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[casi] News, 02-10/1/03 (5)

News, 02-10/1/03 (5)


*  Already ailing, north Iraq faces medical threat from war
*  Leader of Iraq's PUK arrives in Tehran
*  Is this proof of an al-Qa'ida link to Iraq?
*  Iraqi Kurdish leader visits Turkey in sign of rapprochement


*  The UN's cozy cabal


*  Coalition Planes Attack Iraqi Target in No-Fly Zone [Al Kut, Thursday,
2nd January]
*  Allied aircraft strike in Iraq 'no-fly' zone [Near An Nasiriyah, about
170 miles southeast of Baghdad, Saturday 4th January]
*  Iraq Says Two Killed in U.S. Airstrike [Monday 6th January, unpecified
location; Tuesday, 7th January, near Al Amarah, about 165 miles southeast of
*  U.S. planes strike in Iraq southern no-fly zone [Wednesday, 8th January,
Iraqi military air defence cable sites between Al Kut, Al Basrah and An
Nasiriyah, all between about 100 miles (160 km) and 245 miles (392 km)
southeast of Baghdad]


*   Saddam's Foes Plan to Meet in Iraq
*  Iraqi Opposition May Delay Jan. Meeting
*  Opponents disrupt meeting of Iraqi Shiite opposition


*  During Baghdad visit, U.S. church official urges diplomacy over war
*  Canadian Activist Dies in Crash in Iraq
*  9/11 tragedy spurs peace mission to Iraq


*  Daman launches Dh184m Iraq-focused fund


by C.J. Chivers
International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 4th January

ARBIL, Iraq: The surgeon looked at a radiologist's images of the tumor in
Mustafa Othman's brain. He spoke gently, telling the patient only one thing
could be done.

The tumor was treatable, he said, just not in the Kurdish-controlled regions
of northern Iraq. Othman, 70, would have to travel to Baghdad to find a
specialist. But with war perhaps looming, it was a trip the old man was
unwilling to make. He did not want to be bedridden in the Iraqi capital if
bombs begin to fall.

"Now is not a good day to go," he said.

Throughout northern Iraq doctors and patients are confronting shortages and
difficult choices in a health care system they worry might soon collapse.

After years of struggle and sanctions, hospitals are short of equipment,
drugs, training, staff and supplies.

The possibility of war makes matters worse. If war comes, doctors say, this
strained system, responsible for approximately 4 million people residing in
Iraqi Kurdistan, as the de facto independent part of Iraq calls itself, will
be overwhelmed.

"The situation is unpredictable," said Dr. Jamal Abdulhameed, health
minister in the western half of the autonomous region. "But we are expecting
a disaster."

Signs of hard choices abound.

Some are individual, like Othman's decision to delay treating the tumor
growing in his brain. Others are institutional, a mix of policies or
shortages that restrict medical care. Since mid December in Arbil, for
example, government hospitals have been cutting back on surgery and X-rays,
denying nonemergency procedures to patients in hopes of preserving medical
supplies for war.

It is a triage in anticipation of a triage, driven by shortages taking
almost every form: blood bags, catheters, X-ray film, sutures, antibiotics,
anesthesia and reagent kits, which are used to determine blood types to
ensure safe transfusions.

Ambulances in northern Iraq, themselves an uncommon sight, carry little more
than gurneys and have no first-aid kits on board. Only a few have oxygen

On Dec. 24, the blood bank in Sulaimaniya had 65 pints of blood for more
than 1 million people - enough to handle victims of road accidents on a
normal day. The shortage of reagents means there is little chance that a
rush of donors would produce stores of useful blood.

"As a surgeon I cannot say this more clearly," said Dr. Giorgio Francia, a
manager for Relief International, a health aid organization based in Los
Angeles that is assessing the region's medical needs. "If someone goes to a
hospital, and he needs a transfusion and they do not have reagent, he will
die. Period."

There is also a shortage of specialists. There is no local neurosurgeon to
remove Othman's brain tumor, and in a war patients with neurological injury
would not receive specialized care, said Dr. Mothafar Habib, director of the
400-bed Rezgary Teaching Hospital here.

"Can we have a war without head injuries?" he asked.

He said he would like help from the United States, in the form of training,
staff, equipment and supplies, but "there is no sign yet of this."

It is impossible to say with any certainty how a war in Iraq would affect
civilians in its path. But medical professionals here see several
possibilities, and say that war planners should take them into account.

