The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
News, 27/7-3/8/02 (3) BACK IN THE UN * Dangers of going it alone against Saddam * Weapons inspections were 'manipulated' * Iraq complains against US prevention of 2000 civilian contracts * Iraq Asks U.N. Inspector For Meeting * Blix underlines gulf separating UN and Iraq * Strikes on Iraq will be unwise: Annan * How the inspections broke down * Prospects remain dim for inspectors allowed in sites * Powell Rejects Iraqi Invitation to UN Arms Inspector * Russia hails Iraqi decision to invite chief UN weapons inspector to Baghdad BACK IN IRAQ * Depleted Uranium held responsible for Down's Syndrome in Iraq: Study * Iraq stops visas for Asian groups * Iraq to sue French company over AIDS polluted blood * Pracsi gets seven Iraqi contracts worth $1.6m * Iraq: report on construction of a detection and prevention system against environmental contamination * Iraq Goes Quiet on Invasion Date BACK IN THE KURDISH AUTONOMOUS ZONE * Kurds, 'Al Qaida men' in tense stand-off * Narsai David, a Bay Area link to north Iraq BACK IN THE UN http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1027694134026&p=1012571727172 * DANGERS OF GOING IT ALONE AGAINST SADDAM by Carola Hoyos, United Nations correspondent Financial Times, 29th July "The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security," United Nations Charter, Chapter 7, Article 39. And therein lies the rub. US and UK efforts to bypass the United Nations Security Council and still justify an invasion of Iraq under international law were floundering, diplomats and lawyers said. "We must certainly take any action in accordance with international law but. . . it does not in our view necessarily mean that there is a new United Nations resolution," Tony Blair, UK prime minister, told parliament this month. International lawyers and ambassadors on the Security Council are not convinced. They say that ignoring the highest authority on international law could turn out to be a perilous mistake. "No matter how big you are, if you don't have moral authority, you get into trouble pretty quickly," said one diplomat. "You can't win just because you are big and tough. It is the force of argument rather than the argument of force that counts." The stakes of acting without international backing have risen significantly since the International Criminal Court came into effect on July 1. Without international support, the UK - which unlike the US has ratified the court - is vulnerable to having its officials and soldiers tried for war crimes. For the US, going it alone could also greatly weaken the international co-operation it has relied on for its war on terror. European countries that disagreed with US policy, for example, could begin to refuse extradition requests for suspected terrorists. But getting the backing from the other 13 members of the Security Council is a tall order. Fearing failure, US and UK officials have already begun to argue that existing UN resolutions on Iraq - especially resolution 687, which ended the Gulf War in 1991 - are enough to justify military action. Lawyers disagree. The ceasefire agreement does not allow any state to punish Iraq's non compliance with force. That decision is left up to the Security Council. Though there was little consternation during the US air campaign against Iraq in 1998, the US plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president, is in a different league, diplomats argue. Garnering support from the Security Council will not be easy and few UN observers expect President George W. Bush to expend as much energy getting the UN Security Council to bless every move in a war against Iraq as his father did in 1990. The biggest hurdle to Security Council agreement this time are permanent members China and Russia, which oppose military action and could veto any resolution. The task, however, is not impossible, one senior member of the Security Council said. "If Saddam Hussein keeps saying no [to UN weapons inspections], the mood in the council could be quite in favour of action," he said. At stake is not only whether other countries will feel comfortable enough to help the US by supplying bases and fly-over authorisations - Kuwait has already warned that a Security Council is a pre-condition for its support - but their co-operation in the broader war on terror. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1027953256453&p=1012571727172 * WEAPONS INSPECTIONS WERE 'MANIPULATED' by Carola Hoyos in New York, Nick George in Stockholm and Roula Khalaf in Baghdad Financial Times, 29th July Rolf Ekeus, head of United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991-97, has accused the US and other Security Council members of manipulating the United Nations inspections teams for their own political ends. The revelation by one of the most respected Swedish diplomats is certain to strengthen Iraq's argument against allowing UN inspectors back into the country. Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, and Hans Blix, the UN's new chief weapons inspector, have for the past several months tried to negotiate a return of the inspectors with Naji Sabri, Iraq's foreign minister. Nearly every member of the UN is counting on a diplomatic breakthrough to avoid a US military attack against Iraq. Speaking to Swedish radio, Mr Ekeus said there was no doubt that countries, especially the US, attempted to increase their influence over the inspections to favour their own interests. "As time went on, some countries, especially the US, wanted to learn more about other parts of Iraq's capacity." Mr Ekeus said the US tried to find information about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president. He said he was able to rebuff such moves but that the pressure mounted after he left in 1997. Most damning, he said that the US and other members of the Security Council pressed the teams to inspect sensitive areas, such as Iraq's ministry of defence when it was politically favourable for them to create a crisis situation. "They, [Security Council members] pressed the inspection leadership to carry out inspections which were controversial from the Iraqis' view, and thereby created a blockage that could be used as a justification for a direct military action," he said. In a separate interview with Svenska Dagbladet, the Swedish newspaper, Mr Ekeus said that he had learnt after he left his position that the US had placed two of its own agents in the group of inspectors. With the US determined to topple the Iraqi regime, officials in Baghdad argue that the return of inspectors at this time is certain to lead to intelligence gathering and to deliberate provocation on their part, thus giving legitimacy to a US attack. Mr Sabri, Iraqi foreign minister, insists that Mr Blix has come under US pressure not to agree to any compromise with Baghdad. Iraqi officials have been greatly frustrated - most recently at the talks with the UN in Vienna last month - by the Security Council's decision not to allow Mr Blix to discuss with Baghdad the key remaining disarmament tasks before inspectors return to the country. Inspections based on a US agenda, says Mr Sabri, are simply impractical. "They proved a complete failure. The inspectors were procrastinating, prolonging the sanctions and providing a pretext for action against Iraq." http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020801/2002080104.html * IRAQ COMPLAINS AGAINST US PREVENTION OF 2000 CIVILIAN CONTRACTS Arabic News, 1st August The Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri has stressed that the American- British interference have obstructed the work progress of the "oil for food program" and resulted in suspending more than 2000 civilian contracts at a cost of $ 5 billion under illegal and non humanitarian pretexts. In a statement issued by the Iraqi foreign ministry on Wednesday, Sabri said that the recent British- US practices in imposing oil prices, that are not at market value, on the memorandum of understanding resulted in a large reduction of the program's revenues. He explained that this policy is a new form of the policy aiming at suspending contracts with the aim of depriving Iraq from benefiting from its resources to meet its basic humanitarian needs. This comes as Iraq said, as reported by INA yesterday, that the US "terrorist aggression" through "the air raids launched by US and British warplanes on Iraqi cities, villages and infrastructure is a flagrant aggression, continued state terrorism and rough interference in Iraq's internal affairs. Iraq affirmed that the U.S. and British imposition of the so-called no fly zones on southern and northern Iraq is a blatant violation of UN Charter, international law and Security Council resolutions which stressed on respecting Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence. It is an armed aggression on Iraq since 1991." http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=14946984&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * IRAQ ASKS U.N. INSPECTOR FOR MEETING The Associated Press, 1st August UNITED NATIONS: In a surprise move, Iraq invited the chief U.N. weapons inspector to Baghdad Thursday for talks it said could lead to a return of inspectors after nearly four years. Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan saying the government would like chief inspector Hans Blix and U.N. weapons experts to come to Baghdad ``at the earliest agreed upon time.'' Annan has been trying to persuade the Iraqis to allow U.N. inspectors to return but three rounds of talks since March have failed to make any headway. At the end of the last round in Vienna on July 5 which Blix attended, Annan and Sabri agreed that technical talks would continue. The letter from Sabri to Annan, dated Thursday, for the first time mentions the return of inspectors. Sabri said his government wants the talks between Blix and Iraqi experts to review the remaining questions about Iraq's weapons programs and decide on measures to resolve them ``when the inspection regime returns to Iraq.'' Sabri said the meeting would follow-up on Annan's suggestion in August 1998 ``to conduct a comprehensive review ... and assess the degree of Iraq's implementation of its obligations.'' ``We believe that this review will be an important step towards the appropriate legal and technical assessment and treatment of the issues of disarmament and to establish a solid base for the next stage of monitoring and inspection activities...,'' he said. The United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Under U.N. Security Council resolutions, sanctions can be lifted only when inspectors certify that Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been destroyed, along with the long range missiles that could deliver them. The United States has warned Saddam he faces unspecified consequences if he does not allow the return of the inspectors, who left ahead of 1998 allied airstrikes meant to punish Iraq for blocking inspections. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1028185371586&p=1012571727172 * BLIX UNDERLINES GULF SEPARATING UN AND IRAQ by Carola Hoyos Financial Times, 2nd August [.....] In an interview with the FT, Mr Blix pinpointed the differences between the two sides: "Before they [Iraq] take any decision on whether they will accept any inspections or not, they would like to establish with us an understanding of which are the unresolved issues, and secondly which is the relative importance of these issues and thirdly, how will these issues be tackled. "However, the [security] council has asked us to present this programme after some months of inspection in Iraq for the very good reason that before presenting it we need to see what changes have occurred on the ground in Iraq since the end of 1998. So as you can see, long as this [Iraqi] position remains there, there is no path forward." Baghdad has long maintained that UN weapons inspectors acted as spies in Iraq, allegations that were most recently endorsed this week by the Rolf Ekeus, chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-97. Iraq has barred inspectors from returning to the country since they left on the eve of the US led bombing campaign in December 1998. In 1999, the Security Council disbanded the former Unscom weapons teams, in whom several members of the council had lost faith, and created Unmovic. Mr Blix has worked hard to try to distance his teams from their predecessors. "Unscom was to a very large extent directly dependent from staffing, financing equipment upon the member states. Unmovic in the first place has an independent financing," he said. He said intelligence sharing would be a "one way street," satellite imagery would be bought commercially, rather than accepted from governments, and that he was looking for an alternative for the secure debriefing facility in Bahrain that had been provide by four countries (the UK, US, Australia and Canada). "We have said that we will do our damnedest to prevent our staff from communicating to serve individual governments," he said. Mr Ekeus accused the US of manipulating the teams of Richard Butler, Mr Blix's predecessor, by inserting spies and pressuring inspectors to create crises between the inspectors and Iraq when it was politically convenient. Mr Blix said that the administration of President George W. Bush has been better than that of Bill Clinton at respecting the neutrality of the UN weapons inspectors. Security Council members "still ask member states to assist Unmovic, but it seems to me that they were determined to draw lines between what we do and them," Mr Blix said - adding: "So far, this has worked." Iraq nevertheless still fears that UN weapons inspectors will aid the US in its efforts to dislodge Mr Saddam. "It is totally inadmissible for us to try to learn about conventional weapons," he said, given that they are not outlawed by the UN. He added: "In terms of targeting, it is very likely that the Americans have whatever targets they need for the future." But he insisted his teams would include "all nationalities" including Americans - an issue that could well become a point of contention between the UN and Iraq as long as the US continues to threaten to overthrow Mr Saddam. "It would be unacceptable for us to have anything but the ordinary UN composition." So far the US administration appears to have had a mixed impression of the usefulness of Mr Blix and his teams of inspectors-in-waiting. Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, has been the biggest sceptic. But Mr Blix dismissed suggestions that the US defence department had been trying to undermine his authority when it ordered the CIA to conduct a check on his past. "I thought it was true what they said, that they routinely asked for these things about a variety of people. Though I thought they could have perhaps asked the State Department, who have known me from 16 years in Vienna. My record was not particularly secret." Mr Blix headed the International Atomic Energy Agency, which based in the Austrian capital, before becoming chief weapons inspector. http://www.dawn.com/2002/08/02/int3.htm * STRIKES ON IRAQ WILL BE UNWISE: ANNAN Dawn, 2nd August, 22 Jamadi-ul-Awwal 1423 DUBAI, Aug 1: UN Secretary General Koffi Annan warned on Thursday the United States against military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein saying new strikes would not be "wise". "I think my position is very clear since I have spoken on the subject several times," Annan told the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat after the leaking of the latest in a long list of reported US military plots to overthrow saddam Hussein. "I have said that striking Iraq would not be wise," Annan stressed. The US policy of ousting Saddam "is not the UN's (policy) and the Security Council has taken no decision about this," he said. Annan added that he had "neither the desire nor the mandate to prepare the ground for military action" against Iraq. But he ruled out a re-run of his trip to Baghdad in Feb 1998 when he negotiated a last-minute deal to allow UN weapons inspectors access to sensitive "presidential" sites and avoid punitive US and British air strikes. "I have no plans to visit Baghdad for the time being," the UN chief said. [.....] http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,768434,00.html * HOW THE INSPECTIONS BROKE DOWN by Linda MacDonald The Guardian, 3rd August April 3 1991 UN security council passes resolution 687, dictating terms of Gulf war ceasefire. Requires