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[casi] News, 10-15/01/03 (4)



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?
*  Kuwait hopes for "natural" change in Iraq not a war
*  Prince Abdullah Sees No War on Iraq
*  Gul brings peace pitch to Tehran
*  Odds on Iraqi War Are Half to Half: Mubarak
*  Iraq-Jordan oil pipeline pending
*  Beirut Seizes Equipment Destined to Iraq
*  Hundreds of American soldiers arrive in Israel for joint maneuvers
*  Turkish politics and an unwanted war


IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS

http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/030110/2003011014.html

*  SYRIAN OIL COMPANY JOINS RUSSIAN COMPANIES IN DEVELOPING THE IRAQI AL-
QURNEH OIL FIELDS
Arabic News, 10th January

The Syrian al-Bayan oil company has expressed readiness to join Russian
companies that develop the Iraqi oil fields in al- Qurneh after this
contract was withdrawn from the Giant Russian "Look Oil."

The company's director general Muhammad Muhammad Saaed said that his company
which is originally working in Iraq "is ready to make a partnership with any
Russian official establishment" to execute al-Qurneh west contract.

However, Baghdad had withdrawn back this contract from "Look Oil" because it
did not meet its obligations as Baghdad had stated, and then on December 22,
2002 proposed for Moscow to choose an alternative for this company,
officially.

Saad said that his company is carrying a contract of 300 million EUROS for
drilling oil fields in various parts of Iraq.


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/10_01_03_f.htm

*  WHERE IS THE SYRIAN-AMERICAN RELATIONSHIP HEADED?
Daily Star, Lebanon, 10th January

There's much Arab media interest in the subject of Syrian-US relations,
following the conclusion in Damascus of the second round of the ostensibly
"unofficial" but closely watched "dialogue" between the two sides.

Arab newspapers offer conflicting initial assessments of the outcome of the
three days of discussions, in which Syrian and American delegations -
including serving and former diplomats and officials as well as academics
and business and media people - debated bilateral and regional issues.

The leading pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat portrays the talks as having
succeeded in bridging important differences between the two sides. It
splashes its front-page with the Syrian foreign ministry's statement
describing the gathering as "constructive and helpful" and indicating that
"clear understanding was reached over a number of issues that are extremely
important for the region, for ties between Syria and the US and for
Arab-American relations."

But Saudi-run pan-Arab Al-Hayat headlines that the American and Syrian
delegates differed sharply over the issues of Iraq and Palestine, with the
Syrian side insisting that a US war on Iraq would be totally unjustified.
The paper's sources nevertheless emphasize "the importance of this dialogue,
which is unofficial despite the participation of officials on both sides, in
putting forward viewpoints and proposing compromises," as well as
"correcting Syria's distorted image in the American media."

The Beirut daily As-Safir reports that the subject of Iraq dominated the
meetings in Damascus, which are organized by the James A. Baker III
Institute for Public Policy, set up and named after the former US secretary
of state, and follow a first round of talks held in Houston, Texas in May
last year.

As-Safir quotes the institute's director and former US ambassador to Syria,
Edward Djerejian, as saying while last year's "dialogue" session helped
"break the ice" between the two sides, in their latest talks they delved
deeper into various bilateral and regional issues, and began considering
"solutions."

Djerejian also indicated the two teams - who are due to hold a third parley
in Houston, though no date has yet been determined - might eventually draft
and publish a set of policy "recommendations." He said there was support
high up in the US administration for the "dialogue," and while cautioning
against "giving ourselves too much importance," said the discussions could
influence the policies of both governments.

Djerejian suggested it would be "useful" for the US to engage in "unofficial
dialogue" with other important countries with which it has serious
differences, "like Iran."

Lebanese commentator Sarkis Naoum suggests Syria's behavior during a
prospective American war on Iraq could be the key to determining how its
relationship with the US develops.

In a just-concluded three-part news analysis published in the Beirut daily
An-Nahar, Naoum writes that the close security and anti-terrorism
cooperation between the two sides post-Sept. 11 has failed to translate into
an overall improvement in relations. Palestine and Iraq continue to divide
the two countries, especially with the pro-Israel neo-conservatives wielding
so much clout in Washington.

