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[casi] News, 27/12/02-2/1/03 (2)

News, 27/12/02-2/1/03 (2)


*  'Yemen' Scuds Baghdad-bound
*  Assad arrives in Algeria for talks on Iraq crisis
*  Deal would let U.S. fund Turkey during Iraq war
*  Arab League Chief: US and British accusations against Iraq are unfounded
*  Turkey will announce its position on military action against Iraq only
after a UN resolution to this effect
*  Pakistan, Qatar Stress No Military Action In Iraq
*  Jordan warns US on Iraq
*  Saudi Arabia Said to Pledge Use of its Bases Against Iraq
*  Arab Leaders May Push for Saddam Exile
*  U.S. looks to Oman for jet fuel in Iraq war
*  Gulf Cooperation Council opposes any military action against Iraq (my
title - PB)
*  Riyadh denies any obligations to the American forces in fighting Iraq
*  Kuwaitis seethe with anger as U.S. war drum beats
*  Soccer diplomacy not working for Iraqis, Kuwaitis
*  Turkey Seeking Diplomacy With Iraq


*  U.S. denies hitting Iraqi mosque
*  Western warplanes attack two Iraqi radar sites
*  Iraqi defences bombed
*  U.S. Predator strikes again in Iraq
*  Warplanes kill civilians in attack


by Uri Dan
New York Post, 27th December

December 27, 2002 -- JERUSALEM - Scud missiles seized two weeks ago in the
Arabian Sea were destined for Iraq, not Yemen, it was reported yesterday.

The missiles were captured aboard a North Korean ship but were allowed to
proceed by U.S. authorities, who said an investigation showed the cargo was
being legally sent to Yemen.

However, Israeli analysts say Yemen has no need for Scuds, and the cargo's
arrival there was only temporary.

A top Israeli defense official told The Post the ground-to-ground missiles,
made infamous during the 1991 Gulf War, were meant for another undisclosed

The newspaper Haaretz went further and identified Iraq as the Scuds'
ultimate destination.

U.S. authorities turned a blind eye to the shipment and released the cargo
in order to ensure Yemen's support in the ongoing war against al Qaeda, the
newspaper said yesterday.

The secret transfer of missiles and other weaponry through the Mideast has
become a major concern of American and Israeli intelligence in recent weeks
because of the likelihood of a U.S. war with Iraq.

Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said there were
indications Baghdad was transferring biological and chemical weapons to
Syria to hide them from United Nations weapons inspectors.

Israeli authorities also suspect that Iraq sent long-range rockets to Syria
in recent weeks - in order to rearm Hezbollah guerrillas in southern

Syria, which controls much of Lebanon, has allowed previous transfers of
missiles and other arms to Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, the Arab League said yesterday it was Israel, not Syria or Iraq,
that had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction.

Yahoo, 28th December

ALGIERS, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived on
Saturday in Algiers to discuss with his counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika
tensions between Iraq and the United States, a diplomatic source said.

Upon his arrival with Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara at Algiers airport,
Assad declined to tell reporters what would be on the agenda for his two-day

But a diplomatic source told Reuters Assad would discuss the Iraqi crisis,
Algerian-Syrian ties and issues involving Israel and the occupied

"Iraq will be the focus of talks", the source said.

Both countries have publicly opposed U.S. military action against Iraq,
accused by Washington of developing weapons of mass destruction. Iraq denies
the arms allegations.

Houston Chronicle, (from AP), 28th December

ANKARA, Turkey -- The United States and its key ally Turkey have agreed on
the shape of an aid package to help Turkey's struggling economy withstand a
possible war in neighboring Iraq, a U.S. official said Saturday.

The statement by John Taylor, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for
international affairs, came after two days of talks in the Turkish capital.
Taylor did not elaborate on the scope of the aid, but characterized it as
"flexible" and "adaptable."

Turkish news reports have said Turkey is demanding up to $28 billion in
support, but the report say the amount could vary according to what type of
operation takes place.

Turkey's support is crucial to any U.S. military operation against Iraq, and
Turkey was a staging point for air raids during the 1991 Gulf War. But
Turkey prefers a peaceful solution to the situation, fearing a new war could
devastate its economy or destabilize the region.

Turkish newspapers have reported that Washington is looking to use Turkish
bases, ports and railroads and possibly deploy tens of thousands of troops
to Turkey. The U.S. and Turkish governments have not commented.

Arabic News, 28th December

Secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, told Moroccan TV channel
"2M" accusations laid by the USA and Britain against Iraq are unfounded.

The Arab League chief told 2M's "Special Guest" program broadcast on Friday
that the Arab states are "seriously threatened," citing the policy vis-a-vis
Iraq and Palestine as one of the evidences of these impending threats on the
Arab states.

Moussa argued that as long as the Iraqi issue is in the hands of the U.N.
security council, only this latter is entitled to evaluate decisions of the
United Nations inspectors. It is unconceivable that an Arab state accepts an
attack against Baghdad as long as the U.N. inspectors are carrying on their
job in Iraq, he added stressing that the few states where the USA have
military bases will not allow that these bases be used in a war against

The Arab League secretary general also said that the upcoming Arab summit
will be held next March in Manama, Bahrain, and that it is possible to
convene it before this date should the need arise.

Of the Palestinian issue, Amr Moussa said Israelis took advantage of the
September 11 events to tighten their blockage against the Palestinian people
under the pretext of the struggle against terrorism and insisted that
resisting occupation cannot be likened to terrorism.

He also called for a precise timetable to set in motion the U.S. roadmap
meant to establish a Palestinian state before 2005.

Arabic News, 28th December

The chairman of the Turkish Justice and Development party, Rajab Tayeb
Ardoghan, has stressed that his country will not announce its decision
concerning any military operation against Iraq before the issuance of a
resolutions to this effect by the UN Security Council. Worthy mentioning
that the US is making pressures against Turkey to get its support in case of
military action against Iraq.

In a televised statement yesterday, Ardoghan said that Turkey will wait the
issuance of a UN resolution concerning the likely military operation.

Pakistan News, 28th December

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Dec 28 (PNS) - Pakistan and Qatar Frdiay stressed on
avoiding any military action in Iraq and called for a peaceful resolution of
the issue through United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The Foreign Minister of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim who arrived on a brief
visit today told reporters after meeting with his Pakistani counterpart
Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri that Qatar was hoping and working hard to avoid any
military action in Iraq.

Kasuri reiterated Pakistan's principled position on Iraq that is for working
within the international law and stresses UN Security Council resolutions on
Iraq to be followed.

The Qatri Foreign Minister was also due to call on President General Pervez
Musharraf in Rawalpindi after the meeting.

Qatar currently holds the chair of the Organization of Islamic Conference

The two ministers held over two-hour long meeting soon after the arrival of
the Qatri Minister at PAF Chaklala base and discussed the entire ambit of
bilateral relations and important matters of regional and international

These included Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iraq, situation in the Middle East.

"Our position is (that) we are hoping and working hard to avoid any military
action (in Iraq), this is our position," the Qatari Minister Sheikh Hamad
said to a question.

He said:" We are urging that it could be resolved through the UN Security

Sheikh Hamad said his country was hopeful of a "peaceful resolution of the
Iraq issue with no military action".

Responding to a question, Sheikh Hamad said on the request of Libyan
President, Qatar has asked for a Summit meeting of the OIC to discuss many

Foreign Minister Kasuri said Pakistan believed that international peace was
only possible "if we work within the accepted principles of international

The Minister said, Pakistan wanted things to be settled under the aegis of
the United Nations and implementing the UN Security Council resolutions on

"There should not be any unilateral action," he said and added, "If UN
resolutions on Iraq are accepted and implemented by the Iraqi government,
(then) sanctions must be eased so the ordinary Iraqi people also benefit
from the peace that will follow as a result".

Pakistan, he stated, was going to assume its seat at the UN Security Council
as non permanent member. "It is even a greater responsibility thrust on
shoulders of Pakistan. It is a challenge for Pakistani diplomacy but we will
perform our role with full responsibility".

The Minister underlined the importance of Pakistan-Qatar bilateral ties and
thanked the Minister for hosting upto 75,000 overseas Pakistanis.

Kasuri said, he has asked the Minister to make it easier for more Pakistanis
to work in Qatar.

The Qatari Foreign Minister was due to fly back home in the evening.,5744,5762329%255E40

The Australian, 29th December

JORDANIAN Foreign Minister Marwan Moasher warned today that the Middle East
faced a bleak 2003 if the United States led a war on Iraq amid continuing
violence in the Palestinian territories.
"Next year the region will witness very difficult political conditions if
the escalation in the

Palestinian territories continues amid the possibility of a military strike
on Iraq," the official Petra news agency quoted Moasher as telling a
Jordanian press syndicate meeting.

The minister said that Jordan, which is entirely dependent on Iraq for oil,
had had no choice but to make contingency plans for war, but stressed that
it remained opposed to playing any part in military action.

"Jordan will be the worst affected country after Iraq by a war," he said,
adding that the government was taking the "appropriate steps to protect its
economic interests if war breaks out".

"Jordan will not participate in any war on Iraq and its territory will not
be used as a launchpad for military action.

"The Iraqi people alone have the right to decide who rules them," he said in
a clear rejection of US calls for regime change in Baghdad, adding that
Jordan would also refuse to host any meeting of the Iraqi opposition in
current circumstances.

Voice of America, 29th December

Pentagon officials say they have received private assurances from Saudi
Arabia that the U.S. military will be able to use Saudi air space, bases and
an important command center in the event of war with Iraq.

The assurances mean the Prince Sultan Air Base outside Riyadh will be
available to coordinate any air campaign against Iraq, as it has been used
for air operations over Afghanistan.

Permission to use Saudi bases appears limited to support aircraft, such as
refueling, reconnaissance, surveillance and cargo planes. But U.S. officials
say they are optimistic that the Saudis will allow attack missions to be
launched from Saudi soil.

Saudi Arabia was the main staging area for the allied attack that drove
Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991. Saudi support for any new war has been in
doubt however, leading the U.S. military to establish a new headquarters
facility in Qatar.

by Salah Nasrawi
Newsday, from Associated Press, 29th December

AMMAN, Jordan -- Arab leaders looking for a way to avoid a U.S.-Iraq war
they fear would ignite their volatile region are considering the possibility
of pressing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to step down and go into exile,
diplomats say.

But the diplomats say the idea has not yet coalesced, and it would be
useless to make such an offer until Saddam believes he has no other no

"There is a strong feeling that the United States is after Saddam and not
after weapons of mass destruction and therefore efforts should focus on how
to persuade Saddam to leave," one Arab diplomat said on condition of

While newspapers have carried reports of offers made to Saddam to flee to
Egypt or Libya, even Cuba or North Korea, no government has commented
officially on the prospect.

Last week, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told reporters that Mideast
leaders repeatedly have urged Saddam to try to avert war. But Prince Saud
was vague when asked whether Arab leaders -- and Saudi Arabia in particular
-- had urged the Iraqi regime to persuade Saddam to leave power and accept
political asylum elsewhere.

"Communication is continuing on levels announced and unannounced, but all
the Arab countries are involved in preventing any military action against
Iraq," he said.

Sabah Salman, Saddam's press secretary during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war,
does not believe the Iraqi leader would ever bow out willingly.

Salman, who defected after the 1991 Gulf War, said Saddam in 1982 called his
top aides to a meeting to discuss a demand from the late Iranian leader
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that Saddam step down in exchange for peace.
Salman said that when Minister of Health Riyadh Hussein ventured that Saddam
should accept the offer "for tactical reasons to test Khomeini's
seriousness," the minister was taken to an adjacent room and shot.

"Saddam is keeping the last bullet in his gun for himself," Salman told The
Associated Press in a telephone interview from his European exile.

President Bush has threatened to use military force if Saddam does not
surrender chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. With U.S. troops ordered
to deploy in the region in case of war, Iraqi officials and the state-run
press have vowed to fight any U.S. invasion.

Jordanian analyst Nedal Mansour said Saddam could choose exile over losing
everything if a way is found for him to leave with his family, members of
his inner circle and a significant portion of the fortune he has amassed
over his decades of dictatorship.

"It all depends on the offer he can get," Mansour said.

In August, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani visited
Baghdad for talks with Saddam, and newspaper reports said he offered the
Iraqi leader exile in an unspecified country. Iraqi officials denied the
reports, and al-Thani said his visit to Baghdad was aimed only at persuading
Saddam to accept the return of U.N. weapons inspectors, which Saddam did a
month later.

A proposal by Qatar earlier this month to convene an emergency Arab summit
has fueled speculation the Gulf emirate is trying to garner broad Arab
backing for Saddam's peaceful exit. The Arab League's 22 members, though,
have yet to agree to the emergency summit. A regular summit is scheduled in
Bahrain in March.

A few years ago amid a similar crisis, Egyptian officials publicly suggested
giving Saddam asylum in Cairo.

Egypt has hosted many of the region's fallen leaders, including King Saud of
Saudi Arabia when he was forced to abdicate in 1955; Yemeni President
Abdellah al Salal when he was overthrown in 1966; the shah after Iran's 1979
Islamic revolution; and Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiri after he was
ousted from power in 1985.

Yahoo, 29th December

DUBAI, Dec 29 (Reuters) - The United States is seeking reassurance from Oman
that the Gulf Arab state would double its jet fuel supply to forces based in
the region if Washington decides to attack Iraq, Western diplomats said on

"The U.S. air force has asked the Omani government to guarantee a supply of
three million litres a day of jet fuel when the war with Iraq begins," one
diplomat said.

"The U.S. government is footing the bill, buying the jet fuel at about 90
baisas ($0.234) a litre," the diplomat said.

He said Washington chose Oman because the sultanate's jet fuel loading
terminals were 1,700 km (1,056 miles) from the strategic Strait of Hormuz at
the southern mouth of the Gulf.

Another diplomat said the Oman Refinery Company (ORC) has been supplying
U.S. forces in the Gulf with 1.4 million litres a day from October 2001 when
the United States was preparing to attack Afganistan.

"The United States has about 60,000 troops in the Gulf and they would need
substantial refuelling support. Oman could play a major part," the diplomat

ORC, which produces about 800,000 litres of jet fuel a day, has been seeking
the extra amount in international markets.

Oman, used as a refuelling point during the war on Afghanistan, is a member
of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an alliance of six oil-rich states
which are staunch U.S. allies. Other members include Saudi Arabia and

The United States is building up its military presence in the Gulf ahead of
a possible war on Baghdad. President George W. Bush has said Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein must comply with a U.N. resolution to end programmes to
develop weapons of mass destruction or face possible military action.

All GCC countries have publicly said they oppose war on Iraq but the United
States has military bases in most of them.

Saudi Arabia has said it would not send troops to war with Iraq, but has yet
to decide on whether it would allow the United States to launch strikes on
Baghdad from its territory. On Saturday, the New York Times quoted a senior
U.S. military official as saying that he firmly believed the kingdom would
give the United States access to its airbases.

title - PB)
Dawn, 30th December

GCC: The Gulf monarchies all "oppose any military action against" Iraq and
favour a diplomatic solution to the showdown over its alleged weapons of
mass destruction, their top representative said on Sunday.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar,
the United Arab Emirates and Oman - has always stood for "sparing Iraq and
the region military action," GCC Secretary General Abdel Rahman Al-Attiya

"We are for a diplomatic option and peaceful choices to save Iraq and the
region from military action," the official said after emerging from talks
with Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa.

When asked about the military buildup in the region, Attiya replied: "Things
are clear. There are relations which dictate these military arrangements,
which are not aimed at any Arab or Islamic country, including Iraq."

The GCC made no direct mention of the US buildup in the region at a summit
in Qatar last week, calling simply for respecting Iraq's independence and
territorial integrity.

All the GCC states provide bases or other military facilities for US forces,
mainly under agreements made since the 1991 war.

Arabic News, 31st December


Meantime, Saudi Arabia yesterday denied the American reports which talked
about its consent to open its military bases for the American forces in case
Iraq is attacked.

The Saudi foreign minister prince Saud al-Faisal doubted what was stated by
the New York Times yesterday on that the Kingdom informed the American
military officials that it will place its airspace and air bases and the
large operations center at their disposal in case of war against Iraq. He
said "the heart of the matter is what was said in my statements, rather than
what was issued by the paper." The Qatari TV al-Jazeera quoted al-Faisal as
saying " even if a UN security council resolution is issued unanimously to
attack Iraq, we hope that the chance will be there for the Arab states to
find out a political solution for this crisis." The Saudi daily Okaz quoted
the Saudi deputy defense minister, Prince Abdul Rahman Bin Abdul Aziz, as
saying " this is incorrect and the Kingdom's position is clear from the very
beginning towards this matter. We do not have any obligation to any matter
concerning Iraq." The saudi official continued "we can not put our airspace
and bases at their ( the Americans ) disposal in case a war is launched
against Iraq."

by Michael Georgy
Yahoo, 31st December

KUWAIT, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Kuwaitis in American-style shopping malls, coffee
shops and mosques are hoping for Saddam Hussein's downfall.

But they no longer trust the old friend who ousted the Iraqi leader's forces
from their country in 1991 -- the United States.

As thousands of U.S. soldiers train for war in Kuwait near the Iraqi border,
some of the people they have promised to protect are growing tired of what
they call U.S. President George W. Bush's "cowboy" style of leadership.

"We don't like Saddam. But we hate the Americans," said Ramiz Abu Qweidar, a
civil engineer who lives in the poor town of Jahra, a 30-minute drive from
the capital.

Perhaps the United States thought its liberation of Kuwait in 1991 would
give it unlimited political mileage in the country, where many people still
drive big, gas-guzzling American cars.

Many Kuwaitis -- from Islamic militants to lawyers to parliament members --
would disagree.

Although they believe only the United States has the military firepower to
topple Saddam, many Kuwaitis complain that Washington has gone too far in
its war on terrorism and unilateral calls for regime change in Iraq.

Those mixed emotions were palpable at a diwaniya, an informal gathering of
parliamentarians, lawyers and businessmen.

At a spacious villa, two elderly friends in flowing robes sat twirling worry
beads through their fingers while speculating on the date of a possible war.
"January 21," said one. "No February 21," said the other.

There were few kind words when the subject turned to the man whose father
helped save Kuwait from Iraqi tanks -- Bush.

"This is highway robbery. It is the policy of a cowboy. Bush can just say 'I
don't like that leader's face so he must be removed'. If he removes Saddam
he will do the same in the whole region," said lawyer Ali Radwan.

"If anyone removes Saddam it should be the Iraqis."

Anti-American sentiment in Kuwait boiled over in November when a Kuwaiti
policeman shot and seriously wounded two U.S. soldiers. There have been a
number of reports of shots fired at U.S. troops training in the Kuwaiti

While many Kuwaitis condemned the attacks, some said U.S. policies in the
Middle East invited hatred and violence.

"The attacks in Kuwait were not surprising and I expect more to take place.
The Americans talk about democracy in the Arab world but that is not their
motivation. Everyone knows that," said Mahmoud Awadi, a retired businessman.

The U.S. embassy in Kuwait has warned Americans to avoid apartment buildings
and public places where Westerners gather.

Anti-American sentiment was even running deep at a coffee shop where
teenagers puffed on cigarettes and water pipes while watching U.S. pop stars
in music videos.

On the wall, a large photograph of a Kuwaiti official aiming a Kalashnikov
rifle who was killed in the Gulf War reminded customers that oil-rich Kuwait
remains vulnerable.

"It is a game. The Americans are just trying to impose their influence on
Muslims. We hate the Americans," said Salih al-Bishr, 17.

For now, Kuwaitis are preparing for war by simulating chemical weapons
attacks in the event that Baghdad takes revenge against the land it once
called Iraq's 19th province.

"When the Americans liberated Kuwait my wife used to make drawings for them
and I used to give them art as presents. But now things are clearer. We know
why they are here. It is not for the sake of the beautiful eyes of
Kuwaitis," said Khalifa Ikhrafi, a municipal council member.

by Alaa Shahine, 31st December

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - While the 1998 World Cup in France brought
political rivals Iran and the United States together on the soccer field, an
Arab tournament has failed to do the same with the region's bitterest of
foes - Kuwait and Iraq.

Ties between the Gulf countries have been severed since Iraq invaded Kuwait
in 1990 and occupied it for seven months before being routed in the 1991
Gulf War.

Iraq's absence from the eighth Arab Cup - that ended Monday in Kuwait with
Saudi Arabia defeating Bahrain 1-0 in the final - shows soccer diplomacy has
done little to bridge the gap between the neighboring countries.

"The Arab Football Association did not invite us because the tournament was
held in Kuwait," Hussein Saeed, an official at the Iraqi Football
Association told The Associated Press on Monday in a phone interview from

Since the invasion, four-time Arab Cup winner Iraq has been treated as an
outcast in the Arab sporting world. In the 1995 and 1997 All Arab Games held
in Syria and Lebanon, the Iraqi team was sent home at the border.

The sole exception was Iraq's participation at the 1999 games in Jordan,
Iraq's closest Arab ally. Kuwaitis boycotted that event.

"We were looking forward to playing against the Kuwaitis as we are opposed
to linking sports with politics," Saeed said.

"Such tournaments are designed to boost relations among members of the Arab
League," he added. The league is a 22-member political body based in Cairo
that groups 21 Arab states and the Palestinian territories.

But the Kuwaitis don't feel quite the same way.

"We didn't grant the coach of the Yemeni team (Hazim Jassam) an entry visa
because he was an Iraqi, so how could you expect us to accept that the Iraqi
team itself would come and play here?" said Khalifa Behbehani, a Kuwaiti
Football Association official.

"We don't have ties with Iraq and there are a lot of sensitivities between
us and them," Behbehani said.

However, Othman al-Saad, secretary general of the Arab soccer body, said
Arab countries are ready to embrace Iraq back into the sporting arena.

"Based on a decision by Arab youth and sports ministers last year, Iraq will
be invited to all Arab sports competitions from now on," he said.

Asked why the decision was not applied at the Arab Cup in Kuwait, al-Saad
said: "By the time the decision was made, all the participants in the
tournament were already confirmed."

But while the Iraqis appeared keen to break their isolation, other countries
simply chose to ignore the tournament.

"Arab competitions are not recognized by FIFA and they have no regular
fixtures," said Ahmed Shoubier, an Egyptian Football Association board
member. "Therefore, we can't call our Europe-based players for such events
and can't take part with reserve teams either because when we play, we play
to win."

Apart from Egypt, other main absentees were Algeria and Tunisia. Morocco
sent a team comprised mostly of local players.

by Selcan Hacaoglu
Las Vegas Sun, 31st December

ANKARA, Turkey (AP): Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said Tuesday he would send
a high level delegation to Iraq to urge Saddam Hussein to fully comply with
U.N. resolutions to prevent a possible war.

Turkey is being pressured by Washington to allow U.S. forces to use its
bases for a possible attack against neighboring Iraq.

The Turkish public overwhelmingly opposes a war in neighboring Iraq and Gul
said that Turkey will make no decision on allowing U.S. use of bases until
U.N. weapons inspections release their report in late January.

"They (the United States) say decide immediately. But we say 'you haven't
decided yet so why do you expect us to rush?'" the Hurriyet newspaper quoted
Gul as saying on Tuesday.

Turkey was a staging area for attacks on Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and
Washington is looking to upgrade Turkish bases and use them if there is war
against Iraq.

NTV television reported that Gul said Tuesday he would send a high-level
delegation to Iraq in the coming days. He gave no details on when the
delegation would leave or who would head the mission.

"We want to contribute to global peace. ... We shall expend efforts for a
solution without war," NTV quoted Gul as saying.

Turkey is reluctant to take a public stance in backing the U.S. because
Turkish citizens are strongly against a war and the government fears
instability on its border if there is a conflict.

"We believe that there can be a peaceful solution to the problem in Iraq and
that diplomatic means have not finished yet," President Ahmet Necdet Sezer
said. "All sides should give a chance to peace."

Turkey however, is widely expected to back the United States, its closest
ally, if there is a conflict.

"We do not want war, but if war breaks-out despite our efforts and we cannot
prevent it then we will also play a role and we will not be sidelined," the
Turkish Daily News quoted Gul Tuesday as saying.

Sezer confirmed that Turkey was cooperating closely with Washington.

"In this context, we are providing help to some planning in preparation for
a military operation that we never wish to happen," he said.

Gul is planning to visit Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and possibly Syria and
Iran in the coming weeks to coordinate the Turkish position.

Turkey, NATO's only Muslim member, is apparently concerned that it not be
seen as the only Muslim country backing a U.S. war effort.

"It should not be forgotten that Turkey shares a long border with Iraq and
have deep historic ties with countries in the region," Sezer said.


CNN, 27th December

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida: The U.S. disputed on Friday claims by Iraq
that coalition aircraft struck a mosque in southern Iraq.

On Thursday, Iraq said a coalition strike hit multiple targets, including a
mosque and that three people were killed in the attacks.

Coalition warplanes struck Iraqi military command and control facilities,
the Central Command said. The strike took place Thursday in response to
Iraqi aircraft violating the southern no-fly zone.

The U.S. military's Central Command said the facilities, struck with
precision-guided munitions, were near Talil, 175 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Central Command said a bomb damage assessment carried out following the
attack showed that no mosque was hit.


The State, from Reuters, 29th December

WASHINGTON - U.S. and British warplanes Sunday attacked two Iraqi military
radar sites after Iraqi forces moved the facilities into the southern
"no-fly" zone, the U.S. military said.

The U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the region,
said Western warplanes used precision-guided weapons to target the Iraqi
facilities near Ad Diwaniyah, about 75 miles south of Baghdad.

The air strikes were the first in the southern "no-fly" zone since Friday,
and occurred at around 7:40 a.m. EST, Central Command said in a statement.
It said coalition forces were still assessing damage from the attacks.

"The coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi forces moved the system
into the Southern No-Fly zone," the statement said. "Its presence was a
threat to Coalition aircraft."

On Dec. 27, warplanes targeted an Iraqi military air defense command and
control system, which supported highly mobile surface-to-air missile
systems. The system was located near Al Kut.


Globe & Mail, from Associated Press, 31st December

Washington ‹ American and British warplanes flying multiple missions
attacked Iraqi air defence facilities after an Iraqi fighter jet penetrated
the southern no-fly zone, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

By the Pentagon's count, the bombing Monday brought to 78 the number of days
this year that strikes were launched by the U.S-U.K. coalition that for a
decade has been patrolling two zones set up to limit operations of President
Saddam Hussein's military.

Hostilities in the zones have ebbed and flowed over the years, and the 2002
year-end total of 78 coalition strikes is much higher than the 43 of 2001,
but nearly matches the 80 of 2000.

Pentagon officials said the annual numbers give a general idea of activity
in the zones, but cautioned that comparisons can be misleading partly
because the military has changed the way it counts Iraqi firings, incursions
and other hostilities over the years.

The warplanes in Monday's attack used precision bombs, and a damage
assessment was under way, said a statement from the command.

The coalition aircraft targeted the sites after Iraqi forces flew a MIG-25
some 110 nautical miles into the southern zone.

At 2:30 p.m. EST Monday, coalition aircraft struck cable repeaters that are
part of Iraq's air defence communications system running between Al Kut and
Al Basrah and between Al Kut and An Nasiriyah; and at 3:40 p.m. they
targeted a mobile radar unit that Iraqis also had moved into the zone, near
Al Kut, said U.S. Central Command spokesman Major Pete Mitchell.

An Nasiriyah is some 480 kilometres south of Baghdad and Al Basrah some 200
miles south. Al Kut is about 250 kilometres southeast of the capital.

Major Mitchell declined to say how many planes participated in the missions
or how many bombs were dropped. A Pentagon official said Navy aircraft flew
from the USS Constellation and British and U.S. Air Force planes flew from
land bases. He declined to name them, but planes monitoring the northern
zone that protects Iraq's Kurdish minority fly out of Incirlik air base in
Turkey and those in the south have routinely flown from Kuwait, though
officials said recently that Saudi Arabian officials have been allowing U.S.
warplanes to fly strike missions from there as well.

Iraq says the U.S. and British patrols violate its sovereignty and its
forces frequently shoot at allied pilots in both zones.

Penetrations by Iraqi jets into the zone are less frequent but not uncommon.
A week ago, an Iraqi MIG-25 shot down a U.S. Predator drone conducting
reconnaissance near Al Kut, U.S. military officials said.

However, Iraqi state-run television appeared to say that ground-based air
defences shot it down.

Before Monday afternoon's multiple strikes, the previous coalition attack in
southern Iraq was Sunday, when allies targeted surface-to-air missile sites
near Ad Diwaniyah, about 120 kilometres south of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Iraq has protested a U.S. air strike that reportedly killed three
Iraqis and wounded 16 others in the nation's south, calling it a material
breach to Security Council resolutions.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji
Sabri described the Dec. 26 airstrike as "a barbaric and terrorist act, with
a direct participation of the rulers of Kuwait, and it represents a material
breach to the Security Council resolutions."

by Mike Mount
CNN, 31st December


Type: Air-ground anti-tank missile
Length: 5 feet 4 inches
Diameter: 7 inches
Wingspan: 28 inches
Weight: 98 to 107 pounds
Speed: Subsonic
Guidance: Laser or radar
Launched from: Navy Seahawk, Army Apache and Marine Super Cobra helicopters,
and Predator unmanned aerial vehcles (drones)
Sources: U.S. Navy, Jane's

TAMPA, Florida (CNN) -- For the second time in a week, a U.S. Air Force
Predator unmanned aerial vehicle helped destroy an Iraqi mobile radar unit,
according to a Pentagon official.

The Predator fired a Hellfire missile at the radar unit Monday after Iraqi
forces moved the system -- which the Iraqi military uses to control
surface-to-air missiles -- below the 32nd parallel, the northern boundary of
the southern no-fly zone.

The strike occurred about 3:40 p.m. EST, about 75 miles south of Baghdad
near Diwaniyah.

On Friday, another unmanned U.S. plane fired a Hellfire missile to destroy a
similar mobile communications van.

The strikes demonstrate how the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, once
employed only for surveillance, is being used more as an offensive weapon,
equipped with air-to-ground and sometimes air-to-air missiles, sources said.

Iraq shot down a U.S. Predator in the southern no-fly zone on December 23.
(Full story)

Also Monday, U.S. and British aircraft hit Iraqi military air defense
communications facilities after Iraqi forces flew military aircraft into the
southern no-fly zone earlier in the day, a Pentagon official said.

"Several air assets from both countries were used in this strike," the
official said.

Typically, U.S. Air Force F-15s, F-16s, Navy F-18s and British Jaguars are
used in coalition airstrikes and patrols over the no-fly zones in Iraq.

The Iraqi plane left the area without incident, and the coalition forces
struck their targets with precision-guided munitions about 2:30 p.m. EST in
the same area as the Predator strike.

U.S. Central Command in Tampa announced Monday's two strikes in a statement.


Gulf News, 2nd January

WASHINGTON/BAGHDAD: Western aircraft patrolling the "no-fly" zone in
southern Iraq struck a military air defence radar yesterday, the US Central
Command said, but Iraq said the planes struck civilian targets, killing one.

The aircraft taking part in US-British patrols used precision-guided weapons
against the radar, located near al Qurnah, 210km southeast of Baghdad, said
the Florida-based command that co-ordinates US operations in the Gulf area.

"The coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi forces moved the radar
into the southern no-fly zone, thereby threatening coalition aircraft," said
Navy Cmdr Dan Keesee, a spokesman in Tampa.

But an Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, quoted by the Iraqi News Agency,
said warplanes targeted "civilian and service" installations in the southern
province of Basra, killing one civilian and wounding two others.

Iraqi anti-aircraft and missile batteries fired back. The spokesman said the
planes had carried out 14 sorties from bases in Kuwait and had flown over
the southern cities of al Chibayish, Ashbicha and al Qurnah, from 6.25am.

"The US administration and Britain added a new crime to their black
record...when their hostile planes attacked today civilian and service
installations killing one citizen and wounding two," the Iraqi spokesman

The Central Command says coalition strikes in the no-fly zones are carried
out in response to threats and Iraqi hostile acts against coalition forces
and their aircraft.

In recent weeks, the patrols have triggered almost daily clashes with Iraqi
air defences as Washington and London step up enforcement of the no-fly
zones ahead of a possible US led invasion.

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