Iraq to declare and destroy weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile delivery systems. Also establishes UN special commission (Unscom) to monitor and verify elimination of weapons May 1991 Unscom begins inspections in Iraq February 1992 Security council condemns lack of full compliance July 1992 Unscom personnel try to enter agriculture ministry in Baghdad without warning for inspection. They are blocked and begin 24-hour observation. Forced to leave country after being attacked by mobs in street July 1993 Unscom prevented from installing monitoring cameras at two missile test stands. Government backs down under threat of international military action June 1994 Unscom destroys chemical warfare agents June 1996 Inspectors denied access to sites associated with Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard, believed to be involved in concealment of weapons. Iraq denies access to four of six sites, saying they are presidential areas. Iraq condemned in August for gross violations of UN resolutions June 1997 Iraq again blocks Unscom from certain sites October 1997 Iraq refuses to deal with US personnel working for Unscom November 1997 Resolution 1137 condemns continued violation by Iraq November 1997 Russians secure return of Unscom January 1998 Iraq continues to block inspection teams October 31 1998 Iraq ends all cooperation with Unscom December 16 1998 Special commission withdraws staff from Iraq, Unscom disbanded December 17 1999 Resolution 1284 creates UN monitoring, verification and inspection commission (Unmovic) to replace Unscom. Iraq rejects resolution March 1 2000 Hans Blix assumes post of Unmovic executive chairman November 2000 Deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz rejects new weapons inspection proposals March/May 2002 UN secretary general Kofi Annan unable to persuade Iraqi representatives to allow inspectors' return July 5-6 Talks in Vienna between Annan and Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, fail. July 25 2002 Sabri says any agreement must include route towards lifting sanctions, ending threats of regime change, and end to no-flight zones August 2002 Iraq invites chief weapons inspector to Baghdad for talks on resuming inspections http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=320954 * PROSPECTS REMAIN DIM FOR INSPECTORS ALLOWED IN SITES by Charles Duelfer The Independent, 3rd August Iraq is offering to accept inspectors in some fashion as a tactic to derail international support for an American military build-up against the regime. But even if they do get into Iraq, their prospects are dim. The United Nations inspectors have been and will be caught between the conflicting goals of Baghdad, Washington and other Security Council members. Their ability to succeed is limited by Iraq's lack of co-operation and the council's inability to force compliance. Baghdad views weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as vital to survival of the regime. Chemical weapons were used in the war on Iran. Iraq believes its arsenal in 1991 helped to stop America from marching on Baghdad. UN inspections, at best, may delay or complicate Iraq's weapons programme. Unscom, the former weapons-inspection team, tried for seven years to account for all Iraqi programmes. That tortured experience yielded partial compliance. Iraq gave up what it was forced to expose, and retained the rest. The continuous cat-and-mouse game, and episodic American and British bombing, have given Baghdad excellent practice in concealing weapons. The UN inspectors have, on paper, the right to immediate, unconditional, unrestricted access words that sound good in New York but are difficult to implement in Iraq. Practicalities intrude. For example, is it reasonable to demand that Iraq turn off its entire air defence system so inspectors may fly into Iraq anytime, and anywhere? Baghdad will reasonably point out that it has a legitimate air defence system and some accommodation must be made to provide information on UN flights. >From this, the Iraqi government can derive warning information on inspections. Similar accommodations will sprout in virtually all inspection activities. Iraq's close monitoring of all inspection activities meant "no-notice" inspections rarely equated to surprise inspections. Unscom conducted hundreds of no-notice inspections. Only a few, though, were truly surprise inspections, and they developed into confrontations, delays and blockages. If the UN-Iraqi process goes ahead, how will we know if a serious inspection regime is planned? One test will be whether activity since Unscom left in late 1998 will be investigated. Credible defectors report that Iraq has since expanded its WMD programmes. The UN database includes the 200-300 important personnel from Iraq's earlier efforts. If the programmes have continued, many of these individuals will be involved. Inspectors must interview them without government presence to verify their work since 1998. Does non-cooperation by Iraq mean they are not complying? Is war justified simply because some stubborn inspector was blocked from a sensitive security warehouse? If America is serious, it should not centre its argument on the inspection issue. Washington needs to make a broader case. It needs to show the threat is broad and growing. To say Iraqis should change their own government is disingenuous . Outside intervention is needed to create conditions in which Iraqis can change their government. The potential of Iraq will never be