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News, 6-13/12/02 (3) IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Armitage in Asia to drum up support for Iraq war * Brajesh holds talks with Rice in Washington * Serbs Call Arms Sales to Iraq 'Peanuts' * German Coalition at Odds Over Help for U.S. in Iraq Attack * Iraq war turns off Russian power chief * Iraq slashes wheat imports [from Australia] * Germany will Participate in NATO Operations Against Iraq * Oil Deal Canceled, Iraq Tells Russians * Kaunda Speaks Out Against Bush, Blair IRAQI OPPOSITION/COLLABORATION * Iraqi Challenges Critics Over Arms Claim * Iraq's denies connection to killing of opposition member, al-Mayahi * How to stop the disintegration of Iraq * Three Iraqi Opposition Leaders Meet in Iran * Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq to Take Part in London Conference * Iraqis eager to fight Saddam: US * Iraqi exile gets warm welcome home * Iraqi Opposition Tells U.S. to Spare Iraqi Army * Tehran Bars Iraqi Opposition From Using its Soil for Attacks * Smaller Saddam opponents feel ignored IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://www.dailystarnews.com/200212/09/n2120913.htm * ARMITAGE IN ASIA TO DRUM UP SUPPORT FOR IRAQ WAR Daily Star, Bangladesh, 9th December AFP, Tokyo: US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage arrived in Japan Sunday on the first leg of a four-nation tour of Asia in a bid to drum up support for a possible American-led attack on Iraq. Armitage, Washington's second highest-ranking diplomat, arrived at Tokyo's Narita airport around 3:55 pm (0655 GMT) Sunday, an embassy spokeswoman said, just hours after Iraq handed to the UN a 12,000-page declaration of its banned weapons program. The document is expected to determine whether the UN disarmament process ends in peace or war. The US envoy is expected to present a possible war scenario to Washington's three key regional allies Japan, South Korea and Australia as well as China. Armitage's spokesman Philip Reeker said the Asia trip was "part of our continuing consultations with friends and allies on Iraq and efforts to ensure that Iraq complies with the UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and other relevant UN resolutions." Resolution 1441, under which UN weapons inspectors returned to Iraq, requires Baghdad to make a "currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects" of its banned weapons programs. On Monday, Armitage is to meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, Vice Foreign Minister Yukio Takeuchi and Defense Agency Director General Shigero Ishiba, a foreign ministry official said. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Sunday that he did not believe Iraq's assertion it had no weapons of mass destruction and urged President Saddam Hussein to disarm. "If he doesn't then he'll of course invite military action," Downer told Channel Ten television. In Japan, opposition politicians attacked a move by the government to dispatch an Aegis destroyer to the Indian Ocean to provide protection during refuelling of US forces ships by Japanese vessels. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=307 90541 * BRAJESH HOLDS TALKS WITH RICE IN WASHINGTON Times of India, 9th December WASHINGTON (Press Trust of India): National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra on Monday held talks with his American counterpart Condoleeza Rice discussing the ongoing war against terrorism conveying concerns over Pakistan's continued support to cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Mishra, who is visiting Washington a few days after Indo-Russian summit in New Delhi, is understood to have told Rice that resumption of dialogue with Pakistan was not possible until Islamabad completely stopped infiltration and dismantled terrorist infrastructure in its territory as pledged by President Pervez Musharraf. The issue of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction held by Pakistan and the possibility of their falling into the hands of terrorists is also believed to have figured during the talks. The two officials exchanged views on the Iraq crisis. Mishra is understood to have told Rice that India was against unilateral use of force against Baghdad if it fails to comply with UN resolutions on dismantling its weapons of mass destruction. Any action against Baghdad must have the UN mandate, he is believed to have said. Asked about the meeting, a spokesman of the US National Security Council Sean McCormack said "it is another in the ongoing series of meetings between Rice and Mishra. They have a good working relationship and Rice values the relationship." Mishra is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Colin Powell later in the day. Other engagements of Mishra include a meeting with Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and CIA chief George Tenet. http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-helping iraq1209dec09,0,5829404.story?coll=sns%2Dap%2Dworld%2Dheadlines * SERBS CALL ARMS SALES TO IRAQ 'PEANUTS' by George Jahn Newsday, from Associated Press, 9th December BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Serbs who helped Saddam Hussein's effort to rebuild the Iraqi military say that ultimately their role hardly mattered. Nobody here denies a Yugoslav state arms dealer ignored a U.N. ban on weapons trade with Iraq, but culprits and investigators alike say the bottom line is that war-battered Yugoslavia had little to offer. "We were repairing old engines," said one, downing a second glass of whiskey as he acknowledged involvement in refurbishing Iraq's Soviet-era MiG jet fighters. "So what? What's the MiG-21 in comparison to the (U.S) F-16?" "Peanuts," a beefy, black-clad arms dealer said of the shipments to Baghdad in recent years. Asked about reports that Yugoslav experts furnished Baghdad with cruise missile technology and possibly chemical weapons, he snorted: "That's utter B.S.!" Since revelations in October that the arms dealer Yugoimport had overhauled MiG engines and provided other unspecified military services for Iraq, top executives have been arrested and investigations launched, including one by a U.S. team now in Belgrade. Still, officials argue there was little Yugoslavia had to offer, following a decade of wars that culminated in a NATO air assault in 1999 that destroyed the country's arms industry. Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic put the value of all arms and related material shipped to Iraq over the past three years at less than $25 million. "This is not an amount for which you can purchase anything serious," he told The Associated Press. At the most, he said, Iraq might have had maintenance work done on the Orkan short-range, multibarrel rocket launchers it acquired in the 1980s or received a few 125-mm howitzers. Yugoslavia has "no missile program, no chemical, no biological and no nuclear program," he said. While U.S. officials won't discuss what their investigation has uncovered, Yugoslavia's claim that little of military value was shipped to Iraq appears to be getting a sympathetic hearing from the Americans. A report last week by the International Crisis Group linking Yugoslavia to Iraqi attempts to acquire chemical weapons and cruise missile technology was dismissed as "full of speculation and errors" by U.S. Embassy spokesman Abelardo Docal. He also said Yugoslav authorities were "cooperating fully" with the U.S. investigation team. Zivkovic said the bulk of the shipments from Yugoslavia were infantry weapons, such as assault rifles and grenades, some from third countries like Ukraine and Russia. "There was also expert assistance, but only in the areas where we are experts," Zivkovic said. Typically, he said, that would include the occasional MiG aviation engineer, or mechanics and optics experts for the Yugoslav-made M-84 tanks and howitzers that Iraq acquired in the 1980s. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, now on trial before the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, developed close ties with Saddam and allegedly encouraged illegal arms deals. That trade built on links developed earlier under Yugoslavia's former communist leader, Josip Broz Tito. While Milosevic was still in power, Iraqi experts visited Belgrade to learn about the Yugoslavs' spirited defense against the NATO bombing campaign. Although outgunned, the Yugoslav air defense performed well, protecting military targets in Kosovo and shooting down two U.S. jets, including an F-117 stealth attack plane. Yugoslavia's old guard remains welcome in Iraq. Yugoslav reporters recently in Baghdad reported spotting former Milosevic aides who refused to discuss their missions. Zivkovic blames officials in the military appointed by Milosevic for the violation of U.N. sanctions on Iraq. "The whole Defense Ministry and the military was a Milosevic structure," he said. The Defense Ministry has accused individuals of signing the export permits for shipments for Iraq, arguing the ministry as an institution was not involved. The scandal broke in early October, when a raid by NATO peacekeepers on the Orao aviation plant in the Serb part of Bosnia-Herzegovina turned up evidence of illicit maintenance work on Iraq's MiG engines. After making phone calls to Bosnian Serb generals, Orao managers said they were not authorized to talk a reporter. But a senior employee said plasma technology, which sprays worn-out metal components with a new metal coating, was used to refurbish some MiG engine turbine parts. Joining others interviewed dismissing the scope of Yugoslav aid, the employee -- who like others talked to asked for anonymity -- said in some cases there was little that even that technique could do. "The metal was so corroded that it was too far gone for repair," he said. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=12/10/02&Cat=4&Num=1 * GERMAN COALITION AT ODDS OVER HELP FOR U.S. IN IRAQ ATTACK Tehran Times, 10th December BERLIN -- Germany's ruling coalition partners appeared at odds again Monday over how Berlin should respond in the event of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq without a UN mandate. Angelika Beer, one of two newly-elected coleaders of the Greens, insisted that Berlin should refuse all help without a mandate for military action from the UN Security Council. It was a demand immediately rejected by Olaf Scholz, a leading official in Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrat Party, while a government spokesman refused comment, saying it was a "hypothetical" question, AFP reported. Beer's call has highlighted clear differences of interpretation between the coalition partners over what help Germany should provide. Schroeder has said that Germany would grant U.S. and allied forces overflight rights and use of bases, but deliberately not specified whether it would also be the case if there were no UN mandate. Beer said the position was clear -- no mandate, no support. "We will not take part in an unconstitutional attack in any coalition with other nato partners," she told Deutschlandfunk radio. "Our Constitution," she told the daily Die Welt separately, "does not allow either logistical support or participation in AWACS missions in the event of an attack." Her reference to AWACS planes was because the United States has asked NATO about the possible use of the surveillance aircraft. Around 20 AWACS planes are based at Geilenkirchen, western Germany, and one third of their crews are German. Scholz, however, said U.S. forces would be able to use airspace and bases in Germany without restriction even if there is no UN mandate. "We have long agreed and stated, that of course our American allies can use the bases they have in Germany and that they have overflight rights," he told Deutschlandradio Berlin. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1039523392171&p=1012571727166 * IRAQ WAR TURNS OFF RUSSIAN POWER CHIEF by Andrew Jack Financial Times, 11th December Valentin Kuznetsov spent four years in Iraq in the 1980s, supervising the construction of some of the country's largest power stations. He has spent much of the past decade returning regularly to rebuild them after their destruction during the 1991 Gulf war. Now the former Soviet official is head of Techno-promexport, the Russian state-controlled power contractor, and he is anxious about the prospect of renewed US military action - fearing he might have to begin all over again. "There is a very difficult situation for electricity. Supplies are at a very low level," he says. "If military action depended on me, I would vote against it. I'm often in Iraq and I believe all this fear by the US is exaggerated. The danger after an attack is that [the situation will turn out] like in Afghanistan, with complete chaos." With more than 400 power projects to its credit, Technopromexport is a rare example of a Russian company outside the raw materials sector that is active abroad as well as at home. It has sold its services in the Soviet Union's traditional sphere of influence in North Africa - including building Egypt's Aswan High Dam - and in the near and Middle East and south east Asia, and it remains successful today in eastern Europe as well as China. But one of the company's biggest foreign markets is in Iraq. It has maintained a representative office in Baghdad for the past 35 years, and since 1997 it has worked on numerous hydroelectric and thermal plants through the UN oil-for-food programme. Mr Kuznetsov estimates that the total value of its contracts in the country in the last five years is about $500m (€496m, £318m), on which it makes a profit of about 5 per cent. Currently, his company supervises some 400 employees from the Commonwealth of Independent States working on its projects in Iraq. It had been planning to expand this figure to 1,000 by the end of this year. But in the wake of the recent uncertainties in the country - including the return of United Nations weapons inspectors - Technopromexport says it is putting further expansion on hold to take stock. Mr Kuznetsov stresses that his company complies with the "smart sanctions" scheme. While Technopromexport is, on paper, a leading beneficiary of business with Iraq, he stresses that many western companies also benefit indirectly. BNP-Paribas provides financial backing and the company's sub-contractors include Siemens, Alsthom and WHB. Many of his competitors are also proving active in the region. "The market is very promising. There are lots of foreigners in Baghdad now," he says. "I can smell the lobbyists. It is clear [Iraq] is an oil-rich country. Who is not interested in getting their hands on it?" The company has had no contact with the Iraqi opposition in exile, to prepare for the possibility of a regime change, seeing this as the role of politicians. But Mr Kuznetsov does not hesitate to argue that groups from countries that have historically been supportive of Iraq, such as Russia, should benefit from trade with it, in preference to commercial rivals from more hawkish regimes. "If you have good political relations, there should be good economic relations," he says. "It's normal." http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,5666399%255E46 2,00.html * IRAQ SLASHES WHEAT IMPORTS [FROM AUSTRALIA] The Australian, 12th December An AWB spokesman today confirmed Iraq would buy one million tonnes of Australian wheat this financial year, down from 1.8 million tonnes last year. It follows warnings from Iraq earlier this year that it would cut its wheat imports because of Australia's support for the United States in a war against Iraq. Iraq was, before this decision, Australia's largest wheat export market. All the wheat to Iraq is exported under the oil for food program. The AWB spokesman refused to comment directly on any link between the smaller contract and the Australian Government's comments about a war in Iraq. But he said that because of the drought, AWB had been forced to look at its export program anyway. "If we we're going to have 24 million tonnes of wheat to export this year then that would be a problem, but we're only going to have 11 million tonnes," he told AAP. "We will continue to talk to Iraq about future possible sales." Last year's wheat exports to Iraq were worth more than $800 million. http://dw-world.de/english/0,3367,1430_A_712661_1_A,00.html * GERMANY WILL PARTICIPATE IN NATO OPERATIONS AGAINST IRAQ Deutsche Welle, 12th December Chancellor Schröder counters critics from within the governing parties and says that German soldiers will fly NATO reconnaissance planes if the U.S. goes to war with Iraq. German soldiers will indeed take part in NATO operations in the event of a war against Iraq, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder asserted in a television interview on Wednesday. "Germany will fulfill its obligations towards the alliance...and that naturally also means protecting alliance territory," he emphasized. The chancellor was responding to dissent within the governing Social Democratic (SPD) and Green parties. Angelika Beer, the newly elected leader of the Green Party, insists that Germany's constitution requires it to refuse all support for a war against Iraq. The constitution forbids Germany from taking part in a military offensive. During Schröder's recent re-election campaign he declared that Germany would not take part in a war on Iraq, whether or not the UN issues a mandate for an attack. Now, it seems Schröder will indeed commit Germany to military involvement in Iraq, even if the commitment is only passive. In the interview on Wednesday the chancellor said he had already spoken with Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Green) about his position and downplayed Beer's power: "Ms. Beer will not have to make the decision…This is an executive decision of the government and it will be made exactly as I have set out." Referring to the use of airspace and transportation of troops through Germany, Schröder stressed that Germany would not restrict its alliance partners' movements. At NATO headquarters on Dec. 4, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz suggested that the alliance could send AWACS planes to support American actions. The NATO fleet of 17 AWACS reconnaissance planes is stationed in Geilenkirchen, Germany. The planes are manned by a multinational crew from 11 countries, nearly one third of which is German. In the event of a war against Iraq the AWACS are likely to be used to monitor Turkish airspace. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47798-2002Dec12.html * OIL DEAL CANCELED, IRAQ TELLS RUSSIANS by Susan B. Glasser Washington Post, 13th December MOSCOW, Dec. 12 -- Iraq has canceled a multibillion-dollar contract with a Russian consortium to develop an oil field in southern Iraq, a major economic reversal there for Russia at a time when both Iraq and the United States have been courting Russian support in the event of war. The Russian giant Lukoil, which leads the group tapped to develop the massive West Qurna oil field, announced the cancellation today, saying it had received a letter on Monday from a deputy Iraqi oil minister breaking the $3.5 billion, 23-year contract. Two other Russian companies, state-owned Zarubezhneft and Machinoimport, are part of the consortium. A spokesman for Lukoil, Alexander Vasilenko, denounced the move as "blackmail" by Iraq and said the Russian firms would fight the decision. "We do not understand how a petty bureaucrat from Iraq's Oil Ministry can tear up a law that has been passed by the parliament of Iraq," Vasilenko told the Russian news agency Interfax. "Lukoil will take all appropriate action to defend its rights," the company said in a statement. The West Qurna deal is by far the most significant oil development project undertaken in Iraq by Russian companies, but it has been stalled from the start by continuing U.N. sanctions against the government of President Saddam Hussein. The Iraqis have pressured Lukoil to defy the sanctions and begin work, but it has refused. The Iraqi government issued no official statement today on the canceled deal, but Oil Minister Amir Mohammad Rasheed seemed to suggest it was related to the inaction resulting from sanctions. "Any company that does not fulfill their obligation over a long time, then we will be free to cancel their contract," he told reporters in Vienna at a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. "This is the policy." Russia has billions of dollars in economic ties to Iraq extending well beyond the oil sector, including as much as $12 billion in Cold War-era debt it hopes to collect. That debt is a reminder of the countries' close ties going back to when the Soviet Union cultivated Iraq as a key partner in the Arab world. But those ties have assumed new urgency in recent months as Washington and Baghdad have competed for Russian support in the confrontation between Hussein and President Bush. Until today's news, Iraq has mostly sought to placate Russia with reminders of their close economic relationship, and disclosed in late August that it planned to sign economic deals with Moscow worth up to $40 billion. At the same time, the United States has tried to allay Russian concerns that it would lose out economically in a post-Hussein Iraq. Most recently, Bush told a Russian television interviewer that in the event Hussein were ousted, Russia's "economic interests in Iraq . . . will be taken into account." The Russians seem to have been satisfied by U.S. arguments -- to a point. For months, they balked at U.S. demands that the Iraqis submit to a new round of U.N. weapons inspections or face being attacked. But after insisting on wording changes to a new U.N. resolution, Russia voted with the United States in the Security Council on the measure. http://allafrica.com/stories/200212130004.html * KAUNDA SPEAKS OUT AGAINST BUSH, BLAIR South African Press Association (Johannesburg), 12th December American President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are using "pretext upon pretext" to bring about a regime change in Iraq, former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda said on Thursday. Bush and Blair wanted to recreate a regional balance of power where Israel became the dominant force in the Middle East, he told reporters in Pretoria. "The two leaders also have an urge to control the oil resources and reserves in the Arab world." Iraq has been subjected to United Nations-approved sanctions in the 11 years since the 1991 Gulf War. Kaunda, who was in Iraq recently as an official observer overseeing UN weapons inspections, said the world had been bombarded with half-truths. Inspectors returned to Iraq last month under a new UN Security Council resolution, ordering Saddam Hussein's government to surrender any weapons of mass destruction and shut down any programmes producing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Kaunda said the return of the inspectors was a great relief to those who had genuine desire for peace in the Middle East region. "For many months the region has been on the brink of war on account of allegations that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction," he said, adding that Bush and Blair had used these accusations to prepare for war. "The world has been subjected to the most intense and biased propaganda campaign in which half-truths and lies have been used as a justification for not only continuing the sanctions regime, but also as a justification to perpetuate daily attacks by the two governments on Iraqi installations. "The misinformation has been so intense and vicious that the truth no longer exists or matters when discussing Iraq," he said. Kaunda said the resumption of inspections for weapons of war in Iraq was seen as a major step in reducing tensions in the Middle East. "Unfortunately we have now seen moves aimed at creating a new pretext for war." Recently British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had presented a report on Iraq's human rights record before Britain's parliament. Like many earlier reports, this was another document which was long on accusations and very short on facts. "The frightening aspect of all of this is that such a report could be used as a pretext for war on the same way that accusations surrounding weapons of mass destruction has become reason for Bush and Blair to invade Iraq." Kaunda said while he was in Baghdad with other weapons inspection observers, the group was invited to some of the sites previously visited by the inspectors. "This exercise was most revealing because none of the three sites we saw in Baghdad resembled in any shape or form a facility that can manufacture weapons that can threaten and harm the world." He said one of the so called facilities mentioned in a report Blair tabled before the House of Commons recently was an alcohol beverage manufacturing company owned by a Christian family. "This facility is unsophisticated and hardly a site that has the capacity to produce biological agents used to build weapons of mass destruction." The other sites were a veterinary facility and an artillery rockets manufacturer constructing rockets with a range of between 50 and 150 kilometres. "I have mentioned three sites because they were mentioned by Blair and could have been easily used as a pretext to wage war and destroy Iraq. "This has become a prime objective with an end reason, which is two fold by and for destroying Iraq." He said the group also witnessed Iraqis voting during a referendum whether they wanted Hussein to remain their leader or not. Hussein received a 100 percent yes vote. Kaunda said large numbers of Iraqis, voted by marking ballot papers with blood as an expression of sovereignty and support for their leadership. A number of families postponed funerals in order to cast a vote. "This is a sign that these people will defend their country with blood if need be," he said. Kaunda urged the world community not to develop anti-American and British sentiments because of the "arrogance" of the two countries' leaders. "I do not hate Bush and Blair but I hate the way they are handling some issues, especially the Iraq one. "It will be wrong for anyone to hate Americans or British because of Bush and Blair administrations' faults." Kaunda called on the two leaders not to invade Iraq. "We are seeing a superpower creating pretext upon pretext so that it can achieve its ultimate goal of regime change in that country." The two leaders' policy of unilateralism was setting a dangerous political precedence. "If the same attitude is adopted by other countries, they are immediately labelled as pariah states," he said. "Bush and Blair have established a modus operandi operating on a misguided philosophy that might is right." IRAQI OPPOSITION/COLLABORATION http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/dec/08/120807055.html * IRAQI CHALLENGES CRITICS OVER ARMS CLAIM Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 8th December [.....] In Iran Sunday, the leader of the biggest Iraqi opposition group told The Associated Press that he has documents proving Saddam is hiding weapons of mass destruction and that he was prepared to hand over the documents to the United Nations if the safety of his informers inside Iraq was guaranteed. Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the exiled Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, offered no details. He said he had not approached the United Nations, instead waiting for officials to come to him now that he has publicized his claim. U.N. investigators, who returned to Iraq two weeks ago after a four-year absence, went out on their daily surprise inspections again Sunday morning, visiting a mining and survey company in Baghdad and a pesticide plant west of the capital. [.....] http://www.asiantribune.com/show_news.php?id=1447 * Iraqi opposition member confirms Baghdad had liquidated al-Mayahi Asian tribune, from Arabic News, 8th December [Shi'ite opposition member in Lebanon. Difficult to know why more hasn't been made of this.] An Iraq opposition member on Friday accused the Iraqi intelligence of killing another Iraqi opposition member who was found strangled in the Lebanese city of Tyre, south Lebanon. Sheikh Muhammad al-Basri, 37 year old, considered the killing of Walid Ibrahim al-Mayahi, 34 year old, as a liquidation operation carried out by officers in the Iraqi intelligence. On Thursday, the Lebanese police found Ali al-Mayahi, a researcher at Imam al-Sader Islamic culture complex, strangled with signs of strikes on his body caused by an iron bar. The police said that other three Iraqis who were living in the same building disappeared since the body was found. Al-Basari said that the three Iraqis were intelligence officers who came as refugees, and that workers at the complex gave them support and used to stay with al-Mayahi. Al-Basari added that one of the three men tried to kidnap him and steal his computer which contains files relating to the activities of the Iraqi opposition in Lebanon. When they failed they killed al-Mayahi who informed the police before his killing that the three Iraqis tried to recruit him. Worthy mentioning that the partisans of Ayatullah Muhammad Sadeq al-Sader, the Iraqi Shiite religious man who was assassinated in Iraq in 1999, established "Tyre" complex five years ago. The complex is trodden by Iraqi Shiite men of religion who oppose the regime of the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021209/2002120908.html * IRAQ'S DENIES CONNECTION TO KILLING OF OPPOSITION MEMBER, AL MAYAHI Arabic News, 9th December A well-informed source at the Iraqi embassy in Lebanon has denied any connection for the Iraqi authorities to the killing of the Iraqi opposition member, Walid Ibrahim al-Mayahi, whose body was found in an apartment he lives in al-Sader Islamic complex in the Lebanese southern city of Tyre. The London- based al-Sharq al-Awsat daily yesterday quoted the sources as saying that the accusations addressed by officials in that complex against the Iraqi authorities of being behind the crime are aimed at creating confusion. The source added that this is a security issue and it is in the hands of the Lebanese government and judiciary which are making investigations to unveil the killer and disclose reality. Meantime, the Lebanese specialized security departments continue their investigations in the issue of assassinating al-Mayahi ( 35 year old) without reaching new evidence, except confirming that those who committed the crime are three Iraqis, who know the victim closely and the victim was exposed to tortures by sharpened instruments before he was strangled by a rope. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1039366553589&p=1012571727102 * HOW TO STOP THE DISINTEGRATION OF IRAQ by Laith Kubba Financial Times, 9th December It is widely feared that the end of Saddam Hussein's regime will precipitate the violent break-up of Iraq itself. There is something to this worry. Decades of Arab nationalism and state repression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans and others have indeed polarised communities and weakened the country's unity. Behind the shield of UN-sanctioned US and British airpower, the Kurds in the north of Iraq have already set up de facto mini-states. Soon Iraqis will face the challenge of convincing their fellow citizens in the north to come back under the umbrella of a new government in Baghdad. This will be no small feat, since the Kurds see relations with Baghdad in zero-sum terms. They prefer to divide rather than share power and land. Recently, Masoud Barzani, the prominent Kurdish leader, proposed an Arab-Kurdish federation in which the Kurds would control four of Iraq's 18 provinces plus a few additional districts in the north. But neighbouring Turkey, where many Kurds live, perceives Kurdish federalism as a threat serious enough to warrant military intervention. And the Assyrians, Turkomans, and Arab minorities of the north also harbour strong reservations. In a similar way, the Sunni Muslim Arabs of the central region (a group prominent in the army, the bureaucracy, and the economy) fear that southern-based Shi'ites will dominate a future democratic Iraq, while the Shi'ites want to end their longstanding exclusion from power. All these groups are intermingled in a pluralistic and urbanised society. Any attempt to resolve its tensions by forming ethnic or sectarian cantons could turn the country into a Bosnia on the Euphrates. The good news is that cantonisation can readily be avoided. The unity of Iraq can be salvaged and the work can be done peacefully. The key to the solution lies in the shape of a post-Saddam constitution. For Iraq to be stable and democratic, it needs to safeguard the rights of all its citizens (minorities included), meet legitimate Kurdish demands for self-rule, and provide a framework within which other regions can also claim more of a share in their own government. The new constitution must guarantee equal rights for all citizens. The central government and its courts must protect the rights and liberties of every man, woman, and child, without regard to province of residence, ethnic identity, or religious affiliation. In order to protect Iraq's diverse communities from domination by the centre, the constitution should give each province the right to rule itself with a full panoply of local powers and institutions such as the power to borrow and collect taxes, to regulate trade within provincial borders, to have provincial courts and legal codes, to elect a provincial legislature and governor, and so on. The proceeds from Iraq's oil and other natural resources should be shared by all provinces according to a formula that would take into account the size of each province's population and resources. The provinces will be represented in the central government in several ways. Each province will have an equal number of elected representatives in a national upper house. The central government will maintain control only in key areas such as the currency, foreign policy, foreign trade and defence. A constitutional court will regulate local disputes between the provinces and with the central government. In response to communal aspirations that may span provincial borders, the constitution should allow provinces to merge, subject to approval in a referendum in each affected province. The three predominantly Kurdish provinces, for example, would be free to coalesce, with the proviso that the new and larger entity would get only the same number of federal upper-house seats as any other province. Voters in the Kurdish and other communities would have to weigh the costs and benefits of such mergers. After adopting the principles of civilian supremacy and national defence (as opposed to domestic coercion), the constitution should require that each of the national officer-training academies enroll an equal number of cadets from each province. This would help to ensure that the military remains a truly national institution. Finally, Iraq needs a parliamentary system where representatives are chosen in first-past the-post elections and the legislative majority forms the government. This would encourage the politics of consensus rather than the politics of ethnic division. The president should be elected through a direct vote and should be a ceremonial head of state without substantive powers, a symbol of national unity rather than a bone of contention between groups. A constitution along these lines should forestall volatile potential disputes over issues such as the identity of the next president or the status of the oil-rich and multi-ethnic northern city of Kirkuk. It should help to bring the Kurds back into the Iraqi fold on fair and friendly terms. To be sure, the country needs massive investment in new infrastructure and a national plan for economic recovery. But after decades of repressive central governments, nothing will restore the Iraqis' faith in their future as anation like a democratic and decentralised state. The writer is a former spokesman of the Iraqi National Congress and a senior associate at the National Endowment for Democracy http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/world/4700411.htm * THREE IRAQI OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET IN IRAN by Jon Hemming The State (from Reuters), 9th December TEHRAN - Three top Iraqi opposition leaders held talks in the Iranian capital Monday ahead of a long-delayed meeting of opponents of President Saddam Hussein due to begin in London later this week. With only days before the conference is set to start on Friday, the opposition has yet to agree on who will attend and issue invitations. Ahmad Chalabi, head of the pro-Western Iraqi National Congress (INC), met Iran-based Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir Hakim who claims support from Iraq's Shi'ite Muslims and Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, also visiting Iran. Observers said the meetings in Tehran appeared to be aimed at salvaging the London gathering and retaining credibility in the eyes of Washington in order to lay claim to a central role in Iraq after a possible U.S.-led invasion. "You usually issue invitations for a birthday party 10 days in advance, now we have a conference in four days that is supposed to decide the future of Iraq and no invitations have been sent," a source close to the opposition told Reuters. The meetings come as U.N. experts in New York and Vienna begin studying Iraq's 12,000 page weapons dossier that could decide whether the United States decides to attack Baghdad. Barzani and Hakim are wary of Chalabi, a former banker with links to hawks within the U.S. administration who some see as playing a role in a post-Saddam Iraq similar to that of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. Hakim and the Kurds say Chalabi has no support inside Iraq and has no claim to represent other opposition groups. The London conference is due to establish a leadership committee over the Iraqi opposition after Hakim, Barzani and the other main Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani rejected Chalabi's aim of setting up a government in exile. Analysts said Chalabi was trying to build bridges with the other opposition leaders, to avoid being sidelined altogether. "When the leadership committee is established, suddenly Chalabi becomes just a committee member, not a leader," the opposition source said. A spokesman for Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party said his visit to Iran, his first for eight years, was part of a drive to ease neighboring countries' concerns that the Kurds aimed to set up a separate state if Saddam were overthrown. Tehran remains strongly opposed to Saddam after its 1980-88 war with Iraq, but is reluctant to see a pro-Western government in Baghdad completing its encirclement by countries friendly to its arch enemy Washington following last year's Afghan war. Iran has adopted an official policy of "active neutrality" over a possible war in Iraq, but is seeking closer ties with Iraqi opposition groups in order to safeguard its interests. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=12/11/02&Cat=2&Num=024 * SUPREME COUNCIL FOR ISLAMIC REVOLUTION IN IRAQ TO TAKE PART IN LONDON CONFERENCE Tehran Times, 11th December TEHRAN -- A high-ranking delegation of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) will take part in an Iraqi opposition conference in London, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim said. SCIRI is one of the main organizers of the conference, Lebanese Al-Menar TV quoted Hakim as saying. "By taking part in the Iraqi opposition conference we want to express the will and demands of the Iraqi people. Due to the suppressive policies of the Iraqi regime, the airing of the people's will and demands has no effect within Iraq," Hakim said. He added that many activities of SCIRI are not reported by the media, such as the fact that the organization has made serious efforts to arrange this conference. Hakim also said that SCIRI has no differences with the Iraqi National Congress (INC) or any other Iraqi opposition groups. http://www.dawn.com/2002/12/12/int7.htm * IRAQIS EAGER TO FIGHT SADDAM: US Dawn, 12th December WASHINGTON, Dec 11: Thousands of expatriate Iraqis all over the world have expressed interest in a US programme to train them for fighting Saddam Hussein, the State Department said Tuesday. On Monday, President George W. Bush authorized using $92 million for providing military training and other facilities to Iraqi opposition groups. The money is given under a law passed by Congress in 1998. Under this law, Congress had authorized $97 million for this purpose. The US administration had already allocated $5 million for funding Iraqi opposition groups, of which about a million had already been spent. In the past two years, the Department of Defense, which oversees this programme, trained 140 Iraqi opposition members under the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998. But this year the Bush administration decided to expand the programme and asked Iraqi opposition groups to send a list of their members available for training. "We're quite gratified with the response we had under that," said State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker. "Thousands of expatriate Iraqis all over the world have expressed an interest in participating," Reeker told a briefing in Washington. Reeker denied reports that Washington has asked the opposition Iraqi National Congress to be the sole intermediary for assistance to other groups. "Under the plan as I understand ... each group is going to coordinate with the Department of Defense through a committee made up of representatives of a number of groups," said Reeker. Besides INC, he said, the Kurdish Democratic Party, the Movement for Constitutional Monarchy, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq are also groups designated under the Iraq Liberation Act. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=70892 * IRAQI EXILE GETS WARM WELCOME HOME by Rajiv Chandrasekaran Gulf News, 12th December Abdul Jabbar Kubaisi figured he would never return to Iraq as long as President Saddam Hussain was in power. A frail, chain-smoking engineer, he fled Iraq in 1976 after repeated arrests for attempting to galvanise opposition to the ruling Baath Party. But last month, he got a surprise invitation from Saddam's government: a trip back to Baghdad and an offer to forgive old grudges. Since arriving here from France a few weeks ago, he has received rock-star treatment. There is the suite at the upmarket Al Rasheed Hotel. And there are meetings with two of Saddam's most senior lieutenants, combined with coverage on state-run television and in government newspapers. Iraqi officials said they asked Kubaisi and two other Iraqi exiles to return because, after more than three decades of unbending one-party rule, Saddam's government has decided to condone the formation of other parties. http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/world/4719821.htm * IRAQI OPPOSITION TELLS U.S. TO SPARE IRAQI ARMY The State, from Reuters, 12th December WASHINGTON - Military and civilian opponents of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Wednesday that the United States should spare the Iraqi army if and when it tries to overthrow the Iraqi leader by force. The Iraqis said they put their point of view to State Department officials in two days of talks on the defense policy and military institutions of a post-Saddam Iraq. Their point of view indicates the difficulties Washington faces in dealing with an Iraqi opposition which wants to get rid of Saddam but does not always agree with the approaches proposed by the Bush administration. Gen. Najeb al-Salhi, a prominent Iraqi defector, told reporters after the talks that the army must be preserved. "The important point which ... we submitted to the Americans was that if any military operations are conducted to overthrow the current Iraqi regime, these operations must not target the infrastructure, Iraqi civilians and the Iraqi armed forces and, to be precise, the Iraqi army," the general said. "If America wants to overthrow the regime, it should go directly to the Iraqi regime, without the need to hit these forces," he told a news conference. Albert Yelda, another of the 15 participants in the talks, said the next Iraqi government would need the army. "We support the Iraqi army, the regular army, and we stated very clearly that we don't want the regular army to be destroyed. The Iraqi regular army should be intact in case of being used in providing security and maintaining peace and stability during and after the change of regime," he said. Some Iraqi opposition figures have said that only special forces favored by Saddam would put up a fight. But Salhi said he and his colleagues were opposed to attacks on any Iraqi military forces. Units like the elite Republican Guard could be disbanded after Saddam, he added. The State Department organized the two days of talks as part of a series on the future of Iraq, where the Bush administration favors getting rid of Saddam and installing a friendly government in his place. But the agenda was limited to the shape, size and role of the Iraqi military after Saddam's departure, avoiding the question of how to get rid of him. The participants said in a statement that the military should stay out of politics and respect human rights. Several of the participants said a future government would have to reduce the size of the Iraqi army, one of the largest in the region, but also make it more professional. http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20021212161031800 * TEHRAN BARS IRAQI OPPOSITION FROM USING ITS SOIL FOR ATTACKS Palestine Chronicle, 12th December TEHRAN - Iran will not allow Iraqi opposition groups to attack Baghdad from Iranian soil and does not intend to attend a weekend London conference on regime change, a government spokesman said Wednesday, December 11. "We will not let anyone use Iranian territory for military objectives against any of our neighbors," Abdollah Ramezanzadeh told reporters. Iran hosts the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an Iraqi Shiite armed opposition grouping led by Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim which has an estimated 10-15,000 fighters, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Officially, Iran had stated the same position when asked to describe its support for Afghanistan's Northern Alliance prior to the ousting of the Taliban, although it later emerged that Afghan anti-Taliban fighters had been given safe passage and arms on Iranian soil. Ramezanzadeh also said Iran "will not participate in the London conference" of Iraqi opposition groups this weekend, even as an observer and even though Tehran has reportedly been invited to send representatives. And the spokesman said Iran played no role in discussions here between visiting Iraqi opposition leaders - Kurdish chieftain Massound Barzani and Iraqi National Congress (INC) leader Ahmad Chalabi. Barzani revealed late Tuesday, December 10, he had held a series of unprecedented meetings with Iran's president, foreign minister, intelligence minister, powerful former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Revolutionary Guards commanders. Officially, Iran is opposed to a U.S. attack on Iraq despite national loathing of its leader Saddam Hussein, and a number critics have accused officials here of failing to assert Iran's interests over the issue. Meanwhile, fractious Iraqi opposition leaders will search for common ground during a weekend London conference supposed to portray them as "credible" partners for Washington as it plans the ouster of President Saddam Hussein, AFP reported. "This will be a political meeting, not a military operations room" plotting details of the regime's overthrow, said Washington-based former general Najib al-Salhi, one figure due to attend the conference along with major opposition groups and independent dissidents. Delegates are to gather informally on Friday, December 13, ahead of Saturday-Sunday sessions in a London hotel. The outcome of their deliberations would be announced Monday, December 16, organizers said. "Meeting to debate what post-Saddam Iraq should look like and speaking with a single voice is the right approach, and anyone who does so is bound to have a role in changing the regime," Salhi told AFP. "But you don't discuss this (military input) in conferences. "The Iraqi opposition is being belittled by its adversaries and by the Baghdad regime," he added, brushing off the suggestion that Iraqi dissidents are resigned to the fact that only a U.S. assault can remove Saddam. Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqi National Accord Movement and one of the six organizers said: "You don't expect us to topple the regime from London. "It is the various forces of Iraqi society - military, tribal, etc. - that will do so, and many of the conference participants have links with these forces." What the 300-350 delegates will do is debate various ideas without inhibitions - including the Kurds' cherished proposal for a federal Iraq - and "try to reach a modicum of agreement, a common denominator" on the future of their country, Allawi told AFP by telephone from London. Fleshing out those proposals will be left to representative bodies once Iraq is rid of Saddam, he added. According to Allawi, Iran and Turkey are two of Iraq's neighbors who have taken up the invitation to send observers to London, in addition to Kuwait, the only Arab country to have indicated it will attend so far. Iraq's other Arab neighbors and Egypt have not said if they will come. The White House said Monday that U.S. president George Bush had directed the Pentagon to provide up to 92 million dollars in military equipment and training to the six Iraqi groups organizing the London conference. They are: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Constitutional Monarchy Movement, in addition to the INC, SAIRI and National Accord Movement. Accepting the aid would "(negatively) affect our reputation and that of the Iraqi opposition," Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI)'s representative Hamed Al-Bayati said, adding "change in Iraq should be the work of the Iraqi people." The Bush administration, expected to send observers to the conference, pressed organizers to shelve differences that delayed the meeting and to unite as it turns up heat on Saddam. IslamOnline & News Agencies (islamonline.net). Redistributed via Press International News Agency (PINA). http://newsobserver.com/24hour/world/story/671600p-5014308c.html * SMALLER SADDAM OPPONENTS FEEL IGNORED by Salah Nasrawi News&Observer, 12th December LONDON (AP) - Iraqi exile Ahmed al-Haboubi's credentials as an opponent of Saddam Hussein are solid - he's seen the Iraqi president's brutality from inside an interrogation cell. But al-Haboubi, a former minister in the government overthrown by Saddam Hussein's Baath party, has no plans to participate in a U.S.-backed conference of major Iraqi opposition groups to be held this week in London. "This is an American conference with an American agenda to serve American interests and objectives," al-Haboubi said. "Regime change should be done by Iraqis and for Iraqis." His criticism is shared by others among the varied Iraqi opposition groups who say the meeting to discuss a post-Saddam Iraq will be dominated by the large Kurdish and Shiite parties. The three-day meeting begins Friday. Smaller parties have allied themselves with the six main ones to gain entry into the meeting. In addition, 300 spots have been reserved for independent delegates - though the main parties have tried to fill those places with their own supporters. Conference organizers reject Al-Haboubi's criticism. "This is a purely Iraqi gathering, organized by Iraqis and financed by Iraqis and will come up with resolutions that serve the Iraqi cause," said Hamid al-Bayati, a spokesman for the organizers. "If the United States has an interest in getting rid of Saddam ... it is a matter of shared interests." "That will not make us agree to all their (Americans') views or their plans," he added. Al-Bayati also represents one of the conference's main participants - the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite group considered the biggest Iraqi opposition faction. Other major participants include the Constitutional Monarchist Movement led by Sharif Ali bin Al-Hussein, a first cousin of the last Iraqi king; Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord; Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress; Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party; and Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. While some opposition groups have decided not to participate, a smaller camp has called for closing ranks with Saddam against what it sees as foreign threats. Derided by the mainstream opposition as stooges, leaders of a group called the Iraqi National Alliance visited Baghdad last month and is working to persuade exiles to return and fight against a possible American invasion. Al-Haboubi is well known among the opposition groups. In his 1999 memoirs "A Chilly Night at the Last Palace," al-Haboubi recalls a night he spent in a Baghdad detention center opened by Saddam's ruling Baath Party soon after it assumed power in a 1968 military coup. >From his interrogation room on the second floor of a royal palace turned intelligence headquarters, al-Haboubi could see scores of political detainees taken to the garden and shot after summary trials by a tribunal headed by Taha Yassin Ramadan, now Saddam's vice president. Al-Haboubi was released after his jailers determined he had nothing to do with a countercoup they believed was being plotted, and he fled the country soon after. He now lives in Egypt. Al-Haboubi is respected in Iraqi opposition circles because of his past political prominence, his support for liberal causes and his roots in a prominent Shiite family known for its resistance to British rule in Iraq at the turn of the 19th century. He's just the kind of figure the six main opposition would like to see at their London meeting, to underline their stated commitment to hearing from as many voices as possible as they try to foster democracy among Iraqis. But opposition leaders also said it was not possible to accommodate everyone. "We wanted to make the conference broad-based and comprehensive, as it should represent Iraqis from different religious, ethnic and political backgrounds," said Hoshyar Zibari of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. "But we cannot invite all Iraqis in exile," he said. "This is not a party ... it is an event where important decisions will be made." _______________________________________________ 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