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News Titles, 29/11-6/12/02 This week saw the publication of the British government's 'dossier' on human rights abuses in Iraq, a rather curious event since, unlike the previous 'dossiers' on evidence for Afghan/al Qaida involvement in the September 11th attack and evidence that Iraq has 'weapons of mass destruction', this one had almost no pre-publicity. Nonetheless, Amnesty International were quick off the mark in complaining that their material was being used to stoke up a war they disapprove. And it may indeed be noted that the government has never - either as Mr Hussein's ally or as his enemy - exerted any diplomatic pressure to persuade him to change his ways. On the contrary, everything they have done - either as his ally or as his enemy - has been so well calculated to bring out the worst in him that it is difficult to believe that it was not being done deliberately. The media seem in general to have reported the government's dossier in tandem with Amnesty's critique, thus greatly weakening it impact. Its all rather strange, since there can be no doubt that the theme of 'liberating' Iraq from a tyrannical regime is a much more attractive and persuasive pretext for war than the theme of defending the United States against the threat posed by the Iraqi military establishment. The more so if the weapons inspectors fail to find any 'weapons of mass destruction' (either because there isn't anything to find - which would imply a political decision of real genius on the part of the Iraqis taken back in 1998 - or because they are so well hidden). Indeed, just at the moment, the US government and its supporters are looking distinctly edgy and nervous while the Iraqi government is radiating serenity and confidence. It should of course be the other way about. I am perfectly willing to believe the worst stories that are told about the Ba'ath government in Iraq, but I do not see how anyone can fail to admire their handling of this - one would have thought utterly impossible - situation. USUK nervousness manifests itself this week in a rash of quite unconvincing stories to the effect that they now have Turkey, Saudi Arabia and even according to one account Iran on board as allies in the war on Iraq (see the Middle East section). Paul Wolfowitz has been in Turkey and has been trying to convey the impression (keeping up the pressure as the 8th December deadline approached) that he has some sort of agreement but so far (maybe I'll be proved wrong next week) nothing definite has emerged. Turkey and the other countries - even Kuwait and Qatar - have certainly been polite and accommodating, as one is when one is when talking to a six foot bully with a knuckle duster wrapped round his fist. But they still, all of them, want a second UN resolution and that will only happen if the Iraqis are caught out in truly spectacular fashion. And we have it this week from one of the top theorists of the war party that "Turkey is obviously crucial. I don't think you could do anything without Turkey" ('Turks, Saudis offer aid in a war on Iraq'). If that is true, and if the Turks stick to their positions (and given the state of Turkish public opinion it will be difficult for them not to) then the UN path is a necessity not just for Colin Powell but also, though they won't admit it, for Messrs Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, and famous investigative journalist Bob Woodward's vision of a George Bush with an angel perched on one shoulder and a demon on the other is simple nonsense. And the effort to move the goalposts (from weapons of mass destruction to human rights) has to be utterly futile. It may or may not have an effect on domestic public opinion but opinion in the US or in the UK isn't the issue. What counts is opinion in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, Iran and Qatar. If it still seems impossible that, after all the noise and bluster, the Americans will just slink away with their tails between their legs, its looking slightly less impossible than it was a couple of weeks ago. If it should happen, however, then we'd all better keep our heads down since we will have to expect some act of mean spirited vindictiveness directed against the agents of their discomfiture (France, perhaps, or the UN in general) just for the necessity of reminding us all that they are still Top Dog. NEWS, 29/11-6/12/02 (1) WEAPONS INSPECTIONS * Inspectors Find Only Ruins at an Old Iraqi Weapons Site [This account is suitably vague as to whether the Al-Dawrah "General Establishment for Animal Development" was still producing stuff when it was rumbled in 1995, or when it was bombed (though