realised under this regime. A country that should be the engine of development in the Middle East will remain a contorted and dangerous mutant threatening the region and beyond. And the people will continue to suffer. Charles Duelfer served as deputy chairman from 1993 to 2000 of Unscom. He is a visiting scholar at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=99FF1579-1227-44D1 ACDDABBAB8B7D6DE&title=Powell%20Rejects%20Iraqi%20Invitation%20to%20UN%20Arm s%20Inspector&catOID=45C9C78F-88AD-11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C * POWELL REJECTS IRAQI INVITATION TO UN ARMS INSPECTOR Voice of America News, 3rd August Secretary of State Colin Powell has rejected Iraq's call for the United Nations' chief arms inspector to visit Baghdad for talks. Speaking to reporters Saturday in Manila, where he has been meeting with Philippine officials, Mr. Powell said Iraq is trying to evade its requirement to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. A senior U.S. official says Iraq knows what it has to do, and that is to give U.N. arms inspectors unrestricted access to possible weapons sites. In a letter delivered to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Thursday, Iraq's foreign minister (Naji Sabri) invited the chief U.N. arms inspector (Hans Blix) to come to Baghdad to review disarmament issues, hinting that weapons inspections could resume after a break of nearly four years. Secretary-General Annan says he will discuss Iraq's offer with the U.N. Security Council on Monday. Mr. Annan's spokesman (Fred Eckhard) notes that Iraq's proposal does not follow procedures laid out by the Security Council. British officials also have expressed skepticism about the Iraqi invitation. A British spokesman says Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has "a long history of playing games." Russia, however, says the Iraqi invitation is "an important step" toward solving Baghdad's differences with the United Nations. In a resolution three years ago, the Council said Iraq would have to re-admit U.N. inspection teams and then allow on-site inspections for at least 60 days before the chief inspector would open talks on what remains to be done. U.N. arms experts left Baghdad in December of 1998, and Iraq has since barred their return. [.....] http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-08/02/content_508888.htm * RUSSIA HAILS IRAQI DECISION TO INVITE CHIEF UN WEAPONS INSPECTOR TO BAGHDAD MOSCOW, Aug. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Russia hailed on Friday Iraq's invitation to Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to visit Baghdad and discuss a possible resumption of monitoring Iraqi disarmament program. "Moscow believes that the Iraqi invitation is an important steptowards the settlement of the problem by political-diplomatic means in accordance with the UN Security Council's corresponding resolutions," the Russian foreign ministry stated. The Russian foreign ministry pointed out that the invitation came right after a Russian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov had made a trip to Iraq and some otherstates of the region. During the visit, much consideration was given to the exchange of views on possible ways to unblock the Iraqi problem. [.....] BACK IN IRAQ [No URL - from the Chaldean News Agency news list] Baghdad Iraq , 26 July, 2002 Responding to the report published by the Chaldean News Agency (CNA) on 28 February, 2002 and entitled "Iraqi Government: Racist and Repressive Decrees Against Christians and Chaldeans", the Iraqi government set up a high profile committee to study the issues raised by that report. The committee that's chaired by a member of the Presidential Office, also included the Minister of Religious Endowment as well as other high ranking members from the Military Intelligence, Internal Intelligence, Ministry of Education and two bishops from the Chaldean Church of the East. The role of the committee will be an advisory one and will only concentrate on the religious aspects of the complaints raised by the CNA report. Issues of ethnic or political nature were not considered.. So far, the committee has held three meetings in an attempt to generate a list of recommendations that will be submitted for approval to the Revolutionary Command Council, the highest executive body in the Iraqi government. It's hoped that the recommendations issued by that presidential committee and their subsequent approval will rectify some of the complaints raised by the Chaldean News Agency regarding series of decrees that impacted negatively the Christian population of Iraq. BACK IN IRAQ http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200207/29/eng20020729_100479.shtml * DEPLETED URANIUM HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR DOWN'S SYNDROME IN IRAQ: STUDY People's Daily, 29th July The depleted uranium left behind by Western allies forces, not the advanced maternal age, should be considered as the main cause of increasing cases of Down's syndrome in Iraq, said a research report published Sunday in the official Iraq Daily. In the report titled "Depleted uranium and Down's syndrome in offspring of mothers younger than 35-year old," Iraqi doctor Tariq Al-Hilli said that among the 30 sampled patients with Down's syndrome, 17 of them, or 56.6 percent, were infants of mothers under the age of 35. The result indicated there was no significant statistical association between advanced maternal age and birth of babies with the congenital disorder. It has been found that there is an increasing incidence of congenital malformations among those children who live in areas exposed to environmental contamination by radioactive materials like depleted uranium, the study said. Iraq has repeatedly condemned the United States and its Western allies for dropping hundreds of tons of depleted uranium bombs in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, and leading to an environmental disaster as a result. Dr Al-Hilli said the sample was randomly selected from those patients who went to the Saddam Central Teaching Hospital during January 1 to July 31, 2000. The study also included another 40 age-and-sex-matched children who had no Down's syndrome as control cases, he said. Down's syndrome, also called trisomy 21, is caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome, and the affected person has mild to moderate mental retardation, short stature, and a flattenedfacial profile. The disorder, formerly known as mongolism, was first described by John L.H. Down, a British physician about 130 years ago and considered as the first syndrome known to have a chromosomal cause. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=59155 * IRAQ STOPS VISAS FOR ASIAN GROUPS by Rasha Owais and Saifur Rahman Gulf News, 29th July Iraq has stopped issuing tourist visas for religious groups from Asian countries effective July 18, according to travel sources. The issue of tourist visas for religious groups is mainly undertaken by the consulate as per 'an Iraqi authority-approved' list of travellers provided to it by travel companies-who are agents for firms in Baghdad, explained Taha Al Hadethi, Iraqi consul general in Dubai. While he did not explain the reasons for the decision, Al Hadethi said the consulate has neither received nor issued instructions on the move. Summer is known in Baghdad for receiving a low influx of religious tourists and businessmen. "But we usually get huge numbers of visitors mainly in autumn, winter and spring. We sometimes issue around 50 to 100 daily and two months ago we issued around 450 visas in two days." Ismail Johar of Johar Travels, the company which handles tourist visas for religious groups said: "From July 18, they have stopped issuing visas. The reasons were not stated. We were informed that this is a temporary measure and they will begin issuing visas shortly. "Authorities in Baghdad have stopped issuing tourist visa advice for religious groups that often go to Karbala, Najaf, Koufa and other holy sites. We handle these visa applications for the religious groups, and the Iraqi Consulate issues the visa. "However, from last month, we received instructions that each visa application should be pre-approved from Baghdad." Dubai-based Naif Marine Services and Al Thyraya Marine Services operate five weekly voyages between Dubai and the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, under an agreement with the UN. Over 2,000 tourists, mostly Indian and Pakistanis, visit the Iraqi holy sites. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020731/2002073110.html * IRAQ TO SUE FRENCH COMPANY OVER AIDS POLLUTED BLOOD Arabic News, 31st July Iraq has prepared a new list including names of victims of blood polluted by the HIV, the AIDS causing virus, delivered by the Merieux French company to Iraq in 1986. The Iraqi weekly al Rafeydeen ( the two tributaries, the Tigris and the Euphrates ) said that this list was prepared at the request of the foreign ministry in order to be sent to France within the legal measures currently made to sue the French company. The weekly indicated that Iraq is still waiting results of the judiciary case it filed against Merieux company as it was asked to compensate for two million French Francs for each of the families of 180 persons who died because of the polluted blood. The paper explained that a progress was not attained in the file of the case, although other victims in other countries were compensated including Algeria, Germany and Tunisia, for the same reasons. "Merieux became Aventis Pasteur after the merger of the French company Rhone-Poulenc and the German firm Hoechst," reported The Namibian in August of 2001 and said Iraq is "claiming US$33 million in damages for delivering the contaminated blood, which subsequently infected 123 Iraqi haemophiliacs with AIDS." http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=59337 * PRACSI GETS SEVEN IRAQI CONTRACTS WORTH $1.6M by Saifur Rahman Gulf News, 31st July Dubai-based Process Automation Consultants and Systems Integrators (Pracsi), which set up a $7 million control system in Iraq under the UN oil-for-food programme, was awarded seven new contracts worth $1.6 million. Officials of Pracsi, which provides control systems to the oil and gas industry and has a $20 million turnover, said this is the single largest technology transfer to the sanction-hit country under the programme. These will make the three refineries in Iraq's northern Baiji more efficient, improve the quality of production and integrate and manage the process in a state-of-the-art computerised control system. "We are happy to announce that we have successfully put together the process and control system for several Iraqi oil refineries under the UN programme, which is currently being tested and commissioned. We have also got seven new contracts worth $1.6 million for similar work on some other projects," said Nikolas Petrakos, managing director. "We already have a team of six people currently deployed in Iraq