The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
News, 15-22/11/02 (4) IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS * Resolution 1441: what price Syria? * Hezbollah may strike Israel in case of US war on Iraq * U.S. Discusses Aid for Turkey to Defray Costs of an Iraq War * Syria and Iraq Tightening Their Ties * Jordan shortlists three firms for oil pipeline from Iraq * Hammoud: Strike on Iraq is now inevitable * [Lebanese] Families demand news on detainees in Iraq IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * No power should enforce its will on Iraq: PM * NATO onslaught against Yugoslavia offers lessons for attack on Iraq * Eritrean port may become US base for Iraq attack * Bosnian Serbs Seek Interpol Help in Iraq Arms Case * In with Iraq, out of NATO * Russian 'Interests' In Iraq Recognized * [Japanese] Govt eyes refugee aid for Iraq's neighbors * Key allies baulk at support for US in Iraq war IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/15_11_02_c.htm * RESOLUTION 1441: WHAT PRICE SYRIA? Daily Star, Lebanon, 15th November Considering the ultranationalist, anti-American rhetoric of the ruling Baath Party branches in Damascus and Baghdad, Syria's vote in favor of Resolution 1441 at the UN Security Council on Nov. 8 came as a big surprise. That's why Syria's vote for the harsh resolution ordering Iraq to disarm didn't sit well with the Syrian street, which had grown used to hearing criticism of US President George W. Bush and his administration from the official media. The Syrian media had always told the public that Bush is intent on "drawing a new Middle East map because the current one no longer serves Israel's interests." Those who whipped up this rhetoric - as well as the quasi-official and popular drive to boycott American goods because of Washington's overt bias toward Israel - were justifiably disappointed to see their country vote for a US-drafted resolution, which made impossible demands of Baghdad calculated to lead to "the occupation of Iraq and the appropriation of its oil." Those who have been following Syrian foreign policy over the last few decades however were not surprised. Damascus has always acted pragmatically in critical situations, adopting positions that enabled the country to "bend before a storm," in keeping with the belief of Syrian decision-makers that "pragmatism does not cancel out principles." The next most recent example of Syrian pragmatism in action took place in October 1998, when Turkey massed its troops on the Syrian border demanding that Damascus expel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. The Syrians didn't respond in kind, refusing to "enter into a war with Turkey for the sake of a Kurdish party." In fact, then President Hafez Assad gave orders that not a single Syrian soldier be moved north. Instead, he agreed to set up a joint security committee with the Turks, which finally resulted in the signing of a security pact with Ankara that settled the issue. Ocalan was expelled from Syria in the autumn of 1998 (and was subsequently abducted in Nairobi, Kenya, and brought to trial in Turkey in February 1999). Syrian public opinion was taken aback by that position, because the official line was extremely hostile to Turkey, "which in collusion with Israel sought to resurrect the policy of military axes aimed at besieging Syria." In fact, some Syrian delegates to the joint security committee genuinely believed that Syria was going to enter a war against Turkey. Eight years before that, the Syrians woke up one morning (in October 1990) to find their country had decided to join "the international coalition to evict the Iraqi Army from sisterly Kuwait." The Syrian government's real objective, however, was to avoid getting caught up in the global storm that was brewing at the time in Eastern Europe. In other words, the Syrian regime found it to be in the country's interest to make a symbolic contribution to the US effort to liberate Kuwait by giving it - together with Egypt - a semblance of "Arab legitimacy." In exchange, Damascus at the time (1) gained international support and protection against the changes resulting from the collapse of its erstwhile communist allies; (2) ensured the launch of an Arab-Israeli peace process that featured talks about the occupied Golan Heights; (3) won American backing for the Syrian presence in Lebanon and got rid of Lebanese General Michel Aoun who had declared a "war of liberation" against Syria; and (4) bought Syria sufficient time to adapt to the new global situation and repatriate Western hostages kidnapped in Lebanon. But what price was Syria seeking this time in exchange for voting in favor of Security Council Resolution 1441? What the Syrians were after was: ‹ American political support for the Syrian presence in Lebanon, and the linkage of that presence from this day forward to the establishment of peace with Israel. ‹ American commitment to the establishment of comprehensive peace in the region, which would return the Golan Heights to Syria. ‹ Diminution of US pressure on Damascus over the presence in Syria of organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which Washington deems to be terrorist. ‹ Support of the movement for political and economic reform in Syria, whereby the country is given breathing space to adapt to the changes in the global political situation since Sept. 11, 2001. ‹ American aid to Syria or, alternatively, American acquiescence in the continuation of Syria's bilateral trade relations with Iraq, now worth $1.5 billion annually. Those were the broad outlines of Syria's objectives as negotiated with Washington. In fact, a fair bit of horse trading went on between Damascus and Washington in recent months, with the Bush administration appreciating Syria's weight in soothing Arab nerves frayed by the situation in the Occupied Territories and in giving Arab legitimacy to Resolution 1441, but nevertheless refusing to pay the full price demanded by Damascus. The Americans thus resorted to the "stick" of political and economic pressure, and the "carrot" of political and economic incentives. The "stick" featured the following elements: ‹ Bush's declaration in a June 24 speech that Syria hosts "terrorist training camps;" ‹ The US administration's refusal to hold official talks with Foreign Minister Farouk al Sharaa when he was in New York last June; ‹ A congressional debate on the Syria Accountability Act; ‹ News leaks about the possibility of Israel settling scores with Syria and Lebanon over Hizbullah; ‹ US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton's remarks about nuclear cooperation between Syria and Russia; ‹ US Undersecretary of State William Burns' warning to Syria against violating UN sanctions by importing Iraqi oil and allowing weapons shipments to Baghdad; ‹ French President Jacques Chirac's announcement, during a visit to Damascus, that Israel was on the lookout for a pretext to attack Syria; and ‹ News that an American warplane "accidentally" violated Syrian air space coinciding with leaks that the US might bomb Iraq's trans-Syria oil pipeline "in error." The "carrot" that America dangled in front of Syria's nose, on the other hand, featured the following: ‹ Bush's refusal to ratify the Syria Accountability Act in September; ‹ Praise by administration officials of Syria's role in - and contribution toward - the "war on terror;" ‹ One-on-one talks between Sharaa and Secretary of State Colin Powell on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last September; ‹ The invitation to