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[casi] News, 02-10/1/03 (3)

News, 02-10/1/03 (3)


*  Americans "100 times more savage" than Iraqis: Safavi
*  Beware Syria, Iraq's new pal
*  Israel to launch new test of Arrow missile ahead of any Iraqi attack
*  Gul to lead regional peace bid
*  Saudi Arabia promises to hike oil production in event of US war on Iraq
*  $15 billion asked of U.S.
*  Thousands to rally in support of Iraqis
*  Milliyet: Turkey for a Swiss system in Iraq
*  Why Turkey is 'for sale' to the United States
*  Turkey says studying historic claims to N.Iraq oil
*  Turkey sees disaster in Iraq war
*  Iranian foreign minister under pressure over Iraq
*  Kuwait Not to Take Part in War Against Iraq: Speaker
*  Turkey Allows U.S. to Inspect Bases-Papers
*  Kuwait repatriates four Iraqi seamen
*  Some Arabs Urge Saddam to Quit
*  Khatami sets prerequisites for Sabri's visit: press
*  To pacify Kuwait, U.S. buildup of troops kept largely invisible
*  Ramezanzadeh: No change in Iran's policy towards Iraq
*  Iran Frees Last Lebanese Prisoner from Iraq War
*  US connection of the Lebanese lawyer leading the push for Saddam's exile
*  Iraq, Kuwait begin talks after four years
*  Turkish trade delegation urges Iraq to avert war
*  Turkey will complete first phase of war



TEHRAN, Jan 2 (AFP) - The Americans are "100 times more savage" than the
Iraqis and their threats to attack Baghdad are based on oil interests, the
commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards army charged Thursday.

"American policy is driven by force, and force has to be responded to by
force," General Rahim Safavi said, quoted on state television.

Alluding to a possible US attack against Iraq, Safavi said "behind this
policy of war are cartels and the heads of the American oil industry".

And he warned Washington to think twice about eventually attacking Iran,
which US President George W. Bush has lumped into an "axis of evil" together
with Iraq and North Korea.

"The US should know that if they threaten our country, Iranians will resist
and defeat them," he asserted.

Officially, Iran is opposed to a US attack on Iraq despite national loathing
of its President Saddam Hussein and Tehran's support for Iraqi opposition

The two neighbors fought a 1980-1988 war.

Tehran and Washington severed relations in 1980 in the wake of Iran's
Islamic revolution. In hardline circles here, the United States is still
referred to as the "Great Satan".

New York Daily News, 2nd January

Sometime soon in this new year, the Bush administration will make its
decision about invading Saddam Hussein's Iraq. As it weighs the options, the
Bush team must consider this crucial fact: Neighboring Syria has chosen to
side against the U.S. in the war on terrorism and poses a serious threat to
America's military and political strategy.

It is imperative that the administration convey to Syrian President Bashar
Assad the gravity of his decision.

It is true that Syria voted in favor of the recent Security Council motion
on Iraqi disarmament. But it was arguably the most duplicitous vote in
recent UN history. The delegate from Damascus had barely lowered his arm
when other Syrian spokesmen made it clear that even if Saddam failed to heed
the UN decision, Syria would not join in any allied military effort to force
him to do so.

If anything, the contrary is more likely. Syrian armed forces played only a
token role in the 1991 coalition that ousted Iraq from Kuwait. Since then,
according to Mideast diplomatic sources I've spoken with while doing
research for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Syria has
brushed aside historic Baathist party rivalries with Iraq and instituted a
flow of intelligence information to its counterparts in Baghdad.

Moreover, despite Syria's current rotating membership on the Security
Council, it has steadily violated the Council's embargo on Iraq by pumping
and globally marketing an average of 150,000 barrels per day of illicit
Iraqi oil.

Although Assad's government claims it is putting Iraq's share of the profits
on freeze, senior intelligence sources have evidence that the contraband
funds have been made available to Baghdad at a staggering rate of about $1
billion a year. The money has been used by Iraq to procure weapons and
desperately needed military spare parts - through Syrian middlemen - another
violation of the UN embargo.

And despite Assad's loud promise that his government would heed Bush's
post-9/11 call for a global struggle against terrorism, the Syrians have
done nothing to change their long standing policy of state support for
terrorist organizations. Ten of the worst Palestinian extremist groups
remain headquartered in Damascus and receive regular Syrian backing and
funds, while Syria also supports Lebanese-based Hezbollah.

Damascus, which has played host to a number of members of Osama Bin Laden's
family, also has its own links to Al Qaeda.

U.S. intelligence officials recently reconfirmed information I published in
March indicating that Al Qaeda operatives who had fled into Iran from
Afghanistan had been transported from Tehran to Damascus and transferred
overland to Lebanon, where little takes place without Damascus' knowledge
and permission.

Lebanon subsequently announced that it had expelled many of the Al Qaeda
fugitives. But intelligence sources in Beirut believe that groups of Bin
Laden's senior underlings are still hidden in southern Lebanon.

The State Department has listed Syria as an active supporter of terrorism
for more than 20 years. Nevertheless, one U.S. administration after another
has treated Syria with kid gloves in hopes that it could be cajoled into
changing its ways. That policy has clearly failed.

Through diplomatic channels, Assad should be warned that unless he
immediately ceases assistance to all terrorist groups, his regime will be
regarded as a terrorist sponsor and an active enemy of the U.S.

Assad should be further warned that the consequences of such a designation
will be severe. If he is in any doubt as to what that means, he need only
watch what happens to the anti American regime on his eastern border.

The Star (Malaysia), 2nd January

JERUSALEM (AP): Israel will soon conduct new tests on its Arrow missile
interceptor in the hope that it can be perfected for use before a possible
attack by Iraq, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said in comments published

Until now, Arrow tests involved the firing of only single prototypes but
upcoming trials will consist of multiple launches, Mofaz told the Maariv
newspaper. Israel has so far conducted nine tests on the jointly developed
U.S.-Israeli missile, eight of which were described as successful.