to continue the commissioning process which will take a few months." The system was fully designed, integrated and executed locally in Dubai at Pracsi's manufacturing facility and is one of the largest DCS systems to be fully integrated in the Middle East. It consisted of a control system and emergency shutdown system with Pracsi's technology partner, Yamatake, which supplied the hardware, and associated equipment. It was completed in 420 days. About five years ago, Pracsi had tied up with Japan's Yamatake Corp to bring the latest process control and system integration solutions and software for the oil, gas and industrial applications. It has so far completed over 40 projects for many clients in the region, Petrakos said. "We are very active in providing technical back-up and system integration in the oil and gas field. Our partner, Yamatake, has a strong commitment to the region. Together, we are offering the latest solutions to the industry-specific application." Pracsi recently tied up with Eco Monitoring to make a foray into East Europe. http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20020801670.2 _77ec0000ccb49e51 * IRAQ: REPORT ON CONSTRUCTION OF A DETECTION AND PREVENTION SYSTEM AGAINST ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION Hoover's (Financial Times), 1st August The Iraqi news agency quoted details from a report published by the Oil Ministry in July 2002 on the construction of a detection and prevention system against environmental contamination caused by the petroleum plants. The agency quoted the Director of Development the Maad Research Agency, Ali Abd al-Hasein, who gave details on the possible ways of dealing with such contamination which are caused to the natural and the human environments as a byproduct of oil and gas exploring and production. The agency added that the large oil and gas fields are close to densely inhabited areas. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=14960894&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * IRAQ GOES QUIET ON INVASION DATE The Associated Press, 2nd August BAGHDAD, Iraq: In a significant departure from previous years and under the threat of U.S. military action, Iraq did little Friday to mark the 12th anniversary of its invasion of Kuwait, an act that triggered the 1991 Gulf War. In years past, radio stations played patriotic songs and newspapers published tough editorials, but this year Iraq's state-run media were free of any reference to the Aug. 2, 1990, invasion, seven-month occupation of Kuwait or the subsequent Gulf War that routed Iraq's military. [.....] BACK IN THE KURDISH AUTONOMOUS ZONE http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=59427 * KURDS, 'AL QAIDA MEN' IN TENSE STAND-OFF Gulf News, Reuters, 1st August In a lush valley of northern Iraq conflict is brewing, among the sunflowers and wheat fields Kurdish peshmerga fighters are locked in a tense stand off with rebels said to be linked to Al Qaida. As speculation rises that U.S. forces are gearing up to try to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the tension in this quiet corner of Iraqi Kurdistan underscores the instability of a region cut loose from Baghdad rule for more than a decade. An uneasy peace held for years between radicals and the social democrat Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) around Halabja, a small town made infamous by a 1988 Iraqi chemical weapon attack that killed some 5,000 of its inhabitants. But when Ansar Al Islam fighters ransacked the tombs of mystical Muslim Sufi sheikhs earlier this month, the PUK said it was the last straw. "The opportunity for dialogue has passed," PUK leader Jalal Talabani said in a statement last week. "From the moment these outrageous crimes were committed by the group, the policy of the PUK is to eradicate this terrorist group once and for all." Massoud Barzani, leader of the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party which controls the western half of the breakaway region, has offered help to snuff out Ansar in a sign of increasing cooperation between the once-warring factions. Exactly who the Ansar rebels are remains shrouded in mystery. The PUK say Ansar is controlled by Al Qaida Arabs who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban's defeat. Ordinary Kurds say neighbouring Iran, officially Shi'ite and no friend of the strictly Sunni Taliban and Al Qaida, is behind the group. PUK officials hint Baghdad may be backing them. Whoever Ansar may be, PUK leaders are seeking international support by invoking the vocabulary of U.S. President George W. Bush's "war on terror" to terminate the mysterious militants. "Our intelligence confirms they part of the international terrorist network Al Qaida," Barham Salah, prime minister of the PUK-held region told Reuters. "Terrorism is an international phenomenon and requires an international response." PUK peshmergas are busy building mounds of earth to see above the sunflowers across the flat valley bottom and try to spot Ansar fighters who slip down from their commanding mountain positions to infiltrate the area at night. But on top of their geographical disadvantage, PUK forces have another problem which hinders their ability to attack Ansar. Two other armed Islamist groups, officially at peace with the PUK, are in the way. "We don't intend to attack Ansar at the moment, because their west is controlled by the Islamic League and the Islamic Movement and to their rear is Iran," said local commander Jafar. The Islamic Movement