Quoting Washington insiders who favor improved US-Syrian ties, Naoum says
the Americans feel the high hopes vested in Bashar Assad when he became
president have not been realized. His failure to deliver promised political
and economic reforms, while perhaps attributable to resistance from
"mainstays" of the Syrian regime, leaves Washington wondering whether his
cautious "wavering" between reform and the old order is a "temporary policy"
while he strengthens his home front position, or "the most that can be
expected of him."

Naoum argues that "regional conditions" have not helped the Syrian president
institute reforms. He inherited office just as the peace process was melting
down and the far-right was assuming power in Israel, then had to cope with
Sept. 11 and its fallouts, and now faces the prospect of war on Iraq. He
appreciates how vulnerable all this makes his country, and so has taken a
number of steps - such as reining in Hizbullah and endorsing the US authored
UN resolution on Iraq - aimed at enabling him to "strengthen his position
and face up to the gathering storm in the region."

The late Hafez Assad did something similar in 1990, when he joined the
US-led coalition against Iraq and the US-sponsored peace process, thus
securing "international protection" for Syria to offset the collapse of
Soviet backing. But circumstances have changed: there's no prospect of
restarting the peace process; the US administration is under heavy pressure
to force Syria to crack down on the Palestinian organizations it hosts and
get Hizbullah disbanded; and the Syrian president is in no position to join
any US-led coalition against Iraq. "Accordingly, he will not obtain the
international protection which his father secured by joining the coalition
in 1990."

Naoum's sources go on to argue that Damascus needs to do more to gain favor
with Washington, and adopt a "strategy" to safeguard it from the "super
hawks" in George W. Bush's administration who want to adopt a "identical or
comparable" policy toward Syria as the US has done toward Iraq - and whose
position will be strengthened if America succeeds in enforcing "regime
change" in Baghdad. That would also greatly increase the risk of Syria and
Lebanon being mugged by Israel.

The elements of the strategy Syria needs to pursue to counter the Bush
administration's super hawks are well known, Naoum remarks. "But the key
element - which is certain to be well-received in Washington and
specifically within the US administration - would be for Syria to decide to
prevent the emergence of any movement opposing or resisting the anticipated
military blitz against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and against the regime which
the US is expected to install in Iraq afterwards," he writes

Naoum reports that moves are ostensibly already being made to establish a
"national resistance" to oppose the future US presence in Iraq, and the
Americans know that, for these efforts to succeed, they will need "Syrian
help, cover or protection." So they want Damascus not just to withhold
assistance to these efforts, but to actively help foil them.

Whether this appeases the American super hawks remains to be seen, Naoum
concludes. They believe a "major dose of force" in the Middle East would
cure all America's problems there, "from Iran to Saudi Arabia," and want to
start with Iraq while enabling Israel to use that war to achieve some of its
aims. Those aims may include mugging Lebanon and Syria, he says, but
Israel's chief objective relates to its conflict with the Palestinians: it
wants to change Palestine's "demography," and "the arena for that will be
the West Bank,"

Saad Mehio predicts in the UAE daily Al-Khaleej that there is likely to be
an upsurge in suicide bombings in Palestine as the start of the anticipated
blitz on Iraq approaches, despite the Bush administration's efforts to "cool
down the Palestinian front as the Iraqi and Middle Eastern front heats up."

A variety of "regional forces" are bound to "use the Palestinian card" as a
weapon in the pending conflict, which is set to "change all the Middle East
map's features," he reasons.

"No one engaged in the current game of life and death in the region could
even consider neutralizing this valuable and potent card. And no one means
no one - not Saddam Hussein, not Iran's mullahs, not Syria, and naturally
not Osama bin Laden."

That means it is a near certainty that the period between now and the start
of the US invasion of Iraq will be "a period of martyrdom operations par
excellence," he says.  "The more efforts the US exerts to make its invasion
of Iraq swift and 'clean,' the more the regional forces concerned will
strive to make it protracted and costly."

The reasons for that are evident, Mehio writes. If the US scores an easy and
inexpensive victory in Iraq, it will "quickly and inevitably move to achieve
similar victories against a considerable number of regional forces who
figure on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's hit-list."