the Syrian foreign minister to participate in the meeting of the "Quartet" (bringing together the US, Russia, the European Union and the UN) on the way forward to implement Bush's "vision" of a Palestinian state being set up alongside Israel; ‹ Disclosures by an Arab diplomat, backed by maps, that Israel may pull back from the Golan and sue for a comprehensive peace on all fronts; ‹ Hush-hush meetings in London between Syrian and US officials; and ‹ Chirac's personal intervention with President Bashar Assad to persuade him to back Resolution 1441, plus Powell's letter to Sharaa asking him to do the same. Despite the fact that the Syrian government tried to sweeten the pill before announcing its decision by publicizing the importance the world attaches to Syria's vote on the planned resolution, most Syrians were convinced that their country would either oppose or at least abstain - especially since Damascus had strived to cultivate relations with all Washington's "axis of evil" and "terrorist club" enemies such as Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Libya, and North Korea. Once again, Syria demonstrated its ability to adopt pragmatic positions to serve its own interests, as well as an ability to read accurately how the winds were blowing and which way its chief international and regional allies - namely, France and Iran - were bending. The most important observation to come out of the recent Syrian vote, however, was that the foreign policy established by the late Hafez Assad is still alive and well under his son and successor, Bashar. (Ibrahim Hamidi is a Damascus-based journalist specialized in Syrian current affairs. He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=286 79703 * HEZBOLLAH MAY STRIKE ISRAEL IN CASE OF US WAR ON IRAQ Times of India (from AFP), 18th November JERUSALEM: Lebanon's Shiite militia Hezbollah could use an anticipated US war on Iraq to attack the Jewish state across its northern border, Israeli public radio said Monday, quoting a senior army officer. The officer said Hezbollah was reinforcing its military capacity in the border region and there was no sign of it stopping, the radio reported. He added that Hezbollah, which was credited with a key role in Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon in May 2000 after 22 years of occupation, had around 1,000 fighters and reserve militia numbering several thousand more men. Syria was building up the force as a proxy to strike Israel in the event of a US war on Baghdad, to avoid being embroiled directly in a burgeoning conflict, the officer charged. He said however the threat of an armed confrontration remained low. The radio said that in the past two years, Syria, with whom Israel is still officially at war, had provided Hezbollah with 220-mm rockets with a range of 75 kilometres (45 miles). http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A7542-2002Nov18.html * U.S. DISCUSSES AID FOR TURKEY TO DEFRAY COSTS OF AN IRAQ WAR by Bradley Graham Washington Post, 19th November The United States has begun discussions about compensating Turkey for economic losses and other costs likely to be incurred in a U.S.-led war against Iraq, according to American and Turkish officials. Both sides described the discussions as still at an early stage and marked by a wide gap in what the Turks would like to receive and what the United States is willing to pay. But the mere existence of the talks, which participants said were initiated by the United States within the past two months, reflects the importance that U.S. officials place on Turkey in any war with Iraq. A longtime NATO ally bordering northern Iraq, Turkey is in position to serve as a crucial base for U.S. military operations. Its bases and airfields would likely be prime staging areas for American forces, and Turkish troops could play a significant role policing the flow of refugees from Iraq or guarding prisoners of war. At the same time, U.S. officials have expressed concern that Turkish forces may attempt to take advantage of a war and occupy northern Iraq to block the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region, which could serve as a base of operations for Turkey's own separatist Kurds. Preparing for possible military conflict with Iraq, the Bush administration has launched a number of diplomatic and military moves to secure basing, overflight rights and other crucial assistance from countries in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere. But U.S. officials described the offer of economic assistance to Turkey as unusual, saying similar discussions have been initiated with only one other ally in the region -- Jordan. "We've told them that if there is military action against Iraq, we would recognize that Turkey would have some losses and we would have to move in some fashion to help them," a senior administration official said. As another sign of the high-level attention that Turkey is receiving within the administration, President Bush got involved yesterday in furthering Turkey's bid to join the European Union. He phoned the EU president, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and stressed the importance of "advancing Turkey's evolution toward" membership when EU leaders convene in Denmark next month, according to a White House spokesman. Bush also plans to meet with Turkish President Ahmet Sezer on Wednesday while the two leaders are in Prague for a NATO summit. [.....] http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/ny wosyri1119,0,7788498.story?coll=ny%2Dnationworld%2Dheadlines * SYRIA AND IRAQ TIGHTENING THEIR TIES by Mohamad Bazzi Newsday, 19th November Damascus, Syria -- The Iraqi taxi driver works the Baghdad-to-Damascus route, filling his car with passengers and his trunk with sweets to sell on the streets of the Syrian capital. "I have the best honey in Iraq," Halim, who declined to give his full name because of the doubtful legality of his peddler status, proclaimed on a recent day to passersby. Occasionally, someone would peer into the open trunk, taste a spoonful of honey and haggle over the price. Halim would almost always capitulate to make a sale. Hundreds of Iraqis sell clothes, toys, perfumes and other goods on the streets of Damascus. They compete with Syrian vendors hawking their wares from rickety pushcarts. The Iraqis' presence here is a signal of how dramatically relations have improved since Syria backed the U.S.-led coalition that drove Iraq out of Kuwait 11 years ago. Today, Iraqi tourists are among the crowds enjoying ice cream and haggling with carpet merchants in Damascus' winding souks. Trade is booming after border controls were eased two years ago. From almost zero, Syrian exports to Iraq reached $1 billion last year. Western officials and oil analysts say Syria is importing about 150,000 barrels a day of Iraqi oil in contravention of United Nations sanctions -- a charge Syria denies. The improved ties highlight Iraq's success in recent years in winning over old Arab rivals to help it overcome UN sanctions and blunt U.S. threats to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Syria has been staunchly opposed to an American military attack on Iraq. But in a sign of the limits to its support of Hussein, Syria the Arab representative on the UN Security Council voted this month for a tough new resolution that requires Iraq to disarm or face "serious consequences." "Syria and Iraq are two brother countries. We speak the same language, we share the same history and ambitions," said Bouthaina Shaaban, a senior official at the