First, if it becomes apparent that war will begin, the officials said, large
numbers of civilians will probably flee Kurdish cities to the mountains,
where they would be vulnerable to exposure and waterborne disease. Health
officials also expect Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which regards the
Kurdish-controlled region of the north as an enemy, to bombard Kurdish
cities with conventional artillery and rockets, mixed with chemical or
biological munitions.

Moreover, they predict a second exodus, this one of non-Kurdish Iraqi
civilians, fearful of U.S. bombs, fleeing from Iraqi cities under Saddam's

Between the expected bombing and the dislocated people wandering across
regional lines, health officials anticipate an influx of victims suffering
typical war traumas, including bullet, shrapnel and burn wounds, and
complicating infections.

"It will be a catastrophe," said Dr. Rajan Ezzat, deputy director of the
teaching hospital in Sulaimaniya.

An official of the International Committee of the Red Cross said the
committee had stockpiled emergency materials and surgical kits in Iran, and
these would be brought to Iraqi war zones if fighting began.

Kurdish officials said this effort, while welcome, would not be enough.

Moreover, the attacks they fear most - chemical or biological strikes - are
the attacks for which they are least prepared, and against which the Red
Cross has said it could provide little help.

Government hospitals have no gas masks and no wash-down stations to bathe
victims as they arrive, a step necessary to prevent contamination of
emergency rooms with toxic agents, which might quickly render hospitals

Officials also say their laboratories are not equipped to sample and
identify toxic agents, and that doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers have
not received training on chemical agents.

"We haven't prepared ourselves for this sort of mass casualty drill," Ezzat


Tehran, Jan 5 - Leader of Iraq's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Jalal
Talebani arrived Tehran atop a delegation comprising members of the
political bureau of the PUK on Monday night, IRNA said.

During the visit, that would end on Friday, Talebani is scheduled to meet
Iranian authorities and exchange viewpoints on regional developments, Iraq
crisis, and the future of that country with them.

The PUK leader will meet and confer with the Islamic Consultative Assembly,
Majlis, SpeakerMehdi Karrubi at the Parliament Palace on Tuesday.

This is Talibani's first foreign visit after the Iraqi dissidents' London
Conference. The PUK leader had last visited Iran on November 1, 2002.

The London Conference was held on November 14-17, attended by over 320
representatives from fifty dissident Iraqi parties and political movements
and the draft of a post-Saddam government was sketched there.

The PUK seeks full autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan, while maintaining
cooperation and coexistence with a central Iraqi federative government, and
all foreign countries and nations.

Talebani who is the founder of the PUK was born in Kalkan village, near
Doukan Lake, of Iraq's Kurdistan Province in 1923.

He has been fighting for restoration of democracy in Iraq's Kurdistan during
the past half a century.

Talebani is a member of the 56-man committee appointed by the London
Conference to choose from among themselves a transitional ruling group in

The said committee is scheduled to meet in Kurdistan Province's Arbil city
on January 15 to appoint the leadership council of Iraq during the
transitional period.

The Independent, 8th January

An Islamic militant group based in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq with
purported links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida has been reported testing
ricin on farm animals.

The Iraqi government was also known to be working on the deadly germ warfare
agent in the Nineties, although tests were apparently halted after it failed
to prove effective as a weapon of mass destruction.

The British Government had been sceptical of US assertions about a possible
link between al Qa'ida and Saddam Hussein. But the discovery of ricin in a
London house provides a timely bonus for the US and British contention that
President Saddam Hussein must be stopped before any of his banned weaponry
finds its way into the hands of militant groups linked to Osama bin Laden.
German intelligence has warned that one such group, al Tawhid, whose
spiritual leader is believed to be the cleric Abu Qatada, now jailed in
London, could be preparing an attack on European targets. That group is also
reported to have been experimenting with ricin on dogs in Afghanistan.

Bernard Kouchner, a former French health minister and pro-Kurdish
campaigner, returned last month from a visit to northern Iraq convinced of
the link between President Saddam's regime and the extremist Kurdish
militants of Ansar al-Islam in the mountains bordering Iran.

In Tehran, Dr Kouchner met the leader of the Iranian-exiled Iraqi
resistance, Ayatollah Bakr al-Hakim, who told him President Saddam had links
with al-Qa'ida going back to 1994.

But other experts believe the alleged links provide a convenient conspiracy
theory that comforts the US position. There have also been suggestions that
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan could be exaggerating the connection to
draw in US support. It is also puzzling why  and how  the secular regime
of President Saddam would be in touch with Islamic militants in part of Iraq
not under his direct control.