I'm not quite sure if it was bombed) in 1998.] * How a 'leak' turned out to be an own goal [Story of how the Mother of All Battles company, in Yusoufiyyah, 10 miles south of Baghdad knew the inspectors were coming. Balad military base, north of Baghdad, Tahadi, in Baghdad, and al-Rafah, west of Baghdad.] * Waiting for an Iraqi Sakharov [Thomas Friedman thinks article 5 (about getting Iraqi scientists and their families out of Iraq) is 'the least noticed paragraph in UN Security Council Resolution 1441'. Where has he been all this time (perhaps he just read one of my own commentaries at the time the resolution was published and I thought, wrongly, that this much touted idea had been dropped)? But why confuse the bribed and terrified little Iraqi scientists with the great André Sakharov? If you really want a figure who has achieved heroic status by revealing his country's military secrets (Sakharov never did this) surely the man to name is Mordecai Vannu? The conclusion to the article suggests, if I've understood it aright, that if a scientist can't be found to accept the offered bribe of US citizenship then the Iraqi people will have proved themselves to be worthless and ... and what? They should all be incinerated? Or perhaps all just left to their own (and Mr. Hussein's) devices?] * Iraq's fate lies in hands of UN N-lab ['State-of-the art instruments, some of which are new since the inspectors fled Iraq in 1998, can detect the tiniest uranium particle, down to a trillionth of a gram. A country needs 20 to 30 kg of highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear programme, so it is virtually impossible to erase all traces, Donohue said.'] * A Glimpse Into Saddam's Lifestyle [Other accounts of Saddam's palaces have suggested they are in rather tacky taste but the AP calls this one, the Al Sajoud palace in the Karkh district of Baghdad, 'hidden, silent and beautiful': 'What the journalists saw silenced even the most jaded among them.'] * UN: Iraqi arms equipment 'missing' [at the Karamah (Dignity) compound in Baghdad] * Regime Change, or Regime Protection? [Kenneth Adelman, scared that the US adminstration are losing the plot by following the UN route, reminds us that 'After World War I, more than 5,000 international inspectors went into Germany after its hostile government was changed -- not with the violators still in power' (why should the Germans be regarded as 'violators'? Oh, I know, they supported the Austrians, who had just invaded ... Serbia). He may have forgotten that the end (and entirely predictable) result of all that effort was Hitler. Proud peoples react if you kick them in the face. But leaving that aside, the comparison with Blix's team is utterly fallacious. The problem of disarming Germany was one of quantity - dismantling everything of a military nature (insane but true). The problem in Iraq is one of quality, Searching for a particular type of weapon which may or may not exist.] * Iraq Says It Had Aluminum Tubing Before Sanctions * Naked U.S.-Israeli Strategic Alliance for Destruction of Iraq [The article suggests that one of the roles of the inspectors is to place homing devices that will then aid the US bombing campaign. Well it should reduce the numbers of civilian casualties ...] * U.N. Team Inspects Former Iraqi Factory [Al-Tuwaitha nuclear complex and the al Muthanna State Establishment] * French researcher says Iraq, N. Korea N-crises linked [Iraq seen as a test of whether or not non-proliferation agreements can be policed by inspectors.] * Inspectors find only mushrooms amid ruins of bombed reactor [Al-Tuwaitha/Osirak, including the new sheds that feature in Mr Blair's dossier. The place still employs 25,000 people.] * UN experts secure Iraqi mustard gas shells [Mustard shells at the al-Muthanna facility, which had already been known about and inventoried by UNSCOM. The fact that they were still in good condition, and that they had been left alone suggests that the Iraqis had always assumed inspectors would be coming back some day.] * Dance of Saddam's Seven Veils [The Wall Street Journal argues that Iraq's refusal to own up to weapons of mass destruction is itself a material breach that justifies immediate war. But this is just more candy floss. If the US wants to launch a unilateral attack it can do so any time it likes and doesn't need even such a flimsy pretext. The reason for pursuing the UN inspections route is the need to bring necessary allies - chiefly Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and, if possible, Saudi Arabia - on board. So what counts is not what evidence or lack of evidence is enough for the US (very little) but what is enough for these other governments to