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News titles, 17-24/8/02 Most surprising item this week is Richard Butler, of all people, castigating the Australian government quite violently for slavishly supporting US warmongering ('Ex-envoy blasts Iraq stance' in the Iraqi/International Relations section). Otherwise mainstream US and UK opinion is still tending against a war with even the US opinion polls showing a drop in support. If its any encouragement we may remember that the warmongers in the press (Safire, Kristol etc) were saying at the beginning of the year that if the war didn't follow immediately on the Afghan war the optimum moment would be lost. However, Iraq's immediate neighbours all seem to be operating on the assumption that war is imminent and that the US will win, though the prospect is rendered more difficult by the increasingly serious quarrel that has broken out between the Kurdish Democratic Party and Turkey. IRAQI/US RELATIONS * But What's The Legal Case For Preemption? [The article sets out from the naive premiss that, in launching the 1991 Gulf War, George Bush Sr 'was inaugurating a new era in which major wars were not to be launched by presidential fiat, but only after the considered approval of representatives of the nation and the world.' The 1991 Gulf War was preceded by the illegal war on Panama and followed by the illegal war on Serbia. All that happened in 1991 was that in the case of this particularly audacious project (using the gullibility of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in order to establish a massive military presence in the Middle East), the circumstances were such that the niceties of legal procedure could be observed, mainly because of the Soviet Union's extreme weakness and consequent anxiety to please. Nonetheless the point that in acting in defiance of the United Nations Charter the US government is acting in defiance of the US constitution is worth making. Any possibility of taking a case?] * U.S. aided Iraq in '80s despite gas use, officials say [We thought we knew all this, but its useful to have it in black and white. Only trouble is, we're all glad Iran didn't take the area over, aren't we?] * General tells Bush: Don't go it alone [Norman Schwarzkopf and Wesley Clark] * For an Iraq Amnesty [Argues that President Hussein should be detached from his supporters through the offer of a general amnesty. The broad argument is fair enough even if it makes a nonsense of the Ex-Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal, but it is frightening that an academically trained mind (the author is Warburg Research Fellow at St. Anne's College, Oxford) can have such a simplistically black and white view of the world. Also I would doubt that the first anxiety of the US army is the possible deployment of weapons of mass destruction. I would think their main worry is the possibility of having to fight in cities and therefore to have to commit face to face (as opposed to long distance) atrocities.] * New York Times misrepresents Kissinger on Iraq * U.S. Agents Tried to Bribe Iraqi Officials During UN Talks: Sabri * Times Takes Flak on Iraq [Complaints that the NY Times is exaggerating opposition to the war on Iraq. Compared to the sort of lies and misrepresentations we are used to from the proponents of war (Saddam expelling the inspectors in 1998 for example) this is small beer. The only half way serious complaint is over the reporting of Kissinger's remarks and so far as I have seen Kissinger himself hasn't complained - though one imagines the old mass murderer would probably have to be paid a couple of thousand dollars before he would even say hello ....] * Editorial: Irrational on Iraq U.S. justifications for war do not measure up [Editorial in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette arguing that no good reason has yet been given for going to war with Iraq] * Despite the war talk, Bush is unlikely to attack Iraq [The article numbers Zbigniew Brzezinski and, unapologetically, H.Kissinger, among those counselling caution.] * US Congress already at war over Iraq * President says he can wait on Iraq [Note that Bush says he wants to try to find "a way to see that that region is not developing weapons of mass destruction." The whole region? The article also features remarks by Tom DeLay who may be Richard Armey's successor after the next elections as House majority leader, strongly supporting the war: "Regime change is a central goal of the war on terror." He doesn't seem to want to limit this to regime change in Iraq.] * Poll: Support for action against Iraq dropping [Madeleine Albright opposes a war on the grounds that 'Iraq and Saddam Hussein are contained pretty well within this sanctions box'. No old nonsense about liberating the Iraqi people from oppression for her! Kissinger is quoted sounding a bit more pro-war.] URL ONLY: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,60704,00.html * Transcript: Lawrence Eagleburger on FNS Fox News, 19th August [Lawrence Eagleburger thinks the Saddam question has come up again because sanctions were relaxed (is he referring to Oil for Food?) and that, instead of threatening war with Iraq, the US should follow through the war on terror by turning its attention to Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. This is what counts as an anti-war argument.] IRAQI/UK RELATIONS * Don't trust Bush or Blair on Iraq [given past USUK implication in Mr Hussein's crimes as revealed in the Scott Report, eg 'Soon after the attack (on Halabja), Washington approved the export to Iraq of virus cultures and a $1bn contract to design and build a petrochemical plant the Iraqis planned to use to produce mustard gas.'] * Straw plays down Iraq war talk [Much has been made of this as indicating a difference from the US position. It may indicate a difference from the Perle/Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld position that weapons inspections are an irrelevance; but its quite in harmony with G.Bush who also has been playing down the talk of war, telling us what a patient man he is.] * Ex-diplomat warns Blair over attack on Iraq [Lord Wright of Richmond. Also anti-war remarks from the Tory Party's John Gummer. And the text of an anti-war motion to be discussed at next month's TUC conference.] * Iraq cannot be left to its own dangerous devices [The Guardian's Martin Woollacott believes in the legitimacy and desirability of US intervention to right the wrongs of the world and so is depressed to find that 'America's legitimacy in that capacity, already questionable, could be damaged both by recourse to war and by a retreat from it after so many threats and statements.'] * Cook wins Cabinet debate over Iraq. IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * US protests Germany's stance on Iraq * U.S. Makes Restrained Comment on Possible Russia-Iraq Deal * Iraqis reverse wheat ban [on Australia] * Iraqi FM to visit China next week * Russia 'giving illegal millions to Saddam for trade deals' [Anonymous 'western diplomats' accuse Russian company Emercom of paying the 'illegal' surcharge Iraq is said to have imposed on oil exports.] * Police storm Iraqi embassy in Berlin [ending occupation by Iraqi opposition group.] * Iraq Embassy Invaders to Be Detained * Ex-envoy blasts Iraq stance [Richard Butler blasts the Australian government for its uncritical support of the US, and expresses anxiety that "What is emerging is an interpretation in Washington that says we will do whatever we want, anytime, anywhere all under the rubric of terrorism whether it is provable or not." Has he been anywhere near Damascus in the last few days?] IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * Hans Blix, United Nations' chief weapons inspector [Hans Blix's interview with the BBC. He says the Iraqis are refusing to accept inspectors, but he also says they are being encouraged to do so by the belligerence of the USA ('Well, I would think that if the Iraqis conclude that an invasion by someone is inevitable then they might conclude that it's not very meaningful to have inspections.'.] IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * IRIB [ Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] to Establish Permanent Office in Baghdad: Iraqi Daily * Kuwait Airways gets $56m [Compensation against Iraq. Rather strangely this case is being conducted in front of a British court.] * Bahrain joins Iran in opposing U.S. attack on Iraq [The King of Bahrain in Iran; the President of Yemen in Saudi Arabia. Are interesting and unexpected alliances being formed?] * Kuwait Says OPEC Can Boost Output If Iraq Attacked [Kuwait's supposed opposition to a US invasion of Iraq does not amount to very much. Kuwait's Acting Oil Minister, Sheikh Ahmad al Fahd al-Sabah promises to keep the oil going and 'said Kuwait would not support a military strike on Iraq, but said no decision had been taken on whether or not to allow U.S. forces to use Kuwaiti bases.] * U.S. Strike on Iraq: For Jordan, Ball Is in Baghdad's Camp ["The ball is now in Baghdad's Camp. It is up to Iraq to play the game by accepting the return of the UN (weapons) inspectors and bowing to the will of the international community." This sounds like Jordan positioning itself to switch sides. The Jordanian officials quoted say: 'they will not adopt the position taken by Amman in 1990.' But in 1990, contrary to what is often asserted, Jordan did not support Iraq. It was neutral. So if it adopts a different position this time it will not be neutral. It will support the US.] * Most Arab parliaments ready to attend Baghdad meeting on US threats [Proposed meeting