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News, 15-22/11/02 (3) THE OPPOSITION/COLLABORATION * Ex-Iraqi Generals Advise U.S. * Exiled Iraqi Groups Settle Feud * Iraqi exiles throwing elbows * Iraqi Dissidents Move Unity Meeting * War crimes arrest blow to Iraqi opposition * US forms Iraqi opposition army INSIDE IRAQ * 8 senior Iraqi officers executed: Daily * UN Oil-for-Food Program Has Halved Child Malnutrition in Iraq * Saddam shuts down newspaper run by his son Uday * How Times barked and Saddam's son was bitten * Iraq Christians Hail Saint's Relics * Iraqi women tell of Iraq oppression * The delegation of the opposition Iraqi National Alliance gets ready to meet Saddam THE OPPOSITION/COLLABORATION http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=16791271&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * EX-IRAQI GENERALS ADVISE U.S. Associated Press, 15th November WASHINGTON: Five Iraqi generals, all defectors from Saddam Hussein's army, said Friday that once Saddam is ousted, military and security forces in Iraq must focus on national defense rather than protecting the replacement regime. The five, speaking at a seminar sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, all criticized the vast array of forces Saddam has assembled to protect himself from plots against his regime. Brig. Gen. Tawfik al-Yassiri, who once served as commander of an administrative affairs school in Iraq, said, "It is important to get rid of factions that exceed a defensive role." Brig. Gen. Muhammad Baraa al-Rubaie, a former battalion commander, agreed, saying that military and security forces "should be used for defense and not for security purposes." The major theme of the conference was reconstruction of Iraq's armed forces in the post Saddam era, a subject that is gaining increasing attention these days as U.S. military forces take up positions near Iraq in advance of a possible attempt to dislodge the Iraqi leader. The Iraqis all spoke through translators, although one of the five, Gen. Fawzi al-Shammari, opened his remarks with few sentences in English on Saddam. "I know him. I know his behavior. It is not my honor to have been one of his leaders," said al Shammari, who headed nine divisions during the Iran-Iraq war. Brig. Gen. Najib al-Salhi, who once served as a commander of a Republican Guard battalion, said Saddam has survived many attempts by military personnel to assassinate him. "Not a month passes without such attempts," said al-Salhi. "The jails are full." Al-Salhi led underground efforts to depose Saddam starting in 1979, and defected in 1995. Al-Salhi said the Iraqi military never engaged in actions outside Iraq's borders until Saddam took power, alluding to the Iraqi invasions of Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. "This is not inherent behavior," al-Salhi said, suggesting that, under a new regime, problems with neighbors would be resolved diplomatically, as in the pre-Saddam era. "Aggressive tendencies are an affliction of Saddam's regime," he added. Describing Iraq's military as disgruntled, al-Salhi predicted that in the event outside forces invade Iraq, Saddam cannot count on his forces to defend him. He suggested that a few hundred may fight for a few days and then stop. But Gen. Sadoum al-Dulaimi, who once headed the Center of Socio-psychological and Security Studies in Iraq, disputed that prediction, saying that Saddam's security forces would fight fiercely in his defense. He said 90 percent of these forces, like Saddam, are Sunni Muslims, a minority sect. He added that they are trained to protect the country from external and internal threats and also are prepared to take on the Iraqi army in the event of an uprising. The other major ethnic groups are the Shiites, based in the south, and the northern-based Kurds, both of which are overwhelmingly hostile to Saddam. Al-Dulaimi said one option for a post-Saddam government would be to haul large numbers of security force personnel before tribunals to prosecute them for abuses against the Iraqi people. But, he said, it would be preferable for the majority to be given a chance to be good citizens in a new Iraq. "Their expertise should not be wasted," al-Dulaimi said, reflecting the views of several of his colleagues. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=16817112&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * EXILED IRAQI GROUPS SETTLE FEUD Associated Press, 17th November CAIRO, Egypt: Six exiled Iraqi opposition groups have settled a feud that delayed a meeting to discuss their possible role in toppling Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi dissident said Sunday. Though the way has been opened for a meeting in Brussels originally scheduled for September, the opposition remains deeply divided and negotiations will be tough. The Iraqi opposition is split along sectarian, ethnic, clan and political lines. The rivalries have grown more intense with the prospect of a U.S.-led war to oust Saddam. In a U.S-brokered compromise, Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi backed off demands to bring 300 more of his supporters to the meeting, which is expected to be dominated by his powerful political rivals. The sides agreed to bring just 40 more delegates to the meeting, said Hamid al-Bayati, a spokesman for the six groups. That means about 300 delegates will attend in all. The group hasn't decided who the new delegates will be, al-Bayati said. The meeting is expected to take place sometime next month. Al-Bayati said five U.S. mediators from the State Department, the Pentagon and the National Security Council worked out the compromise during meetings Saturday in London. "The Americans pressed for an enlarged conference to be held as soon as possible and we had no problem with this," al-Bayati said. The delegates are expected to debate ways the six groups can help oust Saddam and form a possible government afterward. Kanan Makiya, another key dissident and a Chalabi ally, had written the State Department asking it to stop the conference. He said liberal and independent dissidents would be excluded. Chalabi spokesmen could not be reached for comment. Al-Bayati said Makiya had approved the compromise. Al-Bayati also said a preparatory committee has turned down a proposal by Makiya and other U.S.