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News, 02-10/1/03 (1) INSIDE IRAQ * In Baghdad, art thrives as war hovers * Aflaq-political guru of Saddam Hussain? * Iraq issues decrees on smuggled money, banned materials * In Iraq's Tribes, U.S. Faces a Wild Card * Saddam's troublesome marsh dwellers left high and dry by drainage * Excerpts: Saddam's Army Day speech * Two-layer defense for Baghdad * Puzzle over Iraqi minister's ouster * Iraqis may have GPS [global positioning system] jammers * Saddam remembered as manipulative convict INSIDE IRAQ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/a/2003/01/02/MN160419 .DTL * IN BAGHDAD, ART THRIVES AS WAR HOVERS by Robert Collier San Francisco Chronicle, 2nd January Baghdad -- Thick with cigarette smoke, the scene at the Hewar Art Gallery has a familiar feel. Long-haired artists with goatees and three-day stubble. Elegant women with distracted eyes and languid hauteur. Highbrow bohemians gossiping and glancing at the latest paintings and sculptures. The discreet clinking of coffee cups. For a while, at least, in this nondescript middle-class neighborhood of eastern Baghdad, you can imagine being closer to Berlin, Paris or New York, unencumbered temporarily by the deprivation, oppression and fear that haunt the country. You also are in the presence of some of the Mideast's most prized artworks - - from abstract oil painting to powerfully gaunt bronze sculpture to quasi- primitivist assemblage. The Hewar probably has Iraq's hippest arts scene, but the gallery is not as unusual as it appears. While the country is increasingly coming under siege, dozens of galleries have sprouted up in Baghdad. Iraqi painting and sculpture have become a thriving, if clandestine, export industry, filling museums and private collections throughout the Mideast and even Europe. The theater also is booming, and even the nation's beleaguered symphony orchestra is drawing packed crowds. All of this despite -- or in deliberate obliviousness to -- the country's harsh dictatorship and the prospect of another potentially devastating war. Notable in its almost complete absence from the galleries and museums is any representation of this nation's recent history: the deaths of millions in the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 and the 1991 Gulf War, the international sanctions and the privations of dictatorship. While Iraq has had more than its fill of pain, violence, loss and sorrow, little of it registers in the country's artwork. For Baghdad's cultural elite, however, this is not simple escapism. It is a deliberate rejection of the mundane, they insist. "We are not just a country of war or oil," said Qasim Alsabti, a painter who runs Hewar with his wife, Iman Al-Showg, a prominent sculptor. "We are a proud culture that goes back 6,000 years to the Sumerians. We have been making art for longer than anyone. This is what gives us identity. This is what will make our art last another 1,000 years, when all this war is forgotten." Some visitors also might expect Iraqi art to be imbued with a Stalinist socialist realism typical of a totalitarian dictatorship. But apart from the omnipresent government-sponsored paintings and statues of President Saddam Hussein, Iraqi art displays a sometimes refreshing, if eerie, independence. Hussein himself is believed to have written three novels in recent years under pen names -- works viewed by most non-Iraqi critics as amateurish and forgettable. He apparently sees himself as a patron of the arts and has given strict instructions to the nation's cultural authorities to avoid dogmatism. "The last time anything deliberately political happened was in the 1980s, when an artist made paintings with the blood of soldiers who were fighting in the war against Iran," said an official in the Ministry of Culture, who asked to remain anonymous. "It was horrible, just the thought of it, and that sort of thing was not encouraged." Of course, painting with blood might seem like a natural for some Western artists, for the shock value alone. For the Iraqi literati, however, it is merely retrograde. "We have to forget the black side of life," said Reem Kubaa, a poet, as she sat with the Alsabtis and a group of friends one recent afternoon, sharing a masgouf, or traditional Iraqi fish fry, in Hewar's leafy courtyard. "If our art is black, that means we are stopped. We are not doing our job as artists." When a visitor remarks that Iraqi artists might have ample inspiration to produce a latter day "Guernica," -- Picasso's anguished masterpiece on the Spanish Civil War -- Kubaa snapped back: "Times have changed. It's very important for us to not cry over spilt milk. We have to prove to the world that we are a culture. We are greater than our suffering." Although Iraq has never been known in the Mideast for producing high- quality fiction or film -- fields that are dominated by Egypt and Iran -- it is viewed as the region's leader in painting, sculpture and poetry. In these fields, Iraqi artists reached their modern-day zenith in the 1950s and 1960s, then declined in the 1980s and finally revived in the 1990s. Although the international economic sanctions on Iraq have reduced artists' contacts with the outside world, many say their influences are eclectic. When asked which foreign artworks have influenced his work, sculptor Ahmed Al-Safi mentioned the Popol Vuh, the epic poem of Central America's Mayan Indians, as well as Italian sculptor Alberto Giacometti, the ancient Sumerians and Irish singer Enya. Al-Safi's bronze sculptures are among the most socially conscious -- thin figures walking in hoops, never going anywhere, always solitary, imbued with what Al-Safi calls "a lack of hope." However, some of the artistic choices stem from simple market economics. With the Iraqi economy in shambles, many artists depend on the tastes of foreign buyers. Haider Wady, a sculptor who, along with Al-Safi, is a leader in Iraq's new generation of artists in their 20s and 30s, admits that "nearly all" of his clients are foreigners -- either diplomats and aid workers living in Baghdad or people who buy his works when he shows them at exhibitions in Amman, Damascus and Cairo. "We are selling for an international audience. We have to go farther than Iraq, farther than our small problems," he said. There also has been a boom in domestic art appreciation, in part because imported entertainment has become harder to get. Since 1990, when U.N. sanctions were imposed, nearly all foreign movies have been unavailable. As a result, most of Baghdad's cinemas have been converted to stage theater. Now, with about 30 theaters