of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in Baghdad] * Baghdad ready to restore ties with Riyadh: VP * Syrian PM Meets With Iraqi Trade Minister * Iraq, Turkey hail improved trade URL ONLY: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/134516253_armsrace18.html * A rough neighborhood: Arms race adding to tensions in Mideast by Michael Cabbage Seattle times, from The Orlando Sentinel, 18th August [Long article giving details of weapons capacity of different countries in the Middle East including Israel. Very obvious that by far the least dangerous of the countries discussed is Iraq.] INSIDE IRAQ * Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister Moussa Dead - Industry Source * Iraq opens warehouse to press to refute US biological weapons charges. * Iraq says Abu Nidal was working against Baghdad [Interview with CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan who has been told Nidal had been under house arrest in Baghdad and was accused by the Baghdad authorities of 'conspiring with forces outside of Iraq to work against the Iraqi government'. These forces include Kuwait. The interview continues with an insistence from the same anonymous but we are assured very highly placed official that there is no question of the inspectors coming back.] * Abu Nidal killed by Iraqi assassins, insist supporters [by Robert Fisk] NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Al Qaeda Presence In Iraq Reported * Al-Qaida Link to Iraq Lab Suspected [report on ABC News based on remarks by 'unidentified intelligence officials'. The lab in question is operated by Ansar el-Islam in the Kurdish Autonomous Zone, outside Baghdad's control.] * KDP to Turks: Kurdistanis will turn Kurdistan into a graveyard to attackers [The English is poor but the overall sense a violent war of words between the KDP and Turkey is very clear.] * Eyewitness: I saw Al-Khazraji kicking a Kurdish child to death [Kurdish witness Mudir Ali would not agree with the view expressed in the article 'For an Iraq Amnesty' that Saddam's associates should be amnestied for the sake of an easy war.] * Turkey, Iraqi Kurdish Tensions High [This is the first appearance I have seen in the mainstream news suppliers of this immensely important dispute between the Turkish government and the KDP. We learn that the Turkish defense ministry claims sovereignty over Northern Iraq and that the ('illegal') diesel imports into Turkey on which the KDP depend have been cut off since last February. Is it any wonder Jalal Talabani is looking like the cat who got the cream?] * Saddam's son points finger at Iran [as being behind Ansar al-Islam.] * Iranian troops deployed on Iraqi border: Kurds * Militant Kurds training al-Qaida fighters [from The Guardian. One of the fullest accounts of Ansar al-Islam I've yet seen, though its still not very full.] URL ONLY: http://observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,776547,00.html * 'Saddam will not stop me being a Kurd' by Jason Burke, Barda Qaraman refugee camp, Northern Iraq The Observer, 18th August [The Observer finds a humanitarian pretext for supporting the policy of bombing Iraq - the 'Arabization' policy being imposed on the Kurds around Kirkuk. The details are much the same as in previous articles on the subject, notably last week's 'Iraqi Kurds feel the brunt of Saddam's 'Arabization' (New York Times)] NO FLY ZONES * Iraq: Military Spokesman Says Four Civilians Hurt In U.S.-British Attack On Iraq [This refers back to last Wednesday - 14th August, reported in last week's news - but with some more details.] * US, UK jets raid civilian installations: Iraq [Saturday, 17th August] * Western jets strike air defence site [Tuesday 20th August] * U.S. Planes Bomb Iraqi Site [Friday, 23rd August] IRAQI 'OPPOSITION' * Bid to market US policy on Iraq to Arabs [FT article claiming that the US are sending the Opposition representatives who saw them last week to try to reassure local opinion about the possible war on Iraq. This seems very unlikely given that the Opposition leaders themselves failed to get any assurances as to the US leaders' aims and methods.] * Saddam's foes hope to recruit soldiers [The Iraqi National Council, recently formed in London under the (possibly rather reluctant) aegis of the Iraqi National Congress, is recruiting soldiers for an Iraqi exile army to help with the 'liberation' of Iraq. We may well doubt if this is good news either for the US or for the Iraqi National Congress.] NEW WORLD ORDER * Saudis reconsider US links after terrorism lawsuit [Possible consequences of lawsuit launched against leading Saudi personalities and institutions by relatives of Sept 11 victims.] * Aide says Nidal confessed to Lockerbie bombing _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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