Israel believes Saddam Hussein has 20-60 medium-range Scud missiles and
about six mobile launchers. The Arrow system would most likely be able to
shoot down the missiles if they were aimed at Israel, defense officials told
the Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

Israel produced the Arrow missile in a US$2 billion program to defend itself
against incoming missiles, such as the Scuds shot during the 1991 Persian
Gulf War. Two Arrow batteries are already operational near Tel Aviv and in
northern Israel.

"I hope that the test will succeed because sometimes there are technical
problems that don't necessarily demonstrate the capability of the weapon
system,'' Mofaz told the mass circulation Maariv daily. "If it doesn't
succeed, we will have time to fix it and act accordingly.''

Israel is anticipating that Iraq will try to attack it with medium-range
missiles in the event of a U.S. invasion. Saddam Hussein tried
unsuccessfully to break the U.S.-allied Arab coalition against him in 1991
by shooting 39 Scuds with conventional warheads against Israel, causing few

The U.S.-made Patriot missiles were largely ineffective in shooting down
Scuds during the Gulf War, but batteries of an advanced version have
recently been deployed in several areas of Israel. Army Radio reported
Thursday that one battery has been based near Israel's Red Sea resort of

Israeli officials say the Arrow will be more successful than the Patriot,
since it intercepts incoming projectiles at higher altitudes. They say it
would be realistic for an Arrow to destroy incoming Scuds at least 50
kilometers (31 miles) above the ground and 100 kilometers (62 miles) from
the Arrow's launch site.

Although Israel has been preparing citizens for a biological or chemical
attack, government officials have said it is very unlikely that Iraq will be
able to launch a serious attack on the country.

Gulf Daily News (The Voice of Bahrain), 3rd January

ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul will begin a tour of major
regional countries at the weekend and a cabinet minister will travel to
Baghdad tomorrow as part of efforts by Ankara for a peaceful resolution to
the crisis over Iraq, officials said yesterday.

Gul will hold talks with Syrian officials in Damascus tomorrow and travel to
Egypt on Sunday, an aide to the premier said.

His next stops were expected to be Jordan on Monday and Saudi Arabia on

Foreign Trade Minister Kursat Tuzmen, meanwhile, will pay a two-day visit to
Iraq next week, a spokesman from Tuzmen's office said.

He will be accompanied by some 150 businessmen on his trip on January 10-12.

The visit is expected to be largely commercial in nature, but according to
media reports he will also convey a message from Gul to Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein.

Turkey, the only Muslim member of Nato and a key ally of the US, has strong
reservations about a war in Iraq, fearing both the economic and political
fallout of regional turmoil. It had backed the 1991 war.

Business report (South Africa, available through Independent Online), 3rd

Tokyo (Sapa-AFP ) - Saudi Arabia will boost its oil production should oil
prices rise as a result a possible US war with Iraq, a Japanese newspaper
said Friday.

"It appears that the United States, which fears global economic chaos as a
result of attacking Iraq, had secretly negotiated with Saudi Arabia and
received a promise of increasing oil production," the Mainichi Shimbun
newspaper said, citing
US and Japanese government officials.

"If oil prices go up as a result of a war with Iraq, Saudi will issue a
statement, basically saying it will increase (oil) production," the Mainichi
quoted a senior US official as saying.

The statement might come from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC), rather than Saudi Arabia alone, the Mainichi added.

OPEC has said it will activate a mechanism to keep oil prices within the
cartel's 22 to 28 dollars a barrel target band if prices remain higher on
world markets, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi pledged last month.

The United States moved Sunday to reassure jittery financial markets, saying
it will take special care to protect Iraqi oil fields from sabotage and
destruction in case of a US-led military invasion of the country.

by Joshua Mitnick
Washington Times, 3rd January

JERUSALEM ‹ Israel is putting the final touches on a $15 billion special aid
request to the United States to bolster an economy under pressure from the
Palestinian uprising and preparations for any attack by Iraq.

Israeli treasury officials, who have met with aides to Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, are preparing to
present the package to Bush administration officials in the coming weeks.

The package, comprising about $5 billion in new military aid and $10 billion
in loan guarantees, would be spread out over a three- to five-year period.
It would be in addition to nearly $3 billion that Israel receives from the
United States each year.

"Fighting terrorism is not only about security, it's about the economy,"
said Finance Ministry Director General Ohad Marani.

"It's very difficult funding the extra needs of defense. The burden is made
more difficult because the economy has shrunk. We're asking the Americans to
share part of the burden," Mr. Marani said.

Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, receives about $2.1
billion annually in military aid and $600 million in civilian aid.

A State Department official declined to comment on Israel's supplemental aid
request but reiterated long-standing U.S. support for the Jewish state.

The official said the United States is committed "to maintaining and
enhancing Israel's security and qualitative edge over any combination of

The Palestinian uprising is straining Israel's budget by inflating military
expenditures while putting the economy in recession. That, in turn, has
forced the government to cut spending in line with lower tax receipts.

The Israeli economy is expected to shrink 1 percent this year, compared with
the 4 percent annual growth that analysts believe should be within the
country's ability.

Analysts say the timing of the request as war clouds gather in the Persian
Gulf isn't coincidental.

Israel hopes to receive the aid as a reward for good behavior during a war
in which it may be asked once again to restrain itself even if it absorbs
missile strikes from Iraq.

"The unspoken word is that it is going to be part of an inducement package
for Israel to stay on the sidelines," said Scott Lasensky, a research fellow
at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

"It's a positive inducement. It's like political risk insurance. Companies
buy it and so do countries," he said.

Israeli officials believe it is unlikely that a new aid package would be
approved in Washington before a campaign to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam
Hussein, for fear of alienating Arab countries whose political support will
be crucial in the effort.