of Kurdistan says it wants no part in any conflict between their neighbours. The much better armed and equipped PUK seized Halabja from them late last year, leaving them a small base on a hill at the edge of town. Despite the peace, PUK peshmerga are loath to go too close to the base and keep a watchful eye from down the street. The leader of the Islamic Movement, more moderate than Ansar militants who split from his group, does not shrink from promising worldwide retribution against U.S. interests should Washington launch an attack on Baghdad. Yet even his men say it is too dangerous to go anywhere near Ansar. PUK leaders are worried by revenge attacks from Iraqi government troops in the event of a U.S. attack on Baghdad and are unwilling to fight on two fronts at the same. With that in mind, analysts say, it cannot be too long before the PUK moves to eliminate the Islamist thorn in their side. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/a/2002/08/02/MN182477 .DTL * NARSAI DAVID, A BAY AREA LINK TO NORTH IRAQ by Rob Morse San Francisco Chronicle, 2nd August With all the talk about the difficulties of a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq, I was surprised to learn that Narsai David has been crossing the border into northern Iraq since 1995. The Berkeley food and wine expert has been visiting various humanitarian projects funded by the Assyrian Aid Society of America, of which he is president. How does this most civilized of Bay Area foodies get past Saddam into Iraqi Kurdistan? It's as easy as his grandmother's miniature stuffed grape leaves, which aren't that easy at all. "We flew to Damascus, drove across the desert to the Syrian town of Qamishleh and took a boat across the Tigris," David said of his visit to the land of his Assyrian ancestors in May 2001. "On the other side we saw a huge sign, in English, saying, 'Welcome to Iraqi Kurdistan.' " David said it was refreshing to see how well the Muslim Kurds and the Christian Assyrians get along. The parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan is 5 percent Assyrian, reflecting their status as a respected minority among the Iraqi Kurds. The Kurds and Assyrians, in turn, are oppressed minorities within Iraq, which barely tolerates the provisional state of Iraqi Kurdistan. According to David, the open-air markets of cities like Erbil, the oldest city in the world, have more food and goods than those of the Iraqi markets under Saddam's rule. Still, Saddam's sword always hangs over northern Iraq. "The no-fly zone is keeping Saddam Hussein out," said David. "Everybody in the north is frightened to death that if the planes stop flying because of a rapprochement with Saddam Hussein, they're finished." David and I sat at lunch pondering the meaning of all the Pentagon leaks of plans to invade Iraq. The U.S. has been talking about using Iraqi Kurdistan as a jumping-off point for the invasion. The residents of the region have been left in the lurch by the U.S. before. After the Gulf War, our current president's father urged the Kurds to fight Saddam, then left them to be slaughtered, along with Assyrians and other minorities. French scholar Gerard Chaliand calls the provisional entity of Iraqi Kurdistan "a living paradox. . . . It is internationally protected and is developing because the regime of Saddam Hussein, which has shown itself to be their worst enemy, continues to endure." Chaliand said he hoped that if a new authority emerges, the Kurds won't again be "the designated sacrificial victims, condemned to another exodus." The same goes for the Assyrians, victims of many a forgotten exodus and ignored slaughter. When the great Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations fell in the sixth century B.C., Assyrians were left scattered across Iraq, Iran and Turkey. In the first century A.D., they were the first nation to accept Christianity. In the early 20th century, the Turks slaughtered Assyrians, along with Armenians. Surviving Assyrians fled to Baghdad, suffering the loss of a third of their remaining population along the way. In 1933, the Iraqis massacred them. Now, 3 million Assyrians are scattered from their homeland in northern Iraq across the world. The biggest Assyrian population centers in the United States are Chicago, where Narsai David was born, followed by Turlock, where he moved when he was 11. David and his fellow Assyrian Americans do what they can. San Jose dentist Dr. Ashur Moradkhan donated 81,000 fruit trees to be planted in northern Iraq. The Assyrian Aid Society, founded after the Gulf War, has built schools, homes and churches in northern Iraq. It has provided water, generators and textbooks, and has paid for teachers and medical care. Its Web site is www.assyrianaid.org. Yes, there is a food angle. David, who for years ran Narsai's, the fabled restaurant in Kensington, is holding a fund-raising dinner at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco on Nov. 15. The dinner, sponsored by the likes of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Barbara Boxer and all the mayors named Brown, will feature the great Egyptian-born chef Michael Mina, Israeli chef Israeli Aharoni and Israeli-born Michael Ginor of Hudson Valley Foie Gras. "If I could only find a way to get a Palestinian chef here," said David. I think he'll find a way. After all, this is a guy who can get into Iraq. And he doesn't need an F-16 to do it. _______________________________________________ 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