The fact "the Palestinian front has been left open" provides all those
forces with the opportunity to "open new fronts" of their own, perhaps
starting in Palestine and eventually moving on to America proper. In that
sense, the recent twin suicide bombings in Tel Aviv could prove to be only
"the start of a deluge."

France's shifting position on Iraq is noted with disapproval by Joseph
Samaha, editor-in chief of the Beirut daily by As-Safir, who sees in
President Jacques Chirac's latest speech on the subject "unmistakable" signs
of a French tilt in favor of going along with a US-led war.

Having earlier taken a strong independent stand against American
unilateralism (a policy described by Samaha as "Paris I"), Chirac is now
evidently inclined to defer to the US ("Paris II"). The French media
depicted his speech as an attempt to prepare French public opinion - which
remains overwhelmingly opposed to war, and will still take much convincing.

Samaha suggests that one reason for Chirac's U-turn is the failure of Arab
and regional states to lend meaningful support to Paris's earlier drive to
restrain the Americans. But the key to understanding Chirac's policy shift
could be Washington's recent hints that it doesn't mind post-Saddam Iraq
being run by a "temporary international administrator" rather than an
American military governor, as had earlier been touted.

The "political meaning" of this is that rather than keeping all the "spoils"
of war for itself, the US is willing to see them "distributed more or less
fairly" among the countries that agree to join it. Consequently, "policy
becomes determined not by the scope of the threat Iraq poses, but by the
gains that can be made from making common cause with Washington."

To Samaha's mind, France's policy shift illustrates one of the biggest
ironies of the Iraq crisis: the more the UN arms inspectors confirm that
Iraq does not appear to possess doomsday weapons, the more support the US
rallies for war. "It's as though the real job of the inspectors is to
confirm that Iraq is void of these weapons in order to persuade the waverers
that the risks of waging war (to destroy non-existent weapons) are minimal,"
he remarks. After six weeks of inspections, no trace has been found of the
arms programs which the US and Britain claimed Iraq was developing.
"Nevertheless, these claims are gaining supporters, not the least important
of whom is Chirac."

As-Safir's editor adds as an afterthought that in Lebanon, while President
Emile Lahoud's declared views echo "Paris I," Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's
position is plainly closer to "Paris II."

"This is not a value judgment, merely an observation that even over an issue
as grave as Iraq, the two men resemble parallel lines," he writes. "Is it
not time for this farce to be ended, so we can learn what the official
Lebanese attitude really is to the 'gates of hell' that could be about to
open?"

Pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi takes issue with those Arab states who are
reportedly working on plans to try to persuade the Iraqi president to resign
and go into exile as a way of averting war on his country.

The paper sees the recent spate of media reports suggesting he might do so
as part of an American disinformation campaign. Although Baghdad denied the
reports, it didn't need to, it writes, "for no one who knows Iraq and its
leaders' mentality could possibly believe that President Saddam Hussein,
after all these years of standing fast in the face of the embargo and
assassination attempts, would defer to a request by the US president to
leave Iraq so that he can step in as invader and occupier without any
confrontation.

"Those calling for the Iraqi president's departure are falling for the
American propaganda war, which is trying to blame the current crisis with
Iraq on its president," Al-Quds al-Arabi writes in its main leader. "Such
naive over-simplification amounts to collusion in America's neo-imperialism
Š The war on Iraq is not aimed at disarming it or promoting democracy and
freedom, but at seizing its oil, placing it under occupation and breaking it
up along sectarian and racial lines."

Iraq's cooperation with the UN over arms inspections has been exemplary, the
paper points out, and yet Arab leaders continue to put the onus on Baghdad
rather than Washington to prevent war, and urge the Iraqi president to go
into exile to spare his country from being attacked. "Perhaps one of those
Arab leaders should set an example by stepping down himself, and allowing
his people to freely elect a president or king to replace him," it suggests.


http://www.iranmania.com/news/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=13803&NewsKin
d=CurrentAffairs&ArchiveNews=Yes

*  KUWAIT HOPES FOR "NATURAL" CHANGE IN IRAQ NOT A WAR
IranMania.com, 11th January

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 11 (AFP) - Kuwait said Saturday it hoped a US-led war on
Iraq could be averted and that a change to Iraq's internal situation would
take place "naturally".

"We hope that military action can be avoided and that a change in the
situation will occur naturally, from the inside, instead of military
action," First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad
al-Sabah told reporters.

The Kuwaiti official, who was speaking before leaving on an official
three-day visit to Tehran, did not elaborate.

The United States accuses Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of developing
weapons of mass destruction and has threatened to attack Iraq and topple his
regime.

Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and occupied the emirate for seven months
before being evicted by a US-led coalition in the 1991 Gulf War.

Sheikh Sabah said the Iraq crisis would top the agenda of his discussions
with Iranian officials.

"What is important to all the countries is, what is the future if something
happens," he said.

"We hope that nothing happens but if something does, there has to be
consultations between countries that neighbor Iraq," Sheikh Sabah added.

He said Kuwait and Iran would also discuss the disputed issue of the
offshore Dorra gas field, on which Kuwait and Saudi Arabia plan to start
work this year. The field is also claimed by Iran.

A project to transport fresh water from Iran to Kuwait will also be on the
agenda, Sheikh Sabah said.

Kuwait has repeatedly voiced opposition to any US-led military campaign
against Iraq without a UN mandate.

US troops meanwhile continue to pour into this tiny oil-rich emirate as the
US administration threatens to launch a massive war against Iraq if it fails
to disarm.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Friday ordered nearly 35,000 more US
forces to the Gulf, expected to arrive in the region over the coming weeks,
US defense officials said.

The deployments, which will push US force levels in the region to more than
120,000, come on top of 25,000 troops Rumsfeld ordered to the Gulf just
before Christmas.

Those forces, including the army's 3rd Infantry Division, have begun moving
out of bases in Georgia to Kuwait and other points in the region.

Currently there are 66,000 US troops in the US Central Command's area of
responsibility, including more than 16,000 in Kuwait, defense officials
said.


http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20030113061700123

*  PRINCE ABDULLAH SEES NO WAR ON IRAQ
Palestine  Chronicle, 13th January

RIYADH - Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah yesterday told a group of Arab thinkers
and intellectuals he was "convinced" there will be no US-led war against
Iraq.
"We are seeing fleets and concentrations (of troops) in the region but I
have a strong feeling that there wonıt be a war," the crown prince said.

"This is my conviction and my personal point of view," the crown prince told
the gathering, cautioning that, "No one has spoken to me about war."

Saudi Arabia, which has long borders with Iraq, has been lobbying to find a
peaceful solution to the crisis between the United States and Baghdad.

Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul held talks Saturday in Riyadh with Saudi
leaders over a proposed initiative to end the standoff over Iraq and prevent
war, and said time was pressing to find a peaceful settlement.

Riyadh has reiterated that its decision to join a UN-sanctioned war against
Baghdad will be based on its national interests and the evidence of Iraqıs
material breach of the UN Security Council Resolution 1441.

The crown prince insisted that "war is in no oneıs interest", adding that
Iraq was "dear" to his country.

"As you know, Iraq is dear to us. Its people are our people, they are a
precious part of the Muslim and Arab nation," he said.

"If the United Nations, God forbid, takes the decision to declare war (on
Iraq), the Arabs will have only one request, that is to be given a chance to
talk with Iraq about a solution capable of preventing a war," he said.

The United States has deployed tens of thousands of troops in the region
ahead of an eventual military strike on the government of Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein, who Washington accuses of developing weapons of mass
destruction.

In his address yesterday, Prince Abdullah also urged Arab and Muslim writers
and media persons to work for the unity of Arab and Islamic countries. "We
have to make intense efforts to unite the Arab and Islamic Ummah," the crown
prince told Saudi and foreign thinkers and media persons who came to attend
the Heritage and Culture Festival in Janadriah.

"We welcome all proposals that will benefit and guide us," Prince Abdullah
said, adding that the present situation required wisdom and deep thinking.

Prince Abdullah blasted the ongoing campaign against Islam and Muslims. "We
are targeted. The aim is not any country but the Islamic faith, but Islam
will remain strong with the support of God and its followers," he added.

Prince Abdullah called upon Arab countries to cooperate with Saudi efforts
to strengthen Arab unity. "I hope they will accept our proposals and I
believe that it will solve many problems," he added.

High-level sources in Cairo, meanwhile, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that
the Kingdom had handed its proposal for Arab unity to the Arab follow-up
committee in preparation to presenting it to next Arab summit scheduled for
March in Bahrain.

The Saudi proposal called for a new Arab charter that would ensure
protection of Arab legitimate interests, realize just demands of Arab
nation, promote Arab joint action and regulate inter-Arab relations.

The proposal also called for self-reforms and development of political
participation in Arab countries. It opposed illegitimate foreign attacks
against any Arab country and called for resolving all Arab conflicts
peacefully. The proposal urged all Arab states to stand united against any
Arab country which attacks a member state.

-[Arab News (arabnews.com).] Published at the Palestine Chronicle.


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/13_01_03/art21.asp

*  GUL BRINGS PEACE PITCH TO TEHRAN
Daily Star, Lebanon, 13th January

TEHRAN: Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul took his diplomatic mission to
avert war in Iraq to Iran on Sunday, insisting conflict would hurt all
countries in the Middle East.

³We are following developments in Iraq with concern. Without doubt, the
other countries in the region will be harmed if an attack takes place,² Gul
was quoted as saying by Iranıs official Islamic Republic News Agency. ³We
should make an effort to prevent a probable war.²

Gul arrived in the Islamic Republic from Saudi Arabia on a diplomatic
offensive that comes amid a military buildup in the Gulf by US forces for a
possible strike against Iraq. Turkey has not yet said whether it will allow
US forces to use bases on its soil.

Gulıs peace message found favor in Iran, which fought a bitter eight-year
war with Iraq in the 1980s but is strongly opposed to any attack against its
western neighbor.

³We donıt see any legitimacy for any type of aggression and believe any
aggression paves the way for a succeeding aggression,² Iranian First
Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said after meeting Gul. We believe that
the Iraq issue should be resolved through political and reconciliatory ways.
No country in the region can rely on Americaıs pledges. Other regional
countries will be targeted if an attack against Iraq takes place.²

Unlike Turkey, which is an ally of Washington and has allowed US planes to
fly from Turkish bases to patrol northern Iraq since 1991, Iran considers
the United States an arch enemy.

Several other Middle Eastern leaders are beating a path to Tehran this month
as efforts to avoid conflict in Iraq increase.

Also Sunday, Kuwaitıs foreign minister, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, met
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

³Despite what our countries have undergone on the part of Iraq, Tehran does
not favor a military attack against Iraq,² Khatami was quoted as telling
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al Sabah.

He stressed ³the need to maintain exchanges and contacts between the
countries in the region² to found a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis.

Khatami also expressed the hope that Baghdad ³fully applies international
rules and UN Security Council resolutions² to facilitate such a solution.

Sheikh Sabah handed over a message described as ³important² from Kuwaitıs
emir, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah. On arrival in Tehran Saturday he
called the situation in Iraq ³very dangerous² as the US threat of a new war
on Baghdad cast a pall on the region.

³Only Iraqıs full cooperation with the United Nations can assure calm and
stability,² he said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is expected in Tehran on Wednesday. - AFP,
Reuters


http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200301/13/eng20030113_110025.shtml

*  ODDS ON IRAQI WAR ARE HALF TO HALF: MUBARAK
Peoples Daily, 13th January

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak estimated on Sunday that the odds on a war
against Iraq are half to half.

"Any war on Iraq will bring about very serious repercussions. Noone can
predict what will happen in case of a war," Mubarak told reporters after he
inaugurated a water pumping station in the southern city of Toshka.

"No one would be able to prevent the United States from launching such a war
on Iraq," he said, adding Egypt and Saudi Arabia have not yet put forth
proposals on the Iraqi crisis.

Mubarak is expected to kick off a visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday to seek
common ground on the volatile Mideast situation, especially the Iraqi
crisis.

UN arms inspectors have been on resumed mission in Iraq since Nov. 27, while
the United States continues war preparations againstBaghdad.

There are more than 50,000 US troops already deployed in the Gulf region.
The United States plans to double the figure in the coming weeks.

Egypt, a key US ally in the region, calls for a peaceful solution to the
Iraqi issue, fearing that any war on Iraq would further destabilize the
volatile regional situation.


http://ogj.pennnet.com/articles/web_article_display.cfm?Section=OnlineArticl
es&ARTICLE_CATEGORY=Trasp&ARTICLE_ID=165679

*  IRAQ-JORDAN OIL PIPELINE PENDING
Oil & Gas Journal, 13th January

NICOSIA, Jan. 13 -- Jordan selected 47 local trucking companies to deliver
5.5 million tonnes of Iraqi oil during 2003 at a cost of $56 million,
pending construction of a new oil pipeline.

The proposed $365 million, 750 km pipeline, which will link Jordan's Zarqa
oil refinery with Iraq's Al-Haditha oil wells, is expected to replace the
use of trucks for oil transport by 2004.

Jordan's section of the pipeline, from Zarqa to the Iraqi border, is to be
completed by yearend, following the award in January of the tender for a
30year build, own, operate, and transfer contract.

Jordan receives all of its oil from Iraq, half of it free of charge and half
purchased at $4 5/bbl less than the world market price.


http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/jan/14/011403034.html

*  BEIRUT SEIZES EQUIPMENT DESTINED TO IRAQ
by Sam F. Ghattas
Las Vegas Sun, 14th January

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Military equipment destined for smuggling to Iraq -
including helmets, uniforms and communications gear - was confiscated at
Beirut's airport, officials said Tuesday.

The 13.2 tons of equipment arrived aboard a flight Sunday night from Belarus
and was intended for land transport through Syria to Iraq, security
officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An Iraqi diplomat in Beirut denied that Iraq had any link to the shipment or
the importers. Belarus also denied involvement.

"The Foreign Ministry of Belarus rules out the possibility of delivery of
dual-use items to Iraq. Belarus strictly follows accepted international
norms in dual-use items," spokesman Andrei Savinykh said, referring to items
that have military and civilian functions.

He said it was possible the shipment could have been sent through Belarus
from a third country. Belarus' Defense Ministry declined to comment.

Lebanese customs agents were suspicious of boxes labeled "Head Protectors"
that arrived on a plane from Belarus' capital Minsk. A spot check of one box
uncovered the gear.

The Lebanese army seized 600 helmets designed for tank crew and 240 wireless
communications sets for tanks, customs officials said on condition of
anonymity.

Security officials said the shipment was to have been smuggled to Iraq
disguised as food.

Military authorities detained two Lebanese men listed as the importers for
questioning. The importers also were fined $160,000 for making a false
declaration, customs officials said. Under Lebanese law, only the state can
import military gear.

The names of companies involved were not released.


http://www2.bostonherald.com/news/international/ap_jerus01142003.htm

*  HUNDREDS OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS ARRIVE IN ISRAEL FOR JOINT MANEUVERS
Boston Herald, from Associated Press, 14th January

JERUSALEM - Hundreds of American soldiers have arrived in Israel for joint
maneuvers with anti-missile defenses, aimed at protecting against any Iraqi
strikes if the United States attacks Iraq, officials said Tuesday.

Israel is preparing for the possibility Baghdad will launch missiles against
it during any new war as it did during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Iraq fired
39 Scud missiles at Israel in that conflict, causing much damage, but few
casualties.

The joint maneuvers are being conducted in southern Israel using two
anti-missile systems, the U.S.-made Patriot and the Arrow, which was
developed by Israel and the United States, military officials said.

The U.S. soldiers, who brought Patriot anti-missile batteries with them,
will remain in Israel until the end of any war on Iraq, military officials
said.

On Wednesday, Israel will go into a higher stage of alert, codenamed ``Red
Hail,'' media reported. Zalman Shoval, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon, said Red Hail was planned long in advance and does not mean Israel
knows if or when a U.S. attack on Iraq would be launched.

As part of its preparations for a possible chemical or biological weapons
strike, Israel is distributing gas masks to its citizens and launching a
television and radio advertising campaign instructing people how to respond.

Soldiers are visiting schools to instruct children and answer questions.
Newspapers run banner headlines at least once a week about the threat of
war.


http://www.iht.com/articles/83279.html

*  TURKISH POLITICS AND AN UNWANTED WAR
by Grenville Byford
International Herald Tribune, 15th January

BROOKLINE, MassachusettsThe United States wants two things from Turkey in
the event of war on Iraq. First, the use of air bases like Incirlik. Second,
permission to transport troops through Turkey to establish a northern front.
If Turkey cooperates, the war will be shorter and all of the attendant
suffering less.

The Bush administration has not yet got what it wants, largely because the
Iraq issue is being used as a weapon in a wider political battle between the
new Turkish government, effectively led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the
establishment made up of senior bureaucrats, the military and the unelected
president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

The underlying problem is that the Turkish people do not want to assist an
attack on Iraq, and neither side wants to tell them that they should. Yet
Turkey would benefit from cooperating. A shorter war would spare Turkey's
weak economy, and if Ankara cooperates it could count on American economic
help and a voice in the ordering of postwar Iraq. If Turkey stands aloof,
the war will happen anyway and the pain will be much worse. In the calculus
of self-interest, this is not a hard decision.

In the realm of humanitarianism, Turkey's neighbors, the Iraqis, are
suffering under the sanctions against Baghdad. Since it is hard to imagine
how Saddam Hussein could persuade any American president to remove the
sanctions and permit him to remain in power, the only ethical solution is to
remove him, by war if necessary. Continuing the status quo merely imposes
the costs of containing Saddam - an American security imperative - on the
Iraqi people. I can say personally that this argument has traction with
ordinary Turks.

The issue for the United States, then, is whether it can persuade any
Turkish leader to tell the Turkish people something they do not want to
hear: that both self-interest and sympathy for suffering Iraqis argue that
Turkey should support an American attack. The one man with enough political
capital to pull this off is Erdogan, the leader of the victorious party in
November's elections. Like Turgut Ozal, Turkey's last leader with any
vision, Erdogan is bold and clear-sighted. It was Ozal who single-handedly
brought Turkey into the American camp for the 1991 Gulf War, despite
powerful opposition from the Turkish military.

Unfortunately for the United States, Erdogan has other problems to deal with
besides persuading Turks to support a war they detest.

Despite his party's victory, he was disqualified as prime minister because
he had been convicted in 1998 of reciting a poem that a court said incited
religious hatred. Parliament passed constitutional amendments that would
allow him to serve, but President Sezer vetoed them. Parliament then passed
the amendments again, so Sezer had to go along. Now Erdogan plans to run for
Parliament, and thus become prime minister, in February.

Erdogan also faces opposition because he wants to negotiate a solution to
the partition of Cyprus based on proposals by the United Nations
secretary-general, Kofi Annan. He understands that Ankara's past support of
Rauf Denktash, who controls the Turkish Cypriot area of the island, is a
barrier to Turkey's membership in the European Union. Sezer and the military
unequivocally back Denktash even though he has become increasingly
unpopular. That means preservation of the status quo.

Erdogan understands that Turkey has to make internal reforms to qualify for
the European Union. But to eliminate torture and corruption, as demanded by
EU criteria for membership, he will have to tread on many establishment
toes.

To do all this, he needs his supporters solidly behind him. Volunteering to
tell them that they have to swallow a war with Iraq cannot seem attractive.
His choice is unenviable: spend his political capital to help America and
risk defeat on other fronts, or offend America and take the consequences.
Where does this leave the Bush administration? It needs to recognize two
things. First, Erdogan is not in this predicament by accident - his
opponents put him there. Second, this is a political problem, not a
diplomatic one. Erdogan's opponents could not win the support of the Turkish
people or the Parliament for a war on Iraq even if they wanted to. The
political solution is for Washington to offer Erdogan its clear and
unequivocal backing across the board. Then maybe he will feel secure enough
to spend his political capital.

Many would argue that supporting Turkey's democratically elected leader
would be a good thing in itself, especially if it leads to a solution in
Cyprus. Doing so when it may get the United States what it wants on Iraq is
surely only good sense.

The writer conducts research on Turkey as an affiliate of the Caspian
studies program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of
Government.




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