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News, 25/10-1/11/02 (4) PRIVATE ENTERPRISE INITIATIVES * Saddam and the Yugoslav link * Bosnian officials quit over Iraq sales * Cigarette Business Good for the Sons of Saddam * EU sues R.J. Reynolds, claims smuggling aids Iraq IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Hope Fades for Kuwaiti POWs in Iraq * U.S. Brass in Saudi Amid Lingering Iraq Tension * Ar'ar border between Iraq, Saudi Arabia opens Wednesday * Returning back Kuwaiti archive to complete by Wednesday * Pakradouni accepts invitation to visit Baghdad * Iraq yet to return national archive says Kuwait * Washington officially asks for using the Saudi bases * Prince Hassan in Ankara to discuss the Iraqi issue * Increasingly, Turkey fears attack on Iraq * Allied flotilla, with Iran's aid, cuts flow of illegal Iraqi oil * Iraq says return of Kuwaiti national archives completed LIFE AS USUAL * Lebanon, Iraq ink deal on standards * European firms to join Iraq trade fair * Thais crush Iraq to move into semi-finals * More Than 100 Turkish Firms To Attend 35th International Baghdad Fair * UK company backs Iraq at Baghdad fair PRIVATE ENTERPRISE INITIATIVES http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/DJ26Ak01.html * SADDAM AND THE YUGOSLAV LINK by David Isenberg Asia Times, 26th October Just when the furor was winding down over the reported acquisition by Iraq of Kolchuga air defense radars from the Ukraine, a new controversy over Iraqi weapons acquisitions has burst into view; namely, the purchase of spare parts for Iraqi fighter jets from a firm based in Bosnia-Herzegovina and assistance from Yugoslavia in organizing Iraqi air defenses. Although the news is just now making the rounds, the story itself first broke over a month ago. According to the UK Sunday Times, highly skilled officers were sent from Yugoslavia to help Saddam. Reportedly these are the same people who performed impressively during the 1998-99 Kosovo war, when their use of supposedly outdated technology helped much of the army's hardware to escape destruction by American airstrikes. On September 20, the Banja Luka Reporter of Serbia ran a three-page article noting that the US government had issued a demarche, a diplomatic registering of official concern, concerning the Orao Aviation Institute in Bijeljina, part of Bosnia. According to the demarche, the institute had helped maintain the Iraqi air force and the air defenses that have so often been up against US and British fighter aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone. Such aid would violate UN Security Council resolutions. The article noted that the institute, located 100 kilometers west of the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade, could also be maintaining jet engines for Iraq and possibly supplying engines or engine parts for the MiG-21 Fishbed fighters and, theoretically, perhaps, for the MiG-23 Flogger. Some things could have been sent from Bijeljina, and some things could be done on site by Orao's technicians. The institute has been in existence in one form or another since 1944, when it was known as the Aviation Workshop No 169. In 1957, it became the Aviation Technical Maintenance Institute, taking on the task of maintaining jet engines, and later moving on to turbo-jet engines. Apart from maintaining engines for domestic jets, it also serviced Tumanski jet engines for the Soviet supersonic MiG-21, which was the main fighter interceptor of the Yugoslav Air Force and the air defense wing of the JNA (Yugoslav People's Army). In 1988, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) procured from the Soviet Union a squadron of modern MiG-29 Fulcrums, and the institute embarked on a program to maintain the aircrafts' engines. Given that history, the Orao institute could be of great use to Iraq. Iraq has the MiG-21 and the MiG-29, and it is known that the military industry of former Yugoslavia cooperated closely with the Iraqis. In 1989, Iraq sent at least eight MiG-21Bs and nine of the newer MiG 23MLs, which the former JNA did not have in its arsenal, to be repaired at the Zmaj Aviation Technical Institute at Velika Gorica near Zagreb. The repair work on the engines for these Iraqi MiG-23s could not be carried out in just one location in the SFRY - some engine parts were serviced at Zmaj, some in Slovenia, and the maintenance of the turbines was carried out at Orao. It should be remembered that even if the charges were true, Iraq would not have gained a lot. Even if Iraq's fighter aircraft were in the best possible state (which they are not), the Iraqis would stand no chance against American air forces who are much better equipped and trained. But if the charges are true, it is just the start. This is because the Orao Aviation Institute is not your ordinary private sector firm. Organizationally, it comes under the Ministry of Defense of the Serb Republic, and it is headed by an officer in the Serb Republic Army, Colonel Milan Prica. If assistance has indeed been given to Iraq, it is highly improbable that the relevant officials in the Serb Republic Government did not know about it. And it is at least questionable that the UN Stabilization Force (SFOR) did not know about it. Some experts believe that Iraq helped Belgrade by giving it some information as it prepared its air defenses against the NATO strikes in 1999 during the war over Kosovo, and that Serbia passed on its latest experiences in air defense to Iraq. Iraqi experts are certainly interested in how the Yugoslav army succeeded in bringing down a stealth F-117A. On October 22, it was reported that Yugoimport, a major Yugoslav weapons dealer, had exported military equipment to Iraq, and Serb experts were helping Saddam Hussein defend Iraq's air space against US attacks. Yugoimport is based in Belgrade. Orao is in Republika Srpska, the portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina whose population is mostly Serbian. Until Bosnia won its independence with a war that ended in 1995, both companies were part of Yugoslavia's vast military-industrial complex. During a NATO inspection on October 11-13, NATO peacekeeping troops in Bosnia raided the facilities of the Orao company and discovered several documents allegedly linking the company and the arms dealer with weapons exports to Iraq. A NATO spokesman said a preliminary inspection of Orao uncovered the existence of a contract linking the factory to an "unreported export of weapons systems". According to the Belgrade-based daily Blic, which first reported the discovery, the documents indicate that an unspecified number of Yugoslav experts are currently assigned to install the equipment at an undisclosed Iraqi military facility. The Yugoslav Defense Ministry said in a statement that it had not approved the export of arms to Iraq and that it would investigate the alleged breach of the UN arms embargo and "undertake measures against possible culprits". A high-ranking Yugoslav military official confirmed the Blic report to Associated Press and said that Yugoimport "acted as an intermediary between Orao and the Iraqi government. Orao did not have contacts [in Iraq], so they approached Yugoimport." Yugoimport enjoys a virtual monopoly in the export and import of arms and is known for having had close links with Saddam's regime during the 1990s. Yugoimport denied the Blic report in a statement but added that "it is possible" that some Serbs have been involved in "a private business venture" with Iraq in the name of Yugoimport. In an interview with BBC Yugoslavia published Oct 25, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica addressed some of the allegations: "When we came to power in October 2000, we knew very well what state of affairs we had inherited. We know today, as we did then, that we were under sanctions for 10 years and that the economy, despite the sanctions, had to function somehow. Therefore it is mean and hypocritical for anyone to pretend to be extremely surprised and almost offended because someone in all likelihood - and in this case it is Yugoimport - violated UN sanctions by continuing old practices." The BBC also is reporting that as early as the 1970s, the Yugoslav Federal Directorate for Trade in Special Purpose Products (now Yugoimport) began cooperation with Iraq, when construction companies were contracted to build a major arms factory near Baghdad. This cooperation continued until the 1990s, when the United Nations passed a resolution banning arms exports to Iraq. A meeting between Major-General Jovan Cekovic, director of Yugoimport, and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Taha Yassin Ramadan is alleged to have taken place at that time. According to some unofficial sources, at that meeting a deal was struck on the export of weapons manufactured by the aviation institute in Bijeljina. The documents uncovered by NATO also allegedly indicate that in the case of a UN inspection, Yugoslav experts currently in Iraq would dismantle the equipment within 10 days, and that the Iraqis would be expected to hide it until the inspectors were gone, Blic said. Western officials familiar with the documentation say that Yugoimport had gone to great lengths to cover up its work, while at the same time reassuring Yugoslav and Serbian officials that nothing was being sent to Iraq. According to the Blic article, in a letter addressed to the Iraqi Department of Defense dated September 25, Yugoimport officials "asked the Iraqis to remove Orao's name from all of the documents used for maintenance, and to take off Serbo-Croatian language instructions". The letter also allegedly told the Iraqis to obliterate the Orao company logo, which is stamped on equipment. In addition, the letter reportedly said that "in the event of United Nations weapons inspections, Yugoimport's experts would be able to disassemble all of the equipment within 10 days and that the Iraqis then should hide the equipment. When the inspections are over, Yugoimport would again assemble the equipment within 10 days." Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, now on trial at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, allied himself with the Iraqi president, but current president Kostunica said the country had since severed those links. Under Milosevic, Yugoslavia maintained close military links with Saddam's regime, servicing Iraqi air force MiG jets near Belgrade and taking part in the construction of Iraqi military facilities, including bunkers in presidential palaces in Baghdad. The Yugoslav army earlier this month said that it had discontinued providing military aid to Baghdad, saying that it hoped to forge closer ties with NATO. Earlier this month, Kostunica denied that Yugoslav military experts were helping Saddam organize his air defenses. On October 22, the United States raised the stakes beyond the repair of Iraqi planes, saying that it had presented evidence to senior Serbian government ministers of much broader military collaboration, including assistance with air defense networks, surface-to-air-missile technology and munitions. As the scandal has escalated in recent days, the Yugoslav government has engaged in damage control efforts. On October 22, the Yugoslav government released a statement saying that it had dismissed Jovan Cekovic, the former army general who chairs Yugoimport, and fired Yugoslav Deputy Defense Minister Gen Ivan Djokic, an assistant to the federal defense minister in charge of military equipment and weapons. Yugoimport was ordered to close its office in Baghdad, according to the government statement. But those dismissals are not likely to be the only ones. The sale of weapons and military equipment to Iraq was under direct control of military security services, which in the view of some experts means that the chief of the Counterintelligence Service, General Aca Tomic, too, must have been familiar with the deals. Under the current system of military affairs, arms exports fall within the authority of the Defense Ministry. Through General Djokic, the chain of command would lead upward to Defense Minister Velimir Radojevic. According to Belgrade Radio, Radojevic has already prepared his letter of resignation, but he has been warned that he should not make any statements to the media until further notice. The Yugoslav government also announced that it would set up a commission to investigate whether there have been irregularities in the defense ministry in the process of issuing licenses for exporting military equipment and arms and, if so, to propose adequate measures. There are still many questions to be answered. Among them, according to a special report by Jane's Intelligence Digest: ‹ Why did the UN approve Yugoimport, a well-established arms producer, as a major supplier of grain to Iraq during its humanitarian "food-for-oil" program? Yugoimport is known to have supplied Iraq in the past with Orkan multiple rocket launchers and to have upgraded Saddam's MiG-23 fighters (until this week, Yugoimport still had an office in Baghdad), so why was an arms supplier chosen over other firms with more-obvious track records in grain exports? ‹ Why did the Kostunica government allow Yugoimport to continue its activities in Iraq for two years without question? The Yugoslav interior minister is head of the Yugoimport board, so how can the government not have known about Yugoimport's activities? ‹ Former Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Jokic, sacked this week following the US allegations against Yugoimport, stated in January that Yugoslavia would be focusing on the export of its military "know how". What, therefore, has Yugoimport been exporting to Iraq? ‹ If Yugoimport has the ability to keep Iraq's MiG fighters flying, what other military know how has been transferred? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2370505.stm * BOSNIAN OFFICIALS QUIT OVER IRAQ SALES BBC, 29th October Two senior defence officials in the Serb-run part of Bosnia have lost their jobs over revelations of illegal arms sales to Iraq. Defence Minister Slobodan Bilic and army Chief of Staff Novica Simic both stood down from their posts in the administration of the Bosnian Serb Republic, or Republika Srpska. The resignations follow the admission by the government that the state-owned Orao aviation firm had been involved in selling military equipment to Iraq in defiance of a United Nations embargo. Last week, two senior Yugoslav officials were sacked after the US accused the state-owned Jugoimport company of helping Orao sell spare parts for fighter planes to Baghdad. The Bosnian Serb Supreme Defence Council announced the latest resignations following discussions on the illegal sales on Monday night. The council said the two men had not been directly responsible for the sale of parts for fighter aircraft, but said their resignations helped "improve the international position of the Republika Srpska and of Bosnia". Earlier, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said initial moves by Republika Srpska against Orao - including firing the general manager - were not enough. "This is a good start, but more needs to be done," he said. "The United States expects the relevant authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and particularly the Republika Srpska, to conduct a thorough investigation and to hold accountable those responsible regardless of the seniority or position." Bosnian Serb and Yugoslav leaders have played down the role of state firms in the affair, saying the deals were done by corrupt officials for personal profit. On Sunday, Bosnia's top international representative, Lord Ashdown, issued a stern warning to Bosnian Serb politicians over the sales. Along with the commander of the peace-keeping force, S-For, he accused the republic's government of both covering up and ignoring the role of state-owned companies in an arms trade with Iraq. Nato-led troops raided the Orao plant earlier this month, revealing that the company was repairing engines for Iraqi Mig fighter jets. The head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Sarajevo has said there is compelling evidence that Bosnian and Yugoslav firms may have been working on the development of a cruise missile with Iraq. BBC regional reporter Alix Kroeger says one of the most striking features of the scandal is the durability of the ties linking the armed forces of what are now separate countries - especially between the Bosnian Serbs and Yugoslavia itself. Until earlier this year, Bosnian Serbs were on the Yugoslav Army payroll. http://www.sltrib.com/10312002/business/12097.htm * CIGARETTE BUSINESS GOOD FOR THE SONS OF SADDAM by Steve Stecklow Salt Lake Tribune, from Wall St Journal, 31st October Middle East tobacco exporters say it's not possible to export cigarettes into the parts of Iraq controlled by Saddam Hussein without paying off members of his family. In an interview, Abbas Al-Janabi, who served as a private secretary to Uday Hussein, Saddam's oldest son, from 1984 to 1998, describes the scheme. Al-Janabi says that until 1995, Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law and a government minister, collected taxes on every imported "master case" of 10,000 cigarettes. After Kamel was murdered in Baghdad in 1995, Al-Janabi says the profits from this trade went to Uday Hussein, who dramatically increased the flow of imports. A key way Uday Hussein did this was by reselling Iraq's imported cigarettes to smugglers who took them to Iran. "He enlarged the quantities [of cigarettes], he enlarged the business," Al-Janabi says. He adds that many of the cigarettes flowed from Cyprus into Iraq via Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. In the late 1990s, Uday Hussein's annual take from imported cigarettes averaged about $10 million a year from legal and illegal sales, says Al-Janabi, who was involved in collecting these revenues until 1998 when he defected from Iraq. "The truth is, he keeps all of it for himself. He never shares anything." In Jordan, the fees are sometimes paid through an informal "tax collection office" run in Amman by a representative of Uday, exporters say. At other times, the fees are paid by cigarette importers inside Iraq. The payments are sometimes described by those who levy them as a mandatory contribution to youth sports organizations or to the Iraqi Olympic Committee. Uday Hussein serves as president of the committee. "They are in fact not a real part of the Olympic Committee, but they use it as a cover," Al-Janabi says. One Middle East exporter says Uday Hussein's fees now range from $5 to $25 per case, depending on the value of the cigarettes. This exporter also says Saddam's younger son, Qusai, who controls Iraq's Mukhabarat, or security service, lately also has been collecting cigarette taxes, causing confusion among exporters about whom they are supposed to pay. http://newsobserver.com/24hour/business/story/600934p-4651698c.html * EU SUES R.J. REYNOLDS, CLAIMS SMUGGLING AIDS IRAQ by Tom Hays News & Observer, 31st October NEW YORK (AP) - Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds has helped finance Saddam Hussein's regime and a terrorist group by distributing cigarettes in Iraq, the European Union alleges in a new civil lawsuit. R.J. Reynolds called the civil suit, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, "completely absurd." The EU claimed R.J. Reynolds did business with Iraq as part of a global smuggling scheme that has cheated the 15-nation EU out of billions of dollars in tax revenues over the past decade. The suit alleges company executives used Italian, Russian and Colombian organized groups to smuggle the cigarettes, then laundered proceeds through banks in New York. [.....] The EU executive commission said in a statement that the latest suit sought "relief to stop the laundering of proceeds of illegal activities and to seek compensation for losses sustained." Supporting the EU head office were the governments of 10 EU nations: Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Luxembourg. The suit alleges the money laundering involved cigarettes paid for with money from illegal drugs and arms trade. The cigarettes ended up in Europe and beyond through intermediaries in Panama, Switzerland, Cyprus, Turkey, Montenegro and other countries. The EU alleged the scheme extended to Iraq, where R.J. Reynolds intermediaries sought to distribute cigarettes there in violation of U.S. sanctions. In 1996, the company supplied more than 100 containers - each holding 10 million cigarettes - to an Iraqi distributor, the suit said. Some containers were allegedly smuggled through northern territories controlled by the Kurdistan Workers' Party. The group - deemed a terrorist organization by U.S. officials and blamed for terrorist attacks in Europe - would collect a fee for each container in a deal cut with Hussein, the suit said. "The illegal cigarette trade is so lucrative to Saddam Hussein and his family that they allow several Kurdish groups to import these cigarettes," the suit said. "Saddam Hussein's son Uday Hussein oversees and personally profits from the illegal importation of cigarettes into Iraq." Similar cases accusing tobacco companies of abetting smugglers brought by Canada and Columbia and an earlier case by the EU last year, have also been rejected by U.S. courts. IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-kuwait-war prisoners1026oct26,0,3300113.story?coll=ny%2Dnationworld%2Dheadlines * HOPE FADES FOR KUWAITI POWS IN IRAQ by Susan Sevareid Newsday (from Associated Press), 26th October KUWAIT -- As days go by without word, high hopes fade that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's prisoner amnesty that opened jail doors will bring home any Kuwaitis imprisoned by invading Iraqi forces more than 12 years ago. When Saddam announced the full amnesty Sunday, Fotouh al-Abdul-Jalil, whose brother, Fawzi, was taken by the Iraqis, said she was so happy she cried. Abdullah al-Fajji, also missing a brother, said the news made it feel like a joyful holiday. "I was watching satellite television stations and waiting for the phone to ring and for somebody to tell me, 'Your brother is at the border,'" said al-Fajji, head of a group campaigning for the release of those seized while Iraq occupied Kuwait. Nearly a week later, he and other relatives still wait. "Until this moment, we have no response. Not a no or a yes," al-Fajji said. Kuwait has asked the Arab League to find out about its citizens imprisoned in Iraq after the 1990 invasion but has yet to receive an answer. Some 600 Kuwaitis and other people were believed taken while Iraq occupied Kuwait in 1990-1991, but Baghdad does not acknowledge having war prisoners from the occupation. Senior Kuwaiti officials went to Geneva this week for their first meeting since the amnesty announcement with allies on the prisoner issue -- the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United States, Britain, France and Saudi Arabia. Red Cross spokeswoman Annick Bouvier refused to comment on the discussions, and the Kuwaitis could not be reached. Though families do not know whether loved ones are still alive, there have been reports over the years from Arab ex-convicts in Iraq, who said they saw -- and sometimes spoke to -- Kuwaiti war prisoners. The London-based Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Thursday that a former Kurdish Iraqi prisoner, Raed Qader Mantak, said he saw 12 Kuwaitis in Baghdad's Abu Gharaib Central prison five years after the occupation. They told him they were captured during the invasion. Most other reported sightings also were years ago, raising questions about how many Kuwaitis could survive in Iraq's notorious prisons. Saddam's decree ordered amnesty for "anyone imprisoned or arrested for political or any other reason" in Iraq, except those convicted of spying for the United States or Israel. It came two days after Saddam was sworn in for another seven-year term. Iraqis arrested al-Fajji's brother, Yousef, then a 24-year-old army conscript, on the first day of the occupation, Aug. 2, 1990. That same day, Ahmed Ismael Ahmed Ismael, who would now be 50, called his wife, Khalda, from his Kuwait office. "He said ... 'the Iraqis are all around us,' and he said to just take care of the children, and that's all, the line cut," she said, sitting in her parlor Friday in front of a small photograph of herself with her husband taken a few months before his capture. The couple's four children are now ages 12-18, with Abdel Aziz born five months before his father was captured. "All the time, I've said to them, 'Your father is a hero and you must be strong,' and God will not miss us -- someday we will see him," she said, her eyes welling up with tears. Deeply distrustful of Saddam's words, she does not expect Iraq's amnesty to bring her husband home. Iraq may free other prisoners to curry favor with Arab leaders as the United States considers war, "but not the Kuwaitis," she said with a sad certainty. That, she said, could require U.S. soldiers one day searching for the missing in a post-Saddam Iraq. Al-Fajji said Iraq might be moving the Kuwaitis from one prison to the other. "They will continue to deny that they have them because they are a tyrant regime that can react to nothing but force," he said. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20021027/ts_nm/iraq_saudi_ usa_dc_3 * U.S. BRASS IN SAUDI AMID LINGERING IRAQ TENSION Yahoo, 27th October DUBAI (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived in Saudi Arabia Sunday as Washington continued to rally the support of its Arab allies for a possible military strike against Iraq. The official Saudi Press Agency, which reported the arrival of General Richard Myers, did not give any details. Saudi Arabia has said it would not allow its key Western ally, the United States, to use its military facilities as a launch pad for a unilateral attack against fellow Arab Iraq. Myers' visit coincides with a visit to the kingdom by Lincoln Bloomfield, U.S. assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs. Riyadh played a pivotal role in the U.S.-led 1991 Gulf War that drove Iraqi troops out of neighboring Kuwait after a seven-month occupation. The Gulf region is bristling with U.S. troops and weaponry and Washington has said it would require regional military help for any offensive against Iraq. Washington accuses Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction, a charge Baghdad denies. Bloomfield said earlier that Washington would consult with its Gulf Arab allies before using military facilities in the region for any attack against Iraq. But, he said after talks with officials from the United Arab Emirates that he found "a great deal of concern about the security of the region and also the welfare of the people of Iraq." http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021028/2002102817.html * AR'AR BORDER BETWEEN IRAQ, SAUDI ARABIA OPENS WEDNESDAY Arabic News, 28th October The Iraqi trade minister Muhammad Mahdi Saleh will open on Wednesday the Ar'ar complex near the borders with Saudi Arabia through which the Saudi goods exported to Saudi Arabia will pass for Iraq, in the framework of the "oil for food" program, besides the two states have recently agreed to establish a free trade zone. An Iraqi source said that an official celebration will be held at the complex's site which was newly built. The complex is 340 Km to the southern west of Baghdad. It has been closed along the past decade since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and it was decided to re-open it with the improvement of the Iraqi- Saudi relations. However, opening this border center will facilitate the passage of Saudi products to Iraq which are transported now to Iraq through Jordan. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021028/2002102803.html * RETURNING BACK KUWAITI ARCHIVE TO COMPLETE BY WEDNESDAY Arabic News, 28th October The chairman of the second department at the Iraqi foreign ministry Ghassan Mohsin Hussein has expected the operations of returning back the Kuwaiti archive from Iraq to be finished by next Wednesday. Hussein said in a statement in Baghdad that yesterday was dedicated for handing over the documents of the ministries of oil and communications and nationality departments and that work is continuing progressively. The Iraqi official stressed that positive atmospheres prevailed during the handing over operation which so far covered some 409 boxes of the Kuwaiti archive belonging to the ministries of foreign affairs and the interior as well as the state security. The process of returning back the Kuwaiti archive started on October 19 in Al-Abdali area inside the Kuwaiti border under the supervision of the UN and the participation of the Arab League. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/28_10_02/art24.asp * PAKRADOUNI ACCEPTS INVITATION TO VISIT BAGHDAD Daily Star, Lebanon, 28th October The Phalange Party leadership has accepted an invitation from Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz to visit Baghdad at a time to be fixed "as soon as possible," party leader Karim Pakradouni told reporters Saturday. The invitation was conveyed earlier in the day by the Iraqi charge d'affaires in Beirut, Nabil Janabi, who visited party headquarters in Saifi. It follows the "dialogue" which began between the two sides during Aziz's recent visit to Lebanon, and comes in the wake of Pakradouni's call for convening a congress in Beirut for Christians of the Western world in solidarity with Iraq, Jerusalem and "rightful" Arab causes. Speaking to reporters later, Pakradouni said the visit to Baghdad was important in that it would serve as an opportunity to demonstrate the Lebanese people's solidarity with their Iraqi counterparts and to affirm that any aggression on Iraq was aggression on Lebanon. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=66997 * IRAQ YET TO RETURN NATIONAL ARCHIVE SAYS KUWAIT Gulf News, 28th October Kuwait said yesterday its looted national archive had not yet been returned by Iraq, despite a claim by Baghdad that it had fulfilled a promise to do so. Iraq said on Sunday it had handed over 409 boxes of archives and documents which it took when it occupied its southern neighbour in 1990, triggering the Gulf War. But a Kuwaiti official involved in the UN-sponsored handover at the border said the load did not include 20th century treaties, official diwan (court) documents of the emir and the crown prince that make up the national archive. "We are due to finish by Wednesday but so far we are getting papers, reports from embassies which we would normally throw away after a few years, personal files but no archive," he said. Iraq took some two tonnes of Kuwaiti documents to the border this month as part of a bid to improve its image by meeting some UN demands as Washington warns of a possible war. Kuwait says the archives are part of property missing since Iraq's invasion including military equipment and museum items, whose return is covered by UN resolutions. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021029/2002102918.html * WASHINGTON OFFICIALLY ASKS FOR USING THE SAUDI BASES Arabic News, 29th October Saudi Arabia's defense minister prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz yesterday in Riyadh received chief of staff of the American joint forces Gen. Richard Mayors [sic - PB] in the second day of his visit to Saudi Arabia for asking the Saudi authorities to use its military bases in launching a war against Iraq, according to the US under secretary of state for political and military affairs Lincoln Bloomfields [sic - PB]who attended the meeting in addition to the US ambassador in Riyadh Robert Jordan and other Saudi officials. On Sunday in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bloomfield said that Mayors will ask the countries he will be visiting to permit the use of its bases to launch attacks against Iraq. He said "we do not forget we are on their lands and their host." He considered that "most of the Arab states support the implementation of UN resolutions concerning Iraq by means of force." Bloom field added "nobody wants the war, but the basic point in that matter is disarmament of the Iraqi weapons." Saudi Arabia has set a precondition for using its military bases, which is the issuing of a resolution by the UN security council permiting the use of force against Iraq. American diplomatic sources in Riyadh said Gen. Richard Mayors briefed prince Sultan with the recent American position concerning Iraq, especially after Baghdad's consent for the return back of UN inspectors The American sources said that Mayors discussed with Prince Sultan "cooperation between the armed forces in the two countries, and the support given by the US for the Saudi armed forces in the defense fields as well as areas of cooperation and coordination." Talks also dealt with conditions in the region, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories and general issues relating to security conditions in the region and the war against terrorism. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021029/2002102915.html * PRINCE HASSAN IN ANKARA TO DISCUSS THE IRAQI ISSUE Arabic News, 29th October The uncle of the Jordanian King, Prince Hassan, has discussed the likely attack against Iraq with the Turkish prime minister Polent Acawit. He expressed his efforts for the American efforts to "establish peace in the region.," according to the Turkish NTV TV networking yesterday. Both the Jordanian prince and Acawit did not make any statement after the meeting but the network quoted that the Jordanian prince showed his opposition to dividing Iraq on ethnic bases. Certain press reports talked about the possibility that Prince Hassan will assume Iraq's leadership after the American attack to found a Hashamite Emirate there, in succession to King Faisal II who was killed in a cope against his rule in the 1950s. Prince Hassan also attended the Iraqi opposition conference which was held several months ago in London. http://www.iht.com/articles/75176.html * INCREASINGLY, TURKEY FEARS ATTACK ON IRAQ by Ian Fisher International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 29th October ISTANBUL: Barely a day goes by without the Turkish prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, saying just how little he wants a war with his neighbor Iraq. He complains about being "caught in the middle." He bluntly raises Turkey's importance to the United States, on the map and as the only Muslim country in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. "We know that the United States cannot carry out this operation without us," he said last week. "That is why we are advising that it abandon the idea. We're telling Washington that we are worried about the matter." In the end, there seems little doubt that Turkey, however reluctantly, would side with its big friend and patron. But Turkey's leaders are still withholding their wholehearted support, and their discomfort grows daily. So unanimous are Turks against a war in Iraq that the topic has hardly been raised in the campaign for parliamentary elections Nov. 3. The election looks certain to expel the coalition led by Ecevit in favor of an untried party with roots in political Islam, which worries many here as a threat to Turkey's secularism. Still, even the leaders of that party, Justice and Development, repeat the same conflicted refrain: Yes, Saddam Hussein is a menace. Turkey, they say, will probably support the United States in the name of its long and broad friendship, as well as its own strategic interests. But Turkey, concerned that war could worsen an already dire economy and inflict new problems of refugees and Kurdish separatism, is not eager to play the role Pakistan did in the war against Afghanistan. "It is in the nature of Turks to be convinced easily but react when they realize that they have been cheated," warned Abdullah Gul, a top Justice and Development leader who is in the running to become the next prime minister. "Therefore, Turkey should be listened to and understood over her interests and concerns." Easing Turkey's worries might prevent any long-term damage to relations between the United States and Turkey, the kind of moderate Muslim country Washington would like to encourage. "Both nations will take extreme care not to have an open conflict over what happens in Iraq," said Ilter Turan, a political science professor at Istanbul Bilgi University. "But if the United States intervenes and if you have a prolonged struggle, a prolonged military role in Iraq, probably quite a number of problems might crop up." The Justice and Development Party is currently drawing support from as many as 30 percent of voters polled. The question mark is whether its leaders, though they have disavowed political Islam, will be any less of an ally to the United States, particularly on the question of Iraq. Gul and the party's popular leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who have played down their pasts as Islamic activists, say the relationship would probably stay the same, and Gul has been quoted as saying that they would leave any decision on Iraq to the military. Most experts say the party would have no choice, at least in the short term; in 1997, the military eased out the last Islamic- leaning party to govern Turkey. Zeyno Baran, a fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said it was highly unlikely that the party would change the alliance with the United States. "Absolutely not," she said, "because this will be the grounds for the military removing them." With the elections a week away, Turkish and U.S. officials are reported to be deep into negotiations. Early last week, General Tommy Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, and General Joseph Ralston, the supreme allied commander in Europe, visited Turkey for talks with its top commanders. On Wednesday, President George W. Bush called President Ahmet Necdet Sezer for a discussion the White House said covered the "United States Turkey strategic partnership." Officials from both nations say there has been no formal request, such as for Turkish troops in a ground operation in Iraq or the use of Turkish air bases. Several reports suggest that any plan would include having Turkey send thousands of troops into northern Iraq - in addition to the 2,000 to 5,000 already there chasing Kurdish rebels - to stem the flow of refugees or defeated Iraqi fighters. [.....] http://www.iht.com/articles/75288.html * ALLIED FLOTILLA, WITH IRAN'S AID, CUTS FLOW OF ILLEGAL IRAQI OIL by Michael R. Gordon International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 30th October ABOARD THE USS SHILOH, in the Gulf: The United States and its allies, with quiet help from Iran, have all but shut off the flow of illegal Iraqi oil in the Gulf, playing a game of cat and mouse with small boats that had proved effective tools for smugglers and terrorists alike. As the Bush administration prepares for a potential confrontation with Saddam Hussein, America and its naval partners have ratcheted up the pressure. They are boarding twice as many boats as last year, and have stationed an Australian warship inside Iraq's territorial waters, all in an effort to tighten enforcement of United Nations sanctions. "What was a blockade that was probably only 30 to 40 percent effective previously is now in the 80 to 90 percent range of effectiveness," said Commodore Peter Sinclair, the Australian officer who commands the allied flotilla that is charged with enforcing the embargo in the Gulf. In September, 318 ships were boarded, about double the rate boarded during a similar period last year. Of these, 64 were turned back or detained. The allied embargo is also being helped by the Iranians, who once turned a blind eye to smugglers who at night often use routes that hug Iran's coastline. It is unclear whether the Iranians are committed to enforcing the UN embargo or simply want to deprive the Americans of a reason to venture into Iran's territorial waters. But the result has been that more boats carrying suspected smugglers are being channeled toward allied patrols. President George W. Bush has described Iran as part of an "axis of evil," along with Iraq and North Korea, but the relationship