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[casi] News, 02-10/1/03 (6)

News, 02-10/1/03 (6)


*  Cimatu team to assess status of OFWs in ME
*  Germany denies report on coup against Saddam
*  This Europe: Lying idle off Italy's coast, the pride and joy of the Iraqi
*  Tutu slams 'arrogant' US
*  Greek Church Prepares Humanitarian Aid for Iraqi Refugees
*  Top U.S. Military to Meet in Germany
*  Gas masks to be given to Filipinos in Kuwait if Iraqi war happens
*  Kim Jong-il out-Saddams Saddam
*  Keep us out of Bush's war on Iraq
*  Labor split widens over Iraq
*  Two-thirds of French oppose Iraq war - poll
*  Greece Launches EU Peace Mission on Iraq
*  US has "no disagreement" with Malaysia over UN stand on Iraq: US official
*  Rafidah: 5,000 Proton cars heading for Iraq
*  Iraq splits coalition
*  PM can't have it both ways on Iraq: Crean


by Mayen Jaymalin
The Philippine Star, 3rd January

Amid a renewed threat of war in the Middle East, the 13-man Middle East
Preparedness Team (MEPT), headed by retired Gen. Roy Cimatu, will leave for
the region on Monday to assess the condition of the estimated 1.5 million
overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there.

Labor Undersecretary Manuel Imson said the MEPT will visit Kuwait, Saudi
Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The other MEPT members include Overseas Workers Welfare Administration
(OWWA) chief Virgilio Angeles, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
(POEA) director Ramon Tionloc and Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary
Reynaldo Parungao.

Nine biological warfare experts from the Armed Forces are also joining the

Imson said Cimatu has asked Malacañang to require the Philippine
representative to the United Nations to get information on the latest
developments in the Middle East crisis so the government can act

Cimatu said the government could only rely on information coming from the UN
considering that communication lines with Baghdad, Iraq have deteriorated.

At least 104 Filipino workers in Iraq, Imson said, may likely be relocated
to Amman, Jordan, and 6,000 other OFWs at the Kuwait border to Saudi Arabia.

Imson, however, said there is no immediate need to relocate them although
the government is "preparing for any eventuality."

Gulf News, Reuters, 3rd January

The United States wants to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussain from power
without the bloodshed or the billions of dollars of a new Gulf war, an
Iranian newspaper said yesterday.

But the German Foreign Ministry denied the daily Entekhab's report that
Germany's foreign minister told his Iranian counterpart by telephone that
Washington sought a bloodless coup with the help of Russian President
Vladimir Putin.

"'s been heard that Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister, has told
Kamal Kharrazi in a phone conversation that America is set to overthrow
Saddam Hussain without a war, bloodshed and heavy military expenditure,"
Entekhab said.

The German Foreign Ministry confirmed the two ministers spoke by telephone,
but denied Fischer had said the United States was trying to topple the Iraqi
leader without a war.

"This content of the conversation is completely made up," a foreign ministry
spokeswoman said in Berlin.

The newspaper, believed to be close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, said Washington had harmonised its policy with Russia.

It underlined recent remarks by former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni
Primakov about the possibility that Putin might visit Baghdad in order to
persuade Saddam to relinquish power and depart for Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it did not comment on media reports and
had no information about any Putin visit to the Iraqi capital.

Meanwhile, about a dozen Arab intellectuals said they planned to publish an
appeal in Arab newspapers later this week in an attempt to persuade Saddam
to step down in return for asylum abroad and guarantees for his safety.

That idea was recently expounded in an open letter to Saddam by Ghassan
Tueni, a former Lebanese statesman and publisher of Beirut's An Nahar daily.

"The immediate resignation of Saddam, whose rule over three decades have
been a nightmare for Iraq and the Arab world, is the only way around further
violence," said a copy of the appeal obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

The Iranian newspaper said the United States, which is amassing troops and
armour near Iraq, also preferred a non-violent solution.

Entekhab said the U.S. scheme for a post-Saddam government involved a
federal system that would include the ruling Baath party.

Saddam's power base is drawn mainly from among the country's Sunni Muslims,
and opposition to his one-man rule is strongest among the southern Shi'ites
and northern Kurds.

The Iraqi opposition, fragmented along sectarian and ideological lines, met
in London to try to produce a joint formula for a democratic post-Saddam
Iraq with limited success.

Tehran remains strongly opposed to Saddam after an eight year war with Iraq,
but is reluctant to see a pro-Western government in Baghdad completing its
encirclement by countries friendly to its arch enemy Washington following
last year's Afghan war.

by Paul Haven
Newsday, from AP, 3rd January

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistani security agencies were on high alert and
extra troops were being deployed near the U.S. Embassy and other sensitive
sites to maintain order during a nationwide strike called Friday to protest
a potential U.S.-led war against Iraq.