Ansar al-Islam militants have been engaged in bitter fighting with other
Kurdish factions, and control at least 13 villages in the area. The 700
guerrillas include a hard-core group of 150 fighters who trained in

As for the Iraqi government, the UN inspectors will be checking whether the
Iraqis have resumed their clandestine programme, which produced 10 litres of
ricin. During a search of Iraq's main production facility at al-Hakam,
before they pulled out in 1998, the UN inspectors discovered four artillery
shells that had been used with ricin. But they told the UN Security Council
that "these trials produced indifferent results, and apparently, they were
not continued".

The inspectors' interviews with Iraqi scientists, if they are private, could
prove invaluable in determining the status of Iraq's banned weapons
programmes. One scientist was cornered by a UN team as he ran down a
staircase to avoid a documents search by biological weapons experts. His
bulging briefcase contained information on Iraq's ricin project.

Boston Herald, from Associated Press, 9th January

ANKARA, Turkey - The leader of an Iraqi Kurdish faction visited Turkey
Thursday for the first time in a year, a sign of improving relations between
two key allies the United States is counting on for help in any war against

Tensions between Turkey and Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party had
risen of late as the threat of war hangs over the region.

Turkey fears that any conflict could lead to the breakup of Iraq, with Kurds
in the north declaring independence. That could inspire Turkey's own restive
Kurdish minority.

Turkey insists that Iraqi Kurds not be left in control of the oil fields in
the north if there is a conflict. Barzani's faction wants control over those
areas should the regime of Saddam Hussein be ousted.

Barzani met with Turkish Foreign Ministry officials Thursday.

"Both sides realize our relations need to be improved," Barzani told
journalists after the meetings. Relations between Iraqi Kurds and Turkey
should be based on "friendship and cooperation," he added.

It was Barzani's first visit in more than a year, although other top KDP
officials have visited during that time.

Northern Iraq is an autonomous area controlled by Barzani's KDP and a rival
group, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.


by Steven Edwards
National Post (Canada), 2nd January

It's one of the United Nation's guilty little secrets: Power at the world
body resides not in the sprawling General Assembly, or even in the 15-member
Security Council, but in the special "club" of the Security Council's five
permanent members.

While the UN General Assembly is largely a talking shop that allows lesser
countries to blow off steam, the biggest history-changing decisions most
often stem from this cozy cabal.

Its five members -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia --
once bristled with Cold War hostility. But gradually, as global realities
have shifted, members of this inner circle have abandoned much of their
adversarial rhetoric, recognizing the value of working together to obtain
shared interests, trading a compromise here for an advantage there, and
storing up IOUs for a rainy day.

Just how the club works was shown in the process that produced the Security
Council resolution on returning weapons inspectors to Iraq for the first
time in four years.

The Council's 10 non-permanent members were barely allowed to add a comma
during its drafting, even though the resolution could not be approved
without at least some of their votes. The 176 UN member states outside the
Council had no say in it at all.

Instead, the resolution was negotiated almost entirely by the club, referred
to by diplomats as the "P5" -- P for "permanent." And within the P5, one
member, the United States, is first among equals.

With the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union as the
"other" superpower, Washington has acquired unprecedented political and
economic influence over the 10 nonpermanent members, who serve for two years
and last counted Canada among their ranks in 1999 and 2000.

"Nothing happens in the Security Council unless the P5 can agree," said
David Malone, president of the International Peace Academy, which monitors
the Security Council.

"It is also very difficult to achieve anything positive in the Council
against Washington's wishes."

The cost of opposing the United States can be high. When Yemen joined Cuba
to vote against the U.S.-proposed 1990 resolution authorizing the use of
force to eject Iraq from Kuwait, a U.S. delegate described the stand as "the
most expensive 'no' vote Yemen ever cast."

In short order, the United States cut its US$70-million aid package to the
country, and Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally also threatened by Saddam Hussein's
forces, expelled thousands of Yemeni workers.

The seats occupied by the P5 were handed out to the main victors of the
Second World War, even though Canada's contribution to victory in that
conflict was arguably greater than that of France.

The most recent non-permanent 10 were Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico,
Syria, Colombia, Ireland, Norway, Mauritius and Singapore. The last five
were replaced by Angola, Chile, Germany, Pakistan and Spain from Jan. 1.

When the Soviet Union occupied Russia's seat, there was plenty of public
debate in the Security Council, but little consensus on how to deal with the
world's problems, many of them caused by the ideological stand-off between
Moscow and the West.

The meetings did create some memorable moments, however, including the 1950
Soviet boycott that led to the vote sending U.S.-led UN troops to Korea and
Nikita Kruschev banging his shoe on his delegation's table.

Saddam Hussein's misfortune is that his emergence as a serious international
irritant came just at a time when the P5's interests were converging.

With the break-up of the Soviet Union, Moscow's opposition to Western
initiatives diminished. The first big example of collective action came with
the 1990 decision to authorize military force to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi

James Baker, then-U.S. secretary of state, hailed Russian support for the
resolution as a turning point in Security Council relations.

Although China, which remained communist, abstained, fears it would become
obstructionist never materialized. In general, it threatens to block only
matters affecting its direct interests, notably those concerning Taiwan or

One consequence of the new-found camaraderie has been a reduction in the
number of open meetings. Such debates still occur, but they have become
empty forums for speech making.

Today, the 15-member Council's most common form of get-together is the
informal consultation behind closed doors. P5 members huddle on the margins
of these meetings, though they rarely admit this.

"They started deciding that it was much more convenient to agree amongst
themselves and then basically impose whatever they had agreed on the rest,"
Mr. Malone said.

"The P5 always say they never caucus together, but this is clearly not

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, appears to have endorsed the P5 by
developing a special relationship with it, a stance that disappoints
countries like Canada, which has frequently denounced the private meetings.

"One wonders which among the [10] was regarded as so politically powerful or
intellectually dominant or rhetorically persuasive that the P5 could not
risk normal meetings with us," complained Paul Heinbecker, Canada's
ambassador to the UN, in a speech toward the end of Canada's last term on
the Council.

It was the P5 that George W. Bush, the U.S. President, was really addressing
when he stood before the 191-member General Assembly on Sept. 12 to call for
an end to Iraq's decade of defying the world body.

Although the Assembly embraces just about every country in the world, its
resolutions are usually nothing more than political statements, often
running counter to U.S. geopolitical interests. The United States has only
one vote, like any other nation in the Assembly, and no veto power.

This situation helps explain Washington's barely concealed disdain for the

Indeed, hawks within the Bush administration warned that seeking Security
Council backing for dealing with Iraq would be like donning handcuffs. Only
last year, France, Russia and China were talking about easing sanctions
against Baghdad, arguing that Iraq appeared to have largely disarmed.

However, by limiting most of the negotiations to the P5, Washington was able
to extract a document it claims threatens war if Baghdad fails to prove it
has disarmed.

Backed by Britain, the United States pulled out all the stops to win over
the other P5 members to its tougher line.

Negotiations were conducted between capitals and in private huddles at the
UN. Some of the 10's ambassadors were so far out of the loop even
journalists saw proposed drafts of the resolution before they did, leaked by
officials close to the negotiations .

Many of the spurned diplomats threw up their hands in despair.

"Our view is much like France's," said one. "We will have to trust them to
express that."

A moment of particular embarrassment came when the P5 demanded only the
inner circle should have full access to Iraq's 12,000-page arms declaration,
demanded by the Security Council as part of the disarmament process.

Hans Blix, the UN's chief inspector for chemical and biological weapons, had
said the document must be edited for security reasons.

This was because the declaration contained recipes for building weapons of
mass destruction, including information on developing a nuclear bomb. But
since all P5 members were nuclear powers, they argued they did not need to
wait for the sanitized version.

Nine of the 10 eventually agreed. The only holdout was Syria, also the only
Arab nation on the Council, which said it could not accurately judge the
document if large parts of it were missing.

The P5's will prevailed because it secured the minimum support of nine
votes, with no vetoes.

Five new non-permanent members are selected every year from candidates put
forward by regional blocs in the General Assembly. They serve two-year

Notwithstanding the P5's dominance, being a part of the UN's main power base
is an attraction.

"Membership of the Council is seen at the UN ... as more of a prize than
ever," writes Mr. Malone in a study of the election process.

"Potential candidates for nonpermanent seats seem undiscouraged by the
apparent stranglehold exerted on Council business by its five permanent

However, complaints about the General Assembly's impotence have become more
frequent as the Security Council's action on Iraq has brought the
possibility of a U.S.-led war closer.

"The Security Council represents our collective security concerns and should
ultimately be accountable to the entire United Nations," said Dumisani
Kumalo, South Africa's ambassador to the UN, speaking for the 113-member
non-aligned movement of mainly developing countries.

"The maintenance of international peace and security is a core function of
the United Nations. Therefore, the Security Council cannot be party to
increasing the humanitarian suffering of civilians who are caught up in
conflict situations."

Years of efforts to reform the Security Council -- some say to make it more
democratic -- have gone nowhere.

Developing countries have opposed plans to make Japan, the second-largest
cash contributor after the United States, and Germany permanent members.
Instead, they say they need representation, too.

But suggestions to pick new permanent members from regional groups, perhaps
in rotation, have also been criticized. Regional representatives might
include Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan
and South Africa.

Critics say vastly increasing the number of permanent members would turn the
Security Council into yet another bloated UN bureaucracy and produce yet
another series of inner circles.

Without agreement, the status quo endures.


Voice of America, 3rd January

The U.S. military says coalition warplanes have attacked Iraqi military
facilities in the "no fly zone" in southern Iraq.

The U.S. Central Command says aircraft used precision-guided weapons to
target the facilities near Al Kut, 100 kilometers southeast of Baghdad.

A Central Command statement says the planes carried out Thursday's airstrike
after Iraqi military forces fired anti-aircraft artillery at coalition

A day earlier, coalition aircraft targeted an Iraqi military air defense
radar in the southern no-fly zone.

The United States and Britain have prohibited Iraqi aircraft from flying in
areas over northern and southern Iraq since shortly after the Gulf War in
1991. The zones were set up to prevent the Iraqi military from attacking
minority Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south.

Houston Chronicle, 4th January

WASHINGTON (Reuters News Service): Aircraft taking part in U.S.-British
patrols over southern Iraq attacked three Iraqi military communication sites
today "in response to Iraqi hostile acts," the U.S. military said.

The aircraft used precision-guided weapons to strike the targets located
near An Nasiriyah, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, the Florida-based
U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

It did not specify what hostile acts Iraq had undertaken.

Earlier today, an Iraqi military spokesman said U.S. and British warplanes
had hit civilian targets in southern Iraq in a raid Friday. But the U.S.
Central Command said in its statement that today's strikes were the first
since Thursday.

The Iraqi spokesman in Baghdad said the U.S. and British aircraft fired at
civilian targets during one of a number of sorties over large areas of the
south of country Friday.

He reported no casualties and gave no further details on the bombing.

Today's air strike was the latest in a lengthy series of tit-for-tat
exchanges since the 1991 Gulf War that drove Iraqi invasion forces out of


Las Vegas Sun, 7th January

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq said Wednesday that two people were killed and 13
injured when U.S. and British warplanes bombed what it called civilian
installations in the south of the country.

In a statement published in state-run newspapers, an unidentified military
spokesman said the strike took place Monday night, but he gave no details of
the targets.

On Tuesday, the U.S. military said American warplanes bombed two Iraqi
anti-aircraft radars that threatened pilots patrolling the southern no-fly

The planes used precision-guided weapons to target the mobile radar
equipment near Al Amarah, about 165 miles southeast of Baghdad, according to
a statement from U.S. Central Command. The airstrike took place at about
3:30 p.m. EST Monday, the statement added.

It was the second airstrike this year by American planes patrolling the
southern no-fly zone, which was set up more than a decade ago to prevent
Iraq's army from attacking restive Shiite Muslims in the region. A strike on
Saturday targeted three Iraqi air defense communications sites in the same
general area as Monday's strike.

U.S. and British warplanes patrol another no-fly zone in northern Iraq to
protect the Kurdish minority. Iraq considers the no-fly zones violations of
its sovereignty and frequently tries to shoot down the planes.

Yahoo, 8th January

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.S. and British warplanes bombed southern
Iraq on Wednesday in the latest of a string of bombings in the no-fly zones
they patrol, Iraqi and U.S. military officials said.

The warplanes struck Iraqi military air defence cable sites between Al Kut,
Al Basrah and An Nasiriyah, all between about 100 miles (160 km) and 245
miles (392 km) southeast of Baghdad, a U.S. Central Command statement said.

An Iraqi military statement confirmed the raids but said the planes hit
civilian targets. It did not report any casualties but said Iraqi forces
fired at the planes, driving them back to bases in Kuwait.

"The Coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi air defence forces fired
anti-aircraft artillery at Coalition aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly
zone and in response to Iraqi military aircraft violating the southern
no-fly zone," the U.S. military statement said.

The last strike in southern Iraq was on Monday. The Iraqi army said two
civilians were killed and 13 injured in that bombing.

"Coalition aircraft never target civilian populations or infrastructure and
go to painstaking lengths to avoid injury to civilians and damage to
civilian facilities," U.S. Central Command said.

An escalation of skirmishes in the no-fly zones coincides with a U.S.
military build-up in the Gulf region to prepare for a possible war with

The United States and Britain declared no-fly zones in northern and southern
Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurds in the north and Shi'ite
Muslims in the south from Baghdad's forces. Iraq does not recognise the


by Khaled Yacoub Oweis
Reuters, 3rd January

LONDON: Iraq's main opposition groups said on Friday they planned to convene
a congress on Iraqi soil in two weeks' time to boost their credibility as an
alternative to President Saddam Hussein.

"We have agreed that a mid-January meeting in Iraq is the priority. The
final decision rests with our leaders," Hamid Bayati, a senior official in
the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, told Reuters after a
meeting of representatives from the six groups.

A 65-member committee dominated by the six parties, recognized by the United
States, was selected at an opposition conference in London last month to act
as an effective government in exile.

The six agreed in principle to convene as a congress -- which could act like
a government-in waiting -- for the first time in the northern Iraqi city of
Arbil this month.

The town is controlled by one of two Kurdish factions, the Kurdish
Democratic Party.

But some have suggested moving the venue to Turkey -- a venue that Bayati
did not completely rule out.

Radio Free Iraq on Friday quoted a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman as
saying that Jalal Talabani, leader of the rival Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, had asked Turkish authorities to approve holding the meeting in
Ankara, instead of Arbil.

The request was also made by a group of Iraqi exiles of Turkish origin, the
Prague-based U.S. funded radio reported.

The six groups agreed at the December meeting on a political blueprint for
the country's future, calling for a federal and tolerant Iraq in the event
Saddam is ousted and vowing to oppose future foreign occupation of Iraq.

Committee member Tawfiq al-Yassiri, head of a council of exiled Iraqi
military officers, said a meeting in Ankara would help improve relations
between Turkey, which opposes Kurdish self-determination, and the Iraqi

"It is preferable to meet in free Iraq. It would send an important message
to the interior (the Iraqi people).

"But Turkey is also involved in the Iraqi issue. It is not an enemy of the
present regime and I do not think it will become one to the government that
will replace Saddam," said Yassiri.

The six main opposition groups are: The Iraqi National Congress -- the most
pro-U.S. wing led by former banker Ahmad Chalabi, the Tehran-based Supreme
Council, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan,
the Iraqi National Accord headed by neurologist Ayad Allawi, and a
monarchist movement.

by Maamoun Youssef
Las Vegas Sun, 7th January

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - An Iraqi opposition meeting announced for Jan. 15 in
northern Iraq may be delayed because delegates now disagree on the date and
location, members of the Kurdish opposition said Tuesday in London.

An Iraqi opposition conference in London last month appointed a 65-member
steering committee expected to form the basis of a transitional government
if the United States topples the Iraqi regime. Delegates to that meeting
said they had recommended the committee hold its first meeting Jan. 15 in
northern Iraq.

Representatives of six main Iraqi opposition groups met Monday in London and
reaffirmed the committee would meet, but could not agree on where or when,
the opposition sources in London told The Associated Press in Cairo by
telephone. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein lost control over northern Iraq after the 1991
Gulf War. It is now run by two Kurdish groups under the protection U.S. and
British warplanes that patrol the so-called no-fly zone in the north of the
country. Another such zone, comprising nearly the southern half of the
country, was established by the allies to protect Shiite Muslim from
retribution by Saddam.

The opposition steering committee, which reportedly may grow by 10 more
representatives, is to formulate policies and facilitate communication
between Iraqi dissidents and the international community. Many believe it
could form the basis for a post-Saddam transitional government.


TEHRAN, Jan 9 (AFP) - Critics of a newly-lauched Iraqi Shiite Muslim
opposition group disrupted a meeting hosted by its founder Abdel Majid
Al-Khoei in the holy city of Qom, central Iran, the state news agency IRNA
reported Thursday.

The opponents of Khoei and his moderate Shiite Assembly of Iraq disrupted
the meeting which was "attended by a number of Iraqi refugees living in
Qom", the agency said.

They chanted slogans such as "go back to the United States".

Abdel Majid al-Khoei is a son of the late Grand Ayatollah Khoei, a top Iraqi
Shiite cleric who died under house arrest in 1992 in the holy city of Najaf
south of Baghdad.

He is also secretary general of the London-based charitable Al-Khoei
Foundation, which also branches in New York and Montreal.

"Iraqi Shiites, who make up the majority in Iraq, have never enjoyed a legal
status and place in the country, and now is the time to change that," Khoei
said before his speech was disrupted.

The United States "wants to change the Iraqi regime for its own interests,
and the interests of the Iraqi nation fall in line with this policy," he

IRNA did not give details on the political affiliation of his critics at the

Most Iraqi Shiite opposition groups have offices in Iran, notably the
Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an armed
fundamentalist group.


News&Observer, 2nd January

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A visiting U.S. church official urged the United States
on Thursday to negotiate with Iraq to avert a war that he said would make
the United States less secure and increase the risk of terrorism in the
Middle East.

Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches and a
former congressman from Pennsylvania, told a news conference that his
13-member delegation expected - on their return to the United States - to
meet with Bush administration officials and members of Congress to press for
a peaceful solution.

"We think we can win without war," Edgar said. "The inspectors are here.
They are inspecting. Let them do their work."

"While the inspections are going on, we would hope that negotiations would
also be going on between the two governments," he said.

U.N. inspectors returned to Baghdad in late November under a new Security
Council mandate to search the country for banned nuclear, chemical or
biological weapons or the means to deliver them. President Bush has
threatened war to disarm Saddam Hussein if he does not cooperate with the
inspection program.

Edgar and other delegation members said they had found a distressing
humanitarian situation during four days of visits to Iraqi hospitals and
schools. He said the food ration for Iraqis was inadequate to keep them

Edgar said the delegation, which included Methodists, Unitarians and
Presbyterians among other denominations, came as a religious and not a
political group.

He said he wanted to make clear the group does not support authoritarian
governments and had asked "pointed questions" about freedom in Iraq in a
meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

Edgar said a war would harm innocent Iraqis and increase the threat of
terrorism aimed at both America and Israel.

He conceded it would be a tough battle to prevent a war, given that "the
rhetoric of the governments of both the United States and Iraq lean in the
direction of war."

But, he added, "We believe there is a chance to move back from the brink of
war. I'm optimistic that we have time."

Hoover's (Financial Times), 6th January

TORONTO (AP)A Canadian peace activist stationed in southern Iraq was
killed Monday in a car crash apparently caused by a blown tire.

Two American members of the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams were
hospitalized for injuries including a broken nose and broken ribs, according
to a statement issued by the group's Toronto office.

The activists were scheduled to leave Iraq on Thursday after a mission that
began in October.

Killed was George Weber, 73, of Chesley, Ontario, while the injured were
Michele Naar Obed of Duluth, Minn., and Charlie Jackson of San Antonio,
Texas, the statement said. Naar was later released from hospital.

Jim Loney, another Canadian activist who was in the car but not seriously
injured, said the rear left tire "sort of exploded" as the car was on a
six-lane highway in clear conditions north of Basrah.

The vehicle rolled at least once and came to rest on its roof, Loney said.
Weber was sitting in the back seat and was thrown from the vehicle, dying
instantly, he said.

Doug Pritchard, Canada coordinator for the group, said the cause of the
crash was being investigated.

The organization trains nonviolence volunteers to intervene in conflict

by Hamza Hendawi
Toronto Star, from AP, 8th January

BAGHDAD  Grief turned Kristina Olsen into a peace activist after her sister
died aboard the American Airlines flight that terrorists crashed into the
World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

Today, she met Iraqis in Baghdad who also lost loved ones in an attack  but
in 1991, when U.S. warplanes struck an Iraqi bomb shelter during the Gulf

Olsen and three other American relatives of Sept. 11 victims travelled to
Baghdad to protest a possible U.S. war with Iraq and to promote peace
through personal contacts with Iraqis.

The activists heard fear and anger that the United States would strike
again, talking for two hours with Iraqis such as Fikra'a Shaker, 46, who
lost her parents and sister in the shelter bombing.

"They asked us what we wanted, and we said we wanted peace," Shaker said
after meeting the Americans. "But if Bush attacks us, we are ready to offer
more victims."

The United States accuses Iraq of hiding weapons of mass destruction, and
has threatened war to topple President Saddam Hussein.

Olsen and the other activists met with Iraqis amid the blackened walls,
tangled wires and twisted steel rods of the wrecked shelter, which Saddam's
government preserves as a monument.

Iraq says 403 civilians, including 52 children, died when two U.S. missiles
hit the Amariya shelter on Feb. 13, 1991. U.S. officials said at the time
they believed the structure was an Iraqi military command centre.

"It's devastating. The concrete and the wires reminded me of Ground Zero,"
said Olsen, a nurse from Newburyport, Mass. whose sister Laurie Neira died
in the attack on the World Trade Center.

She and the other visitors  Colleen Kelly of New York; Terry Rockefeller of
Massachusetts; and Kathleen Tinley, a math and chemistry student at
Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.  belong to Peaceful Tomorrows, a group
founded by relatives of Sept. 11 victims.

Peaceful Tomorrows members made similar trips last year to Afghanistan,
whose Taliban government collapsed under a U.S. military campaign launched
because it had harboured Osama bin Laden.

"Suffering is universal and it connects us all," Olsen said. "I hope some
sort of healing has come about as a result of us listening to the people

The Americans and Iraqis spoke through interpreters, holding hands and
hugging as some wept. While Olsen said the Americans were made to feel
welcome, there were signs of the tensions between the U.S. and Iraqi

Americans "want war, we want peace. If it's war, we are ready for it," said
Joweida Kazem, 70, in tears after meeting the Sept. 11 families. Kazem lost
her three teenage daughters in the shelter bombing.

U.S. forces bombed the shelter during the Gulf War that drove Iraqi troops
from Kuwait. Iraq, which invaded Kuwait in 1990, remains under UN sanctions.
It blames the sanctions on the United States, and says sanctions are
responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, primarily
children and infants.

Getting the sanctions lifted is contingent on Iraq's proving it does not
have what the UN terms weapons of mass destruction or programs to make them.

Iraq denies possessing banned weapons and says it is giving full
co-operation to UN inspectors in the country since November. A sceptical
Washington has stepped up preparations for war, with weapons and thousands
of troops pouring into the Gulf region.

After talking with the Iraqis, the visiting Americans held a candlelit
anti-war vigil outside the shelter with another group of American and German
peace activists.

Olsen, standing with fellow activists around a banner declaring Peaceful
Tomorrow For All, performed a song she wrote in memory of her sister. "Being
kind is all that the sad world needs," she sang, strumming a guitar.

Tinley, whose uncle Michael E. Tinley died in the World Trade Center, said
the experience of meeting the Iraqis had touched her. "People don't have to
die like this," she said.


by C.L. Jose
Gulf News, Dubai, 7th January

Daman Asset Management has launched a new investment product - Daman Iraq
Opportunity Fund - with a view to providing investors with the opportunity
to participate in the international reintegration and reconstruction of

Registered in British Virgin Islands, the authorised share capital of this
close-ended fund will be Dh183.5 million ($50 million). The par value per
share will be $100, whereas the minimum subscription has been fixed at
$100,000. The fund, with a life of five years and extendable for another
five years, is confident of giving out aggressive dividend payout.

With the valuation of assets available in Iraq being very attractive, Daman
believes this is the right time to participate in asset acquisition in Iraq
so that the fund will be able to make windfall once the reconstruction of
Iraq begins, and at the same time investors are getting an opportunity in
the rebuilding of Iraq.

The fund, which is a discretionary private equity initiative, will initially
identify investment opportunities that are permissible given the current
international legal consensus surrounding commerce with Iraq, and plans to
increase its scope of activity as and when sanctions against the country are

"The Daman Iraq Opportunity Fund was launched with the view that the
potential for growth in Iraq is very significant and that the country can
benefit a great deal from infrastructure investment. Iraq potentially
represents a large, educated and skilled market and we expect pent-up demand
to be freed in the future. This growth in demand will lead to economic
growth that will generate above-market returns on investment in retail and
commercial projects," said Shehab M. Gergash, director, Daman Asset

He also said that upon lifting of sanctions against Iraq, growth is expected
to occur rapidly.

WIth Iraq's oil industry restored to full capacity and able to sell to
international markets freely, the additional revenue could spur up to 25 per
cent GDP per annum, according to Daman's research.

The fund may not initiate full-fledged investment in Iraq for 18 months from
now in order to weigh the political and other factors ruling there and if
Daman decides not to go ahead with investments there in view of any
unfavourable situations, the investments will be returned to the respective
investors along with bank interest rate.

Though the fund size has been fixed at $50 million, Daman doesn't intend to
raise the full amount during the early part of the fund's life, but rather
will seek investors for funding as and when required for opportunities
identified by the expert committee comprising analysts from Iraq also.

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