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[casi] News, 25/10-1/11/02 (4)

News, 25/10-1/11/02 (4)


*  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


*  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


*  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


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their use of supposedly outdated technology helped much of the army's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 Oct25,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

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

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?

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

"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.


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

"They will continue to deny that they have them because they are a tyrant
regime that can react to nothing but force," he said.

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

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."

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.

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.

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.

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

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

"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

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

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.

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.

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.


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

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

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

"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

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.


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.



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

"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.

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

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."

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.

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,

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.,3604,823637,00.html

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

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

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

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.


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