The demonstrations -- called by hard-line Islamic leaders that won
unprecedented support in recent nationwide elections -- were planned in all
of Pakistan's major cities. The religious leaders also called for shops to
shutter their windows in allegiance.

Supporters say the marches are just a taste of the anger that an attack on
Saddam Hussein's regime would cause in Pakistan, a deeply conservative
Muslim country, but a crucial ally in the U.S.-led war on terror.

"The American attack on Iraq will be an attack on the Islamic world," said
Fazl-ur Rahman, a one time can didate for prime minister and a leader of the
Islamist coalition, called the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal. "If today we cannot
stop America from attacking Iraq, then tomorrow they will attack Iran, and
then it could be Pakistan."

There have been a series of terrorist attacks on Westerners and Pakistani
Christians since President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's decision to side with the
United States in its efforts to topple the Taliban regime in neighboring
Afghanistan, and some fear the anger will intensify if America wages war on
another Muslim country.

Most Western embassies in Pakistan are already operating at emergency
levels, with families evacuated after a grenade attack on a church in March
that killed a U.S. Embassy employee and her 17-year-old daughter. In June, a
large car bomb went off outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, killing 12
Pakistanis. A suicide bombing in that southern city in May killed 14 people,
including 11 French engineers.

Interior Ministry spokesman Iftikhar Ahmad said extra police will be
deployed outside the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and consulates in other
cities during Friday's marches.

"Sentiments are always high when clerics hold rallies against America, but
the provincial governments have prepared security plans to maintain law and
order," he said.

Pakistan's government, which on Jan. 1 took over a seat on the 15-member
U.N. Security Council, has been reluctant to discuss it's position on Iraq.
But Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali urged his countrymen not to waste
their energy defending Saddam Hussein's regime.

"Give a glance back in history, and see whether Iraq helped Pakistan during
its times of crisis," Jamali said last week.

Protests were expected to get under way in the afternoon, after traditional
Friday prayers in which hard-line clerics were to rally their supporters at
mosques. Shopkeepers were also asked to close, though many businesses were
shut already because Friday is the Muslim sabbath.

Additional barricades and cement walls have been erected outside the U.S.
Embassy in the capital and soldiers in sandbag bunkers guard the diplomatic
enclave, a neighborhood where foreign missions are located and vehicles are
routinely stopped and checked.

Religious leaders promised that their supporters would not resort to

"We will be peaceful," said Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the leader of Pakistan's
oldest and most organized religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which is a
member of the coalition.

Tensions were already heightened ahead of Friday's protests after a weekend
shootout between American and Pakistani forces along the Pakistan-Afghan
border. A U.S. warplane dropped a bomb along the border after a rogue
Pakistani border guard shot and wounded an American soldier.

The U.S. military says the entire clash took place on Afghan soil, but
Pakistan's government says only that it is investigating to see if the
Americans crossed over into its territory.

by Alex Duval Smith
The Independent, 4th January

We knew that western intelligence had its failings but ask any resident of
the Ligurian port of La Spezia and you will find that the enemy really does
reside within ­ out in the port, there he is, or rather they are: two Iraqi

As diplomats have rewritten resolutions and generals launch air strikes, the
pride of the Iraqi navy has quietly been bobbing away on the still waters of
the Italian Riviera.

Every morning, a dozen sailors dutifully hoist the Iraqi flag aboard the
Moussa Ben Noussair and the Tarek Ben Ziad. Then they rev the engines of the
two Esmeralda-class corvettes and swivel their 76mm cannons menacingly along
the horizon.

But the cannons are not loaded and the drill has been going on every day for
the past 19 years. The two corvettes were part of an order placed by Iraq
with Fincantieri, the Italian state shipbuilder, in 1980. The order was
worth $960m (£430m) and included the two Esmeralda-class corvettes; four
Wadi-class corvettes, loaded with helicopters, missile and rocket-launchers
and anti-submarine torpedoes; four Lupo-class frigates armed with short
range missiles, and a supply ship. But war and sanctions intervened.

The routine of the dozen men who keep the engines turning and hoist the flag
every day never changes, except in October every year when Baghdad sends out
a new crew. When the sailors are allowed on land ­ a humanitarian gesture
more than anything, because the quarters are cramped ­ they are escorted by
agents from Sios, the Italian secret service. And they may not diverge from
a strict itinerary set for them by the Italians.

"It would have completely transformed the quality and capacity of [Iraq's]
fleet," said Jim McCoy, a naval analyst at the International Institute of
Strategic Studies in London. But as the order was completed, war broke out
between Iran and Iraq. The Italian leader at the time, the socialist Bettino
Craxi, froze military deliveries to Iraq. At the end of the conflict in
1988, Saddam Hussein refused to take the vessels unless he received a
discount to compensate Iraq for the delay. The courts did not deliver a
ruling before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1988; then came a new freeze on
deliveries, this time imposed by the United Nations.

