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News, 6-13/7/02 (4) NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * UN deal leaves Iraq Kurds at Baghdad's mercy * Rebel groups reject CIA overtures down on the farm * Gunfights break out in northern Iraq * Kurds draw up post-Saddam constitution for Iraq * Kurdish Leader Talabani in Talks With Saudi Officials: PUK IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Iraq to Return Kuwaiti Archives Soon * Al-Thawra: Third border center between Iraq, Iran * 26 Iranian Wrestlers, Coaches Depart for Iraq * Baghdad, Ankara sign a minute of meetings for joint cooperation * Saudi Arabia to hold trade fair in Iraq in Sept * Turkey's struggle for stability * Yemen sells Iraqi ships to India * Kuwait won't serve as launch pad for US attack on Iraq * Wolfowitz to Discuss Iraq in Turkey NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1025793364026 * UN DEAL LEAVES IRAQ KURDS AT BAGHDAD'S MERCY by Guy Dinmore in northern Iraq and Carola Hoyos, United Nations Correspondent Financial Times, updated 8th July In theory, the Kurds of northern Iraq have never had it so good, effectively independent from Baghdad and guaranteed a substantial slice of the country's oil income under the United Nations oil-for-food programme. The reality is rather different. Zhiyan Ahmad Abdullah fights a daily battle with shortages of basic supplies as director of the main maternity hospital in Sulaimani, one of the two regional capitals controlled by rival Kurdish factions. "We have many, many problems," she says in despair, having to cope with nearly 30 deliveries a day. "Each month we get 1,000 pairs of gloves, at best 2,000. But we need 10,000, so we have to re-use them." The same shortages apply to drugs for delivery, blood-bags and blood-testing equipment. Prostaglandin, used for abortions, has never been supplied, forcing doctors to use more dangerous methods for terminating pregnancies. "Really, the WHO is to blame," says Dr Abdullah, referring to the World Health Organisation, which is responsible for delivering medical aid under the oil-for-food programme. "This programme serves the rest of Iraq more than Kurdistan. A lot of money goes to serving those who work in the UN. For example, a local UN employee earns about $600 [£390] a month. My salary is $80 and my nurses get only $10." Under Security Council resolution 986, now in its sixth year of implementation, Iraq is allowed to use earnings from sales of crude oil to buy food, medicines and fund humanitarian projects under UN monitoring. To date Iraq has earned over $54bn. >From the total oil income, the central and southern areas of Iraq under Baghdad's direct control receive 59 per cent, while the 3.5m Kurds in the north get 13 per cent. The rest is spent on compensation for Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait (25 per cent) and UN costs. The Baghdad government led by President Saddam Hussein is allowed to purchase supplies and implement distribution directly, but because the Kurdish north has no international recognition it has to acquire aid through Kimadia, the official Baghdad procurement agency, and rely on the UN for distribution. This, as regional Kurdish officials argue, leaves the north at the mercy of Baghdad and what they call the inefficiency and even corruption within the dozen or so UN agencies involved in Iraq. A commonly voiced complaint is that the WHO programme is dominated by Arabs who have little sympathy for the Kurds and rely on Baghdad. One official in the Kurdish region, which effectively broke away from Baghdad in 1991 and is partly protected by a US-imposed no-fly zone, estimated that only 37 per cent of the oil income allocated for the north had been spent on humanitarian goods and services. Infrastructure projects, such as water, electricity and a $400m hospital, have been blocked by Baghdad. "Baghdad vetoes many projects, and the UN does not defend us," says Sami Abdul Rahman, deputy prime minister in the Kurdish regional government based in Arbil, calling the UN agencies "bureaucratic, biased and cumbersome". Despite the shortcomings however, Mr Abdul-Rahman agrees that the oil-for-food programme is "essentially a success", helping to provide basic rations, medical supplies and schooling. Statistics compiled by the UN show a significant decrease in malnutrition rates among children under five years, especially in the Kurdish north, bolstering UN assertions that it is more efficient in implementing programmes in the north than the Baghdad government is elsewhere. WHO blames the sanctions regime for some of the problems. "The process is known to be laborious because of the lengthy procurement procedures imposed by the sanctions regime," it says. The organisation said it had taken "remedial actions," such as an early warning system that had "improved the situation without solving the roots of the problem". It believed the new sanctions regime, agreed in May, might solve some problems by streamlining procedures for importing goods that have no possible military application. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,752441,00.html * REBEL GROUPS REJECT CIA OVERTURES DOWN ON THE FARM by Julian Borger in Washington The Guardian, 10th July Deep in the bowels of the US state department, not far from the cafeteria, there is a small office identified only by a handwritten sign on the door reading: The Future of Iraq Project. Such is the ramshackle reality lying beneath the Bush administration's pronouncements on regime change in Baghdad. There is little doubt that the Pentagon is devising invasion plans in deadly earnest, but the parallel effort to build a political alternative has been half-hearted to say the least. In fact it is in retreat on several fronts. The secret side of this "unconventional war" has not been going any more convincingly. Recent administration leaks have confirmed that there was a presidential directive to the CIA in February, ordering the agency to topple Saddam Hussein, with extreme prejudice if neces sary. But here again, the reality seems to be falling far short of the hype. Already stretched and humiliated in the hunt for al-Qaida, CIA agents have been approaching would-be allies among the Iraqi opposition who have little reason to trust them, having been let down by Washington twice before. Morale is so poor in the CIA that, in recent testimony to Congress, its director, George Tenet, admitted the agency had no more than a 15% prospect of carrying out its presidential order. The CIA was taught a sobering lesson on its lowly standing among Iraqi rebel groups on its own home ground in April. The agency runs a boot camp near Williamsburg in Virginia for its paramilitary units, which played an important role in Afghanistan. It is officially called Camp Perry, but inside the CIA it known simply as The Farm. Alongside the training camp it has a "black" area which serves as a venue for the secret side of US diplomacy. Foreign leaders, rebels or agents can be flown in without the complications of visas and customs, for meetings that officially never happen. In late April, The Farm was the site of delicate talks with Kurdish leaders, aimed at persuading them to cooperate in the effort to topple President Saddam. The guests of honour were Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), and Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - the only opposition with significant troop numbers and territory under their control. The KDP and PUK confirm the meeting took place but officially insist it took place in Germany. Privately Kurdish opposition officials confirm they flew to Virginia. A US intelligence source also told the Guardian that the encounter took place at The Farm and that the US was represented by CIA officials and General Wayne Downing, the president's military adviser on counter-terrorism and the author of a 1998 plan to unseat Saddam relying heavily on local opposition and US air power. "The idea was to see what the Kurds would be prepared to do in a war on Baghdad," the US source said. Specifically, the Kurds were asked to agree to the establishment of CIA stations at their headquarters in Irbil and Suleimaniyah, but they demurred. According to one account, Mr Barzani and Mr Talabani asked for more money than the CIA was prepared to offer. However, according to a Kurdish source, the meeting failed for a more fundamental reason: lack of trust. The Kurds had been encouraged to rise up against Saddam twice, in 1991 and 1995, and both times Washington had abandoned them to the Iraqi army. In 1995, the CIA pulled the plug on the insurrection 48 hours before it was due to begin. "We wanted to know if that was going to happen again. If Saddam struck at us, would we be protected?" the Kurdish opposition activist said. At one point, the Kurds reportedly asked whether the US officials at The Farm really represented the entire administration, and so Ryan Crocker, a state department official who had visited Kurdistan a few months earlier, was hastily called in from Washington. No senior Pentagon officials attended. It was hardly a convincing demonstration of US resolve, and the American representatives were unable to provide the assurances the Kurds were seeking. Last week, Mr Barzani denounced the secret war, telling the Guardian: "We cannot stop the US [from taking covert action], but we would like there to be transparency and clarity, and for there to be no covers or curtains to hide behind." The White House announced Gen Downing's resignation after less than a year as counter terrorism adviser. But a spokesman denied that his departure had anything to do with the fact that he lost his battle to persuade the administration to support a guerrilla campaign by Iraqi rebel groups against Baghdad. Meanwhile, the understaffed and underfunded Future of Iraq Project has been spending more effort struggling with other government departments than plotting Saddam's downfall. Two US-sponsored meetings aimed at bringing members of the Iraqi opposition together have been put off indefinitely. One was to have been a seminar in Washington for Iraqi ex officers in exile. It was to have taken place under the auspices of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), with the backing of the Pentagon and members of Congress who view the INC, a London-based umbrella organisation, as the rightful vanguard of the opposition. However, the state department, convinced that the INC is corrupt and unreliable, dragged its feet on issuing visas to the Iraqi generals in Europe, who were themselves sceptical about the role of the INC and its leading figure, Ahmed Chalabi. Ultimately Congress grew impatient and suspended the funding. The state department has simultaneously been trying to organise another Iraqi opposition conference in Europe, to talk about life after Saddam. Mr Chalabi lobbied against the meeting among his friends at the defence department and in Congress, and the conference has consequently been put on hold. The state department has also cut off funds to the INC's intelligence gathering effort, which smuggled defectors and information about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction out of Iraq. The shambles of the political struggle might suggest that the Bush administration is not serious about getting rid of the Iraqi dictator. But Many analysts believe that the lack of effort invested in building political alliances simply reflects the fact that the Bush administration does not attach much importance to them. "My theory is that the US government is going to want to do this on its own, on the basis that if you work with the Kurds and the Shi'ites you're going to end up with three Iraqs rather than one," said John Pike, who runs a Washington security thinktank, GlobalSecurity.org. In a forthcoming paper for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Anthony Cordesman, a strategic analyst, argues: "The US has shown in the past that it can execute military operations without any clear plan for conflict termination and nation building. "The American military culture seems to feel its responsibility ends with strategy and grand strategy is the province of politicians and God." http://www.washtimes.com/world/20020710-753584.htm * GUNFIGHTS BREAK OUT IN NORTHERN IRAQ Washington Times, 10th July TUNCELI, Turkey ‹ Violent clashes between Iraqi Kurd peshmerga, those who face death, and militant Islamists have erupted in northern Iraq, killing more than 20 people, according to a Kurdish official. Gunbattles broke out late last week between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and militants aligned with the shadowy Jund al-Islam, accused of ties with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, a PUK official in northern Iraq told Reuters news agency in eastern Turkey by satellite telephone. The PUK is one of two Kurdish factions sharing control of northern Iraq. The other major group is the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Massoud Barzani. "The PUK has responded to attacks on civilians and PUK peshmerga fighters by radical Islamists who have been active for some time in the region, especially around the city of Halabja," the official said Monday. At least nine PUK fighters and 12 Islamists were killed in the fighting, which was continuing, he said. The official added that "quite a few" civilians had been killed or wounded, but he could not provide figures for civilian casualties. He said about 2,000 peshmerga were involved in the clashes. [.....] http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/07/10/iraq.kurds.reut/index.html * KURDS DRAW UP POST-SADDAM CONSTITUTION FOR IRAQ CNN, 10th July TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- A Kurdish group on Wednesday announced a draft constitution for Iraq to use if President Saddam Hussein is toppled by the United States. U.S. President George W. Bush said on Monday he would use all available means to oust Saddam after branding Iraq a member of an "axis of evil" for allegedly sponsoring terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction. The Kurdistan Democratic Party, which controls part of northern Iraq, said the document was intended to stir debate among the many Iraqi factions opposed to Saddam's government. "We have taken the initiative to put forward in a draft paper what sort of Iraq we want to have," the KDP international relations chief Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters by telephone. "It has created a momentum, created a debate within Iraqi opposition circles," he said The KDP and another Kurdish party have controlled a large swathe of northern Iraq since the end of the 1991 Gulf War when they mounted a failed uprising against Saddam. The enclave is protected by a no-fly zone patrolled by U.S. and British warplanes. Zebari said the KDP envisaged a federal Iraq governed from Baghdad with some autonomy for the predominantly Kurdish northern provinces. "It is very clear, we want a unified country with territorial integrity and a single state," said Zebari, who represents the KDP on the leadership council of the opposition umbrella group, the Iraqi National Congress. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=7/10/02&Cat=2&Num=23 * KURDISH LEADER TALABANI IN TALKS WITH SAUDI OFFICIALS: PUK Tehran Times, 10th July DUBAI - The leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)-- one of two main Kurdish factions sharing control of northern Iraq, is in Jeddah for talks with Saudi officials, a PUK official said Tuesday. Jalal Talabani arrived in Saudi Arabia Sunday at the head of a PUK delegation after receiving an "official invitation" to visit the kingdom, PUK Foreign Affairs Chief Sadi Ahmad Pire told AFP by telephone from Sulaimaniya, the main town in the PUK-controlled part of the Kurdish enclave. Pire said Talabani, who will stay in Saudi Arabia several days on his fourth visit there since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which ended with Baghdad losing control over Iraqi Kurdistan, would hold talks with Saudi officials on issues related to the situation in Iraq. He could not immediately provide the names of the Saudi officials with whom Talabani would meet, but stressed the visit was part of the PUK's consultations with Iraq's neighbors which has included trips by Talabani to Syria, Turkey and Iran since March. The PUK is keen on sounding out Iraq's neighbors and exchanging views with them, Pire said, adding that Talabani would visit other countries of the region, possibly including Kuwait and Jordan. There was no comment from Saudi officials on the visit, and Talabani could not be immediately reached at the Saudi government's Jeddah guesthouse. [.....] IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/jul/06/070609913.html * IRAQ TO RETURN KUWAITI ARCHIVES SOON Las Vegas Sun (from Associated Press), 6th July KUWAIT,- Within six weeks, Iraq will return Kuwait's national archives that were looted during the 1990 invasion, a U.N. envoy said Saturday. The return of the archives is seen as the sole achievement of the two days of talks between U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri that ended Friday in Vienna. U.N. envoy Yuli Vorontsov said on arrival in Kuwait Saturday that the archives' return "is settled and we are going very soon to take practical steps in that direction." "Within a month, a month and half, the process begins," said the envoy for Gulf War prisoners and Kuwaiti possessions. Kuwait maintains that during Iraq's seven-month occupation in 1990-91, Iraq took archives from the foreign ministry, prime minister's office and other government departments, and a significant quantity of military hardware plus valuable pieces from the Islamic and National Museums. The Russian diplomat would not discuss how the archives are to be returned. Iraq and Kuwait have had no diplomatic or other relations since Iraq invaded the country in 1990. Vorontsov said he had come to Kuwait partly to inform the government of the results of Iraqi-UN talks in Vienna. [.....] http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020709/2002070910.html * AL-THAWRA: THIRD BORDER CENTER BETWEEN IRAQ, IRAN Arabic News, 9th July An Iraqi official announced on Monday that his country has completed all preparations to open a third border center between Iraq and Iran. He stressed that Iraq informed the Iranian side its readiness to receive trucks through this new border center. The Iraqi daily al-Thawra quoted the director general of the Iraqi land transport Yahya Khuder al-Ani as saying that the "company has completed all measures and preparations for the transport movement between Iraq and Iran through Zerbateyah border center." He added that the company has provided all work requirements in that new center of offices and working staff to run it. He continued that the company had notified the Iranian side its readiness to received the Iranian trucks through all border crossings between the two countries, including Zerbateyah crossing for good transport between the two countries and transit transport. There are also other two border crossing between Iraq and Iran. They at al-Munzereyah and al-Shalamja. Al-Ani stressed that "the company will very soon complete its preparations to open its office at Arar crossing on the Iraqi- Saudi borders which is expected to be opened within few days to transport goods between Iraq and Saudi Arabia." In June, a UN official stressed that the UN has reached an agreement with Iraq on reopening Arar border center. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=7/9/02&Cat=6&Num=3 * 26 IRANIAN WRESTLERS, COACHES DEPART FOR IRAQ Tehran Times, 9th July Following the Iraqi Wrestling Federation's invitation, Iran accepted to hold a week-long camp in Baghdad. According to IRNA, Iranian wrestlers are Hassan Zerafat, Mojtaba Babajanzadeh, Abbas Ranjbar, Mostafa Amir-Mousavi, Alireza Akbari, Seyed Saber Mirzadeh and Amir Dalvand, all from Mazandaran Province, as well as Mahdi-Hossein Rezaei, Mohammad Zamani, Alireza Qaraei and Mostafa Rezaei-Far from Tehran Province and Javad Hekmatian from Yazd Province, Hamidreza Rezaei from Qom Province, Ali Armanpour from Golestan Province and Jamal Niknam from Fars Province. Coaches are Abdolkarim Kaka-Haji and Hossein Qalavand from Khuzestan Province, Hashem Effat-Panah from Khorasan Province, Abdollah Chamangoli from Kurdestan Province, Ali-Akbar Bazri and Nabiollah Ranjbar from Mazandaran Province, Karim Assadi-Baqal from Ardebil Province, Sayyad Afrouzi, Mahmoud Pourzadeh-Hassan, Rassoul Habibi and Yadollah E'tessami from Tehran Province. Seyed Kazem Ghafouri from Khuzestan Province heads the team. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020710/2002071004.html * BAGHDAD, ANKARA SIGN A MINUTE OF MEETINGS FOR JOINT COOPERATION Arabic News, 10th July Iraq and Turkey have signed a joint minutes of meetings for economic, scientific and technical cooperation in conclusion of meetings of the 14th session of the Iraqi- Turkish joint committee which was held in Baghdad. On the Iraqi side, the minutes of meetings was signed by Iraq's Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Amir Mohammed Rasheed and on the Turkish side by minister of state Adib Ghaydali who on Friday concluded a four- day visit to Iraq, in which he was accompanied by an official delegation composed of 30 persons and another economic delegation composed of 220 persons representing industrialists, traders and businessmen. Rasheed said that what was agreed by Baghdad and Ankara in this session express the genuine will and desire of the two countries to develop prospects of bilateral cooperation. He described the topics discussed during that session as represnting new potenials in economic cooperation field between the two countries at all levels. The Iraqi oil minister called on the two sides to urge extra efforts to expand the volume of cooperation fields and covering all activities so as to reach bilateral economic integration. This is, however, the first Iraqi expression on Iraq's will to find out a sort of economic integration with Ankara. The Iraqi official stressed that two sides during the said session to draw serious steps for the mechanism of joint industrial production, noting that the Iraqi side considers with confidence and optimisum that during the few coming months the topics agreed upon will be efficiently implemented. At the same level, the Turkish minister of state said that signing the minutes of meetings between his country and Iraq is considered a joint fruit at the level of the technical committee. http://www.dailystarnews.com/200207/10/n2071005.htm#BODY10 * SAUDI ARABIA TO HOLD TRADE FAIR IN IRAQ IN SEPT Daily Star, Bangladesh (from AFP), 10th July Baghdad will host a Saudi trade fair in September for the first time since diplomatic relations between the two countries were broken in 1991, the Iraqi trade ministry said in remarks published Tuesday. The fair will focus on Saudi companies in the food, agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors, Ath-Thawra newspaper quoted a ministry spokesman as saying. "The Saudi fair will contribute to the development of bilateral economic and trade relations," the spokesman said. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1026311886438&p=1012571727102 * TURKEY'S STRUGGLE FOR STABILITY by Quentin Peel and Leyla Boulton Financial Times, 10th July [Extracts on Turkish attitude to war with Iraq. Hostile public. Sceptical military. But they'll probably go along with it once the election is over. So much for Turkish democracy.] [.....] The political turmoil in Turkey could scarcely have come at a more sensitive moment both for the country and its international allies, including the US and the European Union. Whatever government is in power, Ankara faces a whole string of difficult decisions. For a start, the political uncertainty is in danger of undermining all the achievements of an economic reform programme backed by a $16.3bn (£10.5bn) loan from the International Monetary Fund. It also comes as Ankara is under huge political pressure from Washington to provide support for any US operation to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein in neighbouring Iraq. Turkish public opinion is strongly opposed to any such action, and the powerful military high command is equally sceptical. [.....] Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy secretary for defence, and a strong advocate of military action against Baghdad, is expected to arrive in Turkey this weekend. He will try to gauge the effect of the crisis on US plans. Sedat Ergin, Ankara bureau chief for Hurriyet, the mainstream Turkish daily newspaper, argues that the prospect of US intervention in Iraq may itself be sufficient to warrant a change of government, so that elections are held before any military action. "If the US president decides to move on Iraq it is imperative that there should be a strong government that can deal with this issue in a businesslike manner," he says. "I doubt that the present government, with an ailing prime minister, can conduct the crisis management that this will require." But few see Turkey as opposing a US operation after an election, even in the event of a victory by Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist Justice and Development party. Indeed, associates suggest that Mr Erdogan might even be an enthusiastic backer, to legitimise his position in American eyes. [.....] http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020711/2002071111.html * YEMEN SELLS IRAQI SHIPS TO INDIA Arabic news, 11th July Yemeni maritime sources in Aden said that the Yemeni authorities started to get rid off 8 Iraqi ships existing at the port of Aden which overlooks the Red Sea since the invasion of Kuwait, 12 years ago. The sources added that three oil tankers and five shipping ships built in the 1970 s will be sent to India to be sold as a scrap. One source said that "one of the tankers left two days and will be followed by others that had been anchored in the port without maintenance since 1990." The sources said that the ships were sold to a Jordanian company in coordination with the UN which imposes a trade sanction on Iraq since its invasion of Kuwait. The sources refused to disclose the name of the company nor the value of the deal. http://www.dawn.com/2002/07/13/int5.htm * KUWAIT WON'T SERVE AS LAUNCH PAD FOR US ATTACK ON IRAQ Dawn (from AFP), 13th July Kuwait will not accept to serve as a launching pad for a US attack on former occupier Iraq, a Kuwaiti minister said in remarks published Friday. "The mission of US troops deployed in Kuwait is well known... It is to defend our land and national sovereignty... Kuwait does not agree to an attack on Iraq being launched from its territory," Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah told the daily Al-Rai Al-Aam. "There is no truth to press reports that Washington has concluded intensive negotiations with Kuwait about using its territory and airspace to carry out an attack on Iraq and topple (President) Saddam Hussein," he said. "Nothing of the sort happened," the Kuwaiti minister said, referring to a news report that the United States has been in contact with four regional states, including Kuwait, to use their territories and airspace for an attack on Iraq. "The United States has not said it would use Kuwaiti territory to launch an attack on Iraq. We (heard) nothing from (Washington) in this regard," Sheikh Mohammad added. [....] http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/bw-exec/2002/jul/13/071301229.html * WOLFOWITZ TO DISCUSS IRAQ IN TURKEY Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 13th July WASHINGTON- The Pentagon's No. 2 official will visit Turkey next week to discuss Iraq with the NATO ally, which could play a key role if the United States tries to force Saddam Hussein from power. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz will be joined in Ankara by the top U.S. military commander in the region and a State Department official for the talks with Turkish political and military leaders. Wolfowitz's trip comes amid continued calls by President Bush for Saddam's removal and the possibility of military action. Bush accuses the Iraqi president of hoarding chemical and biological weapons and trying to obtain nuclear bombs. Turkey, which borders Iraq on the north, would be an important ally if the United States were to go to war. U.S. jets patrolling the no-fly zone over northern Iraq use the Turkish base at Incirlik, a staging area for the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Wolfowitz will fly to the Turkish capital Tuesday to meet with Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and other military and political leaders. The 77-year-old prime minister is in poor health, and his government is teetering. Seven Cabinet members resigned this week, and defections from Ecevit's party drove it from the largest in parliament to the third-largest. Political instability in Turkey could make it more difficult for political leaders to support, at least publicly, any U.S. military action against Iraq. Ecevit's government has opposed widening the war on terrorism to include an attack on Iraq. One obstacle is Turkey's fears that toppling Saddam could lead Iraqi Kurds to form an independent state in what is now northern Iraq. That, in turn, could encourage demands for more autonomy among Turkey's Kurds, chafing under restrictions, such as a ban on teaching their language. A war also could set back Turkey's fragile recovery from a financial crisis that saw its economy shrink by more than 9 percent last year. A surge of Kurdish refugees flooded into Turkey when Saddam attacked them after the end of the Gulf War, and a similar refugee problem now could worsen Turkey's economy. Wolfowitz's trip had been planned for several months and already was delayed at least twice because of Ecevit's health problems, a senior defense official said on condition of anonymity. Turkish officials advised the Bush administration this would be a good time to proceed, he said. Joining Wolfowitz at the meetings will be Marc Grossman, the No. 3 official at the State Department and the highest ranking department official to have met with Iraqi opposition leaders recently. Gen. Joseph Ralston, commander of U.S. European Command, also will attend the talks. Wolfowitz has written in support of military action to eliminate the chance that Iraq could use a weapon of mass destruction. Meanwhile, State Department representatives are attending meetings in London this weekend with former Iraqi military officers and civilian opposition leaders, department spokesman Richard Boucher said. Participants in the meetings are discussing ways to overthrow Saddam. Wolfowitz will stop in Afghanistan on Monday to meet with U.S. troops and Afghan officials. _______________________________________________ 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