The aid, they say, will help defray costs of deploying the Arrow missile,
Israel's anti-ballistic missile system on which the country will rely to
intercept Iraqi Scud missiles.

The military package also would make up for $800 million in aid pledged by
the Clinton administration to ease the burden of Israel's withdrawal from
southern Lebanon in 2000. Neither President Clinton nor President Bush has
followed through on the promise.

The loan guarantees, in which the United States would act much as a
co-signer, would provide Israel a cheaper alternative to finance its
national debt than floating bonds on local financial markets.

Gulf Daily News (The Voice of Bahrain), 3rd January

THOUSANDS of people are expected to take part in a rally to express
solidarity with the Iraqi people, following the noon prayers today.

The rally, which is being held on the same day across the Arab world, will
begin at 1pm, near the Al Fateh Grand Mosque in Juffair.

It is being organised by the Civil Committee for the Support of Iraqi People
in co-ordination with the Bahrain Society for Resisting Normalisation with
the Zionist Enemy.

"The rally will show the solidarity of the people in Bahrain with their
brothers in Iraq at this crucial time and in the face of the American
threats," committee chairman Dr Hassan Al A'ali told the GDN yesterday.

"Everyone is welcome to join us. We expect thousands of people to turn out
to stress their refusal of the US threats to attack Iraq," he said.

"These threats are not for Iraq alone but the entire Arab world. They are a
threat to our existence, resources and people."

The civil committee is made up of representatives of 35 societies, including
all the political societies and some professional and charitable societies.

Dr Al A'ali said the rally will begin near the Al Fateh Mosque.

Demonstrators carrying banners will then walk down the inside road up to the
car park opposite Fun Land, where they will listen to speeches by the

Arabic News, 4th January

The Turkish daily Milliyet said yesterday that Turkey stands deliberately
against the foundation of a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq and wants the
application of the Switzerland government-type federation system in Iraq in
a way that the Turkmans and the Kurds will have Cantons that belong to the
central administration in Baghdad and therefore avoiding the partition of

In its commentary, the paper said that the Turkish government and the
foreign ministry support this plan and the USA which is in need for the
Turkish support in a military action against Iraq should take into account
the Turkish suggestions relating to the future of Iraq. The paper stressed
that "Turkey is not a "Banana republic" to comply with Washington's attempts
aiming at imposing its instructions on Ankara.

by Mohammad Noureddine
Daily Star, Lebanon, 4th January

American pressure has been piling up on Turkey. Washington wants Ankara to
adopt certain positions that would make it a full partner in the impending
American war on Iraq. The Americans have not been making any new demands of
Turkey. What is new, however, is the urgency with which Washington expects
Ankara to respond.

The US expects Turkey to be faithful to its big ally, and give it all the
assistance it needs in pursuing its objectives in Iraq. While it is a
foregone conclusion that the Turks would allow the Americans (and the
British) to use Incirlik and other air bases, what the Americans are really
after is a commitment from Turkey to help them on the ground rather than in
the air.

That was the reason behind Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's visit
to Ankara earlier in December. Wolfowitz asked the Turks for permission to
deploy up to 80,000 US troops in eastern Anatolia, as well as to use Turkish
naval facilities in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

These American demands mean Washington is planning to open a new, northern
front against Iraq. It is appearing increasingly unlikely that the impending
American war would end with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Thus,
preparations for what would follow this immediate objective require troop
deployments in the region for many years to come. This explains why
Washington asked Ankara for its permission to station US troops in Anatolia
for more than five years.

Turkey still has bitter memories of the losses it incurred as a result of
the 1991 Gulf War. In addition to the economic losses it suffered, Turkey
also had to deal with a new Kurdish reality in northern Iraq, with Kurdistan
Workers' Party (PKK) rebels launching attacks across the border from the
Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq. That is why Turkey is apprehensive of US
preparations for a new war against its southern neighbor, a war that might
have even more serious ramifications - such as the establishment of an
independent Kurdish entity in Iraq, and possibly years of involvement in the
Iraq morass.

Turkey is thus praying that war never takes place. If war was inevitable,
however, Turkey wants it to be short and sharp - and that it somehow manages
to avoid taking part in it. The best war, as far as Ankara is concerned, is
one that brings "regime change" in Baghdad without altering the map of Iraq.
If Turkey were forced to take part, then Ankara would prefer this
participation to be at the lowest possible level.

Turkey's wishes, however, are incompatible with the realities surrounding
the Iraq situation. America's post-Sept. 11 wars, which began in Afghanistan
and seem set to continue in Iraq, are likely to involve other countries in
the Middle East. That the Americans covet Iraq's rich oil reserves has been
well known since 1991. But Washington's plan to establish a new Middle East
calls for open-ended wars and upheavals.

When US President George W. Bush divided the world into two camps ("You're
either with us or against us in the fight against terror"), he presented all
regimes with stark choices. Turkey was among the countries with the hardest
choices to make. Not only is Turkey part of the Middle East (the region most
required to change), it is also a major player in how change is supposed to
be carried out.

Can Ankara conceivably refuse Washington's request to station 80,000 GIs on
its soil? The answer to this question is intimately linked to the Americans'
need to open a second front against Baghdad.

With the Saudis still refusing to allow their country to be used as a
springboard for a US war Iraq, the Americans only have Kuwait - with Bahrain
and Qatar further afield - from which to launch an invasion. But the
geographic restrictions imposed by the narrow Kuwaiti front will not allow
the Americans much freedom. A war launched from Kuwaiti territory alone
would thus be long, slow, and costly. The Iraqi Kurds, with their limited
military capabilities, would not be able to make a meaningful contribution
to the overall war effort. That's why the Americans began pressuring Turkey.

According to Wolfowitz, Turkey's acquiescence to American requests would be
vital for Washington's war plans. By joining the campaign against Baghdad,
Ankara can shorten the war and make it less costly. In fact, Turkey's
participation in an anti-Iraq coalition might even facilitate change in Iraq
without war being necessary.

Turkey has some difficult and complex calculations to make. The situation in
Iraq is currently favorable as far as Ankara is concerned: Iraq is unified
but weak; there is no independent Kurdish state; Turkey can send (and has
been sending) its forces into northern Iraq at will; Iraq is able to monitor
the situation in the north and maintain it at a certain level; legal and
illicit trade with Iraq is flourishing.

But Turkey has for 50 years been a strong ally of the United States. It
needs American support to obtain IMF funding to shore up its ailing economy,
as well as to back its positions in various issues such as Cyprus, Armenia,
and membership in the European Union.

The Turks have yet to respond to America's requests to open a second front
against Iraq, despite Bush's plea to ruling Justice and Development Party
(AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the two countries to "stand shoulder
to shoulder."

Turkey's powerful National Security Council (NSC) spoke last month of "a
flexible approach" vis-a-vis Iraq, and for the country not to act unless
with authority from the United Nations and according to Turkey's interests -
which might necessitate unilateral Turkish action in northern Iraq.

Senior Turkish Army officers have been quoted by the local press as saying
that the country's armed forces are not for sale - in a reference to
American promises of several billion dollars in aid in exchange for allowing
US troops to be deployed in Turkey.

But can the Turks resist US pressures indefinitely?

Ankara is directly concerned with the situation in Iraq, and with any
developments that might take place there. The Turks feel they cannot
guarantee that their interests would be served if they allowed the Americans
to use the country as a launching pad to invade northern Iraq. But if the
war was fought without Turkish participation, how can Ankara demand a share
of the spoils later? And if the war resulted in the establishment of a
Kurdish state under American and British protection, would Ankara then have
to fight its allies to prevent such a state from becoming a reality?

Ankara is so far resisting American pressure in the hope that war can yet be
averted. But if war becomes inevitable, Turkey cannot remain on the
sidelines because its interests would be better served if it took part.

What Turkey can do in the meantime is fan the flames of nationalism and
pretend that its army is "not for sale." Yet Turkey in its entirety was up
for sale not that long ago when it was seeking IMF cash, and before that
when it allowed the Israelis to modernize its military industries.

That is why Turkey with all its institutions (the army, government,
Parliament and presidency) will eventually become part of the American war
on Iraq, first because it is in the country's interests to be part of the
new grand design, and second because the country is a long-term ally of the
United States. Otherwise, the consequences for Turkey would be very grave

Mohammad Noureddine is an analyst on Turkish affairs. He wrote this
commentary for The Daily Star

by Steve Bryant
Yahoo, 6th January

ISTANBUL, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Turkey's foreign minister was quoted on Monday
as saying historical treaties and ethnic ties gave Turkey the right to a say
in the future of oil-rich areas in northern Iraq in the event of any
U.S.-led war.

"This is a sensitive issue for us. We are discussing it with the United
States. They say every time that they understand our worries and share our
views," Minister Yasar Yakis told the Hurriyet newspaper.

He said Turkey had no intention of claiming the fields for itself in the
event of a U.S.-led war in neighbouring Iraq and stressed Turkey wanted the
oil to be used by a central Iraqi authority for the benefit of all Iraqis.

Yakis said he was examining early 20th century treaties to see whether
Turkey even had a legal claim to oilfields around the northern cities of
Mosul and Kirkuk.

"If we do have rights ... we have to explain that to the international
community and our partners and secure those rights," Yakis told the
mass-circulation daily.

Iraqi reserves, the world's second largest after Saudi Arabia, are at the
centre of a tug-of-war between countries hoping to grab a share of Baghdad's
oil wealth once United Nations sanctions are lifted.

Turkey is dragging its feet on promises of support for any U.S. strikes on
Iraq, fearful of unrest and damage to Turkey's fragile economic recovery.

Yakis's comments were the first high-level mention of the international
treaties made in 1920s after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and
underlines Ankara's determination to have a say in the future of Iraqi oil
after any war.

Turkish nationalists have previously spoken of the treaties and many Turks
feel that Britain cheated Turkey out of its rights at the time.

Yakis said lawyers were studying the documents.

"We are having that examined now. In other words we have to examine whether
there has been anything in later years that cancelled out those rights," he

Yakis said Turkey's own security as well as the interests of the
Turkish-speaking minority in northern Iraq all meant Turkey had an interest
in stability in the region, just across its southeastern border.

"When there is a war there will be an authority vacuum there. If that vacuum
is something that damages Turkey's legitimate security and strategic
interests then Turkey may have to take measures," he said.

Turkey, the second-largest armed forces in NATO, has long kept troops inside
northern Iraq to crack down on Kurdish rebels that use the mountains as a
base. Northern Iraq has been under Kurdish control since after the 1991 Gulf
War and is protected by U.S. air patrols based in Turkey.

Turkey has recently increased its military presence in the mountainous
region, saying it needs to prepare food and shelter for a possible wave of
Kurdish refugees from any fighting.

by Suleiman al-Khalidi, 6th January

AMMAN (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul has wrapped up a
three-country tour of the Middle East in Jordan where he discussed
minimising the "disastrous" economic and political consequences of a
U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Gul told reporters after meeting Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu al-Ragheb
and King Abdullah that the two countries, which share an extensive border
with Iraq, would exert a last effort to avoid war and its damaging

"We are now all in a difficult situation. Our expectations are that if war
occurs the countries in the region will be the losers...We are very worried
about what will happen after the war," Gul said in comments translated to

"The consequences of war will be disastrous." Gul earlier visited Syria and
Egypt to discuss regional concerns about an Iraq war.