Fincantieri ­ which was paying to keep the ships in working order ­ handed
the problem over to the Italian government which, in turn, decided to get
rid of the vessels.

The Italian navy took four frigates and four corvettes were flogged to
Malaysia. The supply ship sailed for Iraq in 1984 but could not reach its
base at Basra because the Shatt al-Arab waterway was closed. Iraq was
allowed to keep the two corvettes but, amid fears of the alleged Iraqi
"supergun", they were never allowed to leave port. "It will be very
difficult for these ships to ever arrive in Iraq," said Marco Maria
Ferranti, a spokesman for Fincantieri.

It is still not clear what will become of the Ligurian Esmeraldas. They may
yet be sold to another country.,1113,2-7

News 24 (South Africa), 5th January

London - Archbishop Desmond Tutu criticised the United States on Sunday as
an arrogant superpower bent on unilateral action, in an interview on the
Iraq crisis to be telecast in Britain.

"I'm shocked to see a powerful country use its power frequently,
unilaterally," said Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for opposing
apartheid in his native South Africa.

"The United States says: 'You do this to the world. If you don't do it, we
will do it.' That's sad," he said.

"When does compassion, when does morality, when does caring come in?" he
asked. "I just hope that one day that people will realise that peace is a
far better path to follow."

Tutu said it was "mind-boggling" that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is
strongly backing US President George W Bush in the showdown with Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein.

"Many, many of us are deeply saddened to see a great country such as the
United States aided and abetted extraordinarily by Britain," the Anglican
archbishop said.

Tutu also questioned why Iraq - which denies it has nuclear, chemical or
biological weapons - was being singled out when India and Pakistan are
confirmed nuclear powers.

"What do you do with weapons of mass destruction in Europe? What do you do
with them in India? What do you do with them in Pakistan?" he asked. "Where
do you stop?"

"America should remember that they supported some of the most repressive
governments," he said.

"Let's hear what (UN weapons) inspectors get to see. But if you are going to
apply as strictly as you want UN resolutions there, you ask why there and
not in other places. Why not in Palestine?"

Tutu was interviewed for the Jonathan Dimbleby newsmakers programme for
broadcast on the commercial ITV television network. Excerpts were released
to the British press in advance of broadcast.

Speaking on the same program, former UN human rights commissioner Mary
Robinson praised Bush for getting unanimous support in the UN Security
Council for Resolution 1441, which orders Hussein to give up weapons of mass
destruction or face serious consequences.

But she stressed that any future action on Iraq must also be conducted
through the Security Council. Otherwise, she said, the results could be
"really very serious for stability in a much wider area than just Iraq

"I think the implications would be very far-reaching and very worrying," the
former Irish head of state added.

Tehran Times, 6th January

ATHENS -- The Greek Orthodox Church said Sunday it has assembled a package
of humanitarian aid ready for liftoff to refugee zones around Iraq in case
of a U.S.-led war against Baghdad.

"The package worth more than 300,000 euros (dollars) consists of food,
clothes and medicine. It will be airlifted to camps receiving Iraqi
refugees, mostly in Syria. We have already made arrangements with the Greek
Air Force to that effect," Dimitris Fourlemadis, an official with the
church-sponsored Solidarity Organization, told AFP.

"We pray it will not come to a war, but considering recent developments, we
have already assembled the package," Fourlemadis said.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said that "similar requests by the Church of
Greece are usually granted".

Earlier in the day, during a visit to a refugee camp in Athens run by the
aid group Medecins du Monde (doctors of the world) Archbishop Christodoulos,
head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, had mentioned that aid would be sent
to Iraq.

Solidarity has sent aid to Georgia, Kosovo and Romania in the past. Its
missions are usually funded in part by the Greek Ministry for Foreign
Affairs. According to Fourlemadis, however, the Iraqi mission is bankrolled
entirely by the Church of Greece.

by David Rising
Las Vegas Sun, 6th January

BERLIN (AP) - Top U.S. military commanders most likely to direct an attack
on Iraq will gather in snowy southern Germany this month for exercises to
strengthen ties between U.S. based troops and the U.S. Army's
Heidelberg-based V Corps.

The commanders and more than 1,000 headquarters staff will coordinate
simulated artillery, air and helicopter attacks deep into an enemy's rear
area from a mobile headquarters in the Army's sprawling Grafenwoehr training

The exercise - dubbed Victory Scrimmage - is classified, but a U.S. military
official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said troops from the 101st
Airborne Division and the 1st Cavalry Division will be sent from the United
States to practice Iraq invasion scenarios for seven to 10 days in late
January and early February.

Together with V Corps' 1st Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division,
the four divisions are among the Army's best-equipped and combat ready.

"This is a grouping that is actually going to fight the war if necessary in
Iraq, and they have to do these exercises to get their procedures right and
for the officers to get to know each other," said retired British Army Maj.
Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies.

"These are the formations we've kept our eyes on for quite a long time, so
the pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place."

Lt. Col. Joseph Richard, a V Corps spokesman, said it will be the first time
the units from the United States will travel to Europe for an exercise with
V Corps - the Army's only corps overseas with more than 40,000 personnel.

"It's an opportunity to work out any particular challenges we may
experience," Richard said. "We're talking about significant numbers of
organizations and soldiers, and it's important to be able to flesh out these
operations prior to any other operation we may have to undertake."

A corps is the largest tactical unit in the U.S. Army, and can control up to
five divisions, while synchronizing actions by the Navy, Air Force and
Marines. It was 7th Corps, based in Germany until disbanded in the early
1990s, that took the lead during the Gulf War.

Victory Scrimmage will be run by V Corps commander Lt. Gen. William Wallace,
who spent much of December in Qatar with about 500 of his headquarters staff
staging Internal Look, another classified exercise widely thought to have
been a rehearsal for war with Iraq.

About one-fifth of his staff stayed behind, and several other V Corps units,
including the 130th Engineer Brigade and the 205th Military Intelligence
Brigade, were ordered to the region by mid-February.

During the exercise, the headquarters staff will set up a corps command post
- the kind that can be airlifted in entirety to a combat area - and then run
computer simulated command and control exercises, Richard said. Like
Internal Look, it will not involve combat units on the ground.

"It's all part of normal military preparedness," Heyman said. "They'd be
hostages to fortune if they didn't do it ... and they will probably have to
do it again with troops on the ground as a field training exercise once they
get on the ground in the Gulf."

Gathering the four divisions for war games close to when the first major
report by U.N. weapons inspectors is due, Jan. 27, is also a way to show
Baghdad that Washington is serious.

"There is a psychological operation going on both at the diplomatic and
military level, and it's there to convince Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army
that resistance is futile," Heyman said.


MANILA, Jan. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Filipinos in Kuwait will be provided with
protective masks in the event war breaks out in Iraq, special envoy Roy A.
Cimatu said.

Cimatu, head of the Philippines' Middle East Preparedness Team, left Monday
for Kuwait, to oversee the safety of the 1.4 million overseas Filipino
workers in the troubled Middle East region.

Cimatu said the Kuwaiti government has assured the Philippines of providing
the 60,000 Filipinos in the country of gas masks if hostilities erupt
between its neighbor country of Iraq and the United States, the Philippine
News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The gas mask is for protection in times of biological and chemical warfare.

Cimatu said Philippine contingency plan for the evacuation of Filipino
workers in the Middle East, particularly Kuwait, is already in place.

In the event of war, the Filipinos in Kuwait will be relocated to safer
places. But nonetheless they will each be issued with gasmasks for their
protection, he said.

He added that there is not much problem for the evacuation of Filipinos in
Iraq because there are only 109 of them and most if not all are working with
the UN.

by Jim Lobe
Asia Times, 7th January

WASHINGTON - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must be green with envy.

Not only has North Korean President Kim Jong-il eclipsed him in the US mass
media, but his fellow evil-doer in the infamous "axis of evil" is also
defying the world's dominant power on a daily basis, and getting away with

After all, dozens of United Nations weapons inspectors are crawling all over
Iraq without the slightest hindrance, scouring the country for evidence of
biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Despite such cooperation, US
President George W Bush threatens war to "liberate" Baghdad virtually every

How does this square with his kid-gloves treatment of Pyongyang, which
Washington believes already has chemical, biological and as many as two
nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them as far away as Japan and
even Hawaii?

Kim expels the remaining two UN inspectors from its territory, starts firing
up the Yongbyon nuclear plant that already houses enough plutonium to
produce half a dozen more atomic weapons in two months, warns it may soon
withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Bush responds by
insisting that Pyongyang need not fear military action by the United States.

Not only that. Bush is facing growing pressure both from his closest Asian
allies to go back on his pledge not to "negotiate" with Pyongyang, as the
North is demanding, until it dismantles all of its nuclear programs. And
there are already indications that his administration is figuring out
possible forums in which such a dialogue could take place.

But with respect to Iraq, Bush contemptuously rejects similar pleas by
Washington's Arab allies for patience and engagement, and appears bent - not
to say obsessed - instead on pursuing a military solution, unilaterally if

Indeed, Washington's Asian allies, particularly South Korea where it has
stationed thousands of troops for a half-century, are defying Washington
directly, as both that country's outgoing and incoming presidents did this
past week by publicly denouncing Washington's efforts to isolate Pyongyang.

By contrast, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and other Muslim states around
Iraq grumble publicly about the direction Washington is taking the region
while assuring Bush privately that, when push comes to shove, they will
cooperate with US war plans.

And while the Bush administration has done everything it can -
unsuccessfully - to link Saddam Hussein with al-Qaeda and thus bolster its
case that whatever weapons of mass destruction he still has could be
transferred to terrorists for use against US targets, it does not even
mention the possibility that North Korea may be a much stronger candidate
for supplying weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaeda.

After all, North Korea, whose possession of such weapons and past resort to
terrorist methods are beyond dispute, has a long history of close
cooperation with Pakistan's military establishment, which reportedly
provided some of its nuclear secrets in exchange for North Korean missiles.

Moreover, some of the scientists and military sponsors in Pakistan's nuclear
program are known to have backed the Taliban in Afghanistan and to have
pro-Qaeda views. So why should Saddam be singled out for suspicion, as
opposed to the Pyongyang-Pakistan axis?

It all seems so unfair.

But if Saddam Hussein may be green with envy about Kim Jong-il, Bush himself
- and the hawks in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office -
must be seeing red.

In the first place, Kim's defiance is showing the limitations of US military
strength at precisely the moment when Washington has laid out explicitly its
aims at achieving global military hegemony.

While Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tried to assure everyone early last
week that Washington retains the capacity to take on North Korea militarily
despite the massive buildup in US forces around Iraq, that notion was
pooh-poohed by even hardened hawks.

Others noted that, with thousands of North Korean missiles poised along the
Demilitarized Zone and within 40 kilometers of Seoul, military action is
simply unthinkable, especially without the support of South Korea itself.

But even more infuriating has been the criticism that has been leveled at
the administration from the left, right and center, as the crisis in Korea
has developed over the past month.

"Where's the Big Stick?" read one big Washington Post headline recently, a
particularly wicked reference to the foreign-policy advice of his hero, the
late president Theodore Roosevelt, who once said: "Speak softly and carry a
big stick."

The administration is not only being accused of double standards in dealing
with Iraq and Korea - and the fact that the strategic implications of a
nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia that could include Japan are likely to
be far more serious than even a US invasion of Iraq.

It is also having to suffer charges that its low-key response to the
situation so far is vastly more wimpish than actions - including the
deployment of US troops to the region - taken by the administration of
president Bill Clinton during the last great nuclear crisis on the Korean
Peninsula eight years ago.

Former Clinton officials, who advised the incoming Bush team to maintain an
engagement policy with North Korea that had already brought Clinton's
secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, to visit Pyongyang, are saying that
Bush's seemingly gratuitous hostility to North Korea is now having serious
political consequences. This hostility was evident during the March 2001
visit by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung to the White House and Bush's
subsequent inclusion of Pyongyang in his axis of evil.

"The political reminder from this episode is the danger that can come from
tough talk," noted Leon Fuerth, former vice president Al Gore's top
national-security aide. "When using words as weapons, a leader must be
prepared to back up his rhetoric with force." Bush's words, he went on, "now
look like a bluff that is being called".

But most harmful, perhaps, is the lesson to be drawn from these two crises
by countries that do not wish to be cowed by Washington: if you are
militarily strong, preferably armed with nuclear weapons and the missiles to
deliver them, like Kim Jong-il, you are safe. If you are militarily weak,
like Saddam Hussein, you are in trouble.

Or, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman put it on Friday: "The best
self preservation strategy for Mr Kim is to be dangerous.",5744,5803914%255E75

by Laurie Brereton
The Australian, 7th January

IT'S often observed that Saddam Hussein and Iraq are "unfinished business"
for the Bush administration.

Had it not been for the escalation of violence in Palestine and the
commitment of US military resources in Afghanistan, it's likely that
Washington would already have attempted to overthrow the Iraqi regime.
September 11 delayed a focus on Iraq. But it was only a temporary delay.

George W. Bush is now determined upon a final settlement of accounts with
Baghdad. Over the weekend he again spoke of "liberating" Iraq. Short of
Hussein going into exile, it appears war is more likely than not.

Of course, Hussein is an evil dictator, responsible for appalling war crimes
and abuse of human rights. But overthrowing the government of a sovereign
state is an extraordinary undertaking. And in any case I haven't seen much
evidence to suggest that human rights is a driving element of US or UK
policy. Nor is this part of the war against terrorism.

The truth is, US policy toward Iraq is less about the threat of weapons of
mass destruction than it is about redrawing the strategic map of the Middle
East. "Regime change" is about installing a pro-American regime in Baghdad.
It's about changing the regime that controls Iraq's oil wealth. It's about
putting in place a regime supportive of the US military presence in the
Middle East.

But the US may also find that it has unleashed events with unpredictable
consequences ­ especially in the longer term. The US is already engaged in
an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan. The occupation and reconstruction
of Iraq will be a vastly greater undertaking, with uncertain consequences
for the Middle East. The US may rapidly achieve its immediate military
objectives, but these may prove to be steps into a strategic and political

Where does Australia fit in all this? The short answer is we shouldn't fit
in at all.

Having recently returned from the US, I must say I'm appalled by the poverty
of debate on this issue ­ both in the media and the federal parliament. The
Howard Government will support whatever action the US takes. The old phrase
"all the way with LBJ" once again has resonance.

Although Australia's military commitment to an attack on Iraq will be very
modest, the Government's rhetoric has put us in the front rank of Bush's
cheer squad. With this prominence comes increased risk of future terrorist
attacks against Australians overseas and at home.

Since Bush asserted the right to take unilateral military action against any
perceived threat to his country's inter ests, only the UK and Australia have
declared enthusiastic support. There can be little doubt that Australia's
outspoken identification with the US and the UK as global policemen has
placed us at substantially greater risk of terrorist attack.

We should be wary that Iraq does not become Australia's new Vietnam War. A
substantial element of the Australian media, led by Rupert Murdoch's pro-US,
pro-war The Australian newspaper, has failed to ensure effective scrutiny of
the Government's gung-ho diplomacy.

Nor has the Opposition made any real dent in the Government's stance. This
is not to say that we haven't been active. A mass of press releases has been
distributed, doorstops have been delivered and soundbites uttered. On Sunday
our foreign policy spokesman was again calling on the Government to clarify
its position on Iraq's weapons capabilities.

But the truth is this activity has had little effect ­ for the obvious
reason that we haven't made it clear where we stand.

It's a matter of record that for some months I've called for a clearer and
tougher Labor line against Australian involvement in an attack on Iraq. Time
is running out for us to take a clear stand. It is essential that we do so
without further delay.

THERE can be no case for military action while UN weapons inspections
continue without impediment. In the event of Iraqi obstruction of
inspections, military action should only follow explicit authorisation from
the Security Council. The ambiguous warning of "serious consequences" is

Labor should not support our country's military involvement in a unilateral
attack on Iraq. Nor should we support Australian involvement in military
action extending beyond the terms of an explicit UN mandate. We should make
these positions quite clear now and not continue to hedge our bets.

In the event that the UN does authorise military force, Australian
involvement should be limited to our present bilateral intelligence
co-operation with the US. UN endorsement is not a determining factor in
whether Australian troops should be committed. Nor does our strong alliance
oblige Australia to automatically lend direct support to each and every US
military action.

There is no substitute for an independent assessment of Australia's
strategic and diplomatic interests. There is no compelling case for
Australian troops to fight in Iraq ­ period.

At a time when many of our party's traditional supporters are asking what we
stand for, this is but one area where we should speak much more clearly, and
in the process differentiate ourselves from the Howard Government. Labor
should do so without further delay.

Laurie Brereton, Labor's foreign affairs spokesman from 1996 to 2001, spent
the past three months in New York as a parliamentary representative with
Australia's delegation to the UN. This is an edited extract from his address
to ALP members in Sydney last night.,5744,5809809%255E27

by Steve Lewis, Chief political reporter
The Australian, 8th January

DIVISIONS within Labor over a war with Iraq have intensified, with left-wing
MPs backing calls by NSW Right powerbroker Laurie Brereton for a more
strident anti-war position.

With Opposition Leader Simon Crean still on leave, it appears there are few
efforts to discipline Mr Brereton, and senior frontbencher Bob McMullan
claims backbenchers should be free to speak ­ even if they breached policy.

The federal Government also seized on the Labor split, with Acting Prime
Minister John Anderson calling on the ALP to clarify its position on a war
with Iraq, as the US mobilised troops for a possible strike on Baghdad as
early as next month.

Mr Brereton, a former Labor foreign affairs spokesman, delivered a
provocative speech on Monday, criticising his party for not adopting a more
robust anti-war stance.

Labor's current foreign affairs spokesman, the outspoken Kevin Rudd, has
refused to comment on Mr Brereton's remarks.

While Acting Opposition Leader Jenny Macklin has strongly disagreed with Mr
Brereton, several of her left-wing colleagues backed his call.

NSW backbencher Jennie George said the ALP "should explicitly rule out any
unilateral action by the US and its allies outside the auspices of the
United Nations".

Carmen Lawrence, who resigned from the Labor front bench a month ago
following a dispute over refugee policy, also backed the Brereton critique.

She said Mr Brereton's comments reflected a broader view within the ALP
caucus "that we haven't clearly condemned outright the prospect of
unilateral action by the US against Iraq".

Senior Labor MPs contacted by The Australian believe Mr Brereton's actions
were triggered by his continued anger over the party's treatment of his
sister, NSW state MP Deirdre Grusovin.

Ms Grusovin has been dumped from her safe inner-Sydney seat of Heffron for
the upcoming state election, and Mr Brereton is understood to have been
disappointed Mr Crean did not intervene in the preselection squabble.

Mr Anderson said the comments by Mr Brereton highlighted Labor's lack of
clarity on Iraq: "He is from the Right of the Labor Party, Carmen Lawrence
is from the Left ­ they've both confirmed that Labor doesn't have a clear
position here and can't get it out."

He rejected Mr Brereton's suggestion that Australia was placing itself at
greater risk of attack by terrorists because of its overt support for George
W. Bush.

"The ALP should clearly commit itself to the same objectives (as the
Government) and define the best way forward," he said.

Dr Lawrence, the member for Fremantle, has voiced concerns over the docking
of US aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in her electorate.

Yahoo, 8th January

PARIS, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Two-thirds of French people are opposed to military
action against Iraq, according to a poll released on Wednesday that
suggested public opposition to a war is hardening in France.

Sixty-six percent of 1,002 adults interviewed for daily paper Le Parisien
said they were against military intervention, compared to 58 percent who
were asked the same question last August.

Twenty-four percent said they favoured a war, down from 32 percent in
August, while 10 percent gave no response in the survey, conducted by
telephone on January 7 by pollster CSA.

Just 15 percent wanted France to take part in any military campaign, even if
it had the blessing of the United Nations.

President Jacques Chirac told French troops on Tuesday to prepare for
"anything that may happen" but stressed that war should be a last resort and
warned the United States against any unilateral action.

Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie rejected media speculation that Chirac
had sought to prepare public opinion for an imminent war, insisting Paris's
position was unchanged.

"Our soldiers are always ready, that's their role to be ready to defend the
country, to defend our citizens," she told reporters after a cabinet meeting
on Wednesday.

French officials have ruled out military participation in action against
Iraq without the approval of the U.N. Security Council, of which it is a
veto-wielding member.

However Paris has regularly affirmed it would fulfil any responsibilities
that fell to it if the Security Council did approve a strike.

"France has always said that no option can be ruled out," government
spokesman Jean Francois Cope told LCI Television on Wednesday, adding the
next key step was a declaration by U.N. inspectors due January 27 on the
extent of arms held by Iraq.

"Nothing leads to the assumption that the U.N. arms inspections will be a
failure, and that's why we continue to say that war is not inevitable," he

by Brian Williams and Nadim Ladki
Reuters, 8th January

ATHENS/BAGHDAD: European Union president Greece said on Wednesday it would
lead an EU mission to Arab states in a bid to avert war in Iraq, as
Washington and London beefed up firepower in the Gulf region.

U.N. arms inspectors are expected to report on Thursday that Iraq has still
failed to answer key questions, providing possible fresh ammunition for
Washington's case for war.

The Greek announcement surprised other EU members whose attitudes to
attacking Iraq vary widely, ranging from staunch British support for U.S.
hard-line policy on Baghdad to Germany's refusal to get involved in combat.

The trip was timed to start around late January when the U.N. Security
Council holds a meeting on Iraq that is increasingly seen as possible
showdown time for war.

There was no immediate response to the Greek initiative in Washington but in
London a Foreign Office official said any effort to get Iraq to honor U.N.
resolutions was welcome.

"On the trip we want to see if we can have a positive development on Iraq,"
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told Reuters TV, adding he would
urge Arab nations to play a bigger role in mediating between the United
States and Iraq.

"As EU president we have decided we cannot just wait for things to happen,"
a close Papandreou aide told Reuters.

A Foreign Ministry official said the mission was likely to be in late
January or early February and would take in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran,
Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as meetings with Palestinian and Israeli

It was unclear whether the planned timing of the EU mission suggested Athens
had information that Washington would avoid military action against Baghdad
before then.


KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 8 (Xinhuanet) - A senior United States official said
Wednesday his country had "no disagreement" with Malaysia over the United
Nations stand on Iraq.

Visiting US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John
Bolton made the remarks at a press conference here after having talks with
Malaysia's foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar.

"Malaysia also made it plain that it insists on compliance with the
applicable Security Council resolutions that Iraq has to eliminate its
weapons of mass destruction," Bolton said. "On that issue, there is no
disagreement at all," he said.

Bolton, who has already visited New Zealand and Singapore, was due to leave
here later Wednesday for the Philippines before goingto Thailand, Japan,
South Korea and China.

On his current tour, he said, "We haven't asked for anything specifically on
this trip."

"This is to provide current thinking by our administration and to get the
views of governments that I'm visiting," he added.

The United Nations has urged Iraq to hand over any weapons of mass
destruction it possesses or faces "serious consequences". But Iraq has
denied having any such weapons.

Malaysia strongly opposes unilateral US military action against Iraq.
However, Malaysian official comments on the US official's remarks are not

The Star (Malaysia), 9th January

MALAYSIA will ship 5,000 Proton cars to Iraq and is in talks to participate
in oil and gas projects, despite growing fears of a US-led war against
President Saddam Hussein's regime, said Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz. 

The International Trade and Industry Minister said yesterday that state oil
firm Petronas was negotiating to participate in Ratawi oil field
development, Block 2 exploration in the Western Desert and the Iraq-Turkey
gas export project. 

"Discussion is ongoing," she told reporters after meeting visiting Iraqi
Industry and Minerals Minister Maissar Rija Shlah. 

Rafidah also said Malaysia's national carmaker Proton would ship 5,000 units
of its 1.5 litre Wira sedan to Iraq by August this year following an
international tender.  

She said Proton clinched the contract after beating car makers such as
Nissan, Toyota and Peugeot. Proton had in 2000 won an inaugural contract to
supply 1,500 cars to Iraq. 

Malaysia-Iraqi trade is virtually a one-sided affair, with Malaysia
exporting US$66.8mil worth of goods in the first 10 months of last year and
importing almost nothing. 

Among the top export items were electrical switcher relays and circuits,
machinery parts, data processing equipment and inorganic chemicals. ­

by Aaron Kirchfeld
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9th January

The dispute within the governing Social Democrat/Green party coalition
escalated this week, with left-leaning members of both parties collecting
signatures to prevent Germany from voting for a U.S.-led war against Iraq in
the U.N. Security Council. The move came after party leaders rallied behind
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's
wait-and-see stance on how Germany would vote if the Security Council is
presented with a new resolution.

In the latest hint that Germany hopes to avoid further diplomatic conflicts
with the United States, the German U.N. ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, said on
Thursday that Germany would prefer a second Security Council resolution, but
that it was not a necessity. All permanent members, excluding the United
States, insist on an additional resolution legitimating war should Iraq
violate the first.

"If Saddam Hussein violates U.N. Resolution 1441, many members of the German
government hope that there will not be a second resolution so that Germany
can avoid having to vote 'yes' or 'no,' but all the council members have to
decide whether a new resolution is even necessary to allow an attack," an
SPD member of parliament told F.A.Z. Weekly. "The German government is doing
all it can to avoid war and until there is information that Saddam Hussein
has violated U.N. 1441, there is no legitimization for an attack."

Schröder and Fischer, a member of the Green party, have drawn criticism from
their own parties for saying that the German vote on a new resolution
remains open until the exact content of a new resolution is known.

"Currently, a large majority of the SPD parliamentary members thinks Germany
should vote against a resolution that would endorse war," the SPD
representative, who did not want to be named, said.

Fischer said "our position remains unchanged: A "no" from Germany for
military action." But a "no" for military action does not mean that Germany
will necessarily vote against a second U.N. resolution if the rest of the
council endorses it, which could pave the way for an attack on Iraq.

Analysts have also cited the difficulties that Germany would have in its
goal of becoming a permanent member of the Security Council alongside the
United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, if the country voted
against a second resolution.

"Long term we are hoping for a permanent EU or German membership in the
Security Council," Jens Uwe Plötner of the German State Department told
F.A.Z. Weekly. "And we will not speculate about our stance on a second U.N.
resolution until it actually exists."

ABC (Australia), 10th January

Federal Opposition leader Simon Crean has launched a scathing attack on the
Government, accusing it of pandering to the United States over Iraq.

Mr Crean's comments come as Prime Minister John Howard breaks his holiday
for a special briefing on Iraq in Canberra today.

The briefing will include all members of Cabinet's National Security

Mr Crean has urged the Government to use today's meeting to step up pressure
for a diplomatic solution.

He has attacked the Government for pretending to pursue a diplomatic
solution, while preparing for war.

"The best opportunity for [a diplomatic solution] exists through the United
Nations - clear mandate, clear timetable, allow the weapons inspectors to do
the task," Mr Crean said.

He says the Government should "use the authority of the Cabinet today to put
the pressure on [for] that diplomatic solution".

Mr Crean has also played down hints of a division in Labor ranks over Iraq,
exposed when party power broker Laurie Brereton claimed the Opposition had
failed to make its policy clear.

"That's a matter for their interpretation ... and quite frankly I'm not
going to be diverted by what you consider to be key players misinterpreting
our position," Mr Crean said.

"I've made our position clear today, I've been making it [clear] since April
of last year and that is the issue of Iraq has to be sorted out through the
United Nations."

Mr Howard returns to Canberra today for a special briefing on Iraq and North

The briefing comes after it emerged leave for Australia's elite Special Air
Services (SAS) troops has been cancelled, in preparation for any war in

The briefing is expected to include senior defence and intelligence

It is expected they will discuss the level of Australia's contribution to a
conflict in Iraq.

But the Government says war is not inevitable and it is still hopeful of a
diplomatic solution.

Today's meeting will also discuss the situation in North Korea.

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