Syrian Foreign Ministry. "We've always had great sympathy for each other, no matter what our governments might have done." Analysts interpreted Syria's recent UN vote as a sign that President Bashar Assad did not want to antagonize the United States and that he would curtail his support for Iraq. But few expect Syria to actively support a U.S. attack. "The Syrian position is that it would be a dangerous precedent to remove an Arab regime by force, and this could destabilize the entire region," said Imad Shueibi, a politics professor at the University of Damascus. Since Assad assumed power after the death of his father, Hafez Assad, in June 2000, he has worked to improve relations with Iraq. But the two neighbors still have a complicated and distrustful relationship that is largely built on economic interests. Syrian animosity toward Iraq dates to the 1960s, when bitter divisions emerged between the Syrian and Iraqi wings of the Baath party, which rules both nations. And Syria has long allowed all the major Iraqi opposition groups to operate here. By developing closer ties with its old rival, Syria has been accused of undermining UN sanctions on Baghdad. Western officials say the arrangement under which Syria imports oil from Iraq is channeling up to $1 billion a year into Hussein's coffers and diverting funds from the UN-sponsored "oil-for-food" program. Under that program, Iraq can export unlimited amounts of crude oil, but the proceeds must be placed in UN-controlled bank accounts and spent on nonmilitary uses. Britain and the United States have asked Syria to place the 550-mile pipeline from Iraq's Kirkuk oilfield to the Syrian port of Baniyas under UN supervision. But Syrian officials say what was interpreted as commercial activity was merely testing being done on the pipeline, which stopped operating in the early 1980s. Oil analysts say they first realized the pipeline had been reopened when Syria's oil exports soared without any commensurate increase in its domestic production. Western officials say breaking the sanctions works well for both sides: Iraq gets money that is beyond UN oversight and, because it sells Syria its oil at a steep discount, Syria also makes money by using the Iraqi oil to replace its domestic supply. Syria then sells its own crude to other countries at market prices. "The Syrians say that it's entirely an economic relationship, and that they're still suspicious of Iraq politically and militarily," said a Western diplomat in Damascus. "The Syrian calculation was made at a different time, when governments in the region thought that the sanctions against Iraq had fallen apart, and they had to position themselves to take advantage of Iraqi oil." Officials in Damascus say the United States ignores the smuggling of Iraqi oil to other neighbors. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem argued that the United States and Britain are singling out Syria for its economic relations with Iraq. "The U.S. and British accusations are wrong and selective," he said in an interview. "These issues should be addressed in a regional way, not a selective way." Al-Mouallem said all trade between the two nations is conducted under the UN program. "Syrians and Iraqis are like brothers," he said, "and it's natural that an economic relationship would develop between them." Hafez Assad, who ruled Syria for 30 years, began making overtures to Baghdad in 1997, and the two countries resumed trade and diplomatic ties in early 1998. The two neighbors still do not have embassies in each other's capitals but instead keep interest sections in the Algerian embassies. Still, relations are far improved from 20 years ago, when Syrian passports carried a government statement that they were valid for travel to all countries in the world except Iraq. "It used to be the worst accusation that you could face: either that you had visited Iraq or had contact with someone inside Iraq," said a Syrian opposition leader who asked not to be named. "It was a death sentence." The opposition leader said Assad re-established ties with Iraq so he could neutralize the possibility of external opposition to his son, whom he was grooming for leadership. "Hafez didn't want Bashar to face a problem with Iraq," he said. The elder Assad was also worried Syria would be left behind after Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, dashing Assad's hopes for a unified Arab peace deal with Israel. Syria is determined to regain the Golan Heights, land captured by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. As a hedge, Syria has sought to develop new allies in the Arab world, especially Iraq, which has long opposed making peace with Israel. Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad shared hardscrabble roots: Both came from poor families in the countryside and rose to prominence in the Baath party by brutally eliminating their opposition. But Hussein and Assad emerged from different wings of the party, and that split was never reconciled. The Baath appeared in Iraq in 1950, as a chapter founded in Baghdad by Syrian students studying there. Syria's and Iraq's regimes also are both ruled by minorities. Syria is controlled by Alawites, a Muslim sect that constitutes about 12 percent of a population of 17 million, and Iraq is ruled by Sunni Muslims, who make up about a third of a country of 24 million. Syria is now worried that a U.S.-led war on Iraq would destabilize its neighbor's fragile ethnic balance and divide Iraq into three regions: a north controlled by Kurds, a center controlled by Sunnis and a south controlled by Shiites. Analysts say Syria is especially concerned that after a war, the existing Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq would become more independent. That could make Syria's own Kurdish minority about 1.5 million people more restive. "Syria does not only fear the fragmentation of Iraq because of ideological and political reasons," said Sarkis Naoum, a columnist for the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar. "Syria also fears for its own integrity, especially because it resembles Iraq so much." http://www.dailystarnews.com/200211/20/n2112005.htm * JORDAN SHORTLISTS THREE FIRMS FOR OIL PIPELINE FROM IRAQ Daily Star, Bangladesh, 20th November AFP, Amman: Jordan has shortlisted three firms to build an oil pipeline capable of carrying 150,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Iraq, a top official said in remarks published Tuesday. The tender will be awarded in January while financial close has been set for May 2003 and the pipeline is due to come on stream at the end of 2004, energy ministry secretary general Azmi Khreissat told the Al-Arab Al-Yawm daily. The scheme involves the construction of a 300-kilometre (190-mile) pipeline from the Iraqi border to the Zarqa refinery, northeast of Amman, as well as a plant to pump and stock the crude. Khreissat said Jordan was currently evaluating the rival bids from Oman, Russia and Britain with the project's German-Austrian consultants ILF Consulting Engineers and Iraqi officials. He said the project would be carried out on a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis. Jordan depends on Iraq for all its oil supplies and is due to import 5.5 million tonnes by year's end, half of it free of charge and the rest at preferential rates. The oil is currently transported overland by tanker trucks, putting huge pressure on the road link between Amman and Baghdad. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/20_11_02/art12.asp * HAMMOUD: STRIKE ON IRAQ IS NOW INEVITABLE by Khalil Fleihan Daily Star, Lebanon, 20th November Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud, in an interview published Tuesday, said a US-led strike against Iraq was inevitable and the focus was now on ways to delay it. He told As-Safir newspaper that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 on Iraq's disarmament contained four main "traps" that could be used by the United States to launch a war. They are: ‹ The exhaustive list that Baghdad must provide on Dec. 8 declaring its weapons of mass destruction programs; ‹ The list naming all the scientists who contributed to weapons programs in the last 20 years and their location; ‹ The lack of criteria defining how Iraq should facilitate the work of inspectors; ‹ The fact that inspectors will rely on intelligence provided to them by UN member states, including the United States. Hammoud said the assurances received by Syria, the only Arab member of the Security Council prior to the passing of Resolution 1441, were insufficient because they only ensured the resolution would not allow an automatic use of force against Iraq. Meanwhile, Hammoud told reporters Tuesday that implementation of Resolution 1441 required cooperation between Iraq and the UN arms inspectors' team, UNMOVIC, and he expressed hope that the conflict would be resolved within the UN framework. Hammoud said he had sent a message to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday, stressing the importance of a peaceful solution concerning the Iraq issue. He also enclosed a copy of the decision on nonmilitary action taken by the Arab Foreign Ministers Conference held in Cairo earlier this month. Hammoud added that a significant meeting, due to be held in Damascus on Wednesday by the Arab Follow-Up Committee, would discuss the latest developments relating to the Palestinian and Iraqi problems, particularly following the arrival of UNMOVIC's chairman, Hans Blix, in Baghdad. The foreign minister will be going to this committee meeting, due to be held in the Syrian capital, as the head of his country's delegation. Hammoud described Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's visit to Washington as important both in view of its coinciding with preparations for the "Paris II" donors' conference and the "unequivocal" support for it provided by the US. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=11/21/02&Cat=9&Num=2 * IRAN TO EXPORT GOODS TO JORDAN AND SYRIA VIA IRAQ Tehran Times, 21st November AMMAN -- Iran's Ambassador to Amman Nosratollah Tajik said here on Wednesday that Iran will soon start exporting goods to Jordan and Syria via Iraq. In a meeting with Jordanian Head of Chamber of Commerce, Heydar Morad, Tajik added that the decision has taken on the basis of an agreement recently signed between Iran and Iraq. The export of Iranian goods to Jordan and Syria via Iraq will shorten the current route through Turkey by 1,000km, he added. Morad, for his part, referred to the favorable relations between the two states and underlined further exchange of good and launching joint projects, IRNA reported. He cited the interest of the Jordanian government to broaden ties with all world countries, specially the Arab and Islamic states. Ways of expanding the economic and commercial cooperation between Iran and Jordan, in particular in the private sector were discussed at the meeting. The two sides also exchanged views on the date of holding Iran-Jordan Joint Commission and a prospective exhibition on the productions of both states. The volume of trade exchange between Iran and Jordan in the past Iranian year (ended March 20) stood at about $21 million. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/21_11_02/art21.asp * FAMILIES DEMAND NEWS ON DETAINEES IN IRAQ Daily Star, Lebanon, 21st November The families of a dozen Lebanese detainees in Iraqi prisons called on the Lebanese government Wednesday to invest "serious effort" with Iraqi officials to uncover the fate of their loved ones. The Committee of Lebanese Detainees in Iraqi Prisons, headed by Hussein Jaafar, the son of a detained Shiite sheikh, Ali Jaafar, said the records of the Lebanese Foreign Ministry show that 35 Lebanese prisoners are still being held in Iraq. "The general presidential pardon released only three Lebanese nationals, who were imprisoned for civil crimes. They were held in the Abu Ghreib Prison, and the Lebanese Embassy in Baghdad often arranged for their families to visit them," Jaafar said in a news conference at the Press Federation's headquarters. Tyre MP Abdullah Qasir and Baalbek Hermel MP Marwan Fares attended the news conference. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein issued a general pardon last month for all prisoners, in celebration of the renewal of his seven-year presidential term. The committee presented a list of 12 Lebanese prisoners, who were detained between 1980 and 1991. "These detainees are being held without trial. We do not know anything about their whereabouts, and even the Red Cross is not allowed to inquire about their well-being," said Jaafar. Mohammed, the younger son of Sheikh Jaafar, related his own escape from capture: "My father, who was a teacher at the Shiite religious school in Najaf (in southern Iraq), and my brother, who was a pupil there, were both detained in March 1991. I was in Baghdad at the time, while my father and brother were in Najaf." In March 1991, a few months after the conclusion of the Gulf War, Iraqi forces suppressed a Shiite revolt in southern Iraq by bombarding their holy shrines and detaining leaders and religious figures. The sheikh and his son were detained along with other Lebanese Shiite sheikhs, namely Taleb Khalil, Sadeq Faqih, Mahdi Faqih and his brother Hadi. Wives and sisters of the detained sat at Press Federation headquarters with pictures of their husbands in their hands. "My brother was detained in Baghdad in 1980. All we know about him comes from an interview Al-Jumhuriya newspaper published that year, accusing him of being a traitor and a supporter of the Amal Movement and the (Iraqi Islamic opposition) Daawa Party," said Nassibeh, the sister of Nassif Dheini, who showed reporters a copy of her brother's last interview. "In 1999, Iraqi Foreign Minister (now Information Minister) Mohammed Sahhaf told reporters in Beirut that he would try his best for the release of Lebanese detainees in Iraqi prisons," Hussein Jaafar told the audience at the conference. He added that since then Lebanese and Iraqi officials have exchanged several visits "with an aroma of love and fuel oil in the air, but no one mentioned the detainees, as if they were of no concern to anyone." IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=287 51070 * NO POWER SHOULD ENFORCE ITS WILL ON IRAQ: PM Times of India, 19th November NEW DELHI (PTI): In an oblique reference to the United States, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Tuesday warned that no power should enforce its will on any country and said all issues relating to Iraq should be sorted out under the auspices of the United Nations. "We hope no more war takes place in Iraq. All issues should be sorted out through discussions under the auspices of the United Nations. No one should try to enforce its will on others," he said in his speech at a Sikh congregation to mark the 533rd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak here. On the reported nuclear capabilities of Iraq, he said if it had "such weapons which endangered humanity, it (Iraq) should give it up on its own". In a categoric statement aimed at the United States administration, Vajpayee said everyone should understand that "people of all nations have a right to rule themselves and choose their own leader." "No country should try to impose its will on any other country," the Prime Minister said. Vajpayee made these remarks, the most categoric since tension mounted between US and Iraq, after he referred to Guru Nanak's visits to various parts of India and the world including Baghdad. NO URL (sent to list)2002 * NATO ONSLAUGHT AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA OFFERS LESSONS FOR ATTACK ON IRAQ AP Alert Municipal, 19th November BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ As the U.S. administration edges ever closer to war with Iraq, concerns are emerging that Baghdad may be wise to the vulnerabilities of America's state-of-the-art weaponry. Although the Pentagon possesses the world's most sophisticated military arsenal, the U.S. led air war over Yugoslavia in 1999 demonstrated that even the most modern weapons systems can be thwarted by low-tech countermeasures. "That's a matter of serious and legitimate concern," said retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who as NATO commander led the 78-day bombing campaign aimed at expelling Yugoslav forces from the mainly ethnic Albanian region of Kosovo, where they were engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Recent revelations about Iraqi-Yugoslav cooperation after the Kosovo war have presented Pentagon strategists with a new dilemma _ in the case of hostilities, will the Iraqis employ the same tactics that successfully blunted NATO's air offensive in Kosovo three years ago? Before he was ousted in October 2000, President Slobodan Milosevic cooperated closely with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime. Yugoslav advisers helped revamp Baghdad's air defense system, and officers of Iraq's Air Defense Command toured Yugoslav bases to study the Kosovo war. Analysts maintain that the Yugoslav deftness at countering NATO's overwhelming air superiority offers a cautionary tale for dealing with Iraq in any future conflict. "The war here proved that a competent opponent can improvise ways to overcome superior weaponry because every technology has weaknesses that can be identified and exploited," said Cedomir Janjic, an air force historian. On Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade confirmed that a group of American military experts was in Yugoslavia to determine what benefits Saddam's military had derived from its cooperation with Milosevic's regime. Wesley Clark identified several stratagems in which Yugoslav experience could prove valuable to the Iraqis. The most significant, he said, was the ability of Yugoslavia's air defenses "to interfere in the electronic environment by using different radar frequencies and profiles, and passive tracking systems." Despite NATO's air supremacy, it never succeeded in knocking out the defenses. They remained a potent threat throughout the conflict, forcing attacking warplanes to altitudes above 5,000 meters (15,000 feet), where they were safe from surface-to-air missiles but far less effective in a ground attack role. "We were always aware we were being tracked and monitored by them," Clark said. NATO finally prevailed in June 1999, following Milosevic's decision to withdraw his largely intact army from Kosovo, and after the extensive destruction of bridges, government buildings and other infrastructure targets throughout Yugoslavia. In contrast, the effects of heavy bombing of the Yugoslav forces in Kosovo were minimal. British ordnance experts who inspected the battlefields after the war determined that only 14 tanks and a handful of armored vehicles were destroyed in nearly three months of bombing. The Yugoslavs had dispersed their heavily camouflaged units, thus conserving their assets for the expected alliance ground assault, and used decoys and other mock targets to deceive the attackers. Iraq was quick to pursue insight from that conflict. Teams of Iraqi intelligence officers rushed to Yugoslavia in the aftermath of the war to visit command centers and air defense sites. Many toured Belgrade's Aviation Museum, inspecting destroyed drones, cruise missiles and the remnants of U.S. F-16 Falcon and F 117 Nighthawk stealth fighters. "Although they wore civilian suits, it was obvious they were Iraqi military _ all of them had Saddam Hussein mustaches," said curator Drasko Kostic. Meanwhile, Yugoslav technicians were reportedly upgrading Iraq's fibre-optics communications network, allowing commanders real-time control of all subordinate units. They modified launchers of SA-6 surface-to-air missiles with optical tracking equipment to allow them to hit targets without using ground guidance radars, and added fuel cells to SA 3 missiles to extend their range to reach high-flying U-2 spyplanes. Over Iraq, U.S. and British pilots enforcing no-fly zones soon noticed a new aggressiveness in the air defenses, which began challenging them on a daily basis. Although numerous command bunkers and missile batteries were hit in retaliatory strikes, the Iraqis also managed some successes by downing reconnaissance drones and damaging a U-2. Clark said that Yugoslav advisers had enabled the Iraqis to reduce the "effects of weaponry" and passed on "what works and what doesn't in the art of camouflage." He noted that the Yugoslavs had demonstrated great skill at hiding their armor, guns and infantry in towns and villages. "That will certainly be of great interest to the Iraqis," Clark said. "We shouldn't be surprised to find Iraqi forces in mosques, schools and homes." The White House is said to have settled on a war plan calling for massive air strikes on air defenses and key military facilities, while invasions from the north and south establish beachheads for the final push on Baghdad. The plan reportedly envisages little ground combat and limited American casualties. But this could quickly unravel if Saddam's commanders _ like Milosevic's _ shield their forces from the strikes and engage the invaders in a long and bloody ground war in cities and other terrain favoring them. Belgrade's war plan had been to ride out the air offensive, thus forcing NATO to invade Kosovo with ground troops. Yugoslav generals believed their entrenched units could then inflict heavy casualties on the attackers _ quickly degrading their fighting morale and forcing Western leaders to the negotiating table. Analysts predict Iraq will emulate that strategy, and that the parallels with Kosovo will be far more relevant to a possible conflict than the much-touted victory against the Taliban, arguably the most primitive army in the world. "We realize that a conflict with Iraq will not be like ... Afghanistan," said retired Rear Adm. Stephen Baker of the Center for Defense Information in Washington."Our tactics should be driven by what we learned in Kosovo," he said. http://www.dailystarnews.com/200211/20/n2112013.htm * ERITREAN PORT MAY BECOME US BASE FOR IRAQ ATTACK Daily Star, Bangladesh, 20th November AP, Assab: One of the largest ports on the Red Sea stands eerily idle, its huge cranes motionless in the oppressive heat. Yet this sleepy town on the southern tip of Eritrea could become a base for US troops in the war on terrorism and Saddam Hussein. Western diplomatic sources say US military officials have already visited the remote, strategically located town to assess its value as a staging point for U.S. marines, Navy ships and troops. Gen. Tommy Franks, head of US Central Command, or CentCom, visited Eritrea in March, and the then defence minister, Sehat Ephrem, said his government would happily host a US base. And on Oct. 29 Franks said the United States has "security relationships or engagement opportunities" in many Horn of Africa countries, including Eritrea. The amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney is expected to arrive in about a month to serve as the Red Sea floating headquarters for a joint command US task force for the Horn of Africa, said Maj. Pete Mitchell, a CentCom spokesman. US officials have said the headquarters, part of the war on terrorism, could later move ashore. "US forces in the region are making liaisons with a number of nations in the Horn of Africa. That liaison covers a variety of issues," Mitchell said when asked specifically about Assab. The Eritrean government is said to be eager to have a US presence to bolster its stature and inject cash into its struggling economy. Eritrean officials would not say where things stand now, and U.S. authorities are still weighing Eritrea's military usefulness against lending credibility to an increasingly authoritarian government, said the diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity. Once admired in the West, the government of President Isaias Afwerki has come under fire for human rights abuses following Eritrea's 2 1/2 -year border war with Ethiopia. Assab before the war a busy port that served Ethiopia would doubtless be useful to the United States as it increases its military presence in an unstable region cited as a possible terrorist haven. "A base within the area is something that they must be considering," said Phillip Mitchell, ground forces analyst at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=A01A11AE-89BE-45DC 8C4FEDFFE17D2606&title=Bosnian%20Serbs%20Seek%20Interpol%20Help%20in%20Iraq% 20Arms%20Case&catOID=45C9C78D-88AD-11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C&categoryname=Mideas t * BOSNIAN SERBS SEEK INTERPOL HELP IN IRAQ ARMS CASE Voice of America, 20th November The interior minister of the Bosnian Serb Republic says his government has asked Interpol for help in tracking down the bank accounts of a military firm suspected of illegal arms sales to Iraq. The official, Dragomir Jovicic, told reporters the request involves a probe by the international police agency of contracts and bank accounts the Bijeljina-based company Orao had in several foreign locations. He did not identify the places, but the French news agency says they include Germany, Hong Kong, Yugoslavia and the United States. Two months ago, NATO-led peacekeepers discovered that Orao had been refurbishing military aircraft for Iraq through a state-owned Yugoslav company, Jugoimport. Earlier this month, Bosnian Serb authorities dismissed five officials, including the Serb Republic's defense minister and army chief of staff, in connection with the scandal. Three managers of Orao remain in prison as authorities probe the sales. The 1995 Dayton Peace Accord that halted fighting in Bosnia Herzegovina, divided the country into a Serb Republic and Muslim-Croat Federation. http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/DK21Ak03.html * IN WITH IRAQ, OUT OF NATO by Brian Kenety Asia Times, from Inter Press Service, 21st November PRAGUE - As Prague prepares to receive 46 leaders for the NATO summit on Thursday and Friday, it is thinking also of the two not invited. President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has been denied an entry visa while President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine looks set to arrive, though he has not been invited. The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) military alliance has made it clear in recent weeks that the two Eastern European presidents will not be welcome at the summit, the first to be held behind the former Iron Curtain. On the face of it, the two presidents are being kept away because of their human rights record. Lukashenko has long been a pariah in the West because of his autocratic rule, marked by frequent crackdowns on dissent and media freedom. Kuchma faces difficulties domestically and abroad over his alleged role in ordering the murder of opposition reporter Heorhiy Gongadze, whose headless body was found in a forest two years ago. Neither Belarus nor Ukraine are NATO members, but both are members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), a consultative body to NATO which is due to meet in Prague on the second day of the summit on Friday. The two leaders are being kept out although under NATO rules each EAPC member is allowed to choose its own delegates. But it is no coincidence that both leaders have been accused of links with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Belarus is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, but stands accused of training Iraqi military officers in operating air defense missiles. Kuchma faces allegations that he violated United Nations sanctions by approving a US$100 million sale of the Kolchuga early warning radar system to Iraq. The Czech hosts are being careful to single out the leaders, not their countries. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda says that his government does not want Lukashenko to use a visit to Prague to "legitimize his position" in Belarus. But he has said members of a Belarus delegation would be given visas. From Ukraine, he says Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko has been invited in place of Kuchma. The West is keen to maintain good relations with Ukraine to help preserve its fragile independence from Russia. Ukraine is the fourth-largest recipient of US aid. But the US has suspended $54 million in aid over the Kuchma controversy. Kuchma has denied US allegations that it was his voice on a tape recording authorizing the sale of the military equipment to Iraq. After talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow over the weekend, Kuchma visited China seeking "proof" that he never sold weapons technology to Iraq. Kuchma says that all Ukrainian officials would boycott the meeting if he was barred. "If the president does not go, no one will go," he says. Earlier this year, a court in the Ukrainian capital Kiev began to investigate Kuchma over his role in the murder. In September tens of thousands of people took to the streets calling for him to stand down. These were the largest demonstrations since Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. NATO officials in Brussels say that Western leaders would boycott any session that Kuchma might attend. In parallel with Kuchma's objections, the Belarus government has strongly attacked the Czech government for denying an entry visa to Lukashenko. "The Czechs will lose their position in Belarus for a long time, if not for ever," the Belarus foreign ministry said in a statement. "This unprecedented decision, forced on the Czech side, is one in a series of undisguised pressure on Belarus. It shows that Czech foreign policy is not independent and demonstrates what disregard Prague has for EAPC decisions in which it has taken part." Lukashenko immediately recalled the ambassador to Prague, Vladimir Belsky, for consultations. He also threatened to open his country's borders to the West. That, he says, would force Europeans to "crawl and ask for our cooperation on drug trafficking and illegal immigration". He added, "We will not defend Europe from the flood." There is some dispute whether Belarus and Ukraine should be clubbed together. "People do not see Ukraine and Belarus as being in the same league," Chris Donnelly, special advisor for Central and Eastern European Affairs to the NATO secretary general, told a conference last week. Jiri Sedivy, director of the Prague-based Institute for International Relations, said that the Ukrainian president was every bit as suspect as Lukashenko. "Kuchma cooperates more with Iraq now than with NATO," he told delegates at a meeting organized by the Czech civil society initiative Forum 2000 Foundation last week. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_106294,0005.htm * GERMANY CONFIRMS US ASKED IT FOR IRAQ SUPPORT Hindustani Times, from Reuters, 21st November Germany confirmed on Thursday it was among the some 50 countries the United States had asked to contribute to a possible war with Iraq -- a request that could raise pressure on Berlin to clarify its anti-war stance. Germany is trying to repair relations that US officials said were "poisoned" by what they saw as an anti-American election campaign by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose anti war rhetoric helped him narrowly win September's vote. Since then, Schroeder has repeated his assertion that German troops will not be involved in any war, but supported the UN Security Council's tough new resolution demanding Iraq disarm. While US President George W. Bush is setting aside time to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac at the NATO summit in the Czech capital Prague this week, no private meeting with Schroeder is planned. While Schroeder's centre-left government has expressed concern about the implications for regional stability of any war, it has declined to say what Germany's position will be if Baghdad breaches the UN resolution, which demands cooperation with arms inspectors who returned to Iraq this week. A German government spokesman said of the US request: "It will be carefully examined on the clear basis of German non-participation in possible military action in Iraq, our NATO obligations, legal possibilities and ties." He declined to comment on what sort of support Germany might offer. A US official said on Wednesday that the State Department had asked US ambassadors to find out what its allies might contribute to a war, adding the request included combat forces, logistics, humanitarian aid and reconstruction assistance. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23566-2002Nov21.html * RUSSIAN 'INTERESTS' IN IRAQ RECOGNIZED by Michael Dobbs and Susan B. Glasser Washington Post, 22nd November Like his father during the run-up to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, President Bush is using the lure of money and political respect to persuade a reluctant Russia not to stand in the way of a U.S.-led war with Iraq. Russian officials say they have reached an understanding with the Bush administration on Russia's economic interests in Iraq, including concerns about the plummeting price of oil as a result of an Iraqi oil boom should President Saddam Hussein be overthrown. While vigorously denying that there has been a specific agreement, U.S. officials say they are aware of Russian concerns and are taking them into account in planning for a post-Hussein Iraq. "We understand that Russia has got interests there, as do other countries," Bush told the independent Russian television station NTV in an interview broadcast last night. "And of course those interests will be honored." On Saturday, Bush will acknowledge Moscow's role in agreeing to a unanimous United Nations Security Council vote on a stringent new inspections regime for Iraq, by traveling to the former Russian imperial capital of St. Petersburg for his seventh meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Over the past few days, Bush has gone out of his way to praise Putin for his help in the war on terrorism and his handling of a recent hostage crisis in Moscow, in which 128 civilians were killed by poison gas administered by government security forces in an attempt to free them from Chechen guerrillas. The American wooing of Putin is reminiscent of the diplomatic campaign waged by President George H.W. Bush in the fall of 1990 to win the support of then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for U.N. resolutions endorsing the use of "all necessary means" to end Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. In return for Soviet acquiescence in the use of military force against Baghdad, Bush held out the prospect of political and economic support for Gorbachev at a time when he was struggling to hold the Soviet Union together. The main difference between the two rounds of diplomacy, according to U.S. and Russian analysts, is that Putin is more realistic than Gorbachev about what he can get in return for giving Washington a relatively free hand in Iraq. Rather than demanding a huge infusion of Western aid for a moribund economy, he has focused his attention on gaining U.S. assurances of respect for Russian economic interests in Iraq, most of which center on the country's future as the largest Middle East oil producer, after Saudi Arabia. "Putin is a very pragmatic politician," said Dmitri Simes, president of the Nixon Center, a Washington think tank that has focused on U.S.-Russian relations. "Instead of trying to stop things that are going to happen anyway, he tries to get the most he can, both for his country and for himself politically." At the top of Putin's list of economic concerns is the fear of collapsing oil prices once U.N. trade sanctions against Baghdad are removed and Western investment begins to pour into the neglected Iraqi oil sector. According to an estimate by Celeste Wallander of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, a $6 fall in the price of a barrel of oil would slash Russian economic growth in half. If the price fell to $13 a barrel, most Russian oil companies would no longer be profitable. Russian and U.S. officials said Putin is also anxious to protect the contracts of Russian oil companies in Iraq, including a $3.5 billion deal for the state-owned Lukoil to develop a giant oil field in southern Iraq, and would like to recover up to $12 billion in old Iraqi debts. One possibility believed to be under discussion is to use a portion of Iraqi oil proceeds to pay off part of the Russian debt. A high-ranking Russian foreign ministry official involved in negotiations with the United States over the U.N. resolution told an American visitor to Moscow this week that a "gentleman's agreement" had been reached with Washington on Iraq. He said the deal centered on maintaining a price of oil at around $21 a barrel, the price used by Russian government planners for long-term budget estimates. Oil prices have been hovering around $25 a barrel for much of this year. While acknowledging that discussions have taken place with the Russians over the price of oil, U.S. officials dismissed suggestions that the United States can influence the market very much. They added, however, that they have tried to allay Russian concerns about plummeting oil prices in the wake of a U.S. victory in Iraq, concerns that are described as exaggerated by many American experts. "Generally, we would like to see stability [in the oil price]," said a U.S. official involved in Russia negotiations. "Wild swings up and down unsettle the markets." Iraq produces around 2.4 million barrels of oil a day, compared with Saudi daily output of around 7.4 million barrels. Estimates of Iraqi production by 2010, in the event of large-scale foreign investment and a lifting of sanctions, vary from around 4 million barrels a day to 7 million or even 8 million. By addressing Russian concerns about falling oil prices, the United States would also be looking after the interests of Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in any future Persian Gulf conflict. In the short term, however, the low cost of extracting Saudi oil means that Riyadh is much better positioned than Moscow to ride out a period of low prices. In the past, analysts note, the Saudis have deliberately used low oil prices as a weapon for forcing other producers out of the market. Russian officials have painful memories of the way in which the Saudis used their excess capacity to flood world oil markets in 1985, the year that Gorbachev came to power, causing prices to drop by more than half to a low of $12 a barrel. Combined with declining Soviet oil production, plummeting prices effectively destroyed Gorbachev's hopes of reinvigorating the Soviet economy, leading directly to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Since Putin took office in 1998, by contrast, Russian oil exports have jumped sharply from 3.8 million to 5.4 million barrels a day, providing a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy economic picture. By drawing up a concrete economic wish list on Iraq, Putin is following a different strategy from Gorbachev, who dreamed of a "grand bargain" with the United States under which the Soviet Union would receive large-scale economic assistance in return for sweeping economic reforms. "Both sides made promises that they could not come through on," said Jack Matlock, a Princeton university professor who served as U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev period. Glasser reported from Moscow. http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/20021122wo01.htm * GOVT EYES REFUGEE AID FOR IRAQ'S NEIGHBORS Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan, 22nd November The government plans to offer Iraq's neighbors support for the large number of refugees that would be expected to cross into those countries if the United States attacks Iraq. "The ministry will study how Japan could provide (refugee support to Iraq's neighboring nations) as it is a very important issue." Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Thursday at the House of Councillors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. By providing support for refugees, the government aims to help Iraq's neighbors stabilize their security, support the United States in nonmilitary areas and provide supplies from the humanitarian standpoint. According to the Foreign Ministry and other sources, if the United States launches an attack on Iraq, as many as 1 million people refugees could flee the country, inundating neighboring countries, such as Iran, Syria and Jordan. To prepare for this contingency, the government will consider providing supplies, such as tents, and support for nongovernmental organizations, in addition to emergency economic cooperation for Iraq's neighbors, the sources said. The government plans to finance this by dipping into the budgetary allocations for U.N. bodies, such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and using official development assistance. A reserve fund is also being considered. Meanwhile, in response to a question about how the government would respond to a U.S. attack on Iraq, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said at a press conference Thursday, "The Cabinet has been constantly discussing this issue, although I can't disclose the details." http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/world/story/0,4386,156280,00.html? * KEY ALLIES BAULK AT SUPPORT FOR US IN IRAQ WAR Straits Times, 22nd November TOKYO (AP): Many nations around the world, including top US allies, were baulking yesterday about supporting a possible war in Iraq after the United States said it had quietly asked 50 countries to chip in troops or military materials. Australia said it was too soon to talk about committing forces. Japan could not even confirm receiving such a request from its biggest military partner. Advertisement South Korea, which hosts about 37,000 US soldiers, said it was undecided. The tepid response comes a day after a senior aide to US President George W. Bush said the US had contacted dozens of nations, including Canada, Britain and Germany, for military backing if Mr Bush decides to use force in Iraq. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has until Dec 8 to give the United Nations an accounting of his weapons of mass destruction. Mr Bush has been racing to assemble support for a possible military strike, saying Iraq has only a 'short time' to come clean. Even with many countries playing wait-and-see, the Bush administration has managed to score some early victories in rallying a coalition. US military forces are already in the Gulf states of Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, which have indicated a willingness to serve as staging points. And on Wednesday, Denmark approved the use of its soldiers and equipment in an international force. Even China, a chief opponent of US talk of war, has shown some readiness to cooperate. Earlier this week, Beijing approved port calls in Hongkong for two US aircraft carrier battle groups - one bound for the Middle East. Ms Victoria Clarke, a spokesman for US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said she could not discuss specifics of US consultations with potential allies. She said there have been 'lots of conversations' - including unsolicited offers of assistance from some unidentified countries - about 'who can do what' if war comes. The US is still awaiting feedback from some close friends. Australia, one of America's staunchest allies in the war on terror, has backed Washington's tough stance on Baghdad and in recent months has refused to rule out supporting a US attack on Iraq, even without UN backing. Prime Minister John Howard has said that Canberra is in talks with Washington about 'contingency plans' for Iraq. But in a radio interview yesterday, he said: 'It's premature at the moment to be talking about decisions about committing forces to Iraq.' In Japan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's spokesman could not confirm whether the US had made any specific requests to Tokyo. 'If and when there is a more concrete situation, then we'll have to react,' said Ms Misako Kaji. 'We're not in a position to respond to all these 'if' questions.' Earlier this week, Tokyo extended the mission of Japanese warships in the Indian Ocean so they can continue their refuelling and transporting of supplies for the US-led anti-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan. But Japan's contributions to a war in Iraq are limited by a pacifist Constitution that restricts the military to non-combat roles overseas. South Korea said it had been approached by the US but the request did not seek troops and was vague on the amount of support and timing. 'We have not yet decided our position regarding this,' Foreign Ministry official Lee Tae Woo said. Seoul would stay in contact with Washington, he said. Even Britain, whose air force routinely joins US warplanes in attacks over the 'no-fly' zones in northern and southern Iraq, offered no easy answer to Mr Bush's call. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said on Wednesday the US had requested troops but added that Britain had not made a decision. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk