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[casi] News, 9-15/11/02 (4)

News, 9-15/11/02 (4)


*  Exile Groups' Efforts Stalled by Intense Rivalries
*  A Grad Student Mimicked Saddam Over the Airwaves Broadcast Ruse
*  Iraqi opposition groups fail to unite
*  The US will soon have to choose Saddam's successor


*  U.N.'s Blix to have Cyprus base
*  AL [Arab League] chief to ask for Arabs in UN inspection teams
*  The nuclear physicist who could give peace another chance in Iraq
*  Comment: Saddam still holding many cards
*  Iraq Inspectors to Look for Pattern
*  France to send six arms inspectors to Iraq
*  How the techies will find Saddam's arsenal


by Daniel Williams
Washington Post, 12th November

ROME, Nov. 11 -- Three months after the Bush administration encouraged them
to unite and create a common political platform for the future of their
country, Iraq's exile factions are locked in an ethnic, religious and
political power struggle.

Potentially important players are fighting tenaciously over rival agendas.
One of the major factions, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), is also
feuding with the State Department over $8 million in funding for propaganda,
humanitarian and other programs it is supposed to oversee, State Department
officials said. A much-heralded INC "information-gathering" operation inside
Iraq has yet to get off the ground, the officials said, because of
uncertainty in the Bush administration about the INC's ability to get and
relay useful intelligence, as well as competing views within the Washington

Also stalled are the preparations for a pan-opposition conference that was
meant to project a vision for democratic rule if President Saddam Hussein is
overthrown. The conference was originally scheduled for late September, but
has been repeatedly postponed. The next possible date is Nov. 22, in
Brussels, but the INC is threatening a boycott. The State Department plans
to send a delegate to London soon to meet with opposition officials in an
attempt to end the infighting that has blocked the conference, a department
official said.

The arguing has put into doubt a role for Iraqi exiles in the country's
future and presents a grim preview of problems for any U.S. occupation of

Some of the disputes are based on ethnic suspicions and religious rivalries.
During his decades in power, Hussein has tamped down such conflicts through
repression. But by President Bush's reckoning, the new Iraq is supposed to
resolve its problems within a democratic system.

The Bush administration officially recognizes six opposition organizations.
One is the INC, an amalgam of anti-Hussein groups. The Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party represent the Kurdish
population, based in northern Iraq. The Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution (SCIRI), an Iranian-based fundamentalist group, claims to
represent the majority Shiite Muslim population. The Iraqi National Accord
is composed of former army officers and defectors from Hussein's Baathist
party. Also thrown into the mix is a monarchist party that embodies the
aspirations of Sharif Ali bin Al Hussein, an exiled aristocrat, to restore
the Hashemite throne to Iraq.

Bush also has authorized expansion of the opposition organizations to
include groups representing other former military officers and Turkish,
Assyrian and Christian minorities.

The INC leader, Ahmed Chalabi, may boycott the conference over the scope of
its agenda, the number of delegates and the quotas given invited
organizations. Chalabi had wanted the conference to endorse a provisional
government, with him as its leader. He also wanted upwards of 300 delegates
chosen partly on the basis of profession, gender and politics, not solely
because of ethnicity or religion.

The Kurdish parties, SCIRI and the Iraqi National Accord combined to squash
the provisional government idea and other Chalabi proposals, and to limit
the conference to about 180 participants. Fundamentalist Shiite Muslim
representatives would make up about 35 percent of the delegates, a quota
that offended secular Iraqis such as Chalabi. The Kurds would make up 25
percent, Turks and Assyrians 10 percent. The remaining delegates would be
Sunni Muslims, the group that has traditionally ruled Iraq.

Kanan Makiya, a prominent writer and critic of the Iraqi government,
launched a fierce critique of the conference plans and called on Iraqi
exiles to deluge the State Department with statements of protest. "Where are
the independents? Where are the democrats? . . . Where is Iraq in such a
travesty of democracy and fairness?" he asked.

"If the conference goes ahead as is, it will only further divide the Iraqi
opposition, the opposite of its intended aims," said Siyamend Othman, an
independent political observer.

Last week, Chalabi walked out of a meeting of conference organizers after
SCIRI delegates criticized him for opposing the meeting. Kurdish officials
involved insist the conference will go on as scheduled. "Calls for change
are a minority opinion," said Latif Rashid, a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
(PUK) representative in London. "There are just details that have to be
worked out."

"The problem is just one person -- Chalabi," said Hoshyar Zibari, a top
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official. "He doesn't want the conference
to take place. He is fighting for his political life."

In the meantime, the PUK and KDP have made proposals that have upset their
nominal opposition partners. The Kurdish parties plan to present a
constitution for Iraq that would grant the Kurds autonomy in an expanded
territory in the country's north. The city of Kirkuk is designated as the
Kurdish capital. The central government would control only foreign affairs,
the military and economic planning.

In effect, the Kurds want a federated Iraq divided between Arabs and Kurds.
"This is a non starter for the Arabs," said a SCIRI representative.

Turkey, one of Iraq's powerful neighbors, opposes anything that looks like a
step toward Kurdish statehood and has been battling Kurdish nationalism
within its own borders for decades. The Turks warned that if the Kurds
occupy Kirkuk, a city surrounded by rich oil resources, they could face an
invasion by Turkish troops. During a meeting last month in Ankara, the Turks
asked Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who heads the U.S. Central Command that covers
Iraq, not to use the Kurds in military action, Western diplomats said. The
Kurds boast a militia of 50,000 troops and their leaders have expressed hope
that an alliance with the United States would ensure an autonomous northern

The infighting has discouraged U.S. officials. Although the Pentagon has
tasked Chalabi with recruiting guides and logistics officers among Iraqis to
help U.S. troops in any invasion, for instance, the program has yet to get

The INC also had harbored hopes of getting funds to collect intelligence
inside Iraq via the "information-gathering" scheme. Because of previous
disagreements between the INC and the State Department, the program was
passed to the Pentagon, which agreed to pay but then pulled back when
Chalabi made the pledge public.

by Ian Urbina
Village Voice, 13th November

"Word got around the department that I was a good Arabic translator who did
a great Saddam imitation," recalls the Harvard grad student. "Eventually,
someone phoned me asking if I wanted to help change the course of Iraq
policy." So twice a week, for $3000 a month, the Iraqi student tells the
Voice on condition of anonymity, he took a taxi from his campus apartment to
a Boston-area recording studio rented by the Rendon Group, a D.C. based
public relations firm with close ties to the U.S. government. His job:
Translate and dub spoofed Saddam Hussein speeches and tongue-in-cheek
newscasts for broadcast throughout Iraq. "I never got a straight answer on
whether the Iraqi resistance, the CIA, or policy makers on the Hill were
actually the ones calling the shots," says the student, "but ultimately I
realized that the guys doing spin were very well funded and completely cut

And that's how Baghdad's best-known oppositional radio personality was born
six years ago—during the Clinton administration. It was one of many
disinformation schemes cooked up by the Rendon Group, which has worked for
both Democratic and Republican administrations fighting the psy-op war in
the Middle East.