-backed exiles that calls for a transitional government that would be set up before Saddam is toppled. The United States has repeatedly urged Iraqi opposition groups to unite and develop plans for governing their nation if Saddam is overthrown. Last week the preparatory committee said it was postponing the conference from Friday for two weeks, in part because most of the delegates have not yet received Belgian visas. The Belgian government has said the delegates did not give it time to process visas. The Belgians also appeared concerned that holding the a meeting in Brussels could be seen as interference in Iraq's internal affairs. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/DK19Ak02.html * IRAQI EXILES THROWING ELBOWS by David Isenberg Asia Times, 18th November As the world waits and watches to hear from UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, it is business as usual for the Iraqi opposition groups on the outside - that is to say, tumultuous, disorganized and mostly feuding. The US military has begun training 5,000 Iraqi exiles to fight along with allied troops should an invasion finally occur. And, according to Zaab Sethna, a senior member of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the political leadership of the Iraqi opposition abroad, a second group of 10,000 will begin training in a matter of weeks. On Sunday, six exiled Iraqi opposition groups settled a feud that had delayed a meeting to discuss their possible role in toppling Saddam Hussein, according to an Iraqi dissident. In a US-brokered compromise, INC leader Ahmed Chalabi backed off demands to bring 300 more of his supporters to the meeting, expected to be dominated by his powerful political rivals. Reportedly five US mediators from the State Department, the Pentagon and the National Security Council worked out the compromise during meetings on Saturday in London. US Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman pressed the dissidents to speed up the convening of a broad conference on Iraq's future. Grossman said that the proposed conference should choose a committee to consult with all sectors of Iraqi society about the country's future should Saddam be ousted. The sides agreed to bring just 40 more delegates to the meeting, said Hamid al-Bayati, a spokesman for the six groups. That means about 300 delegates will attend in all. This opens the way for a November 22 meeting in Brussels - originally scheduled for September - which is supposed to serve as a showcase of emerging cooperation among opponents of Saddam. The delegates are expected to debate ways in which the six groups can help oust Saddam and form a possible government afterward. But the opposition remains deeply divided and negotiations will be tough. The opposition groups have not held a unity conference since 1997. The main reason that they are holding one now is that the Bush administration has been encouraging them for several months to resolve their longstanding differences and to lay the groundwork for the creation of an interim government should, or when, Hussein be deposed. But the latest dispute has raised new questions about whether the groups can ever work together and underscored the pitfalls of trying to create an alternative Iraqi government. The groups have deep ideological differences and mistrust of each other. Each side has accused the others of trying to use the conference to gain control of a post-Hussein Iraqi government. The Iraqi opposition is split along sectarian, ethnic, clan and political lines. The rivalries have grown more intense with the prospect of a US-led war to oust Saddam. The Iraqi National Congress is also clashing with the State Department over US$8 million in funding for propaganda, humanitarian and other programs it is supposed to oversee. 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. Meanwhile, according to a news report coming out of London, a confidential report setting out how Iraq should be run after the ousting of Saddam has divided the administration of President George W Bush and ignited a damaging row between exiles vying for power. The report, funded by the State Department in Washington and drawn up by more than 30 Iraqi intellectuals, urges that Saddam and his inner circle be tried for war crimes, while mid and low-level officials from his ruling Ba'ath party face truth and reconciliation hearings modeled on South Africa's post-apartheid commission. It recommends an amnesty for those who join in opposing Saddam in the event of an American invasion. The proposals also include restitution of property confiscated by the Saddam government, along the lines of post-Nazi Germany. While such measures are broadly supported by the main groups of Iraqi dissidents and by officials in Washington, the report's recommendations for a transitional government have become the focus of bitter controversy. The proposals are contained in a draft document entitled "A Report on the Transition to Democracy in Iraq". It has been drawn up under the auspices of Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi writer and Harvard academic who has chronicled Saddam's reign of terror, and ally of Ahmed Chalabi, heads of the INC. Makiya and his fellow authors have called for a transitional government to be elected by a conference of exiles. They say that this government, whose first priority would be to limit disruption caused by the disintegration of Saddam's authority, should be chosen on the basis of "professional and individual capability rather than political representation". The report is scathing about the state of the Iraqi opposition, saying, "No Iraqi Arab political organization on the scene today has been tested and can be said to be truly representative." While the White House and the Pentagon are understood to support the proposals, the State Department is concerned that a transitional government of professional people chosen on merit would be dominated by the INC. Chalabi supports the findings of the report on Iraq's transition to democracy, which envisages an executive and a national assembly. However, the smaller opposition groups, including two Kurdish parties, fear that their role would become marginal if the proposals were enacted, and are vigorously opposing them. And last but not least is a report in the new issue of American Prospect magazine. It says that Chalabi is the "front man for the latest incarnation of a long-time neoconservative strategy to redraw the map of the oil-rich Middle East, put American troops - and American oil companies - in full control of the Persian Gulf's reserves and use the Gulf as a fulcrum for enhancing America's global strategic hegemony". According to the article, once an occupying US army seizes Baghdad, Chalabi's INC and its American backers are spinning scenarios about dismantling Saudi Arabia, seizing its oil and collapsing the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=16855897&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * IRAQI DISSIDENTS MOVE UNITY MEETING Associated Press, 19th November CAIRO, Egypt (AP) Iraqi dissidents have agreed to move their unity conference from Belgium to Britain and have set a date, but old divisions are likely to shadow the meeting even as the United States presses the exiles to prepare to run their country. Hamid al-Bayati, a London-based spokesman for the conference's organizers, said Tuesday the meeting was being moved from Brussels to London and had been tentatively scheduled for Dec. 10-11. He said the meeting was moved because of "a negative response" from the Belgian government. The conference, which was expected to choose a committee that might be the basis of an interim government for a post-Saddam Iraq, has repeatedly been postponed, in part because of clashes within the Iraqi opposition split along sectarian, ethnic, clan and political lines. The rivalries have grown more intense with the prospect of a U.S.-led war to oust Saddam. The conference originally was scheduled for September in Belgium. After first postponing until Nov. 22, organizers had said last week the meeting was being pushed back two more weeks, in part because most of the delegates have not yet received Belgian visas. The Belgian government has said the delegates did not give it time to process visas. The Belgians also appeared concerned that holding the meeting in Brussels could be seen as interference in Iraq's internal affairs. The United States has repeatedly urged Iraqi opposition groups to unite and develop plans for governing their nation if Saddam is overthrown. According to opposition sources, a U.S team representing the State Department, the Pentagon and the National Security Council has offered "a paper of principles" it wants the dissidents to use to guide their activities. The paper stressed U.S. support for a single, unified opposition conference, but made clear that Washington does not support "a national assembly or a provisional government at this point." The paper, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, also proposes that any post-Saddam regime unconditionally accept all U.N. Security Council resolutions, including one calling for disarming Iraq. Al-Bayati, who in addition to acting as a spokesman for the conference organizers is a representative of the Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite group, and Fouad Masoum of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said their groups are not bound by the terms set out by the Americans. "This is an Iraqi conference and financed by Iraqis. We will decide what we feel is in the interests of our people," al-Bayati said in a telephone interview. Masoum noted that the U.S. document does not refer to a federal system, a central demand of Iraqi Kurds. "We will take what we see good to us and reject what is not," Masoum said by telephone from his London office. Kurds as well as Shiite Muslims have complained of repression by the minority Sunni Muslim community that has traditionally dominated Iraqi politics. The six groups planning the unity meeting are the Constitutional Monarchist Movement, led by a first cousin of the last Iraqi king; the Iraqi National Accord; the Iraqi National Congress; the Kurdistan Democratic Party; the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan; and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-486536,00.html * WAR CRIMES ARREST BLOW TO IRAQI OPPOSITION by Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor The Times, 20th November DANISH police arrested last night an exiled Iraqi general tipped as a possible replacement for President Saddam Hussein. He faces charges that he was responsible for killing thousands of Kurds in a chemical weapons attack 14 years ago. The arrest of General Nizar Khazraji, the former Iraqi Chief-of-Staff and the most senior officer to defect from Baghdad, appeared to wreck any chances that he might lead a mutiny in the Armed Forces and help to topple Saddam's regime. He has been under investigation in the North Sea town of Soroe for the past year, after he was reported to the Danish authorities by a Kurdish immigrant. Reports from Copenhagen last night said that the police had charged him with war crimes, violating the Geneva conventions and other human rights abuses. General Khazraji, 64, commanded the Iraqi Armed Forces during the Iran-Iraq War, when Baghdad used banned poison gas against Iranian troops and Kurdish civilians. In the most notorious incident 5,000 Kurds in the town of Halabja were killed when Iraqi artillery and warplanes bombed the area with nerve gas and mustard gas. He remained military commander during the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but fled to Jordan after falling out with Saddam. He applied for political asylum with his wife and son in Denmark three years ago. Iraqi opposition sources said last night that his arrest was a serious blow to their efforts to build a credible alternative to Saddam's regime. Next month they hope to convene a conference in London for 350 Iraqi exiles as a first step to establishing an alternative government.General Khazraji could have played an important role, particularly on security and military matters. "His arrest is a major setback for us," one opposition figure said. "He is a man with credibility back home. His arrest will make it that much harder to encourage other officers to defect if they fear that they will be charged, too." The Bush Administration is compiling evidence against several prominent members of the Saddam regime, who could face war crimes trials if it is toppled. Washington, however, would like any hearings to take place inside Iraq and to concentrate on a "dirty dozen" list of suspects, including Saddam and his ruling clan. General Khazraji, from a prominent Sunni Muslim family in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, was not believed to under investigation. Nevertheless, he was regarded in Washington and London as one of the few former army officers with real clout inside the Armed Forces. His arrest will probably be greeted with dismay in both capitals. The Bush Administration is counting on the Iraqi Army to revolt en masse against Saddam in the event of a US-led operation. General Khazraji has consistently denied that he was responsible for ordering the use of chemical weapons and claims that the accusations were orchestrated by Iraqi intelligence officers to prevent him co-operating with the opposition. In a BBC interview earlier this year he predicted that the military would rise against Saddam in the right circumstances. "The most important thing is that the Iraqis must be sure that a democratic regime will be there after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and Iraq will be an independent country," he said. Although mentioned as a possible future leader, he said that he was not interested in the job. "I am a military man, I prefer to stay on this side," he said. http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1121/p01s02-wome.html * US FORMS IRAQI OPPOSITION ARMY by Scott Peterson Christian Science Monitor, 22nd November SULEIMANIYEH AND ARBIL, NORTHERN IRAQ With promises of $3,000 and a trip to America, the US is quietly recruiting - inside northern Iraq - part of a new 5,000-man force to help topple Saddam Hussein. But Iraqi opposition leaders here say that the US is creating a military force for the controversial Iraqi National Congress (INC), which has little support in Iraq. It is one of six opposition groups that Washington is encouraging to come up with a plan for ruling a post Hussein Iraq. Iraq's squabbling opposition groups have already put off until mid-December a key meeting in Brussels meant to have started tomorrow. This behind-the-scenes US drive - which may also include a separate US intelligence effort to recruit agents across Iraq - is exacerbating the infighting between the Iraqi groups. "The US should enter into partnership with the real freedom fighters of Iraq, the people with a real constituency," says Barham Salih, the prime minister of one of two main armed Kurdish groups that control northern Iraq, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. "Mercenaries will not do the job." In early October, President Bush signed a presidential directive authorizing the combat training, and approved the use of $92 million remaining from the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act to create a force of local scouts, interpreters, forward spotters to call in laser-guided bombs, and even guards for prisoner-of-war camps. Most of those recruited for the new army so far are being drawn from Iraqi exiles living abroad, from lists supplied by the INC, but some fresh recruiting is now taking place here in northern Iraq. Critics say the new army is designed to provide a power base for the INC leader, Ahmed Chalabi, who has the ear of Congress, the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office, but has little support in Iraq and is dismissed by some State Department and CIA officials as a self-promoting solo act. Ironically, one of the top recruiters for America's new Iraqi opposition army is Bahaldeen Nouri, a septuagenarian former secretary general of the Iraqi Communist Party. In recent weeks, he's signed up and sent 150 new recruits to Turkey, for transport to a secret training camp. "So many people have shown an interest - some people slept overnight to sign up; people came from Iran," says Kurdish elder Nouri, his turban cocked gamely to the right. Though he has reservations about the quality of the recruits, the first batch sent off to a secret training base was "very, very enthusiastic, because they hate [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein," and were promised $3000 and a trip to the US. Nouri makes clear he was not asked directly by Americans to take part, and that a "friend with links to the outside" requested his help with the hush-hush operation. But Nouri has no doubt about who he is working for: "America is recruiting them, paying them and training them," he says. "America should decide what to do with them." Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq, who control tens of thousands of lightly armed forces arrayed against the Baghdad regime, say the US effort to create yet another force is "dangerous" and could result in a "fiasco." Informed sources say the initial batch of recruits has been "infiltrated" by intelligence "assets" of several governments, including Iraq. "This should be about freedom, not about king-making," says Mr. Salih, of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The forms for applicants to the "Iraq Liberation Army" ask volunteers about their past military experience, family history of imprisonments and executions by the Baghdad regime, and whether they had taken part in war crimes or human rights violations. "Did you ever speak or give any pronouncement against America?" reads the final question. Most of the recruits from northern Iraq so far are from Iraq's minority Sunni Arab population, the same group that Mr. Hussein is from, and that - unlike the Kurds in the north, and Shia Muslim Arabs in the south - have no armed opposition forces of their own. While noting that such guides could be useful for US troops during any invasion, "the Iraqi people will not take kindly to such groups - no matter how patriotic they may be - if they are seen to be riding the US train," says Fawzi Hariri, a senior official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the other main armed group in northern Iraq. And KDP Prime Minister Nerchivan Barzani warns that any new force will create "tension" in the opposition. "Who is this being organized for? We assume it is for Ahmed Chalabi," he says, adding that it would be "impossible" for the INC leader to find 5,000 followers without paying for them. "We think it is very dangerous, because we view that [force] as the nucleus for a new civil war in the future," Mr. Barzani says. "There are sufficient armed men in Iraq already - we don't need anymore." Though Mr. Chalabi "deserves to play a role," Mr. Hariri says, "Iraq is not Afghanistan, and there is no room for warlords - especially imported ones." Most of Nouri's recruits so far are from northern Iraq, and from Iraq's minority Sunni Arab population, though he says his organization, the Kurdistan Democratic Movement, is able to recruit from across Iraq. Mr. Hussein is from the Sunni Muslim Arab minority, which - unlike the Kurds in the north, and Shia Muslim Arabs in the south - has no armed opposition forces of its own. For that reason, having such a force play a role in any US invasion may appeal to American war planners. "It's a reasonable thing to do, because Arabs aren't going to join Kurdish forces, and Kurds won't train outside Iraq," says Peter Galbraith, a former US ambassador who has spent years working on northern Iraq issues, now at the National War College in Washington. "The State Department should be careful about belittling Chalabi - he ought to have a role," says Mr. Galbraith. "Dismissing him as a Savile Row revolutionary is not fair. It's easy to dismiss a bunch of guys who go around Washington with tin cups and pontificating." Even some of Chalabi's sternest critics say he should receive credit for keeping Iraq opposition issues alive in Congress during the 1990s. But Chalabi also has a colorful past that is coloring the present. He is wanted in Jordan for allegedly embezzling from a bank that he ran, and played a key role in a CIA operation in northern Iraq in the 1990s that went bust. State Department funding for the INC was cut off for a time this year, amid allegations of fiscal mismanagement. "Chalabi has no military on the ground, so how can he tell America 'I have 1,000 fighters'? So he comes here to get them," says a senior Kurdish security official. "But these people are collected from the street - they're not fighters." The Iraqi infighting is taking place as the US is moving its own CIA assets into Iraq. The Washington Post reported last week that "two teams of eight CIA agents each, with interpreters, were recently inserted secretly" into KDP and PUK territory. It said that Vice President Dick Cheney "reportedly exploded" when he found that State and the CIA had blocked funding for a $4 million intelligence gathering operation inside Iraq by dissidents. Former communist chief Nouri could be recruiting for some similar operation. The clock on his office wall ticks away, inexplicably two hours and ten minutes fast. He speaks about how the force he is helping to build will be the kernel for a new, national army, drawn from all of Iraq's ethnic groups to minimize revenge attacks and street fighting in a post-Saddam world. But even Nouri is not entirely pleased with the recruiting effort. "We should send people who are capable, and believe in it, but some of those who were collected - maybe they won't be good for this mission," says Nouri. "The way it has been done, so rushed, means some people were not suitable. Some of those, you look at them, and you can see that they can't be trained." Nouri denies that he's recruiting directly for Chalabi's INC, saying that he uses "different channels." His first group of recruits was kept at a hotel in KDP territory for several days, at KDP expense, before moving to the town of Zakho and crossing into Turkey. He says he is waiting for a call to send the second batch. "This is not Chalabi's army," Nouri says. "This army is a power base for America - if they want Ahmed Chalabi to be a powerful man, or someone else, I don't know. "My goal is to change the regime, and America is doing that," Nouri says. "They are trying to do a good job in Iraq, and we should clasp hands and join with them." INSIDE IRAQ http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_104153,00050004.htm * 8 SENIOR IRAQI OFFICERS EXECUTED: DAILY Hindustani Times, from Press Trust of India, 17th November Eight senior Iraqi officers were executed after they were accused of triggering an explosion at a missile storage site which they supervised, a Kurdish weekly said on Sunday. The Mediya reported that the officers, who were responsible for the depot in Biji, north of Baghdad, were executed on November 8 in the presence of Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. It published the names of the officers, including those of a general and a colonel. There was no confirmation of the report by the Iraqi authorities or other sources. The Mediya weekly is published in the UN enclave of northern Iraq, where the majority ethnic Kurds have enjoyed a degree of autonomy since Iraqi troops were defeated in the 1991 Gulf war. Radio Azadi, which broadcasts from Iraqi Kurdistan, said meanwhile that the bodies of 12 women, who were freed from prison under an Iraqi amnesty on October 20, were found lying in a vacant lot in Baghdad. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=11/17/02&Cat=5&Num=2 * UN OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAM HAS HALVED CHILD MALNUTRITION IN IRAQ Tehran Times, 17th November UNITED NATIONS -- Malnutrition rates among children in Iraq have halved since the United Nations oil-for-food program was set up six years ago, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Friday. In a report to the Security Council, Annan said there had also been "major achievements" in transport and food handling and improvements in education and electricity, AFP reported. But he drew attention to the "dire funding shortfall", due in part to a row between Iraq and members of the UN Security Council over the oil export pricing mechanism, and he appealed to both sides to help end it. The council has scheduled a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the report. The program comes up for renewal on November 25, when its current 180-day phase expires. Oil-for-food was set up in December 1996 to cushion Iraqi citizens from the crippling sanctions imposed on their country after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Originally a conduit for food and medicine, it now includes 24 economic sectors and has a budget of more than 10 billion dollars a year, four-fifths of it for government-controlled regions in the south and center of the country and one-fifth for the Kurdish North, where the program is run by UN agencies. "Preliminary findings indicate a reduction in the number of underweight children from 23 percent in 1996 to 10 percent in 2002," in central and southern Iraq, the report said. The rates of chronic malnutrition had dropped from 32 to 24 percent and of acute malnutrition from 11 to 5.4 percent in the same period. In northern Iraq, there was a 20 percent reduction in acute malnutrition, a 56 percent cut in chronic malnutrition and a 44 percent decrease in the incidence of underweight children in the under-five age group, the report said. "The nutritional value of the monthly food basket distributed countrywide has almost doubled since 1996, from about 1,200 to about 2,200 kilocalories per person per day," it said. Among the "major achievements" in transport, traffic through the port of Umm Qasr -- Iraq's only outlet to the sea -- was 16 percent greater in 2001 than in the previous year, resulting in "the quicker discharge of vessels, the faster receipt of program inputs and a reduction in transport cost." Goods traffic on the railways rose by 30 percent last year and reliable inter-city public passenger road and rail services had been restored, it said. "Notable achievements in the health sector" included a 40 percent [increase? - PB] in major surgeries since 1997 in the center and south of Iraq as well as a reduction in communicable diseases such as cholera, malaria, measles, mumps, meningitis and tuberculosis. "Countrywide there have been no cases of polio in the last 32 months," the report said. "There are, however, shortages of pre-anaesthetic and reagents" because the UN Security Council's Sanctions Committee blocked imports of goods believed to have a military potential. Cholera has been eradicated in northern Iraq and malaria is at an 11-year low, the report said. "The distribution of 1.2 million school desks has met 60 percent of the need at primary and secondary schools in the center and south," it went on. "This is a great improvement compared with the situation in 1996, when primary and secondary school students were forced to sit on bare floors." On the downside, the report noted that access to drinking water was "insufficient in both quantity and quality". Water and sanitation networks are in a poor state of repair and an estimated 500,000 tons of solid raw or partially raw sewage is discharged daily into Iraq's two rivers, which are the main source of water, the report said. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=354222 * SADDAM SHUTS DOWN NEWSPAPER RUN BY HIS SON UDAY by Anne Penketh The Independent, 21st November Saddam Hussein has ordered a month-long shutdown of the newspaper run by his eldest son, Uday, a move that appears to signal a new bout of trouble in Iraq's ruling family. Iraqi officials said President Saddam had banned Mr Hussein's newspaper, Babel, for "violating the instructions of the Information Ministry". In the absence of any further official explanation, there was speculation that the paper's criticism of pro-American Arab regimes may have prompted the decision, at a time when Iraq's relations with Arab states have been thawing. Babel has recently attacked Jordan and Egypt, and published details on Sunday of a British newspaper report that President Saddam had sent an envoy to Libya to negotiate a "bolt hole" for family members in case of his military overthrow. The intriguing move against Babel comes when Mr Hussein appeared to have prepared the ground for his father to agree to a new UN resolution calling for the Iraqi regime to disarm or face military force. On the day of the vote by the Iraqi National Assembly to reject the UN terms, Mr Hussein, who is an MP, wrote an article to the parliament calling for the resolution to be accepted. The following day, on 13 November, the Iraqi leadership announced it would accept the resolution unconditionally. Although he remains influential because of Babel, Mr Hussein, a playboy turned politician, lost a power struggle within the Hussein family over the past year when his younger brother Qusay was put in charge of the country's security apparatus. Mr Hussein owns the popular Shehab (Youth) television station and is chairman of Iraq's National Olympic Committee and the Iraqi journalists' union. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-488813,00.html * HOW TIMES BARKED AND SADDAM'S SON WAS BITTEN by Zoran Kusovac The Times, 22nd November IT MAY not have been such a good idea for a Baghdad newspaper to repeat a Times story about Saddam Hussein's purchase of a Libyan bolthole for his inner circle. The Al-Babil daily, run by the Iraqi dictator's son Udai, printed an abbreviated translation of the article. It had a mocking headline "The Barking of the Dogs" but that has made no difference. The Iraqi Information Ministry has banned the newspaper from publishing for a month. Officials gave no reason beyond saying that it had "violated press regulations". Observers believe that the ban must at least have Saddam's tacit consent. Al-Babil has published three articles in recent days that may have angered Saddam, but Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Arabic paper Al Quds, had little doubt that publishing the Times story was a major factor. The suspension "probably means that Saddam was very angry that any reference had been made to the damaging story at all, at this most sensitive time when any mention of even junior family members planning to quit is potential political dynamite". Udai's newspaper regularly carries excerpts from foreign press and various internet sources. A week ago it published a list of several hundred Iraqi officials that an opposition website had identified as "targets". The headline was: "Heroes' list". It allegedly infuriated a number of those named. It also printed articles considered insulting to Arab heads of state, in particular Egypt's President Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah. Once groomed to succeed his father, in the past few years Udai has been overshadowed by his younger brother, Qusai, who heads the feared secret service. Nevertheless, he remains extremely powerful. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,61-487235,00.html * VIBRANT REMINDER OF IRAQ'S RICH HISTORY by Daniel Crewe The Times, 21st November THE title of "Miss Baghdad" may seem improbable today, but in 1947 the competition not only existed but was won by a Jewish girl, Renιe Dangoor. The photograph of Miss Baghdad, wrapped in a sash marked in Arabic, is one of the most striking images in an exhibition that opened yesterday at the Jewish Museum in London. Using material from Baghdadi Jews who now live in London, By the Rivers of Babylon describes the glory years and final dark days of the oldest of the diaspora communities. Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylonia, had taken Jerusalem in 597BC and forced Jews to live in Babylon in captivity. This was recalled in Psalm 137: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." The exhibition is a timely reminder of Iraq's rich history. "A lot of the Jewish institutions we take for granted today come from the circumstances that Jews found themselves in when they were exiled," says Jennifer Marin, the curator of the exhibition. It was the Jews in Iraq, for example, who established Torah academies, so that over 300 years the compilation of Jewish law and practice, the Babylonian Talmud (Bavli), was written. They also established the first synagogues, after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the first Temple in Jerusalem in 586BC. Babylonia became the centre of the Jewish world, and though Jews fled to Syria and Kurdistan after the Mongol invasion of 1258, the religion was revived in Iraq in the 19th century and many Jews became prominent figures. The exhibition is set out in three parts. The first, which includes the reconstruction of a house, looks at social life in Iraq, taking in music, food and even the "henna" parties at which the dye would be applied to a bride's fingers. Most striking, though, is the fine clothing that is on display. Photographs demonstrate the transition to Western attire in the 1930s and 1940s, and there are fine examples of gold thread embroidery. The second section consists of panels focusing on 2,000 years of glorious times. "You can see what a rich and important culture it was," says Marin. "It was side by side with the Muslim culture and no one saw any conflict." The third section, which includes the dark etchings of the Baghdadi-born artist Irene Scheinmann (nιe Reuben- Karady), looks at the community's tragic decline, and at this point the coloured panels become black and white. But the testimonies of those who have talked about life in Iraq recall that even during the pogroms of 1941, Jews were helped by their Muslim neighbours. It was after these riots that thousands of Jews left the country, and between 1948 and 1951 more than 120,000 Iraqis settled in Israel. There are dramatic images of the Operation Ezra and Nehemiah airlift and of crowds registering for emigration outside the Batawein synagogue, which was described by a Times reporter last month as having "padlocked steel gates plastered with Saddam Hussein posters". Several departing Jews formed a close-knit community in London, where names such as Saatchi and Kedourie became well known. In 1940 the Jews of Iraq numbered more than 300,000 but by 1952 only 6,000 remained. Now there are fewer than 40, and only two of those know Hebrew. Many people headed not west from Iraq but east. The philanthropist David Sassoon (1792 1864), whose family was a pillar of the Baghdad community, was the first Jew to move from the city to Bombay, starting a business there in the 1830s. His family included Rachel Sassoon Beer (who simultaneously edited The Sunday Times and The Observer), and Siegfried Sassoon. Playing in the background at the exhibition is music in the Iraqi Jewish tradition by the mixed-faith nine-piece band, Rivers of Babylon, led by the ethnomusicologist Dr Sara Manasseh, David Sassoon's great-great-great granddaughter. Dr Manasseh will next month talk on the music of the Baghdadi Jews as part of the museum's programme of events and, in March, Rivers of Babylon will give a concert as part of the Jewish Arts Festival. The concert is sponsored by Naim Dangoor and the Exilarch's Foundation, the publisher of The Scribe, the journal of Babylonian Jewry. Dangoor, who lent many items to the exhibition, is the grandson of one of Iraq's leading chief rabbis, Hakham Ezra Dangoor (1848-1930) and the husband of Miss Baghdad. The exhibition continues until April 6 at The Jewish Museum, Albert Street, London NW1. Telephone 020-7284 1997. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/nov/21/112103286.html * IRAQ CHRISTIANS HAIL SAINT'S RELICS by Bassem Mroue Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 21st November BAGHDAD, Iraq- Hundreds of Christians held a mass to celebrate the arrival of a French saint's relics to Iraq and said they hope the remains will ensure peace in the country. The relics of Saint Therese arrived by plane from Lebanon on Wednesday, after touring that Arab nation for 77 days. The arrival coincided with a call by Iraqi Christians for the country's churches to hold a special prayer for peace Friday. Dozens of people, many with their children, arrived at St. Joseph's Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad before the mass to see the relics inside a brown box placed in front of the altar. Saint Therese was a Catholic nun who lived in the Carmel convent in Lisieux, about 125 miles northwest of Paris, and died at 24 in 1897. She was canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius VI. The relics arrived as United Nations inspectors prepared to resume their search next week for weapons of mass destruction after a four-year absence. The United States says it will use force to disarm Iraq if it does not fully cooperate with the inspectors. Some of those attending the mass said they hoped the relics would help prevent war against Iraq and end the sweeping U.N. sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Ramzia Isaac, a retired teacher, said she hoped Saint Therese would cure her sick son. "I also hope that she will keep war away from us and end the embargo." Imad Elias, another worshipper, said he hoped the saint would cure him of his diabetes and stop "the hostile war against us." Patriarch Jean Suleiman said the saint's relics will tour Iraq until Dec. 27. Christians make up about five percent of Iraq's 22 million people. One of the most prominent Christians in the country is Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=16907355&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * IRAQI WOMEN TELL OF IRAQ OPPRESSION Associated Press, 21st November LONDON (AP) Iraqi women from the country's different ethnic communities spoke out Thursday about what they termed as oppression under Saddam Hussein's regime, hoping to turn an international spotlight on the issue. Six women who have fled their homes in the south, central, and northern Kurdish areas of Iraq told a London news conference of deaths and disappearances of their relatives, the burning of their homes, and of living day to day under threat. They were Arab, Kurdish, Assyrian, Turkoman and Shiite Muslim. And all spoke of executions, torture and oppression in their communities. "We are here begging the support of the free world to liberate us from the nightmare that we have been living in for the past three decades," said Safia al-Souhail, who accuses the Iraqi government of the 1994 assassination of her father, head of the prominent Bani-Tamim tribe, who had been involved in planning a coup against Saddam. "Although men have received the biggest share of the tyrant's brutality," she said, "women end up suffering the consequence." The wives of thousands of missing Iraqi men struggle to provide for their families and cannot remarry, even though they are sure their husbands have been killed, said al-Souhail. Fatima Bahr al Ulum, a small, soft spoken young woman whose head was covered by a scarf, read out a list of 22 members of her prominent Shiite family many of them scholars and imams saying they had been arrested shortly after the start of the 1991 Iraqi uprising that followed the Gulf War. Many have never been seen again; others remain in jail, she said. The Sunni sect of Islam has dominated Iraq since its independence in 1922, and has been accused of suppressing the Shiite branch of the religion there. In the north, Iraq's Assyrians, who are Christians, have suffered cultural oppression and thousands have been forced to leave the country. Assyrian poet Melina Bakoos, now living in London, said her people, who originated in Iraq thousands of years ago, are denied Iraqi passports and many basic rights. "Saddam Hussein and his regime have tried hard to kill our identity as a nation," she said. "We are part of the Iraqi people with all its nationalities." Two Kurdish women, Ala Talabani and Berivan Doski, had stories of repeated treks from their burned homes to places of refuge, sometimes over the mountains to Iran. The speakers called for a change of regime in Iraq, if necessary through military action. "Disarmament alone will not end our suffering," al-Souhail said. "This regime should be indicted for its crimes against humanity." The women said they were dedicated to working together for an Iraq that respected all its peoples and gave women a place in government. But the political opposition-in-exile has so far failed to overcome its divisions. Iraqi dissident leaders are to meet in London next month and are expected to choose a committee that might be the basis of an interim post-Saddam government. But the conference has repeatedly been postponed, in part because of clashes within the Iraqi opposition split along sectarian, ethnic, clan and political lines. New dissident organizations including Assyrians and Turkomans have been formed. Some 70 groups organized around sectarian, ethnic and political lines, but only a few are seen as credible and effective. NO URL (sent to and translated for list) * THE DELEGATION OF THE OPPOSITION IRAQI NATIONAL ALLIANCE GETS READY TO MEET SADDAM Al-Quds Al-Arabi Issue, 22nd November (Translated from Arabic by Hassan Zeini) Baghdad/ Al-Quds Al-Arabi: Abdul-Jabbar al-Kubaisy, the leader of the Iraqi National Alliance confirmed that the Iraqi leadership is working now to finalize a new constitution for the country which emphasizes democratic liberties, respect for human rights and political multilateralism. In a statement to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, al-Kubasiy said that he and his colleagues in the delegation of the Alliance which is visiting Baghdad now, were surprised that the Iraqi leadership has set up committees to draft proposals for a new constitution and new laws for political parties and liberties, which allow political multilateralism and freedoms. He added that the Iraqi leadership is no longer intolerant towards any criticism directed at it including accusations of dictatorship, oppression and violations of human rights. The delegation of the National Alliance had met with Izzet Ibrahim, Saddam's Deputy and other officials. There are speculations that the delegation would meet the Iraqi President in the coming few days. The delegation includes the spokesman of the alliance Awni al-Qalamchi, Fadhil al-Rubai'i, Labib Mansour Abdul-Aziz, Muhammed Jawad Faris and Amer al-Zerb. Mr. al-Qalamchi explained that this change occurred after the opinion of the faction in the leadership which calls for granting more freedoms prevailed over the other faction in the leadership which wants to wait until the extraordinary situation changes, especially since the country is subjected to choking sanctions and is preparing for an American aggression. Mr. al-Kubaisy explained that they toured Iraq, visited many houses and met citizens without government supervision. He stressed that life in Baghdad and other cities is normal. Al-Kubaisy pointed out that all members of the Iraqi opposition can go back and freely be involved in political activity, and can direct any criticism. He said that the only exemption is for those people or groups that are linked to foreign or Israeli intelligence services. Mr. al-Kubaisy talked about the excellent state of preparations to face any US aggression, explaining that there are ten million Iraqis armed with different weapons including anti-tank rockets, and that all are ready to fight and defend the country. Al-Kubaisy was also confident that the impression he got from officials was that Iraq has learned from the lessons of the 1991 war, and that it may surprise many with a different performance if war starts and the US aggression begins. He stated that there is the readiness to continue the war for ten years and even more, and that ammunition and provisions have been provided, without elaborating more on this issue. Fadhil al-Rubai'i described the visit of the delegation as one of solidarity, to confirm that the delegation stands with the Iraqi people and its leadership in the face of any US aggression, stressing that the priority should be given to the protection of Iraq and its unity and safety. The Iraqi National Alliance is an umbrella organization that includes many Iraqi national figures. It has always distanced itself from opposition groups linked to US plans to occupy Iraq and condemned these groups. The Alliance has been in public and secret contacts with the Iraqi leadership for the past three years. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk