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]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] News, 22-29/11/02 (1)

News, 22-29/11/02 (1)


*  Iraq Christians Pray for Peace
*  Taking on 'Uncle Saddam' with sarcasm, smugness
*  Rights group accuses Saddam's son of torturing sportsmen
*  Standing by Saddam from a distance
*  Iraqis battered and bewildered by front-line life
*  Emigres discuss 'change' in Baghdad


*  Blix to Go Down in Iraq Art History, If Arms Report "Good News"
*  Iraqi Official Surprised by U.N. Visit
*  Iraq Seen As a Weapons Turning Point
*  UN arms experts inspect 4 suspected labs in Iraq
*  Weapons Inspectors' Experience Questioned
*  Iraq admits plan to use chemical weapons
*  Saddam hides arsenal in people's homes


by Bassem Mroue
Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 22nd November

BAGHDAD, Iraq- Worried about a possible U.S. military attack on their
country, hundreds of Iraqi Christians fasted Friday and prayed for peace,
days before U.N. inspectors are to resume their search for banned weapons
for the first time in four years.

Faithful of all ages attended special services Friday called by leaders of
Iraq's Christian churches. About 5 percent of the country's 22 million
people are Christians, with the vast majority of the population Shiite or
Sunni Muslim.

At the Notre Dame de la Deliverance church in Baghdad's well-to-do Karradah
neighborhood, some 500 Assyrian Catholics chanted, "Forgive us and give us
peace." Many lighted candles in front of a a statue of the Virgin Mary as
they headed into Mass.

President Bush has warned that Iraq will face military action if it does not
cooperate with inspectors searching for nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons. The first contingent of 18 inspectors arrives in Iraq on Monday and
they are expected to resume their work on Wednesday.

Iraq has been under U.N. economic sanctions since 1990 when it invaded
neighboring Kuwait, provoking the 1991 Persian Gulf War. U.N. Security
Council resolutions adopted after the invasion demanded Iraq give up its
weapons of mass destruction, and the demand was renewed in a resolution
passed last week.

In his sermon on Friday, Father Rafael Qoteimi said, "We are praying for our
Iraq that has been suffering for years from war, and until this day we are
threatened by war."

"We call upon world leaders to work for peace ... and let people live in
peace and security," he said. "We raise our hands so that war stays away
from us and peace prevails."

Margaret Saadallah, a housewife dressed in black, said the Iraqis are a
people who want to live in peace. "We have tried war and it was horrifying.
I hope there won't be another war," she said.

Christians do not play a major role in President Saddam Hussein's
government; the highest ranking Christian is Deputy Prime Minister Tariq
Aziz. While Shiite Muslims are Iraq's majority sect, the government is
dominated by Sunnis.

Several of the worshippers at Notre Dame noted that most Americans are
Christians and pleaded for their help in preventing war.

"We ask those American Christians to make their government help the Iraqi
people. We want the help of all Christians after all this suffering," said
Fadi Victor, a 24-year-old businessman.

Salam Dawoud, a 14-year-old student, addressed his plea to a higher power.

"I am very much afraid of war," he said, "and I ask the Lord and Jesus in
this day to prevent a war."

by Jonathan Curiel, Chronicle Staff Writer
San Francisco Chronicle, 25th November

UNCLE SADDAM: Documentary. Directed by Joel Soler. (7 p.m. Tuesday on

With war looming in Iraq, it's more crucial than ever to get cogent analysis
of the country and its despotic leader, so what does Cinemax offer? Irony.
Smarmy, smarmy irony.

"Uncle Saddam," which airs Tuesday night on the cable station, gives viewers
an exclusive look inside the palaces, museums and other edifices that
Hussein maintains on Iraqi soil, and it also provides a time line of
Hussein's life, from his troubled childhood to his post Kuwait grip on
power. Filmmaker Joel Soler does it with so much snideness and smugness,
however, that his movie is almost unwatchable.

For some reason, Soler had Scott Thompson (of the comedy troupe "Kids in the
Hall") write the script for the film, and he had Wallace Langham (who plays
a character on the comedy series "The Larry Sanders Show") do the narration.
The result is a work that is more mockumentary than documentary. It's as if
Cinemax had sent Jay Leno and David Letterman to Baghdad to interview
average Iraqis and then make a movie about Hussein.

Soler, who is French, filmed "Uncle Saddam" in 1999. Iraqi officials gave
him permission because Soler promised to capture the suffering of Iraqis
under U.N. sanctions and to glorify Iraq's architecture. Soler interviewed
hospital officials, Hussein's personal architect, Hussein's personal
interior designer and others who thought that Soler was doing a serious
film. Here are four examples of how Soler and Cinemax spliced the movie to
suit an agenda that pokes fun of Hussein at every turn:

-- Using footage of Hussein in swim trunks, showing his bloated belly and
hairy chest and explaining that Hussein is compulsive about his diet and
weight, Langham says, tongue in cheek, "It's no secret why Hussein is Iraq's
biggest heartthrob!"

-- While showing images of Hussein greeting happy, smiling kids -- including
a scene where he's holding a yellow, slightly bruised apple -- Langham says,
glibly, "Saddam is supposedly good with children. Even if the apple he's
offering here is a bit rotten, it's the thought that counts."

-- Soler shows the interior of the Saddam Art Center in Baghdad and lets its
director talk to the camera about all the paintings there that feature
Hussein's likeness. Instead of snide remarks, Soler uses the song "Mona
Lisa" (which was popularized by Nat King Cole) over the interview and
footage to ridicule the sizable collection of Hussein paintings.

-- Talking about the U.N. sanctions that Hussein and many Iraqis blame for
millions of deaths in Iraq, a man tells Soler, "The embargo tries to destroy
dreams." "Uncle Saddam" turns this quote into "irony" by reporting that in
the mid-1990s, U.N. officials rejected Iraq's request for a liposuction
device. The film's conclusion is that Hussein wanted the medical equipment
so he could lose weight rapidly and doesn't really care about Iraqis'

Perhaps Hussein deserves this kind of treatment, but "Uncle Saddam" doesn't
really break any new ground and -- so far -- it has led only to death
threats and revenge killing. Iraqi officials apparently caught on to Soler's
ulterior motives while he was in Iraq and he was forced to flee the country
(with his secret footage). Soler has since received threats on his life; an
arsonist reportedly burned trash cans in front of his home and he got a note
that read, "In the name of Allah, the merciful and compassionate, burn this
satanic film or you will be dead."

The interior designer Soler interviewed was killed by poison a month after
appearing on camera, and "minders" who followed Soler during his stay in
Iraq were punished for not figuring out the filmmaker's true plan. Didn't
Soler, a former television producer, know that the people he talked to would
face retribution when or before his film came out? Was it worth it to make
this movie? (Soler mocks Hussein's minders in the closing credits, which
also say the film is dedicated to Iraq's sick children.) If anything, "Uncle
Saddam" should spark debate about how far TV studios and film companies
should go to produce "entertainment."

"Uncle Saddam" isn't a completely worthless film. In fact, Soler captures
the private life (and phobias) of Hussein in a way that few Americans have
seen. We see Hussein praying to God. We see Hussein talking about bathing
habits and body odor. We see Hussein throwing grenades into a lake to kill
fish. (Actually, it's not Hussein but a cousin of the Iraqi leader -- a fact
the film doesn't reveal. Soler admitted this deception in a recent TV
interview.) We see Hussein's first wife, a woman who dyes her hair blond. We
see Hussein's children and cousins, all of whom vie for power and money (and
their lives, because Hussein is not above killing blood relations, as the
film makes clear).

"Uncle Saddam" brings shame on Hussein, but it also brings shame on Soler
and Cinemax. If this is what passes for wit and whimsy and solid journalism,
the world is truly in an awful state, looming war or not.'

Times of India (from AFP), 25th November

LONDON: A human rights organisation reportedly will file a complaint with
the International Olympic Committee this week against Saddam Hussein's elder
son Oudai, accusing Iraq's National Olympic president of punishing some of
the nation's top sportsmen with beatings, harassment and electric shock

According to the Sunday Times, the London-based organisation alleges that he
once made a group of track athletes crawl on newly poured asphalt while they
were hit with a cable and ordered that some be thrown off a 75-foot high

The organisation also alleges that he had a prison for sportsmen who had
offended him and will present its case when the IOC meets in Mexico City
this week.

"It is inconceivable that a national Olympic committee that maintains its
own prison and torture chambers could remain a member in good standing of
the Olympic movement," the organisation, Indict, says in is formal

It accuses Oudai of "extreme and outrageous" violations of the Olympic
charter, including violations of human rights which threaten the integrity
of the Olympic movement and warrant severe penalties, including Iraq's
suspension from the IOC.

The Sunday Times said that another complainant is Latif Yahia Latif
Al-Salihi, who was recruited to be Oudai's double in October 1987. After the
Iraqi football team lost a match in 1988, he said, an enraged Oudai attacked
him with an electric shock baton.

He was subjected to similar treatment at Baghdad airport over the greeting
of a foreign Olympic delegation, Oudai believing he was not taking his
duties seriously enough.

Al-Salihi said he was present in 1989 when the Iraqi football team was
brought to the Olympic committee headquarters after a poor performance. The
players had their heads shaved and were beaten with baseball bats.

The next year, he said, Oudai's girlfriend was captain of a basketball team
competing in university cup finals. The team lost and she blamed her
teammates. Oudai ordered that the women's heads be shaved.

by Tim Cornwell
The Scotsman, 25th November

ON THE pavement outside the market place at Hashimi Square an elderly woman
who will not give even her first name sells cigarettes and sachets of henna
dye from a tray.

She has 12 children in Baghdad, and a husband crippled in the Iran-Iraq war,
and after three years working in Jordan she sends home ten or 15 Jordanian
dinar - £15 - a week.

Her daughter recently called to ask her to buy clothes. "Inshallah," she
says (God willing). "It will be better if America ends its threats against

Just along the pavement another Iraqi woman, Zahra, 52, offers Aladdin dates
with her cigarettes. She complains bitterly of how the Jordanian police have
no respect for an old woman. Asked about Saddam Hussein, she gives a big
thumbs up with a toothy grin. "Tell that good man to hold his head high,"
she said. "Carry him upon your shoulders."

It is hard to find any hint of opposition to Saddam Hussein among the people
milling in the square. Restaurants, food stalls, blankets with badly minted
"Roman" coins and even a bumper-car ring are over looked by Amman's Roman
theatre, in a place which is a focal point for the Iraqi community.

In the streets of downtown Amman, a ten-hour drive through the desert from
Baghdad, Iraqis declare their loyalty to their leader, and speak
passionately of the US, not Saddam, as the problem.

>From Shia Muslim men in traditional Arab dress from the southern city of
Basra, to younger men who may be draft-dodging from the Iraqi army, to car
dealers soon returning to Baghdad, to the worn women selling cigarettes,
people speak of love, loyalty, and respect for a leader who has "kept his
dignity" in the face of US threats.

Few, even so, would give their first names. The Iraqi intelligence services
are said to keep a close watch on Iraqis in Jordan. "We won't talk
politics," said one of several Iraqi Christian men, who complain of waiting
for months for visas to travel the UK, the US, and Australia. "You know the

Between 3-400,000 Iraqis now live in Jordan, it is estimated, many in the
capital. It costs about $200 to get a visa at the Jordanian border. The
long-running crisis with the US has sent the Iraqi dinar nose-diving against
its far stronger Jordanian counterpart, cutting down Iraqis' buying power
and driving economic migrants out.

"There are a lot of jobs, but little money," said Taleb, 32, a Gulf War
veteran who left Iraq recently and is on his way to join his brother in
Dubai, counting on a contract job.

The political situation in Jordan, he concedes, is "easier" than that in
Iraq. But he, like several others, mentions with approval that Baghdad
doubled food rations last month. Each family now gets 60 eggs a month -
along with other staples like rice, sugar, tea, peas, bread and eggs.

The jump in rations followed a release of political prisoners this summer,
and a separate offer of amnesty to Iraqi economic refugees who returned.

About 1,000 came back from Jordan. It appears a concerted effort by the
Iraqi leadership to soothe the public and split the political opposition.

Many Iraqis here speak passionately of feeling their country under threat,
and denounce UN resolution 1441, threatening "serious consequences" if Iraq
fails to co-operate fully with weapons inspections.

Hassan, 24, a baker, left Iraq a year and a half ago for Jordan. He got his
residence card - allowing him to work - after six months, and was taking a
break from a building site. "There's no work in Iraq," he said. But "if
anyone tries to attack" he insists he "will have the right to kill him".

Jordan, with other borders mostly closed, is the Iraqis' gateway to the
Middle East and beyond.

It has been unusual recently for Iraqi opposition figures to speak out in
Amman, observers say. But Ibrahim Janabi, a former Iraqi intelligence
officer and Baath Party member, is now giving media interviews as the Amman
representative of the Iraqi National Accord (INA)

He said leaders of half a dozen leading opposition groups - famous for
internal intrigues and bitter rivalries - are working to hammer out a common
statement at a London conference next month.

The INA were last in Amman in force when it joined an attempt to stage a
CIA-backed coup inside Iraq in 1996. It failed disastrously with a bloody
purge of those involved.

Baghdad has played up the rivalries between the exiles. It recently lured
four delegates of a small, little-known Iraqi National Alliance to pay a
visit back home. The leaders were publicly promised a new constitution and
sweeping political rights. Their stay in Iraq was closely covered in the
state media.

It was to Amman that the most famous Iraqi defector of all, Saddam's cousin
and son-in law Hussein Kamel, came to tell UN inspectors of Iraq's nuclear
weapons research . He returned to Baghdad with a pardon from the president
and soon afterwards died in a pitched gun battle at his home.

Mr Janabi himself was sentenced to death and then jailed on suspicion of
spying when he worked as an intelligence officer in London. But he was
quickly released in another prisoner amnesty in August 1990, when Saddam was
facing another major test of his power - this one caused by the invasion of

The newspaper, Babel, owned by Saddam's son Uday, was closed late last week.
It came, said Mr Janabi, after the newspaper published over several days, a
list of 5,000 names it claimed Iraqi opposition groups had given to the
Americans for future war crimes prosecutions.

An effort to bind Iraqi officials to the leadership had backfired, he

His group, he said, has in fact put up just 12 names from Saddam Hussein's
inner circle, including his sons Uday and Qsay.


by Tim Llewellyn
The Scotsman, 26th November

IT IS a scene of medieval swirl and religious intensity. Women draped in
black and men in colourful turbans and robes glide across the courtyard of
the Mosque of the tomb of Imam Ali, who was murdered as he prayed 1,341
years ago, near here, on the banks of the Euphrates.

Imam Ali, the martyr and cousin of the Prophet Mohammed, is at the centre of
the tragic narrative that split Islam into its two main streams of Shi'a and
Sunni in the mid-seventh century.

Many of the pilgrims arriving at the mosque are carrying makeshift coffins.
The Arab and Persian Shi'a take their closest kin, in death, on a journey
second only to that of the Haj, the voyage to Mecca. They bring their
remains to Najaf to troop them round the ornate sarcophagus of the Imam
before burying them in the cemeteries of this simple little town.

Just eight days ago seven more coffins were put in the ground here, those of
a family, man, wife, children, a baby, whose village just a half-mile away
was destroyed by an allied air strike.

"If anyone asks you who you are, say you're Turkish," my Iraqi guide says.
This area, about 120 miles south-east of Baghdad and stretching 60 miles
further south down the Euphrates to Kerbala, is the Shi'a heartland. Their
historical sense of loss, martyrdom and victimisation is being intensified
by the debilitating consequences of sanctions and the regular air patrols
and air raids. We try to find the survivors of the air raid in the local
hospital, which is quite new, but the stench of inadequate drains pervades
the lobby and the corridors to the hospital director's office.

Filthy water, lack of modern equipment, antibiotics and medicines, poor diet
for mothers, lack of nurses and doctors - all these are mentioned by the
harassed doctor as he tells me about the last fatality.

An 18-year-old pregnant mother, Rasha Jawat Kaddam, who survived the
bombing, lost her baby. "That made it seven dead. All this, lost families,
no medicine, no education...all this, for what and for how long?"

He adds: " This attack was not the first and it won't be the last. More will
come. But they are all against the people, the civilian people, not
againstŠ" He trails off.

My guide, a driver, a soldier and an official from the District Governor's
office are listening. I know what he means but does not quite want to say:
the attacks are not, as far as he is concerned, hitting or hurting President
Saddam Hussein. Neither can the Shi'ites of this region see how the
overflights protect them from Saddam, as the Allies claim.

The Iraqi leader can exercise his enormous power over them from ground

The "cowboys of the air", as an elderly Iraqi lady I know calls them (they
are fond here of Westerns and indulge their Wild West image of George Bush),
are beyond their comprehension or control.

The hospital director tells me that Rasha, the survivor, has been
discharged. No-one will take us to see her. No-one knows where she is.

Outside the Imam Ali mosque, pedlars sell packets of blocks of moulded dust
from the shrine at Kerbala.

The people of the city are preparing rows of black cauldrons to feed the
faithful when dusk falls - it is the middle of the fasting month of Ramadan,
heightening the religious aura and its juxtaposition with an uncomprehending

As I return to Baghdad, I wonder what this volatile mixture might be
fostering at its resentful heart.

by Kim Ghattas
BBC, 26th November

A group of Iraqi opposition figures is in Iraq for talks with the government
about the possibility of change and a new constitution.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has ruled the country with an iron fist since

But members of the little-known Iraqi National Alliance are now in Baghdad -
the first dissidents to respond to a call by the Iraqi president for exiles
to return.

The opposition figures have met Iraq's number two, Ezzat Ibrahim, and are
hoping to meet with President Saddam.

Abdul Jabbar el-Qubaysi, chairman of the group, said they had been promised
that a new constitution would be drawn and that new political parties would
be allowed as well as independent newspapers.

Mr el-Qubaysi fled Iraq in 1976. His two brothers were executed in the early

He said he was not afraid to return because he believed the government's
promise for real change.

There have been rumours that the Iraqi president's son, Qusay, was planning
to form a new government that would include independent and opposition

But Mr el-Qubaysi said he and his colleagues would not agree to participate
in any government and would remain in the opposition.

Saddam Hussein's recent political overtures have been denounced abroad as a

Iraqi dissidents say the Iraqi leadership is trying to enlist support from
opposition figures in exile.

The opposition figures now in Baghdad have maintained some ties with the
Iraqi regime over the years and would therefore be willing to return to Iraq
and show support for the Iraqi president at this crucial time.


Tehran Times, 26th November

BAGHDAD -- Chief UN inspector Hans Blix may go down in history, art history,
if his much-awaited report confirms that Iraq has none of the weapons of
mass destruction claimed by the United States.

"If the report is positive and brings good news to Iraq, then I will draw a
portrait of Blix with our President Saddam Hussein," said Salam Abid, one of
the main Saddam portrait artists in the country.

"Good news" for Iraq, and Saddam personally, means the United Nations
declaring Iraq free of arms of mass destruction, as stipulated by UN
Security Council Resolution 1441 which threatens Baghdad with "serious
consequences" otherwise, AFP reported.

Saddam is a favorite model for portrait artists happy to hear that Blix is
due to launch arms inspections in Iraq on Wednesday after a four-year break,
and that Washington said it might consent to Saddam staying in power if he
agrees to give up suspected banned weapons.

"I have been painting portraits of the president since 1976, but I have
never painted him with anybody else -- except a few times with his sons Uday
and Qusay," said 47-year-old Abid.

"So if the Blix report is positive, I could make an exception if I am given
the permission" by Iraqi authorities, said Abid with a broad smile under his
thick black moustache.

Abid explains that he has painted hundreds of large portraits and murals of
Saddam, who has been president since 1979, some of them of gigantic
proportions of up to 3.5 by 2.5 meters (11-ft 6-in by 8-ft 3-in).

They are among the millions of portraits and statues of the Iraqi president
adorning building facades, office walls, sitting rooms, roads and highways.

The personality cult, though not a rare commodity in the region, clearly
strikes newcomers in a myriad of oil paintings, neon-lit prints, sculptures
and statues of various styles and sizes.

Depending on where the portrait or the statue is erected, Saddam appears
either smiling or serious, wearing army fatigues or Western-style suits,
sitting on a horse or toting a rifle.

There are books about pictures of Saddam. There are even exhibitions and
competitions of his hand-painted portraits which allow artists to win
prizes, gifts and cash.

It may not raise fortunes, but the demand seems to be so strong that what
usually starts as an artistic hobby eventually turns into a full-time job.

In a nearby advertising company, Mohammed Abbas Fadel sits proudly behind a
desk surrounded by brightly-lit portraits of the president.

One of them shows the Iraqi president holding a rifle before the dome of the
rock and carries a caption reading: "O Saddam ... Jerusalem Is Calling You."

Saddam may not have traveled abroad since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but has
made trips to governorates across the country, wearing clothing according to
the region's traditions or crafts.

He could be wearing a traditional "Shal-wa-Shabek" outfit from Northern
Kurdish areas, a checkered southern Iraqi tribal scarf, peasant clothes,
thick fur coats or even a swim suit while crossing the Tigris River
surrounded by bodyguards. Abid, painting the last of Saddam's seven facial
beauty spots on to a large canvas at his studio, even speaks of having
"recently dreamt of having drawn a young and neatly-dressed Saddam Hussein
with an old and wrinkled (U.S. President George W.) Bush."

"It is actually more like a nightmare. But if Bush returns to his senses and
stops threatening to attack us, then we will see," he added.

by Bassem Mroue
Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 27th November

AL-AMIRIYAH, Iraq- On Day 1 of the new U.N. weapons inspection program, a
40-vehicle convoy led by a team of inspectors meandered for 80 miles down
highways and side roads, with Iraqi officials and a horde of journalists
wondering what the first target would be.

Finally, the convoy veered off at the town of al-Amiriyah, 25 miles
southwest of Baghdad, and pulled up to the steel gate of a graphite rod
factory. Iraqi military guards swung open the gate, letting the inspectors'
vehicles enter before slamming the door on about 100 journalists.

The efforts at surprise appeared effective Wednesday.

"We didn't expect it at all," said Ali Jasim Hussein, director of the nearby
al-Rafah missile engine-testing station, where the inspectors spent five
hours crisscrossing the grounds. "We opened the doors for them and openly
let them work," Hussein said. "They checked all the equipment and documents,
administrative and technical."

Beyond the gates at the graphite rod factory, inspectors entered a
single-story building near a well-kept garden. About half the team spent an
hour inside. The rest left after 15 minutes for the al-Rafah missile
engine-testing compound.

The station was empty except for a few skeletal steel structures, a small
concrete building with a TV antenna on the roof and a single-story office.

Hussein, wearing an olive-green military uniform, said the compound was
attacked by U.S. and British warplanes in 1998 and had been visited several
times before by U.N. inspectors. He said nothing at the compound violates
U.N. Security Council resolutions. But he still expects a return visit soon.

Inspectors refused to say why they chose those sites and whether they found
anything suspicious. Graphite has many uses, including as a moderator in
nuclear power reactors - not prohibited for Iraq - and as a lubricant,
possibly for missiles. Iraq is not allowed to develop missiles with ranges
over 90 miles.

U.S. intelligence analysts have said satellite photos suggest that the
al-Rafah station was equipped for missiles with a greater range than

Journalists were allowed just a few yards inside the al-Rafah gate after the
inspectors left, but were barred from going any further or looking in any

U.N. nuclear inspectors, meanwhile, visited the Al-Tahadi Scientific
Research Center six miles east of Baghdad. The director, Haitham Maamoud,
said the center had never been involved in Iraq's nuclear program. He said
the inspectors toured maintenance workshops and asked questions during a
visit of more than three hours.

The inspection went smoothly, and factory officials answered all the
questions they were asked, Maamoud said.

As at the graphite factory, journalists were allowed to follow inspectors to
the Al-Tahadi center's gates but were barred from entry while the inspectors

The policy appeared to be a compromise, after the issue of journalists'
access had a point of contention. The inspectors have said they do not want
reporters tagging along as their presence may disrupt the work, while Iraqi
officials had insisted the press have free access.

All the sites visited Wednesday were checked years ago by U.N. inspectors,
and no significant new findings were reported. However, Wednesday's
inspections were perhaps as much about how inspectors were received as what
they might have found.

"We were welcomed in a polite and a professional way, and that's good enough
for us," U.N. inspector Dimitrius Perricos said.

Associated Press, 27th November

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) ‹ U.N. inspectors searching Iraq will determine the future
not just of any stockpiles Saddam Hussein has been hiding, but of
international efforts to stop the spread of some of the world's most
frightening weapons.

If the inspections successfully end the long and bitter saga of Iraq and
weapons of mass destruction, some credit will go to international agreements
banning nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the institutions
charged with policing the bans.

Failure may tempt other countries to follow Baghdad's lead.

"Iraq will be a turning point," said Joseph Cirincione, director of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Nonproliferation Project. "What
happens in Iraq will have a tremendous impact on the future of the
nonproliferation regimes and the individual choices that dozens of nations
will make."

David Kay, once the chief U.N. nuclear weapons inspector in Iraq, believes
Iraq already has provided a glimpse of the future, and it is bleak.

"I'm afraid the lesson is that if you're a determined proliferator and
willing to take the consequences, which for the most part are economic, you
will eventually succeed," said Kay, who now works for a Virginia-based think
tank, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

"I don't think the world is really determined" to stop Iraq, he said in a
telephone interview, while acknowledging that the world still has a chance
to prove him wrong.

If Iraq is stopped, North Korea could decide there's no reason to spend any
more political or economic currency in pursuit of nuclear weapons. In Iraq's
neighborhood, Egypt, Syria and Libya ‹ countries that have in the past shown
interest in weapons of mass destruction ‹ might abandon such ambitions.

To some, Iraq already is an example of how the system can work, however
slowly and fitfully. The lessons learned from dealing with Iraq, they add,
have strengthened the system spelled out in such documents as the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty and the chemical and biological weapons

One of the 188 states that have signed the nuclear treaty is Iraq. Now the
International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. body charged with implementing
the treaty, no longer takes signatures at face value, said Shannon Kile, a
nuclear specialist at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

In 1997, responding to concerns both Iraq and North Korea were hiding
information about their nuclear programs, the IAEA adopted the "additional
protocol" ‹ new guidelines providing for more unannounced or short-notice
inspections and advanced detection technology such as remote monitoring

Mohamed ElBaradei, executive director of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, said this week that Iraq has pledged to give a full accounting of
its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs by Dec. 8.

"If they say that they don't have weapons of mass destruction, we will
continue the inspection in order to make sure that this announcement is
correct and accurate, and that's what we do in all countries that say so,"
ElBaradei said. "The purpose of inspections is to make sure that the
country's announcement is complete and correct."

Cirincione, of the Carnegie Endowment, said inspectors are more aggressive
and better equipped. They have handheld scanners that can detect radioactive
isotopes, sensors that can trace alloys used in nuclear weapons, and digital
video cameras. The methods and equipment adopted for Iraq could be useful

The inspectors are backed by U.S. threats of war unless Iraq complies. U.S.
leadership lends crucial strength to international nonproliferation efforts,
Cirincione said.

In the future, diplomatic pressure or economic sanctions will work in some
cases, but in others the world will have to threaten war to force
compliance, says Kile, of the Stockholm institute.

The sanctions formula, however, did little to dissuade Pakistan and India,
both of which tested nuclear devices in 1998. Most of those sanctions have
since been lifted as payback for both countries' support of the United
States in the war against terrorism.

"Whatever the solution might be for Iraq might not be applicable to others,"
Kile said. "The more general lesson that has to be drawn is that action has
to be taken."

Times of India (from AFP), 28th November

BAGHDAD: UN experts on Thursday completed "without incident" surprise
inspections of four factories and laboratories near Baghdad suspected of
producing weapons of mass destruction.

On the second day of the first inspections in four years, experts from the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) carried out the checks over
more than four hours.

Team leaders Frenchman Jacques Baute and Greek Dimitri Perricos said the two
days of inspections were "a good start" for the inspection missions which
will be put on hold for a day on Friday, a holiday in Iraq.

Perricos said at a joint press conference that his team took pictures and
samples from a site, which had been under surveillance since the 1991-1998
previous inspection missions and from where they noticed some equipment had
been moved.

"But what is important is that when we asked them about it, they did not
propose to bring it in, but offered willingly to take us to the other
factory," he said.

A first team of experts checked two sites at the huge Al-Nasr factory, 25
kilometres (15 miles) north of the Iraqi capital and which belongs to the
industry ministry, and the nearby Dhu al-Fiqar.

"Al-Nasr General Factory for Mechanical Production," announces a large sign
at the entrance of the factory which, according to photographers who
recently visited the complex, produces mechanical equipment.

But Washington suspects Al-Nasr, located within the huge Al-Taji compound,
of being used to produce weapons of mass destruction.

A huge portrait of a smiling President Saddam Hussein on top of a large
pastel ceramic of Baghdad's industries and landmarks welcomes onlookers, who
are kept out by a fence, a gate and dozens of frowning guards.

Complying with the UN inspectors' practice of "freezing" suspect sites,
employees were prevented from either entering or leaving the compound. Even
a pleading pregnant woman had to sit in a small waiting room at the

The second team of inspectors visited two sites in Al-Dura, around 30
kilometres (20 miles) south of Baghdad, including a former vaccines
laboratory suspected of having been rehabilitated to produce biological

"The inspectors went out seemingly satisfied, and we are also satisfied.
There were no problems," said Muntasser Omar, director of the lab.

"We have offered them all the facilities and all the answers. They took many
samples from ventilation systems and water tanks," he told reporters who
were allowed into the site after the departure of the inspectors.

Omar said the laboratory had been out of service since it was dismantled in
1996 and the site has been visited more than 60 times during previous UN
disarmament missions in Iraq.

The factory was built by a French company at the end of the 1970s and
started producing vaccines for foot and mouth disease in 1982, he said.

According to UN sources, the number of inspectors will begin to increase
rapidly in the coming days to reach about 100 by the end of the year to
speed up the disarmament mission.


by James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post, 28th November

The United Nations launched perhaps its most important weapons inspections
ever yesterday with a team that includes a 53-year-old Virginia man with no
specialized scientific degree and a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex

The United Nations acknowledged yesterday that it did not conduct a
background check on Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge of Woodbridge, who was in
New York waiting to be sent to Iraq as a munitions analyst. McGeorge was
picked for the diplomatically sensitive mission over some of the most
experienced disarmament sleuths in the world. A U.N. spokesman said McGeorge
was part of a group recommended by the State Department, which in turn said
it was merely forwarding names for consideration.

The disclosures about McGeorge's qualifications come as concerns are being
raised among some former U.N. weapons inspectors that the current team lacks
experience. The former inspectors, who worked for the United Nations Special
Commission created after the Persian Gulf War, say the new inspectors have
been selected in part to avoid offending Iraq. These critics say that Hans
Blix, the executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), is bypassing some experienced inspectors
because they were opposed by Iraq as too aggressive in the earlier

Former inspectors also say that rules requiring applicants to quit their
government jobs meant that some of the best-qualified experts did not apply,
leaving many positions to be filled by applicants, such as McGeorge, from
the private sector. The former inspectors also say the current inspection
team lacks the size, mobility and equipment to do its job adequately, and
that the new U.N. policy of not sharing information with intelligence
agencies could further handicap the team's ability to find weapons sites.

U.N. officials defended their team of inspectors, saying that they are
highly qualified and among the best in the field. But they acknowledged that
they conducted no background checks.

"As the United Nations, with people applying from many countries, we do not
have the capability to do that," said Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for
UNMOVIC. "How would you check?"

McGeorge is a former Marine and Secret Service specialist who offers
seminars on "weaponization of chemical and biological agents" for $595 a
session. Since 1983, he has been president of his own firm, Public Safety
Group Inc., which sells bioterror products to governments. One online ad
promotes his role as a "certified United Nations Weapons inspector."

McGeorge does not possess a degree in one of the specialized fields -- such
as biochemistry, bacteriology or chemical engineering -- that the United
Nations says it seeks in its inspectors. U.S. and U.N. officials said a
background check apparently was not conducted on McGeorge or any of the
inspector applicants.

An Internet search of open Web sites conducted by The Washington Post found
that McGeorge is the co-founder and past president of Black Rose, a
Washington-area pansexual S&M group, and the former chairman of the board of
the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. He is also a founding officer of
the Leather Leadership Conference Inc., which "produces training sessions
for current and potential leaders of the sadomasochism/leather/fetish
community," according to its Web site. Several Web sites describe McGeorge's
training seminars, which involve various acts conducted with knives and

McGeorge said yesterday that a State Department official invited him to
apply for the U.N. team, and officials at State and the United Nations did
not ask about his S&M background. But he said he would tender his
resignation to Blix if The Post printed a story about it.

"I have been very upfront with people in the past about what I do, and it
has never prevented me from getting a job or doing service," McGeorge said.
"I am who I am. I am not ashamed of who I am -- not one bit. But I cannot
allow my actions, as they may be perceived by others, to damage an
organization which has done nothing to deserve that damage."

A State Department official said that the Bureau of Nonproliferation
collected résumés from potential UNMOVIC candidates and then passed along,
without recommendation, those who appeared to meet the general criteria of
the jobs. However, the official said he believes that background checks were
not conducted before the résumés were forwarded.

Half the 100 inspectors picked so far were recommended by governments, and
the other half applied directly to the United Nations. Buchanan added that
the United Nations considers McGeorge's private life irrelevant to his role
as a munitions analyst.

"I believe that Mr. McGeorge is technically very competent," Buchanan said.
"He knows his subject, which is weapons. As a general principle, I think
what people do in their private life, as long as it doesn't interfere with
[their] professional life -- and I'm not aware that it has interfered -- or
doesn't break any rules or laws, shouldn't be a significant issue."

Interviewed by telephone, McGeorge defended his training and experience. "I
was a military ordnance explosive disposal specialist," McGeorge said. "I
was very well trained on chemical and biological agents."

McGeorge's résumé indicates that he trained as an inspector with UNMOVIC in
February 2001 in Vienna. He said he was interviewed in person by Blix and
joined the team as a temporary staff member in December 2001.

McGeorge's professional background reveals he served for a few years each as
a Marine ordnance disposal technician and a munitions countermeasures
specialist with the Secret Service, both stints occurring more than 20 years

On his résumé, McGeorge lists an honorary doctorate from a Russian institute
in Moscow. McGeorge received an associate's degree in security management
from Northern Virginia Community College in 1983. He also lists numerous
articles on chemical and biological weapons in such publications as Defense
and Foreign Affairs and NBC Defense & Technology International.

One of his most cited achievements is preparing, under contract with the
federal government, a compendium of incidents involving biological and
chemical agents dating back to the 1940s.

Past weapons inspectors have criticized the selection of inspectors, saying
experienced candidates, including former missile inspector Timothy V.
McCarthy, were passed over. The critics say the new team needs seasoning if
it is to find minute evidence of weapons-making in a country the size of

"We just knew too much," said Richard Spertzel, former head of the
biological weapons inspection team for the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq.
"They couldn't pull the wool over our eyes."

The two renowned experts retained, Igor Mitrokhin and Nikita Smidovich, will
not be conducting field inspections.

Mitrokhin, a respected Russian chemical weapons expert, has been named the
chief of the agency's health and safety division. Smidovich, a Russian
missile expert whose encyclopedic knowledge of Iraq's missile program has
long made him unpopular in Iraq, has been appointed head of inspector

Smidovich said during a break at recent training session that although there
is a "new culture" at UNMOVIC, the agency still has "very tough inspectors."
He said that the less experienced inspectors can learn everything they need
to know from a massive archive that includes a recording of virtually every
meeting with the Iraqis. "We have it all on tape," he said.

Blix defended the abilities of the new inspectors, saying that his chief
inspector, Demetrius Perricos, "probably has the greatest experience in the

"He has 30 years of inspections behind him," he added. "He handled the whole
North Korea business in the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]; he
was in Iraq in the beginning of the '90s; he was in South Africa and handled
the verification of the disarming of their nuclear weapons."

A U.N. Security Council diplomat said that Washington wants to increase the
number of inspections and double the size of the inspection team's roster,
which now consists of 300 people. The Bush administration has been pressing
UNMOVIC to move up the date of the next scheduled training session from
January to December. One council official said that Blix was likely to begin
"a sort of worldwide trawl" for new inspectors.

Another council diplomat acknowledged the new inspection agency lacks the
experience of its predecessor and that it will take time to reach full
speed. "A lot of the inspectors are inexperienced, and it's a matter of not
trying to push UNMOVIC to run before it can walk," said a council member.

Former inspectors also were concerned about reports that members of the
current UNMOVIC team work in the private sector and might have products to
sell. A stint on a U.N. inspections team can boost an inspector's profile,
bringing media attention and lucrative business opportunities, as some of
the former inspectors found.

One current inspector works for a company developing a sensor to detect
biological substances, such as anthrax spores.

"I don't know of any technology out there for biology that you could wave
over and say this is a bad building," said former inspector and biological
warfare expert David Franz.

Correspondent Colum Lynch and researcher Alice Crites also contributed to
this report.,,3-495141,00.html

by Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor
The Times, 28th November

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.

The remarks were a complete contradiction of the official Iraqi position.
Baghdad has insisted repeatedly that it no longer has chemical, biological
or nuclear weapons nor medium-range missiles.

Speaking in an interview with al-Quds al-Arabi, a London-based Arabic
newspaper, an unnamed senior Iraqi official said that Iraq had used chemical
weapons during the war with Iran and would use them again if necessary.

"When the regime was under intense attack in the Fao (Peninsula) and began
to be under threat, it did not hesitate to use all the weapons of mass
destruction in its possession," the official told the newspaper in an
article published on Tuesday.

"Similarly, when the people of Halabja, or some of them, became guides for
the Iranian forces that tried to break the northeast (front), the regime did
not hesitate to use chemical weapons. 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 paper declined yesterday to name the source, who also gave details about
preparations under way by the Iraqi military to defend itself in the event
of war.

In spite of Iraq's denials that it possesses chemical and biological
weapons, it has been given until December 8 by the United Nations to make a
full admission of its weapons of mass destruction capability. If it does
not, the United States and Britain have given warning that they will disarm
Saddam by force, if necessary.

British sources said yesterday that the newspaper interview appeared to
confirm their strong suspicions that Iraq is concealing tonnes of chemical
and biological weapons, about 20 Scud missiles and a secret nuclear

"I am not surprised by these threats," a British official said. "As we
stated in our dossier earlier this year, there is strong evidence that Iraq
is hiding chemical and biological weapons. They never accounted for huge
stockpiles left over from the Gulf War and later development."

Western military commanders take the threat of the use of these weapons on
the battlefield very seriously, particularly if Saddam is cornered. "In
strict military terms, these weapons are not very effective in killing and
wounding an opponent," a senior British military source said, "but the
psychological impact on troops is tremendous.

"There are few soldiers who will stand and fight in the face of a chemical
attack. We have to work on the assumption that Saddam has them and will use

That assumption is based on Iraq's behaviour during its war with Iran, when
it used chemical weapons extensively against Iranian infantry on the
southern front and to subdue Kurdish civilians in the north.

The Iraqis are said to have contemplated using biological weapons, in
particular anthrax germs, as a weapon of last resort. Iraqi defectors also
claim that chemical weapons loaded on to Scud missiles would have been fired
against Iranian cities if the war had continued.

Before the Gulf War in 1991, President Bush sent a letter to Saddam giving
warning that he would "pay a terrible price" if he used weapons of mass
destruction against coalition forces. In the event, Saddam fired Scud
missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia, but always with conventional warheads.

American and Israeli forces are preparing defences against missile attacks.
Anti-missile batteries have been sent to the region to defend the United
States's allies. Earlier this week the American military, with Israeli
observers present, test-fired a Scud missile in California to study its
trajectory and improve missile defences.,,3-496333,00.html

by Michael Evans
The Times, 29th November

SADDAM HUSSEIN has ordered hundreds of his officials to conceal weapons of
mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the
United Nations inspectors.

According to a stream of intelligence now emerging from inside Iraq, the
full extent of the Iraqi leader's deception operation is now becoming
apparent. As the UN inspectors knock on the doors of the major military
sites in Iraq, suspected of housing chemical and biological weapons and
banned missiles, the bulk of the evidence is being secreted away in people's

The evidence of this latest concealment ploy is judged to be so damning that
President Bush and Tony Blair are considering making a personal appeal to
the Iraqi officials involved to let the inspectors know what is going on.

Intelligence picked up from within Iraq and from electronic intercepts of
Iraqi communications has revealed that scientists, civil servants and Baath
Party officials have all been ordered to store key components of Saddam's
secret weapons of mass destruction programme in their homes.

Iraqi farmers have also been ordered to play their part, according to
intelligence sources. One source said that farmers were being told to hide
drums of chemicals among stocks of pesticides.

In each case, the scientists, officials and farmers are being warned that
they and their families will face severe penalties if they fail to hide
these stocks of chemicals and biological materials from prying UN
inspectors. Computers and laptops containing vital information about the
weapons of mass destruction programme are also being hidden in people's

The intelligence sources said that UN inspectors were aware of what American
and other Western agencies were uncovering. However, it made their job
almost impossible because they would have no idea where to start if they had
to search individual homes.

The inspectors, however, do have the power under the Security Council
resolution to seek interviews with individual officials and scientists
suspected of having information about the weapons of mass destruction

A senior Whitehall official said Mr Blair was considering reminding people
in Iraq that they all had the same obligations as their leader to be open
with the UN inspectors. It is hoped that at least some of those ordered to
hide evidence in their homes might have the courage to come forward.

Apart from the evidence of deception, the latest intelligence has also
uncovered a totally different mood in Iraq from the lead-up to the 1991 Gulf
War. Then, there was little or no evidence that the people of Iraq were
opposed to Saddam. Now, however, there are signs of a growing disaffection.
One intelligence source said that at this stage the mood of discontent was
only "simmering" because the Iraqi people knew that if "they put their heads
above the parapet they and their families would face the consequences".

However, the intelligence material emerging in recent weeks has uncovered a
number of startling facts.

First, Saddam has been sufficiently worried about potential internal
opposition to his regime to take the extraordinary step of canvassing
opinion in all the key cities. Intelligence sources say that Kurds have been
used to carry out the survey.

The answers coming back from the quasi-opinion poll, had given strong
indications that people were looking towards a post-Saddam era and wondering
whether it would improve their standard of living. To counter this, Saddam's
regime has begun circulating rumours in Iraq that even if he were to fall
from power, there would be no lifting of sanctions.

One intelligence source said the very fact that Saddam had felt it necessary
to check the opinions of Iraqi people was one of the most surprising pieces
of information to come out of Baghdad in recent weeks. One piece of feedback
from the survey was that people were worried that if Saddam were toppled,
Iraq would split up as a country. The first sign of possible internal
dissent came during the referendum in Iraq last month when Saddam was
supposedly given a 100 per cent "yes" vote for continuing in office. Baghdad
claimed it was also a 100 per cent turnout. However, intelligence emerging
since then has revealed that only one in three people actually voted.

Second, as a sign of Saddam's unease over the loyalty of his officials in
Baghdad, he has begun handing out cars to everyone to keep them happy. The
intelligence sources said senior officials were being given Toyota Avalons
and junior officials South Korean-made Kias.

Third, Iraqi troops are now being required to go through the equivalent of
the British system of positive vetting every three months to test their
loyalties to Saddam. Security officials have been ordered to investigate
each individual and his family.

Loyalties are thought to be near breaking-point in some of the more
far-flung towns and cities, where there is evidence that troops and police
are either not being paid or are receiving subsistence salaries.

One piece of intelligence revealed that in the town of Dahuk in northern
Iraq, close to the Turkish border, the police had not been paid since
September. Iraqi soldiers based at two barracks in Dahuk were also being
paid far less than the average wage in Iraq. Fourth, Saddam who is not known
to be a very religious person, has ordered his officials to spread rumours
that the Americans want to invade Iraq in order to convert everyone to
Christianity. He has also written a prayer.

The assessment of all the latest intelligence is that although cracks are
now beginning to appear in the support for Saddam, it will have little
impact on the Iraqi leader himself. It is believed he will never given up
his weapons of mass destruction because they represent the means by which he
can keep his people cowed.

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]