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News, 25/10-1/11/02 (1) INSIDE IRAQ * Iraq Denies Expelling Reporters * A Place of Tears * Bred in brutality, Saddam clings to power through bribery, intimidation and the oil card * Iraqis leery of US role if Saddam goes * Iran blames Iraq for border fires * Iraq Most Spiritually Hungry Nation in Middle East * Baghdad wants media to monitor arms inspectors * Iraq's Major Contract for Power Generators Released from Hold * Iraqi Children Get Final Polio Shot * Saddam's shop of horrors * Iraq's Shiites Pledging Loyalty * Busting Sanctions - Nutrition in Iraq INSIDE IRAQ http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/oct/26/102609986.html * IRAQ DENIES EXPELLING REPORTERS Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 26th October BAGHDAD, Iraq- Iraq on Saturday denied expelling any Western journalists and said more reporters were expected to visit the country in coming days. On Thursday, U.S. television networks, including CNN, ABC and NBC, said President Saddam Hussein's government was expelling some foreign journalists and warning of restrictive new rules for getting back into the country. Eason Jordan, CNN's president of newsgathering, said the government was upset about foreign reporting of a demonstration outside the Iraqi Information Ministry in Baghdad by people upset that their imprisoned relatives had not been released in Saddam's general amnesty. In a statement Saturday, the Iraqi Press Center labeled reports of media expulsions as "baseless." Despite the Iraqi claims, CNN spokeswoman Edna Johnson said Saturday that nothing has changed, and that its journalists have been asked to leave the country by Monday. Iraq issued one-week visas to about 500 foreign journalists to cover the Oct. 15 presidential election, in which authorities said Saddam won a new seven-year term with 100 percent of the votes. Reporters were allowed to stay for another week, but the Iraqis announced that no further extensions would be approved and journalists would have to leave when their visas expired. Most run out this weekend although the precise day varies depending on when the journalist arrived, Iraqi authorities said. Another group of reporters is expected to cover next week's Baghdad International Trade Fair, the Press Center statement said. http://www.counterpunch.org/wolff1026.html * A PLACE OF TEARS by Michael Wolff Counterpunch, 26th October On the first morning of the Iraq Sanctions Challenge, after our meeting with Dr. Hashimi, our delegation met in front of the Al-Rasheed hotel in downtown Baghdad. We gathered our gear together and prepared to go to the place that for many, including myself, was one of the most disturbing and emotionally distressing parts of the ISC itinerary, a place that left nearly everyone in tears--the Amarijah bomb shelter. On February 13, 1991, at 4:00 in the morning, during the height of the U.S. air war against Iraq, U.S. Stealth fighter-bombers dropped two laser-guided 2,000 pound bombs on a bomb shelter, killing hundreds of civilians and evoking world-wide outrage. The U.S. military claimed there was a military communications center under the shelter, but when a reporter asked to see the evidence, the military refused to provide it. When we arrived in front of the bomb shelter we were greeted by a large number of Iraqi children from the surrounding community. They were playing in the street when they had seen our bus pull up and they wanted to meet the new visitors. I saw only a few adults and they were keeping their distance from us. I was the last one out of the bus and by the time I got out, the children were quietly standing in front of the entrance gate in a large group and the delegates were standing around them, taking their pictures and trying to communicate with them. One of the delegates in particular, Jennifer Brigham, seemed to be interacting especially close with some of these children. There was an interesting bond taking place between them that was nice to see. I was immediately touched by a special beauty in these children. I don't know if it was my imagination, but they seemed to glow. Maybe it was all the attention they were getting. Possibly, it was my very strong feelings for the children of Iraq. After all, I had traveled thousands of miles to come to this place. It may have been my imagination, but these were the most beautiful children I had ever seen. They seemed so quiet and well-behaved--so innocent. There was something very special in their glowing faces and benevolent smiles; I'll never forget them. >From the outside, the bomb shelter appeared as a large, single story blockhouse made from concrete. Our guide pointed out that the Iraqi government had built forty-four of these shelters around the city. They were designed to withstand a nuclear blast as well as chemical and biological attack, but unfortunately for the women and children hiding inside, they were no match for American ingenuity and "smart" technology. There is no mistaking what these shelters were designed for. The Amariyah shelter was located in a poor, working class neighborhood made up mostly of apartments. There is a school across the street. There are no nearby military facilities or installations. The U.S. military knew exactly what this structure was for (they even admitted it) and they must have known that at 4:00 in the morning the shelter would be packed with sleeping civilians. U.S. intelligence specialists later admitted that, months before the attack, they consulted with the designers and contractors who built the shelter so they could more effectively penetrate its defenses. The attack was very successful with devastating consequences for the little bodies inside. It is chilling to think about what occurred in the shelter that morning. As you follow the guide into the shelter, the first thing you notice is the large, circular hole in the ceiling where the first bomb came through. You see thick slabs of concrete and a grotesque tangle of twisted, steel bars hanging down. A large pillar of sunlight penetrates through the gloom of the ruined shelter. There is a huge crater in the concrete floor and you can see the ripped open water pipes hanging from the ceiling. There are rows of 8x10 black and white photographs of the victims arranged along the blackened, pockmarked walls. It looks like the photos have been arranged to show the families together. For some of the victims, there were no photographs available, so their names were written in Arabic in the space where a photo would have been. With few exceptions, the photos are arranged in place to show a young woman and a few children--one family. There are no adult males- only young women with their children and siblings. There are old bouquets of flowers covered with dust lying on the floor beneath some of the photos. As you go through the tour, you look at a row of photos and move on with tears in your eyes. You examine another row. The next group reveals two young women; they look like sisters; there are five children. The next shows a woman and a little boy--just a toddler. You stare at the pictures and you see dreams that were destroyed in a violent instant. You see children that never got to grow up and experience what life was all about--the joys of marriage, or falling in love or graduating from the university. You see rows and rows of these pictures and after awhile you can't even look at them anymore. It just becomes too painful. You know that if you look at one more picture, one more smiling face, you're going to start sobbing and you might not be able to stop. I look around. Everybody has tears in their eyes. My roommate, Wil, has lost his composure. He's hunched over crying with his hands covering his face. A woman comes over and hugs him. People are taking photographs. We ask the guide questions: "How many people died here?" someone asks. "Four-hundred and eight," she replies. "Were there any survivors?" "Fourteen--most were badly burned," she points to a vague handprint on the wall. "This is where a survivor--a young boy--stood up after the blast and touched the wall. He burned his hand from the heat...and then fell down over here." I try to piece together exactly what has happened here. There is some debate. I wonder if the guide has accurately translated our questions. I spent some time conferring with some of the other delegates, and although some people are going to question my version of the events, this is my conclusion based on what the guide has told us along with a later follow-up investigation: At 4:00 in the morning, most of the victims were probably sleeping. They slept in bunk-beds stacked along the walls. The first 2000 pound bomb carried a shaped charge that, according to Time magazine, "cut through 12 feet of reinforced concrete and exploded, peeling away the protective cover." It left a large hole in the roof of the shelter and destroyed the electrical system. The chaos inside the darkened shelter must have been unimaginable. The bomb shelter doors were electronically controlled, so the doors were sealed shut. The remaining survivors were trapped in the shelter. There may have been a fire at this point. "Neighborhood residents heard screams as people tried to get out of the shelter." There was nothing they could do to help. Six minutes later, the second bomb traveled through the hole made by the first bomb. "The explosion from the second bomb shattered doors and windows in homes around the neighborhood." The screaming immediately stopped. The flash of the explosion was hot enough that we saw foot and handprints seared on to the walls and ceiling. Human remains and clothing shreds hung from the ceiling. Everything combustible--clothes, hair, blankets--caught on fire. The heat from the ensuing fire caused the water in the underground storage tank to boil. It expanded and spilled out from the ruptured water pipes on the ceiling, spilling over the victims and flooding part of the top floor with boiling water. The water ran down the stairs and flooded a small portion of the basement with about two feet of water. Because of the intense heat, it took nearly two hours for the rescuers to open the doors to the shelter. A CNN camera crew was on hand to film the rescue attempt. Although the American public saw a heavily-censored version of the bombing, a reporter from the Columbia Journalism Review saw the unedited version, and gave the following description: "This reporter viewed the unedited Baghdad feeds...They showed scenes of incredible carnage. Nearly all the bodies were charred into blackness; in some cases the heat had been so great that entire limbs were burned off. Among the corpses were those of at least six babies and ten children, most of them so severely burned that their gender could not be determined. Rescue workers collapsed in grief, dropping corpses; some rescuers vomited from the stench of the still-smoldering bodies." The television images were devastating. Riots and demonstrations broke out around the world. The U.S. and Egyptian embassies in Jordan were surrounded and attacked by stone throwing demonstrators. Western Journalists were assaulted. The Pentagon's reaction spoke volumes: "From the military point of view, nothing went wrong," Brigadier General Richard Neil coldly and blandly stated at a news briefing in Saudi Arabia. "The target was hit as designated." As far as the Pentagon was concerned, no mistake had been made. They blew up a bomb shelter packed with sleeping women and children. It was justified. No apology was ever made. That was the end of it--period. According to Time Magazine, the military "preparations for the strike on the bunker began months before the bombs actually fell." The article claimed that U.S. intelligence satellites had collected evidence, including radio transmissions that showed that the Amarijah shelter was a military communications facility. Conveniently, "missing from the accumulated evidence were any photos of civilians entering the bunker..." The U.S. military also refused to present any of this evidence when reporters asked to see it. Personally, I find it impossible that any person could believe the Pentagon's version of the event. The intelligence officials admitted to planning the attack months in advance (even before they had any evidence that the shelter was a communications center.) They pointed to a mountain of evidence to back up their claim, and yet, despite all of this, and despite the fact that the shelter had been under 24-hour surveillance, they missed the fact that hundred of women and children had been going in and out of the shelter during the air-war. Three days after our original visit, a small group of us returned to Amarijah to gather more facts and answer unanswered questions. During this time, we thoroughly inspected and photographed the underground basement, and found nothing to indicate a possible military usage. We saw an aid station for the doctors and nurses, a dressing room, a water-tank room, a room for the electrical generator, toilet facilities, but there was nothing else there- absolutely nothing. I wondered what kind of communications center could have been placed here. First of all, there was no extra room for such a center--not unless the civilian facilities had been removed. Second of all, what kind of communications center could have been here -an officer with a transistor radio? What kind of transmissions could have been coming from the basement? None of the photographs I've ever seen have indicated an antennae or radio transmitter in the vicinity of the building, and even if there was a communications center in the basement, it would have remained intact because the basement of the shelter was completely untouched by the blast. And yet the Pentagon claimed that "the target had been destroyed as designated." The military simply killed all the women and children upstairs, then claimed the mission was a success and never returned to bomb the site again. The intelligence planners also had interior photographs and blueprints of the entire shelter (you can download the photographs off the internet) including the basement, and yet no effort was made to destroy the basement, even though, this is where the Pentagon claimed the "command center" was. The only people who truly know what exactly took place and the motives behind the bombing are the military planners who devised this attack. But, there are obvious and glaring deficiencies in the Pentagon's official version of events. Ultimately, the burden of proof lies with the Pentagon since they are the ones responsible for carrying out this horrific bombing. This issue could be clarified in a day, but the necessary information remains classified. Of all the things I saw during my visit to Iraq, the Amarijah bomb shelter was the most troubling. It saddens me when I think about how all those young, beautiful people were killed in such a wanton and senseless manner. I think of the dreams that were smashed apart, the families that were destroyed, the neighborhood that was devastated. It angers me when I think that the people responsible for this despicable crime will probably never be brought to justice. After we finished examining the shelter, I walked back to the bus and saw a group of children playing across the street. There were some adults and several of the kids were chasing after a red ball, kicking it around. As I watched them, I couldn't help but wonder what the future would hold for them. I wondered if they had had relatives killed in the shelter. I wondered if they would ever again be forced to experience the nightmare of U.S. bombing and what had occurred here ten years ago. In a way, I felt responsible for them. I watched them for a few minutes, wishing I had brought a camera, then I joined the other delegates and climbed on to the bus. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorialsopinion/134563287_hussein27. html * BRED IN BRUTALITY, SADDAM CLINGS TO POWER THROUGH BRIBERY, INTIMIDATION AND THE OIL CARD by Jere L. Bacharach Seattle Times, 27th October President Bush and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden have one thing in common: Both believe that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is an amoral, vicious, dangerous man who cannot be trusted. Both wish to see Saddam removed from power, although their visions of what should follow are diametrically opposed. But how does Saddam himself see the political and military world in which he lives, and what are the probable acts he will take to retain his power? Saddam is not some megalomaniac imperialist out to conquer the world or destroy Western civilization, but he will use every tool in his arsenal to stay in power. He is rational within the bounds of his value system and life experiences, his understanding of Iraqi society and history, and his willingness to use every resource available to him as dictator of Iraq. Understanding Saddam's past acts aids us in predicting his future ones. Born in 1937, Saddam was raised by a stepfather and an uncle. Both men brutalized him, probably instilling in him his propensity to use violence. In 1979, he consolidated his power, removed a relative from the Iraqi presidency and made himself president of Iraq. Directly or indirectly, Saddam has been at the center of the Iraqi government since 1968 and its absolute dictator for over 23 years. Every ruler of Iraq since Britain created the monarchy in the 1920s has followed parallel policies, with Saddam being the most ruthless in carrying them out. He believes that his predecessors failed because they were not willing to maximize the resources available to them. Saddam's primary source of support is his extended family, meaning a range of individuals from his two sons, one of whom he almost killed, to people from his hometown of Takrit. He believes in absolute control of the country from Baghdad, permitting no regional or local autonomy. He favors through appointments, favoritism and the threat of force the Sunni population of central Iraq over the majority Shi'ites who live in the center and southern parts of the country and the Kurds in the north. Saddam controls other potential enemies by creating alliances cemented by marriage ties, bribery, intimidation and murder. As an Iraqi nationalist, Saddam demands total control over the Shatt al-Arab waterway (where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers run together), contrary to Iranian claims, and he rejects Kuwait's existence as an independent state. In the same vein he rejects the right of Israel to exist. Finally, he uses Iraq's most important resource, oil, to win foreign support in the form of money, military equipment and material goods. Knowing these priorities and the policies he follows to achieve them enables us to understand his past acts and possibly predict future ones. For most scholars, Saddam's two greatest errors were his invasions of Iran in 1980 and his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. From Saddam's point of view, they made sense. In the first case, he felt that the new Islamic Republic of Iran was actively trying to overthrow him. He also believed the Iranian military was particularly weak; the opportunity to seize the whole Shatt al-Arab presented itself; and he expected the Arab population of the oil-rich area of southwest Iran, the area closest to Iraq, would welcome him as a fellow Arab. He also felt that the U.S. had given him a green light, which was reinforced during the decade-long Iran-Iraq war when the U.S. supplied Iraq with critical secret data on Iranian military formations, and representatives of the Reagan administration such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfield visited Iraq without denouncing Saddam's use of poison gas against the Kurds. By all accounts, this war ended with great losses to both sides. Saddam had nothing to show for his invasion but large, outstanding debts to oil-rich Arab states, a weakened infrastructure and a demoralized population. However, he was able to develop a program of chemical and biological weapons and lay the groundwork for a nuclear arsenal. The former has been used against internal (Kurdish) and external (Iranian) enemies, while the latter was meant to give him great prestige and allow him to appear as the nuclear counterweight in the Arab world to Israel. The second case was his invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Saddam's plans for defending his position in Kuwait initially involved trying to divide the anti-Iraq coalition through diplomatic means. If war broke out, he assumed his troops would be able to kill significant numbers of American soldiers, undermining domestic U.S. support for the war. When actual fighting began, his priority was to attack Israel hoping that they would counterattack, forcing the Arab states to support him rather than the American-led coalition. None of his plans worked. But immediately following the war, he was able to crush the American-encouraged uprising against him by Shi'ites in the south and Kurds in the north and consolidate his dictatorial hold over central Iraq. This past decade has seen a complex game of cat and mouse during which Saddam has done everything possible to thwart United Nations resolutions, particularly inspections for weapons of mass destruction. Saddam worries that open inspections will undermine his dictatorial authority and thus his ability to intimidate his own population. His opposition to open-ended searches of his presidential palaces includes his conviction that inspectors would give the CIA and Israel's spy agency, the Mossad, data on his internal security system and hiding places. In fact, some U.N. inspectors did share data with the CIA and the Mossad. When George W. Bush was elected president, Saddam assumed that American action against him would only be a question of time. From Saddam's point of view, his 1993 failed attempt to assassinate former President Bush during the latter's visit to Kuwait guaranteed George W. would seek revenge. This is what traditional Middle East families are expected to do. Saddam is also convinced that nothing he does will make any difference in removing restrictions on Iraq since he believes the single U.S. goal is his removal. Therefore, he has been doing everything he can to subvert U.S. policy. What are Saddam's present assumptions? He knows that the Kurds and the Shi'ites are not militarily capable of marching against him. He also believes that after their experiences in 1991 of being left unprotected by the Americans, they will sit and wait. He also assumes that all Iraqis as Arabs and nationalists will not want a long or obvious American occupation. Before any fighting, Saddam will invite international media organizations to Baghdad, while placing military units in highly populated areas. He will then wait for the Arab and worldwide reaction to viewing large numbers of Arab civilians being killed by U.S. and British bombs. Saddam also assumes an attack on him will undermine the overall U.S. position in the region and our war on terrorism because Arab and Muslim governments are not currently supporting U.S. policy toward Iraq. With war, Saddam will fire missiles at Israel, even if they only have conventional warheads. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has made it clear that he will retaliate if Israel is attacked, and Saddam is counting on it. While Israeli participation in an anti-Saddam coalition will have little military impact on Iraq, it will further isolate America from its Arab and Muslim allies. A second scenario for Saddam is that any Israeli military action against Iraq may be used by the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon as a justification to fire their thousands of rockets against Israel. Finally, Saddam has always made his personal safety and survival his highest priority. He uses doubles, never announces where he will be, and moves constantly. He is assuming that any serious U.S. attempt to search for him on the ground will cost many American lives. Our failure to capture the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, let alone Osama bin Laden, encourages him. Saddam is a man bred in brutality who, among other acts, is acquiring weapons of mass destruction. At some point in the future, military action against him may be necessary, but a U.S.-led war at this time or in the near future will have major negative consequences. Ignoring both humanitarian arguments and U.S. domestic issues, the U.S. has failed to negate Saddam's advantages if war is undertaken. We have failed to demonstrate that we have exhausted peaceful solutions, particularly through the United Nations. We have failed to create a broad international coalition, particularly among Arab and Muslim states. We have failed to guarantee that Israel will withhold its military participation, which is necessary if we are to retain Arab support. We have failed to articulate a vision for a post Saddam Iraq that is meaningful to Iraqi Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds as we seek their support. Saddam learned from his mistakes in the Iraq-Iran war and from the aftermath of his occupying Kuwait in 1990; we appear not to have understood the multiple political and military reasons for our successes in Kuwait in 1991 and Afghanistan in 2001, and the necessity of having a long-term follow-up peace strategy. (Jere L. Bacharach, professor of Middle East history at the University of Washington, is former director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the UW and former president of the Middle East Studies Association.) http://www.dawn.com/2002/10/28/int10.htm * IRAQIS LEERY OF US ROLE IF SADDAM GOES by Mark Matthews Dawn, 28th October WASHINGTON: If American forces topple Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq, the United States and its allies will take on responsibility for a population severely weakened by two major wars, suppression of a post-Persian Gulf war uprising , 12 years of United Nations imposed sanctions and Iraqi government mismanagement. Over the past decade, Iraq's crippled economy, degraded water and sewer systems, erratic food supplies and poor health care have contributed to widespread poverty, disease and malnutrition, sharply increasing childhood death rates, lowering levels of education and devastating a once-large middle class. In his speech to the nation on Oct 7, President Bush pledged that if war comes, "the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbours." The form an occupation would take is uncertain and would depend on the amount of unrest in Iraq after a war, which other countries would participate and how strong a role Iraqis would be ready to play in running their country. But the leading role played by the United States in maintaining harsh sanctions, drummed into the population of 23 million by the Saddam government's propaganda, probably will make ordinary Iraqis dubious about US intentions. Iraqis have seen that sanctions "didn't hurt the regime; it hurt the regular Iraqi," said Rahman al-Jebouri, spokesman for the Uprising Committee, an anti-Saddam Iraqi exile group. A US pledge of liberation "is not going to fly on the Iraqi street," he said. "They want to see that it's practical." The sanctions, on top of the US refusal to back the popular anti-Saddam uprising in 1991, have stirred anti-Americanism even among the many Iraqis who want to be rid of Saddam's cruel rule, said Phebe Marr, a historian of Iraq. "People are really unhappy with sanctions and want a return to normalcy" she said. By most available measures, conditions have improved in Iraq since the United Nations eased sanctions by introducing the oil- for-food programme in early 1997, allowing Iraq to sell oil and use some of the proceeds for food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. This year, the UN Security Council liberalized the sanctions further by allowing the import of all non-military goods. But UN agencies operating in the country continue to paint a bleak picture. In its latest report, the UN's Office of the Iraq Programme notes a "high incidence of waterborne diseases" caused by "the poor state of water and sanitation networks in the country." Of a half-million children screened, 20 per cent were found to be malnourished. Power blackouts continue, food rations remain short of recommended levels of calories and protein, and the country still faces shortages of medicines and vaccines. Teachers earn $3 to $5 a month; doctors, $20 to $30 a month; and most of the population is dependent on food handouts, said Carel De Rooy, the Baghdad-based representative for UNICEF. Unable to get enough protein, more than half of Iraq's women suffer from iron deficiency, and the result is that one-fourth of babies are born underweight and vulnerable to disease, he said. "We still are in a humanitarian crisis," De Rooy said. With its immense oil wealth, Iraq enjoyed relatively high standards of prosperity, health care and education well into the 1980s, when the eight-year Iran-Iraq war began to take its toll on the population, causing rising malnutrition, medicine shortages and the destruction of some health and social facilities. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 prompted the Security Council to impose a comprehensive economic embargo intended to block all trade with the Iraqi government, exempting only medicine and humanitarian food aid. Many thought that the sanctions, by cutting off oil revenue, would prompt Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait or cause his government to crumble. Iraq was particularly vulnerable to a trade embargo because it had allowed its domestic agricultural sector to deteriorate and by 1990 was importing about 70 per cent of its food. Food prices skyrocketed. US and allied bombs during the 1991 gulf war compounded the hardship, knocking out roads and bridges needed for internal trade and electrical power stations that kept water treatment plants and sewer pumps operating. More destruction occurred during the government's suppression of the uprisings that occurred in the Kurdish north and the Shia south immediately after the war. By mid-1991, humanitarian groups were witnessing a surge in diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and infectious hepatitis, as well as malnutrition among many Iraqi children. The next five years saw a bitter standoff between the Security Council and Saddam's government. Led by the United States, the council refused to lift sanctions as long as Hussein failed to come clean on his weapons of mass destruction. Through the 1990s, sanctions became a source of controversy. Critics reported staggering death tolls that, on close scrutiny, seemed to draw heavily on statistics supplied by the Iraqi government or data obtained with its help. Independent information-gathering is extremely difficult in Iraq. Supporters of sanctions denied that they were the cause of Iraqi hardships. "Iraqis are indeed suffering, but not because of sanctions. The role of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is the problem," Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote in February 2000. While the debate raged, more accurate measurements of the human toll in Iraq emerged. Two that have been widely accepted as the best available are an extensive UNICEF survey of deaths among children and mothers, and an analysis drawing on the UNICEF data by Richard Garfield, a public-health expert at Columbia University. Surveying 24,000 families across Iraq in 1999 and comparing the results with those of earlier surveys, UNICEF reported that the infant death rate had more than doubled since the late 1980s and that the death rate among children younger than 5 had gone up nearly 2 1/2 times, from 56 per 1,000 to 131 per 1,000. Iraq cooperated with the UNICEF survey, but the agency said it oversaw every aspect, using female Iraqi medical doctors to conduct interviews. Experts and Iraqi exiles have faulted the Iraqi government for, among other things, poor management and favouritism in the distribution of aid supplies, using money from oil sales for sophisticated medical equipment instead of basic health care and supplying infant formula, which is often mixed with contaminated water, instead of encouraging breast feeding.-Dawn/The Los Angles Times/W.P/The Baltimore Sun News Service (c) The Washington Post. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2378199.stm * IRAN BLAMES IRAQ FOR BORDER FIRES by Jim Muir BBC, 30th October Iran has complained to Iraq about huge fires which are reported to be burning large areas of the former marshland on the border between the two countries. A statement by the Iranian environmental protection agency said the fires had begun more than two months ago, and were still burning now. It said thick clouds of smoke were being pushed across the border by a south westerly wind, and the resulting pollution was affecting people in many towns and villages on the Iranian side. It added that the development had been reported to the Iranian foreign ministry, which had taken it up with the Iraqi Government. Main mode of transport is a long, slim canoe, known as a mashuf. Officials in south-west Iran have been quoted as blaming the Iraqi military for starting the fires, speculating that it may have been a pre-emptive move, aimed at driving out rebel Shia fighters in advance of a possible American attack on Iraq. The main Iraqi Shia opposition group, which is based in Iran, did not believe that to be the case on this occasion. But it pointed out that the fires would not have been possible had the Baghdad government not dried out much of the marshes of south east Iraq by huge drainage schemes in recent years. The marshes were a globally important wetland, sustaining a huge volume of wildlife, especially birds, as well as a unique way of life for the marsh dwelling people. The United Nations environment programme has said that about 90% of the marshes have been destroyed, describing it as an environmental catastrophe and a major loss to all humanity. While Iraq has done most of the damage, part of the wetlands also straddle the border into Iran. The UN says the surviving portion there is less than half the size it was in the 1970s, because of dam projects which have reduced the water flow into the area. It has called on the Iranian authorities to allocate sufficient water resources to ensure the survival of a unique and fragile eco-system. http://www.crosswalk.com/news/1168870.html * IRAQ MOST SPIRITUALLY HUNGRY NATION IN MIDDLE EAST by Mark Ellis Crosswalk, 30th October ORANGE, CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- As President Bush rallies international support for an effort to invade Iraq and disarm its current government, a dwindling minority of Christians in Iraq wonder if the West has forgotten them, while they enjoy freedoms that Christians in many other Middle Eastern countries would envy. "The evangelical churches in Iraq are as evangelical as any evangelical church in America," says Norm Nelson, president and host of "Life At Its Best," after returning from a recent Middle East trip. "They love Jesus Christ and honor him and they worship in freedom," he says. "You can walk or drive to church on Sunday and carry your Bible openly." In the heart of Baghdad, Nelson found a vibrant church with a worship atmosphere that was "deeply reverent, conducted with decorum and order." With a membership numbering 400 families, their Sunday evening service "was so packed that some were forced to stand in the back." While their worship is free, there are some restrictions imposed by the secular government, largely controlled by Sunni Arabs. "They are not free to proselytize outside their church property," Nelson notes. Still, the contrast could not be more striking with Saudi Arabia, one of the United States' most important allies in the region. "Christians in Saudi Arabia worship in conditions they refer to as 'the catacombs,'" Nelson says. "They have to be secretive in Saudi Arabia," he says. Many would be surprised to learn the Bible is so readily available in Iraq. "I know two Bible organizations that distributed a half million New Testaments to the government schools in Iraq, and the government of Iraq allowed them to be distributed in the schools," Nelson says. "You can't do that in the United States," he says. "Christians in Iraq said, since the Koran was being distributed free of charge to students, they felt the New Testament should be distributed in schools," Nelson says. "The government of Iraq acquiesced and allowed it," he says. The Middle Eastern Bible Society and the Bible League supplied the Bibles to the schools within the last three years. "We have a colleague in Jordan who takes Arabic copies of the Life Application Bible and distributes them to 18 cities and towns up and down the Tigris River in Iraq," Nelson says. "When he takes Bibles to the Baghdad book fair, the Bibles are the most popular book he takes," he says. Nelson feels moved by the spiritual hunger in Iraq, also evidenced by reports from a Christian radio network operating in Amman, Jordan. "They found the most spiritually hungry country in the Middle East is Iraq," he says. "They get more response from their Christian broadcasts in Arabic to Iraq than from all the countries in the Middle East combined." "When I go to Iraq the reaction is amazing because the Christians there feel forgotten," Nelson says. Christians comprise less then two percent of the population of Iraq, which is overwhelmingly Muslim. "They say, 'We thought you forgot us.' They hunger for recognition and affirmation that American Christians care about them." Unfortunately, geopolitical considerations have blinded the eyes of many believers in the West, Nelson believes. "Evangelical Christians have so politicized their outlook on the Muslim world, that most of the time we don't see the people of these countries with the eyes of Christ," he says. "We see them in terms of the political objectives of the United States of America, but not in terms of the priorities of Jesus Christ." "We see the world with political eyes, not spiritual eyes," he adds. Nelson also visited Afghanistan on his recent trip, and plans to return in December with medical aid and school supplies. "All the schools lack almost anything," Nelson says, including chalk, pencils, paper, textbooks, desks and chairs. "The U.S. has promised a huge rebuilding effort," he says. "But the money that's been promised has not been delivered in a timely fashion." "The roads are just horrendous," Nelson says. "To travel from Kabul, the largest city, to Kandahar, the second largest city, is a 16 hour trip," he says. "It shouldn't take more than two or three hours. It's like driving in a riverbed, because the road was bombed to smithereens." Nelson visited a school in Afghanistan with 3000 students. "The building had been totally trashed by the Taliban, but on the wall was a poster showing Osama bin Laden holding an automatic weapon in his left hand and in his right hand holding the world. He's standing in front of the smoking, flaming World Trade Center. Underneath was a caption saying, 'The al-Qaida band took a big forward step.'" "When I looked at that I realized the Taliban influence is alive," Nelson says. Because the school had limited building space, students were meeting in 14 tents supplied by UNICEF. "If it wasn't for the United Nations, they wouldn't have anyplace to meet in the 100 degree heat," he says. "Where is the church in all of this," Nelson wonders. "Why hasn't the western church provided the tents?" he asks. "My question is more to the church than President Bush or the State Department." Nelson believes our priorities are unbalanced. "Evangelical Christians spend more dollars on weight reduction products than on missionary efforts," he notes. "If we really care about that part of the world then we'll take the gospel and express the love of Jesus Christ in tangible forms," he says. "The children and students and teachers are wide open," he says. "They are looking to us." http://www.dailystar.com.lb/30_10_02/art20.asp * BAGHDAD WANTS MEDIA TO MONITOR ARMS INSPECTORS by Mona Ziade Daily Star, Lebanon, 30th October Iraq said Tuesday that it wants independent media and individuals to accompany UN weapons experts when they resume their work in Iraq, but Washington brushed off the move an attempt by Baghdad to set conditions on a matter in which it should have no say. The latest argument surfaced as France and the United States were locked in behind-the scenes bargaining over a UN Security Council resolution on Iraqi arms, and as Germany prepared to send Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to Washington to help cool tensions over Berlin's adamant refusal to join a US-led military coalition against Iraq. Iraq maintained that without the presence of neutral observers with the arms inspectors, Washington would use the inspections as a pretext for war. "We will not allow the inspectors to be the sole source (of information) because we don't trust them," Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan said. Baghdad wants "well-known and independent media and individuals to accompany them but not to hinder their work." "We want the inspectors to work clearly under light and I think this won't annoy anyone but it would rather facilitate their task to look for weapons of mass destruction," he said in remarks published by state media. Ramadan said it was wrong to rely solely on the "head of any (inspection) team who would send a report to the (UN) Security Council which would issue a resolution (against Iraq) based on that report." The White House rejected the demand. "On the Iraqi call for observers for the inspectors, once again Iraq is attaching conditions to something in which they should have no say," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters. "No matter how meritorious the group of journalists that Iraq might have in mind, the point is Iraq, having said unconditional Š inspectors are welcome, is now once again attaching conditions." [.....] http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200210/30/eng20021030_105895.shtml * IRAQ'S MAJOR CONTRACT FOR POWER GENERATORS RELEASED FROM HOLD People's Daily, 30th October Benefited from new procedures aimed at accelerating the release of items on hold, Iraq will receive two power plant gas turbines valued at 80 million US dollars, a UN office running the "oil-for-food" scheme announced Tuesday. The newly approved contract has been on hold for nearly two years, the office said in a weekly update. Once installed and commissioned, the gas turbines will produce power for the northern governorates of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, which will be reconnected to the national electricity grid as partof an effort to increase the supply of electricity to all three northern governorates, according to the office Meanwhile, Baghdad's oil exports plunged from the previous week's record high of 3.03 million barrels per day to 729,000 barrels in the week ending Oct. 25, it reported. With the average price of Iraqi crude at approximately 24.05 dollars per barrel, the week's exports earned an estimated 123 million dollars. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20021031/wl_nm/health_iraq _polio_dc_1 * IRAQI CHILDREN GET FINAL POLIO SHOT Yahoo, 31st October GENEVA (Reuters) - More than five million Iraqi children were vaccinated against polio this week, completing an annual campaign aimed at eradicating the crippling disease from the country by 2004, a major aid agency said on Thursday. The campaign begun in the spring aimed to give children under the age of five in sanction-hit Iraq four separate doses of two "magic drops" of oral vaccine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. "No new cases have been reported in the last two years and the country is expected to reach the goal of complete eradication of polio in 2004," it said in a statement. More than 750 volunteers from its Iraqi member body, the Iraq Red Crescent Society, took part in the latest drive. The World Health Organization hopes to wipe out polio by 2005. Iraq, under United Nations sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, says more than 80,000 children under the age of five were among 180,000 people who died last year from diseases blamed on the sanctions. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/304/oped/Saddam_s_shop_of_horrors+.shtml * SADDAM'S SHOP OF HORRORS by Jeff Jacoby Boston Globe, 31st October AS A BOY, writes Kenneth Pollack in his masterful new book on Iraq, ''The Threatening Storm,'' Saddam Hussein would heat an iron poker until it was white-hot, then use it to impale cats and dogs. Years later, when he had boys of his own, he would take them into prisons so they could watch - and get used to - torture and executions. The Arab world is replete with dictators, many of them ruthless. But for sheer unbridled cruelty, none of them can touch Saddam. And for hellish and sadistic brutality, no other Arab state - perhaps no other state in the world - can compare with what Saddam has created in Iraq. Writing in The New Republic recently, foreign correspondent Robert Kaplan recalled the treatment meted out some years back to Robert Spurling, an American technician working in Baghdad. Spurling ''had been taken away from his wife and daughters at Saddam International Airport and tortured for four months with electric shock, brass knuckles, and wooden bludgeons. His toes were crushed and his toenails ripped out. He was kept in solitary confinement on a starvation diet. Finally, American diplomats won his release. Multiply his story by thousands, and you will have an idea what Iraq is like to this day.'' Spurling was one of Saddam's luckier victims; he survived. Many thousands of others have been executed outright or tortured to death - or forced to witness the torture or murder of their loved ones. In June, the BBC interviewed ''Kamal,'' a former Iraqi torturer now confined in a Kurdish prison. ''If someone didn't break, they'd bring in the family,'' Kamal said. ''They'd bring the son in front of his parents, who were handcuffed or tied, and they'd start with simple tortures such as cigarette burns, and then if his father didn't confess, they'd start using more serious methods,'' such as slicing off one of the child's ears or amputating a limb. ''They'd tell the father that they'd slaughter his son. They'd bring a bayonet out. And if he didn't confess, they'd kill the child.'' Horror in Saddam's Iraq takes endless forms. In 1987-88, Air Force helicopters sprayed scores of Kurdish villages with a combination of chemical weapons, including mustard gas, Sarin, and VX, a deadly nerve agent. Scores of thousands of Kurds died horrible deaths. Of those who survived, many were left blind or sterile or crippled with agonizing lung damage. But most of the Kurds slaughtered in that season of mass murder were not gassed but rounded up and gunned down into mass graves. Those victims were mostly men and boys, and their bodies have never been recovered. In one village near Kirkuk, after the males were taken to be killed, the women and small children were crammed into trucks and taken to a prison. One survivor, Salma Aziz Baban, described the ordeal to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, who reported on Saddam's war against the Kurds in The New Yorker in March. More than 2,000 women and children were crammed into a room and given nothing to eat. When someone starved to death, the Iraqi guards demanded that the body be passed to them through an window in the door. Baban's 6-year-old son grew very sick. ''He knew he was dying. There was no medicine or doctor. He started to cry so much.'' He died in his mother's lap. ''I was screaming and crying,'' she told Goldberg. ''We gave them the body. It was passed outside, and the soldiers took it.'' Soon after, she pushed her way to the window to see if her child had been taken for burial. She saw 20 dogs roaming in a field where the dead bodies had been dumped. ''I looked outside and saw the legs and hands of my son in the mouths of the dogs. The dogs were eating my son.'' Horror without end. Amnesty International once listed some 30 different methods of torture used in Iraq. They ranted from burning to electric shock to rape. Some governments go to great lengths to keep evidence of torture secret. Saddam's government has often flaunted its tortures, leaving the broken bodies of its victims in the street or returning them, mangled and mutilated, to their families. For the second time in a dozen years, the United States is preparing to go to war against Iraq, this time with ''regime change'' as an explicit goal. The case for military action is being made primarily in the name of international law and stability: Iraq under Saddam egregiously violates UN resolutions, attacks other countries without cause, aids terrorists, uses and stockpiles biological and chemical weapons, actively pursues nuclear weapons, and purposely creates environmental catastrophes. Saddam has successfully resisted every form of outside pressure short of war. Neither sanctions nor inspections nor missile strikes have subdued his aggressiveness. His regime is profoundly dangerous and will grow even more so if it is not destroyed. All true. But let us not forget something equally true: Saddam has been an unspeakable evil for the people of Iraq. In crushing him and his dictatorship, we will be liberating the most cruelly enslaved nation on earth and performing an act of nearly incalculable mercy. http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/ny woiraq272985573oct31,0,4912992.story?coll=ny%2Dnationworld%2Dheadlines * IRAQ'S SHIITES PLEDGING LOYALTY by Matthew McAllester Newsday, 31st October Karbala, Iraq - In a folder on his desk, the chief cleric of the local mosque named for the grandson of the prophet Muhammad keeps a stack of photocopied religious rulings. Issued by leading Shiite clergymen, the decrees - or fatwas - pledge Shiite loyalty to the Sunni dominated regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and promise eternal damnation to any Muslim who does not defend Iraq against a possible American invasion. "There is no doubt that any kind of cooperation and help offered to enemies and aggressors is a terrible sin and will be followed by shame and disgrace and in life and death there will be all the tortures of hell," reads one, issued recently by Iraq's foremost Shiite cleric, Ali Sistani. "Such a man will face God at the day of judgment ... and there will be no mercy." The timing of the fatwas is significant. Iraq's predominantly Sunni rulers have been taking every step possible in recent weeks to create a sense of loyalty among the country's disparate peoples. Few pose more of a threat to the regime than the Shiite Muslim majority, who have been traditionally excluded from positions of power and some of whom fought in a bloody uprising against the government in the south of the country after the end of the Gulf War in 1991. American military planners are hoping the Shiites, and the Kurds to the north, will again rise up in the event of a U.S. attack on Iraq. But in Iraq itself, there are plenty of outward signs the Shiites will remain loyal to the government. If this is the case, as some Western diplomats in Iraq and Iraqi sources say, American troops could find themselves fighting against the Shiite majority rather than with it. "They don't see America as their savior from the regime," one Western diplomat said. "Let's not forget the Shiites have an Iraqi identity. ... The Shiites don't favor the U.S." Having the public support of Shiite clerics like Sistani and Abdul Nasrulla, the head clergyman at the sacred Imam Hussein mosque in Karbala and also a member of Iraq's parliament, is a major boon to the regime as it preaches unity among Sunnis and Shiites. It is not clear, however, if declarations of Shiite loyalty are willingly proffered. One Western diplomat said he thought the clerics had been ordered by the government to issue the fatwas. "They were forced to do so," the diplomat said. "They are afraid. If there are signs of resistance, they would be hidden." The clerics would have reason to be afraid. The Hussein regime executed many Shiite clerics after the 1991 uprising failed. In Karbala, a city sacred to Shiites, the bodies of Shiite rebels were hung at the city's sacred shrines, a warning to any future dissidents. Nasrulla denied the regime had demanded the show of loyalty but deflected repeated questions about who initiated the sudden and almost simultaneous flow of fatwas from the country's leading Shiite and Sunni clerics, all of which say pretty much the same thing. "Each cleric gave his own fatwa. The government didn't force them to issue the fatwas ... .It was because of the American threat," he said. In Karbala, a 90-minute drive south of Baghdad, pilgrims flock to Imam Hussein Shrine. Hussein, one of the first Shiite leaders, is revered for his martyrdom in hopeless battle against a vastly superior army of Sunni Muslims in the 7th century. Shiites split from Sunni Islam over who was the rightful successor to Muhammad. Although a minority in the Arab world, Shiites make up about 65 percent of the Iraqi population. In this city, where only 11 years ago thousands of Shiites took up arms against the government, Shiites and Sunnis alike insisted that they were all loyal Iraqis. "Iraqis are sons of this country and have to stand shoulder to shoulder to face the invader," said Mohammed Falah, 24, a builder from the southern city of Basra, who was visiting shrines. "War has been imposed on us before and we will defend our country." Speaking in the presence of an Iraqi government official, who accompanied a reporter to Karbala, Falah and others even denied that the Shiite population in his hometown and elsewhere in Iraq had risen up against the government in 1991. "They were not Iraqis," Falah said. "They were not Shiites." When told there were indeed Iraqi Shiite rebels demonstrably alive and well in Britain and Iran, Falah said: "Some of them were cheated by foreigners and later they understood the facts. Not one of them is against their country now." Mohammed Adhami, an Iraqi legislator and political scientist, said the conflict in the south in 1991 was partly a result of Shiite-dominated Iran stoking trouble. "It was not an uprising," Adhami said. "It was killing, raping, destroying. It was just something to be done by illiterates, those with no faith, maybe." In fact, the Shiite and Kurdish rebels controlled about 60 percent of Iraq at one point during the uprising. By its end, tens of thousands were dead. Adhami noted that when the United States bombed Iraq in late 1998, there was no further trouble in the south. "Nothing happened. And now," he said, referring to a possible war with the United States, "nothing will happen." Despite their outward confidence in the loyalty of the Shiite population, Iraqi officials have been taking steps to make sure there is no repeat of the uprising in the south, where the Shiite majority is strongest. "They're concentrating on the southern part - that's their soft underbelly," one Western diplomat in Baghdad said. "They are taking measures to put off internal fighting. They have entered into dialogue with the clans and given them certain weapons, clans they have in the past ignored." Hussein's recent placating of the Shiite population has precedents. In the early 1970s, for example, his recruiting led to a majority of Shiites in the ruling Baath Party, although most positions of power remained with Sunnis. He has also given several Shiites senior positions, but most ministerial posts remain held by Sunnis, who are about 20 percent of Iraq's population. Even if Hussein has succeeded in quelling or seducing the Shiite people inside Iraq, small Shiite opposition groups are still working to topple the regime from outside the country. Previously reluctant to join forces with the United States, especially after the American military did not provide air support for the 1991 uprising, the Shiite groups are now talking with the U.S. government about how to help defeat Hussein. One leading opposition figure, Hamid al-Bayati, said recently the Shiite groups do not favor an American invasion of Iraq, preferring to have Iraqis topple the regime. When asked how he could hope for support from Shiites who promise loyalty to the government, al-Bayati said he had heard such promises before. "They used to say the same thing when Saddam invaded Kuwait," he said. "The same people who said they would defend the regime rose up against the regime. It could happen again this time, only worse because everyone's fed up with the regime." NO URL (sent to list) * BUSTING SANCTIONS - NUTRITION IN IRAQ by Ramzi Kysia Jordan Times, 31st October Having spent almost 6 months in Iraq since 1999, it's impossible not to notice an improvement in the nutritional status of Iraqi children. The evidence is circumstantial and anecdotal, but still powerful. The food ration distributed by the Iraqi government through the Oil-for-Food program now provides over 2,400 kilocalories per person per day. At the hospitals I've visited, particularly in Central and Northern Iraq, wasting diseases such as kwashiorkor and marasmus are no longer pandemic. And while doctors throughout Iraq continue to report shortages in essential medicines and equipment, pediatric cancers have replaced malnutrition as their chief complaint. Despite these improvements, and they are significant, UNICEF continues to report that over 1 in 5 Iraqi children remain malnourished. Our work isn't over yet. There are several reasons why malnutrition has declined - almost all due to busting sanctions. One reason is, fairly obviously, because more food is available. In December 1999, the UN lifted the limit it had placed on Iraqi oil sales through the Oil-for-Food program, and in early 2000 exempted food from the security review process. This allowed Iraq to import more food, more quickly, and distribute it to families in need. Of the $24.2 billion in supplies Iraq has been allowed to import under the Oil-for-Food program to date, almost $10 billion has arrived in just the last year - allowing the Iraqi government to increase the food ration they provide to everyone in Iraq. The last two years have also brought good rainfall, ending the previous drought in Iraq, and providing bumper crops. This not only increased the supply of food available in local markets, but brought down prices as well, allowing some families to supplement their ration at local markets. However, the ration still represents the only source of food for a majority of families, and, for many, their sole source of income as well. Sanctions still prevent the Iraqi government from spending its own money within the country. As a result, only dry goods, imported from outside the country, can be included in the food ration. The increased ration still does not contain any fresh fruits or vegetables, or animal protein. Recent, illegal trade agreements between Iraq and its neighbors, and increased smuggling, have also impacted nutrition by bringing more goods and hard currency into the country. According to a September 2002 overview of the nutritional status of Iraqi children, UNICEF reports that "[m]ajor shifts in Security Council Resolutions and government of Iraq regional trade policies are among the basic factors that have improved child malnutrition in the South/Centre [of Iraq]." Additionally, the Iraqi government, in conjunction with UNICEF, has built 2,800 Community Child Care Units (CCCUs), staffed by almost 13,000 Iraqi volunteers, in order to provide nutritional assessment, counseling, and therapy to children in need. These units now screen an average of 1.1 million children every year. Without safe drinking water, children contract chronic diarrhea and are unable to absorb nutrients, so improvements in essential civilian infrastructures have also had an effect on malnutrition. Electricity is necessary to run water and sanitation plants, and Iraq has reduced its electrical deficit from 3000 megawatts in 1996 to 900 megawatts today. Iraq has also been able to increase the availability of potable water in urban areas to almost 2/3 of what it was in 1990. This has led to a reduction in diarrhea cases among children under the age of 5. But it's not all good news. According to the "Profile of Women and Children in Iraq (UNICEF, April 2002), "Diarrhea leading to death from dehydration and acute respiratory infections together account for 70% of child mortality in Iraq. An Iraqi child suffers an average of 14.4 diarrhea spells a year, an almost 4 fold increase from the 1990 average of 3.8 episodes. During the same period, typhoid fever increased from 2,240 to over 27,000 cases." Despite repeated denials by every UN agency and NGO working in Iraq, the U.S. continues to claim that the only reason people are suffering under sanctions is because of their government. However repressive that government may be, the programs Iraq has put in place to deal with malnutrition, and the improvements that have resulted, should finally put to rest U.S. allegations about Iraqi "interference" in the functioning of the Oil-for-Food program. Unfortunately, recent improvements are likely to be short-lived. There is currently a multi billion dollar shortfall in the money available for the Oil-for-Food program. In order to stem the "crumbling" of sanctions, the U.S. has begun enforcing a policy on oil sales called "retroactive pricing." Under this policy, purchasers of Iraqi oil are not allowed to know the price of the oil they have bought for up to a month after they've received it. Given the volatility of the oil market, this uncertainty has led to steep declines in sales. According to the UN Development Program's June 2002 brief for Iraq, "the Oil-for-Food Programme is increasingly facing a financial crisis due to the substantial drop in revenues received from Iraqi oil exports and to uncertainties regarding the pricing mechanism." If this crisis isn't quickly reversed, the program will falter, and malnutrition rates will again begin to rise. The other major problem on the horizon is the war George Bush keeps promising to deliver. If the U.S. bombs electrical plants, and water and sewage treatment centers in Iraq, as was done during "Desert Storm," the result is going to be even greater epidemics than Iraq is currently suffering from. If civil war breaks out, or if the U.S. bombs roads, rail, and all the bridges, as was done during "Desert Storm," the result will be country-wide famine. Iraq began food rationing prior to the Gulf War, when sanctions were first imposed. The Iraqi government only accepted the restrictions on its sovereignty imposed by the Oil-for Food program when it became clear in 1995 that internal stores were no longer able to meet the crisis caused by sanctions. This distribution of food, to 24 million people on a monthly basis for over 12 years, is one of the most massive, logistical operations in world history. How well this program could work, during the middle of a war and invasion, is not something we should want to discover. If we care about the children of Iraq, then we need to stop this war from happening. But, in the end, the only thing that will truly end Iraq's humanitarian crisis, and put an end to malnutrition once and for all, is if we stop the war that is already going on. Economic sanctions are intended to damage economies and increase poverty. Increased poverty means increased malnutrition. And - no matter how hard UNICEF, or the Iraqi government, or anti sanctions activists try - there's no way around that. [Ramzi Kysia is a Muslim-American peace activist, working with the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (www.epic-usa.org). He was co-coordinator of the Voices in the Wilderness' (www.vitw.org) Iraq Peace Team (www.iraqpeaceteam.org) from August-October 2002 - a group of Americans pledging to stay in Iraq before, during, and after any future U.S. attack. The Iraq Peace Team can be reached at info@v] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk