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News, 6-13/12/02 (4) IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN RELATIONS * Saddam's Apology to Kuwait * Iraq acknowledges using chemical weapons against Iranians during war * Why Does Israel Want a U.S. War with Iraq? * GCC dismisses Saddam's speech to Kuwait as "disappointing" * Qatar an important exercise for U.S. military * Kuwait Restricts Access to Waters * Bush Presses Turkey Cooperation on Iraq * Saddam's Speech Impedes Restoration of Kuwaiti-Iraqi Relations: OIC * Viewpoint: Skilful Saddam plays to Arab opinion * Iraq invites U.N. envoy in charge of Kuwait captives * US, Qatar ink military pact REMNANTS OF DECENCY * Local priest joins peace group on trip to Iraq * CND in court over Iraq war * Canadian women enlist in 'army' of volunteer human shields * [100 Holywood] Celebrities urge Bush to avoid Iraq war * Anti-War Groups Protest in 37 States IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN RELATIONS http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,72456,00.html * SADDAM'S APOLOGY TO KUWAIT Fox News, 7th December BAGHDAD, Iraq ‹ President Saddam Hussein on Saturday apologized to the Kuwaiti people for his invasion of their tiny country in 1990, saying he was not speaking from weakness but a desire to set the record straight. In a speech read on national television by the Iraqi information minister, Saddam outlined the events that led to the invasion and said: "We apologize to God about any act that has angered him in the past and that was held against us, and we apologize to you (the Kuwaitis) on the same basis." He said that in 1989, he had tried to reach a peaceful settlement of Iraq's dispute with Kuwait, but that the neighboring Gulf country's officials were not interested in negotiating. At the time, he said, American troops were carrying out maneuvers with Kuwaiti forces, threatening Iraq. He maintained Iraq was the victim of a conspiracy by Kuwaiti officials who were syphoning off oil along the two countries' borders that actually belonged to Iraq. He also repeated charges that Kuwait was producing oil beyond its assigned OPEC quota, bringing down oil prices and hurting the Iraqi economy. In the speech read by Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi leader was careful to distinguish between the Kuwaiti people and the country's leaders. Saddam added that Iraqi officials later found documents showing the United States and Kuwaiti officials had colluded in military plans against Iraq and his country had to defend itself, leading to the invasion of Aug. 2, 1990. "There was no hope in solving issues by diplomatic means," he said. ‹‹ Excerpts from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's speech to the Kuwaiti people broadcast Saturday by Iraqi state television. The remarks were delivered in Arabic and translated by The Associated Press: "We are saying what we are saying not out of weakness or as a tactic to an illegitimate end but to clarify facts as we see them. ... On that basis, we apologize to God for any action that may anger the Almighty if such an action took place in the past, unbeknownst to us but considered to be our responsibility, and to you (Kuwaitis) we apologize on this basis as well. O, you brothers, what we wish for is what we are working to achieve for your brothers in Iraq: to live free, without foreign control of your destiny, will, decisions, wealth, present and future." --- "Kuwaiti officials said that they meet the (Iraqi) opposition for consultations. What kind of consultation is this other than conspiring against Iraq and interfering in its internal affairs under foreign supervision? "Doesn't any Iraqi or Kuwaiti have the right to say ... why don't the believers, loyalists and holy warriors get together with their counterparts in Iraq under the tent of their creator ‹ instead of the tent of London, Washington and the Zionist entity ‹ to discuss first and foremost jihad against the occupying infidel armies to cleanse the shame and harm inflicted on the people of Kuwait or Iraq?" --- "Our behavior was prompted by so many actions starting with the joint military maneuvers in October 1989 in Kuwait under the auspices of the Americans. Then General Schwarzkopf, in February 1990, said that there was a need to increase the American presence in the Gulf area ... and then (Kuwait's) lowering the prices of crude oil despite OPEC's warning. "For those and other reasons, it was clear to us that danger for Iraq was in the offing and that it could not be solved through political channels. Therefore, under the framework of self protection and protecting everything that is dear, the events of Aug. 2 1990, took place." --- "As you can see, the foreigners are occupying your country...and as you know, when the foreigners occupy a country, they do not only desecrate the soil but the soul, the religion and the mind." --- "We and the people of Iraq salute those young believers who stand up to the foreign occupier with arms and those who see or believe that it is a shame that requires the cleansing of the land, and of the people, by fire and other means." http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-12/08/content_652919.htm * IRAQ ACKNOWLEDGES USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST IRANIANS DURING WAR TEHRAN, Dec. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraq had confessed that it used chemical weapons against the Iranians during the 1980-1988 war, the IRNA news agency reported, quoting Iraqi Azadi radio on Sunday. In an interview with a Swedish state-run TV on Saturday, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said Baghdad was "in some sort forced to use chemical arms against Iran". The Iraqi radio quoted Aziz as saying that "Iraq had to recourseto the chemical weapons to defend itself against Iranian troops." However, he said Baghdad did not use any chemical weapons in its invasion of Kuwait. Egyptian Institute for Strategic Studies previously confirmed reports that Iraq had used some eight kinds of chemical and biological weapons against Iran during the eight-year war between the two neighbors. Iraq's Azadi radio quoted the Egyptian institute as saying that sample-taking from the weapons employed by Iraq against the Iranianforces during the war revealed the fact that Baghdad used chemical and biological poisons such as sarin, anthrax, taphoon, kangrin, etc. Baghdad had reportedly earmarked huge budget for developing its chemical and biological weapons programs. The radio said that the United States was well aware of the Iraqi chemical and biological weapons programs against Iran. Iranian troops were subjected to poison gas attacks during their1980-1988 war against Iraq as orders were issued by Iraqi PresidentSaddam Hussein on the use of chemical weapons against the Iranian forces, it said. The radio added that it is a proven fact that the Iraqi president had not hesitated to resort to chemical weapons during the 1980-1988 war between Baghdad and Tehran. Former US president Bill Clinton said on Oct. 3 that the West was silent when Iraq used chemical weapons against the Iranians during the war. The US government provided "crop-spraying" helicopters to Iraq, gave Iraq access to intelligence information that allowed Iraq to "calibrate" its mustard attacks on Iranian troops in 1988, approved technological exports to Iraq's missile procurement agency to extend its missiles range in 1988, and blocked bills condemning Iraq in the House of Representatives in 1985 and Senate in 1988, the radio said. The US Secretary of State at that time acknowledged reports of Iraq's use of chemical weapons as earlier as 1983 and that was confirmed by a UN team in 1984. http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20021208173113120 * WHY DOES ISRAEL WANT A U.S. WAR WITH IRAQ? by Jaffer Ali Palestine Chronicle, 8th December WASHINGTON (PC) - There is no country in the world that yearns for the U.S. to go to war with Iraq more than Israel. They even pay public relations firms to promote this agenda in the media. What is behind Israel's passion for wanting Americans to march off to war? At first blush one might think it is because Iraq poses a threat to Israeli security. But no military analyst believes that Iraq could do much in the way of attacking Israel. They do not share a border with them and Jordan is not likely to allow Iraqi tanks to cross its border to attack Israel. Iraq does not have an air force. What missiles they have are generally ineffective, and Israel has all the firepower to repel any attack. As one Israeli military analyst said, "We don't lose sleep over Iraq's military threat to us." If Israel is not worried about Iraq's military capabilities, why all the PR? The reason is rather simple: Israel pines for a role in the New World Order. Trying to find a place in the New World Order is a preoccupation for most countries in the world. Remember, President G.W. Bush stated clearly, "You are either with us or against us." This has countries all over the globe trying to find a way to be "with us." Israel is not therefore alone in this desire. In the past, it was easy for it to align with U.S. interests. There is a new global realignment taking place, and Israel is having a hard time finding a seat at the table. Plainly stated, their interests and the New World Order are at odds. And this means that Israeli interests and American interests are diverging. (U.S. interests and the New World Order are interchangeable phrases.) After the collapse of the Soviet empire, Israel no longer was needed to be a bastion against Soviet expansion. Its service to the U.S. has been declining ever since. As the U.S. forged new and special relationships with Arab countries, Israel lost its exclusive role of "U.S. ally" in the Middle East. There are many entities in the region lining up to replace Israel in this regard. Israel's role in the Middle East was largely to help stabilize certain regimes that served U.S. economic interests. To do this, they would make their vast intelligence assets available to America. But the New World Order has a different operative plan than the post-Second World War U.S. plan that used Israel to promote its agenda. The continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has become a destabilizing factor in the entire Middle East and in the even larger Muslim world. Israel is now a liability in the region and truly disrupts the New World Order. Its continued oppression of the Palestinian people is a time bomb that can only lead to chaos, not order. Why is Israel at odds with the New World Order? In 1991, when George W. Bush's father ushered in the New World Order, Israel was the odd country out. There was no place for it anymore. The U.S. coalition in the Gulf War did not need Israel to accomplish its goals. In fact, Israel was an unwanted complication to the New World Order. Israel had no role to play. Equally problematic for Israel is its reliance on the anachronistic ideology of Zionism. The modern intellectual roots of Zionism are founded in ethnic nationalism. This formed the basis of ethnic laws promoted by fascists, Nazis, segregated countries like South Africa and, of course, is the basis of Israel as a nation. The New World Order is about globalization and internationalism, not ideologies that confer rights based upon ethno-nationalism. Israel's raison d'ętre is therefore opposed in principle to the New World Order. In the New World Order, Israel HAS NO ROLE TO PLAY. This leads to the answer as to why Israel pays certain American journalists to call for war...and why they pay PR firms to promote an agenda that inflames public opinion. Israel NEEDS a role to play, and what they pine for is a recurrent conflict between the U.S. and Islamic countries. If this can be accomplished, then Israel can assume a role in the Middle East as the bastion against Islamic extremism. Even though Iraq is not considered an extremist Islamic State, a war between the U.S. and Iraq will undoubtedly increase the ire and enmity between the U.S. and Muslim world. This enmity is the breeding ground of extremism. Israel knows this. Israel is the beneficiary of this enmity because it can then, AND ONLY THEN, have a role to serve U.S. interests or its other name, the New World Order. Without a role serving the New World Order, Israel is in danger of becoming irrelevant and being cast aside. Most critics of Israel have historically misunderstood how Israel served U.S. interests in the past. That is why most Israeli critics miss how Israel no longer serves those interests. Israel has understood its historic role and is frantic to find a way to serve those interests once again. Israelis "in the know" understand that their existence depends upon U.S. largesse. Alliances change. Interests always trump alliances. Oh yes, one other thing. The U.S. promised a $10 billion aid package to Israel should they go to war with Iraq. No war equals no aid‹just another incentive for Israel to pine for the war; $10 billion is approximately 10% of its entire gross national product. This is just what the Israeli economy needs because its American sponsor has neglected it. Israelis do not view their economic woes as benign neglect. They privately mutter about Washington not bailing their economy out. They understand full well that without finding a way to ally with U.S. interests, it may not survive as presently constituted. War between Iraq and the U.S. remains their number one goal. Jaffer Ali is a Palestinian-American businessman who writes on business ethics, management theory and political topics. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-12/08/content_653036.htm * GCC DISMISSES SADDAM'S SPEECH TO KUWAIT AS "DISAPPOINTING" KUWAIT CITY, Dec. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdelrahman Bin Hamad Al-Atiyya on Sunday dismissed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's speech to the Kuwaiti people as "disappointing," saying the message "reflects no good intentions." In a statement published here, Al-Atiyya noted that Saddam Hussein's speech made no mention of the issue of the prisoners of war (POWs) "which is a GCC, Arab and international priority." He stressed that the speech, read on TV by Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al Sahaf on Saturday night, is "not actually an apology," adding that such a move would deteriorate the escalating situation in the region. He urged Iraq to take steps to release the Kuwaiti POWs, continue the return of looted Kuwaiti properties and implement all of the relevant United Nations resolutions. Kuwait maintains that Iraq is still holding more than 600 Kuwaitis and other countries' nationals who disappeared during Iraq's seven-month occupation of Kuwait. Iraqi officials admitted having held prisoners before losing track of them during a Shi'ite uprising in southern Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, which led to the eviction of Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. In his statement Saturday night, Saddam made his first apology to the Kuwaiti people and praised the recent anti-American incidents in Kuwait. He proposed "the devoted and the holy warriors in Kuwait meet with Iraqi counterparts" under their common creator against "infidel armies" of "London, Washington and the Zionist entity." "The GCC refuses all kinds of terrorism and based on that, we refuse incitement that was included in the speech which supports the recent terrorist acts in Kuwait," Al-Atiyya said. The GCC, a regional political and economic alliance established in 1981, groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/12/08/cnna.shepperd/index.html * QATAR AN IMPORTANT EXERCISE FOR U.S. MILITARY by (Retired Maj. Gen.) Don Shepperd CNN, 8th December Qatar is a Connecticut-sized country, population just under 800,000, on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, just southeast of Bahrain, 600 miles south of Baghdad -- a location few Americans can point to on a map. However, it has suddenly assumed greater importance in the war on terrorism. Qatar is the site of Exercise Internal Look, an exercise some say is a "prelude to war" (in Iraq). Is the exercise a dry run for war, or not? War is not imminent, and the exercise is not a "prelude," but rather an important headquarters staff exercise designed to allow Gen. Tommy Franks, the Central Command (CENTCOM) commander to test his new CDHQ, or CENTCOM deployable headquarters. In place of skies full of airplanes and fields full of troops and tanks, the exercise will test capabilities to command, control and communicate with troops in a vast, 25-nation area through electrons, using computers, satellite hookups and video-teleconferences. The new deployable headquarters is a collection of climate-controlled, highly sophisticated modular buildings with secure communications housing a headquarters staff in the same fashion as CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida. The idea is to be able to conduct operations from Qatar (or any other location) in the same fashion as (from) Tampa without missing a beat. But, why does Franks need a new deployable headquarters when he already has a robust facility from which to operate in Saudi Arabia? First, although command of forces can be done through "reachback" in the computer age, every commander wants to be close to the action, to be able to feel the tempo of battle and interact firsthand with subordinate commanders. Also, there has been confusing rhetoric coming from Saudi Arabia about the ability of the United States to use its bases and airspace. The new CDHQ will act as an alternate facility should the Saudi headquarters become unusable for any reason. Testing the ability to command and control troops from a new location is prudent. The new facility can be left in place or moved to another location. Likewise, the staff can remain in place. But it takes more than a facility and staff to wage war. It takes troops and equipment, troops and equipment that are not yet in place in the theater. It will take some time, even with pre-positioned stocks, to move forces to the area. In addition to testing command-and-control capabilities, Exercise Internal Look carries important diplomatic messages: First, a strong message to (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein that the United States is relentless, serious and "here" with the ability to react quickly and conduct military action. Second, it carries a message to the United Nations and world community that the United States is relentless in demanding "full" compliance and "tough" inspections in accordance with the U.N. resolution. Finally, there is a subtle message to Saudi Arabia that the United States has other friends and alternatives in the area should Saudi bases or airspace become unavailable. What's in this for Qatar? Qatar is a small, rich country with very minimal military capabilities. Having a big brother in a tough neighborhood is always a good idea. Once the exercise is complete, will the CENTCOM staff remain in place to conduct military operations? Unknown. However, at the completion of Internal Look, Franks and the CENTCOM staff will have field-tested their equipment, scenarios and plans, and discovered many problems and shortcomings. They should be ready if called. Much depends upon what happens with the Iraqi "declarations," and to paraphrase President Bush ... the rest may be up to Saddam Hussein. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=17263338&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * KUWAIT RESTRICTS ACCESS TO WATERS The Associated Press, 10th December KUWAIT CITY (AP) ‹ Kuwait announced a dusk to dawn ban on fishing and recreational boats in its territorial waters, as well as restricted access to the sea around ports and its water border with Iraq. The restrictions, which the Interior Ministry said Tuesday were effective "until further notice," were implemented a week after Kuwait accused an Iraqi vessel of trading gunfire with two Kuwaiti coast guard speedboats in its northern waters. Nobody was injured in the Dec. 3 shooting. Baghdad denied the incident. The American military, which said it had special operations troops aboard at least one of the vessels, also disputed the reports of gunfire. Such incidents along the Kuwaiti-Iraqi land and naval borders have been rare and few have been reported in recent years. Under the new restrictions, during daylight hours private vessels must stay at least two miles away from oil ports, coastal oil facilities and naval installations, the Interior Ministry said. Vessels will be allowed to sail through waters surrounding the commercial ports of Shuwaikh and Doha but may not stop. Photographing or sketching of any restricted area also was banned by the new rules, which the ministry said were aimed at "strengthening security around Kuwait's naval border and territorial waters." In early November, authorities closed a vast portion of desert in the northwest of the country where Kuwaiti military forces conduct maneuvers with U.S. troops. http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/world/4710287.htm * BUSH PRESSES TURKEY COOPERATION ON IRAQ by Jennifer Loven The State, from Associated Press, 10th December [.....] "The president ... believes very strongly that the stronger the world is, the greater the chance of averting war, because Saddam Hussein will, indeed, react to that strength and pressure," Fleischer said. Bush pressed that argument to Erdogan, saying Turkey's acquiescence on the troop and base issues would help convince Saddam the world is serious about disarming him, a senior White House official said on condition of anonymity. Bush also promised Erdogan that any war would be swift and victorious, the official said. With the actual negotiations being conducted through lower-level diplomats, it was not necessary for Erdogan to respond, the official said. Fleischer said the leaders discussed "ways that we could cooperate," but refused to provide specifics. Bush's talks with Erdogan came as the president dropped in on a meeting originally scheduled solely with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. In a sign of the administration's intensive wooing of Turkey, the White House took the rare step of inviting reporters - not usually privy to Rice's meetings, even when the president briefly joins them - to listen to the first few minutes. During the meeting, Bush also reminded Erdogan that if there is war, the United States would insist that Turkey not move into the adjoining Kurdish territories of Iraq. "The United States is committed to making certain that Iraq is whole," Fleischer said. Erdogan did not respond, the official said. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200212/12/eng20021212_108322.shtml * SADDAM'S SPEECH IMPEDES RESTORATION OF KUWAITI-IRAQI RELATIONS: OIC Peoples Daily, 12th December The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) stressed Wednesday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's recent speech on Kuwait undermines efforts of restoring relations between the two countries, Kuwait's official KUNA news agency reported. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) stressed Wednesday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's recent speech on Kuwait undermines efforts of restoring relations between the two countries, Kuwait's official KUNA news agency reported. The OIC Secretary General Abdelouhed Belkziz was quoted as saying that the OIC has spared no effort to mitigate the fraying relations between Kuwait and Iraq. Belkziz called for two sides' self-restraint and toning down of rhetoric of all parties concerned while urging for Iraq's full compliance with the relevant United Nations resolutions. On Saturday night, the Iraqi president made his first apology to the Kuwaiti people while blamed the Kuwaiti authorities for the run-up to Iraq's 1990 invasion into Kuwait. He called on "the devoted and the holy warriors in Kuwait" to fight against "infidel armies" of "London, Washington and the Zionist entity." Kuwait and other Gulf states have all rejected Saddam's unprecedented apology, which they consider "provocative." Relations between Kuwait and Baghdad have been severed since Iraq invaded the oil-rich Gulf neighbour in 1990. At the Arab summit held in the Lebanese capital of Beirut last March, Iraq affirmed its respect for Kuwait's "independence, sovereignty and security" and pledged to avoid "all that could repeat what happened in 1990." However, the United States has recently intensified its militarybuildup in Kuwait, its close ally, arousing suspicions that the Gulf state will be a key launch pad for a possible US strike against Iraq. The United States has accused Iraq of seeking to development of weapons of mass destruction and threatened to launchmilitary strike on Iraq if Baghdad does not fully cooperate with the current United Nations arms inspection. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2565633.stm * VIEWPOINT: SKILFUL SADDAM PLAYS TO ARAB OPINION by Daniel Neep BBC, 12th December [In a new series, BBC News Online asks a range of contributors to comment on the conflict with Iraq. Here, Daniel Neep of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies (RUSI) argues that Saddam Hussein's aim is to encourage the Arab masses to rise up against their Western-leaning leaders.] Iraq's official declaration of its weapons programmes dominated the headlines across the world. Compliance with the demand to provide a complete, full and accurate accounting of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development programmes was never really in doubt: Iraq had little choice but to issue the declaration demanded of it by the international community. No-one expected this to be a process free from complication: Iraq has once again managed to exploit an opportunity to delay, divert and disorientate the fragile international consensus built around the United Nations Security Council resolution by overloading the system with information. The 12,000 pages of the declaration distracted attention from an open letter from Saddam Hussein to Kuwait. The professed intention was to set the record straight about the Gulf War, in which both Kuwait and Iraq were victims. An oblique apology was offered for deeds which have been blamed on Iraq, but of which Iraq did not know - presumably a reference to the heavy-handed acts perpetrated by Iraqi troops in the invasion of Kuwait and the 600-plus Kuwaitis whose whereabouts is still a mystery. The apology contained a barbed edge, however. Saddam Hussein once again demonstrated his supreme skill at manipulating the public opinion in the Arab street. Popular Arab nationalist sentiment is still smarting from the historical legacy of colonialism; the belief persists, even now, that the Arabs are not masters of their own fate but simply pawns in a much larger game of political chess played by distant powers. By wishing for the Kuwaitis what Saddam Hussein claimed to wish for his own people - namely the freedom to live "without foreigners controlling your destiny, will, decisions, wealth, present and future" - the Iraqi president quite neatly managed to remind the Arab street of his sterling nationalist credentials while simultaneously pointing to the degree to which other regimes have failed to maintain their independence. Not content to let the point be made by implication, he targeted Kuwait as one of the countries he had in mind. The presence of foreign troops in the Arabian Peninsula has always been an object of concern to the Arab public, despite the recognition that they contribute to the stability of the region. Public misgivings regarding the presence of such troops are on the rise, a fact which owes more to increasing discontent with US foreign policy in the Israel-Palestine conflict rather than concern for the fate of Iraq. Capitalising on this potential schism between the rulers and public opinion in countries such as Kuwait, Saddam Hussein described Kuwait as under "direct military occupation" and called on Kuwaitis to expel foreign forces from their land. "Why will not the faithful, the devoted and the holy warriors in Kuwait meet with their counterparts in Iraq under the blanket of their creator, instead of under the blanket of London or Washington and the Zionist entity, to discuss their matters on top of which is the jihad against the occupation of infidel armies?" he said. Only such a war would allow Kuwait and Iraq to eradicate the damage done by the Gulf War, the Iraqi leader explained. This would be the only way to cleanse the nation of its sins - not the Iraqi or Kuwaiti nation of course, but the Arab nation as a whole, still paying the price of its collaboration with the West, its betrayal of its authentic values and its inherent weakness. Only a revival could save the day, a rebirth of real Arab nationalism which would rid the region of foreign interference, neo-imperialist plotting and nefarious designs. The best vehicle for this rebirth is, naturally enough, the Baath of Saddam Hussein - not in its limited expression as a political party, but in the long-dormant sense of a re-awakening of consciousness across the Middle East. In his dying days, the Iraqi leader has rediscovered the roots of the party laid out by Michel Aflaq - a much broader, cultural understanding of Baathism rather than one which uses it as a mere vehicle to gain power. Saddam Hussein's tactic is to encourage the Arab masses to rise up against their leaders, a popular uprising without organisation or ideology. Ironically, it may well be in the demise of the Baath party that the long-dormant renewal might occur. And it may not necessarily be for the best. Daniel Neep is the head of the Middle East and North Africa programme at RUSI in London. http://asia.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml;jsessionid=WJ2Q5O5LACS2WCRBAEZSFF A?type=worldnews&StoryID=1898199 * IRAQ INVITES U.N. ENVOY IN CHARGE OF KUWAIT CAPTIVES by Evelyn Leopold Reuters, 13th December UNITED NATIONS: Iraq for the first time has invited to Baghdad the U.N. envoy in charge of accounting for stolen Kuwaiti property and prisoners of war during Iraq's 1990 occupation of its southern neighbour, a U.N. official said on Thursday. Until this year Iraq had boycotted talks with the envoy, Russia's former U.N. ambassador, Yuli Vorontsov, mainly because he was mentioned in a 1999 Security Council resolution on the resumption of arms inspections that Iraq had rejected. But U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Iraqi U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri had sent a letter on Wednesday to Vorontsov, telling him that Foreign Minister Naji Sabri "would welcome his visit to Baghdad". Eckhard said it was the first time Vorontsov, who has the title of high-level coordinator for Iraq, had been invited to visit the country. No time has been set. "The mandate that he has would require him, to do his job effectively, to travel to Iraq. So it was significant that Iraq had not extended an invitation to him all this time," he said. With the United States threatening war, Iraq seems eager to patch up relations with Kuwait. Its invitation to Vorontsov follows last weekend's apologies to Kuwait by President Saddam Hussein for his country's occupation of the emirate from August 1990 to the Gulf War in early 1991. Vorontsov negotiated with Iraqi officials earlier this year for the return of Kuwaiti archives Iraq had looted. But Kuwait said many papers, including those establishing the emirate as a state, were not among the materials returned. Accounting for the fate of some 600 Kuwaitis and others taken prisoner by Iraq in 1990 1991 has been a festering issue during the last decade, with Baghdad objecting to the nature of the U.N. negotiations in Geneva, which often include U.S. and British officials as observers. Some 550 of the 605 missing people were Kuwaitis and the rest were of various nationalities. Although 191 of the Kuwaitis were soldiers, they were not taken prisoner in combat but were rounded up and taken back to Iraq by retreating forces and have not been heard from since. Iraq has contended it lost track of the prisoners during a Shi'ite Muslim uprising in southern Iraq following its soldiers' retreat from Kuwait in 1991. The Security Council has repeatedly demanded Iraq meet Vorontsov on this issue and cooperate with a tripartite commission in Geneva that he heads. The council in 1991 made the prisoner issue a condition of lifting U.N. sanctions, imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait. http://www.dailystarnews.com/200212/13/n2121313.htm * US, QATAR INK MILITARY PACT Daily Star, Bangladesh, 13th December AFP, Doha: US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed a new accord with Qatar Wednesday to formalise the American presence at a massive base here and make the close US-Qatari military relationship even tighter. The deal was signed with Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani shortly after Rumsefeld's arrival here to watch US-British war games that are unfolding as the White House mulls a possible invasion of Iraq. At a joint press conference with the Qatari foreign minister, Rumsfeld hailed "the wonderful cooperation between our countries in the war on terrorism" and praised Qatar as an "important and valued defence partner." The agreement signed Wednesday formalises the US presence at the al-Udeid air base south of here that houses the largest stockpiles of US arms and equipment in the Middle East. Rumsfeld, on the final leg of a tour that also brought him to the Horn of Africa, said the new pact would improve life for the estimated 4,000 US troops working at the al-Udeid base here and allow technical upgrades at the facility. For his part, Sheikh Hamad welcomed the latest agreement that builds on a defence pact signed after the 1991 Gulf War. "The relationship between both countries is growing. This is part of a relationship that started more than a decade ago," he said. Earlier, Qatari foreign ministry official Khaled al-Mansouri told AFP the accord "legalises the presence of the US troops at the base." No further details were available on the new pact between the Americans and the Gulf state, which is also hosting a new forward command post at another base that could direct an eventual war against Iraq. Rumsfeld arrived in Qatar to attend the major command exercise launched by Gulf commander General Tommy Franks and his senior battle staff on Monday at the As Sayliyah base. About 1,000 US and British staff went into a third day of war games at the desert base, running a high-tech mobile command headquarters through various computer-generated crises involving Iraq and other hotspots. Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld inspected Thursday a hi-tech command post in Qatar that could be used to direct an invasion of Iraq but preached patience in deciding whether Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction. In an address to some 400 troops in a sprawling warehouse at As-Sayliyah army base near Doha, Rumsfeld was remarkably low key about prospects for war with President Saddam Hussein's regime and did not mention Iraq in initial comments that focused on the war on terrorism. Asked whether he believed Iraq's arms dossier filed this week claiming it has no weapons of mass destruction, the secretary said the United Nations was at an early stage in the process and consultations with other UN Security Council members would be required after examination of the document. REMNANTS OF DECENCY http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.x sl?/base/news-3/1039346502237290.xml * LOCAL PRIEST JOINS PEACE GROUP ON TRIP TO IRAQ by Margaret Von Steinen Kalamazoo Gazette, 8th December The Rev. John Grathwohl won't be seeking chemicals, missiles or warheads after he arrives in Baghdad this week. Rather, the local Catholic priest, and the group with which he is traveling, Iraq Peace Journey, will search out those who, Grathwohl believes, suffer the most in the event of war -- the children, the sick, and the poor. "We join many other such groups that have made this same trip over the past 10 years," said Grathwohl. "We all agree that the terrorism perpetrated by Saddam Hussein and his followers is a tremendous evil that we must deal with. "But we do not believe further violence is the answer. We do not believe killing 5,000 children (deaths related to economic sanctions) a month over the past 10 years is the answer. There must be another way." Grathwohl, the former pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Kalamazoo, retired from resident parish work in the late 1990s but continues to live in the Kalamazoo area. He has forged ahead with his social justice ministry, which includes annually protesting at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. Now formally called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the school is a training ground for Latin American military personnel. At a protest in the early 1990s, Grathwohl met and became friends with the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, national coordinator of the School of the Americas Watch. Bourgeois invited Grathwohl to join him on the trip to Iraq. Under the auspices of Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end economic sanctions against Iraq, Grathwohl's delegation is one of numerous IPJ delegations who have traveled to Iraq since the end of the Gulf War in 1991 to conduct humanitarian missions. The two priests, four religious sisters and five lay people will spend a week in Iraq. Members of the group represent several national-level social justice organizations, including Pax Christi USA and the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. The group plans to meet with Iraqi religious leaders, United Nations agencies, relief organizations, and government officials to help foster a diplomatic nonviolent solution to the ongoing crisis. Visits are also planned to hospitals, orphanages and schools where delegation members will distribute toys and medicine. "We will listen to the stories of the suffering of Iraq," said Grathwohl. "We will let them know many Americans love them and want to help them in the way taught to us by Jesus Christ." Grathwohl's passion for pacifism, well known to many area Catholics, was prompted by an experience he had while serving as an Army chaplain in Vietnam. On Christmas Day in 1968 he witnessed the deaths of 18 Vietnamese children badly burned by a grenade explosion in their church as they celebrated midnight Mass. The burnt children, including seven who survived, were transported to a military base camp for medical care. "I walked until sunrise, trying to rid myself of the sight and stench of those charred children and the sound of their screams," he said. "Never before do I remember questioning the existence of God like I did that night. The sunrise brought a little light into the dark night of my soul. ?I was convinced if there was a God, that God could never approve of any war or any killing of human life." Following his tour in Vietnam, Grathwohl was granted an early release from the Army because he refused to speak in support of the war to incoming recruits. When he accepted the pastor position at St. Thomas More Church in the early 1980s, he discovered a Catholic community that welcomed his pacifist views. The priest and his parishioners took on many social justice/peace initiatives. "We believe the answer is in the way of Jesus Christ -- a way of justice, of peace, of reconciliation," said the priest. "We go to Iraq to accompany the poor, and the sick, especially the children. "We go to let them know there are Americans who want our country to respect international law, to respect our own Constitution, and to respect the vast majority of religions who believe in a God of nonviolence." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2559619.stm * CND IN COURT OVER IRAQ WAR BBC, 9th December The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) took its opposition to war on Iraq to the High Court on Monday. The group asked the court to declare that it would be contrary to international law for the UK to go to war against Iraq without a fresh United Nations resolution. CND claims a UN resolution calling on Saddam Hussein to disarm or face "serious consequences" cannot be used to justify an invasion. The campaign went armed with legal advice from a top QC from human rights firm Matrix Chambers, of which Cherie Blair is a member. Rabinder Singh QC told the three senior judges that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 set out Saddam Hussein's disarmament obligations, but did not authorise the use of armed force if it was breached. The QC asked Lord Justice Simon Brown, sitting with Mr Justice Maurice Kay and Mr Justice Richards, to rule that CND had an arguable case which should go to a full hearing as a matter of urgency. Mr Singh said: "If there is a war against Iraq without a fresh resolution and it subsequently turns out that in law there should have been one, it will literally be too late." The UK was at the forefront of efforts to hammer out a new UN resolution demanding the disarmament of Iraq. Tony Benn MP Resolution 1441, adopted on November 8, gave Baghdad, in the words of the resolution, "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" and allow the weapons inspection teams to carry out their role. Mr Singh told the court: "We intend to submit that it does not authorise the use of armed force against Iraq in the event of its breach." Lord Justice Brown suggested to Mr Singh that, if the government believed "the national interest and security of the realm" depended upon an act of war - "irrespective of conformity with international law"- no court was going to say to it: "You can't." Legal action in a British court could not prevent US-led military action in Iraq. The US is also unlikely to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in the Hague. But court action by CND has the potential to cause embarrassment to the UK Government, which already has concerns about the legality of enforced "regime change". Outside court, veteran former Labour MP Tony Benn, a long-time peace campaigner, said of Monday's challenge: "This has to be done because a world without international law would be back to the jungle - we simply can't allow that to happen." He added: "If there is a victory in this one, it would really change the course of British politics." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-507881,00.html * CANADIAN WOMEN ENLIST IN 'ARMY' OF VOLUNTEER HUMAN SHIELDS by Richard Cleroux in Ottawa and Roland Watson in Washington The Times, 9th December TWO Canadian women have left for Baghdad, the latest recruits for an army of human shields intent on stopping conflict. Irene Vandas, 32, a Vancouver nurse, and Jennifer Ziemann, 30, are members of a Canadian anti-war group called Voices in the Wilderness who intend to use their presence to discourage a US bombing campaign. Four Canadians are already in Iraq as human shields, working in hospitals, along with about 40 other Western volunteers. A dozen more Canadians are expected to join them before Christmas. The latest recruits boarded a flight that left on Friday for Amman, from where they plan to drive into Iraq this week. "It will be a powerful experience," Ms Vandas said before she left. "I'm not scared." The pair plan to live with Iraqi families and stay until Christmas. The Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa said that the Canadian Government could not forbid anyone from going to Iraq, although the country was on a government list for tourists to avoid. The Canadian Government has declined to endorse a war until the weapons inspectors have reported back and the UN Security Council has given the US its stamp of approval to attack Iraq. The group sending the volunteers has set up a website, www.iraqpeaceteam.org, complaining of what it says is the scarcity of news coverage about the anti-war movement, as a nationwide anti-war demonstration is planned in the US. Hundreds of groups plan to come together for a day of civil disobedience. The events in towns and cities across the US have been planned for tomorrow, International Human Rights Day. It is also the day that Jimmy Carter, the former US President and a critic of war with Iraq, will receive his Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in part for his stance against President Bush's confrontation with Saddam Hussein. Domestic US opposition to war has so far been limited, dwarfed by the often violent demonstrations of the Vietnam era. Protesters are, however, promising a large turnout, particularly in Washington and other big cities, from a range of interest groups, including churches, unions and veterans groups. The Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, which represent 115 million Americans between them, have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to war. Republican strategists are concerned at the anti-war feeling in blue-collar workplaces and organised labour. John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, one of the biggest unions in the country with 13 million members, and once courted by President Bush, has come out against the war. http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20021210-022327-9753r * [100 HOLYWOOD] CELEBRITIES URGE BUSH TO AVOID IRAQ WAR United Press International, 10th December LOS ANGELES: More than 100 Hollywood celebrities have written to President Bush, urging him to avoid a first-strike war with Iraq. Former "M*A*S*H" star Mike Farrell -- a main organizer of the group called Artists United to Win Without War -- said the letter's signers agree that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to possess weapons of mass destruction, but that "war talk in Washington is alarming and unnecessary." The list of signers included Martin Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet on the Emmy winning NBC drama "The West Wing," and other Hollywood activists including Alec Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Tim Robbins and Barbra Streisand. Anticipating criticism that usually attends public pronouncements by well-known liberal celebrities, Farrell made a point of characterizing the signers as patriotic Americans. "We support rigorous U.N. weapons inspections to assure Iraq's effective disarm," said Farrell. "However, a presumptive military invasion of Iraq will harm American national interests." Farrell said such action would cause more human suffering, provoke animosity toward the United States, increase the likelihood of more terrorist attacks, damage the economy and undermine America's "moral standing" in the world. "It will make us less, not more secure," said Farrell, who will star as former Enron executive Ken Lay in the upcoming TV movie "The Crooked E." Other celebrities who signed the letter included Oscar-winners Kim Basinger, Angelica Houston, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon -- as well as actors Matt Damon, Ethan Hawke, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and Laurence Fishburne. In an interview with United Press International, former "Lou Grant" star Ed Asner said he gets the sense that the Bush administration has already decided to wage war on Iraq. "I think that they have keyed and geared the war machine -- which is costing us enormous billions of dollars -- that they've got to unload it someplace," said Asner. "Iraq is the likeliest place." The Emmy-winning actor also accused Bush of using war for political gain. "If he defuses it he'll look like a wuss to the hard-liners and the fundamentalists," said Asner. "He's already lost the left, and it's 50-50 on the center, and he'll likely lose some of the right (without an invasion of Iraq)." Asner was critical of the American public as well, for its support of Bush's approach to Iraq. "They're sheep," he said. "They like him enough to credit him with saving the nation after 9/11. Three thousand people get killed, and everybody thinks they're next on the list. The president comes along, and he's got his six-guns strapped on, and people think he's going to save them." Asner is scheduled to join a group of celebrities on Sunday for an annual "Peace Sunday" gathering at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Scheduled participants include Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, actress Lindsay Wagner and actor Ed Begley Jr. Like Asner, Sheen said he thinks the White House has already made up its mind about war. "We're assuming it's a done deal," Sheen told CNN. "And the way they're talking and presenting their plans, it is a done deal." Congress last fall overwhelmingly approved a resolution authorizing the United States to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions dealing with Iraq and the hunt for weapons of mass destruction by the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Bush has said that he will consult with allies and Congress before launching an attack, but there is nothing in the resolution that requires him to get permission beforehand from Congress or the United Nations. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,72718,00.html * ANTI-WAR GROUPS PROTEST IN 37 STATES Fox News, 11th December Protesters across the country ‹ from college students and senior citizens to clergy and veterans ‹ carried signs, sang songs and offered themselves up for arrest to show their opposition to President Bush's talk of war with Iraq. "There's a great diversity in the voices in the anti-war movement, but it boils down to one very simple message: No war in Iraq," said Danny Rose, 32, an administrator at a Washington, D.C., charter school. The group United for Peace counted more than 120 vigils, acts of civil disobedience and marches Tuesday in 37 states from Alaska to Florida that resulted in numerous arrests. Some 150 people were arrested. "Religious leaders understand that humanity is one, and that what war does is disfigure and destroy the human face, which is our face," said the Rev. Peter Laarman, one of 99 people arrested for disorderly conduct outside the United States' mission to the United Nations in New York. World War II veteran Ray Kaepplinger was among 40 people picketing outside a Chicago federal office building as 20 others were being arrested in the lobby for criminal trespass. Kaepplinger, 84, said he had "been through the plume of hell in New Guinea" and didn't want to see another war erupt. Seven were arrested among more than 150 demonstrators who gathered at the University of Texas in Austin and marched to a nearby Army recruiting office inside a mall. In Sacramento, Calif., nine were taken into custody for blocking the entrance to a federal courthouse. "It's my first time ever," said Maria Cornejo, 41, a mother of four from Dixon, Calif. "That's how important this is." In Oakland, Calif., 200 people picketed a federal building carrying signs saying "No Blood for Oil" and "War is Terrorism." And police in Hartford, Conn., arrested 14 people on charges of trespassing and interfering with officers. Students at the University of Michigan set up a makeshift graveyard on a major walkway through the Ann Arbor campus, using cardboard headstones that read "Iraqi child" and "Iraqi man." About 100 students and faculty at Brown University in Providence, R.I., marched with signs and staged a "die-in" in front of the city's federal building. Hollywood let itself be heard, as more than 100 entertainers signed a letter to President Bush stating that a war with Iraq will "increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks, damage the economy and undermine our moral standing in the world." In the Mennonite community of Goshen, Ind., Sharon Baker, 64, and others gathered soap, bandages, towels and other items for relief packages to send to Iraq. "I'm opposed to any war, any time, anywhere, any place because war doesn't solve anything," she said. The demonstration was described as "disturbing," by Glenn Null, of Goshen, who came to offer an opposing voice. He said he doesn't think the protesters take into account Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's actions against his own people. The White House said the president welcomed the protests ‹ which were timed to coincide with International Human Rights Day ‹ as part of a "time-honored tradition" of democracy. The day of protest also coincided with former President Jimmy Carter's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway. "War may sometimes be a necessary evil," he said in his acceptance speech. "But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good." In Sioux Falls, S.D., about 50 people gathered outside the federal courthouse for an anti-war demonstration organized by the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center. One person held a sign that said, "All I want for Christmas is Peace." _______________________________________________ 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