In addition to sharing a border with Iraq, both Jordan and Turkey have
extensive economic and trade ties with Baghdad. Iraq tops Jordan's export
list and the kingdom depends on Baghdad for its oil consumption.

Abu al-Ragheb briefed Gul on contingency plans to cushion the impact of a
possible war on its aid-dependent economy including plans to get substantial
U.S. aid, an official confirmed to Reuters.

Jordan's plans include building a strategic two-month oil stockpile and
lending logistical support to international aid bodies that will use Jordan
as a transit point for dispatching relief convoys inside Iraq.

Jordan shares Turkey's hopes Washington will compensate both countries for
the cost of conflict on their economies.

Senior Jordanian officials told Reuters they were assured of an additional
aid package by Washington worth hundreds of millions of dollars to offset
the damage of war, in addition to the approximately $450 million Amman
already gets each year.

Turkey is also negotiating an aid package designed to reassure international
markets and prevent any economic crisis in Turkey if Washington goes to war
against Iraq.

An official told Reuters senior officials in both countries will also review
secret military preparations on their borders as a U.S. military build-up in
the region piles pressure on the two countries to lend support to a possible
military campaign to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Both Muslim countries fear domestic instability amid a rising wave of
anti-American sentiment that is sweeping the region if they are seen as
supporting U.S. war goals.



TEHRAN, Jan 6 (AFP) - A prominent Iranian reformist MP threatened Monday to
set in motion impeachment procedures against Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi
amid speculation Iraq's foreign minister is preparing to again visit the
Islamic republic.

"We are not sure if (Iraqi Foreign Minister) Naji Sabri will come to Iran,
but as soon as he sets foot in Iran, we will impeach Mr. Kharrazi," Nureddin
Pirmoazzen told AFP, confirming a report in the Tehran Times.

The paper said the MP was angered over reports that Sabri was planning to
pay an unexpected visit in the coming days. A visit by Sabri to Tehran in
September last year led to widespread complaints here that the Islamic
republic was siding with a loser.

Iran also has bitter memories of the bloody 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, when it
bore the brunt of Iraq's chemical arsenal and accounted for the bulk of the
war's estimated one million dead.

"Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered an apology to Kuwait for
occupying that country for two months, but has refused to apologise to the
Iranians regardless of the fact that Iraq occupied some parts of the Islamic
republic for eight years," Pirmoazzen was quoted as saying.

News of the Sabri visit was carried on a conservative Iranian news Internet
site. Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi could not be reached for
comment, but a source in the ministry was unaware that Sabri was expected

Kharrazi is already under pressure from MPs, and a week ago was summoned to
parliament to explain his allegedly "passive" handling of a dispute on the
boundaries of the resource rich Caspian sea.

Peoples Daily, 6th January

Speaker of the Kuwait National Assembly (parliament) Jassem Mohammed
Al-Khorafi affirmed Sunday that his country would not be a party in a
prospected military strike on Iraq, Kuwait's official KUNA news agency

The speaker denied allegations that Kuwait would cover some costs of the
war, saying "we are not a party in this war as we are only parties in the
signed security agreements with the states for protection of Kuwait and its

Kuwait is not ashamed of the security agreements it had signed with the
United States, Russia, France, Britain and China followingthe 1990 events,
Al-Khorafi said, alluding to the unprovoked Iraqi aggression on the oil-rich
Gulf state.

He also expressed hope that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would cooperate
with the international community, abide by the relevant UN resolutions and
maintain his credibility to spare his people andthe region perils of war.

He stressed that Kuwait has taken all necessary precautions in anticipation
of the war, which he ruled out, expressing his belief that the current
international military buildup in the Gulf would coerce Baghdad to implement
the relevant UN resolutions.

The United States has recently intensified its military buildup in Kuwait,
one of its close Gulf allies, arousing suspicions that Kuwait will be a key
launch pad for a strike against Iraq.

Yahoo, 7th January

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey has granted the United States permission to
inspect its ports and airbases ahead of a possible attack on neighbor Iraq,
military officials were quoted as telling a parliament committee late

A team of 150 U.S. officials is expected in Turkey shortly to inspect the
facilities, which may be needed in any U.S.-led war with Iraq, local press
reports said Tuesday.

The five and a half hour meeting, held behind closed doors in Turkey's
capital Ankara, was attended by Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, two military
generals and members of parliament's foreign relations committee.

The U.S. may request passage through Turkey for up to 80,000 U.S. troops if
it launches a major land war against President Saddam Hussein's regime,
Turkish daily Sabah said.

Turkey is a close NATO ally of the United States but is dragging its feet on
pledging formal backing if Washington goes to war over Iraq's alleged
weapons of mass destruction. Diplomats say the conflict could cost Turkey
$4-15 billion in lost tourism revenues and investment.

Turkey has said any decision on support for a war on Iraq would have to be
approved by parliament.

Prime Minister Abdullah Gul visited Syria, Egypt and Jordan in the past few
days in a bid to seek ways to avert a war that Turkey fears would damage its
economy and spread turmoil in the region. Opinion polls also show that the
majority of the Turkish people are opposed to war in Iraq.

Yahoo, 7th January

KUWAIT, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Kuwait has repatriated four Iraqi seamen it
arrested in December through the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC), the ICRC said on Tuesday.

Kuwait's navy stopped an Iraqi tugboat on December 5 after it entered
Kuwaiti waters and detained the four crew.

The ICRC, which said it acted as an intermediary, said in a statement the
men were sent back to Iraq on January 7.

"The government of Kuuwait requested the ICRC, as a neutral intermediary, to
facilitate the repatriation of these seamen to Iraq," said the ICRC.


by Jim Gomez
Las Vegas Sun, 8th January

MANILA, Philippines (AP): Some Arab governments are urging Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein to step down and seek asylum in a third country to avoid war,
the Philippines' foreign secretary said Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary Blas Ople said he was told on Monday of the Arab
governments' actions by their ambassadors in Manila. He refused to name the
Arab countries, and said the Philippines, a U.S. ally, would take no
position on the proposal.

"They (Arab ambassadors) told me that some Arab governments are trying to
influence Saddam Hussein to voluntarily step down, go to a third country
that will host him and that will save his life and well as the lives of many
others, including the people of Iraq," Ople said.

Asked by reporters which countries could possibly accept Saddam, Ople named

Libyan Ambassador to Manila Salem Adam said the possibility of his country
harboring Saddam if he were to step down was "totally speculative," but he
added that Libya and other countries have been appealing for a peaceful
solution to avoid bloodshed in Iraq.

In Moscow, however, Iraq's ambassador said Saddam would not seek asylum but
"fight to the last drop of blood."

"Saddam Hussein enjoys excellent health, he is in a determined mood, is in
perfect control of the situation and believes in our victory," the Interfax
news agency quoted Abbas Khalaf as saying in an interview.

"I'd like to assure you that (he) will continue to defend his homeland. He
is one of the leaders who will never leave his country and will fight to the
last drop of blood," said Khalaf, who recently returned from Iraq, where he
and other Iraqi ambassadors met with Saddam.

On Thursday, U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton was expected in Manila
for talks on Iraq and other security issues.



Tehran, Jan 8 - Iran has set preconditions for the visit of Iraqi Foreign
Minister Naji Sabri to Tehran, the Wednesday edition of the English-language
daily 'Tehran Times' quoted a source as saying, IRNA reported.

The source said on the condition of anonymity that the main reason behind
the postponement of the visit is the prerequisites set by President Mohammad

 President Khatami has instructed Vice President for Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs Mohammad Ali Abtahi to agree with the trip of Sabri to Iran only if
all conditions of Iran are fulfilled.

The conditions were put forth during Sabri's previous trip to Iran but Iraq
has not taken any measure in this regard.

Naji was scheduled to visit Tehran this week. The visit drew sharp criticism
of some MPs.

The conditions Khatami has put forth include: Iraq must once again
officially announce its commitment to the Algiers Treaty of 1975; must
announce its commitment to full implementation of the UN Resolution 598 and
pay war indemnities to Iran; must apologize to the Iranian nation for
imposing an eight-year war on Iran; and must release all Iranian POWs --
those registered and those kept in Iraq but considered missing in action.

A meeting of the high council of the Foreign Ministry was held on Monday
this week where President Khatami's instruction was read. The ministry
decided to remind Baghdad of all the conditions and postpone Sabri's visit
till those conditions are fulfilled.

The ministry also decided to send an envoy to Baghdad to brief the Iraqi
officials on the issue.

Following the said developments the Parliament cancelled the impeachment of
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi. However, some MPs announced that they will
not withdraw until achieving their objectives that is protecting national

According to the paper, if Saddam complies completely with Iran's
conditions, ties will be resumed with Baghdad, an MP said.

Houston Chronicle, (from AP), 9th January

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait -- American troop reinforcements come to Kuwait daily in
the biggest military buildup in the region since the Gulf War -- but it's
hard to tell.

After heavy media coverage of their departure from bases in the United
States this week, complete with teary embraces with relatives and their
views of possible war with Iraq, the soldiers are landing in Kuwait in near

The U.S. government is engaged in a juggling act -- advertising loudly to
Saddam Hussein that he faces the threat of massive force if he fails to give
up weapons of mass destruction, while trying to keep a low profile in the
gulf region to ease local sensitivities.

The balance is highly visible -- or perhaps invisible -- in Kuwait, the
largest forward staging area for a potential U.S. ground invasion of
southern Iraq.

Troops from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga.,
this week have been arriving at a military base near Kuwait City's
international airport, part of a deployment that will ultimately bring the
division's entire 17,000 troops to the region.

Reporters have been forbidden from entering the Kuwaiti base to film or
interview the arriving troops. Convoys of buses guarded by machine
gun-equipped Humvees and police cars shepherd the Americans to their camps,
which are generally closed to the media.

The military worries the deployment -- involving tens of thousands of
soldiers and Marines, as well as Navy battle groups and Air Force units
around the region -- might be seen as indicating an invasion is imminent.

That decision, officials stress, lies with President Bush, and the buildup
is only to give him forces at his disposal if he judges military action must
be used to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.

Kuwait was uncomfortable when journalists covering the Army's biggest
live-fire exercise since the Gulf War reported comments and took pictures of
troops stating their readiness for war -- such as a tank with a cannon
painted with the words, "All The Way to Baghdad."

Since then, at rare opportunities to meet the troops at Christmas and New
Year's or at a boxing tournament, public affairs officers have asked
reporters -- and told the soldiers -- to focus on the celebrations, not war

Ayed al-Mannah, a Kuwaiti political analyst, said the U.S. buildup does
embarrass Kuwait, "but the justification is clear: We have no other choice
but to support the Americans. Saddam didn't leave us any other choice."


Tehran, Jan 8 - Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said here
Wednesday that Iran's policy towards Iraq has not changed, IRNA reported.

Ramezanzadeh told his weekly press briefing that Iran calls for territorial
integrity of all regional states and considers the Iraqi nation as the only
decision making authority on their country's future.

He said Iran opposes unilateralism and using force against Iraq.

He added, "Tehran favors detente with all the neighbors and will take any
action necessary to restore its rights."

The Iranian official rejected the claim that the Iranian government had set
conditions for visit to Tehran of Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri.

He said the issue is under study and no date has been fixed for the visit.

"Iran has times and again announced that it is for a calm and peaceful
region and free of any tension atmosphere for all regional states; in this
line it will take all necessary actions," he added.

He said any decision on the type of political regimes and governments
worldwide should be on the basis of free elections and by the people of any

Ramezanzadeh refuted the claim that the Iranian government was in talks with
the US administration. "As for talks by other people, we do not have any
information and announce that stances, taken by other people, have nothing
to do with the government because under the law, only the government is
allowed to hold talks with other countries as representative of the public,"
he said.

He hailed as "highly constructive and positive" the talks between Tehran and
the European Union and said both sides are satisfied with their dialogue.

The State. from Reuters, 9th January

BEIRUT - Iran has released the last Lebanese prisoner detained during its
1980-1988 war with Iraq, Iranian embassy officials said on Thursday.

They said Iran handed Hussein Qays, in his 50s, over to the Lebanese embassy
in Tehran on Wednesday. He flew into Beirut later the same day.

Qays, a member of Lebanon's Baath Party, was fighting on the side of
Baath-ruled Iraq when he was captured by the Iranians in the early 1980s,
the officials said.

They said Qays, the last remaining Lebanese prisoner-of-war in Iran out of
dozens detained during the conflict, was freed partly on humanitarian
grounds following appeals by Lebanese officials and the man's relatives.

Most Lebanese detainees were released by Iran in the late 1980s, the
officials said.

by Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent
The Independent, 9th January

Can we play musical thrones? Arab academics, intellectuals and writers are
suggesting that Saddam Hussein step down to prevent a "catastrophe" in the
Middle East, adding that they want a democratic Iraq in which human rights
observers would oversee a "peaceful" transition of power.

Signatories to the petition include the Kuwaiti lawyer Hassan Jawhar, the
Egyptian film director Yousry Nasrallah and Kammel Obeidia from Tunisia, the
former director of Amnesty International Beirut. "The immediate resignation
of Saddam Hussein, whose rule for over three decades has been a nightmare
for Iraq and the Arab world, is the only way to avoid more violence," the
petition says.

Among the signatories is Chibli Mallat, the Lebanese lawyer who has
attempted to bring the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to court in
Belgium for war crimes at the 1982 Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut
in which up to 1,700 Palestinian civilians were murdered.

Mr Mallat is a close friend of Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of one of the
wealthiest Iraqi opposition groups in the United States. Asked by The
Independent about his connections with Mr Chalabi, who faces financial fraud
charges in Amman, Mr Mallat insisted that his Iraqi friend had no knowledge
of his initiative.

"Ahmed is someone whom I'm very fond of, but I'm not sure he would support
this petition," Mr Mallat said. "Usually I sound things off Ahmed, but on
this one I think he would have some reservations."

So would many others. Ghassan Tueni, the ageing Lebanese publisher of
Beirut's second greatest newspaper An-nahar, wrote to President Saddam last
year stating that "resignation" was more honourable than war. "If we can
avoid a disaster and the cataclysm it is going to provoke here," he wrote,
"it is worth it ­ because we don't want to be subjected to America's grand
design or doomsday scenario."

Over the past week, Gulf Arab governments have been suggesting obliquely
that President Saddam could go into exile in their countries ­ in reality,
an unlikely prospect. For once a dictator is deprived of his power he
becomes subject to international law, human rights accusations, charges of
war crimes or murder.

The full text of the petition says the academics "call upon public opinion
in the Arab World to exercise pressure for the dismissal from power of
Saddam Hussein and his close aides in Iraq, in order to avoid a war that
threatens with catastrophe the people of the region ... the immediate
resignation of Saddam Hussein ... is the only way to avoid more violence. We
call likewise for the rule of democracy in Baghdad and for the stationing
across Iraq of human rights monitors from the United Nations and the Arab
League, to oversee the peaceful transition of power in the country."

Mr Mallat does not believe President Saddam will step down, but "if you
create an atmosphere where his telephones stop ringing, where his closest
advisers stop taking orders from him, it doesn't really matter if he
surrenders or not, he will have lost power".

It sounds pretty good. If you remember reality. And Mr Chalabi.

Daily Star, Bangladesh, 9th January

AFP, Jordan: Iraqi and Kuwaiti officials opened crucial Red Cross-sponsored
talks yesterday in Jordan on the fate of hundreds of their citizens who have
been missing since before the 1991 Gulf war.

With war drums again beating against Baghdad, the meeting at the Amman
headquarters of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) got
underway at 0700 GMT with the participation of Saudi and ICRC delegates.

"The meeting started behind closed doors and let's wish them good luck in
their endeavor," ICRC information officer Moin Qassis told reporters
gathered outside the white-stone building in west Amman.

"The fact that this meeting is taking place is very encouraging," Qassis
said. "They are resuming the dialogue so we hope that this eventually will
lead to a conclusion with results," he added.

The Amman meeting is the first of its kind in four years since Iraq
boycotted in 1998 meetings of a technical sub-committee formed by the Red
Cross in 1994 to deal with the humanitarian issues resulting from the Gulf

It was not immediately clear who was heading the Iraqi delegation, which was
the last one to arrive at ICRC headquarters in Amman.

Kuwait's seven-member delegation was headed by Ibrahim Majid Shahin, the
deputy chief of a national committee for prisoners and missing persons while
Saudi ambassador to Jordan Abdel Rahman bin Nasser al-Ohali led a
five-member team.

The ICRC delegation is being chaired by George Comninos, head of operations
for Middle East and North Africa in Geneva.

Wednesday's meeting in Amman comes as the United Nations on Monday said that
the UN coordinator on people and property missing since the 1990 Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait, Yuli Vorontsov, will visit Baghdad for the first time on
January 17.

In December, Iraq promised the Arab League it will cooperate at the Amman
meeting, which it was the first to announce earlier that month in a gesture
of goodwill.

Kuwait has repeatedly charged that Iraq, which occupied the tiny Gulf
emirate in 1990 before being driven out by a US-led coalition in the Gulf
War, is holding 605 people, most of them Kuwaitis.

Baghdad has rejected the accusations and said it wants clarification about
more than 1,000 of its nationals who are still missing or allegedly detained
in Kuwait.

The ICRC has said, however, that it has no "accurate" figures on the number
of Iraqi and Kuwaiti nationals missing since the 1991 US-led Gulf war that
ended Iraq's seven-month occupation of Kuwait.

"The figures that exist have been submitted by the two parties but have not
been verified," he told AFP.

The Iraqi foreign ministry said in December that the meeting was the result
of an agreement reached by the three Arab countries, as well as France,
Britain, the United States and the ICRC.

by Leyla Boulton in Ankara
Financial Times, 9th January

A Turkish minister leads a big business delegation to Baghdad today carrying
a last-ditch plea to Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, to co-operate fully
on United Nations disarmament resolutions.

The 2?-day visit by Kursat Tuzmen, the foreign trade minister, is part of
efforts by Turkey's newly-elected Justice and Development party (AKP) to do
all in its power to avert a war next door.

"The message will be: 'Please help us and other countries in the region to
avoid a war by opening yourself up fully to inspection because the Americans
are serious [about overthrowing you if you do not co-operate],' " said one
of the members of the 350-strong delegation that will be travelling with Mr

Abdullah Gul, the prime minister, who has spearheaded Turkey's diplomatic
campaign with a recent tour of Syria, Egypt and Jordan, travels to Iran on
Sunday and then on to Saudi Arabia.

Turkey, an important Nato ally that shares a border with Iraq, fears that a
war would hurt its economy and destabilise the region around it. "Given that
85 per cent of the Turkish people don't want a war, the party and government
feel we must exhaust all peaceful solutions before reluctantly becoming
involved in a war," said Murat Mercan, deputy chairman of the AKP.

"There are no differences on this subject in Turkey. It is state policy."

His words were echoed by General Hilmi Ozkok, the chief of general staff of
the Turkish armed forces, who said on Wednesday night: "Efforts towards a
peaceful solution must continue until the end. I have not heard from anyone
in Turkey the idea 'let's also go to war with Iraq'."

Ultimately, however, Turkey is expected to co-operate with the US, if only
to retain a say in developments in a post-Saddam Iraq.

Turkish media yesterday reported that Ankara had agreed to allow the US to
start inspecting Turkish bases for possible use in a war against Iraq.
Negotiations have also begun on compensation for any economic fallout from a
war. The US has offered it a choice of $2bn in grants and $20bn in loan
guarantees, or $3bn in grants and $10bn in loan guarantees - short of the
$28bn in aid it is seeking.

Turkey, which in the 1991 Gulf war suffered $30bn in lost trade with Iraq
and an influx of half a million refugees, has also been preparing to set up
camps for up to 276,000 refugees. Twelve of the camps whose financing it has
been negotiating with the UN would be located in northern Iraq, a
Kurdish-dominated enclave where Turkey is determined to keep in check any
Kurdish separatist longings. Another six camps would be on Turkish

However, Gen Ozkok denied reports that Turkish troops had already been
reinforced across the frontier in northern Iraq - an area that has been
beyond Baghdad's rule since the 1991 Gulf war.,,3-537088,00.html

by Richard Beeston
The Times, 9th January

EVEN before a single shot is fired in the looming war on Iraq, a long, and
at times bitter, struggle to enlist Baghdad's reluctant neighbours in the
American campaign is already nearing its close.

Ten months after Dick Cheney, the US Vice-President, was greeted by an angry
barrage of resistance as he toured the region trying to rally support for
the overthrow of the Iraqi regime, one by one the opponents of the war have
gradually shifted their positions and are now reluctantly ready to do
Washington's bidding.

If and when hostilities do break out, it is hard to imagine any country in
the region, including stubborn holdouts such as Syria and Saudi Arabia,
choosing to stand up to the Americans and risk being seen to side with
President Saddam Hussein in his final hour. There is even a possibility that
when the countdown begins for war, a mini-stampede of latecomers will send
their troops to join the Americans and the British.

The considerable US diplomatic victory was achieved quietly, using a mixture
of threats and inducements that no country, least of all the weakened Arab
states, could resist.

Of Iraq's six neighbouring states, three countries ‹ Kuwait, Jordan and
Turkey ‹ will be critical to the war effort and have been included already
in US military planning for any offensive.

Kuwait, after its invasion and brutal occupation by Iraq a decade ago, is
probably the most strongly in favour of Saddam's removal, along with Iran,
which suffered ever greater losses during its war with Iraq.

Kuwait has been designated as the main launchpad for a US-led land offensive
into southern Iraq and has given up any pretence at wanting to halt the war.
It would like the conflict to be quick and effective. Similarly, Bahrain and
Qatar have agreed to host American forces for as long as it takes to finish
the job. Even Saudi Arabia will probably swallow its pride and allow the US
military to use the key Prince Sultan airbase to run the air campaign, the
first phase of the war.

Jordan, which shares a small but strategic border with western Iraq, has
made its choice. Despite public opposition to the war from native Jordanians
and the large Palestinian population, King Abdullah II has made clear that
he will not stand in the way of any US-led operation.

Only Turkey is still left struggling with how to deal with the Iraqi issue.
The powerful Turkish military has told Washington that its support is solid.
Undertakings have been given that America will be permitted to deploy tens
of thousands of troops as a staging post for action in Iraq.

But the newly elected Government, led by the Justice and Development Party,
is having second thoughts. It is trying to come to terms with its loyalty to
the United States and its own public, which voted the former Islamic party
to power and which is strongly opposed to war.

"Ultimately, they have as much interest in getting rid of Saddam as the rest
of us," an American official said. "It is hard to see them disagreeing with
a direct request from President Bush for help." Inducements in the form of
billions of dollars' of assistance, military support and political help in
Europe are expected to swing the argument.

When the Turks finally relent, the circle will be complete and phase one of
the war will be over.

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