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News, 20-27/12/02 (3) IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS * Bad weather halts Iraqi oil shipping at Ceyhan * Could the Iranian revolution die on its feet? * Milliyet: Turkey's position regarding Iraq * Gulf Summit Ends With Decry of Saddam * Pentagon negotiates Turkey staging area * Iraq, Iran Ask UN to Open New Border Crossing * Barazani, Talibani in Ankara after Jalabi; Turkish parliament discuss American requests * Jordan slogan readies citizens for Iraq war * Turkey opposed to US deployment * Three tracks for Egyptian moves to prevent attacks against Iraq * Turkey gives approval for U.S. to keep using air base * Saudis win $44m Iraqi contracts * Israeli Leaders Accuse Sharon of Lying, Creating Hysteria Over Alleged Iraqi Threat * Beirut denies Iraqi WMD transportation to Lebanon * Turkey insists on UN resolution for possible Iraq war NO FLY ZONES * US, UK warplanes again attack Iraqi defences * Casualties of an 'Undeclared War' * Iraqi jets shoot down US spy plane * Iraq Says 3 Killed, 16 Injured in US-British Raids IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS http://biz.yahoo.com/rm/021220/energy_iraq_shipping_1.html * BAD WEATHER HALTS IRAQI OIL SHIPPING AT CEYHAN Yahoo, 20th December NEW YORK, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Foul weather on Friday closed the Turkish port of Ceyhan, one of two ports from which Iraq officially exports oil, forcing one oil tanker to anchorage, U.N. officials said. Iraq exports Kirkuk crude through Ceyhan, one of the two crudes it exports. The Front Driver, holding 950,000 barrels of oil, suspended loading on Friday and left berth for anchorage, the U.N. officials said. At least two other tankers were headed toward the port which was closed until the weather improved. The ships were due to arrive at Ceyhan on Monday. Iraq's oil exports have been managed by the United Nation's oil-for-food program since 1997. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/21_12_02_d.htm * COULD THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION DIE ON ITS FEET? by Joseph Samaha Daily Star, Lebanon, 21st December The beating of war drums in the Gulf could have been expected to calm the passions of the feuding parties in Iran. But nothing of the sort has occurred. Indeed, the opposite may be happening, as every "minor" problem - a court sentence against an individual, for example - rapidly develops into an issue that brings the fate of the whole regime into question. And as Iran becomes increasingly polarized, the forces capable of containing crises and confrontations by brokering short-term accommodations grow weaker. The big news is that civil society is showing tremendous dynamism. But the bad news is that this dynamism, which expressed itself in successive elections, is prevented from translating into policy. And it is being subjected to attempts to curb it, which make simmering tensions liable to explode at any moment. The scenes on the streets and in the universities give the impression that elections were never held in Iran, and that they never produced a majority and a minority. The balance of power in the Majlis (Parliament) has been offset by recourse to the country's intricate constitution. But offsetting the balance doesn't annul the conflict. So the confrontation has moved outside the legislative institutions, where "numbers" cease to be decisive and things are no longer subject to a vote by MPs. The parliamentary majority lacks organizational capacity on the street. Its grassroots are mobilized, but not regimented in a manner that enables them to wage a potentially violent conflict. This current also lacks credible leadership. Its leaders are no match for the Old Guard, especially when the latter are supported by the Revolutionary Guards. More importantly, these forces don't have a common and clear program. Outwardly, they appear willing to respect the principle of velayet-e-faqih, the theoretical underpinning of the regime. But they provoke doubts about that by challenging the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. Many observers agree that a greater part within this majority has come to espouse views that the Islamic Republic cannot tolerate if it wants to remain Islamic. Making them public would foment a radical split and risk all-out conflict. But keeping them under wraps weakens the capacity of the "reformists" to mobilize, and makes it unclear into what future they want to lead Iran. In contrast, the parliamentary minority enjoys the support on the streets of well-organized groups with clear goals. The said parliamentary minority can also hide behind the judiciary in order to appear to be upholding inviolable decisions. And it can identify with the supreme leader, on whom the constitution confers powers unmatched in any other parliamentary system. Moreover, these forces have a strong interest in escalating any confrontation, as they feel capable of settling the conflict violently and preventing things from getting completely out of their control. But while the balance on the streets differs from the balance inside the Majlis, it does not override it. The minority remains a minority, and that prompts it to play a more cautious game, as resorting to naked repression would turn it into an even smaller minority - as successive elections have demonstrated. The continuing relationship between Khamenei and President Mohammed Khatami is the safety valve in the current Iranian situation. But the notion that the two men hold the keys to the game and control it is inaccurate. Khamenei is a genuine leader of his followers. He doesn't become suspect in their eyes when he makes calculated climbdowns. The reason for that is simple. The battle the conservatives are waging is founded on the concept of the supreme leader's infallibility. Violating that principle would destroy their legitimacy completely. That gives Khamenei room for maneuver, as his followers cannot do without him. Without his cover, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij would be reduced to mere militias, which could be infiltrated and paralyzed by the splits in society. It is Khatami who is in a difficult position. It's not clear whether he is the most reformist of the conservatives or the most conservative of the reformists. He can't go along with his voters' wishes to the end, both because he might not believe in them, and because he is conscious of the cold calculations of the balance of power. When he appeases, he seems to betray the trust that millions placed in him. And when he escalates, he seems to break the rules of the game under which he reached the office of president. One can be sure that his popular power base wants more than he is