"The point was to discredit Saddam, but the stuff was complete slapstick,"
the student says. "We did skits where Saddam would get mixed up in his own
lies, or where [Saddam's son] Quasay would stumble over his own delusions of
grandeur." Transmissions were once a week from stations in northern Iraq and
Kuwait. "The only thing that was even remotely funny," says the student,
"were the mockeries of the royal guard and the government's clumsy attempts
to deceive arms inspectors."

The Saddam impersonator says he left Rendon not long ago out of frustration
with what he calls the lack of expertise and oversight in the project. It
was doubly frustrating, he says, because he despises Saddam, although he
adds that he never has been involved with any political party or opposition

"No one in-house spoke a word of Arabic," he says. "They thought I was
mocking Saddam, but for all they knew I could have been lambasting the U.S.
government." The scripts, he adds, were often ill conceived. "Who in Iraq is
going to think it's funny to poke fun at Saddam's mustache," the student
notes, "when the vast majority of Iraqi men themselves have mustaches?"

There were other basic problems, too. Some of the announcers hired for the
radio broadcasts, he says, were Egyptians and Jordanians, whose Arabic
accents couldn't be understood by Iraqis. "Friends in Baghdad said the radio
broadcasts were a complete mumble," the student says. One CIA agent familiar
with the project calls the project's problem a lack of "due diligence," and
adds, "The scripts were put together by 23-year-olds with connections to the
Democratic National Committee."

Despite the fumbling naïveté of some of its operations, the Rendon Group is
no novice in the field. For decades, when U.S. bombs have dropped or foreign
leaders have been felled, the PR shop has been on the scene, just far enough
to stay out of harm's way, but just close enough to keep the spin cycle
going. As Franklin Foer reported in The New Republic, during the campaign
against Panama's Manuel Noriega in 1989, Rendon's command post sat downtown
in a high-rise. In 1991, during the Gulf War, Rendon operatives hunkered
down in Taif, Saudi Arabia, clocking billable hours on a Kuwaiti emir's
dole. In Afghanistan, founder John Rendon joined a 9:30 conference call
every morning with top-level Pentagon officials to set the day's war
message. Rendon operatives haven't missed a trip yet—Haiti, Kosovo,
Zimbabwe, Colombia.

The firm is tight-lipped, however, about its current projects. A
spokesperson refuses to say whether Rendon is doing any work in preparation
for the potential upcoming invasion of Iraq. But a current Rendon Arabic
translator tells the Voice, "All I can say is that nothing has changed—the
work is still an expensive waste of time, mostly with taxpayer funds."

However, Rendon may just prove to be one step ahead of the game. If Saddam
is toppled, a Rendon creation is standing by to try to take his place. The
Iraqi National Congress (INC), a disparate coalition of Iraqi dissidents
touted by the U.S. government as the best hope for an anti-Saddam coup, has
gotten the go-ahead from U.S. officials to arm and train a military force
for invasion. The INC is one of the few names you'll hear if reporters
bother to press government officials on what would come after Saddam.

At the helm of the INC is Ahmed Chalabi, a U.S.-trained mathematician who
reportedly fled from Jordan in 1989 in the trunk of a car after the collapse
of a bank he established. He was subsequently charged and sentenced in
absentia to 22 years in prison for embezzlement. Back home in Iraq, he's
referred to by some as the so-called limousine insurgent, and is said to
hold little actual standing with the Iraqi public. Shuttling between London
and D.C., Chalabi hasn't been in Iraq in more than 20 years, and draws "more
support on the Potomac than the Euphrates," says Iraq specialist Andrew
Parasiliti of the Middle East Institute.

"Were it not for Rendon," a State Department official tells the Voice, "the
Chalabi group wouldn't even be on the map."

With funding first from the CIA throughout the 1990s and more recently the
Pentagon, Rendon managed the INC's every move, an INC spokesperson
acknowledges, even choosing its name, coordinating its annual strategy
conferences, and orchestrating its meetings with diplomatic heavy hitters
such as James Baker and Brent Scowcroft.


by David R. Sands
Washington Times, 15th November

An all-hands gathering of Iraqi opposition forces set for later this month
in Belgium has been postponed for a third time, dealing a blow to U.S. hopes
of uniting exile groups fighting Saddam Hussein. Top Stories

Representatives of the opposition factions gave conflicting reasons for the
latest delay, but leading figures in the umbrella Iraqi National Congress
(INC), the London-based group that is organizing the gathering, have clashed
publicly in recent weeks over the scope of the agenda and the size of
competing delegations.

A spokesman for the INC in London said disputes between organizers played a
part in the cancellation of the Nov. 22-25 meeting, but other
representatives were quoted by Agence France-Presse as blaming the delay on
difficulties in getting visas for the hundreds of conference participants.

"It won't happen for at least two weeks," Hamid Bayati, a representative for
the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an Iranian-based
group that represents the country's majority Shi'ite Muslims, told the news

With military and diplomatic pressure on Saddam now in full swing, Bush
administration officials have been plainly anxious to see the conference
take place in the hope of rallying opposition within Iraq to the regime and
smoothing the transition to a post-Saddam administration.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher took a low-key approach to the
organizers' problems earlier this week, calling them the "normal political
differences" to be expected from an "obviously important event."

"We expect those problems will be worked out in a fair and democratic way,"
he said.


Ahmed Chalabi, a London-based Sunni [? - I thought he was Shi'i ­ PB] banker
and the chairman of the INC, and his allies have been feuding with Shi'ite
and Iraqi Kurdish groups within the organization over who should attend the
Brussels gathering. Mr. Chalabi has pressed for an expanded convention that
would dilute the influence of the SCIRI and two Kurdish groups and embrace a
plan for a provisional democratic government he had endorsed.

Mohammed Sabir, Washington representative of the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, one of the two Kurdish parties within the INC and a delegate to
the proposed convention, said the gathering was critical.

"It is an opportunity for us to speak with one voice, instead of the five or
ten voices we have now," he said.,3604,840461,00.html

by Martin Woollacott
The Guardian, 15th November

The decisions crowding in on us about the future of Iraq are not only
military and diplomatic but also political. Some of these political
decisions will be made in the next few weeks by Iraqi opposition groups
outside the country and in the protected zone of northern Iraq, influenced
by an American administration with a considerable capacity to tip the
balance between rival groups and competing ideas of what kind of society
post-Saddam Iraq should be. The debate over this Iraqi future, relatively
well mannered at one end of the spectrum and contentious and even abusive at
the other, is naturally intensifying as war comes closer.

Following this debate is not something that should be shunned by those
opposed to an Iraq war. The argument about the nature of Iraqi politics
after a war is, in principle, quite separate from the argument about the
wisdom of military action. Most opponents of war, nevertheless, tag on to
their concerns about military action a cynical picture of its aftermath.
Some see chaos and fragmentation. Others dwell on the dangers of a long
American occupation, or, if that is avoided, on the prospect of an
authoritarian US client state, better than Saddam, but not that much better.
Their position seems to be that the kind of people foolish enough to start a
war over Iraq are the kind of people who will mismanage it afterwards.

Equally, there are supporters of war who seem to take the transition to
democracy for granted, assuming or pretending that all will come out for the
best. Their position seems to be that since war against Saddam is justified,
then a happy future for Iraq is guaranteed.

It is customary to describe the Iraqi opposition in exile as quarrelsome,
without much reflection on what they are quarrelling about. The implication
is that the differences either reflect divisions in Iraqi society, between
Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shia Arabs, for instance, or clashes between leaders
struggling for power.

Naturally, there is truth in this description, but it is also true that
Iraqis in opposition are dealing with an especially difficult problem. This
is well defined in a draft report on the transition to democracy in Iraq
produced by the democratic principles workshop, which grew out of the
programme on the future of Iraq set up by the US state department. The
report states simply that "the practice of politics in Iraq has been dead
for 35 years".

Under the Ba'ath, other parties were at first constrained and then banned,
nor did the regime ever permit the sort of dissident activity that eastern
European states half tolerated. Those parties or movements that have
survived in exile, or been created in exile, are either shadows of
organisations that have disappeared in Iraq itself, save perhaps some
underground remnants, or new bodies, claiming to represent elements in Iraqi
society with which their connections may be less than solid. The fact that
most have foreign patrons also raises a question about the degree of their
legitimacy and autonomy. The Islamists, the monarchists, the ex-military and
Ba'athist opposition are all open to such criticism. Even the big Kurdish
parties, which do have a full-blooded existence, have been affected by the
end of politics in Arab Iraq. The constant emergency situation in northern
Iraq has made them less parties than organisations that offer security,
patronage and employment, and that over-emphasise the power and prestige of
their leaders.

There is another base for Iraqi politics outside Iraq - the large part of
the Iraqi diaspora that are not strong followers of the exile parties but
are politically aware or active, consisting of academics and other
professionals, usually middle class and liberal. Some of these
"independents" support the Iraqi National Congress. The INC, helped into
existence by the CIA in 1992 as an umbrella organisation, has since lost CIA
support and has only distant relations with some parties that were once
under the "umbrella", but with Ahmed Chalabi as its leader, it remains a
force and a vehicle for liberal opponents of Saddam. The differences between
the INC and the independents, together with some small parties, on the one
hand, and the leading parties, on the other, now shape increasingly sharp
exchanges within the Iraqi opposition.

Kanan Makiya, an independent who is also close to Chalabi, has warned that
the "old fossilised parties" are trying to dominate the discussions about
Iraq's future, shutting out other parties, minority ethnic groups such as
the Assyrians and the Turkomans, and Iraqi "independents and democrats".
Makiya and others who have worked on the draft on transition are
particularly angered because the opposition conference on Iraq in Brussels
next week apparently intended to devote little or no time to a document they
regard as "a road map" for the democratic future.

Power in a post-Saddam Iraq is obviously at issue here, but so is the
question of how radically Iraqi society will be changed. The parties tend to
accept existing divisions in Iraqi society rather than try to transcend them
because what legitimacy they have is partly based on such divisions, and
their alliance with each other is based on trading off objectives. They
tend, too, in the view of critics, to be readier for compromise with
authoritarian forces in Iraq such as the army or even the Ba'ath party. That
contrasts with ideas such as those in the draft democracy document, which
suggest that a future Iraq should only have limited self-defence forces,
like those of Japan, that the de-Ba'athisation of Iraqi society be
thoroughgoing rather than perfunctory, and that the federal units of Iraq
should be geographical rather than ethnic.

Mahmoud Osman, an independent Kurdish politician, who is a shrewd observer
of developments within the opposition, also condemns what he calls "the
hegemony of the big parties". He sees the INC as equally motivated by a
desire for a bigger share in decision making, but says its demands for more
inclusive discussion and for consideration of the democracy document are
justified, and could have beneficial results.

Principle and interest are no doubt intermingled here, but the thinking of
the independents and of the parties represent two different directions for
Iraq and there can be no question as to which is most desirable. Part of the
problem is that different parts of the Bush administration favour different
tendencies within the opposition, with the civilian hawks at the Pentagon
favouring the more radical approach that Makiya and others urge and the
doves at the state department ironically taking the conservative line.
Sooner rather than later the Americans will have to make a choice, and it is
an important one.


*  U.N.'S BLIX TO HAVE CYPRUS BASE, 10th November

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix is due late next
week in Cyprus, where his team will have a base, before going to Iraq to
launch a search for any weapons of mass destruction there, according to an
official source.

The Cypriot government source revealed Blix's travel plans following
Friday's U.N. Security Council resolution calling for U.N. inspections of
sites anywhere in Iraq suspected of being used to develop biological,
chemical or nuclear weapons.

The U.N. and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency are to use
the east Mediterranean island of Cyprus, broadly viewed as a neutral country
in the Middle East, as a forwarding post for inspectors.

"Some people are already in Cyprus working on setting up an office and
putting facilities in place. I am not yet aware of when the inspectors are
coming but Hans Blix is expected here at the end of next week," the senior
Cypriot government source told Reuters on Saturday.

Three U.N. officials have been on the island for the past week hunting for
office space in the southern coastal town of Larnaca, which is close to the
island's international airport, diplomatic sources said.

Iraq has a week to comply with U.N. terms or face "serious consequences".
There was no immediate sign Baghdad would automatically comply, but Iraqi
officials say they will study the terms of the resolution.

Under the resolution, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the top weapons
inspectors, plan to travel to Baghdad on November 18 with about two dozen
technicians to set up communications, transport and laboratories.

Around November 25, an advance team of about a dozen inspectors is expected
to arrive in Baghdad and make spot inspections.

Dawn, 12th November

CAIRO, Nov 11 (AFP): Arab League chief Amr Mussa said he would ask UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday to include Arab nationals on arms
inspection teams being sent to Iraq under a tough new disarmament

Mussa was acting on a statement issued Sunday by Arab foreign ministers who
called on the UN Security Council's permanent members to respect
"assurances" not to use its new resolution as a pretext for a war against

The ministers, while urging Iraq to accept the resolution as a last chance
to avoid war, asked for Arabs to join the inspectors after Syria warned that
a report from them of Iraqi failure to cooperate could "spark" military

"I will convey this demand today," during a telephone conversation later
Monday with Annan, the League's secretary general told journalists in Cairo
where the organisation is based.

"Having Arab inspectors or observers would enhance the credibility of the
inspections," Mussa said after briefing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on
the ministers' two-day meeting.

"I understood that out of the 250 members" of the UN Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), "there are only four
Arabs, all translators; there are no Arabs among the inspectors," he said.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said he hoped the UN arms experts would
"not resort to provocations" and supported the idea of Arab participation in
the inspection teams, in another sign Baghdad was preparing for their

Baghdad has until November 15 to reply to Security Council Resolution 1441
which it has called "unfair," and the Iraqis parliament was to meet late
Monday in emergency session ahead of a decision by the country's leadership.

The idea of including Arab inspectors in UNMOVIC was first raised by Syrian
Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara, whose country is a non-permanent member on
the 15-member Security Council.

Syria sided with Washington in voting for the new resolution after saying it
had received assurances from permanent members the United States, Russia and
France that it would not serve as a pretext to launch a war on Iraq. But
Shara said here Sunday that although Resolution 1441 averted an immediate
strike, it could conceal "traps."

Mussa said "there are indications that Iraq is moving towards dealing
positively with the recent UN Security Council resolution" on disarmament.
"I think Iraq will cooperate positively with the resolution," he added.,3604,838115,00.html

by Ian Traynor in Vienna
The Guardian, 12th November

In the countdown to war on Iraq, Jacques Baute could yet persuade the White
House to give peace another chance, although no one is betting on it.

When the French physicist flies into Baghdad next Monday, he will inaugurate
a more rigorous regime of inspection of Saddam Hussein's alleged illicit
weapons programmes.

Issues of war and peace will hinge on what Mr Baute finds and on whether
Saddam Hussein lies to him.

Given Washington's bullish mood, Mr Baute's mission is a race against time.
But the chief arms inspector for the nuclear wing of the United Nations
detectives insists he won't be rushed into premature conclusions.

"We're fully conscious that we are under time pressure," he said in his
office on the 23rd floor of the UN tower in Vienna that is headquarters for
the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"As the leader of the team, I have to understand the pressure, but I have
not to bend so much that we would lose in technical credibility. We're going
to implement everything we feel we need to implement as fast as we can. But
one thing we won't compromise on is the credibility of our conclusions. If
we draw conclusions, it's because we've done everything we need to."

After months of preparations, negotiations with the Iraqis, pressure from
the Americans, and haggling over commas and adjectives at UN headquarters in
New York, the inspectors got the green light to return to Baghdad last week.

President Saddam has until Friday to agree that they can operate unhindered
in Iraq.

On the 23rd floor, the air is one of controlled excitement.

And if Mr Baute appears an unlikely sleuth, he can take much of the credit
for "neutralising" Saddam's secret nuclear project in the mid-90s, an
inspection success that saw the UN team dismantle a research reactor, wreck
the ancillary facilities and take 20 kilos of weapons grade uranium out of
Iraq as well as 5.5 grams of plutonium.

Uniquely among the teams returning to Baghdad, Mr Baute has been involved in
the Iraq crisis since 1991.

This time, thanks to American pressure, the terms for Mr Baute's mission are
much tougher, empowering the UN inspectors to go anywhere, any time in Iraq,
to interview any Iraqi expert or technician they want, and demand all the
documentation they require. It will be a battle of wits with Saddam.

"We need to be unpredictable so the other side can't take countermeasures,"
Mr Baute says. "So we won't provide an advance list [to the Iraqis] of who's
coming until one hour before landing."

If the Baghdad regime can't vet the inspectors, nor will it be notified in
advance, unlike last time, about what sites are to be examined.

The Iraqis are not allowed to open the inspectors' luggage at Baghdad
airport or have a look at their equipment on arrival. If they so choose, the
inspectors will also be able to place parts of Iraq under quarantine,
sealing off districts and roads if they find suspect sites.

Mr Baute has headed more than 20 arms inspections in Iraq in the years up to
December 1998 when the mission was aborted. He says he never felt
intimidated, that the biggest risk he faced was the Baghdad traffic.

Of course, there were plenty of political problems with the regime during
the 1992-98 inspections, but the 50C heat in summer, the lack of air
conditioning, the gruelling pace of work and the constant travel were the
biggest problems, necessitating a rotation of the inspectors every few

"In the field, it's 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are no breaks.
It's quite demanding. But we're definitely very eager to return."

For the past four years, the experts have been holed up in offices in Vienna
and New York poring over satellite imagery, spy pictures and computer data,
trying to work out what has been going on in Iraq.

Now they are getting the chance to check their hunches against their
forensic skills.

"We don't trust. We verify. Nothing is taken at face value," says Mr Baute.
"If we can't get practical proof of what we're told, we have a problem.

"We're starting with a big gap of four years. The issue is understanding
what may have happened in Iraq since December 98. We 're suspicious on
principle. We're returning with the intention to try to identify or detect
an activity that could have happened after 98.

"We work with the assumption that Iraq wants the weapons. That's not an
accusation, it's an assumption which allows us to develop all the tools that
could be useful."

