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News, 31/8-6/9/02 (3) IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Muslims Told to Withdraw U.S. Assets * Kuwait to Buy 16 Attack Helicoptors * Persians are no better than Zionists: Iraqi vice chief * Ramadan's Remarks Damaging to Muslim World: [Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad] Sadr * Iraq Served Zionist Interests by Attacking Iran, Kuwait : Asefi * Iran makes formal protest to Iraq over Zionist jibe * Saddam's Envoy to Appeal to Yemen * Bahrain urges Arabs to oppose war * Turkey joins Iran against attack: Resolution of Iraq crisis * Libya Says a War on Iraq to Wreak Havoc in Persian Gulf * Iraq's Cross-Border Oil Trade Down to a Trickle: MEES * Iran, Syria discuss 'threats' to Arabs * Iraq calls for defence volunteers * Syria rediscovers its Kurdish problem * Prince Zeid Bin Shaker * Khatami Sends Messages to Syrian President, Saudi Prince * Oman blasts West over Iraq attack plan * Turkey unaware of concrete US plans against Iraq * AIPU [Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union] hold special session over US war threat against Iraq * US plotting to balkanize ME: Arab League * Al-Youm: Riyadh denies sending official delegation to Iraq * Hurriyet: A second Turkish gate in northern Iraq * Maximalist positions will make hostilities inevitablers banned in Syria * Arab ministers tell Baghdad to admit inspectors * Arab leaders attack losing strategy * Lebanese desk will be among biggest at Baghdad trade fair * Iran-PGCC [Persian Gulf Cooperation Council] Consolidate Ties to Ward Off Foreign Threats * Attack on Iraq would 'open the gates of hell' in Middle East * Arab League vows support for Iraq in military confrontation with U.S. IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/aug/31/083109695.html * MUSLIMS TOLD TO WITHDRAW U.S. ASSETS Las Vegas Sun, 31st August BEIRUT (AP): Lebanon- Muslims everywhere should withdraw their money from U.S. markets because those funds may be frozen or confiscated, Lebanon's top Shiite Muslim cleric said in a sermon. Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah also warned worshippers gathered for Friday prayers in a Beirut suburb that a possible U.S. attack on Iraq was designed to assert America's control of oil in the Middle East and elsewhere. Fadlallah's sermon came days after a lawyer for 700 relatives of Sept. 11 victims filed a $1 trillion lawsuit against the Saudi and Sudanese governments, as well as members of Saudi royal family, banks and charities. It contends that they financed the plot in which some 3,000 people died. "We must change our mentality in the political, economic and security dealings with America, especially by withdrawing Arab and Islamic investments in America because new laws there have started to represent dangers of freezing and confiscating under decisions resulting from Sept. 11," Fadlallah said. The Financial Times reported earlier this month that Saudi investors have withdrawn $200 billion from U.S. financial markets in recent weeks. The report was denied by Saudi billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi King Fahd, who said that withdrawing such an amount from American markets would have caused a shockwave in the United States. Fadlallah, 67, is a senior Shiite religious authority and a harsh critic of U.S. policies in the Middle East, a region where many Arabs view America as being biased toward Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians. On Aug. 12, Fadlallah issued a Fatwa, or religious edict, banning Muslims from assisting the United States and its allies if they attack Iraq. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=15442272&template=worldnews/search .txt&index=recent * KUWAIT TO BUY 16 ATTACK HELICOPTORS The Associated Press, 31st August DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Kuwait will buy 16 attack helicopters from Boeing in a deal worth $886 million, the official Kuwaiti News Agency reported Saturday. The deal was signed in Kuwait on Saturday by Defense Minister Sheik Jaber Mubarak Al Hamad and U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones, the agency said in a report posted on its Web site. In April, the Pentagon announced plans to sell 16 AH-64D Apache attack helicopters to Kuwait. It said that dealt was valued at $2.1 billion, and was to include four spare engines, four Hellfire missile launchers, 288 Hellfire missiles and other missiles and equipment. On Saturday, Sheik Jaber said the contract provides for the training in the United States of 48 Kuwaiti pilots and technicians, as well as the supply of spare parts and missiles. Kuwait will receive the first delivery of helicopters in early 2005, Sheik Jaber said. The helicopters will contribute significantly to Kuwait's ability to defend itself, the agency quoted Jones as saying. Kuwait was invaded by Iraq and occupied for seven months in 1990-91. After a U.S.-led coalition of forces liberated the country, its government signed mutual defense pacts with the United States, Britain and Russia. http://www.iranmania.com/news/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=11839&NewsKin d=CurrentAffairs&ArchiveNews=Yes * PERSIANS ARE NO BETTER THAN ZIONISTS: IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT IranMania.com, 1st September BAGHDAD, Sept 1 (AFP) - Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan has fired off a violent tirade at Iran, accusing Persians of always allying themselves with Zionists against the Arab world. "You will not find a single episode in history when the Persians (Iranians) have cooperated with the Arabs against the Zionists," Ramadan said Saturday night. "At every stage of the conflict between the (Arab) or Muslim nation and the Zionists, the Persians have been the allies of the Zionists," he told a group of Jordanian trade unionists visiting Baghdad. "The designs of the Persians in the Arab world are no less than those of the Zionists, but despite that this country (Iran) remains our neighbour and we have to work towards normalising our relations." Ramadan had been asked if he foresaw an alliance between Iraq, Syria and Iran against US threats to oust the Baghad regime. "Some people talk about an alliance as if Iran had proposed the idea and was waiting only for us to say yes," the vice president went on. "We should not fool ourselves when talking about such an alliance." Ramadan recalled that Tehran had refused to return planes which Iraq sent to Iran to spare them damage during the 1991 Gulf war. "Before the 1991 assault, we asked Iran if we could send our planes to them and until now they tell us that the return of these aircraft requires a Security Council resolution." Iraq seeks the return of 113 military aircraft and 33 civilian planes, but Iran says it holds only 22 Iraqi vessels. Ramadan also accused Iran of encouraging an uprising by Shiites in southern Iraq at the end of the Gulf war. "The damage sustained by Iraqi towns because of their behaviour was more severe than that inflicted by the missiles and bombs the American planes dropped during the attack," he said. Iran strongly opposes a renewed US military campaign against Baghdad, but did allow an Iraqi Shiite opposition group based in Tehran to go to Washington to take part in talks with US officials on August 11. The two neighbours have yet to sign a formal peace treaty 14 years after the end of their devastating conflict which cost around one million lives. The issue of war prisoners has been one of the obstacles to normalization of ties, along with the backing each gives to the other's dissident groups. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=9/2/02&Cat=4&Num=005 * RAMADAN'S REMARKS DAMAGING TO MUSLIM WORLD: [Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad] SADR Tehran Times, 2nd September TEHRAN -- The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Sadr expressed dismay on Sunday over the aggressive remarks of the Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan against Iran. "Contrariwise to Ramadan's assertions, the U.S. interests in Iran came to end after the victory of the Islamic Revolution and our position regarding Israel is crystal clear and is one of opposition," Aljazirah TV quoted Sadr as saying. "Unfortunately, is spite of our supportive stance toward the Palestinian people, the Iraqi regime has chosen to accuse Iran, and it weren't for its 1980 aggression against Iran, the Palestinians may have been in a different situation today. "We advise the Iraqi regime to consider the dire situation of its people and not to engage in any action that would worsen their plight. Sadr, who is on an official visit to Damascus, added, "we attach very little importance to remarks by Iraqi officials, and oppose any U.S. military action against Iraq." Sadr also said he considered the recent statements by the Iraqi Vice-President as damaging to the Arab and Islamic world. Ramadan in his Saturday night remarks had accused Iran of having territorial designs against Arab countries and said, throughout the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran had always sided with the Zionist regime and that its motto of the "great Satan" (a phrase referring to the U.S.) was nothing but a cover. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=9/3/02&Cat=2&Num=10 * IRAQ SERVED ZIONIST INTERESTS BY ATTACKING IRAN, KUWAIT : ASEFI Tehran Times, 3rd September TEHRAN -- Iraq served Zionist interests by imposing a war on Iran and occupying Kuwait, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi here Monday. Asefi, speaking at his weekly press conference, said Baghdad had become the supporter of the Zionist regime by waging a destructive war on Iran, and sowing the seeds of discord among Muslim nations. He said when Iraq occupied Kuwait and fomented a conflict among Arab nations, it was once again the Zionist regime who benefited most from the situation. "Iraqi officials must never be doubtful over the courteous behavior of the Iranian nation and that of the decisive Iranian leaders toward themselves," he said. "Still, it is regrettable to see that Iraqi officials have showed that they make the most awful mistakes at very sensitive times," he said. http://www.iranmania.com/news/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=11873&NewsKin d=CurrentAffairs&ArchiveNews=Yes * IRAN MAKES FORMAL PROTEST TO IRAQ OVER ZIONIST JIBE IranMania.com, 3rd September TEHRAN, Sept 2 (AFP) - Iran's foreign ministry filed a formal complaint with Iraq Monday over Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan's weekend charge that Iran was a friend of the Zionists, state radio reported. "The Iranian protest has been delivered to the charge d'affaires" at the Iraqi embassy in Tehran, state radio said. Iranian officials had already lashed out publicly at Ramadan over his acerbic remarks. Ramadan fired off a violent tirade at Iran Sunday, saying there was no "single episode in history when the Persians (Iranians) have cooperated with the Arabs against the Zionists". Iran strongly opposes a renewed US military campaign against Baghdad, but did allow an Iraqi Shiite opposition group based in Tehran to go to Washington to take part in talks with US officials on August 11. The two neighbours have yet to sign a formal peace treaty 14 years after the end of their devastating 1980-1988 war which cost the lives of more than one million people. The issue of war prisoners has been one of the main obstacles to normalization of ties, along with the backing each gives to the other's dissident groups. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=15450169&template=worldnews/search .txt&index=recent * SADDAM'S ENVOY TO APPEAL TO YEMEN The Associated Press, 1st September SAN'A, Yemen: Iraq's culture minister arrived in Yemen Sunday as part of Baghdad's diplomatic campaign to strengthen opposition to U.S. threats of an attack. State-run Yemeni radio quoted Hammed Youssef Hammadi as saying that he wants to discuss ``the political situation in the area and in particular American threats against Iraq.'' The radio said Hamadi would meet on Monday with President Ali Abdullah Saleh and other Yemeni officials. [.....] Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told CNN's ``Late Edition'' on Sunday that the idea of the U.N. inspectors' return is ``a nonstarter because it's not going to bring about a conclusion.'' Sabri, Iraq's foreign minister, is expected in Cairo for talks with Arab counterparts at Wednesday's opening of their biannual Arab League meeting in the Egyptian capital. The Iraqi issue is expected to top the Arab League meeting agenda with a draft resolution already being prepared to crystalize a pan-Arab position on the U.S.-Iraqi standoff. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=62055 * BAHRAIN URGES ARABS TO OPPOSE WAR Gulf News, 2nd September Bahrain has urged all Arab countries to jointly declare their opposition to any military intervention in Iraq, saying the besieged country is no longer a threat to its neighbours. Bahraini Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa was quoted yesterday as saying by the official media: "We, the Arabs, must voice a clear stance against any new war in the region. The new war will certainly be disastrous; economically, politically and socially not only for our brothers in Iraq but for the whole region and all the Arab states." Refuting the insistence of the U.S. officials who have all along been warning of the Iraqi danger to the region's stability and security, Sheikh Khalifa said because of what has happened to it in the last 10 years, Iraq no longer represents a threat to its neighbours. "We must take a clear stance and convey it to the U.S. administration, which is considered one of our friends to make them better aware of the dangers (of any possible war). The administration and President George Bush must be open to their friends in the region to preserve its stability," he said. Meanwhile, Bahrain's Islamic and liberal groups and trade unions have joined forces to set up a 'people's committee' to support Iraq "which is being confronted by a naked U.S. aggression against its land, sovereignty and people." The People's Committee to Support the Iraqi People has been established by the representatives of 33 political, labour and trade bodies, in addition to a representative of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), who met them during the weekend. The joint statement was issued yesterday by Rasoul Al Jashi, president of the Democratic Nationalist Tajammu (Block) Society, who chaired the meeting. The statement, a copy of which was sent to Gulf News said: "The committee aims to consolidate the cohesion of both the Bahraini and Iraqi peoples; to provide the Iraqi people with all the necessary support, moral and material, in the face of the American continuous attack; and to seek a wider Arab consensus to resist the U.S. plans that aim to secure an American hegemony over the region's political and economic resources." It said the committee will raise funds that will go for the needy people in Iraq through charity drives and exhibitions; produce posters and petitions that call for "an end to the American aggression"; and organise street rallies and protests. http://www.dawn.com/2002/09/02/int1.htm * TURKEY JOINS IRAN AGAINST ATTACK: RESOLUTION OF IRAQ CRISIS Dawn, 2nd September, 23 Jamadi-us-Saani 1423 TEHRAN, Sept 1 (AFP): Key US ally Turkey and long time foe Iran said here on Sunday they wanted Washington to resolve its differences with Iraq through "peaceful means", rejecting US plans to strike the country. Washington's crisis with Iraq over its weapons of mass destruction "must be resolved through peaceful means," Turkish Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel said quoted by Iranian state television. "Any change must be decided by the Iraqi people," he said, in a veiled reference to US President George W. Bush's promises to oust the regime of Saddam Hussein. Gurel was the fourth top diplomat of a pro-Western state in as many weeks to beat a path to Tehran to voice opposition to US Iraq policy. His Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi reiterated opposition to US plans to strike Baghdad, but criticized Iraq for being "unpredictable" in its actions. "The Iraqi regime is unpredictable and over the past two decades has caused much damage to countries in the region," Kharazi said, a reference to the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But "this should not justify any interference in the affairs of Iraq," he added, saying "consultations between Turkey and Iran as well as other countries neighbouring Iraq can be very effective in preventing a bigger crisis in the future", he added. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami during his talks with Gurel, meanwhile, stressed the two countries' "identical views" on regional stability, the president's office said. "Cooperation between Iran and Turkey contributes to the economic progress and helps to maintain the security and stability in both countries as well as other countries in Central Asia and Caucasus," the statement said. For his part, the Turkish foreign minister renewed an invitation from Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer, for Khatami to participate in a summit of Economic Co-operation Organisation (ECO) on October 14 in Turkey. Gurel's trip to Tehran, which kicked off Saturday, followed visits last month by diplomats from the pro-Western Gulf states of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman, in a regional display of solidarity to express misgivings about US military action against Iraq. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal expressed his concern in Tehran in early August to "threats against Iraq" saying "if aggression against one country becomes a habit, no government or country will be spared." At the time, Khatami called for "regional cooperation between Iraq's neighbouring countries to encourage it to adhere to UN resolutions." However, rhetoric from Washington has not subsided with Bush telling a visiting Saudi diplomat last week that Saddam was "a menace to regional peace". Washington has accused the Iraqi president of developing weapons of mass destruction, but has said no decision has been taken on the means to use against it. On his arrival here, Gurel said Ankara and Tehran held "identical views on regional and international problems." Iran has repeatedly spoken out against any US strike aimed at overthrowing Saddam but gave the green light to the participation of a Tehran-based Iraqi opposition group in an August 10 meeting with US officials in Washington. Ankara fears that a war in Iraq could exacerbate its economic woes and result in the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq, rekindling tensions among its own Kurdish community. On the bilateral level, Iran has had its difficulties with Turkey, which accuses it of sheltering members of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Tehran denies the charge. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=9/2/02&Cat=2&Num=13 * LIBYA SAYS A WAR ON IRAQ TO WREAK HAVOC IN PERSIAN GULF Tehran Times, 2nd September TRIPOLI -- Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi said on Saturday a war on Iraq would throw the oil-rich Persian Gulf region into chaos and give credence to Osama bin Laden's claim that Muslims were threatened by the West. "If Iraq is attacked that means the whole Islamic world is threatened. A war on Iraq would usher in a recolonization of the Islamic world, one state after another," he said. Qadhafi, whose country is on a U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism, made the remarks during a speech broadcast on television to mark the 33rd anniversary on Sunday of his seizure of power in a coup, Reuters reported. U.S. President George W. Bush has threatened to use military action against Iraq, accusing President Saddam Hussein of seeking weapons of mass destruction and sponsoring terrorism. "We warn them that if Iraq was attacked this would prompt chaos and ruin in the region. If the Iraqi regime collapses Iraq would become a second Somalia," Qadhafi said. "If Iraq is stricken and the regime falls that would give proof to Bin Laden who says the Islamic world is threatened by the west," he added. Qadhafi has repeatedly said Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda guerrilla network members are terrorists, crazy and mad. This year the U.S. has added to a watchlist of violent Islamic groups Libya's radical Islamist movement Al-Jama'a Al-Islamiyah Al-Muquatilah bi-Libya, which sees Qadhafi's government as un-Islamic and has ties to Al-Qaeda. Al-Jama'a had claimed responsibility for an assassination attempt against Qadhafi in 1996. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=9/2/02&Cat=9&Num=13 * IRAQ'S CROSS-BORDER OIL TRADE DOWN TO A TRICKLE: MEES Tehran Times, 2nd September NICOSIA -- Iraq's cross-border oil trade with Turkey and the Persian Gulf has been reduced to a trickle, the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) reports in its latest edition. "There has been a sharp drop in the cross-border oil trade with Turkey and the Persian Gulf since late June," the industry newsletter says. The loss of the trade, estimated at 60,000-80,000 barrels per day, comes on top of reduced Iraqi oil exports largely due to a price dispute with the United Nations, AFP reported. "Turkish authorities have in effect reduced the flow of petroleum products traffic (mainly gas oil and fuel oil) to a trickle," MEES says. "The Turkish military authorities have enforced the shutdown to stop any extra financing of the militant Kurdish opposition group, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), as well as to reduce funds reaching Iraq's KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), headed by Massud Barzani, who is challenging Turkish interests and influence in northern Iraq." MEES notes that Western navies in the Persian Gulf have "effectively blocked the smuggling of Iraqi fuel oil to the lower gulf, even of the small 300 ton vessels." However, the Nicosia-based weekly added that Baghdad has recently stepped up cross border oil trade with Syria through the Mosul-Aleppo rail link, which reopened two years ago, trucks and the Iraq-Syria pipeline system which carries about 180,000 bpd of crude. Under the UN oil-for-food program Iraq's exports have dwindled to about one million bpd compared to Baghdad's target of 2.2 million bpd. "The protracted conflict between the UN Sanctions Committee and Iraq over surcharges and strict retroactive pricing ... appears to be open-ended with no resolution in sight," MEES says. http://www.dawn.com/2002/09/02/int3.htm * IRAQ PREPARES TO HOST FIRST SAUDI VISIT SINCE 1991 Dawn, 2nd September, 23 Jamadi-us-Saani 1423 BAGHDAD, Sept 1 (AFP): A member of the Saudi royal family is due in Baghdad on Monday on the first such visit since the 1991 Gulf war, an official source said on Sunday. "A Saudi prince will fly into Saddam International Airport aboard a jet of the United Arab Emirates-based company Gulf Falcon," the information ministry's press center said in a statement. It did not identify the Saudi royal. [.....] http://www.dawn.com/2002/09/02/int2.htm * Iran, Syria discuss 'threats' to Arabs Dawn, 2nd September DAMASCUS, Sept 1 (AFP): Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed the "campaign of threats" against Arab and Muslim states here on Sunday with an Iranian envoy carrying a message from Iranian leader Mohammed Khatami. Mohammed Sadr, Iran's deputy foreign affairs minister, delivered a message from Khatami "concerning the current situation in the region", the official news agency SANA reported. The two also "discussed ways to consolidate bilateral relations as well as the current situation on the regional and international scenes and the campaigns of threats and blackmail against Arab and Islamic states," SANA said. The meeting was also attended by Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara and the Iranian ambassador to Syria, Hussein Sheikh al-Islam. An Iranian source in Damascus told AFP that "Assad described the current situation in the region as very sensitive and complicated, and asserted the need to close ranks among Arab and Islamic states in countering the American threats against the region." Assad reiterated Syria's opposition to any potential US attack against Iraq and called for "caution to counter the plots that foreign powers are planning against countries of the region," said the source, in another veiled jibe to Washington. Sadr had arrived on Saturday in Damascus where he first held talks with Shara, SANA said. Syria and Iran maintain solid relations and take similar positions on the main problems in the Middle East, specifically in their staunch opposition to Israel. Both countries are also the main backers of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah which was instrumental in forcing Israel's troop pullout from southern Lebanon in May 2000 after 22 years of occupation. On Thursday, a Hezbollah attack injured three Israeli soldiers in the Shebaa Farms, in its most serious operation in four months. http://www.themercury.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,5016502%255E401,0 0.html * IRAQ CALLS FOR DEFENCE VOLUNTEERS Mercury (Australia), 2nd September IRAQ'S ruling Baath party has called for Arabs across the region to volunteer to defend the country if it is attacked by the United States in an effort to unseat Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. In a statement published by the state INA news agency, the national leadership of the secular party urged "the Arab masses and believers around the world to become volunteers to confront the American aggression if it happens". The message also praised the Iraqi people for their "honourable attitude in the face of the American arrogance", as well as the Palestinians for the "spirit of sacrifice they demonstrate in the face of the Zionist entity (Israel) and its evil efforts of America to reinforce the capabilities of this entity". Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz earlier denied that Baghdad was working to obtain nuclear weapons and had links with the al-Qaeda terror network in an interview with CNN. The United States has threatened to launch a military offensive against Iraq on the grounds that Saddam is pursuing weapons of mass destruction. A foreign ministry spokesman also denied the charges that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear weapons program, saying the allegation was unfounded and meant to create a pretext to attack Baghdad. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/02_09_02_c.htm * SYRIA REDISCOVERS ITS KURDISH PROBLEM Daily Star, Lebanon, 2nd September President Bashar Assad's recent visit to Al-Hasaka, some 650 kilometers northeast of Damascus, did not attract much political comment or analysis. But coming at this particular juncture, it said much about Damascus' thinking on both domestic and foreign policy. It was the first official visit by a serving Syrian head of state since independence in 1946 to the far northeastern corner of the country, where its borders meet those of Iraq and Turkey. The governorate of Al-Hasaka grows about half of Syria's annual grain yield of 4 million tons and produces most of the country's 600,000 barrels per day of oil and 16 million cubic meters per year of gas. It is located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the country's water lifelines. But it also has a legacy of religious, ethnic and tribal complications that have kept it out of official favor, leaving millions of local people with a sense of having been neglected by the central authorities, prior to the president's visit. In one respect, it reflected the new approach adopted by the young president, who since assuming office two years ago has made a point of touring remote parts of Syria, encouraging decentralization and promoting development projects in outlying districts. In line with that, he has taken to holding some official meetings, and occasionally receiving foreign visitors, in Aleppo rather than in the capital. And he went in person to the afflicted district of Zayzoun in June, after the collapse of a dam on the Orontes River claimed over 33 lives and inundated large tracts of cultivated land. Nevertheless, Assad's visit to Al-Hasaka came as something of a surprise given the political problems that have long been associated with the area, home of the country's largest Kurdish communities. And it suggests that a new attitude is evolving among some leaders and officials of the ruling Arab nationalist Baath Party toward the area, where the major Iraqi Kurd and Turkish Kurd political parties are active, albeit unofficially and without the sanction of the central authorities. The main demand raised by some local Kurdish leaders is for the government to reverse the consequences of the controversial 1962 census, as a result of which many local Kurds who were deemed to be incomers from Iraq or Turkey - some 260,000, according to Kurdish parties - lost their Syrian citizenship. Kurdish parties also have cultural and political demands, which some regard as cover for Kurdish separatist aspirations. Damascus has long been resolutely opposed to any step it believes may risk leading to the "fragmentation of Syrian territory." Officials often suspect the motives of Kurdish parties and intellectuals, seeing their activities as pressure on the central government and a threat to the country's territorial and political integrity. Moreover, there is a policy of refusing to license any political party that is based on ethnicity or religion. Syrian officials argue that the "Kurdish problem" in the region is not in any way of Syria's making, because most Syrian Kurds came to the country from Turkey. The majority arrived as a result of the mass expulsion of Kurds from southeastern Turkey in three waves, following the crushing of successive Kurdish rebellions. Many Kurds fled to Syria after the suppression of the revolt launched in 1925 by Sheikh Saeed Pirani. There were further exoduses after the insurgencies led by Sheikh Rashid Reda and General Ihsan Pasha in 1932 and 1936, respectively. The Syrian Kurds are thus viewed as not inhabiting part of historic Kurdistan as such, but rather as migrants who fled - and continue to flee - to Syria from neighboring countries, multiplying in number to around 1 million today. Accordingly, the government puts political effort into preventing the establishment of a distinct Kurdish entity in the country. It opposes Kurdish independence in northern Iraq to prevent any spillover effect into Syrian territory, and now appears intent on addressing any internal tensions in Al-Hasaka - referred to locally as the "Syrian Jazeera" (the "island" between the Tigris and Euphrates) - by extending goodwill gestures. Syrian officials argue that the status of the Kurds improved after the rise to power in 1970 of the late President Hafez Assad. He cancelled some of the oppressive measures introduced by hard-line Baathist leaders in the early 1960s and made March 21, the Kurdish festival of Nowruz, a national holiday. Dozens of Kurds were accorded high political or religious office, including the late veteran communist leader Khaled Bekdash, Syrian Mufti Sheikh Ahmed Kaftaro, and the senior religious marjaa, Mohammed Saeed al-Bouti. Bashar Assad's visit to Al-Hasaka was a further step in that direction. He used it to call for national unity, which he described as "our strong point" at a time when the region was passing through "difficult and harsh" circumstances and external powers were trying to "bring the region's peoples to their knees." The significance of his remarks, and of the visit, was that they were made just a few dozen kilometers from Iraqi Kurdistan, which the Bush administration is presumed to be counting on using as a launching pad for the war it is planning against Iraq. They also followed the public welcome given by Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader Jalal Talabani to the prospect of US forces deploying in Iraqi Kurdistan, and his assurances that the Iraqi Kurds would welcome them as liberators. Both Talabani's party and its main rival, Masoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), have a following in northeastern Syria. Assad's surprise visit to Al-Hasaka can be seen both as an attempt to pre-empt any drive by Iraqi Kurdish leaders to enlist the assistance of Syrian Kurds for their plans, and a reaffirmation of Syrian opposition to US threats to wage war on Iraq. Damascus believes war would result in the installation of an American client regime in Baghdad, and/or lead to the breakup of Iraq. Either prospect would pose a major strategic threat to Syria. Ibrahim Hamidi is a Damascus-based journalist specialized in Syrian current affairs. He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star. http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,784445,00.html * PRINCE ZEID BIN SHAKER by Lawrence Joffe The Guardian, 2nd September The politician and soldier Prince Zeid bin Shaker who has died of a heart attack aged 67, was a stalwart of the Hashemite royal family's rule in Jordan, and a conservative who turned into an unlikely liberaliser, He was twice head of the royal court, prime minister in 1989, 1991-93 and 1995-96 and for 12 years commander-in-chief of the kingdom's armed forces. A foe of Israel, he became an architect - albeit a cautious one - of rapprochement. Zeid's relationships with Palestinians were equally complicated. They constituted a majority of Jordan's population after the kingdom annexed the West Bank in 1950, yet despite their generally superior education, many Palestinians felt constrained by Jordan's ruling alliance of Bedouin chiefs, the Amman establishment and Arabian nobles. In the Six Day War of June 1967 Zeid was mandated to defend East Jerusalem from Israeli attack, but his tanks were soon overwhelmed. Zeid redeemed his reputation for battlefield courage in March 1968, when he helped Palestinian guerrillas repulse a massive Israeli retaliatory raid on Karameh. Aptly enough, the village's name means "dignity" in Arabic. Angry at attempts by Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organisation to wrest power from King Hussein in the Black September battles of 1970, Bin Shaker participated in a ferocious counter-attack that ultimately dislodged the PLO from Jordan. Palestinian gunmen had recently killed his sister, Jozza. Over time, his views softened. In the 1970s and 1980s he used his influence to alleviate economic distress in Gaza. In 1991, he concluded an understanding with the Jordanian branch of the Palestinian Hamas. In 1995 he signed a co-operation agreement with his former enemy, Arafat, newly ensconced as Palestine Authority chairman. The softly-spoken Zeid was a trusty bulwark during national crises. He ensured continuity as official companion to King Hussein, between 1955 and 1957. Barely out of his teens, Hussein attained power after his grandfather, Abdullah, had been assassinated, and his mentally unstable father, Talal, was forced to abdicate. Pan-Arab nationalists demanded the monarchy's removal, and the sacking of British consul, Glubb Pasha, deprived Hussein of sage advice. Beset by troubles, Hussein badly needed a confidant: Zeid, his distant cousin and direct contemporary, fitted the bill. A generation later, Zeid acted as military mentor to Hussein's son, Abdullah, who became king in February 1999, in place of the expected successor, crown prince Hassan. If not the power behind the throne, Zeid certainly galvanised loyalists to back Jordan's untested ruler. Zeid's most testing assignment came in the wake of the April 1989 food-price riots. Suddenly, after 35 years in uniform, he was made prime minister with a mandate to head off the rioters with political reforms, not firepower. He revived a multi-party system abolished in 1957, began lifting press restrictions, and dismantled martial law, in force since the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. Zeid oversaw general elections in November 1989 - none had been held since Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel in 1967. In December 1989, Zeid became chief of the royal court; but was reappointed prime minister in November 1991, as Jordan embarked upon the Madrid peace process with Israel. In May 1993 he returned to the royal court. Zeid's last prime ministerial stint was from January 1995 until February 1996. By then, Israel and Jordan had signed their peace treaty. Zeid appeased citizens who still distrusted Israel, and accepted Israeli offers to service Jordan's newlyacquired US F16 fighters. He toured American Jewish centres, and won the cancellation of Jordan's $700m debt to the US. It was Zeid's approach to Iraq, not Israel, that probably cost him his job. While foreign minister Abdel-Karim Kabariti favoured the Iraqi opposition, Zeid maintained Amman's traditional support for Baghdad. Kabariti succeeded Zeid as prime minister, while Zeid was made a prince - which precluded him from political office. Zeid traced his origins to 15th-century sharifs - religious rulers - of Mecca and Medina and derived authority from his extraordinary intimacy with Hussein. They were schoolboy friends at Victoria College in Alexandria, Egypt, and later studied together at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Zeid attended two American army academies, and became Jordan's assistant military attaché in London in 1957. He commanded Jordan's Royal Armoured Corps (1964-70), became chief-of-staff in 1972, and was commander-in-chief of the Jordanian armed forces (1976-1989). Some people never forgave Zeid for Black September; modernisers called him anachronistic, US diplomats mistrusted his Iraqi sympathies, and anti-court urbanites accused him of corruption. Yet the old campaigner confounded detractors by pioneering Jordanian democracy, and defining a Jordanian identity. Zeid is survived by his wife Nawzat, his daughter and his son. Prince Zeid Bin Shaker, politician and soldier, born September 4 1934; August 30 2002. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=9/3/02&Cat=2&Num=14 * KHATAMI SENDS MESSAGES TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT, SAUDI PRINCE Tehran Times, 3rd September Tehran - Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Mohammad Sadr currently on a visit to Syria Sunday in Damascus delivered a written message from Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. Sadr and President al-Assad in their meeting discussed several regional issues, including the current crises in Palestine, the anticipated U.S. attacks on Iraq and the Afghan developments. Al-Assad highlighted the U.S. threats against Iraq, and said the Muslim and Arab states need to join hands to confront U.S. threats. He stressed Syria's opposition to U.S. military campaign against Iraq, warning that regional countries should be aware of plots hatched by extraterritorial forces against them. Sadr, for his part, said Iran opposes any U.S. aggression on Iraq, cautioning that Washington's policy toward Baghdad would in turn affect the fate of all regional countries. Also in related news, Iran's Ambassador to Riyadh Ali-Asghar Hadji on Sunday delivered a written message from President Mohammad Khatami to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz as-Saud. In his message, Khatami expressed pleasure with the growth of Tehran-Riyadh relations, and said the two countries have to use the potentials to expand bilateral cooperation in different political, economic and cultural areas. Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, in turn, voiced appreciation for Khatami's message, and stressed Saudi Arabia's interest to promote cooperation with Iran. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=62144 * OMAN BLASTS WEST OVER IRAQ ATTACK PLAN Gulf News, Reuters, 3rd September Oman, current head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said yesterday a U.S. military attack against Iraq would deepen anti-U.S. sentiment among Arabs and Muslims and trigger acts of revenge. Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the minister responsible for foreign affairs, addressing a GCC foreign ministers meeting in Jeddah, bitterly criticised Western allies for ignoring Arab views and interests on regional issues. "A U.S. invasion of Iraq would deepen the feeling of hostility against the United States and incite feelings of revenge and violence in Arab and Muslim countries," he said. Abdullah said that Washington and its other Western powers were no longer heeding advice from their long-term GCC allies who have repeatedly warned of the potential dangers of an attack to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "It is becoming clear that the dominating powers at the United Nations have no consideration for the interests of the Iraqi or Arab people as a whole," said Abdullah. "The world cannot accept or tolerate the weakening of the United Nations' role...Those who think that they can forge a new (international) law for their interests and impose it on humanity are pushing the world to chaos and instability." Our "traditional friends are not taking into account our interests while they push matters in a manner that expands the circle of problems in the Middle East to fulfil their strategic political theories," said Abdullah. "...We should advise our friends to listen to the views of Arab and Muslim countries." Officials said Iraq and Israeli-Palestinian violence would top the agenda of the ministerial meeting of the political, economic and security alliance. [.....] http://www.iranmania.com/news/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=11875&NewsKin d=CurrentAffairs&ArchiveNews=Yes * TURKEY UNAWARE OF CONCRETE US PLANS AGAINST IRAQ IranMania.com, 3rd September [.....] Asked whether his government would see an American attack on Iraq as illegitimate if it is not coordinated with the UN, he said he is not in a position to talk about future possibilities. "I only can say that Turkey has a desire to invite everyone to a peaceful solution to any conflict and hopes that it will be listened to. I also wish that every regional power would abide by international law and the decisions of both international organizations." Answering a question on whether the Americans had requested help from Turkey to go inside Iraq, Gurel said there had not been a concrete demand on (from) the American side. "I can definitely state that we know of no definite plans that the paper has mentioned." Asked about some sort of Turkish interest in having control over parts of northern Iraq, the official said, "Actually after 1990, after the Persian Gulf crisis and the coalition intervention in Iraq, northern Iraq has been a piece of land without any authority. Turkey suffered most from this fact because the terrorist separatist organizations which aimed at dividing the country, could fine a safe haven in northern Iraq. And that is why Turkey had to cope with the situation in northern Iraq frequently after 1990. Besides that, the people who live in northern Iraq needed Turkey's help most, and one should also remember that at the time of the Persian Gulf crisis, there were about 500,000 refugees who sought refuge in Turkish territory," he noted. "We felt that we had to do something about the well-being and safety of those people as well and we had to deal with the terrorist eparatist movement which found base in northern Iraq. Those were the reasons for Turkish intervention in northern Iraq," he added. According to the minister, Turkey, apart from the above-mentioned reasons, has always been supporting solutions which aimed at erritorial integrity of all the powers, all the states in the region, including Iraq. "Turkey is a world power which has always advocated non interference in domestic affairs and territorial integrity as the two sound bases of developing international relations." [.....] http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-09/03/content_548734.htm * AIPU [Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union] HOLD SPECIAL SESSION OVER US WAR THREAT AGAINST IRAQ BAGHDAD, Sept. 3 (Xinhuanet) -- The Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU) kicked off its special session here Tuesday to find ways to counter the US threat to launch military actions on Iraq, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported. Addressing the opening session of the AIPU meeting, Izzat Ibrahim, Iraq's number two and vice-chairman of the all-powerful Revolutionary Command Council, urged the Arab world to stand firm against US threats. "We urge the Arab world to demonstrate its steadfastness againstany aggression aimed at Iraq or any other Arab country," Ibrahim was quoted as saying. Iraqi National Assembly Speaker Saadoun Hamadi said the extraordinary session will adopt "legal and political resolutions to mobilize public opinion in the Arab world and abroad." AIPU Chairman Ahmad Taher criticized the United States for seeking to overthrow the Iraqi government by military means, sayingthe right way should be to leave the Iraqi people to decide their own leadership. The gathering of Arab parliamentarians of most of AIPU's member parliaments, except those from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, came as theUnited States is mulling over whether to achieve a "regime change" in Iraq by launching a full-scale war. [.....] http://www.dawn.com/2002/09/04/int3.htm * US PLOTTING TO BALKANIZE ME: ARAB LEAGUE by Syed Rashid Husain Dawn, 4th September, 25 Jamadi-us-Saani 1423 RIYADH, Sept 3: With the intensification of the diplomatic flurry throughout the Arab world to discuss the available options in case of US military assault on Baghdad , a special session of Arab League Foreign Ministers has also been convened later this week to discuss some of the issues confronting the Arab world. The foreign ministers' session later this week would concentrate on the possible US military strikes against Saddam Hussein. As per indications, the foreign ministers' moot would focus on threats to the Arab world, including Iraq, the deteriorating conditions in the Palestinian territories and the recent developments in Sudan besides a host of other issues affecting the region. It has been reported here that Egypt is planning to convene a special tripartite Arab summit to discuss the Iraq issue. According to reports Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria were expected to attend the summit. Some of the observers have expressed the possibility that the US plans for military intervention in Iraq was part of a larger scheme to balkanize the region, so as to remodel the region, generally perceived within the hawks in the administration as a threat to the US interests. The Israelis tried in the past to balkanize Lebanon. They failed. Now the United States has turned to other states of the region. One part of the administration was looking to Iraq and Sudan, the Arab League Assistant Secretary General was quoted as saying. They want to balkanize the region, so as to control it better, he said. It is a strategy which dates back to 1973, with (former Israeli premier) Golda Meir and the (former US Secretary of States) Henry Kissinger. "Sudan is currently united. Within six years it will be divided. Iraq, then Sudan, then other countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia," he added. After the 1991 Gulf war, the US declared large areas of southern and northern Iraq off limits to Iraqi aircraft to prevents Baghdad from attacking Shia and Kurdish populations. In Sudan, Washington has given support to peace negotiations between the Khartoum government and the rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which control large parts of the mostly Christian and animist south. On July 20, the two parties signed a protocol to end the 19- year civil war in Sudan. The deal offers a six-year autonomy period to the south, after which it will decide in a referendum if it wishes to secede. Egypt and some other regional states have blasted the accord as an announcement on the partition of Sudan. Egypt's Wafd newspaper accused the Americans of seeking to "redraw the borders" by intervening in Iraq. In a news analysis carried in Al-Ahram, the analyst Mahmoud Moawad said Washington sought to carve up Iraq into three parts. Another analyst believed Bush has a global vision, he is blind to what is regional. September 11 humiliated him, and therefore (he thinks) he should strike at all costs. "It is Pearl Harbour and there must be a Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he feels," they said. >From King Hamad of Bahrain to Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister and his Syrian counterpart Farouk Al- Shara, every one appears committed to the territorial integrity of Iraq. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020904/2002090401.html * AL-YOUM: RIYADH DENIES SENDING OFFICIAL DELEGATION TO IRAQ Arabic News, 4th September An official in Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry has stressed that Riyadh did not send any official delegation to Iraq, and that the Saudi businessmen who will be visiting Iraq have no diplomatic traits or are not delegated from the Kingdom, and they are in Iraq in their capacities as traders and businessmen, the Saudi daily al-Youm reported Monday. The press center of the Iraqi ministry of information said on Sunday that a Saudi prince will visit Iraq. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020904/2002090415.html * HURRIYET: A SECOND TURKISH GATE IN NORTHERN IRAQ Arabic News, 4th September The Turkish daily Hurriyet said on Tuesday that Turkey has found a new formula to open a second border gate, in collaboration with Syria and this was following the US rejection of Turkish plans to open a border gate in northern Iraq area. The paper said that the new border gate will be opened by Turkey at the point where the borders of the three countries Syria, Iraq and Turkey meets. This will enable having access to the Turkman area directly and not through the only border gate currently existing that links between Turkey and Iraq and is controlled by the Kurdistani Democratic party led by Masoud al-Barazani. The paper indicated that it is expected that the Syrian prime minister Mustafa Miro will visit Turkey during this month in order to discuss the issue of the new border gate in addition to discussing the issue of building a joint station for natural gas in al- Qamishli area on the Syrian- Turkish border. Views are unanimous on the importance of using the Syrian natural gas in the Turkish Ghazi Intab and the surrounding area. The paper indicated the proposal made by the Iraqi trade minister Mahdi Saleh during the visit he made recently to Turkey on the possibility of putting certain projects between the three countries Syria, Iraq and Turkey into actual implementation. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/04_09_02_a.htm * MAXIMALIST POSITIONS WILL MAKE HOSTILITIES INEVITABLE Daily Star, Lebanon, 4th September A flurry of contacts is under way in a broad-based effort to prevent war between the United States and Iraq, but all of this will come to naught if neither of the prospective belligerents is willing to heed the reasoned counsel emanating from so many different circles. Simply put, both countries are dragging the good name of the United Nations through the proverbial muck and, so long as both presume to interpret UN Security Council resolutions from their respective maximalist positions, no amount of intervention by the international community can prevent an inevitable outbreak of hostilities. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime denies that it is defying the Security Council by developing weapons of mass destruction, but whether that is true or not is irrelevant because it is self-evidently thumbing its nose at the world body by refusing to allow the return of arms inspectors. Even when Baghdad discusses the possibility of resuming inspections, it attaches conditions which themselves would fly in the face of the relevant resolutions. On the other hand, US President George W. Bush's administration is laying claim to prerogatives that were surely never considered when the resolutions were approved, some more than a decade ago. Nowhere do these documents indicate that an individual nation has the right to decide unilaterally that Iraq is in violation and that its behavior warrants a full-fledged war. The European Union is trying mightily to head off a clash that would only further destabilize the already tense Middle East, and both sides would do well to listen carefully. Iraq has nothing to gain by exposing itself to yet another pasting by the world's most powerful military machine, and the United States stands to lose both precious diplomatic capital and untold numbers of young men and women if it insists on entering a conflict that might still be avoided. Contrary to what some commentators have been arguing, it is anything but duplicitous for Arab governments to oppose an American invasion even as they urge Iraq to re-admit the arms inspectors. They do this to protect Iraq from the tragic consequences of mixing Saddam's stubbornness with Bush's, and they rightly understand the current situation to be untenable. While urging Washington to follow a policy of restraint, it is perfectly natural for them to seek compliance from Baghdad. Unfortunately, Saddam and his advisers have thus far made their would-be protectors' job an impossible one. What Baghdad touts publicly as a "compromise" solution is by it very nature a violation of the Security Council's will. Likewise, the White House has undermined efforts to broker a peaceful solution to the crisis by sending out mixed signals as to what it wants. According to some senior members of the administration, even the return of the inspectors would not be enough to stave off an American assault because they also want Saddam deposed, something obviously not mandated under even the broadest "interpretation" of any Security Council resolution. If official Iraqi and US attitudes can change, there is still a chance to avoid war. If not, the region is in for yet another destructive - and unnecessary - cataclysm. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020904/2002090409.html * AL-MAJD: CERTAIN IRAQI OPPOSITION PAPERS BANNED IN SYRIA Arabic News, 4th September The Jordanian weekly al-Majd said Tuesday that a Syrian media decision was issued in Damascus preventing the issuance of Iraqi opposition press in Damascus, banning circulation of such papers published abroad in the Syrian territories, and also halting all media criticism against the Iraqi regime from any source, whatsoever. The paper said that this decision targeted several papers for the Iraqi opposition some of which are issued in Damascus and the other abroad, mainly al-Itijah al-Akhar ( the other's direction), al-Itisam ( the sit in ), al-Wifaq ( reconciliation; Baghdad and Nidaa al Rafeydeen ( the call of the two tributaries.) in addition to other ten papers. Al-Majd said that most owners of these papers and their editors had reservations about this Syrian decision, while certain Iraqi opposition members in Damascus like Issam Abu Hilala and Dawoud Shehab welcomed it. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1031119064178&p=1012571727162 * ARAB MINISTERS TELL BAGHDAD TO ADMIT INSPECTORS by James Drummond in Cairo and Michael Mann in Brussels Financial Times, 5th September Arab foreign ministers yesterday stressed the need for Baghdad to comply with United Nations resolutions mandating the return of weapons inspectors to avert the threat of war. The comments, at a meeting of the 22-member Arab League in Cairo by the foreign ministers of Kuwait and Lebanon as well as Amr Moussa, the league's secretary-general, appeared to mark a tacit rejection of Iraq's attempts to set conditions on the return of the inspectors. Iraqwants to put a timetable in place for the lifting of sanctions imposed in the wake of its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Mr Moussa said the issue of Iraq was the "critical challenge [which] constitutes a danger to the entire region". Iraq and the UN should still be given the chance to come to an agreement, he said. "The dialogue between Iraq and the UN should be encouraged . . . and outstanding problems, topped by the return of inspectors, should be settled," Mr Moussa said. Naji Sabri, the Iraqi foreign minister, refused to say what proposals he would be putting to the meeting. As part of Baghdad's diplomatic offensive, Mr Sabri sought to send out a conciliatory message to Kuwait. In a rare interview with the Kuwaiti al-Rai al-Aam newspaper, Mr Sabri said Iraq wanted to normalise ties with "brotherly" Kuwait. Mr Sabri said that a mechanism had been worked out with the UN for the return of Kuwaiti documents seized during the Iraqi occupation and claimed that a resolution of the issue of prisoners who remain unaccounted for since 1990-91 is possible. Both countries, he said, "are required to look into anything that concerns Kuwait and Iraq's missing and this can be conducted through direct co-operation between the two countries which we have been stressing for a long time". Ahead of yesterday's meeting in Cairo, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, prime minister of Denmark, current holders of the presidency of the European Union, also stressed the EU's commitment to the UN as the appropriate forum for ending the impasse. [.....] http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/09/05/1031115913295.html * ARAB LEADERS ATTACK LOSING STRATEGY by Anton La Guardia in London Sydney Morning Herald, from Daily Telegraph, 5th September Many Arab countries are despairing of Saddam Hussein's brinkmanship and obfuscation. Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Wednesday again took a public stand against American military action and called for "quick efforts to avoid a strike". But in private they are baffled by Saddam's refusal to give a straight answer to demands to readmit United Nations weapons inspectors. "Saddam doesn't get it. He seems to think there will be a great Arab shield to defend him, that the Arabs will rise up in opposition and stop America," one Qatari official said. "But if the Arabs did not rise up for the Palestinians, do you really think they will rise up for Saddam?" Saudi Arabia has told Washington it will not be allowed to use its bases to attack Iraq. But the Americans may secretly be permitted to use their sophisticated command-and-control facilities in the kingdom. Several countries - Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and perhaps even Jordan - are likely to allow the US to use their territory, despite their misgivings. Qatar hosts an American air base, now being extended, and officials said the emirate's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin abr al-Thani, travelled to Baghdad last month to tell Saddam that Arab rulers would not defend him. "We told Saddam: 'Don't listen to what the Arabs are saying in public. Nobody will stand in the way of the Americans if they are determined to go to war. "We cannot stop them using the base. Do something to save yourself, or at least to make it more difficult for the Americans. Let the inspectors in'." In Cairo, amid the denunciations of the US, Arab ministers called publicly on Iraq to abide by UN resolutions to avert a war. But Saddam has continued to issue deliberately confusing signals over whether he will allow the weapons inspectors back. Iraqi television quoted him on Wednesday as saying: "We want a comprehensive solution that leads to the lifting of the sanctions according to the Security Council resolutions." But he added: "Iraq has implemented all its commitments but they [the UN] have not implemented their commitments." Washington and London largely discount the public opposition of Arab leaders. "Most Arabs would privately be delighted if Saddam were removed from power," one senior British source said. "They just want it done neatly and quickly." http://www.dailystar.com.lb/business/05_09_02_a.htm * LEBANESE DESK WILL BE AMONG BIGGEST AT BAGHDAD TRADE FAIR Daily Star, Lebanon, 5th September Lebanon will take part in the Baghdad International Exhibition this year after the Cabinet authorized Minister of Economy and Trade Basil Fuleihan to head the Lebanese delegation to the Iraqi capital, the government said late Wednesday. The Iraqi fair will be held from Nov. 1 to 10 and will be attended by many countries around the world. The Lebanese pavilion, one of the biggest in the fair, will occupy an area of 3,300 square meters. Over 100 Lebanese firms are expected to take part. Earlier this year, Lebanon signed a long-awaited trade agreement with Iraq that will allow Lebanon to increase its exports to its former No. 1 trading partner. According to the agreement, all Lebanese-made goods will enter the Iraqi market duty-free. Syria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey have already signed similar trade deals with Iraq. Local industrialists say Lebanon has the ability to export $1 billion worth of goods to Iraq per year. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=9/5/02&Cat=4&Num=4 * IRAN-PGCC [Persian Gulf Cooperation Council] CONSOLIDATE TIES TO WARD OFF FOREIGN THREATS Tehran Times, 5th September TEHRAN -- Foreign Ministers of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) in their final statements in Jedda welcomed expansion of ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran and termed the recent visit of the Bahrain's sheikh to Iran as a turning point in the consolidation of bilateral ties. Iran's relations with members of the PGCC entered a new phase following the September 11 events. One of the indications of the new phase is the enhancement of level of cooperation between the two sides and their frequent consultations on regional and international affairs. The visits of Bahrian's sheikh as well as those of Saudi Arabian, Omani, and Yemeni foreign ministers to Iran during the past one month underline the dynamism of Iran-Arab ties. The continuation of visits between the Iranian and Arab officials of the region demonstrates the keen interest of the two sides in consultation at this sensitive juncture. Meanwhile Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi in a letter to the Secretary General of the Arab League Tuesday called for solidarity of Islamic countries vis-à-vis the threats of the Zionist regime. Given the recent developments in the region, the eagerness of the PGCC to expand ties with Iran and Iran's stress on the consolidation of ties among the Muslim countries, underlines a common approach to a common objective by both sides. It shows that one of the objectives of both sides is protection of common and collective interests through a new approach, which is based on regional cooperation. It was within this framework that the Islamic Republic of Iran proposed to the PGCC to establish a joint free trade zone in the region. Iran has proposed that the countries of the Persian Gulf region expand multilateral trade through the establishment of a joint free trade zone, said Omani Minister of State for Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi, according to the Central News Bureau. The foreign ministers of the PGCC have advised their leaders to accept Iran's proposal, he added. The Leaders of the PGCC will meet in Doha in December. Meanwhile, the Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi welcomed the PGCC's proposal for enhancing ties with Iran. Assefi said that the development of ties between Iran and the PGCC members would greatly contribute to security and peace in the region. The Omani Foreign Minister Alawi also warned Monday that the U.S. is plunging the world into chaos by planning to attack Iraq. "If the United States invades Iraq it will cause deep anti-American feeling and will provoke revenge and violence in Arab and Islamic countries," Alawi said in an unusually hard-hitting speech at the opening session of a two-day meeting in this Red Sea city. "The world cannot accept a weakened role for the United Nations. Those who are thinking they can impose a new law for their own benefit, they are pushing the world into instability and chaos," said Alawi, whose country chairs the six-nation PGCC. "The hopes that the embargo on Iraq will be lifted have gone with the wind. Now it is clear that the power which dominates the United Nations is not looking to help the Iraqis or the Arabs," he said. "All our hopes of cooperation with our traditional friends are gone and it is clear to us these friends are not looking towards our objectives but they are going to push the situation further into difficulty and trouble in pursuit of their own strategy." Officials said with the fear of a U.S. strike on Iraq growing, the ministers were expected to urge Baghdad to work through the United Nations and to allow disarmament inspectors to return to the country. Alawi also criticized Washington's stance on Israel and the Palestinians. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/breakingnews/worldnews/page.cfm?objectid=1 2176548&method=full&siteid=89488 * ATTACK ON IRAQ WOULD 'OPEN THE GATES OF HELL' IN MIDDLE EAST Daily Record, 6th September Middle East states have declared their allegiance to Iraq at an Arab League meeting. They say that US threats against Baghdad are threats against the whole Arab world. League Secretary-General Amr Moussa says a US attack on Iraq would "open the gates of hell". http://www.iht.com/articles/69852.html * ARAB LEAGUE VOWS SUPPORT FOR IRAQ IN MILITARY CONFRONTATION WITH U.S. by Rajiv Chandrasekaran International Herald Tribune, from The Washington Post, 6th September CAIRO: The foreign ministers of 20 Arab nations jointly pledged Thursday to support Iraq in its showdown with the United States, warning that American threats against Saddam Hussein's regime were threats to the entire Arab world. Handing a diplomatic triumph to Baghdad at the conclusion of a two-day Arab League meeting here, the ministers issued a resolution declaring their "total rejection of the threat of aggression on Arab nations, in particular Iraq, reaffirming that these threats to the security and safety of any Arab country are considered a threat to Arab national security." The ministers' stance is the latest and strongest sign of opposition among Arab nations to any U.S. military action aimed at toppling Saddam. The support of at least some Arab countries, particularly those that share land borders with Iraq, is regarded by many military analysts as crucial to a U.S. ground invasion. Foreign Minister Naji Sabri of Iraq lauded the Arab ministers' resolution as he left the closed door meeting. Arab nations, he said, voiced a "total rejection of the aggressive intentions of the United States." Although some Arab governments have urged Baghdad to permit UN weapons inspectors to return in an effort to defuse the crisis, the ministers' statement Thursday did not specifically mention the inspectors. Taking a more deferential tone, the council of ministers instead said it "welcomes the initiatives by Iraq to forge a dialogue with the United Nations." The ministers also echoed Baghdad's recent call for a "comprehensive settlement" of all of its disputes with the United Nations, calling for an end to UN trade sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Iraq, which insists that its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons have already been destroyed, has flip-flopped on whether it will allow weapons inspectors back into the country. After dismissing the idea, senior Iraqi officials said earlier this week that they would be willing to consider the return of inspectors if sanctions were lifted at the same time. The UN Security Council, which imposed the sanctions after the Gulf War, has insisted that its inspectors verify that Iraq has stopped building weapons of mass destruction and has destroyed its stockpiles before the sanctions can be lifted. Iraq contends that it has ceased its biological and chemical weapons programs, but it has nonetheless forbidden UN inspectors from entering the country since 1998. The Arab League's secretary general, Amr Moussa, said a military strike against Iraq would "open the gates of hell" in the Middle East. Western and Arab military analysts predict that Iraq may seek to respond to any U.S. attack by launching missiles at Israel in an effort to spark a wider conflict in the region. Despite their pledge of support for Iraq's stance, the foreign ministers did not discuss whether they would lend military assistance to Iraq if it were attacked. A spokesman for the group said the issue was "too hypothetical." [.....] _______________________________________________ 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