delivering, and that the genuine reform that his voters demand may leave no place for him in the future. The Mikhail Gorbachev syndrome haunts Khatami. His attempt at partial reform led to a wholesale change in the structure of the regime and resulted in the dismantling of the party, the state and the bloc, as forces unleashed by perestroika pressed for a radical overhaul. It's not clear who might become Iran's Boris Yeltsin, but what is happening there makes it legitimate to wonder whether the regime can develop from within. Messing with velayet-e faqih in Iran could have the same outcome as messing with the doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat did in the former Soviet Union. Saying that the war drums have failed to pacify the internal conflict doesn't go far enough. One must bear in mind that the all-but-declared policy of the United States is that Iran is the next target after Iraq. Indeed, if Baghdad succeeds in avoiding war by complying fully with UN inspections, change in Iran might be brought to the top of the US agenda. That, incidentally, is the order of priorities which Israel favors and has long lobbied for. The threats Washington issues against Tehran certainly seem to have a role in intensifying Iran's internal conflicts. One could go further and suggest that we are witnessing a kind of bidding process by the major currents in Iran over the terms of the relationship with the US. The main issue is not the fate of the country's frozen assets or its weapons programs, or its attitude to the Middle East crisis, but how it might behave in the event of war on Iraq. It could be argued that Iranian attitudes in this regard are highly ambiguous. But the ambiguity is telling. While acting as if they are counting on a stake in the new Iraq, the rival groups in Iran are in reality looking to do deals with the US administration concerning their position in Iran proper. They behave as though they are waging a battle of self-defense on the Iraqi front lines. But Washington may not care for either of the two leading currents engaged in the struggle, who oppose each other while agreeing not to tamper with the brass tacks of the Islamic Republic. Washington is entitled to hope that its pressure leads to a Soviet-style transformation, given that the Iranian people increasingly favor a positive relationship with the United States. For America has something in Iran that it lacks in Iraq: a home-based opposition apt to build its pro-American preferences on a foundation of assured public support. This may entail harsh measures, but so would freezing the status quo or turning the clock back. The Iranian revolution as Imam Khomeini wanted it is no more and the Islamic state as we have known it is in trouble. There's nothing to prevent what happens in nature from happening in Iran: sometimes, trees die while still standing. Joseph Samaha, editor in chief of the Beirut daily As-Safir, wrote this commentary for The Daily Star http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021221/2002122107.html * MILLIYET: TURKEY'S POSITION REGARDING IRAQ Arabic News, 21st December The Turkish daily Milliyet said yesterday that the US has sent a message to Turkey saying that the American-Turkish deployment into north Iraq will be conducive to quick results for a likely military operation against Iraq. Milliyet added quoting one Western diplomat as saying that the US gave a guarantee to Turkey concerning the red lines which the US will observe, which include not permitting the foundation of a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq after Saddam's administration, and not permitting the "ethnic" groups to use the natural resources in Karkouk and al-Mousel. The western diplomat indicated that the American attempt to involve the NATO in a likely war achieved a great deal, noting that Turkey stressed, clearly for the US administration that it does not need a second decision issued by the UN SecurityCouncil in case of a military operation. When asked that Turkey's Foreign Minister articulated Turkey's position as follows: He said fairly explicitly that Turkey would require a second UN Security Council Resolution before any military campaign could be launched from Turkish soil, US deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz had said "in fact the Foreign Minister stated this correctly." http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2002/dec/22/122206762.html * GULF SUMMIT ENDS WITH DECRY OF SADDAM by Tarek Al-Issawi Las Vegas Sun, 22nd December DOHA, Qatar (AP): Gulf nations condemned Saddam Hussein for threatening Kuwait and said Sunday that Mideast peace is possible only if Israel withdraws from Palestinian territories. The six-state Gulf Cooperation Council, a loose political and economic alliance, convened its annual two-day summit Saturday with four heads of state missing and the threat of war looming over the region. In its final statement Sunday, the Gulf council lashed out at Saddam for his purported Dec. 7 apology to Kuwaitis, saying the message was an "incitement for the Kuwaiti people against their leadership and government and a support for the terror acts that occurred in Kuwait." The mention of terrorism was an apparent reference to attacks on U.S. military personnel in Kuwait, including the Oct. 8 killing of a Marine by two Islamic fundamentalists and al Qaida sympathizers, who also were killed. Sunday's communique also urged U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq to work in "an objective and unbiased manner," while calling on the international community to ensure the quick completion of the inspections. Weapons experts are searching for signs of Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction program. Washington threatens military action against Baghdad if it does not prove it has complied with U.N. Security Council resolutions on disarming its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The United States has military facilities and forces throughout the Gulf states, and Washington expects to double its troop presence there to about 100,000 by next month. The statement also condemned terrorism "in all its forms" and criticized Israel for continued aggression against the Palestinians. The statement also called for terrorism to be distinguished from "the people's right to resist occupation," an apparent reference to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories. While most Gulf Arabs have no love for Saddam, whose forces occupied Kuwait for seven months from August 1990 and fired missiles into Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, many oppose U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, seen as favoring Israel and bent on strengthening America's role in the region. Of the Gulf council's six leaders, only Qatar emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sultan Qaboos of Oman attended the Doha meeting. The heads of Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stayed away. Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia downgraded its representation to foreign ministerial level to protest Qatar's refusal to rein in the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite news channel that Saudi Arabia said insulted its royal family. http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/4796360.htm * BAGHDAD RETURNS KUWAITI PAINTINGS The State, from Associated Press, 22nd December Kuwait City - Kuwait scorned Iraq's return of paintings, swords and other cultural items missing since Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion, dismissing it Sunday as a public relations ploy. "They are not handing over the things that are important to us, like the war prisoners and the historic documents," Abdul-Hamid al-Awadhi, a foreign ministry official, told The Associated Press. Iraqi leaders want to "improve their image" and "show the world they were cooperating," he said. Kuwait accuses Iraq of failing to account for more than 600 Kuwaitis and other nationals missing since the Gulf crisis. Baghdad insists it has released all war prisoners. Last month, Iraq delivered five truckloads of documents it looted from Kuwait's government offices during the conflict. Kuwait said the papers did not include any of the country's historic documents. Under the supervision of U.N. observers Sunday, Kuwaiti officials crossed the border into Iraq to pick up paintings, revolvers, hunting guns, swords, a small carpet and an ornate box the foreign ministry said also were looted by Iraqi troops. Baghdad's state-run Al-Qadissiya newspaper said Sunday the items had been confiscated by Iraqi customs authorities. It did not explain why. It said the items included four paintings, seven gifts presented by heads of state to Kuwait's ruling family and items that belonged to Kuwait's museum. Ties between the two countries have been severed since Iraq's invasion and seven month occupation, and the 1991 Gulf War that ended it. Saddam earlier this month made an unprecedented but grudging apology to Kuwaitis for invading their country, blaming the Kuwaiti government and Americans for provoking it. Kuwait rejected the apology. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/nation/1712151 * PENTAGON NEGOTIATES TURKEY STAGING AREA by Esther Schrader San Francisco Chronicle, from Los Angeles Times, 22nd December WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon is drawing up plans to helicopter thousands of U.S. soldiers into Iraq from Turkey in the early days of an invasion, establishing a northern front that war planners increasingly see as a key part of any U.S. military action against Saddam Hussein's regime. Designed partly to address Turkish opposition to basing large numbers of U.S. troops on its soil, the plans call for ferrying soldiers into Turkish bases and transferring them quickly to helicopters that would deposit them in northern Iraq, senior defense officials said. There they would secure key oil fields and stabilize provinces already controlled by ethnic Kurds, who oppose the Iraqi president's regime. The still-developing plans for a northern front would use Turkish bases as staging areas for lightly equipped, U.S. Army airborne units. The troops -- most likely elements of the Army's V Corps, based in Germany, and the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky. -- would be flown into Turkey a few thousand at a time, only long enough to be shuttled onto combat helicopters for deployment into Iraq. An assault on Iraq from the north, in addition to much larger invasions planned from the west and the south, "will scare the bejesus out of Saddam," one military officer said, and force him to devote troops and resources to repelling U.S. advances on several fronts. The plans cannot be successful without the approval of Turkish officials, who have been the focus of intense U.S. diplomatic efforts in recent weeks. The Turks, the sole Muslim member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have permitted small numbers of U.S. Special Forces soldiers to move clandestinely into the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq, but don't want a huge U.S. military presence in their country. For months, the Pentagon has been building up forces in Persian Gulf nations to Iraq's south -- Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates -- capable of mounting a major Iraq invasion by land, sea and air. Such an invasion, including forces that would move into Iraq from Saudi Arabia to the south and west, could involve more than 100,000 U.S. troops. About 50,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines already are in the Persian Gulf, with heavy armor and other equipment flowing in. The ability to fly warplanes out of Turkey has long been seen as essential in any campaign against Iraq. The bases are modern facilities built and outfitted to fulfill Turkey's obligations as a member of NATO, which makes them compatible with U.S. planes and far superior to many other air bases in the region. Senior U.S. officials said that although a campaign against Saddam's regime can succeed militarily without Turkey's involvement, the country's support is key to "keeping it short, keeping it fierce, keeping the flow of refugees small." With only a few air bases available to U.S. forces in the countries to Iraq's south, planes flying out of Turkey could well represent more than a third of the total air power during an Iraq campaign. The United States has secured access to three air bases in Oman, two in Kuwait, one in Qatar and possibly one in the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia has yet to grant permission for the United States to use its bases to fly combat missions. Turkish officials are expected to decide soon which of its air bases to avail to U.S. forces and whether to allow American ground troops to move though the country. An adviser to the Turkish government with knowledge of the discussions said Tuesday that the two countries are still divided. Turkey has offered the use of three air bases and wants a strict limit on the number of ground troops in the country. The United States is seeking the use of an additional four bases and more freedom to maneuver its forces. The northern front envisioned by the Pentagon would be unlike any traditional ground advance. There would be no tanks rumbling into Iraq from the north and only tiny numbers of Special Forces soldiers entering the country on the ground. Turkey's 206-mile border with Iraq quickly moves from rolling plateaus nearest Turkey to irregular hills and the 8,000-foot peaks of the Zagros mountain range. One railway and just three roads of any significance transverse the mountains. Special Forces troops, preceded by days of assaults by bombers, fighter jets and gunships, would be the first into Iraq from Turkey. They would arrive by helicopter near the Iraqi air base at Kirkuk and the nearby Kirkuk oil fields, oil refinery and petrochemical plant, and the air base near the city of Mosul. They probably would have to subdue Iraqi regular army troops, the two fighter squadrons of Iraq's V Corps and I Corps in particular, headquartered at Kirkuk, and the Northern Corps of the Republican Guard, headquartered in Mosul. Once the airstrips are secured, U.S. C-130 transport planes would land, disgorging light armored vehicles and other equipment to support a ground force. At the same time, airborne light infantry units would be helicoptered in on Apache and Black Hawk attack helicopters to meet up with the equipment. The whole operation is expected to take a few days. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20021224/wl_nm/iraq_un_ira n_dc_1 * IRAQ, IRAN ASK UN TO OPEN NEW BORDER CROSSING Yahoo, 24th December UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iraq and Iran have asked the United Nations to open a new border crossing between the two Middle East neighbors for goods to flow into Iraq under the U.N. oil-for-food program, a U.N. official said Monday. The crossing point would be the first between longtime foes Iraq and Iran to be set up under the U.N. humanitarian program, which was established in 1996 to enable Baghdad to buy food, medicines and other civilian goods with the proceeds of its oil sales. The U.N. Office of the Iraq Program, which oversees the oil-for-food scheme, will now send inspection agents to the new Khusravi/Mondhariya crossing point, with an eye to opening it for business in late January or early February, the official said. U.N. diplomats said the additional crossing point would make it easier for Iranian firms to ship and sell goods to Iraq and could bolster ties between the two countries that fought an eight-year war beginning in 1980. The move comes as the United States threatens military strikes on Iraq should it fail to eliminate any biological, chemical or nuclear weapons it may have as required by U.N. Security Council resolutions. Washington last year branded both Iraq and Iran as part of an "axis of evil" intent on acquiring such weapons of mass destruction, along with North Korea. The oil-for-food program was set up to ease the impact on ordinary Iraqis of U.N. sanctions -- including a ban on oil sales -- imposed on Baghdad after its 1990 invasion of oil-rich neighbor Kuwait. The five existing entry points under the program are at the Iraqi towns of Trebil on the Jordanian border, Al-Walid on the Syrian border, Zakho on Iraq's border with Turkey, Ar'Ar on Baghdad's border with Saudi Arabia, and at Um-Qasr on the Gulf. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021224/2002122404.html * BARAZANI, TALIBANI IN ANKARA AFTER JALABI; TURKISH PARLIAMENT DISCUSS AMERICAN REQUESTS Arabic News, 24th December The Turkish prime minister Abdullah Ghoule and the armed forces chief of staff Helmi Ozkok yesterday held a meeting dedicated to discuss the American requests from Turkey in the framework of US military threats of attack against Iraq. This was just days after the American ambassador in Turkey handed over the Turkish government a message from the US President George Bush asking for prompt reply to his demands "because time expires." The meeting was attended by the Turkish foreign minister Yashar Kalash and the assistant for the secretary of the prime minister's office Fikrat Okan. However, the Turkish parliament will discuss this issue during the week. Meantime, a Turkish diplomatic source announced yesterday that the chiefs of the two main Kurdish parties in northern Iraq, Masoud al-Barazani and Jalal al-Talibani, will hold in Ankara as from tomorrow talks with the Turkish officials concerning a likely war. The same source explained that Talibani arrived yesterday evening to Turkey and he will be followed by Barazani today. The two Kurdish leaders will meet with the Turkish foreign ministry secretary Orgor Zayal in order to brief the Turkish side with the results of London's conference of the Iraqi opposition and to discuss the Iraqi crisis, according to the diplomatic source. The leading figure at the Iraqi National Congress Ahmad al-Jalabi met on Friday in Ankara several Kurdish officials. Meantime, The specialized Middle East Economic Survey said yesterday that London's conference dealt with certain economic issues relating to oil but it had failed to reach a detailed policy to run oil resources after toppling the Iraqi president. The Bulletin said that names of several prominent economy experts were inserted in a 75- member committees formed to fill any vacuum that might emerge in Baghdad following the collapse of the Iraqi regime. Jalabi said that in the "After Saddam" phase, Iraq will set an objective of producing 6 million barrels of crude oil on daily basis. Double of its current production. http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/epaper/editions/tuesday/news_e38080f473b890 ee0030.html * JORDAN SLOGAN READIES CITIZENS FOR IRAQ WAR Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 24th December Amman --- The same slogan appears over and over again on telephone poles, streetlights and billboards across the Jordanian capital. ''Jordan First,'' it reads in Arabic, next to an image of outstretched hands hoisting the national flag. King Abdullah II has blanketed his kingdom with the slogan. Analysts say it is an attempt by the government to sell an unpopular foreign policy to its increasingly skeptical citizens. In a letter to the country's prime minister, the king stated that ''Jordan First'' is a working plan designed to ''mold Jordanian men and women in a unified social fiber that promotes their sense of loyalty to their homeland, and pride in Jordanian, Arab and Islamic identity. . . .'' But close observers of the government contend that ''Jordan First'' is really a way of preparing the nation's 5.2 million people for a possible war in Iraq, which many here view as inevitable but unjust. The government is ''specifically addressing the official policy toward Iraq and Palestine, which seems to be on the other side of Jordanian popular mood,'' said Labib Kamhawi, a former professor of political science at the University of Jordan. Squeezed between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on one side and Iraq on the other, Jordan is likely to feel the effects of war more than any other nation in the region, Kamhawi said. With a 60 percent Palestinian population and an economy dependent on cheap Iraqi oil, Jordanians are wary of having to pay a heavy price for actions by the United States and Israeli governments that they do not feel warrant Jordan's support. Anti-American sentiment runs high on the streets of Amman, where wealthy businessmen seem just as opposed to waging war against Saddam Hussein as taxicab drivers or meat vendors. Anger toward the Bush administration is a unifying theme from the posh neighborhoods of West Amman to the impoverished camps that house thousands of Palestinians in the eastern side of the capital. ''Jordanians are less allergic to the West than Egyptians or Syrians, but people here are not buying America's claims about Iraq,'' said Jamal Tahal, a political commentator. Tahal said growing anti-Americanism could lead to dangerous consequences. He fears the potential for growing Islamic militancy and terrorist acts, such as the killing of American diplomat Laurence Foley in October. At the heart of prevailing Jordanian sentiment is a sense that the government has sold its soul to Washington, whose foreign policy is strongly questioned across the Arab world. Many view President Bush's fight against terrorism as a declaration of war against the entire Muslim world, a green light for the United States to police the world. ''First it was Afghanistan. Then Iraq. Next it could be Syria or the Palestinians,'' said Sally Asha, 26, an accountant. ''Maybe Jordan will be on the list. You never know.'' Safieh Mohammed, a 50-year-old Palestinian woman, echoed that opinion. ''It's not Saddam who scares us but America and Israel,'' she said. ''We think that if they hit Iraq, they will hit us, too.'' In the Persian Gulf War, King Hussein opposed military strikes against Iraq in order to liberate Kuwait, damaging Jordan's relations with the United States. This time, Hussein's son, Abdullah, has walked a tightrope and promoted the idea of Jordan remaining on the sidelines, although recent U.S. military maneuvers here have raised the question of whether American forces might use Jordan as a launching pad. ''Both the government and people supported Iraq the last time,'' said political analyst Basel Rafeya'h. ''This time there is a rift. Jordan is seen as standing with the U.S. in its war on terrorism.'' Adnan Abu Dudeh, a former information minister and adviser to King Hussein, said the ''Jordan First'' campaign is all about keeping a lid on a potential powder keg. ''The people's instinct tells me that the government came up with this to abort any destructive anger that might arise from the deteriorating situation in Iraq or Palestine,'' he said. ''And they are right about it,'' he said, asserting that the ''Jordan First'' campaign is intended ''to make people quiet when Iraq is destroyed.'' But Jordanians are already voicing their opposition. ''People here feel a lot of sympathy for the Iraqi people,'' Dudeh said. ''It's easy to see ourselves in the Iraqi mirror.'' That sympathy doesn't always translate into a homogeneous opinion of Saddam, though few view the dictator as posing a threat to the outside world. Of those interviewed who said they favored removing Saddam, only a handful supported U.S. military action in Iraq. ''Iraq is a sovereign country,'' said Hamid Abdullah, 41, owner of a small eatery in the swanky Abdoun neighborhood. ''U.S. interference would be unjust.'' Abdullah said he is nervous about the impact on the local economy. War in Iraq, Jordan's largest trading partner, could wreak havoc here, he said. ''If there is a war, there will be negative effects here,'' he said. ''Our business will go down. We will sell less.'' Hani Khalifi, who owns a chain of manufacturing and electronics businesses, said Jordan is still reeling from the 1991 war. The nation, he said, cannot afford to suffer another conflict on its borders. ''We are not supporting Saddam,'' he said. ''We are talking about the Iraqi people. I was brought up in Britain. I know what democracy is. I also know it cannot be delivered from the U.S. or Britain.'' http://www.dawn.com/2002/12/25/int3.htm * TURKEY OPPOSED TO US DEPLOYMENT Dawn, from AFP, 25th December ANKARA, Dec 24: NATO member Turkey is to allow the United States to use several of its air bases in case of war in Iraq, but is firmly against the mass deployment of US soldiers on its soil, the Turkish press reported on Tuesday. The decisions were taken at a key summit here on Monday bringing together the government, the powerful military and several top bureaucrats to discuss a series of US requests for help in the event of an invasion of Iraq, the liberal Milliyet daily said. An official statement issued from Prime Minister Abdullah Gul's office after the meeting stressed that Turkey had not made a "final political decision" or "committed itself to any obligations". But according to Milliyet, Ankara will open five military air bases to the United States in case of a war, including the Incirlik base, in southern Turkey, which was used for air raids against Baghdad during the 1991 war. Incirlik also currently hosts a joint US-British force tasked with patrolling the no-fly zone in northern Iraq. Other bases include bases Diyarbakir and Batman, in the southeast, and Malatya and Mus, in the east, the daily said. Officials from the US Office of Defence Cooperation (ODC) have already begun inspections at some of the said bases, the liberal Radikal daily reported. In return for its logistical support, Ankara will ask Washington to install missile systems to protect the bases, Milliyet said. However, Ankara has decided against giving permission for the deployment of "tens of thousands of US troops" on its soil to open a "northern front" against Iraq, it added. The meeting ended with consensus on allowing only small US contingents to be based on Turkish soil. While agreeing to become fully "involved" in a possible strike, Turkey will ask the United States to secure international legitimacy for the operation through a new UN Security Council Resolution or a NATO decision, Radikal said. Ankara will also tell Washington that it should secure backing from other Muslim countries in the region for the coalition against Iraq, it added. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021225/2002122528.html * THREE TRACKS FOR EGYPTIAN MOVES TO PREVENT ATTACKS AGAINST IRAQ Arabic News, 25th December Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher on Monday said that Egypt is exerting much effort to spare Iraq a military strike. Maher, at a press conference, noted that Egypt is moving on three tracks, the first is working with Iraq since its re-admitting of the international arms inspectors with the aim of refuting any pretext for launching a war. Secondly, Maher said, Egypt is cooperating with the US and other countries concerned to guarantee an action within the framework of the UN Security Council and in line with international law. And third, Egypt is making efforts with the UN and international arms inspectors Egypt is calling upon them to be fair and unbiased while doing their job inside Iraq added Maher. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1715684 * TURKEY GIVES APPROVAL FOR U.S. TO KEEP USING AIR BASE Houston Chronicle, 25th December ANKARA, Turkey (Reuters): Turkey on Wednesday approved a six-month extension of the mandate that allows U.S. warplanes to use its Incirlik air base to patrol a "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq. "In this environment, when tension and instability prevail in northern Iraq, continuing the operation is regarded as appropriate and convenient," Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis told lawmakers before the vote in Parliament. [.....] http://www.dailystarnews.com/200212/26/n2122605.htm * SAUDIS WIN $44M IRAQI CONTRACTS Daily Star, Bangladesh, 26th December AFP, Riyadh: Saudi exporters have won contracts worth 44 million dollars with the Iraqi government during the past two weeks to supply vehicles, milk powder and air conditioners, a newspaper reported Tuesday. The contracts which also include the supply of construction materials still need clearance from the United Nations committee overseeing Iraq's oil-for-food programme, Al-Watan daily said. The main border post between Saudi Arabia and Iraq at Arar resumed normal operations last month after 12 years of closure, allowing Saudi goods to be exported directly to Iraq. http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=2002122617553686 * ISRAELI LEADERS ACCUSE SHARON OF LYING, CREATING HYSTERIA OVER ALLEGED IRAQI THREAT Palestine Chronicle, 26th December Occupied Jerusalem - Several Israeli leaders have lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for "disseminating lies" and "creating hysteria within the public" over possible but unlikely Iraqi attack on Israel in case of an American war on the Arab country. Labor Party leader and prime ministerial candidate Amram Mitzna dismissed Sharon's allegations that Iraq had transferred chemical and biological weapons to Syria and Libya as "unbelievable." He accused the Israeli premier of disseminating "hysteria within the public in for the purpose of advancing the political agenda of his party." The veteran Israeli politician Shimon Peres has also criticized Sharon's statements regarding the alleged transfer of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to Syria. The Israeli state-run radio quoted Peres on Wednesday as saying that he didn't believe that Sharon's statements were true. A third voice discrediting Sharon's allegations was Tsvi Farkash, the head of Israeli military intelligence. Farkash was quoted on Monday as saying that "there is no evidence of any transfer of chemical or biological weapons from Iraq to Syria." Both Syria and Libya vehemently denied the Israeli allegations. Syria called Sharon's remarks "silly and ridiculous and completely false," while Libya called the accusations "baseless." [IAP News (iap.org).] Published at the Palestine Chronicle. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-12/27/content_671307.htm * BEIRUT DENIES IRAQI WMD TRANSPORTATION TO LEBANON Beirut, Dec. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Lebanese President Emile Lahoud Thursday denied Israeli allegation that Iraq transported rockets and weapons of mass destruction to Lebanon via Syria, the official NNA news agency reported. Lahoud said, "it is not surprised for Lebanese to hear such rumors from Israel as the Zionist entity has repeatedly done such plot against Lebanon." Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud called Israel's allegation as "utterly unfounded." "Israel will not lose any opportunity to issue rumors and mendacious news concerning the region in order to transfer international focus," Hammoud said. "It is well known that Israel cooperates with the US to realize a war against Iraq. This is just one of its steps," Hammoud added. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he had information that Iraq secretly transferred weapons of mass destruction to Lebanon via Syria. Sharon claimed that Iraq sent rockets designated for Lebanese resistance guerrilla Hezbollah (Party of God) to retaliate against Israel if the United States begins a war on Iraq. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=324 93588 * TURKEY INSISTS ON UN RESOLUTION FOR POSSIBLE IRAQ WAR Times of India (from AFP), 27th December ANKARA: A senior Turkish government official on Thursday urged the United States, the country's key ally, to refrain from launching military strikes against Iraq without the approval of the United Nations. "The United States should wait for a second (UN Security Council) decision" after Resolution 1441 which tightened arms inspections, Deputy Prime Minister Ertugrul Yalcinbayir was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency. "Saying 'I will do what I have to do whatever the second decision is' would be a threat to world peace in the next century. We hope the United States will take care of its responsibilities," Yalcinbayir added. The Turkish government is currently under heavy pressure to provide logistic and military support to the United States in the event of a war to topple the regime in Baghdad, but has not made a political decision yet. Ankara, which fears the political and economic fallout of a war in the region, has said on several occasions that any military moves against Iraq should be based on international legitimacy and consensus. Yalcinbayir was speaking during talks with representatives from an anti-Iraq war platform of more than 150 non-governmental organisations which have recently held demonstrations against military strikes on Turkey's southeastern neighbour. Turkey is concerned that war in Iraq could hit its crisis hit economy at a time when it is showing signs of recovery from a severe recession which sent the country running for a massive loan from the International Monetary Fund. NO FLY ZONES http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_123682,00050004.htm * US, UK WARPLANES AGAIN ATTACK IRAQI DEFENCES Hindustani Times, 20th December Reuters, Washington, December 20: American and British warplanes launched on Friday their fifth attack in a week against Iraqi air defences in the country's southern "no-fly" zone, the US military said. Responding to what it called "Iraqi acts against coalition aircraft" policing the zone, the US Central Command said the jets launched precision bombs against two air defence communications facilities near Basra and An Nasiriyah at about 10:30 a.m. Iraq time (0730 GMT). [.....] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23834-2002Dec21.html * CASUALTIES OF AN 'UNDECLARED WAR' by Peter Baker Washington Post, 22nd December BASRA, Iraq -- She flinches just a bit when the air raid siren comes on. Not because it is unusual, but because it is not. And because it reminds her of that day just a few weeks ago. The sirens sound most every day, once, twice, sometimes more. They are followed by the sound of jet planes soaring overhead. Then the soft puffs of antiaircraft fire off in the distance. What Nahla Mohammed remembers from that day, however, is not the sirens or the jet planes, but running into her son on the street just after she finished shopping for supper. He asked what she would fix, she recalled. Meat, vegetables and soup, she answered. He headed off, anticipating the family meal. Ten minutes later, according to a cousin who was there, a powerful blast slammed him to the ground as metal shards sliced through his body. Mohammed Sharif Reda, a 23-year-old mechanic married just two months and planning to build a house for his family, was among four people who Iraqi officials said were killed Dec. 1 in what they call an "undeclared war" being waged here in southern Iraq. While U.S. troops flow into the Persian Gulf region in preparation for a possible invasion of Iraq, U.S. and British warplanes fire regularly on what the Pentagon describes as military targets. U.S. officials say the bombings and missile attacks are responses to Iraqi challenges to enforcement of the southern "no-fly" zone in place since 1991 -- painting aircraft with air defense radars or shooting at them. But the pace of the attacks has quickened demonstrably in recent months and the Pentagon has broadened its targets to a wide array of command and communications facilities in what analysts see as an effort to weaken Iraq's defenses. The attack on Dec. 1 destroyed a pair of large vehicles parked in an oil company courtyard in the center of Basra, the country's second-largest city, located near the Kuwaiti border. U.S. military spokesmen said they hit an air defense facility, not an oil company, and in any case never deliberately attack civilian targets. But something obliterated the vehicles here and everyone questioned believes it was the Americans. "Every day, every day, all the time. Why?" cried Reda's widow, Najila, 25, at the family home around the corner from the Museum of the Martyrs of Hostile Persian Shooting. "I ask you: Why is America bombing?" Through the first four months of the year, U.S. and British forces struck Iraqi sites in the northern and southern no-fly zones just six times, while in the past four months they have launched about four dozen air raids. So far in December, the U.S. military has reported nine strikes around southern cities such as Kut, Nasiriyah, Amarah and Basra, including one here on Friday. Iraqi officials complain that U.S. and British aircraft violated their airspace for patrols 1,141 times between Nov. 9 and Dec. 6. In response, Iraqi antiaircraft batteries have fired at U.S. and British planes more than 470 times this year, according to a Pentagon count, although the Iraqis have never succeeded in shooting one down. The no-fly zones were imposed to protect a Kurdish enclave in the north and rebellious Shiite Muslims in the south from possible attack by President Saddam Hussein's aircraft. While Iraq and several major powers do not recognize the legitimacy of the zones, they have become an inescapable fact of life here. "Not many people realize that a war has been going on for the last several years in the no-fly zone," said Gen. Amir Saadi, a top Hussein adviser. "The very people that Britain and the United States claim to be protecting, they're killing them, maiming them, depriving them of their normal livelihood and also destroying the infrastructure which is there to serve them." The Pentagon disputes that and includes a statement at the end of each announcement of another raid: "Coalition aircraft never target civilian populations or infrastructure and go to painstaking lengths to avoid injury to civilians and damage to civilian facilities." Until recently, U.S. and British warplanes responding to threats from Iraqi forces limited their strikes to gun emplacements, radar facilities and other sites involved in trying to hit them. But Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in August ordered his commanders to widen the target list to include more communications centers, command buildings and fiber optic links. The more strategic targeting led U.S. forces to strike the Tallil air base, the air defense sector headquarters about 160 miles southeast of Baghdad, a dozen times this fall. With hardened revetments for aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and two major runways, Tallil protects the southern approach to the capital and was a major target during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In September, U.S. planes also hit radars at a remote military airfield 240 miles west of Baghdad, far from most antiaircraft fire, in a move that analysts speculated could be intended to open a corridor for Special Forces helicopters to enter the western desert undetected. The campaign in the south was recently expanded to include propaganda warfare as well. Aircraft dropped 480,000 leaflets at six locations in southern Iraq last week, the seventh time they have conducted such drops in the past three months, according to military officials. The leaflets, distributed in areas where coalition planes recently struck, warned Iraqis against repairing fiber-optic cables and said rebuilding defensive facilities would put their lives in danger. The leaflets also directed Iraqis to a radio frequency where they could listen to U.S. broadcasts now beamed into the country for several hours a day by military aircraft as they patrol the no-fly zone. While the zones were established to shield Iraqis from their leader, they have served to embitter at least some of the people, and government officials assert that they even solidify support for Hussein. "When it gets worse and worse, the people will be closer to the leadership," said Lt. Gen. Hadi Abdul Reda, head of civil defense in Basra. "They make me more eager to face the Americans." "We hate them," said Mesa Ali, 25, a mother of two young boys who lives across the street from the site of the Dec. 1 bombing. The blast shattered her front window, covering her 18 month-old son with broken glass. "They want to get the oil and make us slaves." "It's a crime," said Ali Abid Hamid, 31, who works at a nearby cement company and helped his cousin get to a hospital to treat a slashed throat after the explosion. "There is no reason to bomb civilians. They want to make problems." It remains unclear how many civilians have actually been hurt or killed by the recent U.S. and British bombing. Even by Iraqi reports, most targets seem to be military facilities and government officials decline to take journalists there. The Dec. 1 episode, however, clearly left noncombatants dead and injured, according to interviews with survivors, relatives, witnesses and doctors. The U.S. military reported dropping 23 precision weapons from 13 aircraft in southern Iraq that day in retaliation for antiaircraft fire at warplanes patrolling the northern no-fly zone two days earlier, the first time they had struck in the south for an incident in the north. The U.S. military said it hit unspecified air defense targets near Basra and Kut, but not an oil installation. Witnesses and survivors, though, said two explosions erupted in the yard of the state-run Southern Oil Co. in the center of Basra between 10 and 11 a.m., about the time U.S. warplanes were reported to be striking. Iraqi officials said four people were killed and 27 injured. U.S. officials in the past have accused Hussein of positioning mobile air defense units in civilian locations in an effort to prevent them from being destroyed or to draw enemy fire that would kill innocents, thus creating a propaganda victory for Iraq. From the street, about 50 yards away, it appeared clear that at least two large vehicles were demolished by the explosions at Southern Oil. But it was impossible to determine whether they were civilian trucks or mobile missile launchers or radars. Iraqi officials would not allow an American reporter inside the compound to examine the site. What was clear was that people such as Watheka Raheem Feyad were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Feyad, 25, a clerk at Southern Oil, had just returned from vacation and was walking between buildings when she was suddenly blown off her feet. "I felt like I was being sucked up into the air, two to three meters up," she said. "I didn't know if it was a rocket or a missile or a bomb. I didn't know what was the matter. I was afraid and shocked. The noise was very, very loud and I lost feeling in my legs. I closed my eyes because I was so scared." Two colleagues dragged her away, she said, and she later woke up in the hospital. Her brother, Ali Raheem Feyad, 38, raced to the hospital at 100 mph when he heard the news and was initially told that she was dead. She was not, but she suffered a head injury and multiple fractures of her leg, which is now in a metal splint, and still has shrapnel in her body. She takes six types of drugs, faces several more operations and will need at least a year before she can walk again, according to her doctor. Mohammed Sharif Reda was not so lucky. Walking outside the gate, he and his cousin were caught in the blast, family members said. His relatives were already angry at Americans, blaming his uncle's death from cancer in March on depleted uranium used in some U.S. weapons in the area. "They are killing people," Nahla Mohammed, 49, who has lost her son and brother, said, occasionally succumbing to tears as she talked. "Why do they commit such crimes? Why was my son just walking along the streets and died? Why?" Reda's cousin, Sabah Hassan Mohammed, 23, who was walking alongside him that day, survived but suffered deep gashes in his left leg and deep resentment in his heart. At the hospital last week, he winced in pain and clutched his brother's hand. "I will get better and I will take revenge, for me and for others," he said. "We are strong. Even if they keep bombing us, we will bear it and we will show them the results." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-523520,00.html * IRAQI JETS SHOOT DOWN US SPY PLANE by Tim Reid in Washington The Times, 24th December IRAQI jet fighters shot down an unmanned American surveillance plane after breaching the countryıs southern no-fly zone yesterday in an act of defiance that fuelled the belief that war is almost inevitable. Oil prices climbed to an almost three-month high after the attack, the first time an American aircraft has been shot down by Iraqi planes inside the no-fly zone. The price of gold, a symbolic refuge in times of war, also went up. On a day of rising tensions, Washington delivered a stern warning against North Korea exploiting an Iraqi war to pursue its own nuclear weapons programme. Weapons inspectors said they had begun interviewing Iraqi scientists, and Iraq said it was preparing to use foreign volunteers as human shields at strategic sites across the country. The Predator drone aircraft was on a reconnaissance mission, the Pentagon said. It is the third drone to be lost to hostile fire over Iraq in the past two years, but the first to be downed by Iraqi warplanes. General Richard Myers, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, played down the incident, calling it a lucky shot. Such overt Iraqi aggression in the face of UN resolutions, suggested that Saddam Hussein has no intention of disarming or co-operating with UN demands. "With Godıs help, and with the will of the men of our heroic air defence forces and brave sky eagles, it (the drone) was shot down in a delicate and planned operation," an Iraqi military spokesman said. He said the Predator had breached Iraqi airspace after flying from a base in Kuwait. [.....] http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200212/27/eng20021227_109152.shtml * IRAQ SAYS 3 KILLED, 16 INJURED IN US-BRITISH RAIDS Peoples Daily, 27th December Three Iraqi civilians were killed and 16 others injured when US and British warplanes bombed southern Iraq on Thursday, an Iraqi Air Defense Command spokesman said. Three Iraqi civilians were killed and 16 others injured when US and British warplanes bombed southern Iraq on Thursday, an Iraqi Air Defense Command spokesman said. At 7:40 a.m. local time (0440 GMT), US and British planes bombed civilian and service facilities in the southern provinces of Basra and Dhi Qar, killing three Iraqis and wounding 16 more, the spokesman told the official Iraqi News Agency (INA). Iraq's air defenses fired at the planes and forced them back to their bases in Kuwait, the spokesman added. An INA correspondent in Dhi Qar was quoted as saying that the US and British warplanes "totally destroyed" a mosque on the outskirts of Nasiriya, the main city of the province, some 350 km south of Baghdad. "The only thing that survived was the holy Koran," he added. Another INA reporter in Basra said the Western warplanes attacked the rural Khwizat area in Khur Al Zubair, some 620 km south of Baghdad, where four people were wounded. [.....] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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