New equipment for the inspectors includes portable gamma radiation
detectors, handheld tools that conduct instant spectrometry and others that
analyse alloys in machinery for their compatibility with nuclear work. All
being well, says Mr Baute, it will be two months before the inspectors will
report to the security council in New York.

"No one should expect any conclusions in this report. It's impossible to
imagine that after 60 days we could say Iraq is clean."

by Robin Wright
Gulf News (Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service), 13th November

The international haggling is over. A new UN resolution on Iraq passed
Friday, and weapons inspectors soon could be heading back to Baghdad.

The Bush administration is pushing and planning for a speedy denouement that
will either yield any weapons of mass destruction Iraq might possess or
spark war to find and destroy them.

Yet a growing chorus of former weapons inspectors, intelligence analysts and
Iraq experts warn that the process of trying to disarm Baghdad could drag on
for months, quite possibly beyond the preferred timing for a U.S. military
operation in the cooler winter months.

Indeed, in what could prove to be the administration's worst-case scenario,
the Iraqi regime may comply, at least at the outset, the sources predicted.
Saddam may even allow UN teams entry into eight palace compounds, access he
long restricted on grounds of Iraqi sovereignty.

"We are setting ourselves up for a big confrontation. We'll try
in-your-face, hardline inspections assuming the Iraqis won't cooperate.

"But Saddam will meet them with all kinds of fluffy-stuff public
demonstrations, opening the palaces to the Iraqi people and other creative
ploys to distract attention and make the whole thing look silly, hoping to
throw the inspections off course," said Judith Yaphe, a former intelligence
analyst now at National Defence University in Washington.

"By the time the inspectors get in, there'll be nothing to look for in the
palaces they want to check," she said.

How the showdown unfolds will be keyed to both deadlines and performance.
But despite the unprecedented pressures and demands on him, Saddam still
holds many cards, UN and U.S. officials conceded.

"It's going to be easier for him to string out the process beyond the
administration's (informal) deadline and harder for the United States to
find a trigger mechanism to act militarily," said Phebe Marr, an Iraq expert
and former U.S. government analyst. "We've already been slowed just in
getting a UN resolution."

The first test will be the Friday deadline for Iraq to accept the new UN
resolution. Many analysts both in and outside government expect Saddam to

But the real test will be the 30-day deadline for handing over a complete
list of any Iraqi nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and ballistic
missiles. Iraq was supposed to provide the list within 15 days of the Gulf
War's end in 1991, but still hadn't complied by the time the weapons
inspectors withdrew in 1998.

Iraq has insisted for months that it has nothing left to declare ­ one
reason the United States pushed hard for the United Nations to make lying or
failing to fully declare any of its deadliest arms a "material breach" on
Iraq's part that could justify military action.

Coming clean will be tough. But again, several former weapons inspectors and
Iraq experts predicted that Baghdad would in the end confirm it still has
weapons of mass destruction.

As part of the 1991 ceasefire, Iraq initially gave up roughly one-third of
its weapons, hoping the UN teams would soon go away. They didn't. In the
mid-1990s, Iraq again admitted it still had some weaponry, after claiming to
be clean, a move forced by the defection of Saddam's son-in-law, who managed
programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction.

As a stalling tactic, however, all Iraq has to do is confess to a few arms,
perhaps a few token Scud missiles and some of the "dual-use" programmes that
can make chemical or biological weapons out of everyday ingredients,
analysts and former weapons inspectors said. That could muddy the waters and
lead to further splits in the international community.

"If Iraq coughs up some of the stuff, particularly real biological and
chemical weapons, then the United States is in trouble. It'll be very
difficult for the administration to say it still may launch a war. We
couldn't justify this even to the Brits," said Whitley Brunner, a former
U.S. intelligence official who served in Iraq.

Since the outside world in still unsure of exactly what Saddam does and does
not have, the inspectors will need time to determine whether his regime is
still hiding an arsenal, analysts and former inspectors said.

Iraq's initial revelation might be greeted by many in Europe and the Arab
world as proof that the inspections are working and that war is avoidable,
the sources said.

Then will come the tricky and labour-intensive inspections. They will
involve a nationwide hunt through hundreds of potential "dual-use"
facilities, from government sites to university labs, hospitals to
industrial sites, including breweries and baby-formula plants. Breweries,
for example, could have "growth media" to produce biological weapons.

Merely working up what is known as a "baseline" of all the facilities to
check and then setting up monitors to ensure they will not later be
converted for weapons manufacture could take four to five months, said
former inspectors who spent a year working up the initial baseline for the
last round of inspections.

Running surprise inspections along the way will be the hardest part, since
surprises are almost impossible to pull off in Saddam's tightly controlled

Without major new arms discoveries, Baghdad is likely to argue that there's
nothing more to find and begin pressing for an end to the inspections and
the lifting of the world's toughest economic sanctions. Iraq could find
sympathy from key UN Security Council members such as France and Russia.

Associated Press, 14th November

WASHINGTON: Iraq would have to show a pattern of obstruction and failure to
cooperate for there to be a violation of the United Nations resolution on
weapons inspections, one of the leaders in the effort said Thursday.

Mohamed ElBaradei, executive director of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, said that an isolated minor omission in a site inventory would not
be enough to constitute a material breach of the resolution, although it
would be reported to the U.N. Security Council.

President Bush has said that he would have "zero tolerance" for any Iraqi
attempts to hide weapons of mass destruction or for Iraqi "deception and
deceit" in trying to mislead inspectors. A White House spokesman reiterated
that position Thursday.

"If there is a pattern of lack of cooperation then we have to report to the
Security Council and the Security Council will decide if that is a material
breach," said ElBaradei, when asked what might be viewed as Iraq's failure
to cooperate.

But he said he would view with concern "any serious violations that go to
the heart of (Iraq's) obligations" to produce by Dec. 8 a complete list of
potential sites of interest to weapons inspectors.

ElBaradei said it might be some time before a clear determination can be
made on whether Iraq is clean of weapons of mass destruction. "It depends on
how much we see. I figure it will be a year before we can come to any
conclusion," he said.

"It is important that Iraq comes with a comprehensive inventory" of sites,
he said. "The Security Council has made it clear that if there are any
omissions, that could be a material breach" of its resolution.

ElBaradei said that inspectors already have about 800 sites they want to
check and that some inspections will begin in a couple of weeks, before
Iraq's deadline for producing its list

He said he hoped Iraq would not try to "sanitize" sites, but added that the
inspectors have a variety of tools and resources ‹ from satellite imaging
and spy plane surveillance to environmental sensors and past inspection
records ‹ to detect if Iraq is misleading inspectors.

"We have lots of methods to check," he said as he rushed to the airport for
a flight back to Vienna, Austria, where IAEA is headquartered, and then on
to Baghdad on Monday with the first contingent of weapons inspectors.

ElBaradei also said that inspectors have been interviewing Iraqi scientists
who have fled the country, and will continue to talk to scientists in
private in Iraq. He would not rule out the possibility that some of those
scientists might be taken out of the country for interviews because of
potential intimidation.

In accepting resumption of the inspections, Iraq said in a letter Wednesday
that it had no weapons of mass destruction ‹ a contention quickly disputed
by U.S. officials and cited by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as an
indicator that Iraq already may be flouting the spirit of the U.N.

ElBaradei, a former Egyptian diplomat, is head of the Vienna-based U.N.
agency that is in charge of the nuclear portion of the Iraqi inspection
effort. Hans Blix heads the search in Iraq for biological and chemical

Times of India (from AFP), 15th November

PARIS: France will send six weapons experts, five of whom are military
personnel, as part of the team of inspectors that will go to Iraq around
December 1, the defense ministry said Thursday.

"Our participation in the inspection missions that will get underway in Iraq
will be important. It will include staff, technical means (...) and
information-gathering means, including by air," said defense ministry
spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau.

Of the 63 inspectors of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection
Commission (UNMOVIC), eight will be from France including seven officers and
military engineers, and a customs expert. They include missile experts, a
biologist, an image analyst and experts on Iraq.

An additional 21 inspectors, all from the defense ministry, will be put on
standby as part of a UNMOVIC pool group of 250 arms experts, said Bureau.

That would make France the second-biggest contingent in the inspection pool
after the United States, which is supplying 24 personnel. The next biggest
contributors are Australia, with 19 inspectors, and Russia with 18, he said.

An advance team of inspectors is due to arrive in Baghdad on Monday to
re-open offices shut down four years ago when the experts were pulled out on
the eve of British-US air strikes.

But actual inspections are expected to begin "a week or ten days after
that", said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming of the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA).

Concerning inspections of suspected nuclear weapons sites, the team will be
led by Mohammed ElBaradei, the Egyptian director general of the
International Atomic Energy Agency, and his French aide Jacques Baute, the
spokesman said.

French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said during a visit to Saudi
Arabia last month, before the new UN resolution concerning Iraq was voted,
that France had put in place an "initiative" to help the arms inspections,
mainly through intelligence data and aerial photography.

Bureau said France "won't hesitate" to deploy Mirage 4 jets fitted with
cameras if requested.

He added that UNMOVIC's analysis evaluation division was headed by a French
director who reported directly to chief inspector Hans Blix.

Blix is scheduled to be in Paris Saturday, two days before arriving in Iraq
to start work.

by Todd W John
Asia Times, 15th November

BANGKOK - Now that the wily Saddam Hussein has said he will permit the
re-entry of United Nations weapons inspectors into Iraq, many wonder what if
anything the inspection teams will find. Could Saddam not hide his nuclear,
biological or chemical weapons or implements? To answer such questions,
understanding the technology and methods the inspection teams will use to
locate weapons of mass destruction is essential.

Locating weapons of mass destruction in an inhospitable environment such as
Iraq will indeed be a daunting task. The country, which is roughly the size
of California, offers inspectors merciless heat, dust and a limited
infrastructure. Inspectors will have to deal with limited access to
electricity and, even with the explicit wording of UN Resolution 1441
calling for "unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access" for the
inspection team to undertake their work, they will still certainly be
working with uncooperative and hostile hosts.

Some of the basic gear and technology that will be used by the United
Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) team
will include high-end laptop computers fitted with advanced Global
Positioning System (GPS) software utilizing encrypted satellite
communications to enable the inspectors to move quickly, precisely and
without oversight of Iraqi authorities. While Geiger-counter technology may
see limited service in the inspections for radiation detection, the team
tends to regard such tools as unnecessary weight to their packs as they
offer little in exploring the vast regions of Iraq. The chances of an
inspector stumbling upon trace evidence of radioactive materials are slim to
none. Even more powerful radiation-detection equipment, usually affixed to
helicopters or vehicles to cover more territory, may prove ineffective, as
this technology tends to be used to detect larger-scale industrial nuclear
processes that Iraq is not ignorant enough to have lying about.

The UN inspection team will employ technologies that were not available at
the time of their 1998 departure from Iraq. Portable X-ray devices and
hand-held chemical and biological contaminant sensors will aid the team in
their arduous task of seeking out nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Locating nuclear devices and accessing Iraq's capabilities will be the work
of highly specialized inspection personnel who will employ technologies such
as X-ray, holographic imaging and plutonium measurement analysis (PUMA) to
detect the components of a nuclear arsenal. Seeking out nuclear-arms
capabilities relies on a "nuts and bolts" approach that seeks to identify
the 30 or so telltale parts, such as uranium processed fuel and specialized
machine parts that are essential for the construction of nuclear weapons.
The PUMA technology is an advanced radionuclide detection tool that uses
glass-housed lithium-6 atoms and cerium ions. The presence of radionuclides
causes a reaction of the neutrons with the lithium, illuminating the cerium
- a state-of-the art, lightweight and low energy detection system for
finding components such as plutonium.

However, the nuclear detection and inspection experts will also rely on good
old-fashioned intelligence in locating for interrogation Iraq's experts in
nuclear science who may be part of a weapons program.

Detecting the presence of chemical and biological weapons is no easier for
the inspection team. Biological-agent detection is complicated, as some
components are naturally occurring, requiring the UN experts to analyze
samples to determine whether an agent is natural or weapons-grade. With
chemical weapons, complexity arises in separating the masses of chemicals
used by Iraq's civilian chemical industry, such as phenol and chlorine, that
have justifiable industrial uses but can also be used for insidious weapons
programs. Finally, facilities used for civilian biological and chemical
purposes can often be quickly converted to produce devastating agents and
pathogens for warfare.

UN inspection teams armed with high-tech cameras, sensors and monitoring
devices will combat these difficult detection and assessment tasks by
installing equipment that will alert inspectors to facility conversion or
sudden changes in chemical and biological compositions in air, soil and

An example of biological-agent detection and classification equipment is a
new "DNA chip" technology developed by California-based Affymetrix that
helps inspectors by storing complex genetic information for pathogens,
allowing quicker analysis and classification of unknown agents that may be
used in biological weapons. Likewise, Biodetection Enabling Analyte Delivery
System (BEADS) is a technology that was developed to enable inspectors to
make on-the-spot analysis of samples without the need for painstaking sample
preparation. By allowing analysis of "dirty" or unprocessed samples, BEADS
is a technology that can be implemented as a stand-alone, unattended
monitoring system.

Conventional methods of determining Iraq's weapons capabilities will also be
augmented by technology. Research and analysis of Iraqi envoys' dealings
throughout the world in trade and acquisition of certain materials,
chemicals, agents and components will also be essential in assessing its
weapons capabilities. This analysis five to 10 years ago would have been far
more painstaking without the many computing tools available to inspectors

UN inspections are tentatively scheduled to begin in the last week of
November. They will be undertaken by inspectors with some of the most
advanced detection technology and assessment methods ever used. Any attempt
by Iraq to conceal any weapons of mass destruction will likely be futile and
could lead to the "severest consequences", as President George W Bush and
the United States stand ready and seemingly eager to disarm Saddam by force
if necessary. The only question that will remain if inspections are
successful in weeding out Iraq's weapons programs is whether without a
"regime change" Bush and the US will be satisfied, but this remains a
question that technology cannot answer.

IRAQI/UK RELATIONS,12239,837330,00.html

by Kamal Ahmed, political editor
The Observer, 10th November

Growing tension in the Cabinet over whether the United Nations should have
the final say on military action against Iraq was revealed last night when
Clare Short demanded that any force used against Saddam Hussein had to be
sanctioned by the Security Council.

Short, the International Development Secretary, appeared to be at odds with
the Downing Street line when she said that it was 'essential' that the Iraqi
dictator was dealt with through the UN. Tony Blair has made it clear that
any breach by Saddam could lead to immediate military action without a fresh
Security Council resolution.

'I am, and have been - I have publicly said on many occasions - of the view
that it is essential to keep the international community together and to
operate through the United Nations,' Short said. She urged Saddam to
co-operate with chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix.

Britain's ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said yesterday that
the Government would not allow 'a funk or a fudge' to let Saddam off the
hook. 'The UK will give the Security Council every chance to produce a
resolution that deals with any problem that arises,' he said. 'But if there
is a funk or a fudge, then we are not going to allow Iraq to escape
disarmament because the Security Council can't handle it. That's the point.',,482-476333,00.html

by William Rees-Mogg
The Times, 11th November

It was a revolutionary week in geopolitical reality. For the first time
since 1934 an American President won seats in both Houses of Congress in a
mid-term election. The Security Council of the UN was unanimous in its
resolution to disarm Iraq. George W. Bush's position is far stronger than it
was a week ago. History is on the march.

Three people come particularly well out of the unanimous passage of
Resolution 1441 by the Security Council. President Bush himself decided that
the reference to the Security Council would strengthen rather than obstruct
America's policy of disarming Iraq. The hawks in Washington had argued that
the United Nations reference was a waste of time.

The other two were Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, and Tony Blair.
Colin Powell not only won the Washington argument, and persuaded the
President to follow his advice, but was very effective in his diplomacy with
the other nations of the Security Council. Mr Blair fully supported Mr
Powell. The President sees Britain as the reliable ally of the United States
in maintaining world order. He sees Tony Blair as a steadfast friend. That
is a national asset for us.

American diplomacy was strengthened by two acts of terrorism which occurred
while the Security Council discussions were taking place. The Chechen
hostage-taking in a Moscow theatre reinforced those, including President
Putin, who already realised that Russia is as much threatened by Islamic
terrorism as the United States. Of course, Russia also has financial
interests in Iraq to protect. The Bali bombing reminded Asian countries that
they, too, are under threat.

The surprise was that the United States managed to persuade Syria, currently
a member of the Security Council, to vote for the resolution. Syria's vote
has received support from other Arab countries which gives the resolution
the added strength of unanimity. Despite protests, such as the Florence
demonstrations, Europe, Russia, Asia and the Arab world are all agreed that
Iraq must be disarmed. Their weapons of mass destruction must be declared
and destroyed. Otherwise there will be war.

The United States has waited for this resolution, but has not delayed the
military build-up. If Saddam Hussein does not give total compliance,
American forces will be ready for war by the New Year.

There are still several possibilities, though there is little doubt about
the eventual outcome. In theory it is possible for Saddam Hussein to survive
by total compliance. There are certainly people in the Arab world, and among
anti-war protesters, who hope that will happen.

Disarmament would, however, be an extraordinary humiliation for a regime
which relies on prestige. The United States will be watching for a single
false step. Washington would rather deal with a new regime in Iraq than
tolerate even a disarmed Saddam.

There is a possibility that Saddam will be overthrown by his own people, by
the politico military establishment of Iraq. He takes every precaution to
purge his own supporters in order to protect himself from frequent threats
of assassination. It will not be easy for his army to conspire against him.
On the other hand he has completely failed Iraq. He is not only the worst
sort of brutal dictator, guilty of genocide, but in policy terms is a
complete failure. His war against Iran was a disaster; so was his invasion
of Kuwait. Now he has brought the United States back in great force into the
Middle East, determined to disarm his country. Iraq, though rich in oil, has
been impoverished. Although they must be implicated in his crimes, the
commonsense thing for his generals to do is to get rid of him before the
Americans get rid of them. But that is easier said than done.

Perhaps the most likely of the possibilities is that there will be an
Anglo-American invasion, starting with an air attack which would probably be
timed between mid-January and the end of February. Perhaps a surprise attack
could come a little earlier. There is no support in Washington for
postponement into the second half of next year. They do not want Saddam
Hussein more time to prepare a counter-attack.

The American campaign would have great military advantages. From the first
hours there would be complete control of the air. There would be
overwhelming firepower, able to inflict very heavy casualties on the Iraqi
forces, probably with little loss of life on the American side. The Kurdish
population in the North and the Shia Muslims in the south have been brutally
massacred and detest the regime. There might be resistance in Baghdad
itself, but there might well not.

Once Saddam is seen as a loser, the war could rapidly become a matter of
"sauve qui peut". The conditions for a long resistance do not seem to exist.

America's critics have put forward three scenarios in which the United
States might pay a heavy price. The first is that of terrorist attacks,
particularly on Western cities. These could include chemical, biological or
even nuclear weapons, perhaps in the form of "dirty" bombs. Such terrorist
attacks are expected by the British Government; given the support for
Islamic terrorism, they could occur whatever happens in Iraq.

There will inevitably be casualties in the war on terrorism, but they may be
far worse if it is not fought. Iraq is a terrorist power with growing access
to weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair believes that the situation can
only get more dangerous if nothing is done. If there are terrorist attacks
before Iraq has been disarmed, that will only increase the determination of
the Americans to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

The second scenario seems less plausible. It is said that Iraq could break
up into different states, based on ethnic or religious differences. That
fear persuaded the Americans not to go through to Baghdad at the end of the
Gulf War. I discussed this with representatives of the Kurds, who have
adopted a policy of a federal Iraq. They recognise that an independent
Kurdistan, which they failed to achieve after 1918, is not going to emerge
out of this situation. Home rule in a federal state seems to be the best
they can hope for. It is their official position.

The third scenario would be a general revolt of the Arab world. Something
like that did happen in the 1950s, when there were revolutions in Egypt,
Syria, Libya and Iraq. However, President Nasser of Egypt had convinced Arab
opinion that he was the leader of the future. Earlier this year, when I was
in Kuwait, where Iraq is an object of fear and horror, the feeling was that
there would be no peace in the Middle East until Saddam Hussein was removed.
The Kuwaitis believe that most other Arab governments also feel that. Now,
by backing the call for disarmament, the Arab governments are almost saying
as much. The Arab nationalist revolution of the 1950s was based on the
momentum of a new idea. I would not expect a revolution now to be based on
the failure of an obsolete tyranny. The removal of Saddam Hussein would be a
welcome benefit for the Arabs and particularly for Iraq.

Resolution 1441 is an historic event. It recognises the fact that the United
States is the world's only superpower. It has taken 13 years, since the fall
of the Berlin Wall, for an American President to use with confidence the
full global power of the United States. He is the first President to
understand how strong his country is.

In varying degrees all the important powers of the world have themselves
understood the implications of 9/11. Governments have to accept the Ancient
Roman maxim that "the safety of the Republic is the supreme law". If the
major governments act together, they can hope to protect their vulnerable
populations from global terrorism. The fall of the twin towers, the horror
of the Moscow theatre, the Bali bombing, the attack on the Indian parliament
and the suicide bombings in Israel have shown everyone how exposed the world
is to 21st-century terrorism.

Yet the terrorists cannot take on the whole world, and they cannot hold out
against the power of the United States unless other significant powers are
prepared to protect terrorists. Resolution 1441 shows that the United States
is prepared to carry the responsibility and that the major powers recognise
that their safety depends on the success of American action.

All the nations are supporting the Pax Americana.,,2002522230,00.html

by Nick Parker and Andy Russell
The Sun, 14th November

TWO union chiefs who led firefighters out on strike went to Iraq and
returned spouting Saddam Hussein¹s propaganda, The Sun can reveal.

Bob Pounder and Howard Western BLASTED Britain and our allies over sanctions
against Iraq after their Baghdad jolly.

The hard-Left stooges were unmasked as Britain¹s 50,000 firefighters walked
out at 6pm last night despite fears of terror attacks.

With the strike only an hour old a woman died in a house fire as RAF
firefighters raced to the scene.

But two striking fire crews broke their stoppage to dash to their aid.

Pounder, fire union boss in Manchester, made a bizarre analogy between
firemen and the war on Iraq.

He said that while Tony Blair was prepared to spill others¹ blood,
³firefighters have been paying a blood price for years².

The 48-hour strike was masterminded by Fire Brigades Union supremo Andy
Gilchrist ‹ who has a picture of revolutionary Che Guevara in his office.

The strike, over a whopping 40 per cent pay claim, is the biggest union
challenge to a government since the heyday of maverick miners¹ leader Arthur

Last year¹s trip to Iraq by Pounder and regional FBU secretary Western was
to show workers¹ solidarity.

Western even donned Iraqi robes.

Both men attended a rally calling for an end to UN sanctions.

And they met Saddam¹s Minister of Labour Dr Saddi Tuma Abbass. They were
told: ³Your visit is a message to the enemies of humanity.²

Writing in the magazine Firefighter on his return, Pounder pledged the FBU¹s
backing for an end to sanctions.

He stormed: ³Surely our government is not beyond reproach and accountability
in contentious areas of foreign policy.

³The whole trade union movement for internationalist and humanitarian
reasons has a duty and responsibility to act.

³In the fullness of time, the Fire Brigades Union position on Iraq will be
The union men presented an FBU plaque to the Iraqi Fire Service ‹ and were
taken to a site where Saddam claims 403 civilians were killed in an air raid
during the 1991 Gulf War.

In his magazine article, Pounder claimed the civilians had been ³executed in
a planned and co-ordinated attack².

Earlier this year, Pounder ranted after firefighters voted for industrial
action: ³Tony Blair said he was prepared to pay a blood price to attack

³It¹s not his blood of course. Firefighters have been paying a blood price
for years and it is high time for this to end².

Pounder has risen through the ranks of the FBU by championing extreme
left-wing causes.

He is an ordinary fireman on £26,000 a year. But he can devote up to half of
his working hours to union duties.

He recently invited a group of asylum seekers to tea at his office to
support their campaign against repressive Turkish jails.
Last year he backed a fireman carpeted for refusing to salute a superior ‹
slamming Manchester fire chiefs for fostering a ³militarism culture².

He also sparked controversy during the race riots in Oldham when he
complained firemen were working alongside ³a paramilitary police force².

Pounder said he feared fire crews would be seen as ³forces of oppression².

The Sun repeatedly rang Pounder¹s mobile to ask him to explain his views

Eventually a man answered, saying: ³We are not interested in speaking.²

Yesterday it was clear the loony left was jumping on the strike bandwagon.

In Cambridge and in Preston, Lancs, pickets were joined by Socialist Workers
Party members.

JAIL officers are set to walk out over lack of safety cover during the
firemen¹s strike.

Union bosses held talks yesterday, claiming the lives of 34,000 warders
could be put at risk if inmates riot.

A Prison Officers Association insider said: ³We can¹t rule out strike action
where fire and safety cover is deemed inadequate.²

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