get away with in the face of their own, very angry, public opinion (you know, um, democracy and all that). So the process will probably grind on whatever the Wall Street Journal or the New York Post might want - unless the US military finally decide that the whole thing can be done from an aircraft carrier.] AND, IN NEWS, 29/11-6/12/02 (2) HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAQ * An Iraqi doctor's tale [Account of Iraqi Ba'ath brutality - "No Western mind can imagine it" - followed by account of Western brutality (effects of sanctions and war). The difference of course is that the one is close-up and personal, the other hands off and clinical.] * Ten years on, and the human shield victims still seek justice [Cherie Blair's Matrix Chambers seems to be doing quite well out of the current Iraqi situation, one way or the other. But how anyone can think that indicting Saddam is a way to avoid war - when it will take a war to get him - I can't imagine.] * Iraq dossier: Key claims at-a-glance [The government dossier would have been more impressive if the government had not pursued a policy of isolating Iraq and subjecting it to blockade and bombing thereby at once justifying a repressive and paranoid attitude on the part of the Iraqi government and giving them a completely free hand to engage in it. Not does the government consider its own role in intensifying the misery of the Iraqi people when it blames Saddam for the fact that 'according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2001, Iraqis have become the second largest group of refugees in the world.'] * Dossier reveals Iraq's torture regime [Including account of his imprisonment and torture by nuclear scientist Hussain Al-Shahristani] * Report lacks first-hand information [Richard Beeston of The Times, who normally appears as a government supporter on Iraq, gives the Crimes and Human Rights document a very dusty reception saying much of it is based on opposition sources of dubious credibility. What's come over the man?] * Saddam's useful idiots pollute the British Left [Michael Gove makes up for Richard Beeston's lack of enthusiasm with a rhetorical broadside fired against Amnesty International for not enthusiastically endorsing the government's use of its own material in the Iraq human rights dossier. He gives the following curious piece of information I don't think I've seen elsewhere: 'Two of the brothers of Iraq's Foreign Minister, Naja Sabre, have been held by Saddam's torturers and one, Muhammad, died at their hands. Last year the son of Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, was sentenced to 22 years in prison, then released, then rearrested, then released again.'] * Human rights groups scorn dossier on Saddam brutality [Another surprisingly negative report on the government's human rights dossier from R.Beeston. Is he going to keep his job with Mr Murdoch? Especially after making the following sharp observation (though the same point has come up on the list): 'The Foreign Office description of living conditions in Iraq also threatened to trigger a row with the Home Office. Only 150 Iraqis were granted refugee status in Britain in the third quarter of this year out of 3,065 cases. Future asylum seekers may quote the report to back their claims.' That would be worth a letter to The Sun.] * Media and political salvo hits activists [This article attributes the government's rights dossier to the unpopular Alastair Campbell which may help to explain the apparently cool reception from the press. Usefully, the reference to the legalisation of 'honour killings' is explained.] * Blair hits back in Iraq torture row [The dossier includes a story that the Iraqi football team was punished by Uday Hussein. Tam Dalyell says this story was investigated by FIFA, including a physical examination of the players, and no evidence was found for it.] * Rights group [Indict] demands IOC [International Olympic Committee] action over alleged torture of Iraqi athletes REMNANTS OF DECENCY * Iranian Film Director Calls For Peaceful Change of Regime in Iraq [Bahman Qobadi: "Given that the Middle East countries are looking forward to the prospect of peace, the change of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq through peaceful means is inevitable." It would have been nice to have had a bit more detail on this.] * Religious leaders [in Chicago] urge Bush against Iraq war * Thousands across Australia rally for peace * Turks Protest Possible War in Iraq * American Mothers Oppose U.S. War On Iraq * Sierra Club Opposes Utah Branch on Iraq [The Sierra Club is a San Francisco-based 700,000-member environmental organization. the dissident Glen Canyon chapter has observed that US war policy may have adverse effects on the environment: "The present administration has declared its intention to achieve total military dominance of the entire world. We believe that such ambitions will produce a state of perpetual war, undoing whatever protection of the environment that conservation groups may have so far achieved."] * CND wins cap on costs in case against Iraq war * War - what is it good for? [Opposition to Iraq war from Blur and Massive Attack] AND, IN NEWS, 29/11-6/12/02 (3) IRAQI/US RELATIONS * New body in bid to shift opinion on Iraq [Is it a coincidence that this US pressure group to publicise Mr. Hussein's wickedness (old friends, George Schulz, William Kristol) appears just as the UK publishes its own new dossier on the subject?] * Drop a note to Saddam Hussein [James Rubin, assistant Secretary of State under W.Clinton, proposes a policy which seems to be aimed at avoiding war, which is not how I remember Mr Rubin when he was in office. But perhaps this is part of the sanctions v war debate. Mr Rubin favours sanctions. If those were the only two options available, I would be inclined to favour war.] * The UN Charter is outdated [The UN Charter needs modification to make unprovoked US Imperialist aggression even easier than it already is. Where do the people come from who are capable of wrapping their mouths round such slobbering idiocies?] * The Iraq Ploy and Resemblances to the Start of the Cold War [Extracts from long article, mainly evidence of US support for Saddam in the 1980s.] * Film captures peril journalists faced in Gulf War [Given the difficulty of finding any Americans who did anything of a heroic nature during the Gulf Massacre it was perhaps inevitable that the film industry should end up making a film about ... CNN. As always, the gooks, the natives, will provide picturesque, creepy or, occasionally, sentimentally affecting background material.] * State Department Makes Repairs to Iraqi Ambassador's Residence * A rising anti-American tide [The Pew Global Attitudes Survey, conducted in 44 countries and headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright] * Aim is off in our quest for security [A blinding flash of common sense from The Atlanta Journal Constitution on the subject of the USA's security needs: 'in one speech, President Bush was reduced to warning that the Iraqis could attack us via unmanned aerial vehicles, which is only slightly more likely than an attack by a spaceship from Mars'] URL ONLY: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20021203-2162824.htm * Iraq actions 'not encouraging' by Bill Sammon Washington Times, 3rd December [Here's a sampler: (1) 'Mr. Bush said the inspections have just one purpose: allowing the United States [sic - PB] to determine whether Iraq has given up its quest for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.' (2) '"We're a peaceful nation," he said before signing a bill increasing defense spending by $30 billion.' (3) 'Mr. Cheney added to hearty applause: "The war on terror will not be won till Iraq is completely and verifiably deprived of weapons of mass destruction."' IMPLICATIONS OF WAR * Another Yugoslav in the making: Environmental disaster in Iraq [US-based Institute of Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) enquiry into environmental damage from the war on Yugoslavia. The US military explain that their new stuff is much smarter 'and special attention has been paid to the development of bombs which limit the leakage of toxic chemicals'. So that's all right.] * US troops lack gears to fight bio-war in Iraq [No great concern as to whether Kurds are provided with the right protective gear in this US inspired war.] * Iraq attack 'means third world war' [sez H.Von Sponeck] * Bill for an Iraq war would far exceed 1991 Gulf conflict [The figure of $200 billion is reached by calculating the cost of several years' occupation with very little help from the rest of the world.] URL ONLY: http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1037872479771&p=1012571727102 * Put Middle East peace before Iraqi war by Douglas Hurd Financial Times, 2nd December [In case anyone's interested.] AND, IN NEWS, 29/11-6/12/02 (4) IRAQI OPPOSITION * Al-Hayat: Al-Yasiri and the coup against Saddam Hussein [Maj. Gen. Tawfiq al-Yasiri of the Iraqi National Coalition. Readers may remember that not so long there was a great deal of publicity about this and it appeared it was being set up as some sort of military wing for the Iraqi National Congress. But it wasn't mentioned in recent reports of US plans to provide training for INC members and, it seems from this article, it hasn't been invited to the forthcoming conference in London.] * Bush Gives Afghan Envoy 'Free Iraqis' Portfolio [The fact that 'U.S. special Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will take on the Iraq portfolio titled "special envoy and ambassador at large for free Iraqis,"' suggests either that the Afghan problem has been solved or that the US administration is short of special envoy material with suitably Muslim names.] * Iraqi dissident found murdered in South [Apparently a Shi'i member of the INC] URL ONLY: http://www.counterpunch.org/leupp1203.html * The Arrest of General Khazraji: Are the Chickenhawks Crowing? by GARY LEUPP Counterpunch, 4th December [On al-Khazraji and the State Department/Pentagon tussle over the leadership of the Iraqi oposition. I didn't think there was much new in it. But am I the only person in this debate who knows that in gay parlance a 'chickenhawk' is someone who is chasing after young boys?] IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * India Supports Iraq, Says Saddam Shouldn't Feel Let Down [Yashwant Sinha, federal external affairs minister: 'Iraq had every right to deter any U.S. possible attack, he added.' Explaining why the Indian position should be so remarkably fairminded, the article affirms that '3.5 million Indian expatriates are presently working in Iraq.' That can't be right, shurely?] * Russian 'May Have Aided Iraq' [A person who once worked on the Russian small pox programme is known to have visited Iraq. We learn at the end of the article, as a sort of afterthought, that she worked for the WHO.] * Brajesh off to US for Iraq briefing [India wishes to put Pakistan-North Korea nuclear link on the map] * [Japanese government] Response to war in Iraq outlined ['a refugee relief operation and economic assistance to countries bordering Iraq as well as enhanced logistic support in the Indian Ocean for U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan'] * Serb secrets aid UN in Iraq [Serb tongues getting used to the taste of leather] * Germany's cast iron chancellor [This is an almost hopeful article suggesting that Schröder's declaration of independence from the US might acquire substance. In particular Schröder and Chirac, by insisting on the rule of unanimity before NATO can act, may have succeeded in disabling it definitively as a vehicle for US aggression.] * NATO mulls U.S. options for possible military role in Iraq IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * U.S. Wants Two-Week Extension on Iraq Oil-Food Plan * U.N. Unanimously OKs Iraq Aid Extension [This is difficult to understand but in broad principle it seems that a process is being worked out by which the goods review list can be reviewed without interfering with the general operation of the Oil for Food arrangement.] AND, IN NEWS, 29/11-6/12/02 (5) NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Future of Iraqi Kurds Still Uncertain [Hopelessness of the Kurdish situation as an isolated enclave without any possibility of gaining status as a real state. They say that they cannot negotiate with S.Hussein. But they might have been able to if the 'international community' had been capable of using its influence in an intelligent and constructive manner.] * Iraqi Kurdish leaders, Javier Solana discuss developments in Iraq [Well, if you've nothing better to do with your time you might as well go and have a chat with Javier Solana .] * Arab League, Iraqi Opposition Leader Meet [The opposition leader in question is a representative of the KDP] * Islamic Fighters Battle Kurds in Iraq [PUK v Ansar el-Islam] * Kurdish militia regains positions from Ansar fighters * Kurdish areas 'starved of aid' [by the Baghdad government. But even without the Baghdad government's non-cooperation the system seems to be extremely cumbersome. How can the Kurds calculate their needs when they do not have an officially recognised state? The negotiations with Baghdad are presumably negotiated by aid agencies? Then Baghdad negotiates - on the Kurds' behalf? - with the UN?] IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS * Iraqi ship fires on Kuwait patrol: Interior ministry [See next item] * Pentagon: Kuwait boat accident didn't involve Iraq * Retraction On Turkey Air Bases [But even the original offer to let the US use Turkish air bases was conditional on a new UN resolution and so represented little change in Turkey's known position.] * Iraqis living illegally in Jordan returning home in surprising trend [Many voluntarily but many also, it seems, pushed out by Jordan] * Turks, Saudis offer aid in a war on Iraq [This seems to me to be self evident candy floss but it contains this important admission: '"Turkey is obviously crucial. I don't think you could do anything without Turkey," said Eliot Cohen, a military analyst at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.' Since E.Cohen is famously one of the hardliners, and since the UN route is unavoidable if there is to be any chance of bringing Turkey on board we can assume that all the stuff about a great debate between (pro-UN route) doves and (anti-UN route) hawks is so much idle chatter.] * Lebanese do well at Iraq fair [But owing to the complexities and delays of the Oil for Food system, Lebanon is hoping for a deal in which Iraq would pay directly in oil rather than money - like Jordan and Syria] * Centrepiece: GCC vs Iraq: who benefits after the war? [Potentially devastating effect on Saudi Arabia of Iraq's return to the oil market] * Kuwait seizes Iraqi vessel with four people URLs ONLY: http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=12/2/02&Cat=2&Num=12 * U.S. and Iran Cooperating Over Iraq Tehran Times, 2nd December [There is really nothing of substance in this article. But why should it have been published by the Tehran Times?] http://www.iht.com/articles/78895.html * Region appears set to back a war by Michael R. Gordon International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 3rd December [The only item of interest is the headline. Nothing in the article suggests any change in what we already know about the position of the various countries around Iraq but it is all packaged in the most 'optimistic' (from the point of view of the US murder machine) terms possible.] AND, IN NEWS, 29/11-6/12/02 (6) INSIDE IRAQ * Fans refuse to play politics [Iraqi army and air force teams play football in Kurdistan] * Oil Is Our Damnation [Account of life among the oilmen of Basra. Its long so I've cut out general accounts of the sanctions regime and of the state of the interests of the US oil companies] * Iraq on Threshold of a "Legal Revolution" [Interview with Iraq's Charge d'Affaires in Tehran Abdulsattar al-Rawi. Another hint that a big constitutional change may be on its way. But I wish they'd get on with it.] * Saddam's son sits on top [It appears that Uday is the author of a 320-page thesis called The Future of the Arab Nation in the 21st Century in which he 'argued that the United States lost world dominance in the 21st century, sharing superpowerdom with Japan, the European Union and China.' It is very highly thought of in the Iraqi academic fraternity.] * Saddam driven by 'inferiority complex' [Interview with Dr. Hussein Shahristani, the former head of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission. It is not imediately clear why he initially fell out with the Ba'ath regime - before he refused to work on the bomb project. Or indeed why he refused to work on the bomb project (if this was genuinely a matter of anti-nuclear weapons conviction then we must recognise him as one of the heroes of the age). He says: 'I have information from inside Iraq that Saddam plans to distribute his chemical weapons in particular in major Shiite towns in southern Iraq. He plans to remotely detonate them and expose the population to nerve agents and cause very large scale civilian deaths.' He also says: 'I don't know any respectable Iraqi who has any confidence in American policies. The Americans can say they're sorry, but that mistake has cost the Iraqis more than 300,000 lives.' The mistake in question is the failure to take Baghdad in 1991. Since no-one (I think) is suggesting that Saddam killed 300,000 people after 1991 he must be accepting that a large proportion of this 300,000 were killed by sanctions, ie by Mr Major and Mr Blair (Saddam has killed his tens of thousands; Tony has killed his hundreds of thousands).] * Blocked Browsing [A journalist's experience of using the Internet in Baghdad. He can't get at the porn sites.] * Saddam steps in to back inspectors [We learn that the inspections were suspended during Eid] URL ONLY: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/nightline/DailyNews/koppel_tariqaziz021204.ht ml * Koppel Interviews Tariq Aziz ABC News, 4th December [A good example of high-powered investigative journalism. Do you have any weapons of mass destruction? No.] NO FLY ZONES * Four dead as planes raid Iraqi oil plant [Perhaps other inspectors could go in to check up on the effects of USUK bombing.] * U.S. Warplanes Bomb Northern Iraqi Site [Near Mosul, Monday, 2nd December] * Russia Says US Air Raids in Iraq Unacceptable [Unusually tough statement from the Russian Federation's ministry of Foreign Affairs.] * Allied bombers aiming at Saddam's air defences _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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