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Dear List There is an issue raised in The Times today that many of you might be interested in. Richard Beeston, the diplomatic editor, runs a story entitled "Iraq admits plan to use chemical weapons", which claimed to quote an "unnamed Iraqi official", making a statement to that effect. This alleged admission is then used explicitly to back up the British government's case for war. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-495141,00.html The problem is that the "unnamed Iraqi official" seems not to say this at all - the allegation (and the quotation) comes straight from the Israeli intelligence front organisation, the "Middle East Media Research Institute" (MEMRI). The interview with the Iraqi official was in al-Quds al-Arabi on Tuesday: http://www.alquds.co.uk:8080/2002/11Nov/26NovTue/Quds01.pdf. MEMRI and Beeston base their allegations on this interview. In contrast to the title of the Times piece, the unnamed Iraqi official doesn't indicate plans to use chemical weapons. He mentioned two situations in which Iraq had in his conception defended itself (Faw, Halabja) using CWs in the past, and then at the end of the article says: "don't expect us to stand idly by in the face of any threat that wants to obliterate us and banish us not only from power, but from life as well." (my translation; MEMRI and Beeston use a slightly erroneous: "do not expect us to stand idly by in the face of any aggression that seeks to destroy and banish us not only from the regime but also from life.") The Iraqi official's statement seems to read to me as a statement about the Iraqi regime's determination to repel invaders, with an ambiguity over the means. MEMRI by contrast leap straight in with: "In the first statement of its kind, a senior Iraqi official confirmed that his country is not ruling out the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction to defend the regime." http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SA402 Beeston follows suit, a labels this "a complete contradiction of the official Iraqi position": "Iraq has given its first warning to the West that it does possess weapons of mass destruction and that President Saddam Hussein would be prepared to use them if his regime was threatened." British official sources then back up the MEMRI/Beeston line. It's possible that this will be used as "proof" of the regime's lies when the statement on 8 December claims (as we all expect it will) that Iraq has no non-conventional weapons. MEMRI have have frequently distorted texts by providing inaccurate headlines, summaries of articles and statuses of contributors to the Arabic press. Examples are at: http://www.arabmediawatch.com/reports/memri.htm http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,773258,00.html All the best Glen. _______________________________________________ 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