between the allied and Iranian navies has been entirely professional, allied commanders say. When the Shiloh, an American Aegis cruiser, passed by an Iranian vessel this week, sailors from the two ships stood at attention and, in a naval ritual known as an exchange of honors, saluted each other. The waters of the Gulf constitute one of the most strategically important regions in the world. The Gulf is a major transit point for much of the world's oil, a former site of battle between Iran and Iraq and an area where the United States has long sought to project its military power. These days it is also filled with a new potential peril: attacks by terrorists in small motor launches or wooden boats. It is the kind of threat to which even the Shiloh - a billion-dollar vessel that can shoot down anti-ship cruise missiles - is vulnerable despite its sophisticated technology. Its main defense against terrorist attacks at sea are sentries who peer at the azure waters with binoculars and machine guns and small arms. "As the Cole showed us, ships can be vulnerable to that kind of suicide attack," Captain William Dewes, the commander of the Shiloh, said, referring to the American destroyer attacked by terrorists in Yemen in October 2000. "We have improvised and got ourselves a pretty good system. We are using a lot of small arms that other services have." The threat of terrorist attacks from small craft is an added twist in the competition between an Iraqi government determined to circumvent UN sanctions and a U.S.-led coalition that is determined to keep pressure on Saddam. Under a program overseen by the United Nations, Iraq is allowed to sell a limited amount of oil and use the proceeds to buy food and medicine. But Iraq has also sought to smuggle additional amounts of oil and other commodities, like dates, by sea and land. Iraq continues to send oil illegally by pipeline to Syria and by truck to Turkey, but the allied naval operation, with indirect Iranian cooperation, has virtually closed the tap on oil smuggled through the Gulf. It is clear that the embargo has irritated the Iraqis. The Gulf waters are streaked by oil slicks from small boats that were bottled up near Iraq and dumped their cargo out of frustration. In July, the Iraqi government complained to the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, accusing the Australian and American navies of piracy for systematically boarding every ship coming to and from Iraq. The contest between the allied naval forces and the smugglers starts at the Iraqi town of Umm Qasr, where Iraqi oil and other cargo is loaded on ships that make their way down the Khawr Abd Allah, the main Iraqi waterway that leads to the northern Gulf. The smugglers have used a variety of tactics, Australian and American officers said. When using larger vessels, the smugglers attached spikes to the hulls to puncture the small, inflatable boats that American and allied navies use to approach them. They hid oil and other cargo under piles of hay or newly laid cement floors. They welded hatches shut to prevent inspection. After allied ships cracked down on smuggling by large, steel-hull ships, the Iraqis flooded the Gulf with dhows, wooden boats that are used by local traders and fishermen but which can also hold several hundred metric tons of oil each. But the United States and its allies have largely cut off the small boats, too. The tighter embargo has proved so effective that it has even halted much of Iraq's export of dates, a valued commodity in the Gulf that pound for pound fetches a higher price than oil. The embargo is overseen by Vice Admiral Timothy Keating, who commands the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. He in turn has given the Australians command of the multinational flotilla of American, British and Australian ships that is charged with policing the sanctions. The allies are using Kuwaiti ships to siphon off the oil from smugglers detained at sea. That dispensed with the need for allied ships to escort the detained ships to Gulf ports, allowing them to patrol longer. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-10/31/content_613711.htm * IRAQ SAYS RETURN OF KUWAITI NATIONAL ARCHIVES COMPLETED BAGHDAD, Oct. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraq said on Wednesday it has completed the return of Kuwaiti national archives, which were seized by Iraq during its occupation of the emirate twelve years ago. "The Iraqi and Kuwaiti delegations finished yesterday (Tuesday) the delivery of the last batch of Kuwaiti documents," said Gassan Muhsin Hussein, head of the Iraqi delegation responsible for the transferring operation. Under the UN supervision and with the participation of the Arab League, a total of 1,648 boxes and bags of archives have been handed over to Kuwait at the Abdaly post within the demilitarized zone between the two countries, according to the official Iraqi News Agency. "The delivery had been expected to last about two months, but ittook only 10 days due to the cooperation of all parties," Hussein said. [.....] LIFE AS USUAL http://www.dailystar.com.lb/business/26_10_02_a.htm * LEBANON, IRAQ INK DEAL ON STANDARDS by Dania Saadi Daily Star, Lebanon, 26th October Lebanon and Iraq signed an agreement Friday facilitating the mutual recognition of each country's standards as part of a follow-up to the bilateral free trade agreement that took effect in June. The signing ceremony for the cooperation agreement on standards and certificates of origin was held in Beirut at the Industry Ministry. Mahmoud Obeidi, president of the Iraqi quality control and standards center, heads an Iraqi delegation to Beirut. He put his country's signature on the deal, which will come into force once it is endorsed by legislative bodies of both countries. The deal "will energize the free trade agreement," Industry Minister George Frem said at an open discussion that was held Friday at the Port of Beirut. This April, after years of negotiations and political detente, Lebanon and Iraq finally inked a free-trade deal, following the cooling of ties between Iraq and Kuwait, an ally of Lebanon invaded by Iraq in 1990. That deal took effect in mid-June, and allowed Lebanese goods tariff-free access to the lucrative Iraq market, once Lebanon's No. 1 export destination. The cooperation deal on standards would remove one of the last stumbling blocks to free trade with Iraq, which is offering other Arab countries similar agreements to enrich a market hit by 11 years of UN sanctions. "We have signed similar cooperation agreements on standards with Egypt and Iraq," explained Obeidi. However, a number of Lebanese exporters complained Friday of lingering impediments to exporting goods to Iraq, primarily through their transit route via Syria. Iraqi delegates attending the open discussion at the export center sought to allay such fears. Lebanese industrialists, the delegates said, should not anticipate trouble from Iraqi authorities if the goods exported to Iraq comply with Friday's agreement. Regarding the troubles being faced in Syria, the Iraqi officials contended that it is an issue that must be taken up between Syrian and Lebanese authorities. A three-way deal on standards would solve the problem, they argued. "Of the 32 types of Lebanese goods that we have inspected over the years, we have only faced trouble with two types," Obeidi said. "Lebanese goods are held in high esteem by the Iraqis, who prefer them to other goods for their high quality." According to a number of industrialists attending Friday's discussion, Syria continues to impede the flow of certain Lebanese goods, despite the phasing out of most tariffs on industrial goods traded between the two countries this year. A Syrian delegation, headed by the president of the Damascus Chamber of Industry, Samer Debs, visited the export center Friday and tried to address the problems facing Lebanese industrialists. Debs told Fadi Abboud, who heads the Lebanese Industrialists Association, that the only issue involved is the certificate of origin for Lebanese exports, which is necessary for the Syrian authorities before any Lebanese product is allowed to enter the country. http://www.dailystarnews.com/200210/28/n2102805.htm * EUROPEAN FIRMS TO JOIN IRAQ TRADE FAIR Daily Star, Bangladesh, 28th October AFP, Baghdad: Dozens of European firms, mainly French and German, are due to take part in Baghdad's annual international trade fair next week, despite US threats to strike Iraq, organisers told AFP on Saturday. "Arab and foreign companies... will participate in great numbers in this big economic forum, despite the US threats," Safa al-Nuaimi, director general of Iraq's exhibitions company, was quoted as saying by the Al-Zawra weekly of the country's syndicate of journalists. A Western diplomat told AFP that 86 French companies from the food, oil, communications and pharmaceutical sectors were expected to take part in the trade fair opening in Baghdad on November 1. French exports to Iraq stood at 310 million euros since the start of the year, down by 27 per cent compared with figures from last year, he said. The exports are within the framework of the oil-for-food program with the United Nations which has imposed an embargo on Iraq since its 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait. The Iraqi media said 100 German, 50 Russian, 43 Spanish, 25 Italian, 10 Austrian and two Japanese companies -- mainly operating in the oil, electricity and industrial sectors -- were also due to participate in the fair. An official from the organizing committee told AFP that "the fair will open on November 1, as scheduled... and works are ongoing to set up the stands for the participating firms." http://www.bangkokpost.com/Sports/29Oct2002_sport45.html * THAIS CRUSH IRAQ TO MOVE INTO SEMI-FINALS by Tor Chittinand Bangkok Post, 28th October Thailand's futsal (five-a-side) team reached the semi-finals of the Asian Futsal Championship when they beat Iraq 5-2 in Jakarta, Indonesia yesterday. Thailand finished the preliminary round with four wins to send them into the knockout stage as top of Group A. Thailand took a 2-0 lead early on against Iraq through Pattaya Piemkum and Anucha Mancharoen but Iraq pulled a goal back through Arkan Hamza. In the 34th minute Naret Sukngarm made it 3-1 and a minute later Anupong Pollasak added another. Iraq got a second goal from Waleed Jeel while Naret got Thailand's fifth from the penalty spot. Thailand will play either Japan or Uzbekistan in today's semi-final. http://www.turkishpress.com/turkishpress/news.asp?ID=7564 * MORE THAN 100 TURKISH FIRMS TO ATTEND 35TH INTERNATIONAL BAGHDAD FAIR Turkish Press, 31st October BAGDAT - A total of 104 Turkish companies will take part in the 35th International Baghdad Fair which will be opened on November 1 in Baghdad, Iraq. A delegation headed by Foreign Trade Deputy Undersecretary Baki Alkacar and a group of media representatives arrived on Thursday in Baghdad. The delegation will meet with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim al- Azzawi, Trade Minister Dr. Muhammad Mahdi al-Salih, Oil Minister Dr. Amir Rashid Muhammad al-Ubaydi and Industry Minister Muyassar Raja Shallah al Tikriti and will proceed to Damascus on November 2. A total of 1200 Arabian and international companies will attend the fair, while 95 German, 86 French, 50 Russian, 50 Iranian, 43 Spanish, 25 Italian and ten Australian firms which are experts in food, medicine, communication, oil and industry sectors will also take part in the exposition. Trade Minister Mahdi al-Salih said in a press conference that companies from Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Greece, Azerbaijan and Britain will attend the fair this year for the first time since the Gulf Crisis in 1991. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,823637,00.html * UK COMPANY BACKS IRAQ AT BAGHDAD FAIR by Rory McCarthy in Baghdad The Guardian, 1st November A British company will open a stall today at the start of the Baghdad international trade fair in a rare show of support for Saddam Hussein's regime. Maram Consultancies, a company based in Brighton, is the only British firm at the event. Companies from 47 countries will be present, including many from across Europe. No company from the US is represented. The British firm, which was incorporated in November last year, offers consultancy work for the construction of roads, railways and power systems and also works in oil exploration, medical equipment supplies and telecommunications. Mamoun Tabidi, Maram's chief executive and sole director, who is in Baghdad, said he believed that Iraq represented a lucrative opportunity. He said he strongly opposed the UN sanctions imposed 12 years ago after Saddam invaded Kuwait. "It is important to make a stand and tell all the world that it is not fair to put sanctions on this country where the people are suffering," Mr Tabidi said last night. His company also works in other Gulf countries as well as Sudan and Libya. Mr Tabidi, an Arabic-speaker, is Sudanese but carries a British passport. "This is my first visit to Iraq and so far it has been very successful. The Iraqi government is very happy that we are here. I think they appreciate it." Mr Tabidi paid for his visit and said he had received no support from the Department of Trade and Industry. "They said it was none of their concern," he said. [.....] _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk