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News, 20-27/9/02 (3) CRIMES OF THE US GOVERNMENT * Diplomacy? * Bush Unveils Global Doctrine of First Strikes * A little U.S.-Iraqi history FINGERS POINTING AT IRAQ * 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 INSIDE IRAQ * Fatwa Reportedly Issued in Iraq * Marshes turned into desert in an act of genocide * The Iraqi Marshlands: genocide, ecocide and a scandalous catalogue of injustices * Be ready to oversee cruel mayhem ACTS OF WAR * US-British airstrike hits Iraq military facility * Iraqi airport radar destroyed * Al Qaeda linked to Saddam CRIMES OF THE US GOVERNMENT NO URL * DIPLOMACY? 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 states. 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) * BUSH UNVEILS GLOBAL DOCTRINE OF FIRST STRIKES 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. http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/09/26/column.novak.opinion.iraq.history/ index.html * A LITTLE U.S.-IRAQI HISTORY 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. FINGERS POINTING AT IRAQ http://www.norwaypost.no/content.asp?folder_id=1&cluster_id=20655 * SADDAM HUSSEIN'S SON REPORTED TO NORWEGIAN POLICE 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. http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,797815,00.html * CAMPAIGN TO INDICT BAGHDAD LEADERSHIP STALLS 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. http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020927-60557328.htm * AL QAEDA LINKED TO SADDAM 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 attacks. "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 on: ‹ "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. http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/ny uspent272942553sep27,0,5226905.story?coll=ny%2Dnationalnews%2Dheadlines * DOUBTS ON AL-QAIDA, IRAQ LINK 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 uncorroborated. 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 destruction. 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. INSIDE IRAQ http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=15822922&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * FATWA REPORTEDLY ISSUED IN IRAQ 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 aggressors.'' 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 fatwa. ``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 Iraq. http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1060892002 * MARSHES TURNED INTO DESERT IN AN ACT OF GENOCIDE 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 genocide. 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 out. 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". http://www.kurdmedia.com/reports.asp?id=1062 * THE IRAQI MARSHLANDS: GENOCIDE, ECOCIDE AND A SCANDALOUS CATALOGUE OF INJUSTICES by Karen Dabrowska KurdishMedia.com, 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". http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020925/2002092505.html * 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." http://www.iht.com/articles/71638.html * BE READY TO OVERSEE CRUEL MAYHEM 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. ACTS OF WAR http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/09/25/1032734225533.html * US-BRITISH AIRSTRIKE HITS IRAQ MILITARY FACILITY 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 Florida. 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 missiles. In response, coalition pilots try to bomb Iraqi air defence systems. http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&sid=1361081 * IRAQI AIRPORT RADAR DESTROYED by Hassan Hafidh Swissinfo.com, 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. [.....] http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020927-60557328.htm * AL QAEDA LINKED TO SADDAM 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. [.....] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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