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[casi] News, 20-27/9/02 (3)

News, 20-27/9/02 (3)


*  Diplomacy?
*  Bush Unveils Global Doctrine of First Strikes
*  A little U.S.-Iraqi history


*  Saddam Hussein's son reported to Norwegian police
*  Campaign to indict Baghdad leadership stalls
*  Al Qaeda linked to Saddam
*  Doubts On Al-Qaida, Iraq Link


*  Fatwa Reportedly Issued in Iraq
*  Marshes turned into desert in an act of genocide
*  The Iraqi Marshlands: genocide, ecocide and a scandalous catalogue of
*  Be ready to oversee cruel mayhem


*  US-British airstrike hits Iraq military facility
*  Iraqi airport radar destroyed
*  Al Qaeda linked to Saddam



by John Pilger
New Statesman, 19th September

The making of a United Nations fig leaf, designed to cover an Anglo-
American attack on Iraq, has a revealing past. In 1990, a version of George
W Bush's mafia diplomacy was conducted by his father, then president. The
aim was to "contain" America's former regional favourite, Saddam Hussein,
whose invasion of Kuwait ended his usefulness to Washington.

Forgotten facts tell us how George Bush Sr's war plans gained the
"legitimacy" of a United Nations resolution, as well as a "coalition" of
Arab governments. Like his son's undisguised threats to the General
Assembly, Bush challenged the United Nations to "live up to its
responsibilities" and condone an all-out assault on Iraq. On 29 October
1990, James Baker, the secretary of state, declared: "After a long period of
stagnation, the United Nations is becoming a more effective organisation."

Just as Colin Powell, the present secretary of state, is busily doing today,
Baker met the foreign minister of each of the 14 member countries of the UN
Security Council and persuaded the majority to vote for an "attack
resolution" -  678 -  which had no basis in the UN Charter.

It was one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the United
Nations, and is about to be repeated. For the first time, the full UN
Security Council capitulated to an American led war party and abandoned its
legal responsibility to advance peaceful and diplomatic solutions. On 29
November, the United States got its war resolution. This was made possible
by a campaign of bribery, blackmail and threats, of which a repetition is
currently under way, especially in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
In 1990, Egypt was the most indebted country in Africa. Baker bribed
President Mubarak with $14bn in "debt forgiveness" and all opposition to the
attack on Iraq faded away. Syria's bribe was different; Washington gave
President Hafez al- Assad the green light to wipe out all opposition to
Syria's rule in Lebanon. To help him achieve this, a billion dollars' worth
of arms was made available through a variety of back doors, mostly Gulf

Iran was bribed with an American promise to drop its opposition to a series
of World Bank loans. The bank approved the first loan of $250m on the day
before the ground attack on Iraq. Bribing the Soviet Union was especially
urgent, as Moscow was close to pulling off a deal that would allow Saddam to
extricate himself from Kuwait peacefully. However, with its wrecked economy,
the Soviet Union was easy prey for a bribe. President Bush sent the Saudi
foreign minister to Moscow to offer a billion-dollar bribe before the
Russian winter set in. He succeeded. Once Gorbachev had agreed to the war
resolution, another $3bn materialised from other Gulf states.

The votes of the non-permanent members of the Security Council were crucial.
Zaire was offered undisclosed "debt forgiveness" and military equipment in
return for silencing the Security Council when the attack was under way.
Occupying the rotating presidency of the council, Zaire refused requests
from Cuba, Yemen and India to convene an emergency meeting of the council,
even though it had no authority to refuse them under the UN Charter.

Only Cuba and Yemen held out. Minutes after Yemen voted against the
resolution to attack Iraq, a senior American diplomat told the Yemeni
ambassador: "That was the most expensive 'no' vote you ever cast." Within
three days, a US aid programme of $70m to one of the world's poorest
countries was stopped. Yemen suddenly had problems with the World Bank and
the IMF; and 800,000 Yemeni workers were expelled from Saudi Arabia. The
ferocity of the American-led attack far exceeded the mandate of Security
Council Resolution 678, which did not allow for the destruction of Iraq's
infrastructure and economy. When the United States sought another resolution
to blockade Iraq, two new members of the Security Council were duly coerced.
Ecuador was warned by the US ambassador in Quito about the "devastating
economic consequences" of a No vote. Zimbabwe was threatened with new IMF
conditions for its debt.

The punishment of impoverished countries that opposed the attack was severe.
Sudan, in the grip of a famine, was denied a shipment of food aid. None of
this was reported at the time. By now, news organisations had one objective:
to secure a place close to the US command in Saudi Arabia. At the same time,
Amnesty International published a searing account of torture, detention and
arbitrary arrest by the Saudi regime. Twenty thousand Yemenis were being
deported every day and as many as 800 had been tortured and ill- treated.

Neither the BBC nor ITN reported a word about this. "It is common knowledge
in  television," wrote Peter Lennon in the Guardian, "that fear of not being
granted visas was the only consideration in withholding coverage  of that
embarrassing story." When the attack was over, the full cost was summarised
in a report published by the Medical Education Trust in London. More than
200,000 people were killed or had died during and in the months after the
attack. This also was not news. Neither was a report that child mortality in
Iraq had multiplied as the effects of the economic embargo intensified.
Extrapolating from all the statistics of Iraq's suffering, the American
researchers John Mueller and Karl Mueller have since concluded that the
subsequent economic punishment of the Iraqis has "probably taken the lives
of more people in Iraq than have been killed by all weapons of mass
destruction in history".

Today, the media's war drums are beating to the rhythm of Bush's totally
manufactured crisis, which, if allowed to proceed, will kill untold numbers
of innocent people.

Little has changed, and humanity deserves better.

NO URL (obtained through list)

by David E. Sanger
New York Times Friday, 20th September

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 -- On Friday, the Bush administration will publish its
first comprehensive rationale for shifting American military strategy toward
pre-emptive action against hostile states and terrorist groups developing
weapons of mass destruction. The strategy document will also state, for the
first time, that the United States will never allow its military supremacy
to be challenged the way it was during the cold war.

In the 33-page document, Mr. Bush also seeks to answer the critics of
growing American muscle-flexing by insisting that the United States will
exploit its military and economic power to encourage "free and open
societies," rather than seek "unilateral advantage." It calls this union of
values and national interests "a distinctly American internationalism." The
document, titled "The National Security Strategy of the United States," is
one that every president is required to submit to Congress. It is the first
comprehensive explanation of the administration's foreign policy, from
defense strategy to global warming. A copy of the final draft was obtained
by The New York Times.

It sketches out a far more muscular and sometimes aggressive approach to
national security than any since the Reagan era. It includes the discounting
of most nonproliferation treaties in favor of a doctrine of
"counterproliferation," a reference to everything from missile defense to
forcibly dismantling weapons or their components. It declares that the
strategies of containment and deterrence -- staples of American policy since
the 1940's -- are all but dead. There is no way in this changed world, the
document states, to deter those who "hate the United States and everything
for which it stands." "America is now threatened less by conquering states
than we are by failing ones," the document states, sounding what amounts to
a death knell for many of the key strategies of the cold war.

One of the most striking elements of the new strategy document is its
insistence "that the president has no intention of allowing any foreign
power to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened since the
fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago." "Our forces will be strong
enough," Mr. Bush's document states, "to dissuade potential adversaries from
pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power
of the United States." With Russia so financially hobbled that it can no
longer come close to matching American military spending, the doctrine
seemed aimed at rising powers like China, which is expanding its
conventional and nuclear forces.

Administration officials who worked on the strategy for months say it
amounts to both a maturation and an explanation of Mr. Bush's vision for the
exercise of America power after 20 months in office, integrating the
military, economic and moral levers he holds.

Much of the document focuses on how public diplomacy, the use of foreign
aid, and changes in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank can
be used to win what it describes as a battle of competing values and ideas
-- including "a battle for the future of the Muslim world." The president
put the final touches on the new strategy last weekend at Camp David after
working on it for months with his national security adviser, Condoleezza
Rice, and with other members of the national security team. In its military
hawkishness, its expressions of concern that Russian reforms could be
undermined by the country's elite, and its focus on bolstering foreign aid
-- especially for literacy training and AIDS -- it particularly bears the
stamp of Ms. Rice's thinking.

A senior White House official said Mr. Bush had edited the document heavily
"because he thought there were sections where we sounded overbearing or
arrogant." But at the same time, the official said, it is important to
foreclose the option that other nations could aspire to challenge the United
States militarily, because "once you cut off the challenge of military
competition, you open up the possibility of cooperation in a number of other
areas." Still, the administration's critics at home and abroad will almost
certainly find ammunition in the document for their argument that Mr. Bush
is only interested in a multilateral approach as long as it does not
frustrate his will. At several points, the document states clearly that when
important American interests are at stake there will be no compromise.

The document argues that while the United States will seek allies in the
battle against terrorism, "we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary,
to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively." That
includes "convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign
responsibilities" not to aid terrorists, the essence of the doctrine Mr.
Bush declared on the night of Sept. 11, 2001.

The White House delayed releasing the document this week so that its lengthy
discussion of conditions under which the United States might take
unilateral, pre-emptive action would not dominate delicate negotiations in
the United Nations or the testimony of administration officials who appeared
at Congressional hearings to discuss Iraq.

The new strategy departs significantly from the last one published by
President Clinton, at the end of 1999.

Mr. Clinton's strategy dealt at length with tactics to prevent the kind of
financial meltdowns that threatened economies in Asia and Russia. The Bush
strategy urges other nations to adopt Mr. Bush's own economic philosophy,
starting with low marginal tax rates. While Mr. Clinton's strategy relied
heavily on enforcing or amending a series of international treaties, from
the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban
Treaty to Kyoto protocols on the environment, Mr. Bush's strategy dismisses
most of those efforts.

In fact, the new document -- which Mr. Bush told his staff had to be written
in plain English because "the boys in Lubbock ought to be able to read it"
-- celebrates his decision last year to abandon the ABM treaty because it
impeded American efforts to build a missile defense system. It recites the
dangers of nonproliferation agreements that have failed to prevent Iran,
North Korea, Iraq and other countries from obtaining weapons of mass
destruction, and says that the United States will never subject its citizens
to the newly created International Criminal Court, "whose jurisdiction does
not extend to Americans." The document makes no reference to the Kyoto
accord, but sets an "overall objective" of cutting American greenhouse gas
emissions "per unit of economic activity by 18 percent over the next 10
years." The administration says that is a reasonable goal given its view of
the current state of environmental science. Its critics, however, point out
that the objective is voluntary, and allows enormous room for American
emissions to increase as the American economy expands.

The doctrine also describes at great length the administration's commitment
to bolstering American foreign aid by 50 percent in the next few years in
"countries whose governments rule justly, invest in their people and
encourage economic freedom." It insists that the programs must have
"measurable results" to assure that the money is actually going to the poor,
especially for schools, health care and clean water.

by Robert D. Novak
CNN, 26th September

WASHINGTON (Creators Syndicate, Inc.) -- Sen. Robert Byrd, a master at
hectoring executive branch witnesses, asked Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld a provocative question last week: Did the United States help Saddam
Hussein produce weapons of biological warfare? Rumsfeld brushed off the
Senate's 84-year-old president pro tem like a Pentagon reporter. But a paper
trail indicates Rumsfeld should have answered yes.

An eight-year-old Senate report confirms that disease-producing and
poisonous materials were exported, under U.S. government license, to Iraq
from 1985 to 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war. Furthermore, the report adds,
the American-exported materials were identical to microorganisms destroyed
by United Nations inspectors after the Gulf War. The shipments were approved
despite allegations that Saddam used biological weapons against Kurdish
rebels and (according to the current official U.S. position) initiated war
with Iran.

This record is no argument for or against waging war against the Iraqi
regime, but current U.S. officials are not eager to reconstruct the mostly
secret relationship between the two countries. While biological warfare
exports were approved by the U.S. government, the first President Bush
signed a policy directive proposing "normal" relations with Saddam in the
interest of Middle East stability. Looking at a little U.S.-Iraqi history
might be useful on the eve of a fateful military undertaking.

At a Senate Armed Services hearing last Thursday, Byrd tried to disinter
that history. "Did the United States help Iraq to acquire the building
blocks of biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq war?" he asked Rumsfeld.
"Certainly not to my knowledge," Rumsfeld replied. When Byrd persisted by
reading a current Newsweek article reporting these exports, Rumsfeld said,
"I have never heard anything like what you've read, I have no knowledge of
it whatsoever, and I doubt it."

That suggests Rumsfeld also has not read the sole surviving copy of a May
25, 1994, Senate Banking Committee report. In 1985 (five years after the
Iraq-Iran war started) and succeeding years, said the report, "pathogenic
(meaning "disease producing"), toxigenic (meaning "poisonous") and other
biological research materials were exported to Iraq, pursuant to application
and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce." It added:

"These exported biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and
were capable of reproduction."

The report then details 70 shipments (including anthrax bacillus) from the
United States to Iraqi government agencies over three years, concluding, "It
was later learned that these microorganisms exported by the United States
were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and recovered
from the Iraqi biological warfare program."

With Baghdad having survived combat against Iran's revolutionary regime with
U.S. help, President George H.W. Bush signed National Security Directive 26
on Oct. 2, 1989. Classified "Secret" but recently declassified, it said:
"Normal relations between the United States and Iraq would serve our
longer-term interests and promote stability in both the Gulf and the Middle
East. The United States government should propose economic and political
incentives for Iraq to moderate its behavior and to increase our influence
with Iraq."

Bush the elder, who said recently that he "hates" Saddam, saw no reason then
to oust the Iraqi dictator. On the contrary, the government's approval of
exporting microorganisms to Iraq coincided with the Bush administration's
decision to save Saddam from defeat by the Iranian mullahs.

The Newsweek article (by Christopher Dickey and Evan Thomas) that so
interested Byrd reported on Rumsfeld's visit to Baghdad December 20, 1983,
that launched U.S. support for Saddam against Iran. Answering Byrd's
questions, Rumsfeld said he did meet with Saddam and then-Foreign Minister
Tariq Aziz, but was dismissive about assisting "as a private citizen ...
only for a period of months." Rumsfeld contended he was then interested in
curbing terrorism in Lebanon.

Quite a different account was given in a sworn court statement by Howard
Teicher on January 31, 1995. Teicher, a National Security Council aide who
accompanied Rumsfeld to Baghdad, said Rumsfeld relayed then-Israeli Prime
Minister Yitzhak Shamir's offer to help Iraq in its war. "Aziz refused even
to accept the Israeli's letter to (Saddam) Hussein offering assistance,"
said Teicher, "because Aziz told us that he would be executed on the spot."

Such recollections of the recent past make for uncomfortable officials in
Washington and Jerusalem today.


Norway Post, 20th September

The British human rights organization Indict has reported Saddam Hussein's
son Uday to the Norwegian prosecuting authority.

Among the charges is torture.

The reason for taking his case to Norway is that several of the Iraqis who
were tortured by Uday, now live in Norway as refugees, making it possible to
bring his case to court here, says head of Indict, Charles Forrester.

In his opinion, according to Norwegian law it is possible to report Uday
Hussein in Norway, as long as witnesses live here.

The leaders of Indict were in Norway earlier this week and filed the formal
complaint at the office of the Director General of Public Prosecution.

Uday is a man who has personally tortured a number of people in the most
horrifying way, says Forrester to NRK Radio.,3605,797815,00.html

by Brian Whitaker
The Guardian, 24th September

Despite Tony Blair's efforts to persuade the public that Iraq is an imminent
threat, British moves to indict leading members of the Baghdad regime for
crimes against humanity have floundered amid Whitehall buck-passing.

Two years ago Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP and chairwoman of the Indict
organisation, filed a complaint with the attorney general against Tariq
Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister.

Indict, which has US government funding, says its dossier included
documents, video footage and sworn witness statements - most of the evidence
needed to support a prosecution.

But more than six months after receiving the complaint, the attorney
general, Lord Williams of Mostyn, passed the file to Scotland Yard's
anti-terrorism branch for further investigation.

After another six months, the case was said to be awaiting a decision from
the crown prosecution service.

Then, with the appointment of a new attorney general, Ms Clwyd was told that
the war on terrorism would take priority.

"Hostage taking is a grave breach of the Geneva convention," Ms Clwyd said.
"Indictment is one non-violent option which can be taken against leading
members of the regime."

Indict has been trying to persuade governments to issue arrest warrants for
10 senior Iraqis, including Saddam Hussein and his two sons, so they can be
put on trial if they travel abroad.

Mr Aziz and the vice-president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, travel regularly.
Another on the wanted list, Ali Hassan al-Majid - a cousin of the Iraqi
leader who is known as "Chemical Ali" for his attacks against the Kurds -
recently visited Algeria.

by Rowan Scarborough
Washington Times, 27th September

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday accused Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein of harboring al Qaeda terrorists and aiding their quest for weapons
of mass destruction.

His charges, based on "evolving" intelligence reports, marked the Bush
administration's most detailed account of links between Baghdad and al
Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's terror group that carried out the September 11

"We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members,
including some that have been in Baghdad," the defense secretary said. "We
have what we consider to be credible contacts in Iraq who could help them
acquire weapons of mass destruction capabilities."

Mr. Rumsfeld's presentation at a Pentagon news conference came the day after
White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice disclosed for the
first time an intelligence report that said Iraq helped train al Qaeda
members to use chemical weapons.

Her words were reiterated yesterday by White House Press Secretary Ari
Fleischer. "Al Qaeda and Iraq are too close for comfort," he said.

The back-to-back disclosures were part of a new White House push to tie
Saddam's regime to al Qaeda. If the White House can convince the public that
Iraq helps the group that attacked America and killed more than 3,000
persons, the link would strengthen the case for a U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

Until the past two days, the White House, and chief ally Great Britain, have
focused on Baghdad's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction as justification
for a pre-emptive attack and the establishment of a new Iraqi government.

President Bush is contemplating an invasion but has not yet made a decision
or approved a specific war plan, his aides say.

Since shortly after September 11, Pentagon civilian hard-liners have pushed
the CIA and other intelligence agencies to find and document ties between
Iraq and Baghdad. The "linkage" issue was resisted at first by some in the
CIA. But Mr. Rumsfeld's aides persisted, and intelligence reports were
produced establishing links.

"The knowledge that the intelligence community has of the al Qaeda
relationship with Iraq is evolving," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "It's based on a lot
of different types of sources of varying degrees of reliability. Some of it,
admittedly, comes from detainees, which has been helpful, and particularly
some high-ranking detainees."

Said Miss Rice, "This is a story that is unfolding, and it is getting clear,
and we're learning more. We're learning more because we have a lot of
detainees who are able to fill in pieces of the puzzle. And when the picture
is clear, we'll make full disclosure about it."

Mr. Rumsfeld said he had asked the intelligence community to declassify some
aspects of the reported Iraq-al Qaeda ties. Upon his return to the Pentagon
from a NATO conference in Poland this week, a report was awaiting that
detailed links in an unclassified form.

The thrust of the administration's case during the past two days is based

 "Very reliable reporting" of senior-level contacts between al Qaeda and
Baghdad going back a decade and occurring recently.

 Unidentified al Qaeda detainees and other sources, who say Iraq helped al
Qaeda in its quest to acquire weapons of mass destruction and aided training
in those weapons.

 Discussions by Iraq to provide a haven to al Qaeda members on the run,
some of whom already have "found refuge" there.

"We know that several of the detainees, in particular some high-ranking
detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in
chemical-weapons development," Miss Rice said Wednesday night on PBS.

"No one is trying to make an argument at this point that Saddam Hussein
somehow had operational control of what happened on September 11, so we
don't want to push this too far," she said.


The Washington Times quoted a U.S. official in 1996 as saying bin Laden was
in contact with Iraqi intelligence agents while based near Khartoum, Sudan.
He had also reportedly contacted Iranian intelligence officers in
Afghanistan about seeking political asylum.

by Craig Gordon and Knut Royce
Newsday, 27th September

Washington: With the Bush administration this week making its strongest
comments yet linking al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, some in the U.S.
intelligence community are cautioning that Bush advisers are basing the new
and explosive allegations on information that largely is inconclusive and

Intelligence sources confirm that their knowledge about any al-Qaida/Hussein
link is "evolving" and does include evidence of high-level contacts between
the two dating back 10 years, and of top al-Qaida operatives traveling to
Iraq's capital Baghdad in recent months, as top Bush officials said.

Much of the new information, according to one intelligence source, is coming
from Abu Zubaydah, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden now in U.S. custody.
Zubaydah has provided some valid intelligence, this source said, but often
has lied or provided deliberately misleading information.

These sources also cast skepticism on the notion that any ties between
al-Qaida and Hussein had developed to the point of a true collaboration, or
that Iraq had provided extensive assistance to al-Qaida's effort to develop
chemical or biological weapons. The information on that assistance comes
from a single al-Qaida detainee and has not been corroborated, a
knowledgeable U.S. official said.

"There is no evidence whatsoever of an Iraqi hand in their chemical
programs," another source said. "Al-Qaida was much less sophisticated with
their chemicals and bios than we know the Iraqis are."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday that Hussein's regime
recently harbored some of bin Laden's top aides in Baghdad - though not bin
Laden himself. He cited "credible information" that al-Qaida and Hussein had
discussed a non-aggression pact and safe haven opportunities in Iraq, and
that al-Qaida had sought Iraqi contacts to acquire weapons of mass

But the U.S. official said it was "unclear" why and how the al-Qaida
terrorists were in Baghdad and to what degree the Iraqi government had
knowledge of their presence.

With no solid evidence linking Hussein to Sept. 11, the Bush administration
has argued instead that Hussein's chemical and biological weapons, and his
desire for nuclear weapons, pose a threat that must be eliminated.

But many intelligence officials doubt that Hussein would embrace al-Qaida,
despite their common goals. Hussein's regime is proudly secular, while bin
Laden's drive comes from religious motivations and his opposition to the
U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.


The Associated Press, 23rd September

CAIRO, Egypt (AP)  A Shiite Muslim leader in Iraq reportedly issued a
religious edict urging Muslims to resist any U.S. attack and deemed any
cooperation with Americans a shameful sin.

In the edict, or fatwa, cleric Sayyid Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani is quoted
as saying ``it is the Muslims' duty, under this critical situation, to be
united and do their best to defend Iraq and protect it from the plots of the

The fatwa comes as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is seeking to rally
domestic and regional support amid accusations by President Bush that Iraq
is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and harboring terrorists.

Though Saddam's Baath Party is nominally secular, he has been using
religious imagery and rhetoric more and more in an effort to appeal to
ordinary Arabs.

Bush has not formally committed to war against Iraq, but has said he wants a
regime change in Iraq and is reportedly reviewing detailed military options
for toppling Saddam.

Al-Sistani, who has not made public appearances since he was chosen by his
followers in 1996 as spiritual leader, could not be reached Monday. Iraqi
Shiites in exile questioned whether the fatwa was indeed al-Sistani's or had
been issued in his name by the Iraqi government.

On Sunday, Abu Dhabi television, based in the United Arab Emirates, aired
footage from the holy city of Najaf of a dean with the pro-government
Al-Sharia College, al-Sayyid Adnan al-Baka'a, reading the fatwa issued in
al-Sistani's name.

The fatwa was reportedly issued Sept. 4 in Najaf, 100 miles south of
Baghdad. A copy was obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

A spokesman for the main Iraqi Shiite opposition group in exile, the Supreme
Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, was skeptical al-Sistani, who is
virtually banned by the government from public appearances, had issued the

``We are not really sure that this fatwa was made by his eminence because
his office has not issued it,'' Hamid al-Bayati, the council's spokesman
told The Associated Press in Cairo.

Representatives of the council, which is based in Iran, participated last
month in meetings with U.S. officials in Washington about a post-Saddam

by Tim Cornwell
The Scotsman, 24th September

IF the US succeeds in its goal of "regime change" in Iraq, advocates of the
Marsh Arabs will demand that Saddam Hussein immediately join Slobodan
Milosevic in The Hague - facing trial in a United Nations court for

President Saddam already stands accused of unleashing poison gas attacks on
the Kurds of northern Iraq, killing thousands. But in the south, his
engineers, army and secret police are accused of literally draining the
life-blood from a people and an ecosystem.

The marshlands of southern Iraq, lying between the lower reaches of the
Tigris and Euphrates, may have been where people first learned to control
rivers with a system of dams and irrigation.

In the 1950s, surveys suggested that about 400,000 people - the Maadan, or
Marsh Arabs - lived there in an area roughly the size of Wales. Since the
time of the ancient Sumarians, they had used giant reeds to build islands,
canoes, and high-arched homes and subsisted on farming, fishing, hunting and
the grazing of water-buffalo. It was a way of life 5,000 years old. But,
last year, satellite pictures showed that their fabled wetlands had shrunk
by 90 per cent.

By 1991, under pressure from the lure of oil-rich Iraqi cities, and amid war
with neighbouring Iran, the Maadan population was estimated at 250,000. But
three years later, US figures showed that all but 50,000 had been driven

This destruction, it is claimed, was the result not just of misplaced
engineering schemes to dam rivers and turn marsh into farmland, but of a
deliberate assault designed to empty a region of President Saddam's
opponents by drying it out.

In 1991 Kurdish rebels who took over the Iraqi city of Shaqlawa seized a
cache of secret police documents. Later translated by a UN representative,
they included a "plan of action for the marshes".

That document, whatever its authenticity, reads like a blue-print for what
followed after the Gulf war, when Baghdad moved to crush a series of
uprisings. After the collapse of Iraqi forces in Kuwait, the Kurds
challenged President Saddam's rule in the north and the majority Shia
Muslims in the south. Baghdad saw the marsh dwellers as a source of ethnic
and political dissent and their homeland a haven for Shia rebels, backed by
Iran, hiding in a maze of lakes, waterways, reed-beds and villages reachable
only by boat.

The tactics used by President Saddam's forces, it is alleged, ran from
round-ups and mass executions to the use of gas shells and poisoning the
waters around villages where reed homes were repeatedly burned. Napalm
attacks and the destruction of scores of villages followed orders to wipe
out the most troublesome marsh tribes. The waterways were left covered with
floating dead fish.

Schemes to drain the marshes were first considered under British rule and
plans for a huge drainage canal complex were drawn up by British engineers
in 1951. Dams and water control systems in Syria and Turkey were also to
blame. The draining killed off reeds and bamboo, depriving tribespeople of
construction material, fuel, and food for their livestock.

Baroness Emma Nicholson, the former MP and now an MEP, has championed the
plight of the Marsh Arabs since the Gulf war. "About half the marshlands
could be restored, perhaps all, and certainly it could bring back their
original way of life," she said.

President Saddam had "ended the way of life for quarter of a million people"
while the world looked on. Genocide against the Marsh Arabs is wholly
provable she said, and "we should bring him to trial".

by Karen Dabrowska, 24thSeptember

Review of The Iraqi Marshlands: a human and environmental study, Edited by
Emma Nicholson & Peter Clark, Politicos, Pgs 332, 40.00

"As the guns fell silent and mighty armadas and warplanes returned to bases,
the real victims  the people of Iraq and its refugees  were left to their
fate. Sadly refugees are never short-lived tragedies. They historically
become long-term intractable problems defying easy solutions. The refugees
have lost their homes, their possessions and they were slipping from memory
as well".

This tragic but realistic statement from freelance journalist Harold Briley,
summarises the plight of not only the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq but of
refugees throughout the world. As military action against Iraq looms on the
horizon, and the Iranian government has made it clear that no Iraqi refugees
will be allowed into the country, The Iraqi Marshlands ensures that the
plight of the Marsh Arabs will not fade from the international radar screen.

Both the British and American governments have released dossiers of evidence
against the Iraqi regime. This book adds to the proof of the systematic
campaign of murder, torture, rape and starvation being carried out in the
marshland region of southern Iraq. It is a multi disciplinary work which
describes the former glory of the lower Mesopotamian marshlands. The marsh
dwellers are the proud descendants of Sumerians, Babylonians, Persians and
Arab Bedu. They have lived by growing rice and dates, raising water buffalo,
fishing and weaving domestic products from reeds. Around them a richly
diverse ecosystem  home for fish, migratory birds, pelicans, herons and
flamingo  has remained in relative equilibrium for centuries, in spite of
the fact that it has been one of the first areas ever used by mankind for
extensive irrigated agriculture.

Since the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, the marshland Arabs have been
victims of an ecocide ruthlessly carried out by the Iraqi government.
Satellite images, presented and analysed for the first time in the book,
show clearly how major government-sponsored drainage works have reduced the
marshlands to about 15 percent of their original area (15,000  20,000km2 to
less than 1,500-2,000km2.)The area's unique biodiversity has been destroyed
and the marsh Arabs have been forced to flee. In the words of Baroness
Nicholson of Winterborne, one of the book's editors who set up the Amar
Appeal to assist refugees who fled to Iran, "soon there will be no waters of
Babylon besides which to sit down and weep  only barren, cracked earth, not
suitable for agriculture". Some experts believe that the marshes may
disappear by the mid-21st century  or even earlier, by 2020.

The Iraqi Marshlands is an expertly compiled, multi-disciplinary report
divided into five main sections: the people (the demography of the region,
the economy, the regime's assault on the marshlands, and the educational and
health needs of the refugees in Iraq), the place (the deltaic complex of the
Lower Mesopotamian Plain, a hydro-engineering and political profile and the
ecosystem), the problems (a historical review, the liability of the regime
for human rights violations, water rights and international law). It ends
with a moving personal testimony from Amir Hayder and an analysis of the
prospects for the region.

In 1997 it was estimated that 192,000 marsh dwellers remained in southern
Iraq, with perhaps a total of 200,000 in Iraq as a whole. The number who
have left (mainly for Iran) is estimated between 80,000 and 120,000.

The reasons for this mass migration are obvious. In chapter four Assault on
the Marshlands, Christopher Mitchell describes Saddam's plans for southern
Iraq outlined in secret police documents found when Kurdish fighters
liberated the north of the country during the uprising of March 1991. One
document describes a plan adopted in 1987 and approved by the president.

Among its ingredients are 'poisoning, explosions and the burning of houses',
assassinations of 'hostile elements', the use of 'helicopters, supported by
military aircraft', a range of economic measures, such as blockade and 'a
ban on the sale of fish', and 'the possibility of regrouping the marsh
villages on dry land (which is easy to control)'.

In the first week of August 1992, 2,500 men, women and children were rounded
up from the Chabaish marsh near Nasiriyah and taken to Baghdad. There they
were told by the Defence Minister Ali Hasan al-Majid) that they were being
given land to farm in northern Iraq and could 'forget about the south'. The
people from Chabaish were said to have been transported to an army camp 20
miles south-west of Arbil. On arrival in the north, the Shias were locked
into 'large farm sheds' guarded by units of two security services. Then,
according to a fugitive who was forced to wash away the blood every morning,
they were executed, nightly, in groups of 100'.

Such reports prompted Max van der Stoel to take the unprecedented step of
placing the marshes section of his UN General Assembly report before the
Security Council, together with his recommendations for a team of human
rights monitors to be sent to Iraq. On 11 August 1992 he was invited to
address the Security Council on the situation in the marshes (this was,
again, unprecedented for a special rapporteur). On 27 August, the UN imposed
an air exclusion zone, banning Iraqi operations of aeroplanes and
helicopters, south of the 32nd parallel (Iraq had been mounting an average
of 30 sorties a day, and sometimes more than 100). But there would be no UN
intervention on the ground, and no monitors. Despite plumes of smoke rising
from torched villages, clearly visible to American and British pilots as
they patrolled the no-fly zone, no international action was taken to stop
Baghdad doing exactly as it liked in the south. The principal manifestation
of international will, the continuing economic embargo on Iraq, simply
worsened the position for most of the population.

In Iran, the marsh dweller refugee population is characterised by:
 Low income, usually between 0.2 and 0.8 dollars a day per capita, well
below the World Bank's absolute poverty threshold.
 High birth rate.

 Poor general health, due to the poor quality of the medical infrastructure
in the marshlands of Iraq. This includes a high crude death rate (around 4%)
and high infant mortality rate (stabilised between 30% and 40%).
 A low level of education, which is made worse by the low level of
enrolment of refugee children in schools.

It is surprising that Dr Bayan Alaraji, who has made 13 visits to the
refugee camps in Iran and runs a charity which sponsors projects for
orphans, widows, the disabled and needy families, was not asked to
contribute to the section on Iraqi refugees in Iran.

In chapter nine, A hydro-engineering and political profile, Thomas Naff and
George Hanna, conclude that taking into account m the fact that some of the
damage to the marshes will be temporary because of mismanagement of the
hydraulic engineering projects, the obstacles to any significant future
restoration and protection are formidable. So too are the obstacles to the
repatriation of those marsh dwellers who might choose to return if they are
given the chance. It may be possible, with international effort and
assistance from credible organisations and international funding, to save
the remnants of at least one of the marshes, as a model ecological,
environmental and wildlife preserve that could attract eco-tourists and
environmentalists at some future time.

Chapters 14 and 15 (The liability of the regime for the human rights
violations in the marshlands of southern Iraq and water rights and
international law) leave little room for optimism that the regime will be
brought to book for its destruction of the marshlands. Dr Adel Omar Sherif,
the Chief Commissioner of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo
concludes that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will not be empowered
to try the Iraqi regime crimes because the convention establishing the court
has not yet come into force and this court will only try acts committed
following its establishment. The establishment of an ad hoc tribunal for
Iraq would allow international justice to prevail but greater efforts at
both the national and international levels must be exerted if such a
tribunal is to be established.

The situation of the Marsh Arabs is part of the plight of the Iraqi people
as a whole. From being a prosperous country with a superb social and
educational infrastructure, huge mineral and oil resources plus considerable
tourism potential, and with glittering prospects as a major regional power,
Iraq has become one of the poorest countries of the world.

In the words of historian Peter Sluglett :"It may be that the damage done so
far to the ecosystem is irreversible; in any case, if the new hydraulic
works were to be abandoned immediately, it would take many years for the
area to recover. The tragic fate of the marsh dwellers forms yet another
doleful chapter in the history of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by
this appalling and utterly ruthless regime".

*  Saddam appoints four new governors
Arabic News, 25th September
[Bet they're all four of them delighted.]

The Iraqi TV said Tuesday that Iraq's President Saddam Hussein appointed on
Tuesday four new governors. The TV explained that Saddam Hussein appointed
Lieut. Gen. Eyed Mukhlif Al-Ajeely as a governor for al-Najaf and Lieut.
Gen. Waleed Hameed Tawfeeq as a governor to al-Basra, Turky Beidar Al-Luizy
as a governor for Dayali and Ibrahim Shuja' as a governor for Babel.

Saddam Hussein addressed the new governors after the end of the taking oath
constitutional ceremony saying "I am content with the track we pursue in our
relation with our people and in our relations with our nation as well as in
our vision for what the present will be, our expectation for the future and
in our readiness to sacrifice ourselves in line of our responsibilities amid
our people and amid our nation."

by Nicholas D. Kristof
International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 25th September

NAJAF, Iraq: As soon as American troops are rolling through Saddam Hussein's
palaces, the odds are that this holy Shiite city 160 kilometers south of
Baghdad will erupt in a fury of killing, torture, rape and chaos. The Shiite
Muslims who make up 60 percent of Iraq, but who have never held power, will
rampage through the narrow streets here.

Remembering the whispers from the bazaar about how Saddam's minions burned
the beard off the face of a great Shiite leader named Muhammad Bakr al Sadr,
then raped and killed his sister in front of him, and finally executed him
by driving nails through his head, the rebels will tear apart anyone
associated with the ruling Ba'ath Party.

In one Shiite city after another, expect battles between rebels and army
units, periodic calls for an Iranian-style theocracy, and perhaps a drift
toward civil war. For the last few days I have been traveling in these
Shiite cities - Karbala, Najaf and Basra - and the tension in the bazaars is
thicker than the dust behind the donkey carts.

So before America rushes into Iraq, it needs to think through what it will
do the morning after Saddam is toppled. Does it send in troops to try to
seize the mortars and machine guns from the warring factions? Or does it run
from civil war, and risk letting Iran cultivate its own puppet regime?

In the north, does America suppress the Kurds if they take advantage of the
chaos to seek independence? Does it fight off the Turkish army if it
intervenes in Kurdistan?

Unless the United States is prepared for the consequences of invasion, it
has no business invading at all.

So, apres Saddam le deluge? That's only a guess, but it's what happened the
last time Saddam was in trouble, at the end of the Gulf War in 1991. With
the central government tottering, a Shiite uprising began in Basra and
quickly spread. In Najaf, rebels tossed officials out of the windows of the
Ba'ath Party headquarters to be hacked apart by others below. Rioters raped
and killed children in front of their parents.

Saddam's suppression two weeks later, as U.S. forces stood by passively, was
equally brutal, with rebels hanged from lampposts and dragged to their
deaths behind tanks. When I asked people in the bazaars about the uprising,
they mostly turned pale and remembered urgent business elsewhere.

"It hurts my heart when I remember it," said Nasseem Jawad, a 40-year-old
jeweler in the Najaf bazaar who was one of the few to admit to being in the
area at the time. "They burned the supermarkets, destroyed the laboratories,
schools and hospitals." Jawad was prudent enough to adhere to the government
line that the rebellion was the work of Iranian provocateurs and would not
happen again, but I would bet otherwise.

In Basra, I asked a senior Ba'ath Party official if he wasn't worried that
he and his family would be targets of mob wrath. He protested so
passionately that I couldn't help thinking he had spent a few sleepless
nights considering the possibility. In the north the challenge for America
will be different. Many Kurds will demand at least quasi independence, and
there will be a ferocious struggle for the city of Kirkuk, which floats on a
sea of oil. Kirkuk is aggressively coveted by Kurds, by the Turkish-backed
Turkmen minority and of course by the Iraqi Arabs who now control it.

More broadly, if the United States brings democracy to Iraq, it will mean
seizing power from the 17 percent Sunni minority who dominate the army and
government and giving it to the 60 percent Shiite majority. The upshot could
be greater influence for Iran, a fellow Shiite country with close ties to
Iraq's Shiite cities.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini spent 13 years in exile here in Najaf, and many
top Iranian ayatollahs stayed for shorter periods. Iranian hard-liners are
probably salivating at the thought of America naively creating a Shiite Iraq
so that the two countries could pool their nuclear resources and build the
bomb together.

Of course there are happier scenarios as well. Iraq also has a 95 percent
literacy rate and a secular middle class that could eventually be fertile
soil for a democracy that would be a model for the Arab world.

It is fine to hope for democracy, as long as one braces for civil war. The
challenge ahead is not overthrowing Saddam but managing the resulting
upheaval for a decade afterward.


The Age (Australia), 25th September

US and British aircraft have struck Iraqi air defence facilities again, US
defence officials said today.

The latest strike by precision-guided weapons was on facilities near Al
Amarah, about 275km southeast of Baghdad, according to Central Command in

It brought to at least 38 the number of strikes reported this year by the
United States and the United Kingdom coalition put together to patrol zones
in the north and south of Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War.

Target battle damage assessment was ongoing.

The last coalition strike in the Southern No-Fly Zone was against a military
air defence communications facility near Tallil, on September 15.

Central Command says there have been more than 140 separate incidents of
Iraqi surface to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery fire directed
against coalition aircraft this year.

Iraq considers the patrols a violation of its sovereignty and frequently
shoots at the planes with anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air

In response, coalition pilots try to bomb Iraqi air defence systems.

by Hassan Hafidh, 26th September

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq says U.S. warplanes have raided Basra civilian
airport and damaged its radar system, in the latest attack by Western jets
enforcing no-fly zones over Iraq.

The United States on Thursday confirmed it has attacked the airport, saying
it had targeted a military radar there.

Iraq's state-run satellite television quoted a government spokesman as
saying the attack on the airport in Basra, 300 miles southeast of Baghdad,
took place on Wednesday night.

The airport occupies a large area in the strategic Basra province, home to
Iraq's main port at the head of the Gulf and major oil installations.

"The raids destroyed the main radar system in the airport as well as
damaging the main service building at the airport," the television said.

In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said early damage assessments of the
Basra attack showed the U.S. jets had destroyed the military radar that was
the target of the raid.

"The Basra strike did take place at a civilian airfield but it was directed
at a military radar located on the civilian airfield," Lieutenant Colonel
Dave Lapan told Reuters.

"The strike was directed at the radar which has threatened coalition
aircraft." He said U.S. aircraft also struck a target near al Kufa, located
about 80 miles south of Baghdad.


by Rowan Scarborough
Washington Times, 27th September


Earlier yesterday, allied aircraft carried out two strikes against
air-defense targets in southern Iraq. Both targets threatened pilots
enforcing a no-fly zone south of Baghdad, the Pentagon said.

Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
said pilots used precision-guided munitions to bomb a facility 80 miles
south of Baghdad and a target acquisition radar at a military-civilian
airport at the port city of Basra.

"The radar site that was struck was on the military side of the field and,
in fact, way off the end of the military side of the field," Gen. Pace said,
rebutting Iraqi assertions that civilians were killed. "When you take a look
at the picture of this, it is out in, basically, desert."

This summer, Mr. Rumsfeld authorized commanders to not only bomb air-defense
targets that directly threatened pilots, but also command centers that
support missile and radar sites. Military sources say the attacks will
better prepare the battlefield for a war against Iraq.


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