producing everything from slapstick burlesque to serious drama, times have never been better for Iraqi actors. Government largesse also has helped. The Ministry of Culture gives handsome salaries to many artists and actors -- even those who have yet to achieve prominence, said Mais Kumer, lead actress in a long-running Baghdad stage comedy, "I Saw It With My Own Eyes," and a prominent figure on state-run television. Kumer's play, which mixes slapstick with high melodrama, is an example of how political content increases as one descends the artistic ladder toward mass taste. "I Saw It With My Own Eyes" tells of Martians who arrive on Earth to warn the oblivious, happy-go-lucky Earthlings that an evil empire named America is plotting to wage nuclear war and enslave the world. And when asked about political boundaries -- for example, whether Hussein is off-limits as a target for jokes -- Kumer answered in a way that suggested how deep the roots of authority penetrate, even among artists. "There's no reason to ever criticize the president, of course," she said. "But he met with us several weeks ago, and he told us that nothing is off- limits, not even government ministers. He told us to be artists, to be comedians, to say what we want to say and not worry about the consequences. But yes, there are two things we never criticize -- teachers and parents." Asked why those are sacred cows, Kumer answered: "Because the president gave us strict instructions that they cannot be criticized. The children might be watching, and they might be influenced. We are a high culture, with high responsibilities." http://independent-bangladesh.com/news/jan/03/03012003fr.htm * AFLAQ-POLITICAL GURU OF SADDAM HUSSAIN? by Syed Mehdi Momin Bangladeshi Independent, 3rd January Saddam Hussain's Iraqi opposition refers to his regime as Aflaqite. This term is little known outside the Arab world and serious Arab watchers. Aflaq was the founder and chief ideologue of Ba'th Arab Socialist Party. Saddam Hussain was deeply influenced by him as his references to him in his speeches suggest. While the Western media is apt to label Saddam as a roving lunatic it must be remembered that he was no military General usurping power through a coup. He rose steadily through the party ranks to the top. He is first and foremost a political activist, a party man. While his actions against the opposition is vicious he does have a strong power base and popular support. The highly organised Baath Party through its apparatus is there in every aspect of Iraqi public life and is on the whole loyal to Saddam. And to understand Saddam you need to understand Michel Aflaq and the Baathist ideology. It was Aflaq, a Syrian intellectual and political organiser, who in 1963 elevated Saddam Hussein to the Regional Command in Iraq's Baath party, and so set him on his course to dictatorship. And it was Aflaq who laid down the ideology that continues to dominate Saddam's thinking today. Saddam has great respect for the Arab Christian "It is Michel Aflaq who created the party and not I," Saddam told an interviewer in 1980. "How can I forget what Michel Aflaq has done for me? Had it not been for him, I would not be in this position." Saddam grew up as a cadre in the highly ideological and dogmatic Baath party structure. His speeches, from the time he entered government in 1968 until today, have had a consistent ideological, pseudo-intellectual character, even if in the past decade a layer of Islamic rhetoric has been added. His Islamic exhortations do have a tinge of hollowness as his secular views are too well known. Saddam says the Baath party is not just any other party. He says the Bathist philosophy offers "spiritual ascendance in the process of the nation's uplift" through "great deeds in conquest, liberation, justice, altruism, and flexibility." President Bush has said that Saddam is the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. Well, he like Hitler believes in racial supremacy theory. He believes the Arabs to be a sort of master race. He says "What does an African in Rhodesia have to lose when he adopts Marxism, since he does not have the historical depth or the intellectual heritage of the Arab nation, a heritage which offers all the theories necessary for a life of change and progress. The Arab nation is the source of all prophets and the cradle of civilisation." Aflaq was born in Damascus in 1910, a Greek Orthodox Christian. He won a scholarship to study philosophy at the Sorbonne sometime between 1928 and 1930 (biographies differ), and there he studied Marx, Nietzsche, Lenin, Mazzini, and a range of German nationalists and proto-Nazis. Aflaq became active in Arab student politics with his countryman Salah Bitar, a Sunni Muslim. Together, they were thrilled by the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, but they also came to admire the organizational structure Lenin had created within the Russian Communist party. Though born a Christian, Aflaq believed that Islam provides Arabs with "the most brilliant picture of their language and literature, and the grandest part of their national history." He did not see the confrontation with the West in Muslim versus Christian terms. Arguing that all three great religions originated in the Middle East, he asserted that "religion entered Europe from the outside, therefore, it is alien to its character and history." Europeans and Americans, he believed, cannot really be Christian or religious or highly spiritual in the rich way that Arabs can. The Baath party, Aflaq felt, embodying the transcendent Arab spirit, needed to be ruthless against those who did not share its beliefs. Moreover, it was through this combat, or struggle, that the Baath could achieve Arab perfection. As Aflaq wrote: "In this struggle we retain our love for all. When we are cruel to others, we know that our cruelty is in order to bring them back to their true selves, of which they are ignorant. Their potential will, which has not been clarified yet, is with us, even when their swords are drawn against us." Struggle necessarily involves sacrifice, he emphasised, but amidst fiery conflict and bloodshed, each person "is forced to return to himself, to sink into his depths, to discover himself anew after experience and pain. At that point the true unity will be realised, and this is a new kind of unity different from political unity; it creates the unity of spirit among the individuals of the nation." Now compare this to Saddam's fervent message to the Iraqi, "You are the fountain of will power and the wellspring of life, the essence of earth, the sabers of demise, the pupil of the eye, the twitch of the eyelid. So be as you are, and as we are determined to be. Let all cowards, piggish people, traitors, and betrayers be debased." He sincerely believes in the Arab nation because he believes it has been assigned by God an eschatological mission. "We can state without hesitation that our nation has a message," he told an interviewer. "That is why it can never be an average nation: Throughout our history our nation has either soared to the heights, or fallen into the abyss." The contempt he has for the Americans vis a vis the Arabs is quite clear. "The Americans have not yet established a civilization, in the deep and comprehensive sense we give to civilization. What they have established is a metropolis of force. . . . Some people, perhaps including Arabs and plenty of Muslims and more than these in the wide world . . . considered the ascent of the United States to the summit as the last scene in the world picture, after which there will be no more summits and no one will try to ascend and sit comfortably there. They considered it the end of the world as they hoped for, or as scared souls suggested it to them." Like it had for Aflaq the word "revolution" has a special meaning for Saddam. "That is why a Revolution has no beginning and no end; it is not like a war, and its soldiers must not profit from its spoils. It is something continuous, it is a message to life, and the human being is only the bearer of the message." "The Revolution chooses its enemies, and we say chooses its enemies because some enemies are chosen by it from among the people who run up against its program and who intend to harm it." "The Revolution has its eyes wide open. Throughout all its stages the Revolution will remain capable of performing its role courageously and precisely without hesitation or panic, once it takes action to crush the pockets of the counter-revolution." All this suggests that Saddam, contrary to his image in the West is hardly thug or a bully, but with a missionary whose lofty ideology has not changed in four decades. The ideology of Baathism calls for relentless struggle, ever-widening conflict, until some ideal culmination of history is achieved, the end of time. So, Saddam may indeed welcome any US led attack and may prefer to die in a bunker like Hitler. http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20030105670.2 _425a000ec9e112d9 * IRAQ ISSUES DECREES ON SMUGGLED MONEY, BANNED MATERIALS Hoover's (Financial Times), 5th January >From INA news agency web site, Baghdad, in Arabic 27 Dec 02 Baghdad, 27 December: The Revolution Command Council [RCC] issued Decrees No 265 and 266 on 17 December 2002. The two decrees deal with the smuggling of money and currencies prohibited from circulation in the local market, and the manufacture, import, possession, keeping, transportation or distribution of books, publications, printed materials, drawings, pictures, films, compact discs, signs or other materials that violate public decency and public order or are prohibited from circulation. The first decree, which cancelled the first article of the RCC Decree No 111, issued on 17 October 1996, and RCC Decree No 164, issued on 25 September 1994, has authorized the Interior Ministry, the Intelligence Service, the General Military Intelligence Directorate, the Public Security Directorate, the General Customs Commission, the Border Force Command, the Customs Police, the Contingency Units, and other parties assigned permanently or temporarily by the president of the republic to seize smuggled money and currencies prohibited from circulation in the local market. The decree also stipulates that military personnel who seize smuggled money and currencies prohibited from circulation in the local market while carrying out their military duties after 8 October 2001 shall be eligible to receive the reward stipulated in RCC Decree No 111, issued in 1996. The minister of finance, in coordination with the interior minister, is in charge of issuing regulations that facilitate the implementation of the provisions of this decree, which shall become effective as of the date of its publication in the official gazette. The second decree stipulates the following: Any person who manufactures, imports, issues, possesses, keeps, transports or distributes books, publications, printed materials, drawings, pictures, films, compact discs, signs or other materials that violate public decency and public order or are prohibited from circulation shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than six months and a fine of not less than 500,000 and not more than 2m dinars, or by either of the two said penalties. Any person who advertises any of the prohibited items mentioned in the decree, puts it on public display, sells it, rents it, offers it for sale or lease - even secretly - distributes it, or delivers it for distribution in any possible way shall be punished by the above-mentioned penalties. An aggravating circumstance should be considered if the crime is committed with the aim of corrupting moral values. These provisions also apply to movie theatres. Any items mentioned in these provisions shall be seized and destroyed according to regulations set by the minister of information, in coordination with the director of Public Security. Twenty-five per cent of the amount of the above-mentioned fine shall be given to the personnel of the above agencies who seize the smuggled currencies, according to regulations set by the minister of information, in coordination with the director of Public Security. This decree shall go into effect as of the date of its publication in the official gazette. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nyt/20030105/ts_nyt/in_iraq_s _tribes__u_s__faces_a_wild_card * IN IRAQ'S TRIBES, U.S. FACES A WILD CARD by Neil MacFarquhar Yahoo, from The New York Times, 5th January MOSUL, Iraq Sheik Talal Salim al-Khalidi, the portly chieftain of the Bani Khalid tribe, stomped through a farming hamlet in his fief on the broad, flat Mosul plains, gloating that the mud oozing underfoot heralded an auspicious sign in the face of a possible American attack. "God is fair," proclaimed the sheik, wearing a headdress, a gray suit and a flowing gray wool cloak edged in gold that sweeps the ground. "Whenever we face some kind of oppression, he compensates us with something else." Three men armed with Kalashnikovs and one with a machine gun dogged his every footstep. "The same thing happened in December 1998," he said, recalling a season of bountiful harvest. "When the Americans were bombing us, we had heavy rains that year." Intensely devout, armed and nationalistic, the storied tribes of Iraq have played a pivotal role in controlling the country under the Ottomans, the British, the monarchy and especially Saddam Hussein. They have remained the ultimate swing voters in the brutal politics of the Middle East, where in legendary wars across the Arabian Peninsula and beyond, they were known to switch allegiances in the heat of battle. Iraq's tribes are under increased scrutiny as the Bush administration casts about for some credible force that can help it oust Mr. Hussein. The country is home to about 150 major tribes, which break down into about 2,000 smaller clans. The largest number more than one million people, the smallest a few thousand. Of the larger groups, roughly 30 to 35 are believed to have a significant role in controlling Iraq. The tribal formula worked in Afghanistan in 2001. Cash payments persuaded chieftains to abandon the Taliban. There has been talk of similar payments in Iraq, but few expect it to be quite so simple here. Mr. Hussein has worked diligently in recent years to woo the tribes, dispensing cash, cars, arms, schools and other bounty to assure their loyalty. At the same time, those who failed to kowtow, or worse, plotted rebellions, have been brutally suppressed, their chiefs killed, replaced or driven into exile, their houses destroyed, their crops burned. Opposition figures in London report that Mr. Hussein summoned the chiefs of the southern tribes to Baghdad three months ago and demanded that they vow not to repeat the 1991 uprisings against him. The question hanging over the tribes now is how deep their professed loyalty runs. They could become a nightmare for any American force penetrating Iraq, a patriotic guerrilla army spread throughout the country. Sheik Talal, echoing other tribal chiefs, said he had placed a request with the local Baath Party leader in Mosul for heavier arms, like rocket-propelled grenades, antiaircraft guns and antitank weapons, to help fight the Americans, but he has yet to receive a response. The tribes could also be waiting for the right moment to rise up against the Baghdad government, though if they are, they are understandably not advertising it. They slice across the society along a different axis than the traditional divisions between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, with some tribes including Sunni, Shiite and even Christian members. "You cannot ignore them because they are an important element of the government," said one Western envoy in Baghdad. "But you cannot expect the tribes alone to change the regime in Iraq." Pride of place naturally goes to Saddam Hussein's tribe, the Tikritis, whose members fill many senior government positions, as well as important posts in security organizations and the presidential guard. All such groups draw heavily on the tribes, although occasional rebellions among major tribes have been put down with tanks and artillery. Iraqi opposition figures interviewed in London contend that one crucial element delaying American military action is the lack of clearly identified support in Iraq. One said the Americans were working hard to forge some sort of tribal link, meeting with chieftains in neighboring countries to see if they can influence their Iraqi cousins. All major tribes in Iraq have related branches in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the other gulf states and Turkey, although under Koranic prescriptions loyalty to the national leader trumps relations across borders. The British experience during World War I is a cautionary history cited often in Iraq these days. Expecting a warm tribal welcome when they marched into Iraq to toss out the Ottomans, the British instead were met with hostility from the tribes, which united to massacre tens of thousands of British soldiers. "The graveyards of the British are still in Iraq," Sheik Talal said. The Baath Party, which came to power in 1968 with Mr. Hussein as a vice president, painted the tribes as outdated, with loyalty instead owed to the state and the president. Even the use of tribal names was banned. (Another explanation for the policy was that it was to disguise the predominance of Mr. Hussein's clan in the government.) Things began changing in the 1980's, when the government needed soldiers for the fight against Iran, and the tribes obliged. But it was after Baghdad lost control of large swaths of the country in the years following the Persian Gulf war in 1991 that Mr. Hussein resurrected the role of the tribes. He reached out to the leaders, allocating them areas to supervise in exchange for more autonomy over tribal affairs. Sheik Talal, who says his tribe has about 100,000 armed men all over Iraq, is proud of the tribe's various roles in the 1990's. They were assigned a 72-mile section of the highway to protect at night between Al Diwaniya in Nasiriya in southern Iraq, for example. "It became a duty to prove our loyalty to the president," said the sheik, who has been a member of the rubber-stamp Iraqi Parliament for the past three years. Wamidh Nadhmi, a political science professor at Baghdad University, said: "The tribal leaders were very happy that their old role was to be returned. They were good at protecting roads, delivering water and sorting out the problems the government can't. I don't think they have the strength they did in the early days of Iraq, though, when they outgunned and outnumbered the Iraqi Army." On the visit to Naharat Nimrud, a tribal hamlet some 12 miles down the road from the famous Assyrian ruins, Sheik Talal listed the benefits accrued from the president. Right off the main road sits the Saddam Mosque, then a new school and an infirmary, all paid for by Mr. Hussein. In those years when the rains do not come and crops fail, the president regularly forgives government loans for seeds and fertilizer. Various sheiks scoff at the idea that American money might persuade crucial tribes to switch sides. Sheik Ahmed Mohiedin Zangana, the leader of a small Kurdish tribe opposed to his American-allied brethren in the north, noted that he had already assigned members of his tribe positions to take up around the city of Mosul and elsewhere in event of an attack, although he too, awaits heavier weapons. "I have my specific plans to distribute members of the tribe if paratroopers land," he said. "Each sniper knows his special assignment." Sheik Talal described the likely resistance in religious terms. "We protect the nation's land and we would consider killing Americans a jihad in the service of God if they come here as aggressors," he said. "The Koran says an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, so when anybody kills us, we will kill them." http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,869151,00.html * SADDAM'S TROUBLESOME MARSH DWELLERS LEFT HIGH AND DRY BY DRAINAGE by Rory McCarthy in Chibayish The Guardian, 6th January Across the barren scrubland either side of the road to Chibayish the land is grey, cracked and dry. The village, once an island surrounded by marshes, is empty and in ruins. Chibayish was once home to the Madan people, the Shia Muslims who lived on the broad marshes that stretched across southern Iraq. Eleven years ago, in the days after the Gulf war, the villagers of Chibayish, like hundreds of thousands of Shias in the south, rose up against Saddam Hussein in a vast but eventually futile rebellion. During the past decade the Shias have paid a terrible price. Now, with the US again drawing up plans for a war in Iraq, there is little chance that western troops can count on a coordinated uprising against the Iraqi dictator. Influential Shia clerics in the south who have criticised President Saddam's regime, which is drawn from Iraq's Sunni minority, have been intimidated and in several cases killed. Many Shia political prisoners have disappeared without trace. Most Shia mosques are now run by clerics who are deferential to the president. Perhaps the most devastating impact of the president's paranoia has been the systematic draining of the marshlands north of Basra, an area which was a base for pro-Iranian fighters in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and where many rebels and army deserters sought sanctuary after the 1991 uprising. Massive irrigation works have dried the wetlands, decimated the population and destroyed a way of life which had lasted for 5,000 years. The result has been that while many across the south may harbour deep resentment of the regime, it is doubtful whether large numbers are willing to repeat the 1991 revolt. Today Iraqi soldiers man checkpoints every mile along the roads running through the marshes in the south. They are not there to defend against an American attack, but to stifle any hint of revolt. Most of the original marsh Arabs, who a decade ago numbered around 250,000, have become displaced. While President Saddam's attacks on the Kurds in the north have been well documented, much less has been uncovered about the repression of the Shias in the south. "It has been really very extensive. The population of the marshes has been completely decimated," said Hania Mufti, who is the London director for the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch. "When you have a minority Sunni government which presides over a majority Shia population which has not been granted basic civil and political rights I think there is always going to be paranoia there." For now the remaining marsh Arabs are trying to adapt to a life without their beloved wetlands. A decade ago Jari Muftim Thijil sold his wooden canoe and moved south with his family from Chibayish to live closer to the town of al-Qurnah. When he moved Mr Thijil, 57, brought with him his small, intricately woven reed guesthouse, the mudhif . As a boy he lived in one of these houses, built precariously on a reed island floating in the heart of the marshes. "Every age has its beauty and ours was the marshes. We lived in a world of water and fish. Now I yearn for those days," he said. "For 10 years the marshes have been dry. Our sweet water has gone." His is one of the few authentic mudhifs remaining. It is little different from the homes photographed and recorded by the British explorer Wilfred Thesiger who lived among the Madan people in the 1950s. >From the early 1950s engineers in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq began building a series of huge dams across the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. In the early 1990s President Saddam's engineers dried the marshes. In their place are long, straight canals. The irrigation works carry names such as the Mother of Battles river and Fidelity to the Leader canal. The Iraqi government said the drainage work it carried out was for irrigation or to gain access to untapped oil reserves. But the UN environment programme, in a damning report last year, noted how canal banks had been built up to prevent any flow into the marshes and concluded that the intention was simply to drain the marshland dry. Some campaigners believe the marshes could be recovered and the Madan people allowed to rebuild their culture. "They have a unique way of life that is historic and we owe them every effort to bring the marshes back," said Baroness Nicholson, a Liberal Democrat MEP. "What matters now is the will of the international community." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2631455.stm * EXCERPTS: SADDAM'S ARMY DAY SPEECH BBC, 6th January The following are excerpts from a nationally televised speech delivered on 6 January marking the 82nd anniversary of Army Day. When you, the valiant people of Iraq, renew your pledge to Allah, to yourselves, to the nation and to humanity at large, that you will continue the march of jihad, you do not only strengthen your adherence to your belief and your sacrifices for the Faith, whose meanings have been eloquently expressed, in your sacred blood, as well as in your suffering, sacrifice and perseverance, but you also ensure final victory over the enemies of Allah, your enemies... The objective is rather to subject the Arab Gulf area to a full, complete and physical occupation We are the offspring of the sword and the pen; and, in the Name of Allah, we shall fear no one in defending our right, and shall continue our march on the path drawn by Allah, in order to achieve the tasks assigned to us by the Almighty... Iraq is not the only target in this confusion, even if the noise is meant to intimidate us and to cover the aggression to be decided by the enemy whenever the devil so instructs him. The objective is rather to subject the Arab Gulf area to a full, complete and physical occupation through which to achieve many goals. These include political interference and military intervention in the countries of the region in a manner unaccustomed before, with a view to securing complete control over their resources... The inspection teams are interested in collecting names and making lists of Iraqi scientists But the enemy will pay dearly later, on top of what it is paying at present for its reckless policies of greed and expansionism. Through its noise and rumblings, coupled with the ongoing aggression and blockade inflicted on Iraq, the enemy is providing cover for the heinous crimes perpetrated by the Zionist entity against our people in Palestine... The enemy is in full coordination with the Zionist entity in this respect, and has achieved a lot of what it wanted to see achieved in order to cover the weaknesses of its agencies, as exposed before the US public opinion, vis-à-vis the events of 11th September 2001 and the weakness, or indeed near-collapse, of the United States economy... As we monitor the hiss of snakes and bark of dogs accompanied by continued aggression in the north and south of the country, we act with the confidence of the assured whose actions are not hurried or confused. Here, we have prepared for everything. One of the objectives of the enemy's continued aggression and pressure on Iraq is to provide psychological support, in a climate of sabre-rattling, in order to intimidate the people of the Middle East and the world, and to make the inspection teams go beyond the declared objectives of the Security Council, even in the bad resolution issued in its name. So, now, instead of looking for the so-called weapons of mass destruction, in order to expose the distortion and lies propagated by those who endeavour, in vain, to deceive public opinion, the inspection teams are interested in collecting names and making lists of Iraqi scientists, addressing employees with questions that carry hidden agendas, giving special attention to military camps, to unproscribed military production, and to other matters, all or most of which constitute purely intelligence work... The light of truth belongs to us, while our enemy has the darkness of the present and the darkness of distant horizons... For the people of Iraq, their victory, with reliance on Allah, is at hand, having already existed in their hearts; and it is up to our enemies to trace the echoes of their trumpets... BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. http://www.washtimes.com/national/20030107-205279.htm * TWO-LAYER DEFENSE FOR BAGHDAD by Bill Gertz Washington Times, 7th January Iraqi military forces are setting up a two-layer defense ring around Baghdad in preparation for U.S. military action, according to U.S. intelligence officials. Planning of the defense perimeters has been under way since November and involves the deployment of units from the regular Iraqi army and the Republican Guard in an outer ring around the Iraqi capital. A closer defense ring is being set up using troops and forces belonging to the Special Republican Guard. Those units are assigned with leadership protection, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Iraqi military believes that U.S. and allied forces will break through the first ring but be held back by the inner ring's better-trained and better-equipped Special Republican Guard, the officials said. Baghdad's deployments indicate that a key element of the Iraqi war strategy is to draw U.S. and allied forces toward the capital, where urban fighting could prove difficult and lead to high military and civilian casualties, the officials said. Disclosure of the Iraqi defense preparations coincided with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Army Day speech in which he declared that his country was prepared for war and said U.N. arms inspectors are U.S. spies. "The enemy will be defeated disgracefully," Saddam said in a taped speech broadcast on Iraqi television. "When the enemy comes as an aggressor, the victory will go to the people of right when they are inside their homeland." President Bush responded by saying that it doesn't look like Saddam wants to comply with the U.N. Security Council's demand to surrender any weapons of mass destruction, "but he's got time." The U.N. inspectors' first report is due Jan. 27. Administration officials have said Mr. Bush will review the report before deciding whether to pursue war with Iraq. The establishment of two defense perimeters is one of several recent signs of Iraqi military preparations. In September, two Republican Guard units were moved from bases to less vulnerable sites in Iraq. Other signs include construction of earthen barriers, the dispersal of ammunition and the movement of surface-to-air missile batteries. Military experts said the Iraqis plan to trap U.S. and allied forces, which under current plans would begin a ground invasion after extended bombing raids. The double perimeter may be designed to draw U.S. and allied forces toward Baghdad and then conduct artillery attacks on them using shells filled with chemical and biological weapons. The attacks would make it difficult for the United States to retaliate with tactical nuclear weapons without causing large-scale civilian casualties. Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis said the dual defense rings would serve two purposes: keep foreign troops from reaching the capital and prevent defecting Iraqi forces from attacking the city. "If there is penetration of the outer ring, that will be overcome to a certain degree by better defenses dug by the Golden Division," a Special Republican Guard unit that has orders to protect Saddam and high-value targets such as chemical and biological weapons, Col. Maginnis said. "I don't put a lot of credence to the outer ring," Col. Maginnis aid. "But it's the inner ring and the paramilitary forces scattered around the city that are going to be the real problem." Col. Maginnis said he believes that the Iraqi military's loyalty is questionable. "I believe that given the right circumstances, most Iraqi forces will collapse," he said. "We have to get behind the scene and contact the commanders covertly." Anthony Cordesman, a military specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said urban warfare in Iraq would be a dangerous trap for U.S. forces. "Extended urban warfare would create major military and civilian casualties on both sides, and greatly increase civilian casualties and collateral damage," Mr. Cordesman said in a recent report. "The situation would be particularly serious if Iraqi forces throughout the country maintained control of all urban areas and rallied to Saddam for nationalistic or other reasons." Col. Maginnis said Iraq's military has been working on defensive positions for years and skillfully uses decoy forces that are designed to make U.S. air power waste limited precision-guided bombs and missiles on wooden silhouettes of tanks or other weapons. "Unless we have up-to-the-minute data and are watching very closely the movement of decoys, we're not going to know where his guns are," Col. Maginnis said of the Iraqi leader. Mr. Cordesman estimated that Iraq has six Republican Guard divisions, each with 6,400 to 8,000 troops. They include four Special Republican Guard brigades of several thousand troops each. The regular army has about 10 divisions with 5,600 to 7,000 troops each, including three armored divisions and three mechanized infantry divisions, Mr. Cordesman said. Former U.N. arms inspector Scott Ritter said the battle for "Greater Baghdad" would begin as U.S. ground forces approach the cities of Baiji in the north, Ramadi in the west and Suweira-Kut to the south of the city. All are fortified with Iraqi forces. "These positions represent the geographic reach of Greater Baghdad, and it is here that Saddam's plan of urban-oriented defense would probably begin," Mr. Ritter said. At Baiji, about 800 Iraqi Special Republican Guard forces have been building up ground and air defenses at an underground complex in the Jabal Makhul mountains. One of Saddam's presidential palaces is located in the complex. According to Mr. Ritter, any military operation against Baghdad will require knocking out the Baiji defenses. "As long as the Iraqis hold Jabal Makhul, any invasion force coming from the north will have to move westward, into the desert, to bypass the defenders, thus extending lines of communication and complicating logistical support," Mr. Ritter wrote in a recent journal article. http://www.msnbc.com/news/856602.asp?0cv=NB10 * PUZZLE OVER IRAQI MINISTER'S OUSTER by Robert Windrem (MS)NBC NEWS, 8th January NEW YORK, Jan. 8 ‹ The unexpected "retirement" of Iraqi Oil Minister Lt. Gen. Amer Mohammed Rashid may indicate that President Saddam Hussein is determined to surround himself with hard-line officials ahead of a looming U.S. military campaign, analysts inside and outside the U.S. government said Wednesday. They also suggested that Rashid's key role, as well as that of his wife, in developing Iraq's weapons program made them prime candidates for scrutiny by U.N. inspectors. The departure of Rashid, 62, was so sudden it left analysts mystified. On Monday, he laid a wreath at an Army Day ceremony, an honored guest as the nation's highly successful oil minister. But on Tuesday, he was gone. According to the official Iraqi News Agency, Rashid was transferred by presidential decree to the Directorate of Reserve Service, which will allow him to be recalled to another job if necessary. Rashid was succeeded by Sameer Aziz al-Najim, a member of the ruling Baath party's regional command, who has a long association with Saddam and served as Iraq's ambassador to Egypt, Turkey, Spain and Moscow. He will serve as acting minister. However, U.S. officials were unconvinced by Iraq's statement that Rashid stepped down because he had reached the mandatory retirement age. Instead, they noted the key role played by Rashid and his wife, Ribab Taha, in establishing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. Rashid's wife, the former director of Iraq's biological weapons program, labeled "Dr. Germ" by the Western tabloid media, has a history and record of instability that makes her a prime candidate to be interviewed by U.N. inspectors, U.S. analysts said. Saddam may have feared that the U.N. inspectors ‹ inside Iraq since November ‹ would demand to take her to another country for an interview, as is permitted under the latest U.N. resolution. They also noted that Rashid himself was one of the founders of Iraq's program to develop weapons of mass destruction and is a former minister of military industrialization. One analyst described him as being a far better interview subject for the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) than his wife because of the breadth of his knowledge of Iraq's program for weapons of mass destruction. It was Rashid who organized the Iraqi missile programs, oversaw technology transfers and developed Iraq's military electronics operations, the keystone of its quick technological advances. Moreover, he also served as Iraq's chief liaison to UNMOVIC's predecessor, the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) during the mid-1990s, frequently visiting New York and Vienna, on some occasions accompanied by his wife. They met, even dined with U.N. officials then and gave up nothing, U.S. officials said. Overall, his reputation was one of total competence. Intelligence reports indicated that he was educated in the West and speaks fluent English and French. As oil minister, Rashid brought Iraq's oil production capability back to pre-Gulf War levels, and during one week in November, Iraq pumped a record 4.4 million barrels a day, twice its normal capacity. "He has kept the oil industry going with Band-Aids and chewing gum," said a leading oil trader. "He was not handicapped by the restrictions, and just recently he got the U.N. to allow them to buy items needed for maintenance of the oil industry ‹ items specifically related to oil production. He got them added to list of approved items. It was curious that he was removed like that." As for his replacement, one senior U.S. official said Najim has been a loyal Saddam supporter but knows nothing about oil. As a result, analysts are considering two possibilities as they try to figure out what happened: one is that as he did just before the Gulf War, Saddam is ousting technocrats in favor of loyalists, believing in a fight to the death he would prefer having his own men around him. The other is more ominous. "[He] is one of the sole progressive/Westerners in the inner circle, kind of like [Former U.N. Ambassador Nizar] Hamdoun," said a military analyst outside the government who knows the former oil minister. "This is a sign of Saddam getting rid of dissenters who probably want to cooperate with the U.N. If a hard-liner is put in this position, the march to war will be quicker." The analyst said that Rashid often served as a sounding board, quietly talking to Americans and others he believed to be valuable to understanding U.S. policy, even providing them with his home phone number. This analyst pointed to the recent rise in anti-U.S. and anti-U.N. rhetoric this week in Iraq, adding that it should not be considered coincidental. The turning point, he believes, could have been a UNMOVIC decision last week to have inspectors visit military labs and bases where conventional weapons are based. Another U.S. official noted that Saddam has a history of turning from one set of advisers to another if he believes the strategy those advisers have pushed is failing. Those decisions can occur overnight, the official noted. Nevertheless, all the analysts believe that nothing untoward, other than rhetoric, will take place before Jan. 27 when UNMOVIC chief Hans Blix and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, report to the U.N. Security Council on Iraqi cooperation. http://www.msnbc.com/news/857322.asp?0sl=-21 * IRAQIS MAY HAVE GPS JAMMERS by Jim Miklaszewski (MS)NBC NEWS, 9th January Jan. 9 ‹ NBC News has learned from senior U.S. officials that the Iraqi government is believed to have bought a large number ‹ perhaps 200 ‹ of Russian-made global positioning system jammers, which can disrupt GPS signals. The devices, each about the size of a cigar box, may be able to fool the precision-guided bombs and missiles that would form the backbone of the U.S. military arsenal in a war with Iraq. "They have been trying to buy them," said one U.S. official. "They have been in the market. They are not that difficult to obtain, so we have to believe that they have them. The question is their effectiveness." The concern is so great that the U.S. Air Force is testing some weapons against the jammers. The United States anticipates that more than 80 percent of the munitions used in any war on Iraq would be precision-guided munitions using GPS. One official said the jammers' "effectiveness is questionable," claiming that only a broad network of such equipment could throw U.S. bombs off target. Some officials fear that the Iraqis would put the jammers on mosques and residential buildings, but Air Force officials do not believe that is possible. The Pentagon is believed to have long had the capability to jam GPS signals. Some experts in nonmilitary applications of GPS technology have said that the Defense Department has likely been selectively jamming GPS signals in Afghanistan since the start of the air campaign in October 2001. Commercial airlines rely on GPS technology for transoceanic navigation. GPS receivers, which sell for about $100, have increasingly been used by hikers, commuters and law enforcement agencies. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1042153352129&call_pageid=968256289824&col=9687058990 37 * SADDAM REMEMBERED AS MANIPULATIVE CONVICT Toronto Star, 9th January LONDON (AP) - Locked in a fetid Iraqi prison nearly 40 years ago, Hussein al-Rikabi met a serious-minded young inmate who he recalls was so cunning that he once engineered a jailhouse dispute to identify informers among the prisoners. "He was very serious, more than necessary," al-Rikabi, 71, said of the young prisoner - Saddam Hussein. "All he talked about was his Baath party and how just and fair it would be if it came to power," al-Rikabi told The Associated Press. "He talked about the struggle and that the party had no alternative but to wrest power." In 1964, al-Rikabi, a businessman who now lives in London, led a group of 76 military members and lawyers in a failed coup against President Abdul Salam Aref. He was jailed at Military Prison No. 1 along with hundreds of political prisoners - among them the future Iraqi president, who had been rounded up in a crackdown against the Baath Party which now rules Iraq. Even then, Saddam stood out among the hundreds of Baathists, communists, nationalists and others held in the prison, al-Rikabi recalled. Saddam, then 27, preferred to speak Arabic with a heavy Bedouin accent because "he wanted to appear a true Arab" and he rarely cracked jokes, al-Rikabi said. Late one night, al-Rikabi said he experienced first-hand the cunning and ruthlessness for which Saddam would someday become famous. Al-Rikabi said guards rousted him from his sleep and brought him to the director of the prison, Ali Ashqar, who accused him of trying to secretly organize inmates from rival political factions. Al-Rikabi maintained his innocence and was eventually taken back to his cell. Saddam was waiting for him. When al-Rikabi related what had happened to him, Saddam burst out laughing. "Don't worry," Saddam told him, admitting he had planted the false rumour which led to the accusation against al-Rikabi. "I engineered this in order to see what their reaction would be and see whom they are watching and who their informers are," Saddam said of the guards. Saddam also showed his leadership potential, emerging as head of one faction of the Baath Party. Saddam's wing was opposed by inmates loyal to neighbouring Syria. The two factions often clashed inside the prison. After one bust-up, Ashqar, the prison director, rebuked the prisoners, calling them "traitors, criminals and murders." He asked the inmates if they had anything to say in their own defence. The leftists said only Saddam could speak for them. "We are the sons of the Ramadan Revolution," Saddam said, referring to the 1963 coup in which military officers killed Iraqi strongman Abdel-Karim Kassem. "We helped you raise your heads high and liberated you from Abdel-Karim Kassem. We will soon return and make the guilty pay." Saddam fled to Syria and then to Egypt in 1959 after taking part in an assassination attempt against Kassem during which the future president was wounded in the leg. Saddam returned to Iraq only after Kassem was killed. Saddam eventually escaped from prison under circumstances that remain unclear. Al-Rikabi said some friendly guards helped Saddam slip out of prison disguised as a garbage collector. However, Dr. Tahsin Moala, another Iraqi exile who treated Saddam for the 1959 gunshot wound, said that on his way to court, Saddam convinced his guards to stop at a restaurant and managed to escape with another prisoner, Abdul Karim Shaikhali, who later became foreign minister. When the Baath party seized power in 1968, al-Rikabi went to the presidential palace to congratulate Saddam, who was in charge of internal security and the No. 2 national figure after President Ahmed Hassan Bakr. There, al-Rikabi said he was warmly welcomed by Saddam, Shaikhali and Saddam's cousin, Adnan Sharif, who reminisced about their prison days. Saddam asked al-Rikabi to mediate a dispute between the government and Nasseriin tribesmen. A few days later, al-Rikabi led 14 tribal chiefs to a meeting with Saddam, but the gathering "didn't go very well and ended with tension," al-Rikabi said. Soon afterward, all the 14 chiefs were arrested and taken to Ramadi prison outside Baghdad, apparently as a warning. They were released about a month later. "From then on, the gaze of the Baathists was on me," al-Rikabi said. He was arrested in 1969 as he returned from a trip to London and was held for 15 days, he said. After his release, he flew to Amman, Jordan, and lived for several years in Lebanon, where he founded one of the first Iraqi exile groups opposed to the Baath Party regime. _______________________________________________ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk