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News titles, 10-15/01/03 A truncated news mailing, though it isn't short, sent a bit early because of my travels. It seems to me that in two important aspects the US advocates of war have already been proved wrong, whatever happens: 1. They argued that, since all Iraq's neighbours hate President Hussein, they would all fall into line if only the US showed once and for all that it was serious. Well, the US is now going to great lengths to show that it is serious, but none of Iraq's neighbours are falling into line. Quite the opposite. Which is all th more surprising when it seems so obvious that falling into line with The Most Powerful Nation In The World in Its hour of need would be in their interests. Perhaps there is, after all, something beating in the hearts of the Arab/Muslim leadership other than self interest. 2. They would like to persuade us that the US has the military power to settle all the problems of the world, easily. But they have been building up a military presence against Iraq for months and they say they still aren't ready. And Iraq is a country that has been refused the right to arm itself even with conventional weapons for the past twelve years (they are allowed to possess certain conventional weapons, but the sanctions regime prevented them from importing any material to renew them or even to service existing material. Hence the likelihood that they may have kept a chemical weapons capacity. Since the United Nations didn't seem to leave them very much choice in the matter). At present, as a result of the triumph of the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz school, the US is looking both weak and incompetent. Iraqis who support an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein could reasonably be feeling apprehensive at the possibility that these people are going to take responsibility for their government. Perhaps the war will be an instantaneous, almost bloodless, victory followed by rejoicing in the streets. Its difficult to imagine anything less that could wipe out the very unfavourable impression that is being created at the present time. Some articles to be recommended: 'Iraq has no N-weapons, claims expatriate scientist' (under Inspections Process); 'Anti-war train drivers [in Scotland] refuse to move arms freight' (Iraqi/UK Relations); 'Forbidden fruit: Iraq dates hit by war and sanctions' (Inside Iraq) and, possibly most important of all, 'Kirkuk: Iraq's northern tinderbox' (Northern Iraq/Southern Kurdistan). As mentioned before I haven't been consistently taking articles that cover various visits of the weapons inspectors but a record is being kept by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty at http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraq-inspec . NEWS, 10-15/01/03 (1) INSPECTIONS PROCESS * Agency Challenges Evidence Against Iraq Cited by Bush [More details on the aluminium tubes. The ones Iraq was trying to buy as well as the ones they already had] * Iraq illegally imported missile engines [More elements in Blix's report] * Iraq has no N-weapons, claims expatriate scientist [This is a very interesting, if true, account of the development of Iraq's nuclear programme by Dr Imad Khadduri. It confirms my own memory that the Osirak reactor supplied by France was a 'light-water reactor ... which was specifically designed to be unsuitable for the production of plutonium for a bomb' (ie presumably something along the lines of the reactors President Clinton promised but failed to deliver to North Korea); and that it was its bombing by Israel in 1981 that persuaded the Iraqi government to go for a nuclear weapons programme. If this is true (it still leaves the question why oil rich Iraq should have needed nuclear power) then the French government have a heavy responsibility in not doing more to counter the Israeli version of the story.] * Q&A with the Top Sleuth [Interview with Mohamed El Baradei: 'I hope the U.S. mobilization is only about adding to the pressure'] * Germans on trial over Iraq cannon [Another 'supergun' story, going back to 1999] * Transcript: Hans Blix interview [Extracts from a rather long interview rendered less interesting than it could have been by the BBC aggressive style of interviewing, trying to get him to express exasperation at lack of US co-operation] * Smuggled parts may be the missing clue [The Times hopefully examines the BBC interview with Blix for a smoking gun] IRAQI/UK RELATIONS * Britain urges US to delay war until autumn [Milan Rai identified this to the list as possibly 'the most important newspaper report of the whole crisis', indicating real hope that the war can be prevented by action in Britain. The subsequent eagerness of the Prime Minister and friends to deny it suggests that he may well be right.] * Anti-war train drivers [in Scotland] refuse to move arms freight * British Muslims fear conflict for generations [Details of a letter to Prime Minister Blair from Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain] * Brown backs Blair over Iraq * Iraqi counting on UK to avert war [The Scotsman interviews Dr Mudhafar Amin, the head of the Iraqi interest section] ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT * Movie star leads thousands in anti-war rally [Martin Sheen, with Jackson Browne and Ron Kovic, in Los Angeles] * Naked supporters for Saddam [In England: 'Many of the protesters are regulars at a local pub and firmed up their plan at the pub Saturday night.'] AND, IN NEWS, 10-15/01/03 (2) INSIDE IRAQ * At Your Service [Papal ordination of Fr Andreas Abouna, new Assistant Chaldaean Bishop in Baghdad] * Iraqis buying guns to fight invasion [The article gives the impression that everyone is being encouraged to arm thesmelves. Interesting to see who the arms are used against when it comes to the crunch] * Iraq's Shiites Describe Reign of Fear [Conversations with Iraqi Shi'ites in Damascus] * Popstar's love life takes Iraqis minds off war talk [Kazem al-Saher, 'known for pop videos featuring dozens of dancing women'] * Forbidden fruit: Iraq dates hit by war and sanctions [Moving account of the Iraqi date industry which, to its misfortune, seems to have been concentrated round the Fao peninsula, scene of the worst fighting in the Iran/Iraq war; and round Basra, where it has (possibly) fallen prey to depleted uranium (which leaves me wondering about all those boxes of Iraqi dates I was handing around so liberally a couple of Christmasses ago ...)] * Ground under Saddam's heel, southern clans are seething ['The south of Iraq bears a passing resemblance to its famous shrines: golden accolades to the government shimmer on the surface; underneath, everyone suspects, are the cracks and the festering wounds of a population who feels that its time is long overdue.'] NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Iraq government cuts petrol supplies to Kurds * Iraq government restores petrol to breakaway Kurds * Ansar issues chemical war threat [The article states as a fact that Ansar has a stock of chemical arms supplied 'almost certainly with Saddam's blessing', and says they could use them against US troops descending from Turkey] * Kirkuk: Iraq's northern tinderbox * Delicate Iraqi Kurd Notes Batter Mighty U.S. Dollar [Old Iraqi dinars printed in Switzerland prior to the UN Gulf War and withdrawn in the rest of Iraq: "They believe, in my opinion wrongly, the Swiss dinar will become the new currency, so they are all changing their savings from dollars into dinars and taking even more dinars out of circulation."] * Iraqi fundamentalist leader deported from the Netherlands [Mullah Krekar, head of the radical Ansar al-Islam. The implication is that they don't have very much on him, which seems surprising.] NO FLY ZONES * Western planes again attack Iraqi air defenses [Friday, 10th January, 'a military command and control site at Tallil and four cable repeater communications targets between al Kut and Basra'] * US hits anti-ship missile launcher in Iraq [Monday 13th January, near Basra] * Iraq says six civilians wounded in US-British bombings [Monday 13th, from the Iraqi side] AND, IN NEWS, 10-15/01/03 (3) IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * Russian warships on standby to sail to Gulf [Not, it seems, in support of the US, or even the 'UN', effort] * Allies Slow U.S. War Plans [The article mentions what I consider to be the crucial factor: 'the military preparations for an attack on Iraq have encountered a hitch because of delays by Turkey in agreeing to the two-front North-South war plan developed by the Pentagon.' I'm by no means convinced that the other front - Kuwait - is secure either. The Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz group have not proved themselves to be very gifted as diplomats] * Has the tide turned against another Gulf war? [Patrick Seale in the Daily Star, Lebanon, looking at straws in the wind (if you excuse the pun). But why should he attach more importance to Britain than to Turkey, or Saudi Arabia?] * Loyal Iraqi troops already training to use chemical weapons: Czech minister [After making this resounding announcement that implies knowledge possessed by no-one else, the Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik goes on to talk blandly of other things] * Where the world stands on an invasion of Iraq [Country by country summary. It makes depressing reading for supporters of the war. Curiously doesn't include Kuwait. It also informs us, rather coolly, that "according to Voice of America 'war plans are laid out for complete annihilation of Iraq via conventional weapons, or if needed, via nuclear weapons'". Which doesn't sound much like a policy of 'liberation'] * Ben Bella calls for protests in West [Ben Bella in London] * Ukraine Denies Selling [pontoon] Bridges to Iraq * Attack would end Poland's consular surrogacy: ambassador [Poland acting as representative of US interests in Baghdad] * Patten warns US over aid for Iraq [That aid for reconstruction mightn't be forthcoming from the EEC if the US go ahead without a UN resolution. Not much of a threat if one assumes that 'aid' is a means of getting one's hands on some of the oil money] * Pope calls the potential war in Iraq 'a defeat for humanity' [Well, he said that war in general 'is always a defeat for humanity' and should only be used as a last resort. The US ambassador to the Vatican agrees.] * Thousands of Moroccans march in support of Iraq * LUKoil Takes Its Oil Case to Iraq [Why should they bother, if they believe the Iraqi government is about to be taken out of the picture?] * Schroeder to Insist on Anti-War Stance Over Iraq in UN ['The German daily Die Welt quoted the Green Party leader (Fischer - PB) as saying that Greens still consider themselves as pioneers of peaceful movement in Germany.' Except when traditional German foreign policy objectives in the Balkans are under consideration] URLs ONLY: http://allafrica.com/stories/200301130187.html * Big Iraqi Arms Probe in City >From Cape Argus (Cape Town), 13th January [Story of gunrunning from South Africa, subsequently denied by the South African police] http://allafrica.com/stories/200301140836.html * Police Dismiss "Gun Running to Iraq" Reports South African Press Association (Johannesburg), 14th January AND, IN NEWS, 10-15/01/03 (4) IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS * Syrian oil company joins Russian companies in developing the Iraqi al- Qurneh oil fields * Where is the Syrian-American relationship headed? ['Unofficial' dialogue between the US and Syria organised by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. Presumably another case of the old guard in US politics trying to make up for the government's incompetence in international affairs. The article goes on to an interesting roundup of recent editorial opinion in the region: US desire to prevent Syria from becoming a centre of opposition to a future US administration in Iraq; likelihood of war leading to an increase in Palestinian suicide bombing; apprehension (I think unfounded) that France is oprerating a U-turn] * Kuwait hopes for "natural" change in Iraq not a war [First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, in Iran] * Prince Abdullah Sees No War on Iraq [Pepe Escobar has seen Prince Abdullah as a substantial player with a coherent idea of Arab and Muslim unity, and independence from western influence - an alternative to as well as an enemy of Osama bin Laden (see OSAMA AT LARGE, PART 3: The sheikh against the Saudi, Asia Times, July 12th, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/DG12Ak01.html). This blunt statement that there won't be a war, when everyone else thinks there will; and the implicit anti-Americanism of this: ""We are targeted. The aim is not any country but the Islamic faith ..." - suggests that he may be right.] * Gul brings peace pitch to Tehran [It seems US policy is bringing Turkey, Iran and the other countries of the region closer together in support of Iraq. So perhaps its doing some good after all ...] * Odds on Iraqi War Are Half to Half: Mubarak [Mubarak visiting Saudi Arabia] * Iraq-Jordan oil pipeline pending * Beirut Seizes Equipment Destined to Iraq [Apparently from Belarus. But under the present circumstances surely the Lebanese should be letting such things as helmets, uniforms and communications gear through] * Hundreds of American soldiers arrive in Israel for joint maneuvers [Mainly on operating Patriot and Arrow anti-missile systems, so they say. Funny that none of these seem to have been delivered to the Kurds] * Turkish politics and an unwanted war [Gives self interest and humanitarian reasons why Turkey should support the US; and reasons why it will be very difficult for Recep Tayyip Erdogan to do it. The 'humanitarian' reasons amount to the traditional argument of gangsters everywhere: 'Just keep your hands in the air and nobody will get hurt'. The fact that the US is getting so little support despite the strength of these arguments is proof of the level of revulsion which the present US government has managed to provoke even in Turkey.] AND, IN NEWS, 10-15/01/03 (5) IRAQI OPPOSITION * White House Met Iraqi Shi'ite Rebels [Al-Daawa: 'Al-Daawa has traditionally been one of the most effective and violent opposition groups inside Iraq. Often described as the Iraqi version of the Lebanese group Hizbollah, it planted bombs at government offices in the 1980s.'] * Bush to Meet with Iraqi Opposition Leaders [What's the betting this sudden and unprecedented chance to meet the Great Man Himself is G.Bush's way of delivering the Bad News: that the Iraqis aren't going to be allowed in the immediate future to form their own government] * Saddam prepares deadly surprise for own people [sez Mohammed Hariri, the Lebanon representative of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), outlining a real nightmare scenario. The article then goes on to talk more generally about SC IRI] IRAQI/US RELATIONS * US will attack Iraq 'without UN backing' [Richard Perle ridicules Hans Blix for revisiting known sites. But since both the US and the UK governments had made much of satellite photos of rebuilding at the said known sites, and had bombed them vindictively in 1998, it appears that Blix isn't the only 'complete idiot' in the picture ...] * Poll: Majority oppose unilateral action against Iraq [83 per cent support it if it has UN backing. Without UN backing, this drops to one third. This article was the basis of a CASI press statement which resulted in an article in the Daily Mirror] * War with Iraq: What¹s in It for Us? [Account of undesirable consequences of war for the US public, from Bill Harvey 'at the Progressive Action Center'. A rather nice misprint gives us the concept of 'rouge states'] * The United States of America has gone mad [Fierce attack on the current US administration from John LeCarre] * Martin Luther King's widow speaks out on Iraq URLs ONLY http://biz.yahoo.com/rm/030110/iraq_usa_pilot_1.html * U.S. probes reports Iraq holding Gulf War pilot by Will Dunham Yahoo, 10th January [On the Scott Speicher case. But the article doesn't suggest that anything new has emerged. Just something that is being held in reserve in case things get desperate. And things are indeed beginning to get desperate ...] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43909-2003Jan11.html * U.S. Decision On Iraq Has Puzzling Past by Glenn Kessler Washington Post, 12th January [Long account of the process by which the decision was made to attack Iraq. The article suggests that the essential decision was made very soon after the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, essentially on the strength of the argument that a 'rogue state' with weapons of mass destruction could give them to terrorists (an argument so broad in its scope that it could apply to any number of states in the world. And not just states but any number of rich and powerful individuals with a grudge against the US. Its really an argument for trying to reduce the reasons why anyone might feel a grudge against the US.) But I wonder if I am the only person perverse enough to find the following little cameo picture rather comical: 'Cheney, as he watched the World Trade Center towers collapse while he was sitting in front of a television in the White House's underground bunker, turned to an aide and remarked, "As unfathomable as this was, it could have been so much worse if they had weapons of mass destruction." '] AND, IN NEWS, 10-15/01/03 (6) IRAQI/UN RELATIONS * Iraq's $40b embezzled, says ex-UN official [Denis Halliday] * It is too early to consider attack on Iraq: Annan IMPLICATIONS OF WAR * Medical consequences of attacking Iraq [Mainly on the effects of depleted uranium both on the civilian population and on the invading army] * Forget the UN: Saddam Hussein is the best possible reason for liberating Iraq [This argues on the basis of the International Crisis Group report that the people of Iraq - especially the non-Sunnis - want an invasion and reconstruction by the USA and that the Left - at least that part of it that supported the invasion of Serbia - should want it too. As someone who opposed the invasion of Serbia I too find it difficult to imagine how anyone who supported it could oppose the invasion of Iraq. But Mr Hari is a little late. The whole impetus for war has been built up on the weak weapons of mass destruction argument and not on the rather stronger humanitarian argument. Possibly because the humanitarian argument - liberating the Iraqi people - imposes certain obligations the US government would rather not have to assume] * Opposing War Is Good, But Not Good Enough [Faleh A. Jabar, formerly (perhaps still, it isn't clear) of the Iraqi Communist Party, argues against war (it would result in chaos and/or foreign domination) but in favour of another way of ousting President Hussein. Bribes and threats to split the ruling clique. Backed up by the threat of war - which sounds rather like a return to square one, to where we are at the moment;. This is surely what the US were trying with a notable lack of success throughout the 1990s. And implicitly - since the signals from Washington are that a large part of the regime would be left in place (everyone seems agreed that from the purely administrative point of view they're rather good at their job) - its what they're trying now. So although its good to get a clearcut argument from the heart of the Iraqi political tradition, it isn't convincing. His books, mentioned at the end, look interesting ...] * Plan: Tap Iraq's Oil [Proposal to use oil to pay for the costs of occupation. Difficult to see why not, once the principle of occupation is accepted] * Sense in liberal portions [Michael Ignatieff in Scotland, agonising over the war on Iraq: 'you can just make the case for intervention only if you put together two things - massive human rights violations internally and possession or perspective possession of WMD. Neither on their own is enough to justify coercive military force.' So how does he justify his support for the war on Serbia where the human rights violations were much less massive than those in Iraq and there was no question of WMD?] * Logistics Delay Possible Iraq War Timetable - Paper [War postponed again. Its a bit like trying to organise a conference of the Iraqi opposition ...] * U.S. to Retain Baath Party in Post-Saddam Iraq [according to the Japanese Kyodo News Agency. 'The United States has handed over the plan to its allies, including Japan, as the main post-war plan, Kyodo said.'] * US may need over 350,000 troops in Iraq: Report [How much would they need to fight a country which had free access to the means to defend itself?] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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