in London today for the most public plot
ever hatched against Saddam Hussein, but without their most senior member.

General Nizar al-Khazraji, the highest ranking defector from President
Saddam's army, is staying away, for reasons that some believe are to do with
his own political ambitions.

Nevertheless, about 70 officers are expected, the organisers say. After an
open meeting tonight, which the many Iraqi opposition parties will attend or
boycott according to their inclinations, the Magnificent Seventy will spend
the weekend gunning for Saddam Hussein behind closed doors.

The White House, the Pentagon and the state department, which do not always
see eye to eye on Iraq, are sending representatives to watch the
proceedings, and possibly each other.

Although all the participants want to rid the world of President Saddam,
there is a wariness about the intentions of the US and their fellow officers
to overcome. But the organisers, Major-General Tawfiq al-Yasiri and
Brigadier Saad al-Obaidy, are encouraged by the response.

"Our aim is to collect many officers and discuss strategy," said Brig
Obaidy, who was formerly in charge of Saddam's psychological warfare. "We'll
discuss how to change the regime, and the role of the army and democracy in
the future of Iraq."

The key purpose of the meeting, according to opposition sources, is to
secure the officers' agreement to step back and allow democratic government
to develop if President Saddam is overthrown.

But Gen Khazraji has already shown his eagerness to take over the
leadership. In a newspaper interview earlier this year he described it as an
honour and "a sacred duty" - a remark that has left many in the opposition
suspicious of his ambitions.

More recently he has been linked in the Arab press to an alternative plan
for a ruling military council of between seven and 10 senior officers.

GenKhazraji, who was chief of staff and led the army through the Iran-Iraq
war and the invasion of Kuwait, now lives in Denmark, where a Kurdish group
has sought to have him prosecuted for war crimes.

This relates to his alleged role in the use of chemical weapons against the
Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988.

Gen Khazraji says the allegation was invented by Iraqi intelligence, and the
London meeting organisers say they have no dispute with him.

"He is our friend, we have good relations with him," said Brig Obaidy. But
Gen Khazraji said by telephone "I don't attend such conferences," and
declined to discuss it further.

Major-General Wafiq al-Samara'i, former head of an Iraqi military
intelligence unit, who now lives in London, is also understood to have
reservations about the meeting, though it is unclear whether he will attend.
He is close to GenKhazraji and both are regarded as politically close to
Saudi Arabia.

"It's a very small minority who are not happy with this meeting," an expert
on the Iraqi opposition said, asking not to be identified. "It will send a
very strong message that the army should not fill the vacuum or have any
role in the government after Saddam Hussein."

About 1,500 Iraqi officers are believed to be living in exile, but not all
are politically active. The identity of some who plan to attend the meeting
is being kept secret but observers say the composition leans heavily towards
the Sunnis, who account for about a third of Iraq's population.

The organisers, known as the Iraqi Military Alliance, are anxious to play
down links with the US, which could damage their credibility in the eyes of
other Iraqis.

They insist that the meeting is entirely financed by Iraqis.

Among those confirmed as attending is Brigadier-General Najib al-Salihi, 50,
who defected from Iraq in 1995 and runs a group in the US called the Free
Officers Movement.

He avoids giving the impression of being hungry for power, but earlier this
year he was front runner in an aborted internet poll organised by
to find whom Iraqis would most like to lead a transitional government.

Parties waiting in the wings:

Constitutional Monarchy Movement: Favours monarchy within democratic system.
Leader Sharif Ali bin al-Hussein
Democratic Centrist Tendency: US-backed rival to the INC
Free Iraqi Council: Offshoot of the Iraqi National Accord, claims
involvement in several failed coups. Led by Saad Jabr
Iraqi Communist Party: Established 1934, well organised, thought to have
support in Iraq
Iraqi National Accord: Mainly armed forces and intelligence service
defectors. Created by Saudi intelligence in 1990, reorganised by the CIA in
1996, infiltrated and smashed by Saddam Hussein
Iraqi National Congress: Umbrella organisation plagued by internal
divisions. Has received millions of dollars from the US. Disliked by the
state department and CIA, liked by the Pentagon and parts of Congress. Led
by Ahmad Chalabi
Islamic Dawa Party: An old Shi'a Islamist organisation
Kurdistan Democratic Party: Kurdish party with a military presence in
northern Iraq. In 1996 it collaborated with the Iraqi army in an attempt to
destroy its rival the PUK, but the two groups now cohabit. Leader Mas'ud
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: broke away from the KDP in 1975. Present in
northern Iraq. Led by Jalal Talabani
Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq: Main vehicle for Shi'a
opposition, operates secretly in southern Iraq. Iranian funding. Led by
Mohammed Baqr Hakim

Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 13th July

LONDON- Former Iraqi military officers and opposition groups meeting in
London asked the international community for help restoring democracy in
Iraq and discussed efforts to topple Saddam Hussein.

More than 200 people attended an open forum Friday to discuss how to bring
down Saddam's regime in Baghdad and secure democracy, organizers said. The
meetings were to last through the weekend.

"Iraq has bled for far too long, and now we are ready to heal her wounds,"
former Iraqi Maj. Gen. Khalid Shams al-Din said through a translator before
the session began with a chanted prayer. "We exiled military officers
realize the extent of the task ahead. We therefore ask the international
community to support us in our quest for a democratic Iraq."

"It has been forced upon us to convene this meeting in exile and not in our
beloved, beautiful Iraq," he said.

The meetings were arranged by the Iraqi National Coalition Military Alliance
and not the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based confederation of Iraqi
opposition groups that has received $97 million in U.S. aid, they said.

However, congress members were attending, organizers said.

The head of the congress, Ahmed Chalabi, said he hoped news of the meeting
would bolster the hopes of Iraqis who wanted Saddam to fall.

"It will send a message to the military officers serving in Iraq that there
is life after Saddam," he said. "The prospects are better than they've ever
been, primarily because the American government has decided that he's a
clear and present threat that they cannot tolerate."

Also present was Prince Hassan bin-Talal of Jordan, who said he was there as
an observer and did not represent the Jordanian government. He wished the
gathering success and said he was pleased to see its diversity, a translator

He told reporters that the meeting's delegates were one of many groups that
would help chart a course for Iraq. "The people of Iraq themselves have to
take their own decisions about their own future," he said.

Albert Yelda, co-founder of the Iraqi National Coalition, said the meeting
would be the largest gathering ever of exiled Iraqi officers. He said they
hope to unify those in exile and still inside Iraq in "establishing a
democratic regime where the Iraqis, Assyrians, Christians, Muslims, Arabs,
Kurds and Turkomans can live peacefully and equally."

Yelda said some of the exiled officers participating in the meeting had
escaped from Iraq within the past year, while others have been out of the
country for more than five years.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington that personnel
from the American embassy in London also would attend. Representatives from
the Pentagon were present, too.

"We do support this kind of broad-based conference of Iraqi military
people," Boucher said. "We think it's a useful tool in helping the Iraqi
community move closer to the goal of a better future for the Iraqi people
after Saddam Hussein."

The United States is not supporting the conference financially, he said.


by Brian Whitaker
The Guardian, 13th July

Exiled Iraqi officers and opposition groups gathering in London to discuss
the overthrow of Saddam Hussein were upstaged last night by Prince Hassan of

Surrounded by TV cameras, the prince made a theatrical entrance moments
before the meeting began but said he was only attending as an observer.

There have been conflicting claims about Jordan's willingness to be used as
a launch pad for a US attack on Iraq.

Prince Hassan, brother of the late King Hussein, was heir to the Jordanian
throne until the terminally ill king removed him from the succession and
replaced him with his son, the present King Abdullah.

He took a seat at the front next to Sharif Ali, leader of the Iraqi
monarchist movement, who is a descendant of Iraq's last king. Leaving after
45 minutes, the prince gave a press conference where he said he had not
intended to attract so much media attention.

Arab journalists said it was unlikely that the prince would have made his
high-profile intervention without the king's permission.

Some suggested that King Abdullah, who has been making frequent trips to
Washington, may have decided that President Saddam is doomed and that it is
time to build bridges with the Iraqi opposition.

The conference, held in Kensington town hall under a banner proclaiming One
Army for a United Iraq, was planned as a private meeting of exiled officers
to discuss Saddam's overthrow, but turned into the biggest photo opportunity
the opposition has seen in years.

Last night, the "magnificent 70" officers were heavily outnumbered by
journalists and civilian representatives of Iraqi opposition parties. The
core group of officers - who include several generals - will continue their
talks today and tomorrow at a secret location in London.

Media interest in the event led several political groups who initially had
doubts about attending to change their minds.

The US-funded Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella organisation for
opposition groups which had not previously been involved, declared its
"total support" for the gathering.

The head of the INC, Ahmed Chalabi, speaking outside the meeting, said he
had no intention of seeking office in a future Iraqi government.

"My job will end with the liberation of Iraq," he said. The US state
department has expressed concern over how American taxpayers' money is being
used by the group.

The organisers of the conference, a group called the Iraqi Military
Alliance, want the officers to commit themselves to civilian government if
and when Saddam Hussein is overthrown. But at least one key figure, General
Nizar al-Khazraji, is believed to prefer military rule and is not attending.

Meanwhile, crack British troops are to be specially trained in anticipation
of possible attacks on Iraq and for the continuing war against international
terrorism, senior defence officials said.

US officials have reported that SAS troops and MI6 agents are already in
Iraq working with opposition groups in the northern Kurdish areas of the
country. However, the reports follow a string of recent leaks from the US
defence department which British officials describe as part of a
psychological warfare campaign directed at potential defectors in the Iraqi
armed forces.


by Rym Brahimi
CNN, 10th July

BAGHDAD, Iraq: Nearly all of the staff that represents U.S. interests in
Baghdad have left Iraq on advice from their headquarters, diplomatic sources
in the Iraqi capital said.

But the top official representing U.S. interests was not instructed to leave
and is staying, the sources said.

In lieu of an embassy in Iraq, the United States has an interests section in
the Polish Embassy.

The staff received instructions to leave last week, the sources said. The
last of nine employees and their families -- all Polish nationals -- left

A White House official confirmed the report but said it is not a sign of a
decision or action on a change of regime in Iraq.

It's "nothing about nothing really," the official said, calling the
development part of the "normal back and forth we experience from time to
time" over diplomatic travel restrictions and other low-level issues.

The news comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iraq.
U.S. President Bush said Monday his administration would use "all the tools
at our disposal" to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Iraq's National Assembly plans to convene Monday to "discuss the hostile
American attitude," according to Iraq's state news agency, INA.

International Herald Tribune, 13th July

The United States has demanded that Iraq lift restrictions on travel abroad
by the Polish diplomats who represent U.S. interests in Baghdad, a State
Department spokeswoman said Friday.

Iraq banned overland travel to and from Iraq by the diplomats in April and
the United States maintains that commercial flights to and from Baghdad
violate UN sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

The effect was to trap the Polish diplomats in Baghdad for long periods, but
some of them were able to fly to Jordan on a plane that had brought
humanitarian supplies to Iraq.

Poland has been the United States' "protecting power" in Iraq since the Gulf
crisis and runs the U.S. interests section in Baghdad.

by David Blair
The Age (Australia), 13th July

Tucked behind the ramshackle stalls and faded colonnades of al-Rashid
Street, in the heart of what remains of old Baghdad, Iraqi men play
backgammon inside dilapidated cafes. Patrons of Baghdad's old cafes offer an
immediate welcome to Western visitors, but the conversation never goes
beyond pleasantries.

Questions about politics are generally rewarded with fleeting looks of
terror, followed by expressions of support for "His Excellency" Saddam
Hussein, whose portrait adorns the wall and whose secret policemen - the
Mukhabarat - are everywhere. But go beyond the paralysing, tangible fear
that grips almost every Iraqi and it becomes vividly apparent that most
people loathe President Saddam and want nothing more than to see him go.

For many, their hatred of President Saddam stems from the catastrophic war
he launched against Iran in 1980, which lasted eight years and cost at least
one million lives.

"At the end of the war the border was in exactly the same place as at the
beginning. An eight-year war and no winners," as one Iraqi put it.

Loathing of President Saddam is matched by hatred for Iraq's corrupt elite.

President Saddam is uncomfortably aware of this undercurrent. With great
cunning he has managed to escape blame for everyday hardships and even
rebuild some popular support by making the US-led embargo a scapegoat.
Iraqis are told all their problems are the fault of sanctions imposed by the
"evil" West. This message, however dishonest, has struck home.

President Saddam keeps the elite happy by allowing them to make a killing
from sanctions. Middlemen who import scarce items and trade the hard
currency to pay for them have amassed huge wealth. His eldest son, Uday,
controls the lucrative cigarette business. The affluent supporters of Iraq's
regime fill the plush restaurants of Arasat street night after night.

But President Saddam's most effective ploy is his appeal to patriotism.
Iraqis are proud of their long history, dating from the birth of
civilisation between the Tigris and the Euphrates.

They may loathe President Saddam, but that is not to say they would welcome
an American invasion. If that occurs, the President will seek to emulate
Stalin's appeal to patriotism during the German onslaught of 1941.

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